Two weeks of classes down! It’s a very odd thing being back in science classes. A lot of things feel like they are coming back rather quickly but other things are taking their time. It’s also a very large departure from studying humanities at the graduate level. In some ways it’s comforting because you are either right or wrong, on the other hand it’s very challenging because you are either right or wrong. Using florid language doesn’t get you any points when your answer is wrong in science! Here are some things I learned this week:
1) The word Nutritionist means nothing. It is not regulated by any organization or governing body. Anybody can call them self a Nutritionist. If you eat food you are a Nutritionist. The terms Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian are regulated and require certain training, passing of a test, and licensing
2) Conflict of Interest (COI) needs to be considered for any nutritional claims or studies. Studies can be funded by food or drug companies, which can influence their outcomes. The results of studies can be altered or modified by PR firms, lobbyist or companies trying to promote favorable outcomes. Studies can not be reported if they do not support a desired outcome. Pay attention to where the information is coming from. Is there a product trying to be sold? Is there a food trying to be sold? Does someone gain something from what is being said? Having some skepticism is a good thing.
3) Beliefs do not belong in nutrition. Nutrition should be based on science and not anything else. However, this is frequently not the case. Be wary to nutritional advice that does not have sound scientific backing. Lobbyists and food companies can easily turn “science into science-fiction.” Question nutritional advice that does not make sense but do not reject it just because you do not “believe” it to be true or it is counter to what you’ve heard.
4) Following from points 2) and 3): One study or a study of one is not a proper foundation for a nutritional claim!
5) Processed food can have up to 20% more calories than indicated on the package. This is apparently to account for natural variations in foods. [For me, it makes me less inclined to eat processed foods, but one single meal with more calories than expected is not something to obsess over, overarching eating patterns are more important.]
6) Nutrition labels require food companies to state that a food as 0% trans-fat even if it has up to 0.5% trans-fat.
7) Structure-function claims are not regulated. So long as a product does not make a claim about health or a disease state, a company can put it on a package. Some examples of structure-function claims are “Builds stronger bones,” “Improves memory,” “Slows signs of aging,” or “Boosts your immune system.”
Of course we learned some basics about using lab equipment and changes of state in Chemistry, some concepts about what a “healthful diet” is, and all of the crazy things that can go wrong with the integumentary system (the skin.)
Is any of this new to you? Does any of it make you mad or make you think about things in a different way?