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The AGEIST Guide to Living Well: The Brain

To keep the brain healthy, a balanced approach is needed. Here is simple, actionable advice based on my direct day-to-day experience.

This is the second of a series on living well. Each month we tackle a specific topic with some simple, actionable things we can do that are based on my direct day-to-day experience. This month I am focusing on the mind. I am specifically interested in how I can maintain my healthy brain function.

Increase NAD+ Levels

The first order of business is keeping the cells as healthy as possible with everything they need to produce the energy they need. Every morning I take two Basis capsules, a product from Elysium Health that increases NAD+ levels. Our bodies are a vast collection of cells that need energy to function properly, including our master organ, the brain. NAD+ is essential for energy production in our cells — it also naturally declines with age.  I recommend listening to scientist David Sinclair on Joe Rogan’s podcast if you want to learn more. Two Basis capsules daily increases and sustains cellular NAD+ levels by an average of 40%. I never miss a day taking it. I investigated Basis through conversations with Dr. Leonard Guarente, who pioneered NAD studies, have read the research and looked at the excellent quality of Elysium’s ingredients. This is why I believe in Basis. I take it every day, as do many of my friends. It works.

Drink Lots of Water

Next is water. Lots and lots of water. More than you think you need. It has been recommended to me that I drink 1oz of water for every pound I weigh. That is about 165oz or 1.5 gallons of water a day. I know that seems excessive, but I have read that one of the things Tom Brady does to keep himself in top form is drink a similar amount of water. The brain is more water than anything else. If I am even slightly dehydrated my thinking is diminished. After brushing my teeth, the first thing I do in the morning is drink 2 room temperature 16oz glasses of water.

Take Essential Fats EPA and DHA

EPA and DHA are essential fats that the brain needs to function properly. One can get them from fish oil supplements and, if you do, try to get the purest form possible. To increase absorption into the brain, it’s been written that it is best to consume the phospholipid form of DHA (found in fish, fish roe, krill oil, and fish eggs). With the lockdown, I have been taking supplements. When it is practical, though, salmon roe or flying fish roe are my go-to super-high-DHA fish eggs. I get them from a local Asian food market and have a teaspoon with avocado at lunch.

Sleep Well

Get good sleep. There are numerous studies about the impact of poor sleep on the brain. Getting even slightly less sleep than is needed will impair brain function; get less and performance falls into the realm of being drunk and if repeated, there are long-term brain-health implications. The book that scared me straight on this is Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. Read that and you will value your sleep like never before.

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Challenge the Body

Move the body. One of the best ways to keep the brain healthy is to constantly challenge the body. There is evidence that vigorous exercise leads to neurogenesis. The key here is challenging, hard stuff on the body. Muscle building, balancing, novel movements all cause the brain to build new pathways. I used to have a trainer toss me a small ball while I stood on one leg on a squishy pad. After a few minutes it was my head that hurt, not my leg. The control of the body in all its forms is what takes up the majority of the brain’s volume, so challenge your body and you are not only building muscle but brain function too.

Use Your Brain

Read hard stuff, learn new skills. This is in the use-it-or-lose-it category. Learn a new language, understand calculus, learn to paint — these all engage parts of the brain that we may not be using on a daily basis. It is really hard to learn a language because it requires a re-organizing of the synapses in the brain. But building these new neural pathways is great — it gives the brain more options. I would include meditation in this category as it too will re-organize the brain’s neural pathways, after some practice.

My intention is to live as long of a healthy, functional life span as possible so that I can contribute and be of service with maximum usefulness.

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