Archive Monthly Archives: October 2018

One in five men experience low sex drive and decreased libido, Learn how to increase sex drive on the Cenegenics program

How A Poor Diet Causes Low Libido

Low libido presents challenges within the medical community. Because it is suspected to be largely under-reported, determining the prevalence of this condition has proven to be a near-impossible feat for researchers. By some estimates, one in five men experiences low sex drive, but because many are hesitant to approach the subject with their physicians, actual figures could be much higher [1].

Adding to this challenge is the fact that there is no set standard for what constitutes a “normal” sex drive. Libido can wane and wax throughout the stages of one’s life and is even subject to factors we encounter daily. Stress, medical conditions, medications, hormonal changes, fatigue, and relationship issues are just a few of the most noteworthy influencers of libido. Thus, diagnosing and treating the underlying cause for the condition requires a comprehensive approach.

Causes of Low Libido

Influences on Low Libido

Common causes of low sexual desire and low libido include:

  • Stress
  • Medical Conditions
  • Medications
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance Abuse
  • Hormonal Changes
  • Fatigue
  • Relationship Issues
  • Underactive Thyroid
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular Disease

One thing is certain, however: the prevalence of low libido shows an increase with age which, in part, reflects the normal aging process. In other words, declining sexual desire can be expected, to some degree, in older adults. With that being said, there are psychological, sociological, and even medical factors which can contribute to low libido. Anxiety, depression, and substance abuse are common causes of low sexual desire, but there are also medical comorbidities associated with the condition. These include underactive thyroid, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, to name a few [2].

The host of potential culprits behind decreased libido can be overwhelming to patients. If there are so many possible influencers, where does one begin when seeking out an effective solution? For Cenegenics age management specialists, it starts with taking an all-encompassing look at the individual’s physical condition. In addition to accurately diagnosing and treating any health issues, the clinicians also optimize the patient’s wellness across the major key areas of hormone regulation, physical fitness, nutrition, and stress management. In doing so, they provide the best possible odds of restoring sex drive, whether its diminishment has been caused by age-related factors, suboptimal health, or a combination of the two.

If you are among the 20% or more of the population experiencing low libido, discover the ways Cenegenics can help below.

How to Improve Low Sex Drive through the Cenegenics Program

How to Improve Sex Drive

Cenegenics helps increase libido and sex drive with: 

  • Hormone Optimization
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Stress Management

How to Increase Libido and Sex Drive with Hormone Optimization

Some men experience low libido and sex drive due to testosterone deficiency, Cenegenics program can help you learn how to increase sex drive by exploring underlying cause of low libido

Are sex drive and testosterone connected? This is one of the first questions physicians typically encounter when addressing declining sexual desire in their patients. Indeed, while the two are related, they are not one in the same.

Testosterone is a vital hormone which supports a healthy sex drive. It declines naturally with age and begins to progressively drop from the 40s onward. While testosterone can be linked to low libido, testosterone deficiency is its own recognized medical condition which is characterized by below-normal levels of the hormone. It is suspected that the condition could affect roughly one in three men over the age of 45, but its symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, and low libido are often mistaken for signs of normal aging [3].

In clinical terms, the prevalence of testosterone deficiency is approximately 39%, though the rate can vary depending on specific diagnostic criteria. While its prevalence increases with age, it is also influenced by the level of awareness of both care providers and patients regarding common signs and symptoms. Although the normal ranges of testosterone are known to vary slightly among labs, the generally accepted ranges are 250-1100 ng/dl for total testosterone and 35-224 pg/ml for free testosterone.

If it is determined based on test findings that a patient has a testosterone deficiency, the Cenegenics physicians can recommend a tailored hormone replacement therapy program to optimize hormone production. While testosterone therapy can improve wellness and quality of life across a range of areas, including physical strength, energy, and weight regulation, the symptoms in the sexual domain, such as libido and erectile dysfunction, show the most clear and consistent benefit. In fact, more than 650 participants across 17 different studies showed that patients with testosterone less than 350 ng/dl will benefit from testosterone therapy in both libido and erectile dysfunction symptomology, with the greatest improvements experienced in the areas of morning and total erections, overall erectile function, and sexual motivation.

Cenegenics physicians are committed to taking the safest and most effective approach to treating hormone deficiencies. Not only does our clinical team manage total testosterone, but they also manage its impact on free testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and estradiol. To do so, we collect baseline lab values on patients at specific intervals, thereby ensuring physicians have a complete understanding of how hormones are directly affecting carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, bioinflammatory markers, kidney and liver function, and prostate health. Our physicians are proactive in measuring the impact of hormones on these biomarkers and will dynamically shift goals and efforts, as needed, as patients respond and adapt over time.

Of course, while testosterone is often the first factor that comes to mind in addressing declining sexual desire, it is not the only influencer. Physical fitness can play a powerful role in libido – we will delve into this relationship in the next section.

Exercise & Libido: What Is the Connection?

Some men experience low libido and sex drive due to testosterone deficiency, Cenegenics program can help you learn how to increase sex drive by exploring underlying cause of low libido

In the medical world, exercise is often hailed as “the greatest pill ever.” With the ability to reduce inflammation, improve coordination and balance, and reduce the risk of serious diseases, it is among the most powerful methods adults have for boosting their health across their entire lifespan. And, while it is perhaps the least used therapy against chronic disease and ailments of age, it is one of the most effective and thoroughly studied solutions.

It should therefore come as no surprise that one of the potential benefits of regular exercise is increased sexual desire. Exercise increases energy and optimizes cardiovascular health to improve erectile quality. The link between erectile health and cardiovascular wellness is so strong that physicians have now begun to consider erectile dysfunction as a potential warning sign of heart disease or other circulatory problems. While there are many possible culprits behind interrupted blood flow to the penis, one potential cause is cholesterol-filled plaque buildup within the arteries. Thus, for some men, lifestyle changes such as losing weight and exercising can improve erectile function and, subsequently, sexual desire [4].

Beyond addressing physical influencers, exercise can also impact some of the emotional factors contributing to suboptimal sexual desire. Losing weight, strengthening the muscles, and improving overall fitness levels can have significant improvements on a person’s mental health. Specifically, boosted self-image and confidence can positively affect physical interest in sexual activity.

Nonetheless, it is important to note the fine line that exists between maintaining optimal physical fitness and exercising too much. A 2017 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise examines the relationship between male libido and endurance training. While study participants in mid-range training intensities had greater odds of normal to high libido states, those with the highest training intensity experienced lower states. Training duration also affected libido, with participants of shorter and mid-range sessions experiencing higher sex drive than those with the greatest duration. Thus, too much exercise can actually negatively affect libido [5].

When exploring the best fitness program to optimize not only your sex drive but also your overall health, choosing among the various approaches can be overwhelming. With so many factors to consider, including duration, intensity, and exercise type, many individuals simply guess at the best type of training and are left disappointed when they fail to notice results. Cenegenics physicians, on the other hand, take a proven approach. They provide tailored exercise recommendations based on each patient’s unique needs, with the goal of optimizing results in the shortest amount of time possible. High intensity interval training is a preferred training method within the program, as it does not require a significant time investment but yields favorable outcomes.

