In an observational study , researchers look at and analyze ongoing or past behavior or information, then draw conclusions about what it could mean.
They can help us make educated guesses about best practices. These are basically stories that are interesting or unusual in some way.
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For examples, this study reviewed the case of a patient who saw his blood cholesterol levels worsen significantly after adding cups of Bulletproof Coffee to his daily diet. Instead, they can be used to make more informed decisions and provide ideas about where to go next. These are studies done on non-human subjects—for instance, on pigs, rats, or mice, or on cells in Petri dishes—and can fall anywhere within the hierarchy.
Why are we mentioning them? Were the animals used a good model for a human? For example, pigs are much better models for research on cardiovascular disease and diets compared to mice, because of the size of their coronary arteries and their omnivorous diets. Also, context really matters. Or, if a chemical is shown to increase protein synthesis in cells grown in a dish, then for how long? Days, hours, minutes? To what degree, and how would that compare to a human eating an ounce of chicken?
What other processes might this chemical impact?
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The upshot: You need to be careful not to place more importance on these findings than they deserve. And, as always, look at how these small studies fit into the broader picture of what we already know about the topic. Qualitative studies focus on the more intangible elements of what was found, such as what people thought, said, or experienced.
They tell us about the human side of things. Qualitative studies are often helpful for exploring ideas and questions that quantitative data raises, and providing context for the relationships researchers observe. High quality studies are published in academic journals, which have names like Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , not TightBodz Quarterly. These are the people who conducted the research, and finding out more about their backgrounds can tell you a lot about how credible a study might be.
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All studies are supposed to be reproducible. In other words, another researcher following the same protocols would likely get the same results. So this section provides all the details on how you could replicate a study. This is an interpretation of what the results might mean.
Before researchers start a study, they have a hypothesis that they want to test. Then, they collect and analyze data and draw conclusions. The concept of statistical significance comes in during the analysis phase of a study. In academic research, statistical significance, or the likelihood that the study results were generated by chance, is measured by a p-value that can range from 0 to 1 0 percent chance to percent chance. Put simply, the closer the p-value is to 0, the more likely it is that the results of a study were caused by the treatment or intervention, rather than random fluke.
At the end of the study, the group that took supplement X, on average, lost more fat. So does supplement X help with fat loss or not? This is where statistics and p-values come in. The most common threshold is a p-value under 0. Numbers over that threshold are not. This threshold is arbitrary, and some types of analysis have a much lower threshold, such as genome-wide association studies that need a p-value of less than 0. So if the researchers studying supplement X find that their p-value is 0.
Because if you see a study that cites a p-value of higher than 0. That means either 1 the treatment had no effect, or 2 if the study were repeated, the results would be different. So in the case of supplement X, if the p-value were higher than 0. This is true even if you can see that, on average, the group taking supplement X lost 10 pounds of fat. You can learn more here. The takeaway: Ask the right questions. But each section of a study can tell you something important about how valid the results are, and how seriously you should take the findings.
What’s that study REALLY say? How to decode research, according to science nerds.
Be careful not to overblow the perks based on a single study or even a few suspect ones. And if a study goes against what we believe, well, we might just find ourselves feeling kind of ticked off. You will bring some biases to the table when you read and interpret a study. All of us do.
Especially if it flies in the face of what we knew before. Rarely, by the way, will a study prove anything.
Rather, it will add to a pile of probability about something, such as a relationship between Factor X and Outcome Y. To some degree, these do the job of providing context for you. For each scientific paper you read, consider how it lines up with the rest of the research on a given topic. The study is high quality, and seems well done.
These results are pretty strange, because most of the research on creatine over the past few decades shows that it does help people boost their athletic performance and power output. So do you stop taking creatine, one of the most well-researched supplements out there, if your goal is to increase strength and power?
Well, it would be pretty silly to disregard the past 25 years of studies on creatine supplementation just because of one study. Instead, it probably makes more sense to take this study and set it aside—at least until more high-quality studies replicate a similar result. If that happens, then we might take another look at it. Getting the most out of scientific research, and potentially applying it to our lives, is more about the sum total than the individual parts.
