My Daily Routine
People always want to know what I eat and do every day to stay energized and focused with everything on my plate. I talk a lot about cutting sugar and processed carbs and eating real, whole, fresh foods, exercising, and meditating—but everyone wants to know if I walk the walk! The truth is that I have to. I have about ten jobs, two kids, a dog, a team, weeks of travel at a time… the list goes on and on. In order to keep up with this lifestyle, maintaining optimal health and an optimal brain becomes a top priority. When your brain is functioning well, you receive more opportunities and life just gets better.
Unfortunately, many of us get too little good food, nutrients, light, air, water, rest, sleep, rhythm, exercise, community, love, meaning, and purpose. We’re exposed to far too much poor-quality food, stress, toxins, and allergens. The good news is that there are a few things we can do every day to keep our brain happy. Here are 5 things I do every day to stay sharp, joyful, and energized.
- Eat fat + protein + slow carbs. At least 75% of your plate, by volume, should be filled with colorful plant foods. These colorful super-foods come loaded with brain-boosting stuff like phytonutrients. Enjoy an array of colorful plant foods like blueberries and dark leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard, spinach, watercress, and arugula. Also, eat plenty of fat. 60 percent of your brain is made up of DHA—an omega-3 fat that you get from algae and fatty fish. My brain worked pretty well before but embracing fat (even good saturated fats like coconut oil and MCT oil) pushed my mental clarity through the roof. Also, optimize protein. We need about 30 grams of protein per meal to build muscle. When you lose muscle, you age faster and your brain takes a huge hit! Eat protein at every meal, including omega-3 eggs, protein shakes, nut butters, or even fatty fish for breakfast.
- Stop poisoning your brain. Eliminate sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, food additives, and preservatives, all of which poison your brain and disrupt your biochemistry. If it’s not real food, don’t eat it.
- Move your body. You don’t have to hit the gym every day. I definitely don’t, but I do make time for movement and play. Yoga, tennis, bike rides, whatever you love, do it. Exercise improves memory, learning, and concentration. Exercise creates brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is basically miracle grow for your brain. When you exercise, your brain becomes more elastic. Exercise also helps to improve your mood, boost your energy, and reduce overall stress in your body and mind.
- Relax and calm the mind. 95 percent of all illness is caused or worsened by stress. Stress hormones damage the hippocampus—the memory center in the brain—causing memory loss and dementia. Learn how to ACTIVELY relax. To engage the powerful forces of the mind on the body, you must DO something—you can’t just sit there watching television or drinking beer. Try meditation or learning something new.
- Connect. Perhaps the most important thing to do to keep your brain happy is to make time for your relationships. Social isolation can be deadlier than smoking. Consciously build your network of friends, family, and community. They are your most powerful allies in achieving long-term health.
There are so many other things that I do on a daily basis to keep my brain sharp, like taking supplements, taking a steam or sauna, drinking purified water, and avoiding neurotoxins. But, the steps above are the most important ones that anyone can take starting today.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD