Finding trusted resources for nutrition information

Home ThinkSpace Week 3: Food and Environment Finding trusted resources for nutrition information

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  • “Nutrition Insanity” and “Analysis Paralysis” – the feeling of powerlessness that comes from hearing so many conflicting messages about what (and how) we should or shouldn’t eat
    I enjoy reading articles about nutrition and learning about what foods contain which nutrients and how they interact with each other. I try to use these articles to inform myself about what I can eat to have a healthy, balanced diet (even if all I want are cookies…). It’s so common to get conflicting input (is coffee good or bad?!?) that I am almost suspicious of everything I learn these days. I have decided to trust my naturopathic doctor. I also have an aunt who studied holistic nutrition and I value her input as well. Ultimately, the decision about what to eat is very personal, but isn’t it so frustrating trying to gather information from others?!
    How do you determine trusted sources for nutritional information?  What have you done when sources you trust offer conflicting advice?

    Rachel Carriere
  • I have read a lot of food writers, listened to a lot of food podcasts, and seen many food documentaries. What I found resonated with me the most are the ones that linked growing food to the food we eat,  and why were our food comes from and how it is grown is important. Michael Pollan has been especially influential in my thoughts about this (I have read most of his books). I have been a gardener for a long time and the more I learn about sustainable organic food production, the more I understand how important it is to get those nutrients into me with as little fuss as possible.

    The biggest issue with conflicting evidence (eg whether coffee or chocolate is good/bad) is that there is always more to the claim than can be described in one sentence. For example: chocolate comes from cacao which is a fermented food, and the best way to benefit from the antioxidant properties of cacao is to eat raw cacao nibs. Once that cacao has been roasted and refined, then combined with a ton of fat and sugar, it’s hard to claim that it’s still healthy.

    On the other hand, there are trade offs too. Coffee/caffeine has proven to have some benefits but it has also been linked to certain ailments. I am an acne sufferer, and coffee in particular has been named as a potential culprit. I love coffee so I’m not likely to give it up any time soon, even though I would absolutely love to have clear skin.

    The other thing to consider is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We all have a different genetic makeup and therefore differ in our genetic predispositions to how our bodies respond to inputs. Some people can drink two pots a day whereas I max out at three cups.

    I should disclose here that I am a healthcare researcher and have links to the genomic research community, so I make an effort to understand the science behind claims. At the end of the day, though, my body will tell me what it needs and what it wants less of. It’s up to me to pay attention and obey.


  • I’ve found the People’s Pharmacy ( radio show helpful for health information in general, but especially helpful for nutrition and supplement information.

    • Mary Grace, how do you decide whether to trust the nutrition and supplement information that you encounter on People’s Pharmacy? #trust

      • Good question, Annie. There are a number of reasons: the hosts have backgrounds in pharmacology and anthropology, they often present many sides of an issue, cite evidence-based research, have guests who are experts in a specific field, and invite listeners to share their experiences. In my opinion, they approach health as a participatory discussion, with input from practitioners and patients.


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