Brain Tune Up!

Below is an outline of Brain Tune Up! The Complete Program. Giving you the program overview and what you will receive if you choose to join this program. Program costs and enrollment forms follow this section. 

The Brain Tune Up!, developed by Neurologist Dr. Ken Sharlin, is a protocol that combines the principles of neurology and functional medicine to both treat and help prevent chronic illnesses related to neurological disease.

Alzheimer's Disease Treatment United States





Multiple Sclerosis Treatment



Chronic Migraine

Fibromyalgia Treatment


Parkinson's Disease Treatment Program

Parkinson’s Disease

The Brain Tune Up! Protocol is currently treating patients from across the United States and even abroad. Since many of our patients come from all across the country we try to be as accommodating and understanding of the travel expenses our patients will have during the course of the program which is why we are able to offer customized care options throughout the program to assist patients travelling from afar. However, we do require that patients be seen IN-OFFICE at least three times throughout the program. Patients do have up to a year to accomplish these visits and generally the in-person visits are done at their initial visit, half-way through the program, and at their final visit before they move to the maintenance phase of the program. Our program coordinator Callie will explain this in complete detail when you schedule a free 15-minute consultation.

Program Benefits

While results may vary from patient to patient, the majority of my previous Brain Tune Up! patients enjoyed the following benefits as a result of my treatment program.

  • Sharper Memory
  • More Energy
  • Reduced Tingling
  • Pain Reduction
  • Improved Vision
  • Return To Activities
  • Increased Strength
  • Generally Less Stress
  • Improved Sleep
  • Less Depression
  • Healthy Weight Loss
  • Ability To Get Out Of Bed
  • Increased Appetite
  • Generally Less Fear
  • Fewer Headaches

Chronic Conditions

Brain & Nervous System

Those who are currently suffering from chronic conditions affecting the brain and nervous system who would like to change the trajectory of their condition by identifying and then treating the problem at the root cause level.

Functional Medicine Treatment for Brain Illness

Advanced Testing

Biohacking & Genomics

Those who want to utilize advanced testing and genomics to identify their potential chronic illness susceptibility and learn the foundational tools that may dramatically decrease the probability of developing chronic illnesses.

Program Investment & Monthly Summary

Based on the principles of functional medicine I have developed a neurology-specific, comprehensive program to help you re-direct your life toward a trajectory of health called Brain Tune Up!

Brain Tune Up! Intensive is a comprehensive functional neurology program, not a “one-off” visit to the doctor. Brain Tune Up! utilizes the tools of functional medicine, including The Functional Medicine Timeline, The Functional Medicine Matrix, Therapeutic Lifestyle Medicine, advanced laboratory testing, pharmaceutical-grade supplementation, Cutting-edge Technology, and a team of specialists who have the knowledge and experience to guide you on your journey.

Brain Tune Up! Program Details

Monthly Program Outline
  • Month 1: “Heal the Gut,” – Draw baseline labs (micronutrients, inflammatory and antioxidant biomarkers, methylation pathway imbalance.)
  • Month 2: Review baseline labs (address micronutrient, inflammatory, and antioxidant imbalances, optimize methylation.) Next labs: blood or saliva hormone testing.
  • Month 3: Review hormone testing results, optimize detoxification. Draw metals testing labs.
  • Month 4: Discuss metals testing results, optimize detoxification. Draw repeat pertinent baseline labs.
  • Month 5: Review repeated pertinent baseline labs. Perform optional tests as indicated.
  • Month 6: Review any optional labs. Review Brain Tune Up! / Bredesen Protocol Checklist, plan for long term maintenance.
In-Person Initial Two Day Neurological Evaluation

This is a comprehensive medical review of your condition, your presenting symptoms and current concerns, diagnostic tests and test results, treatments and treatment experiences. A complete neurological examination will be performed. This allows Neurologist Dr. Ken Sharlin to have an “anchoring point” to begin your functional medicine journey.

