Imagine you’re planning to bake an apple pie for Thanksgiving dinner.
You start gathering ingredients from the refrigerator and pantry.
But you quickly realize that you don’t have enough of some of the key ingredients.
You only have half of the apples you need, you’re short on butter and sugar, and you have the wrong kind of flour (that doesn’t work well for a pastry crust.)
If you go ahead and bake the pie with the ingredients you have, it will probably still resemble an apple pie, both in terms of taste and appearance.
But the texture and flavor won’t be quite right. It probably won’t rise correctly. And you’ll almost certainly end up disappointed with the results.
This is similar to when our brains don’t get optimal levels of all the nutrients they need.
They’ll continue to function, at least for a while, but not very well.
And they’ll be at much higher risk for more severe problems down the road, like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative conditions.
Why micronutrients are critical for brain function
We need about 40 micronutrients—vitamins, minerals, and other compounds—to function optimally.
These nutrients are especially important for the brain since it is the control center for your body—it regulates everything from digestion to hormone production to cognition and mood.
When we don’t get enough of even a few of these, our bodies start to break down, our brain health suffers—and our lifespan shortens.
Dr. Bruce Ames, a renowned Biochemistry and Molecular Biology professor at UC Berkeley, has developed a hypothesis for why this happens, called Triage Theory.
He proposes that all proteins and enzymes in the body be classified into survival proteins and longevity proteins.
Survival proteins are those that we need for immediate, short-term survival. Longevity proteins are those that contribute to longer-term health and well-being.
For example, Vitamin K-dependent proteins could be categorized into those required for short-term survival—primarily blood-clotting functions—and those involved in long-term health—regulating calcium metabolism and supporting cellular health.
Triage Theory holds that a modest deficiency of even a single nutrient triggers a built-in rationing mechanism that favors the proteins needed for immediate survival and reproduction (survival proteins) while sacrificing those needed to protect against future damage (longevity proteins).
This is true because survival and longevity proteins often require the same vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to function properly.
If there’s a shortage of a particular nutrient, the body will always prioritize what’s needed for short-term survival.
That’s an evolutionary imperative for us to be able to pass on our genes. Evolution is nothing if not efficient.
How the Triage Theory has revolutionized our view of micronutrients
This is a dramatic shift in how scientists are now thinking about the role of nutrients in human health.
Historically, micronutrients were thought of as compounds crucial for survival or protection against severe ill health.
Now, we are beginning to realize the critical but unappreciated role they play in optimal function, aging, and longevity.
Dr. Ames’ Triage Theory explains why mild nutrient deficiencies that aren’t enough to cause overt clinical symptoms still contribute significantly to the aging process and the diseases of aging.
And this is what makes optimizing nutrient status so tricky—and so important.
Ames isn’t talking about full-blown nutrient deficiencies that would cause acute diseases like rickets, scurvy, beri beri, and pellagra.
Those diseases are relatively rare now, at least in the developed world.
He’s talking about nutrient intake that falls short of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or maybe even between the RDA and the optimal amount—which is often significantly higher than the RDA.
Most people are nutrient deficient (but few are aware)
The problem is that it’s difficult to know if you’re falling short of this optimal nutrient intake.
You may not develop any symptoms in the short-term, or if you do, they’ll likely be non-specific symptoms like low energy, brain fog, poor sleep, and digestive or skin issues… exactly the type of mild symptoms that almost everyone today experiences at least some of.
It’s also unlikely that your doctor or healthcare provider will be of much help here. Testing for nutrient status is notoriously difficult and complex.
I know this firsthand. I’ve tested virtually all of my patients for nutrient status over my 15-year career and trained several thousand healthcare professionals on how to do it.
And I can probably count on two hands the number of people that weren’t low on not just one but several essential nutrients.
This isn’t just my experience, though.
Statistics from the Linus Pauling Institute on nutrient status in the U.S. show that:
- 100% don’t get enough potassium
- 97% don’t get enough magnesium
- 94% don’t get enough vitamin D
- 92% don’t get enough choline
- 89% don’t get enough vitamin E
As shocking as these statistics are, they are almost certainly underestimating the true rates of nutrient inadequacies because they don’t consider bioavailability, health status, or other important factors.
I could go on, but you get the idea: most people that aren’t getting the optimal amount of nutrients in their diet don’t have a clear way of knowing that they’re coming up short.
Micronutrients are the key to optimizing brain health and cognitive function
What does this mean for those of us that are interested in optimizing our brain health and cognitive function and staying sharp and vital as we age?
