Top 10 Tips to Keep Your Brain Young |  Elizabeth Amini | TEDxSoCal

Top 10 Tips to Keep Your Brain Young | Elizabeth Amini | TEDxSoCal

October 18, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs

Translator: Mohand Habchi
Reviewer: Tijana Mihajlović I’m super excited to be here. I’m a big fan of TED and TEDx. I think these events are wonderful. So, I’m the CEO and one of the co-founders of, and today I’m going to give you
the top ten tips to keep your brain young. There’re tips to help reduce
your risk of early memory loss, and what I want you to do is, if you like the tips, I’d like you to share them
with as many people as possible, with friends and family. I’m actually going to show you the website where you can get a copy of the tips. So don’t worry too much
about taking notes. My scientists and I
literally went through 17,000 studies to come up with the tips
that I’m going to share with you today, as well as the tips
that are in our games and on our site. But before we start,
I want to tell you a few things. First off, I’m not a doctor. I make games for a living. So, this is not medical advice. This is simply a starting point for you to speak with
about your future health with your doctor. Secondly, it’s all good news. So don’t worry, I’m not going to terrify you
with anything. Third, I’m not here to sell you anything. We’re actually going
to give you a VIP code so you can have free access to the games. So, don’t worry,
no supplements, no snake-oil, nothing like that. (Laughter) Just pure tips with no ulterior motive. So let me give you the e-mail. If you actually send an e-mail
to [email protected], you’ll get a copy of the tips as well as a link
to see all of the tips on the website. Or you can just go to and click on the brain tips section. So this whole thing started
four or five years ago when one of my friends’ mom got Alzheimer’s. And while I was watching
my friend deal with this and just struggling with it emotionally, physically, financially, I noticed that there is this unspoken,
but very deep belief that she, too,
was going to get Alzheimer’s, that it was entirely genetic, that she was doomed
to have this happen too eventually. And that’s just not true. That is absolutely not true. Depending on who you ask, only 5 to 8% of Alzheimer’s is linked to a single gene to begin with. There is a study that shows that, when you have two identical twins,
and one gets Alzheimer’s – they’re identical twins, you expect the other one
to get Alzheimer’s 100% of the time, that doesn’t happen. 21% of the time,
the other twin doesn’t get Alzheimer’s or gets it so much later
that it’s unrelated to that genetic basis. So I’m here to tell you about that 21%, and what lifestyle changes you can make to actually help reduce
your risk of early memory loss. And the good news is,
everything that I’m going to tell you, it’s easy, it’s free, and you can do it starting today. So without a further ado I will talk about the first tip. The first tip, and if you walk away with nothing else,
just walk away with this one: fast walking is fantastic
for your brain and your heart. So fast walking 30 minutes a day, five times a week, is linked to 33% less Alzheimer’s. If you actually include
vigorous aerobic exercises that get your heart rate up, three times a week, at least 20 minutes, that actually reduces your risk
down to 50%. So, fantastic news. If you can’t walk comfortably, what you want to do is water walking, cross-country skiing, or if you know someone in a wheelchair,
tell them to use a hand wheel. Any aerobic activity that basically pushes
the blood into your brain faster, pushes the oxygen and nutrients
into your brain faster helps things repair, pushes the waste out of your brain. That is fantastic for you. You doctor will tell you
that if you have an exercise at all, what’s really important is for you to just start getting
into consistent exercises. So you may start with 10 minutes a day. I don’t know about you, but I’m incredibly lazy
when it comes to exercising. Just incredibly lazy. Exercising for the sake of vanity
never motivated me, because I just figure plus or minus
ten, twenty pounds, who cares? (Laughter) It’s true. It’s just not motivating. But when I read this study, avoiding Alzheimer’s, and maintaining your freedom
and independence later on a life, hugely motivating. So I started walking, and I got tell you, it increases your energy, you drop weight, and you just feel so much
healthier and happier. So definitely recommend that. Second tip is to play
mentally engaging games. Studies show that any kind of learning,
any kind of mind engaging game play is fantastic for you. The keys are that has to be interactive, mind engaging, it’s extra good if it’s fun. So passive entertainment, is like watching TV or daytime napping. (Laughter) Interactive entertainment
includes playing brain fitness games, like on But you actually
don’t even need our games. Any kind of learning is fantastic for you. So, you can play chess.
