There exists a great irony in 21st century North America. Overall we are living longer, staying healthier, and remaining active far into our senior years; however, we are increasingly obsessed with preventing aging and convinced that we must stave off death. You can't open a newspaper without reading a new study that declares one food or another to be harmful, beneficial, or possibly both; how many times has the scientific community flip-flopped on whether eggs will shorten your lifespan?

Everyone gets older; this is an undeniable, permanent fact. The children of the Baby Boomer era are now reaching retirement age, and seniors will soon make up a significant portion of America's population. Many of those people want to enjoy their golden years as much as possible; some may continue working past the age of 65, or wish to take up traveling once the pension kicks in. Science has made great leaps in extending life, and society demands more each day. We are convinced that there's some secret to be unlocked, some puzzle to solve, whose answer will yield long-lasting health and vitality for decades to come. So it's no wonder that you're seeing certain products branded as “superfoods” in your local grocery store. They are touted as being extra beneficial for human health, and each one has its proponents who will swear by its effects. But what are superfoods, and is there any truth behind the hype?

A Piece of Marketing Genius

If you talk to a registered dietician or nutritionist, you won't hear the term 'superfood'. It's a word coined by marketers, first used in 1998. It can apply to virtually any food or product that has possible health effects across a wide range of categories. There is no legal definition for a superfood; this means that there is very little regulation for its use, and grocers could technically put it on any product they wish. The European Union has prohibited the use of the term for marketing any products unless there is credible scientific research to back it up. In an era where pharmaceuticals are distrusted, some people find comfort in the idea of an all-natural approach to their ailments, and will buy into the hype of antioxidants and phytochemicals.

However, they're not necessarily buying snake oil. Part of the confusion about superfoods comes from the fact that they are often backed up by some legitimate scientific research; however, the conclusions may be blown way out of proportion, becoming dubious claims eagerly accepted as fact. Blueberries, for instance, are often hailed as a superfood; they contain moderately high concentrations of vitamin C, manganese, anthocyanins, and dietary fiber. A 2007 study on anthocyanins demonstrated their potential to fight diabetes, inflammation, and neurological diseases; they have also been thoroughly researched for their ability to inhibit cancer in rats, and a human trial began in 2008.

This research is secure, but still in the theoretical stages; nonetheless, it's easy for someone to quickly skim a scientific paper and conclude that blueberries will prevent cancer in people. Once the marketing department gets their hands on the research, the rest is just window dressing. Similarly, some fish contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids; these molecules have gained popularity as a treatment for ADHD, autism, dementia, and depression. While omega-3s do promote the growth of brain cells, there is no conclusive evidence that they will cure or lessen the effects of these disorders.

The truth is, there is no one cure for aging or disease; it is a multifaceted and complex process, and can't be stopped in its tracks by drinking some blueberry puree. Genetics play a role in the aging process, and can't be tampered with; the environmental factors are simple and easy. Eat a varied diet full of fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy grains; keep yourself physically fit, don't smoke, and challenge your brain even after retirement. While there may not be an elixir of life that guarantees total health in your senior years, you can help your body by following common sense and leaving the marketing hype to the younger generations.

Author's Bio: 

Cris Brines is a representative of If you are looking for good service and an honest opinion on a medicare supplement plan, let Medicare Supplement Shop help you out. Our experts will provide the best advice so that you can make an educated decision. Visit for more information today!