Once I figured out this rule, my health progress went from volatile and unpredictable, to steady and sustainable.
Here’s the rule:
For most online health advice, there’s about 10% that is true.
The rest? Not even true.
So here’s where it becomes the “double” 90-10 rule:
Of the 10% that’s true — only 10% of that is actually helpful.
So even with the 10% of all information that’s true, nearly all of it isn’t going to be helpful for most people.
Is this extreme? Is it harsh? Maybe! But let me show you what I mean — and why this rule changed my trajectory.
Let’s do a thought experiment.
Think of an imaginary study:
Researchers have published a study about Miracle Fruit X. In the 3-week study with 12 normal subjects, the fruit produces a statistically significant benefit. Let’s say it lowers blood pressure.
In result, an entire online following develops around Miracle Fruit X. Thousands of people flock to health groups, where strict guidelines are developed about how to eat Miracle Fruit X throughout the day. White label supplements are even produced and sold to capitalize on the “science.”
Sound familiar? I know it does for me!
Here’s the problem: The results of the study may have been statistically significant, but that’s not the whole story, the whole truth.
Small Effects Aren’t Worth Huge Effort
In “reality,” even though the blood pressure reduction in these subjects was statistically significant, it was only mildly effective — as a therapy — in the average body.
For most people searching for better health, there are 100 better methods to achieve that blood pressure reduction — including 17 other foods and supplements, and myriad lifestyle changes. Eating Miracle Fruit X “throughout the day” as is prescribed in the group just doesn’t move the needle very much — nor is it worth the huge effort.
Normal Subjects vs Health Seekers
What’s more, most studies are using “normal” subjects, who 1) don’t have big health challenges, or 2) are very typical in their lifestyle choices.
By contrast, people searching for health improvement online are often 1) trying to overcome real health challenges, or are 2) already taking lots of steps to improve their health. Adding in Miracle Fruit X is not going to impact the typical health-seeker the way it will a typical person.
Limited Scope of the Study
Beyond that — and this is a big one — our imaginary study only looked at one biological marker: blood pressure reduction!
Because foods and biology are vastly complex, this fruit also has 5 other important biological effects, including: there’s a rare allergen that can cause inflammation, it can block iron absorption, it can dramatically lower blood sugar, and it is high in antinutrients like oxalate.
But there’s more: there are some effects of Miracle Fruit X which are potentially negative. These weren’t mentioned in the study!
The presence of the allergen, that can cause inflammation in some people — that’s pretty important!
The lowering of blood sugar — could be good for diabetics, but could be disastrous in hypoglycemia.
The presence of oxalates — can spell major trouble for folks sensitive to oxalates.
Eating too much of the fruit can dramatically reduce iron absorption — a really big problem for people struggling with anemia (which is related to a whole host of pathologies, including diabetes).
Counter Movement Against Miracle Fruit X
After a couple of years in existence, tens of thousands of people have gotten sucked into the Miracle Fruit X movement.
And of course, most found very little improvement, while a few saw some positive change. A sizeable population saw their symptoms worsen, perhaps from the unacknowledged effects: their blood sugar was lowered too much, or a reaction to the oxalates, or the fruit just didn’t agree with their stomach.
From those who had bad experiences rises up a counter culture, slamming all things Miracle Fruit X. Many say it ruined their lives, destroyed their health, or just wasn’t all they hoped it would be. A Facebook group titled “Recovering From Miracle Fruit X” has nearly 900 people, and there are a lot of horror stories in there, posted every week.
Some people who used to enjoy Miracle Fruit X every now and then, go on to avoid it for the next 9 years because of the dire warnings from people in and outside the group that the fruit “will” harm you, maybe irreparably. Many never try it out of fear.
People With Chronic Health Issues Have Unique Rules For Their Body
Perhaps most critical of all, what’s good for one person just may not be good for another.
Susan doesn’t need her blood pressure lowered. She has hypotension!
(It can occur in many conditions, including hypothyroidism, malnutrition, dehydration, and the long-running infections and inflammation which can cause those conditions).