As you may have suspected, exercise and diet often go hand-in-hand when it comes to addressing most areas of health. Libido is no exception, which is why we explore the impact of nutrition on sexual health in the following two sections.

How to Increase Libido and Improve Sex Drive through Nutrition

Cooking healthy meals instead of eating processed foods may support sexual desire instead of decreasing your libido, Cenegenics physicians teach you which foods to avoid to help you understand how to increase sex drive

Diet optimization has profound impacts on the body. Nutrition affects energy levels, weight, and countless functions the body must perform to maintain optimal health. One often overlooked aspect of wellness in the sexual realm is diet.

Unfortunately, we are facing a global epidemic in which eating has become an activity driven by factors like pleasure and convenience. We no longer eat to provide our body with the nutrients it needs to operate well and avoid diseases; instead, packaged and processed foods are often chosen because they are quick, easy, and satisfying. These foods, which are predominant in Western diets, have little nutritional value and can contribute to factors such as poor insulin sensitivity, a leading precursor for conditions that impact sexual health, including cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

Cenegenics physicians prescribe a way of eating that supports sexual desire instead of diminishing it. One shared priority across all tailored dietary programs is optimization of insulin sensitivity. Insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar levels, is produced in the pancreas and moves sugar from the blood into the body’s storage reserves. When cells become resistant to insulin as a result of poor diet, they are no longer able to use insulin effectively. This allows blood sugar levels to spike at abnormally high levels, and spurs a vicious cycle in which the pancreas creates more insulin to reduce blood sugar levels. Eventually, this can deplete the pancreas of insulin-producing cells, a trend commonly seen in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Unsurprisingly, low libido affects people with diabetes more than those without [6]. Lack of interest in sex and sexual dissatisfaction are also reported by people with cardiovascular disease – a condition in which insulin resistance is a common symptom [7].

Thus, while eating healthy will not necessarily directly increase sexual desire, it can certainly address many of the culprits behind low libido. Dietary approaches recommended by Cenegenics nutrition specialists prioritize the consumption of a healthy blend of macronutrients, including options such as low-carbohydrate/high-protein diets. These eating plans help patients address the cardiovascular stressors that inhibit blood flow while also controlling issues such as insulin sensitivity and inflammation.

Like exercise, improved diet can also lead to weight loss or regulation, which can further contribute to the emotional influencers behind low libido. Following a healthier approach to eating can help patients improve their self-image and confidence, which may also boost physical interest in sexual activity.

One final aspect of diet, in which Cenegenics physicians may advise patients to address in order to support sexual desire, is alcohol consumption. Not only can alcohol consumption impede cognitive function, it can also diminish libido. Alcohol causes the blood vessels to dilate, influencing the way the blood flows to and from the penis. It also contributes to dehydration, which impacts sexual performance and arousal [8].

The American Heart Association advises a daily allowance of one to two drinks per day for men, and while moderate alcohol consumption may produce benefits such as improved cardiovascular risk factor profile and reduce mortality, it is also linked to increased cancer risk. Additionally, moderate alcohol consumption can also lead to episodic binge drinking. Any health benefits achieved through alcohol can also be attained through nutrition and exercise alone.

Nonetheless, if you fall into the majority of Americans for whom drinking alcohol is a daily or weekly activity, you can rest assured that moderate consumption should not take a significant toll on your sex drive. For the top 30% of Americans who drink regularly, one drink per evening is the average rate of consumption [9]. While Cenegenics physicians advise the reduction of alcohol intake, modifying consumption with meals may be advised, depending on the patient’s goals, lifestyle, and specific needs analysis.

Despite limiting alcohol consumption and eating well, many modern diets still leave nutritional gaps which could affect libido. In the next segment, we will discuss how Cenegenics’ nutraceuticals can be used to address deficiencies for improved sex drive.

How to Increase Libido with Nutraceuticals

Cenegenics physicians only prescribe nutraceuticals and supplementation when necessary, Nutraceuticals are sometimes needed to increase libido and sex drive, Cenegenics physicians monitor patients who are taking nutraceuticals

Cenegenics physicians prescribe nutraceuticals for patients with identified needs for specific supplements. While nutraceuticals can improve overall health, certain micronutrients can also support optimal sex drive, too.

For instance, natural adaptogens such as maca root, ashwagandha root, and similar herbs may naturally enhance the desire for sex. Mushroom-based supplements, such as those from red reishi mushrooms, also have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties which can aid in stress management and immunity to help address loss of libido. Zinc, too, supports natural testosterone levels and can contribute to enhanced sex drive [10]. While foods high in lycopene, a powerful nutrient with antioxidant properties, can improve virility by maintaining prostate gland health, it can also be taken in supplement form. Finally, the omega 3 essential fatty acid is a building block of sex hormones, and taking it regularly can raise dopamine levels to trigger arousal.

When it comes to nutraceuticals, it is important to remember that doses should always be overseen by a physician. Moreover, supplements are not subject to nearly as strict regulation as pharmaceuticals. Purity and potency are either up to the consumer to research or the manufacturer to offer, and because many patients do not report supplements with their regular medications, drug interactions could pose a serious risk. The quality of the source is also critical. Our clinicians prescribe nutraceuticals which are significantly different from generic, retail-grade supplements. Our patients receive custom pharmacy items and efficaciously-dosed, pharmaceutically-tested clinical nutraceuticals.

A final but important component of optimizing libido is effective stress management. We will discuss this topic briefly in the following section.

Stress & Libido: A Critical Connection

Chronic stress can negatively impact your sex drive and decrease libido, ask your Cenegenics physician how to increase sex drive with stress management

Interestingly, while stress can impact your sex life, it can also be alleviated by having sex. Unfortunately, however, there is no simple fix for the chronic stress which impacts physical health in far-reaching ways, including lowering sexual desire. While some stress is normal and even healthy, the prolonged, chronic stress many individuals face can have adverse effects on health. Chronic stress produces cortisol, a hormone which can suppress sex hormones when elevated for long periods of time [11].

While there is no single way to address stress in all individuals, Cenegenics physicians excel in addressing the far-reaching impacts of stress. Our stress mitigation plans are all-encompassing to address all of the areas of your well-being which stress can affect. Targeted treatments are employed to achieve lasting improvements in sleep quality and duration, cognition, and energy levels, which can help patients approach life’s many challenges with a mindset that is free of stress and anxiety.

How to Increase Libido and Sex Drive: Is Cenegenics Right for You?

Cenegenics physicians can help you learn how to increase libido, The Cenegenics Elite Health program takes a comprehensive approach to help increase your sex drive and libido

While there are many potential causes behind low sex drive, Cenegenics clinicians perform robust testing at the start of each patient’s age management program to uncover any causative agents quickly and efficiently. In some cases, the cause of low libido could be easily identifiable, as is the case with low testosterone. In others, treating a broad range of health factors with proven solutions may be necessary for optimizing overall health for improved sexual desire.