You will also meet with Cāllie Maggard, Brain Tune Up! Program Coordinator, to answer any questions about your intensive experience and make sure you are fully briefed on your schedule for the two days you spend with us. Over these two days you will receive:

  • Laboratory Testing – Targeted laboratory investigations selected by Dr. Sharlin to personalize your functional medicine experience will be obtained when you arrive in the morning. In general, these laboratory studies require that you arrive at the clinic in a fasted state. Please hydrate well! In some cases, you may also be asked to bring your first morning void of urine (a specimen cup will be provided).
  • Consultation with Dr. Sharlin – Expect to spend approximately 75 minutes with Dr. Sharlin. Prior to your visit, you will be asked to complete a private, secure cloud-based questionnaire which will be the basis for your discussion with Dr. Sharlin. You will have plenty of time to complete this questionnaire before your visit to Sharlin Health and Neurology. Please allow 2-3 hours. The goal of this part of your visit is to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that uniquely contribute to your condition and have keep you on your current trajectory. Together with Dr. Sharlin you will start to uncover your areas of greatest imbalance. This is your functional medicine timeline and matrix. You will receive a copy of your timeline and functional medicine matrix to take home.
  • Lifestyle Specialist Consultations – As part of your comprehensive evaluation and path toward success you will meet with each of the Brain Tune Up! Professional team members. Dr. Sharlin has hand-picked his team based their track record of success. They will help to highlight your areas of greatest need while providing you with a launching point for success in each of the focus areas. You will receive specific recommendations which may be in the form of printed material, audio, or video recordings that you will bring home with you to continue your practice. You may also be provided with a cutting-edge device from Heartmath that is yours to keep.
    • Angela Jenkins, R.D., 20 years of experience in clinical nutrition consultation
    • Merry Yeager, B.A., L.M.T. specializing in Emotion Code, Heartmath, Massage Therapy, and Health Education.
    • Amy Gordin, Licensed Physical Therapist and Personal Trainer specializing in functional movement and fitness.
    • Chuck Renner, O.T.R., owner of Advantage Therapy, specializing in manual and adjunctive therapies for chronic pain and biomechanical imbalances.
  • Exclusive Access To Nutraceuticals – Practitioner-exclusive pharmaceutical grade nutraceuticals are used in Brain Tune Up! A core selection of these products have been specifically chosen to work with the Brain Tune Up! protocol, and will be provided to you as part of your visit to Sharlin Health and Neurology. Additional supplements may be purchased, if desired, from the clinic. Dr. Sharlin will create an account for you in Fullscript, and future supplement needs can be fulfilled through this service and delivered directly to your home.


Dr. Sharlin and his entire team of specialists want to make sure your visit to the clinic has been truly rewarding and you are armed with the tools you need for lasting change. The conclusion of this will consist of a brief review with Cāllie Maggard, Brain Tune Up! Program Coordinator, so that you are scheduled for your next steps with us.

On-Site or Virtual Follow Up (3 to 4 Weeks Later)

You will be scheduled for follow up approximately 3-4 weeks after your visit to Sharlin Health and Neurology. In preparation for this visit you will receive a copy of your test results. If you live within a 3-hour drive from Ozark, Missouri, it is Dr. Sharlin’s preference to visit with you in person. However, because many of our patients come from a far distance it is possible to visit by telephone, Facetime, or Skype. During your follow up, Dr. Sharlin will go over your laboratory test results and your lifestyle specialist recommendations. Based on your results and your progress he will provide specific recommendations to assist you toward your goal. Upon the conclusion of your visit (within 1 week) these recommendations will be provided in writing to you, and in some cases additional audio or video recordings may also be prepared to assist you on your journey.

