By Mario Kratz, PhD
My primary objective with this website is to help you find answers to your questions around nutrition and health. And ultimately to help you and your family live healthier lives.
Over more than 20 years of conducting clinical nutrition research, I have met countless individuals who were struggling in one way or another with their health. I have also seen the profound transformations that can result from adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle. It is my sincere hope that this website can provide information and motivation to help you in some way on your journey towards better health.
This Website Will be Based on Scientific Evidence
Understanding how the food we eat affects our long-term health is surprisingly difficult to figure out. This field, unfortunately, has a history of drawing conclusions based on fairly poor evidence that later turned out to be at least partly wrong. The resulting back and forth between different diet approaches, each only weakly supported by scientific evidence, has led to confusion among members of the general public. This has led many to abandon scientific evidence, with the argument that science hasn’t really provided the answers we need to understand how diet affects long-term health. And that abandonment has led to a rise in pseudo-scientific approaches to eating, superficial views that attribute complex diseases to a single food or dietary factor, and sales pitches for specific diet programs or supplements. That, in a nutshell, is what we find these days in nutrition information on the internet, in print media, and in diet and nutrition books.
I have drawn a very different conclusion from the mistakes of the past. Yes, nutrition science is a difficult science, often forced to work with weak evidence. And yes, we have often drawn conclusions based on this weak evidence that later had to be revised. However, that does not mean that a non-scientific approach will be more likely to lead us to answers that are truly helpful for our health. It simply means that we need to apply scientific principles more rigorously. That relates to the conduct of the research, but particularly how we interpret the available data. I pledge to use this platform to raise the standard of rigor in how we read the scientific literature and the strength of conclusions we draw from it.
Content Will be Deep, Complete, and Balanced
Doing justice to a complex science means that a real understanding can only be achieved by diving at least a little bit below the surface. My goal is to look at an issue from all sides, to consider all available evidence, and discuss common ideas and hypotheses. In nutrition, we have a lot of imperfect evidence, and a lot of anecdotes and hypotheses. Oftentimes, plausible ideas are disregarded by the scientific community because no hard evidence exists in the form of randomized controlled trials. I believe that it is important to acknowledge hypotheses or inconclusive evidence, but they need to be clearly presented as hypotheses or inconclusive evidence, respectively.
I Pledge to be Independent, Transparent, and Unbiased (as Much as Possible)
Having worked in academic research for 20 years, I certainly have my share of biases. That starts with certain convictions about diet based on how I eat myself, but is also related to the type of research I have conducted, the kinds of papers I have published, and the sources of funding that I have received. I pledge to always be transparent with my biases, as much as possible, and keep the content presented here free of commercial or other interests (i.e., I will not write ‘sponsored posts’ or create other kinds of sponsored content). I will also not promote any products that I would not use myself or give to my family.
Above All, I am Hoping to Build and Open, Inclusive, and Respectful Community That we All Can Benefit From
I feel that too often the conversation about ‘the best diet’ is just the opposite: based on pseudoscience or improbable extrapolations of little kernels of scientific truth, close-minded or even aggressive when faced with new or different approaches, and in many cases just a confusing cacophony of opinions, facts, sales pitches, and half-truths. With this website, I’d like to help make the conversation more focused on scientific evidence, more open-minded and tolerant.
One problem contributing to the confusion about how to eat is that our bodies and our foods are incredibly complex, and that it is surprisingly difficult to establish conclusive scientific evidence on how we should be eating to prevent – or treat – chronic diseases. We’ve all heard strong statements such as there here:
“Dairy is important for healthy bones!”
“No, dairy causes inflammation and autoimmune disease!”
“Saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease!”
“On the contrary, saturated fat and cholesterol are key to a healthy brain!”
“A low-fat diet is best.”
“No, a high-fat low-carb diet is best!”
“To prevent chronic disease, you need to stay away from plant lectins!”
“Not true, the cause of my autoimmune disease is clearly vitamin D deficiency.”
What is frustrating about all of these claims is that it’s easy to find at least some support for each somewhere in the huge scientific literature. That’s not how science should work, however. Instead, we should carefully and critically consider the entirety of the evidence, as well as the lack of evidence.
I do not claim to have conclusive answers on how you should be eating, simply because the field has in many cases not generated the types of data we would need to really know the answers to many questions. What I will try my best to do, however, is to provide clarity on where the field stands. I will outline clearly what is known, what is not known, and what some of the theories, hypotheses, and open questions are.
The fact that you found your way to this site suggests that we share a common passion for nutrition and health. More than ever do I believe that nutrition is one of the pillars of health, and I am hoping to convince you that in spite of all the problems in this field, there is a lot of reason to feel optimistic about the potential of a proper diet to prevent – and potentially treat – many chronic diseases. I invite you to share your thoughts on any of the content of the site, or share with me specific experiences with food or diets that seem pertinent. Also, please feel encouraged to contact me if you’d like to see a specific book, paper, or topic covered.
My hope is that an active, inclusive, and respectful discussion around the topics of nutrition and health will develop, such that everyone will benefit from it. Thank you very much for being interested in being a part of this community.