Six Pillars of a Healthy Brain

Dr. Tim Heath     Dr. Tim Heath welcomes new patients to his multi-disciplinary practice on the West End. Patients might also get to visit with a regular at the clinic, Shobai the dog. Spending time with a pet reduces stress.

While navigating today’s busy society, everyone is looking for tips and tricks to stay on top of their game, maintain their cognitive sharpness, biohack their mental capacity and age gracefully without losing their minds. I often get questions like: “What are some ways students can enhance their chances to pass a test?”, “How can employees keep their brains sharp throughout the day?” or “How might a retiree prevent crossing the precipice into mental decline?” Following are six ways I share to preserve people’s brain strength and endurance. 

Patients commonly complain of brain fog, memory lapses, senior moments or disorientation. They might also suffer from Type III diabetes or other degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Doctors may not tell patients this, but there are things to do now to improve one’s brain function. 

Six pillars of a healthy brain

1. Physical Exercise moves the blood and excites the brain. Even if one has never exercised, any physical activity is better than none. What’s good for the heart is good for the brain. Regularly working on endurance exercise, strength training, flexibility and balance can promote growth of new brain cells while preserving existing ones, boosting brain power, mood, concentration and even decision-making skills. 

2. Brain Nutrition starts with removing inflammatory foods and consuming brain enhancers. Many studies have shown that a Mediterranean-style diet — rich in cold-water fish, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, olives and nuts — will reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and improve brain function. Each plate needs to be loaded with 60 percent fruits and vegetables. Grab a cup of coffee or tea. Toast to good health with a glass of red wine. All this will help improve memory, decrease the risk of dementia and pack the brain with nutrients, omega-3s and antioxidants.

3. Medical Health comes down to avoiding risks and medications that shrink brain volume. It can’t be overstated how negatively diabetes and obesity affect the brain. Reduce the risk of disease by avoiding white sugar, white flour and hydrogenated fat. Proper sleep, relaxation and stress management are all often overlooked as ways to boost brain health.

4. Mental Fitness and brain reserves are based on continued learning because the brain is a muscle. People who continue to learn, embrace new activities and develop new skills and interests are building and improving their brain reserve. 

5. Social Interaction is embedded in finding one’s passion, sharing with others and expressing gratitude. Stay connected for sources of support, which reduces stress, combats depression and enhances intellectual stimulation. 

6. Pets are a powerful way of maintaining brain health as they can calm people down and reduces stress. Walking a dog boosts immunity, improves heart health, keeps owners moving and enhances their social lives. When patients visit Optimized Wellness Center, they can spend some time with Shobai the dog.


Dr. Tim Heath DC, MBA, CCEP, operates Optimized Wellness Center, a multidisciplinary functional medicine practice on the West End. He is a board-certified primary care doctor. This article is not intended to be medical advice and should not be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis or determine treatment for a medical condition.