Since retiring, I have continued learning about aging and brain health through interacting with experts on aging (e.g. my emeritus colleagues pictured above!), reading and reviewing books on these topics, and monitoring current research on a number of germane web sites. Recently I completed reading Sanjay Gupta’s Keeping Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age. 

I have tremendous respect for the author.  I come away from the book with even greater admiration for the things he has done.  It is truly amazing how many famous people he has interacted with.

 Things that I liked about his latest book include the following:

  • a clear focus on the why’s and how’s of factors that affect brain health and aging.
  • witty titles, his optimism, and his good humor.
  • “Myth busting”
  • Good practical advice on better sleeping
  • interesting facts, lessons, and personal experiences (such as meditating with the Dalai Lama and visiting De Hogeweyk)
  • Lots of important and helpful information about Alzheimer’s disease and caring for Alzheimer’s disease family members’ financial, social and emotional costs
  • A good summary of assessment of Alzheimer’s disease 

Things that I disliked about the book included the following:

  • It took the author 90 pages to get to his “five pillars” for building a better brain at any age: 1) Move, 2) Discover, 3) Relax,4)  Nourish, and 5) Connect. These “pillars” are no different categories than those suggested by other authors (see below for some additional suggested readings) His “simple 12 week program” essentially involves incorporating the five pillars into one’s lifestyle as habits and reflecting upon the experiences.
  • The author often meanders off topics or contradicts himself. For example, he initially claims that he presents his pillars in no particular order of importance but later (correctly) states that exercise (movement) has the most and best scientific evidence that it affects brain health.
  • There appeared to me no consistent rationale for why some of the text was presented against a grey background.
  • It was unclear what the relationship is between Sanjay and the AARP though their trademark appears on the copyright page and their webpage promotes the book

and even includes a link to Sanjay reading Chapter 7 “Food for Thought.”

Readers who are buying the book to learn more about Sanjay will be rewarded. One is introduced to his family, his diet, his personal guide to good eating (Slash sugars,Hydrate, Add more Omega 3 fatty acids, Reduce portions, Plan meals ahead of time) his daily exercise regimen,  his preferred meditation practice, many of his CNN/journalist/surgeon experiences, and to a fascinating array of people whom he has met (Bill Gates, the Dalai Lama, William Dement, Steven Hawking, and many others). 

For those readers looking for more specific guidance, here are some additional resources I have examined and written about over the past five years.

  1.  Dr. Michelle Braun High Octane Brain
  2. Thoughts about Brain Fitness Software Training Claims
  3. Ten Brain Enriching Resources
  4. Brain Boosting or Bloated Claims?
  5. Brain Health Resources
  6. Promising Research or Wishful Thinking?
  7. Sharpening My Brain
  8. Brain Fitness Training: Fact vs. Fiction
  9. Can my old brain be (re)trained?
  10. Still More Reflections on Successful Aging