Now time for the final installment of what has turned into a mini rant.  I do not expect everyone to agree with me, but this is from my personal experience as a dietitian, my own learning, and my teaching of nutrition science courses.  I hope you have enjoyed my posts so far, and that this last segment does not disappoint.

5) If something is good for you, more will be better.

Unfortunately, an excess is an excess, and anything in excess can be harmful to the body.  This is especially true for vitamin and mineral supplements.  The body is less able to process the synthetic pill form over the actual food.  Most of the time excess can be excreted in the urine, but not for all of these.  There are some that have serious effects of toxicity.  I actually took toxicology in my grad degree program, and my final paper was on selenium toxicity.  The result of an acute toxicity is death.  Selenium has a very narrow therapeutic range.  Other vitamins and minerals can cause a variety of health issues.  Some minerals the body needs are metals, and you can imagine there are problems from excess metals within the body.

The same can be said for food.  Just because something is good for you does not mean you can eat as much as you want.  Calories can still add up and lead to weight gain.  Too much means there is not the right balance in the diet.  The key to a healthy diet is simple, and one of those components is balance.  Another is variety.  Too much of something will violate these basic principles.  The good news is that vegetables are low in calories and it is hard to eat too much calorie-wise, but you can still exceed the RDAs to toxic levels if all you eat is the same vegetable over and over.  Not likely, but not impossible.  Again, balance and variety are key.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Now for my last question

6) Is the nutrition information on the web is written by credible sources? What things do you look for when researching on the web? Are there any red flags that alert you to misinformation?

Those of you who posted comments on this question are dead on with this one.  The internet is a great place to have a voice, but the trouble is that things are not regulated.  This is our freedom of press, so to speak.  Anyone can post anything they want, and it can even be false.  Wikipedia is great in theory, but anyone can change information and post things that are incorrect.

Many of the pages you get from searching various nutrition terms give articles that seem to be well written and organized.  I have many students who use these sources, but they are often not credible.  Most of the time you can click on the authors name to see their background information.  I do this for many of my students references, and I often find these are writers, not dietitians and not other health professionals.  Many have degrees in journalism, media, communications and health writing.  the health writing degree was new to me.  If you are an expert in all things related to health, I am going to be skeptical.  After 8 years of undergrad-graduate study, I am only an expert in my field, not all of the health field, so I am shocked to know these people are experts in everything they write about.

I once read an article on weight loss written by a guy claiming to be an expert in health, but at the same time he was an expert disc jockey and wrote articles about that too.  That really discredits all the hours I invested in my training for my certificate in adult weight management.  

I am not going to call out any particular writers here on my blog, but if you are curious, do a search online and then look at who is writing these articles.  Some are by actual experts and people with credentials, but you have to critically evaluate all of your sources.  The media do not often know how to read and interpret technical information from research studies in professional journals, and this can lead to misleading information taken from research.  The best idea is to go to the original piece of research and make sure they quoted the researchers correctly.

It is important not to take things as fact without looking at where the information comes from.  Many diet books are there to make money and do not always rely on research.  They may take one research study that showed a benefit to something and even though many other studies refute that information, they will write a book and claim it was scientifically proven.  It also helps to look at what the scientific proof really consists of in those cases.  Again, it comes down to freedom of speech and the ability to print what we want.

I will leave it at that.  I think I have made my points.  I hope this have give you some things to think about and consider when looking at nutrition information.  As a dietitian, I hope that all people get credible and reliable information, but this is a huge industry and people just want the easy way and quick fix, and therefore the dietitians are often ignored.  I will admit we are gaining ground, but there will always be something to set us back.  

I hope you are enjoying your weekend.


Simply Life said...

Great point - I'm sure this goes for so many things and it's always good to be aware of!

Gina; The Candid RD said...

You know me, I LOVE a good rant!! These are some fantastic points. I can't tell you how many people tell me "I learned X from the internet"...thinking it must SURELY be the truth! IT's crazy how people will just take something they hear, and go with it (as long as it's something they WANT to hear).

I had an interesting experience yesterday when I was ordering Gelato at a local restaurant. The lady serving it said, "It only has 60 calories!". I laughed out loud. There was NO WAY the amount she gave me, with chocolate chips and everything, had only 60 calories. I looked behind me and a group of women were all like, "yes! That's awesome! We're coming here more often!". I went home and looked it up...250 calories!!!
More of the story: don't assume everything you hear is RIGHT!

Mari said...

This is a great post! We have to ttake hings we find on the net with a grain of salt...

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

Great post! I think so many people think that if something is good more must be better. And that's just not true... And yes, the Internet is a great source of information as well as misinformation!

I'm just catching up on blog reading and look forward to reading your other posts...

sophia said...

Okay, Melinda, this is a GREAT rant. Because I whole-heartedly agree, and I go on the same rant myself, even though I'm not even an RD! So I can imagine your frustration!

I think blogs can give off negative information as well. I've seen some blogs that seem to dwell in the extremes...and the sad thing is that many people follow because this blogger is a "real" person.

And your point is one reason why I do not take supplement pills or anything of that sort...and I'm still pretty healthy, not lacking in any nutrients!

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