Unexpected Health Crusader
Genius Foods was not the book Max Lugavere expected to write. He was hoping for a Seacrest-esque rise to fame in the first decade of the 2000’s. Majoring in film and psychology, Max went on to host and produce stories for a popular socially conscious TV network. He never thought about the health of his spry, 58-year-old mother. Until she started walking differently, complaining of mental fogginess, and, finally, couldn’t remember what year it was.
Max was shocked at his mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She was relatively young and there was no family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s. The skills honed seeking and reporting stories served Max well as he turned his attentions to scouring medical research about brain health. Lugavere combed through a multitude of studies and met with countless neurologists, scientists, and other clinicians in his quest to help his mother. With his knowledge Max has directed the movie Bread Head, the first documentary about dementia prevention through diet and lifestyle. He has contributed to several news outlets/journals and is often included as a “core expert” on the Dr. Oz Show.
“I Love Carbs, But Denial Is Good Training For The Mind.” -Jason Momoa
Genius Foods is divided into three sections. Part One explores the connection between food and brain health. The interconnectedness of other bodily systems (like the digestive) and our brains are analyzed in Part Two. Bringing it all home in Part Three, Lugavere writes how to optimize diet, stress regulation, and sleep habits to increase brain/neural fitness and overall health. Max explicitly tells us what to eat in the Genius Plan which is included in Part Three as well. Descriptions of the benefits of ten “Genius Foods” are interspersed between the chapters.
I am so happy that Max was able to empower himself through medical knowledge to help his mother. I am proud that he was so inspired that he is attempting to bring his discoveries to the masses. But, I gotta be honest, guys, Max Lugavere and his book are really harshing my mellow.
“Carbs Are Devastating For The Brain.” -David Perlmutter
Let’s get it out of the way: Max hates carbs and loves animal flesh. If you are looking to read about the joys of veganism you are not in the right book. Lugavere stresses that the beef must be grass fed, the salmon wild, and the eggs cage-free…but that these foods are included in what is proscribed as a diet for health will be problematic for some. It wasn’t for me, as my identity isn’t wrapped up in my veganish ways, and I was feeling all smug about that: “Look at me, just calmly receiving Max’s message about feeding my family beef, I’m so enlightened.” Then Lugavere took away my carbohydrates and I lost my mind. Once I had exhausted myself rioting I reread the section and had to begrudgingly admit that it made sense.
The Seven “Bad Guys”
Max argues that are seven factors of modern life that contribute to the overall poor health and degenerating brain of the average American:
- Nutrient deficiency
- Toxic exposure
- Chronic stress
- Physical stagnation
- Sleep loss
There’s a reason inflammation is listed first—it’s just the worst. And our national dependence/overindulgence of carbohydrates and the faulty way our bodies digest them is one of the biggest inflammation-causing offenders. Max argues that of course we all know that white sugar and flour formed into trans fat laden goods are bad for us, but that reaching for the whole grain option is not the healthy alternative we tare lead to believe. There is something inherently problematic in the way our bodies process carbohydrates, regardless of whether its a Twinkie or brown rice (though, yes, brown rice is better). Digesting carbohydrates spikes blood sugar, keeping it elevated beyond the bounds of health. This has deleterious effects. It can strain our pancreas, causing hyperinsulinemia and increasing a sticky protein called amyloid beta which can literally gum up our works.
I feel like I’ve said too much. After all, I don’t want you guys mad at me. Lugavere is coming for our carbohydrates, our sugars, our plant oils, our traditional fat sources and he’s making compelling arguments (ordering your husband to throw away the margarine in your fridge on a quiet Tuesday evening kind of compelling) for their cessation. He wishes to teach us the why of healthful living and I would recommend Genius Foods for that reason alone. He comes foisting avocados and advocating naps, armed with recipes and double-blind studies. You don’t need to start eating meat. I’m not. But I am going to decrease my carbohydrate intake, eat slightly more eggs, and start using butter again. I’ll keep y’all posted.
What books have inspired you to make major dietary changes? Comment below, I’m always looking for titles. Share this article to ruin a carbohydrate-lover’s day.