Misinformation about nutrition, how do you know what’s true?

written by Marieke de Zwaan | Zonder categorie

juli 3, 2024

Misinformation about nutrition: how do you know what’s true?

In an era where information is omnipresent, distinguishing fact from fiction, especially regarding nutrition, can be challenging.

Disinformation can range from misleading information to outright lies, potentially harming both your health and wallet.

Scientific research can serve as a guide, but when it is seen as the ultimate authority, we miss the essence of truth-seeking in nutrition. A holistic view of disinformation extends beyond mere factual correctness and includes a broader context.

How can you recognize disinformation about nutrition, and what should you look out for?

Here’s my perspective.

Scientific research: what it’s value for you?

We live in a time dominated by reason, where scientific research is the standard.

In its purest form, scientific research is extremely valuable for various reasons. It expands our knowledge, and certain breakthroughs can lead to unexpected, practical, and meaningful applications.

However, it is important to be critical and not take scientific research on nutrition at face value.

Every study has its limitations, such as the specific context in which it was conducted. Additionally, results can be interpreted in various ways. Scientific findings are often simplified or misrepresented in popular media.

Not all scientific studies are of the same quality. Researchers can also be pressured by stakeholders, potentially affecting the objectivity of the research.

If scientific research as a guideline is complex, how do you know if you’re on the right path with your nutritional choices?

The basic principles of nature

Nature possesses a deep wisdom that transcends what scientific research can ever reveal. This wisdom makes everything both complex and simple at the same time.

Nature’s wisdom lies in its ability to provide exactly the nutrition we need. Nature offers an inherent system of nutritional advice that is attuned to our environment and health.

For example, pumpkins are rich in vitamins such as A and C, which strengthen the immune system—essential during the winter months when we are more susceptible to colds and flu. They also contain a lot of fiber, which aids in good digestion and provides long-lasting satiety, helping to keep us warm and energetic in the cold.

By eating according to what nature offers in your environment at any given time, we automatically get the right balance of nutrients suitable for the local climate and time of year.

Common sense in the face of trends and influencers

Diet trends and hypes come and go. What is touted as the latest superfood today might be debunked by new research tomorrow.

Using common sense in making nutritional choices is essential. It helps you see through temporary trends.

Influencers have significant influence over their followers’ opinions and behaviors. When they share information, followers often accept it without critical evaluation, especially if the message aligns with their existing beliefs or emotions.

Influencers are not always experts in the areas they post about. When they give health advice without the proper knowledge, it can lead to the spread of incorrect and potentially dangerous information.

However, it is also important not to accept your own beliefs about nutrition uncritically. New perspectives, even from influencers, can sometimes contain valuable information, even if they conflict with your own views.

Develop a critical attitude towards nutritional information and try to understand what is being claimed. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you are curious, talk to people who have had personal experiences. This way, you get a better sense of the context in which something has been helpful.

Additionally, knowledge of the basic principles of nutrition, such as the roles of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals), and the value of food colors, can take you a long way.

Labeling and disinformation about nutrition

With processed foods, it can be challenging to correctly interpret labels and use them for healthy food choices. Labels often contain technical and scientific terms that are difficult for the average consumer to understand.

Food manufacturers use various marketing claims such as ‘low-fat,’ ‘sugar-free,’ ‘natural,’ ‘gluten-free,’ ‘palm oil-free,’ ‘plant-based,’ or ‘vegan’ to make products more attractive. These claims can be misleading as they do not always provide a complete picture of how healthy a product really is.

Additionally, not all labels provide complete information about the nutritional value or ingredients. Some additives and preservatives can be hidden under general terms such as “spices” or “natural flavors.” This can make it difficult to know exactly what is in the food.

You can learn about the basics of food labels and ingredients in various ways. A simpler approach is to avoid labels as much as possible and choose foods directly from nature. Or choose foods with no more than five ingredients that you understand. This means, in practice, that natural versions of processed foods are preferable to products with added flavors.

The source of food

The quality of food determines whether it provides health benefits. This quality is greatly influenced by the source from which the food comes.

Plant-based and animal foods from healthy, natural sources that consider ecological balance often have higher nutritional value and offer more health benefits compared to processed or highly processed foods.

Moreover, the degree of food processing is important. Foods that are minimally processed and contain little added sugars, salts, and fats often retain their natural nutritional value better than highly processed foods like cookies, crackers, sauces, candies, and fast food.

The function of food vibrations

While traditional nutritional science focuses primarily on measurable nutrients, the energetic value of food in terms of vibrations falls within the holistic domain.

According to this approach, food has a specific energetic frequency or vibration. This perspective on food may be less familiar, but it is not that unusual. After all, what we perceive as matter is, in reality, made up of tiny particles. These particles are constantly in motion. Moreover, every piece of matter also has its own frequency.

The vibration of food is thought to have a significant impact on our health. Fresh food from healthy soil that comes directly from nature has a higher energetic frequency than highly processed food. This is because they are minimally processed and remain close to their natural state. These high energetic frequencies can be seen as a form of life force that keeps our bodies optimally healthy.

Chemical and processed foods, on the other hand, often have low energetic frequencies that contribute to oxidative stress and inflammation.

Listening to your body

Your body is the most important source of information when it comes to making the right nutritional choices. The body sends signals all day long about hunger, satiety, and potential food intolerances. Recognizing and acting on these signals is crucial for a healthy diet.

Keeping a food diary can help you see which foods give you energy and which make you feel tired or bloated. Mindful eating—eating slowly, chewing well, and paying attention to the tastes and textures of food—helps you listen to your body better and recognize satiety.

Conclusion: everything deserves nuance

Disinformation about nutrition is widespread and can be misleading. However, nutritional claims are rarely black and white, and context is crucial. What works for one person may not be suitable for another.

The quest for accurate information about nutrition requires a healthy balance between reliable knowledge, common sense, and bodily awareness.

We must always remember that local, natural, and unprocessed foods contribute to the synergy and complex processes needed to keep our bodies optimally healthy. No protein powder can compare.

Ultimately, your body prefers a vital strawberry over a jet-lagged mango!



My lecture: POWERFOOD, a worldly story about food’ highlights the impact of nutrition on vitality. This story is suitable for companies and organizations committed to the vitality and well-being of their people.

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ir. Marieke de Zwaan

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