I think Alzheimer’s or any form of dementia is the scariest disease out there. My grandmother and step-grandmother both suffered from dementia and the thought of ever getting it terrifies me. Dementia means forgetting who you are, where you’ve been, who you love and even what you love. You turn into someone else, and you can’t remember anything, even if the event happened less than a minute prior.
Because of this fear, and because I have a history of dementia in my family, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the causes of dementia and any possible ways to prevent it from seizing hold of me. I came across Dr. Neil Barnard’s Power Foods for the Brain at the Cambridge Public Library and decided to read it, to see what he has to say about what I can be doing better to prevent the onset of dementia.
Not surprisingly, Dr. Barnard recommends a three-pronged approach to preventing the onset of dementia. These three steps include eating a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and high in fiber and other nutrients, regular exercise, and brain stimulation through games, social interaction or reading. These shouldn’t be too ground-breaking to anyone since these are basic tenets of a healthy life.
Where Dr. Barnard does take an innovative approach is in the nutrition section. He heavily recommends an animal-free diet, including the elimination of fish and dairy as well as the avoidance of any kind of multi-vitamin that contains minerals. He argues that fish has similar fats to other meats, and while they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, that we can get those fatty acids from plant-based sources. He also points out the fish are often full of dangerous chemicals such as mercury which can deposit in the brain and could lead to the onset of dementia. Similarly, minerals in multi-vitamins are often way above the recommended daily allowance, and he says minerals like Aluminium especially could form harmful deposits in the brain. If you follow his animal-free diet, he recommends to take a vitamin that either only contains B vitamins or contains no minerals to make sure you get B12.
If you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend checking out his book. It’s an easy read and the last third or so of the book is a set of menus that follow his recommended nutrition plan.
Let me know if you’ve read this book or if you’ve been reading any other great books on health and nutrition that you think I should check out!