I don’t have time to wait for your precious trials.
We go to conferences for a lot of reasons, education, CPD, a day out of the office, networking. Networking means meeting up with like minded people but it also means stepping out of your bubble and meeting face to face with those who may not share your song-sheet. This latter scenario is more than likely to happen at a conference for medics about nutrition and public health, especially if you have a slightly controversial way of eating.
If I had known, I wouldn’t have chosen to sit next to the excitable judging vegan at dinner but the opportunity to talk did lead to some interesting discussion.
I don’t attack anyone who chooses a lifestyle that is different to mine, there are of course good vegan diets and there are highly processed, sugary breakfast cereal and Dorito diets. In my opinion if any diet requires supplementation then there is something fundamentally wrong with that diet. As I said, I don’t make personal attacks but I do get them, in social media land, for eating meat. That aside, and back to dinner…
As my prawn in garlic butter starter arrived I was informed that I really needed to consider a plant based diet for my health.
My dinner companion was staunchly against a low carbohydrate diet, her main argument being that “there is no existing data about low carb diets that tells us they are safe in the long term”. It is a line that I have heard before, to the letter, so I concluded that this was not her own conclusion. That aside, she went on to acknowledge my recent weight loss, that I no longer need to take a PPI or an inhaler, or regular pain killers, or any antidepressants that I had taken in the past. She acknowledged that it was great I could now ski with my children and that I enjoy martial arts training with them also, but she remained concerned about my future because “there’s no data”.
Well, here’s my data.
Right now I’m sitting on a high speed train heading home. There are no double blind randomised controlled trials by some eminent Harvard epidemiologist to tell me that not sticking my head out of the door is better for my long term health. Without that paper, I just don’t know what decision to make! My point is this. It is not a good enough academic argument to tell me that there are no high-evidence-level papers. If a student said that to me I would say “well done for your literature search, now let me hear what YOU think, what’s your best educated guess? Let’s formulate some ideas and thoughts. What do you think my future might have looked like without a change.”
I will tell you what my future looked like, as I told her. It looked like more and more physical inability, not being able to play with my children, it looked like diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, perhaps chronic kidney disease and hypertension. It looked like more medication, more PPI, more painkillers, diabetes medication, antihypertensives. It looked like more issues with PCOS and more depressive episodes. It looked like an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and some cancers. With this going on I can tell you that my risk of dying younger is increased. It looked sad. That’s what we can say my future looked like, before I ditched the sugar and the grains, the breakfast cereals and the low fat yoghurts. So you might not have a paper, but I’m not waiting for you to catch up. I’m hedging my bets right now.
The conversation then turned to our views on intermittent fasting or time restricted eating but that’s for the next blog post…
As my main course arrived, a steak with a few more prawns, she looked longingly at my plate. “I love prawns in garlic butter” she muttered.
Yes, so do I.