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Evidence-Based Practice…and Pirates

If you’ve read my blog or my “Food for Thought” posts previously, you’ve probably heard me use the phrase “evidence-based practice.” Some of you may wonder what exactly that means.

Using evidence-based information means that if I’m recommending a change in your diet or telling you to take a supplement (or to stop taking a supplement), it’s because there is research and science to support that approach. It has been tested and proven. There are many theories and hypotheses in the history of nutrition that turned out to be dead-wrong when they were tested over time through practice and research. Mercury supplements were given to Chinese nobles to promote longevity for decades until they figured out it was the mercury that was killing them. That was a long time ago, but we still often see nutrition misinformation that falters when tested by science.

The field of nutrition science is constantly growing, and there are still some gray areas that I think we will learn more about in the next several years.

An example of something that is “evidence-based” is the knowledge that chronic vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy. How did we learn this? The first nutrition research trial occurred in the 1700’s proving this connection, but many pirates had long known that bringing limes or lemon juice on long voyages would stave off the dreaded disease (which was often fatal). Eventually the British Navy took note and began supplying citrus fruits to their sailors around 1800.

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