By Daniel Amen, MD
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The health of your skin is an outside reflection of the health of your brain.

On a rare, sunny, glorious, fall day in Seattle, my friend Cynthia, whom I had known for the past 12 years, greeted me at the front entrance of the lecture hall. Cynthia was the founder of ADD Resources, a support group for people and families affected by attention deficit disorder. I had spoken for her group many times. Cynthia, who also has ADD herself, is famous for saying exactly what is on her mind. You always know what Cynthia is thinking. As I hugged her hello, she said, “I have to know what you are taking. Your skin is beautiful.”

I blushed. “Fish oil and sleep,” I said.

“That’s it,” she said.

“That is a big part of it,” I replied. “Plus, I eat a brain-healthy diet, exercise, don’t believe every stupid thought that comes in to my head, and deal with the stress in my life without caffeine or alcohol.”

The health of your skin is directly tried to the health of your brain. People, especially women, spend so much time and money working on their skin, when the first organ you want to take care of to have great-looking skin is your brain. The cosmetics counter, the dermatologist, the plastic surgeon — this is where you run when you want to reverse the aging process. But skin-care products, laser treatments, and the scalpel are often only temporary fixes. The real fix lies in your brain. It is your brain that tells your skin to produce more or less oil. It is your brain that supervises the production of supportive collagen. And it is your brain at the command post of skin cell regeneration. We all need to stop thinking about skin care from the outside in and start thinking about it from the inside out.

While writing this book I went to my father’s 80th birthday party. Two of my childhood friends were at the party. One friend was a long-time smoker. As we stood next to each other, I could see that his skin was deeply wrinkled. Smoking constricts blood flow to your brain and skin and prematurely ages both. As I wrote in the Introduction, my other friend had lost his wife to cancer a year earlier. The chronic stress aged him what looked like twenty years. I worried his brain would look aged as well as he complained about his energy and memory.