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How good is the health advice you're getting online?

The advent of the internet and in particular social media has made medical advice more available than ever before. Type your symptoms into Google and 15 different “experts” will pile in and tell you that you have 15 different rare and incurable diseases.

Sensible advice on how to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle is equally hard to come by. Dieting fads and shortcuts to weight loss are ubiquitous online and play into the very human desire to find short cuts.

Stories such as the Bella Gibson fraud case, the Australian self-proclaimed wellness guru who faked cancer to promote her own personal wellness brand, show just how dangerous bogus health advice can be.

However, as Gerard Blair, assistant editor for NHS news says “core public health advice has remained unchanged for many years: exercise regularly, achieve and maintain a healthy weight, eat a nutritious and balanced diet, avoid overexposure to sunlight, stick to the alcohol guidelines and quit smoking to maximise your chances of a long and healthy life”.

It sounds simple and it’s not particularly exciting or sexy but these are the facts of improving your health and wellbeing. There are no magical cures, just small steps to better health.

We’ve put together a quick guide to help you evaluate the health advice you get online

Look at the source

Where has this piece of advice come from? Is it from a reputable source or a dodgy website which is peddling all kinds of snake oil? The providence of the information is a great way to discount poor advice.

Are they trying to sell you something

If the health advice you have received is accompanied by a sales pitch that should set alarm bells ringing. Health advice that is trying to sell you a miracle cure is unlikely to be unbiased.

Trust your instincts

If the advice sounds to good to be true the likelihood is that it is. Your instincts will almost always be correct and if you are unsure always contact a health professional.

Don’t be seduced by personality

The huge growth in the wellness industry has coincided with a surge in the number of self proclaimed ‘wellness gurus’. These self styled gurus are often selling their own brand and personality first and any advice is secondary. It is always important to look at the advice in isolation away from the personality.

Don’t get fixated on one aspect of health

When you do find a piece of health advice that works for you it is important not to get fixated sole on that one aspect of your health. A healthy and balanced lifestyle comes from balancing both your physical and mental health along with a good diet and health lifestyle.

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