Regardless of the specific factors influencing your libido, Cenegenics is the leading source for achieving lasting, noticeable improvements in sexual health. Libido is a key pillar in our comprehensive age management program, and by optimizing the additional areas of health, our clinicians can help you restore your desire and satisfaction once again.

Next Steps to Understanding How to Increase Sex Drive

Key Resources

This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources: 

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 2: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

Textbook Authors:

Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT

Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.

Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS

Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.


[1] DeNoon, Daniel J. “When a Man’s Sex Drive Is Too Low.” WebMD. 21 May 2009. Retrieved from URL:

[2] Mestrovic, Tomislav, MD, PhD. “Low Libido.” News Medical. 23 Aug. 2018. Retrieved from URL:

[3] Allerhand, Rhalou. “Low libido: the facts about low male sex drive.” Netdoctor. 31 Jul. 2018. Retrieved from URL:

[4] Skerrett, Patrick J. “Erectile dysfunction often a warning sign of heart disease.” Harvard Health Publishing. 24 Oct. 2011. Retrieved from URL:

[5] Anthony C. Hackney et al. “Endurance Exercise Training and Male Sexual Libido.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Feb. 2017. Retrieved from URL:

[6] Neithercott, Tracey. “Sex and Diabetes: What You Wanted to Know.” Diabetes Forecast. November 2012. Retrieved from URL:

[7] Elisabete Rodrigues Nascimento et al. “Sexual dysfunction and cardiovascular diseases: a systematic review of prevalence.” Clinics. Nov. 2013. Retrieved from URL:

[8] Borelli, Lizette. “Alcohol And Sex.” Medical Daily. 15 Oct. 2015. Retrieved from URL:

[9] Ingraham, Christopher. “Think you drink a lot? This chart will tell you.” Washington Post. 25 Sept. 2014. Retrieved from URL:

[10] “6 Benefits of Zinc for Men’s Health.” 09 Nov. 2015. Retrieved from URL:

[11] Scott, Elizabeth, MS. “How Stress Can Cause a Low Libido.” Verywell Mind. 19 Oct. 2017. Retrieved from URL:

VO2 Max Testing is one of the most significant tests when analyzing a patient’s ability to utilize oxygen, The results of the VO2 Max will help your Cenegenics clinical team determine the best fitness program for you

See Why Cenegenics Is The Golden Standard Of Men’s Health With The VO2 Max Testing Machine

One of the unique advantages of Cenegenics’ Age Management program is the comprehensive testing performed by our clinical team. With a full panel of age management experts, we thoroughly screen each patient to achieve as robust a measurement of overall wellness as possible. While each test we perform holds tremendous value in terms of directing our physicians in developing an individualized program, one of the most significant parameters analyzed is a patient’s ability to utilize oxygen during exercise. This is measured through VO2 max testing.

Importance of VO2 Max Testing at Cenegenics

VO2 max testing assesses the maximal oxygen consumption of an individual during periods of intense, strenuous exercise. It is currently considered to be the gold standard of measuring cardiovascular fitness among medical experts and is hailed for its ability to accurately assess cardiorespiratory functioning.

Not only does this test indicate aerobic fitness levels of a specific individual, it also provides a wealth of useful information on which specific directions can be provided for training purposes. Additionally, VO2 max testing unlocks powerful insights into overall wellness, including warnings of potential cardiac or respiratory disease symptoms.

At Cenegenics, VO2 max testing is a primary component of each Elite Health Evaluation, and our clinical team uses the results of this test to create your individualized program for optimal results.

What is VO2 Max Testing? 

VO2 Max Testing at Cenegenics, Exercise room with VO2Max Test cycling equipment

There are various ways to perform a VO2 max test, the most common including use of a treadmill or cycle ergometer, both of which measure energy expenditure. Through the treadmill method, the participant begins by walking on a treadmill at a 10% grade.

Every two minutes, both the treadmill’s speed and grade will increase until a maximal work output or volitional failure is achieved. While this is considered to be the most thorough means of testing, as it requires the use of the entire body, it also presents significant risk of injury.

This is a maximal exercise test that is intended to push participants to reach levels of exhaustion, which, on a treadmill, can lead to the risk of falling. The proper precautions must therefore be implemented to ensure the safety of participants.

As an alternative to the treadmill test, the cycle ergometer is used as a safer option. At Cenegenics, we perform VO2 max tests via cycle as it is a much more efficient and less dangerous method for our clients. Additionally, it still provides valid, valuable results and information.

How Does a VO2 Max Test Measure?

A VO2 max test employs the use of a mask, which is worn by the participant during the exercise and connected to a metabolic cart where biometric measurements are recorded. As the participants breathe, the air is collected in a mixing chamber where the gas is analyzed.

When the air enters the chamber, both the volume of air and the ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen are measured. The testing system uses specialized software, which can determine the energy expenditure of the exercise.

As the level of exercise intensity increases, the amount of carbon dioxide expelled while breathing also increases. These readings allow physicians to determine which fuel sources are being used in the body, (fats or carbohydrates) during a given point of time throughout the test. This proves to be beneficial for assigning customized training values for patients.

How to Read VO2 Max Test Results

Our cutting-edge VO2 max software provides a host of extremely useful information. Here, we will discuss the practicality and application of the data derived from the testing.

One of the most outstanding qualities of this test is its ability to track all of the following data in 15-second intervals for the duration of the entire test, allowing our physicians to observe not only the changes that occur but also how quickly physiologic markers shift as the exercise intensity increases.

Relative and Absolute VO2 Max

Absolute VO2 max (L/min) is a total value, while relative VO2 max (ml/kg/min) takes body weight into consideration. The relative value is therefore a more precise indicator of overall health than the absolute value.

For example, an individual may have a high absolute value, but when factoring in body weight, it is determined that they have a very low relative value which indicates less than ideal health. See the below chart for Relative VO2 Max Norms from the American College of Sports Medicine.

METS identify the amount of oxygen consumed at rest, graph of metabolic equivalent ranges for men and women

Metabolic Equivalents (METS)

Also known as metabolic equivalents, METS identify the amount of oxygen consumed at rest. One MET is defined as 3.5 ml/kg/hour, which is equivalent to the energy cost of sitting idly. This measurement provides a simple and straightforward means of measuring exercise intensity via oxygen consumption, and may be particularly beneficial for training.

Most treadmills now have a feature that will display the METS of a certain intensity level. An exercise physiologist or similar professional may prescribe an exercise plan using METS as a frame of reference for appropriate levels of intensity during physical activity.

Carbon Dioxide Expelled (VCO2)

VCO2 (L/min) is a value that goes hand-in-hand with VO2. As exercise intensity increases, so too does oxygen consumption (VO2). Thus, as more oxygen is consumed, more CO2 is created and expired through breathing.

