When a pseudoscience product is behind my computer screen or only attainable through an infomercial, though it bothers me, I feel safe-guarded because I can choose to tune it out. What’s more harrowing in my opinion is when a pseudoscience product finds its way to my hometown, sneaking into my grocery store.
One product that I often see at my local grocery stores is water which claims to have properties that can change our brains for the better. Some of these products claim to make us anything from happy to sleepy, depending on what kind of allegedly special formulation they contain. I’m refraining from giving exact brand names for the specific reason that I do not want any of this critique to translate into press for something that doesn’t deserve it. However, they’re sadly easy to find with some quick internet searches.
These products, like many others, have been critiqued before but somehow fake science finds a way and they continue to dodge lawsuits about false claims and make their way back to the store shelves. Much of the debunking work against these products has focused on the claims about happiness which fall back on age-old beliefs about introducing lithium salts into our drinks. Suffice to say, whatever amount of trace lithium is found in these products is way below the clinically efficacious dose.
What’s caught my attention is the use of very specific neuroscience-related branding. For a while (and some of their products still bare this description) one company had trademarked the word “neurogenesis”. Fundamentally, neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons are created in the nervous system. By attaching this, or similar words to their branding, companies falsely portray the idea that their product has some sort of clinical effect on our brains. Don’t worry, the very cool folks at the Snyder Lab at the University of British Columbia ran a nice study that tells us indeed one of these bottled water brands was bupkis.
Drink water, enjoy a diverse and balanced diet, and keep your body moving. You’ll get the same amount of neurogenesis that way as you would from overpriced H2O. The Snyder lab also recently published evidence of the importance of neurogenesis into our adulthood, awesomely summarized by Dr. Snyder on his Twitter.
Photo credit: Unsplash, @jorgeaalcala