Separating the hype from facts about food as medicine

Monash University’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics is providing a free online course designed to help members of the public better understand food and health.

For example, did you know that soft drinks and fruit juices sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis?

Conversely animal studies have shown that foods containing virgin olive oil can actually reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis. While a Danish study found that people who ate fatty fish like salmon and sardines had a lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

There is increasing amounts of information available on foods that can – or more importantly can’t – help your health. This month Monash University’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics will launch a free 3 week online course for the general public that will help unravel the myths from the facts about food and nutrition.

According to the Head of the Department Professor Helen Truby (pictured), the course has been created because “there is so much misinformation about nutrition and food,” she said.

“We wanted to provide a course so that the general public can learn about what information is evidence based when it comes to the idea of food as medicine.”

The course follows on from a similar one in May that garnered more than 100,000 comments and 62000 registrations and was in the top ten of all Futurelearn learning courses internationally.

The course starting on 21 October has some additional benefits including a course on foods that can impact, both positively and negatively, on rheumatoid arthritis. In addition there is an interactive component – for instance a user will be asked to choose a food from a virtual vending machine. These results will be collated – giving an insight into the sorts of foods that are chosen at different times of the day or night. “The following week we will have the results and they will form the basis of a discussion that we will have online,” Professor Truby said.

The course aims to explore food’s current role in health and disease; expand the understanding of nutrition science and how it guides us on what and how much to eat for health; and explain how to apply evidenced-based nutrition knowledge to guide what food can be used as medicine.



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