Utah brain doc connects the dots

What our ancestors knew eons ago is confirmed by modern research:

mens sana in corpore sano

More specifically, we know what’s good for your heart – getting outside, exercising, and eating a Mediterranean diet – is good for your brain, too.

One man in our midst is doing his best to help folks embrace this concept and incorporate it into their lives. You don’t need drugs, surgery, or special equipment, he says – just a commitment to stick to a disciplined routine of healthy eating and activity.

Dr. Steve Peters is a man on a mission. He was recently chosen as one of 20 Live Well intermountain-healthcare-logo-06-300x131Champions among 35,000 employees within the Intermountain Healthcare System. Peters is a neuropsychologist who last year opened the Memory Clinic at the American Fork Specialty Clinic, in American Fork, Utah. As the clinic’s director, he sees patients with a wide range of dementia-related issues [Full disclosure: Peters is my significant other.]

Through his review of current research, he knows bad health correlates directly to brain concerns. We all know that the heavier and less fit you are, the more likely you are to have a heart attack or stroke. Now we’re learning that our brains almost always 49539will be harmed, too.

Since landing at Intermountain a few years ago, Peters has given multiple seminars and presentations to employees and community members concerning brain health.

“It’s something he’s passionate about. He lives it,” said Kyle Wilson, American Fork Specialty Clinics practice director.

Steve Peters with friends

Steve Peters with friends

When Intermountain adopted the mission statement: “Helping people live the healthiest lives possible,” Peters took the hospital itself to task, challenging the cafeteria to serve healthier options.

“If there are unhealthy options within our culture, most people don’t question it,” said Wilson. “Steve’s not afraid to say, ‘this is not right.’”

Patients aren’t the only beneficiaries. Jimmy Hjorth, an athletic trainer who works with Peters at American Fork, said Peters’ influence has been inspiring.

“I’ve tried to make healthy changes in the past. It’s hard if you don’t have anyone rooting for you,” said Hjorth. “I was absolutely addicted to fast food, burger, fries, fried chicken sandwiches. Whenever he saw that I was making a healthier choice, he’d be super-excited. That makes you want to improve.”

Discussion on Evidence Based Horsemanship with Dr. Stephen Peters, left and Martin Black. Photo by Jessica Brandi Lifland