Is Nutrition Evidence Based? Why It Matters

by | Apr 12, 2024 | Business Advice, Nutrition

Back in the days before the internet, when you had to learn from actual books, instead of Google, you really had to dedicate yourself to a topic to be considered an “expert” in that area. You would attend seminars and lectures or read multiple books and articles on the topic. 

You collected reference materials, kept your old school textbooks, and maintained a collection of professional journals. Those materials were where you went to look things up or learn more about a particular topic.

I remember when I was in school to be a dietitian, slightly before the internet became such a huge thing, I worked for a well-established RD. In her office she had multiple file cabinets filled with nutrition reference materials. She actually used articles and books as references for her nutrition practice because the internet didn’t exist. This is obviously quite different from how many of us get information today, but this wasn’t that long ago. 

Google and the Nutrition “Expert”

Of course, now it’s all different, information is always right at our fingertips. You can learn anything you want about nutrition at any time. Just do a quick Google search. All the information you need to know is right there, at your fingertips or on your smartphone. 

Then, of course, you have the ability to take that information, share it on social media or use it to argue with people on Facebook. Or become a self-taught nutrition ‘influencer” and provide pseudo scientific information, as long as you look the part. Clearly, since you read that article on the benefits of kale, ketogenic diets, or whatever…you are now an expert and have all the information you need to educate others on that topic. I mean why go to school for it? (Just kidding!)

In this era where anyone can be a self-proclaimed “expert” and good marketing makes it really difficult to tease out what is real or true, it can be a challenge to navigate all the noise. 

The field of nutrition has been hit particularly hard because of this, with many credentialless “experts” gaining tremendous internet popularity because of awesome marketing skills and persuasive website copy. 

But, I would argue that as shiny and pretty some marketing messages can be, all health and wellness businesses need to have a strong foundation in evidence-based nutrition practices. Without a foundation in real expertise, you run the risk of providing information that puts you at risk of fines from the powers-at-be or is just another trend fleeting trend in the health world.

What is Evidence-Based Research?

Evidence-based research is a systematic approach to problem-solving that combines the best available research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values. This is the foundation of many different fields of practice from healthcare to education.

Healthcare providers should be making recommendations that come from evidence-based research, not practicing based on their opinions. Everyone, even doctors and all health care providers have opinions, but opinions are not science. 

Evidence-based research is there to guide your way of practicing so that you don’t base your patient care decisions on a body of knowledge that is bigger than your own. When you are providing advice based on actual science, you must start by reviewing several peer-reviewed, reputable sources to find a consensus on the topic. 

Applying evidence to your clinical practice is the best way to keep your patients safe. It helps you provide the best, most up-to-date care for all your patients. Evidence-based practice is what helps create the best outcomes. 

Is Nutrition Evidence Based?

Yes, the type of nutrition therapy practiced by Registered Dietitians is 100% evidence-based. One of the cornerstones of the education required to become a Registered Dietitian is learning how to evaluate and apply scientific research to dietetic practice. This specialized ability is what helps RDs stand out from the crowd and makes them different from other nutrition professionals.

RDs are guided by evidence-based nutrition practice guidelines which are organized by our governing body, the Commission for Dietetic Registration. These are a series of statements and treatment protocols developed to help analyze and synthesize nutrition practice based on scientific evidence. They are designed to help RDs make decisions about appropriate nutrition care for patients. 

Adherence to these guidelines is what allows RDs to practice medical nutrition therapy or disease management using nutrition. This means RDs are the only professionals who can help those with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar or reduce complications for dialysis patients. 

This level of high-quality, well-researched medical information is what makes an impact on people’s health, by modifying the course of their disease state or helping reduce risk factors for illness. Evidence-based practice is what will truly help people live the healthier lives they want. 

Evidence-Based Content Marketing

Evidence-based practice in nutrition impacts real health in a way that persuasive marketing cannot, it literally helps people stay alive. Although we may not all be battling chronic diseases, we can all benefit from the expertise of professionals who have taken the time to study, understand, and apply the latest research in their field. 

Fluff or passionate marketing can be fun and entertaining to read about online. But, when the outcome is the difference between wellness and illness, evidence-based practice will have the greatest impact.

Search engines have caught on to this as well with the implementation of E-E-A-T guidelines in the Your Life, Your Money (YLYM) spaces. If you are writing about a topic in this category, which includes health and nutrition, you MUST be an authoritative website or have expertise in the field. This is no longer optional if you want to win at SEO.

Working with a dietitian to support your content marketing efforts will provide something that many other writers simply don’t have, the education and skills to consistently provide the correct evidence-based nutrition information every time.

Want to know more about how our expert RDs can help you create evidence-based content for your health and wellness business? Get in touch for a quote today. 

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