The Next 5 to 7 Months of Program


IFM-certified neurologist Dr. Ken Sharlin will dive deeper into your personalized plan over the next 5 to 7 months. This plan is based on your condition, and your specific areas of imbalance identified in your timeline, matrix, and laboratory testing. You can expect to receive the following over this course of time:

  • Meetings With Dr. Sharlin – Five (5) one-on-one visits with neurologist Dr. Ken Sharlin.
  • Brain Tune Up! Labs – Follow up Brain Tune Up! labs. We repeat the key laboratory studies that were imbalanced at baseline so that we can track your progress and make strategic adjustments. At additional cost, further laboratory testing is optional, and will be discussed with you before ordering.
  • Focused Speciality Meetings – Two and a half hours in each of the Brain Tune Up! Focus Areas:
    • Functional Nutrition (2 1/2hrs)
    • Mind-Body Medicine (2 1/2hrs)
    • Manual Therapy (2 1/2hrs)
  • Personal Training Sessions – our (4) personal training sessions aimed at improving movement, strength, and mobility at Sessions Fitness.
  • Supplement Bank – $800 in pharmaceutical grade supplements (retail value), chosen by Dr. Sharlin, as the key supplements you need to heal your brain.
  • Heartmath – Included in your Brain Tune Up! experience. You will receive this cutting-edge technology to optimize your brain, reduce your stress, improve focus, and help you attain better sleeping habits.
  • The Living Matrix – Access to the Living Matrix which infuses the power of modern technology into the functional medicine timeline and functional medicine matrix.
  • Outcome Tracking – A variety of outcome tracking tools are used to help make sure you are getting the results you want.
  • Food Plan – The Brain Tune Up! food plan includes all educational materials, recipes, and weekly planners.
  • Brain Tune Up! Community – Access to our private Facebook page, moderated by Dr. Sharlin, where all members can share experiences and ideas, including key articles to broaden your education in functional medicine.
  • Loved Ones – Your spouse or partner can accompany you to all Brain Tune Up! visits. We want you to be successful and the best way to accomplish that goal is for your life-partner to be there with you.
Program Investment & Payment Options


When you participate in Brain Tune Up! The Complete Program you are making an investment in you.  Many people ask why we are not able to accept insurance for our functional medicine program?  It is because the current healthcare system is designed for the diagnosis and management of illness, not the care of a unique person.  (You.)  It does not consider the time involved in our approach.  (We take much longer than your usual doctor appointment.)  It is not set up to evaluate the factors that contribute to why we get sick in the first place.  (It focuses on making the diagnosis, not exploring the causes.)  Unfortunately, functional medicine approaches cannot be translated into the rules practitioners are required to follow in an insurance-based economy to make sure their services are reimbursed.  In short, we could not be paid for our efforts, and as a result we could not have a program to help you.

At Sharlin Health and Neurology we ask you to do something difficult when it comes to seeing a doctor.  We ask you to pay for your care, and this is something most of us are not accustomed to doing up front.  But for anyone who has used our current healthcare system for tests, hospitalizations, and emergency room visits, or to purchase medications, visit a specialist, and go to rehab therapy you know that even with insurance healthcare has a high out-of-pocket cost.  There are deductibles, copays, and limits to coverage that add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in a lifetime.  In reality, the cost of Brain Tune Up! is less than 1% of what a couple who retires today can expect to pay for healthcare, and this does not include the cost of long term care.

Dr. Sharlin has earned the trust of thousands of patients and professional colleagues over the years.  He can help you.  Brain Tune Up! is a proven system.  The program cost is $8,000.  For your investment, you will receive all the services outlined above this section, and because you are investing in your health it is our aim to lower the cost of your future healthcare needs.  In effect, Brain Tune Up! has the potential to pay for itself many times over.

We know that normal working people want to participate in Brain Tune Up! To make the program accessible to everyone Dr. Sharlin has partnered with a company called Advance Care. This is a secure, free, on-line paperless application process that will give you instant feedback. Through Advance Care you will have the opportunity to spread out the cost of the program over 6 or 12 payments interest free. If you choose to extend your payments beyond this point you only pay interest on the remaining balance.

From Dr. Sharlin, “I sincerely hope you join us for this life-changing experience.”

