Nutrition info: what’s real?

University of Michigan, Food pyramid

In a world full of social media, it is easy to find nutrition-related info. However, this nutrition info, is it real? Where does it come from? Who is posting it? Let’s have a look at a hard-to-follow topic…Nutrition info: what’s real. And what’s not!

Nutrition info overload

Nutrition info is on overload. The hashtag #nutrition alone gives over 44 million uses. That can include anything from a pretty photo of your meal , to an advice-filled message from a professional. That could be a chef. Or, it could be a from a doctor or a health organisation. It could be a food blogger. It could be an influencer…the list is endless, as is the information. Nutrition info overload is the result.

How do you know what is real?

Of course, how do you know what is real is a question that is hard to answer. There are some things to look out for which may help you decide what is real and what is perhaps not-so-real.

  • Pay attention to who is writing the info. Are they experts in the field of nutrition?
  • Pay attention to what they are writing. Does it sound credible? Can it be verified by other sources?
  • If it looks or sounds too good to be true, it probably is nothing more but a hype; yes, you can lose 5 kilos if you drink only watercress soup (or any other concoction) for 3 weeks, but does it do any harm to your body…? (Yes, it does!)
  • Is the person a celebrity, or a well-known influencer? Are they sponsoring a product? Then, your information may well be tainted by the money being paid to show off this product. A three-day detox is not effective, even if it is promoted by the biggest celeb!

Fake news happens everywhere

Fake news happens everywhere. Recently, a news channel made headlines with a medical snippet regarding a “review” on supplements. However, this “review” was based on the examination of two trials. Just because it was on the news, does not ensure the information is correct. Any proper researcher knows that you cannot do a review on just two other papers; you search hundreds or more papers to prove your point…

Finding real information

Finding real information amongst all the nonsense out there requires a bit of common sense. Your first question to yourself should be: Is the info from a credible source? Secondly, are there any links that may help enforce the credibility of the message? Sometimes, a connection is evident: it is not unusual to see a Dairy Board provide financial funding for research on calcium benefits, or the Beef and Meat Board sponsoring research into iron, to then use that information in well-placed advertising. At least, such claims have research backing the claim.

That is more than can be said of the afore-mentioned watercress soup. That hype lived years ago, and should be binned, just like the chilli, lemon and maple detox and weight loss hype that has been around for way too long. These “fads” attract lots of media attention, but have no proof of being safe, or even healthy. Evidence points the other way…

On a final note…

On a final note, the golden rules of a good diet are not that hard. The human body has normal needs for carbs and fibre from fruit and vegies, and gets plenty vitamins and minerals from these sources too. Protein is essential and can be eaten as animal – or plant – based components of your daily foods. Water is equally essential and should be the main source of your liquid intake. Treats are okay, but make them sensible. Avoid anything that’s from a take-away place, as well as sugary drinks. Foods that come wrapped in boxes are manufactured, and rarely have good nutrient levels. Cook fresh food, buy seasonal, buy local where you can, and revel in the simple art of cooking, eating and enjoying. Without social media pressure! And…if you really want good nutrition advice, see a trained professional.

A Wealth of Health, for all your nutrition needs and questions

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