Reading through the “latest” study on nutrition, health, or fitness can be confusing to say the least. There seem to be reversals of official opinion on what is considered healthy every other week. The truth is that all of us experience such different realities and combinations of variables that affect us. Here are some things to consider to make sense out of health studies.
There are many different ways to put together a study. Look at the size of the study, for the broader the analysis, the better look at the overall picture. How long does the study compare factors for? Short time periods only give an initial glimpse of long term change. If you want an idea of how personal choices can effect things like metabolism or chronic diseases, look for studies that follow groups for extended periods of time. Being that genetics, age, nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, stress and many other factors are integrated into our personal health stories, it’s difficult to produce a study that can accurately consider all components involved.
Try to view studies on health related subjects as part of an ongoing dialogue. They are an opportunity to examine a perspective on a topic. Studies are part of the medical community, as it’s required in most of the field to research and publish findings of varying significance. Depending on the data collected, the timing, and the variables involved, we are being exposed to a small cross section of very broad and integrated subject matter.
Studies can be biased, and so can you. Professional, financial, and personal tendencies are all in play when presenting different view points. It is common for pharmaceutical companies to present studies showing success of their new products. An individual may seek studies that support and justify their lifestyle choices instead of facing a more difficult path to change. Take a step back, objectively appreciate how the study was approached, and allow it be part of the conversation.
Remain grounded in fundamental principals. Real food is better for systemic health than processed food. Move every day and get your heart rate up a few times a week (at minimum). Get enough of sleep and have water be your primary fluid intake. Get fresh air and don’t sit for extended periods of time. We all deserve to live a long, healthy life. These are the things we can control. Continue to educate yourselves during the lifelong process of optimal wellness.