A 5-Step Method To Support Cognitive Function, From Neurologists
Your brain processes information and manages your emotions, cognitive function, depression, anxiety, attention—everything. Your brain is who you are—your thoughts and your relationship with yourself.
The brain is the most energy-hungry organ in the human body by far. It consumes 25% of your energy and at times up to 50% of your oxygen, even while you sleep. Nowadays, with all the technological advances and human progress, it is completely exhausted.
Our lives have not gotten any simpler. Instead, our lives—and especially our minds—are overwhelmed by the hundreds of decisions we must make at work and at home every day; the relentless television programs and news cycle to keep up with; our phones that aren't just used for calls but instead call on us to connect with work, family, and friends; and so much more.
We need to start supporting our brain health ASAP.
Nearly 6 million people are living with Alzheimer's disease in the United States alone, and that number is increasing. And that's not even the worst of it. In the general population, brain function is going downhill even without that debilitating disease.
Concentration, memory, focus, creativity, and productivity—all these are suffering as our brains struggle to keep up with the demands we place on them. There are also related issues, such as the rise in other dementias and stroke, as well as depression and anxiety—something a whopping 17.3 million people in the United States struggle with.
We know this is a lot to process. But there's good news.
The brain is incredibly resilient. Your brain has approximately 87 billion neurons and as many as one quadrillion neural connections, all interacting every moment of every day. Your cells rejuvenate, resist damage, and support growth at any age. Your neurons can make as few as two connections or as many as 30,000.
You have the ability to improve your brain function, to increase your neural connectivity to protect yourself against most degenerative, vascular, and inflammatory diseases of the brain. Better yet, you can profoundly improve your brain function starting right now.
5-step approach for better brain health.
Our five-pronged approach to improving cognitive health, as well as overall health, is called the NEURO Plan. NEURO stands for nutrition, exercise, unwind, restore, optimize:
With every meal you eat, you either make or break your brain. You choose, with every bite, which direction to tilt the needle. The good news here is that if every meal can damage, then every meal can heal. That's the power of food. We can move beyond simply consuming calories for survival.
We know you've heard this before. Breaking news: Exercise is good for you! But the thing is, it really, really is. And not just for cardiovascular health, although that's true, or mental health, although that's also true, but very specifically for brain health.
Regular exercise reduces inflammation and oxidative processes so that if you eat an unhealthy meal, exercise will help you create an environment that reduces the damage caused by that meal.
You will identify your stressors and practice methods of relieving bad stress such as meditation, mindful breathing, listening to music, journaling, and engaging in a variety of practices that will help you find a sense of calm.
You will learn some "best practices" for getting a good night's sleep, including going to bed at the right time, waking up at the right time, and avoiding sleep-distorting habits, like looking at TV, phone, tablet, or computer screens before bed.
You will spend quality time with friends and family, learn new things, and dive into brain-stretching activities. What is true for your body's pathways is true for every aspect of life.
Each of these pillars of health—nutrition, exercise, unwind, restore, and optimize—work together to bring you out of the state of survival your body has been in and into a state of growth and vitality. Each part of the NEURO Plan works with the others to create powerful, lasting change.
If you follow even just one aspect of the NEURO Plan, your risk of Alzheimer's drops significantly. But if you work with them all together, we believe your risk of developing dementia, stroke, and many other diseases of the brain drops by as much as 80 to 90%.
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Dean Sherzai, M.D., Ph.D, and Ayesha Sherzai, M.D. have been experts in preventing cognitive decline for more than two decades. Successful authors, speakers, neurologists, and co-directors of the Brain Health and Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center, the duo fuse medical research with holistic wellness to redesign the way we approach preventative cognitive healthcare. In 2017, the pair wrote the book, The Alzheimer’s Solution: A Breakthrough Program to Prevent and Reverse the Symptoms of Cognitive Decline at Every Age, which asserts that 90 percent of all Alzheimer’s cases can be prevented. The book provides a comprehensive plan for reversing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline by looking at nutrition, exercise, stress, sleep, and engagement. They also wrote the book The 30-Day Alzheimer’s Solution.