Well, if we want to optimize our health in the short term AND live a long, disease-free life, we need to maximize our intake of the 40 micronutrients that our bodies need.
I’m not talking about just getting the amount of a nutrient that is required to avoid acute disease.
I’m talking about getting the amount needed to avoid Triage, where our bodies prioritize short-term needs and sacrifice long-term needs.
In this module, I will focus specifically on five nutrients and their role in brain health.
Later in the series, I’ll share an approach that will help you to maximize your intake of not just these 5 nutrients but all of the essential vitamins and minerals.
I chose these five nutrients because 1) they are critical for brain health, and 2) most of us don’t get enough of them, especially as we age.
Vitamin B12 regulates multiple aspects of cognitive function, including homocysteine metabolism, the creation of neurons, the transmission of messages between neurons, and the production of the myelin sheath that insulates neurons.
B12 deficiency causes nerve damage, memory loss, and a host of other cognitive problems.
Sadly, B12 deficiency is extremely common.
According to a study out of Tufts University, 40 percent of people between the ages of 26 and 83 have plasma B12 levels in the low normal range—a range at which many people experience cognitive and neurological symptoms.
Perhaps most surprisingly, low B12 levels were as common in younger people as they were in the elderly.
The symptoms of B12 deficiency are extensive.
And here’s the thing: they look a lot like the symptoms we assume are just a normal part of aging, including a decline in cognitive function, memory loss, brain fog, fatigue, poor exercise tolerance and recovery, and tremors and other motor problems.
Not surprisingly, B12 deficiency is associated with a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, along with other cognitive and neurological conditions.
Magnesium is required for neurotransmitter production and function, and it protects the brain against oxidative stress and cell death—which is one of the primary drivers of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative conditions.
Magnesium enhances learning and memory and sharpens the brain. It supports brain cell integrity and synaptic plasticity, which helps the brain “rewire”, regenerate, and form new communication pathways.
This is crucial because forming new connections between neurons is how we learn new things and retain memories.
As we age, brain synapses become less “plastic” or flexible, leading to a loss of cognitive function.
Magnesium helps synapse density and plasticity, which leads to a younger and healthier brain.
That’s why low magnesium intake is associated with a higher risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and just about every other neurodegenerative disorder we know of.
The greater the magnesium deficiency in these patients, the worse the outcomes are.
Magnesium deficiency is also associated with a wide range of mental and behavioral health conditions, including ADHD, anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, migraine and tremors—to name just a few.
And here’s the kicker: the latest research suggests that the vast majority of Americans are falling 200–300 mg/d short of magnesium.
That is not a small amount—and it’s certainly one reason that cognitive problems are so common as we age.
Most people don’t know this, but the highest concentration of vitamin C in the body is found in the brain.
One reason for this is that vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can protect the brain from free radicals.
Damage by free radicals is thought to be one of the primary drivers of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other brain-related diseases.
Vitamin C also reduces inflammation in the brain and suppresses the activity of amyloid-beta, a protein that plays a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2021 study found that people with higher levels of vitamin C in their blood have a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
While true vitamin C deficiency is rare in the U.S., the latest data suggest that most Americans aren’t getting enough.
In fact, researchers have argued that the current RDA for vitamin C (75 mg for women and 90 mg for men) is less than half of what it should be.
They pointed out that the RDA of vitamin C has traditionally been based on the prevention of scurvy, not on the amount we need for optimal health and longevity.
If we used this new, evidence-based threshold of 200 mg/d for vitamin C, most Americans would fall short.
While most people think of vitamin D for its role in supporting bone and immune health, it is also critical for the brain.
It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties.
It increases levels of nerve growth factor, a key promoter of brain health.
Like vitamin C, it also helps prevent amyloid accumulation and supports amyloid clearance.
Numerous studies have found that vitamin D levels are significantly low in people with impaired cognitive function, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
This is a huge concern because at least 94 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D.
That statistic is based on using relatively low serum levels of vitamin D. If we used the higher levels recommended by most vitamin D experts, close to 100 percent of Americans would fall short.
Vitamin E is the most potent antioxidant in the brain and can protect it against the oxidative damage that drives most brain disorders.
Vitamin E is particularly known for its ability to protect against the oxidation of the lipids, or fats, that make up the membranes of cells in the brain.
Vitamin E also supports the brain’s ability to use DHA, an omega-3 fat that is critical for brain health and cognitive function.
In the US, an estimated 96% of adult women and 90% of adult men don’t consume enough vitamin E in their diet.
