on February 22, 2013
This is solid, usable, reasonable advice to achieve some important and specific goals, mainly maintaining your brain health as you age. This book discusses Alzheimer's, but also includes a discussion of how to avoid or reverse general cognitive decline and function so you can boost your memory and recall in just a few weeks. The information in the book is science based, well presented, and a pleasant and easy read. Dr. Barnard has a wonderful sense of humor and is able to explain complex subjects clearly without talking down to his reader.
My mother had a stroke a few years ago. When she was recovering, she said her greatest fear was not the possible loss of mobility or discomfort/pain, but the possibility that she might lose her ability to read and work with knitting patterns.
Last year I discovered Dr Barnard's other work and my mother and I went on the diet he outlines in his book 21-Day Kickstart Weight Loss 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health. I wrote a review of that here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R38EXNJ7X5IP63/ref=cm_srch_res_rtr_alt_1
That diet worked miracles for our health simply by changing our diet. This book will help us extend the benefits of that lifestyle to work miracles for our brain health by showing us what to eat and what to avoid.
Dr. Barnard writes in Power Foods about where brain toxins are found in our diet (interestingly, some of the toxins aren't necessarily things to avoid, but things that are a problem if we ingest either too much or too little, or even the wrong form of, for example, some metals). Dr. Barnard writes that just adding an ounce a day of seeds or nuts (for the proper form of vitamin E) will help reduce the risk of Alzheimers by 70%. Add berries, apples, pears, grapes, green leafy vegetables, and beans to your diet. Certainly things we can all do easily! Also, get rid of saturated fats. We all know we need to to this for heart health, and we need to do it for brain health as well.
The book also describes brain exercises as well as the benefits of physical exercise and gives some specific things to do. Just a half hour three times a week can make a huge difference.
And, very importantly for many of our aging population, what medications can be causing severe damage to our cognition. We found this to be true for my mother. We were able to get her off of her statins from adopting the 21-Day Kickstart diet, and that made a tremendous difference in her ability to think clearly and get rid of the "brain fog" that was following her around like the proverbial dark cloud. We have already made a lot of the changes he suggests in this book, but we are learning some new information to incorporate into our lifestyle, so I would recommend this book even for those who have read other of Dr. Barnard's books.
Finding the root cause of cognitive problems can be quite a riddle to solve. I know it has been with my mother. In this book, Dr. Barnard walks you through the variety of things that can be a problem. One of the important things he noted is that not only can medications impact mental function, and the problems can add up as you add more medications. As we discovered in my family, the doctors did not even consider this while medicating my mother, and we had to do the detective work on medications ourselves. Some of the biggest culprits include sleep medications, statins (cholesterol lowering drugs), anti depressants, allergy meds/antihistamines, anxiety medications, pain killers, blood pressure medications, and antacids. Some of these you can just trade out for another kind, but others you really need to see a doctor about and have it managed properly. Dr. Barnard discusses this and tells you how to address the subject with your doctor. We also called our pharmacist and asked him to take a look at what my mother was taking before we saw the doctor so that we arrived to the appointment as informed as possible.
In addition to medications, Dr Barnard discusses problems that can arise from other areas, such as food intolerances, depression, menopause (this was a big one for me!), thyroid problems, infections, migraines, cancer treatments, diabetes, and more.
There are about 75 recipes in the book. I haven't tried them yet, but they are by the same chef who created the recipes in the Kickstart book, so I expect these to be equally easy to make and quite tasty. Examples of breakfasts include blueberry buckwheat pancakes with veggie sausage and cantaloupe; waffles with maple "bacon;" and breakfast wraps. Examples of lunches include veggie falafel with pita bread and a garden salad; easy colorful pasta salad over mixed greens; English muffin pizza; and a Tuscan wrap. Examples of dinners include red lentil soup with brown rice salad and steamed spinach, tacos with potatoes, swiss chard, and pinto beans with a spinach salad and mashed sweet potato; white bean chili with red rice, steamed spinach, and banana ice cream; and baked ziti with a rainbow salad and strawberry dressing, and warm apple cherry compote. The recipes seem very simple to make without an excessive amount of ingredients or anything excessively costly.
I'd like to briefly address the criticism of Dr Barnard's plan that it can be too restrictive or drastic. It may seem that way with an initial look, but to me, loss of brain function and the prospect of losing mobility, cognition, emotions, and the toll that cognitive degeneration can cause on our families are what's really restrictive and drastic. Being bedridden or institutionalized for our later years is restrictive and drastic. Not remembering our children or being able to experience (or even remember) normal emotions is restrictive and drastic. And in light of those very real and unfortunately not uncommon possibilities, Dr Barnard's suggestions are neither restrictive or drastic.
