Daniel G. Amen, MD’s new book is aptly titled Change Your Brain Every Day: Simple Daily Practices to Strengthen Your Mind, Memory, Moods, Focus, Energy, Habits, and Relationships. As the title – Change Your Brain Every Day – would suggest, Dr. Amen’s book is about neuro-friendly and neuroplasticity-inducing tactics and methodologies. It’s also a rousing call to action challenging traditional psychotherapeutic, and psychopharmacological approaches to considering the difference and symbiosis between mentality and actual, neurological process. “’Seeing my brain was like seeing one of my children for the first time.’ Doug was referred to me by a close friend because he suffered from brain fog and fatigue.
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He had lived in a mold-filled home, grown up on a farm where he was exposed to a lot of pesticides, and had many concussions from martial arts. He told me that seeing his scan was like seeing one of his children for the first time.
He knew he had to take care of his brain and did not want to do anything to hurt it. That is brain envy,” Amen writes, in a core example of the aforementioned themes. “Doug did everything I asked, including improving his diet, taking targeted nutraceuticals (supplements that help support and heal your health, in his case a high-quality multiple vitamin, high-dose omega-3 fatty acids, and a brain boosting supplement), and using hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Within a few weeks, he started to feel much better.
After three months, his scan had dramatically improved (see image). The brain fog lifted and his brain was better, as was his energy, endurance, mood, and memory, proving one of the most exciting lessons of brain scan work: Once you fall in love with your brain, it can get better, even if you have mistreated it.”
He adds, “Yet most people never care about their brains. Why? Because you can’t see it. You can see your greasy hair, dry skin, or extra weight and change it if you don’t like it. But not many people have a chance to peer into their brains, so why would they care about it? Brain imaging changed everything for me and Doug. If you don’t yet love your brain, consider taking a look at it.”
As Amen shows time and again, maintaining the brain should be viewed as something as simple as maintaining the heart. Physical and mental share a disquietingly similar trajectory, one that can be easily headed into detrimental territory once one becomes negligent to that fact. “If you want to keep your brain healthy or rescue it if it’s headed for trouble, you must prevent or treat the 11 major risk factors that steal your mind. What hurts the brain? You probably know some of the obvious ones: drugs, excessive alcohol, infections, toxic chemicals, and head injuries.
The lesser-known factors include being over- weight; sleep apnea; high blood pressure; diabetes, prediabetes, and high blood sugar levels; drugs for anxiety; highly processed foods that have been sprayed with pesticides and include added sugar and artificial ingredients; having hormones out of whack; too much stress, negativity, and hanging out with people who have bad habits. Reflect on which of these issues are impacting your brain,” Amen writes.