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Hello and Welcome: Part 1

Posted on June 1st, 2010 by Alf | Print

Welcome to the first post on the Promoting Good Health website. The site is so new the paint’s still wet.

Promoting Good Health has been set up by Professor Alf Poulos and Dr. Stephen Hardy. Two bio-medical research scientists with a long history and a shared vision and conscience.

The more research we did, the more we realized that the battle for health lies not in finding cures but in preventing diseases from happening in the first place. This website is to help you do that by sharing what we know about staying healthy and avoiding disease. And if you have a disease and want to get healthy, you’re in the right place too.

It’s also about sorting fact from fiction. We live in the information age but quantity doesn’t equal quality. On the Internet, everyone’s an expert. But are they really? So while a vast amount of information may be available at the click of a button, how do you know if that information is any good? How do you know if it can be trusted? And if you are using that information to make decisions about your health or the health of your loved ones, you are potentially playing a dangerous game with very high stakes! You deserve better. And we intend to give it to you.

It may help you understand why we created this website by understanding us a little better…

A personal message from Alf:

Over the last century the average human lifespan in the USA has gone from less than 50 in 1900 to nearly 80 in 2000. This dramatic rise has been put down to improved living conditions, purification of drinking water, improved access to health care and better diet and nutrition.

I remember quite clearly during a meditation workshop having a mental picture of my grandmother, aged around 90 when I last saw her, living on the remote island of Kastellorizo (Megisti) in the Aegean Sea. During my meditation I remember thinking , “How could she have survived all of those years in excellent health without help from the technology of the 20 th Century?” Her vision was good, she sat on her haunches and embroidered, and climbed up the hill to Profitis Ilias, the little church she looked after. Kastellorizo is still a staggering beautiful place with a pristine environment and essentially no pollution – there are not even any motor vehicles on the island, with clean air and surrounded by a crystal clear sea.

Shortly afterwards I was marveling at the selection of foods in the supermarket and was tempted to buy one of the many frozen pies on offer. That was until I looked at the list of ingredients on the back of the packet. Many of the ingredients – fruit, flour, eggs, butter etc were expected but there were other ingredients on the list that I did not recognize, because they were identified as numbers. These numbered ingredients were food additives, preservatives, emulsifying agents, colors, flavor enhancers and so on. I’ve been an enthusiastic amateur cook for many years and made lots of pies and pastries but have never added any of the additives that were in the frozen pies I was thinking of buying. This made me wonder: Why do the food manufacturers add all these extra things to a pie, things you don’t add when you make one yourself? Scientists are intensely curious creatures and I just couldn’t get this question out of my mind. I started looking into the area of food additives to find the answers. What I found both shocked and surprised me.

It soon became very clear that the frozen pie was the tip of an iceberg. Almost everything we buy has something foreign or artificial in it, some of it deliberately added, some of it generated during processing, some of it leaching from the packaging into the food, and some contaminants, like pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables. These additives and contaminants were not just confined to our food but were also present in our drinking water. What worried me most was that they were everywhere; so much so that there was no way you could possibly avoid them. The obvious next question was: Are these contaminants harmful? Could they, in some way, increase our risk of developing a degenerative disease like cancer?

These investigations led me publish the first edition of my book “The Silent Threat” in 2005, about the potential dangers of artificial chemicals in the food chain. I discovered that the things that were helping us live longer may be making us sick. But more on that later.

My research was enlightening – to say the least. I am a Professor specializing in biochemistry and genetics and have spent my career doing scientific research in different parts of the world. To be a successful scientist, your career depends on the quality of your research. You quickly learn the difference between good science and poor science. Poor science helps no one. It leads to bad decision-making and can be downright misleading or even dangerous.

Before you can publish your research results in a medical or scientific journal, other scientists working in the same area independently examine your findings. This is to see if there are any potential mistakes or shortcomings with your research or your results. It’s called “peer-review”. If your experimental methods or the evidence for your conclusions aren’t good enough, they won’t make it through the peer-review process and will not be accepted for publication by the medical or scientific journal. If you cannot publish your research, you do not get funding. And no funding means no research and no job!

While I was researching “The Silent Threat”, I was alarmed at how much poor-quality or misleading information was available and/or thrust onto consumers, information that was not supported by solid research or independently checked by other scientists. I also learnt that a lot of the information available to consumers and claiming to be “scientific” in books, on the Internet and in the media, was not scientific at all but just hearsay or the opinion of someone with little or limited scientific training, or with a vested interest in selling a particular product or service. There is no “peer-review” process for the Internet.

The first edition of “The Silent Threat” was very well received. I realized that people were desperate for reliable and credible information about the potential health risks of chemicals in their food. They are still interested, which is why we are working on a completely revised and updated edition of “The Silent Threat”.

When I hear a claim that something is harmful or can cure everything from Asthma to Yellow Fever, I want to know if it’s true and if there is any credible scientific evidence to back it up. You know the sort of outrageous claims I’m talking about. Consumers deserve better than this and so do you. How do you know if something is good or bad? How do you know if something works or not? How do you know if the evidence is good or credible? And if we don’t have enough evidence to be sure, how do you take the necessary precautions until we do and what questions do we need to ask to find out? Who do you believe? What do you buy? How do you look out for your loved ones?

These questions are important but you’re busy. The children need to get to school, there are bills to pay; the car needs new tires; the dog hasn’t been fed this morning and the thousand and one other things you have to do or think about today. And even if you did have the time to think about these questions, do you have the necessary knowledge to decide? That’s where Promoting Good Health comes in.

We have spent our lives looking at experimental data, assessing whether a piece of scientific evidence is good or bad and whether it’s credible. We’ve also spent our lives looking carefully at living systems and thinking deeply about how they work in both health and disease. We want to share that knowledge with you. We want to be a source of unbiased information to consumers, information that is based on sound fundamental principles and credible scientific evidence. Information that is based on fact and not on hype or vested interests. Information that can help you. Information you can trust.

Why? Because it matters. That’s both our message and our mission.

Until next time, stay happy and healthy.

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