Top 5 meta-facts for 2021
After a couple of weeks hiatus, I thought like last year, I would share some reflections on our journey so far and my top 5 meta-facts during the past year.
So far, since launching in 2019, we have now published over 3,000 expert answers covering hundreds of questions across health and science. We verify every expert manually and will continue to publish these answers and our consensus articles that summarise our experts insights - openly for everyone. What’s new for 2021?
Metafact Review Partnerships are open…
In 2020 we focused alot on our Metafact Reviews - which are deep insights from many experts into topics selected by our members. Feedback on these reviews were very positive with our most popular reviews on Sleep, Organic Food, COVID-19, Vitamin D, Anxiety, Habits and Anti-Aging.
Reviews are core to our work and we will look to improve and extend them this year with open partnerships. If you are an organization hosting a conference or looking to engage a new wider audience on a specific topic - please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to explore ideas to collaborate.
Top 5 Meta-facts from 2020
What were on my list of the best insights shared by Metafact expert?
1. Organic food is a waste of money
I always thought that there had to be some science behind the organic food trend - so I’d sometimes pay more for organic produce vs conventional produce. I assumed ‘organic’ had less pesticides/residues, tasted better or at the minimum, must be better for the environment, right?
Well, those assumptions were all wrong or unclear after completing our review on Organic Food with 20 independent experts. Organic food is not ‘pesticide-free’, experts say:
It’s a long list [of pesticides].. Many of these products have no tested efficacy; many of those that have been tested are worthless; and many are more dangerous than synthetic [pesticides]. They just happen to be naturally occurring and therefore registered for organic use.”
wrote Dr Linda Chalker-Scott, horticultural expert from Washington State University
Organic consumers may be exposed to organic pesticides such as Copper sulfate, the insecticide Spinosad or some antibiotics such as streptinomycin
says Professor JM Mulet, a plant biologist from Spain. What's important is that both conventional and organic pesticide residue levels are not harmful, as “the levels of pesticides in the food of western countries is several orders of magnitude below the recommended levels” he said.
We found out that Organic food has no measurable health benefits and there’s little evidence that organic food tastes better.
What about the environmental benefits? Experts were divided. But on climate change specifically, organic food is likely worse says experts because the amount of land needed for organic food is so much greater than conventional methods. Without a clear net benefit, I’ll now be avoiding the organic food aisle at the supermarket.
2. Eat more fruits, vegetables - but don’t wash them with soap
The most science-backed diet on Metafact is still the Mediterranean diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fatty fish. Beyond brain health, our microbiome review added more evidence about the importance of fruit and vegetables in general.
But during the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, some well-respected outlets were advising people to wash their fruit & vegetables with soap (since soap deactivates the virus). So we asked microbiologists and food experts who overwhelmingly said that was not a good idea.
Soap should *absolutely* not be used to wash food.
wrote Professor Donald Schaffner, leading microbiologist from Rutgers University.
Five other experts confirmed this while ‘30-seconds of running water as effective’ without the risk of poisoning. By the way, accidental soap/disinfectant poisoning spiked during COVID-19. So keep eating a more plant-based foods but avoid the soap.
3. Vitamin-D is important
We completed a major review into Vitamin D and this was the most surprising for me. I’ve never taken supplements of any kind in the past, but a growing consensus of experts told us that taking Vitamin D is important, particularly in the winter or high-latitude countries. There is emerging evidence it helps protect against certain infections and helps our immunity.
If you are deficient in Vitamin-D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection. So I would not mind recommending—and I do it myself—taking vitamin-D supplements.
Dr Anthony Fauci the US government's top immunologist.
The sun is the best form of Vitamin D, but most of us, however, will have a Vitamin D deficiency during winter months - so you can help avoid deficiency by eating fatty fish (salmon or trout). Mushrooms are also rich in Vitamin D. I’ve never taken supplements before in my life, but during the winter months, enough experts have convinced me to consider taking Vitamin D supplements for overall health. Consult your doctor if that is right for you though..
4. Poor sleep is not permanent
It’s understandable that sleep patterns for many of us have been poor during 2020. Anxiety and stress are big factors for getting a good 7-9hours of sleep. Sometimes we tend to think that poor sleep (or insomnia) is somehow permanent. But in our Sleep Review, we had sleep experts share insights to help you understand if you do have insomnia. And if you do, the good news was that a very strong consensus saying insomnia is not likely permanent.
Even those with chronic insomnia typically respond well to treatment, whether relaxation training or cognitive behavior therapy. To help get better sleep, setting an optimal sleep environment is important and our experts give tips on how to work out how much sleep you need - as some people naturally need as little as 5hrs or as much as 10hrs. Read all these sleep tips here.
5. COVID-19 vaccines are safe but..
There are lots of scare campaigns on the COVID-19 vaccines spreading through social media and the internet. Some people are legitimately suspicious of the novelty and rapid turn-around time of these vaccines.
All 14 independent vaccine experts we asked agreed with the scientific consensus that the COVID vaccines that have been approved by the proper regulatory agencies are as safe as any other vaccine or medication. Nothing in medicine however is risk-free and the decision to take a vaccine is personal and dependent on a person’s individual circumstances - like those with pre-existing allergies - so talk to your doctor about it.
All discussions of "safety" for vaccines (or medicines in general) have to start with discussions of how serious and frequent is the condition you are trying to prevent or treat. If the condition is very minor, then even trivial side effects may be not worth it. If the condition is very serious, then people will accept much bigger potential side effects.
wrote Dr William Hausdorff a vaccine expert from PATH, a global nonprofit public health organisation.
Many thanks for all your support during 2020…
May the facts be with you!
Is there science behind ‘Mindulness’?
Exclusive reviews for our fact-loving subscribers & members.
Each month we investigate a topic voted by the community by asking the world's top experts to review the evidence. Reviews are what you need to know. You can read all the reviews online here.
Mindfulness is a practice that is reaching more mainstream attention. Many people say it's important for strengthening your mental health, whether overcoming personal challenges or global ones like pandemics or climate change. To start off 2021, our members told us it was an important topic for us to investigate.
Can mindfulness really improve mental health? Does it trigger physical changes in your brain? Is it useful for kids? And could it make you a better person? We have asked independent experts from across the globe to review the facts. Here’s what we found...
WHAT TOPIC NEXT?
Our members choose the topics for us to investigate. Get the latest knowledge from thousands of independent experts on topics you want to know about. No ads, no click-bait, just the facts direct from the world’s top minds:
If you enjoyed this edition of Verified, consider clicking the little heart (to give it a “like”), and sharing it with a friend :