Speaking as part of a family that started to make some of these changes about a year ago, they aren't initially easy (it can definitely be hard to give up some of the food we have gotten used to), but if you work at it a little bit at a time and just keep trying, it becomes easier and easier as time goes by (the book has a special section to help deal with food cravings and why we have them). It took way less than a year for our taste buds to change and for this way of life to become not only easy for us, but enjoyable.
This book adds to the vast amount of information already out there on the benefits of plant-based diets and is suitable for those who already consider themselves well-read on the subject--there is, of course, some information you will have already heard, but there is more information that is new and important and not available from other mainstream sources.
Thank you for reading my review. This is an important topic and I know it's hard for some people to think about some of the changes Dr. Barnard suggests. But it's very do-able.
on July 15, 2013
Dr. Neal Barnard, in his most recent book "Power Foods for the Brain," provides the reader with a lot of information about how to improve and maintain optimal brain health, and the entire body, as well. Dr Barnard suggests a plant-based diet such as fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes: "Foods can change your life." His advice stems from his life experience, from his practice as a physician and from his team's extensive research.
A good example is illustrated on page 82. Benjamin Spock, MD a well-known pediatrician, in his later years suffered from chronic lung problems. Also, a bout of serious food poisoning left him with chronic neuropathy, weakening his legs. His doctors at Boston Medical Center couldn't do much for him. Only a drastic change in his diet, replacing meat and cheese with vegetables and whole grains alleviated his health problems. Then, learning from his own experience, Dr. Spock began to advocate for a healthful diet in his revised book "Baby and Child Care." Dr. Spock lived till the age of ninety-five.
I am taking the liberty to share briefly my story. I am a Holocaust survivor. At the age of fifteen, the Nazis detained me in forced labor and concentration camps for a period of three years. I was beaten and starved. It left many physical and mental scars that never received any medical treatment there. I was liberated by the Russian army in May 1945. Their doctors gave me a thorough examination. I weighed eighty pounds, and they told me, "Sorry young man, your life span will not be long." I was 18 years old then; I am 87 now.
For many years after the war I was a very sickly young man. The most troubling ailment had been my inability to digest common staples of food such as meat, dairy products, etc. My stomach rejected and ejected them. I had been seeking and getting medical treatments; different diagnoses were made and a variety of medications were prescribed which did not help much. A co-worker once suggested to me to adopt his vegetarian diet. I took his advice; at the age of 41, I became a strict vegetarian and a teetotaler. I don't claim to know what the best diet for everybody's health is, but having reached the age of 87 I have a valid reason to believe that a purely plant-based diet is good for a healthy body and mind.
I learned a lot from POWER FOODS FOR THE BRAIN and I am highly recommending this easy-to-read book to anyone seeking to improve his/her health. I found many practical tips about specific foods and eating patterns to be very helpful in all aspects of health. I am grateful to Dr. Barnard for enhancing my knowledge with his knowledge. Advice from an MD lends special weight.This book merits being a reference book, and for me it will be.
on March 14, 2013
I am currently completing my Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology. My primary research focus is exploring factors that contribute to age-related memory decline, including exercise and nutrition. I purchased this book with a healthy dose of skepticism, worried that it would be another fad diet with very little evidence to back it up. I was very surprised to find a well-researched book with powerful tips for protecting cognitive functioning and brain health.
Anyone who has watched a loved one suffer from Alzheimer's disease or memory problems knows how wrenching cognitive decline can be for friends and family members. Although there are genetic factors that play into dementia risk, following a few key principles can actually change your brain neurochemistry and protect your mind.
Dr. Barnard's three-step plan tackles the essential problems that lead to memory decline. First, he'll teach you which foods to eat and which to avoid. This advice will seem familiar (there's a strong focus on fruits, veggies, and healthy fats), but each food group has been shown to have protective effects on cognitive functioning. Step two: exercise your body and exercise your mind. This improves brain functioning and can even promote the growth of new neurons (something researchers didn't think was possible until several years ago). Step three: make some simple lifestyle changes to optimize your mental functioning. Things like changing your sleep habits and talking to your doctor about common medications can significantly reduce mental fogginess and memory problems.
