When a big-time health worry meets an information void, it can make some pretty wacky stuff start to sound almost sensible.
Keeping the brain healthy is a key component to living our best lives, especially because nearly everyone over age 50 wants to live independently for as long as possible, without becoming a burden to loved ones.
They're eager for reliable information, but what they find is a sea of conflicting claims, pseudoscience and information chaos. The quickest internet browse unearths no end of oddball ideas — such as: Sniffing basil can boost your brainpower. Or coconut oil can cure Alzheimer's disease. Or standing on your head can sharpen your memory.
How can we protect our brains and avoid being taken in by worthless advice that often literally comes at a high price? Supplements that promise to boost brainpower are a billion-dollar business, but research has yet to prove their value.
How do we distinguish something that works from something that doesn't? Fortunately, common sense is a good start for making one's way in the information maze. And AARP provides brain-health information you can trust, that is on the side of science. Through relationships with key experts in the field, we have developed brain-health tools and resources that reflect the latest thinking in scientific research.
The research suggests that multiple factors could positively affect your brain health, and we address five main areas that have been shown to support the brain: staying physically active; challenging your brain in new ways by continuing to learn; getting enough sleep and keeping stress levels down, to allow your brain to relax and recharge; getting the proper nutrients through a healthy diet; and staying socially active by interacting with friends, family and your community. Learn more at aarp.org/health/brain-health.
In short, what's good for your brain is also what's good for your overall health. Meanwhile, we'll be on the lookout for any proof that sniffing basil makes you sharper.
Eric J. Schneidewind is AARP National Officers President