So I have several ideas in mind for this forum discussions, but one of the first ones I would like to talk about is the future of medicine.
At present, we tend to have a somewhat fragmented approach to healthcare. We are all familiar with the medical paradigms, based on focusing on symptoms as a problem to be stopped. What we tend to see is that medical approaches based on acute symptoms, eg. Severe pneumonia, are generalised across the health system, to be used for more minor symptoms eg. "colds", as well as for chronic conditions. These typical are based on either using toxic medicines, surgery, or other invasive procedures.
Whilst we all understand the need for medicine at times (eg. if we have had a car crash or fallen unconscious, or if there is a severe and life-threatening complication in pregnancy), we also realise that there are problems with this approach to healthcare when it is the primary approach to all symptoms.
We also have other healthcare systems, more commenly referred to as the CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) approaches. These range from massage, to osteopathy/chiropractic, to hypnotherapy, to acupuncture, herbalism and homeopathy). These are often based on slightly adapted models of the conventional theory of healthcare and disease. Typically, they focus on re-estabilishing homeostasis through some sort of either mechanical intervention (eg. osteopathy, acupuncture) or through a natural medicine approach, as with herbalism and homeopathy. Whilst these are increasingly more accepted and widely used in modern society, there is often still a somewhat fragmented and inconsistent approach to the use of these and invariably, they attempt to stop the symptoms from being present without always focusing on all of the causes of these symptoms. Some do a better job at looking 'holistically' than others of course.
We also have the new field of functional medicine, which is only about 20 years old. This aims to educate those who are already qualified as either primary care physicians or CAM workers to adapt their current approaches to incorporate a more holstic approach to understanding symptoms. This model attempts to look at the core functional systems of the body eg. digestion, transport, communication, detoxification, elimination, energy production etc. and try to understand what factors in someones present lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep, work, relationships, emotional/psychological health, hobbies/passtimes, substance use/coping strategies etc) and from someones past (eg. medication use, trauma, physical health problems, environmental toxin exposure, lifestyle etc) might be contributing to current symptoms. It attempts to look at a biochemical level, what is going on in the body, by using advanced diagnostic testing (eg. blood, urine, stool analysis) which are normally unavailable from most pathology labs, or at least not requested, and only available from private labs, to identify what is going on what their internal chemistry is expressing about its current state of health. It then attempts to link this up to the previous medical history and current symptomology to understand how it all fits together.
It then focuses on what the bloodwork and symptoms tell us about what deficiencies may be present, what biochemical pathways may be dysfunctional (eg. over/underactive) etc. and to attempt to reverse symptoms by improving the nutrient intakes for these biochemical pathways, using dietary changes and specific supplements that are only available for practitioners to buy and sell.It also looks at other lifestyle factors, eg. exercise, breathing patterns, psychological interventions etc. to make changes.
The good thing about functional medicine, is that it is based on cutting edge science and is all research based. All supplements are given in dosages that have been clinically tested, and come with synergistic nutrients that we currently know of, in the proportionate dosages. All dietary recommendations are based on research, and as are lifestyle and other factors.
The aim of functional medicine is to replace the current use of an acute based care model in primary care, with a functional based model that seeks to understand what is going on for a specific individual, rather than tryig to generalise everyones experience too much.
We also have natural hygiene, which also understands symptoms are the bodys way of communicating with us, and are related to healing attempts by the body, rather than being a problem in and of itself. NH also attempts to look at health holistically, but eschews the use of supplements, herbs and mechanical therapies/interventions.
What I like about NH is its focus on trusting nature, and of purely seeing symptoms as beneficial, rather than problematic.It does this to the extent of believing that symptoms are such an important gift from the body, that it is essential not to suppress them so we can continue to use the feedback as a guide for knowing that the causes have or have not yet been fully addressed.
One of the limitations of functional medicine I find, is that whilst it is attempting to find a systematic, reliable, and scientifically reproducible approach to primary care and chronic disease, it is still basing its information based on what has currently been researched in dietary methods. Often this involves eating a very natural diet, and often being low in grains etc. But it does not base any of its approaches on a high carbohydrate, raw food diet. Hence it can sometimes over-depend on supplements, I believe because the dietary approaches whilst being lower in some other health promoting factors, contain too many limiting factors.
