Use Your Brain to Change Your Age: Secrets to Look, Feel, and Think Younger Every Day

Use Your Brain to Change Your Age: Secrets to Look, Feel, and Think Younger Every Day

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by Daniel G. Amen, Marc Cashman

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A healthy brain is the key to staying vibrant and alive for a long time, and in Use Your Brain to Change Your Age, bestselling author and brain expert Dr. Daniel G. Amen shares ten simple steps to boost your brain to help you live longer, look younger, and dramatically decrease your risk for

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A healthy brain is the key to staying vibrant and alive for a long time, and in Use Your Brain to Change Your Age, bestselling author and brain expert Dr. Daniel G. Amen shares ten simple steps to boost your brain to help you live longer, look younger, and dramatically decrease your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Over the last twenty years at Amen Clinics, Dr. Amen has performed more than 70,000 brain scans on patients from ninety different countries. His brain imaging work has taught him that our brains typically become less active with age and we become more vulnerable to memory problems and depression. Yet, one of the most exciting lessons he has learned is that with a little forethought and a brain-smart plan, you can slow, or even reverse, the aging process in the brain.

Based on the approach that has helped thousands of people at Amen Clinics along with the most cutting-edge research, Dr. Amen’s breakthrough, easy-to-follow antiaging program shows you how to:

• Boost your memory, mood, attention,
and energy
• Decrease your risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
• Eat to live longer
• Reduce the outward signs of aging and make your skin more beautiful
• Promote the healing of brain damage due to injury, strokes, substance abuse, and toxic exposure
• Dramatically increase your chances of living longer and looking younger
••And much more.

By adopting the brain healthy strategies detailed in Use Your Brain to Change Your Age, you can outsmart your genes, put the brakes on aging, and even reverse the aging process. If you change your brain, you can change your life—and your age.

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Editorial Reviews

In this new book, physician/psychiatrist Daniel Amen (Change Your Brain, Change Your Body) explains how breakthrough brain imaging science can be applied to improve the quality of your life.

Edward Ash-Milby

Product Details

Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt



I can never find my keys. Sometimes they show up by theeggs in the refrigerator.

I am fifty-two. Isn't that normal?

Think again!

When Lisa was a young girl she adored her nana, hermother's mother. Nana and Lisa baked cookies together, played cards for hours,told silly jokes, and picked plums in Nana's backyard. Nana taught Lisa how tocan the fruit for plum jam, which they loved to share. Nana was veryoverweight, so she would hold the ladder while her granddaughter climbed theladder for the plums. On nights Lisa slept over, Nana always read to her. Lisaremembers laughing so hard that she would sometimes snort at the silly voices Nanaused when she read the stories. At night in the dark they promised each otherto always be best friends. Lisa loved snuggling into Nana's body, which wasever so soft. She felt unconditional love in Nana's presence, which was one ofthe best feelings she remembered from her childhood.

Then, when Lisa was about twelve years old, somethingstarted to change. At first, it was barely noticeable. Nana seemed lessinterested in their time together. There were no more jokes, fewer stories, andNana said she was too tired to play games or pick plums. Nana was also moreirritable with Lisa, even sometimes yelling at her for what seemed like noreason at all. Lisa was devastated, but Nana did not pick up on the social cuesthat should have told her that her granddaughter needed soothing. Lisaremembers this as one of the saddest, most confusing times in her life. Shewondered if she had done something to make Nana mad. "What's wrong withNana?" Lisa would ask her mother, but time and again her mother would say,"Don't worry. Nana is fine." This only deepened Lisa's pain andconfusion. Maybe she really was the problem and Nana had just stopped lovingher.

Her grandmother was sixty-five years old when Lisanoticed the changes. Around this time, Nana had been diagnosed with diabetesand high blood pressure. Lisa remembered watching Nana take her pills and hershots to feel better, but no one seemed overly concerned about her health.

When Lisa was fourteen, Nana took a dramatic turn for theworse. With Lisa in the car, Nana got lost on the way home from the store. Nanapanicked and stopped a man who was walking across the street to ask for help,but she could not tell him where she lived. She appeared frightened andconfused, like a child. Lisa asked the man to call her grandfather, who came topick them up.

Once they got home Lisa cornered her mother. "Look,Mom, I know something is really wrong with Nana. Her brain isn't working right.She needs help." Still, the family continued making excuses, normalizingwhat was obviously not normal behavior. Looking back on this time, as an adult,Lisa remembers being furious, feeling she was, even as a young teen, the lonevoice of reason shouting into a bitter wind. After Nana got lost several moretimes, the family finally was concerned enough to take her to a doctor whodiagnosed her with something called senile dementia. He recommended Nana livein a nursing home for people with memory problems.

