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The Alzheimer's Solution: A Breakthrough Program to Prevent and Reverse the Symptoms of Cognitive Decline at Every Age Paperback – January 29, 2019
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“The Alzheimer’s Solution, is the best, most professionally informed book of its kind for this much feared disease…the protocol recommended by Drs. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai is a very important message to convey to the public. Please, read this book.” (T. Colin Campbell, coauthor of The China Study)
“...an insightful, instructive, and easy-to-read book on Alzheimer’s disease and its links to diet and lifestyle choices. I highly recommend it.” (—Khaled Hosseini, bestselling author of The Kite Runner)
In this thorough, thoughtful, empowering, and timely book, leading experts Dean and Ayesha Sherzai tell you everything you need to know to mind the health of your brain, and defend yourself against one of the great scourges of modern living. Every family should own, and apply, The Alzheimer’s Solution. (—David Katz, M.D., founding director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, current President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, and the author of Disease-Proof<)
“The Alzheimer’s Solution is an empowering guide to the lifestyle factors that are directly linked to cognitive decline. Thanks to Drs. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, we finally have a roadmap to prevent and reverse symptoms of a disease that has been misunderstood for too long.” (Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times Bestselling author of the Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Longest-lived People)
“Increasing scientific evidence indicates that the same lifestyle changes that prevent and reverse heart disease and other chronic conditions may help prevent and even reverse the progression of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease as well. The Alzheimer’s Solution shows you how.” (—Dean Ornish, Founder & President of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and author of Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease and The Spectrum)
From the Back Cover
Over 47 million people worldwide are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. While all other major diseases are in decline, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased radically. What you and your loved ones don’t yet know is that 90 percent of Alzheimer’s cases can be prevented.
Based on the largest clinical and observational study to date, neurologists and codirectors of the Brain Health and Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center, Drs. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, offer in The Alzheimer’s Solution the first comprehensive program for preventing Alzheimer’s disease and improving cognitive function. Alzheimer’s disease isn’t a genetic inevitability, and a diagnosis doesn’t need to come with a death sentence. Ninety percent of grandparents, parents, husbands, and wives can be spared. Ninety percent of us can avoid ever getting Alzheimer’s, and for the 10 percent with strong genetic risk for cognitive decline, the disease can be delayed by ten to fifteen years. This isn’t an estimate or wishful thinking; it’s a percentage based on rigorous science and the remarkable results the Sherzais have seen firsthand in their clinic.
This much-needed revolutionary book reveals how the brain is a living universe, directly influenced by nutrition, exercise, stress, sleep, and engagement; in other words, what you feed it, how you treat it, when you challenge it, and the ways in which you allow it to rest. These factors are the pillars of the groundbreaking program you’ll find in these pages, which feature a personalized assessment for evaluating risk, a five-part program for prevention and symptom-reversal, and day-by-day guides for optimizing cognitive function.
You can prevent Alzheimer’s disease from affecting you, your family, friends, and loved ones. Even with a diagnosis, you can reverse cognitive decline and add vibrant years to your life. The future of your brain health is finally within your control.
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While Bredesen is mainly focused on nutrition and fasting, the Sherzais have a more multidimensional approach including also exercise, meditation, sleep, and building cognitive reserves (exercising your brain in different ways). Bredesen does touch on some of those subjects but often merely in passing. In contrast, the Sherzais dedicate an entire chapter on each of those subjects, including surveys of self-assessment and plans for self-improvements in each of those areas.
The Sherzais are also really strong in explaining the different causal mechanisms that cause AD including: 1) oxidation; 2) inflammation; 3) glucose dysregulation; and 4) lipid dysregulation. By contrast, Bredesen is mainly focused on inflammation. He also mentioned inadequate nutritional and hormonal support to the brain as a second factor and toxicity (mercury, etc.) as a third factor. However, on this count I do find the Sherzais explanation of AD much more thorough from a physiological standpoint.
