The Path to Nutritional Progress
Updated: Oct 25, 2019
Maybe it's just because I am young (Born in 1987) and relatively new to the nutrition scene, but there a lot of debate in nutrition science (said with a heavy dose of sarcasm). I see the nutrition debate this way; Imagine a football field, each ‘camp’ or nutritional philosophy in their respective end zones. They’re dug in, established and those who are passionate and outspoken are all yelling at each other, 100 yards away from each other. Of course, no one can hear the other one over the noise and distance between camps, and no one is really listening anyways. No one is taking the time to understand the other side. Thus, no progress is ever made. Admittedly, this is a broad generalization and certainly doesn’t apply to all who express passion in this realm, but does represent the majority, in my opinion.
What we need is for people from each camp to approach the 50 yard line, to speak in calm tones, to listen to one another and to find common ground. There can still be disagreements and just because the other side is listening doesn’t mean they have to agree. But I have a feeling there will be much in common despite our knee-jerk assumption to the contrary. Then, those people who have taken the time to understand the other can report back to the people in their ‘end zone’ to form further understandings and advance positive change.
In my observations, there is much that each side misunderstands about the other. These are simple, easily elucidated truths that stand in the way of change and progress towards a healthier world. In the same way, I believe many who follow certain nutritional philosophies base some parts of those philosophies on poor evidence, no evidence or a body of evidence that is quite small relative to the overwhelming consensus pointing, usually, in the opposite direction. There is also the error within nutrition and dietetics of looking through 1 lens and deciding on the right action, deciding on what is the right food to eat or what is the right diet to follow. I also believe this is short sighted and narrow minded.
Similar to the current nutritional paradigm, if we look increasingly micro and reductionist, we lose sight of the bigger picture. If we look at a complex system, such as the human body, and apply a complex science, such as nutrition, and have that human living in a complex world, why would we ever consider 1 lens the end-all-be all? Wouldn’t we want to evaluate this system, with all of its inputs and outputs, from every angle, from every lens, and then decide what is the best way to eat, live and promote health?
When I see a problem, I want to find a solution. The solution in this case is an area that I am exploring for myself and for others in their respective end-zone. I don't want to only surround myself with like minded individuals. That’s not how you learn, that’s not the process of science or progress. I desire to learn from experts on both sides, evaluate the evidence and position statements to provide individuals information to decide on what’s the best course of action for the health of themselves and their families.
May this article serve as a noteworthy point in time for a slight transition or change in course of my work. In particular with my conversations with doctors and scholars as part of my podcast, I want to learn more, inquire, bring sides together, find similarities and elucidate differences to make the evidence more clear and to make everyone healthier in the most profound way possible; diet and lifestyle change.