A Book Review by Tom Gaffney
Updated: Feb 7
After his mother was diagnosed with a mysterious form of dementia, Max Lugavere put his successful media career on hold to learn everything he could about brain health, and achieving peak mental performance. For the better half of a decade, he consumed the most up-to-date scientific research, talked to dozens of scientists and clinicians around the world, and visited the country’s best neurology departments- all in the hope of understanding his mother’s condition.
“This book is dedicated to the first genius I ever met: my mom.”
Lugavere presents a comprehensive guide to brain optimization. He uncovers the stunning link between our dietary and lifestyle choices and our brain functions, revealing how the foods you eat directly affect your ability to focus, learn, remember, create, analyze new ideas, and maintain a balanced mood. The Genius Foods are in fact natural medicine and fuel for health.
While the focus of this book is on brain health, and the impact these foods and lifestyle have on slowing, and in some cases arresting the advance of Mild Cognitive Impairment to Dementia, it is an excellent guide to human health, in body, mind and soul for any age.
In a nutshell, the bad news is most of the foods sold in Supermarkets, Sam’s Club and BJ’s will spark inflammation in our bodies and brains, particularly foods containing sugar, carbohydrates which are broken down into sugars; saturated fats like Canola oil, Corn oil, Vegetable oil, Safflower oil, Sunflower oil, Rapeseed oil, Grapeseed oil, and Rice Bran oil; grains and gluten; processed foods, and commercially grown produce and meats. It is wise to check the ingredients of any food you intend to buy. Incomprehensible additives deserve research before you buy. Rule of thumb, the more food is processed the more likely it will stress rather than benefit your body, even if it “tastes good!”
Throughout this comprehensive book there are guides to the foods that benefit brain and body health, as well as foods to avoid. Each of the Top Ten foods in the book has its own chapter.
Here you go! Extra Virgin Olive Oil- the most beneficial “food’ you could eat for your brain! Omega-3 fats from wild fish, pastured eggs, grass-fed or pasture-raised meats. Saturated fats are harmful, polyunsaturated fats are beneficial. Avocados, Blueberries, Dark Chocolate, Eggs, Dark Leafy Greens, Broccoli, Wild Salmon, Almonds.
The book also reviews: Micronutrients for brain health; The Microbiome and Gut health; Neurotransmitters support; Immune System support; and the value of Intermittent fasting (12-14 hours, and 12-16 hours) to help the body regain anabolic/catabolic balance, turning on repair genes, burning up stored fuels (fat), and reducing oxidative stress.
The importance of daily exercise, 8 hours of restful sleep (keep consistent sleep/wake cycles), stress management, satisfying relationships, and meaningful spirituality are all very beneficial for overall health and brain health, in particular.
This well documented book finishes with a flourish integrating all previous chapters to present the Genius Plan, its benefits, what to clear out of your kitchen, what foods to stock up, what foods to eat in moderation, daily meal planning, snacks, recipes, supplements, vitamin requirements, and the importance of organic certified food and wisdom of collaborating with local farmers and shopping at local Farmer’s Markets.
On a personal note, three years ago I was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment. My search for what I could do to arrest the development of this condition began and continues. I have read several other nutritional approaches to that end. This book outshined them all! It also affirmed everything else that was of value with respect to lifestyle. To say that I am an active person for 73 years of age is an understatement. To say that I am happy, loved and blessed, is hope fulfilled. I am even grateful for my forgetfulness which maintains my humility and sense of humor, and best of all, my appreciation of everyone around me whom I love. For a happy ending, recent lab test results were “great,” indicating my brain is in a healthy and stable state!
Finally, it was a wonderful exercise to write this review, and encourage all who read it to reach for the stars!
P.S. Max Lugavere has many YouTube videos on the topic of Genius Foods