My 79-year-old father has Dementia.
He was diagnosed with this terrible brain disease in 2014, soon after I published my transformation guide for any body. I asked my mother to ask his “doctor” if his Dementia had anything to do with his diet. She asked and the answer was no, his cognitive degenerative had nothing to do with what he’d eaten his entire life. Dismissing his diet? I was suspect to say the least.
I strongly believe that food either helps us or hurts us; food is either medicine or poison. I suspected my father’s “doctor”, like many health practitioners, clung to outdated notions. I was right. I began reading everything I could get my hands on related to explaining cognitive degeneration. I would learn that like our body’s muscle and fat composition, our brain health, is also largely determined by what we eat and don’t eat.
My dad never met a cookie he didn’t love. He’s always had an insatiable sweet tooth. In addition to his love for sweets, left unchecked, he can easily finish an entire basket of bread before the main course arrives. Any and all form of pasta is also a favorite. Over the course of my dad’s life, most of his calories have come from refined carbohydrates, mainly sugar and flour.
It’s impossible to identify all the environmental factors responsible for any non-communicable disease. But I am convinced that a lifetime of eating refined carbs and manufactured fats was a significant contributor to my dad’s cognitive decline. (Please read this entire article for the good news)
It’s well understood that eating refined carbohydrates and manufactured fats is inflammatory. It’s widely accepted that inflammation leads to metabolic disorders such as type II diabetes and heart disease. Many forms of cancer are also linked to inflammation. Recent *science has shown that our brain health and lack there of is a direct result of inflammation caused by eating refined carbs and manufactured fats.
The focus of my Get Fit Lean program is losing fat and developing lean muscle. It’s a highly effective proven guide for reshaping your body composition. Follow my macronutrient percent of total calories recommendations published in September 2014, and you will get results.
However, as a means of preventing, combating, even reversing metabolic disorders including cognitive degeneration such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, I have updated my macro percent of total calories recommendation. You can lose fat, develop lean muscle AND maintain your health and wellness.
(Previous) September 2014
Macro % recommendation
Fat/Protein/Carb – 35/45/20
(Updated) November 2016
Macro % recommendation
Fat/Protein/Carb – 60/25/15
“Eating Healthy” is not nearly as complicated as it’s often perceived to be. Follow the above macros and the simple guidelines below and you can’t go to terribly wrong:
DO NOT EAT REFINED CARBOHYDRATES
Sugar (particularly added sugar) is poison
Naturally occurring sugar in fruits and root vegetables is bound in fiber therefore in limited amounts not inflammatory (doesn’t spike your insulin).
Flour (enriched white flour) is poison
Don’t eat bread unless it’s 100% whole grain and gluten free
Don’t eat pasta unless made from 100% whole grain
DO NOT EAT MANUFACTURED FATS
Vegetable oils, high in Omega-6 fatty acid is inflammatory.
Do eat olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil; all high in Omega-3 fatty acid
DO EAT Animal fats and proteins
Saturated fats are not bad for you. In fact, we’re perfectly evolved to thrive on animal fats and proteins. Eat red meat, cold-water fish, and whole eggs.
Don’t buy low fat anything, Eat whole fat dairy like butter, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese.
I’m not a fan of labels, as they often deceptively imply an original idea. But what I’m recommending is effectively a “keto” nutrition plan. We advanced apes are perfectly adapted to deriving energy from fat (ketosis), not carbohydrates. Additionally, eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Eating refined carbohydrates makes you fat.
As always, the experiment is on me, “I walk the walk.” For the last two years I’ve followed the above macros. 60% of my calories come from fat (mostly saturated fat) and 15% from carbohydrates (mostly green veggies and low glycemic fruits). From a pure aesthetics point of view, I’ve had no trouble staying lean; in fact, it’s easier on a high fat nutrition plan. The lead photo for this article is of me at 51 years old after following the high fat - low carb plan outlined above for two years. Most importantly, I feel better than ever and I’m confident that I’m following the optimal nutrition plan for long-term health.
For those of you wondering, yes, I get blood work done regularly. In all cholesterol measures - HDL, LDL, lipids, etc., my levels are out of the range on the good side.
The good news - My dad’s current condition:
As expected and far too often the case, the “doctor’s” initial fix was to prescribe a brew of chemicals complete with nasty side effects. The first year, my dad’s cognitive tests declined with each successive quarterly check-up while his “doctor” continued to up the meds. Only after this viscous cycle became apparent did my parents agree to try my plan – take control of his diet - Food as Medicine.
My kids and I flew to my Midwest hometown with a mission – Save Grandpa. We sat down with my parents and they agreed to give it a try. We identified all the high fat foods dad likes. Fortunately, he likes red meat, whole eggs, butter, and cheese as well as avocado and nuts. He also agreed to cut out all forms of refined carbohydrates and manufactured fats.
In less than three months his cognitive tests scores improved. He also lost fifteen pounds and increased his physical activities. Today, after nearly a year of following a high fat – low carb plan, his condition continues to improve. He tells me he feels better than he’s felt in years. I recently asked him what he attributes his improvement to. He replied simply, “ I stopped eating sugar.”
*Don’t take my word for it, do your own research. I suggest you start with publications by the leading experts in the field:
David Perlmutter MD, The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan
Perlmutter, Brain Maker
Denise Minger, Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science Sketchy Politics and
Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health
Nina Teicholz, The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a
Daniel Lieberman, The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease
Robert H. Lustig MD, Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed
Food, Obesity, and Disease
Weston A. Price DDS, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
Please, don’t be afraid to eat fats. Limit the carbs. Your future self will thank you.
Yours in Fitness and Nutrition,