  • Brain Tune Up! Protocol
    $8,000Program Investment
    • Program Duration: between 6 to 12 months based on patient's needs and progress.
    • Neurologist Dr. Ken Sharlin: receive (6) one-on-one consultations including initial complete neurological evaluation.
    • Advanced Laboratories: (Nutritional Imbalances, Inflammatory Markers, Hormones, Gut Health, Genomics, Antioxidants, Heavy Metals)
    • Speciality Consultations: receive (6) consultations with our Nutritionist, Occupational Therapist, and Physical Therapist.
    • And More: the program also includes Heartmath, The Living Matrix, Outcome Tracking, Brain Tune Up! Community, Food Plan, $800 Supplement Bank, and more!
    • Disclaimer: please understand this program will not be covered under your health insurance policy.

Schedule Free

Your first step is to schedule a free 15-minute telephone consultation with Callie Maggard, Brain Tune Up! Program Coordinator. Please select the time you can be reached by telephone and complete the form afterwards. These steps are critical! Because of the high volume of interest, we are unable to answer your calls or questions until you have scheduled through this process and completed the intake form.

Brain Tune Up Coordinator
Program Coordinator: Callie Maggard“Thank you for your interest in our program. I look forward to speaking with you about your health conditions and how our program could potentially help change the trajectory of your health.”

My program accepts out-of-state patients. Brain Tune Up! is a 5-8 month program. In order to be accepted into my program my team and I have to see you for the two-day initial neurological evaluation in-person, but we then can customize the rest of the program in a virtual setting for patients who are traveling from far distances. This will be explained when you schedule a telephone consultation.

telemedicine neurology and functional medicine

This Plan Is For You If:

  • If you suffer from multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, migraine, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, and even Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
  • If you are affected by neurological symptoms like numbness, weakness, pain, fatigue, memory loss, incoordination or imbalance.
  • If you are looking for more than a pill.
  • If you are looking for someone with the right qualifications: A medical school graduate (M.D) with experience in direct patient care, a state license to practice medicine, and certification by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (APBN).
  • If you want a doctor who knows how to address the root causes of disease, not just treat the symptoms or manage the disease.
  • If you want a doctor who has ability to integrate traditional medical care and all of its tools with the skills and mindset of functional medicine.
  • If you want a doctor who makes your personalized care the ultimate goal.
  • If you are affected by brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, or a muscle condition re-direct your life toward a trajectory of health.
Chuck Renner, OTR, CHT
Chuck Renner, OTR, CHT

Lifestyle Specialist Chuck Renner, Specializing in Manual and Adjunctive Therapies for Chronic Pain and Biomechanical Imbalances


Chuck Renner is a master instructor for Primal Reflex Release Technique, and a board member for the Institute of Integrative Pain Management. He has been trained or holds certifications in Augmented Soft Tissue Management, Primal Reflex Technique, Active Release Technique, Muscle Energy Technique, Pain Neutralization Technique, Neurokinetic Therapy, Myokinetic Therapy, Amino Neuro Frequency Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, Total Motion Release, Emotional Freedom Technique, Mindfulness training, and more. He has been a featured speaker on several occasions, at the annual meeting of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, where he teaches manual therapy techniques to physicians, to treat low back pain, neck pain, and other body areas that may be affected.

Defining Stress

It is difficult to talk about emotional and spiritual stress resilience without first defining the elephant in the room and the reason we need this practice, which is stress itself. According to the American Psychological Association, average stress levels in the U.S. have risen since 2014, from 4.9 to 5.1 on a 10 point stress scale. There has been a particular increase among adults reporting “extreme stress,” with 24% saying they were highly stressed in 2015, compared to 18% in 2014. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University analyzed data from 1983, 2006 and 2009, and found people’s self-reported stress levels have increased 10-30% in the last three decades.

