Caryn reflects on her interview with Drs Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, authors of The Alzheimer’s Solution. She shares stories of her experience while care giving at a hospital and eating in restaurants with her parents.
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody! I’m Caryn Hartglass. This is part 2 of today’s show; It’s All About Food. Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you will share this program because what we just spoke about with Doctors’ Dean and Ayesha Sherzai is so important. Did you know that you could practically eliminate the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia? Did you know that? By 90%! This is groundbreaking and the solution; well the solution is what we have been talking about for nine years on this program (Chuckles). A whole minimally processed plant delicious diet. We’ve talked about how it helps heart disease, how it helps diabetes, how it helps cancer, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases and now our brain. This is so exciting and I’m thrilled to be able to talk to the authors. I just wanted to add a few more things about the book. So there are a number of myths that they talk about in the book. One of them is about coconut oil; guess what everybody coconut oil is not healthy for the brain. Coconut oil is a saturated fat and it increases LDL, bad cholesterol and that’s related to vascular health. The best kinds of fats, we need fats, the best kind, what are they everybody? Whole minimally processed fats mono, poly and unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, plants, nuts which have been scientifically proven to protect against cognitive decline in numerous studies and that’s what they say here in this book; I love coconut oil on my skin (chuckles). I also like it on my hair. I’ll admit I occasionally use some coconut milk or coconut oil in a treat and something that we didn’t talk about in the last half hour was moderation and they talk about moderation in the book and it’s a very intelligent thing because some people say “oh moderation, what does moderation mean to you” they gave an example if you’re eating pizza 5 times a week and you eat it 2 or 3 times is that moderation? So foods that are not promoting good health you can have them occasionally just not all the time if indeed you don’t want to lose your mind and who does. I don’t.
I have had an incredible, incredible week and I’m going to share some stories with you because they are related to food and health of course. I’m fortunate to have my parents; my mom’s 84 and my dad’s 89. I talk about them from time to time on this program and my dad is having a few challenges these days and I was taking him around to doctors, various doctors’ appointments and I just happen to decide I would visit them on…what day is it already; on Thursday. It’s been such a whirlwind. I thought I would help them do some shopping and fix some things in their home and just spend some nice quiet time. Well, we got a call from one of his doctors that he’s anemic and needed to go to the emergency room. So we spent this holiday weekend in the hospital, like I said in the first part of this show. I was reading this book The Alzheimer’s Solution and it was so ironic to be in this place where there’s only sick care and I’m reading The Alzheimer’s Solution talking about all of the evidence and research about healthy lifestyle includes a whole minimally processed plant-based diet, exercise, meditation seeing how it applies to brain health but it also applies to the heart and our entire well-being. So I had conversations. One doctor, the doctor that was presiding over my dad on Monday, yesterday; she noticed that I had the book on the chair and she said, “Why are you reading that?” I explained I had this radio show and I said, “Do you know that 90% of Alzheimer’s disease can be reduced?” The risk can be reduced by 90% with a healthy diet and I mentioned that this community of Seventh Day Adventists were vegetarian. There’s a lot of data with them showing how they have extended longevity, quality of life and less cognitive decline and she lit up and said “Oh that’s wonderful, I’m a vegetarian” and then I added that it’s even better if you eliminate dairy products and then she said “but we need milk for protein” (chuckles) and I just took a deep breath and smiled “we need milk for protein” where do people learn this, not medical school. It’s a cultural thing right? And I told her no we don’t need milk. We can get protein from beans and greens and then she said “oh no, no, no greens you’d have to eat a lot of greens” and then I said “Yes, you have to eat a lot of greens!” and that’s what’s so wonderful about it. You get all of this fiber. You feel full. I was looking at her and thinking that she could actually lose a few pounds and eating greens would be beneficial because it would help her do that but they’re so much that our doctors, well-meaning doctors, who want to help, who want to make a difference just don’t know because the system; the system is broken and then I spoke to one of the guys who was preparing my dad’s room; he was going to move from the ER to a room and he was with the environmental services group and he complimented me on my shoes. I told him “thank you, what’s great about these shoes is they’re not made from leather, they’re vegan! They’re cruelty free” and he said “I’ve been trying to go vegan and it’s kind of hard, it’s tricky but I’m working on it.” I showed him this book The Alzheimer’s Solution and gave him my Responsible Eating and Living card and said e-mail me any time and I can help. I was trying to make the most of a difficult situation and seeing so many things that were just wrong. How many times did I want to just stand up and scream and shake them and say “no, no, no this isn’t how to heal, no you don’t understand.” I have to share, of course, the food that was served. My dad got a cheeseburger, a beef burger with cheese. It said it had a