Have you ever read a catchy news headline claiming a certain food or special diet can improve your health? Have you then gone out and brought that food and started eating it more frequently? Bingo. That is just what the person behind the catchy news headline wanted you to do. Why? So they can increase their profits of course.
We seem to be swamped with claims about super foods and the new latest diet that all the celebrities are doing. Most of this comes through social media, news sites and lifestyle magazines but how do you know what is right and what is just a clever marketing campaign. Unfortunately most of the time you have no way of knowing and may end up eating a nutritionally inadequate diet which can leave you paying the price in the long term.
A bit about the claims you read
The science of nutrition is relatively new and studies are being carried out all the time so we can gain a deeper understanding the how the food we eat effects our bodies. It is important that the study be interpreted correctly so the appropriate conclusions can be made. Unfortunately the media often gets hold of preliminary findings and prints these whether they are correct or not because they make an interesting story and increase readership.
Many factors can effect the validity of research. An fictitious example would be 'a study has shown that eating kiwifruit helps you to lose weight'. Without knowing anything about the research you have no way of knowing if it is true but Dr J Doe has backed it up so it must be correct because he is a Dr. Right?
Upon further reading we discover that the research was only done in 10 people who had just started a healthy eating and exercise plan to kick start their new year. It just so happens that these people like eating kiwifruit as well. Whats more, Dr J Doe calls himself a Dr because he has a PhD in Geography and he funded the research himself using profits from his kiwifruit orchard!
So you can see how this news story was quite misleading. I don't expect you to go out and read all the research from claims such as these. As a Dietitian, that is my job so we as a profession can properly inform you and help you to sort the facts from the fiction.
'Dietitian' is a protected title. This means that not anyone can use it. In NZ, Dietitians have done 4.5 to 5 years of university training all about food. We have a deep understanding of how food effects the body when it is well and during different medical conditions. We are registered with our Board and meet specific standards including ongoing learning about the field we work in.
So next time you read or hear a nutrition claim know that if it is backed by a Dietitian then legally it has to be true otherwise keep a cautious hat on, seek professional advice if you need to and embark on any new 'fad' diet with caution.
For those of us who need to follow a special diet due to a medical condition, adding to the stress of this by trying to incorporate an unnecessary eating pattern is not warranted nor is it helpful nor healthy.