Small (Director/UCLA Longevity Center and freelance writer Vorgan (co-authors: The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head, 2010, etc.) introduce elements of a program to optimize brain health.
The authors begin with a general introduction to our current understanding of Alzheimer’s, including the possible roles played by amyloid plaques (waxy protein fragments) and tau tangles (twisted fibers), as well as other proteins, inflammation and oxidation. Though much of Alzheimer’s is an uncharted landscape, it does appear that genetic considerations play a role only one-third of the time, leaving two-thirds to nongenetic factors. Thus enters the authors’ plan to maintain a healthy brain as a preventative measure (and not only for Alzheimer’s but other dementias). In a clear, prudent voice, Small and Vorgan present the components of their program—“Physical exercise, a nutritious diet, mental stimulation, and stress reduction have their greatest impact when people combine these strategies and continue them for several years”—and delve deeply into each one, tendering anecdotal evidence and the results from experimental studies. They proceed with self-assessment questionnaires of both subjective and objective perspectives and give concrete advice—brain teasers, exercise programs, memory-strengthening skills, nutritional guidelines—on how to build the components into your life. Finally, they offer a step-by-step, seven-day regimen during which, they suggest, “you will begin to notice changes.” The program blends action with moderation, and the authors note that you tinker with the program—a helpful note especially in relation to the food recommendations, which are lackluster at best.
A commonsensical guide to help keep your brain in fighting trim.