The Science of Modern Nutrition
The Atkins Diet, the Vegetarian Diet, its more nonconforming and strict cousin the Vegan Diet or the Raw Food Diet are popular examples of research backed dieting options. For each type of diet, there are literally hundreds or sometimes thousands of very successful participants and one incredibly popular celebrity who would pop up in a commercial telling you how revolutionizing system “X” or “Y” is.
Looking beyond the high production quality of these commercials and looking at the data of these studies, one glaring realization will begin to dawn upon the reader. The findings backing one diet go totally against the findings of the other. A bit more digging will show that the medical profession has no one consensus on the ideal nutrition/ diet plan that will fit all sizes. What do doctors and scientists know right?
Why the Confusion?
The main driver behind this confusion is two- fold really, the basic deficiencies like scurvy and goiter produced easily identifiable symptoms and solutions were easily fixed with simple trial and error. The second driver comes in the form of finding large amounts of persons with exactly the same parameters. The illnesses affecting this sailors the world over can easily be tracked and fixed with simple experimentation. On a ship, sailors experience the same working in an environment with limited access to food and the ability to track everything eaten. Can you remember exactly how many servings of chips, or the specific makeup of your last meal?
Many studies are based on the participants reporting what they ate, where and the quantity of food. Even in the reporting biases and wanting to fit into society kicks in which causes the participants to give incomplete and incorrect information. Many times the scientists will find that the information reported could not have been true for a subject based on data gathered from their bodies. Working with these inconsistent parameters will give inconsistent reports.
Why the Confusion Part II
Money is said to be the root of all evil, but without human greed, money is worthless. So it seems the love of money and greed are the real roots of all evil. Even in the scientific field money is king. Organizations and companies have a big stake in ensuring that a $5.3 trillion dollar industry is always going their way. To keep the trust going between the public and the company, many times you will hear the term “research shows that using product “X” promotes a healthy and active lifestyle” being used in commercials and billboard advertisements. Many times, they are speaking the truth regarding the research, but what is usually omitted is that the research was funded by the company and the results were cooked to allow their products to look better than they really are.
The truth is quite eye opening- there is no one size fits all approach to ensuring proper nutrition. Any result will be based on your lifestyle and physiology; so consult your nutritionist and physician before jumping into a “proven” nutrition plan.