Health Advice



7 essential amino acids build proteins, protect your brain

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

Psychologist and writer Timothy Leary almost got it right. Turn on (the stove); tune in (to amino acids); and drop out (of the 20% to 25% of folks 65 and older who have mild cognitive impairment and the 10% with outright dementia). A new lab study in Science Advances has identified the specific essential amino acids that protect the brain from neurodegeneration. In fact, in the lab mice, they "robustly rescued" the critters from existing cognitive damage.

Research has long known that lack of healthy protein can contribute to age-related loss of mental agility. But you can make sure your diet supports brain health by including foods that deliver specific AAs, the building blocks of protein.

Your amino acid diet plan: Lysine is found in black beans, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and soy; leucine is in beans, legumes and soy, as well as (low-fat and nonfat) dairy. Phenylalanine is in nuts, fish, beans, soy, poultry and (low-fat and nonfat) diary.

In the lab experiment those three essential AAs were supplemented with other AAs: isoleucine, histidine, valine and tryptophan. They're found in nuts, peanuts and seeds, whole grains, fish and poultry -- and valine is in vegetables and mushrooms. One note: A study in lab mice found that isoleucine seems to cause aging of muscles and liver. It's found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, lentils, nuts and seeds. So, the best idea is elimination of red meats and full fat cheese and dairy, and moderation for the rest -- they're protein-building foods.



Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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