And sometimes really smart people get it wrong. And if you consider yourself an evidence-based coach or a person who wants to use evidence-based methods to get healthier , remember that personal experiences and preferences matter, too. Dietary seaweed intake and depressive symptoms in Japanese adults: a prospective cohort study This prospective cohort study aimed to investigate the association between daily seaweed intake and depressive symptoms. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 7 October Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 10 September Estimating mean population salt intake in Fiji and Samoa using spot urine samples There is an increasing interest in finding less costly and burdensome alternatives to measuring population-level salt intake than h urine collection, such as spot urine samples.
Correction to: Nutraceutical approach for the management of cardiovascular risk — a combination containing the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum BB and red yeast rice extract: results from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study Following publication of the original article , the authors reported an error in the affiliation of the third author, Sara Gandini. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 9 September Ramen restaurant prevalence is associated with stroke mortality in Japan: an ecological study The association between stroke and nutrition has recently been investigated.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 4 September Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 2 September The study evaluating the effect of probiotic supplementation on the mental status, inflammation, and intestinal barrier in major depressive disorder patients using gluten-free or gluten-containing diet SANGUT study : a week, randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled clinical study protocol Current treatment of major depressive disorder MDD often does not achieve full remission of symptoms.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 31 August Consumption of low nutritive value foods and cardiometabolic risk factors among French-speaking adults from Quebec, Canada: the PREDISE study There is very limited knowledge on the magnitude to which foods with low nutritive value constitute the diet of adults from the province of Quebec.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 29 August Iron-related dietary pattern increases the risk of poor cognition High iron intake has been shown to be associated with poor cognition. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 27 August Trends in energy and nutrient supply in Ethiopia: a perspective from FAO food balance sheets Ethiopia is the second-most populous country in Africa. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 13 August Preliminary evidence for reduced adipose tissue inflammation in vegetarians compared with omnivores There are links between obesity and inflammation that may relate activation of pro-inflammatory pathways by dietary factors.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 12 August Examination of dietary habits among the indigenous Kuna Indians of Panama Evidence for dietary habits among the Kuna Indians of Panama outside of cacao consumption is limited. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 1 August A cross-sectional study of the associations between the traditional Japanese diet and nutrient intakes: the NILS-LSA project Although our previous study using a food frequency questionnaire simulated nutritional characteristics of the traditional Japanese diet, this issue has not been sufficiently evaluated.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 30 July Dietary patterns in relation to testosterone levels and severity of impaired kidney function among middle-aged and elderly men in Taiwan: a cross-sectional study Chronic Kidney Disease CKD , characterized by an impaired kidney function, is associated with low testosterone levels. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 27 July Influence of Paleolithic diet on anthropometric markers in chronic diseases: systematic review and meta-analysis The Paleolithic diet has been studied in the scope of prevention and control of chronic noncommunicable diseases CNCD.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 23 July Planning dietary improvements without additional costs for low-income individuals in Brazil: linear programming optimization as a tool for public policy in nutrition and health Meeting nutrient intake recommendations may demand substantial modifications in dietary patterns, and may increase diet cost.
