Can Scientific Nutrition Research Be Trusted?

This last decade has seen a rise in the number of people interested in nutrition and health. The discussion has shifted from what food group isn’t all that essential to specific food items and how they benefit the body. Nutrition research practitioners have also been conflicting with dieticians since these two disciplines are different, and discussions have arisen of who among the two groups should be trusted. 

Food plays such a crucial part in our lives, therefore necessitating health research to see how it interacts with the body. Nutrition science involves research into food items to see how and if they lead to disease in humans. Can it be trusted to thoroughly guide us on how to eat?

Food is Quite Complex

Let’s take microwavable popcorn that is available in different varieties and brands. Where some may contain butter, others only have butter flavoring as an additive. Though similar, these foods have different profiles that may not sufficiently be captured in the database as such. Vegetables vary too in these ways; if eaten raw, they may contain heat-sensitive enzymes that will automatically be lost when cooked. When labeling them, this is not always considered, so their reaction to the human body may not be the same.

Since foods are always changing, measuring their reaction to the body may be challenging. Take, for instance, artificial trans fats that were used in baked goods as emulsifiers. Over time, their use has reduced significantly, and so measuring reaction over an extended period of time is interrupted by this change. 

People are Equally Complex

When collecting nutrition information, this branch of science relies on data collected from people’s interactions with food. They are different in terms of race, gender, age, BMI, body composition, and other aspects, and so it may be a little complicated getting it right with such a wide range of variables. 

Another consideration when making diet-disease connections is that this data is collected among people who self-report what they eat based on 24-hour recalls, food records, and descriptions of meals they had within a period in question – typically 3-4 days. Participants are required to record this information after weighing it, and this is already a little taxing on most. They will also be required to recall what they typically ate in the last 6-12 months. Since these records are considered during the research, the final data is questionable. While it could be accurate to some degree, it cannot be fully considered scientific. 

More to that are the cases of under-reporting. It has been reported in the past that some participants downplay their portions to appear as though they maintained a range that would be considered normal. This misreporting makes it easy to question the data collected and conclusions made from these reports. 

Nutrition Databases are not Always Conclusive

man sight on white microscope

Taking into account the complexity of food – its various types, flavorings, and additives, we can conclude it is quite hard to capture every aspect of nutrients in databases correctly. Searching chicken soup with forty different variations online is not as easy as searching write my research paper – that may yield results from just a few top sources. While you can pay someone to write a research paper based on reliable information from sources online, you may find it harder to get the correct nutritional value of all forty food items. That having been said, you could use a reliable writing agency to do research and put it in a paper that could help you make better sense of how to collect said information.

 More to the nutritional information contained on food: most of it does not include the nonnutritive compounds found in vegetables. Even though they are tiny components, they are still part of the food eaten, and consumers need to know these details. Containers also potentially interact with the integrity of the food. Bisphenol A (BPA) on containers leaks into food through packaging but is not captured on the database though it’s a matter of public health. 

Food Reports can be Confusing 

Food reports are produced often and timely, but their reporting is not always accurate. It could be better if it was left to nutrition science experts to disseminate the information, but more often than not, the press gets to do the honors. This stage is where lots of misinformation is made, and the effects are quite negative especially when those that need it direly are misled. People living with diabetes, who rely on this knowledge from experts to know what foods contain what level of glucose, may not get the correct information. Nutritional findings could be published in easier reports that laypeople can read and interpret without consulting a nutritionist. 

Things To Look For In Sound Research

When deciding whether a nutritional study is sound and trustworthy, here are some guidelines to apply;

Sources: A trusty study should be peer-reviewed to ensure others in the same field found it good enough and tested those theories. Also, a well-cited journal shows the thoroughness of research. 

Design: Long studies with extensive subjects that have been researched over a long time show accuracy. 

Human/Animal Study: Though most studies are conducted on animals, they may react differently from humans. For instance, mice get bladder cancer faster than humans, and so a study showing a human propensity for the same using these cute rodents may be inaccurate. 

Correlation/Causation: Take fries and obesity. If a study shows obese people eat fries, this would only be a correlation without causation. It may be that obese people just happen to love fries and not necessarily prove that the food made them obese. 

Reports can be Reproduced: If others have conducted the same scientific experiment and found similar results, then the nutritional report is trustworthy.  

Can we Trust these Reports?

We all eat, which makes food a primary contributor to health and disease. While nutritional research is quite complicated and data collection limited in ways, it still provides the best way to know how food and diseases connect. Nutritionists and dieticians have been and are likely to keep conflicting, but it wouldn’t be wise to dismiss either of these social sciences. The breakdown of nutritional information makes the information published in studies a little confusing since the press may be lacking some crucial food safety knowledge, but this science remains one of the ways we can evaluate food in a near-conclusive way.