At 60, Alton Brown is as active as ever. The science-loving TV chef hosts Netflix’s new series, Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legendand Alton Brown’s US 30 Cities Tour to be new “culinary variety” live show will also start in November.
At this rate, it’s no wonder that healthy aging is a top priority for Brown, who recently shared: the healthy @Reader’s Digest that – perhaps unsurprisingly – he has invested mainly in keeping his mind sharp. Because our readers are here too, Brown shares his smartest habits for staying lively, plus what he eats at home to promote long-term brain health.
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Alton Brown on cooking for brain health
“I really started thinking a lot about brain health in general as my 60th birthday approached,” Brown says. “For some reason I never thought I would really make it this far, but now that I have it I have to figure out how to keep things going.”
That curiosity turned into extensive research into, well, brains. “I had cooked them,” Brown says, “but I hadn’t spent much time supporting them.” So he read about supplements, foods and daily habits that are good for your noggin. “It’s kind of a new hobby, trying to understand my brain and what I can do for it,” he says. “[My brain has] has done a lot for me – and I haven’t been very good at it over the years, to be very honest, so I’m trying to make up for it.”
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Brown has partnered with Neriva and Registered Dietitian Melissa Halas, MA, RDN, to educate the public on how to cook for brain health. “A lot of foods support each other in their benefits, so what I’ve been trying to do is come up with recipes that get as many brain-friendly foods as possible in one meal.” Together they developed a powerful recipe for a quinoa bowl with kale and salmon, because Brown says a meal that combines? oily fish, leafy vegetables and whole grains has the potential to pack a ton of brain wellness into your meal.
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Alton Brown on healthy aging
Brown reveals that he and his wife often eat fish and grains at home. (“Sorry, I’m checking my dinner,” he interrupts at one point, interrupting the interview to look inside a jar of what he called “a funky brown rice fish”). He says he is especially fond of high-quality canned fish, such as sardines, which they enjoy with a glass of wine and some cheese.
As for those greens? Even this chef with a highly developed palate understands that vegetables are not always a favorite. “We always have a lot of veggies in the house,” says Brown, but, “We juice them because sometimes it’s a lot easier for me to get a pint of celery juice than it is to eat a head of celery. . .”
Based on his doctor’s recommendations, he does take supplements, including: Neuriva Plus, to support his brain health and to address the fact that his body struggles to retain B vitamins. “It’s really hard to emphasize the importance of those B vitamins,” he says, and the research backs him up: a 2018 study in nutrients suggested that not having enough B vitamins may lead to “higher levels of neural inflammation and oxidative stress.”
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Alton Brown’s “Recreational” Training Philosophy
Thanks to Lynne Calamia
Brown takes a holistic approach to healthy aging, focusing not only on nutrition and supplements, but also on the importance of rest. He says the “quality of his output” improves with certain healthy habits, including at least seven hours of sleep and limiting screen time two hours before bedtime.
“I used to think of sleeping like, ‘Oh my god, get up, you lazy bum and get to work,'” he recalled. The Healthy. “Now I’m like, ‘No, my brain is actually writing. It’s doing things, it’s making memories. I need this sleep.’ So prioritizing sleep has become important and, of course, sleep balances with exercise – the more exercise you get, the better you sleep.”
Just as he entertains the science of nutrition, Brown says his mind for exercise is similar: “I won’t do anything that’s not fun.” If he moves his body, it’s for what he and his wife call “recreational exercise.”
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“I say to my wife, ‘I want to ballroom dance,'” he says. “My daughter is a competition ballroom dancer. I’m like, ‘I want to do that.’ We paddle boarding a lot, something my wife taught me. And that’s something wonderful that we can do together. And there is a lot of cycling and a lot of walking.”
The bottom line for Brown is that time – and fun – are precious. “I don’t believe in suffering. I just don’t. I have no patience for it. I’m not going to suffer from recipes or foods that are bad to taste just because it’s good for me, and I’m not going to do exercises that aren’t things I don’t want to do.”
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