Alberta Cancer Foundation

A cure for what ails

REVIEW: The Cure for Everything! Untangling the Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness and Happiness by Timothy Caulfield. Vintage, 256 pages, $32.

“Every day we are showered with advice about our health,” writes Timothy Caulfield, a University of Alberta law professor and Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy. “We are told what to eat. We are told what not to eat. We are told to cleanse. We are told to take supplements. We are told to stretch. We are told to take pharmaceuticals. We are told to avoid pharmaceuticals. We are told to get our meridians centred. We are told to get healthy, damn it!” Caulfield believes this tsunami of information is often confusing, sometimes misleading and frequently inaccurate.

To remedy the confusion, this self-professed exercise nut and health geek offers himself up as guinea pig to investigate the truth behind the health claims about diet, exercise, pharmaceuticals and alternative medicine. Caulfield meets a Hollywood trainer, interviews countless experts and embarks on a punishing diet. The goal: to untangle the messages, the spin, and the hidden agendas. “We live in a sea of (purportedly) science-based health information,” he writes. “What are we to do, really, with all this information? Can we actually use it to live a healthier life?”

Turns out, the cure for everything is obvious, but difficult to execute: eat moderately, exercise regularly, and question the agenda behind every product and diet and health claim. Above all, look for science-based, independent data. For instance, many of the studies in leading medical journals are influenced by big pharma. While you won’t literally find a cure for everything, this skeptic’s guide to healthy living is a good reminder that we are what we eat (and what we don’t eat), and that there’s no shortcut to good health.

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