Welcome to Dear Julia, a weekly column where readers can submit everyday health questions on anything from the science of hangovers to the mysteries of back pain. Julia Belluz will sift through the research and consult with experts in the field to figure out how science can help us live happier and healthier lives.
Ever since I started reporting on health issues, I've gotten emails from friends and family asking things like: "Is gluten really bad for you?" "How much fat should I eat?" "Should I bother with juicing?" "Is it safe for my son to use e-cigarettes?" "Can dead people who donate organs feel anything?" (Yes, that last one was a real question.)
I always love these questions because they often inspire great stories. They also present an opportunity to talk to smart researchers and sift through the best available evidence to see what hard science has to say.
In this column, I want to create a more formal channel through which readers — and not just family and friends — can send their everyday health questions. In return, I'll comb through the scientific literature and solicit answers from the world's best experts.
You won't always find simple responses to every question. After all, we're talking about human health, in which some answers are nuanced and less definitive. But I'll write each column in a way that should give you a sense of why answers aren't clear, as well as offering advice on how to search for the best evidence yourself. And I'll heavily link back to original sources so you can read the science, too.