Keanu Reeves, Facebook & More Controversial Thoughts On Health

The Facebook Debacle

This week I was rather gullible.

Idly scrolling through my Facebook feed, I stumbled across a post written by someone, for whom I’m afraid to say, I have rather a weak spot. Without thinking about it my finger went straight to the “like” icon to join the 17,000 other people who were behind their screens also nodding their heads in silent agreement.

Here’s what I read:

Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves is one of my heroes. As a teenager, his face was plastered all over my bedroom wall, and I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit that I once wrote a letter to Empire Magazine to ask if they would pass on my details and send me a signed photo.

He’s cool, funny, and utterly gorgeous, but there’s another reason why I hold him in such high esteem. Keanu Reeves has faced immense tragedy in his life, and from someone who is no stranger to loss, I have huge respect for the way in which he has dealt with this.

Now I usually cheer whatever Keanu has to say, but on this occasion I must admit to feeling rather peeved. On the face of it, the post is upbeat and has a positive message to spread: Live life to the full, stop worrying about the stuff that doesn’t matter and make the most of every minute. But it was the underlying subtext that got me in a bit of a lather.

No one gets out of here alive

Here’s my gripe:

I’m fed up of hearing people spout off about how it’s a waste of time to worry about your health, because try as we may, the grim reaper is going to get us all in the end.

In my work as a naturopath I’m frequently drawn into conversations in which I find people parroting these unfounded memes:

  • Uncle Bob/ Aunt Fanny lived to a ripe old age and ate and drank whatever they wanted. Why should I worry about healthy eating?
  • Life’s too short – we need to stop the fear-mongering and just get on with it.
  • If you’re going to get diabetes / cancer / A.N.Other disease it will happen anyway. There’s nothing you can do about it.

Most of the time I try to bite my lip and be polite but this time (and because of the sheer number of likes this post got) I felt I just had to step up and say something. The whole thing seemed wrong on so many levels that I wanted the opportunity to share my take on it.

My two-penneth

First off the bat, the post gives the impression that eating a healthy diet is inherently boring and to choose nutritious alternatives over manufactured crap is missing out on the fun.

This of course is utter dross.

I defy anyone to spend more than 2 minutes on Pinterest or Instagram before stumbling across a photo of delicious home cooked food or any number of mouth-watering, nutrient dense dishes.  The sheer volume of cookery books in the health food section of the book store is testament to the fact that people love to cook and eat healthy food. I’d also like to add that foraging for your own foods and learning how to prepare them is a great deal of fun and not in the least bit boring.

Not everyone is a junk food addict or booze fuelled party animal. As the late Robin Williams beautifully put it “If you need booze or drugs to enjoy your life to the fullest – then you’re doing it wrong”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being healthy does not equal a dull and joyless existence. Nor does it mean staying in your front room detoxing.

The second thing that many people fail to realise is that the nature of our food is changing. We no longer live in the same kind of environment that our parents and grandparents enjoyed when they were growing up. Our supermarket shelves are full of convenience foods laden with additives, sugar, GMO’s pesticides, antibiotics and hormones, the effect of which is only just becoming apparent.

According to statistics presented in the documentary Fed Up:

Number of cases of Type 2 Diabetes amongst adolescents in the USA in 1980 = 0

Number of cases of Type 2 Diabetes amongst the same age group in 2010 = 57,638

This shocking statistic is mostly attributed to what these children eat. To send out the message that it doesn’t matter what you eat is totally irresponsible. People who purport this view are doing a huge disservice to these children, who have a life of poor self-image, hospital visits and possibly even an early death to look forward to should they heed this advice. Jamie Oliver did not go on his lauded campaign for nothing.

Thirdly, I’m absolutely certain that the millions of people around the globe who do not currently enjoy the luxury of good health would agree that having heart disease, cancer or diabetes is far from fun (and by the way not one of these diseases is caused by consuming a healthy diet.)

I’m a realistic person.

I’m not saying we should all live in a vacuum and spend each waking moment fretting about every morsel of food we put into our mouths. I’m the first to agree that there’s more to life. But in my view, taking the “middle road” as opposed to throwing all caution to the wind seems like a far more sensible approach. Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, to me, just seems moronic.

Get with the programme

There’s another problem with this post – and that is the current consensus around the issue of fat.

Keanu* writes that his friend’s father:

“…eats bacon on top of bacon, butter on top of butter and fat on top of fat”

This is put forth as an “unhealthy” diet” but studies now show that eating a low fat diet is not particularly good for you. Saturated fat is not responsible for elevated cholesterol, and in fact it is inflammation (and not cholesterol) which is the real concern when it comes to the issue of heart disease. These widely held beliefs are flawed and based on outdated science. They need to be challenged.

Rather than get into a heated debate about a topic which is fuel for a whole other blog post, I urge anyone who is sat on the fence to take a look at this eye-opening video about why following the low fat dietary guidelines are far more detrimental to your health:

Based on what the experts in this interview have to say, the fact that the gentleman alluded to in the Facebook post lived a long and happy life is hardly surprising.

The danger of believing everything you read online

At the risk of turning this into a rant, I’m going to finally get back to my original point.

By getting suckered into *Keanu’s Facebook post I had fallen into the trap of believing what I read on-line and then reacting. The fact was, I’d got so het up about disagreeing with my hero, that I had omitted to check the source of the “quote.”

Can I get a rewind……

Upon further inspection, it appeared that the article that had got my knickers in a twist was originally posted on a page which was managed by a fan of Keanu Reeves. You guessed it, all that fuss and I couldn't even say for sure that what I’d read was genuine. This provoked two reactions in me; a sigh of relief followed by a huge surge of annoyance.

A “Laissez-Faire” attitude just isn’t my style

I've learned two important lessons from writing this post.

There are always going to be people who eat, drink and smoke to their hearts content and because of their robust constitution may seem to suffer no ill effects. Who am I to preach to them if that’s how they want to live? Despite this, I'm still a firm believer in the adage “prevention is better than cure”, and deep down I know that people who don’t look after themselves are far less likely to leap out of bed each morning with an over-abundance of energy, have glowing skin, shiny hair and a happy balanced mood. Do they never get sick? I sincerely doubt it.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I once again realised how easy it is to take for granted the information we're bombarded with in the media and on-line.

Ultimately I'm of the opinion that the Internet is a weird and wonderful place. I enjoy my own little “Speaker’s Corner” of it. There’s some fantastically useful content out there, but on the other hand, there’s also a great deal of misinformation (particularly when it comes to the subject of health.) I'm as guilty as the next person for clicking and sharing before I get to the end of a post, but this experience has taught me a very valuable lesson.

Check you've got the facts right, and that the information you’re reading comes from a reliable source before acting on any advice – particularly if that information is relating to your health.

Finally, if you are reading this Keanu, I’d love to know if it was really you who wrote that post, and if you truly do believe that it doesn't matter what you put into your body (I wonder what River Phoenix would have had to say on the matter….)

Regardless; whoever that friend’s mum may be, I dearly hope she gets well and makes a full recovery. But please - whoever did write that post (and indeed everyone who also "liked" and shared it) - lend your support to those of us who do choose to eat good food, get fresh air and generally try to set a good example to the people around us.

We’re not treating ourselves as an “afterthought” – far from it.

- A LITTLE INSPIRATION -

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