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Nutrition for Nurses

1.5 Evidence-Based Practice and Nutrition

Nutrition for Nurses1.5 Evidence-Based Practice and Nutrition

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you should be able to:

  • 1.5.1 Apply EBP to client nutrition education and care.
  • 1.5.2 Use EBP to evaluate trending nutritional views.
  • 1.5.3 Use EBP to evaluate trending social media influencers.

Applying Evidence-Based Practice

Health information is readily available via the Internet. Unfortunately, only some of this information is vetted for appropriateness and validity. Nurses should steer clients toward reliable sources of evidence-based information.

EBP is fundamental to nursing practice—whether collaborating with an interdisciplinary team or working individually with clients directly. Throughout the remainder of this educational resource, the nurse will have opportunities to apply EBP to various nutritionally based client scenarios. Working through these scenarios, via unfolding client case studies, will require the nursing student to apply concepts of clinical judgment (introduced from the NCJMM) to foster health and well-being to clients across all body systems and the lifespan. Unfolding case studies will build on prior knowledge and scenarios. When using EBP to navigate the case studies, an understanding of nutrition and body system disorders will be used to develop the best plan of care for the client.

Special Considerations

Diversity Implications

Research on nutrition has traditionally focused on biological relationships between diet and health. Although this is important, researchers must consider other factors. SDOH, health disparities, and health inequities all affect clients’ nutritional intake and need to be addressed in research. Doing this will help researchers shift their nutritional recommendations from a “one size fits all approach” to evidence-based recommendations that can be utilized by diverse populations (Mattes et al., 2022).

Evaluating Trending Nutritional Views

As mentioned earlier, an overwhelming amount of information is available to the consumer through the Internet. Consumers use the Internet to search health-related issues, find health care providers, and explore available resources. New (and sometimes not so new) nutrition trends are always appearing. Table 1.7 lists some of the more prevalent trends in recent years. Encourage clients to use the approaches previously described in Nutrition and Population Health to review and discuss with their health care provider any trends that they are considering.

Trend Description
South Beach Diet Consume nutrient-rich carbohydrates and fats
Raw foods Eat unprocessed/organic foods at a certain temperature
Fasting/cleanse Consume liquids designed to eliminate toxins
Organic Consume food certified as grown without chemical pesticides
NonGMO Consume food certified as having no genetic modifications
Vegan/vegetarian Eliminate animal-source protein/products from the diet either completely or selectively depending on specific type of vegetarian diet
Gluten free Minimize or eliminate the ingestion of gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye
Paleo Eliminate modern processed foods to focus on vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, fish, and lean meats
Atkins/Keto Consume high-protein, low-carb foods
Calorie counting Track food intake using calories; lose weight by eating fewer calories than required
Whole 30 Avoid inflammatory foods for better gut health
Probiotics Eat foods containing probiotics to enhance gut and digestive health
Weight Watchers Track food intake using point system; lose weight by eating a certain level of points
Diet apps MyFitnessPal, for example, to quantify exercise and macronutrients
Mediterranean Focus on fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, lean meats, fish, and olive oil
Intermittent fasting Focus on when to eat, not necessarily what to eat
Table 1.7 Nutritional Trends from 2000 to the Present

Evaluating Social Media Sources for Nutrition Information

Over 4 billion social media users view information on social media sites. Social media can provide 24/7 support from other users or support groups, instant communication, and cost-effective health care options. Social media and other Internet sites also pose security risks, provide false information, promote inappropriate sharing of research findings, and promote self-diagnosis without the benefit of an assessment from a trained, experienced health care provider. A recent study of nutritional information on Instagram found the quality of the content to be extremely low (Kabata et al, 2022). When looking at social media posts, consumers should consider (Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries, 2023):

  • The poster—Is this person qualified to post on this topic?
  • Network—Do other credible people or organizations follow this account?
  • Content—Can other sources validate the information?
  • Contextual updates—Is this material they usually post about?
  • Age—Is this an established account, or recently created?
  • Reliability—Is the information source reliable?

As the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics noted, EBP uses scientific evidence rather than anecdotal evidence. This fundamental difference informs the nurse who evaluates trends in nutrition, especially those found on social media, and makes trusted recommendations to clients.

Benefits of Social Media Sources

Several sources channel the benefits of using social media to influence nutrition and nutritional education positively. Food Hero, an online nutrition resource provided by Oregon State University through funding from the USDA, provides an excellent format for social media sources to use. From the inclusion of several cultural resources to videos on demand and gardening tips, their site provides information in a dynamic format. Food Hero is found on Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest and serves as a great example for best practices on social media. Several other examples can be found by following the links in Table 1.8.

Website URL
Clem & Thyme Nutrition
Gathered Nutrition
no food rules
Christy Harrison
Table 1.8 Registered Dietitians with Social Medial Platforms

Pitfalls of Social Media Sources

As mentioned earlier, the Internet is full of conflicting information. The nurse should encourage clients to evaluate nutrition information on social media sites in the same way information from websites and the media is scrutinized. Much of the nutrition advice on social media is based on anecdotal findings and experiences rather than scientific inquiry. Non-scientific social media content can promote eating disorders, distorted views of body image, and an unrealistic promotion of diet culture, all of which negatively impact nutrition and wellness.


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