Without Brain Health, you do not have Health

As you go through life, your brain under­goes extra­or­di­nary devel­op­ment. Your brain is the most adapt­able, mod­i­fi­able organ in your body, and it can change both pos­i­tive­ly and neg­a­tive­ly by how you use it each day. Just by read­ing a book such as this one, your brain has been changed.

How has your brain been altered through­out your life? How may it change in years and decades ahead? The good news is that much of the age-relat­ed decline is like­ly avoid­able and even reversible. The fact that you bought and have read this book to the very end tells me you are moti­vat­ed to do some­thing about your brain per­for­mance. Our cog­ni­tive brain health tends to decline over time because we let it, but you can be your own brain health fit­ness coach to max­i­mize brain func­tion. Grow­ing brain research shows that a major­i­ty of indi­vid­u­als can make their brain smarter every sin­gle day.

Dr. San­dra Bond Chapman

When I first met Álvaro Fer­nán­dez Ibáñez after hav­ing spo­ken at the impres­sive 2012 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit, our brains con­nect­ed as we shared our thoughts on what major gaps need­ed to be filled to achieve greater brain gains for indi­vid­ual and glob­al brain health. As a cog­ni­tive brain sci­en­tist, my life has been ded­i­cat­ed to dis­cov­er­ing ways to opti­mize brain health and apply­ing rapid­ly emerg­ing inno­va­tions to make a dif­fer­ence in people’s lives. Álvaro and I come togeth­er from dis­parate dis­ci­plines, but we both see brain per­for­mance as the most vital and urgent fron­tier to build a health­i­er, more eco­nom­i­cal­ly pro­duc­tive society.

It typ­i­cal­ly takes twen­ty to forty years or more for sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­er­ies to mean­ing­ful­ly ben­e­fit human life. We can­not wait that long. It would be too late for the major­i­ty of peo­ple today. None of us can afford to let our brains decline – not even for a day. You would not accept that for your heart, eyes, or lungs, so why allow such slip­page for your most val­ued asset?

Increas­ing research and sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­er­ies from my research cen­ter, the Cen­ter for Brain­Health at The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Dal­las, and oth­ers have shown that every­one can increase their intel­lec­tu­al cap­i­tal, max­i­mize their cog­ni­tive poten­tial, and har­ness the immense capac­i­ty of their brain to rewire itself in health, and even after brain injury or brain disease.

How can we extend the brain span to more close­ly match the exten­sive gains in the human lifespan?

As I offer reflec­tions on the brain health advice and sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence unfold­ed through­out this book, I hope you begin to think dif­fer­ent­ly about your brain and active­ly embrace the excit­ing and promis­ing real­i­ty that your brain’s health is the cause of the century.

I chal­lenge you to:
• Update any out­dat­ed beliefs about the brain.
• Sort out and stop habits that are impair­ing your brain performance.
• Spend time on mean­ing­ful real-life activ­i­ties that demand vital deci­sion-mak­ing and com­plex prob­lem solving.
• Begin today prepar­ing a plan for next week. What is one tan­gi­ble step you are will­ing to take to bet­ter your brain health?
• Become a vocal ambas­sador of brain health to all those around you — whether at work, home, com­mu­ni­ty or play.

You have tak­en an impor­tant first step to becom­ing an active mem­ber of the Brain Fit­ness Move­ment by read­ing this book. You are nev­er too young or too old to com­mit to adopt­ing ben­e­fi­cial brain health habits that chal­lenge and enhance your brain’s capac­i­ty to think and act smarter. And keep in mind that…

Your health starts and ends with your brain’s health.

Your brain is the most vital organ and sup­ports every­day things you do, includ­ing your abil­i­ty to think, learn, rea­son, cre­ate, prob­lem solve, imag­ine, decide, or plan. You should start and end every day think­ing about how well you have tend­ed to the health of your brain, what­ev­er life stage you are in. It is just as essen­tial to mea­sure, mon­i­tor and max­i­mize your brain fit­ness as it is to mea­sure, mon­i­tor and max­i­mize your phys­i­cal fit­ness. In fact, more can be done to keep your brain healthy than any oth­er part of your body.

As a start to your new com­mit­ment to brain health, take seri­ous­ly the rec­om­men­da­tions and ideas gen­er­at­ed from read­ing The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness. I invite you to impact, imag­ine, inno­vate, and inspire.