Just about all the Sherzais’ earmarked chapters addressing any single topic are excellent. Even a mundane topic like exercise is really insightful. They also make suggestions that are original and helpful. What you get is that our sedentary lifestyle is slowly killing us. Sitting all week behind a computer then running a half marathon on the weekend is not optimal. The human body was made to be in almost permanent motion. So, they recommend you do a little exercise just about every hour on the hour. It could be for just a minute. But, it is a lot better than nothing. Also, what you get is that exercise is truly a brain-rebuilding machine. Exercise can literally regrow brain cells, brain matter and neuronal pathways. Similarly, their last chapter on optimizing your brain (building cognitive reserve) is truly outstanding and is genuinely encouraging. By engaging in mental and social complex activities, you develop numerous neural pathways that create a healthy redundancy. Later in life if your brain has some of the physiological symptoms of AD (amyloid tangles, tau plaque) that impair some of those pathways, you will have enough other pathways whereby you could still be 100% cognitively fit. They call this building your cognitive reserve.
There is one chapter where one has to express reservation, and it is the one on nutrition. They stick to a low fat, low cholesterol mantra relying on the research by Ancel Keys dating back to 1951. We now know his research was highly biased, and his conclusion very much wrong. Extensive scientific rebuttals have been disclosed in numerous books. Probably the best one on the subject is Uffe Ravnskov’s “The Cholesterol Myth” published in 1999. But, other current books also hammer away on the fallacies of Keys’ studies, including Dr. Mercola’s “Fat for Fuel” among many others. In view of the Sherzais diverging views on nutrition, they constantly warn against the profound ill impact of saturated fats and eggs (cholesterol). Well, in both cases they are deemed inaccurate by many other neurologists and nutritionist experts much concerned about overall health and the health of the brain. In this camp you will find not only Ravnskov and Mercola, but also Dale Bredesen, and Steven Gundry (the author of “The Plant Paradox”).
Among Ancel Keys followers there is much confusion regarding saturated fats. They are known to boost LDL cholesterol, which is deemed the bad cholesterol. However, LDL cholesterol is subdivided into two different categories: small, dense LDL vs. large not so dense LDL. The small LDL is a heart disease risk. The large LDL is not. And, it is the one that saturated fat enhances. Thus, from this standpoint saturated fats do not cause heart disease. Additionally, saturated fats are associated with numerous health benefits including enhancing absorption of numerous vitamins and minerals, boosting HDL levels (the good cholesterol), enhancing mitochondria energy metabolism, contributing to brain health (the brain does need much fat to function).
Another area where the Sherzais impart questionable information is concerning the overall risk of AD. On page 22, they indicate that if you have no ApoE4 genes, you have a 50% risk of developing AD by 85 years old. 23andme, a genetic testing company, relying on a very large sample of Caucasians, discloses an AD risk that is more than 5 x lower than the Sherzais. They come up with a risk of 5-8% for men and 6-10% for women. The Framingham Study comes up with an overall risk of AD (that does not exclude individuals that have the ApoE4 genes) by 85 years old of 12% for men and 20% for women. I have mentioned those data divergences to the Sherzais. And, they have not responded. I suspect they never will.
The two above caveats (nutrition and AD risk) are material. And, this is why I can’t give this book a 5 rating. Otherwise, the book is excellent and still warrants a very strong 4 rating. Additionally, the Sherzais have provided much supplementary information to Bredesen’s book on the same subject. By reading both books, you will know much more about AD then reading just either one of them.
Secondly, the book is a brilliant promotion for the notion of lifestyle as medicine. One of the failings of our medical system is that it treats disease and dysfunction as something that happens to us and is beyond our control when, for the most part, that is a convenient lie. Our health is very much determined by our lifestyle choices and the sooner we recognize that and start to practice health care rather than symptomatic disease care, the better off we will all be. To this end the authors should be commended for not just writing a book summarizing the latest research but have also ensured that this is a practical guide for anyone who is willing to change their health by changing their choices. Indeed, one of the strongest sections of the book is the way the Sherzais have set out their habit change section. It is full of great practical tips but utilizes what we know about the neuroscience of learning to give any willing reader the tools to change their health behaviors, and in so doing reduce their dementia risk. I recommend you read it while you still can -- you will preserve your brain in the process.