Power Foods for the Brain: A Fit Fathers Discussion with Dr. Neal Barnard


Are you losing your car keys a little too often these days or having memory lapses more frequently than before? Are you concerned that a serious memory problem like Alzheimer’s disease could be in your future? Financially, the condition is a disaster. Residential care and medical costs for a person with dementia can easily reach $70,000 annually. But the personal costs are incalculable.

IMG_4569Fit Fathers founder Kimatni D. Rawlins recently sat down with and interviewed the well-respected Dr. Neal Barnard, a clinical researcher and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) at his offices in Washington, DC. Fresh off a show tour with Dr. OZ and Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Barnard discussed his new book “Power Foods for the Brain” which highlights key steps for preventing degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.  The author of 15 books and host of three PBS television specials, Dr. Barnard’s research has already revolutionized the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. Neal Barnard, M.D. & Kimatni D RawlinsFocused on plant-based nutrition, the Doctor chats about the negative impact of meat, dairy, GMOs, supplements and more on the body. He emphasizes that countless research has proven that a diet based on veggies, fruits, legumes and whole grains is the better choice for the extension of life. Here are a few highlights of the conversation:

  • Of course he recommends that everyone begin eating a healthful diet.
  • Studies show people who eat high saturated and trans fat diets are more likely to develop Mild Cognitive Impairment or Alzheimer’s later in life.
  • One ounce of nuts and seeds provide 5mg of Vitamin E.  Pills do no have the same antioxidant benefit.
  • Folate (B vitamins) found in leafy greens, bananas, and more are very essential to our biochemistry. For example Folate helps rid Homocysteine from the brain.
  • 2.4 mcg of Vitamin B12 and 2000 IU of Vitamin D (if you don’t get it from the sun) are the only two vitamins we need to supplement.
  • Blueberries improve cognitive function. We should eat more foods that give us natural antioxidant protection such as berries.
  • Okinawa has more people living past 100 years old than anywhere else in the world. The dietary staple is not fish or rice, but sweet potatoes!
  • It is very important to get your heart pumping through physical activity at least 40 minutes per day. Focus on pulse and not distance to oxygenate the brain. Overall fitness will help reverses brain shrinkage.
  • Exercise the brain with mental activity like reading or word games for stimulation. Lumosity.com has online cognitive training programs.
  • Get some rest. Night owls have lower energy and brain function the next day since Amyloid production does not subside until you fall asleep.

PCRM Physicians Committee for Responsible MedicineNew hope has arrived in recent years, as researchers have begun to tease apart the connections between foods and brain health. In 2003, researchers with the Chicago Health and Aging Project reported a groundbreaking discovery. Having carefully analyzed the diets of thousands of people and then tracked their health as the years went by, it turned out that one particular part of the diet—saturated fat, found in dairy products, meat, and certain oils—was strongly linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. People who tended to steer clear of this kind of fat cut their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by two-thirds, compared to people eating larger amounts of it. Trans fats—found in snack pastries and fried foods—also increased risk. But foods rich in vitamin E reduced risk—by as much as 70 percent in some groups. Other research reports have shown that foods that are overly rich in Iron or Copper can promote cognitive loss, while certain micronutrients—Folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and others may help protect the memory.

Many other parts of our lives play a role, from our choice of cookware and our use of supplements to physical exercise and even our choice of intellectual stimulation. In “Power Foods for the Brain,” Dr. Barnard presents the findings of the latest research on foods and the brain, showing how simple diet changes can make an enormous difference. We suggest you pick up this book immediately to begin the journey to a healthier you! Plaque Diagram. Neal Barnard. Power Foods for the Brain. 1.14.13

Dr. Barnard is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine, Board-Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, his research revolutionized the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. His new work aims to put the findings of research to work to prevent risks to brain health. He is the author of 15 books and host of three PBS television specials.

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