In 2008, Mother Earth News (my big crush, BTW) published an article on the top 12 websites for health advice. As it has been eight years since that article was published and in the Internet world 8 years is akin to a millennium, I thought I would check out the sites listed, confirm if they’re still in business and decide if others topped them.
And altho I am completely smitten with Mother Earth News, they like to break their articles up over multiple pages-which my aging IPad does NOT like. So for those of you with aging iPads as well, I am going to keep this list on one page so you can easily read and absorb.
A few criteria I am filtering websites through. First, the information needs to be free. Second, we want a reputable source. Third, I want sites that are not completely inundated with ads. Last, the site’s information needs to be updated regularly. Hmmm. Am I missing anything?
- General Health
- Herbal and CAM references
- Nutrition Sites
- Environmental Health
Medline Plus, Mayo Clinic and U.C. Berkeley Wellness Letter were the three sites listed in this category.
Out of the three listed, Medline Plus is the only site that I feel is thorough enough, neutral (i.e. Mayo Clinic wants you to be their patient!) and easy to navigate. I do though have excellent alternatives!
Medline Plus is a thorough unbiased site (i.e. no ads) created by the National Institute of Health. It is the world’s largest online medical library. They strive to educate in layman’s terms and update their knowledge base often.
Amongst many other topics they cover disease, conditions, drugs and supplements are part of their repertoire. It definitely deserves a spot on the list!
Healthfinder.gov is a federal website. They have a nifty little widget on the home page that allows you to put in your age, sex and whether or not you’re pregnant. The results are a customized list of the preventive procedures the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends for you.
Of course, they also cover nutrition, pregnancy, parenting, etc. Also a comprehensive site that is ad free.
NetWellness.org is a site run by three universities: University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University. Although the site is a little dated looking, it is packed full of useful information and well worth your time. They boast of over 55,000 pages of health information.
Additionally, you can “Ask an Expert.” They have 367 medical experts on hand to answer any health related questions you might have. You can also find studies being conducted for your particular illness or condition.
Herbal and CAM references
Of the three sites listed in the original article, Herbs for Health Magazine is no longer around and the Columbia University Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has been moved. The articles currently listed on Columbia’s site are dissertations and reports. i.e. Not written in layman’s terms. I give you an example. “This Article considers whether the market participant exception should be interpreted to exempt local climate change and sustainability initiatives…” ahem. Moving on.
That leaves the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center herb library. They have an About Herbs database which allows us to search amongst 275 herbs.
They also have an app which is fun. We can search by ailment too. For example, I have adult induced asthma so searched on it. 47 herbs came up with a purported use of asthma. I vote we keep this one on the list!
The University of Maryland Medical Center has an online CAM guide. The guide has several high level topics to choose from. A few are: Condition, Herb, Supplement, and Treatment. I chose Condition then Asthma. This brought me to a page with a fairly thorough summation of Asthma.
Some of the sub topics within the article that apply to us here are Nutrition and Dietary Supplements, Herbs, Acupuncture and Homeopathy.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) also has a National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. You can search by health topic, check out common uses and side effects of herbs and even find a doctor.
I also found articles on studies that are currently being conducted.
Out of the four sites recommended in the original article, I kept three. The Center For Food Safety is a nonprofit that advocates for organic and sustainable farming. While I support their cause wholeheartedly, they are not focused on educating a reader on nutrition as much as how to lobby congress and big industry-so I left them off the list. Having said that, if you are an organic farmer or gardener, this is an organization worth your attention.
It is difficult to argue against any sources coming from Harvard so I won’t. The Nutrition Source offers up to date nutrition news, advice on what to eat and drink, and sustainability-among other topics. Disease prevention and recipes are even included.
They also have this great infographic (see below) on what a Health Eating Plate looks like for those who are just getting started or want to brush up on watching what they eat. Thanks Harvard!
Are you a calorie counter? Or do you like to track your daily nutrients? The USDA’s Nutrient Database is enormous! It has over 184,000 food items. You can even filter by the brand of a product.
It also has a Nutrient List where you can search for food items based on the type of nutrient you want in it. i.e. you need more calcium in your diet so search for food with calcium in it. It is not the best tool ever but it does provide good knowledge.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Nutrition Action Healthletter “provides honest, unbiased, science-based advice on nutrition and health.” They tell us which foods and ingredients to avoid and make the case for good nutrition.
Their newsletter boasts a million-person readership. This site offers both advice on eating healthy and tells us how we can make our voices be heard in Washington.
The Collaborative on Health and the Environment’s mission is to protect people from pollution and environmental factors that cause disease or disabilities.
This information rich website shares what they know and teaches us how to get involved in the fight to protect our health.
No Environmental Health topic is complete without understanding the chemicals we put on our skin via every day products such as shampoo and soap. Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep website contains information on almost 65,000 products.
Their database lists ingredients for these products and if they are toxic or carcinogenic. Good information and well worth a look.
From understanding your health better to ensuring you are putting healthy products on your body, this list will increase your awareness, understanding and knowledge on the best nutrients and food for you and your family. Also, what NOT to consume or put on your body! Important too, yes? If I missed any sites you consider to be incredibly informative, please speak up. I may just add an addendum to my list!