Evidence-based practice is a great way to ensure what we do and say is backed up by evidence.
This is important in nutrition because it ensures that diets or health plans are good.
What is Evidence Based Practice?
It seems as though every other day we hear of a new health program, each one claiming to help you lose weight, have more energy, and be healthier. But how do we know if it can actually live up to its claims? One method is through an evidence-based practice. An evidence-based practice is a deliberate and careful use of the current evidence (or research) in making decisions. This practice was first used in medicine, using a careful study of the research to determine how to treat patients. It is also used in nutrition, using a careful study of the research to determine if a particular health plan will be good and effective.
Steps in Evidence-Based Practice
In order to use an evidence-based practice, there are specific steps that need to be followed:
- Ask a good question
- Search for the evidence or research
- Critically review the evidence or research
- Apply the Results
In order to go through this, let’s look at a hypothetical diet plan. Let’s say that this diet plan claims that consuming ‘x’ phytochemical, which is put in high amounts in this cracker that they developed, will help reduce gas and bloating. Let’s use evidence-based practices to examine this diet plan.
Ask a Good Question
In all scientific inquiries, often the first step is determining what you are trying to ask. Are you trying to determine if this diet plan will work for the general public or for one specific consumer who may have a specific gastrointestinal disorder such as Crohns disease?Let’s say in this case we are trying to determine if this phytochemical will be effective for the general American population in reducing gas and bloating.So, our question would be, ”Does consuming ‘x’ phytochemical reduce gas and bloating in the average American?” Another important question could later be ”Can ‘x’ phytochemical be absorbed from the cracker in which it is given?” But for this question let’s focus on the first question since this is the first question we would want to answer.
Search for the Evidence
When we are searching for the evidence, we aren’t necessarily only looking for evidence proving our question true; we also need to look for evidence disproving the hypothesis. When we say evidence, what we really mean is published, peer reviewed research.There are several different types of research available. Some information that could be helpful, but isn’t necessarily high quality information is expert opinion.
The next level of research is case-controlled studies, then cohort studies, and then randomized controlled trials. The best quality evidence are systematic reviews. Systematic reviews are when a scientist has previously performed an evidence based investigation and then summarizes the results.