What is the ideal diet? What types of exercise should you do? What should you undertake to prevent mental disease? Those are common questions asked by millions of blogs and even more people every day, worldwide.
Unlike mathematics, there is no single answer. Delving into scientific studies such as those aggregated on pubmed help to separate the good from the bad. You type a keyword such as “diabetes” and it will show papers studying diabetes. However, this is not easy:
- Health studies are published for scientists. Readability is low and challenging for those without relevant education
- The vast majority of health studies are behind a “pay-wall”
- There are different types of trial designs, from meta-analysis, double-blind randomized trials, cohort studies etc. Furthermore, the number of subjects vary wildly between studies, as well as age, weight range, athleticism of subjects, or study length. It takes a good eye to know which study has a better design and which ones are relevant to your case.
- Studies on the same subject can use different metrics or biomarkers, making direct comparisons difficult
- Studies on the same subject and with the same methodology can have conflicting results
- Health studies, especially in nutrition, can be funded by corporations and have bias.
All these contribute to confusion. Media and bloggers then interpret findings to their likings, further increasing confusion.
Because of these issues, I have developed a reference portal OutcomeReference
OutcomeReference is a FREE, easy-to-use reference website aiming to show clearly the outcome of your health choices.
For each food, exercise or lifestyle choice, the user can see the health effects, the amplitude and type of effect. Relevant studies are linked for easy reference. See the example of Caffeine.
Currently in alpha version, the site only has seed data. It aims to have media (photo, video), search, better design, and will also allow users to log in and indicate their food intake as well as observed outcome in the near future. Of course, much more data will be added to the reference site.
If you have any requests, ideas, or feedback, they are most welcome in comments below. Thank you !