Why Ayurveda is shamelessly illogical

Review: Power Foods for the Brain by Dr. Neal Barnard

The internationally renowned doctor, scientist and bestselling author Dr. In his new book, Power Foods for the Brain, Neal Barnard presents the latest research results and reveals which foods you can use to strengthen your memory, improve thinking, reaction and problem-solving skills, while significantly reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease, strokes and other serious risks can. In addition, he explains which foods do far more harm than good to the brain, such as meat and dairy products and the toxic metals they contain.

He developed an effective 3-point plan with which the theory can be easily and easily put into practice and thus help the brain on the jumps. In the first step, he explains which foods protect the brain from harmful metals, fats and cholesterol and build up the protective vitamin shield. Step two explains how exercise and memory training have a positive effect on the brain structure and the third part deals with the two main factors for the brain: sleep disorders and certain medications and diseases.

In the back you will find menus and recipes as well as information on how you can put together a menu that will strengthen your brain.

The brain of an Alzheimer's patient

If you look into the brain of an Alzheimer's patient, you will find healthy brain tissue. Tiny amounts of beta-amyloid are deposited between the brain cells. From a scientific point of view, this is plaque, i.e. deposits. We can have these in the arteries and on the teeth. In addition to these deposits, you can also see that something is wrong inside the cell. In the cells, microtubules act as tubes to transport substances from one place in the cell to another. These are stabilized by dew proteins, which in Alzheimer's patients become tangled into a ball. Neurologists call these bundles of neurofibrils. In 1906, the German doctor Alois Alzheimer discovered these bundles and debris, documented them, but could not say what caused them.

The genes are not innocent of a disease either. The best-known gene is APOE, it is located on chromosome 19. It contains information on the formation of the protein ApolipoEiweiß E, abbreviated to apoE (lower case to distinguish it from APOE). apoE is designed to move fat and cholesterol from one place to another, repair brain cells and build connections between them.

If you inherit version e4 of the APOE gene from both parents, you have a ten to fifteen times higher risk of developing Alzheimer's than other people. However, this is not a must, because the Alzheimer's gene can be influenced by a healthy diet and lifestyle. So Alzheimer's may never break out if you do something about it.

Copper, iron, zinc

The body needs copper for the formation of enzymes, iron for blood cells and zinc for nerve transmission, among other things. However, if too much of these metals get into the body through food, they can damage brain cells. Copper and iron trigger the formation of free radicals, i.e. destructive oxygen molecules that damage brain cells. In a study at the University of California at San Diego, it was shown in 1,451 participants that those who had only the levels of copper and iron in their blood necessary for bodily functions were the most fit mentally.

The Chicago Health and Aging Project showed that those who consumed high levels of animal fats in fast food in addition to large amounts of copper in their diet showed decreased mental performance equivalent to that of a person 19 years older. Such fats appear to combine with copper to damage brain cells in a number of ways.

The problem is that the difference between good mental performance and bad when consuming copper is only milligrams. The lightning bulbs consumed an average of only one milligram a day, the other three. Today nutrition experts are amazed that people who eat a plant-based diet have stable values ​​for copper, iron and zinc. Barnard emphasizes that our bodies need these minerals, but not in such high concentrations.

Iron from animal products, heme iron, is absorbed by the body to about 25 percent from food and non-heme iron from plant products only about 10 percent. Meat is therefore an important supplier of iron and pure herbivores are often warned against anemia. However, Neal Barnard explains that it is easier for the body to regulate plant iron. If iron is required, more is absorbed. If there is enough, absorption by the body is shut down.

However, the iron from the meat is more easily absorbed by the body and even if we have enough iron in the body, we store the heme iron. This makes it easier for you to have an excess of iron. Cows absorb the iron from the grass and when you eat the meat you absorb the iron in a concentrated form. When consuming plants, we do not run the risk of overdosing.

When it comes to vitamin supplements, Barnard recommends using individual supplements rather than multivitamin supplements. For example, take vitamin D and B12 as a single tablet, otherwise you can ingest too high a dose of copper, iron and zinc. By the way, donating blood is a very effective way of getting rid of excess iron.

Is aluminum harmful to the brain?

The most discussed metal in Alzheimer's research is aluminum. As early as the 1970s, scientists found large amounts in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, in one case even more than 100 micrograms per gram of brain tissue. Humans do not need any aluminum and it simply has no place in our body.

Various studies in the 1960s and 1970s linked aluminum from drinking water to Alzheimer's disease, but it is still controversial today. However, one should try to avoid aluminum as much as possible. Beverage cans made of aluminum have an inner coating that is supposed to prevent the aluminum from getting into the drink. The longer a carbonated drink is in the can, the more aluminum can dissolve and migrate into the drink. Even if a can has a dent, this can happen.

Using deodorants without aluminum is also recommended, as is trying to avoid using aluminum foil if possible. The environment is happy. If you do want to use aluminum foil, make sure that the foil does not come into contact with acids such as vinegar or lemon juice. Because then the aluminum comes off the foil and goes into the food. The tea plant Camilla sinensis removes minerals from the soil and aluminum tends to concentrate in the leaves. So maybe just drink one cup of tea a day 🙂

Saturated fats

Scientists at Columbia University in New York studied 908 elderly New Yorkers who did not have Alzheimer's at the start of the study. Over the next four years, those with the most calories and fats were more than twice as likely to have Alzheimer's as those who ate moderately. With meat and dairy products, the result was confirmed and also in a study in Chicago. The subjects with less ‘bad’ fats in their food had a much lower risk, even if they were carriers of the APOE-e4 allele.

Get enough sleep

Amyloid is made in the brain when we are awake and broken down when we sleep, scientists in St. Louis found. If we watch a movie on television late into the night, work on a project or treat ourselves to a midnight snack, our brain is productive and forms amyloid. However, if we go to bed early, the amyloid factory will also go to work.

Here are a few reasons for insomnia:

  • By the way, did you know that the caffeine in a cup of coffee is only broken down at 8 o'clock in the morning at 8 o'clock in the evening? It takes the body 12 hours to completely break down the caffeine. If you have insomnia, you should watch your coffee consumption and possibly refrain from it at times. However, coffee is a very complex drug that has a slight pain reliever and is therefore also contained in many pain relievers. If our brain is used to it, we get withdrawal symptoms if we do without it, but these only last a few days.
  • Alcohol is also tricky, because it first gently rocks us to sleep, but then ensures that we wake up around 4 a.m. This is caused by alcohol molecules that convert into aldehydes and these are stimulants.
  • Protein suppresses the brain's ability to produce serotonin, which helps us fall asleep. So in the morning, scrambled tofu eggs ensure that we wake up. We can then eat the roll. In the evening we should rather eat carbohydrates to stimulate serotonin production. So bring the bread and pasta in the evening 🙂
  • Those who move during the day can fall asleep better in the evening.

Drugs should also be checked for their effects on the brain, advises Barnard.

Conclusion: Healthy nutrition, exercise and adequate sleep are not really new findings - Barnard explains in detail why it is important for a healthy brain. After reading the book, we know how our brain tries to trick us and we can tell it, "Not with me!" 🙂


More information

Author: Dr. Neal Barnard
Title: Power Foods for the Brain - The Effective 3-Point Plan for a High-Performance Brain and to Protect Against Alzheimer's (commercial)
Released: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Unimedica im Narayana Verlag
Form: 320 pages
ISBN: 978-3-946566-19-9
Price: € 24.80