Making matters worse, supplementation with the most common form of vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol, not only doesn’t help—it may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Fortunately, there is a form of vitamin E that you can supplement with that improves cognitive function and brain health without any of the long-term risks of alpha-tocopherol. I’ll cover that in the next video.
Okay, that’s it for Module 1.
In Module 2, I’ll cover the most important superfoods for brain health.
They’re probably not what you’re expecting—but when they’re used correctly, they can give you an “unfair advantage” when it comes to cognitive function and aging.
I’m excited to share them with you!
In this video, I’m going to tell you about three brain superfoods that can give you an “unfair advantage” when it comes to cognitive function and brain health.
Edible mushrooms like reishi, lion’s mane, and turkey tail are a hot topic in the mainstream media and the scientific community—and for good reason.
They have an incredible range of benefits, from boosting defense against viruses and other pathogens to protecting against cancer, regulating mood, boosting cognitive function, and promoting brain health.
As a Functional Medicine clinician and a trained herbalist, I’ve been prescribing edible mushrooms to my patients for 15 years.
And the more I learn about them, the more excited I am by their potential.
Edible mushrooms have a long history of use in traditional medicine. In China, they’ve been used for at least 3,000 years and possibly as long as 7,000 years.
Certain varieties of mushrooms were so prized that they were reserved exclusively for use by the emperor and the nobility in China.
Hieroglyphics in Egypt describe mushrooms as plants of immortality and “sons of Gods” sent to the earth on lightning bolts.
In Egyptian culture, mushrooms were so revered that they were only eaten by pharaohs, nobles, and priests in holy rituals.
Some sources suggest that Vikings may have consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms before battle, which casts new light on their famed “Berserker” method! of fighting!
What makes mushrooms so powerful for brain health and overall health?
First, mushrooms are a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals—and as we learned in the first video, those micronutrients are critical for brain health and cognitive function. Mushrooms are particularly rich in zinc, copper, iron, phosphorus, and potassium.
Second, mushrooms are a rich source of beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber with unique healing properties. Beta-glucans also feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut and improve the composition of our microbiome.
What does this have to do with brain health? We now know that there’s a direct connection between the gut and the brain.
Research has shown that disrupted gut flora is linked to everything from brain fog to poor memory to dementia and Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s disease, and improving gut health with compounds like beta-glucans can protect against and even reverse cognitive dysfunction.
For example, a study published in 2020 in the journal Microbiome found that supplementation with beta-glucans improved several measures of cognition and brain function with major benefits for the gut microbiota-brain axis.
Third, mushrooms contain terpenes and phenolic compounds.
You might be familiar with these compounds from other plants.
For example, the terpenes in cannabis have received a lot of attention over the past few years, and the essential oils in plants like lavender and mint are mostly made up of terpenes.
Over 300 terpenes have been identified in Reishi-like mushrooms alone, and many of them are still being identified and studied for their beneficial effects.
Scientists believe that the terpenes in Lion’s Mane mushrooms are responsible for their incredible ability to promote nerve regeneration.
(If you recall from the email, the mushroom formula I prescribed to Matt contained lion’s mane, and that is what likely helped with his essential tremor disorder.)
Taken together, mushrooms can have a powerful effect on cognitive function and protecting the brain—as a 2019 study out of Singapore revealed.
The researchers found that seniors who consume more than two portions of mushrooms weekly had a 50 percent lower risk of cognitive impairment!
Which mushrooms are most important for brain health?
But not all mushrooms are created equal when it comes to brain health benefits. Studies suggest that reishi, lion’s mane, chaga, and cordyceps are the most beneficial for boosting cognitive function and lowering the risk of neurodegenerative conditions.
For example, the triterpenes and polysaccharides in reishi have been shown to protect against the destructive proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease and reduce the inflammation in brain cells that drives Parkinson’s disease.
Lion’s mane has especially potent neuroprotective, cognition-boosting, and anti-aging effects. It enhances neuronal function, improves memory, and even stimulates the growth of neurons and the connections between them.
Chaga protects against age-related memory loss and blocks the damaging effects of free radicals in the brain.
Finally, cordyceps protect against memory loss, prevents brain cell damage, and reduce inflammation in the brain. It also stimulates the production of brain cells.
Yes, I said organ meats!!
Most people are shocked by this one.
We’ve talked about the critical role that vitamins and minerals play in cognitive function and how the vast majority of the adult population falls short on not just one but several of these nutrients.
So, maximizing your intake of these nutrients is one of the most important steps to boost your cognitive abilities and protect your brain.
And if we want to maximize nutrient intake, we need to make sure we’re eating the most nutrient-dense foods.
