The big diet lie: 4 reasons why the Superfood Hype is nonsense

A Video with over 1.3 million clicks. In the era of YouTube Stars is not unusual. For this German movie, however, it is a small miracle: Just under 51 minutes long-the Professor speaks, slowly, with a monotone voice, rigid behind the Desk standing. No quick cuts, animal babies, or Bikini Girls.

Why is the Video still a success?

For many, food has become a replacement Religion.

It is an issue in controversy and for many the substitute for religion is: the right diet.

While at one end of the spectrum, the proportion of Overweight continues to increase, rising at the other end, the number of food disciples, who renounce Animal, Gluten or carbohydrates, and in the Internet the exotic miracle food to order. The come mostly from the other end of the world and have one thing in common: they belong to the so-called Superfoods.

Coconut oil is one of them. And that is exactly what this white-yellowish Oil that has not been developed in the last years, not only in health food stores and health food stores for Record sales, is it in the said Video. In a dreary University lecture hall standing the Epidemiologist Karin Michels coconut oil now describes as a "pure Gift".

Since then, faith rolls out of the war by the media and the Internet: How good or bad the expensive Oil really is?

The most important question is a completely different.

A food &quot can;Superfood" or "Gift" be?

The is: Can we investigate the effect of individual foods on our health at all, exactly?

To approach an answer, let us imagine the best case: We feed the Person X with a food and see if that has a positive or negative impact on your health, as measured about the body weight, the body fat percentage, or blood pressure.

It works the same way in the medical research if the effectiveness of a particular drug or therapy is tested. The "Goldstandard" of such effectiveness Tests is the so-called randomised controlled trial. The attempt to get participants in group A the test drug and group B a Placebo; who ends up in group A and who in group B is determined randomly. In the best case, neither the participants nor the experiment know the conductor, who receives just active ingredient or Placebo, in order to prevent anticipation effects for all parties Involved. So far, So good.

In a perfect research world, we would have to control people for years.

At the end of the experiment, which can last either a few days, weeks or even years, we know values, then, about the blood, the pain assessments of patients or mobility, whether the tested drug against headache, Hepatitis or rheumatism, helps.

This works in the case of medicines, because people will take no other drugs at the same time and very specific changes to be studied. At least 4 reasons this approach works in food, but only conditionally:

1. No one eats only coconut oil! Or: Too many variables …

In an ideal research world, we could put the test subjects in isolated environments and investigate whether coconut oil "gesund" or not. Then we could ensure that all participants eat the same, with the only difference that in the case of a half of coconut oil is on the dining plan and the other half not. We would have to "nur" decide how much coconut oil the first half gets, what other Oil or what other food gets to the second half, instead, whether the Oil is hot or cold is consumed, whether it is before, or after meals eaten, not to lands at what time and with what other foods it is in our digestive tract, whether … as simple As that would be so.

How would you like to feed instead, the first half of a certain length of time only with coconut oil? While the other half has fun with rapeseed-, Linseed – or rather olive oil, "normal" feeds, or …

Moment! It is not a question to investigate the consequences of a one-sided diet, but whether or not coconut oil is healthy or unhealthy. However, even if we have agreed in variant 1 in dosage and administration, remained open questions.

So, for example, according to the origin of the Oil is different to the one in produced Oil contains just like other food of various origin and preparation of different nutrients, for example, due to the climate and the Region from which they originate.

Then the possible confusion of correlation with causation. Thus, on average, better health of vegetarians is likely to be at least partly due to the fact that they are paying more attention to a balanced diet and not overweight. In addition, they are often healthier behaviors than people who eat the meat: they are less likely to smoke, move more, and drink less alcohol – this is all behavior that have a demonstrably positive effect on health.

The most important insight in all the questions is that they have one thing in common: they are all for the Problem of too many factors in the science variables, which influence our diet and we can control impossible. No matter how noble the intent, and how to methodically clean from the study design to the question "Coconut oil is healthy?" may be, a simple answer à la "Drug X helps against disease Y" can’t give it.

As the whole thing with the intake were not already complicated enough, add in nutritional studies, there is something else aggravating. And the question:

2. What is in the body? Or: Cut not allowed …

Even a single food, such as coconut oil consists of many "Einzelzutaten" and nutrients (more on that later), the composition of which can vary depending on origin and condition. Suppose we had all of that in our perfect experimental set-up taken into account on a dosage, "We now know that we are not able to understand the effect of diet on health alone, we look at what we eat." – Rafael Perez-Escamilla, American Epidemiologist control group and to search the end of results agreed, makes us a very "menschlicher" Factor a: Everyone’s body is different!

So your body will process the same food differently than mine, contained substances "wirken" in very different ways. What arrives at the various body stations (the stomach, intestines and other organs) actually depends not only on the Kaugeschwindigkeit and the time of day, but also by gender, and many other constitutional realities.

The results of a study with 800 subjects, clearly show that we can not ignore these differences. In the process, Israeli researchers observed the blood glucose values of the participants in the course of a week and found that Even after an identical meal the values of different participants varied widely.

