Health and Nutrition Information: Separating Fact From Fiction

image for apples article The days when people received all their health and nutrition information from doctors have come and gone. The technology explosion has made health information more accessible to more people than ever before. Books, magazines, television, radio, supermarkets, health food stores, and the Internet are just a few places where health and nutrition information and advice are available. But how can you know if the source is credible and the information is accurate?

Dangers of Nutrition and Health Fraud

The federal government estimates that billions of dollars a year are spent on unproven medical treatments.This isn't to say that all unproven treatments are fraudulent. But without scientific evidence, medical professionals can't know for sure if the treatment actually worked or not. Potential dangers of unproven treatments include drug interactions and toxicities. The possibility also exists that using unproven remedies can delay the use of established treatments, thus allowing a disease to worsen.The following are some areas that are particularly susceptible to misleading claims:

Herbs

Because herbal supplements are considered foods rather than drugs, they are not subject to the same approval criteria by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, there is no governmental oversight of manufacturing or of herbal effectiveness. Products from different manufacturers may be different in potency and may not be directly comparable. Even if one brand of herb has been shown effective, this does not guarantee that a competitor’s product will perform as well. An important misconception is that since they are natural, they are harmless. This may not be the case. Herbs and supplements can be powerful and must be used with caution. Check the FDA's website for warnings and safety information on dietary supplements. While herbal remedies have been used for centuries, only recently have studies been designed to test their efficacy. Searching for test results in legitimate sources is the best way to learn whether scientific studies support the use of a given herbal remedy. Natural and Alternative Treatment includes information on over 350 herbs and supplements.

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