The Problem with Nutrition Advice On The Internet (And How to Sift Through The B.S. to Get The Good Stuff)

Finding The Best Nutrition Info


What is nutrition?

Pretty straightforward question, right?

Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food sources and how the body uses them to function. It’s something that requires A LOT of know-how to speak on… and it’s one of the reasons that I always try to enforce that I am not a medical professional.

I am not qualified in any way to give you any nutrition advice of my own. I simply have a passion for it and a desire to make the information more available to the Average Joe.

But if I’m going to do this, I STILL have a responsibility to double check my sources to make sure that I’m only passing on the good stuff.

So today, I’m going to share with you a few of the ways that I sift through all the bullshit on the internet. I always encourage people to do their own research, but it’s really important that you know HOW to do that.

The Problem with Nutrition Advice on the Internet

The main problem with nutrition advice on the internet is that it’s being discussed by unqualified individuals.

I know that sounds a little hypocritical, but hear me out.

Too many people out there think they can give advice on nutrition. Not just pass on the opinions of experts, but actually tell people how to nourish themselves.

THIS IS NOT GOOD.

There’s a reason why medical professionals go through grueling schooling for several years in order to qualify for their jobs… nutrition, health, and medicine are not to be fucked with.

Unfortunately, you have a lot of people out there who think that because they have personal experience or interesting theories that they’re qualified to tell other people how to be healthy.

This could not be FURTHER from the truth. Anecdotal evidence does not a fact make.

Also, consumerism… the monster that just may swallow us all. People are so concerned with losing weight and “being healthy” that they’ll try ANYTHING. And when people get to that state of mind, it makes it really easy for them to be preyed upon.

They’re easy targets for the yogi-turned-health-coach who’s eager to sell their eBook.

I want to give you some tips for how you can avoid this. If you’ll forgive the cliché, DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET!

3 Methods for Sifting Through The Bullshit to the Good Stuff (Nutrition Advice)

Sift through the bullshit, find the good stuff.

Look… even though there are a lot of jokers out there, the internet can still be a good source of information. You just have to know how to wade through the shit to get to the gems…

Only Trust Qualified Individuals (R.D.N.s)

When it comes to nutrition advice, the titles of “nutritionist” and “dietitian” tend to be used interchangeably. But they really shouldn’t be.

“Nutritionist” is not protected under the law. Not every state requires them to become licensed by their Board of Nutrition.

There are too many gray areas. Some of them will have to have an educational background whereas others will not. So I hate to say that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, but ANYONE can call themselves a nutritionist. (source) It’s an unfortunate reality and you have to be aware of it.

In contrast, a dietitian is required BY LAW to register with Commission on Dietetic Registration before they can practice under the title of “dietitian”.

The safest way to go is with an R.D. or R.D.N. Here are 2 that you can check out:

Related Articles:

You can also check out Dr. Michael Greger’s websites: NutritionFacts.org or drgreger.org. He’s not an R.D., but he is a physician with a degree in medicine (M.D.). The information he has to offer on nutrition will probably be legit. You can always gather more info if you want… more on that later.

Fact Check Commercial Sources/Sites (Or Avoid Them Entirely)

It’ll probably be come as no surprise to you that you can’t trust everything you read on the internet. Sure, there’s a wealth of information at your fingertips… but it’s not always the best information.

Anywhere that consumerism exists carries the potential for people to spread misinformation for financial gain. It sucks, but it happens.

When it comes to nutrition, you gotta know what’s legit and what’s not, because it’s literally your health at stake.

The following tips can be used when it comes to almost ANY research project.

When looking for legitimate nutrition information, avoid commercial websites that don’t link their sources. These will usually have “.com” as their TLD (top-level domain name). It doesn’t always indicate that the source is inadequate, but it does suggest that the site belongs to a company that stands to gain something by promoting certain products or ideas.

Their end goal is usually to sell you something through their posts. Unless they are open and provide proof to their claims (i.e., linking their own sources- which should be reputable, too), don’t even entertain it.

.net websites are a little bit better… this indicates that the site is owned by a network provider. (source) Still on the iffy side; you’ll want to do your own research, too.

The best sources are .edu (educational institution), .gov (government), .org (organization), and .int (international organization) are probably your best bets for reliable information.

So even if you do start with a .com or .net website, always verify any nutrition information with one of the other TLDs.

Don’t Stop at One… Always Check MULTIPLE Sources (and TAKE NOTES)

It’s always better to be over prepared than under prepared, especially when it comes to health and nutrition.

So even if you’ve followed every guideline above, you should still check about 2 or 3 of those verified sources to make sure they all say the same thing. You’ve got to make sure that what you’re reading is consensus.

A consensus is an opinion that is generally or widely accepted. So basically, anytime you’re researching nutrition, medicine, or really anything scientific, you want to make sure that the opinion is accepted by more than one qualified source. The more, the better.

Skepticism might save your life. Be a skeptic about nutrition.

If it comes to a question of True or False, err on the side of caution. Assume the info is False until you’ve done enough of your own research to satisfy you.

And you know, if you have a lot of questions you can always try to consult a medical professional direct.

Between your own research and the professional opinions, you’ll come up with something good.

Be ruthless about your health… it’s all you have, after all.

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Sources I used:

Cambridge Dictionary, Definition of “consensus”

nutritionED.org, Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

SEO Clerks, What is the difference between .com, .net. .org, .gov, .edu?

Verywell, The Best Health and Exercise Websites: How to Find Credible Fitness Information on the Internet

MedlinePlus, Definitions of Health Terms: Nutrition

Sources you should check out:

MedlinePlus

USDA

University Health Service

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