Posts Tagged ‘diet and disease’


Friday, December 13th, 2019



by Richard Isaacson, MD & Christopher Ochner, PHD

“Research has shown that diet is one of the greatest weapons available to protect and defend your brain against Alzheimer’s disease” (p. 213).


This straightforward, yet powerful, statement is found at the book’s conclusion, demonstrating the link between diet and and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). When I first became a retail co-owner of a health food store more than 30 years ago, this link was not always so clear. But this book clearly demonstrates how our food choices affect the state of our health.

As people are now beginning to live longer, more than five million Americans and millions more worldwide have become afflicted with AD, causing major concerns globally. Of course, diet is not the only or even the largest factor behind Alzheimer’s, but it is a major factor that we can adjust in order to help prevent or treat AD. The book explains how we can do this, as well as demonstrating how an unhealthy diet contributes to other major illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. These, in turn, seem to increase the risk of dementia. Additionally, dietary choices may also directly influence the workings of our brains where Alzheimer’s develops.

There are seven major chapters in the book: 1) Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease; 2) Why Does Diet Matter?; 3) The Elements of Nutrition; 4) Diets that Improve Brain Health; 5) The APT Diet (Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Diet); 6) Other Strategies for AD Prevention; and 7) Managing the Challenges of AD Dementia. Then there is a succinct Conclusion, followed by an excellent Glossary of Terms and Resources and, finally, Nutrition and Activity Logs to keep track of the nine-week diet program described in the book.

While the book does focus on food and diet, the authors also describe other strategies to incorporate into your life, called “multimodal approaches.” These include regular exercise, brain healthy supplements (vitamins & minerals, omega-3 Fatty Acids, cocoa powder, curcumin, resveratrol, etc.), intellectual activity (e.g., puzzles, board games, knitting), social activity, and stress-reduction techniques.

This book is filled with so much information to digest that I suggest reading it slowly, so that your mind does not become overloaded with the facts, the research, and the helpful charts. The nine-week dietary plan provides practical information with charts to keep track of what you are eating, gradually reducing the number of carbs, and including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans, and sufficient water. Actually, the diet plan could be used for anyone who wants to improve his or her health, but the authors’ research focuses mainly on a dietary plan for Alzheimer’s, both prevention and treatment.

This well thought-through plan feels solid to me — that is, the background information and approach are practical and doable, with lots of flexibility as the reader incorporates the nine-week program into daily life, and keeps a record of food intake. I personally plan to incorporate many of the ideas into my own lifestyle to make it healthier. My brain is also aging, and the plan feels like one that I can tackle with advice from my doctor, as the authors suggest.

This is an excellent resource that is evidence-based to help protect and treat Alzheimer’s with an emphasis on a whole foods diet and supplement plan, as well as exercise and stress reducers.

The 304-pagebook is published by Square One Publishers and costs $17.95.


Postscript to Go Red for Women

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Today is Go Red for Women Day, highlighting female heart disease. I posted an article about this campaign on Wednesday so you could find something red to wear for today, so this is a follow up of healthful tidbits from various sources. (Link to Wed. posting:

In the Oct. 2010 Nutrition Action Healthletter is an article called “Keep it Supple: You’re only as old as your arteries.” In this cover story the information is a mixture of negative and positive. On the negative front I learned that as we age, the walls of our arteries become more rigid, less flexible. Ditto for the wall linings of our arteries. As our heart contracts, pumping blood into the aorta means the aorta’s walls and linings need to stretch in order to accept the surge. As we age, these areas lose some of their flexibility, which can mean an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and cognitive decline.

The good news is that you can slow down how quickly your arteries age with aerobic exercise and strength training. However, brisk walking (aerobic),does not seem to improve endothelial (inner lining) function in postmenopausal women, so the article suggests combining aerobics with strength training as well as cutting back on sodium and saturated fat, eating a diet packed with fruits and veggies, adding 2 servings of seafood per week to your meal plan, and avoid gaining excess visceral fat (intra-abdominal fat that is linked to stiffer arteries).

Then I found an article in Life Extension Magazine (Nov. 2014) that is a perfect follow up to the one above. In this article by James Harrison, the endothelium (arterial wall linings mentioned above) are protected by pomegranate extracts. Here is a quote: “Best of all, research concludes that by improving endothelial health, pomegranate supplementation lowers risk factors for heart  attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events.” A study was done using pomegranate seed oil for four weeks with greatly reduced triglyceride levels in high cholesterol people studied. Check with your health practitioner before using this, but in the meantime, it couldn’t hurt to add pomegranate seeds to your diet in a fruit salad or as a colorful addition and crunch to your green salad.

Below is a photo of my recent recipe Crunchy Fall Fruit Salad, with pomegranates and walnuts providing the “crunch.” Here is the link to that recipe:

My final trio of tidbits is the DASH Diet, which has been around for some time, but I read an update in the Nutrition Action Healthletter of March 2015. DASH stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension and this condition of high blood pressure raises the risk of: Stroke, Heart Failure, Heart Attack, Kidney Damage, Peripheral Artery Disease, Memory Loss, Vision Loss, and Erectile Dysfunction.

In the research and study discussed in an interview in Nutrition Action with Frank M. Sacks, professor of cardiovascular Disease at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public health and professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, the good professor states that: “The foods we found in populations with low blood pressure were primarily fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and whole grains. They ate very little red meat, sugar-containing beverages, and desserts.”

(I found that statement very reassuring, since that is basically my diet, except that I rarely eat fish and only do so occasionally because my doctor recommended it. Also, my website recipes cover all these foods except fish.)

Professor Sacks noted also that in many of the people tested in the 1997 DASH study actually lowered their blood pressure as much as drug treatment regardless of age, sex,weight, or race, but the test did not cover people over 76. If you are on blood pressure meds, you might want to research this diet to see if it applies to your situation  and share it with your doctor. After all, isn’t healthful food a form of natural medicine?

P.P.S. Just checked my email and found this article from Banyan Botanicals on Ayurveda and heart health by Melody Mischke. Title: Vibrant Heart: An Ayurvedic Guide to Heart Health. Have not even read it, but I have read other articles from this website and like them. here is the link: ♥ Hearty Reading ♥

This photo is larger and more lovely on the website article link above. Thanx Banyan Botanicals!