Food for thought

Faith in food supplements

Capsules and powders and pills, oh my!

Capsules and powders and pills, oh my!

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I take more than a dozen vitamins and food supplements every morning. I primarily take them to control blood fat and blood sugar numbers. But in recent weeks, I’ve realized there’s no true way to track the results of taking these products, and the pills and capsules are not only expensive, but there’s also nobody I trust ensuring their potency or ingredients.

So I’m stuck. My blood glucose numbers have been trending higher and higher, and essentially all the things I do to keep them under control are valueless when I get under job or life stress.

But as I sit here, I’m having a crisis of faith. First, I don’t really believe in the government or conventional medical establishment. Second, I don’t really believe that many supplements contain what the packaging says they contain. Third, I don’t really believe that taking drugs, however effective for the issue at hand, is good. Fourth, I know that if I don’t deal with the diabetic numbers, I’m going to die younger than I have to.

My medicine cabinet looks like a bowl of Alpha-Bits cereal: mega-3 fatty acids, alpha lipoic acid, chromium, L-arginine, magnesium, Centrum Silver, Pycnogenol, two baby aspirin, B-complex, more niacin. That’s all I can remember off the top of my head without looking at bottles. Append to that fiber and apple cider vinegar. And now, I’ve added Metformin—a real drug.

But of those pills, the supplement manufacturers only have to prove that their product is safe. There’s no requirement to prove they’re effective. In other words, it’s almost better if the pills and tablets are pure baking soda or sugar pills because they’re less dangerous.

But, much like how eyeglasses can allow the eyeballs to become lazy—particularly when the prescription is incorrect—I’m worried that my body will become less able to deal with the naturally occurring hormones and other processes that go on under my skin if I take a drug whose efficacy is tested.

This is why this is a topic worthy of Filet of Soul. I absolutely can’t know. I spent hours on the internet looking up pros and cons of taking Metformin. For every positive story, I could find a negative one. For every side effect, I could find a side benefit. Can you believe I found a study that suggests that Metformin helps prevent lung cancer?

That makes it all about faith. Faith, according to a definition I like, is “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” And while there may be “proof” of a sort out there, dueling truths equal a zero. It comes down to whether a person has more faith in a study by a government or a study by an anti-government group or an eyewitness report or any of the acceptable forms of “proof.”

Many people will tell me when this essay comes out that I should believe the government. Not … going … to … happen. The U.S. government has promoted an unhealthful form of eating with its bullshit food pyramid and its dependence on the body mass index for years. Thalidomide, BPA, open-to-public nuclear detonations, legal tobacco and alcohol, illegal marijuana or even hemp—I have very little faith when it comes to government’s statements about health on any level.

But often the opposing view, through a simple lack of sophistication, comes off as crazy. Government incompetence isn’t enough for them; it’s got to be a conspiracy. Money, mind control, population control, simple evil—you’ve seen the photographs and loony-tune emails. Sometimes, when evidence comes out that appears incontrovertible, the opposition simply calls it a lie because they’ve invested so much energy into their “faith.”

I don’t have faith in any of them.