whole-wheat bun. That was a good thing. It looked like a fluffy piece of bread. There was skim milk served on the tray and a dessert with cake and whipped cream. Then he had a roasted chicken at night; it had vegetables. I give them credit, it had a small piece of corn and some green beans but the main thing on the plate was the animal and they’re serving this to people who have heart disease, people who have cancers. I saw them there. People who had diabetes and there is this disconnect or, now the Drs Sherzai told me that there isn’t a conspiracy but I’m thinking feed them these foods and your customers will keep coming back. They’ll keep coming back to the hospital. It’s very very frustrating. What are we going to do folks? How are we going to turn this around so that we can help more people? Do you have any ideas? I mean I’m doing this. I’m talking to you. I’m giving you information. I hope you’re sharing it with other people. This world could be a much better place. The thing that would really be one of the greatest that would come out of everybody improving their lifestyle, eating better reducing risk of disease, is that our medical community could focus their time and research on the really mysterious diseases that plague us today rather than focusing on research money and time on heart disease and diabetes and cancer and Alzheimer’s. We know what the causes are; we know how to prevent these diseases with a whole minimally processed plant diet and a healthy lifestyle, exercise, meditation. We can take all that time and money and put it to real mysteries. Wouldn’t that be nice? I think so! (Chuckles)
All right, so continuing on about this week, I had to eat and I had to sleep and it was really challenging. For those of you who are caregivers you must know what I’m talking about, how challenging it is, but there were some moments that were real highlights. So my mom and I had a moment to get away from the hospital and we happened upon a Japanese restaurant. This was in Plainview, New York on Long Island if any of you are around there. We went to a little Japanese place called Hama Sushi and I ordered the vegetable sushi and this was a stunning fabulous delight. It was just a moment where I could nourish myself and re-energize and the most exciting part was the sushi, and sushi means rice. Most sushi is made with white rice and some of the newer sushi places are getting hip. They know people want to eat whole grains. They’ll offer their sushi with brown rice. This place not only had brown rice, they had black rice and black rice is amazing so I had this fantastic sushi with black rice.
I had an opportunity to visit Plant Wise another place on Long Island and I’ve been trying to get there since they opened. Actually, they were called Plant Strong when they opened and now they are called Plant Wise. I have a feeling it’s because Rip Esselstyn has trademarked Plant Strong, I could be wrong but that’s my theory and they had to change it to Plant Wise. I brought my parents there and it was very challenging because they really couldn’t relate to the menu and I was trying to translate what was available and what I thought would be pleasant to their palates. I realized at that moment that, that’s actually a part of the challenge of helping people transition. A lot of people don’t want to change. They like things that are familiar. The authors of The Alzheimer’s Solution, they talk about it in the book that when they’re helping people transition they try and make it simple. Make simple substitutions. At this restaurant there were bowls where they had raw spinach, brown rice or quinoa and then some sort of main attraction like garbanzo beans in a spicy sauce or something else and a lot of these herbs and spices my parents aren’t familiar with and don’t like. I imagine that’s true for a lot of people that are trying new foods. They’ll go to one of these restaurants, really with great intentions and try something and the tongue doesn’t know what to do with all of those flavors. It sometimes takes time to recalibrate or to introduce new flavors so that the tongue can understand them and recognize them and then decide whether they like it or not. (Chuckles) I have a funny story. I had a confusing moment with tongue and taste while I was sitting there at Plant Wise. I ordered a smoothie that was called Dream Date. I thought if my parents didn’t like what I ordered them they would definitely enjoy this smoothie. It was a blended smoothie with bananas, almond butter and dates. Something sweet creamy and a little bit of fat, who wouldn’t like it? I got little cups and I poured us each some of it so we could sample it and yes, the Mr. Softie truck is passing by again. Okay, the song is over. Wouldn’t you miss hearing Mr. Softie theme music during the show? I wouldn’t. Okay, so I was finishing up my dish and I saw a little cup behind my plate that I thought was the Dream Date, the smoothie and I sipped it and my tongue was so confused “what is this?” It’s tart. It’s salty. It’s wrong and I just didn’t know how to comprehend it for a few seconds. It turns out it was tahini dressing that I was supposed to add to the top of my bowl. I love tahini dressing but when you’re expecting something that doesn’t taste like tahini, it could be very shocking and disappointing. So, I could relate to people who are trying new foods and they don’t even have an idea of what those foods are supposed to taste like. When you take that bite you don’t know what to tell your tongue to anticipate. That’s one of the challenges in eating new foods. I found one dish that really had no spices. It had a tomato coconut sauce over garbanzo beans and tomatoes served over brown rice. I thought my dad would like it and he did. That was good. The wonderful thing about this restaurant is the portions are large. We each took half of ours and I got to take all the leftovers home with me and I made new dishes with all of them and you could read about them on my blog What Vegans Eat.
