The Importance of Healthy Relationships at the Dinner Table
December's Open Thread
When I started this Substack almost two years ago, one of my goals was to be able to give a voice to each person here (as we are often silenced by the medical system) and I thus made an effort to correspond with each person who reached out. However, as this Substack has grown, that become untenable (hence why I don’t reply to the emails I receive or many of the comments here).
After a bit of thought, I realized the best solution was to have monthly open threads which I made a point of periodically checking to reply to the comments on. In turn, since anything is up for discussion (e.g., unrelated health questions readers have) I decided to pair the open threads with a specific topic I’d wanted to write about which didn’t quite lend itself to an article.
One of the requests I got over the last month was discuss how to stay healthy for Christmas in an open thread. Since that’s a fairly complex question (e.g., I spent a week trying putting together a cursory overview of what constitutes a healthy diet), I feel that’s beyond the scope of what I could write about in an open thread. However, I realized there were a few shorter points I thought needed to be discussed today.
Within American culture, there have been longstanding unspoken rules no one would cross. Yet, over the last few years I’ve seen them be violated again and again (e.g., overtly deploying the judicial system against your political opponents previously would have been viewed as unacceptable). In most of these cases, those violations have been justified under the logic that the other side is so bad that it’s acceptable to violate their basic rights or humanity for the greater good.
Because of this, I’ve watched family after family get wedged apart over political issues (e.g., one relative disowning another relative for supporting Trump), which was something I’d never seen before in my lifetime (e.g., previously the most divisive president was George W. Bush due to his oversees wars, but even then, family members would dislike their relative’s support for Bush but still want to maintain their ties to that relative).
In short, I watched civil disagreements become transformed into a hatred for the other side, something I’d never before seen happen in America. Since this degree of polarization is typically something you see happen in countries prior to things going south (e.g., before a violent revolution) I found this trend to be very concerning and it likewise was a big part of why I felt I needed to write here and present both a truthful and non-divisive voice (which is challenging to do on highly contentious subjects).
Herd “Immunity” and State Sanctioned Discrimination
Since vaccines frequently fail to live up to their promises, it becomes quite difficult to sell them on their own merits. This in turn is why for almost a century, every authority has simply repeated the mantra “safe and effective” irrespective of the evidence arguing against that contention and simultaneously blacklisted any criticism of a vaccine from being allowed to enter the public discourse.
One of the classic marketing gimmicks used to sell vaccines once the initial public enthusiasm for them wanes is to say vaccinating in necessary not only to protect the vaccinated person from a disease, but also to prevent the disease’s transmission. This in turn justifies pressuring those who do not want to vaccinate into vaccinating for the “greater good.”
If you take a step back, this doesn’t make any sense since if the vaccine “works” it shouldn’t matter to the vaccinated if other people are unvaccinated, whereas if the vaccine doesn’t “work” then there’s no reason to make people vaccinate in the first place. However, due to how effectively this scheme has been marketed (and the fact that it excellently plays into the human desire to not admit one was wrong), vaccine promoters never notice that glaring logical inconsistency and instead get very pushy in demanding those around them vaccinate as well.
The particularly tragic thing about this is that vaccination sometimes makes individuals more likely to transmit an infection (e.g., with COVID-19) .
Note: a much more detailed summary of why vaccines consistently fail to prevent disease transmission or create herd immunity can be found here.
I first became familiar with this scam after I kept on having patients tell me they were not allowed to see their newborn relatives (e.g., a grandchild) because the child’s doctor had told the parents they posed a risk to the child if they didn’t vaccinate against pertussis (which my patient was not willing to do). In turn, I pointed out again and again that the pertussis vaccine does not prevent pertussis infection, rather it prevents the symptoms of a pertussis infection (by providing you with immunity to pertussis’s toxin), so my patient’s choice to be unvaccinated did not expose the child to any additional risk.
Note: you can in fact argue the opposite, as being vaccinated makes you much more likely to silently transmit the infection and not realize you are doing it. Similarly, a case can be made vaccinated individuals are more likely to be chronic pertussis carriers—both of which likewise apply to the COVID vaccines.
However, these arguments fell on deaf ears as neither the child’s pediatrician nor their relatives would ever listen to them. To illustrate how much of a problem this lie is, yesterday, my colleague posted an article on Twitter which went viral. I wrote that article to objectively answer a common question I received here, “which are the most beneficial and most harmful vaccines for my children?” In the tweet’s comments, I saw multiple people who without prompting shared that unscrupulous marketing ploy:
Note: the influenza vaccine also does not prevent transmission.
Additionally, shortly after I published the post, I received this email from a reader:
I know the likelihood of you seeing this email is slim to none, but I wanted to let you know 2 things (since I was unable to read and post to the comments):
First of all, I really appreciate your substack and the information you/it provide(s). Thank you!
Secondly, I am in the same boat as the other grandparents. My 34-year-old son and his wife are expecting their first (and our first grandchild!) in 2 months, and we were recently informed that those who are not vaxxed for covid, rsv, flu, and tdap will not be able to be with the baby until it is fully protected (vaccinated). My husband and I, plus 2 of the future uncles, are heartbroken. Of course, we cannot take any of these shots. When will this madness end??
Again, thank you, especially today for letting me know we are not alone. I truly appreciate you/it.
