How to Use This Book
This book is a guide to attaining optimal brain function with the pleasant side effect of minimizing dementia risk—all according to the latest science.
Maybe you’re looking to hit the reset button on your mental agility, to clear the cache, so to speak. Perhaps you’re hoping to increase productivity and gain a leg up on your competition.
Maybe you’re one of the millions of people around the globe battling brain fog. Or depression. Or an inability to cope with stress. Perhaps you have a loved one suffering from dementia or cognitive decline and are fearful for them, or of succumbing to the same fate.
No matter what led you to pick up Genius Foods, you’re in the right place. This book is an attempt to uncover the facts and propose new unifying principles to counter our collective modern malaise. You’ll learn about the foods that have become casualties of the modern world—raw materials to build your best brain yet, replaced by the biological equivalent of cheap particleboard.
Every chapter delves into the precise elements of optimal brain function—from your precious cell membranes, to your vascular system, to the health of your gut—all through the lens of what matters most: your brain. Each chapter is followed by a “Genius Food,” containing many of the beneficial elements discussed in the surrounding text.
These foods will serve as your weapons against cognitive mediocrity and decay—eat them, and eat them often. Later in the book, I’ll detail the optimal Genius Lifestyle, culminating in the Genius Plan.
I’ve written this three-part book to be read cover to cover, but feel free to treat it as a reference and skip from chapter to chapter.
And don’t be afraid to take notes in the margins or highlight key points (this is often how I read!). Throughout, you’ll also find insights and “Doctor’s Notes” highlighting my friend and colleague Dr. Paul Grewal’s clinical and personal experience with many of the topics we’ll cover. Dr. Paul has had his own challenges, having gone through medical school with what is now familiar to many in the Western world: obesity. Desperate to find a solution to his weight challenges, he ventured out to learn everything he could about nutrition and exercise— topics that are unfortunately all but ignored by med school curricula. The truths he discovered resulted in his shedding a dramatic one hundred pounds in less than a year, for good —and he’ll be sharing these lessons on exercise and nutrition in the pages that follow. Science is always unfinished business; it’s a method of finding things out, not an infallible measure of truth. Throughout this book, we’ll use our understanding of the best available evidence, while taking into account that not everything can be measured by a science experiment.
Sometimes observation and clinical practice are the best evidence we have, and the ultimate determinant of health is h o w you respond to a given change.
We take an evolutionary approach: we hold the position that the less time a food product or medicine or supplement has been around, the higher the burden of proof for it to be included in what we consider a healthful diet and lifestyle.
We call this “Guilty until Proven Innocent” (see the section on polyunsaturated seed oils in chapter 2 as an example).
Personally, I started this journey from a blank slate, following the evidence wherever it took me.
I’ve used my lack of preconceived notions to my advantage, to keep an objective distance from the subject and ensure that I’ve never missed the forest for the trees. Thus, you will see a linking of disciplines that may not be connected in other books of this genre, e.g., metabolism and heart health, heart health and brain health, brain health and how you actually feel. We believe that bridging these divides holds the keys to the cognitive kingdom. Finally, we know that there are genetic differences between individuals, as well as differences in our health and fitness levels, that will determine things like carbohydrate tolerance and response to exercise.
We’ve found the broadly applicable common denominators that will benefit everyone and have included sidebars with guidance on how to customize our recommendations to your own biology. My hope is that when you finish reading Genius Foods, you’ll understand your brain in a new way, as something able to be “tuned up” like a bicycle. You’ll see food anew— as software, able to bring your brain back online and run your endlessly capable mind. You’ll learn where to find the nutrients that can actually help you to remember things better and give you a greater sense of energy. You’ll see that actually slowing the aging process (including cognitive aging) is just as much about the foods you omit from your diet as those you choose to consume, as well as when and how you consume them. I’ll also share with you the food that may shave more than a decade off of the biological age of your brain. I have to be honest—I’m so excited for you to begin this journey with me. Not only will you begin feeling your best within two weeks, you’ll be fulfilling my hidden agenda— and perhaps my one true goal for you: to make use of the latest and best available evidence so that you might avoid what my mom and I have experienced. We deserve better brains—and the secret lies in our food.
The Genius Foods.