On The Complexity of Life And Poly-Food-acy.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck
Bartholomew and the Oobleck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life is too complex.  We should all know about polypharmacy, which is the use of five or more drugs at a single time.  The results of taking that many drugs at one time is completely unknown, as the complex interactions of the drugs have never been studied.  Generally, the effects aren’t immediately deadly. But the effects do land an enormous number of people in the hospital.  Over a million a year.

Prove it, you say?  Oh boy, oh boy.  I just want to share my best, most health-geek newest favorite site.  It’s called HCUP, and it compiles all the data from the hospitals nationwide.  In it’s most recent summary brief (here, for the geeks among us) HCUP reported: “In 2007, the Institute of Medicine estimated that approximately 1.5 million preventable ADEs (adverse drug events) occur each year in the United States.”

Within the hospital itself one would be safe though, right?  Wrong.  “conservative estimates are that hospitalized patients experience 380,000 to 450,000 preventable ADEs each year.”  There it is, polypharmacy in action. 

But the complexity of life does not end with the use of too many medications.  Any reading of the label of a processed food will give a laundry list of long names, things found only in the wilds of a chemistry lab.  People of a certain ilk will shy away from such labels instinctively, while others will glance at it and assume that “the powers that be” will protect us.

We do have food safety institutions, but just as the FDA can do little more than keep you from dying outright from drugs, it can do little but remove the most lethal of food additives.  The rest get washed into your bowels, where not even the most learned expert in the world knows what happens next.  (I always imagine these experts have long beards like the wise men in Dr. SeussBartholomew and the Oobleck). Who knows what nasty, greenish gunk you generate for your body to clean up?

So there’s the new term I just coined.  Polyfoodacy.  The definition is: the use of five or more additives to any single food substance, resulting in an unknown set of circumstances within the human body.  We know the eventual long term results of these interactions may include chronic illness, hospitalization, and eventual death.

The next time you reach for a processed food, at least make sure it passes the polyfoodacy test.  If it doesn’t, put it back and find something that does.


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