Interesting research about "contradictory nutritional advice"

John Crowley
By John Crowley Latest Reply 2015-07-22 02:25:52 -0500
Started 2014-01-28 17:34:06 -0600

So I read this article today about what happens to people who hear confusing and contradictory information about nutrition. I know this is a very sensitive topic particularly when it comes to diabetes. It seems like there is so much information out there that seems to contradict itself.

Like for instance, fish has all these heart-healthy oils in it but also has a lot of mercury in it. The study showed that not only are people frustrated and confused by this contradictory information, but it also leads them to stop trusting any nutritional advice. Plus, people who had been exposed to the highest levels of contradictory information were less likely to exercise and eat vegetables.

So I thought a couple of good things for us to discuss about this topic. First, here at Diabetic Connect we are really trying to help our members cut through the confusion of nutrition information. We'd love to hear how you think we're doing. Are we helping you better understand what are healthy choices when it comes to eating right?

And second, do you agree with the study? Do you feel that there's so much confusion about what you should or shouldn't be eating that no one really knows what is right?

We'd love to hear your thoughts. (If you want to read about the study for yourself, check it out here:

18 replies

urquidi2015 2015-07-22 02:23:04 -0500 Report

Yes. I am confused when it comes down to eating fish often considering what they have stated about mercury levels; etc.

jayabee52 2014-02-06 14:42:09 -0600 Report

I have just finished reading a guide for surfing the web and determine if the website from which we are getting info is trustworthy ~
God's best to you and yours!

tkpaulin 2014-02-05 03:22:58 -0600 Report

I have 2 major conditions - T1 & pancreatitis. These conditions seem to contradict each other as to what is "good" for them in terms of food (at least in my body). So, my solution has been to pay attention to MY body and not the news media, internet, or any other advice. I consider all advice, but FOLLOW only what seems to work for me based on my sugar levels, amount of insulin I need, how my stomach feels, and my general overall feeling of wellness. My opinion - Listen to your body first & foremost. It will tell you what it needs.

debimzadi 2014-02-03 16:02:42 -0600 Report

I'm newly diagnosed and just posted about this issue 5 minutes ago. I go to see a nutritionist tomorrow. This will be my first session. At this point my head is spinning with the information overload. My fault I'm sure because I over analyze. I'm just totally lost. Thank you for the link.

jayabee52 2014-02-04 22:17:35 -0600 Report

Howdy Deb
Please don't feel bad — when I was first Dx'd I went to a day long diabetes education and I felt like I tried to take a drink out of a firehose opened full on! Talk about informatiom overload! I really didn't get my facts straight until I got here to DC where I can take things slower and learn at my own pace. You may "over alalyze" but I doubt it is your fault. Just stick here with us and ask your questions from us who are out here managing our disease the best we can.

Praying God's best for you and yours

James Baker

meadowrose 2014-02-01 23:41:28 -0600 Report

I feel there's contradictory information out there. Some tell you to avoid all white foods, others say they're okay in moderation. Some tell you to avoid caffeine at all costs, others say it's okay for diabetics. You get the idea. It's frustrating like gangbusters because we are all trying to learn what is the best course to take, nutritionally, etc., with our diabetes and conflicting information makes it difficult at the very least.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-02-02 13:12:41 -0600 Report

To be totally honest, I don't find it difficult or confusing. I don't pay attention to everything that the media says. I pay attention to what is right for me, my body and my health.

I stopped eating white foods and switched to multi-grain or whole wheat bread. I had to stop eating multi-grain because I was itching really bad. My doctor told me to stop eating the multi-grain and the itching stopped. I barely get a rise from white bread.

Each person has to do what is right for them. Not everything works for everyone. You have to be very careful with information these days as some is fact and the other is fiction.

Type1Lou 2014-01-31 14:42:04 -0600 Report

The sad truth is that even the "so-called" experts disagree on many factors that affect our diabetes. So what's a poor layperson like me supposed to do? I have tried to determine what works well for me in managing my condition. Nutritionally, it involves reading labels, keeping records about the foods I eat and how they affect my BG, and curtailing the amount of carbs I consume. I love DC as a forum where individuals get to state what their experiences are and what works for them. The proof is in the pudding…er the low-carb pudding…for me.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-01-29 17:47:56 -0600 Report

John how is DC going to do this? There is so much information out there regarding nutrition that is inaccurate, how is DC going to make it accurate?

