How’s Your Brain Fitness?

We tend to think of brain disease as something that can strike us at any time, for no good reason other than genetic predisposition. Unlike heart disease, which progresses over time due to a combination of certain genetic and lifestyle factors, brain ailments seem like conditions that befall us by chance. Some of us escape them, while others become “afflicted.” But this thinking is wrong. Brain dysfunction is really no different from heart dysfunction. It develops over time through our behaviors and habits. On a positive note, this means we can consciously prevent disorders of our nervous system, and even cognitive decline, much in the way we can stave off heart disease: by eating right and getting our exercise.

In order to help you better understand the health of your brain, and your risk for diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and dementia, I've developed a simple questionnaire that reveals what habits could be silently harming you right now. The goal of the questionnaire below is to gauge your risk factors for current neurological problems, which can manifest in migraines, seizures, mood and movement disorders, sexual dysfunction, and ADHD, as well as for serious mental decline in the future.

Respond to these statements as honestly as possible. Don’t think about the connections to brain disease implied by the below statements; just respond truthfully. Note that if you feel like you’re in-between true and false, and would answer “sometimes,” then you should choose true.

1. I eat bread (any kind).

2. I drink fruit juice (any kind).

3. I have more than one serving of fruit a day.

4. I choose agave over sugar.

5. I get out of breath on my daily walk.

6. My cholesterol is below 150.

7. I have diabetes.

8. I am overweight.

9. I eat rice or pasta (any kind).

10. I drink milk.

11. I don't exercise regularly.

12. Neurological conditions run in my family.

13. I don't take a vitamin D supplement (or don't get adequate sunlight exposure).

14. I eat a low-fat diet.

15. I take a statin.

16. I avoid high-cholesterol foods.

17. I drink soda (diet or regular).

18. I don't drink wine.

19. I drink beer.

20. I eat cereal (any kind).

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Dr. Perlmutter is one of the leading lights in medicine today, illuminating the path for solving chronic illness

Mark Hyman, MD