Behind the Scenes at NutritionFacts.org


“Behind the Scenes at NutritionFacts.org” I’m often asked how long it takes me to
come up with one of my daily videos. Once the script is done, it doesn’t
take more than like ten hours to create and record—it’s the research
phase that takes the most time. I don’t think people understand
how much work that takes, so I wanted to pull back the curtain
and give everyone a little sneak peek. If you go to pubmed.gov, where
you can access the database of the National Library of Medicine—
the largest medical library in the world, you can search for topics
like diet or nutrition, and you’ll see that there’s about a hundred
thousand papers published every year in the field of nutrition in the
scientific medical literature. That’s more than 200 studies a day. I can’t read 200 studies a day, but 20
people could read 200 studies a day. I don’t want to miss a
single important paper. Then the next step is to look
for what I call anchor articles. These are the new studies around
which I construct the videos. I’m looking for novelty,
practicality, and engagement. Is it groundbreaking? If it’s just yet another study
showing broccoli is good for you, unless there’s some new insight
it probably won’t make the cut. Is it practical? Is there some actionable
information that can be used to make real-world kitchen
or grocery store decisions? Who cares if there’s some new
whortleberry with medicinal properties if it can only be foraged wild out in
the Siberian tundra or something? And finally, is there a way
to make it interesting? That’s actually probably the
greatest limiting factor. There’s lots of trailblazing new
science with hands-on implications, but unless I can find a way to make
it captivating, to add humor or intrigue, or solve some mystery, sadly it
just kinds of goes by the wayside. That’s why we need like
10 different sites like this so I can just pass those papers along and
be like, “You try to make that interesting.” Once I have the anchor,
then the real work begins. Just because something is published
in the peer reviewed medical literature doesn’t mean it’s true. There are studies funded by the
National Confectioner’s Association that find that candy
is just dandy. Studies covertly funded by Coca-Cola, or
the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. That doesn’t necessarily
mean it’s a flawed study, but you have to give it
that extra level of scrutiny. You always have to
follow the money. Then you have to put
the study in context. For all I know that new
study is some outlier or fluke. Maybe there’s 10 other studies out
there that showed the exact opposite. How else can we make
life or death decisions for ourselves and
our families but by the best available
balance of evidence? That’s why every new study
needs to be placed into context. Easier said than done. For example, let’s say this
paper lands in my inbox arguing that fish oil
increases the risk of cancer. Now I could just make a video
about it, just laying out the facts: there was this paper published in
a peer-reviewed scientific journal that presented evidence that taking
fish oil increases the risk of cancer. Here’s the paper, here’s the link
to download the paper, here’s all the evidence they present,
in black and white, right in front of you, here’s their reasoning, their graphs,
their charts, their diagrams. This is the peer-reviewed
medical literature, people. Done. No. That’s not good enough. That does’t answer the most important
question of all: Is it actually true? For all we know this guy is just cherry
picking studies to fit some agenda. It’s not enough for us to just stick
to the peer-reviewed science. I want everything on
NutritionFacts.org to reflect the best available
balance of evidence. OK, so how do
I figure that out? Even if his arguments make sense
based on the evidence he provides, you have to make sure he’s interpreting
the evidence he cites correctly. To do that you’d have to pull
all the 76 sources he cites to make sure he’s not
misquoting anything. And what if each of those 76
papers cite 76 other papers? And even if he correctly
cited those 76 papers, what about all the papers
he didn’t cite? There have been more than 2,000 papers
published on fish oil and cancer. And look, this paper was
published back in 2013. What about the papers that have
been published subsequently that cited this particular paper? And that’s just one paper
for one video. You’ll be glad you did do
your due diligence though because then you’d realize, hey,
that fish oil paper got retracted. Why? Because the researcher
evidently failed to disclose he owned his own supplement company,
which sold a competing oil supplement. Again, that doesn’t necessarily
mean something’s amiss, but definitely requires
additional scrutiny. So anyways, bottom-line, ideally we
do a comprehensive search of the available literature to place
any particular paper in context, while also going backwards and forwards
in time, checking out all the sources they cited, and all the
sources that cited them, and we would do that anytime
a paper is published on nutrition, which, again happens a mere
hundred thousand times a year. NutritionFacts.org is a
501c3 nonprofit charity that exists exclusively on donations
from individuals like you. It’s like a Wikipedia model of just
accepting donations from users who appreciate the content, who
appreciate what we’re doing. We reach so many millions of
people that if one in a thousand makes a small contribution,
we’re able to continue to thrive. So if you feel like my work
has enriched your life, please consider supporting us by
making a tax-deductible one-time, or even better, monthly donation. Regardless, even if you never give
a penny, everything on the website is and will always be free
for all, for all time. There’s no members-only area where you
can get additional life-saving information —for a price. There are no advertisements
of any kind. We don’t accept
corporate sponsorships. The site is strictly non-commercial. There’s no line of Dr. Greger’s brand
Snakeoil Wonder Supplements. Even all the money I get from my books
and DVDs all go straight back into the site. It’s just a public service for those
hungry for evidence-based nutrition.