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In Lastest Book, Double Energy Twins Say ‘Memory Diet’ Can Help Stave Off Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease

The Double Energy Twins, Shari and Judi Zucker, with their latest book, "The Memory Diet."

Posted: Friday, July 8, 2016 – 12:21 PM

In previous books they’ve taken on vegan eating and food allergies, now the Double Energy Twins, Shari and Judi Zucker are tackling one of the leading health issues of the time, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, with their latest book, The Memory Diet —More than 150 Healthy Recipes for the Proper Care and Feeding of Your Brain (New Page Books).

The sisters, 1979 BHHS graduates who’ve become sought-after health speakers by hospitals and for conferences, believe what you eat can affect your memory. “Alzheimer’s and dementia are not a normal part of aging,” says Judi Zucker.

This book too was inspired by their mother, la ongtime resident. Their first book, How to Survive Snack Attacks—Naturally, was a response to their mother’s bad cooking and a primer on vegetarianism.  (The two were 17 and stars of the BHHS cross country team were they set 1- and 2-mile records that still stand.)

“We asked ourselves, ‘what can we do’’’ says Shari Zucker.  “Drugs like Aricept have many side effects; and only slow down the disease.”

So they decided to help their mother through their expertise—healthy eating. (Authors of six books, they have degrees in ergonomics). They replaced her processed foods with fresh fruits and vegetable plunged into two years of research. “This book is labor of love,” says Judi Zucker.

So they’ve used current science to look at the disease that stole their mom, and is expected to effect 75.6 million people by 2030. “It’s a hot topics now,” adds Shari Zucker “Our literary agent had three offers. People need answers.” 

The Memory Diet centers on the Mediterranean Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, or MIND, diet, developed from a study at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago; and is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The study concluded the MIND diet may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 53 percent.

The MIND diets cuts out red meat, butter, cheese, pastries and fried foods and emphasizes a plant-based diet to slow cognitive decline. The diet includes chicken and fish once a week, but the twins eliminate those as well, reporting that the nutrients that help the brain in those proteins can be found in plant sources; and fish’s omega-3s are also in flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and marine algae, without the risk of mercury, often found in fish.

The Memory Diet recommends “7 brain-boosting” food groups: cruciferous vegetables and cabbage; leafy greens; seeds and nuts; fruits, grapes and berries; beans, legumes and whole grains; olive, coconut, macadamia and avocado oils and brain spices, like black pepper, garlic, green tea, cumin Peppermint and cinnamon.

They also advise probiotics “for gut health that is vital to the brain,” Judi Zucker says.

How food is prepared is also vital, the twins point out. Many cooking methods, such as browning and frying, actually cause biochemical changes in food, the development of advanced glycation end products or AGEs that harm brain health, accelerate aging and cause memory decline. High temperatures and low moisture drive AGE formation in foods, whereas brief heating time, low temperatures, high moisture, and/or “pre-exposure to an acidified environment,” using lemon or vinegar when cooking, inhibits AGE formation in food. So recipes in The Memory Diet rely on steaming, stewing and boiling.

The book includes “easy and tasty recipes,” tested on their mother, for smoothies, appetizers, sides, entrees, salads, soups and “lots of desserts that can be made and frozen,” says Judi Zucker.

In addition to a seven-day diet meal plan, the book includes resources and addresses other factors to slow or prevent dementia including exercise, staying mentally and socially active, sleep, stress and supplements. “

Our purpose is to educate and inspire people for a healthy lifestyle,” says Shari Zucker, “and this hits home for us.”

One of the featured entrees in The Memory Diet is:

Ginger Mint Spirals With Pine Nuts

Yield: 4-6 servings

16 oz. brown rice spiral pasta or gluten-free pasta                         

1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 c. chopped green onions

2 cloves garlic, halved

1/4 c. chopped mint leaves

1 T. diced fresh ginger (or 1 tsp. dried)

1/2 c. lemon juice

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 c. pine nuts

1. Cook pasta according to package directions

2. Drain pasta an return to pot

3. In a blender or food processor, blend oil, green onions, garlic, mint leaves, ginger and lemon juice until mixture becomes a smooth sauce.

4. Pour sauce over pasta in pot and warm five minutes.

5. Stir in salt and continue to stir mixture while cooking

6. Top with pine nuts and serve warm.

Change it up: Substitute soba noodles for rice pasta

—Steve Simmons

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