Psychiatrist, clinical neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Amen offers tips to improve brain health

CHICAGO (CBS) — As we head into the new year, do you want to create a positive direction for your life? 

Psychiatrist and clinical neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Amen says spending just three to five minutes a day, improving your brain health over a year, can do that. CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot spoke with him about his new book, “Change Your Brain Every Day.”

“You’re not stuck with the brain you have. You can make it better and with a better brain always, comes a better life.”

Dr. Daniel Amen says after doing more than 200,000 brain scans on his patients, research has shown you have to prevent or treat the eleven major risk factors that are shown to impact your mind.

“My team and I came up with this acronym, BRIGHT MINDS,” Amen said. “So, B is for blood flow, R is retirement and aging, I is inflammation, G is genetics, and so on.  Your brain is a physical organ and if you’re going to keep it healthy, you have to keep your body healthy and attacking each of these risk factors. Know which of the eleven you have and work to optimize them.”

Amen says by doing those brain exercises in his book “Change Your Brain Every Day,” such as getting at least seven hours of sleep, eating more vegetables, and enjoying nature, people can see changes when it comes to their well-being.

“Your mood is better, your anxiety is less, your focus is better, your decisions are better, which means your physical, emotional, spiritual, relational health, are all are better because all of those are decided in large part by the physical functioning of your brain,” he said. 

Amen says don’t forget, your brain also relies on nutrients to thrive. Your diet and eliminating toxins from your daily routine can reap rewards for your brain health. The key is to avoid the things that can hurt your brain.

“Alcohol is not a health food. Marijuana is not innocuous. I mean, I’ve published very large studies that show both of them, prematurely age the brain,” he said. 

“Dehydration, just a little bit, ages the brain. Vitamin D. Critical! Everybody watching this should know their vitamin D level and optimize it. People who take vitamin D, have a 40% less risk, of getting Alzheimer’s disease. How simple is that? Simple supplements, multiple vitamins, especially B vitamins, support the brain. Omega 3 fatty acids, support the brain.”

Another Amen brain health tip is to only love foods that love you back. He says his number one pick to supercharge the brain? Organic blueberries. They’ve been shown to enhance cognitive function and the spice, turmeric, has been shown to decrease inflammation and also enhance cognitive function too.

If you’re interested in taking your brain to the next level, visit his practice in Bannockburn, and take his brain health assessment quiz online.    

You can also connect with Amen on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.