When I ask people what they think the most nutrient-dense foods are, they typically mention foods like berries, red peppers, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, beans, and whole grains.
We see these foods on the cover of nutrition magazines and on TV segments about “healthy diets,” so it’s easy to understand how you may have come away with this impression.
But while some of them are quite nutritious, they’re not even close to being the most nutrient-dense category of foods we can eat.
That award goes to organ meats.
Why organ meats are the most nutrient-dense foods we can eat
In fact, according to a recent study that calculated the nutrient density of common foods, organ meats—specifically liver, heart, kidney, and spleen—comprised 4 of the top 7 nutrient-dense foods we can eat!
They are truly nature’s nutrient powerhouses.
In fact, with a score of 11, liver is more than 20x as nutrient-dense as beef, eggs, and milk; 34x as nutrient-dense as most vegetables; and more than 160x as nutrient-dense as whole grains!
What’s more, organ meats are especially high in nutrients that are critical for brain health, including B vitamins, choline, iron, and zinc.
In a way, this shouldn’t be surprising. Organ meats have been a staple in traditional diets for thousands of years.
Why our ancestors favored organ meats over muscle meats
For example, in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, the American dentist Weston A. Price noted that, after a successful hunt, indigenous North Americans of the Canadian Rockies gave the muscle meat to the dogs and saved the organs for themselves.
Traditional Tartars from the Crimea and other regions consumed a wide range of organ meat, including lungs, kidneys, liver, a dish of brains, and tongue.
Australian Aboriginal people prized the brain and liver of the wallaby, kangaroo, small animals, and rodents they ate.
The traditional Inuit of the Arctic were known to eat the skin, organs, and fat of caribou, fish, and mammals from the sea.
Today, there are many examples around the world of cultures that continue to value and consume organ meats and offal.
Why organ meats are making a comeback
And even here in the U.S., organ meats were part of our diets until relatively recently.
Your grandparents may have eaten liver and onions growing up or taken cod liver oil when they were sick.
But after World War II, organ meats largely disappeared from the American diet.
Today, when you go to the meat section in the grocery store, you’re likely to see a wide range of cuts of muscle meat: steaks, chops, loin, burgers, chicken breast, etc.
The same is true when you go out to a restaurant. You rarely see liver or other organ meats behind the meat counter or on a menu.
That’s a shame because, as you now know, organ meats are the most nutrient-dense foods we can eat—and they are loaded with the vitamins and minerals that are most important for cognitive function and brain health.
The good news is that organ meats are making a bit of a comeback. They’re easier to find at the local butcher and grocery store, and sometimes you’ll even see them on the restaurant menu.
In the first video, I explained that vitamin E is a critical nutrient for brain health. It’s the most potent antioxidant in the brain and has been shown to protect against dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative conditions.
I also mentioned that 89% of Americans don’t get enough vitamin E in their diet, but supplementing with the most common form of vitamin E not only doesn’t help but can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
This is where tocotrienols come in.
Why scientists are so excited about tocotrienols
We now know that Vitamin E is a family of eight separate but related molecules. There are four tocopherols (alpha, beta, delta, and gamma) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, delta, and gamma).
It wasn’t until about 20 years ago, in the early 2000s, that scientists identified tocotrienols as a completely distinct form of Vitamin E with different properties than tocopherols.
The molecular structure of tocotrienols is different than tocopherols: they have shorter tails and heads and don’t anchor deeply into the cell membrane.
These differences allow tocotrienols to enter cells more easily and intercept free radicals—which explains why tocotrienols are 40–50 times more potent than tocopherols as antioxidants!
Most foods or plants that contain Vitamin E have a mixture of different forms of tocopherols and tocotrienols. For example, rice contains 35 percent delta- and gamma-tocotrienol, 15 percent alpha- and beta-tocotrienol, and 50 percent tocopherol.
The annatto plant is the only source of Vitamin E that contains pure delta- and gamma-tocotrienol.
This is important because we know that delta and gamma are the most potent forms of tocotrienols with the greatest health benefits.
Since tocotrienols were only distinguished from tocotrienols about twenty years ago, we are still learning about their unique functions and effects.
The remarkable effects of tocotrienols on brain health
But there is already a large body of evidence showing that they have remarkable effects on human health—particularly on brain and cognitive function.
Many of these effects are related to tocotrienols’ ability to reduce inflammation and dampen oxidative stress, which are the primary drivers of brain-related conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and depression.
Tocotrienols inhibit the production of inflammatory compounds like Nuclear Factor kappa-Beta, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, C-reactive Protein (CRP), nitric oxide, and Interleukin 2, 4, 6, and 8.
