Reliable websites for health information

Health Blog Optimization Plan

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Reliable websites for health information

 

reliable websites

 

Would you agree there is so much conflicting health info out there that it is nothing short of confusing?

  • Multivitamins work/don’t work;
  • Coffee is healthy/causes cancer; and,
  • Protein is good/bad for your bones.

There must be some reliable websites, right? Some people must really “get” the studies and be trustworthy real experts. Some experts must be unbiased and honestly see through both bad reporting and bad science.

Amiright?

I’ll admit, it’s not always easy to know what health information is reliable. Even if you have the expertise to read and understand studies (hello! *waves*) – who has the time to skeptically read and evaluate every study on a topic?

If you’re frustrated with the positioning and flip-flopping of the latest and greatest health information, you’re not alone! #welcometotheclub

I’m happy to say that I’ve dedicated time in the last few years sorting through the tip of the iceberg of internet BS and dug through enough studies to have a sense of which websites are reliable.

 

Why did I create a list of reliable websites for health information?

 

Firstly, I’ve always loved to learn about health science. My idea of a great Sunday afternoon is reading about the newest health study (or a critique of it); particularly when it comes to nutrition and wellness.

But, the more time I spent taking courses, reading books and websites, and watching documentaries, the angrier I got.

  • Angry at what the course/book/documentary was also angry about (How do so few people see these corporatocracies and conspiracies?);
  • Angry that it seemed like no one was doing anything about it (Do I need to go rogue?);
  • And to be completely honest, most of all, I was angry at myself for not knowing better! How could I not know who to trust when I spent my life learning, working, and living health & wellness?
How could I not know who to trust when I spent my life learning, working, and living health & wellness? #trust #health #wellness Click To Tweet

So, I started digging directly into the research myself. If there were all these conspiracies, coverups and unethical practices, how could I simply trust someone who comes across as an authority? I wanted to learn about and expose unethical behaviour and inaccurate information – I wanted credible and trustworthy proof! I wanted to see for myself the quality and funding of studies. I wanted to evaluate how applicable the studies actually were to human health & wellness.

Of course, I also wanted to boost my confidence to help my clients and update my knowledge from what I learned in school.

I HAD SO MANY QUESTIONS AND NO ONE TO TRUST!

At this point, I decided to jump off everyone’s bandwagon and look at WHAT was right, not WHO was right.

 

what is right

 

By spending time looking at the evidence myself, I could figure out who was being credible, trustworthy, and unbiased, and who was (purposefully or not) influencing or misrepresenting the science.

By looking at the evidence, I could figure out who was being credible, trustworthy, and unbiased, and who was (purposefully or not) influencing or misrepresenting the science. #evidence #science #health Click To Tweet

 

So, I started looking things up for myself…

and (sadly) I was unpleasantly surprised.

What I actually found was there were elements of truth almost everywhere. There were studies that supported almost every position.

At that point, I became determined to start wading through the murky waters to figure out WTF was the best evidence on different health topics!

So, I started answering one question at a time:

  • Do nutrient deficiencies exist in North America nowadays?
  • Are multivitamins simply “expensive pee” producers – Do they have any health benefits whatsoever?
  • Is turmeric as medicinal as some people say?
  • Are melatonin supplements safe and effective?
  • Can probiotics reduce gut issues from antibiotics?
  • Does your body rip calcium from your bones when you eat a lot of protein?
  • Should I hold off on multiple x-rays for my daughter’s broken arm?
  • Does coffee cause cancer?
  • Is beer a good source of B-vitamins?
  • Does Canada have huge CAFO dairy farms and allow growth hormones?

If you’ve seen both “yay” and “nay” on every single one of these questions, then you know what I’m saying!

Slowly, I started finding that everybody seems to have some kinds of “blinders” on – cognitive biases, as they say.

I’ll never say that I’m 100% objective, even though that’s what I strive for (everyone is human!). My background in science taught me how to set aside bias and be more objective. And THIS IS EXACTLY WHY I am very careful to cite several high-quality resources in my health articles and blog posts.

Everybody seems to have some kinds of bias. And THIS IS EXACTLY WHY I am very careful to cite high-quality resources in my health articles and blog posts. #credible #reference #science Click To Tweet

Have I drank the “Kool-aid?”

Well, show me a bigger, better, more recent or applicable study (or studies) and I’ll be open-minded enough to consider the weight of that evidence.

