Recently another study came out saying that eating red meat was as bad as smoking. It claimed that there was a doubling in the risk of getting cancer over an 18-year period. This week, not surprisingly, the study has been debunked. Next week we will go around the roundabout again no doubt.

According to “experts” we all need to cut down on salt consumption (ho-hum). Much like the fat is bad story this one is deeply ingrained in public health legend. The fact is, that a major review showed that reducing salt intake below 2.3grams per day made no difference in health outcomes.

Not a day goes by without some sort of health scare. Yet life expectancy on planet earth has never been longer and it continues to get longer each year. You could say there is a disconnect between all the scares and the cold hard reality.

Why is this?

Scaring people is profitable. Horror movie directors have known this for years. And many in health also see that scaring people can get them to buy products or services they may not need. And of course telling governments inflated dangers and warnings of deaths in the streets is a great way to extract funding.

At an individual level we can get so wrapped up in trying not to die that we forget to live. Now this is not to say that we should all start tempting fate. But it is to say that wrapping ourselves and (in particular) our children in cotton wool not only is not healthy, it is counter productive. Unless we learn to manage risk and are exposed to some risk we will never know how to deal with it. And then one day it will smack us in the face.

Necessarily this needs to be age and skill specific.

The other aspect of this is relative risk. We tend to worry about the “wrong” things. We get more scared of being eaten by a shark in the ocean than about driving to the ocean in our cars. Yet the “risk” is of death is far greater in the car than in the water.

We can get so worried about what we are supposed to eat that we stop enjoying our food. This is hardly a great outcome. Again we don’t need to eat “bad” food to prove a point but neither do we need to be as clinical about food as we can become. The basic principals rather than how many milligrams are what needs to guide us.

None of us know what may happen tomorrow.

The less we stress about the milligrams of salt or whether our steak is 30 grams too big the better off we will be. And the more we focus on what really matters in our lives – our families and friends and our passions in life the more we can live and enjoy each day.