Tocotrienols help maintain a healthy brain as we age in other ways too.
For example, they reduce the pool of two proteins—FPP and G GPP—that have been shown to promote the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
They also improve mental clarity and memory by reversing the damage to brain cells and acting as a shield against mitochondrial dysfunction.
This is critical because mitochondria are the “powerhouses” of individual brain cells, and damaged mitochondria are associated with virtually all neurodegenerative conditions.
The diverse health benefits of tocotrienols
What’s especially amazing about tocotrienols is how diverse their health benefits are.
This makes sense, right?
Inflammation and oxidative stress aren’t just the primary drivers of brain disorders; they’re at the root of virtually all modern, chronic diseases.
This explains why tocotrienols have been shown to improve bone density, lower blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, promote healthy skin, and reduce the risk of cancer.
They’re one of the most exciting and game-changing—but little-known—natural compounds that I’ve discovered in my 15-year career.
Ok, that’s it for today’s module.
We’ve covered a lot of ground so far.
You’ve learned that, contrary to popular belief, we can not only prevent cognitive decline as we age, but we can even improve it.
We can also dramatically reduce our risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
And you now know that restoring optimal nutrient status is one of the keys to achieving both of these goals.
You’ve learned the 5 most important nutrients and the 3 top superfoods for brain health.
Tomorrow, I will pull all of this together and tell you how to create a nutritional plan that will supercharge your cognitive function, protect your brain as you age, and increase the chances that the second half of your life will be even better than the first.
Watch out for the email tomorrow with the link to the final module.
I hope this has been helpful. And above all else, I hope it leaves you feeling inspired and empowered to take charge of your brain health—and your future.
So far in this series, you’ve learned that nutrients are the key to protecting your brain and cognitive function as you age.
We’ve discussed the top 5 brain nutrients that most people don’t get enough of, and the 3 little-known but powerful brain superfoods that can give you an “unfair advantage.”
In today’s final video, I’ll explain how to bring this together into a diet and nutrition plan for optimal brain health.
The human body and brain require approximately 40 micronutrients to function properly.
Maximizing nutrient density should be the primary goal of our diet because deficiencies of any of these essential nutrients can contribute to chronic disease and even shorten our lifespan.
What is the most nutrient-dense diet?
Everyone has an opinion on this—from your personal trainer to your UPS driver, from your nutritionist to your doctor—and they’re all convinced they are right.
But this is far too important of an issue to rely on opinions.
We need to depend on what scientific research says.
And the evidence is clear that, when it comes to nutrient density, the best diet is one that has both animal and plant foods.
Animal foods are richest in the essential vitamins and minerals we need, like vitamins A, D & K2, folate, and B12, and minerals like iron, calcium, and zinc.
Plant foods are the best source of antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E and phytonutrients like bioflavonoids, carotenoids, polyphenols, lignans, and fiber.
Essential nutrients: vitamins and minerals
A study published in March 2022 called Priority Micronutrient Density in Foods examined the top food sources of essential nutrients like retinol (the active form of vitamin A), B12, folate, iron, and zinc.
This was a landmark study because it was the first to consider bioavailability—the portion of a nutrient that is absorbed in the digestive tract.
This is important because the amount of bioavailable nutrients in a food is almost always lower than the amount of nutrients the food contains.
For example, the bioavailability of calcium from spinach is only 5 percent. Of the 115 mg of calcium present in a serving of spinach, only 6 mg is absorbed.
This means you’d have to consume 16 cups of spinach to get the same amount of bioavailable calcium in one glass of milk!
Here’s a figure from the study showing the results:
This scale looked at how much of a given food you’d have to consume to meet essential nutrient needs, so a lower score means higher nutrient density.
As you can see, 17 of the top 20 foods are animal foods like organ meats, shellfish, beef, eggs, and dairy products.
This study makes it crystal clear that animal foods are the best source of essential vitamins and minerals.
But that’s only half of the equation.
Phytonutrients: carotenoids, diallyl sulfides, polyphenols, etc.
Countless studies have shown that phytonutrients like carotenoids, diallyl sulfides, polyphenols, flavonoids, and fiber are incredibly important for our brain function and overall health as well .
While phytonutrients are not “essential”, in the sense that we can technically live without them, we do need them for optimal health and longevity.
And as the term “phytonutrient” suggests, they are found primarily in plant—rather than animal—foods.
For example, foods that are highest in bioflavonoids include apples, berries, broccoli, dark, leafy greens, and onions.