In fact, I wrote all about one time I totally “knew” something to be true – I mean it seemed to be quoted by everyone everywhere. I “knew” it as a fact! Then I found out it was disproven in a more recent better quality study (or two)… #humblepie

Before I share my answers for all of the questions I asked and answered, let me share some of my favourite reliable websites with you, and why they are my “go-to” sites for health information.

NOTE: This list will be updated from time to time. To download a very extensive copy, sign up below.

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Reliable websites for food information

 

If you’re looking for “fun food facts” these are my three top picks:

Precision Nutrition Encyclopedia of Food

When you want some quick “fun food facts” the Precision Nutrition Encyclopedia of Food is my first stop!

You can easily find what you’re looking for because it’s searchable, and categorized.

The information for each food is broken into these sections:

  • OVERVIEW
  • IDENTIFICATION
  • NUTRITION INFO
  • SELECTION
  • STORAGE
  • PREPARATION
  • RECIPE
  • FREE RECIPE BOOK

Healthline Nutrition (formerly Authority Nutrition)

These guys usually have dozens of scientific references in every single article. Plus, they’re easy to search and easy to read. I love that they hyperlink each study as a superscript after each sentence. This way you can open and read the studies that support that statement for yourself.

Compound Interest

Gorgeous infographics on hundreds of topics ranging from food chemistry to aroma chemistry to cosmetic chemistry, and many more.

My two favourite infographics of all time (seriously!) are:

 

Reliable websites for nutrition information

 

What nutrients are in which foods? What foods are the best sources of which nutrients?

If you want to know how much nutrition is in just about any food, the “go-to” site for this is the USDA Food Composition Database – Nutrient Search.

  • You can search for a food and see what nutrients it contains (e.g. What nutrition is in broccoli?); or,
  • You can see which foods are the best sources of a nutrient (e.g. What foods are the best sources of calcium?). Do this by choosing the nutrient drop-down, and then sort the food results from highest to lowest (by clicking the “nutrient content” option).

What’s the Recommended Daily Intake of all of the nutrients?

Canada and the US go by the nutrient recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine. For a comprehensive table of all of the RDIs see:

 

Reliable websites for supplement information

 

Fact sheets for health professionals and consumers

The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements has great “Fact Sheets” for many common supplements. What I like about it is there are two versions of many of them: one for Health Professionals, and another for Consumers. So, you can read the health professional one and send your clients directly to the “consumer” facing version.

Nerdy tables of proven supplement benefits

The unbiased scientists at Examine.com are the nerdiest of them all (and I love them!). They’ve literally gone through thousands of studies  (yes, thousands!) and have ranked the evidence for hundreds of supplements on a bunch of health goals. And you can access it for free!

If you know which supplement you’re looking for – just search their site and see all the different health benefits based on the studies they’ve reviewed. For example, what are the health effects of echinacea supplements?

On the other hand, if you want to look up a health goal to see which supplements have reliable evidence, you need to purchase their Supplement Goals Reference. This would be used if you want to know which supplements are known to affect (positively or negatively) something like symptoms of the common cold.

You can find them at these links:

  • Examine.com (regular link)
  • Examine.com (affiliate link because I honestly love, trust, and use their products)

 

Reliable website for complementary and integrative health

Yes – there is growing research in the area of complementary and integrative health! My favourite site for this is the National Institutes of Health – National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. You can look up their Health Topics which sorts information they have for nutrients, herbs, health goals, exercise, mindfulness, sleep, stress, etc.

 

Reliable websites for health goals

 

MedLinePlus

MedlinePlus is a great site to find information about a bunch of health topics, supplements, and medications. They’re one of my first “go-to” sites when I need to know something fast.

World Health Organization Health Topics

The WHO isn’t just about infectious diseases and malnutrition – they’re a reliable website for all kinds of health information. Here’s an alphabetical list from abortion to zoonotic influenza.

One of the de-facto resources for medical professionals (and patients)

Up To Date prides themselves on being a trusted resource for evidence-based health recommendations for both medical professionals and patients. In fact, you can access part of their patient information (“Beyond the basics”) for free! And, if you want more info, you can purchase a 7-day or even 30-day subscription.

From the people who teach scientists how to spot bias in studies

Gotta love these guys! The Cochrane collaboration are amazing! Not only do they teach scientists how to do the highest quality of the highest level studies (systematic reviews), they also teach how to spot bias in studies!

