Inside Scoop: What does it mean to be healthy and what nutrition and health advice can you trust? In world where we can find information with a click of a button, here’s what you need to look out for.
The wellness industry is booming to say the very least. In 2017 The Global Wellness Institute stated that the global wellness economy was a $4.2 trillion market. In 2014 it exceeded the global pharmaceutical industry by 3x.
But the thing about the wellness industry is that it’s a massive umbrella for a plethora of different categories; you have skincare, lifestyle, nutrition and fitness, and then on top of it you also have science, pseudoscience and people who just want in on the action. There are many different categories and a lot of revenue potential, which usually results in a vast amount of viewpoints for each subsection in the wellness industry.
You have natural healers butting heads with Western medicine, large companies who have low standards of care going against small green and sustainable companies that are just trying to stay afloat. On top of the fierce competition, you then have influencers and celebrities who have no background nutrition knowledge marketing the ‘right’ kind of way to be healthy, and they’re pitted up against those who spend years studying nutritional science just trying to make bank.
For a game that’s supposed to promote wellness and unity, it sure is fierce out there. But, what does it mean to be healthy?
Health is never linear.
You can see just how vast the wellness spectrum is. No matter where you lie on it, or what your views are, the one thing we’ve learned throughout our years in this field is that there are so many different viewpoints. Thus, a non-biased, objective way of looking at things is becoming so important in the unregulated nature of this business.
Health is never linear. YOU, as an individual are different from the person next to you, so the way you perceive information, and the health blueprint that you’re designing for your own life shouldn’t be the same as the person next to you. You may have similar viewpoints but you will never think exactly like that person. So, having different viewpoints becomes vital when focusing in on a certain health topic, and being able to look at a particular topic in a subjective way.
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Let’s take weight loss as an example.
The weight loss industry is a HUGE industry, we know this. As a matter of fact, with every survey we do we ask the question “Do you wish to lose weight, and if so, how much?” This is done so that we can hone in on how much people value weight loss.
Guess what? Nearly 97% of the people we’ve surveyed said they wish to lose weight. But, the source of their information on how to lose weight is always different.
They are exposed to massive weight loss chains, health coaches, fitness instructors, dietitians, holistic nutritionists, multi-level marketing platforms that sell supplements, wellness influencers, and celebrities (to name a few). But, if you were to ask a fitness instructor their views on weight loss you’re going to get a different answer than a nutritionist’s views on weight loss. It doesn’t mean that one is wrong, or one is more valid, because there is a science behind biology, both on a food level and a musculoskeletal level.
Here, you have 2 different viewpoints and when you can combine them together you may be able to see an incredibly effective plan for weight loss (versus one on its own), as the two worlds are intertwined, thus, the professional opinion you seek must be as well.
THERE ARE ALWAYS RED FLAGS: This is where getting your information becomes important. If you’re asking a nutritionist how important other avenues for health and wellness are, and they only promote their services- that’s a red flag.
Health is never achieved with one single method as an answer.
A nutritionist can only dive so far into the mental aspect of health, and is NOT a doctor, so if a client’s mental health is causing them a great deal of concern, or if they seemingly have medical conditions, and that nutritionist isn’t recommending that they seek medical or psychological help, red flag!
Objective, non-biased viewpoints come from the reader, as well as the health professional. It’s important to understand that any professional’s scope of practice is limited, and the opinion of other specialists is often warranted, as well as incredibly important.
LET’S TALK CREDIBILITY FOR A SECOND
We’re going to stop right now and make a prediction for the future of wellness.
We would put money on the fact that credibility is going to become the ‘new influencer’.
Why, you say?
The wellness industry has gotten this way because anyone can be a part of it. You can create a certain fitness technique, brand it, market it, call it the best, and if you market it correctly people will follow it- but does it mean it works or that it’s safe? The same thing goes for supplements. The supplement industry is huge and very loosely regulated, so does it mean that baobob powder is going to 100% give you energy or mental clarity? That it’s the best superfood out there, that it’s going to fix all your problems, or that it’s a miracle food?
We don’t know. What does the research say?
This is where credibility comes into play. The opinion of different perspectives and different health professionals on one particular topic can be so resourceful and beneficial when making a health decision. First off, it helps to fizzle out the noise (noise being completely biased and unwarranted advice), and it helps create a critical viewpoint on that one particular topic of discussion.
Every professional in their field has an opinion, some are very strong opinions, and that’s great! When you truly believe and put your heart and soul into something that’s a powerful thing! But, we also need to remember that some of those opinions are just that, opinions. Your health is an incredibly important thing, so here are some tips on how to fizzle out the noise.
SOME TIPS ON HOW TO FIND CREDIBLE SOURCES
Where is the science and research coming from?
This is the toughest one, even for us because to really know the quality of the research you have to dig deep and read it, which is a time consuming task all on its own. But here are some basics to look for:
- Third party research
- Independent studies
- Double-blind control studies
- Peer reviewed studies
- Systematic reviews & meta-analyses
In addition, according to Leesa Klich, Health Writer & Research Nerd – “Research is often misinterpreted and over-simplified by the media and online. The truth is that attention-grabbing headlines are still the name of the game for many, so it’s important to look for information that’s trustworthy because it gives context and mentions simple things like:
- Was the study conducted in people? If so, how meaningful are the results to a person who makes that change in their diet or lifestyle?