What I dislike about NH is that it can be rigidly against the use of techniques (like massage, osteopathy/chiropractic, acupuncture etc) which can be of therapeutic value, even if only to relieve severe discomfort or to promote healing benefits from increased oxytocin production brought about by increasing physical contact with another human.
What I also dislike about NH is that there is no systematic level of training, or consistency in the level of knowledge. Hence some of the ideas are a little too much based on opinion, assumption, misunderstandings or conjecture. Although I think most of NH is sound, I think that it is largely based on ideas from 50-150 years ago. Although some of the ideas have been slightly updated, it is still a little behind the times and is in need of revising, to make of use of scientific understanding from the modern age.
What I also dislike about NH is that there it does seem to be inconsistent with animal behaviour in nature, in some regards. For example, with parasites and herbal medicine.Many animals do instinctively use toxic herbs to promote the ejection of unwanted things in our body. I also find that some peoples approach to the germ theory is a little incorrect and in need of updating. I do agree that germs are beneficial and have a symbiotic relationship with humans and that they are not the cause of disease and infection per se. I do also believe they are part of the solution not the problem as such. But I believe that the idea that they are not spread through transmission/not contagious is erroneous. I believe that they can only proliferate given certain conditions and therefore transmission or contagion does not mean that symptoms will be reproduced in each body. But I do believe that they play a role in symptoms and can potentially be problematic if the body is in a weakened state and is highly toxic, since the waste products of these microorganisms will add to the problem.
I think that NH presents the most solid base for a truly holstic approach to healthcare, and aspects of it do seem to be filtering into various fields of healthcare. However as yet, it is something which can only really be uptaken by people already qualified in primary healthcare OR by people who have no knowledge or training in these fields, since most courses are just correspondance based.
I think that the problem with this is that it opens up the field of NH to scrutiny in the face of science, to people who lack the knowledge to support their ideas, and prevents it from being integrated more fully into the mainstream society. Which is a real shame.
I think the key problem with most of the fields above, with the possible exception of Functional medicine, is that they have all attempted to present separate ideas, spin off movements and to assert their correctness to the exclusion of others.
I think that this poses a problem, since it denies an opportunity to advance understanding by drawing upon a variety of ideas.
I think that current medical training is evolving slowly, but is still not catching up at a rapid enough rate for it to be helpful. I think that whilst nutrition as a field is moving more towards incorporating raw foods and more plant foods, and less grains and dairy, there is still an increasing movement towards animal foods like fish, white meat and eggs, in some aspects of society.
One of the difficulties with estabilishing raw foods within the mainstream is that it is based often on ideas which are outdated and not supported by science. It is also promoted by people with no academic training, and who have made no efforts to conduct clinical research. This means most results are anecdotal at best. Although some people get great results, because of the limited knowledge, many people promote ideas when people are struggling, which are not useful and fail to account for peoples experiences, either practically, emotionally or even physiologically. Hence sometimes results are not consistently reproducible. For every 9 people that are helped by the diet, 1 is not.
One of the reasons for this, is the popular use of 'movements' ie. creating fringe subcultures within society, to promote a wider wave of change. To some degree this is always a necessary and inevitable aspect of any kind of change, exploration of new ideas and integration to sicety. Yet to another degree, it eventually finds its limits. Because many people have attempted to create a movement that rejects mainstream ideas about nutrition in favour of seeking answers for oneself, many people lack a detailed understanding of the subject and fall into the same confusions and misunderstandings as many others about nutrition.
Although there is an increasing shift towards fruit based diets thanks primarily to the influence of Doug Graham, and by proxy, those who have been influenced by his ideas, there has also been an increased shift towards animal foods in certain aspects of the raw community. This is primarily because people have failed to understand the reasons for their failure to thrive on a raw diet, and hence have attempted to find solutions by reconnecting with parts of mainstream ideas and integrating these into an adapted viewpoint.
