Why is there so much conflicting nutrition science in America?
Nutrition science is a confusing field. Choose any type of diet or food you want to eat, and I can probably point you to a study that shows it is healthy and to a national organization promoting it. There are several reasons behind this.
- Many studies are funded by corporations who make their money from people buying their food products or commodity;
- the media reports only parts of studies as presented in press releases and does not do any investigative work to find if there is the truth in the findings or who paid for the study;
- many advocacy groups, associations, and universities cling to old perceptions and misinformation because they are embarrassed to admit they were wrong to the public and to their funders,
- many public health officials merely add more scientifically sound advice onto their previous advice—even when the two directly conflict with each other—for fear that a reversal of policy will undermine the public’s trust in their governments’ health messages, and
- politicians and state and federal entities rely on the advice of all these groups and individuals in making nutrition policy decisions for the nation.
What is the easiest way to wade through the mirage of studies and diets that seem to come out each year? I recommend a common-sense, historic standard. Think about traditional diets in our world. Does the information conflict with the way healthy people have been eating for thousands of years? Or, does it support those diets? If it conflicts, be weary of changing your diet based on the news release.
Most people can be healthy on any traditional diet in the world, except the Western diet. The Western diet—and the refined carbohydrates and sugar-laden, processed foods and drinks that come with it—are not healthy for anyone. The good news is that the prescription for health is simple:
- Eat healthy fats, protein, vegetables, fruit and (only) whole grains,
- Avoid refined carbohydrates, sugar, and juice,
- Avoid overly processed fast foods,
- Pay attention to your body – if you feel better when you eliminate dairy, gluten, garlic or other foods, trust that and eliminate it from your diet,
- Drink lots of water and limit alcohol,
- Live an active life, including daily exercise, and
- Get enough sleep.
That’s all there is too it, really.