The “Practice” of Nutrition

MF-Eggs

Once on the no-no list, because they’re high in cholesterol, eggs have been vindicated! We now know that dietary cholesterol has little impact on disease risk.  Most people can enjoy them in moderation (like all things).

Some people get all freaky about the fact that nutrition advice has changed over the past 100 years or so.  From decade to decade you’ve heard changing guidance about what is good to eat vs. what things you should eat less – or maybe avoid altogether.  Sometimes that advice has been flawed, generally based on incomplete or poorly conducted research.  I’m with you that it can be frustrating and confusing — this is why you need to work with a reliable, trustworthy, RDN who keeps up with the science (as opposed to some other practitioner who doesn’t have the science background to understand what the real research tells us).  When we don’t have solid evidence to tell us exactly what to do in the medical/healthcare world, we move in the most conservative appearing direction that seems to make the most sense based on what we currently know to be the case.  And when research tells us something else, then guidelines and advice change too.

This, my friends, is how science works.  It ain’t perfect, but there’s a method and it’s better than throwing darts or following “feelings”.

MF-MicroscopeYou would never throw out all of medical science because the guidelines on how to treat stomach ulcers has changed in the past decade after many decades of treating as a stress disorder.  Now we know that it’s caused by a bacteria and should be treated with antibiotics. You wouldn’t fire your doctor and walk out to try to find someone who would treat you with stress management techniques.  You celebrate the fact that your doctor now knows how to cure stomach ulcers!

Yet there’s this subtle undercurrent (sometimes not so subtle) of quasi-experts out there making a darn good living convincing people that you can’t trust medical professionals (like that franchise of books called something like “what your doctor doesn’t want you to know”).  It builds on the natural and growing suspicion that people have about the “establishment”.  Not only that, but many of these folks are darn-good marketers.  What they lack in actual scientific training, they more than make up for in flashy, charismatic, alarming, and down-right convincing arguments.  They are almost always also really good looking, right?  And they almost never have real degrees (though some have official sounding credentials from online institutions) in any science or health field.

MF-Pasta

Brand new evidence suggests that gluten intolerance may not be an actual condition after all — people may be sensitive to another constituent in some gluten-containing foods. The evidence is changing and so are the recommendations.

I want you to know that the science of nutrition is a changing science.  When the information we have changes, I’m going to change my recommendations so that you get the best nutrition advice possible. Nutrition is an evolving science and sometimes it’s a bit of art mixed in with the science.  Sometimes it takes practice to find out what works for one client, even perhaps things that don’t work for others.

I’m (and so many of my awesome colleagues are also) committed to growing and learning the evolving SCIENCE of nutrition.  This weekend, I head to the annual nutrition conference for registered dietitian nutritionists (FNCE).  I’ll be attending sessions on topics as wide-ranging as food allergies to functional foods to the microbiome.  I’m fully geeked out.  Get ready for some exciting posts when I return.  Meanwhile, follow my (mis)adventures on Twitter via @DietitianSherry!

2 Comments

  1. I love this! I know so many people are frustrated and confused by changing guidelines and research and often do go towards those marketing health gurus who seems to promise the world. Hopefully dietitians can get out the message of credible nutrition science and help people understand!

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