Today’s cars have come a long way from the classics of yesteryear. Remember all the work it took to keep them running well? Whereas today’s electric cars can even drive themselves.

When you think about it, it’s rather similar to our brains and those phones always in our hands. Remember how much we had to figure out on our own before we could simply ask Siri? 

A low-carb diet high in healthy fats is considered optimal brain fuel.

Like that old classic car, our brains need a little extra care to keep running at peak performance. Here are a few comparative tips to help keep brain health top of mind:

Use the good gas. A higher-octane rating means the fuel is better balanced and may contain higher-quality additives than regular gas, resulting in a smoother, more stable ride. The same applies to feeding our brain. Healthy and clean, low-glycemic foods and fats enhance brain performance, while sugar and carbs are directly related to cognitive decline. This is why science is now referring to Alzheimer’s as type 3 diabetes.

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reports that a high-carbohydrate diet is correlated with an 89% increased risk of mild cognitive impairment, while a diet high in healthy fats is associated with a 44% decreased risk of mild cognitive insufficiency.1

Choosing a diet filled with healthy protein, colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, clean fish (and/or an omega-3 supplement), grass-fed beef and the like, provides the brain with vital nutrients, advises Desert Health columnist Jeralyn Brossfield, MD. “Grain-based foods must become minimal in your diet if brain health is your goal. Food choices that keep our blood sugar steady (low-glycemic) help us minimize damaging glucose highs and lows which are key contributors to brain decline.”1

Joseph Scherger, MD of Restore Health Disease Reversal agrees, “The most important things for brain health are keeping a normal blood sugar, and avoiding inflammatory foods and toxins such as fish with mercury.”

Check the oil. Once you’ve cleaned up the gas (diet) fueling your brain, it’s time to incorporate healthy fats like coconut oil. However, if you are still eating high carbs and other inflammatory foods, it’s best to skip this step. 

Olive and avocado oils are very healthy, but coconut is especially good for brain health as it contains 62 – 65% medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which are quickly converted to ketones (efficient brain fuel) that increase metabolism.2 In fact, when carbs are eliminated or minimized, ketones can provide up to 75% of the brain’s energy needs.3 But remember, consuming coconut oil on a high-sugar, high-carb diet can contribute to unhealthy inflammation and should be avoided.

Use your brakes. Running at high speeds for extended periods of time adds wear and tear to any engine – especially your brain. 

Chronic stress has been shown to be detrimental to cognitive decline, states Health Coach Deborah Schrameck in her “Six Pillars of Brain Health” series featured in Desert Health.4 “Short-term stress raises levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) for short periods which can be beneficial; however, long-term stress can lead to prolonged increases in cortisol, which can be toxic to the brain, severely impairing short-term memory and other cognitive functions.”

Learn to slow down and incorporate thoughtful practices into your day. Tried and true routines like meditation and tai chi give your brain a break from the constant flow of thoughts, worries and stress, and can improve more than just brain health.

Take the road less traveled. We can all get stuck in the same old routine. Mix things up and challenge your brain with new tasks, hobbies, lessons and patterns. Learn something new or pick up an old hobby; take a class on something you know nothing about; figure out answers without asking your phone or simply change directions and explore new paths home. 

Cognitive decline can be reversed, so it’s never too late to start practicing brain-healthy habits. Like that old classic, with a little care and commitment, you’ll have her running like new again in no time.

Lauren Del Sarto is founder and publisher of Desert Health. For more information, search ‘brain health’ at

References: 1); 2); 3) Ketones, omega-3 fatty acids and the Yin-Yang balance in the brain: insights from infant development and Alzheimer’s disease, and implications for human brain evolution (; 4)

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