Why Foods Are Healthy One Day, Then Bad The Next

kim tierney Blog

If you went around and asked people what foods are "good" and what foods are "bad", you'd have a million different answers. Some people will claim that grains and sugars of any kind are making us fat and sick, others will take the other extreme and swear by a diet that's comprised of almost entirely carbohydrates. Both sides, with entirely different diets, will claim that their health was transformed by the diet they follow. Eggs were unhealthy and raised cholesterol in the 70's and now they're full of vitamins and actually LOWER our bad cholesterol? WHAT GIVES?! 

If you're confused by all the conflicting nutrition advice out there, you are not alone. Health, nutrition, weight loss is a difficult topic. One theory in nutrition seems to make so much sense, but so does another one that backs up the exact opposite conclusion. To put it simply, there is a lot of bias and outright wrong information out there. You do not need to become an expert to finally get some answers, but its important to be aware of WHY everything is so confusing, so you can look a little more critically at what you hear/read, and make informed decisions based on your own knowledge and intuition. 

Food Industry's Influence

The majority of research done by major universities is funded by big food companies. The result? The research results usually come out in favor of their funder's product. How? As the funder of the research, food companies can manipulate the way studies are designed, throwing money at researchers to sway research in favor of their food products. Many researchers' careers depend on pleasing the funding agencies, so they will sacrifice honest answers for biased ones. Just because even a "scientific" study says something, does NOT mean it is a reliable conclusion. 

No one diet fits all

Although, in the most basic sense, humans are all biologically the same, we are also very unique. Everyone's body chemistry is a little bit different, boasting different results in the ways that our bodies react to certain diets. We all have varying levels of health, hormones, metabolism, different predispositions and different responses to certain foods. We live different lifestyles, in different environments, with different physical and mental stress conditions. Some people have a higher carbohydrate tolerance than others, other people put on weight very easily when their carbohydrate intake is high. For this reason, it is very difficult to accurately study a certain diet's effects across persons. This is why it can be extremely beneficial to track your own daily intake and observe your own body's reactions. You can be a scientist in this way, doesn't that sound fun?

We are easily convinced by extremes

Almost any popular book on nutrition, any popular news article or documentary: they all have one thing in common: they are extreme. Headlines, books, articles are designed to catch your attention and convince readers. People read about the Atkins Diet and are suddenly living off of meat, cheese, and processed low-carb candy bars, claiming life has never been better. The China Study on the other hand will tell you that meat and dairy are the cause of all Western disease and that you should stop eating it immediately. People love these extremist points of view because they are eye-catching, the stories are convincing, and the contrast stands out to us. Bottom line: don't believe everything you read. Instead, take away bits and pieces from everything you read, and piece together the information that makes sense in the context of what you already know. 

There is no end all be all food / food group

Again, as humans, we love extremes and we love over-simplification. That's why a diet that claims that all we have to do is just eat X, can be very eye catching. It sounds simple and does not require a lot of thought.
However, that is not the case. A healthy, well rounded diet has variety, and too much of anything can cause problems. For example, broccoli, we can all at least agree that broccoli is healthy, right? But what would happen if you are ONLY broccoli. You'd surely die in a few months time.
There is an "appropriate" amount to all food groups, and its about finding the balance that works the best with your body chemistry.

So what are we to do?

Too much, or too little of anything can have a harmful effect. So don't stress out next time you scroll through the nutrition headlines, like they say everything in moderation!