Can you trust the Internet for health and fitness information?

Good morning! I’m sitting here at home, multi-tasking as usual. My 3 year old son is beside me, I’ve got “The Perfect Physique” (“documentary” on male fitness models) going on Netflix and I’m blogging.  I decided to watch this film because I’ve recently been exploring the world of women’s body image and our difficulties with loving ourselves. I thought I needed to take a balanced approach and not forget about the guys: do they pick themselves apart as much as we do?

That was my goal, but during the opening credits I became focused on something else. The credits revealed that MetRx (www.metrx.com) was a sponsor of the film. Their involvement is why I put the word documentary in quotations above. How honest or unbiased could this film be when it’s sponsored by a supplement giant? The male models featured freely admitted that what they do and how they look is NOT NORMAL. If that’s true, how does the industry get away with using them as representatives of what men should look like? How can we trust the information presented to us? Can we trust the information at all?

That leads me to what I’m writing about today. When we want information on how to get six-pack abs (or 8 pack or 10 pack) where do we go? Where do we find information on creatine or energy drinks? I would hazard a guess that most people turn to the Internet. I’m lucky enough to come from a background built solidly on science and I understand the value of peer-reviewed research (this means that scientists who have conducted the research have had their results reviewed by several other scientists, and their work was determined to be reliable and well-researched according to established procedures and ethics). I know what to look for in an article and what to question in terms of “scientific evidence”.  Do most fitness fans? I’m sure many people have invested hours and hours in educating themselves but for the most part people know only what the industry tells them. That worries me.

I have attached a peer-reviewed research study  provided to me by a university professor and former human kinetics classmate of mine, Dr. Erin McGowan of Memorial University. This study looked at the accuracy of cancer-related exercise information available on the web.  Buote et al 2016 Wouldn’t you hope to find the most reliable information regarding the health of a loved one? Patients and physicians are turning to Google to help guide them towards healing and improved health, and we can’t trust what we find!

We’ve all been hearing about fake news lately, so question the “science” published on the Internet just like you’d question what Sean Spicer says (I like to call him Spicey and I can’t help but picture Melissa McCarthy). A perfect example of what I’m talking about is when I asked a friend who sells supplements and shakes and detox cleanses for the research on her company’s products, she sent me a “study” that was fully funded by that same company! How can you call this reliable and accurate information when it’s really nothing more than an advertisement disguised as science?!? Would a business actively distribute information that suggested their product was useless? No, of course not! They want your money (and lots of it), and they get it by masquerading as reliable and scientific. They prey on your desire to improve yourself with promises of quick results. (By the way, I have yet to come across reliable scientific evidence supporting cleanses or detox products. If you have, please forward it to me.)

I could go on and on about different products and fads and advice that I’ve seen floating around in cyber space that should never even exist, but I will encourage you instead to educate yourselves. It can be overwhelming, I know, so enlist the help of a certified health and fitness professional. Befriend an educated professional (kinesiologist, naturopath, registered dietician, trainer or instructor) or even send your questions my way and we can work together to sort out fact from fiction.

Here are JUST A FEW things to consider:

  • most family physicians have only a few hours of nutrition education.Physical education teachers receive more nutrition education than they do!
  •  fitness models and celebrities are paid to look the way they do! They spend hours in the gym and then hours in hair and makeup. They are NOT normal and their lifestyles are NOT normal.
  • if an athlete or celebrity is endorsing a product, remember they are being paid to do so! Except for the odd few, they are NOT educated or trained in exercise physiology or nutrition, and therefore in no position (legally or medically) to give advice on this stuff
  • most exercisers do not know whether or not their trainer/instructor is certified and never even thought to ask
  • if a fad or product promises you will lose more than 1.5lbs per week, be sceptical
  • even natural products and herbs have side effects, some of which may be negative (any medications you are taking may interact with natural products)
  • what works for one person may not work for you
  • you can’t exercise and eat like shit and expect to be healthy. You can’t eat well and not exercise and expect to achieve optimal health, either.
  • if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • LOVE yourself enough to make the best choices about what you do with your body and what you put into it

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s