Are egg yolks bad for you? What is gluten, and are we all a little sensitive? Are artificial sweeteners worse than sugar? Is there a weight loss diet that actually works?
The sad truth is that the answers to these questions vary greatly depending on who you ask or where you look. A simple google search will reveal dozens of “experts” giving conflicting information about your health (while usually recommending their product or brand). It seems impossible to sift through the noise and find reasonable recommendations that are backed by science and research. Looking over the headlines for the past few years seem ridiculous. Every topic seems to flip-flop more often than a politician:
Study shows chocolate is good for your heart!
No wait! The sugar and fat found in chocolate now linked to obesity and cardiac disease.
New research shows that only organic 99% cocoa grown in the southern hemisphere and harvested at night under a new moon is good for you. And you can buy it here!
Part of the problem lies with the scientific and medical communities. Conducting research is expensive, and academics are pushed to publish significant results with a large impact. Unfortunately, most nutritional studies require very large subject populations which are difficult to standardize, and commonly produce inconsistent results. Thus, many researchers shy away from performing these experiments, and those that do study human nutrition are often pushed to sensationalize their results. The result is usually highly biased and non-useful studies that ultimately do little more than generate confusion.
Another problem is the huge amounts of money to made off of confusing or misleading consumers. Companies stand to make billions of dollars by convincing you that their product is healthier or in some way better than their competitor’s. It gets so bad that often times, all you have to do is look at who funded the study to predict the results. One review from researchers at Johns Hopkins, (not funded by anyone involved in the sweetener business) looked at bias in industry-funded studies on artificial sweeteners. They found that industry sponsored studies were more than 17 times more likely to have favorable results than non-sponsored studies. What’s worse is that authors rarely disclose who pays for their research, and fail to acknowledge that their study is biased.
Enough is enough. Doctors are transitioning to practicing evidence based medicine in an effort to focus on treatments that are proven to help patients and are backed by science. We can do the same with dieting and nutrition. We are introducing a new regular section of our blog called the Evidence Based Kitchen. In it, we will investigate the common myths and misconceptions perpetuated by bad science. We will also share our tips, recipes, and information that we actually use and recommend to patients.
What are your lingering questions about your diet/nutrition etc? Let us know in the comments, or send us an email!