Promoting health through natural means

Hi all!!

I'm beginning to develop a website dedicated to prevent illness/promote health through the consumption of minimally processed vegetable based products (yes, including herbs and spices!) but focusing on the scientifically proven benefits. My question is what would you like to see in there??? I've found a few websites that lay out evidence based knowledge of these materials, but they are usually too complex for the general public to understand. My team includes only members with a PhD or degree in natural sciences, our goal is to compile and simplify any evidence that exists for a particular material. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


15 Replies

  • I think it would be good to see a part where people give their actual experience of the benefits of certain foods and spices and herbs. there are enough of those websites with scientifically proven benefits. I prefer to read about people's experience as this is always helpful. for instance there are no proven benefits for people drinking lemon juice that i know of and anyone who writes about it on the british liver trust is soon reminded of that fact. so if we know that its only people;s experience we may be left alone to share how we feel our health has benefited.The same goes for milk thistle and many other things that have not been tested.

  • Thank you for your suggestion Grace. That's a very good idea.

    Regarding our website we want to summarise and provide the information in a way that's easy to digest and visually appealing , that's how we plan to differenciate ourselves from the existing sites.

  • Interesting article in the papers today saying if you live on raw veg for six months you will die! I think some actress was promoting the idea!!

  • This part of the site is meant to be about evidence, and whereas the patient experience is important, it is open to severe bias. The experiences are likely to be self-selecting for a start. So I would suggest a two-level approach. Firstly summarise the scientific evidence, in layman's terms. Not easy to do I know. Then invite responses from consumers, along the lines of "this is how this evidence-based food affected me".

    A word of caution about the evidence. Keep to well designed and conducted clinical trials. Don't extrapolate from small in vitro or in vivo studies.

  • knockout6 is asking for suggestions for his site that he is opening not this part of the site.

  • Obviously, but knockout6 is asking for advice from this site's members, so similar principles apply.

  • How is the site going to be funded (I imagine that PhDs don't come cheap)?

    One big concern for me would be for the potential conflict of interest between advertisers who are promoting 'natural' products and your content which might need to point out that there are little or no proven scientific benefits to a particular product.

    If you really are looking to focus on scientifically proven benefits you might find the number of products available to you to be rather small depending on what level of evidence you are willing to accept.

  • Hi Benwl! At the moment we are self funded but we're trying to get grants from governmental and non governmental agencies. Even if the funds are insufficient we don't plan to sell composite products and non certified products. This can be tricky to manage, we're well aware of that fact. If you are aware of any other funding source please make a suggestion!!! We're UK based, with a couple members doing research elsewhere in the EU.

  • Hi Pedro, Sounds good to me. As a suggestion, I think that it is clear that cold pressed vegetable oils can have health benefits, particularly olive oil of course. Not so sure about rape seed oil however. Methods of extraction and processing can be severe eg palm oil at 200 degrees C. and these must cause chemical transformations in the oils which have unknown consequences, even if labelling allows them to be sold as natural products.

    Since there are huge quantities of this stuff sold, could it be that evidence based details of what is really in them would help people in their choices of food?

  • Thanks for your comment! We've got members of the team, including myself, who have worked in the Food industry for a while. We're planning to bring to this website our experience and back it up with scientific evidence. We're aware of the tricks of the industry and will try to help consumers to the best of our ability . If you have any other suggestions please let me know!!

  • Understand what your aim is and make that very clear to visitors;

    lay out the hierarchy of evidence, clearly explain why anecdotes and testimonials are right at the bottom and why they cannot be used as any indication of anything being safe or effective;

    explain why the opportunities for bias increase further down the hierarchy;

    explain sys reviews/meta analyses and how they try to eliminate, control or reduce biases to give a more reliable answer;

    explain that practitioner preference cannot override evidence from higher up the hierarchy;

    explain why popularity, celebrity endorsement, how long it's been used, etc cannot be used to indicate that something is safe and effective;

    explain why terms such as 'traditional', 'eastern' are not reliable indicators of anything being safe and effective;

    explain that concepts such as qi, chakras, vital force, meridians are scientifically illiterate;

    explain that just because something is natural, it does not mean it is safe or effective;

    provide links to any robust evidence you do find;

    do not provide any anecdotes or testimonials: there are only there to sell stuff and mislead visitors;

    explain the regulatory regime in your target country/countries for medicines, supplements and foods and what can and cannot be claimed in terms of medicinal, health or nutrition: they can provide some indication of what should at least be safe, even if it says nothing about whether anything is effective;

    explain any interactions or contra-indications;

    do not carry any advertising: that can only ever compromise.

    There is a good discussion of some of these factors in the last issue of Focus on Complementary and Alternative Therapies:

    Does ‘traditional’ evidence have a place in contemporary complementary and alternative medicine practice? A case against the value of such evidence

  • Thank you for your suggestion Zeno!!! I'm not a researcher myself but there are members of the team that have been researchers and university teachers for many long and painful years. I think we've got a massive challenge in our hands in trying to give consumers without a scientific background quite complex information in a subject that is even more complex.

    As for the hierarchy of evidence, we though of making it visually easy to understand by pre determining each hierarchy separately.

    We are all very passionate about this subject and are collecting ideas about the site concept, that's why I created this post. At the same time we're working hard on the background information that will be added to it!!

  • It would be great if you could find a good way to explain what constitutes good evidence and what does not - it has to be the key. So many (including some on here) believe that their personal experience (or that of their Great Aunt Mabel) trumps whatever any so-called scientific study says. That's a bit hurdle to overcome, but I believe it's possible.

  • Precisely!!! You look like someone that shares our view of this subject!!! When the website is being in beta testing condition I'll let you know. The address is (currently offline).

    I think it will be quite a challenge but we'll do our best to pass the message on either through short texts or diagrams.

  • I am guessing you have come across the work of Drs McDougall,Greger, Klapper,Ornish, Gerson,Barnard, Esselstyn, Campbell etc? From personal experience my husband's arthritis disappeared after 3 weeks following a whole food plant based diet with no oil. He also recovered from a type of angina. We have been living this way for 19 months now and are still amazed at the health benefits energy and we being we have. He has lost 4 at I have lost 3st. I am 61 he's 66 we were previously vegetarian for 44 years. We wish we had known the health benefits years ago.

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