Warmly, [name withheld]
So, given how successful this non-sensical and cruel sales campaign has been, once the COVID vaccine fervor started (especially given how politically polarized the country already was) I felt it was inevitable that once the initial enthusiasm for the vaccines wore off and people stopped wanting to vaccinate, this sales tactic would be weaponized against the general public—even if there was absolutely no evidence the vaccines stopped COVID transmission.
That then ended up being exactly what happened, and a series of more aggressive mandates were put into place (e.g., you can’t go to a bar or concert, you can’t go fly to another country, you can’t go to school, you can’t hold a job) to pressure people into vaccinating.
Note: One of the saddest examples of this was Fauci stating that we (especially those who were not vaccinated) could not be together for the holidays, and in turn memes like this being made in response to his dictates.
In parallel to this, the vaccinated were encouraged to hold more and more negative attitudes towards the unvaccinated and want to shun them from society. For example, as an early 2022 Rasmussen survey of 1016 likely voters showed, much of the country was whipped into a hysteria where they supported blatantly immoral and unconstitutional tactics being used against those who did not vaccinate.
Many other assessments also observed a similar degree of discrimination. For example, a year ago, Nature admitted that the standard measures of discrimination (e.g., shunning a family member that chose to marry someone in the “out group”) were significantly greater towards the unvaccinated that many other classic examples of bigotry.
To help assess the substantive size of these effects, it is helpful to compare them with exclusionary attitudes towards a group battling high levels of discrimination in many Western countries—immigrants from the Middle East. Exclusionary attitudes towards unvaccinated individuals among vaccinated people (13 percentage points) is two and a half times greater than exclusionary attitudes towards Middle Eastern immigrants (5 percentage points, 95% confidence interval = 5–6, χ21 (n = 54,054) = 23.83, P < 0.001). We do not suggest that the characteristics of these groups are comparable, but this finding nonetheless suggests that the substantive size of the exclusionary reactions facing unvaccinated individuals is high.
Likewise, another one of the most prestigious journals, the BMJ found that many people (due to being manipulated by erroneous state information about the danger of COVID-19 or the safety and efficacy of the vaccines) discriminated against the unvaccinated and blamed them for things the unvaccinated were simply not responsible for. Furthermore, like Rasmussen, the BMJ found this scapegoating stratified politically:
The thing that really bothered me about all of this is that this hysteria frequently broke families apart. For instance, I knew many longterm couples who separated because one could not accept the other’s unwillingness to vaccinate, many people I know were simply unwilling to speak to relatives who did not vaccinate, and I saw more cases than I can count of relatives being blackmailed into vaccinating in order to attend the annual Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner that had held the extended family together for decades.
This is really a shame because I believe one of the biggest needs individuals have (for their own mental health) and society has (to maintain its cohesion and sanity) is for individuals to be able to connect with each other as human beings and work through their differences. Unfortunately, because of what was stoked by the media over the last few years (or decade depending on how you look at it), holding a difference of opinion was transformed into a reason to hate and disown the other person.
However, now that most of the public has realized how much they were lied to throughout COVID-19 (e.g., I’ve heard many stories of previously nasty relatives apologizing for their conduct), I feel very hopeful this Christmas will be the time where many of those critical bridges can be repaired.
For this reason, when you are with your relatives tomorrow, I believe if you can find a way to broach the hard questions of the last few years and most importantly do so in a non-confrontational compassionate manner, it will be quite healing for everyone involved.
While the subject of exactly what constitutes the ideal diet is an incredibly complex question, there is also a much simpler facet to it that is rarely considered.
How one eats often makes a huge difference and in my eyes, its importance frequently outweighs what you actually eat.
Generally speaking, the core rules to follow are as such:
•Try to throughly chew your food before swallowing, as saliva plays a major role in digestion.
•Consider using a digestive enzyme or increasing the stomach’s acidity as you eat (which is frequently very important to address a variety of challenging health issues—especially as you age and your stomach’s digestive capacity weakens).
•Minimize mixing heavy starches and proteins in the same meal (as the digestive system needs to generate different pH’s to digest each).
•Don’t eat large meals late at night.
•Eat to 70% of your stomach’s capacity; don’t overeat just because it’s available.
•Be in a relaxed state of mind and connected to your food and the people at the table as you eat.
Note: This amongst other things requires you to not be staring at a screen.
In many schools of thought, the final point is considered to be the most important, as it has been observed to heavily affect the body’s ability to properly digest the food that’s being eaten (e.g., Chinese medicine correlates it to the spleen’s functionality, while standard physiology recognizes that parasympathetic [vagal] activity is needed for healthy digestion).
For this reason, in addition to genuine communication nourishing the spirit of each participant at the dinner table, because of its effect on digestion, it can also do the same for the physical health of each person who eats together.
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Years ago, I saw a comic I thought was adorable:
In my case, although I never had a sweet tooth, one of the things I’ve struggled with is that I really like potato chips even though I know (for a lot of different reasons) that they are not good for you.
Since I eventually found a way to have healthy (and enjoyable) potato chips, I felt that was a simple enough topic that it was feasible to provide some useful food related tips in an article. In the final part of this article, as a way to thank each of you for your incredible support of this newsletter, I will share how I finally did that (which essentially required throwing out a foundational assumption about how potato chips “should” work).