Director of the UCLA Longevity Center, Small and partner Vorgan (The Memory Prescription) have refined their program into a seven-day kick-start to master such frustrating memory problems as “tip-of-the-tongue” phenomena and forgetting names, while developing healthy habits that could delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Their regime includes a diet that fights inflammation and is rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and brain-building proteins and carbs; stress relief (e.g., meditation, plentiful sleep, setting realistic goals); moderate physical exercise (walking, strength training, dancing, and even shopping); and daily mental challenges to practice focus and concentration. In sidebar q&as, the authors dispel or confirm current beliefs about memory loss; for example, the dangers of aluminum exposure and cellphones. They also provide quizzes to determine readers’ physical, mental, and stress profiles. The star performers are entertaining brain games and mood-lifting strategies aimed at decreasing harmful stress hormones. The simple dietary and fitness recommendations are small steps with potentially high returns for long-term brain health. A brief section on health care, supplements, and drugs that can help or harm the brain will assist those considering medical treatment. (Jan.)
“If you want to keep your brain healthy at any age, this is a book to reach for.” – Life After 50 “The simple dietary and fitness recommendations are small steps with potentially high returns for long-term brain health” – Publisher’s Weekly
Every seventy seconds, another American gets Alzheimer's disease. Worldwide, 36 million people suffer from the disease, and the number continues to grow. By 2050, the number of expected cases of Alzheimer's worldwide is 115 million. While researchers have made great progress over the years, no miracle cure exists yet for Alzheimer's. Genetics account for only part of the risk of developing Alzheimer's, and studies suggest that prevention is the key to delaying the onset of symptoms, sometimes for years. The Alzheimer's Prevention Program is a whole-body, whole-mind approach that is designed to keep Alzheimer's at bay. Small and Vorgan provide assessments and questionnaires for readers to use in determining their baseline levels of subjective memory, objective recall, physical fitness, healthy diet, and stress. Their seven-day program consists of recommended stretching and conditioning, meal plans, mental workouts, aerobic exercises, and stress relief. These lifestyle changes are designed to be fun and challenging. After readers complete the first seven days of The Alzheimer's Prevention Program, they have the chance to re-test themselves and compare their scores before and after the program. This accessible guide to better brain health provides scientific evidence to back up its claims. The easy-to-follow program can be completed by readers of any age, and it is certainly never too early to start taking steps to protect one's brain from dementia. Teens who have family members with Alzheimer's may be interested in learning more about what causes the disease and what steps they can take now to prevent its onset. Reviewer: Taryn Bush
Although there are no scientifically proven preventive measures for Alzheimer's disease or dementia, both conditions are a growing problem among the elderly and an increasing concern among those soon to become elderly. Here, Small (psychiatry, Univ. of California, Los Angeles; director, UCLA Longevity Ctr.) and his wife, Vorgan, expand some of the memory skills and mental workouts Small first presented in The Memory Bible and include further research and anecdotal evidence about how to protect the brain with physical exercise, healthy nutrition, and specific vitamins and minerals; to strengthen memory skills; and to reduce stress to slow down—or even prevent—the onset of Alzheimer's disease. A clear and helpful seven-day start-up program for Alzheimer's disease prevention is included. VERDICT Other titles cover this timely and important topic, but readers will appreciate the authors' practical and upbeat advice; this book will make readers feel that they can do something to protect themselves from this devastating disease.—Marcia Welsh, Dartmouth Coll. Lib., Hanover, NH
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.