The volume of carbon dioxide expelled after transporting oxygen throughout the body is measured by VCO2. CO2 is also created as a byproduct of energy production inside the body during rigorous exercise; we will cover that in greater detail in an upcoming section.

Ventilation (VE)

VE (L/min) refers to ventilation. In simpler terms, VE defines the movement of air via breathing. Ventilation therefore increases with exercise intensity, as the need to supply the body with oxygen and remove carbon dioxide increases. VE can also be correlated with the ventilatory threshold (described below) and used for training purposes

Tidal Volume (VT)

VT (L) is tidal volume. It is the volume of air that is transported into and out of the lungs with each respiratory cycle or breath. As exercise intensity increases, a larger oxygen demand is placed on the working tissue, demanding a larger volume of air per breath, more breaths per minute and an increased heart rate.

Respiratory Rate (RR)

Respiratory rate, or RR, is measured in breaths per minute. At rest, an adult averages 12 to 20 breaths per minute. As activity intensifies, respiratory rate will increase. With that said, elite athletes have the ability to maintain a lower RR even while performing high-intensity exercise, due to optimal cardiovascular conditioning.

Heart Rate (HR)

Heart rate (HR) is measured in beats per minute (bpm). Increased exercise intensity requires an increased oxygen demand to the body. In order to meet that demand, heart rate must increase to facilitate the transportation of oxygen to the working muscles. Both resting and exercising heart rate can be influenced by factors such as medication, stress levels, hormones, weight, and fitness level.

Most individuals have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 bpm, but trained athletes may have a resting HR as low as 40 bpm. In general, physicians tend to recommend a target heart rate during moderate exercise of roughly 50-70% of maximum HR, or 70-80% of maximum HR during vigorous exercise. Keep in mind that maximum heart rate may vary by age and other factors, so physician oversight is essential to ensuring patients are exercising within safe HR zones [1].

Respiratory Exchange Ratio (RER)

RER stands for respiratory exchange ratio. It is among the most valuable pieces of information derived from a VO2 max test. RER determines the ratio of CO2 to O2 used, and it is indicative of the fuel source being used by the body. RER operates on a scale of 0.7 to upwards of 1.0, with 0.7 indicating utilization of fats for fuel and a measure of 1.0 or higher designating use of carbohydrates. This can be determined by the amount of CO2 in the air exhaled by the subject.

During periods of rest, we utilize fats as a fuel source and would therefore have an RER of 0.7. This is because breaking fat down for fuel requires oxygen and time. It is a slow process, so while at rest or during low-intensity exercise, our bodies are able to get enough oxygen to break down fats for fuel.

As exercise intensity increases, however, the body is no longer able to break down fats quickly enough to provide energy. It therefore needs to pull from carbohydrates stored in the muscles, known as glycogen stores. Carbohydrates require little oxygen to be broken down as fuel, and compared to breaking down fats, the process is completed fairly quickly.

As more carbohydrates are utilized to keep up with energy demands, however, fewer fats are used. The RER will then begin to shift up to 1.0. Typically, around the 1.0 mark the individual is anaerobic, meaning energy production depends fully on carbohydrates and there is a lack of oxygen to create energy.

Why Do a VO2 Max Test?

Man cycling for cardiovascular health, Vo2 Max Testing is the most effective predictor of long term health

With all of the aforementioned data points provided by a VO2 max test, participants are provided with a better understanding of their overall health, potential disease risk factors, and fitness levels. The VO2 max test is one of the most effective predictor methods of long-term health and significant disease risk – so much so, in fact, that the American Heart Association (AHA) has released a statement on the reliability of cardiorespiratory fitness (synonymous with VO2 max) as an effective indicator of health risk factors.

Additionally, emerging evidence is increasingly linking low VO2 max values with high risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. It is even proving to be a more dependable indicator than other risk factors, including smoking, hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

When evaluating overall health, the relative VO2 max and METS are the values of most importance. The relative value provides an accurate determination with oxygen consumption levels with regards to weight, which provides greater insight into an individual’s overall wellness. Meanwhile, per the AHA, METS can be used as an indicator of high-risk mortality, with a measure of less than five indicating high risk, and a METS of 8 to 10 associated with a better chance of survival.

woman running to improve her cardiovascular health, Vo2 Max Test helping woman shape her training plan to further improve fitness and health

Not only does VO2 testing accurately assess health, but it also measures overall fitness levels and provides practical information, in order to prescribe precise training plans to further improve fitness and health. While not all exercise equipment or fitness trackers have the ability to analyze VO2, one of the best ways to apply this data to an individualized training program is by using a common, accessible value such as heart rate (HR).

Most modern exercise equipment, fitness trackers, and smartphones have the ability to measure heart rate and provide the user with instant feedback. By using heart rate as a method of prescribing exercise, patients can match a heart rate zone to a desired intensity to elicit a specific result.

How, precisely, is this done? If a lower training intensity or steady-state cardiovascular exercise is ideal for the patient’s need, the physician would match the RER of roughly 0.85 to the patient’s respective heart rate value and recommend that they stay in that range.

Likewise, if high-intensity interval training (HIIT) would best support the patient’s goals, the physician would recommend a heart rate value that could be achieved in accordance with an RER of 1.1. (If not 1.1., the patient might aim for the highest value over 1.0 prior to cooling down). That heart rate value is the target HR to shoot for when doing HIIT to achieve an anaerobic state, which ensures the full benefits of this style of training are realized. If the heart rate is too low, on the other hand, there may be insufficient stimulus to truly achieve the benefits of HIIT training.

Maximizing Results at Cenegenics with VO2

At Cenegenics, we do not simply use VO2 max testing as a means of assessing health; we also use the data derived from the test to continuously support a demanding, comprehensive program to potentiate real results and minimize risk factors for age-related disease. After completing a VO2 max assessment at a Cenegenics facility, the patient’s data is then analyzed by an age management physician, as well as a qualified exercise and nutrition counselor, and used to assess risk and develop a training program created exclusively for that individual.

Using the aforementioned process and associating heart rate values with target RERs, a target heart rate zone will be prescribed as a goal to reach during exercise. By working within this target range, the patient will achieve anaerobic exercise and stimulate the EPOC response.

EPOC stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which refers to the period of time following physical activity during which the body uses oxygen to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), clear out lactate, return normal oxygen flow to the rest of the body, and restore the body temperature to a normal level. During this time frame, the body will be more metabolically active and continue to burn additional calories as a result. HIIT training is the most effective way to achieve EPOC, whether through running, rowing, biking, or using resistance exercise.

Man performing HIIT training on track, Man sprinting during HIIT training workout

HIIT training involves short bursts of exercise performed at an all-out intensity level, typically lasting from 10 to 30 seconds, followed by a short 45 to 60 second rest period. These durations vary based on fitness level. For instance, after a five-minute warmup, a HIIT routine might involve a 15-second max sprint followed by a 45-second rest, repeated for a total of ten minutes and followed by a five-minute cool down.

