The Brain & Mental Health: Food, Excercise & Mood, Part One

Sometime ago I reviewed Sanja Gupta, MDs book Keep Sharp and one of Dr. Daniel Amen’s book on the brain, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.

(Link to the reviews in one posting:…ooks-to-consider/)

Now I would like to return to these authors for some additional info on the relationship between your brain and Mental Health Month, starting with Dr. Amen and then my next posting will be from Dr. Gupta’s book.

In The End of Mental Illness, a newer book by Dr. Amen, he gives us 11 Bright Mind Rules. Bright Mind is an acrostic from another one of his book’s, Memory Rescue, with each letter standing for the risk factors for tour brain, that I feel are worth listing:

Blood Flow, Retirement/Aging, Inflammation, Genetics, Head Trauma, Toxins, Mind Storms, Immunity/infections, Neurohormone Issues, Diabesity, Sleep. (There is an entire section on these topics in The End of Mental Illness, also.

Then, in Chapter 18: Food Made Insanely Simple: The Bright Minds Diet to End Mental Illness, Amen lists 11 Rules that each start our with the words: Bright Minds as a constant reminder:

RULE #1. Only Love Foods That Love You Back

RULE #2. Go for the highest-quality calories you can find— and not too many of them if you need to lose weight.

RULE #3. Hydrate but do not drink your calories. (8-10 glasses of water per day.)

RULE #4. Eat high-quality protein at every meal to balance blood sugar and keep cravings away.

RULE#5. Eat and cook with high-quality fat. (ex. avocados, nuts, seeds, and sustainable, clean fish.) There is also a long list of healthiest fats,oils, and what to limit, such as canola oil, corn oil, industrial raised animal fat and dairy, etc.

RULE #6. Go for smart carbohydrates (colorful, low glycemic index, and high fiber.) Amen has a list of 20 anti-oxidant f00ds & (dried) herbs that fit this bill: cloves, oregano, rosemary, cinnamon, sage, acai fruit, coca powder, parsley, basil, ginger root, walnuts, artichokes, cranberries, kidney beans, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, pomegranates, cooked red cabbage, cooked broccoli.

RULE #7. Use herbs and spices like medicine.

RULE #8. Make your food as clean as possible (eliminate artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, and foods in plastic containers) and read the labels.) Check the Environmental Working Group ( for the latest Dirty Dozen, Clean 15 list. es

RULE #9. If you struggle with any brain/mental health or physical issue, eliminate ( an elimination diet) any potential allergens or internal attackers, such as sugar, MSG, gluten, corn, soy, and dairy for one month to see if you improve. (There follows a list of the top 15 names of sugar, starting with just sugar and ending with dextrose.)

RULE #10. Use intermittent fasting to supercharge your brain. (example, no food after 7 pm until the following morning at 7 am for a 12- hour fast or 11 am for a 16-hour fast.)

RULE #11: Get a routine that serves your health rather than hurts it; find 24 foods that you love that love you back.

Additionally, he has several spots in his book about the relationship between the brain and exercise. (He does recommend you check with your doctor to be sure what he suggests is good for your body and brain.) Dr. Amen lists four kinds of exercise:

1. Burst training: 30-60 second bursts followed by low-intensity exertion.

2. Strength training: The good dr. recommends two 30-45 minute weight lifting sessions a week, one or two days apart, for upper body and for lower body. (This training decreases anxiety and increases energy and mood.)

3. Coordination activities: Dancing, pickle ball, table tennis (the world’s best brain sport) and similar exercises that require coordination will boost the cerebellum’s activity. The cerebellum has 50% of the brain’s neurons and controls the coordination between the physical and thoughts.

4. Mindful exercises: Exercises such as yoga, Pilates and tai chi help anxiety and depression and increase focus and energy, boosting your brain health.

(All of the above is taken directly and almost verbatim from Dr. Amen’s excellent book, The End of Mental Illness, published in 2020.)

I highly recommend this excellent, informative book published by   that costs $25.99 for hardcover version, a healthy investment! Dr. Amen is a double board certified psychiatrist with a keen interest in the relationship between food and your brain health. He is on Public TV and also You Tube and is my new “guru” for this topic of the relationship between food and mood.


3 thoughts on “The Brain & Mental Health: Food, Excercise & Mood, Part One

  1. 4 stars
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