This expert’s 7-day food and fitness challenge will help boost your brain health

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Marc Milstein, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized speaker on optimizing brain health, lowering risk of dementia, and boosting happiness and productivity. He earned both his Ph.D. in biological chemistry and his bachelor of science in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from UCLA. He has conducted research on topics including genetics, cancer biology, neuroscience, and infectious disease, and his work has been published in multiple scientific journals.

In my new book, The Age-Proof Brain, I outline simple lifestyle interventions that can dramatically improve brain health and lower the risk of disease today, tomorrow, and in years to come.  

If you’re up for a brain boot camp, this weeklong challenge is one way to try things out and see what works best for you. Don’t worry; this boot camp won’t involve any bullhorns, obstacle courses, or treading water in jeans. This isn’t designed to be a hell week. Rather, it’s a fun week to explore new options and simple, small, practical changes.

Here’s a full week’s worth of activities, meal ideas, and suggestions to get you living the age-proof brain life. The goal of this challenge is not to have you do these same steps forever; rather, I want you to view this as a fun way to try out new things, see how you feel, and decide which practices you want to incorporate into your life moving forward after the seven days are up. This means that this week, you’ll apply the same times for waking up and going to bed even on your days off from work or days when you don’t need to be anywhere in the morning. (I know, I know—sleeping in on a Saturday is one of life’s simple pleasures. But you may just discover that you enjoy those quiet morning hours, too.) If you see the wake-up time and freak out, you can adjust the schedule to fit your lifestyle.

Before we begin, a few caveats: this challenge accommodates a Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work schedule. It also assumes you commute to work and your diet includes meat and dairy. (I know this won’t apply to everyone!) If you are retired or semiretired, have a flexible schedule, work from home, work different hours, or are a vegetarian (or a vampire), you can customize the challenge to fit your lifestyle. (The book has some suggestions).

I build in different times for a workout. Exercise timing is so personal-ized. Some people thrive with a morning workout, some like to get that boost in the afternoon, and some prefer the evening. This challenge allows you to experiment and see what works best for you. Of course, if you already know you just don’t have the energy to exercise effectively after 5 pm, fit it in as you usually would. Also, a quick word on snacks. I include one suggested snack each afternoon. If you feel like you need another one, opt for something minimally processed, like nuts, fruit, hummus, veggies, or a healthy carb. 

Ready to do this brain boot camp? Now drop and give me twenty push-ups. Just kidding, no need for that right now.

Excerpted with permission from The Age-Proof Brain (October 2022; BenBella Books).

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