Genius Foods (2018) Book Summary & Insights

8 minutes read

Book Title: Genius Foods

Subtitle: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life

Publication Date: 2018

Author Name (s): Max Lugavere

About The Author

Max Lugavere is a media personality, filmmaker and journalist specializing in nutritional health. He has directed the documentary Bread Head, which highlights the aspects of our lifestyle we need to change to protect against dementia. Lugavere is also a speaker and has given talks in New York, Sweden, and The Dr. Oz Show.

Book Summary

Max Lugavere found himself enough motivation to study the link between our diets and cognitive health after his mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. With enough determination, he made the dive into dietary science and the causes of neurological diseases, while researching ways to protect our brains.

Who Is This Book For?

Nutritionists and healthy food enthusiasts looking for fact-backed advice.

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Book Insights

Genius Foods 2018 By Max Lugavere Book Summary and Insights image

Introduction

Dietary trends come and fade away just as quickly as they become popularised. Brands often advertise the latest fads as the quickest, easiest ways to get aboard the healthy eating train, but most times the trends lack scientific facts.

The author does not just compile random dietary advice to create this book though. He bases all dietary advice and plans outlined here on facts and years of study. The book will show you that healthy eating is not just about eating the right foods at the right time; it also involves eating it in the right quantity.

The results of healthy eating sum up to making your life happier and boosting your mental agility.

Science Says Your Diet Can Make You Happier And More Productive

Research has still not completely unravelled the way the human brain works. There are plenty myths floating around without facts to back them up about mental agility and its relation to our diet. Also common are the misconceptions; like the belief that our brains do not develop after the age of 25. This is actually false as our brains can keep growing until our death. Research from the mid-1990s backs this; not only does proper diet protect our brains now; it also helps prevent future mental illnesses.

What made the author begin his research into brain health and its relation to our diet? His mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. And, his findings led him to prepare a healthy diet which he found caused more energy and vitality.

Studies have shown that we can link our emotions and general mood to our diet. People suffering from symptoms of depression where found to show significant levels of improvement after they made health changes to their meals. A study conducted by Miia Kivipelto on older adults in various stages of mental decline found that the participants who received not just social support but adjustments to their diets, showed more significant improvements in their cognitive functions, when compared to the participants who didn’t receive dietary changes.

What kind of oil should you use? And, are the ones advertised as healthy actually the best choice? You can get omega-3 fats from mackerel, wild salmon and sardines. These polyunsaturated fats boost memory and support overall cognitive health. You should stay away from the refined and processed oils found in fry foods. Treated oils contain aldehydes which affect the brain’s functionality, and can lead to Alzheimer’s.

Monounsaturated fats are also nourishing for the body and present in foods like avocados, macadamia nuts, and extra virgin oil.

We should avoid trans fat as much as possible, or cut out of your diet. You find these processed foods like vegan cheese and cookies. They may taste good but, foods that contain trans fat make it more difficult for your brain to transmit information. Scientists have linked these foods to cases of Alzheimer’s.

Sugar

Sugar is possibly the worst in the category of bad foods. It lurks in almost every food we love to eat and is almost always present in its most dangerous form—refined.

Corn syrup, juices, soft drinks, wheat, potatoes and rice are just some foods containing sugars.

Glucose may disguise itself as a healthier alternative, but it is actually harmful in its own way. First, it affects the functionality of your brain, and then damages the important tissue connected to your brain in a process called glycation. The brains of Alzheimer’s patients contain levels of glycation 3 times higher than a healthy brain — just think about that.

Another dangerous form of sugar in disguise is “all natural” fructose. They advertise it to us as a healthier form of sugar but, in reality is just as harmful to the brain. A study at UCLA which involved rats showed that the animals took twice the time to get around a maze after being fed an amount of fructose. They compared this time to when the rats had water.

You should stay safe and stick to low-sugar fruits. Berries, avocados and coconut are great options available to you.

Carbohydrates

Cut down on carbohydrates to avoid future cognitive problems. You can count on vegetables to give your brain health a boost and cut back on all grains. Forget about the bread, the crackers and rice; they pack these foods with insulin spiking carbohydrates. Studies have shown that over 80% of people suffering from Alzheimer’s have insulin resistance and, non-diabetic people with higher insulin levels had their cognitive levels decline after six years.

Basically, what you and your brain needs is a low-carb diet.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol may seem like an important part of our daily nutrient intake but, it could also lead to health decline. You can and should comfortably help yourself to the foods you like such as seafood and eggs. These are not the major cause of your cholesterol woes and are essential to your cognitive health.

Your brain holds 25% of the cholesterol levels in your body because your brain needs it to keep your nerve impulses properly functioning. In fact, cholesterol-lowering medication often comes with cognitive side effects like forgetfulness.

The problem is not the cholesterol in your body; eggs are actually nutritious. The major problem is the cholesterol getting affected by the high-sugar foods like refined carbs and alcohol. Then, your liver deals with more stress processing them, causing the cholesterol to remain in your bloodstream. Eventually, the cholesterol gets attaches to an artery and becomes harmful, your immune cells create foam cells to help, and a layer of plaque forms. This is the main cause of high cholesterol complaints and, cholesterol isn’t even really the problem—it’s the sugar and carbohydrates.

