The Most Important Principles for Staying Young: Veg Out to Keep Your Brain Young!!!

11 Jun

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing.  You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do.  In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over both the quality and length of your life.

In previous articles, I’ve told you that the only organ in your body where size matters is your hippocampus—the memory relay center in your brain.  For those of you who would simply like to improve your memory and keep your cognitive powers as sharp as possible, a study—across ten different countries where folks eat various diets—may offer a simple solution: eat a plant-based diet, starting at as young an age as you can.

Basically, it works like this… To recall information, your neurons need to communicate with each other.  When your neurons make a connection, it creates a bridge, so to speak. The more information travels on those bridges, the more robust they become, the bigger your hippocampus gets, and the better your mind works. On the other hand, if you don’t constantly send and receive messages, those bridges won’t get traveled on, nobody will maintain them, and they’ll eventually crumble and fall apart. (This is the main reason for the “use it or lose it” mantra you hear so much about. When you stop using your brain, your neural “muscles” atrophy.)

Here’s the other thing about those bridges of information: they can get enhanced—or compromised—by all kinds of elements and influences. That’s where this new study about food comes in.  The wrong kind of food can lead to your inflammatory mediators tearing the bridges down. The right kind of food, as you also might imagine, works as bridge-builders and bridge-protectors (like two coats of paint covering the bridge structures)—keeping your hippocampus big and working, and working faster.

We want to be clear here: We’re not suggesting that an apple a day will prevent Alzheimer’s (there are genetic and environmental predispositions and even lifestyle choices—like smoking—that can increase your risk), but the whole point of this column is that you can –and should—leverage food in your favor. In this case—and especially if you have a family history of memory problems or have genetic tests that indicate you are at increased risk of these problems—food is a great opportunity to have what goes into your mouth influence what goes on between your ears.

That’s where these new data reinforce prior data. Researchers, writing in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found that “the most important dietary link to Alzheimer’s disease appears to be meat consumption, with eggs and high-fat dairy also contributing.”

So, to protect your brain and heart while slashing your risk of dementia, eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, and fresh produce—foods packed with polyphenols that help reduce inflammation. Add a healthy exercise routine of 10,000 steps a day or the equivalent.  And if you want to really rev-up your cognitive processing skills, practice the brain game Double Decision from BrainHQ. You can try it at no charge and then decide if you want to be a gamer.

Next month, we’ll talk about another choice that keeps your brain young:  don’t hold it in.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to send questions to:

Dr. Mike Roizen


PS: Please continue to order the new book by Jean Chatzky and myself, AgeProof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip.


NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice.
This article is of the opinion of its author.
Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.

You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week).  The YOU docs have two newly revised books: The patron saint “book” of this column YOU Staying Young—revised and YOU: The Owner’s Manual…revised —yes a revision of the book that started Dr Oz to being Dr OzThese makes great gifts—so do YOU: ON a Diet and YOU: The Owner’s Manual for teens.  


Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on Saturdays from 5-7 p.m. He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including: YOU Staying Young.

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