Foods that are highest in anthocyanins include berries, cherries, dark leafy greens, radishes, and cabbage.
And mushrooms are the best source of beta-glucan, a unique soluble fiber with special benefits for brain health.
What is the optimal human diet?
If we look at evolutionary history, we see that, on average, humans obtained about 65 percent of calories from animal foods and 35 percent of calories from plant foods, but the specific ratios varied depending on geography and other factors.
That does not mean that two-thirds of what you put on your plate should be animal foods!
Remember, calories are not the same as volume (what you put on your plate).
Meat and animal products are much more calorie-dense than plant foods. One cup of broccoli contains just 30 calories, compared to 338 calories for a cup of beef steak.
This means that even if you’re aiming for 50 to 70 percent of calories from animal foods, plant foods will typically take up between two-thirds and three-quarters of the space on your plate.
To maximize nutrient density within this general template of animal and plant foods, your diet should consist of organ meats, shellfish, meat and poultry, eggs, a variety of vegetables (especially dark, leafy greens), herbs and spices, nuts and seeds, fruits (especially berries), and dairy products—if you tolerate them.
Bone broth and fermented foods like sauerkraut or kefir are important for gut health, and as you now know, maintaining a healthy gut is a key strategy for protecting our brain.
I know this is a lot to take in.
And I know it might contradict some of your beliefs about diet and nutrition.
There’s a lot more to say about nutrient density and what makes an optimal human diet, but if I did that in this video, we’d be here for a long time!
So, I’m going to put a link to a free eBook I wrote on this topic underneath the video. I go into a lot more depth on what we’ve covered here, and you can also find links to research studies and other resources. Beyond the general nutrient-dense diet pattern I mentioned, I’d also suggest incorporating the superfoods we discussed in the last video.
How to get the benefits of mushrooms
There are three main ways to do this.
However, many of the most potent medicinal mushrooms are difficult to find in the store or have a bitter taste or extremely chewy texture.
Of the four mushrooms we discussed—reishi, lion’s mane, chaga, and cordyceps—lion’s mane is the only one that is commonly eaten.
You can sometimes find it at specialty grocery stores, and there’s some great information online about preparing and cooking it.
You have two options with the other mushrooms—reishi, chaga, and cordyceps.
You can make your own medicine by converting the mushrooms into tea, a powdered extract, or a tincture… or you can supplement with them.
Make your own medicine
If you choose to make your own medicine, my favorite resource for learning how to do that is a book called Christopher Hobbs’s Medicinal Mushrooms.
It has an entire chapter called “Making Mushroom Medicine” that explains how to store and prepare medicinal mushrooms in numerous ways.
Dr. Hobbs is a mycologist and one of the foremost experts on mushrooms in the world.
I interviewed him on my podcast, Revolution Health Radio, and I recommend listening to that if you’re interested in this topic. I’ll put a link to his book and that interview in the additional resources section under this video.
Take a supplement
Taking a mushroom supplement is the best option if you want to get the full benefits of medicinal mushrooms but don’t have the time or interest to make your own medicine.
Unfortunately, due to the rising popularity of mushroom supplements, the quality of many products on the market is poor.
Here are some tips on finding a high-quality product and ensuring you get the incredible benefits that medicinal mushrooms offer.
It should contain a blend of the best-researched and most potent medicinal mushrooms. I’ve already mentioned lion’s mane, chaga, reishi, and cordyceps, but turkey tail, agaricus, shitake, and maitake also have significant brain benefits.
It should contain a clinically-relevant dose of each mushroom—preferably over 200 mg of each individual mushroom and more than 1,600 mg of total mushrooms per serving.
It should be a full-spectrum concentrate (rather than a simple extract), utilizing the whole mushroom parts: fruiting bodies, mycelium, primordia, and the extracellular compounds they naturally produce (enzymes, acids, and anti-microbials).
This ensures that you get all of the bioactive compounds responsible for mushrooms’ health and brain benefits.
The mushrooms should be grown on sorghum rather than common material, such as sawdust, straw, or compost. 95% of sorghum is digested, leaving only a small amount (5%) of starch (alpha-glucan).
Many mushroom products contain as much as 50% alpha-glucan, which is not medicinal and may interfere with the benefits of the mushrooms.
How to get the benefits of organ meats
But this isn’t always easy! Organ meats have a distinct flavor and different texture than muscle meats, which many people living in the modern world are not accustomed to.
If you grew up eating organ meats, you probably like them. If you didn’t, you probably don’t!
I have an in-depth article on organ meats on my website, which has information about how to make organ meats more palatable if you’re not used to eating them.