Fasting And Special Diets

Ketones are fuel for your brain; efficient in giving your brain a boost and you can get them through feasting and fasting.

When you fast or subject your body to excessive starvation, your body makes up for losing food by breaking down your body fat and releasing it into your bloodstream. Then, your liver receives it and converts it to ketones. Ketones are a clean fuel mostly because the entire process is relatively easy, leaving little room for harmful byproducts.

Limiting the quantity of food you take and cutting down on refined carbs forces your body to get fuel from alternate sources like your excess fat. You can train your body for healthier fuelling by dedicating 16 hours out of a day for fasting and allowing 8 hours for eating. Soon, your body will automatically go to your fat reserves for fuel, lowering your insulin levels.

Sometimes, starving is not just the way, though. You can eat the proper foods to ensure your body generates ketone. Such foods include palm oil, goat’s milk and coconut oil. Reduce the amount of carbs you take and supplement with these oils to have a healthier metabolism.

Microbiome

The microbiome’s primary function is to synthesise vitamins and extract energy from foods. To do this, your gut needs proper bacteria. To get these bacteria, you must eat foods loaded with prebiotic fibre which you find in sunchokes, avocados, fennel, coffee, leeks and unripe bananas.

Our bodies convert these prebiotic fibres into something your brain needs—butyrate. Butyrates work by helping your brain fight inflammation and aging, meaning the more butyrate, the better memory you will have.

There is the science to back this, too. A 2016 study showed that after 10 years of observing 1,600 samples of adults, participants who consumed higher levels of fibre have an 80% less chance of suffering from dementia, depression, hypertension, or diabetes.

Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters play a very important role in the body. The neurotransmitters that play the biggest roles are; serotonin, acetylcholine, and norepinephrine.

·         Serotonin is your mood neurotransmitter and present in omega-3 foods. Experts have linked low levels of serotonin to major symptoms of depression. You can improve your body’s serotonin levels by getting more sun exposure.

·         Acetylcholine is the transmitter in charge of memory and learning and you can improve your intake by eating foods rich in choline and avoiding anticholinergic drugs. Choline-rich foods include broccoli, egg yolk and beef liver.

·         Norepinephrine is the neurotransmitter that ensures your focus is top-notch. It also works to protect the most vulnerable parts of the brain to Alzheimer’s and working as an anti-inflammatory agent. Anxiety is the major factor that contributes to the release of norepinephrine, which affects the transmitter effects.

Genius Plan

The author uses this chapter to put together everything the book has taught us and compile a proper, well-balanced diet plan.

The Genius plan encourages you to begin by removing toxic foods like processed, refined oils in a 14-day period. First, eliminate the processed carbohydrates, and then toss out the wheat, sweeteners, cooking oils, soft drink and juices.

Next, you move on to what you can eat. The first 14 days of the Genius Plan aims to provide your brain with nutritious food like those containing omega-3 fatty acids and ketone generating foods. Include low-sugar fruits (we talked about earlier), nuts and seeds, vegetables and dark chocolate in your diet plan.

The author designs his diet plan that by the 14th day; you are to feel a significant improvement in your overall physical, emotional and mental health.

Key Quotes

Extra-virgin olive oil is a staple food in the Mediterranean diet, and people who consume these kinds of diets display lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Oleocanthal may play a role here as well, having demonstrated the potential to help the brain clear itself of the amyloid plaque, the sticky protein that aggregates to toxic levels in Alzheimer’s disease.”

“Between industry shortcuts, scientific hubris, and governmental ineptitude, we took real, natural foods and warped them into a chemical minefield of “nutrients.” The first victim of this fatty fiasco? Our brains, which are made almost entirely of fat”

“Aldehydes are by-products of fat oxidation and have been found in elevated amounts in Alzheimer’s-riddled brains. They may influence the susceptibility of proteins in the brain to cross-link and clump together, thereby forming the plaques that gunk up the brain and are characteristic of the disease.”

“We tend to think of our brains as unaffected by the goings-on in the rest of our bodies, but the problems associated with inflammation don’t stay below the neck.”

Conclusion

What the author seeks to tell us from this book is that our brains are just as affected as our bodies by the foods we eat. Eating the right diet will not only make you healthier and happier, it could protect your brain from neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The author implores his readers not to just follow dietary fads and commercials. Sticking to a well-researched dietary plan like the Genius Plan is bound to make you not just mentally healthier but also keeps you fit and happier.

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Giovanni O.C Olakunori

Giovanni Chinecherem Olakunle Olakunori(commonly known as Giovanni Olakunori) is an aspiring data scientist at heart, business developer and educator with a deep interest in ancient philosophy, healthy living, and developing economies. He’s the founder of LarnEdu, a community that inspires and supports lifelong learning especially in underdeveloped nations. He currently lives in the UK after living in 4 other countries across Europe and Africa. You can read more about him or follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to see his public posts about how much he loves hot Kenkey and Jolof rice.

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