How to get started taking care of your brain.
I worry about outliving my brain.
I don’t want to have to rely on others because my brains can’t keep up with my body.
It’s a scary thought, and being scared is a call-to-action.
If you don’t know where to start, you are in the right place.
There are some basics of brain health you can master then get into the more complicated stuff.
It may seem a daunting task to fully understand how and why our brains function the way they do, but scientists are continually studying it in order to find the best ways to improve and extend its life.
Studies show that you can maintain optimal brain function by following simple lifestyle suggestions including diet, exercise and supplementation.
With the right choices and habits, you can:
Maximize your brainpower
Boost your memory
Improve your IQ and creativity
Lift your mood
Prevent and even reverse mental aging!
Today's Diet and Your Brain
Boyd Eaton, M.D. of Emory University said “The largely new dietary pattern adopted since the invention of agriculture, and especially within the past one hundred years, appears to go beyond what our genes can tolerate." 
A move toward fast food filled with sugar, salt and saturated fats within the past hundred years.
There is a direct correlation between increased incidence of depression, schizophrenia, dementia and other brain disorders and a marked change in what we are eating.
Several hundred thousand generations of our ancestors survived on the Stone Age diet of wild game, wild greens, fruits, berries and roots before the agricultural revolution.
Today we have moved so far from that way of eating that 55 percent of the American diet is made up of “new foods” not consumed by our ancient ancestors.
Get Started With 6 Ways to Take Care of Your Brain
Dr. Boyd Eaton of Emory University writes how to get started taking care of your brain.
Here is what he said to eat and not to eat to get more of the nutrients that sculpted our brains:
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables: These are by far the primary staples of the Stone Age diet equaling about 65 percent of daily calories and 100 grams of fiber – 10 times our average intake. Fruits and vegetables supplied many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in amounts people now get only through supplements, says Dr. Eaton.
Up Your Seafood Intake: One of the most important distinctions between a Stone-Age and modern diet is the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fats. This ratio was 1:1 which promoted smooth brain functioning. Today the omega-6s from corn oil, margarine and the like outweigh the brain-enhancing omega-3s by 20:1. Adding more fatty fish like sardines, salmon and herring and/or taking fish oil capsules while restricting omega-6 fats will help optimize your brain fats.
Only Lean Meat: Try wild game with naturally high levels of omega-3 fats and substitute skinless poultry and fish when necessary as modern red meat is full of hazardous saturated fats.
Limit (Ideally Eliminate) Cereals, Pasta, Bread, Dairy Foods, Processed Oils and Sugar: None of these were as prevalent in the Stone Age diet as they are now and many of these can trigger subtle allergic reactions prompting headaches, depression, arthritis and gastrointestinal problems suggesting a genetic disharmony. An overload of processed oils, also known as polyunsaturated fats and “trans fats”, can trigger cell malfunction that is bad for the brain.
Potassium and Sodium: According to Dr. Eaton, eating far more potassium than sodium is the most striking way to mimic a Stone-Age diet.  Our ancestors ate fruits and vegetables which provided 7000mg of potassium to 600mg of sodium daily. Today we eat 2500mg potassium to 4000mg of sodium and are the only free-living mammals that eat more sodium than potassium possibly leading to high blood pressure and strokes (Carper, 2000).
Fish Oil: Because it is near impossible to totally imitate a nutrient-rich Stone-Age diet without a boost from supplements, you may want to consider supplementation. Fish oil is suggested if you don’t eat fish several times a week and to avoid the potential contamination by heavy metals frequently found in seafood but not in molecularly-distilled (purified) oil.
All the above suggestions can be found in Jean Carper’s enlightening book Your Miracle Brain.
Life-Stage Dietary Suggestions
Carl Pfeiffer PhD, M.D. of the Brain Bio Center in New Jersey suggests a diet much like the Stone-Age diet above with the added benefits derived from orthomolecular (a form of alternative medicine that aims to maintain human health through nutritional supplementation) therapy specific to the brain.
Our brains have different needs at all life stages.
Dr. Pfeiffer suggests the following for the different stages of life:
Children over 2 years old
10-12 drops containing zinc, manganese and B6
Heavy-metal toxicity: Vitamin C supplement at 500mg per day
Learning disability and bed wetting: DMAE drops
Allergies: drops with calcium, potassium and methionine 500mg morning and evening – no folic acid as it makes allergies worse
Adequate zinc, manganese and vitamins without copper
Vitamin C supplement at 1,000mg daily
Vitamin B6 at 100mg and zinc at 10mg per day
Enough B6 for nightly dream recall or 50mg per day
Organic chromium from brewer’s yeast or GTF tablets
Vitamin E supplement at 400IU per day
Vitamin C supplement at 2,000mg per day
Zinc supplement at 15mg per day
Selenium supplement at 200mcg per day
Manganese supplement at 10mg at bedtime
Vitamin E supplement 400IU in the morning
Vitamin B12 lozenge or injection daily
Magnesium glycinate - 500mg daily
Molybdenum supplement at 500mcg per day
All the above suggestions and more may be found in Dr. Pfeiffer’s book Nutrition and Mental Illness.
Pregnancy and Essential Fats
It is commonly known that during pregnancy special attention must be paid to nutrition in order to support the growing fetus.
Supplements of folic acid and other vitamins, along with a balanced diet, offer some protections against some fetal malformations such as neural tube defects.
According to Andrew Stoll M.D. of Harvard Medical School, recent studies have shown that omega-3 oils are necessary not just for evolution of the human brain but also for its growth in the womb.
These studies show that a lack of omega-3s during gestation may hinder development of the visual system, possibly also hinder future intelligence while increasing risk for low birthweight, premature birth and one of pregnancy’s most life-threatening problems, preeclampsia and eclampsia.
The weight of evidence points overwhelmingly to pregnant and breast-feeding women increasing their intake of omega-3 oils, especially EPA and DHA, to circumvent the cascade of problems that can start at conception and build for a year or more after birth.
So far no more than 3.5g per day of EPA and DHA combined have been given to pregnant women in research studies.
Always consult with your healthcare professional if you are considering supplementation during pregnancy.
Carper, J. (2000). Your miracle brain. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Pfeiffer, C.C. (1987). Nutrition and mental illness. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Stoll, A.L. (2001). The omega-3 connection. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.