Mindfulness Meditation

In our program, we primarily use two types of meditation or relaxation training. The first is mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation, also known as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, was formally brought into the medical world in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. At that time, he recruited chronically ill patients who were not responding to conventional treatments and put them through an 8 week MBSR program. Since that time, numerous studies have been published about the positive effects of mindfulness meditation. “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” says Kabat-Zinn. “It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”

For this type of meditation or relaxation training, you first need to get into a comfortable position. Make sure the television, radio, and phone are off, the pets are out of the room and you have some space for yourself. Next, begin diaphragmatically breathing. What that means is that you want to see your stomach expand when you breathe in, and fall when you breathe out. I think it works best to have a rhythm to your breathing, something like breathe in on a count of 4, pause for a count of 1 and breathe out for a count of 4. You can adjust this rhythm to your own comfortable pace. Then you want to bring your attention to the present moment by focusing on your breath. Concentrate on your breath, feel your stomach rise and fall, feel the oxygen come into your body and your muscles relax as you exhale. Give yourself a few moments to connect to this feeling. Once you have the rhythm down, focus on your breath. Do not try to force thoughts that may wander in and out. When you realize you are distracted, gently focus to bring your attention back to your breath. To help you focus, you can also listen to the sound of your breath. I suggest setting a timer. Try this initially for 5 minutes, twice a day.


Another practice we do is called HeartMath. HeartMath was founded in 1991 by Doc Childre, an internationally renowned expert on stress. Besides founding HeartMath, he is the author of a dozen books on stress, wellness, and heart-based living. He is the creator of the emWave Stress Relief System®, which now includes the emWave2 Handheld®, the Inner Balance® (Bluetooth and Lightning versions) for mobile phones, and the emWave2 Professional Systems®.

HeartMath is a system where, with special equipment and sensors, it is possible to measure heart rate variability (HRV), the subtle beat-to-beat variation which occurs in the normally beating heart. Heart Rate Variability is largely determined by the balance between the sympathetic nervous system (sometimes called “Fight or Flight”) and the parasympathetic nervous system (sometimes called, “Rest and Digest”). People who tend to have more sympathetic tone also have lower HRV or less beat-to-beat variation, whereas those with more parasympathetic tone tend to have higher HRV or more beat-to-beat variation. Like other things that have been described in this book, balance is optimal. HeartMath, however, takes this further. While it helps to optimize HRV, it also aims to seek maximal coherence.

The HeartMath Institute defines coherence as a logical, orderly and harmonious connectedness between parts of a system or between people. Informally, all of us have experienced coherence in social connections when we are sharing ideas with someone with whom we feel connected. Conversely, we always know intuitively when there is no connection.

When folks at The HeartMath Institute discuss heart-rhythm coherence or physiological coherence, they are referring to a specific assessment of the heart’s rhythms that appear as smooth, ordered, and sine-wavelike (up and down). From a physics perspective, quoting directly from HeartMath, “When we are in a coherent state, virtually no energy is wasted because our systems are performing optimally, and there is synchronization among various systems in the body, such as the heart, respiratory system, and blood-pressure rhythms, etc.” The HeartMath Institute takes this even further, to study the coherence between entire populations around the globe.

The Brain Tune Up! program provides each participant who is capable of operating this type of technology an emWave2® handheld device. An exception might be a person with more advanced dementia. The emWave2® can help you make a positive change. This unique training system, with research-based tools and games, helps build inner resilience to more effectively deal with stressful feelings and life’s challenges. Five to ten minutes of daily practice can provide greater ease, mental and emotional flexibility, and more positive attitudes, emotions and perspectives. The emWave2® hand held device can be taken anywhere, and is a perfect tool to use to reduce stress and enhance life. You may wish to purchase your own for your healthy brain toolbox.

Angela Jenkins, R.D.

Lifestyle Specialist Angela Jenkins, Specializing in Nutrition and Patient Management Within the Brain Tune Up! Food Plan.


