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Power Foods for the Brain: An Effective 3-Step Plan to Protect Your Mind and Strengthen Your Memory Hardcover – February 19, 2013
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"This is a book everyone should read from a doctor whose advice I trust. Power Foods for The Brain will help you maximize your brain power and prevent problems down the road concerning memory loss. Buy it now before you forget to." --Ellen DeGeneres
"Dr. Barnard has written a timely and critically important book on a topic that will be of concern to many people." --T Colin Campbell, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University, and coauthor, The China Study
"Simple changes to your diet and exercise can help you be at your best when you're young and help prevent memory problems when you're older. Power Foods for the Brain shows you how, step by step. This is an immensely practical and important book." --Dean Ornish, MD, Founder & President of the Preventitive Medicine Research Institute and Clinical Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco
"This is a game changer for anyone concerned with memory or cognition. The great news is that Dr. Barnard has, once again, given us the keys to prevention and profound healing, and those keys are easily accessible." --Kathy Freston
"... simple, effective strategies for preventing dementias-not with drugs, but with great-tasting food and healthy lifestyle choices. Finally, a low-cost, (and delicious) doctor's prescription you will enjoy filling-and one you'll be able to remember to refill, year after year! Given the tsunami of dementias bearing down upon our society, Power Foods for the Brain is, potentially, one of the most important books of the decade." --Michael Klaper, MD, Director, Institute of Nutrition Education and Research, Manhattan Beach, CA
"Enhance your intellect with food. Dr. Barnard's simple dietary prescription also prevents strokes, Alzheimer's disease, and other causes of loss of mental function. The recipes are easy and delicious." --John McDougall, MD, author and founder of the McDougall Program
"Dr. Neal Barnard is one of the most responsible and authoritative voices in American medicine today" --Andrew Weil, MD
About the Author
Neal Barnard, MD is a clinical researcher, author, and health advocate. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and president of the nonprofit Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. He has been the principal investigator or coinvestigator on several clinical trials investigating the effects of diet on health. He is the author of several books and a frequent lecturer.
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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.
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.