Raw foods as a movement, has bcome very much intertwined with spirituality. I mean that in the broadest sense of the term, to mean attempting to discover and stay true to the essence of ourself. Consequently, we have people who having discovered ideas that benefit them and others, decide to reject aspects of mainstream culture, such as education and science, and set themselves up as educators and practitioners. People recognise that there is a lot of waste, in terms of time and money, in studying some subjects whose content will be widely forgotten and extraneous to actual practical requirements. And so they decide to learn what they want to learn, without feeling a need to make compromises in their integrity.
I totally understand and support this in some ways. But in other ways, I think it is important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We must acknowledge that for all the problems with the current approach to science and evidence based research and clincal practice, it is an evolving model that will only evolve further by contribution of new ideas, perspectives and approaches. Science is attempting to provide evidence of systematic approaches to life and problem solving in order to find truth. Its pursuits are noble in this regards.
The trouble is that when such people come against a problem that they do not understand, they deny its existence, or attempt to frame it in away that makes sense to them, based on opinion or assumption, rather than fact. To some extent, this is natural and part of the way our brain works. To another extent however, it presents a limitation to our knowledge and depth of understanding. And it means we have a wider collective of voices, presenting ideas that they do not fully understand, and promoting the denial of things which do not pertain to their ideas about the way things should work. This not only denies the experience of individuals, it actually promotes a selfish and even delusional approach to an integrated spirituality within raw foods. It attempts to ignore the truth in favour of maintaining an opinion, even to the extent of rejecting or abusing others. Such a situation then risks the dangers of creating a religion of the raw food movement, promoting false, or partially inaccurate dogma.
History tells us what happens when this occurs: Self-righteousness, vanity, power, corruption, deceit and hypocrisy will proliferate in such conditions. As will conflict, miscommunication, greed, selfishness and personal interpretation. And ultimately, a promotion of separatism, fanaticism, emotionalism and eventual dissolution.
I think that we need to ensure that as a movement, there is enough new blood that is commited to improving understanding of new ideas and participating in the search for a broader perspective and understanding and a rigorous commitment to searching for the truth.
I think that we need to learn from history, not just in terms of nutrition and disease, but also society, politics and all sorts of other things too. We need to make sure we are ensuring a sustainable approach to promoting raw foods, in a way that will gradually lead to integration and acceptance within the mainstream culture. As I currently see it, this requires us to take advantage of the benefits of modern society and make use of education, science, research etc to increase the body of knowledge and understanding about raw foods and its myriad benefits.
I think once this happens, we can start to influence the wider educational fields of nutrition and medicine.
I believe we need to ultimately move towards an attempt to understand the various perspectives from different fields such as nutrition, CAM, medicine etc. and find a way to make sense of them enough to integrate everything into one common body of knowledge, based on evidence.
This ensures that the movement evolves and is flexible, rather than becoming rigid and inflexible. We know from nature, that the only things that are rigid and inflexible are those that are dead or were never alive.
Ultimately my vision is deepen my understanding of nutrition, physiology and pathology, and to contribute to the mainstream integration of ideas about NH and raw foods, through the use of science and research. My eventual goal is to then use this information, research and experience to create an educational template and opportunity, for training truly holistic medical physicians, who have detailed and advanced knowledge of nutrition, psychology, CAM, and medicine to offer a truly diverse and personalised experience of primary healthcare. And to use this as template for influencing the wider educational community, by demonstrating the effectiveness of training physicians in this way, in terms of economics, health improvement in terms of speed, quality and sustainability etc.
I see this as being the future for raw foods. What do you think?
I'm honored to read this! Truly. First of all, because I have contemplated the health aspects of raw for a long time, the discrepancies I've found, the varying views of the broader raw food community, and also the issue of doctors as aids to health in general. You've brought up so many excellent points, but this one really stood out were your points on truth, and the indications that science and research can give that are very helpful.