And if Susan starts eating MFX throughout the day, she could have a hypotensive episode! Or, perhaps, she’ll just feel worse throughout the day: low energy, blurred vision, nauseous.
What’s more, James knew he needed to lower blood pressure, but he did not realize that he is hypoglycemic! The “unacknowledged effect” of MFX — that it can lower blood sugar — could cause acute hypoglycemic episodes, or just make him feel worse throughout the day, too, as his body works overtime to keep his blood sugar up.
As an aside, so many herbs are “good for blood sugar.” But what that means is it’s good for lowering blood sugar. In hyperglycemia — also called diabetes — these herbs help bring down blood glucose.
I can’t tell you how many folks with hypoglycemia are taking blood glucose-lowering herbs, and making their symptoms much, much worse.
On the same note, most liver-supporting herbs directly lower blood sugar, too! This is another of “unacknowledged effects” of a supplement impacting us in unintended ways.
Dorothy doesn’t know it, but she isn’t tolerating oxalates very well. When she followed the plan, eating this fruit throughout the day, she experienced inflammation, brain fog, and even a kidney stone.
Michael has been struggling with gut dysbiosis. He read in a health group that MFX can cure his ailing gut. After eating exclusively the fruit for 4 weeks, the fruit’s sugar fed candida in his gut and caused a pronounced — and very uncomfortable — flare up. Looking back, he will pinpoint this experiment as “the time when his gut took a turn.”
Vernon is an elderly diabetic who struggles with high blood pressure — so a family member gives him some Miracle Fruit X. For a few days, his blood pressure seems a little better, and even his blood sugar seems a little better! Everyone rejoices at the good fortune! Over the course of a few weeks, however, iron absorption is interfered with, and Vernon develops symptoms of low iron, which actually causes his blood sugar to rise and him to feel quite lethargic. Hopefully a family member notices the correlation between the MFX and his feeling worse — but if nobody catches it, things could be dicey for Vernon.
Whew, what a trip!
Reminder of the First 90-10 rule: That of all the health information online, 90% of it is wrong.
So the initial “truth” was: Miracle Fruit X “lowers blood pressure.”
Let’s do a quick Q-and-A and see how true that idea is.
Does Miracle Fruit X “lower blood pressure”?
In one small study, it did to some extent. Will it for you? Maybe, maybe not. You might have lots of other more important challenges that you’d be much wiser to focus on.
Was the study funded by a company which sells Miracle fruit x?
Yes, it turns out the study was funded by an entity with a vested interest in selling this food.
This happens a lot in real life. Should it impact the trustworthiness of the research? Many would argue it should.
Does Miracle Fruit X improve libido, weight loss, gut health, liver detoxification, and thyroid function?
[Continuing our thought experiment] Lately, there have been some studies suggesting MFX does impact all of those things. Many of them also happen to be funded by companies that sell MFX, though.
Not to be outdone, online influencers and superfans insist MFX has these benefits — and take it even further than the corrupt studies. According to them, Miracle Fruit X melts cellulite, cleanses your brain during sleep, and expels parasites. While some folks have seen some benefits like this, most will not. Influencers insist that all benefits are universal, though. “Maybe if you didn’t see results, you didn’t do it right?”
Is It True That Miracle Fruit X IS “good for you”?
There are too many interactions in the body — and too many people with various conditions — to answer that question. To say “yes” is certainly not a truthful statement. Some people had bad experiences. Others ate way too much.
The truth: MFX could be good for you, under the right circumstances.
The First 90-10 Rule: Is It True? Conclusion
Can we see how a small sliver of truth turns into a massive narrative? And most of it is actually false?
A small study — studying “normal” humans for only 3 weeks, funded by a company which sells the fruit — did lower blood pressure in some subjects. From there, the legend grew into a massive online movement, with more corrupt studies brought in, even more supposed benefits, and exaggeration from influencers and superfans. In response, a vehement opposition group rises up, declaring Miracle Fruit X to be a scourge on humanity.
The reality? Only some people benefit from the fruit, while many others have meager results, no results, or bad results. Miracle Fruit is neither a miracle, nor is it a villain — it’s just a unique fruit with some health implications.
