Everyone loves an anecdote, the same way everyone loves a fairytale.
Anecdotes tend to bend the truth, and often omit key pieces of information.
Anecdotes provide one version of events- the same as fairytales do.
So why do we listen to them?
Well, mostly because they tell us that something simple/easy/quick will improve our health massively, and we all want a magic pill when it comes to our health. So when someone tells us that their neighbour's cousin's dog drank warm water and lemon every morning and it cured their diabetes, we're inclined to listen.
BUT that doesn't make it true and it isn't proof that it works.
And sure, anecdotes can be entertaining, but basing decisions about our health around a story is not a good idea.
Anecdotes are generally passed along, and as with Chinese whispers, they get confused and altered. As the message gets passed on from person to person, it gets a bit mixed up and a bit further from the original message.
And, you must remember that anecdotes usually only refer to 1 specific thing- e.g. warm water w/lemon. But we don't hear about any additional information -e.g. what medication they took, their movement levels, sleep quality, stress levels, nutritional intakes...etc etc. With every anecdotal treatment, there are dozens of factors that could have had more of an impact on health than the treatment itself!
Anecdotes are not definitive proof- just because it worked for Mary down the road does not mean it will work for you or anyone else. Maybe it had a placebo effect on Mary- that doesn't mean it will for you too. Or perhaps Mary also had a great diet and set of genes....
Anecdotes don't consider scientific evidence or safety- I've heard of so many anecdotal treatments that are potentially dangerous and would never be recommended by medical professionals! Without a proper research study, we can't determine the potential benefits or risks. It could be harmless, but it could damage your health too. (Remember: Just because they did it a thousand years ago doesn't mean you should do it now!)
Want to watch me rant about it??
Watch my #MondayMoan video below!
So please always seek out evidence-based advice, and don't heed advice based on anecdotal evidence.
If you want more myth-busting, head over to www.littleonutrition.com, and if you want personalised advice drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lots of love,
Little O x