I come from a background of home birthing my children (second one unassisted) and really was forced to look at issues in modern medicine while pregnant and in the process of refusing immunization and prenatal/natal testing with my children. It didn't turn out to be an all or nothing approach (my issue with certain tenants of NH philosophy too). First birth I was in a position to require emergency care (stitches and surgery). It would have been amazing to have a holistic surgeon or acupuncture instead of the epidural and anesthesia I received. I can imagine now that there are other alternatives, and it would truly have been great to have those. I've received necessary medical care for stitches and glass removal since then, and again, would have welcomed a better alternative. But, I hold gratitude for those who helped me at the time, using the only methods they were familiar with.
Do you hold any opinions on kineseology/muscle testing techniques as a way of evaluating health, presence of deficiencies or finding the root cause of a problem? I think if done without good knowledge it can fall under the category of uneducated methods of declaring truth. But, I also think it can be accurate if done with a good knowledge base and may be useful in conjunction with other methods, perhaps even to displace blood testing. I'm sure there's value in blood testing under certain circumstance but also feel it makes the body go through undue stress.
I wish for a general return to health care being a means to relieve human suffering. Hearing your vision makes me so glad, because by putting into such precise language, I feel it will be a reality. Thanks Adam!
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I am pleased that you enjoyed hearing my thoughts around this issue and felt that it resonated with you in some way.
It is unfortunate that you had to go through your experience with your first pregnany requiring medical intervention, but great that you were able to receive some of the benefits of modern medicine that enabled you and your baby to live a healthy life. We do live in a wonderful age in this regards, where we are able to benefit from being able to manage complicated births etc. in a way that we once would have been unable to.
I agree, it would be awesome to have had a holistic surgeon who was trained in acupunture or hypnotherapy. I remember watching an amazing documentary on the BBC a few years ago about open heart surgery with acupuncture. It is truly incredible. TCM has always fascinated me, perhaps because my love of Taoism and Tai Chi.
I am interested in the idea of kinesiology and think it would be very interesting to compare tests such as kinesiology, bio-energetic stress testing devices and actual blood sample testing for different types of immune responses to stressors (eg. IgE, IgA, IgG responses). At the moment, I would say that kinesiology is pretty unscientific. I had a client several months ago who was a kinesiologist. Some of the things she got from this were very interesting. But she also did kinesiology on another client of mine and didn't seem to come up with foods that her body was obviously reacting to. So I remain open-minded but uncertain at this point in time.
I guess like you say, it very much depends on the knowledge base and skill of the practitioner. I think it would require a lot of testing to convince me that kinesiology would be a useful replacement for blood testing though.I think there would need to be a very explicit and reliable form of training also, since many places teach kinesiology courses in a long weekend.
Ultimately, I would love to be able to afford to run an independent healthcare centre that was also a research centre, for running clinical tests comparing different types of testing, amongst other things.
One of the things I would like to do ultimately is find a scientific base for TCM and acupuncture. I have a theory at the moment that the TCM 'meridians' and energetic flow, and blockages, that they talk about are actually the lymphatic system, or at least related to the lymphatic system.
I would love to modernise the language for ancient medical traditions like ayurveda and TCM, finding a scientific rationale for these, whilst also attempting to illustrate their efficacy, in many cases, at merely masking the symptoms, as hygiene discusses.
I am glad you feel like my vision could be come a reality.:o)
Adam, this is a brilliant message, I am moved. You have described the current fabric of medicine with depth and precision, and you truly know the subject matter. I find your pointing to the direction that we should be going as a movement very exciting. My dream is for us to join the mainstream and thus change the planet, and, as you propose, for that to occur it would help to be more flexible about it. I feel that we need to become a lot more open minded about our ideas, willing to evolve and communicate with each other a lot better too. I feel that different people might have some great ideas and we might be missing out on them, if we do not listen to one another.
My personal preference is that I like to use both intellectual and intuitive aspects of myself in equal proportions, and I feel that this is the most productive way for me to be. Similarly, I feel that as a community we need an equal use of our intellect and intuition. In my view, intuition can be seen as thought processes that are too fast for the intellect to catch up with on a conscious level, and as very powerful engines driving our understanding of the world.
