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The truth behind the conflicting health messages in the media

The heading in this month’s Prima Magazine – ‘Are you eating enough chocolate? The health story you will want to read’ – caught our eye and reminded us how easy it is to become confused by so many health messages.

Have you ever picked up a newspaper to read on the front page that drinking alcohol is bad for you, only to read on page six that two glasses of red wine will reduce your cholesterol?

Or eating meat will give you cancer, and then the next week you read meat will reduce your risk of dementia?

There are so many different stories published on health it’s no wonder so many of us are confused about the best things to eat and drink to stay healthy.

We thought we would collate some of the most conflicting stories and put them up on our blog to make our point!

Is a fry up a bad breakfast?

Eating a fry up is bad for you!

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/danger-in-a-fry-up-and-fresh-fruit-375898

A fry up is the best breakfast ever!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1263778/Why-British-fry-healthiest-breakfast-.html

Exercise is good for you though?

No!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-102261/Is-workout-bad-you.html

Is drinking alcohol bad for your health?

White wine is good for your heart.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/article1817768.ece

But bad for your teeth!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8314802.stm

Can dairy products help prevent Alzheimer’s?

According to this article milk can help prevent it.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/4883744/Milk-could-help-prevent-Alzheimers-Disease.html

This diet in the Daily Mail recommends cutting out dairy to prevent it.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1215116/The-simple-diet-fight-arthritis-Alzheimers-disease.html

What about water? Everyone knows drinking water is good for you… Isn’t it?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2014112/Drinking-water-bad-health-Benefits-myth.html

Many people find themselves asking questions like where do these stories come from? Who writes them? How could it be that studies find such differing results and surely something is either good for you or not, right?

Well, wrong actually.

We are given varying health messages due to some really simple factors. Some of the reasons this might happen are:

  • The reality is, some products might be great for helping with one aspect of our health but it may also have adverse effects somewhere else. This doesn’t mean it’s always bad/good for you, but that eating some of it in moderation may not be as bad as you would think.
  • Quirky or controversial stories make good headlines. Things like chocolate or wine being good for you is unexpected so a study which highlights these facts is likely to get picked up by the press.
  • Many stories, studies, research, may be produced by PR companies trying to change the image of a certain brand, product or type of food. This doesn’t mean for a minute the research isn’t true or manipulated. It just means that the PR companies will play on aspects of the research that help their case.
  • Finally, journalists are human! The author writing the story might have a view that wine is bad for you. When given a study with slightly negative results about wine they are likely to pick up on this and go with it.

I think perhaps sticking to the old motto everything in moderation is the best thing to do when it comes to your health.

Eat a balanced diet, do some exercise and treat yourself when you want to. Ultimately we must do what feels right for us as individuals … we know ourselves better than anyone!

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