Every day we are bombarded with conflicting nutrition messages from family and friends, media and the internet. How can you ensure the information you are hearing or reading is trust-worthy and evidence-based? Unfortunately, many of the latest nutrition trends are not based on the best available science or may only tell you part of the story.
- Is there a promise of a quick fix, such as fast weight loss or a miracle cure? If a diet or product sounds too good to be true, it likely is! Making changes to your health means a long-term com- mitment to healthy eating and physical activity.
- Does the advice include buying “must have” products, such as special foods or supplements? The wellness industry is unregulated and worth $4.5 trillion. Its goal is to maximize profits. Food is the best source of nutrients; special products and supplements are rarely needed to improve your health.
- Is the information based on personal stories or testimonials? It may be nice to hear a success story from a friend or a celebrity, but it's not proof that something works or is true. Nutrition advice should be based on the best available research.
- Is the claim based on a single study? The more studies that arrive at the same conclusion, the stronger the evidence that something is true. Additionally, the stronger the study design (observational vs. randomized control trial), the more people in the study, and the longer its duration, the stronger the results will be.
- What are the writer’s qualifications? You wouldn’t ask a celebrity how to design a bridge; you’d ask an engineer. The same thinking should apply to nutrition advice. Dig a little deeper and ask for credentials. Across Canada, the title “dietitian” (but not nutritionist in most provinces) is protected by law, just like a nurse, dentist or pharmacist.
Who are dietitians?
Registered dietitians are regulated health care professionals who have a university degree from an accredited university program and more than 1000 hours of supervised training. They are accountable to a regulatory body and have to keep their skills up to date. They use the best available scientific evidence to provide guidance and recommendations to clients according to their unique values and circumstances.
Why do nutrition recommendations change?
Recommendations change over time as we learn more about nutritional science. It is important to remember that one new study or theory is rarely enough to change our advice. The basic advice has remained unchanged: eat a variety of foods daily, including vegetables, fruits, protein foods and whole grains.
Brittany Butland provides Dietitian Services at Horizon’s Albert County Community Health Centre. For more tips on nutrition and healthy eating, you can book an appointment with Brittany at 506-882-3100. The Bennett and Albert County Health Care (BACH) Foundation raises funds to support the services and programs provided by the Albert County Community Health Centre including equipment and staff education. www.bachfoundation.com