Often, in order to distinguish between the great ideas of the intuition and some flops, there is a need for the use of the intellect. In particular, I see science as a tool that can be very useful. For example, we have plenty of empirical evidence available in the form or real people that are part of this movement, and we could use it to reach out to the mainstream science, and thus affect its research, and in turn, the society. If we could use science to study this lifestyle and create the body of hard-core evidence, this would increase our chance to be heard. I fully agree with the notion that we should not create our theories based on false representations. Let's not our passion for spreading the benefits of this lifestyle override the rigor. Let's use our intuition and passion, but let's also be wise in using our intellect.
Thanks for taking the time to comment. I am glad you enjoyed the post and that you share my dream to join the mainstream and propose a wider influence on the planet. It is exciting to hear other people getting excited about my ideas too.
I agree that becoming more open-minded and flexible with our ideas in order to facilitate communication. I think that if people remain stubbornly inflexible and self-righteous/indignant about their beliefs, we will never move forwards. By opening our own mind, this will become reflected in our communication and will encourage others non-verbally to feel secure enough to open up. We need to let down our ego's and prioritise communication, cooperation and shared learning above all else.
I agree that intuition is such an important complement to the intellect. Most of my best decisions have been made using a combination of these two important forms of guidance systems. I agree that intuition is likely just speedier, or unconscious thought processes, which go beyond the speed that our conscious attention can keep up with or comprehend. I think that left-brain dominance and education has been too significantly promoted as the pinnacle of academic excellence. Although we teach some more right-brained activities in schools, like art, music and dance, they are taught in a very left-brained way for the most part. I think this limits our development.
I think as we start to improve rapport with ourselves, through responding to our own needs in optimal ways, such as with a lfrv diet, we can improve the quality of relationship with ourselves, learning to trust and develop intuition at a stronger level. We can then also model this and integrate this into approaches to relating to children specifically. Particularly regarding education.
I personally favour more experiential and autonomously driven schooling methods for children, particularly in earlier years. I think it is far more important to first teach children how to understand their minds, bodies, and nature, as well as inter-personal relationships etc. And to develop a strong idea of their own passions, interests, strengths and skills. And to use these things to teach children how to self-motivate learning. I am a big believer that it is a better idea to teach things in a broader perspective, covering numerous subject areas by focusing on specific areas of interest, rather than rigidly teaching isolate subjects in a linear fashion.
Many medical education establishments are now starting to recognise the important of experiential learning. One of the medical schools that I am considering studying at in the UK, (which is also incidentally the first medical school in the country to offer 'integrative' student electives, such as clinical nutrition, herbalism, psychoneuroimmunology and all sorts of other fascinating sounding modules) uses problem based learning to teach medical education. Rather than having fixed lectures on dry subjects like biochemistry, anatomy, pharmacology etc. they are using peer based learning, with tutors acting as mere facilitators. Students are given case studies with problems, and they have to learn about the various subjects required to understand that problem, how to differentially diagnose, and what treatments would be most appropriate. They start at pre-conception and work through the life cycle to geriatric care, over the 5 year period.
There are no lectures as normally given, class room sizes are very small, and students are split into small groups with a case study each, and given 2 weeks to learn as much as possible to then present this information to their class mates.
The medical school has one of the highest rates of student positive feedback in the UK. They have also ditched the regular examining methods, claiming that the reason they don't use regular lecture based learning and examination methods, is that people learn more information than they can retain, without any context to apply it to, and hence only learn to remember the information for exams, without having a genuine relevant interest or retention of the information in the longer term. For exams, all questions are in the form of case studies, and they are given multiple choice questions.
This teaching method has been so successful that the medical education boards have now recommended problem based learning as an optimal learning strategy for future medical education. They don't recommend it exclusively at present, currently recommending partial PBL and partial lecture based learning.
The medical school have also stopped teaching in the traditional way of covering theory for the first part of the medical degree, then doing clinical placements afterwards. Students are in hospital clinical placements from day one of their degree.
Experiential learning like this is so much more valuable and interest imo than regular forms of education. I see this as being the future of learning, not only at university level, but at all ages.