Angela Jenkins is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian who has been in practice since 1991. She is the author of the forthcoming Brain Tune Up! Food and Recipe Guide for participants in our office-based functional medicine program. Angela’s diverse experience includes pediatrics, sports nutrition, and inpatient clinical nutrition in a variety of settings. In 2009, her perspective on food was transformed by a heightened awareness of how food is raised and grown, the influence this has on our health, and the significance that food policy has on our food supply. This was just the first step on a journey that led her outside of a typical dietitian’s role. In 2012, she facilitated startup of the Ozarks Regional Food Policy Council in Southwest Missouri. She drew from her experiences in the community, returned to the hospital and clinic setting, and helped her patients improve their health in ways not previously possible. Angela lives on 10 acres in Ozark, Missouri, just a few miles from our clinic, where she is in the process of developing her property into a biodynamic farm. She enjoys staying active. When Angela is not running the Ozark Mountain trails with her dog, Remo, she can be found teaching people how easy it is to produce their own food and prepare it in the comfort of their homes. Her passion can be summed up in a quote from Larry Olmsted, author of Real Food, Fake Food: “Like a stone tossed in a pond, deciding what to eat has a ripple effect that goes far beyond the calories needed to carry us from breakfast to lunch to dinner. When you choose to eat real food, your immediate benefit is that it tastes good. In many cases it is also more sustainable, healthier for the environment, and supports people whose work, methods, and entire communities, make the world a better place.”

Leaky Gut

In our clinic we assume that most of us, to some degree, have leaky guts. Nutrient imbalances, food additives, infections, toxic elements or chemical exposures (including those from medications), gut microbial imbalance, excessive oxidative stress, excessive alcohol consumption, direct tissue trauma, electromagnetic radiation, and emotional stress can all cause inflammation and contribute to Leaky Gut Syndrome. The frontline of defense to heal a leaky gut is removing the foods and other offending agents that are causing the increased intestinal permeability in the first place, while replacing them with anti-inflammatory and healing nutrients. This is where we will start our new food adventure.

The cornerstone of The Brain Tune Up! Food and Recipe Guide is the popular “Five R’s” approach, as taught by The Institute for Functional Medicine. It is part of what would also be called an Elimination Diet. It encourages consumption of a wide variety of foods that are known to be anti-inflammatory to the human system, while eliminating those that commonly trigger food sensitivities or allergies. The foods that are eliminated are sugar, soy, gluten-containing grains, dairy, corn, peanuts, and meats that are processed or come from farms where the animals are raised in unnatural environments (like feedlots and fish farms). This includes typical store-bought beef, and fish such as Atlantic salmon or tilapia.

Here is a summary of The 5 R’s (more later):

Remove – Any foods, chemicals, or medications that may be causing inflammation, disruptions to the microbes in the digestive tract, and “leakiness” of the gut epithelium.

Replace – With anti-inflammatory foods and additional supplements, if necessary, for digestion (such as enzymes, betaine HCl, bile salts).

Re-inoculate – With prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are foods that support gut bacteria and probiotics are the beneficial microorganisms that help to maintain and defend gut integrity.

Repair – By providing key micronutrients to help heal the gut.

Rebalance – By addressing lifestyle issues, which also affect the gastrointestinal tract, such as sleep, exercise, food choices, and stressors. Evaluate old habits, so as not to fall back on them.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

What are anti-inflammatory foods? Anti-inflammatory foods are first-and-foremost represented by a well-balanced diet. This is a diet in which all the nutrients your body needs are represented in optimal quantities, and consumed by you as real, whole food — the kind of food that does not need a label to tell you what it is. This is the kind of food that has a mother or comes from the earth, using best animal husbandry and good agricultural practices. Reflected in this statement is the concept of food synergy or the idea that whole food has superior effects on the body, compared to isolated constituents (like taking supplement vitamins or minerals). Food is information for the body, and those who subscribe to the concept of food synergy believe that this information is best delivered in its natural state. Our cells are evolved to recognize food over isolated components, and assimilate the informational and life-sustaining value of food when it is presented in this way.

