Talking About Health

By Cameron Jenkins

Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are good for your health. But, how do we actually know this? How is a food actually deemed the term “healthy”? As a student studying Food Science and Nutritional Sciences, I hear about this process a lot– the good and the bad.

If you hear it from your doctor or an accredited site, most likely the health claim has been evaluated through a study of some sort. The process of testing the hypothesis of a health benefit from a certain food takes time and thought to get the end result. A certain procedure and test has to be done correctly to see if that beet juice actually reduces hypertension. Or, if that tomato helps lower high cholesterol. The study that confirms that this is true is usually then edited, graded, and published online for the world to take a look at. From there, the claim can either seem positive or negative that that certain food will actually help you.

So, here’s the problem, though, with the modern world and health claims: a lot of them are fabricated or are a warped truth. A social media website might post about how this certain tea will make you lose weight while a celebrity backs it with a selfie. The media can play a big impact on our choices, and companies definitely take advantage of it. The truth is that in small print there is a statement saying how this product isn’t evaluated by the FDA and may not be true at all. And, where is the actual researched proof that it actually works? Another random website may claim something while it is not even written by a credible person. If it is written by a Dietician,  then it is usually safe. We live in a country that allows freedom of speech, which is great, but that means that anyone can write anything even if it is not true. Another claim might be made that gives evidence that the certain food does this or that, but the trial has only been done once or the study was chosen out of all the ones that said that it doesn’t work.

We generally don’t wake up in the morning and go right to a journal of published studies and read the entire study about a certain tested food. We usually check a social media platform, such as Facebook, and see an article written by a random person saying to stay away from a certain food. Or, to consume lots of it. It uses some fancy words to make you think it is true, and a lot of the time we think it is.

How do you know what claim is legitimate or not? When you are going to develop an opinion on a certain type of food, consider reading articles from Dieticians or Nutritionists. Purchase a book about nutrition that is written by a doctor. Stay away from health blogs unless they are written by someone who is credible. Read up on studies about a claim that you read. There is a lot of information out there, and we have to be skeptical about what is true and what is not for our own health and safety.  

Stay hungry, friends, and read up on what you see!

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