If you eat organ meats, it’s important to source them from animals raised on fresh pasture without hormones, antibiotics, or commercial feed with genetically engineered ingredients.
Take a supplement
This is a good option for those who don’t care for the taste or texture of organ meats or don’t have the time or interest to prepare them properly.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an organ supplement.
It should contain a blend of the most nutritious organs, including liver, heart, kidney, spleen, and pancreas.
Each organ has a different nutrient profile, so combining them gives you the greatest benefits.
The organs should be sourced from 100% grass-fed, grass-finished cattle.
The daily serving size should be roughly equivalent to eating one serving of organ meats a week. Organs are so nutrient-dense that you don’t need more.
The cattle the organs are sourced from should never receive antibiotics, growth hormones, stimulants, or commercial feed with GMOs.
The supplement should have no artificial flavors, colors, or chemical preservatives and be gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and GMO-free.
How to get the benefits of tocotrienols
Tocotrienols are the last superfood we discussed—but they are really more of a “super-nutrient” than a food.
And they’re the trickiest because there is no significant source of vitamin E tocotrienols in the diet.
Palm oil and rice contain some delta- and gamma-tocotrienol, but not at high enough doses to be therapeutic.
These foods also contain tocopherols, which can cancel out the benefits of tocotrienols by blocking their absorption and entry into the bloodstream.
This interference won’t happen with the amount of tocopherol we get from the diet (i.e. 10–15 mg/d), but it can happen with the amount that one might get from typical Vitamin E supplements and multivitamins.
This means that, in order to get the considerable benefits of tocotrienols, we need to take them as a supplement.
Delta- and gamma-tocotrienols are the most potent form. Annatto is the only known plant with 100 percent delta- and gamma-tocotrienol, with no other forms of tocotrienols and no tocopherols.
So, look for a tocotrienol supplement that is sourced from annatto.
It’s also important to ensure that you are not taking more than 30 mg/d of tocopherols from other supplements.
Most multivitamins and vitamin E supplements contain tocopherols rather than tocotrienols, so check the labels of your current supplements.
Also, make sure that the product contains a high enough dose of tocotrienols to be therapeutic.
Studies have shown that we need between 250–350 mg/d to achieve the best results. Many tocotrienol products contain 100 mg or less per serving, so watch out for that.
Okay, we’ve reached the end of the course.
Before I sign off, I want to leave you with a few thoughts.
If you take nothing else away from this series, I hope it will be the realization that you have FAR more influence and control over your cognitive function and brain health as we age than you’ve been led to believe.
Just knowing that this is true can have a profound effect.
You no longer have to live in fear of getting older.
You can look forward to the second half of your life rather than assuming it’s going to be a painful downward spiral.
And you now have a simple yet effective way to take charge of your brain health and live your best life.
I hope this was helpful, and thanks for watching.
We’ve covered quite a lot of ground in the course so far!
You’ve learned that:
- Cognitive decline is not inevitable and can even be reversed with the right approach
- The brain needs several nutrients to thrive—and most people don’t get enough of them
- Restoring optimal nutrient levels dramatically improves brain health and cognitive function
Now, I’d like to tell you how you can optimize your nutrition for laser focus, foolproof memory, and a crystal-clear mind.
One of the greatest joys in my career has been helping my patients recover their brain health and cognitive function and restore hope for their future.
But there’s a limit to the number of patients I can see in my clinic.
And sadly, working one-on-one with a Functional Medicine clinician is simply out of reach for most people.
So, for the first time, I’ve decided to make my unique brain health program available to the general public.
It’s based on decades of peer-reviewed research and 15+ years of clinical experience.
It’s powerful and effective—as the patient stories I’ve told you illustrated.
And here’s the best part.
It’s also simple and easy to follow.
We tend to think that big results require massive efforts.
That’s often true.
But it doesn’t always have to be hard work.
Sometimes, we find shortcuts that make a huge difference.
As someone who values doing hard things personally and professionally, I’ve learned to take advantage of and celebrate those shortcuts when I discover them!
That doesn’t happen every day—or even every year.
But my brain health program is definitely one of them, and I’m excited to share it with you.
This is the same program I’ve used with hundreds of patients I’ve treated in my clinic.
I’ve also taught this program to thousands of doctors and healthcare providers in more than 20 countries worldwide.
I can’t guarantee that it will work for you.
That’s not how medicine works.
(Side note: if you ever encounter a program or doctor offering a guarantee—run away.)
But unlike most brain health programs you’ll find online, this one has been used by real clinicians with real people just like you with spectacular results.