Gone were the happy warm feelings she once enjoyed whenshe visited her grandmother. The nursing home where she now lived smelled"medical" and felt cold, and Lisa felt odd and afraid in it. Shenever knew which Nana she'd find on these visits: Sometimes Nana smiled whenshe saw Lisa; sometimes she did not recognize her at all. Sometimes when Lisaread to Nana she seemed engaged and happy, other times her grandmother justwanted to be left alone. After a few years, Nana died in the nursing home.However, Lisa felt that Nana had really died years earlier when her personalityslowly ebbed away. At Nana's funeral, all of their special times circledthrough Lisa's mind. She couldn't help wondering how a person could disappearwhile her body continued living on, and she couldn't help feeling how sad itall was. Lisa wondered if she or her mother would have the same problem asNana. She prayed to God they would not.

Lisa's mother, Ruth, was also a lot of fun. They too hadmany special times, cooking, reading, and playing together. Like Nana, Ruth wasa fabulous baker who also struggled with her weight, early onset diabetes, andhypertension. Lisa's mother was also a wonderful grandmother to Lisa's threedaughters, which reminded Lisa of the closeness she'd shared with her own nana.In fact, her girls called her mother Nana as well. In the back of her mind shekept watch over her own mother's brain health. She didn't want hergranddaughters to lose this vibrant and wonderful relationship they'd enjoyedwith her mom, as she'd lost hers with Nana. It was this concern that promptedLisa, now in her early forties, to pick up my book, Change Your Brain, ChangeYour Life.

When Ruth turned sixty-eight Lisa's worst fears startedto actualize. At first, Ruth struggled with finding the right words. If shemeant dog, she might unintentionally say bark; if she meant milk, she sometimessaid cow. One time when she asked her granddaughter for a hug, she said,"Give Nana a slap."

Ruth's memory was also becoming a problem. Lisa watchedher reach for the phone to dial her sister whom she'd just called five minutesearlier. Her sister said this sort of thing was happening more frequently.Lisa's father mentioned that there were times when he found her mother standingand staring and not knowing why she was in a room. There were also twooccasions on which Ruth got lost driv-ing in a town where she had lived forthirty years, forcing her to call her husband for directions. Her father hadinstalled a GPS system in Ruth's car to help her. (I sometimes wonder if havingGPS systems actually delays the diagnosis of early Alzheimer's disease, aspeople do not have to rely as heavily on their own memories to get from point Ato point B, so their deficits are not seen early by those who could encouragethem to get help.)

Initially, Lisa's dad just laughed off her mother's struggles.He explained it away with, "She is just getting older. She's under a lotof stress." Or "You know your mom has never had a good memory orsense of direction. It will pass. Everything is all right."

Because early signs of dementia may alternate withperiods of lucidity, families tend to deny what's happening. This is tragic,because the earlier someone seeks help, the better the prognosis. Rememberingher Nana, Lisa wasn't about to ignore her concerns or let others downplay them.She anxiously and emphatically told her father, "Mom needs help and sheneeds it now." Together they approached her mom with their observationsand concerns, urging her to go to the Amen Clinics. At first Ruth wasresistant. "I'll be okay," she said, which frightened Lisa even more.Then Lisa reminded her of Nana and told her that early intervention might helpher avoid Nana's fate. At this, Ruth agreed to come to the Amen Clinics for anevaluation and brain SPECT imaging.

I greeted Lisa and Ruth when they came into my office andlistened to their story. From these descriptions alone, I suspected Ruth hadearly Alzheimer's disease. However, after being a neuropsychiatrist for thirtyyears, I knew I couldn't proffer a diagnosis based on my suspicions alone. Ihad to look, test, probe, and get as much information as possible.

Ruth's brain SPECT scan showed three findings consistentwith

Alzheimer's disease:

1. Decreased activity in her parietal lobes, at the back,top part of her brain. The parietal lobes help with direction sense.

2. Decreased activity in her temporal lobes, which helpget memories into long-term storage. The temporal lobes are also involved inword finding.

3. Decreased activity in an area called the posteriorcingulate gyrus, deep in the back part of the brain. The posterior cingulategyrus is one of the first areas in the brain that dies in Alzheimer's diseaseand is involved with visual memory.

The structured memory testing that we do at the AmenClinics also showed significant problems in both immediate and delayed recall.


The next step in the process was to look at her importantnumbers. These are also vital numbers for you to know and optimize; they're acritical step in helping you live longer and look younger.

Here is a list we use at the Amen Clinics.

