Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
Excellent where he knows his stuff
on 13 November 2011
This is a well-written book, based on some science, some experience, and some belief. The author is a doctor with considerable experience in treating memory problems, which has its pros and cons. The good side is that he is very well informed about some matters, and there is material here which is reasonably cutting edge. The down side of this is that he thinks he knows more than he does. There is information here presented as fact which is widely doubted or even discredited by other researchers. Fortunately, none of it is likely to put the reader at risk.
The book has three parts: risk factors, tools for prevention and improvement, and specific memory-related illnesses. The first part, risk factors, is the most problematic. The author claims that the deterioration of the brain is not a natural part of aging, and can be prevented. A moment's reflection will make the critical reader question this - what is so special about the brain that it doesn't deteriorate when the rest of the body does? Although medical science has helped people keep their bodies going for much longer, the longest possible length of life hasn't changed (around 115). Bodies do eventually give up. Moreover, professional sports people who have the money to keep themselves in great shape nevertheless do seem to need to retire at some point (though it varies according to sport, the elderly are not well represented amongst the people on any Olympic medal platform). And although some brains do keep going better than others, all do seem to deteriorate over time, just as bodies do.
The author also suggests that consumption of aluminium and use of cell phones can impair memory. These theories have been largely discredited now, though they keep popping up in the way that many conspiracy theories do. There is good, well designed research into the causes of memory loss, and medical science is nevertheless still very unclear about what causes it. Nevertheless, there are theories with more evidence to stand on than these two (and he does mention these as well).
The second section, on tools for improvement, is much better. They all need to be taken as non-prescriptive; none of these are proven ways of improving memory, and none will suit everyone. Nevertheless, the idea of improving diet in ways that are known to be associated with improved health makes a lot of sense, and some of it is particularly associated with brain health (such as fish oils) in respected research studies. The various supplements may not help but are unlikely to harm, and may help some people. The "toxin" avoidance programme similarly may not always help but probably won't hurt.
The third section deals with specific ailments - stroke, vascular dementia, alzheimers, parkinsons, MS, and ALS. Each covers conventional therapies, new therapies being trialled, and recommended dietary supplements. These are based in part on the author's clinical experience, and make interesting food for thought for anyone who has these problems or is caring for someone who does, or who believes themselves to be at risk.
Although the book should be read with a critical eye, it would do little harm to anyone following it slavishly (though some of the tests and supplements may harm the wallet). I would be happy to recommend it to anyone looking for ideas on how to improve their brain health - the book is well written, there is a lot here, and some of it might well help.