  • Impact. We always want some­thing easy to do, like a cer­tain num­ber of puz­zles to com­plete each day or a mag­ic pill to take, to make us think smarter and keep our brain healthy. But sim­plis­tic for­mu­las do not have a sub­stan­tial and last­ing impact on such a com­plex organ as our brain.
  • Imag­ine. We know more about the uni­verse than we do about the human brain, but brain sci­ence is a fast grow­ing field of explo­ration. Sci­en­tif­ic research shows every indi­vid­ual builds a unique brain by how they use their brain every day. You con­trol your brain’s des­tiny. Imag­ine the lim­it­less possibilities.
  • Inno­vate. Today, sci­en­tists and inno­va­tors world­wide are tak­ing advan­tage of inno­v­a­tive and sophis­ti­cat­ed tech­no­log­i­cal advances to doc­u­ment and mea­sure dra­mat­ic, rapid rewiring at all lev­els of the brain – from brain blood flow, to synaps­es, and even to entire brain net­works. Design and inno­vate your own brain work­outs to take advan­tage of all these brain gains.
  • Inspire. Inspire oth­ers around you to adopt brain habits and encour­age them to become involved in com­plex cog­ni­tive activ­i­ties. Become a role mod­el and show how to reduce high lev­els of stress, engage in prop­er nutri­tion, and retain rich social engagements.

In the past ten years brain sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered much more about how the brain works, how to improve brain health and per­for­mance over time, and how doing so con­tributes to over­all health and well-being. Join us in mak­ing sure your best brain years are ahead of you.

With­out brain health, you do not have health.

– San­dra Bond Chap­man, PhD is the Founder and Chief Direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Brain­Health and Dee Wyly Dis­tin­guished Uni­ver­si­ty Pro­fes­sor at The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Dal­las. This is an adapt­ed excerpt from her After­word in The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: How to Opti­mize Brain Health and Per­for­mance at Any Age, the book rec­og­nized as a Best Book by AARP and kind­ly fea­tured by the late Lar­ry King. Please remem­ber to mark your cal­en­dar for Brain­Health Week (Feb­ru­ary 20–24th) and join the mul­ti­ple edu­ca­tion­al initiatives!


  1. chrisbocay on February 21, 2023 at 11:36


    This is a very pos­i­tive arti­cle about the pos­si­bil­i­ties of improved brain health. And I think, with Bond Chap­man, that it cer­tain­ly gives us all hope for the future. 

    And I can also under­stand Bond Chap­man’s enthu­si­asm for the sub­ject, con­sid­er­ing her long career in the field of brain health, etc. But I just think some of her state­ments are too bold (“more can be done to keep your brain healthy than any oth­er part of your body”, etc.).

    For brain health is, of course, not the only fac­tor when it comes to the over­all health of the organ­ism, whether it be a human being or ani­mal. There are many fac­tors that also con­tribute to a robust over­all health, not the least the health of the bil­lions of organ­isms (bac­te­ria, virus­es, fun­gi, etc.) in our diges­tive tract that do not have our DNA. In fact, we are more microbes than humans, since human cells only make up 43% of the whole cell count of our bod­ies (“More than half your body is not human”, BBC News, 10 April 2018). 

    So although brain health indeed is impor­tant, it is not the only game in town, in terms of phys­i­cal health. 

    Note also that I am not opposed to train­ing our minds, at all. But I think it mat­ters what our objec­tive is: Is the objec­tive mere­ly to be “com­pet­i­tive” in this world, and, with Bond Chap­man, put one’s focus on “per­for­mance” and “deci­sion-mak­ing” and “com­plex prob­lem-solv­ing” and “make their brain smarter” and end up with a “more eco­nom­i­cal­ly pro­duc­tive society”? 

    Or is the objec­tive to be hap­pi­er, more relaxed, and more “in tune” with your­self, and there­by becom­ing more cre­ative and suc­cess­ful as a result, with­out wor­ry­ing so much about “flex­ing” or “opti­miz­ing” our brain mus­cles? As for myself, I think the lat­ter moti­va­tion is the only inter­est­ing one. And it involves seri­ous brain/mind train­ing, as well.

    Thanks for an inter­est­ing read!
    Chris Bocay

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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