Why the Science of Diet Is So Confusing

Jun 14, 2018 by Healthy Eating in Practice in  General

Your patients try to eat healthy, and many have likely done a little research on the topic. They might ask you why they can find an article about a study that was done on coconut oil claiming it’s a superfood and fantastic for you. But scrolling down a little further, and they found something like “10 Reasons Coconut Oil is Extremely Bad For You” that seems to have some merit too. Even research on the vaunted Mediterranean Diet was under fire this weekWhy is this?

Check out “Why Nutrition Is So Confusing,” a 2014 New York Times opinion piece by Gary Taubes, founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative and author of The Case Against Sugar.

Obesity and diabetes are epidemic, and yet the only relevant fact on which relatively unambiguous data exist to support a consensus is that most of us are surely eating too much of something. (My vote is sugars and refined grains; we all have our biases.) Making meaningful inroads against obesity and diabetes on a population level requires that we know how to treat and prevent it on an individual level. We’re going to have to stop believing we know the answer, and challenge ourselves to come up with trials that do a better job of testing our beliefs.

As for what to tell your patients? Dr. Benjamin Aiken, medical director of Avenu Health, which uses the innovative direct primary care model, and Jenny Favret, a nutritionist for Duke Children’s Healthy Lifestyles Program, will address these issues in their Monday morning breakout session, Responding to Patients’ Questions About Specific Diets.

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