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Issue #83 (September 2021)

From the Editor

Welcome to the final installment of Study Deep Dives.

After almost seven years, we’re wrapping up the issue-based, magazine-style format of our deep dives into the latest nutrition research and moving on to repackaging longer-form new study analyses in an improved way. I mentioned the reasons why we’re winding things down in the last issue’s introduction, and I also invited feedback from you.

The feedback we got was a mix of positive and constructively negative (which I’m quite thankful for!). Interestingly, the people who wrote in with suggestions had the same concern: that this is a sign Examine is aiming to simplify and become more of a news service summarizing abstracts rather than providing the nuance, synthesis, and analysis we’re known for.

I totally get that concern, since that’s not the direction I’d want Examine to head, either. Thankfully, that’s not what we’re aiming for at all.

Instead, our goal when changing things up is two-fold: we want to be able to update evidence pages easily, and let you find the stuff you care about easily. A magazine-style deep dive isn’t conducive to either of those objectives. An article on one study is just too much of a snapshot of evidence at one point in time, rather than a permanent storehouse of information.

Let’s just take one article in this issue as an example: the 4-week study on the effect of diet on Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers. That’s a long-form article in which we take the time to spell out the basics of the specific biomarkers the authors measured. The details definitely matter, given the counterintuitive results in people with mild cognitive impairment found in that study. But the problem is that if we wanted to cover future studies on the effects of nutrition on Alzheimer’s risk markers in a magazine-style format, we’d have to include this kind of introductory material for each and every article. And if you wanted to find the basics of Alzheimer’s biomarkers, you’d have to dig through Deep Dive back issues in order to find the info you’re looking for.

Not only that, but what if new evidence suggests that one of those biomarkers unreliably predicts risk, or isn’t causally relevant in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease? Ideally, we’d update our older articles to reflect this new finding, but that would require a lot of person-hours. And if we don’t update the information, a reader searching our database of old articles may encounter out-of-date information.

That’s not a win for us or for you.

By retiring the magazine-style format, we’ll be able to devote our time to two main aims. First, we’ll cover a greater number of studies at length in our Study Summaries that Examine Members get every month. These will be longer than our usual study summaries, but shorter than Deep Dives, due to our team triaging some information to other centralized pages. Those centralized pages will be covering the basics of disease states, biomarkers, metabolic pathways, and much more. That way, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time we refer to biomarkers, statistical concepts, or metabolic pathways, and you don’t have to dig through back issues looking for a specific piece of background information relevant to the latest research.

That’s a win for both of us.

So don’t worry about Examine becoming little more than a glorified abstract alert service. Instead, I hope you look forward to an improved Examine that allows you to find up-to-date, nuanced information without drowning the signal you’re looking for with noise.

See other articles in Issue #83 (September 2021) of Study Deep Dives.