A personal training client asked me, “What is the best diet plan?”
I put my Nutrition and Health Promotion degrees aside and did what anyone would do, I consulted with Google.
A Google search of: “What is the best diet plan?” returned 28,200,000 hits in .32 seconds.
Consumers have gotten accustomed to being spoon-fed information by the internet and we expect the same result when it comes to getting healthier and fitter. Nowadays, you can quickly find information about almost anything health science related on the internet. The challenge is differentiating real science from fiction. In an article recently published about “what makes clinical research valid,” Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel MD describes what scientists use to evaluate research.1 Good evaluation processes can be used by anyone, especially when researching diet or exercise advice from “professionals,” ‘in the field’, or online.
This is a partial list of topics Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel says to consider when evaluating science information:
●Value: Enhancements of health or knowledge must be derived from the research,
●Scientific Validity: The research must be ethical, rigorous, and treat subjects fairly
●Selection: Scientific objectives, not vulnerability or privilege, discussion of risks and benefits
●Favorable Risk-Benefit Ratio: potential benefits to individuals and knowledge gained for society must outweigh risks; independent review by peers: unaffiliated individuals must review the research.
So how do you know if the science evidence is credible? A Google search of “what is evidence based healthcare” resulted in 71 million hits. Go beyond Google. Wikipedia, a verified online encyclopedia, was the first post and brought up Evidence-Based Medicine2 and/or Evidence-Based Practice3. These terms aredescribed as health decisions based on a narrow set of credible quantitative science research data.2,3 Data are the science “evidence” to be used in conjunction with qualitative information to determine if a health practice, diet, exercise program, or doctor is right for you. Or most importantly, is it credible and safe?
In summary, the best way to determine if a diet or exercise plan is good for your individual body is to assess the science behind it and ask a few questions: Is the science current? Does the science seem credible? What do the numbers show? How did you find this information? Do you have special health considerations? Is this just a “trend” in the media? Was this evidence based?
If you ask yourself these questions and review every piece of health information with a critical eye asking questions along the way, you will be a better consumer for the one product that matters most: your health.
Finally, if you were wondering what the best eating plan is for your summer health needs, a panel of 22 health experts comprised of physicians, dietitians, and professors determined the “Dash” and “TLC” diets are the best overall.4 To accurately get personalized nutrition information you consider consulting with a registered dietitian.
1. Special CommunicationJAMA. 2000;283(20):2701-2711. doi: 10.1001/jama.283.20.2701What Makes Clinical Research Ethical? Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD; David Wendler, PhD; Christine Grady, PhD
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_medicine Accessed 4/5/12
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_practice Accessed 4/5/12
4. http://health.usnews.com/best-diet Accessed 4/5/12