DC would have to fact check each piece of information posted on this site. As Nick has said, some of your information can be deleted.

With the dumbing down of America through what the media says and what seems to be peoples lack of common sense, many people tend to beleive what they hear or read without fact checking the source or the information.

I agree with Nick again in that if they said plywood was a good source of fiber, I am not chopping down a tree until the words "proven source" of fiber is in the information.

Common sense would tell you that eating a gallon of ice cream every day isn't good for you so why eat it because the media says its a good source of calcium.

You have a good idea and this is a great conversation but DC would need an entire research department to fact check all the nutrional information out there.

So how do consumers wade through the information to find out what is accurate or inaccurate. The main thing is to look at the source. Google the name of the person writing the ariticle. Look at what the article is saying, is it someones opinion. Then look at what you are eating and the amount, this can determine if you are eating healthy.

The media loves the shock factor and they play that game very well. Don't eat pork it causes high blood pressure, eat pork its the new white meat. Don't eat eggs because they cause high cholesterol now its eat eggs they are good for you. Fish has mercury well Duh it always has had mercury. It is a Merry Go Round of information on nutrtion where one food is good today and bad tomorrow. It is the consumers responsibility to pay attention to what they are eating and the amount and it is up to the consumer to determine how accurate the information is. I research sources and try to fact check as much as possible.

Glucerna 2014-01-30 10:10:21 -0600 Report

You're right that paying attention to the source of the article is crucial. Whenever possible, look for the original research that the article references. Often the media pickds up on one small part of research and ignores the details. When we read the original research, we can make a more informed decision about we want to do. ~Lynn @Glucerna

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-01-31 18:05:30 -0600 Report

Lynn I agree with you. People with computers can email, shop, keep up on facebook and other things but when it comes to important things, they won't do the research.

The media puts its own spin on something they found on another news site. When you find the original research, you find out what the media says is either half of the truth, partly true or that their spin is not at all in the research.

Nick1962 2014-01-29 14:49:23 -0600 Report

I echo what the article says – much of the information is put out by the various media and out of context.
I tend to take any report, on any product or food, as the starting block for further research. The words that immediately make me suspect are “may” and “could”. Eating plywood MAY be a good source of fiber, but I’m not pulling out the saw until I see the words “has proven to be”.

In today’s fast paced media, any information can get distorted (and usually does). Fish has always contained mercury, yet we’re all still alive. The only thing contradictory about the fish/mercury information is in the lack of qualifying information stating which ones and to what levels. In our fast paced society now, I think anything published should be researched for validity and context before any action is taken unless it is something issued by a governing body as a threat.

I don’t think here at DC (or elsewhere), it’s possible to fully filter all the information that’s out there. That pretty much falls at the consumer’s feet. The only way to do that would be to not pass on any information whatsoever. I do think however, as a health oriented website, DC has some responsibility to carefully screen what it puts out as “information”, because in many cases, it is seen as an endorsement. There are a few newsletters and news items here I’d delete as not useful, speculative, or contextually inaccurate.

As far as "contradictory nutritional advice", I haven’t seen a lot of that. Inconsistent or incomplete is what I’d call it. The way media puts out “information” now, I think we all have to become savvy enough to weed through it effectively.

jigsaw 2014-01-29 09:26:31 -0600 Report

I believe this to be an excellent, ideal, and important subject. The vastness, and complexities on this subject, make it a bit difficult to comment on, but I'll attempt to clarify some of my thoughts, and experiences.