I think such approaches will cultivate more intuitive approaches to learning and feel that this will help to guide a greater level of open-mindedness and curiosity in doctors and students of the future. This makes me very excited.
I've been thinking about certain somewhat related topics and am wondering about your opinion on these.
1) It would be good if the vast body of the empirical evidence available in the form or people who follow the raw vegan lifestyle, was studied by mainstream science with a lot more interest than currently. What can we do to encourage this to occur?
2) Although there are many real-life stories that can be seen as strong evidence in support for raw vegan lifestyle, there are also stories of those who struggle with health problems seemingly as the result of following it. Sometimes such people are blamed for what occurred, even when they are trying their best in a most genuine manner. So, how do we ensure that the advice given is useful? How do we make sure that we are not making a mistake when giving advice? What should be the benchmarks for giving correct advice on how to be successful on this lifestyle?
3) What do you think is the value of quoting scientific references (published papers) or mainstream findings on nutrition? To what extent can we trust them? How do we ensure the balance between informing others about the mainstream findings and the reality that these findings are often the reflection of the current state of the science, not set-in-stone facts?
Gosia, those are great questions, but regarding #1, I wonder how many of us following this lifestyle would want to be studied. In some ways, I think we have to each intuit our own states of health through the results: how happy we are, how focused on life goals, how strong and free from disease. Recently I believe Anne had a blood test and shared the results, which were outstanding, on iheartfruit. Just musing here, but I would be interested in knowing exactly how healthy some of the other folks are, who are following higher fat, or advocating for animal product based diets. Are there really different diets for different people? I know this is a big dilema, because it would seem that what works for one human should work for another, at least on some level. I have a friend following a more paleo diet, who says she just can't understand how I do it. She says that she just can't function with extra fruit in her diet.
From what I've seen of many studies cautioning against sugar in the diet, there really isn't much that is relevant to fruit. Sure, highly processed corn syrup, and isolated fructose can have negative effects, but when I see some of these studies in the mainstream, though it is discouraging on the surface, I feel the real correlations with a fruit diet are very misleading.
I'm looking forward to hearing more thoughts on this topic.
Thanks for taking the time to respond! I'm amazed by your indepth understanding of both education and medicine. 10 years ago, when I was pregnant, my husband and I began talking about unschooling our baby(s) and I see amazing results every day. My children are driven to have concentration and deep understanding, merely from being allowed to follow their interests. They go indepth and think creatively, they notice life on a very real level and I'm sure they're going to do great things, simply because they can see through and around the boxes that most others are forced into. It is so important.
Just a snippet from our day yesterday showed me something interesting about learning processes and society interaction. My kids have been interested in pacman, not to win (they have no sense of competition, because they've never been in school!) but to enjoy the challenge of the mazes, and to explore the "story line" of how the monsters can be tricked etc. They've learned strategies and comprehended numbers in the hundred thousands. But yesterday, they got into the coding of how the game was produced and figured out how to manipulate it to make the game give extra lives, perks and how to make various characters disappear. No one showed them or suggested it. They figured it out, and they're 6 and 9!
It would be really exciting for higher education to be following some of these experimental learning methods, and for real life experience to happen in an integrated way. I imagine there are some who train in the medical field and then have a hard time when it comes to actually working with clients. I've seen so many people develop one side of themselves without being realistic about the actual experience of working in their field.
I think a lot of the older traditional medicine schools have wisdom in them. Some must be obscured, but that sounds accurate about the lymph and TCM. Thanks for your input on kineseology too. I've seen it work for food allergies, but in a more serious situation the blood tests would be more precise.
Adam, I love your writing!
Sun Maiden, I am interested in studies done on the ultimate challenge to stereotypes, a fruit-based raw vegan diet. Every study relies on volunteers, and it's very likely that some willing participants would be found. The bigger issue is to attract the attention of the scientists, who prefer to invent cures rather than change the way of thinking. I mean here a rigorous and careful study to analyze the long-term effects of this lifestyle and hopefully rewrite some chapters from nutrition books.
