We’re living longer these days. Yet most of us believe that living longer won’t mean living better. Many of us fear that our brains will suffer the ravages of age, bowing down to Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. It doesn’t have to be this way. Taking charge of our brain health is one of the most important steps we can take to enjoy quality longevity. Good brain health is within our grasp; we just need to take that first step: a commitment to ourselves to re-vamp our lifestyle.
In his book, Canyon Ranch 30 Days to a Better Brain, Dr. Richard Carmona uses up-to-date research to show us how to go beyond that first step.
Dr. Carmona is the vice-chairman of the Canyon Ranch organization. After graduating from the University of California with a degree in medicine, he became a vascular surgeon specializing in trauma, burn and critical care. Later, he received a master’s degree in Public Health Policy and Administration. He also served as the 17th Surgeon General of the U.S. from 2002 – 2006.
The book is based upon the structured brain health program used at the Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. People who go to the Canyon Ranch to improve the brain health spend 30 days enhancing their brain health through food, fitness and spirituality/mindfulness. The ranch provides people with a holistic, take charge approach to their brain health, based upon four tenets. People learn to take care of their body, their mental health, emotional health and spiritual needs.
30 Days to a Better Brain is divided into three parts. Part 1 provides a detailed discussion about how our brain works, along with factors that affect our brain’s health. Part 2 describes the 30-day plan at the Ranch; which involves healthy eating, exercise/fitness, and meditation/mindfulness. Finally, part 3 talks about the importance of certain medical testing, complementary therapies (holistic options), how to challenge the brain, brain healthy recipes and supplement options.
Dr. Carmona ends the book with a chapter describing a Perfect Day of Brain Health. This was a short, yet important chapter – because it provided a simple plan that any one of us can add to their day to revitalize our brain, based on the book’s guidelines.
Because I enjoy learning all I can about brain health, I’m glad Dr. Carmona included a discussion of how the brain works and how our health affects our brain’s well-being. There was a great deal of technical terms and information to digest, however, and required (for me, at least) more than one reading session. This may be a turn-off for some readers who prefer a more user-friendly approach. Part one is well worth reading, however, since it provides a great summary of all that our brain does for us and how it functions.
I’m also a big believer in taking pro-active action, so I appreciated the integrative and holistic approach to brain health. The book offered many practical suggestions and actions based on eating healthy, making exercise a part of our lives, and taking care of our mental health as well.
I liked how the author broke down each part of the 30-day plan into weekly goals; he believes that making small changes to our lifestyle will help us reach and maintain lifetime changes. For example, in the 30-day eating plan, week one’s focus was lowering inflammation. Week two followed with eating more fruits and vegetables. Week three focused on controlling glucose levels and finally, week 4 discussed how to improve vascular health.
If you’re looking for a book that provide you with a comprehensive action plan with steps that you can take every day to support your brain’s cognitive functions for the long-term, this book is for you. Dr. Carmona provides practical advice that any one of us can follow. I’ll be referring to this book again and again, to make sure I keep my brain on track during my aging journey.
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