As far as diet plans go, much of what Dr. Barnard espouses is similar to other diet plans (eat lots of fruits and veggies, limit red meats, maximize vitamin intake, get enough exercise). However, the entire framework of the book is focusing on improving brain health. He makes it clear how particular nutrients or ingredients are protective for the brain. Even those who have tried multiple diets will find new information here.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone concerned about their cognitive abilities. Whether you are a younger adult seeking to protect your brain from damage that can lead to dementia, or an older adult who has noticed recent memory lapses, Power Foods is perfect for you. Enjoy!
on February 19, 2013
I saw Dr. Barnard speak in California last year about how specific foods can help protect the mind, improve the memory, and prevent Alzheimer's. It was fascinating, and I have been waiting for this book ever since. He has a very straightforward style, and I like the way he bases everything on scientific research, but at the same time keeps it simple and practical. I also like the fact that he focuses on food. Everyday choices, not pills.
on February 20, 2013
What a great resource for those who say, "Alzheimer's is genetic." Dr. Barnard, a true hero in the medical profession, has helped so many dispel and combat myths that preventable diseases are genetic or inevitable. My mom used to take me every day to visit my grandmother who had Alzheimer's. During our nursing home visits for 6 years, Mom would always say, "If I get like this, shoot me." Mom and other relatives got exactly like that, and there was nothing we could do but try to give them the best care. It is good to know of these relatively easy tools (compared to dealing with Alzheimer's) that generations coming up can use to control their genes/destiny.
This book is the best I have ever read on the subject of eating right. I got the Kindle version so I also have the X-way function. This gives background information on parts of the book that many readers may not know and page numbers where the subject is in the book for easily review. What a great way to enhance such a great book!
I'm a senior citizen, 74, and have been slowly improving my food choices for more than twenty years. With all the fairly recent discoveries of the benefits of certain foods, and the harmfulness of others, I have still made some mistakes. And even while I really was benefiting from my improvements. I had reasoned, for example, that fish high in Omega 3's was something to eat a lot of - along with supplemental fish oil capsules. Result, I have to take a med to control high blood pressure. This is not a complaint. I'm otherwise in good health. I'd be already dead if I hadn't made the diet and exercise corrections that I did make.
But,none the less, I should have known better. Long before retirement I worked in the laboratory of a 7th Day Adventist Hospital. They touted the benefits of a vegetarian diet. The Chief of Surgery was in his 80's. I was privileged to attend the weekly physicians meetings that provided a banquet of delicious vegetarian dishes. Many of these meetings involved differences in certain kinds of cancers between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. I also saw a report on television - American groups that lived longest - yes, 7th Day Adventists vegetarians.
After reading Dr. Barnard's book, Power Foods . . . I think I'll make another try for perfection. I can't argue with his credentials, the facts he presents, or the clear and stepwise method. His 3-step plan seems simple enough and I think sufficient. The recipe section of the book will help. I've already adjusted my exercise for better safety and for better coverage of my whole exercise needs.
One of the great parts of this book discusses mental/chemical causes for obesity and addictions. For the first time I feel comfortable with my own understanding this process. Dr. Barnard writes clearly, simply, and does not confuse the reader with too much information. For me, this part may be the most important part. Now I have a better understanding of the central problem and can better control myself and my appetite.
Of course this book isn't just for seniors. I recommend it for everyone - everyone who wants to live long, stay in good health as long as possible, and (as a bonus) always be in control of their lives.
on February 19, 2013
What an amazing book! So glad I picked it up!
And the menu/recipes in the back are amazing. I just made the raspberry brownies. They were delicious. Who would have thought black beans in brownies?! But it worked!
on February 19, 2013
This is the first book to really show how to eat to protect your brain, and I am delighted that it is finally available. My grandparents had severe memory problems and so I looked everywhere for reliable advice, but the only books I could find wanted to push supplements or medications, and none of that was any use. Dr. Barnard has a completely different approach, based on food, and I'm putting it to work as of now.
on March 11, 2013
This book lays out the power foods that can protect your mind and strengthen your memory form Alzheimer's disease. Dr Neal Barnard Suggests that eating a plant base diet, exercising and getting the right amount of sleep will protect you from having memory lost later on in life. The book focus on 4 food group which are , fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and keeping oil contents low. These four food groups are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants that reduce brain shrinkage by eliminating free radical, which destroy brain cells. It can also ward of vascular dementia, in which damaged blood vessels can no longer carry adequate levels of oxygen to the brain causing a stoke. The book calls for reducing animal fats completely, cutting out saturated fat, trans fat, excess iron, aluminum and copper is the key for having good brain health. Excess of those food causes memory lost, that is why we should cut them down drastically. The thing I love about this book is that it focuses on food and not pills. If we eat foods from Mother Nature 99 percent of the time we will be fine. I think this book is right on track because my grandma eat a diet heavy in meats and milk and she suffer from Alzheimer's disease for 15 years until she passed away. I watched Dr Neal show on PBS and that inspired me to get this book and I'm glad I did, it will definitely change the way in how I eat. The recipes are amazing and very easy to prepared. Overall this is a great book and worth the read.
on February 19, 2013
Dr. Barnard makes keeping the brain healthy and the memory strong a delightful project that includes eating delicious foods, playing games, and getting to the gym. Easy, fun, and it could mean the difference between living all your life or living just part of it.