I too wonder whether they are different diets for different people. I do not have the answer to this. I do understand though that the quality of food is important, and so perhaps it is much easier to follow this diet while living in a tropical climate?
Sorry there, I haven't checked back on this for a while; I tend to disable email settings on ning forums so I don't get lots of emails in my inbox at any one time. I haven't been as active on this forum yet as I would like to be, I apologise for the delay.
These are good questions, I will do my best to think of some answers.
1) I am unsure what the best way to establish an interest in raw food empirical evidence is from mainstream science. I think that one of the limitations is that many people do not offer a sufficient amount of detail. And sometimes people are prone to offer exaggerated bias in their accounts of details, which may then change over time. For example, Appleman was an ardent advocate of a lfrv diet. He talked often about how it had changed his life, even doing interviews etc. Then all of a sudden he announced that he hadn't been feeling as good as he claimed and was now feeling miraculously better from including animal products in his diet. To the scientific community, I think that subjective accounts of personal health improvements, without a sufficient level of objective data, seems unimpressive or unreliable.The placebo effect, whilst an important phenomena in the study of health improvements, could often be used to justify apparent improvements in health as a result by those who are skeptical of the diets efficacy.
I think there needs to be a way of more objectively tracking people who come into the raw food lifestyle, to record progress. This way we can combine subjective, empirical findings, with objective, scientific methods. I think that over time, this may present some of the best ways to attract attention.
For example, one of the things I was considering setting up, either on my own website, or on a separate ning forum, was a log of those who were interested in starting a lfrv diet. The ning website would need to be a specific lfrv research ning forum. Or it would be a section of my own website. But it would log personal details, including weight (with body composition details), height, age, gender, current dietary patterns, previous dietary patterns over last 5 years, current medication, exercise, sleep, lifestyle patterns etc. diagnoses, symptoms undiagnosed and most recent bloodwork including full nutrient profile (including fatty acid and amino acid spectrum profile), liver and renal function, cbc, toxic load, including heavy metals, hormone profile (inc. sex, adrenal and thyroid), cholesterol and triglyceride, inflammatory markers, infections etc etc. The log would also contain motivations for starting the diet.
Participants would be asked to log food intake on cronometer to identify typical nutrient intake patterns and food intake patterns, to ensure objectivity in assessing any correllations between symptom improvement/reduction and either deficiency, excess or sufficiency of nutrient intakes, as well as to track and record positive or negative compliance patterns. They would also be asked to provide updates on their physical stats, lifestyle patterns and blood and urine analysis reading on an annual basis.
The positives of this is that it would enable us to track average compliance and difficulties with the diet, as well as any correllations between blood/urine result changes, symptomatic changes, compliance etc. with dietary patterns and lifestyle patterns.
The challenges of this, is that it does rely on honesty (although all diet related research does, excepting those done under in-patient facilities). It also requires rigorous commitment to recording diet/lifestyle patterns, as well as updating annually. It also may be expensive for some people, to get hold of such comprehensive information in a reliable way, eg. blood/urine analysis, accurate body composition data etc. Another challenge is data collection and analysis; it would be very time consuming if results were gathered from very large numbers of people.
The benefits are that it could enable us to collect really valuable statistical information, and could provide a 'virtual' epidemiological study over a longer period of time, if people stuck to the diet. It could also provide a really legitimate way to grab the attention of the scientific community.
An alternative way, may be go create a questionnaire tool for those who join forums, as an optional request and ask if they want to be part of the research, or simply to redirect them to my website or forum.
2) I think that these are important - and very difficult - questions to answer. I agree that it is important to balance advice given. I think that if people were taking part in the research suggested above, this might at least provide objective information, to help inform the sort of advice which could be given, to ensure it is more specific and useful. I think that my thinking about what sort of benchmarks for giving correct advice change all the time. When I first started a raw diet, a purist natural hygiene approach was at the forefront of my mind. The advice I would have thought to give would have been to simplify and bring the diet further into alignment with natural dietary patterns (eg. mono-meals, no blending, juicing, chopping, eating from when hungry until full etc). By the time I had graduated, I was thinking more along the lines of the governmental guidelines; Use nutrient intakes as a guidelines, that have been shown to be sufficient for preventing deficiencies in 97.5% of the population, as a safety measure. My thinking then changed to reflect the possibilities that some people may need less nutrients than others. More recently, my thinking has started to shift back to reflecting the safety standards, and even approaching more of the optimum nutrition guidelines for higher nutrient intake than those offered by the government guidelines, to ensure safety.
