I first became interested in alternative health in the early 1980s, and it’s since become so much a part of my life that I hardly give it any thought. At the same time, I’m actually quite conservative in my participation in the alt health scene. I’ve seen so many fads come and go that I hardly ever jump on some “new” palliative, because in nearly every case today’s fad turns out to be tomorrow’s false lead. I’ve also experienced the placebo effect first hand lots & lots of times — a sobering experience when you recognize how deceptive it can be. Because it wears off. Darn it all :-)
What else. I view most Internet alt health advice with extreme suspicion, if for no other reason than that the human body is mind-bogglingly complex and individual biochemistry is extremely variable, two factors that often render casual health advice at best worthless, and at worst dangerous. The Internet is a good start for research, a terrible substitute for professional diagnostics. If something’s wrong with your body, find a medical doctor sympathetic to alt health who can diagnose you, and take your Internet print-outs along to your exam. /end sermon
I rarely use herbal supplements. I don’t trust them to contain what they say they’re going to contain, and if perchance they do, taking them amounts to self-medicating, and I don’t believe that as a lay person I have adequate information to do that cavalierly. Although I fully support other peoples’ right to use them.
My main alt health strategy is to put into my body foodstuffs that are as close as possible to what I imagine humans were evolved to eat. Yeah, I know there is a lot of arguing going on about that, too. But some of it is quite simple nonetheless. Avoid too much processed food, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables (I try for at least 7-9 servings a day), go for the nutrient-dense stuff.
The funny thing is, that rule has steered me toward choices that tend to preshadow trends. I started avoiding trans fats, for instance, in the 1980s. Switched to whole grains about that same time. Never quit eating eggs. Etc.
So, on that thin basis, I claim adequate authority to compose this post :-)
Anyway, we’ll know in time whether my authority pans out, since I’m doing this publicly. So here it is: alt health trends I predict will be getting major mainstream attention within the next five to ten years:
1. Seed oils bad, bad, bad. Categorize this as a trend we should have dodged: I predict that soon the worm will turn and we’ll be demonizing seed oils — corn and canola oils, in particular — with the same vigor we now demonize trans fats. See The Weston Price Foundation articles on fats or read Ray Peat’s article on unsaturated oil if you want the background on this one. In place of seed oils, recommendations will be coconut, palm, and olive oils, plus butter and lard, of course. Mmmmm, lard.
2. Probiotics for oral health. Speaking of mmmmmm, we’ll soon be seeing mouthwashes designed to innoculate the mouth with “good bacteria.” Health claims will start with controlling breath odor, preventing gum disease, preventing tooth decay, and perhaps even strengthening enamel. At least one dentist is already on it. Probiotics packagers will be next. Additional claims may play on the link between oral health and other health issues, such as heart disease and maybe even cancer.
3. Probiotics for skin health. Because, yanno, why not. The skin is a microorganism habitat, too.
4. The body’s glandular system will be cast in a starring alt health role. Thyroid function in particular will emerge as fundamental to a new model of alt health treatment. The result will be near madness as journalists pump out the usual “this may save your life and also avoid it, it’s too new and scary” trends articles and every supplement manufacturer and would-be health guru in this country and the next scramble to sell you their books and supplements.
5. Bioidentical hormones will be enlisted for period suppression and possibly even birth control. Now that the “no period pill” has its own marketing campaign, alt health-savvy women will start asking whether their compounding pharmacists can’t do the same with bioidentical hormones. Off-off label use of hormone therapy will ensue.
6. Natural vision therapy will address presbyopia. Natural vision therapy is a fairly mature subgenre within the alt health canon, but it’s failed so far to penetrate mainstream awareness the way, for example, vitamins have. Too bad, because our eyesight situation is a mess. Anyway. Today natural vision mostly deals with myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (non age-related farsightedness). I predict that the aging boomers are, even now, working on applying vision therapy to presbyopia — the difficulty with near vision associated with aging — and in the very near future we’ll start seeing self-help books on the subject begin to crop up. (I blogged here about my experience with using vision therapy for myopia.)
There, those are the Big Ones that I can think of right now. I’ll add to the list if any more come to mind.
There are others that aren’t quite as risky to make or I’d list them, too. Vitamin D will be the next Vitamin Darling. Full spectrum lighting will move over to make room for lighting that projects specific colors, including regimens that incorporate blue light to help people sleep better. Official recommendations on number of servings/day of fruits and vegetables will be revised upwards. (Beat the crowd, buy a juicer.)
Oh, one other thing. If you read this and find yourself inspired with a business plan that eventually makes you a zillionnaire you owe me a very nice dinner. Or at least an antioxidant-laden glass of most excellent red wine :-)
[tags] alternative health trends [/tags]