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Dr. Barry Sears
Zone Living ? With growing frequency, news items appear about the benefits of fish oil ? especially about studies showing that fish oil helps the brain in some way. Fish oil has been said to thwart depression, lessen the effects of Alzheimer's disease, and keep a host of other brain disorders at bay.

The central theme of this article is that consumption of high doses of fish oil dramatically alters our brain function (how we think, focus, and reason) and quite probably boosts our intelligence.*

I put forward the critical need to define wellness if we are to make it the goal for twenty-first century medicine. The brain operates under the same conditions as the body. Just as you want to achieve a state of wellness for your body, you also want to achieve a state of wellness for your brain. Your brain isn't in a state of wellness just because you don't have some obvious neurological problem, like depression or attention deficit disorder. Your brain is in a state of wellness only if you're thinking at peak efficiency. This means you're unhampered by mental fuzziness, jittery nerves, inability to complete tasks, or a sense of doom and gloom. Ask yourself these questions to see if your brain is in a state of wellness:

Do you have a hard time concentrating on your daily tasks?
Do you find yourself moving from project to project without ever completing the one at hand?
Do you have a hard time getting organized or remembering things?
Do you find it difficult to look forward to the future?
Are you feeling down more often than you're feeling good?
Are you finding yourself acting less civil to others?
If your answer to any of these questions is “yes,” your brain is in a state of subchronic illness. I could list dozens of additional questions about mental health, but you get the idea. You know when you're operating in slow motion or just not feeling the mental zip that you had when you were younger. You might even blame your mental decline on advancing age. I can't tell you how many forty- and fifty-year-olds tell me that their mental capacity is diminishing as they reach middle age. I tell them that their brainpower may be diminishing, but this has nothing to do with their age. They're simply not maintaining the brain in a zone of wellness.

Because of its amazing complexity, the human brain remains shrouded in mystery. We're not exactly sure how it works. As a result, when the brain goes wrong, we feel powerless to fix it. There are two points in your life when your brain is most vulnerable: when you're an infant, and it is still developing; and when you reach old age, and it begins to fail. In one case, your brain can be robbed of reaching its full potential; in the other, you have lost your ability to take a lifetime of experiences and integrate them into a cohesive and meaningful mosaic. This is why our greatest fear, as we age, is that the brain will give out before the body.

My dietary program can dramatically alter brain function at both ends of the age spectrum and in all the years between. By following this plan, you give your brain what it loves and avoid giving it what it hates. As a result, you keep it humming at peak efficiency at every stage of your life. As hokey as it sounds, if you're good to your brain, your brain will be good to you.

Just like body wellness, brain wellness depends on increased blood flow and decreased inflammation. In order to achieve both, you have to give the brain what it loves and avoid the things it hates. Fortunately, the list is pretty short.

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