My wife told me today of a mommy she met at the park. The mommy asked my wife if she gives my daughter soy milk. My wife said no – we don’t drink it so she didn’t really see the point in starting my daughter on it. The mommy then said she only gives her child soy milk, and never cow’s milk, although she has been noticing her child’s teeth were decaying.

Now, pediatricians will o.k. a child’s drinking soy milk instead of cow’s milk if the soy product is fortified with vitamin D and calcium. That’s because soy milk is not as great a source of these two nutrients. Furthermore, soy milk contains compounds – called phytates – that decrease the absorption of calcium and other minerals. Vitamin D is necessary for proper bone development, immune function and cell growth. Calcium is necessary for healthy bones, muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Both nutrients play a major role in tooth development and health. Deficiency in either can cause weakened or underdeveloped bones and teeth, including tooth decay.

O.k. here’s my problem with what my wife told me. I think there is a major cultural shift happening in this country, and it’s towards natural health. I’m all for natural health – heck, I’m a chiropractor, for crying out loud (and I did write a book about it – The Six Keys to Optimal Health) – however, I think that if you are going to do things naturally, you’ve got be smart about it.

You see, the medical paradigm is actually the safest alternative for people who do not want to think for themselves. On a purely statistical basis, medical wisdom is the safest, lowest maintenance way to care for your body. Do what your doctor tells you and, for the most part (probably around 75% – I’m pulling this number out of my keester, but it’s more for illustrating a point, anyway), you should be o.k. True, for the minority of people, following the conventional wisdom might be harmful, useless, or minimally beneficial at best. So for these people, thinking outside of the box is often necessary.

That’s where “alternative” health practices originated (and in this case we’re discussing natural, but it can just as well mean any other alternative therapy – magnets, leaches, exorcisms, whatever); they came from man’s desire to heal himself outside of what he was told worked, but, unfortunately, hadn’t for him (or his parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc.). As the alternative therapy began helping more people, it began to rise within the mainstream, moving closer, itself, to becoming conventional wisdom.

Here’s the point: if you are going to practice natural or alternative health methods, be informed. Don’t give your child a product without knowing everything about that product, and definitely do not substitute a well-known health product (vitamin/nutrient) for one of today’s latest health-food flavors of the month. I know, I know, soy is safe – I just said it, didn’t I? However, if you notice your child’s teeth decaying – WAKE UP! Either look it up and educate yourself, or call your pediatrician or dentist and find out if there’s a vitamin deficiency causing it.

The bottom line is this – if you are going to be the master of your own health, then you gotta know the way to do it: read the instructions, watch the demonstration video, take the weekend seminar. If you don’t have the time to buck up, then just do what conventional wisdom (read: modern medical science) tells you – it’s simply the safest way to go.

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