Monday, August 28, 2017

Book Review: 'Power Foods for the Brain' by Neal D. Barnard

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things." -- Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Most books about eating and living healthier have obvious flaws. Typically, that's because the author focuses on one aspect of health at the expense of other important ones. While by its title Power Foods for the Brain might seem vulnerable to such bias, Dr. Barnard has mostly avoided it. I was impressed and pleased.

The other problem I have with many such books is that they contain only information that I have already read elsewhere. Again, Dr. Barnard taught me quite a few new things. Depending on what you already know about brains and health, your surprises and new information may come in different areas.

While the book clearly aims to help with all aspects of brain health, much of the best information is drawn from Alzheimer's studies. If avoiding that dread affliction is a concern for you, you'll be pleased to see how much is being learned.

While I cannot in this space do justice to the book's key lessons, let me share a few:

1. Copper, iron, and zinc seem to be clearly toxic to the brain. While it's not clear about the risks from aluminum, why take chances? If you are careful, you can reduce these risks a lot. Many "healthy" choices in terms of food supplements and enriched cereals actually can accelerate your risk of Alzheimer's. When I shared this information with my wife, she quickly determined that she was receiving toxic doses of iron every day by consuming "healthy" choices. She found better choices and I'm glad she did!

2. Vitamins E, B6, B12, and folate are going to be important to increase for many people.

3. Mental exercises are very helpful for expanding mental capacity and keeping memory effective.

4. Physical exercise can actually reverse the gradual shrinking brains normally associated with aging.

5. Sleep can do great things for memory. Get more of it!

There are also some healthy perspectives on food choices. For example, the more vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to build up toxic metals in your body.

I'm not enough of a cook to comment on the recipes, but for those who like to find ideas for healthier food preparation these should be of some value. There aren't enough to totally revise your eating.

As the son of a parent whose mental capacity sadly failed late in life, my only regret is that I didn't know these things in time to share with my mother.

Tell others!

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Donald Mitchell. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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