You can play bridge. You can learn a new instrument,
a complicated dance or language. If there’s a social component
or physical component, even better. So learn ballroom dancing. What’s funny is you don’t actually
have to be good at it at all. So you can try Tae-Bo dancing,
flamenco, guitar, it doesn’t really matter. You’re doing different things
than what you usually do during the day, so your brain is growing
new neural connections, and it’s just fantastic for you. Third tip: avoid poisons. Everybody knows about lead in smoking. What you may not know is that smoking in midlife
doubles the rate of dementia later. And what I didn’t know was
that even an occasional cigarette, the social cigarette or social cigar, causes your capillaries
to act like they’re being poisoned because guess what? They’re being poisoned. (Laughter) You want to avoid that. You also want to avoid – the jury’s out on aluminum, they don’t know
if these things are inconclusive, but if you can avoid it, please do. You also want to avoid
toxic substances in your everyday life. There’s a website called, and you can literally put in your shampoo, your toothpaste, your soap,
your makeup, your sunscreen, and all of your cleaning products, and it pops out how toxic it is
on a scale to one to ten, and you can find out what’s toxic and what’s a safer alternative
to the things you’re using. Forth tip: being social
is incredibly good for you. There’s a Harvard study that shows
that people who have five social ties, and the people who they spend time with,
who they really enjoy, – the people at work don’t count, you don’t really enjoy them
if you’re honest with yourself – (Laughter) So, spent time with those people. That people that didn’t have
half the rate of cognitive decline, as the people who were the most isolated. Isolation is terrible for human beings. So, super important that you stay social. If you don’t have a lot of friends,
if you just moved, if your friends are negative
and you’re getting rid of them after the last tips that I tell you, try looking at places
like the Red Hat Society, the American Association
of University Women. I’m sure there are men’s groups
that are equivalent, but I don’t know what they are. (Laughter) Co-ed groups. Also, volunteering is a fantastic place
to meet really high quality new friends. is great. If you’re in L.A., has a lot of projects; phenomenal place. Next is having a purpose
and life direction is fantastic for you. Researchers at Rush University
Medical Center found that the people with the highest
purpose and life direction had 2.4 times less dementia than the people with the lowest. What this means for you is you can pick any cause
outside of your immediate circle, of yourself, your friends,
your family, and your acquaintances, any cause that’s important to you. Doesn’t matter what it is
as long as it’s meaningful for you, and just work on it regularly. That’s great for you,
it’s great for society, and teach other people to do that, too. If you think about
the people in this room, the two generation above me were the ones who kick down
the doors of sexism and racism, and they’re now kicking down
the doors of homophobia, and there’s a lot of more work to be done. So, pick any cause that’s important to you
and go out there and do it. Your brain will thank you
and society will thank you. Next one is to relax. Relaxation is fantastic for you. I told that this would have good news. So go to the spa, relax,
whatever you need to do, meditate, yoga, reading a book. I like relaxing in motion; I like walking through nature
and things like that. So whatever you need to do,
it’s really good, because what happens is
stress actually shrinks your brain. And you don’t want that. Stress rewires your brain. It affects memory,
it affects decision making. It actually ends up messing
with your emotional regulatory system. So, it’s not good for you. I was working at this day job
funding Anti. AgingGames, and it was really stressful, as I was reading the study
about how stress shrinks your brain. (Laughter) And it said that the people
who had the high stress job, low control, multiple bosses
telling you opposite things, had the worst… this is stress and brain shrinks it, and I was like, “Oh my god!
That’s my job.” (Laughter) So I decided to quit. I ended up leaving shortly thereafter. But if you’re in that job,
start looking for other jobs. You don’t need that.
