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How to Spot IBD Misinformation Online

When I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC), I didn’t know many people with the condition, and I had a laundry list of questions. Like many other people, I turned to “Dr. Google” for information.

And who wouldn’t? Within seconds, my search query produced numerous answers. Unfortunately, a lot of the information I found was confusing, and one piece of advice often contradicted the next. For example, I read that I should reduce my fiber intake, but follow a vegan diet consisting entirely of high-fiber foods, and avoid dairy but eat plenty of fermented foods like yogurt. Some sources told me that diet does not affect IBD, while others claimed to cure IBD through diet alone. Needless to say, the more I searched for answers on the internet, the more my frustration grew, along with my list of questions. As I soon learned, the internet can be both a source of information and a breeding ground for misinformation.

As a registered dietitian specializing in gastrointestinal health, I often find myself advising patients on where to go for verified medical advice on IBD, how to think about personal anecdotes on patient blogs and whether or not they can be generalized, and why it’s important to avoid hyperbolic claims of cures for chronic diseases, which by definition are lifelong.

Read on to learn what to look for and why, to help you differentiate IBD fact from fabrication.

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