In just 20 minutes, the amount of work done and caloric expenditure can exceed that of a 30 to 45 minute low-intensity steady state workout. It is for this reason that HIIT is widely recommended by Cenegenics physicians and favored by Cenegenics patients.

The results of using VO2 max testing to prescribe exercise programs and implement wellness measures to lower disease risk speak for themselves. Cenegenics patients are not only better able to achieve their weight loss goals and maintain their results; they are also more energized, alert, and healthier overall. If you are interested in discovering the power of VO2 max testing firsthand, contact your nearest Cenegenics location today.

Key Resources

This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources: 

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 2: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

Textbook Authors:

Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT

Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.

Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS

Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.


[1] “Know Your Target Heart Rates for Exercise, Losing Weight and Health.” American Heart Association, Inc. 2018. Retrieved from URL:

What are processed foods and what are the dangers of processed foods? Processed foods tend to be readily available and have a decreased ability to promote the feeling of fullness, the dangers of processed foods include increasing risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity

What Are Processed Foods & Why Are They Dangerous?

Article at a Glance

  • Processed foods, by the strictest definition, is any food source that is not a raw vegetable, fruit, or meat product.
  • The dangers of processed foods include increased risk of cardiovascular related disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cancer.
  • Eating healthy foods as an alternative to processed foods can provide the nutrients necessary to support healthy functionality of the body’s major systems.

Nutrition is one of the most important factors in promoting the quality and longevity of life. Yet, for many individuals, it is a known area of weakness. Most people know their diets could use improvement, but struggle to identify exactly how they could optimize their eating for better wellness. The simplest answer lies in the elimination of processed foods.

Although modern science has come a long way in terms of helping the human population maintain wellness, there is still no manufactured substitute for the nutritional value provided by natural sources. Processed foods only add cost to foods, and their creation is driven solely by consumer demand. Yet, while the food industry continues to churn out processed products, we continue to see startling disease rates linked to poor diet: as of 2016, obesity affected more than 93 million U.S. adults [1].

Indeed, the dangers of consuming processed foods are serious and often underappreciated. Here, we will explore some of the potential impacts of processed foods, along with dietary alternatives. Firsts, we will begin by finding out exactly what defines this type of food. You may be surprised to learn just how much of your diet comprises processed food sources.

What Are Processed Foods?

People often ask what are processed foods and the truth is anything that is not a raw vegetable or fruit or meat is considered processed

Processed foods tend to be readily available, nutrient-poor but calorie-dense, and have a decreased ability to promote feelings of fullness. Yet, the reason people keep coming back to them is simple: these foods are highly palatable, which is largely due to their high concentration of excess additives like sugars, sodium, and fats.

Because the term “processed” is so vague, however, it is no surprise that there tends to be confusion around what is considered processed and what is not. Oftentimes, the term “processed food” is used synonymously with “junk food,” but, in reality, it also includes many food sources which are typically perceived as healthy. Any grain – including multigrain bread and whole wheat pasta – is a processed food, for example. In fact, by the strictest definition, any food source that is not a raw vegetable, fruit, or meat product would be considered processed.

Yet, in practical terms, it is important to understand the varying degrees to which foods can be processed. Bagged or frozen vegetables and roasted nuts, for instance, are less processed than pre-made meals, such as microwavable dinners, which fall at the other end of the spectrum. “Ready-to-eat” foods requiring minimal or no preparation, including cereal, oatmeal, dairy products, and deli meats are also considered processed [2]. The more additives and processing a food source has, the more harmful it may be.

Why Are Processed Foods Dangerous?

Processed foods contribute to obesity and is considered one of the dangers of processed foods

Processed foods are harmful for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are often high in refined carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the primary factor that most substantially increase cardiovascular related disease by modulating insulin and inflammation. They also contribute to obesity more than any other macronutrient (including protein and fats).

Most processed foods are exceptionally high in added sugar, which can have a significant detrimental effect on the metabolism. Added sugar plays a role in the epidemics of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome [3].  Sugar consumption is also strongly linked to obesity and heart disease.

A diet consisting primarily of processed foods is also responsible for added weight gain, and eventually, obesity. Processed sugars in particular increase levels of harmful cholesterol, as well as fat accumulation in the abdominal cavity and liver [4]. Additionally, processed foods are often high in unhealthy, cheap fats, like soybean oil and Omega-6 fatty acids, which can increase inflammation when ingested in excess.

Moreover, it is not a single offending ingredient but rather a plethora of artificial ingredients found in processed foods that contribute to them being so harmful. Highly processed foods typically contain additives including preservatives, colorants, flavors, and texturants, all of which are chemicals used for specific purposes. Some foods even contain additional chemicals you will not find on nutrition labels, since manufacturers do not have to disclose what comprises blends, including “artificial flavors,” for instance [5]. In addition, while some contain added synthetic vitamins and minerals (to compensate for the nutritional value lost during processing), their nutrient level pales in comparison to that of whole, unprocessed foods. They are also low in fiber, which supports appetite regulation and aids in digestion.

Perhaps most alarmingly of all, highly processed foods are even linked to an increased risk of cancer. A 10% increase in the intake of highly processed foods is associated with an increase of greater than 10% in risk for overall and breast cancer [6]. These ultra-processed foods associated with extra cancer risk include sweet or savory packaged snacks, soda and other sweetened beverages, mass-produced and packaged breads and baked goods, chicken and fish nuggets, industrialized desserts, and frozen ready meals.

What is the Alternative to Eating Processed Foods?

eating healthy food sources is a great alternative to questioning what are processed foods, eating clean can help eliminate the dangers of processed foods

For individuals who are used to following an eating plan primarily consisting of processed foods, eradicating these sources from their diet may seem overwhelming. Yet, these harmful foods can be phased out gradually, by moving away from the most heavily processed foods first until only minimally processed or entirely natural food sources are left.

While processed foods are indeed highly palatable and are in fact made for the very purpose of appealing to appetites, there are still hundreds of natural alternatives, which can be enjoyed. More importantly, natural food sources provide the nutrients needed to support healthy functionality for the body’s major systems, as well as minimized disease risk. From trying unique pairings to adding different blends of seasonings, there are many ways to tailor whole foods to your own liking. Finding vegetables, lean meats, and fruits that you enjoy most and replacing processed snacks and meals with these natural food sources can have far-reaching benefits.

Eliminate the Dangers of Processed Foods – In Conclusion

Nutrition is one of the most important factors in promoting the quality and longevity of life. However, many individuals struggle to identify food necessary to optimize eating for better wellness. Processed foods tend to be readily available, nutrient-poor but calorie-dense, and have a decreased ability to promote feelings of fullness. The reason so many people return to these foods is simple: they are highly palatable, due to their large concentration of excess additives like sugar, sodium and salt. By the strictest definition, any food source that is not a raw vegetable, fruit, or meat would be considered processed.

Processed foods are dangerous and play a significant role in increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and even cancer. As an alternative, to reduce the risk of disease based on diet, find vegetables, lean meats, and fruits that are enjoyable and replace processed snacks and meals with these natural food sources. Eradicating sources of processed food from one’s diet reduces the risk of disease and though it may seem overwhelming, these harmful foods can be gradually phased out.