Know what counts as research, and what doesn’t.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 20 July The effect of total anthocyanin-base standardized Cornus mas L. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 19 July Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 16 July Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 13 July Changes in food intake patterns during — and — in the population-based Northern Sweden Diet Database Food intake patterns provide a summary of dietary intake. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 12 July Evaluation of a questionnaire to assess nutritional knowledge, attitudes and practices in a Thai population The rapid increase in non-communicable chronic diseases in people of working age has had a major effect on health care utilization, productivity and economy.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 10 July Zinc supplementation in patients with cirrhosis and hepatic encephalopathy: a systematic review and meta-analysis Low serum zinc level is associated with hepatic encephalopathy HE , but the efficacy of zinc supplementation remains uncertain.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 6 July Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 28 June Improvements in the nutritional quality of US young adults based on food sources and socioeconomic status between — and — Fast food and other away from home food sources are linked with poorer diet quality and adverse health outcomes. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 26 June High dietary total antioxidant capacity is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension in French women Although there is evidence for a reduced risk of hypertension associated with fruit and vegetable consumption, the relationship between the total antioxidant capacity of the diet TAC and the risk of hyperten Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 11 June Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 23 May Omega-3 intake is associated with attenuated inflammatory response and cardiac remodeling after myocardial infarction Myocardial infarction MI elicits an intense acute inflammatory response that is essential for cardiac repair.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 6 May Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 25 April Association of kidney function-related dietary pattern, weight status, and cardiovascular risk factors with severity of impaired kidney function in middle-aged and older adults with chronic kidney disease: a cross-sectional population study Chronic Kidney Disease CKD , characterized by impaired kidney function, affects over 1. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 22 April Healthy eating index versus alternate healthy index in relation to diabetes status and health markers in U.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 17 April The 1 H NMR serum metabolomics response to a two meal challenge: a cross-over dietary intervention study in healthy human volunteers Metabolomics represents a powerful tool for exploring modulation of the human metabolome in response to food intake.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 8 April Examining the correlates of meal skipping in Australian young adults Meal skipping is associated with diet-related chronic disease risk and is highly prevalent in young adults. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 3 April Dietary fiber intake and glycemic control: coronary artery calcification in type 1 diabetes CACTI study Dietary fiber has been recommended for glucose control, and typically low intakes are observed in the general population.
Adolescent pregnancy and linear growth of infants: a birth cohort study in rural Ethiopia Evidences indicate that the risk of linear growth faltering is higher among children born from young mothers.
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Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 2 April Socioeconomic and ethnic differences in the relation between dietary costs and dietary quality: the HELIUS study Healthier dietary patterns are generally more costly than less healthy patterns, but dietary costs may be more important for dietary quality in lower educated and ethnic minority groups. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 28 March The reliability of the general functioning scale in Norwegian 13—year-old adolescents and association with family dinner frequency Family environment is crucial to the development of health behaviors into adolescence and adulthood.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 27 March Food taboo among pregnant Ethiopian women: magnitude, drivers, and association with anemia There are pervasive pregnancy-related food taboos and myths PRFT in Ethiopia. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 23 March Gender inequalities in diet quality and their socioeconomic patterning in a nutrition transition context in the Middle East and North Africa: a cross-sectional study in Tunisia In a context of nutrition transition and major shifts in lifestyle and diet, the Middle East and North Africa features a marked gender excess adiposity gap detrimental to women.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 21 March Importance of details in food descriptions in estimating population nutrient intake distributions National food consumption surveys are important policy instruments that could monitor food consumption of a certain population. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 15 March Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 11 March Meal analysis for understanding eating behavior: meal- and participant-specific predictors for the variance in energy and macronutrient intake Meals differ in their nutritional content.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 7 March Dietary raisin intake has limited effect on gut microbiota composition in adult volunteers Dried fruits, such as raisins, contain phytochemicals and dietary fibers that contribute to maintaining health, potentially at least partially through modification in gut microbiota composition and activities Nutraceutical approach for the management of cardiovascular risk — a combination containing the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum BB and red yeast rice extract: results from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study Probiotics incorporated into dairy products have been shown to reduce total TC and LDL cholesterolemia LDL-C in subjects with moderate hypercholesterolemia.
Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 22 February Current and potential role of grain legumes on protein and micronutrient adequacy of the diet of rural Ghanaian infants and young children: using linear programming Grain legumes are appreciated for their contribution to dietary protein and micronutrient intake in addition to their benefits in providing income and replenishing soil fertility. Citation: Nutrition Journal 18 Published on: 21 February Development and validation of a food frequency questionnaire FFQ for assessing dietary macronutrients and calcium intake in Cambodian school-aged children The nutritional status of school-aged children in Cambodia remains largely unknown.