A Brief But Spectacular take on how to eat like a genius

When healthcare journalist and podcaster Max Lugavere's mother was diagnosed with a form of Parkinson’s disease, he drew on medical studies to train himself on best practices for improving brain health through food. Lugavere is now releasing a cookbook entitled “Genius Kitchen,” which uses brain-healthy recipes. He shares what he learned from his mother's battle with neurological illness.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    When health care journalist and podcaster Max Lugavere's mother was diagnosis with a form of Parkinson's, he immediately began researching best practices for improving brain health through food.

    He is now releasing a cookbook of brain-healthy recipes titled "Genius Kitchen."

    And, tonight, he shares his Brief But Spectacular take on what he learned.

    Max Lugavere, author, "Genius Kitchen": Preventative medicine is everything.

    By the time you show up to your doctor's office, what you're looking for in most cases is sick care, not health care. Health care, to me, happens when you are pushing your shopping cart through the supermarket, when you're sitting on a couch debating whether or not to get up and go to the gym. That, to me, is a health care opportunity.

    I have always been incredibly close with my mother. And it was in the year 2011 that my mom started to complain of brain fog. That was not something that I was used to hearing coming from my mom. My mom was a fast-walking, fast-talking New Yorker. I would be in the kitchen with her cooking and I would ask my mom to pass me something, a spoon or a spice.

    And it would — it would take her just a few extra beats to register. We booked a battery of appointments. And my mother received a diagnosis of a Parkinson's-plus condition. And I started to read phrases like no disease-modifying effect. Parkinson's disease is a — is ultimately a terminal condition.

    And for the first time in my life, I had a panic attack. I felt like the walls were closing in on me. From that point on, it was all about trying to understand to the best of my ability why this would've happened to my mom, what, if anything, could be done to help her, and what could be done to prevent this from ever happening to me?

    Dementia often begins in the brain decades before the first symptom of memory loss. We know that a healthy dietary pattern can be very protective of the brain. We know that exercise is medicine when it comes to the brain.

    Every day, I try to find new ways of communicating these ideas. I really transitioned into that role of being the head chef of my household. And so I ended up cooking for my mom and cooking for my brothers, and infusing all kinds of brain-healthy ingredients into the meals that I was making.

    Health literacy is something that I think we are all lacking in, the same way that we are all lacking in financial literacy. I think that the advantage that I get is that I'm able to see all of these different topics from 30,000 feet. And the fact that I'm a creative allows me to connect the dots in a way that I don't think many scientists or medical doctors are able to.

    That's a journey that began about a decade ago at this point and will probably continue on until the day that I die.

    My mom passed away in 2018. I feel that, if there's a stranger on the other side of the world that gravitates to my content, integrates the recommendations that I make, and is able to then buy themselves an additional month or year or decade of healthy life, what it was that my mom and my family suffered wouldn't have been in vain.

    I'm Max Lugavere, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on how to eat like a genius.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And what an amazing gift for his mother.

    Thank you, Max Lugavere.

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