Thursday, December 2, 2021

Cookbook Review: The Alzheimer's Solution

Dementia runs in my family. My grandpa (Pa) had Alzheimer's, and my Granny had dementia. Watching someone suffer from dementia is tough, and it's a road I don't want to go down. So now that I'm in my 40s, I figure it's time for me to start making lifestyle choices to reduce my risk. I first learned about Team Sherzai (Dean and Ayesha Sherzai) on the Plant Strong podcast, and I've since become a little obsessed with this husband-and-wife team of vegan neurologists! 
A few months ago, I ordered their first book, The Alzheimer's Solution, which lays out a plan to help prevent and even reverse dementia. They call it the NEURO plan: N for nutrition, E for exercise, U for unwind, R for restore, and O for optimize. On the nutrition side, they strongly recommend a low-sugar, whole foods-focused, plant-based diet. I already had the whole foods and plant-based thing down, but I've never really thought much about sugar. 

So the book inspired me to start reading labels to look for added sugars. Natural sugars from fruit are fine, but they say to watch for added sugar from cane sugar, fructose, glucose, and even maple and agave. About 25 grams a day is okay, but some processed foods can have that much in one serving. I've started using stevia more often (like for coffee or for sweetening sauces and even collard greens). But don't worry — I'm not giving up desserts! On days when I want a donut or scoop of ice cream, I just make sure not to eat added sugars elsewhere in my meals.

At the end of the book, they include some vegan, whole foods-based recipes, and I've been working my way through those. I loved their Tofu Turmeric Scramble

And the Oatmeal Amaranth Porridge was a great way to use up some of the amaranth that's been in my pantry for years. I never know what to do with that stuff! This has amaranth, oats, chia, walnuts, blueberries, and banana, and it's sweetened with stevia. I know some people don't care for stevia, but I like it!

These Spelt Pancakes with Chia-Berry Sauce were fantastic! The chia-berry sauce was stevia-sweetened, and it stands in for maple syrup. I'll still be using maple on my pancakes most days, but one tablespoon has a day's worth of sugar, so it's nice to have a substitute for days when I want to get my sugar elsewhere.

And finally, here's a dinner from the book. These Black Bean & Squash Enchiladas are stuffed with beans and delicata squash and topped with a garlicky homemade enchilada sauce. I will definitely make these again!

The exercise chapter recommends about 30 minutes of exercise a day, but as an endurance runner, I'm exceeding that by quite a bit. The unwind chapter is all about relaxation, like meditation and yoga, and I do those things daily. The restore chapter is about sleep, and I've been focusing on sleep hygiene lately and have gotten much better at it! My Garmin sleep score has been improving lately! The final chapter is about optimizing your brain through challenges and brain games, and I'm hoping to bring in some habits in 2022 to work on that (maybe learning a new language?!).

Team Sherzai also has a newer 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution book with a full plan and full-color cookbook, and I've asked for that for Christmas! So I'll probably be doing a 4-week meal plan at some point!


Sri said...

Thanks for the review. Will definitely check the book out - and what a fantastic spread of food to help your mind.
Hope Paul is recovering well and feeling his old self again.

Jennifer Bliss said...

I have blogged about Alz/Dem a bit and I plan on posting more soon, too! I have been learning a LOT about the disease. I'm also with you on now being in my 40s and trying to make some changes too for various reasons. I've always been a HUGE tea lover and would drink 8-10+ cups a day and am now trying to cut the caffeine and focus on the herbal tisanes instead. I hope you don't mind but I did add you to my blog roll a while back.

Susan said...

I too am forever looking for recipes to use up the amaranth that is kicking around in my cupboard! Unfortunately, I cannot stand stevia. There are several kombuchas and other products I just cannot drink because the stevia aftertaste is just extremely unpleasant to me. But I am glad that you enjoy it!