Podcasts To Enhance Your Health IQ

© Vogue Images

Increase your knowledge of medicine and ways to protect health by listening to these informative shows.

For many people, podcasts — recorded audio programs accessible through the Internet or smartphone apps — are the soundtrack of modern life. You can listen to them while you get ready in the morning, exercise, prepare meals, travel, or just enjoy some down time. Like streaming movies, podcasts start and stop at times you choose. Consuming health-focused podcasts in particular can help boost your knowledge about the latest medical treatments and trends and how to live a healthy lifestyle or cope with chronic disease. Just make sure the podcasts come from reliable sources.

"Since anyone can be a podcast host, you’ll want to be choosy. Seek out credible hosts, such as well-credentialed health professionals or health journalists who present scientific data in a balanced rather than biased manner. Avoid programs that promote poorly researched or scientifically unfounded diets or treatments," says Dr. Edward Phillips, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and director of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Podcast Basics

Podcasts first showed up in the early 2000s and have steadily gained a foothold as a major medium. So what are they? Podcasts are recorded audio programs, typically including lots of episodes that are available on demand through the Internet or podcast apps such as Spotify (www.spotify.com) or Stitcher (www.stitcher.com). The programs might be newscasts, interview shows, or just shows with a few hosts chatting about a particular subject. An episode usually lasts 15 to 60 minutes.

Podcasts Featuring Harvard Experts

Harvard experts are among the reliable sources you can turn to for health podcasts. For example, Dr. Phillips co-hosts a podcast called Food, We Need to Talk (www.foodweneedtotalk.com), distributed by PRX (Public Radio Exchange). You can listen for free and subscribe to this (and the other podcasts below) through podcast apps or online.


Food, We Need to Talk addresses all aspects of a healthy diet and healthy weight, plus information about practicing healthy lifestyle habits. "We take a science-based, humor-laced approach to health and fitness. We seek to inform our listeners with the best available science presented by researchers and clinicians," Dr. Phillips says.

And you won’t hear formal medical language. "I speak to our listeners as I would my patients," Dr. Phillips says. "We make it fun."

Here are some other podcasts featuring Harvard-affiliated experts:

Better Off: Home. What are the right foods to eat? The least toxic shampoos and sunscreens? The best way to prevent loneliness while working from home? Better Off: Home, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, focuses on what it takes to create a healthy home. (www.hsph.me/better-off )

Freakonomics, M.D. What do heart surgery and grocery store pricing have in common? Are more expensive hospitals better? Explore the intersection of health and economics on this program hosted by Dr. Bapu Jena, the Joseph P. Newhouse Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. (www.freakonomics.com/series/bapu )

Think Research. In this podcast, Harvard scientists share the backstories of their innovative work. Topics range from brain implants and wound healing to the development of high-tech materials that are used in surgery. (www.health.harvard.edu/trp )

Other Podcasts

For other podcasts from reliable sources, turn to organizations such as hospitals, government agencies, or nonprofit groups. Here are some examples:

Mindful Things. This podcast features interviews with experts at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, a psychiatric facility. Topics range from how to cope with mental health conditions to how to practice mindfulness and maintain mental health and wellness. (www.mcleanhospital.org/mindful-things )

Live Yes! In this program from the Arthritis Foundation, you’ll hear about strategies for coping with various types of arthritis. (www.arthritis.org/liveyes/podcast )

To find others, go to the website of a group that interests you (such as the American Heart Association, CDC, or FDA) and type "podcast" in the website’s search bar.


This article was originally published by Harvard Health Letter.

Related Articles