You health is much more important. Next tip is to partner with your doctor. A good doctor is prevention oriented. So, most people stay with their doctors
because that person is nice or familiar. That’s not a good reason
to stay with a doctor. You want someone
who understands prevention, understands nutrition,
understands exercise, understands the importance of stretching, understands the interactions
between things. The reason why is, I can tell you broccoli
and cauliflower twice a week is fantastic for you. It decreases lot of
different types of cancers by at least 20%. If you have a thyroid problem, that actually makes
the thyroid problem worse. So, a good doctor knows that. It’s impossible for you to try
to keep track of the stuff yourself. A good doctor will tell you how your supplements
are interacting with things. It’s just really important
for you to do that, because things are really
intertwined and interactive. You generally want to get
most of your vitamins from fruits and vegetables, and not your supplements, but your doctor might ask you
to use some supplements too. And a good doctor knows how to do that. So, for instance not having
enough vitamin B12 is linked to memory loss, but you can’t just take supplements because you don’t know
if it’s absorbing or not. The good doctor knows
how to measure this in your blood stream and see if it’s absorbing, and if it’s not absorbing,
then you need a monthly shot. So, pick a good doctor and really partner with that person
to go forward in life. Next tip is to protect your head. People who have had head injuries, have two to four times
the rate of Alzheimer’s. If you had a head injury in the past, don’t worry, there’s a lot of factors: what part of your head get hit,
how long you were unconscious, for things like that, but not going forward
that you have to protect your head. Wear a helmet when you’re bike reading. The place that you’re more likely
to get hit in the head is in your car. So always wear your seat belt. Always pick a safer card; make that one of your primary screenings, and never text while you’re driving. The people who text
have 23 times the accident rate as the people who don’t. One study showed that it was equivalent to drinking four drinks
and getting behind the wheel. Someone’s texting in the car,
tell them to pull over. If it’s that important, pull over. And second to last tip is the Mediterranean diet
is fantastic for you. It’s one of the only proven diets
to just really be good. They also call it “eating colorfully”. Mediterranean diet involves
seven to ten servings of fruits and vegetables per day. I know that sounds like a lot, but actually it’s really hard
to gain weight with fruits and vegetables. So you actually end up
filling up with that and losing weight. Fresh is best, thyme is second best. Mediterranean diet people
also eat a lot of fish, preferably wild fish, twice a week. They eat nuts, almonds, walnuts, preferably raw, not salted. Beans, legumes, nobody knows what a legume is. (Laughter) Those are peanuts and beans, (Laughter) and there’s a real social component
to the Mediterranean village diet as well. So the last tip that I’m going to give you is that positive outlook matters, and it matters a lot. If you would ask me as a scientist
how much I think this matters, I’d say it matters a little bit. But it turns out that it matters
much more than anybody ever thought. What happens is that
there is a study called “The Nun Study”. They tracked 600,078 nuns
over the course of their lives, and a lot of the nuns even gave permission that upon their death
they could be autopsied. They opened up their brains
to see what was going on and what the correlation is
with Alzheimer’s. They found that the nuns who had the highest usage
of positive emotion words, so the highest positive outlook, not only aged better, and lived longer,
and lived healthier lives, but also what was really startling was, in a few cases, when they opened up
the brains of these people, and they looked inside, there were tangles and plaques
that are associated with Alzheimer’s, but they didn’t have the symptoms
that are of Alzheimer’s. So there’s this neuroprotective
effect to positive outlook that is really, really great, and scientists are going
to need to study it, but just so you know that’s there. The thing that you can do for yourself
is eliminate your negative self-talk. Talk back to it. Your brain doesn’t know
the difference between true and false. So talk back to it. Get rid of your negative friends,
replace them with more positive ones, and just remember that
seeing the opportunity in all challenges is a really good thing. Learning the lessons in mistakes
and then letting go is a really good thing. And finally, wanted to just share
the VIP code with you. If you go to and you use the VIP code TEDxVIP or TEDVIP, no spaces, you can get a free month
of Anti-AgingGames. You also get a better rate; you get a friends and family rate
of 9.95 dollars/month instead of 12.99 dollars/month. If you like it you keep it, and we donate all of the profits, 100% of the profits from the TEDxVIP code to various charities. I mean, our basic goal
is to improve lives around the world. In the US what that means, is sponsoring Alzheimer’s
prevention research, and cancer prevention research,
dementia prevention research, as well as some cure research. Overseas, it’s not really a matter
of taking people from 75 or 85 to 100; it’s more a matter
of taking people from 5 to 35, using clean water access, malaria nets,
and things like that. Education medicine. So, that’s what we’re doing. In general, the company donates
20% of its pretax profit to charity. So, if you like these tips,
if you found them valuable, please share them. We went through years of research
to be able to give this to you today. Thank you very much. (Applause)