By Manager in Healthcare, UK
Over many years, I have collected thousands of articles about lifestyle and the impact on our health, as well as articles about health, well-being, workplace health, non-communicable diseases, women’s health, including a range of studies that have been published from medical and other journals, undertaken by a range of researchers. These include randomised controlled trials, longitudinal studies, quantitative and qualitative studies, epidemiological studies, and surveys of all sizes, though often quite small cohorts. Along with this research, I have undertaken my own longitudinal study.
There are a few things that strike me in having read these published studies:
Very often the messages are contradictory – e.g. some say coffee is bad for you, and others say coffee is good for you, or red wine is good for you, or red wine is bad for you – raising a number of questions e.g. how do we know something is ‘good’ for us? On what basis? How come there are contradictory messages – given that some of these articles are based on ‘research’ studies? How could two similarly undertaken research studies about the same topic, e.g. coffee or red wine, come up with very different results, when the outcome could be potentially catastrophic for the recipient (e.g. the person drinking the wine or coffee because they now think it is ‘good’ for them)?
A number of the articles are ‘evidence-based’ – which suggests that the outcome of the study has been based on best available ‘evidence’ e.g. based on sound research and not based on opinion. And whilst there is much written about evidence-based practice, evidence-based medicine, evidence-based research, this opens up the question of what is ‘evidence’ in any given circumstance? The current definition of evidence-based practice is “the integration of critically appraised research, with clinical expertise, and the client’s preferences, beliefs and values” (1).
Who really cares about this evidence? And what is it they care about exactly? Do they care about us, and every citizen? Or do they care about their own territory, profit, brand, etc.? When reading the vast amount of articles and studies on offer, there is also a question as to who cares about the impact of these studies? As surely, if we can say on the one hand red wine is good for us, and yet another person can say on the other hand red wine is bad for us, whilst all the while we know that alcohol is a known toxin, and the ‘link between alcohol and cancer is well established’ (2) – do we really care that someone somewhere may be affected by the results of our ‘study’? And, as we know some industrial bodies have vested interests in studies, such as the sugar industry attempting to ‘shift the blame for heart disease from sugar to fat’ (3). Also the diet industries also have a stake in us buying dietary products (3), and the pharmaceutical industry have a stake in us buying drugs e.g. with them ‘seeking new ways to protect their territory’ (4).
In tandem with this curiosity I have for reading articles and research studies, I have developed an even deeper curiosity of my own – my very own ‘longitudinal’ study of my own body.
As I see it, a longitudinal study is observational research performed over a number of years on the same subject. In this case that subject is me and whilst there has been no randomised control trial (e.g. a control group), this study of my own body is in itself science and well worthy of consideration and has been undertaken so far over 15 years, which is when I first met Serge Benhayon and attended a Universal Medicine workshop, and I first became aware through this that my health is in my hands, and, ‘our body is the marker of all truth’ (5).
What has this study entailed?
When I first met Serge Benhayon I had a number of medical conditions and ailments such as:
- Hay fever
- Anxiety with occasional panic attacks
Also whilst I was ‘in life’ in that I worked full-time, long hours, I studied, and I had lots of friends and relatives…. I was craving to run away, and not engage in life – to the point I had considered living in a monastry.
I knew some things about my body e.g. that animal fur made me wheezy, some foods affected me (some made me feel sleepy, others made me feel racy), coffee and alcohol both made me feel very ill, I never got enough sleep or rest and that if I ever stopped rushing around for a moment I would feel panicky, anxious and desolate – so I kept on rushing. I had never stopped to consider – that my health was in my hands, and, that my body might actually have the answers to some of my woes and health issues.
Inspired by the presentations of Serge Benhayon, I started to observe myself, and I started to see that my health was indeed of my own making, and, that I had lived disempowered, not choosing to see just how much choice I had in the matter. I was so stunned by this that I decided to undertake a study to track some of the changes I made to the way I was living, as well as learning to live daily life as a student of life. I did many mini experiments: How did this food make me feel during and after eating it? Which beverages felt more supportive than others? What time did my body want to go to bed? Did some of the things I was doing (e.g. kick boxing or cycling) actually support my body – or not? Why was it I worried so much and what was the source of my incessant worrying?
When did I feel I wanted to run for the hills away from people – e.g. when I had not given myself any space in my daily life as I was always trying to fix and support others. Did my shoes feel truly supportive? Did I wear the clothes I wore to support me – or because I wanted to look a certain way? Did I even breathe my own breath? (6) And, did I truly know who I was (7)?
Over these last 15 years this has been the most interesting and life changing study, and continues to be so every day. Yes, I have a clearer sense of who I am, when I am breathing my own breath. I also understand foods and beverages that do or don’t support me, I know when my body needs to go to bed, and I have stopped things that don’t support me such as running and cycling, and I walk or swim instead for exercise. For every one of these choices I have a ‘before, during and after’ – my very own anecdotal evidence of how and why these choices work for me and how my body responds – to the extent that all the medical conditions and ailments I had have now dissipated and I feel the most well that I have ever done and I am in my mid-fifties.
More so, whilst I continue to collect, collate, and read studies and articles about lifestyle, health, wellbeing etc., I know that whilst something may be said to be ‘evidence-based’ or have been a ‘randomised control study’ that my body knows what is best for it – and no study, article, research could tell me otherwise. So, whilst it is great to read and learn from all the available research, some of which advances us all and truly serves, here’s to longitudinal studies – of our own body, as, it does not contradict itself, it does indeed know what is best for us – and more so, it cares deeply.