Don’t Take Nutrition or Exercise Advice From Your Doctor

money and stethoscope

The title is a little clickbaity, but it’s a valid point. You see our Medical Doctors still have a revered place in society and when they speak people listen. In most instances this is great, especially if they are talking about things like lab tests or medications to treat a chronic condition, but when it’s nutrition or exercise not so much.

The reason being is they only get a few hours of nutrition education in medical school and virtually none on exercise. Unless they are spending time educating themselves on these very complex topics, they are woefully unprepared to be dispensing such advice, that is unless it’s the obligatory eat more fruits and veggies.

Now most doctors I’ve met are well meaning and truly care about their patients and want nothing more than to help them, but just lack the knowledge to do so effectively with regard to diet and exercise. The current system that educates and trains them to do their job is focused on getting patients better and using medication or other means to do so. It’s a system designed only to touch the patient after there is already a problem, and not before.

 caduceus

It’s an effective approach most of the time, and the tide is turning towards prevention, but it’s not quickly enough. And even if a doc has the knowledge to give legitimate exercise advice they often don’t have the time to delve that deep into a conversation due to the demands placed on their time in an office visit.

The other problem is the source from which they might get their nutrition and exercise information. Using sources like the USDA’s choosemyplate.gov site are a part of the problem, because it wasn’t until recently that the government has finally admitted, albeit a little sheepishly, that the ban on fat was largely wrong. Quite honestly the recommendations from our government on nutrition and exercise over the past few decades have only served to further confuse us rather than help us get healthier.

 droz

Then you have folks like “Dr. Oz”, one of the worst offenders of not only poor nutritional advice but claims and products that lack any background in science. Dr. Oz is a prime example of a doctor overstepping his boundaries, he’s trained as a cardiothoracic surgeon not a strength coach or exercise physiologist, yet still seemingly talks an awful lot about diet and exercise. He is abusing his status to promote products, all the while selling his audience down the yellow brick road with bullshit miracle supplements that do nothing but empty your wallet.

So what’s a person to do? If the topic of nutrition and/or exercise comes up in your next doctor’s visit ask your doc if they have a recommendation to a nutrition or exercise professional that they trust. I’d also go so far as to say ask them for one that doesn’t dogmatically adhere to any one nutritional paradigm like paleo or low carb. It’s not that there is anything wrong with these approaches; I just think that a middle of the road approach is best, and avoids any possible bias on their part.

I’d also run the other way if your doctor or any nutrition or exercise “expert” starts pushing supplements. Supplements can be effective, although there are far more that are complete crap than those that work, but most people would be better suited focusing on the tenets of healthy eating and getting into and maintaining a regular exercise program first.