Most of us are neither medical doctors, nor nutrition experts. That means that it can be quite confusing when the powers that be continue to bicker over which foods are best for our health. Of course, we know there are special interests who will balk at scientific findings that threaten their bottom line. We know that you can’t trust advice about eating eggs from egg producers, or beef from the cattle industry.
We, undoubtedly, take those food based commercials with a grain of salt, just as we do the perfume commercials that promise we will be irresistibly sexy if we just spray on some fragrance. Yet, if the bulk of our information is coming from commercially supported sites, then the bulk of our nutritional advise will be coming from those commercial interests that we just cannot trust.
What about the news media? Can we trust them to give us the most sound advise about nutrition? Probably not. News media thrives on controversy, most especially if it tells their readers that their secret wishes are true. That’s why we/re all such suckers for the underdog story. We all want to believe that even the least powerful of us can triumph over the big bad guys. When it comes to underdog stories, it’s good for us to hear that perseverance pays off in the end, because perseverance is a good thing. But when it comes to nutrition, we don’t need to hear what we wish to be true, we need to hear the truth.
When the media goes looking for their controversial stories in science literature, they are looking for just those dangerous kinds of misfit pieces of information that they know we would love to believe. Imagine what the media would do with a study that shows that potato chips can cure cancer, or that ice cream is good for the heart. No such study exists, of course, but these are the kinds of stories that journalists dream about.
As a result of this media bias, we get slanted stories about nutrition. If three hundred thousand studies show that high fat foods cause heart disease, but one outlier study indicates that a high fat diet can lower your cholesterol, guess which information gets airtime? That’s exactly the kind of misleading hype we get about nutrition. It has led to the current craze over high fat and high protein diets like the downright dangerous Atkins and Paleo diets. The science behind these diets is flimsier than Walmart furniture. Yet, people continue to believe in it, because of the dearth of good information coming out of media today.
That’s why I cannot speak highly enough about NutritionFacts.org. This site is the public face of a nonprofit organization dedicated to distributing evidence based nutritional science. Doctor Michael Greger heads up a team of nutritionists who scour the scientific literature on human nutrition studies every day in search of “the most groundbreaking, interesting, practical papers” in order to bring us those findings. They are conveniently located in Maryland, just across the border from Washington, D. C. and the National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the country. Every medical journal that gets published gets a place within that library, and Dr. Greger’s team scours through those journals. What they bring to us are entertaining little videos and essays on the best evidence based nutrition available today.
I love how entertaining these little gems are. I have subscribed to the website, and I have learned a great deal about nutrition just by watching those videos as they come to my email. My favorite part about the site, though, is that Dr. Greger includes links to the studies themselves, so that I can do a little background research. In this way, I’ve been able to see for myself how reliable the information might be. I often do searches on the site to learn more about a particular issue like heart disease, diabetes or breast cancer.
If you have a health issue that you need to address, if you have a loved one with a health issue—heck, if you have a body—you owe it to yourself to subscribe to NutritionFacts.org today.