Nutrition - Where to seek advice

Nutrition - Where to seek advice

So many diets. Who is going to help you find the right one for you?

A lot of people talk about diets. Unfortunately many of these self-proclaimed experts have little or no real understanding of the physiology and biochemistry that underlies this hugely important field of human life. The other day I was confronted by a person claiming to be an expert in nutrition wishing to decry all dietary approaches except the one she used; the first two sources of evidence this person gave me to support such claims were the Daily Express and the Daily Mail. While I do not intend to cast aspersions on the efforts of the journalists to interpret the findings of publications on nutrition, I do feel that it is slightly naïve to take their comments and conclusions as the final word in scientific truth.

As healthcare professionals, we must ever question the statements we hear or read, and our interpretation of “the facts” must be based on evidence from clinical studies and trials performed with the highest degree of independence and with the greatest possibility of avoiding bias and error. Once we have the latest, high-quality evidence at our fingertips, we must use it to provide each individual we see with the most appropriate treatment. The field of diet and weight loss is one of the most contaminated areas of human therapy; it seems that anyone can claim to be an expert, no matter what their qualification…or lack thereof. The absence of knowledge and understanding leads to inflexibility in the approach to any patient or client’s problem. What works for one person may not work for another; true health experts in any field will determine the needs of the person before them and use their knowledge of all the different approaches to provide that person with the best possible option to resolve their needs. Those who call themselves professionals but whose knowledge is superficial and limited in its scope may, through their ignorance, harm the person who seeks them out for advice. Self-proclaimed health professionals who are unaware of all the options available to treat a specific problem and who stick blindly to the only one they know, are betraying their duty of service and the trust placed in them.

Those of us who are willing to maintain an open mind and evaluate new findings as they are put forward, critically appraising the evidence to support or refute each statement, permanently questioning even our own beliefs, have a duty to our patients and to society as a whole to uphold scientifically demonstrated findings that will favour health and reduce disease.

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