Dr. Neal Barnard recently appeared on The Dr. Oz Show to discuss the latest scientific research pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Barnard has written many books dealing with the connection between food and health, including his most recent Power Foods For The Brain.
On the show, Dr. Barnard disclosed that some of his closest family members were victims of Alzheimer’s Disease, and that he wants to avoid going down the same road. He added that he doesn’t want anyone else to go down that road either. That is why he shared the newest research indicating that Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented without the use of drugs, suggesting that we are not doomed by family history.
Decades of research have been analyzed revealing that Alzheimer’s Disease is caused by metals which collect in the brain and destroy brain cells. These metals include iron, copper and zinc. The metals in the brain rust and oxidize in the same way that a cast iron pan left out in the rain or an old penny would rust and oxidize. Possible sources of these metals are certain types of food, cookware (such as copper and cast iron pots and pans), and vitamin supplements containing iron, copper and zinc. Since our food should give us the minerals we need, Dr. Barnard suggested taking “mineral-free” vitamin supplements to avoid overload.
Dr. Barnard also recommended that we eliminate foods high in saturated fat from our diets. These foods include meat (which also has too much iron), dairy products (the #1 source of saturated fat) and fish. Dr. Oz was quite surprised by Dr. Barnard’s recommendation to eliminate fish because of the beneficial Omega 3 which is found in fish. Dr. Barnard’s reply was that only a small amount (roughly 15-30%) of the fish contains Omega 3, and that the rest of the fish contains “bad fats”.
*Dr. Barnard stated that the combination of high saturated fat plus high copper can cause up to 19 extra years of cognitive decline.
Dr. Barnard’s 3-Step Plan for Preventing Azheimer’s Disease is as follows…
1. Eat foods with traces of the minerals you need.
These foods would include fruits and vegetables such as tomatillos, broccoli, carrots, and jicama; legumes such as beans, peas and lentils; and whole grains such as oatmeal, rice and amaranth.
*Dr. Barnard suggested creating your meals with a Power Plate containing 4 sections for each of the following: fruits, vegetables, beans and grains.
2. Create a Vitamin Shield.
Get your vitamins from the foods you eat to provide you with protection from disease. *Studies show that people who got the most Vitamin E from foods cut their risk of Alzheimer’s by 25-75%.
You can obtain Vitamin E from foods such as sweet potatoes, broccoli and mangoes; Vitamin B-6 from corn, beans, rice and stuffed peppers; Vitamin B-12 from fortified cereals and non-dairy fortified milks (such as fortified soy milk and almond milk); and Folates (which means “foliage”) from foods such as kale, asparagus and Enchilada Bean Soup.
3. Prevent and Restore Your Memory With “Linking.”
“Linking” is a mental trick enabling you to remember things such as peoples’ names or things “to do.” The idea is to create “crazy” or “goofy” images in your mind to be associated with whatever you are trying to remember. For example, if Dr. Barnard were to meet Dr. Mehmet Oz at a party for the first time, he would remember the name “Mehmet” by creating an image of a “Monet” painting plus a catcher’s mitt. The combination of images would help him remember “Mehmet.” “Linking” does not work with boring images. The images don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be “colorful” and “crazy” to help “get you there.”
THREE RECIPES FROM DR. NEAL BARNARD TO HELP PREVENT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE…
Stuffed Peppers with Squash, Black Beans, and Rice
Serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as a side
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked black beans
2 Mexican gray squash or zucchini, diced
6 green onions, sliced
2 tsp pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 red bell peppers, cut in half, cored and seeded
Prepared salsa (optional)
Combine the rice, beans, squash, green onions, pepitas, garlic, oregano, vinegar, lime, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Fill the pepper halves with the squash, rice and bean mixture. Top with salsa, if using, and serve.
Per serving: 187 calories, 16 g protein, 54 g carbohydrate, 13 g sugar, 3 g total fat, 14% calories from fat, 16 g fiber, 317 mg sodium
Sweet Potato Burritos
2 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 (15-oz) can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp very thinly sliced green onion
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp chili powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (8-inch) whole-wheat tortillas, warmed
1 cup prepared salsa
2 cups shredded lettuce
Place the sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan and add water to come an inch up the sides. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender. Add the corn and cook 1 more minute.
Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add the black beans, green onion, lime juice and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the filling among the tortillas, top with the salsa and lettuce, roll them up and serve.
Per serving (1 burrito): 298 calories, 13 g protein, 62 g carbohydrate, 8 g sugar, 2 g total fat, 7% calories from fat, 15 g fiber, 891 mg sodium
Enchilada Bean Soup
1/4 cup mild chili powder
2 tbsp whole-wheat pastry flour or masa harina
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cups canned low-sodium red beans, with liquid
2 cloves garlic
2 corn tortillas
1 or 2 chipotles in adobo sauce (optional)
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (optional)
Combine the chili powder, flour and cumin in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and toast for about 2 minutes. If you smell the chili powder starting to get a heavy, bitter aroma, take the pan off the heat immediately.
Slowly stir about 1 cup of water into the pot until you have a semi-thick sauce.
Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer and simmer for about 5 minutes. Purée the soup using an immersion blender, adding extra water as needed to achieve a thick but not pasty texture.
*Options: If you use the chipotles and/or oregano, add them when you add the beans.
Per serving: 344 calories, 19 g protein, 64 g carbohydrate, 2 g sugar, 3 g total fat, 6% calories from fat, 22 g fiber, 226 mg sodium