Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD
In the wake of COVID-19, there’s an increased motivation for regular individuals to partake in improving public health. But doing so doesn’t necessarily mean you need to make a career change or take drastic measures. There are plenty of small things we could all be doing more of to make our country and world a healthier place.
In this article we’ll review five ways individuals can positively impact public health, from significant career changes to small actions that could take a few hours per month:
1) Pursue a STEM PhD
One of the most impactful ways an individual can benefit the health of their society is to undertake scientific research that helps us understand and improve human health. Pursuing a PhD in a scientific discipline like Nutritional Biochemistry will require this sort of research.
Illuminate Health cites medical studies in many of our research-based articles, and without this crucial research it would be hard for consumers and doctors to make informed decisions about healthcare, nutrition and supplementation.
As an example, we only recently discovered how important the microbiome is to all aspects of human health. Scientists have even recently found out that our gut health influences our mental health, which can hopefully lead to more effective and safer mental health treatments in the near future.
2) Become a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)
Industrialized societies across the globe are becoming more obese, and there’s a general lack of exercise knowledge. By becoming a CPT you can directly impact the lives of your clients by helping them get in shape.
This field of work is especially important with so many consumers getting their exercise routines from YouTube and other online platforms. Many beginner athletes don’t know how dangerous some weighted exercises can be without proper form and training, and are at increased risk of injury.
CPTs can help clients build muscle and lose fat with a decreased risk of injury compared with them figuring it out on their own.
3) Donate to Health-Related Charities
One of the easiest ways to directly improve public health is to donate to charities that work in the field. We recommend using CharityNavigator prior to donating, because this tool vets charities based on what percentage of every dollar donated to them actually goes to the cause.
There are a variety of charities related to public health. Some are in the field of addiction rehabilitation and others fund scientific research that can benefit society as a whole.
Whatever your passion, finding a charity that matches it and donating is a time-efficient way to further public health, and a great option for those with disposable income.
4) Combat Misinformation Online
The internet has allowed for misinformation on various health topics to proliferate, since it’s a medium for anyone to voice their opinion. It’s also allowed for companies selling products with no basis of effectiveness to proliferate, which is something we try to combat.
In our Prevagen Review, for example, we cite medical studies and explain why we believe the popular memory pills are not at all likely to be effective and why their marketing claims seem fraudulent.
Any individual can do their own research and help to combat misinformation online. Whether it’s a family member suggesting an ineffective supplement on Facebook or a popular blog promoting fringe medical theories like homeopathy, there’s a need for well-cited information disproving false information.
Most of the methods we’ve listed thus-far have required expertise or money, but anyone can volunteer and make their local community a healthier place with just a little time and effort.
It could be passing out healthy meals at a food pantry or working on a local farm that feeds the community, or even joining an organization that visits elderly centers and socializes with the members improving their mental health.
There are so many great options for volunteering, and medical research has actually proven that volunteering benefits the health of the volunteer, so it’s a win-win!
There are many ways that individuals can help further public health, from pursuing medical research to donating to volunteering and more.
The best approach will depend on the individual, but we believe there’s a way for anyone to further public health if they’re motivated to do so. It doesn’t take money or knowledge; all it takes is the will to make the world around you a better place.