Book Review: Power foods for the brain

This week's book for my review is by Dr Neal Barnard and is entitled: Power Foods for the Brain: an effective 3-step plan to protect your mind and strengthen your memory.


The book is about how you can use foods to protect your brain and optimize its function and even reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease, stroke, general cognitive decline,  and other less serious disorders such as low energy, poor sleep patterns, irritability and lack of focus.

Dr Neal Barnard is President of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is a non-profit organization involved in promoting preventive medicine and responsible research in medicine.

He has written many other books : Neal Barnard Amazon Book list, many of which I have read.  Power Food for the brain is his most recent, just out this year.

The book clearly takes you through a 3 step program to protect your brain:

Step 1 deals with what foods are "power foods" for your brain - which can shield you from toxic metals, which can protect you from harmful fats.  It also tells you which foods you should avoid.

Step 2 looks at how you can strengthen your brain through exercise - both cognitive exercises and also physical exercises.

Step 3 shows you tips on how to improve your memory while you sleep and goes over which medicines and health conditions affect memory.

A final section then helps you put all this into practice and includes some menus and recipes, written by Christine Walternyer and Jason Wyrick.

Dr Barnard has a great way of providing clear and easy to understand information, all based on plenty of scientific research. I've attended several of his lectures in the past and he is a great educator. This comes over in this book. As does his sense of humor.  His use of analogies really helps get the information across to the reader.

Dr Barnard advocates a plant-based diet and offers the evidence behind this - but also demonstrates the real power of good nutrition.

Here's a short video of Dr Barnard on the Ellen DeGeneres Show discussing Power Foods
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It shows you what an approachable guy Dr Barnard is. You'll find lots of other videos of his online - so have a search and learn more!

This is a great book. If you are beginning to notice some cognitive decline, get a copy and even if you don't do his whole program, you'll find lots of little tips for improvement.
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Neal Barnard on Diabetes

Here is the latest talk, published this month, from Neal Barnard on Type 2 Diabetes and how is it curable. Recorded at the TED Talks in Fremont.

This research has been available for some time now, yet so many are still ignoring it.  Hopefully this talk will help share the information to those who need it.  I ran a Food as Medicine group yesterday - and another tomorrow which was all on this subject.  More people need to know.


If you are interested, read his great book :Reversing Diabetes  and check out the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website for more information.  They lead an online 21 day vegan kick start program - in many different languages.

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Rainbow of Roasted Vegetables

Look at my lovely colorful dinner! Roasted veggies.


The cool pink and white stripes are chioggia beets.  If you roast them whole, they maintain their wonderful stripes inside. If you cut them before cooking, they lose their stripes.


Along with the beets are carrots, broccolini, mushrooms, roast parsnips (can't get enough of those) and then at the front of the picture are wonderful purple potatoes!


Nearly a rainbow of food in one meal. Do you eat a rainbow a day?  See the PCRM chart below which shows the cancer-fighting and immune boosting power of different colored foods.



The more naturally colorful your meal is, the more likely it is to have an abundance of carotenoids as well as other health nutrients.  Carotenoids are the pigments that give fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes, their bright colors.  Beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein are all different varieties of carotenoids that act as antioxidants with strong anti-cancer properties.
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National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Prostate cancer is the fourth most common malignancy among men worldwide, with an estimated 400,000 new cases diagnosed annually, accounting for 3.9% of all new cancers.



This summer I read a great book about prostate cancer that I'd like to recommend to you. The title is quite unexpected. It is:

Invasion of the prostate snatchers: An essential guide to managing prostate cancer for patients and their families, by Mark Scholz MD and Ralph Blum.


The book discusses the latest thinking on prostate cancer management, from two perspectives, a doctor and a patient.  Ralph Blum writes in an entertaining style about his twenty year journey with prostate cancer and his decisions along the way, while Dr Mark Scholz presents new scientific advances, with a focus on non invasive approaches.

Chapters alternate between the two authors - with comments at the end by the other.  It's a nice style and makes for easy reading.  It provides a lot of information for patients and families to help them make decisions on what approach to take.  I highly recommend it.


Prostate Cancer Incidence Rates by State, 2008



Epidemiologic evidence strongly suggests that dietary factors play a major role in prostate cancer progression and mortality, with protective effects associated with consumption of fruit (esp. tomatoes),  and increased risk linked to dairy. My recommendation for prostate cancer patients, or those at risk, is to avoid milk and dairy consumption (actually, this is my recommendation for everyone!) .    The evidence is mounting.  Major studies suggesting a link between milk and prostate cancer have appeared in medical journals since the 70's.

In international and interregional correlational studies, dairy product consumption has been consistently associated with prostate cancer mortality.


Researchers are looking at not only whether milk increases cancer risk, but also how.  There are several possible mechanisms: that milk with its high calcium levels adversely affect vitamin D metabolism; that dairy consumption leads to an increase in concentration of insulin like growth factor (IGF-1) which promotes cell cancer growth; and that most dairy products contain substantial amounts of fat and no fiber which is a combination that leads to increased testosterone concentration and activity which can have a cell replicating effect on prostate tissue. .

For further information on the research regarding prostate cancer and dairy, see the summaries supplied by Dr Neal Barnard of PCRM.

References
1. Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, Ajani U, Gaziano JM, Giovannucci E. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study. Presentation, American Association for Cancer Research, San Francisco, April 2000.
2. Cohen P. Serum insulin-like growth factor-I levels and prostate cancer risk—interpreting the evidence. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998;90:876-879.
3. Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL. What causes prostate cancer? A brief summary of the epidemiology. Sem Canc Biol. 1998a;8:263-73. 
4. Giovannucci E. Dietary influences of 1,25(OH)2 vitamin D in relation to prostate cancer: a hypothesis. Cancer Causes and Control. 1998b;9:567-82. 
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Eat a rainbow a day

Do you eat a rainbow a day?

Eating a diet that includes lots of different colors is linked to lowered risks of obesity and chronic disease.  The natural colors of foods are aesthetically pleasing to the eye and incorporating different colors into your food plan offers more than just macronutrients and antioxidants.  The colors are connected to specific functions inside the body too.

  • Red foods like tomatoes and watermelon contain the antioxidant lycopene, shown to play a role in reducing the development of certain cancers and may by important for warding off heart problems.  
  • Orange foods like carrots and sweet potatoes are great sources of beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor. When we eat orange beta carotene, it converts into Vitamin A in the body.  Eating orange fruits and vegetables can help our immune system and eyes to function better.
  • Yellow and green foods are packed with phytonutrients like lutein for eye health, chlorophyll to protect cells from damage, and folic acid, an essential nutrient for growth and development.  
  • Blue and purple foods are excellent sources of brain-protective antioxidants.  Eating blue berries and purple grapes can keep the mind sharp and focused.

Take a look at the chart above and see which color you don't normally eat on a daily basis and consider buying some of that color this week when you go grocery shopping.(The above chart includes brown in the rainbow! Not a usual rainbow color, I know - but useful for us to consider adding whole grains and legumes to each day.)

It's great if you can "eat a rainbow" each day - with at least one fruit or vegetable from each color of the rainbow.  See how well you normally do and try to improve it.  It would be fun to try and see how many colors you can combine even in one meal - can you get 5 colors or more in your next meal?


May your week be color full!
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