Dr. David Perlmutter tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler that just as we know how to adopt healthy lifestyles to keep our bodies in shape, we can adopt healthy eating and lifestyles to keep our brains in shape.
He says the strategies outlined in his new book, "The Better Brain Book," can even help prevent Alzheimer's disease.
"The programs we have been using now for 18 years have just been validated by a study published by the American Medical Association, showing 78 percent risk reduction for Alzheimer's disease by just taking some specific supplements," he says. "In fact, that is a preventable disease."
He warns that trans fats, found in "things you might find at a grocery store," put people at increased risk for Alzheimer's.
He urges people to have their blood tested for homocysteine, an amino acid that, he says, has a devastating effect on the brain. Levels can be elevated by taking some prescription and over-the-counter drugs. A vitamin B supplement can combat it.
Here are Dr. Perlmutter's six steps to a healthy brain:
Here is an excerpt from "The Better Brain Book":
YOU'VE JUST BEEN introduced to someone at the office or at a party, and seconds later, as you start to introduce her to your friend... you realize you can't remember her name.
Does this sound familiar? Are you having difficulty concentrating at work, remembering names and appointments, and keeping track of your glasses and keys? Are you easily distracted and less able to stay on task.
Do you nod out during long meetings? Do you feel that you're not as sharp or on-the-ball as you once were? Do you get cranky more often than you once did? Do you worry that you're so out of it that you're going to lose your next promotion to some kid right out of school? Do you worry, "If I'm like this now, what am I going to be like in ten years?" Are you tired of making jokes about "senior moments".
In moments of desperation, do you wonder, "Am I losing it?" The conventional wisdom is that becoming forgetful, moody, and even a little spacey is a "normal" sign of aging that happens to everyone and is no cause for concern. Moreover, you might think, even if your brain is turning to mush, there's nothing much you can do about it anyway, except sit back and watch with a combination of amusement and horror as you become mentally slower and duller with each passing day.
But that conventional wisdom is outdated, outmoded, and outrageously wrong. The slowdown in brain function that begins during midlife—the memory problems, difficulty focusing, brain fog, irritability, and loss of mental agility and physical coordination—is not a "normal" part of aging. It is the beginning of a downward spiral that is destroying your brain, slowly and insidiously chipping away at your ability to function at your peak and stay on the top of your game.
And believe me, it is something to worry about. The process of deterioration that is causing the where-did-I-put-my-keys? and what-was- I-just-doing? syndromes is the same process that can lead to serious medical conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and stroke. What's worse, most of us unwittingly lead lifestyles that accelerate this destructive process. We're promoting the demise of our brains.
You can stop it, reverse it, and recover what you have lost. Your brain has amazing powers of regeneration, and you can tap into them by supplying the right raw materials. You don't have to abandon your life dreams or lower your expectations because you think that your brain can't go the distance. My Better Brain program will give you the tools you need to reinvigorate, protect, and maintain your brain. I will introduce you to my scientifically proven program of natural therapies, including a Better Brain Workout that boosts memory and mental speed, dietary strategies that can rejuvenate sluggish brain cells, and nutritional supplements that provide the fuel you need to keep your brain running on all cylinders.
I am a board-certified neurologist, a specialist in the brain and nervous system, and I have been practicing medicine for more than two decades. At my offices, the Perlmutter Health Center in Naples, Florida, I have treated thousands of patients who have come to me from around the world with problems ranging from mild midlife memory loss and brain fog to severe neurological deficits resulting from disease. Those of you who may be worried about developing neurological problems— whether because of family history, lifestyle, or just the sense that your brain is slowing down—will learn how to prevent them and preserve your brain function. Those of you who have already been diagnosed with neurological problems will learn how to arrest the progression of your disease, reverse deterioration, and restore lost function.
The Better Brain program is organized in three tiers based on your level of risk:
Reprinted by arrangement with Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. from "The Better Brain Book," by David Perlmutter, M.D., and Carol Colman, Copyright © 2004 by David Perlmutter, M.D., and Carol Colman