- What risks and benefits did the researchers find?
- How does this new knowledge fit into what we already know about the topic? How does it compare with current recommendations? (One new study almost never blows away everything we know on a topic, despite what headlines say.)”
You can find some reliable websites for health information here.
Who’s promoting it, and what kind of kick-back are they getting?
We live in a world where if you have over 10k followers on social media, you’re most likely getting paid to promote. We’re not going to say that what they’re promoting isn’t valid, because there are a lot of people out there that only promote products that align with their values, but you have to be careful.
For example, we have affiliations with our brand NaughtyNutrition.co, but we make sure we only promote products we’ve used, and brands we trust and respect. We would never be associated with a brand that doesn’t align with our core values.
What qualifications and credentials does the person have?
Are they a celebrity or influencer? Are they writing based on their personal experience and generalizing or looking at all sides of the argument in an objective way? It’s key to share your viewpoint, but it’s also important to realize its limitations.
What’s on the ingredient list?
If someone is promoting a product with ‘all natural’, ‘gluten-free’, ‘sugar-free’, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy. These are buzzwords simply used for marketing a product. If you really want to know, the best place to look is on the ingredient list. You can also learn how to better read food & nutrition labels here.
Look for testimonials.
Testimonials can both build credibility if they are authentic and come from another credible source, or sometimes they can be made up to promote or push a product so it’s good to be careful.
RED FLAGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
- Use of clickbait, fear mongering techniques and headlines. Remember the study about red meat and cancer? That one was totally overblown and misinterpreted.
- Fad diets, clean eating programs, detoxes and supplements or powders that cut out entire food groups, promise quick weight loss or miraculously excrete all toxins from your body.
- Things that sound too good to be true, probably are!
- The word ‘cure’: X ingredient or food will cure ‘you name it’ condition.
- The word ‘cause’: X food is the cause of ‘you name it’ disease. Yes, even sugar can’t be the direct cause of everything. For example, there may be a correlation between high sugar consumption and heart disease but will everyone get it or does that mean we can never have a brownie or a chocolate bar? Of course, not!
Our point of view is food and biology based. Every living thing on this planet has science behind it. From your personal biology, to the chemicals we’re made up of. But, it’s not so black and white. We’re not just the food we feed our bodies, we’re our DNA, our genetics, our emotions, the result of how we were raised or what we were exposed to as we grew up, and over time, what we put in and on our bodies, can have a huge impact on our day to day.
Health isn’t linear either, some of us have an easy time adapting to a healthy way of life, while others struggle very hard with it.
So, knowing that we’re all different, our bodies are put together completely differently than the person who’s next to us, we can get a better grasp on how we approach nutrition, nutrition sciences and what we can take in from the perspectives of those around us.
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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE HEALTHY?
Many of us often correlate health with the absence of disease, but that would be a very narrow view of health. In fact, since 1948 the World Health Organization has defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
We wholeheartedly believe in that, and just like our DNA every person has their own unique definition, blueprint and feel of what ‘healthy’ is to them. It’s then our responsibility as health and wellness practitioners to help them get there together.
SO, HOW DO WE GET THERE?
Love and appreciation as well as realistic strategies around health.
Love and appreciation for the food that’s in front of us, our bodies and our health has a huge impact on how we approach nutrition and health. While we’re not about being super restrictive, we’re definitely about finding that healthy balance in a world of intense, restrictive and incredibly linear ways of thought.
We must mention that there is a time and place for restrictive therapies, and we do our due diligence with them. But, we also like to reserve ‘big restrictive diets to big health complications’ and would never recommend an incredibly restrictive diet to someone unless it’s properly monitored by a professional.
So, we take diet trends at face value, and rather promote long-term and realistic dietary changes that work with your own individual schedule, goals, biological needs, as well as mindset.
Love to support fellow wellness friends
The one thing we’ve noticed in our line of work that has become so valuable and important is support within this community.
In a world where any piece of nutrition information can be promoted simply by spending money in the right places, it’s important to band together with people who may have different viewpoints but still appreciate the industry as a whole, as well as band together with professionals who have the same fundamental beliefs.
Supporting fellow entrepreneurs, fellow wellness enthusiasts and fellow health professionals helps grow a community. By working together, we can elevate each other and advance the health of the community and society as a whole.
Do you relate? What does it mean to be healthy to you? Let us know below.
Great article! I like the list of red flags. And true, so many issues with food and nutrition are more psychological than nutrition-science. Not recommending outside help is definitely a red flag! I also would agree that credibility will become the “new influencer.” I think wellness will begin to merge with the general healthcare industry, as so many of the health problems we face today are lifestyle-related and preventative in nature. Not to mention, as you discuss, the personal nature of these issues. I’ll argue that the credibility will come from hard data. As genome testing, microbiome testing, metabolic testing, activity, sleep, mental health tracking, etc. etc. continue to advance and become more integrated into our lives, we will have a more holistic view of our health that can be used to keep you as healthy as possible, given the lifestyle you want to lead. Thanks for publishing!
We’re so happy you enjoyed the read! Let’s definitely hope that holistic care can merge with general healthcare. That’s when amazing things will happen!