When we consider the narrative around Miracle Fruit X, we can conclude that there’s about 10% truth to it all.
Let’s look at that 10% truth about Miracle Fruit X.
If MFX does have some ability to lower blood pressure, is this actually helpful information?
In this thought experiment, we suggested that there are dozens and dozens of other methods that can help lower blood pressure more successfully than Miracle Fruit X.
So while there might be some truth that MFX lowers blood pressure, focusing on it as a miracle cure just isn’t very helpful.
In fact, spending too much time, energy, and money on this fruit could keep you from other habits that will help much more, and be more holistic — like earlier bedtimes and exercise.
What’s more, extreme health practices tend to become stressful. Whatever benefits we see with stressful lifestyle habits, they may not be worth the harm induced by stress.
In addition, there are many who just won’t respond well to MFX — for various reasons.
Susan was hypotensive — she doesn’t need, and won’t respond well to, any blood pressure-lowering foods. James did, but the Miracle Fruit X also lowered his blood sugar (he’s hypoglycemic). Dorothy found out the hard way that MFX had oxalates.
For Susan and James — and Dorothy, Michael, & Vernon — unacknowledged characteristics of MFX caused negative experiences for them.
So beyond whether it was actually true information or not, was it helpful for any of these folks to know that Miracle Fruit X can lower blood pressure?
No, not at all.
Ultimately, they needed a greater view of the situation. They needed to know — much more than a tidbit about Miracle Fruit X — perhaps the full ramifications of eating it, or that there are myriad other, more impactful and synergistic strategies, ones that also won’t be as likely to harm people.
They needed info which was more helpful, and more safe.
So that’s the Double 90-10 Rule. Does it apply to you? Does it seem too harsh and too strict?
I’m sure it goes too far, and as a concept it won’t apply perfectly. When I first came up with it, I called it the 30% rule (though social media has gotten even more extreme since then)! And of course, some online influencers and educators try a lot harder than others to be circumspect.
Unfortunately, though, good intentions are not protective against bad information. I can’t tell you how many PhD’s and MD’s I’ve followed that had some really bad ideas — that harmed me. The naturopaths and functional medicine spaces are nearly as bad, not realizing — in particular — that natural therapies can harm people, too. Influencers are almost entirely miss, not make.
As I said in the intro, a key moment in my progress was when I realized this rule, and applied it to all information I heard online (or in person). The human body is infinitely complex, and each one is unique. My history, emotions, my nutritional profile, and even my gut health is different than yours!
Scientific studies cannot account for all of these variables — and they’re often compromised by corporate funding.
Lab testing isn’t perfect, even the expensive ones offered by mainstream medicine and flashy alternative medicine struggle with inaccuracies. Lots of emphasis is placed on interpreting alternative lab tests — and I’ve seen confoundingly bad work done here, too.
How did I make progress — if I was thinking that “most of this information won’t help me?”
The answer: I stopped focusing my time, energy, and resources on things that weren’t likely to help.
I stopped scrolling through endless marketing pitches on Facebook and Instagram, each pulling me in a direction that made someone else money, but wasn’t the direction my body and mind needed.
Once I got out of the echo chamber, the noise, the crowd… I found space. I found some stillness. I found the ability to reason, to observe me, and to think.
I found the ability to be led.
By my body, by a deeper listening, by a receiving of answers that came to me from that stillness.
I decided I’d had enough. From now on, I will hold onto the ideas that do seem to help some — ones that don’t seem to unbalance me or have some hidden dark side.
And I stacked those good things together. I didn’t obsess about it all — those days were gone.
I just did what felt right, what I felt moved to do. If something seemed like it could help, I tried it — with no expectations.
And if it seemed to help, I kept it! As it continued to help, it gave me faith that I could heal and improve!
And I did. Without the pressure and hype and marketing and distraction.
A healing spirit is not one of distraction. It’s not monkey mind. A healing spirit is listening to your body. Listening to your heart, even.
It’s finding the 10% that’s helpful — of the 10% that’s true.
An 11-question inventory for furthering relationships.