Keeping It Simple: An Alzheimer’s Prevention Diet

If ever there was a good excuse to eat unhealthy food, the Super Bowl would be it.  There were chicken wings, chili, cornbread muffins, and chips at my house.  Then my little Super Bowl party of two, (my husband and I), treated ourselves to a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra around half-time.  Note: eating ice cream while watching Beyonce shake her post-baby, fit body takes some pleasure out of the ice cream eating.

Our game fare could have been better, but I’m not beating myself up too badly because healthy and whole food is the normal diet around my house these days, and we’re eating more fruits and veggies than ever in the form of a drink, thanks to our new Vitamix.

There’s being a lot written about nutrition for brain health lately, and I’ll admit it can be a tad complicated and overwhelming.  That’s why I like this recent blog post on Maria Shriver’s website who is an Alzheimer’s champion by the way.  The post is written by neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson, one of the authors of “The Alzheimer’s Diet,” and what I like about it is he keeps it simple.  I like simple.  I’m guessing you do too, so I wanted to share.

Here’s what the good doctor says are three general recommendations for a healthy brain diet:

Maximize:

  • High-quality lean protein. The importance of protein for brain function cannot be overemphasized. Examples of recommended protein sources include fish high in DHA (e.g., wild salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, and albacore tuna); poultry (skinless white-meat chicken and turkey); lean meats (beef) that are hormone free; egg whites; and low- or no-fat dairy products.
  • Vegetables (especially dark-green leafy vegetables) and berries (especially strawberries and blueberries). Note that these healthy choices do contain low-glycemic (good) carbohydrates that should be tracked, as limiting one’s overall glycemic load has been found to be essential for long-term brain health. A good website for checking the glycemic load of specific foods is at http://www.mendosa.com/gilists.htm. The relationship between glycemic load and reduced memory function is complex and beyond the scope of this article.

Moderate:

  • Monounsaturated fats (e.g., extra-virgin olive oil, peanuts, avocadoes) and polyunsaturated fats (e.g., nuts and seeds).
  • Complex carbohydrates (e.g., whole grains, quinoa).

Minimize:

  • Simple (high-glycemic) carbohydrates (e.g., white bread, cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup in general).
  • Saturated fats (eliminate all trans fats).
  • Fried foods and dried foods (potato chips, corn chips, crackers, and dried fruits with sugar).
  • Cakes and muffins.
  • Bacon and hot dogs.

Dr. Isaacson goes on to say, “other great brain foods include seeds and nuts (flaxseeds, walnuts, and pecans), legumes (small red beans, pinto beans, and black beans), unsweetened red or purple grape juice, curry and turmeric root, black or green tea, unsweetened dark cocoa powder, and dark-skinned fruits.”

As I mentioned in “Read Ingredients. Avoid Crap.”, ignore the food pyramid and try to keep it healthy, wholesome, and pure.  An easy way to do this is by eating foods with ONE ingredient like fish, chicken, spinach, kale, strawberries, almonds, etc.  And of course purchasing your food in the most organic and chemical free form possible.

It’s okay to eat unhealthy on occasion, we’re all human.  The important thing is to forgive yourself, and get right back on the health wagon.  Now what do I do with those Super Bowl leftovers?

10 Reasons To Drink Smoothies

Smoothies are the new love in my life.  Here are 10 reasons why:

1.  QUICK.  5 minutes or less to prepare.

2.  EASY.  Add ingredients, blend, and done.

3.  NO MESS.  One glass to wash (thank you Magic Bullet!)

4.  HEALTHY.  Potentially a days worth of nutrition without extra calories.

5.  COMPACT.  Oodles of Alzheimer’s fighting vitamins, protein, amino acids, etc. IN ONE GLASS.

6.  DELICIOUS INGREDIENTS.  Berries, yogurt, chocolate to name a few.

7.  REFRESHING.  Nothing better after a work-out.

8.  CONVENIENT.  A smoothie to go is perfect when on the clock.

9.  FUN.  An easy and fun way to experiment with healthy ingredients.

10.  MEAL REPLACEMENT.   Smoothies are an excellent meal!

My go to smoothie looks something like this:

Approximately,
1 C. frozen berries
2 C. almond milk
1 scoop Jay Robb vanilla protein powder
1 scoop wheat grass
1 Tbsp. chia seeds

Go to Joy Of Smoothies or Whole Living for more healthy smoothie ideas.  And remember — what you put in your smoothie and ultimately in your body has a lasting effect on how you look and feel inside and out.

