12/11/2015 13:09 GMT | Updated 12/11/2016 05:12 GMT

Never Take Healthy Eating Advice From the Media

If you keep trying to improve your health, but rely on the mainstream media for dietary advice, you've probably made little progress over a long period of time.

There's little wonder why.

The last few weeks alone have brought news that the red meat we've all avoided for years out of fear of heart disease - but started eating with glee last year after research showed it doesn't cause heart disease after all - may actually cause kidney and bowel cancer and is best consumed minimally.

OK, not a problem. We can cut down on red meat.

Then came the news that cooking with vegetable oils - the stuff that replaced the butter in our diets when studies claimed saturated fats were the ultimate short-cut to a heart attack - is unhealthy because it produces cancer- and dementia-causing chemicals.

Fine. No vegetable oil then.

But what should we cook with instead?

Butter, say the researchers behind the news... the very thing we were using before a set of equally helpful researchers scared us senseless.


If this absurd chopping and changing has left you thinking: "I'll just stick to the old everything in moderation rule", think again.

Even that bit of common sense, it seems, isn't sacred.

Research published just a couple of weeks ago in the open-access journal PLOS ONE suggests that having a little bit of everything in your diet will put you firmly on the path to diabetes and will increase abdominal fat - the type of fat that's linked to heart disease, stroke and countless other conditions.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Ridiculous conflicting advice on egg yolks, salt, alcohol and chocolate has made front page news several times this year, and this confirms one thing: innocent members of the public have become a silent plaything in the game of dietary research. The rules are ever changing and it's become somewhat of a farce.

The very people who confidently declare "food x is bad news" return years later with findings that say little more than "oops". And the problem is not helped by newspapers that misreport and/or exaggerate dietary findings purely to turn a dull piece of research into an interesting story.

Stranger still is all the attention that's given to repeatedly demonising and exonerating the same few foods: red meat, eggs, salt, sugar and fats. Meanwhile, a whole host of nutrient-dense, health-boosting foods that have the ability to transform the health of the nation fly under the radar.

So what can we do if we can't trust the longevity of the dietary advice we're bombarded with every time we turn on the TV or read a newspaper?

Three things:

1. Take everything you read with a pinch of salt (pun completely intended) and ask an expert (your GP, nutritionist etc.) for their take on publicised findings before you make any dietary changes.

2. Use your common sense: don't eat excessive amounts of one food - even if research currently claims it's the healthiest thing in existence. It's unlikely to do your body good if you eat the same thing all day everyday.

3. Keep processed non-foods to a minimum no matter how good they make you feel in the short term. The human body wasn't designed to thrive on artificially created foods.

It's that simple.

The original version of this post appeared here on - an online health magazine dedicated to separating health facts from fads.