Since the time ChatGPT spread across the internet, the tool has been the subject of much discussion. Recently, the artificial intelligence service has even entered the field of nutrition. Some people have started asking the platform to create meal plans.
Despite the tech’s official terms stating that it is “not intended to give advice,” anyone requesting a personalized meal plan will receive a positive response from ChatGPT. But is AI able to create a consistent eating routine for everyone? Or are there dangers in relying on the tool?
For Leve Clinic nutritionist Nathalia Patrão, artificial intelligence still cannot have the human touch necessary for a consultation with a professional. “Developing a nutritional plan is not the only objective of a consultation. The diet calculation can, indeed, be done efficiently using an app, but the conversations the specialist has with the patient are also part of this process,” he says.
The nutritionist specifies that at the time of the consultation, there are questions, conversations and “eye to eye” exchanges of information. The loss of that contact, she says, leads to the deprivation of the sensitivity that nutrition can have, “especially when you think about habits, behaviors and life goals.”
On the other hand, Nathalia believes that technology can be a great ally for those looking to optimize their time, such as making a shopping list and organizing a schedule. “I see that a lot of times people’s difficulties in sticking to it, in other words being able to actually put a prescribed diet into practice, is part of the organization. They get lost a lot when shopping or making a schedule. And I see how ChatGPT and those intelligences can help people in that order,” he says.
“If a person has a good individualized nutritional follow-up, a good conversation with the nutritionist and uses technology precisely for this purpose of organization, schedule, he will succeed. This is how we use technology to our advantage.
Nathalia Patrão, nutritionist
The indication of the tool depends on the target audience, as the specialist illustrates. People with aesthetic goals, for example, may benefit more from the platform. “I think it’s interesting for those who have gym goals, to gain muscle mass, without involving diseases. Younger, healthier people can use these calculations and information more easily,” she explains.
However, the nutritionist warns against cases of elderly people or those with associated diseases. “I think it’s very dangerous, because of the ChatGPT database problem. You have to be very careful when following these recommendations to the letter,” he warns, referring in particular to the fact that the service extracts information from the internet, which may not be a 100% reliable source.
It’s also worth mentioning that ChatGPT’s reach only extends to 2021, which means the platform doesn’t have access to the latest health and nutrition research.
Another limitation of the technology, when it comes to providing meal plans, is the restricted food suggestion. For example: when recommending a lean protein, the app does not offer a wide variety of options, unlike a professional. Nathalia points out that this is a problem, because health ends up losing at such times.
“The more diversity we have in our diet, the more we benefit from the seasonality of foods, we get to know other flavors, but, above all, we come to build a more interesting intestinal health. The bacteria that live in the intestine mainly depend on the variety of foods to be able to produce even hormones. This has an impact on our mental and physical health.
The specialist says she is optimistic about the performance of artificial intelligence, but with some reservations, particularly in relation to the individualization of nutrition and the internet. “The information we have on the Internet about diseases is insufficient from the point of view of nutrition, which is a very new science, which is developing more and more. There is information that does not intersect, taken literally only when we enter scientific studies. And this more recent information, the scientific studies that come out over time, are not yet updated on blogs, websites and other fields of research,” he argues.
When it comes to individualized diet plans and diets, taking into account the treatment of illnesses and even cases such as allergies and food sensitivities, Nathalia considers the role of the nutritionist to be the most fundamental. “Today, we still don’t have that human touch, that human value in the programs. Thus, a qualified dietician, like a lawyer or a journalist, is irreplaceable”, he declares.
Finally, for the professional, technology is something to be explored, not only by patients, but also by nutritionists. “The more recipes we know, the more ideas we will have for organizing or the more we can learn from these tools, the more we will be able to help our patients and provide solutions. It’s something that we can increasingly specialise, study and take into account, using the tools to optimize everyone’s life,” he concludes.
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