Before diving into the program, I want to tell you more about WHY I created it.
In this free course, you learned how important vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients are for brain health and that most people fall short of these nutrients.
I also shared tips on which foods are the best source of critical brain nutrients and how to incorporate the superfoods we discussed.
This is a fantastic starting place.
And for some of you, it might even be enough.
But only if…
…you’re eating almost exclusively home-cooked meals…
…with a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods (e.g., shellfish, meat, eggs, dark, leafy greens, and bright-colored vegetables)…
…consuming liver and other organ meats regularly…
…and including mushrooms in your meals or preparing them as extracts or teas.
But even with all that effort, you could still fall short.
Because the modern world has made it almost impossible to meet all of our nutrient needs from food—no matter how diligent we are.
Soil quality has declined dramatically.
Toxins like glyphosate and heavy metals are common in the food supply.
And stress, chronic disease, and digestive issues are widespread.
I could go on—this is far from a complete list.
But here’s the key point.
These challenges reduce nutrient absorption and prevent us from getting the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients we need.
This is why supplementation is essential for anyone who wants to protect their brain, improve their cognitive function, and live a long, healthy life.
But not just any supplements will do.
The stuff you might find at GNC, on Amazon, or on the shelves at Costco or your local drugstore won’t cut it.
They’re made with cheap, synthetic ingredients.
They can contain heavy metals, drugs, or other toxins.
They don’t have the right combination of nutrients.
You need something designed specifically to optimize brain health and cognitive function.
You need the same formulas that helped my patients overcome their brain fog and memory lapses…
…achieve laser focus and an “unfair advantage” at work…
…and avoid scary and rapid mental declines caused by simple nutrient deficiencies.
In short, you need high-quality, clinician-grade, evidence-based products that have been clinically tested with thousands of patients.
That’s why I created my own supplement line, Adapt Naturals.
I wanted to make the products I used with my patients for almost 15 years available to people like you.
I’ve carefully curated a daily stack of five products to create a powerful and effective total brain health program.
I call it the Core Plus bundle.
Let’s take a closer look.
The Core Plus daily stack features optimal amounts of all the critical brain nutrients we’ve discussed.
Bio-Avail Multi is a multivitamin blend containing a carefully designed blend of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are most important for brain health and cognitive function.
Bio-Avail Organ is a blend of 5 freeze-dried organs sourced from 100% grass-fed New Zealand cattle. This is the easiest way to get the incredible brain-supporting benefits of organ meats without having to prepare or eat them.
Bio-Avail Myco is a blend of eight of the best-researched mushrooms for brain health, including reishi, chaga, lion’s mane, and turkey tail. The compounds in Bio-Avail Myco boost cognition, regulate mood, and even regenerate new brain cells
Bio-Avail E+ contains a unique form of vitamin E (tocotrienols) that powerfully reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain—and improves memory, focus, and cognitive function.
Bio-Avail Mag contains a chelated form of magnesium that is absorbed quickly and is less likely to cause GI side effects than other magnesium supplements. Magnesium enhances learning and memory and supports connections between neurons, which leads to a younger and healthier brain.
I created Core Plus to give you access to the same proven brain health plan that I’ve used with hundreds of patients in my clinic—and that I take myself.
I’ve witnessed the incredible benefits of this stack in my patients.
And I’ve experienced them firsthand.
I know how powerful and life-changing it can be.
And I want YOU to have access to it too.
With Core Plus, you can finally relax, knowing you’re getting everything you need daily for laser focus, foolproof memory, and a crystal-clear mind.
Core Plus can also save you money on supplements because you’re no longer bouncing from one product to another or buying things you don’t need.
I am SO EXCITED to be able to offer the Core Plus bundle to you.
It’s the product of more than 15 years of hard-won clinical experience, in-depth research, and feedback from the hundreds of patients I’ve treated and thousands of practitioners I’ve trained.
And you can enjoy its benefits for a fraction of the cost of working with me (or another Functional Medicine practitioner) in the clinic.
Click the link on the screen or just beneath the video to learn more about Core Plus and how it can help you banish brain fog, boost mental clarity, and support brain health—at any age.
Okay, everyone, we’ve reached the end of my free course on optimizing your brain health with nutrition.
I hope it has inspired and empowered you to take charge of your brain health and provided you with the tools to do that.
In the next few days, I’ll send you emails with additional information about optimizing your brain health.
I’ll also share more information about how the Core Plus bundle can give you an “unfair advantage” in boosting your cognitive function and protecting your brain as you age.
Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you soon!