I found over the years that quite a few of those that I have met with diabetes, turn to their primary care physicians, for dietary advice, and or food plans in general. This may be a good source and place to start or begin to get basic information on improving your eating habits, but that is most likely all you will get. Primary care physicians and even endocrinologists, are generally not thoroughly trained in nutrition, and are not likely to sit down with you for 1/2 hour or an hour and explain the nutritional info necessary to help successfully manage your diabetes. Sure, they'll diagnose, prescribe the necessary medications, and even suggest some general do's and don'ts about eating to control your blood glucose, but that's just the tip of the iceberg! I suspect that many of us when first diagnosed, ( and I include myself ) have not given a great deal of in depth thought to our nutritional needs, and the foods we eat. Chances are, most of us have been eating unhealthy foods frequently, and out of convenience. When we are diagnosed with diabetes, it is then that the bulb lights up! Over time, we search for answers to manage our diabetes and blood glucose. Even though many of us attempt to eat and exercise as our doctor recommends, often it's simply not enough. Some turn to books, the internet, friends etc. in an attempt to find answers. Certainly there is good info to be found with all these sources, but there is also inaccurate, poor, and even dangerous info. Add to this that more than likely, we are probably quite ignorant initially, when it comes to diabetes and proper nutrition, and there you have it, a ball of confusion.

Ok, there is an almost standard answer that seems to come up, when it comes to diet and nutrition. I'm referring to many of us that have diabetes. They often say, and understandably, that we are all different, with different needs. One size does not fit all. I agree, this is true, but it crosses a fine line and I think it can add to the confusion. Look at the other side of the coin, as an example. We all have similarities. Being human, we all have similar nutritional needs. Of course nutrition and diet often have to be modified to our individual bodily needs and circumstances. By circumstances, I'm referring to medications, activity levels, food sensitivities, health conditions, etc. Most of us here are living with diabetes ourselves, or with a family member that does. All of us with diabetes have to watch and restrict our carb intake. We also should be familiar with healthy carbs and unhealthy carbs as an example. The differences that come into play are, to what extent and how should nutritional needs like carbs for example, be modified for a given individual. How can we get good accurate answers?

Obviously, nothing can replace the experience we gain from living with diabetes. We start becoming more aware of how our bodies respond to various foods. Like myself, many of us gather a great deal of information, both accurate, and inaccurate. Now we're left with deciphering which of this info is correct, and helpful. Can be a very tricky and even treacherous path!

So now we know we have diabetes. We have been given advice and possibly some basic info from a primary care physician or endocrinologist concerning food, and what we should eat or avoid eating. Through time, we gain some experience, we read some books on diet and nutrition, but never the less, most of us are not experts in nutrition. In other words, if you break your toe, you most likely will not go to a neurologist. You might see your primary care physician, that in turn may recommend a good orthopedic doctor. So, if you have diabetes, which is a condition that is so directly effected by diet and nutritional needs, then why not see a specialist in nutrition and diet. My experience with dieticians and nutritionists has been extremely helpful. Sometimes, I found that I had to modify what I was told by some dieticians as to food intake such as carbs, but at least I was working from a good solid foundation with expert guidance.

Yes, scientific knowledge concerning nutrition seems to be an ever evolving process! I think the best we can do as individuals, is to utilize the info that is available currently with the guidance of experts on this subject.

theladyiscrazy 2014-01-28 20:16:53 -0600 Report

Yes, I think there is a lot of confusion out there. Not only are there different views, but each "diet" or "eating style" has scientific or medical jargon to support it. So, you do sit there and go "who is right". What I think no one in these studies have realized is that not everyone is the same and thus what works for one might not for another. Many present as theirs is the only way.

As for Diabetes Connect, I think the information is presented with discussions following. It is the first place where I have seen some state that a "one size fits all" mentality is not accurate. That you have to listen to your body (and doctor) and come up with what works for you.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-01-29 17:56:38 -0600 Report

Lady it isn't a one size fits all anything. A responsible person would listen to their body and their doctor. You can't ask anyone about your medical health because we are not doctors. I amazes me that people will ask on this site about a medical problem they are having and then ask should they call their doctor. Isn't that why you have a doctor? In the time it takes to wait for a response on a website you could have called the doctor or if neccessary gone to an ER or Patient First and had the problem addressed.

Look at it this way, if your cat is sick would you ask your mechanic how to treat the cats illness?

You are very correct no one in these studies have realized that not everyone is the same. There are so many varibles involved. Certain medications, allergies, and medical conditions can all play a roll in how healthy someone can eat. A good nutritionist is the one who can help each person work out the foods they can have if they can't eat certain foods becasue of allergies, medications or medical conditions.

This is a very good response.