How To Find Accurate Nutrition Information Online
How To Find Accurate Nutrition Info Online (in the era of misinformation)
There’s a lot of information on the Internet. Some of it is even factual!
The bad news is, a lot of it is not. Misinformation, or simply false information, is everywhere these days. Some of it is politically motivated, but most of it comes out of accident or sheer laziness.
Just about anyone can post just about anything they want online. All too often, people post information just to get attention, without caring whether what they say is true or not.
Nutrition is important. But how can you, the consumer, find accurate nutrition information, when so much information these days is fake?
Fortunately, basic principles of trustworthiness never change. What you learned in your high school library is still good advice, even if applied to the Internet:
- Trust authoritative primary sources first
- Check 3rd party sources for documentation
- Assess bias
- Cross-check multiple sources
- Talk to an expert
Trust Authoritative Primary Sources First
Information isn’t just floating in the cloud. Information comes from somewhere, from someone who does a study or measures something.
The first place you should go for accurate information is to primary sources: the people who did the studies or measured the things.
With nutrition, some good sources include:
Government agency websites, like the FDA. Their food database is particularly valuable in researching the exact nutritional content of foods. Another great source is the National Library of Medicine, which hosts thousands of biomedical studies.
Scientific journals, especially older, reputable ones like Science.
Academic department websites, for example Harvard’s Department of Nutrition. Any website with a “.edu” on the end has an interest in telling the truth.
The only downside to these sources is that they can be dry and technical. If you need a broad, holistic overview of some topic, you might want to turn to third parties.
Check for sources in 3rd-party content
There’s nothing sketchier than a blog post with no links. Whoever wrote it might have just made everything up. They could have also copied directly from an AI chatbot that didn’t back up its sources.
Many third party sources are great- as a matter of fact, you are reading one right now! But if you look closely, you will see that we provide a link to justify every substantive claim we make.
There are thousands of nutrition related sources on the internet. Some are nutrition blogs or youtube channels. Some are part of a company’s content output, like ours. In any case, you do need to assess whether you think the source you are reading is biased or not.
Some of the best 3rd-party sources are Classic Encyclopedias like Brittanica and World Book (yes, they still exist.) Wikipedia is less reliable, although many of their featured articles are well written, documented, and fact-checked.
Pretty much every source has some bias. But keep an eye open for what sources might have an agenda in hiding the truth.
This has, unfortunately, been a recurring problem in the history of nutrition science. Cigarette manufacturers routinely funded studies to make it look like cigarettes were less dangerous than they really were. And the sugar industry lobbied to make it seem like fat was causing obesity, instead of sugar.
Be skeptical if you see Coca-Cola publish a research article on the health-giving properties of soft drinks.
CanDo sells low-carb and keto friendly products, and we are firm believers in the value of low-carb and keto diets. But these diets are not right for everyone. We try to remain unbiased, and report on their actual benefits and consequences.
Cross-check Multiple Sources
If you see the same fact repeated in multiple places, there’s a good chance it’s true.
Unfortunately, there’s also a good chance that that fact is in so many places because a lot of content on the Internet is just copied from other content on the Internet.
To tell the difference, once again pay attention to sources and documentation. If you can find the original source of a claim, that’s great! It probably means many people got it from the same place.
But if you can’t find the original source, it’s possible that someone made it up at some point, and then people just kept on repeating it.
Talk to an Expert
If all else fails, you can always just talk to an expert.
Yes, nutrition experts are people too! They have gone to school, where they learned things by reading primary source material and using critical reasoning to assess what they read.
Academics, research scientists, and nutritionists are all people who you can trust for information. And, most importantly, you can also trust your doctor for nutrition expertise.
Conclusion: Trust Your Gut
Assessing information for trustworthiness is becoming a basic skill in the 21st century, like reading or basic math. It is ultimately up to you to decide what to believe.
If something sounds off, there’s a good chance it is. Trust your gut.
We strive to publish nutrition content that is 100% fact checked and verifiable. We also strive to offer the best low-carb protein bars on the market. Check out our CanDo Krisp bars today!