The notion, that to be fit and healthy you need to eat good food, has been around for a long time, centuries, in fact. In 1826, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin a French lawyer and politician, who gained fame as an epicure and gastronome, is quoted from one of his books, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.” Later, Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach, a German philosopher and anthropologist, wrote, “man is what he eats.” In the 1960’s, the phrase, “you are what you eat,” got a new lease on life as a slogan for healthy eating and then stayed in the lexicon of anyone touting or pursuing the notion that healthy eating is synonymous with health.
Dr. Daniel Amen, a proponent of healthy eating, goes one step further as he considers brain health central to fitness and health. According to Dr. Amen, “The fountain of youth is between your ears. It is your brain that makes the good decisions that keep you healthy, vibrant, and alive for a long time.” For Dr. Amen, the first step in any fitness change leading to better health is to secure the health of your brain. He has made this not only a personal pursuit, but also a career and life goal to impress upon the public the importance of brain health. In addition to his own clinical practice in psychiatry and brain disorders, Dr. Amen has collaborated with several well-known people, such as Pastor Rick Warren on the book “The Daniel Plan,” to publicize what he considers a brain healthy diet and regimen.
The news that you need to change your diet in order to prolong your life, live healthier and be smarter in the process is often accompanied by groaning and moaning over the favorite things you perceive will no longer be an option in this new, healthy lifestyle. There is good news in Dr. Amen’s long list of foods that promote the brain health. In fact, the things the list does not include are exactly what everyone knows is bad for them, sodas, fast food, and sugar and those on the list are some satisfying foods like sugar-free dark chocolate, walnuts, salmon and a host of spices that, per Dr. Amen, improve brain function. In the beginning he was his own guinea pig, he studied his brain to through scans and other means, and believed that his unhealthy habits in food, sleep and exercise had caught up to his brain. He changed his diet and habits, and according to him, he not only lost weight, something we all wish to do, felt healthier, but he was convinced he had reversed the damage to his brain caused by the years of bad habits.