With the emergence in popularity of health and fitness in recent years, there is an abundance of nutrition information coming at you from all angles. While it is great that nutrition is on the forefront of many people's minds, you must be careful of where the information is coming from. Many nutrition supplement companies put out information that supports the sales of their products. While not all the information is bogus, you must be diligent in separating the good info from the bad. Below I will detail 3 helpful strategies to help you decipher nutrition information coming from popular media sources.
1. Sources, Sources, Sources
Based on the fact the I spelled this one out three times, you can imagine it's pretty important. Actually if you stopped reading after this first tip you would already be 75% more proficient at decoding nutrition information. Sources are a biggy. By sources I mean, citations at the bottom, or within an article. These citations usually come from scientific journals or textbooks. You see, when someone makes a claim about a particular nutrition topic, such as "gluten is inflammatory," it should be backed with a source or citation that has proven this theory through a scientific study. To give an example a common citation would look like: Atherton, P. J., and K. Smith. “Muscle Protein Synthesis in Response to Nutrition and Exercise.” The Journal of Physiology, vol. 590, no. 5, Jan. 2012, pp. 1049–1057. Next time you are reading an article on a nutrition topic, look to the bottom of the page an see if you can find some sources/citations. This is a good sign that the information being delved out is credible and backed by science.
2. Who is the Author?
Another important factor when reading a piece of nutrition information is, who wrote it? No disrespect to hard-working journalists, but many times a nutrition article is written by someone who has no background in nutrition. They are basing their information on popular media sources that may not be rooted in science. So when reading an article check out the author. Do a quick Google search on them to see what their background is and if they are a credible source of nutrition information.
3. Is there a bias?
As I mentioned in the intro, nutrition supplement companies may want to spread information that supports the use of their products. In this case it is especially important to look at the sources of the information. Does the writer or sponsor of the article have a motive to sell you something. If this is the case, they may only select scientific studies that support the use of their product. In the scientific research world this is called, "cherry-picking." Just another thing to look out for when trying to educate yourself on nutrition.
While there are many other factors that influence the credibility of nutrition information, these are the three most prominent. If you look for these three factors when reviewing a piece of nutrition information, you will be able to tell right away if it is legitimate or not. With high competition in the nutrition supplement arena, companies have become clever with their marketing strategies. As consumers, it is our job to be able to decipher between bogus and credible nutrition information.
Did you find this article helpful? What else do you look for when reading a nutrition article? Please comment below!
Until next time, BE ELITE!