The Cenegenics Elite Health programs take a comprehensive approach to nutrition, unlike other diets which tend to focus on a single facet of life – changes in eating habits. The Cenegenics approach assures long-term results in comparison to “fast” weight loss solutions by customizing programs based on individual needs.

Next Steps to Optimize Your Nutrition with Cenegenics

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We hope the information above assisted you in your research process.

Additional Information About Cenegenics Nutrition Programs

What is Cenegenics?

What is Age Management Medicine?

Defy Your Age™ With Cenegenics

Nutrition for Weight Loss

Weight Loss on the Cenegenics Age Management Program

Understanding the Dangers of Processed Food Sources 

[1] “Adult Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from URL:

[2] “What is a Processed Food? You Might Be Surprised!” International Food Information Council Foundation. Sept. 2010. Retrieved from URL:

[3] Stanhope et al. “Adverse metabolic effects of dietary fructose: results from the recent epidemiological, clinical, and mechanistic studies.” Current Opinion in Lipidology. June 2013. Retrieved from URL:

[4] Stanhope et al. “Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans.” Journal of Clinical Investigation. 1 May 2009. Retrieved from URL:

[5] Gunnars, Kris. “Nine ways that processed foods are harming people.” Medical News Today.  01 August 2017. Retrieved from URL:

[6] Fiolet et al. Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NitriNet-Santé. Prospective cohort.” 14 Feb. 2018. Retrieved from URL:

Mental acuity comprises memory and focus, exercise can positively impact your ability to formulate memories, proper nutrition can help optimize your neurological function over a long life

Understanding Mental Acuity: Improving Focus, Memory and Concentration with Cenegenics

The Impact of Exercise on Brain Health and Mental Acuity

Nutrition’s Role in Brain Health and Proper Neurological Function

The Impact of Sleep on Neurological Function

How Supplements Support Brain Health and Mental Acuity

Next Steps: How Cenegenics Can Improve Your Mental Acuity


Mental acuity, or sharpness of the mind, comprises memory, focus, understanding, and concentration. As we age, these factors begin to decline naturally. Environmental and lifestyle factors can also take their toll on brain health, contributing to further decline of mental acuity in the form of conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

While some factors of brain health are beyond our control, there are many which are in our power to improve. The brain is the most complex organ in the body, with an intricate network of billions of nerve cells. To support the multifarious processes it performs, the brain requires the proper fuel, conditioning, and rest. Specifically, optimizing exercise, diet, sleep, and nutrient intake can all support mental acuity over the long term.

In the following sections, we will discuss the ways in which you can enhance these four factors to benefit your brain health.

The Impact of Exercise on Brain Health and Mental Acuity

The fact that exercise has many health benefits is indisputable. Its advantages are both physical and mental, internal and external: from building lean tissue and improving muscle elasticity to increasing cardiovascular efficiency and stamina, the list goes on and on. Now, however, there is emerging research acknowledging the impact of exercise on brain health, and the findings are truly remarkable. [1][2]

man running to improve mental acuity, research shows exercise can have an impact on improving mental acuity

Exercise increases brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF), proteins that promote the survival of nerve cells. It also increases Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factors (GDNF) and neuronal growth factors (NGF), both of which also contribute to the proliferation of neurons. Specifically, these growth factors maintain neuronal health as well as that of neural synapses, or the chemical messages that are exchanged between neurons. Synapses are essential to neuronal function and are also believed to play an important role in the formation of memories [3].

The growth factors identified above also support another important mechanism: they prevent Amyloid beta peptides (Amyloid-B) and neurofibrillary tangles from developing. Amyloid-B and tangles are suspected to contribute to degradation of nerve cells in the brain, and the subsequent development of Alzheimer’s disease [4].

Interestingly, these remarkable benefits are only observed in moderate- to high-intensity training. Elevating the heart rate to a higher degree than that which is experienced at lighter intensity levels causes the body to adapt. When we train harder, our brains must work harder to maintain synchronicity with the muscles we are using. This increased training intensity results in the highest possible elevation of growth factors, thereby achieving the strongest line of defense against Amyloid-B and tangles.

couple weight training to improve mental acuity, couple weight training to develop new motor learning patterns and improve mental acuity

Additionally, weight training and complex compound movements support the development of new motor learning patterns. Each time we learn a new exercise or motor skill, we increase the number of motor neurons we can use to perform these movements (called motor units). The greater the stimulation, the more our minds must grow and develop (known as brain plasticity). Consistently challenging the brain and neuronal pathways can also impede buildup of Amyloid-B and tangles.

Every day, our body’s cells perform chemical processes needed to survive, also known as metabolism. This often leads to the development of metabolic waste, which must be removed. In addition to this waste produced internally, we are also exposed to more external chemical sources than ever before. Exposure to these chemicals results in the build-up of reactive oxygen species (ROS), also known as free radicals. Our body does a great job of filtering these free radicals out on its own through processes such as urination, digestion, and sweat. Yet, physical inactivity can significantly slow this process, leading to an eventual elevation of free radicals and oxidative damage. This can seep into the brain, affecting healthy brain tissue. When we exercise, however, it rids the body of this waste: there is a significant increase in antioxidant enzymes within the brain, which work to remove any elevated ROS and subsequently maintain neuronal health.

Finally, exercise leads to an increase of dopamine, which is also known as the “feel-good hormone.” It also increases dopamine receptor sensitivity through increased vasodilation (widening of the arteries) and restoration of the basal ganglia, the structures within the cerebral hemisphere where dopamine is released. This, too, supports the health of neuronal synapses, allowing for the efficient passage of chemical messages from neuron to neuron. The release of dopamine also leads to improved mood, as well as decreased depression, which are both affiliated with degenerative brain health over time.

Nutrition’s Role in Brain Health and Proper Neurological Function

woman following Cenegenics nutritional guidelines to improve mental acuity, woman shopping for food to contribute to optimal brain health

While proper nutrition is a known component in maintaining overall physical wellness, its role in neurological health tends to be overlooked. When we think of food, the factors that come to mind are typically calories, weight loss or gain, and body composition. However, much like exercise, nutrition can contribute to brain health and optimal neurological function over a long life.

The process of maximal development and maturation begins at birth, which includes neurological function. In fact, infants use nearly 90% of their fuel to strengthen and develop the brain. With age, this figure drops to approximately 25-30% of our daily nutrition. While lower, this percentage still represents a considerable portion of our daily nutrition, and the interplay between diet and brain health should therefore be taken seriously [5].

Poor nutrition can have detrimental effects on many aspects of neurological function and health. A diet high in saturated fat and processed foods and low in essential nutrients and minerals, for instance, can lead to anxiety, depression, severe fatigue, and even brain atrophy and brain disease.

