Happy Mind, Happy Life: 10 Simple Ways to Feel Great Every Day. A science-backed guide to a calmer, happier you.
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My guest today is on a mission to help people feel better, live longer, and maximise their brain health by optimising their diet. Max Lugavere is a science journalist and a New York Times bestselling author. He believes brain decline is not inevitable, we all have agency in how we age, and the secret lies in our food. And he’s on a mission to help people feel better, live longer, and optimise their diet in line with the latest brain-health research.
This drive began following his mother’s diagnosis with Lewy body dementia aged just 58, and his frustration at the medical world’s ineffective, drugs-only approach to treatment. Years spent trawling the research and asking experts, “Why her?” has given him a wealth of knowledge that he is keen to share with others.
Through his books – Genius Foods, The Genius Life, and cookbook Genius Kitchen – as well as a long-running podcast, Max shares the evidence-based principles that will help all of us protect our brains. And his passion for doing this, along with an encyclopaedic ability to recall and communicate the science, is why I really wanted to talk to Max on my show.
There is so much actionable advice packed into this episode. Max begins by talking us through the three food types that we should think about cutting out – and why. We discuss what constitutes an ultra-processed food and why it’s not in our nature to consume them in moderation. He explains the importance of the wholefood matrix, and the protective synergy that comes with eating foods, particularly fats, in a minimally processed state. If you’ve ever wondered about the healthiest fats to cook with, Max covers this in detail as well.
He also shares which specific foods he recommends we all include in our diets and what brain-healthy nutrients they provide. Perhaps controversially, we discuss the adage ‘Everything in moderation’ and why this might not be the healthiest approach. If we’re going to declare some foods good, says Max, other foods must therefore be bad. And within the context of a sick population, surely we should be bolder about advising people to quit the food types we know are unnatural and harmful?
Having experienced the trauma of his mother’s illness, Max isn’t bothered about the critics, he’s just really keen to help people. He’s an advocate for informed consent, sharing facts to enable us to make tailored, better food choices – and addressing the health inequalities that might prevent this. Above all, his message is one of balance and realism. We can all make choices every single day that set us on the path to better health, even if we’re only taking baby steps. I immensely enjoyed my conversation with him. I hope you enjoy listening.
Disclaimer: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.*
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*DISCLAIMER: Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.
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