Our guide to the best health websites
One of the things that gets drummed into your head repeatedly while studying at Oxford University is the importance of not trusting everything you read. Even when written by other scientists. It’s encouraged to look at the methods used by a scientist to draw conclusions, and then make your own decision as to whether they’ve drawn the right conclusion or not.
This is why the academic process involves writing up experiments in such detail, so that other people can examine how you came to your conclusions, AND repeat your experiment to verify them.
The Wild West
The internet has created something of a wild west when it comes to science. You have unqualified people by the hundreds giving out medical advice like they’re the Surgeon General, and although some of it is relatively harmless snake oil, there’s plenty of awful and dangerous advice out there.
Here at Hydrant, our mission is to make simple, effective health products to improve quality of life. A big part of that mission is education, because not everyone has the training to spot the BS that’s out there.
So to start with, we wanted to create a whitelist. A list of websites that we deem to be trustworthy when it comes to science and health:
MedlinePlus.gov It even has a “.gov” domain - it doesn’t get much better than that! But also checkout this brief description: “MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health's Website for patients and their families and friends. Produced by the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library, it brings you information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in language you can understand. MedlinePlus offers reliable, up-to-date health information, anytime, anywhere, for free.”
- Pubmed is also the NIH’s website. This is a database of a lot of the important scientific literature that’s out there. You can search it for yourself for any topic. Note that this is “raw” science though, so some articles on there have long since been shown to have drawn poor conclusions, usually through a mistake in the design of the experiment. If a website you are reading references a paper, this is a good place to check if it’s at least a little bit legit.
We’re huge fans of Cochrane, at Hydrant. It’s “an international not-for-profit and independent organization, dedicated to making up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of healthcare readily available worldwide.” In laymans term, they help scientists to review other scientists work in systematic reviews, and make that information public. http://www.cochrane.org/evidence
- Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source. This is a great, balanced resource that takes on simple nutrition questions about the cornerstones of nutrition and beyond. If you’re looking for a quick scan of whether that diet you’re thinking about is healthy, or if you really need that much protein in your shake, it’s perfect for you.
Nutrition is a difficult topic for good sources, but the above links do a decent job of decoding the research into digestible (pun intended) chunks. As a rule of thumb, if you encounter just about any outlandish health claim that is linked to a Dietary Supplement, it’s a great time to be skeptical and dig a bit deeper. Not all supplements are bad, but usually if something sounds too good to be true… well, you know the saying.
Conflict of Interest
Always evaluate a company’s health claims extra-carefully as there may be a conflict of interest. That includes us! That’s why we reference everything, and our references link to trusted sources. We want you to be able to draw your own conclusions should you choose to.
Have questions about any of this or think we should add a site to our list? Contact us!
Or if you want to see how we use simple science to make great hydration without overpromising, try out Hydrant here.