Updated: Jun 19
Nowadays it’s very easy to be confused, even frustrated, with the overwhelming and contradictory amount of nutrition and health information in the news and media. One day an article will be published hypothesizing the dangers of coffee and caffeine addiction and a week later another article will circulate, extolling the benefits of coffee.
How do we sift through all the nonsense? How do we recognize facts from misinformation?
Firstly, the nutrition field is a new, young, and growing field in which few concrete and evidentiary facts exist. Nutrition research is still working to prove or challenge certain nutrition theories from the beginning of the century. With more theories than facts, it is easy for mere speculations to turn into hard science. Therefore, nutrition misinformation quickly becomes authentic, spread out over the health section in the newspaper or blogged about incessantly on the internet.
Filtering out the nonsense may seem impossible. Here are a few suggestions that can help you counteract nutrition misinformation:
• Don’t overreact! News reporters are paid to tell a story. They will often misread results from a nutrition study and blast it to anyone who will listen.
• Check who funded the study – for example Kellogg’s or Hershey’s might supply the product for a study and may skew the results to make their product appear more beneficial than it actually is.
• Double-check your sources of information! Confirm reputable sites (not Wikipedia) to make sure it’s real health experts and professionals giving advice/information based on hard, proven science.
• Look at the details of a study – A study with 12 participants verses one with 12,000 participants can tell a lot. Was it a poorly controlled study where people fell through the cracks? Can we generalize the results for a larger population?
Key point – do not blow things out of proportion like the media does. Wait for the dust to settle, before reacting, and see how the medical experts weigh in on the study results.
The beauty of nutritional science is that it is an ever-evolving science and we are discovering more about nutrigenomics, preventing disorders and disease, healthy aging, and learning more and more every day.