Online Nutrition Advice, How to Get the Best
It is no surprise that three out of five Australians will seek health information online to avoid going to see a health professional (1). We all say, ‘just google it,’ when it is your health you are talking about we want to be sure we are getting quality advice!
In many circumstances the internet is such a convenient tool that many of us have access to 24/7. Health advice, recipes and information at your fingertips with the click of a button. With what is happening in the world right now, the internet seems a convenient and safe option. How much of what you see online comes from a credible source? Here are some tips to help you seek reputable health and nutrition advice. We will focus mostly on nutrition advice. Remember reading health information on the internet will never replace actually speaking to a health professional to seek individual medical advice, for nutrition advice speak to an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Locating Credible Nutrition Sources
1. Journal Articles
Evidence backed information is what we are looking for. What is referred to as the ‘gold standard’ latest research, peer reviewed journal and scholarly articles in journals are very reliable sources of information as they are the final output of most conducted research. These resources can be responsible for defining information and filtering through the scientific facts to produce information that is useful and most importantly backed by research. (2) . You may or may not have access to these though as often access to requires a subscription. You can though access credible information you might be looking for and in many cases they will be referring to these journal articles to back up their information anyway. You can look for the references generally at the end of the article or they may hyperlink out to the reference throughout the article.
2. Use Reliable Websites
Reliable websites are usually created by trusted sources such as professional organisations, government agencies and institutions of education. Often many of these websites will end in .org, .gov and .edu at the end of the URL. (2) Here are a few nutrition related ones you might like to use
- Better Health Channel – this is a Department of Health & Human Services, State Government of Victoria website that gives loads of basic information about a whole range of health issues
- Heart Foundation is a not for profit organisation for evidence backed research
- Eat for Health is an Australian Government Department of Health site to give you the latest nutrition guidelines
- Nutrition Australia a not for profit nutrition agency that employs health professionals such as dietitians
- Sports Dietitians Australia for information regarding sports nutrition from Accredited Sports Dietitians
Other valuable sites might be related to research from universities that have independent websites from the universities main site, such as
- Food and Mood Centre is a research centre of Deakin University researching how food is related to our mood and mental health
- The Low FODMAP Diet is a site developed by Monash University who are specialists in this area and provide information for health professionals and the public
3. Product Websites
Sites will sometimes be related to a company’s own products or be representing a product on behalf of for example producers e,g apples, dairy, eggs, avocados etc. This does not make the information incorrect. It just means you have to be aware they will have some bias. For example my blogs here on Rokeby Farms website will always have accurate nutrition information, generally about health topics that have some relation to our products e.g. calcium and strong bones, protein for muscle mass. Dairy Australia will show latest research around dairy, Eggs Australia around eggs. You can check to see if they reference their information using reputable sources. The research is preferable linked to independent research rather than research they have completed themselves.
These sites can be great ways to get information about products you are interested in eating but want to know more about first.
4. Practitioner Websites
Plenty of health professionals such as dietitians will have their own websites with blogs. These in general will provide credible information, helping translate the science into practical messaging for you to use. To ensure you are getting credible information look for the qualifications the person writing has e.g. if writing about nutrition, are they an Accredited Practising Dietitian (e.g. Australia) or a Registered Dietitian (e.g. New Zealand or US, United Kingdom)? You can check to see if they refer to a professional body they should be a member of.
A celebrity writing about health is not a credible source of health information unless they have completed appropriate training in the area.
You can take a look at my website- Simone Austin where you will see blogs that reference to the nutrition information I am providing. Plenty of other dietitians also do this vey well.
5. When was the Information Written?
Look for the date the information or post was uploaded to the internet, this is a handy tip as most credible sites will incorporate the date it was written and have regular updates to correspond with the current available nutritional advice and information.
If you would like a few nutrition tips, check out the Rokeby Farms Nutrition Blog posts, with great topics like ‘10 healthy tips for your family meals,’ or for some recipe ideas the Rokeby Farms Recipe centre and develop some skills in the kitchen, particularly if you have time up your sleeve like those of us still in lockdown!
Google can be a great way to get some general nutrition information, but for individual nutrition and health advice you should speak to a health professional such as your GP or an Accredited Practising dietitian.
Simone Austin – Accredited Practising Dietitian