Not long ago, I spoke with Dr. Steven Masley, whose book The Better Brain Solution I found fascinating. I couldn’t help but notice, when I read the book, that his solution to maintaining longevity and healthy brain function sounded awfully familiar to me!
Stronger bones, stronger mind
Looking at over 100 clinical markers of aging, ranging from brain speed to arterial plaque growth to bone density, in concert with lifestyle factors such as diet, fitness, toxin exposure, and stress management in more that 1000 patients, Steven has found that many of the same things we use to help prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures can also reduce the risk of long-term memory loss. “We’ve been able to show which things help your memory, which things improve your brain, and it turns out many of these things are also good for your heart and your bones,” he says.
The part that may be new to my readers is that this research finds blood sugar to be one of the key elements of maintaining both healthy brain and heart. “We know that probably the number one factor that contributes to memory loss is elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance,” he told me. “When brain cells become insulin resistant, they literally shut down — they’re not able to use glucose as energy. And over time, it leads to brain cell death and literally the brain starts shrinking.”
5 steps for improving brain health
His five-step solution to this problem is where the conversation went toward familiar topics:
- Healthy foods: A diet rich in green, leafy vegetables makes your brain, on average, 11 years younger, says Steven, who also recommends eating oily fish and nuts to provide omega-3 fatty acids and lists nearly a dozen other foods that are also part of an alkaline diet.
- Exercise: “Just like for bones,” Steven says, “we see a benefit… the fitter you are, the better your brain function.”
- Specific nutrients: Vitamin D, magnesium, and B vitamins — all important in bone health — are also key brain health.
- Stress reduction: “If you don’t manage [stress], your cortisol rises, your blood sugar goes up, and it literally shrinks your brain,” he says.
- Probiotics: “I really like the idea of a probiotic for a healthy gut” as a way to support brain health, he adds.
I named my bone health program “Better Bones, Better Body” because I understood that what was good for the bones would benefit the rest of the body as well—and it’s nice to get still more scientific confirmation that the approach works. But Steven’s research also underscores the sheer number of people who need to learn the value of this approach. “The #1 most expensive disease in America today is memory loss,” Steven told me. “It’s supposed to double in just the next 12 years. It’s skyrocketing.” He points to the fact that “50% of all Baby Boomers, and 30% of all adults, have insulin resistance… they’re high risk for memory loss, heart disease, diabetes, and probably bone loss, too!”
If you want to hear what else Dr. Steven Masley had to say, watch our video interview.
I’m Dr. Susan Brown. I am a nutritionist, medical anthropologist, writer, and speaker. Get my free weekly newsletter here.