Cheers!

Prevent Alzheimer’s + Free Bonus Gift!

I’ve often thought that when I’m “Racing Alzheimer’s,” I’m getting an added bonus of (hopefully) preventing other diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and even obesity.  I mean, my brain is the ultimate target of my efforts, but since my head IS attached to my body, well, my body benefits too.

That’s why I love this article titled “Having It All” by David Katz, MD.  In it he says, “No organ is an island; every organ is a piece of the organism, a part of the body. The health of each depends on the health of all.”  Dr. Katz also goes on to say there’s not ONE thing any of us can do to keep this beautiful organism healthy.  Rather, it’s a concerted effort of many things — clean and healthy eating, exercise, mental stimulation as well as mental calm like meditation.   Also, getting enough sleep.  And having social connections and loving relationships.  And not smoking.  And . . . you know the drill.

What disease runs in your family that you would like to prevent?  Focus on that, and chances are you’ll be protecting yourself from the other guys too.

10 Ways To Keep Your Brain Sharp

When I read or hear news confirming the possibility of preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s I am renewed with hope!  The idea that my future can be influenced by the choices I make today is pretty powerful and it helps me stay the course of being an Alzheimer’s Warrior.

That’s why I love this recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune titled “10 Ways To Keep Your Brain Sharp.” It offers clear and simple ways to love your brain, with exercise being the top two.   GET MOVING is #1 and says, “If you do only one thing to keep your brain young, exercise.”  This is my motivation — nothing has given me a better reason to lace up and break a sweat.  PUMP IRON is #2 on the list.   I don’t pump iron.  Yet.

The bonus?   A healthy brain is just ONE of the benefits of following this list.

Go to “10 Ways To Keep Your Brain Sharp” to learn more.

What are you doing to keep YOUR brain healthy?

Read Ingredients. Avoid Crap.

“Skinny Bitch” is a book that had me at page one. It’s a funny in your face rant on health and nutrition that I found refreshing.   I didn’t know it at the time, but when I read this book 4 years ago, I was at the beginning of my Alzheimer’s prevention escapades.  I was starting to make healthy changes in my life and this sassy little book gave me the kick in the pants that I needed.

I was out of shape, had no energy and wasn’t sleeping well.  This book, which is more about being healthy than it is about being skinny helped open my eyes to the crap I was eating that was well, making me feel like crap.

I used to drink diet soda and eat Doritos, and now I don’t.  I used to trust the FDA, their nifty food pyramid, and their claim that Bagel Bites are okay to eat.  Now I don’t. And you shouldn’t either.

For example, for years I loved my espresso in the morning with Coffee-Mate, sugar and cinnamon. Then Skinny Bitch said:

If you want to get skinny, you can only rely on yourself. If you adapt only one practice from this book, let it be this: Read the ingredients. Forget counting carbs, adding calories, and multiplying fat grams. Just read the ingredients. . . . . If they are healthy, wholesome, and pure — dive in. If there is refined sugar, white or bleached flour, hydrogenated oils, and animal products, artificial anything, or some scary-looking word that you don’t know — don’t eat it.

I immediately thought about my beloved Coffee-Mate — yes beloved, and I knew I was in trouble. Sure enough, I found a list of ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. Harmful, scary, mystery shit.  That was it, I never used Coffee-Mate again.  And since espresso is blech without cream or sugar — I now drink tea and coffee. No cream, milk or sugar needed.

I don’t mean to pick on Coffee-Mate, but it’s such a good example of how I . . .  we eat things every day that were never meant to be consumed.  Plus, it was the first of many “food” items I dropped, so it kinda has a special place in my heart.  Next were the Doritos and the diet soda.

Now I read ingredients to get and stay healthy and to prevent mystery chemicals from leaching into my brain.

If you’re Racing Alzheimer’s too, (or just want to be healthy), it’s important to read all ingredients and try not to eat crap. If you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is, then it shouldn’t be on your food list.  As Skinny Bitch says, “keep it healthy, wholesome, and pure.”

Skinny Bitch = Healthy Bitch = Alzheimer’s-free Bitch.    Small shift, BIG CHANGE.

CLICK HERE to read what Organic Authority has to say about Coffee-Mate.

What “food” have you dropped?