You already know what fake news is. But fake news in the area of nutrition can be a little harder to identify because, in similar fashion to fake news in the mainstream, it is usually fed to you by people and institutions that you would normally trust.

Red wine

Good for you? Maybe, but always check the sources of news stories when it comes to your nutrition, says Bridie Kersten. PICTURE: Kym Ellis/Unsplash

 

"Listen to or read articles about health and nutrition with a finely tuned filter and be prepared to seek out and research what is actually the right health information for you."

The conflicting stories floating around about what is and is not healthy are not only confusing, they also seem to contradict themselves. That means that those of us who are getting all of our health information from the media have to learn to develop a special filter to make sense and sort out the nonsensical from the sensible.

Such tools recently had to be applied after news reports claimed fries may actually help prevent balding or even promote the growth of hair. There actually is some validity to the research but exactly what the research quoted in the reports claimed and how that may help hair growth, needs thorough investigation. What it doesn't mean is going out and eating as many fries as you wish. Context counts.

Another great example is the old “wine is good for you” story. While I’m not saying wine is bad for you, necessarily, it's important to understand who funded the research and what input the wine industry had in it as well what as exactly what any studies were conducted upon - wine in general or simply an ingredient? But it's also worth noting that, on the flip side, the Mediterranean diet which includes a moderate amount of red wine is considered to be one of the healthiest lifestyles you can follow and might add years to your life.

Whether or not chocolate is good for you can fall under the same category: there are compounds in cacao (raw cocoa) that are actually quite good for you but the questions remains whether that benefit is worth the added sugar and refining/processing that makes cacao, chocolate. Again, it's important to look at bit deeper at the studies behind the headlines shouting that we can have our chocolate fix guilt free - they may only be based on an ingredient of chocolate such as cacao and not focus the benefits - or not - of eating a chocolate bar.

In the past, we have discussed other long-held nutrition beliefs such as how fats don't necessarily equate to good health and how you need to drink cow’s milk for healthy bones. Discussing the different types of fats leads us on to another common health misconception: are eggs good for you. The short answer is often yes but understanding fats and their role in the body is an important part of understanding why eggs aren’t necessarily bad for you, even though they contain cholesterol.

Listen to or read articles about health and nutrition with a finely tuned filter and be prepared to seek out and research what is actually the right health information for you. Fries are not an everyday food, regardless of your balding status.

Bridie Kersten is a registered nutritionist with an advanced diploma in nutrition and a Bachelor of Health Science (biochemistry and nutritional medicine). This information is of a general nature only and may not be suitable for you; please seek your healthcare professional's advice before making alterations to your diet.