Health misinformation is rampant on social networks. Luckily, there are healthcare professionals who dedicate their time to debunking countless health myths. Using humor, medical knowledge, and social media skills, they are contributing to healthier societies.
The following five health influencers caught the attention of the Healthnews team the most in 2023.
1. Dr. Mike Varshavski
The most-followed doctor online, Mikhail Varshavski, who goes by Doctor Mike, has attracted more than 25 million followers across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
A board-certified family medicine physician with a medical degree from the New York Institute of Technology, Varshavski decided to use his knowledge and voice during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide reliable information about the virus and vaccines.
Speaking in a language that is not too complicated for a layperson, Doctor Mike shares lighthearted reportages from his office and useful advice on nutrition, medicine, and other health-related topics.
Varshavski even ventures into the streets of New York City to ask strangers about their concerns regarding vaccination and patiently explains why many of them are not very well-founded. An advocate of vaccines who gets a jab on camera, Varshavski says he empathizes with people who don’t have medical knowledge.
Doctor Mike offers a perfect combination of education and entertainment, making it easy to find yourself binge-watching his videos on health topics that many would consider boring.
2. Abby Langer
Abby Langer is a Toronto-based registered dietitian and the author of the bestselling book Good Food, Bad Diet.
With nearly 100k followers on Instagram, Langer mercilessly debunks nutrition myths, fad diets, and weight loss supplements. She takes on both — less-known social media figures and the big names like Dave Asprey.
Langer's videos and posts are always based on scientific studies and other reputable sources, but they are also short and easy to understand.
She is a host of the Aggressive Salad podcast, which she describes as "no-nonsense information on nutrition." Indeed, in the podcast, she interviews other experts in the field and promotes intuitive-style eating rather than restrictive diets.
With her message on the importance of accepting your body, Langer is a much-needed voice as the toxic diet culture shows no sign of ending.
3. Dr. Benjamin Schmidt
Many may find it awkward to talk about gastrointestinal issues, but not Dr. Benjamin Schmidt, also known as, Doc Schmidt.
A gastroenterologist based in St. Louis, Missouri, Doc Schmidt has over 1.2 million followers across his social media platforms, where he talks about common conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and hemorrhoids.
His followers can also find answers to the questions most of us encounter, such as how long can you safely take over-the-counter medicines?
But is it not only about medical advice — Doc Schmidt also creates hilarious sketches about his life as a doctor and the most interesting cases from his clinical practices.
He says it is vital for healthcare professionals to spread relevant and accurate medical information on social media.
"By using social media platforms to explain medical diseases, terms, and myths, doctors can reach far more people than they could ever see 1 on 1 in the clinic or hospital. This is an especially important method for reaching younger generations who use social media much more frequently and may be less likely to seek out medical care," he told Healthnews.
"Medicine, comedy, education," Doc Schmidt’s website says, and it definitely has it all.
4. Dr. Joy Harden Bradford
A licensed psychologist, Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, is the author of the book Sisterhood Heals, which emphasizes the healing power of friendships.
She is also a founder and a host of the award-winning podcast Therapy for Black Girls, which has 518k followers on Instagram alone and is listened to by thousands of people every month.
Bradford has dedicated her work, including social media accounts, to making health topics more accessible for Black women. She shares tips on navigating holiday emotions and practicing self-care during seasonal depression or when the news is dominated by international conflicts, among other relevant topics.
The resources Bradford provides to her followers are especially important for maintaining emotional well-being amid the ongoing health crisis in the United States. She also doesn’t shy away from physical health issues, including breast cancer awareness.
Highly aesthetic and very well written, the content of Bradford’s social media inspires you to be kinder and give a call to your best friend to make sisterhood even stronger.
5. Dr. Daniel G. Amen
Dr. Daniel Amen, a founder of Amen Clinics with 11 locations across the U.S., is a double board-certified psychiatrist and nine-time New York Times bestselling author.
With 3 million followers on Instagram and another 2.5 million followers on YouTube, Amen is also known as a psychiatrist for celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber, as well as convincing Bella Hadid to quit drinking.
On his social media, Amen aims to explain mental conditions like depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and share useful tips on how to improve mental health. Being a proponent of food medicine, Amen shares information on how the diet affects our mental and brain health.
"Changing the overall health of your brain is the most important thing you can do to improve your emotional well-being, success at work, and relationships. Your brain is involved in everything you do, think, and feel. With a better brain, always comes a better life," Amen told Healthnews.
With world-known celebrities in his patients list, Amen can use his name and knowledge to improve the well-being of millions of Americans facing the mental health crisis.