1. BMI

2. Waist-to-height ratio

3. Calories needed / calories spent

4. Number of fruits and vegetables eaten a day

5. Average of hours slept each night (with sleep apnearuled out)

6. Blood pressure

7. Complete blood count

8. General metabolic panel with fasting blood sugar

9. HgA1C test for diabetes

10. Vitamin D level

11. Thyroid levels

12. C-reactive protein

13. Homocysteine

14. Ferritin

15. Testosterone

16. Lipid panel

17. Folic acid and B12 levels

18. Syphilis and HIV screenings

19. Apolipoprotein E genotype test

20. Twelve modifiable health risk factors

1. Know Your BMI Ruth's BMI, or body mass index, was 32,which was too high. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, overweight is between25 and 29.9, and obese is greater than 30. You can find a simple BMI calculatoron our website at Ruth was obese, which was not helpingher brain remain healthy. As already mentioned, being obese has been associatedwith less brain tissue and lower brain activity. Obesity doubles the risk forAlzheimer's disease. There are probably several mechanisms that underlie thisfinding, including the fact that fat cells produce inflammatory chemicals andstore toxic materials in the body.

One of the reasons I want my patients to know their BMIis that it stops them from lying to themselves about their weight. I wassitting at dinner recently with a friend who seemed totally indifferent abouthis weight, even though he was injecting himself with insulin for his diabetesat the table. As we were talking, I calculated his BMI for him. Trust me, I canbe a very irritating friend if I think you are not taking care of yourself. HisBMI was just over 30, in the obese range. That really got his attention. Sincethen he has lost 20 pounds and is more committed to getting healthy. The truthwill set you free. Know your BMI.

I put Ruth on a structured weight-loss program.

2. Know Your Waist-to-Height Ratio (WHtR) Another way tomeasure the health of your weight is with your waist-to-height ratio. Someresearchers believe this number is even more accurate than your BMI. BMI doesnot take into account an individual's frame, gender, or the amount of musclemass versus fat mass. For example, two people can have the same BMI, even ifone is much more muscular and carrying far less abdominal fat than the other;this is because BMI does not account for differences in fat distribution. TheWHtR is calculated by dividing waist size by height. As an example, a male witha 32-inch waist who is 5'10" (70 inches) would divide 32 by 70 to get aWHtR of 45.7 percent. The WHtR is thought to give a more accurate assessment ofhealth since the most dangerous place to carry weight is in the abdomen. Fat inthe abdomen, which is associated with a larger waist, is metabolically activeand produces various hormones that can cause harmful effects, such as diabetes,elevated blood pressure, and altered lipid (blood fat) levels. Many athletes,both male and female, who often have a higher percentage of muscle and a lowerpercentage of body fat, have relatively high BMIs, but their WHtRs are within ahealthy range. This also holds true for women who have a "pear"rather than an "apple" shape.

You want your waist size in inches to be less than halfyour height. So if you are 66 inches tall, your waist should not be more than33 inches. If you are 72 inches tall, your waist should not be more than 36inches.

Note: You have to actually measure your waist size with atape measure! Going by your pants size does not count, as many clothingmanufacturers actually make their sizes larger than they state on the label soas not to offend their customers. I remember preferring to purchase pants orshorts that were labeled "relaxed fit" because I could still fit intoa size 34-inch waist. There was no way I could get into a slim-fit 34 inches,which, looking back, actually was 34 inches. Since doing this work, I have seenthat most people do not know their waist size and are in total denial. Most ofour NFL players and patients significantly underestimate their waist size. Oneof the pastors we work with said his waist size was 42 inches, but when wemeasured (at the belly button) it was really 48 inches. Ruth was 5'4"tall. She told me her waist was 33 inches. It measured at 37 inches.

This was further confirmation that Ruth needed astructured weight-loss program.

3. Know the Number of Calories You Need and Spend in aDay I think of calories like money: If I eat more than I need, my body willbecome bankrupt. Wise caloric spending is a critical component to gettinghealthy. Don't let anyone tell you that calories don't count. They absolutelydo. The people who say calories don't matter are just fooling themselves. Youneed to know how many calories you need to eat a day to maintain your currentweight. The average fifty-year-old woman needs about 1,800 calories, and theaverage fifty-year-old man needs about 2,200 calories a day. This number can goup or down based on exercise level and height. You can find a free personalized"caloric need" calculator at

