Why Do You Care About Having a Healthy Brain?

Part 7 of a 7 part series on keeping your mind healthy as you age

My granddaughter Emmy on her first day of preschool. Daniel G. Amen, MD

To review what I discussed in parts 1 to 6 of this series:

  • All of us need baseline brain health assessments.
  • We need to optimize our important health numbers, not just normalize them.
  • Help your brain in multiple ways
  • It has to be iterative; you can never stop, because aging never stops.
  • One of the most important ways to decrease your risk for Alzheimer’s disease is to decrease all of the risk factors for it, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart disease, smoking, alcohol abuse, low thyroid and testosterone levels, sleep apnea, insomnia, chronic stress, having untreated ADD or depression, a lack of exercise, no new learning, a SAD (standard American diet), intestinal inflammation and increasing age (although you cannot change the latter).

    If you want to keep your brain and body healthy for as long as possible you must answer this question.  It’s actually the most important question I ask my patients:


    Why do you want to be healthy?

    Why do you want a stronger mind and a more powerful brain?

    If you don’t know the answer to this question, no amount of great information will keep you on the right track, especially with the constant exposure to unhealthy choices.

    Let me tell you my “why?”

    Emmy, my 4-year-old granddaughter, is my WHY for staying healthy.  At 5 months old Emmy started to have wicked seizures.  In one day she had 160 of them.  I was lecturing in Boston when my daughter texted me videos of the seizures where it looked like Emmy was being electrocuted. Emmy was then diagnosed with a very rare genetic disorder associated with seizures, heart disease, and developmental delays.  The doctors told us she may never walk and had a 30% chance of dying before the age of 3.

    They wanted to put her on a medicine that was $26,000 a dose and had more side effects than you can imagine. I was terrified for her. I asked about trying the ketogenic diet, which has been found to be helpful for children with seizure disorders.  Her doctors scoffed at me and I had to fight to get them to do it.

      But after 3 months on the diet, her seizures went away, and at age 3 she started preschool.

    I need to be healthy to fight for Emmy for as long as I can.  If my brain is not healthy, I will never be my best for the people who need me.  And if your brain is not healthy there is NO WAY you can be your best for the people who need you.

    I never want to be a burden to my children. I want to be the leader of my family, but the only way that is possible is if I have a strong mind and a healthy brain.  When I think of being tempted by the ice cream or French fries, or keeping my brain healthy for Emmy, she always wins.


    Is it to feel less anxious or less depressed?

    Is it to keep your mind healthy and enjoy your life for as long as possible?

    Is it to be able to stay connected to those you love?

    I know Emmy needs me, but I also need her. 

    Who needs YOU to have a healthy brain?

    Whatever your reason, NOW is the time to start. 

    Remember what I said, Alzheimer’s disease starts decades before you have any symptoms and untreated ADD, depression, PTSD and addictions all increase your risk for it.  You can do something about it, but you literally have no time to waste if you want to keep your brain healthy for the rest of your life.

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