Tag: EvidenceBased

3 ways to tell evidence-based health information from online pseudoscience

“I drink borax!” proclaims the smiling TikToker. Holding up a box of the laundry additive, she rhymes off a list of its supposed health benefits: “Balances testosterone and estrogen. It’s a powerhouse anti-inflammatory…. It’s amazing for arthritis, osteoporosis…. And obviously it’s great for your gut health.”

Videos like these prompted health authorities to warn the public about the dangers of ingesting this toxic detergent — and away from such viral messaging that promotes unsubstantiated and medically dangerous health claims.

Health information is increasingly being shared online, and often the borders between legitimate health expertise and pseudoscience aren’t clear. While the internet can be a valuable and accessible way to learn about health, it’s also a place rife with disinformation and grift, as unscrupulous influencers exploit people’s fears about their bodies.

Evidence and influencers

 

In my medical practice, I can usually track online wellness trends, such as a patient refusing a medication because of online claims — many of which are false — that it lowers testosterone, or the several months when it seemed everyone was taking turmeric for joint pain, or the patients who request an ivermectin prescription in case they catch COVID.

So how does someone who simply wants to learn more about the human body sift through the information? How to separate bad-faith grift from good advice?

Wellness influencers tap into a truth about how we process information: it’s more trustworthy when it comes from a person we feel like we know. That’s why a charismatic personality’s Instagram account that uses intimate stories to promote parasocial attachment — the sense of being part of a community — is more memorable than a website offering dry recitations of evidence.

But as social media has become ubiquitous, health experts have caught on that sharing their personal side alongside reliable

Helping youth harness the power of social media: Initiative teaches young Canadians how to create evidence-based health content

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the potential of social media to quickly disseminate health information to vast online communities, impacting health decisions, participation in health systems and, consequently, the health of entire populations.

Never-ending streams of online posts, tweets and videos sharing health-focused information resulted in a co-occurring “infodemic,” overwhelming the public with a combination of accurate information and harmful misinformation.

When considering daily social media consumption, Statistics Canada estimates that 15- to 34-year-old Canadians are the highest active user group on social media. Moreover, “viral” spread or waves of online engagement are often tied to online trends or influencers. From the 2018 Tide Pod challenge to the most recent Nyquil Chicken Challenge, trends quickly spread and can pose physical, mental and even destructive health consequences.

As online trends continue to perpetuate misinformation, these trends can lead to particularly harmful consequences in marginalized communities. Many Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) communities continue to struggle with stressors relating to painful histories of exploitation, including medical experimentation, that can result in mistrust or skepticism of health-care systems. Furthermore, many BIPOC communities face an additional hurdle as the ingrained racism linked to colonialism within our health-care system impacts the delivery of health care and health information. Most existing online health information is Anglocentric, Eurocentric, text-heavy and based on the priorities of health-care providers. Likewise, online myth busting of health misinformation is available primarily on English platforms and spaces.

As such, there is a great need for health information to be tailored and adapted to the priorities of BIPOC communities. Thus, the Our Kids’ Health (OKH) network was established to create reliable resources and information for children, youth and caregivers across 10 different cultural-linguistic channels. Using an equity and diversity lens, social media content shared by OKH spans the

27 Health and Nutrition Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based

If you want to boost your health and wellbeing, there are plenty of natural and home remedies to choose from, ranging from avoiding charred meats and added sugars to practicing meditation.

When it comes to knowing what’s healthy, even qualified experts often seem to hold opposing opinions. This can make it difficult to figure out what you should actually be doing to optimize your health.

Yet, despite all the disagreements, a number of wellness tips are well supported by research.

Here are 27 health and nutrition tips that are based on scientific evidence.

Sugary drinks like sodas, fruit juices, and sweetened teas are the primary source of added sugar in the American diet (1).

Unfortunately, findings from several studies point to sugar-sweetened beverages increasing risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, even in people who are not carrying excess body fat (2).

Sugar-sweetened beverages are also uniquely harmful for children, as they can contribute not only to obesity in children but also to conditions that usually do not develop until adulthood, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (3, 4, 5).

Healthier alternatives include:

  • water
  • unsweetened teas
  • sparkling water
  • coffee

Some people avoid nuts because they are high in fat. However, nuts and seeds are incredibly nutritious. They are packed with protein, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals (6, 7).

Nuts may help you lose weight and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease (8).

Additionally, one large observational study noted that a low intake of nuts and seeds was potentially linked to an increased risk of death from heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes (9).

Ultra-processed foods (UPFs) are foods containing

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