Essential Nutrients

There are several essential nutrients, meaning nutrients your body cannot synthesize on its own. These include sufficient carbohydrate consumption (even on a low carbohydrate diet), adequate high quality protein, and fats. Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids, and among the 20 amino acids needed for life, nine are considered “essential.” This is because the body cannot manufacture them on its own. The essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Proteins are needed for tissue structure (like muscle), enzyme production, and neurotransmitter synthesis. Fats have been given a bad rap since Ancel Keys released his Seven Countries Study, which influenced food policy for decades. He was an American physiologist who studied the influence of diet on health and hypothesized that saturated fat causes cardiovascular heart disease. The government bought that argument. The low fat trend that followed is likely a major contributor to the obesity and diabetes epidemic facing this country, and to many conditions that affect the brain, which, by the way, is mostly made of fat!
Fats play a crucial role in energy storage and production, are an integral component of all cell membranes, are essential for the absorption of certain vitamins (A, D, E, and K), and are necessary for hormone synthesis. Taking the food synergy concept further, we should ideally strive for all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to be acquired through food. In a proper anti-inflammatory diet, then, this means eating enough food. By recommending the right kinds of food with an awareness of meeting their nutrient needs, our patients frequently lose weight, even without counting calories. Furthermore, they see improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin and blood sugar levels, and many successfully wean off medications that they have been taking to control these measures. All of this benefits the aging brain.

Finally, anti-inflammatory diets are rich in phytonutrients. This class of micronutrients (the other classes are vitamins and minerals) comes exclusively from plants, and consists of thousands of chemicals with remarkable health-promoting properties. A few examples of phytonutrients include carotenoids, flavonoids, and ellagic acid. Carotenoids are responsible for the colors of vegetables and fruits — yellow, orange, and red. We are all familiar with the orange carotenoids, alpha- and beta-carotene, found in pumpkin and carrots. Lycopenes give tomatoes and watermelon their red or pink color. Ellagic acid is found in berries, such as strawberries and raspberries. Flavonoids include the catechins of green tea, and the flavonols, such as quercetin in apples. These phytonutrients have diverse capabilities, including their roles in fighting off cancer, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits.

While an anti-inflammatory diet emphasizes consumption of large amounts of green leafy vegetables, cruciferous sulfur-producing vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage), colorful vegetables, and low-sugar fruits such as berries, our anti-inflammatory diet is not, per se, a vegetarian diet. Well-sourced animal-based food delivers certain nutrients that cannot be derived from plants. These include the omega 3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid), vitamin B12 (critical for a healthy nervous system), creatine (energy for muscles), carnosine (an antioxidant), taurine (which plays a role in muscle function, bile salt formation, and the body’s antioxidant defense system), vitamin D3 (necessary for proper immune function, while deficiency is associated Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and depression) and heme-iron (an excellent source of iron from meat).

Slow Cognitive Decline

In the final analysis, this a diet designed to optimally feed your brain. The goal is to provide your brain with the nutrients it needs to prevent memory loss and protect this critical organ from what is too often attributed to “normal” aging. When, in your mid-50’s, for example, you cannot remember the names of friends you have known for years, it is not normal aging. To give your brain a tune up, your diet needs to be sufficiently nutrient-dense to support moment-to-moment operations. This is food-as-information. It not only means adequate carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats, but fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, and E), B-vitamins, antioxidants (including vitamin C and alpha lipoic acid), and minerals, such as magnesium and zinc. To be clear, there is an emphasis on food synergy in this plan. We want you to get as many of the nutrients your brain needs to function optimally from the food that you eat. Green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, spinach, watercress and Swiss chard are high in A, C, and fiber. Fiber-containing foods also support gut bacteria, which produce short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, energy for your brain. Just one serving a day of green leafy vegetables has been shown to slow cognitive decline.

Healthy Brain Toolbox by Ken Sharlin
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