Another thing, I’m learning so much in this short time just being a caregiver. I don’t know that I have the solutions but I always know that if I can make the food for someone make it healthy, make it delicious they will eat it. They will like it. They will want it but so many people don’t have the motivation to cook. They don’t know what to cook and they just fall back on old habits. I try to do the best I can right here at Responsible Eating and Living headquarters, through the program and through my blog and recipes to offer solutions and that’s really the most that I can do short of going to your house and cooking for you but I know that while I’m with my parents my mom used to cook a lot. She just doesn’t anymore. They’re both getting more fatigue and it’s challenging for them so when I was cooking. My dad came in and said “something smells good” and I could feed them healthy food while I was there. Something so simple as just steaming yellow potatoes, carrots and onions. Anybody can do that and you serve that with a salad and you have a nice meal. It’s not complicated. Right, I wanted to go back a little bit again to this book “The Alzheimer’s Solution” because there is so much in it that we didn’t get to cover and I just want to highlight something so that you may want to actually pick up the book and share it with those who need it and there’s that lovely song again. They talked about supplements and a lot of people spend a lot of money on supplements and there’s a lot of marketing sometimes you may get an e-mail or see something on social media advertising the amazing effects of some supplement or some combination of nutraceuticals and supplements that are beneficial and what they said in this book is that for most of them there is no real research to prove the claims that are being made. They did recommend a number of supplements that we recommend off and on this program. I mentioned it a few times lately on this program; omega 3 fatty acids which you can get in certain foods like flax seed and hemp seeds but also especially as we age to supplement with an algae based DHA/EPA. I have a little article about Dr. Furman’s brand of DHA/EPA at www.responsibleeatingandliving.com. You might want to just read it. It’s quick but the doctors Sherzai also recommend that in their book and as we age it gets more difficult for many people to take what we get from the flax seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts, the beneficial omega 3’s and convert them to the things we need DHA/EPA and that’s why the supplementation is important.
We just have a few minutes left and oh my goodness I am running on adrenaline (chuckles). I know we need to practice what we preach and I really try to eat well and sleep well but I have gotten very little sleep in the last few days and sleep is also a key solution in the package of The Alzheimer’s Solution and they actually give a list recommendations on how to ensure better sleep in the book. I was at another doctor’s office today and I was mentioning this book to the physician’s assistant who was doing a number of tests on my dad and filling out forms. She heard what I said and then she said, “Are you a vegan?” I said “Yes, I’m a vegan” then she said “ I could never be vegan.” It’s funny. No, number 1 this book doesn’t tell you that you have to be vegan and I can’t tell you to be vegan. I would like the world to be vegan. That’s my personal thing because I don’t believe in killing animals but I can’t tell you to be vegan and I can’t tell you that we even know for sure that eating a 100% plant-based diet is the healthiest. We don’t know that. What we do know is eating a diet that is primarily plants; mostly plants, whole foods, no processed foods, that is what we thrive on. I shared that with this woman today in the doctor’s office but it just amuses me because I know a lot of vegans who have told me at some point that they could never be vegan.
You’re thinking I could never be vegan. Okay that’s fine but if you’re curious I’m happy to help you and you’re free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love to get questions where people ask how can I do this when it comes to food and if we could come up with a solution that would make me happy and make you happy so you’re free to do that.
Oh one more thing before we end. I think it’s really important, they talked about it in the book and I’m talking about it now. Having conversations with people strangers all the time reaching out just about anything at all it doesn’t have to be about health but we need to connect with each other. We are all on our phones or on our screens and community. Having community is healthy. I was in another doctor’s office this week and we were waiting for my dad to be called. My mom was a little anxious and she was cold because the air conditioning was so high and was so cold. I had just finished interviewing one of the senior researchers for the book Project Drawdown and will be airing that in a few weeks. It was really an exciting and I can’t wait to share it. But one of the things we learn from Project Drawdown has to do with climate change, the top 80 solutions to turn around global warming. The number 1 solution is refrigeration management. We’re sitting there freezing and I said “do you know what the number 1 solution is for turning around global warming? It’s refrigeration management.” There was a woman who was sitting there and she got engaged in the conversation. Then I talked about some of the other solutions and one of them was plant-based diets. We started a conversation and I gave her my card and we’re continuing that conversation and I hope that the information that I share with her will be helpful. Talk to people (chuckles) in supermarkets, in medical facilities anywhere you can. We’re all living on this planet together. We all share this planet Earth. We all want the same thing a healthy life, good food, love, friends, family right?
Thank you so much for joining me today. I think it was really a wonderful program and I’m so glad to have presented The Alzheimer’s Solution to you today. I’m Caryn Hartglass. Have a very delicious week!
Transcribed by M. Eng 9/11/2017