Have you heard of bone broth? It's the latest superfood. Reportedly, it can heal wounds, build the immune system, boost bone health and give you glossy hair and strong nails.

It also apparently "heals and seals" your gut to fix the scary-sounding leaky gut syndrome. Instead of queuing for coffee, New Yorkers now stand in line for steaming cups of what lesser mortals may know as stock, in the hope they, too, will reap its amazing benefits.

This reflects an increasing trend in characterising food as medicine. Stories abound in magazines and online of people with un-diagnosable or unhealable conditions transforming themselves through the power of dietary change, often including the elimination of common foods. Sometimes they start a blog about this, which spawns a book and occasionally an empire.

In some cases, changing a diet can have a drastic and incredibly positive effect on an individual's health.

Advertisement

Just ask someone diagnosed with coeliac disease after years of ill-health, or an IBS sufferer who has found relief from debilitating gut problems through the emerging science of the low-FODMAP diet.

Any parent of a food-allergic child would agree that finding an answer to a toddler's poor health is an incredible relief, even if it means enforcing a strictly controlled diet.

These examples have sound, evidence-based science to them. Unfortunately, an awful lot of pseudo-science and anecdote-masquerading-as-evidence can be found in the world of nutrition. "It worked for me" is interesting, but it's not evidence.

You may say, what's the harm? Sharing experiences can be helpful. And that's true, sometimes. But it also has potential to be dangerous.

Think of cancer. If you've had a cancer diagnosis in the family you know this is a time when we are most vulnerable. The temptation to consult Doctor Google is irresistible — and this is often when we're hit with alternative cures, conspiracy theories and seemingly inspiring stories of ordinary people who've cured themselves through diet.

There's no more exploitative example than Belle Gibson, the young Australian who founded a wellness empire based on the story she cured herself of terminal brain cancer through wholefood and natural therapies. She had a hugely successful blog, an app, a recipe book and a massive social media following. But her story was fabricated.

Her followers will likely find solace elsewhere, there's no shortage of "wellness warriors" to take Gibson's place. Bone broth will feature. So will any number of other "superfoods, from coconut oil to cacao. But no single food - no matter its nutritional properties - is going to magically transform our health or cure disease. The "magic food" stories - eat food X to do Y - are overly simplistic. That's not how healthy eating works.

It's time to ditch the superfoods idea and consider instead a super diet. Guess what: it's full of fresh, whole foods and abundant in vegetables. It's light on refined, processed foods, but doesn't eliminate any food group, unless there's a medical reason to do so. It's part of an engaged, active lifestyle, which also includes meaningful relationships and a strong sense of community. People in the so-called Blue Zones - the areas of the world home to the healthiest, longest-lived populations - eat like this, and it has a true benefit: a greatly lowered risk of modern diseases.

Advertisement

We should think of food as prevention, rather than cure. A great diet can help us stay well and prevent disease,and a bad diet can increase our risk.

For the record: stock, or soup, or bone broth is good food. If it's also full of veges, it'll probably be healthy. But don't look for a cure-all solely in the stock pot.

Niki Bezzant is editor-in-chief of Healthy Food Guide magazine. She is the author of two cookbooks and a passionate cook with a lifelong interest in health.