You already know a few things about nutrition. You know that sugary sodas are bad for you, and that broccoli is good for you. You might even be able to read the nutrition labels on the foods you buy at the grocery store. But have you ever wanted to know more?
There are some major benefits to increasing your understanding of nutrition, and it’s easier to develop your knowledge than you think!
The Benefits of Higher Nutrition Knowledge
There are some obvious and not-so-obvious benefits to improving your knowledge of how nutrition works:
- Better grocery decisions. First, you’ll be able to make better decisions when buying groceries. You’ll purchase foods that are healthier for you and your family, and you might be able to save money by targeting foods with higher nutritional value per dollar.
- Better restaurant decisions. With no nutrition facts to guide you, it’s hard to know the “right” thing to order at a restaurant if you’re thinking about your health. A broad understanding of nutrition and health can help you make better decisions, as long as you have some understanding of the menu items.
- Lower health risks. Eating healthier and taking the right supplements can significantly lower your health risks. You’ll be at lower risk for obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and countless other conditions if you watch what you eat.
- Higher confidence. Knowing more about nutrition can also improve your mood, and make you feel more confident. You’ll feel good about yourself when you make good decisions for your body, and you’ll be comfortable talking to others about the quality of food.
- Educational potential. Even more impressively, you’ll be able to share your newfound knowledge with other people, sharing and spreading the benefits of that knowledge with your children, family members, and friends.
Where (and How) to Improve Your Knowledge of Nutrition
Okay, so how are you supposed to increase your knowledge of nutrition? Where can you go to learn more about the carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and other components of the food we eat?
For starters, you could take an online class to learn about nutrition science. Nutrition science classes will teach you everything there is to know about how food works, including the chemistry of nutrients in our bodies and how to structure a better diet for different types of human needs. If you take this route far enough, you could even become a registered dietician, or another nutrition professional.
Of course, you don’t have to take a formal education to see the benefits of higher nutrition knowledge; you can learn in a much more relaxed environment. If you’re willing to put in a bit of effort, you can learn about nutritional basics by browsing the web, reading Wikipedia articles, and watching YouTube videos. Just be careful; not all sources of nutritional information are equal, and there are a number of popular misconceptions that continue to be distributed. Rely on peer-reviewed and official sources of information, like Nutrition.gov and the studies from the National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health.
As you first venture into learning about nutrition, you’re likely going to feel overwhelmed by new terms, unfamiliar concepts, and things you hadn’t considered. Just keep pressing on. As you get a better grasp on these concepts, they’ll become more familiar to you, and everything will be easier to read.
If you’re still feeling intimidated, or if you’re confused on a given topic, consider reaching out to someone who knows more about nutrition than you. You likely have a friend, coworker, neighbor, or family member who has dedicated part of their life to learning more about nutrition and eating healthier, so ask them for some insights or clarification.
The Journey to Improving Nutrition Knowledge
If there’s one thing you should know about nutrition going in, it’s that nutrition is extremely complicated. The human body is a complex system, and every human body works a little differently, so it’s hard to say that any one type of food is universally “good” or “bad,” and the recommendations that work for one person might be catastrophic to another. Similarly, we only have a limited understanding of how certain compounds function in the body. Even simple conclusions are often called into question by later, more intensive studies; for example, sodium intake was once thought to play an active role in increasing blood pressure, but modern perspectives are much more nuanced.
Accordingly, you should feel neither surprised nor frustrated when your research leads you to seemingly contradictory conclusions about certain elements—and you should never feel too confident that you understand everything. Learning about nutrition is a journey, and a gradual one—even if you’re in a formal class setting.