Timely tool for baby boomers: 'Keep Your Brain Young' (Book review)

I've always thought of myself as a rather smart person (not to be confused with a smart aleck, which is more along the lines of what my husband often thinks of me as). As I grow older, though, one of my greatest fears is losing my cognitive abilities. There are moments in nearly every day that I wonder if my forgetfulness or fogginess is a precursor of far worse things to come or if it's just simply the way things are for us older folk.

I'm sure I'm not alone in that. In fact, I know I'm not alone in that, considering North Americans are living longer than ever, with forty million Americans and five million Canadian over the age of 65.* I'm several years removed from 65, but that doesn't keep me from being concerned about the degenerative changes to the brain as we age. Or about Alzheimer's or any other number of age-related issues that affect one's cognitive ability.

Keep Your Brain YoungOh, my... that all sounds so scary and depressing. But there is hope and help. One particular help is a book I recently received free for review, called KEEP YOUR BRAIN YOUNG by Dr. Fraser Smith, BA, ND with Dr. Ellie Aghdassi, PhD, RD. The subtitle of the book says it all: A Health & Diet Program for Your Brain, Including 150 Recipes.

This is a pretty powerful book. And pretty extensive, too, yet easy to understand and put into use.

KEEP YOUR BRAIN YOUNG is divided into five parts, all designed to help readers put into place a diet plan to help prevent (or delay) neurological damage as we age. And it can be done! Research shows that the brain has the ability to sprout new connections and even create new brain cells... even in the elderly.*

The five parts of KEEP YOUR BRAIN YOUNG:

Part 1: Understanding Brain Diseases — Chapters cover how the brain works, as well as dementia and its causes.

Part 2: Smart Nutrients — Explanations and recommended dietary allowances (for age groups 51-70 and over 70) on Vitamins B through K and minerals Calcium through Zinc.

Part 3: Standard Care for Dementia — An overview of medications for several diseases, including Alzheimer's, Diabetes, Parkinson's Peripheral Neuropathy and more, plus Botanical Medicines and other therapies (deep-brain stimulation being one).

Part 4: The 12-Step Healthy Brain Diet Program — This is the meat and main purpose of the book and outlines the complementary and cumulative steps, beginning with laying a nutritional founding and moving toward the actual menu plan and recipes.

Part 5: Menu Plans and Recipes for a Healthy Brain — Four weeks of menu plans plus an optional detox week menu plan, along with recipes for everything from breakfast to main entrees, with desserts, snacks and beverages, too.

Parts 1 through 4 make up about half of the book, with the menu plans and recipes rounding out the second half.

The information in the first half is extensive yet easy to understand, broken up into small chunks with charts, sidebars, lists. Great info without overwhelming — or causing one's eyelids to droop because of the information overload or words one can't pronounce.

The recipes in the second half sound absolutely delicious. Things such as Tomato and Asiago Cheese Strata, Rice Noodles with Spicy Spaghetti Sauce, Pomegranate Molasses (yes!), Barbecued Lemongrass Pork, Chocolate Ganache Stout Cake... and so many more. Unfortunately there are no photos of these luscious-sounding dishes, but each recipe is accompanied by a "Health Tip" (e.g. "Quinoa, unlike many other grains, can be considered a complete protein.") and complete nutritional breakdown — both of which are, I suppose, more important than photos.

Whether you're feeling the effects of aging on your brain or simply want to take a little preventive action, KEEP YOUR BRAIN YOUNG will be a handy resource to turn to again and again. The book was published this month and is available for a suggested price of $24.95 wherever books are sold. Find out more on the publisher's website, www.robertrose.ca.

*Per press materials that accompanied my review copy of the book.

Disclosure: I received this book free for review; all opinions are my own.