Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Neal Barnard’

vegetablesLast month I was at Mayo Clinic with my sister. While she was having some tests, I had time to go to the Patient Resource Center, a library of medical information located in the clinic.

Upon entering the resource center, painted in big letters on the wall was the following quote, “The object of all health education is to change the conduct of individual men, women, and children by teaching them to care for their bodies well, and this instruction should be given throughout the entire period of their educational life.”   Charlie H. Mayo

That was quoted in 1928 by one of one of the founding brothers of Mayo Clinic, Dr. Charles H. Mayo. Dr. Mayo wasn’t saying, “Come to Mayo Clinic, and we will take care of you.” He was saying that our health is a lifelong educational process. Through education, we can and should change our habits so that we may be responsible conductors of our health. That is not to say medical care doesn’t have its place. It certainly does! But not to investigate for ourselves how best we can care and maintain our health – expecting the doctor to “fix” it all in the precious few minutes he/she can spend with us during an office visit is wrong! Doctors can only do so much. They need our help. We must take responsibility for our health.

Perhaps you may have heard this quote: “Self care is the new primary care.” There is much we can do. We can stay fit and healthy, take action to prevent illness, achieve better use of medicines, manage minor ailments, and improve care of long term conditions.1 If we are proactive regarding our health, we will be the better for it in the long run. Be curious about your health. Make learning more about conditions you may have a 2015 New Year’s resolution. Find out what you can do to slow down or even reverse your conditions. Write down questions to discuss with your doctor next time you see him or her. Become an active partner in your health. If you are currently in good health, learn what do you need to do maintain your health.

Dr. Charlie Mayo 87 years ago said education is the key to good health. Reputable blogs/websites to investigate that have good health education information include http://www.plantbasedpharmacist.com, http://www.jeffnovick.com, http://www.nutritionstudies.org, http://www.forksoverknives.com, http://www.pcrm.org, and http://www.drmcdougall.com.

Be a detective regarding your health. Investigate the causes of your conditions, and take action so that you can become a good steward of your health.

1 11 Mar 2006, Society Launches New Self Care Strategy. The Pharmaceutical Journal, Vol. 276. Retrieved from http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/society-launches-new-self-care-strategy-document/20016851.article



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ImageRecently Dr. Neal Barnard, author of Power Foods for the Brain and president of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, spoke at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford, Illinois to a capacity crowd of 340 people.

His book tells us how we can reduce the risk of getting dementia and Alzheimer’s.  Research has shown Alzheimer’s hits half of us in the United States by the age of 85.    Five million Americans now have Alzheimer’s.  Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include (1):

◦ Difficulty learning/remembering new things – lose belongings, ask questions repeatedly.

◦ Poor reasoning, judgement or problem solving – struggle making decisions/planning.

◦ Poor visual/spacial abilities – difficulty recognizing faces, tying shoes, doing buttons.

◦ Losing language skills – difficulty finding words, reading, or writing becomes difficult.

◦ Personality changes – become irritable, agitated or apathetic.

For Dr. Barnard, it’s personal.  All four of his grandparents had Alzheimer’s.  This would make us ask, “Is Alzheimer’s genetic?”  Genetics is linked to an increased risk of dementia, however at least one third of the people who have this gene do not get Alzheimer’s.  So what what’s the answer?

Research has suggested foods and lifestyle can help protect us from dementia and Alzheimer’s despite our genetics. The Chicago Health and Aging Project study found people who ate the most saturated fat (fried foods, dairy, meat) had more than three times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.  For people eating store-bought baked goods and snack foods containing trans fats and French fries cooked in oil with trans fat, the risk of Alzheimer’s is more than five times that of those not consuming these foods.  Both of these fats increase the production of a protein found in a plaque that deposits between our brain cells and singes the connections between our brain cells. It also causes the interior of brain cells to resemble tangled balls of yarn.

Three is a strong relationship between nutrition and Alzheimer’s.  Here are foods we can eat and things we can do to dramatically reduce the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s or make improvements to our memory in a few months if we have early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

◦  Eliminate foods with saturated and trans fats which create plaques in the brain that prevent signaling between brain cells.

◦  Eat foods with vitamin E such as spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, broccoli, and Swiss chard to neutralize damaging free  radical cells.

◦  Folate found in romaine lettuce, cauliflower, beets, lentils and beans eliminates damaging homocysteine that circulates in our blood and contributes to Alzheimer’s.

◦  B6 in bananas, bell peppers, watermelon, and Brussels sprouts reduces homocystine levels and increases cognition.

◦  B12 found in fortified foods and in the form of a supplement helps remove homocystine.

◦  Do not take supplements containing copper, iron, or zinc.  Our body needs these minerals, however taking supplements containing these minerals may give us to much which can be damaging to brain cells.  Get these minerals from food sources.

◦  Exercise.  It helps grow new connections between brain cells.

◦  Do brain exercises like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, reading or other cognitive activities to increase the number of connections between brain cells.

Our genes are not our fate.  Be smart and be sure to include these recommendations in your daily life to keep your brain healthy.

1 Barnard, N. (2013) Foods That Fight Pain, New York: Grand Central Life and Style.

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