Evidence-Based Nutrition

/Evidence-Based Nutrition

Evidence-Based Nutrition

By | 2017-08-18T17:05:21+00:00 October 19th, 2016|Uncategorized|11 Comments

Evidence matters.

Consider the history of evidence about the universe. In the days of Ptolemy in 100 AD, a “geocentric” model described the universe, in which the sun, moon and stars all revolved around the earth. Watching bodies revolve in the sky was strong evidence of this view.

In the 1600s, Galileo saw enough evidence in his astronomical measurements to promote a “heliocentric” theory, which held that the earth and planets revolved around the sun. For his troubles, he was tried by the Roman Inquisition, and died in prison. Sometimes people don’t want to believe new evidence.

As quantitative investors, we aspire to be the best evidence-based investors we can be and so we always look at new investing evidence. But we also look for evidence no matter what field we are talking about.

Take nutrition. As humans who must eat to survive, we should all be concerned about what we eat. So what’s the best way to decide how to optimize your nutrition? That’s right: Evidence! The newer the better.

Dr. Michael Greger is an physician who specializes in evidence-based clinical nutrition. In his lectures and writings about nutrition, he focuses on the science. And in today’s research and data-driven world, the evidence is mounting.

Below are some nutritional questions, and Dr. Greger’s evidence-based answers, which you can find on his web site, nutritionfacts.org.

What’s the healthiest variety of apple? (Red Delicious)
What’s most nutritious nut? (pecans)
What’s the best bean? (black beans)
What’s the best berry? (blackberries)

Recently, Dr. Greger gave a Google talk with a compelling title, “How Not To Die,” (the video is below) which examines the cutting edge of nutrition research. We love the idea of staying abreast of current research, which reflects our own philosophy on educating investors.

Dr. Greger explains his approach in the beginning of the video:

For those of you unfamiliar with my work, every year I read through every issue of every English language nutrition journal in the world so busy folks like you…don’t have to. So every year my presentations are new because every year the science is new. I then compile the most interesting, most groundbreaking, most practical findings in new videos and articles that I upload every day to my non-profit site, nutritionfacts.org. Everything on the web site is free. There are no ads. No commercial sponsorships. Strictly non-commercial. Not selling anything. Just put it up as a public service, as a labor of love.

Now this is evidence-based science we can get behind.


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About the Author:

Wes Gray
After serving as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, Dr. Gray earned a PhD, and worked as a finance professor at Drexel University. Dr. Gray’s interest in bridging the research gap between academia and industry led him to found Alpha Architect, an asset management that delivers affordable active exposures for tax-sensitive investors. Dr. Gray has published four books and a number of academic articles. Wes is a regular contributor to multiple industry outlets, to include the following: Wall Street Journal, Forbes, ETF.com, and the CFA Institute. Dr. Gray earned an MBA and a PhD in finance from the University of Chicago and graduated magna cum laude with a BS from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Doug

    Very interesting site! The IGF video was particularly eye-opening. Has this caused you to eat vegan/vegetarian?

  • Yes, I am plant strong now. Try to get 95%+ calories from non animal sources. That said, i lack the discipline to skip out on a great steak, if served. Need to work on improving my mental discipline.

  • Doug

    This is probably not the time and place for a debate on nutrition, but the one thing I can’t get past is the testosterone-suppressing characteristics of some of vegan staples, such as soy and flaxseed. I’m not getting any younger, and I need all the help I can get! How do you avoid those landmines?

  • Pt hard, maintain good relationship with wife, and eat a steak every so often.

    Also, your objective function may not be to live forever. Living with low T may not bring a high quality of life.

    Bottomline: who the hell knows?

  • Chris Scott

    Selective quoting of studies, including some that don’t provide statistically significant results isn’t exactly evidence based.
    Not necessarily bad to adopt a vegetarian diet, but the site completely misrepresents the medical research.

    Below link summarizes some of the issues:

  • Chris,
    Thanks for sharing. The site discussed is certainly not perfect, but the guy running it is trying his best to share the “truth.”
    The site you’ve sent it also great and thanks for sharing!


    What’s wrong with the following logical argument?

    Premise 1: The guy provides nutrition recommendations based ONLY on published peer-reviewed research

    Premise 2: Most published peer-reviewed research is false (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1182327). This is based on a very simple idea: If a few dozens researchers investigate one topic, a few of them are bound to find statistically significant results simply by chance (5 out of 100 if p-value of 5% is used). These results are the ones that are then published (negative/insignificant results are not published). Therefore, what we see as published research is most likely the outliers and is not representative of the true nature of reality.

    Conclusion: The guy’s recommendations are false!!!

    Seems pretty iron clad to me 🙂

  • Hannibal Smith

    The other site is actually more of a closed-minded, skeptic, party line site rather than actually evidence-based, so it’s flawed in another way just as the biased vegan one you presented is. For nutrition, http://www.examine.com is pretty much it for now.

  • Hannibal Smith

    Berating yourself for not having discipline is silly. If you’re craving a steak, your body knows what it needs at the moment, i.e. iron or saturated fat or who knows what nutrient. Vegetarians/vegans are deficit in a ton of nutrients, so it’s nothing to want to emulate wholesale. Look at Dr. Gregor … he’s already sarcopenic and ostereoporosis is probably next. Imagine what he’s going to be dealing with in another 10-20 years if he doesn’t dump his ideology. You don’t want health regrets like that when its then too late to fix it. If you’re concerned about the iron from red meat, then donate blood or use IP6 rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater. 🙂

  • sixchickensleft

    Dr. Greger went to medical school where they teach virtually nothing about nutrition or exercise. From what evidence I can find, he did NO postgraduate training, yet he says he specialized (in med school) in clinical nutrition. That’s like saying that because I got an undergraduate degree in history and had an interest in finance, my expertise in finance is equivalent to Wes’ PhD. It’s BULL$%&#

    Dr. Greger is a biased charlatan. He had his mind made up about meat before he even completed his undergraduate degree – and his opinion was based on “feeling” (he thought the stockyards were gross) rather than on science. Instead of actually delving into the science and completing his PhD, he opted to drop out of that program and simply proclaim himself an expert. The easy way is seldom the right way.

  • sixchickensleft

    So, if I’m craving a Coke and a Hershey Bar, I guess my body “needs” them – as opposed to my brain “wanting” them?

    I don’t necessarily agree with the vegetarian theories – especially the crap put out by Gregor (simply graduating from medical school does not entitle one to claim he specialized in clinical nutrition – the nutrition taught in med school is virtually nonexistent), but the “my body craves what it needs” theory is equally incorrect. The brain (especially hypothalamus) has a huge role in what we eat. Unfortunately, our foods have evolved faster than we have and once a person is obese, the normal hormonal feedback loops that regulate appetite are AFU (that’s a technical term!) rendering the “my body knows what it needs” theory invalid.

    I agree with you that meat isn’t bad. I just disagree that the body knows what it needs (at least when our food selections include our modern food choices).