The 5 Most Annoying Phrases in Healthcare Right Now

I know I can be a bit of a grump sometimes, but seriously now?

By Dr. Murray McDonald

1. "Superfood”
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No - it’s a... kumquat? It doesn’t have a cape. It has a few extra antioxidants. Just because some far-flung tribe eats it doesn’t mean it’s the reason they are healthy or strong. And just because you add it to your diet doesn’t mean it’s going to do a thing for you. This ‘superfood’ title has no basis in science. It is a marketing tool. So don’t expect it to rescue you from stress or the effects of smoking.
2. “Functional training”
This phrase was coined as a rehabilitation term for training that improves your functioning in your daily activities. It’s all a question of matching the exercise to the needs. But what it has come to imply is that any training not done on a balance ball with a kettlebell is inferior (and given some trainers licence to make their clients do ridiculous-looking exercises). Research suggests the exact exercise doesn’t matter so much as doing something full-body & weight-bearing - that’s all you need to improve your health and daily ‘function’. So just go out there and get sweaty - let the ‘functional trainers’ wobble about on their upturned bosu balls.
3. “All-natural ingredients”
Just because something is “natural” does not mean it good for you. A lot of the most toxic substances are ‘natural’. Think of arsenic, lead, snake venom… Always remember that most of nature is, in some way or another, trying to kill you. And lets not forget the importance of dose e.g. water: get none of it and you dehydrate and have a fatal arrhythmia; drink too much and you get hyponatraemia and have a fatal arrhythmia. Nature is, sometimes, a bit homicidal.
4. “Paleo bread/cupcakes/whatever”
“Let’s eat like our ancestors: milled-tapioca/tree-bark cupcakes bound with guar gum with liquidized dates as icing! YUM! #paleo #blahblahblah”. The point of paleo is eating foods found 10 000 years ago i.e. stuff you’d find in a field. The point is to use minimal processing. Explain to me how combining multiple ingredients processed to the point of being unrecognisable fits that bill. Stop moving the goal posts because you can’t survive without your petit fours.
5. “Slipped disc”
People often come into my office and tell me they’ve slipped a disc. But chances are your disc is not causing any of your pain - it’s far more likely a minor joint or muscle strain. Even if it IS the disc it’s usually without anything slipping and/or sliding. If a vertebra does start sliding forward on the others it’s called a “spondylolisthesis” (try saying that ten times fast) - this accounts for VERY fewer cases of back pain. And just FYI: ‘sciatica’ is usually an ‘electric’ pain all the way down the leg and not very common either - the pain in your thigh is more likely referred pain from a joint or muscle.
Glad I got that off my chest. Have a good day!

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