No More Superfoods..wait, what?
Updated: Mar 4, 2021
As I have said and will most likely say again, there is a LOT of nutrition information out there and it can easily cause us to feel overwhelmed about whether we are doing "what's best". While I don't claim to be a research expert, what I do know about searching for nutrition information has greatly helped me to focus the things I read to find quality information and help filter out a lot of buzz created by the newest fad and I'd like to share a few nuggets of my own learning with you to maybe save you from some scary clickbait. Let me preface this by saying that this is by no means an official list of any sort, it is simply based on my nutrition experience on the internet.
First, there are NO superfoods. Now, before you start rethinking everything you have ever read, let me explain. Many, many articles begin with something similar to "The food you must eat!" or "The one superfood you're not eating!" when in reality, what it should say is "Look at this other nutritious food!" and "Try this food if you haven't yet, it's delicious!" because just one single type of food is not what we need to meet our basic needs, especially if the rest of your diet is less nutritionally focused. We need a foundation of ALL of the nutritious foods out there because they are all super in their own way. Each fruit, vegetable, whole grain, and even herbs and spices, have something in them that may not be in something else. Eating a variety of these with many different flavors on a regular basis is what gives foods their superpowers because not only does each one hold a piece of the nutrition puzzle, when put together, they form a beautiful picture of a healthy eating pattern. So while it's great to have our favorites or it's even okay to end up stuck in a veggie rut occasionally (I can hear the kids screaming at dinner, green beans again!) we can't rely on just one item to solve everything. It will always be our continued choices over time that make up a healthy lifestyle that need to be done for, you got it, life. So don't waste your time clicking on those, they're most likely click bait.
Speaking of articles and click bait, don't just read one article. To find real information, you need to search for the real evidence. While an article may provide a focus on a certain topic or research study, if real research is being discussed, evidence and sources need to be provided and you might want to follow where that research goes before taking the article at face value. Click on the sources to see where they go, read the research papers. Unfortunately, some lead to places you need to pay, don't do that. Check the Balance page on my site to find places that have free research papers available to read. Maybe even check with a local library to see if any subscriptions to research journals are available. In our current world, we tend to underestimate libraries as outdated, but many are just hidden jewels of information and resources that we forget was there. Most even keep a lot of their stuff electronic now and with our current state of things, you may not even have to leave home. It is my opinion however, that good research should be available for all to read, without the heavy price tag to read it, but that's a different soapbox for a different day. In any case, it's important to dig in a bit when really learning about a topic because some articles only take a piece of the research and draw big conclusions on what wasn't even in the paper. Sometimes the sample size in the research is not very big, which makes application to a larger group less effective. Same goes with a study focused on a very particular group. To give you an idea of what that means, if the group study only focused on about 30 people ages 18-25 living in an obscure part of the world, drawing a large conclusion from their experience and saying it applies to everyone can be misleading because this group may be working with parameters that many others may never see in their lives. Disclosures by the writer and/or researchers should also be declared. For example, if research on a product was conducted by the company promoting the product instead of a third party, this should be known to the reader as we may want to take into account any possible bias. It's like as a mom, of course my kid's drawing is the best, it's my kid, I am not an objective judge. Research by a company is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's important to understand where it's coming from.
Last but not least, just because the title says "a doctor said it" does not mean it's not still click bait. I see this all the time "The one thing your doctor isn't telling you" or whatever. Health professionals everywhere plead with you, don't click it. While I am not going to insult your intelligence since you probably already know those articles are fluff, what I will say is that you and your family's health is important. The internet doesn't know you or your family and if you want to talk to your doctor about something you feel they may or may not be telling you, please do so. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, click on something and assume something there is some kind of hidden secret everyone but you knows or try to self diagnosis something based on what you read because again, the internet doesn't know you, but a good medical professional will know what is happening with you and your family and is not going to hide things from you about yourself (provided you don't hide things from them, they need all the information to give the best treatment). Ask questions if you need to, seek referrals if necessary (Maybe find a local dietitian!), but as always, seek real evidence and real people that can work with you to solve issues, not fluff.
So, thank you dear reader, for coming and discussing nutrition with me and as always, I look forward to more in the future, but if you are just still too excited to wait for more, check out our Playing with Food-Eat. Play. Balance. Podcast. Kid-friendly gamer talk with a healthy twist.
Photo by Iryna Ilieva from Pexels, a site to find free stock photos created by talented people and that allow their work to be used everywhere, no attribution required, but look how pretty that is, of course it has to be attributed.