How much of your decision and thoughts depend on belief? Do you consider belief a strong enough position to make clinical decisions on? How should belief be seen in terms of responsibility and clinical competency? Here we muse on this very question and trust you find it of interest.
Back in 1877 the little-known British philosopher Clifford wrote in ‘The Ethics of Belief’ three arguments as to why we have a moral obligation to believe responsibly, that is, to believe only what we have sufficient evidence for, and what we have diligently investigated. Does this sound like you?
His first argument starts with the simple observation that our beliefs influence our actions. Everyone would we suspect agree that our behaviour is shaped by what we take to be true about the world – which is to say, by what we believe. If you believe that it is raining outside, you will bring an umbrella. If you believe taxis don’t take credit cards, you will make sure you have some cash before jumping into one. And if you believe that stealing is wrong, then you will pay for your goods before leaving the store. Seems straight forward….
What we believe is then of tremendous practical importance. False beliefs about physical, medical, nutritional or social facts lead us into poor habits of action that in the most extreme cases could threaten your survival.
Clifford’s second argument to back his claim that it is always wrong to believe on insufficient evidence is that poor practices of belief-formation turn us into careless, credulous believers.
Clifford describes it very neatly when he says: ‘No real belief, however trifling and fragmentary it may seem, is ever truly insignificant; it prepares us to receive more of its like, confirms those which resembled it before, and weakens others; and so gradually it lays a stealthy train in our inmost thoughts, which may someday explode into overt action, and leave its stamp upon our character.’
Translating Clifford’s warning to our interconnected times, what he tells us is that careless believing turns us into easy prey for fake-news pedlars, conspiracy theorists and charlatans. Letting ourselves become hosts to these false beliefs is he says morally wrong because, as we have seen time and again, the error cost for society can be devastating.
Clifford’s third and final argument as to why believing without evidence is morally wrong is that, in our capacity as communicators of belief, we have the moral responsibility not to pollute the well of collective knowledge.
In Clifford’s time, the way in which our beliefs were woven into what he calls the ‘precious deposit’ of common knowledge was primarily through speech and writing. Because of this capacity to communicate, ‘our words, our phrases, our forms and processes and modes of thought’ became ‘common property’. Subverting this ‘heirloom’, as he called it, by adding false beliefs is immoral because everyone’s lives ultimately rely on this vital, shared resource.
Whatever your views on (insert here whatever you wish), the recognition that the pool of common knowledge is polluted by subversion, deviation and information inadequately tested or reproduced should be upper most in your mind when communicating.
Our thought for this week is that in today’s information exchanging society, it’s very easy to propose a ‘belief’ based on spurious understanding and that as practitioners operating in a speciality, that is young, flexible and prone to over enthusiastic generation of simplistic explanations – we all have a moral, cultural and professional obligation to recall Clifford and check that our beliefs are meeting his three challenges.
Despite health and environmental concerns, global consumption of animal flesh has according to the document on sustainability by Impossible Foods grown fourfold in the past 50 years, and Americans, rather amazingly consume some 50bn burgers a year, with developing countries catching up. Surely, they are getting enough protein, but how much is actually needed for health and what source is best?
Food production is responsible for more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions and growing feed for livestock accounts for a quarter of water use. Ruminant animals such as cows and sheep occupy swaths of farmland and emit vast amounts of methane before being turned into meat. This suggests that some reduction in meat consumption may offer both personal and global benefits.
Yet the truth about the dedicated meat avoiders; Vegans and improved health is slightly less fabulous and a bit more nebulous than some of the more enthusiastic proponents would want you to believe. It seems pretty clear that we should cut down on red meat — particularly processed products such as sausages, salami and pâté — because they are implicated in heart disease and bowel cancer. There is, however, a relative deficiency of data (more is needed) confirming that of itself, a vegan diet is healthier than a vegetarian one — or even one containing a modest amount of lean meat and fish. Albeit the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported in 2009 that vegan diet followers tend to have lower body weights, lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol.
It is possible to go vegan badly, by gorging on chips, crisps and fizzy drinks; the dietary villains of fat, sugar and salt are not found only in flesh. However, lets presume that the interest in reducing meat is further supported by a willingness to explore alternative plant-derived proteins – in this case legumes – what merits do they have and how much should be eaten?
Recent studies focusing on the nutritional profiles of two great plant based proteins; chickpeas and lentils have helped push the legumes onto more consumers’ plates. There is more iron in 100 grams of lentils than in the same quantity of beef or chicken, and a serving of lentils contains less than 1 percent fat. A June 18 study by the University of Guelph, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that when healthy adults replaced half of their daily carbohydrate intake with lentils, instead of potatoes or rice, they had a far more nuanced blood sugar response and their blood-glucose levels fell by at least 20 percent.
