Pseudo Health Experts: 5 Ways to Avoid Falling Prey

By Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN

Navigating the intricate web of my love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with social media becomes particularly evident as I delve into Instagram feeds (Tik Tok, not my thing). Dietary directives, casually dispensed by influencers lacking credible expertise, punctuate the feed. The notion that personal experience, genuine or potentially contrived, automatically qualifies one as an expert is a shaky premise.

Celebrities of the A-list echelon venture into realms beyond their core knowledge, penning cookbooks, delivering nutrition advice, endorsing questionable medical practices, and peddling supplements. Meanwhile, the sudden ascent of influencers—those who materialize out of the digital ether—confidently pronouncing on wellness, adds an extra layer of complexity.

This is not a judgmental proclamation; it's an unadorned reflection of reality. In a world where pseudo health experts hold sway, the question looms large: Where will you choose to seek your guidance?

Does an individual earn their status as an expert or influencer through legitimate education, or is it merely a fusion of celebrity status and follower count?

With that, here are 5 ways to avoid falling prey:

  1. Verify Credentials: Check the qualifications and credentials of the influencer. Look for information about their education, certifications, and professional background. Legitimate health experts often provide details about their training and experience.

  2. Cross-Check Information: Verify the information they provide by cross-referencing it with reputable sources such as medical journals, government health websites, or recognized health organizations. Misinformation is common on social media, so it's crucial to validate information from multiple reliable sources.

  3. Evaluate Consistency: Legitimate health experts are likely to provide consistent and evidence-based information. Be wary of individuals who frequently change their stance or promote sensationalized claims without scientific backing. Consistency in messaging is a good indicator of reliability.

  4. Look for Red Flags: Be cautious if a health expert promotes products or services aggressively, especially if they claim miraculous results or quick fixes. Unqualified individuals may prioritize financial gains over your well-being. Also, be wary of those who discourage seeking professional medical advice.

  5. Consult Multiple Experts: Seek opinions from multiple qualified health professionals before making decisions about your health. Different experts may have varying perspectives, but consensus among qualified professionals is more trustworthy than advice from a single source, no matter the health issue. 

Another bit of advice: when feeling not “good enough”, we become vulnerable to influences making feel-good promises. Avoid mindless scrolling during such times, as the risk of getting influenced by those pseudo-experts is high. 

In the end, good health is a gift and one that ought to be valued and protected. Don't entrust your well-being to pseudo health experts without scrutiny. Always challenge their credentials and motives. Genuine health expertise isn't just talk; it's built on formal education, gained knowledge, integrity, and a dedication to the well-being of every individual.

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