How do you know what food advice to follow?
Red meat is both good and bad. Same goes for fat. Sugar is bad and artificial sweeteners are good – except when they aren’t. Every day there is a different article written containing health advice – and much of it is different. The fact is, any single scientific study can prove pretty much anything – especially if it is manipulated. So how can you work out what advice you need to follow?
The first thing to do is look at how many studies say the same thing. Scientific journals generally require a big enough sample that the chance of finding the “truth” is at least 95%. This means that about 1 in 20 scientific studies can do everything right, and still find a result that doesn’t really exist. If you find studies with conflicting results, going with the majority is a safe bet.
Next, check who is funding the studies. If you see advice that seems counter-intuitive, check where it’s coming from. Coca-Cola, for example, funds plenty of studies that find that coke really isn’t that bad for you. Dental and health associations fund more that says it is. If the group reporting the information or funding the study has a vested interest in the result, take it with a grain of salt.
Finally, go with your gut. If you find equal amounts of valid (on the surface) advice that tells you different things, believe whichever one makes more sense to you. Generally people who tell you to exercise moderation can be listened to, and remember: people have been eating food for hundreds of thousands of years. If you are sensible, it’s hard to go too wrong.