Anna Evans

Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta, MD

‘Keep Sharp’: Unleashing the secrets of cognitive health for a sharper future – a captivating journey into optimal brain function and the illuminating insights of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's book review.

Keep Sharp
“This is a frontier where we can dramatically improve human life, and ‘Keep Sharp’ is a helpful primer for anyone who wants to better understand brain function and how to preserve it."
– Bill Gates

As we age, the significance of cognitive vitality becomes even more apparent. With increasing life expectancy, the potential for longevity has expanded, making cognitive health a priority for older adults. A sharp mind is the key to unlocking a world of possibilities. It enables us to navigate the challenges of everyday life with clarity and efficiency, improving our decision-making abilities and enhancing our overall productivity.

By prioritising brain health, we can potentially delay or mitigate the onset of age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. This not only benefits individuals but also has broader societal implications, easing the burden on healthcare systems and fostering a more engaged and active ageing population.

Within the pages of ‘Keep Sharp: Build Better Brain at Any Age’, an esteemed neurosurgeon Dr. Gupta dispels common misconceptions about ageing and cognitive decline. He explores topics such as the existence of an optimal diet or exercise regimen for the brain, the comparative benefits of playing memory-testing video games versus engaging in social interactions, and the truth behind the advantages of drugs, supplements, and vitamins.

Author’s background

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a renowned neurosurgeon, is currently an associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital and an assistant professor at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

He is a columnist for Time magazine, a contributor to CBS News, and serves as CNN’s chief medical correspondent. With a rich background in medicine, Dr. Gupta has contributed to various scientific journals and received numerous awards, including an Emmy Award and multiple National Headliner Awards for his exceptional journalism. He is an esteemed member of several professional associations and serves on the board of the Livestrong Foundation. Additionally, Dr. Gupta is an accomplished author, having written three bestselling books. He holds an undergraduate degree and a doctorate of medicine from the University of Michigan.

What is the book about?

In ‘Keep Sharp,’ Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a globetrotting neurosurgeon, shares insights from top scientists worldwide. This book debunks ageing myths, explores the best diet and exercise for the brain, and examines the benefits of video games and social interaction. Learn from ‘super-brained’ elders, understand brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, and discover a personalized twelve-week program to strengthen your mind daily.

Key takeaways from ‘Keep Sharp’

In ‘Keep Sharp’ Dr. Gupta identifies five key pillars for keeping the mind sharp at any age.

1Exercising regularly is vital to keep your mind sharp

Engage in physical activities like aerobic exercises, strength training, and balance exercises to improve cognitive function and protect against age-related decline. This is by far the #1 recommendation of all neuroscientists and doctors.

Movement not only helps to increase, repair, and maintain brain cells, but it also makes you more productive and alert. In other words, there is a direct correlation between movement and brainpower and the effect is almost immediate.

2Embrace new challenges for cognitive health

Continuously learn and engage in activities that challenge your mind, such as learning a new skill, solving puzzles, or reading. Hobbies like painting, photography, or even learning a new language can give your brain a boost. This can enhance memory, concentration, and problem-solving abilities.

3Prioritize relaxation and sleep

Take time to relax and reduce stress levels. Ensure you get enough quality sleep, aiming for 7-9 hours each night, as sleep deprivation can negatively impact cognitive function.

Mindfulness techniques also have been demonstrated to effectively reduce cortisol levels, a key contributor to stress. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed numerous trials and revealed that mindfulness can significantly decrease anxiety, depression, and pain.

4Fuel your mind with healthy foods

Adopt a brain-healthy diet, such as the MIND diet, which incorporates Mediterranean and DASH diets. Consuming memory-boosting foods such as cold-water fish, whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, fibrous fruits, and vegetables can help preserve your memory as you age. It’s also recommended to avoid processed and sugary foods, which can contribute to inflammation and cognitive decline.

5Foster social connections to combat cognitive decline

Maintain an active social life by regularly connecting with friends, family, and communities. Social interaction has been linked to better cognitive function and a reduced risk of dementia. Loneliness or isolation was linked with higher risks of heart disease and stroke. A recent analysis from 70 studies that included 3.4 million people found lonely individuals had a 30% riskier chance of dying in the next seven years – this effect is most pronounced among those younger than 65.

Table of contents

  • Introduction: nothing brainy about it
  • Self-assessment: are you at risk for brain decline?
  • Part 1: The brain: meet your inner black box
  • What makes you you
  • Cognitive decline-redefined
  • 12 destructive myths and the 5 pillars that will build you
  • Part 2: The brain trust: how not to lose your mind
  • The miracle of movement
  • The power of purpose, learning, and discovery
  • The need for sleep and relaxation
  • Food for thought
  • Connection for protection
  • Putting it all together: 12 weeks to sharper
  • Part 3: The diagnosis: what to do, how to thrive
  • Diagnosing and treating an ailing brain
  • Navigating the path forward financially and emotionally, with a special note to caregivers
  • Conclusion: the bright future

Overall rating & strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews

The book has gotten 4.08 ⭐️ on GoodReads.


  • An engaging and easy-to-understand discussion about the existing knowledge surrounding brain health.

  • Each assertion made by the author is supported by precise citations of scientific studies, articles, or researchers.

  • Contains a list of 24 questions to help readers assess their risk factors for brain decline.

  • Offers practical advice for maintaining cognitive health.


  • The book offers limited new insights for those already familiar with the topic.

Best quotes from ‘Keep Sharp’

“I think of the brain like a town. The important structures such as the homes and shops are in nearly constant use, and they probably represent 10 to 20 percent of our brains. The rest, however, are the roads that connect all these shops and homes. Without the roads, information could not get where it needs to go. So while the roads are not in constant use, they are necessary.” 
“People with type 2 diabetes may be at least twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, and those with prediabetes or metabolic syndrome may have an increased risk for having predementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI).” 
“There’s a lot that can be done to delay the progression of the illness. I can’t repeat this enough: Early detection is critical.”

Final takeaway

In the book ‘Keep Sharp,’ Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a globetrotting neurosurgeon and acclaimed cognitive scientist, presents an engaging and easily comprehensible exploration of the current understanding of brain health. While it may not provide groundbreaking information for those already well-versed in the subject, the book meticulously substantiates every claim with specific citations of scientific studies, articles, and researchers. Dr. Gupta delves into various pillars for maintaining cognitive function, including the importance of exercise, embracing new challenges, prioritizing relaxation and sleep, fueling the mind with healthy foods, and fostering social connections. With its evidence-based approach and accessible style, ‘Keep Sharp’ offers a comprehensive guide to understanding and optimizing brain health at any age.

Where to buy

‘Keep Sharp’ by Dr. Sanjay Gupta is available to buy at You can purchase paperback, hardcover, audio and Kindle versions of the book.

Healthypedia FAQ

The book primarily focuses on exploring and understanding brain health, providing insights and strategies to optimize cognitive function.

Common signs of cognitive decline may include forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, decreased problem-solving abilities, language problems, challenges with decision-making, and changes in mood or behavior.

Nutrition plays a significant role in cognitive health. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can provide essential nutrients and antioxidants that support brain function. Research suggests that specific nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants may be particularly beneficial for cognitive health.

Certain lifestyle choices and habits can help prevent or slow down its progression. Regular exercise, engaging in mentally stimulating activities, maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, managing chronic conditions, and staying socially active have all been linked to better cognitive health.

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