Book excerpt: Sanjay Gupta, M.D. on brain health, in "Keep Sharp"
CBS News 2hrs ago

In his new book, "Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age" (Simon & Schuster), neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, M.D., writes about how to keep the brain in shape as we age, to protect it from decline.

a close up of Sanjay Gupta holding a sign: keep-sharp-simon-schuster-promo.jpg © Simon & Schuster keep-sharp-simon-schuster-promo.jpg

Read the excerpt below, and don't miss Dr. Jon LaPook's interview with Dr. Gupta on "CBS Sunday Morning" January 3!

Sanjay Gupta holding a book:  / Credit: Simon & Schuster © Provided by CBS News / Credit: Simon & Schuster

When I was in medical school in the early 1990s, conventional wisdom was that brain cells, such as neurons, were incapable of regenerating. We were born with a fixed set and that was it; throughout life, we'd slowly drain the cache (and accelerate that killing off with bad habits like drinking too much alcohol and smoking marijuana – the truth about that later). Perhaps it was the eternal optimist in me, but I never believed that our brain cells simply stopped growing and regenerating. After all, we continue to have novel thoughts, deep experiences, vivid memories, and new learning throughout our lives. It seemed to me that the brain wouldn't just wither away unless it was no longer being used. By the time I finished my neurosurgery training in 2000, there was plenty of evidence that we could nurture the birth of new brain cells (called neurogenesis) and even increase the size of our brains. It was a staggeringly optimistic change in how we view the master control system of our bodies. Indeed, every day of your life, you can make your brain better, faster, fitter, and, yes, sharper. I am convinced of that. (I'll get to the bad habits later; they don't necessarily kill brain cells, but when they are abused, they can alter the brain, especially its memory powers.)

Video: Doctor's Office Stressed Trying To Administer COVID-19 Vaccine (CBS Dallas)

Let me say at the outset: I am certainly a fan of excellent education, but this is not what "Keep Sharp" is all about. This book is less about improving intelligence or IQ and more about both propagating new brain cells and making the ones you have work more efficiently. This isn't so much about remembering a list of items, performing well on exams, or executing tasks adeptly (though all of those goals will be more achievable with a better brain). In "Keep Sharp," you will learn to build a brain that connects patterns others might miss and helps you better navigate life. You will develop a brain able to toggle back and forth between short-term and long-term views of the world and, perhaps most important, a brain highly resilient in the face of life experiences that might be disabling to someone else.

From "Keep Sharp" by Sanjay Gupta, M.D.  Copyright © 2021 by Sanjay Gupta, M.D. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.


For more info: 

Show More
Latest News
20 must-read health books
The Health section of your local bookstore or online book retailer looks different than it did a couple of decades ago, when titles like Food-Free at Last: How I Learned to Eat Air or The South Beach Diet Supercharged were popular picks. Still today, authors—including would-be physicians, B-list celebs and underqualified fitness experts—dole out “health advice,” trying to convince readers that running themselves ragged with dieting and strenuous exercise will make them thinner, prettier, and happier. In fact, it has had an adverse effect, especially on women. The cruel dieting culture, incessant calorie counting, and little to no representation of health experts from diverse communities, along with the unrealistic standards set by the beauty and fashion industries, have led to eating disorders and severe mental health issues. Today, coupled with wellness, the topics covered in health and well-being books focus more on making healthy choices daily, keeping active, practising self-care, and being mindful of our mental health. Thanks to the body positivity movement, and some notable influencers in this space, we know that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. This is also a time when we are hearing from more underrepresented voices in this space, making health advice and wellness tips more inclusive and relevant for all. Start the new year off with motivation, stories, and advice on how to live a healthier, happier life that works for you. Get moving by adding these 20 must-read health books to your cart.
5 Minutes| Espresso