Why constantly we get conflicting recommendations from nutrition and what we have to trust
Eating is an everyday gesture. So much so that practically everyone thinks they know how to eat properly. But this is not true. For more difficulty, nutritional claims seem to change based on wind direction.
What happens in the world of nutrition? What happens to specialists in this field? Why don't they come to an agreement once and for all? Eggs, milk, red meat, sugar, fat ... nothing is saved from this informational earthquake.
Seven reasons that explain why the world of nutrition is so changing
We have all experienced the uncertainty related to the world of nutrition. But wasn't it bad to eat more than three eggs a week? Is caffeine good now? What happens now with fruit juices? We could write a whole text citing questions of this style. But we must understand why these types of questions arise to decide which ones affect us the most:
Nutrition is a very new discipline
Despite the fact that dietetics and nutrition are disciplines that have been studied for a long time, it was not until fifty years ago that nutrition began to acquire the scientific patterns of other more "crude" disciplines. Just thirty years ago, personal experience began to give way to scientific evidence. From this, the nutritional dietary guidelines began to change and the first scientifically based recommendations appeared.
But this is not enough. Over time, as scientific knowledge and techniques improved, many of the assumptions associated with physiology and nutritional metabolism have been superseded. This involved completely destroying some of the nutritional recommendations held as true dogmas. Furthermore, many of these dogmas have been maintained for such a short period that we have had to contrast them.
Some trials and results require decades of study. This sometimes conflicts: if something is validated for a long time and in recent years there are several studies that point to the contrary, they need more time to counter the idea already established. In general, "good nutrition" is short on time, something that clashes squarely with many unfounded concepts about the discipline.
It is a world of multi-factor nutrition
To researchers in the pure sciences (mathematics, physics, chemistry ...) biology seems almost a pseudoscience. Biological models are very undeterministic. This means that repeating an experiment under the same exact conditions does not always give the same result. This is explained by the immense amount of variables that a living system has.
The same occurs in nutrition, which is one of the fundamental foundations of a living system: it depends on too many variables. The result is never the same. This implies a monstrous difficulty when doing experiments and looking for clear guides and recommendations. Nutrition has its greatest enemy in its biological nature, at least in the information aspect.
You can't do good tests
Based on the two previous premises, we can assume that nutrition trials are a horror. Well they are. The number of factors that can change, vary or completely modify a result are so different from person to person that it is a real headache. Every person is a world? Undoubtedly, at least in nutrition.
As if that were not enough, as we said, we need a lot of time to reach more or less general conclusions. Decades, even. This is also due to our body, whose consequences are sometimes not shown immediately (and thank goodness). Again, we, our system, are the worst information enemy of nutrition. Thanks metabolism!
Reasonable scientific doubt
Nutritionist Aitor Sánchez, alias Midietacojea, wrote a text a few years ago that addressed some of the same points as this one. In his article, the expert summarized the three previous points in one: "Scientific controversy. We really have doubts." And it is the truth. Science is not a conclusive fact nor is it made up of a series of milestones that remain intact once they are passed.
On the contrary, science evolves and mutates at every step. We usually rely on scientific consensus, that is, the largest possible sum of existing scientific evidence to date, to make recommendations. However, this may change with the presentation of a new battery of results. And this is not bad, although it can be annoying, since it is a sign that we understand nutrition better and better.
Outdated is a fact
Precisely related to the previous point, outdated is a danger that constantly floats around professionals. Many doctors, food doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists keep outdated information in their brains. We cannot blame him, our mind is like that. Once we grasp an idea it is very difficult to let go. This leads to conflicting advice among respected professionals, especially as new evidence appears.
There are many interests ...
Yes, it is a reality. The food industry is one of the most prolific and powerful in the world, along with the pharmaceutical and pornographic industries (to name just two examples). And yes, there are clearly conflicts of interest everywhere. Especially when we talk about an industry whose regulation obeys many social aspects and is not at all clear. They have been denouncing communicators like José Manuel López Nicolás, author of the Scientia blog and several books that denounce this.
This should not serve to justify the idea that everything to do with nutrition is manipulated by an evil industry. This oversimplification tries to justify the concerns that appear with the problems that we have named above, but it is not true at all. There are interests, yes, we repeat it, but there are also professionals, especially within this area, groups and forces de facto that try to clarify and counteract said interests.
... And communication professionals are lacking
Having said the above, there is another thing that is evidently evident: there are few communicators specialized in this sector. At least the most up-to-date. There are more and better prepared, but there is still a serious communication problem, especially when important agencies and institutions are involved. The same can be seen in the awkward cross-message transmitted by the WHO on red meat.
Communication, good, is learned and trained. We must have professionals dedicated to ensuring that the message reaches its destination properly. This is especially true on issues as sensitive as those dealing with health and nutrition. Unfortunately, we have not yet passed this course.
What do we have to trust?
The question that always hovers around us is clear: "Who do I trust?" If the evidence can always change, if they say different things every time, if my nutritionist is based on outdated guidelines, how can I be sure of Am I basing my nutrition on something positive? Well, it is clear that uncertainty is gigantic in this area, but that does not mean that we cannot trust anyone.
The first premise that we must take into account is the following: there are no radical and static concepts. Is sugar bad? Yes, but if you eat a donut today nothing happens. Does alcohol cause cancer? Of course, but avoiding having a glass of wine with your friends may cause you a worse unease in your day to day.
Should I avoid ultraprocessing at all costs? Sure, but nothing happens if you haven't had time to prepare a healthy meal today and you have to eat a vending machine sandwich. Flexibility and relativity are necessary in this regard.
Based on that, we can discard all people who show a draconian and fanatical attitude towards some aspect. A good nutritionist usually doesn't. On the other hand, what about official announcements, like the one by the WHO? The World Health Organization is the highest authority on health. This includes nutrition, of course. Paying attention to them, in general, is good. Sometimes, however, they are a little slow. In the event that we suspect that any of your recommendations is outdated, it is best to turn to specialists.Should I avoid ultraprocessing at all costs? Sure, but nothing happens if you haven't had time to prepare a healthy meal today and you have to eat a vending machine sandwich. Flexibility and relativity are necessary in this regard
The luck of having the network of networks is that we have these specialists a stone's throw away: posts, social networks, videos on YouTube ... the information is out there. Furthermore, these same professionals are usually the most up-to-date. And how do we distinguish a good professional from a pseudo-professional? We will have to investigate it. The first thing is to know what training you have and who has given it to understand your professional value.
We can observe their trajectory, what debates they enter and how they treat them is another essential factor to know their quality, although be careful because this can bias us: we will tend to choose what most closely aligns with our preconceived beliefs. To finish building our trust, we can check what other independent sources say about it. Contrast, go.If the debate is contradictory and the sources have the same depth, we may be facing one of those issues that are about to change.
In any case, we will return to the starting point: one must not be inflexible. Nutrition is a complex field. Only time is able to define whether a recommendation was completely correct or not. Yes, it is not a very flattering premise, but biology is like that.
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