Numerous nutritional studies also underline the healthful properties of chickpeas, which are a good source of fibre and plant-based protein and contain a number of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K, which all play important roles in bone strength and overall health. Fibre acts to decrease cholesterol in the bloodstream and aid in regulating digestion by improving microbiome function and metabolic by products such as SCFAS, among other benefits.
The growing popularity of vegetable-based diets has helped boost consumption of pulses. Veganism is also more popular now than in living memory and some 7 percent of the UK population claim to be vegan, a figure that has multiplied by 700% over the past 2 years and 14% of Britain’s population – more than seven million people – are now vegetarian. So, what do you think, is it a display of consciousness and environmental awareness and that the trend in younger consumers will stay with them throughout their life?
Animal agriculture (aquatic and terrestrial) produces about one third of globally consumed protein but faces three seemingly insurmountable challenges in the ramp-up toward feeding 10 billion by 2050: finite land available to expand grazing and feed crops; limited potential for intensification; and continued pressures on water resources, climate, habitat and land use.
So, a paper out in Cell Metabolism in March 2014 is worth a revisit – gerontologist Dr. Valter Longo and team provide insights into why protein intake and source play such an important role in biological aging—and why this relationship changes at around age 65 for many people. Based on 6,381 adults aged 50 and over from NHANES III, a nationally representative, cross-sectional study and with their analytic sample mean age of 65 years and representative of the United States population in ethnicity, education, and health characteristics they found the following:
“Overall, our human and animal studies indicate that a low protein diet during middle age is likely to be beneficial for the prevention of cancer, overall mortality, and possibly diabetes through a process that may involve, at least in part, regulation of circulating IGF-1 and possibly insulin levels.”
Their findings suggest that a diet in which plant-based nutrients represent the majority of the food intake is likely to maximise health benefits in all age groups but that at older ages, it may be important to avoid low protein intake and gradually adopt a moderate to high protein, preferably mostly plant-based consumption to allow the maintenance of a healthy weight and protection from frailty.
In the British Medical Journal on the 25th October 2018 an article was published exploring the development of a new diploma in ‘lifestyle medicine’, and asked if this is a new medical speciality? To many clinician’s ‘lifestyle’ is not simply a new speciality, but an unknown and misunderstood one. For many decades the significant role of changes in lifestyle in the prevention and recovery of non-communicable illness has been ignored or subjugated to a role of such insignificance that it has withered away from regular use in primary and secondary care. Read the rest of this entry »
The 5th AFMCP™-UK event in London, in which the education is provided by the Institute of Functional Medicine and the conference organised by Clinical Education has just recently concluded. Over 300 delegates attended the 5-day course and were either introduced, refreshed or reassured about the practical approaches to using the principals and practices of functional medicine to mediate, prevent and reverse non-communicable diseases. Read the rest of this entry »
Turmeric is obtained from the dried Curcumin longa L. (ginger family) and is well recognised as a curry spice. Curcumin is widely consumed as a food ingredient and has a long history as a spice with medicinal purposes in China and Southeast Asia. Turmeric is comprised of 3 curcuminoids (curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin), sugars, proteins, volatile oils (natlantone, tumerone and zingiberone) and resins. Of the 3 curcuminoids, curcumin is the most active lipophilic polyphenol compound which is quite stable in the acidic pH of the stomach. Read the rest of this entry »
The relationship between the contents, metabolites, barrier and immune response of the gut and organs and function in the body are becoming well understood, albeit there are many nuances yet to be quantified.
One area in which the dynamic interaction between the gut and organs is rapidly rising up the knowledge tree is the ‘liver and gut axis’. In large part this is due to the increase in the prevalence of liver related inflammation, of which non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming a global problem. Read the rest of this entry »
Loss – what does it mean to you, what does it mean to the people you are helping? It likely means many things, because loss will be contextual and personal, but what happens when love, health, companionship, career or opportunity whatever their category and classification, dissolves under the interminable forces of time and change, be it by acts of sabotage, obfuscation, entropy, death or by some other, obscure or deliberate demise? Read the rest of this entry »
Almost 3 of the 10 people you will see walking around your home or coming to seek health have a hidden problem – a fatty liver without alcohol being the primary cause. Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver (NAFLD) we propose is the fingerprint of the impending collapse of developed societies. It is the liver’s direct expression of metabolic syndrome and for most people it’s a great unknown. Read the rest of this entry »
The term “moral injury” was first used to describe soldiers’ responses to their actions in war. It represents “perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to, or learning about acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.” Read the rest of this entry »
Are you a cat or dog person?
– why is this of any interest to you as a practitioner and why would you care other than if you are bonded with one or both of these species? Well, it seems that there is a cat dependent parasite that has the ability once you become its host to potentially alter your thoughts and moderate perception of risk and whilst this has been known for some time in terms of its manipulation of its host (mainly rodents) to ensure progeny – more and more data suggests it also impacts on human thoughts and patterns of action!
Its common, wide spread and likely if you are a cat lover to be invested in your survival right now! Read the rest of this entry »