Got science? We live in a culture of nutrition confusion, but the truth is out there if you look in the right places.
Are you sometimes confused about what to eat for health? Do you feel like nutritionists are always changing their minds? Do you want evidence-based information but don’t know who or what to believe?
If you’re nodding your head in agreement, you’re not alone.
And it’s exactly why, after twenty-plus years of doing research on diet and disease prevention, I left the lab to bring science back to the center of food and nutrition conversations. Today, I spend most of my time helping readers like you learn the truth about food while fighting junk science in all the ways that I can.
Still, the most common question I get as a nutrition scientist remains the same, whether from students, colleagues, friends, acquaintances, or even complete strangers at cocktail parties: “Why is nutrition so confusing?!”
You’ve wondered that same thing, right?
And I get it — people are frustrated — though I’m very, very tired or hearing it.
But hold on, now. Don’t get your gluten-free, non-GMO, free-range panties in a bunch.
Let me explain.
It’s no surprise that most people are confused about nutrition. There’s a din of bogus diet opinions from people talking smack on the interwebs and elsewhere, making it difficult to sort food fact from fiction. (No, celery juice is not a thing—and neither is the carnivore diet. At least, not when you look to the scientific evidence.) As a result, it’s harder than ever for everyday eaters to make evidence-based choices for their own health and our shared environment.
But nutrition itself isn’t confusing.
That’s right. Repeat after me: Nutrition. Isn’t. Confusing.
Knowledge evolves slowly, and yes, there are legit controversies — like in any other scientific discipline. Yet the mysteries of how what we eat impacts our health and planet are slowly being unraveled, revealing dietary truths that improve health and wellbeing, increase longevity, and protect our planet.
Indeed, there’s far more consensus about diet and health than you would believe, with considerable agreement across the world whether looking to governmental dietary guidelines or global organizations. The upshot? A plant-based diet is optimal for human health and the environment alike. Conventional food production is responsible for grave environmental damage to our land, water, and air, and a major contributor to climate change; livestock is particularly damaging. And a whopping 80% of chronic diseases are preventable through modifiable lifestyle changes such as diet, which is the single largest contributing factor.
So what’s the deal? If science has the keys to a health-promoting, disease-preventing, planet-saving diet, why are people so confused?
It’s a complex topic—more about it is in my recent article here—but there are many reasons. Suffice to say that there sure is a lot of bunk out there when it comes to nutrition (which is, at its core, biochemistry), from celebrity junk science to physician quackery. At the same time, media vies for your attention with clickbait headlines—far too many to call out—while the food industry competes for your dollars with misleading food labels. Many believe there is in fact an outright war on science. Wading through these murky waters makes it exceedingly difficult for even well-intentioned eaters to know what to make for dinner.
But guess what? Science is true whether you believe it or not. Dietary change is possible— check out my free ebook to help you on your way—and considering factors beyond your own body like how our food choices impact the economy, environment, and society itself will also have meaningful impact on the world we share.
I hope you join me here at MedFit for my upcoming webinar (or catch it online later at your convenience), where I’ll highlight the “Top 5 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Food and Nutrition.” In the meantime, get savvy about all things food and nutrition from farm to fork with my newest book. It covers 134 essential topics in an easy-to-read Q & A format, from fad diets to chronic disease prevention and beyond. And definitely grab this free infographic on how to combat nutrition confusion to arm yourself with the tools to recognize and resist junk- and anti-science.
Because if you look to scientific consensus for diet advice, the truth about what we eat and why it matters is indeed out there.
P.K. Newby, ScD, MPH, MS (“The Nutrition Doctor”), is a scientist and author whose newest book is “Food & Nutrition: What Everyone Needs to Know.” Find her on all social media @pknewby.