The Problem with Nutrition Journals

Nutrition journals tend to be rather dry and dense reading. And like most research, there seems to be no definitive “answer” that you can then apply.

What We Know About Nutrition is Just Our Best Guess

The profession can be quite frustrating as it seems they are constantly changing guidelines and contradicting what was ‘fact’ 10 years ago (think margarine vs. butter debate). While I understand and fully support updating guidelines, I would recommend steering away from journals. Magazines such as Today’s Dietitian might be a good start if you want to get into the science of nutrition. Or if you’re wanting to focus on a specific disease you could try something like the magazine Diabetes. These magazines provide the latest info on what’s trending within the profession and among patients and are still written by clinicians and backed by science.

Textbooks are Great Even If They Get Re-Written

Textbooks tend to get re-written every few years.  This is a good thing because we’re learning more about nutrition.  And textbooks are great to learn from even if you’re not an official student.  Good textbook suggestions which might be a good compromise between leisure reading magazines and snooze inducing journals, but also might bog you down.

If you’re looking for a decent generalized resource for medical nutrition therapy you could purchase Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. That’s kind of the gold standard, as far as I know. If you’re really into how specific foods can offer preventative health benefits An Evidenced-based Approach to Phytochemicals and Other Dietary Factors by Higdon & Drake is a really neat text. Last but not least, thanks for caring.

If, however, you want more in depth background and understanding of the metabolic “why’s” I would go for the resources above. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) have many many workbooks/manuals/textbooks available for purchase.

I purchased the book Nutrition Care for Older Adults when studying for a certification exam and if you have any interest in learning more or working in geriatrics this would be a great resource. It’s relatively short and easy to read. I am currently studying for a certification for critical care nutrition support and am using The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) Adult Nutrition Support Core Curriculum which is much longer and much more science based but absolutely packed with the latest guidelines. If that’s too much then I recommend sifting through whichever of these ASPEN/Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) guidelines interest you http://www.nutritioncare.org/Guidelines_and_Clinical_Resources/Clinical_Guidelines/

Statistics Plays a Big Role in Nutrition Studies

As the new year begins, millions of people are vowing to shape up their eating habits. This usually involves dividing foods into moralistic categories: good/bad, healthy/unhealthy, nutritious/indulgent, slimming/fattening — but which foods belong where depends on whom you ask.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recently released its latest guidelines, which define a healthy diet as one that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or nonfat dairy products, seafood, legumes and nuts while reducing red and processed meat, refined grains, and sugary foods and beverages.1 Some cardiologists recommend a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, the American Diabetes Association gives the nod to both low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine promotes a vegetarian diet. Ask a hard-bodied CrossFit aficionado, and she may champion a “Paleo” diet based on foods our Paleolithic ancestors (supposedly) ate. My colleague Walt Hickey swears by the keto diet.

Who’s right? It’s hard to say. When it comes to nutrition, everyone has an opinion. What no one has is an airtight case. The problem begins with a lack of consensus on what makes a diet healthy. Is the aim to make you slender? To build muscles? To keep your bones strong? Or to prevent heart attacks or cancer or keep dementia at bay? Whatever you’re worried about, there’s no shortage of diets or foods purported to help you.

Read More of this fantastic article on 538.

Habits Are What Matters in Nutrition

Although I’ve replied on this thread already about how academic journals are informative & worthwhile, I would like to add another perspective to all of the advice you’ve been receiving about speaking about nutrition to patients that is often neglected- the science of habits. It boils down to this- we can discuss and recommend certain diets to patients day after day but most studies point out that patients hardly stick to diets long-term. Why? Besides the lifestyle complications and such, the habits to make them stick haven’t been formed. For this reason, I suggest reading up on habits, such as Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit”, which explains how to create/alter habits to improve your life.

Most dietitians include habit formation techniques into their practices by suggesting small, incremental changes to a diet and that’s great but it can also be focused on/furthered by any type of health practitioner. An example of this might be to sit down with a patient and review cues that trigger mindless eating/snacking & then proposing an alternative behavior to replace that unwanted behavior, while still satisfying the reason for the cue/urge. The lessons learned from any book can be really helpful to a practitioner & should be incorporated into health behavior recommendations.

Be Wary Of Fad Science

Be wary of the fad science that’s out there. And a lot of the quackery that “nutritionists” and even some registered dietitian will try to push on you. There is a lot of misinformation out there that’s resulted from older clinical studies still being promulgated. I’ve been very finicky about where I get my information from over the last 3 years.

One really great source is Mercola.com. Mercola doesn’t push one size fits all type diets, or really claim that vegetables are great for everybody’s individual body chemistry. He gets to the nitty gritty of the latest nutritional science. Examples include the best kinds of fat to fuel our bodies. Establishing a mind and body connection in which “you” sense when your properly satiated.. instead of overly obsessing on calorie counting. Also, the critical role of your guts micro-biome in maintaining optimum health and well-being. Fair warning though, That website can be overkill for the average laymen. I find that eating a diet that’s guided by my ethnic heritage has been all I needed to feel great and think clearly. There’s also a few constants that most will recommend today like stay away from sugar and don’t consume fruit in a liquid state to often.

Your store of nutritional information will grow slowly the more you read, and could diverge sharply from a lot of the populist approaches, that frankly don’t work well for many people. It’s up to you to learn and keep learning little by little because this is a field that goes through dramatic shifts from generation to generation.