Why You Should Stop Watching the News

The last few weeks there have been plenty of reasons to ignore the media (news, commercials, papers). Whatever side you fall on, I think everyone is relieved the political ads are gone! But that has nothing to do with this topic. This is about research and the news.

I’ve seen some ridiculous headlines when it comes to nutrition research.

To see some earlier posts on those, check out here and here.

Aside from being misleading, there is an actual danger in the methods our media portray nutrition research. First, a quick primer on nutrition research.

  • One research paper means almost nothing. Research has to be repeatable before it’s accepted.
  • Researching nutrition in a lab is hard to relate to real life.
  • A HUGE chunk of research that hits the news is based on correlation. CORRELATION ≠ CAUSATION. If that was true, you could say that sleeping causes death, because everyone who sleeps eventually dies.
  • Much research is done on individual nutrients. We don’t eat nutrients, we eat FOOD (hopefully).
So what is the news getting wrong? EVERYTHING!!! Does this sound familiar? “Tonight on the 10 o’clock news – why your favorite food might be killing you.”
The news takes the most recent research paper and summarizes it in such a way that people assume it’s true and applies to them. Topics in the last few years include:
  • eggs are good – eggs are bad (here’s a correlation study that says eggs = cigarettes; the researchers in no way considered OTHER dietary habits)
  • vitamins are good to take – vitamins are worthless – vitamins increase your risk
  • milk will help you lose weight – dairy is bad for your heart
  • coffee is good for your heart – drinking coffee may kill you
  • calories matter – calories don’t matter (here’s one saying the source of the calories doesn’t matter, just eat less – true for weight loss, but not for health!)
  • GMOs cause cancer (there is ZERO quality research showing that GMO food is directly linked to health problems; there are plenty of other reasons that GMOs can cause problems, but when it comes to health, there’s just no proof)
So what’s the average person to do? Quite simply, ignore the news (at least where it pertains to food and nutrition). You already know the basics – eat more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less processed food and junk. When you need help beyond that, seek out experts! There are many people out there who can guide you in an intelligent fashion to healthier eating. Your needs will dictate which direction to go (dietitian, nutritionist, naturopath, personally experienced blogger, etc). DO check out people’s credentials and background. Anyone can say anything, especially with the internet, but that doesn’t make it safe or true.
Lesson of the day? Ignore the news when it comes to food. Have you seen any crazy food things on the news?

 

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