I get it. I get asked on a daily basis if I know if something is true or not, the argument of eggs and butter always comes into play. Yes, I know that over the years we have gone back and forth, and then back and forth on the whole do eggs cause heart disease question, and even more so on our thoughts on butter. I get it. It’s confusing, I get confused too!
The thing is, nutrition science is hard, like really, really hard! As humans, there are so many factors that affect our health, even if we did the gold standard randomized control trial, there are still thousands of other factors in our lives that could affect the outcome of a trial. And let me tell yah, most studies are not randomized controlled trials… they cost millions to conduct and require hundreds of people to comply with the studies standards. The truth is, in the end, researchers never really know if everyone did what they were supposed to do over the years the study was conducted, and that’s not taking into the account a number of people who dropped out of the study.
So, what do we see in the media? Observational studies that really don’t tell us a cause and effect relationship, animal studies and cell culture studies. Thankfully, humans are quite a bit different than mice, and we’re certainly more complex than something that can be replicated in a test tube.
So, what can we do when we see an article being shared and want to change our entire lifestyle based on it?
- Make sure the study was conducted in actual living humans (this is key!).
- Try to see what type of study was done, was it observational or a randomized control trial? Is the article based on one study or many?
- Ask yourself “are they promising a quick fix like fast weight-loss or some miracle cure?” If it sounds too good to be true, then it likely is!
- Do they provide information based on personal stories or research? Testimonies are great but it’s not proof that something actually works, or that it is going to work for you.
- Find out what the person’s qualifications are! Would you ask a celebrity how to build a bridge? No, you’d ask an engineer. Would you ask a celebrity to fill your cavity? No, you’d ask a dentist and I hope you wouldn’t ask your dermatologist to perform heart surgery, you’d ask your Cardiothoracic Surgeon. The same thinking should apply for nutrition advice. Dig a little deeper and ask for credentials.
Did you know the title dietitian/ registered dietitian is protected by law, just like a nurse, dentist or pharmacist? Look for the initials “RD or PDt” to identify a registered dietitian. Remember, not all Nutritionists are Dietitians! Nutritionist in New Brunswick is not a protected title, meaning anyone can call themselves it!
See my post here on the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist.
Are you confused by the media? Tell me more!