Set a realistic goal for your desired weight and matchyour behavior to reach it. If you wish to lose a pound a week, you typicallyneed to eat 500 calories a day fewer than you burn. I am not a fan of rapidweight loss. It does not teach you how to live for the long term. One of mypatients went on the hCG diet and lost 40 pounds in three twenty-six-daycycles, but it was at a pretty high cost. Within the next six months, she putall the weight back plus another 10 pounds. Slow and steady teaches you newhabits. I like it for people to lose a pound a week, which teaches them a newway of living for the long term.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Dr Amen magically shows us that the aging of our brain need not match the aging of our bodies. The tools he offers to avoid injury to this most precious real estate in our body are priceless and will keep us thinking sharply throughout our progressively longer lives.”
—Mehmet Oz, M.D., Professor and Vice Chair Surgery, New York Presbyterian/Columbia and host of The Dr Oz Show
“If you want to think smarter, you need to have a healthier brain.  This is another incredibly helpful book from Dr. Daniel Amen for anyone who wants to increase their brain capacity.  I want to stay sharp, and that's why I read everything Dr. Amen writes, and you should too!”
—Dr. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life
Use Your Brain to Change Your Age is inspiring and practical.  Its case studies make this book powerfully impactful, both for adults and young adults in schools.  I can't think of a single reader who won't find himself or herself represented in the stories of women and men who have used Dr. Amen's wisdom and research to live healthy lives.  This is a must read for anyone interested in the human brain and the body that shelters it.”
—Michael Gurian, author of Leadership and the Sexes and Boys and Girls Learn Differently
“Thorough, practical, and inspiring, this is an essential guide to reclaiming your brain—and your life!
It's never too late to start... or too early. I recommend it to anyone with a brain.”
—Hyla Cass MD, author of 8 Weeks to Vibrant Health
“I couldn’t stop reading Dr. Amen’s new book until I was finished.  As a holistic neurosurgeon, I found it to be the best user’s guide to optimal brain function I have ever read.  His incredible storytelling skill combined with practical information will change your life.”
—Joseph C. Maroon, M.D., Professor and Vice Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Team Neurosurgeon, The Pittsburgh Steelers

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Use Your Brain to Change Your Age 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw Dr. Amen on public television and it struck a note with me. I bought this book and the content really made sense. I immediately changed my eating habits and after 3 weeks I have lost 12 lbs. and have dropped a waist size. Not only do I feel better, the fog that was in my brain has been lifted and my thoughts are clearer than they have been in a very long time. I always figured it was just stress, but was I ever wrong. If you are over 50 years old like me, I highly recommend you read this book.
Dr_Wilson_Trivino More than 1 year ago
Atlanta, Georgia- Everyone has those off days, when you feel foggy and tired. Most willingly acknowledge that this is part of getting older and that maybe some even say that their best days are behind them. According to Dr. Amen, this is not an excuse. You can change and it begins with your brain. In Use Your Brain to Change Your Age: Secrets to Look, Feel, and Think Younger Every Day best selling author breaks it down to a simple process to understand your brain. With anecdotal stories and brain photographs you are able to witness the changes of the brain with a few shifts in life style choices. The brain is an organ that is taken for granted but it is the core of our being. It controls everything. The book goes into detail on the importance of good food. To put more natural foods in and leave processed food out. It also centers on creating a support network that adds value to your life and brings you up. Even vigorous sex adds to a healthier brain, which is an optimal three times a week. One love making session equals the amount of calories burned on a thirty minute run. Vitamin supplements with increase of Vitamin D are listed in the text. Dr. Amen is a clinical neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and brain imaging expert who heads his own Amen Clinics. He has been seen on most every major talk show and speaks on this subject across the country. This book even showcases how he helped Pastor Rick Warren and his congregation move in a path of better health and brain. So start healing your brain and read this revolutionary book, Use Your Brain to Change Your Age: Secrets to Look, Feel, and Think Younger Every Day by Daniel G. Amen, MD.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont care for these self help books much at all. But i am concered about memory this book blows my mind.... easy read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book to anyone that really love to read very helpful and a well understandable.
alwayslearningIA More than 1 year ago
An excellent book that motivated me, again, to eat healthy and exercise. Exercise is so important to maintain our brain function and even to increase our ability to learn. I started reading this at the public library, and it was so good I went and ordered it for my personal library at home.
topdesk123 More than 1 year ago
Nothing new here. Typical advice. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep. Don't abuse your body and you won't abuse your brain. There you have it in one sentence.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book makes me wish on of Dr. Amens clinics were close to Omaha.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think Dr. Amen needs to brush up on his research. The yolk of an egg is the most nutrient dense brain food there is and he suggests throwing it out!! Please stop perpetuating the miss-information! Eggs are not harmful and they do not give you high cholesterol. After I read that I couldn't read any more and I deleted the book from my Nook.
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You do as much