Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Meaning of 'Cure': An Open Letter to Health Marketers

Sometimes, people and organizations use the word "cure" to describe what products or approaches they are promoting to people with diabetes will do. I'm not even talking snake oil salesman, but people who genuinely believe they're offering something of value.

On one such occasion I know of, the person promoting their approach as being a "cure" for Type 2 was challenged as to what, exactly, they meant by that. This person argued, in essence, that the medical community used the word "cure" as being synonymous with "effectively control".

I don't know whether that is true. However, scientific terms are very often more precisely defined versions of words that have been in widespread use for hundreds, even thousands of years. The word "energy", for example, has a substantially different meaning for a physicist than it does for a sleep-deprived student. However, the adaptation of such a word for technical use does not supersede the previous meaning: the student's understanding of the term is fully as correct as the physicist's. Those who fall back on technical meanings when defending the content of messages prepared for the public are muddying the waters, and are likely to be doing so intentionally. I'm remembering a certain former public official who attempted to defend a apparent mistruth by invoking an alternate definition of the word "is".

Therefore, if you're talking to the public, you need to use the word "cure" in a manner consistent with the public's understanding of the term. And so, though I am no more in charge of defining words than the former public official, I thought I would lay out what a "cure" for type 2 diabetes would be for me.

* I don't believe I ever gave any thought to my pancreas before I was diagnosed. If I were to be "cured", I would never give any thought to it again.

* If I were to be "cured" of diabetes, there would be absolutely no need for me to ever check my blood sugar again. If the condition could return, you could say it's "in remission", or use some other term, but I reject the use of "cure".

* If I am "cured," there are no limits to such a cure. There's no "sure you're cured, but you still need to be careful". Once cured, I could make a meal of a plate of lo mein noodles, a large piece of pecan pie with two scoops of butterscotch ice cream, and a liter of sugary soda -- and bear no short-term risk beyond indigestion.

* I don't expect that a cure for my diabetes would magically undo any damage that chronically high blood sugar may have done. However, any further damage would stop. Immediately. We're not talking lowered risk, we're talking no risk.

Know this: if you are promoting a product, service or philosophy for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, and you choose to use the word "cure" in describing the benefit, you'd best be using the word as -I- understand it, and not as some lawyer told you that you could get away with. Otherwise, you will immediately forfeit every drop of credibility that you may have had with me.

Come on, folks. Don't overpromise. If what you've got is of genuine value and has some innovation to it, you don't need the "c" word to develop a market. I've bought a number of products that promise to assist with effective control, and I will never, ever, buy a "cure".

Until, of course, there is a cure. A real cure.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Grains Three Ways: Bulgur

According to Wikipedia, bulgur is a cereal made from wheat. The grains of wheat have there bran partially removed and are parboiled (that is, partially cooked).

I have to say, bulgur was a surprise. I took it on for this project mostly because I happened to have some. I don't know where I got the idea, but I thought of bulgur as being rough and unpleasant, like some sort of allegedly-edible cleaning product. I don't happen to care for tabbouleh, the Middle-Eastern salad in which Americans are most likely to encounter bulgur, but my distaste has nothing to do with the texture of the grain itself.

However, when I cooked some bulgur up in my rice cooker with a little bit of oil, the result was light and fluffy. I've enjoyed putting some of the result in the bottom of a bowl with some meat and veggies on top of it. (Attention KFC: that's what a bowl should be.)

(I don't believe I've mentioned that I'm taking the directions for cooking my grains in my rice cooker from "The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook, written by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. The rice cooker can be an amazingly versatile tool, and this is an excellent guide to it's capabilities.)

My second dish was "Bulgur Pudding with Candied Ginger and Figs". Forget any idea you may have had this "pudding" means it will be smooth and silky: if you're like me, you can forget any idea that it's like anything else you've ever eaten. It's sweet, and fruity, and crunchy, and thick, and substantial, and savory. Amazing stuff. The recipe says it's 32g carbs per serving: if the serving size is more than a couple of tablespoons, I wonder a bit about that. If I make it again, I'll use a little bit less dried fruit and cut the figs into somewhat smaller pieces.

My third bulgur recipe was "". Gazpacho is a tomato soup of Spanish origin and is served cold. I've wanted to try it both because it's really tasty and also to have something else I can eat during the hot and humid summers where I live. (For about four months, all I usually want to eat is bologna sandwiches and cold pizza. This year HAS to be different.)

Unfortunately, something went seriously wrong with my gazpacho: it's delicious -- fresh and tomato-ey and fully flavored -- but it's not soup. Essentially all the liquid in the recipe was absorbed by the bulgur as it cooked. I can think of a couple of things I might have done wrong, but doing those things differently would not have added enough moisture to call it a soup. But the comments on the recipe don't mention this issue at all. As the King of Siam might have said, it's a puzzlement. But it's a very tasty puzzlement.

Next grain in the project: brown rice. After that, I'll probably have several posts in a row about grains many people have never heard of.

(This is the third grain covered in my "Grains Three Ways" project, described here. I have previously written about and quinoa.)
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T Minus Two by Bob Pedersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.