Passionate Instigator, Dynamic Problem Solver
March 31st, 2014 05:00:00 am
It's bad enough that we choose to put chemicals, metals and drugs in our bodies and pay the price for it down the road; it's worse if a parent makes those choices for you. Why isn't it a punishable offense when large companies or government agencies intentionally misinform the public? This needs to be examined, challenged and interrupted: people are practically forced to ingest things “for their own good” that wind up inflicting long term damage. Who is held accountable? How can we make accountability strong enough so that it because a cautionary tale, a loud enough reminder not to do it again?
Let's take fluoride, shall we? On one side of the debate, adding fluoride to water prevents tooth decay. This is endorsed by the American Medical Association and American Dental Association, as well as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who stated that water fluoridation is “one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”
On the other side of the debate, a National Institute of Environmental Health study indicated that too much exposure to fluoride led to lower IQ scores of children (1). A recent vote on adding fluoride to the water of Portland, Oregon divided the city's otherwise polite politics into contentious debates. You might think the battle lines are clearly drawn—do we want dumber kids with sparkly whites or brighter kids with tooth decay? But you'd be wrong; it's not so black and white.
Likewise, people debate about whether the Paleo diet is healthy. My research has led me to believe it is a cleaner, leaner, more natural diet that leads to fewer health issues. But paleo-anthropologists studying the remains of a cave in Morocco found high levels of tooth decay in the population. How could that be, when they were eating no carbohydrates, which turn into sugar and bacteria that eat away at enamel? Acorns. Yes, acorns, an apparently sweet and sticky treat that NPR called “the Twinkies of the paleolithic” (2).
It's unfair to say that eating Paleo won't improve tooth health based on a study of one group of individuals. I say go Paleo, but severely limit acorns and sweet chestnuts in your diet. This doesn't mean you shouldn't brush or floss like your ancestors. If you eat better, more natural foods, and regularly brush, floss, and care for your teeth, then fluoride doesn't even need to be an issue.
What's that I hear? Fluoride fans rolling in, saying, “but people of lower incomes and less privileges are less likely to eat well or have access to proper dental care, so shouldn't we continue to fluoridate water, to help them?”
Fluoride is a band-aid, not a solution—and one that does more harm than good. A board member of the NAACP's Portland chapter “worried about lacing the water with a mineral that might aggravate diabetes-related kidney problems, whose incidence rate is higher in the black community. 'People of color are disproportionately going to suffer by adding what I call a toxin to the water.'” Reportedly 43% of fluoride samples listed on the CDC website contained arsenic, 2% lead. (3)
Healthy diets raises IQs, a poor diet lowers them; fluoridation lowers IQs as well, so if we want to keep the less privileged less privileged, rather than providing equal access to education and healthy diets, then let's keep fluoridating the water so they can pass on a lower IQ and a tougher climb out of poverty.