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How do you sort out fact from fiction with news or claims about food and ingredients?

It seems like every day we are bombarded with news about food, whether it's a headline that a particular food may prevent cancer (or cause cancer), or claims that a food or ingredient that may protect us against illness and disease.  How do you sort out fact from fiction?

1.    Don't read the headline. You can notice a headline but be sure and read and pay attention beyond it. Headlines are specifically created to attract your attention (your click) and are little more than “click-bait.”

2.    Know the source. Who is providing the information? Is it a source that you trust, like a hospital system, a government agency (NIH, CDC), or a university that did research? Or is it an individual trying to sell a book or supplements or marketers that want you to buy more expensive foods?  

3.    Learn about the study. If a study is being quoted, try and dig a little deeper. Was the study done on rats/mice (not the same as humans)? How many subjects were studied and for how long? Ask some basic questions to decide how valid conclusions might be. 

4.    “The dose makes the poison.” Is this a dose-related situation? For example, if the study is negative about a certain food or ingredient, how much would you have to consume to be affected? Is it physically possible to consume that much?  

Bottom Line: The important thing is to take a breath, take a beat and be a critical thinker before you react to negative headlines or information about food or ingredients.