If you’ve ever tried to follow nutrition news, then you know that recommendations change all the time. Foods that were once labeled as good for you can suddenly be red flagged, and the food you were taught to avoid can all of a sudden be good for you. With all these mixed reviews going around, sticking to a healthy diet plan can be really challenging, which make sense, right? It will also make you question the advice you’re receiving from experts, who, like the weather, appears to be changing regularly.
So, why does this happen?
Well, there are a number of reasons for this. First, trying to conduct long-term studies on food and health is a lot harder than you think. Why? Well, because things present in food today can actually have a larger impact on the food quality later on down the road. Additionally, it’s practically impossible to monitor what individuals eat on a daily basis throughout the course of weeks, months and years. So proving that certain foods can either be beneficial or harmful to your body in a timely manner is also impossible. This is why health claims are made by experts without sufficient evidence to support their assumptions. But wait, don’t go rushing over to Voodoo Doughnuts just yet.
Another reason expert opinion change over time has to deal with politics. As most people know, obesity is something that’s always been in linked to vein disease and other health problems, which is why politicians at one point in time believed that eating fat caused obesity and heart disease. The most compelling part, however, is that the politician’s claims were never found to be true. Instead, the development of eating more carbohydrates came about, and nutritionists – like the rest of the world – embraced this theory in their everyday lives.
With all that in mind, here are two reasons why the nutrition advice given to us can be so conflicting at times – and how you can make sense of it moving forward.
Health Topics Are Usually Overblown: Living in a digital world has its pros and cons. One pro, for instance, is having access to an endless amount of information, which is beneficial when it comes to things like counting calories, a task that we might view as rocket science. On the other hand, one con, in particular, we’re all too familiar with (especially when trying to access health information), is something called “Spam.” Spam messages are things we all must deal with, but they’re also responsible for inaccurate information when it comes to dietary health advice or suggestions. Some online blogs and publications, for example, do a good job of sharing small studies with millions of viewers, which is what changes users’ perspective about certain vitamins and nutrients, causing much of the confusion today.
The reality is, the media pool is so massive that nutrition content can reach billions of users in a matter of seconds – through clickbait, spam, and pop-ups. If this is the case for you, the best thing to do is seek advice from credible, unbiased sources. How do know which sources to trust? Look for content that is supported with an explanation by registered doctors, researchers, and well-educated dietitians or trainers. It also helps to double check the site and make sure they aren’t trying to sell you a product that promises to burn fat in a matter of minutes. This makes separating credible sources from fake ones a lot easier.
Research Is Still Pretty New: Believe it or not, low-fat foods that contained lots of sugar were once labeled as healthy foods, despite the evidence that proved otherwise. Even as experts began to link high sugar intake to health problems – like diabetes, and high blood pressure, U.S. Congress still prohibited any food guidelines to include advice regarding reducing sugar intake. Before getting upset though, it’s important to remember that nutrition research is still in its developing stages, with scientific evidence going back as far as the late 19th century. This could explain why that, although research is being done in the food industry, experts are only focusing on trans-fats and artificially produced food. So understanding how certain foods can affect our lives on a daily basis could take longer than we expect. For example, it took decades for the U.S. Dietary Guidelines to figure out that eggs did not negatively affect blood levels.
Moving forward, it’s important to take news regarding food with a grain of salt. In other words, when you hear anything regarding dietary updates, understand that no study provides all the answers. If you seek advice from a professional, ask them how these changes can affect you, and how they fit into the larger picture of things.
In the long run, there will be a number of recommendations that will change. There are some, however, that won’t – like eating lots fruits and vegetables and staying away from junk food. Those are two suggestions that have hardly ever changed throughout the years.