How much does your doctor know about nutrition?
This is a question you have to ask if you’re living The Goddess Lifestyle.
A recent compelling and comprehensive study exposes the truth: nutrition training for doctors is “inadequate.” Extremely so.
The study, conducted by the Nutrition in Medicine Project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2008 to 2009, concluded: “[t]he amount of nutrition education that medical students receive continues to be inadequate” (1).
The study surveyed 109 of the 127 accredited medical schools in the US. Of these 109 schools, only 26 (25%) required one course solely devoted to nutrition during the entire course of medical school training. Just 25%! That means 75% of these 109 accredited medical schools don’t require a single devoted nutrition course–ever.
In all scenarios, including students that completed nutrition courses and students that received nutrition instruction in courses not solely devoted to nutrition education, medical students received on average only 19.6 contact hours of nutrition instruction during the course of their entire medical school careers.
I’m going to qualify this data with a resounding: whoa!
Understandably, most people would prefer their doctors be required to receive more than 19.6 hours of nutrition training.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) seems to agree because, according to NAS standards, 19.6 hours isn’t enough nutrition education training: NAS requires medical students to complete a minimum of 25 hours of nutrition instruction during their training.
So just how many medical students graduate without meeting NAS’s 25-hour minimum requirement? The answers to these questions aren’t comforting.
Some Significant Stats
Sadly, only 28 of the 105 schools surveyed in 2008-9 (that’s just 27%) met NAS’s 25-hour minimum.
The stats from 2008-9 have gone down since 2004, when 40 of 104 schools (38%) met the minimum standard.
What All This Means for You
Simply put, over the course of 19.6 hours—or even 25 hours—it is impossible to cultivate any degree of expert-level, or even average nutrition knowledge.
Essentially, any nutrition training your doctor undertakes post-graduation is self-elected and selective.
Doctors shouldn’t have to be experts in every field, though they should play an integral role in your team of healthcare advisers. However, this doesn’t mean they’re always your most expert resource when it comes to nutrition. (Contrast: “an integral role” with the sole role.)
For example, it’s likely most doctors will tell you to stick with plant/vegetable oils for cooking, instead of coconut oil, butter, or even bacon grease, despite research and nutritional biochemistry that indicates cooking damages plant/vegetable oils in dangerous disease-promoting ways. Read my lowdown about healthy cooking oils for The Goddess Lifestyle.
Most doctors will also probably suggest you eat plant foods, like chia and flax, to obtain lots of that “healthy” omega-3, even though nutritional biochemistry, once again, indicates this is flawed logic, and that you need to be eating animal foods for the optimal kind of omega-3 your body can use. Read my explanation about the truth behind omega-3 from chia, flax, and plant foods.
What You Can Do (yeah YOU–cause you’ve got a helluva lot more power than you may think!)
The next time you speak with your doctor: feel grateful, respect that you and your doctor have limited time during your session, remember you are (often times) the one paying her/his salary, and regard your consult as a guided discussion in which it is your job to ask targeted questions.
The next time you request or receive nutrition suggestions from your doctor: inquire about her/his background. You’re not challenging your doctor by asking this–it’s your right to do so. Not enough people exercise this right. Ideally your doctor will reply to your question with a straightforward answer that includes at least a few details.
If you think your doctor’s response points to inadequate nutrition training, consider doing the following:
- Seek additional licensed and/or certified healthcare practitioners to help you make better dietary choices.
- Do your own research, and seek expert counsel to steer your research and conclusions in a discerning direction because (1) it’s very easy to misinterpret data from studies, and (2) self-diagnosis, or unknowingly, albeit innocently, hopping on bandwagons can cause more problems and cost you time, money, and your health.
- Learn to understand what your body is telling you. No one else can ever listen to your body like you can. This process isn’t always comfortable, and usually requires some trial and error, but even seeming error is helpful because it shows you what doesn’t work for you—talk about valuable information!
The Empowering Take-Away for Goddesses
You must grab your nutrition-bull by the horns, and charm it with grace. Grace is honed, and requires not only teachers along the way, but experiences of seeming “failure,” along with an emerging insight that embraces “failures” as doorways to both greater autonomy, and the optimized ability to work with your integrative team of healthcare providers.
My premium training program, TOTAL CRAVINGS CLEANSE: Your Ultimate Mind-Body Reboot, empowers you to grab your nutrition-bull by the horns!
Please Do One Thing
I’m sharing life-changing, provocative evidence-based research with you because I know how frustrating the world of conflicting nutrition suggestions can be, and I’m committed to helping you become a radiant, satisfied–and informed–Goddess. What I’m sharing with you doesn’t cost you a cent, but if you find this info helpful, share it with three friends as payment.
Really got a lot out of this post? I empower you with even more provocative, taboo–and delicious–nutrition and lifestyle guidance in my premium training program, TOTAL CRAVINGS CLEANSE. Learn more about it here.
Image courtesy of Andrey Popov at Dreamstime.com