There is no real guarantee that we are not making mistakes when giving advice. Due to the influences of biochemical individuality, as well as preferences and psychological factors, there are always subtle differences in the things we need to account for in order to ensure advice is safe and appropriate.
I think that it is challenging, because sometimes it may be apparent that there could have been additional ways that someone could adapt their diet, which may improve outcomes, though it may also not (but should be ruled out before deciding that the diet definitely does not work). It is important to get this across in a way that allows someone the freedom to choose not to experiment further, whilst reminding them that this does not mean that they have exhausted all avenues and that the diet definitely does not work for them at this point. It may be that they need to get themselves into a position where they may be able to handle the diet better (biochemically, financially or emotionally), or it may be that they need to experiment with different approaches next time, if they ever choose to embark on the diet again.
Blame is never a useful strategy for promoting truth, understanding or change. I think that it is important that people are encouraged to be respectful. One of the difficulties, is that often, the way that people are approached, is determined by factors such as projection, transference, forum guidelines, cultural pressures/role modelling, lack of professional training/registration. Many people give advice, without being trained or qualified either in nutrition, or in psycho-social interactions with others. People often lack the skills, patience or requirements to give appropriate advice. Often people are also basing their advice on what has worked well for them, rather than what might work best for the individual.
I don't think we are in a position to really set benchmarks for giving correct advice, since we don't really know what they should be or are. I think we need more evidence to create and support such guidelines. The research proposal above, would offer at least a start to this process.Ultimately, I think that a training course with professional registration, would be the best way to ensure a uniform benchmark for professional excellence in accurate advice giving and ethical practice.
3) I think that sometimes it can be useful to be aware of different scientific findings on nutrition, if they are appropriate and understood by the person quoting them. I don't believe that it's work throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but I think it is important to remember to keep the research findings in context, and to critically appraise the findings where possible, before flaunting them around. It is important not to cherry pick data in this regards. I think that it is difficult to group all nutrition findings together in answering your question, since often the data is what it is, but it is the representation or interpretation of the data which may need to be considered differently. Hence we may be able to trust certain pieces of research over others. One of the things I aim to do with my website is to provide the tools for people to start using science in context, and to start developing their capacity for questioning and curiosity, rather than acceptance or disregard for certain pieces of information. It will take some time to establish this, but I really hope to slowly find ways to enable people to embrace science more (since I very often find it is misunderstood or rejected partiially, selectively or entirely by raw foodists), and to hone the motivations for personal and social dietary change by developing more systematic approaches to learning, evaluating and disseminating information. This will likely evolve over time, as I do.
I want to read your website! I don't have anything to add to your response, except appreciation and encouragement! I think you have wonderful ideas, clearly expressed, and very excellent solutions to both creating environments where people feel comfortable participating in research, and facilitating greater understanding of the available scientific research! Way to go! I am REALLY looking forward to see your ideas taking off! Please share website details, when you're ready.
Thanks so much Adam for replying. I find your response very helpful. I too believe that we need an objective approach to studying this lifestyle and I find the idea of your upcoming website quite exciting! I feel that you provided a very nice set of guidelines for our community in your post, and although benchmarks may not exist, the suggestions you formulated are an excellent start.
As far as researching this lifestyle, I do have some contacts in the University, obviously, but have not approached anyone with the subversive idea of studying the raw vegan diet. I have been contemplating it at times. The tricky part is explaining this lifestyle to someone without sounding completely nuts in their eyes!
In the recent year, quite a few new websites have formed and it seems that quite a few more are coming yet. I once thought that all this could occur on one big forum, but clearly, there is a need for a lot more freedom of expression and variety of the form, than one such place could offer.
I look forward to your website very much.