Conversely, good nutrition can combat the natural decline in brain health. When we learn a new skill or challenge our minds with unique stimuli, our neurons and brain cells respond accordingly. These new skills and their subsequent motor pattern development support:

  • An increase in myelin sheath, which lines neuronal cells to support the efficient communication of messages between cells
  • An increase in the presence of neurotransmitters including dopamine, noradrenaline, epinephrine, and glycine, which carry messages into the synapse from cell to cell
  • Maintenance of optimal sizes of the cerebral cortex and hippocampus (responsible for memory and mood)

Number of synapses declines with age leads to decline in mental acuity, good nutrition can help protect neural synapses and improve mental acuity

As we age, however, a natural decline in neurological function and efficiency takes place, characterized by:

  • A decline in the number of synapses, leading to less efficient transfer of messages from one neuron to another
  • The decrease and wearing down of myelin, which also decreases the speed of transmission of messages between cells
  • Atrophy of the cerebral cortex, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus
  • An increase in the oxidative stress in the brain
  • Buildup of toxic Amyloid-beta in the brain

Left unchecked, these factors can severely impede neurological function, as well as the development of age-related brain disease such as Alzheimer’s. The following key nutrients prevent against this deterioration:

  • Dietary Lipids: Found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and cod, as well as eggs, avocados, and non-hydrogenated oils, lipids maintain the strength of the myelin sheath and neuronal cell walls.
  • Carotenoids and Flavonoids: These antioxidants can be ingested through yellow and orange fruits and vegetables and reduce oxidative stress and free radicals throughout the body.
  • Micronutrients: Making up DNA and RNA in the cell, the following micronutrients also play a role in natural neurological function and support healthy brain lipids and neurotransmitters:
    • Iodine: Get your iodine through Himalayan sea salt, kelp, and unprocessed table salt, as well as most types of seafood, to maintain healthy neuronal enzymatic activity.
    • Iron: Iron deficiencies are associated with decreased oxygen delivery to the brain, which leads to decreased focus, attention, and overall neurological function and brain health. Nuts, fish, eggs, legumes, and lean meat are healthy sources of iron.
    • Protein: Proteins aid in the production of peptide-based neurotransmitters, including dopamine, noradrenaline, glycine, and tryptophan, which converts to serotonin. Low levels of these neurotransmitters lead to depression, anxiety, and bipolar mood swings. Healthy protein sources include meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, and legumes.
    • Folate: Also known as vitamin B9, deficiencies in this nutrient are associated with brain atrophy, specifically in the cerebral cortex. Folate is found primarily in leafy greens.
    • B12: Found in lean beef, salmon, and eggs, B12 deficiencies are also associated with brain atrophy.
    • Vitamin D: This essential vitamin acts as a neurosteroid, which increases the excitability of nerve cells. While eggs and fatty fish are two well-known dietary sources, you can also acquire vitamin D through sunlight.
    • Essential Fatty Acids: Two essential fatty acids (EFAs), linoleic and alpha-linolenic, are not synthesized by the body, and therefore must be consumed through nutrition. These fats are used to build specialized fats called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which support the function of all tissues. They provide structure for the myelin sheath and contribute to the structure and composition of neurotransmitters and other peptides. You will find EFAs in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, cod, oysters, trout, tuna, and halibut.

The Impact of Sleep on Neurological Function

business man experiencing sleep deprivation decreases mental acuity, Sleep deprivation must be addressed to support long-term mental acuity and overall wellness

Sleep deprivation is rampant across the country, with roughly 50-70 million adults suffering from a sleep disorder [6]. Whether it is from work-related stress, family or social obligations, or late-night TV watching habits, we are losing precious sleep and paying the price with our health. Poor and diminished sleep volume contributes to decreased energy, increased cravings, decreased muscle protein synthesis, and decreased cognitive awareness and performance. In terms of brain health, lack of sleep can also lead to:

  • Increased buildup of Amyloid beta
  • Increased oxidative stress and free radical buildup
  • Decreased myelin sheath and total synapses
  • Decreased size of the cerebral cortex and hippocampus

These factors combined are precursors for many of the nation’s leading causes of death, including obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases; as well as degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The degree to which lack of sleep is slowly killing our population can therefore not be overstated. A concerted effort to achieve better sleep, in terms of both quality and quantity, must therefore be taken to support long-term mental acuity, as well as overall wellness.

If you are someone who struggles to get proper sleep, here are some practical strategies you can implement to facilitate a restful night of slumber:

  • Avoid Light: Before trying to get to sleep, you should spend at least 20 minutes in a cool, dark room away from all electronic devices, including handheld phones or tablets and large technology. The light from these devices can disrupt the body’s natural rhythm, making it more difficult to ease into deep sleep.
  • Lower the Temperature: To enter REM sleep, your core temperature must be lowered. A stuffy, hot room can cause restlessness.
  • Time Your Gym & Caffeine Routines: Going to the gym and consuming caffeine both elevate heart rate and blood pressure, which could be difficult to bring back down to baseline before sleep. These activities should therefore be done well before bedtime.
  • Take Naps: When taken in the early afternoon or earlier, naps of no more than 30 minutes can improve cognition and focus [7]. Just be sure to set your alarm for 30 minutes, as sleeping any longer can actually cause drowsiness.
  • Weight Train: Weight training can increase muscle protein and cause fuel breakdown, prompting the body to need more recovery. Your body will therefore make more of an effort to enter deep sleep, and will be more likely to stay that way as well.

How Supplements Support Brain Health and Mental Acuity

Even the healthiest diets can leave gaps in nutrition. Despite conscious efforts to improve eating habits, we may still come up short in certain micronutrients and substances that improve overall health. Supplements can make up for these deficiencies but are best reserved for individuals who actually have an established deficit. Micronutrient deficiency testing is therefore worth consideration for patients looking to improve mental acuity.

The following supplements have been shown to improve brain health through numerous pathways:

Fish Oil

Fish oil can improve mental acuity and decrease chances of depression, Fish oil improves serotonin levels and can have a positive impact on individuals with depression

Fish oil is one of the most heavily researched supplements, and for good reason. Omega-3, found in both fatty fish and fish oil supplements, contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA), which can have an effect on mental acuity. Omega-6, on the other hand, is found in red meat and eggs.

EPA and DHA act as eicosanoids, which are lipids with 20 or more carbon links. These lipids are released, in response to stress, and help keep stress levels under control. Eicosanoids will release whichever fatty acid your body has more of, omega-3 or omega-6. Having a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is the best way to ensure the proper fatty acid is being released in response to stress. Additionally, high levels of EPA (1 gram or more) has been shown to improve serotonin levels, which can have a positive impact on individuals with depression.

Research has not yet identified a positive effect from fish oil supplementation on individuals with a healthy dietary omega-3 intake or those with fully developed Alzheimer’s disease. Nonetheless, based on what experts have seen so far, it is clear that the best plan for supporting longevity and mental acuity is to start incorporating fatty fish into your diet as early as possible, and maintain consistent exercise and sleep habits.

