Eat well, stay well
December 6th 2012, 14:37 | Bryan Hubbard
Only around 10 per cent of Britons take their health seriously; the rest rely on medicine. In other words, just one in 10 of us take responsibility for our well-being by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day and adopting a healthy lifestyle while the vast majority eats a nutrition-free diet and expects their ills to be sorted out by a 'magic bullet' pharmaceutical.
Most people fall woefully short of the modest five-a-day set by our health guardians, and even this is barely adequate to maintain reasonable health. A recent study from the University of Warwick has found that the healthiest and happiest are eating at least seven portions of fruits and vegetables every day, but just 10 per cent of us are doing that. A quarter of the population barely manages to eat even one portion.
The researchers concluded that their survey into the lifestyles of 80,000 Britons demonstrates the vital role that diet and nutrition plays in our lives, and "yet is often overlooked by other researchers".
You can add doctors to the list. Nutrition is one of their blind spots; food is just something we eat in order to stay alive, and disease strikes randomly just as the rain falls equally on the just and the unjust. When it does, we have a pill for almost every ill.
Better yet, medicine can protect against disease with a vaccine, and, along with antibiotics, vaccinations are medicine's great success story. Its latest flourish is this winter's 'Flu safe' campaign, with millions of pounds of taxpayer's money being spent on an advertising campaign that tells the vulnerable-mainly the over-65s-that the flu shot can protect them against the latest virus.
There are two things wrong with the message. The first is that the vaccine gives almost no protection, as the prestigious Cochrane researchers have demonstrated, although their 'rigorous and robust' research-the sort that health guardians apparently like-has been completely ignored this time.
It is also utterly irresponsible. Those millions of pounds should be spent on advising the elderly on the foods they should be eating in order to maintain health.
As Louis Pasteur, the father of modern vaccination, pointed out, it's almost all to do with the field-the body and immune system-and little to do with the virus. A healthy body built up by a good nutritious diet trumps disease.
But, then, he was ignored, too.