Is the Nutrition Information You're Listening to Wrong?

Is the Nutrition Information You're Listening to Wrong?

If you were to ask me what the hardest part of my job is, hands down, I'd have to say rectifying the inaccurate and absurd nutrition advice all over the Internet, in diet books, out of the mouths of non-credible “foodies,” and, surprisingly, in Industry-funded or poorly-designed research.

While I’ve been tackling this issue since I became a Registered Dietitian, I’ve never addressed what might actually be going on and why you are constantly hearing mixed messages when it comes to food, nutrition and your health.

This satire made me crack up and actually inspired this article. It shows that any health claim can be qualified by someone, some scientist, some irrelevant study, or some type of statistical manipulation. Be aware of who is providing the information (are they a credible source?) and look deeper into the specifics, not just the latest media headline.

1. Everyone is different!

a. Many health messages you hear are general blanket statements. After all, it's true what they say: one man’s medicine may be another man’s poison. It is imperative you know what is right for YOU! Talk with your doctor, a Registered Dietitian or credible nutrition specialist in order to understand what dietary recommendations suit your particular needs. The information provided on NutriLiving is based on nutritional science, however, we still suggest you speak with your personal health care provider before implementing any new dietary changes.

2. Industry-funded research, advertising campaigns and ulterior motives

a. Advertising campaigns have one goal - to sell you a product. I bet you’re familiar with one of the most famous commodity brand campaigns in the world – “Got milk?” You've probably even sported a milk mustache. That's because these subtle campaigns imprint their brand in your memory.

Hey - time for a quick quiz! Can you name the brands these following tag lines represent?

  • "I’m Lovin’ It”
  • “Eat Fresh.”
  • “Where’s the Beef?”
  • “The Other White Meat”
  • “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.”

b. All of these campaigns require a lot of money – money that simple, healthy foods like organic fruits and vegetables don’t have. Luckily, we’re starting to see more space covered by The Hass Avocado Board and the Almond Board (at least here in California), and other healthier alternatives, but why should we listen to messages only because someone paid for them? Science is usually much more trustworthy (but be sure to take even that with a grain of salt!)

c. In addition to ad campaigns, large funds from these big food corporations are used toward research. I’m all for research, but what we need is truly unbiased research. I don’t need to read a headline stating that dairy helps with weight loss when the study was designed and funded by the Dairy Research Institute! Or, for example, this study, which showed that people tend to underreport calorie intake - an obvious fact - that was then twisted and somehow led to the conclusion that soda intake does not correlate with the obesity epidemic. Not surprisingly, the study was funded by Coca-Cola.

d. In addition, some advisors behind the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the USDA Food Guide Pyramid and include industry veterans from big agricultural businesses who may have hidden agendas – to sell more of that particular food. Conflict of interest? I’d say so…

3. Non credible bloggers, authors, and media personalities

a. Everyone’s a food expert these days. It isn’t hard to buy a domain name and rant about the latest food trend and why it’s good for you or post a video on YouTube making your secret “health tonic.” These “experts” often get information from reading someone else’s blog (see '“Telephone" game' below) or taking a news headline and running with it without qualifying its claims. Would you let your gardener cut your hair? Well then, why would you let a self-proclaimed foodie tell you what's good for your health?

4. The “Telephone" game effect

a. In elementary school, we all played the “Telephone" game. Lesson learned: GO TO THE SOURCE! The more middlemen, the more likely it is that something will get jumbled into an inaccurate mess. Don’t just believe what you’re told, look into it and make a decision for yourself. Imagine if you heard “Eat foods that are stale,” thinking this was the new secret weight loss diet, when the actual message was “Eat more kale” – how silly would you feel? Okay, so that's a silly example, but you get the point!

5. Media’s attention-grabbing headlines

a. This happens over and over again. Scare tactics and claims of immediate results work well to grab someone’s attention. Dr. Oz is the worst offender in this area. If he says "Jump," people are quick to respond, "How high?" Unfortunately, when someone with that amount of influence touts a new miracle cure, a mad rush ensues and disappointment soon follows. But let's face it, no superfood can do it all. What you need to do for optimal health is going to be time consuming and will require effort – eat foods that are good for you and live a healthy lifestyle. The NutriBullet makes this as easy as it’s going to get!

b. Poorly-designed research studies are also a nusance. A recent example of this is the study on omega-3 fatty acids and prostate cancer. Check it out and you’ll see why the headline doesn’t quite match the study’s actual findings.

Bottom Line: Make sure you get your information from a CREDIBLE source and learn to QUESTION everything before passing along misinformation. There is usually more to a story than meets the eye. To save yourself some agony and money, not having to constantly buy the latest fad diet product or supplement, stop and take a deep breath, gather as much information as possible and then, if you are still confused, ask your NutriBullet RDs!

Answers to the Quiz!

- Milk, McDonald’s, Subway, Pork, Papa John’s

Registered Dietitian

Comment by carole626
March 24, 2015
Can you eat too much vitamin a and c in its natural form? I use fitness pal and my levels seem high. I am usually eating collard green or kale plus fruit.
Comment by Tamiz1
January 10, 2015
Thank you for this info Krista! I ran across some of this insight as I was researching and dealing with gut problems. The sugars and healthy fats being bad for you was the most surprising to find out to be false. O remember listening to all the hype years back and eliminated so much fat, even healthy, from my cooking. A few years ago I read about eating under fifteen grams of sugar a day is the only way to lose belly fat...which given that a piece of fruit had sometimes half of that I was shocked that they were telling me to eat almost no God given fruit. Then, less than a year ago, prior to a *possible* surgery fix, and no other options for my gut issues...i had a MRT sensitivity test which tests your blood against 150 items. Only one lab in Florida does this newly developed and highly accurate test. I found I was moderately or severely sensitive to a ton of items I was eating every day. I did not believe it until I removed those items (tomatoes, potatoes, olive oil, basil, spinach, and mustard to name just a few) and within two weeks some major symptoms were already minimized. This proves your point, as many people eat these items and have no issues with them. I did not know because it can be days later that these gut issues occur after eating items that you are sensitive to in this manner. I found i cannot even eat some items I have a high LOW sensitivity lettuce. I also do not digest the fiber in chia, flax or other similar fibers. I could not eat a lot of items upon the elimination diet that toolk months, and I am sensitive to olive oil, and walnuts were a very low reactive for me. So, I was eating a huge amount of walnuts...along with high sugar items like apricots, pineapple, and mango. I was eating a huge amount of calories and a lot of tilapia and catfish. I was in my weight range for my height, but on the high end. I was already gluten and grain free for over a year before this...trying anything to feel better. The weight poured off off of did inches. My metabolism shot up and I was eating all the time...fruits, veggies (raw and cooked), sweet potato, nuts, and fish, pork, and chicken....but the shear amount of natural sugars (maple syrup and honey, plus those in the fruits and veggies), and fat and calories was huge and I was still losing weight and was so very surprising and contradictory from all I had read for years. Btw, my stomach was finally flat as well after just a couple months. I was only doing light exercise due to some other physical issues. Those are two major areas of info that my results totally proved to be untrue!!! Until the studies track results based on the same/or very similar verifiably, controlled diets, these contradictions will still exist. Anyone with years of unresolved gut issues, even after multiple doctor/specialist visits and major diet changes, should get this MRT Food Sensitivity Test, and insurance should pay for it - which currently it does not. It changed my life for the positive after 10+ years of dealing with it! I just thought people might want to hear a story that backs up what you least a little! :)
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