This is a post about health fads.
More specifically: stupid health fads. The latest one is called a ‘Green Smoothie’.
To make a Green Smoothie, you take a couple of handfuls of spinach leaves, put them in a blender with some apple juice and whatever bits of fruit you have hanging around, then press the button until the spinach leaves are miniscule fragments and the liquid in your blender resembles algal slime.
Theoretically, tiny iron thingumies are then released from the spinach which, when drunk, can easily zip into your bloodstream, thus carrying more oxygen molecules to your lungs. And before you know it, you will be heading out for a twenty kilometre run along a sandy beach with the wind in your hair and your loyal, overweight, Labrador panting by your side.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
For three or four weeks my Green Smoothie Experiment went great. Every day, the first thing I would do when I got up was make a Green Smoothie. It was kind of fun deciding what kinds of fruit to add, and perfecting the water/juice/spinach ratio. While I didn’t really notice any improvement in my fatigue or shortness of breath, I was still hopeful, and as they (oddly) taste pretty good, I had actually started to look forward to my daily hit of green.
Here is a photographic representation of one day in the Green Smoothie Experiment:
Then… Well – a little bit of life got in the way.
For one thing, it started to rain a lot. Going to the market for special locally grown spinach when it’s sunny and there are lots of happy people with dogs, large baskets of vegetables, and plenty of second-hand book stalls for distraction is one thing. Going to the market when it’s freezing cold, rainy and windy, people are grumpy, dogs shivering and bedraggled, and the second-hand books hidden under six layers of plastic sheeting, is quite another.
Then my flatmate came down with the flu and didn’t want to leave her bed, let alone go out and buy bunches of spinach with me in the rain.
Then my car broke down and I couldn’t go anywhere anyway. Not even to the local shops. Not even to the bus stop.
This week, however, we are somewhat back on track. My flatmate has recovered, my car is running again, and as a result we have a large plastic bag in the fridge containing several bunches of spinach, as well as a two liter bottle of apple juice, five kiwi fruits and a large punnet of strawberries.
So things are definitely looking up for the Green Smoothie Experiment.
I have, however, been thinking lately about health fads, Alternative Medicine in general, and its impact on people with serious illness and disability.
Any chronically ill or disabled person will know the special joy of fending off ‘alternative medicine’ recommendations from well-meaning friends and relatives.
At the suggestions of others, I’ve tried acupuncture, reiki, homeopathy, Chinese medicine, various naturopathic concoctions, hawthorn berries, Tai Chi, and breathing in positive vibes while visualising oceans filled with peace-loving hump-back whales singing to each other about the beautiful liquid gold sunset. Aaaaah.
Unfortunately, none of it has done much for narrowed lung arteries and heart failure. Some of it has set my bank balance back a bit. A lot of it has pointlessly raised my hopes.
In the case of Green Smoothies, my skepticism is starting to set in. For example, how is drinking blended spinach any different from taking iron pills? Isn’t that easier in the long-run? And, as I already mentioned, there has been no sudden change in my fatigue levels, nor in my ability to ascend things. Additionally, my flatmate, who has also been drinking them, became terribly sick in-spite of all the wholesome spinachy goodness.
Alternative medicine. Health fad hocus pocus. If these things worked, wouldn’t they just be widely accepted, and available on the PBS?
Isn’t alternative medicine not clinically tested and therefore reliant on faith and anecdotal evidence? The same evidence that Christians use to say that prayer cures illness, and that God exists?
Isn’t alternative medicine a multi-million dollar global industry that preys on gullible and desperate sick people?
I’m going to keep drinking Green Smoothies for a bit longer. There’s nothing wrong with consuming an extra handful of raw spinach per day.
But I’m planning on being cynical and suspicious and generally very narrow-minded about them.
I’m going to glare at that glass of green goo every morning and say, “I know what your game is, Mister.”
I also recently purchased a ‘Glucosamine Wonder Product’ for the Second-Hand Persian Cat. This is to stop him from falling over all the time.
Now, once a day, I have to strong-arm him into a head-lock (he is surprisingly wiry for his advanced years) stick my fingers into his icky, smelly mouth to make him open wide enough so that I can squirt berry-flavoured liquid past his gnashing gums. It is supposed to provide joint and cartilage support. Among other things, it contains bits of shark, which could potentially be very scary:
This product has been clinically tested. However, some tests say it works, while others say it doesn’t. So I’ll wait and see. I will report the results, especially if they involve sudden genetic mutations.