To be able to really measure what is left at the end, we would not need to measure in the ideal research world, only the blood sugar values and other values, but the scalpel unpacking. This is allowed in studies with animals, such as mice and rats, in humans, for ethical reasons. (Rightly So!)

We say goodbye for a Moment from the thoughts of the perfect, controlled study, and ask: Is there a different method to answer the question "Coconut oil is healthy?" to find?

3. Decades Of Observation! Or: Who should pay for the …

Even foods that are generally regarded as unhealthy, a after – or two times with a look at our health barely measurable differences. A pack of chocolate biscuits, or Pudding let us not instantly go blind or klöpsen Fat swell – a blessing and a curse at the same time. Because the more easily repeated) idea: &quot falls (again;For once in a way!"

It is, therefore, long-term studies are needed. This imprison people for life in a kind of Big Brother world, not only for cost reasons – impossible.

So researchers make do with an alternative methodology: In so-called observational studies they ask their subjects to their diet and measure at the same time all kinds of health indicators such as blood sugar, weight and pulse. At the end of a huge data set on a Computer and the researchers are testing whether there is, for example, the connections between vegetarianism and life expectancy.

In the best case, the data over years or even decades to be collected in order to investigate possible long-term effects. And as we had not guessed it already, add to that the scientists have yet another challenge:

4. People lie! Or: the thing with The memory …

What have you eaten in the last 24 hours? Maybe you with a little bit of Thinking to reconstruct your meals to some extent.

And how many servings of coconut oil did you take 10 years ago, per week? Since it is probably more difficult. But on exactly this kind of information, we are in the investigation of long-term effects in observational studies rely. (Because the thing with the ideal research world for decades, due to ethical and cost reasons, Yes it is doable.) This Self-reported their own food intake, however, are to be treated with caution.

Even the scientists, to eat less than is actually the case.

First, there is the tendency to make false statements. For example, if the specified of the actual calorie intake from the total amount of calories: In a study with Overweight weighting an average of 47 percent. In other words, the participants took less than 1.5 times as much calories as self-reported. Such misinterpretations are usually not intentional; it is just in human nature, and themselves a little better.

In addition to the tendency to overestimate ourselves, provides a constraint for false information: our memory. As a scientist, set himself the task of naming your food intake for the last 24 hours, they had to say: Even we make mistakes! At the least, the list agreed with the reality.

All of this screams, almost then, that we should say goodbye to universal dietary recommendations. So?

And now? – The thing with the coconut oil …

No. Because even if we have Headings such as "The new Superfood XY", "Coffee is gesund" or "Coffee is ungesund" not on the glue should go, provides nutrition research with important findings. So also with the question of the "giftigen" Coconut oil: There are no data to indicate that coconut oil (in comparison with other Oils) is beneficial to health, or even helps in weight loss – as it is in advertising often suggests. This insight is not new, and food scientists best cold coffee.

Fat remains fat: healthy fat helps with weight loss!

Coconut oil is composed of 99 percent from fat. The help, per se, don’t lose weight. Add to this, is that there are more than 80 percent of so-called saturated fats, which can actually affect the cholesterol levels in the blood is negative, in the vessels and accumulate and the risk for heart attacks and strokes increase. As a reminder: In the year 2017 updated the American Heart Association your diet’s recommendations in a way, these saturated fatty acids to avoid and instead, the (multiple) unsaturated fatty acids to consume.

The healthier Alternative to the supposed Superfood coconut oil, both olive as well as home rapeseed, sunflower or linseed oil. And also the "bessere": Because coconut oil not only has a bad ecological footprint, because it travels half way around the world before it ends up here on the shelf. Also, the production conditions are often miserable. That so many health-conscious consumers and Online Stars depart, nevertheless, it is solely thanks to very good Marketing.

In any case, remains as down-to-earth conclusion to the act of coconut oil: take a little coconut oil, does neither a Favor nor is he adds up the damage. And that brings us to the last part and the answer to the question: How can I use the nutrition research in everyday life, right?

What should I eat for now …

Quite simply:

The whole media-spectacle ignore to individual ingredients or food!

No matter whether it promise the latest diet, the hottest Superfood or the alleged offender is – ignore the Headlines and promises on the packaging. No food alone that makes it healthy or sick – because of the mix.

"To make a diet plan “super”, you need a lot of different food!" – Leslie Bonci, American nutritionist and author

And to which we can say with great certainty: A versatile Mix of fresh, unprocessed foods, with a large proportion of vegetable ingredients, the most important Basis for a healthy diet.

And we are nutrition experts, what results you trust to give you 3 tips:

If so, the next Time someone claims that a particular food solve all your problems or bring you straight, based on this statement very probably not on scientific evidence. Because the research, to be able to make this statement, is impossible and an approximation unspeakably expensive. Much more expensive than a subtle advertising campaign.

This article was written by Maren Urner