You can browse by health topic, or search to read the abstract of some of the systematic reviews they’ve published. Some of their articles are “unlocked” (free), and they often have a “Plain language summary” that explains things in, well, English. 🙂

 


If you want some short tutorials how to navigate these websites, plus more tips, my How to do Health Research Online course is “pay what you can” until July 1st! Click here to watch the free modules and see if it’s for you.


 

Answers to my health questions

 

Here’s what I found when I dove into the research myself:

Do nutrient deficiencies exist in North America nowadays?

Are multivitamins simply “expensive pee” producers – Do they have any health benefits whatsoever?

  • Short answer: They have a few health benefits for a few people (which are not as impressive as we’ve been led to believe).
  • Long answer: Here’s the proof.

Is turmeric as medicinal as some people say?

  • Short answer: Most of the health benefits of turmeric are actually exaggerated because they’re from studies of curcumin supplements (which do have some proven health benefits). Only about 5-7% of turmeric is the “active ingredient” curcumin.
  • Long answer: Turmeric is delicious, but you need a whole helluva lot to come close to what’s in a supplement.

Are melatonin supplements safe and effective?

Can probiotics reduce gut issues from antibiotics?

  • Short answer: Many claim this to be true, very few supplement companies have proven it for their products.
  • Long answer: Stick with those supplements who have the evidence, my reco is Bio-K+ (and no, I’m not an affiliate – they just really stand head and shoulders above all other probiotic companies as far as evidence is concerned). Here’s their approved label claim (that I’ve happily shared with pharmacists online).

Does your body rip calcium from your bones when you eat a lot of protein?

  • Short answer: Nope!
  • Long answer: We thought this because urinary calcium increases when we eat a high protein meal (i.e. we pee out more calcium). But, in 2004 we actually learned where this calcium comes from, and it’s not the bones!

Should I hold off on multiple x-rays for my daughter’s broken arm?

  • Short answer: Not if the benefits outweigh the risks.
  • Long answer: Exposure to lots of x-rays at a young age can increase the risk of some cancers, but it depends on a lot of factors. Plus, there are some reasonable steps you can take to reduce overexposure, and that includes insisting on ALARA and tracking your exposures with my handy downloadable checklist and tracker.

Does coffee cause cancer?

Is beer a good source of B-vitamins?

  • Short answer: Nope!
  • Long answer: It has tiny amounts of some B-vitamins, but unlike eating the whole grains (beer ingredient) themselves, beer is a pretty bad source of any vitamins. Plus, it contains alcohol which is not a health food/drink.

Does Canada have huge CAFO dairy farms and allow growth hormones?

 

Conclusion

 

Misleading and confusing health information gets me unnecessarily angry, and drives me crazy! It’s unfortunate that many people, myself included, feel the need to do our own research and “fact check” what’s out there. And, there are some reliable websites that I personally use and recommend.

 

Signing off and toasting: To using reliable websites when doing health research!

 

Over to you

Do you have time to look up every piece of conflicting health advice you come across? Do you have preferred and trusted sources that you routinely check? Do you also love to “nerd out” on studies?

I’d love to know (in the comments below)!

 


Don’t forget, if you want some short tutorials how to navigate these websites, plus more tips, my How to do Health Research Online course is available! Click here to watch the free modules and see if it’s for you.

Here’s what Zoe said about this course:

Health Research Course

Click here to find out more about How to do Health Research Online

Credible Health Research

Credible health resources

Download this list of credible health resources and tips on where to research health topics.

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Want to find accurate health information online fast?

Many health & wellness professionals ask me about the latest research or headline. Did you ever wonder how easy it can be to find out for yourself?

 

This masterclass covers WHO to trust, WHERE to go, and HOW to search a bunch of highly credible research-based health resources!

 

This "How to do health research online" course not only tells you which websites are ah-mazing to find credible info on health goals, foods/nutrients, and supplements; AND gives you mini-tutorials HOW to search them!

If you want to feel confident that you have the most research-based up-to-date health info that you can access 24/7, this course is for you!

P.S. Why trust my recommended health resources in this masterclass? Check out the "Why trust Leesa?" video in the introduction!

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I'm Leesa Klich, MSc., R.H.N.
Health writer – Blogging expert – Research nerd.

I help health & wellness professionals attract more email subscribers & clients using their blogs. I move them from feeling stumped & overwhelmed to confidently & consistently showing off their expertise. I make credible research-based blogging both strategic & easy, which saves them a ton of time so they can focus on what lights them up in their business & life. To work with me, click here.

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