Yvette d’Entremont, a.k.a Science Babe, has had something of a week. Since the science blogger’s takedown of Food Babe Vani Hari, and what she calls Hari’s pseudo-scientific (read, cuckoo) approach to health on Gawker, she’s snagged a book deal and a possible TV show.
“Never underestimate the power of the Internet,” says the Southern California–based blogger. Or the power of a pissed-off chemist who wants to prevent us from falling prey to specious health and wellness marketing. “I want people to demand proof because their health and their wallet may depend on it. [Without it] they’re going to wind up with a medicine cabinet of supplements that just don’t do anything.”
Amen to that. Here, d’Entremont shares her rules for weeding out the genuine health experts from the less-than-credible types.
Hypocrisy is a red flag. Any blogger who claims that you can’t trust the food industry simply because it’s profit-based isn’t being entirely truthful about what she’s doing—which involves selling herself as an expert. And remember that some health bloggers also shill for juice companies and sell supplements, books and/or ad space.
Consider the source material. A solid way to separate valuable health information from the not-so-valuable is to look at the sources cited by the expert. “Always look and see if the claim is backed by a scientific peer-reviewed study,” says d’Entremont. If an “expert” cites only anecdotal evidence, well, that’s a big problem.
Science talks, BS squawks. Beware of anyone who takes a “sky-is-falling” approach to discussing health and diet. Such fear-mongering is a sure sign that the “expert” in question isn’t balanced in their approach to investigating health issues.
Beware of buzzwords like “detox” and “cleanse.” “Anyone who is selling a detox is selling you a line of BS,” says d’Entremont, who, like many other legit experts, has repeatedly made the point that all you need to detox is a functioning liver and kidneys. She also points out that pesticides and heavy metals, when ingested or absorbed, create specific symptoms that no amount of lemon water will fix. “There are specific symptoms for having these types of chemicals in your body,” she says, “and they aren’t feeling tired or having acne.”
We also asked Science Babe for some of her most trusted sites. They include:
GoKaleo: the blog of Amber Rogers, a personal trainer (and friend of d’Entremont)
Body for Wife: the website of James Fell, a fitness writer whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, as well as Chatelaine.com
sciencebasedmedicine.org: “a really good reference”
NurseLovesFarmer: “She’s quite literally a nurse married to a farmer; she’s very sweet and gives great information.” (She’s also a Canadian, based in Edmonton, Alta.)