Why Is Nutritional Advice So Confusing?

How many carbs should you eat? Is wine good for your health or bad? Can tea really reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease? Whent it comes to our diets, advice is as confusing and contradictory as ever. But latest research can provide some clarity

Nutritional science isn't exactly new, so why do we still keep getting it all wrong?

According to Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, there is no easy answer, but there are some standout explanations...

1: Nutrition research is underfunded

Diet has a huge impact on our health, yet the funding directed towards obesity and nutrition research is tiny compared with funding for pharmaceuticals.

2: Advice is outdated

Government nutritional guidelines are often factually incorrect and based on out of date research.

3: ''Big food''

The food and drink industry influences nutrition guidelines through lobbying, skews research and muddies the water through advertising.

So how can we rectify this situation? And what nutritional pitfalls should you be wary of? Tim spector discusses these questions in his book, Spoon-Fed.

Here are some key takeaways:

1: Eating larger, less frequent meals is not bad for you.

Current research suggests that a longer gap between meals is better for your metabolism. Aim for 14 hours overnight in which your body is not processing food.

Avoid snacking!

2: Calories are overemphasised

Reduce your calorie intake and your body may simply burn fewer calories. It's also very hard to track calories accurately.

What you eat is probably more important than how much.

3: Everyone processes food differently.

This may be largely due to differences in gut microbe populations between individuals.

Copying someone else's diet won't necessarily work just because they were successful.

4: Processed foods are bad

Processed foods lack fiber and are bad for our gut bacteria. Research also suggest that people who eat processed foods feel hungrier and eat more.

5: Our diets should be mainly plant based.

Aim to eat 30 types of plant a week. Meat and fish are fine in moderation.

6: Eat fermented foods regularly.

Fermented foods are a good source of probiotics.

7: Experiment with fasting.

Fasting, both long-term and intermittently, appear to be highly beneficial in terms of metabolic health.