How to Find Credible Health and Nutrition Information
Nutrition and health information has become so easily accessible that it can be hard to know which sources you can trust. There are millions of blogs, videos, posts and articles published each day telling you what to eat, what not to eat, and everything in between. It can all be quite overwhelming and we want to give you the tools to find the most accurate information. Keep reading to find out which signs to look for and which to avoid when choosing your sources.
Signs That Information May NOT Be Credible
- Information is presented as a “Quick Fix”, a “Hack”, or something that is too good to be true
Anything on the internet or social media that sounds too good to be true, probably is. Most solutions and health improvements take time and effort to achieve. Simple fixes like miracle supplements can drain your bank account and cause more damage than they cure. You should also watch out for claims of things that “doctors don’t want you to know”. If there was a newly discovered trick for weight loss, or a cure for a chronic disease, it would be front page news that your doctor would definitely bring up. Doctors aren’t trying to hide things from you, and having that attitude can lead you to follow unsound health advice.
- The information is being used to sell something
Nowadays it seems that everyone is selling something, whether that be a supplement, an online course, a diet plan, or anything that promises to make your life easier. You have to look at the context of the information presented to decide if the author’s motives are genuine or not. If a product is being sold as the solution to a problem that the author/influencer is talking about, then the information is likely misleading. If it is clear that the author has no financial stake in the information, then it may be more trustworthy.
- The information is based on non-scientific sources, or on a single study
If an author cites new articles, blog posts or social media content as part of their argument for a nutrition or health claim, then you should be on alert for some misinformation. This means that the info has already come from a secondary source and has likely been misinterpreted multiple times before it reaches you. Sources based around a single scientific study are also not the most credible. Each study has its own strengths and limitations which is why it’s important to evaluate a variety of studies on different groups of people before coming to a conclusion. Look for articles with the words “Systematic Review” or “Meta Analysis” in their title to read a summary of multiple studies on a single topic.
- The information is presented in a short form, with little detail
Health information shown through a reel, tiktok, story or post is rarely the most credible due to its short format. Health and nutrition topics are very complex and require detail and nuance to communicate. You can’t learn about all the risks and benefits of the keto diet in a single Instagram video. However, you might be able to read about many of them in a 10 paragraph article written by a registered dietitian. Be sure to invest adequate time and attention into learning about the health topics that you’re interested in.
Signs That Information Is LIKELY to Be Credible
- The author is a registered health professional and is honest about their background
Look for nutrition articles written by Registered Dietitians (RD/RDN) and medical articles written by doctors (MD). Authors may also be credible if they have extensive education and training such as an MSc or PhD in the topic they are writing or talking about. Content from a government or university website is usually trustworthy too. An author’s background should be easy to find on their website or social media account. If someone is trying to hide their background then it probably means they don’t know enough to be giving other people advice. If there is no author or creator listed, then you should also be concerned.
- Sources are cited at the end of the content
Looking for sources at the end of an article, post or video is one key way to decipher credible claims from misinformation. It is especially important to look for sources if any specific data points or numbers are cited by the author. Try clicking on a few of the links to make sure the sources generally agree with the info presented in the original piece of content. Some deceptive authors may cherry pick from sources and cite only the phrases or data points which back up their own views, while disregarding the main conclusions that may be contradictory.
- The author acknowledges their gaps in knowledge
Just because someone is a doctor or a dietitian doesn’t mean they are an expert in everything health related. Each individual tends to specialize their training and education in a few areas of their field, meaning they might lack up to date knowledge in other areas. Look for authors or speakers who acknowledge the things they don’t know and point you in the direction of more detailed advice.
In Conclusion …
We hope you learned some tricks to detect credible sources and that you’ll be able to weed out the misinformation next time you’re looking for answers. In general, find content with a knowledgeable author who cites their sources and who isn’t trying to sell you a product or a quick fix. Finding the right information takes time and it’s worth it to invest time into your health!
We know that our Fit Kitchen blogs may break a few of these rules from time to time, but we never promised to provide medical advice. We are honest about our products and always invite you to ask us questions.