While fish oil is commonly measured in grams, the potency/quantity of essential fatty acid content per gram can vary between products.  Aim for fish oil products with more than 500mg of EFA per 1g of fish oil.

Taking 1 gram of fish oil per day proves to be beneficial for general health. However, up to 6 grams per day (usually split into 2 to 4 doses) can improve inflammation and soreness. Be sure to take the supplement with food in order to avoid unpleasant “fish burps.” [8]

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri can improve mental acuity and cognitive function, Bacopa Monniei improves neurological function by increasing length of dendrites

Also known as the water hyssop, Bacopa Monnieri is an herb which can improve mental acuity, focus, and cognitive function. Unlike other supplements taken to support brain health, it does not have any age-specific effects and can therefore be taken by adults throughout any stage of life.

Bacopa Monnieri improves neurological function by increasing the length of dendrites, which are found at the beginning and end of neurons. Dendrites release and gather information, acting as the link between one neuron to another. The longer your dendrites, the more efficiently neurons can transfer messages from the brain throughout the body. Bacopa Monnieri is also an antioxidant, which can fight off free radicals such as Amyloid beta peptides in the brain.

Patients can take 300 mg of the supplement daily (55% bacoside content), which has proven to support better overall health. Additionally, 750-1,000 mg of Bacopa Monnieri leaf powder has also shown to benefit wellness, and when ingested in this form, it does not need to be taken with food. It has been shown to produce a more powerful effect when taken with coffee in the morning on an empty stomach [9].

Gingko Biloba

Also known as the water hyssop, Bacopa Monnieri is an herb which can improve mental acuity, focus, and cognitive function. Unlike other supplements taken to support brain health, it does not have any age-specific effects and can therefore be taken by adults throughout any stage of life. Bacopa Monnieri improves neurological function by increasing the length of dendrites, which are found at the beginning and end of neurons. Dendrites release and gather information, acting as the link between one neuron to another. The longer your dendrites, the more efficiently neurons can transfer messages from the brain throughout the body. Bacopa Monnieri is also an antioxidant, which can fight off free radicals such as Amyloid beta peptides in the brain. Patients can take 300 mg of the supplement daily (55% bacoside content), which has proven to support better overall health. Additionally, 750-1,000 mg of Bacopa Monnieri leaf powder has also shown to benefit wellness, and when ingested in this form, it does not need to be taken with food. It has been shown to produce a more powerful effect when taken with coffee in the morning on an empty stomach. Gingko Biloba

Gingko Biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree, has gained the attention of researchers for its suspected ability to improve mental acuity. Evidence points to its power to reduce levels of Platelet Activating Factor (PAF) in the blood, thereby lowering thrombotic levels (buildup of blood clots). This anti-inflammatory effect is also extended to neuronal activity, and helps the efficient message delivery between neurons. Finally, the supplement is a natural antioxidant, which lowers levels of Beta-amyloid coloring in critical areas of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex.

For better mental performance, individuals can take 120-240 mg of the supplement, while 40-120 mg can be taken 3 times per day to alleviate cognitive decline [10].

Huperzine A

Extracted from the huperziceae family of herbs, Huperzine A is a compound, which acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Acetylcholinesterase degrades acetylcholine, the major neurotransmitter responsible for passing chemical messages between neurons, causing slower information transfer. By inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, Huperzine A helps to increase acetylcholine for improved information transfer and better overall cognitive function.

The daily recommendation for Huperzine A is 50-200 mcg, and the supplement does not need to be taken with food [11].


Choline supports transfer of information between neurons, Choline is commonly found in eggs and is useful in improving mental acuity

Choline is a vitamin found naturally in beef liver, eggs, legumes, and nuts. It acts as a precursor molecule for acetylcholine, which as mentioned above, supports the efficient transfer of information from one neuron to the next. As such, it pairs well with Huperzine A.

While 250 to 500 mg of choline can be taken daily for general health, 1 to 2 grams have been linked to an improvement in overall acetylcholine levels [12].

How to Improve Your Mental Acuity – In Conclusion

Aging brings on a myriad of challenges, which must be addressed proactively to sustain optimal brain health. When these challenges are left to manifest over time without taking preventive steps to improve nutrition, physical fitness, and sleep, our health is compromised in terms of both physical and mental decline. The impact exercise, sleep, nutrition, and nutrient deficiency can have on the brain is demonstrated below.

Impact of external and internal factors on stress, Lack of exercise and sleep can decrease mental acuity, Sufficient exercise and sleep can improve mental acuity

Together, these four factors provide the best line of defense in supporting mental acuity for the long term. The research is definitive and clear, and by implementing the practical tips laid out above, you can take the most effective approach in minimizing degenerative brain disease and supporting cognitive function well into the future.

Next Steps: How Cenegenics Can Improve Your Mental Acuity

Register for your complimentary phone consultation.

We hope the information above assisted you in your research process.

Additional Information Optimizing Your Mental Acuity with Cenegenics

Cenegenics Elite Health Program: Why You Should Consider Age Management Your Next Investment

What is Cenegenics?

What Does Cenegenics Cost?

What is Age Management Medicine?

Why Can’t I Sleep? – Clinical Explanations

Nutrition for Weight Loss

Weight Loss: Role of Exercise

How Cenegenics Can Help Relieve Stress in Executives & Professionals

Types of Stress: Understanding Stressors

Symptoms and Long-Term Consequences of Stress

Cenegenics Alternatives: Why the Original Age Management Program Reigns Superior

Sources of Mental Acuity and Improving Mental Sharpness 

[1] Figure 2f from: Irimia R, Gottschling M (2016) Taxonomic revision of Rochefortia Sw. (Ehretiaceae, Boraginales). Biodiversity Data Journal 4: E7720. (n.d.). doi:10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f

[2] T., R., Y., Barreto, D. S., & P. (n.d.). Protective Effects of Physical Exercise in Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease: A Narrative Review. Retrieved from URL:

[3] Mark Mayford, et al. “Synapses and Memory Storage.” Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology. June 2012. Retrieved from URL:

[4] Bloom, G.S. Amyloid- β and tau: the trigger and bullet in Alzheimer disease pathogenesis. JAMA Neurology Apr. 2014. Retrieved from URL:

[5] Gottschling, see above.

[6] “Sleep and Sleep Disorder Statistics.” American Sleep Association. Retrieved from URL:

[7] Kutscher SJ. Sleep and Athletic Performance. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 2017. doi:10.1016/b978-0-323-24288-2.00064-7.

[8] “Fish Oil,”, published on 26 October 2014, last updated on 27 August 2018. Retrieved from URL:

[9] “Bacopa monnieri,”, published on 3 May 2014, last updated on 14 June 2018. Retrieved from URL:

[10] “Ginkgo biloba,”, published on 23 February 2014, last updated on 23 July 2018. Retrieved from URL:

[11] “Huperzine-A,”, published on 12 July 2013, last updated on 22 July 2018. Retrieved from URL:

[12] “Choline,”, published on 23 October 2013, last updated on 14 June 2018. Retrieved from URL: