Brain Health

#222: Max Lugavere: Fasting & Genius Foods For Better Memory, Mental Performance

by Mike Mutzel


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Books and Products Mentioned

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life

Lithium Orotate | Provides 5 mg of Lithium Per Capsule | 100 Easy-To-Swallow Vegetarian Capsules | Free Of Common Allergens | Physician Formulated | Seeking Health

Myo Relax & Calm | Contains myo-Inositol, L-Theanine, Magnesium & GABA | Supports Sleep, Neurotransmitter & Hormone Support

About Max Lugavere

Max Lugavere is a filmmaker, TV personality, health and science journalist and brain food expert. He is also the director of the upcoming film Bread Head, the first-ever documentary about dementia prevention through diet and lifestyle and author of the soon-to-be released, Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain For Life

Connect with Max

  • Biltong jerky
  • Always Gamble While Hungry paper
  • David Ludwig Harvard Obesity Researcher on Twitter
  • The Finger Trial by Mia Kipapelto (sp?)
  • BioAstin astaxanthin Supplement by Nutrex in Hawaii


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Key Time Stamps

07:50 Carotenoids in grass fed beef are beneficial for your brain. They are plant pigments. Animals do not naturally produce them, but when a cow eats these fat soluble compounds, it becomes embedded in their fat. When we eat beef containing carotenoids, they go to our brains. They protect the brain and enhance function. There are almost no carotenoids in grain fed beef.

08:55 Women who did not eat 3 to 4 servings of red meat per week were twice as likely to suffer from depression or a major mood disorder, research showed. More than 3 or 4 servings of red meat per week had the same effect.

10:02 Red meat contains vitamin B12, zinc, creatine, and the most bioavailable source of iron. All are important for your brain. It is speculated that consuming cooked meat helped us to grow our brains as we evolved.

11:04 Sixty percent of the calories that Americans consume come from 3 plants: wheat, corn and rice. They are energy dense, but nutrient poor, especially those that are highly processed.

11:34 Your diet should have a diverse array of plants and properly raised meat. There are 50,000 edible plant species on earth.

12:32 When we first awaken, our hormones are set up to burn fat. Cortisol, your body’s chief catabolic hormone, is at its peak about 45 minutes are your awaken. Max most often fasts in the morning or consumes food that does not elevate insulin. Insulin is the most anabolic hormone. He fasts again for a few hours before going to sleep.

14:11 People who eat dark leafy greens every day, have brains that on scans look 11 years younger.

14:30 Some of the most valuable nutrients in dark leafy greens are only absorbed in the presence of fat. Besides carotenoids, they contain folate, fiber and magnesium. Extra virgin olive oil encourages brain autophagy. High olive oil consumption correlates to better cognitive function, better cardiovascular health and better metabolic health.

15:44 Don’t eat sugar with meat. Fats in the meat combine with sugar and potentiate the insulin response. Sodium is a nutrient.

18:46 Fasting increases alertness by increasing serum levels of neurotransmitter orexin- A. From an evolution standpoint, it makes sense to increase alertness when we had not eaten.

19:46 Green tea contains theanine and caffeine, which work synergistically as a neurotropic, boosting working memory.  Lemon, added to your tea, has been shown to boost the bioavailability of the catechins in green tea by up to 13 fold.

21:23 Decision-making is more prone toward beneficial outcomes when done in a fasted state.

22:41 Sixty-five percent of the American planted land mass is dedicated to growing wheat, corn and soy.

23:19 Breakfast is a modern invention. Eat during the day, but you don’t need to eat when you first wake up. People with type 2 diabetes may still benefit from the hormesis of not eating breakfast. It is challenging if they are not metabolically flexible. It is not normal to be hangry.

27:09 Our visceral fat has 4 times the amount of cortisol receptors as subcutaneous fat. Stressed out people tend to have skinny arms/legs but huge bulging visceral midsections. Visceral fat is the most inflammatory type of fat.

28:45 Amyloid needs to be cleared during sleep. Sleep turns your brain into a dishwasher via the glymphatic system. To keep amyloid soluble, keep blood sugar from being chronically elevated. Omega 3s can help the glymphatic system function properly. Since this cleaning happens during slow wave sleep, fiber may help, as it supports this level of sleep.

32:45 Amyloid may be antimicrobial, a protective protein. It increases when the brain is inflamed. If it is chronically stimulated and not properly flushed away, it can create plaques. Amyloid has been assumed to be the causative factor in Alzheimer’s. Research does not support this.

35:31 Alzheimer’s drug trials, which target amyloid, have a 99.6% fail rate. Alzheimer’s begins in the brain 30 to 40 years before the first symptom. Insulin resistance in the body correlates to plaque buildup in the brain.

36:35 Carbohydrates are not the smoking gun in Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic stress, industrial oils, and other things contribute. Trace amounts of omega 3s and 6s are found in our foods, so, perhaps, large amounts of fish oil are not beneficial. Monounsaturated fat promotes health, and secondarily, saturated fat. Omega 3s are more vulnerable to oxidation than omega 6s.

40:08 The LDL-P, particulate size measurement, is a more reliable biomarker for assessing cardiovascular risk. Large fluffy LDL particles are like busses. Cars, or smaller particles, cause traffic problems in the blood.

42:50 Keep your LDL large and fluffy by making sure that your liver is properly recycling the lipoprotein carriers before they get too small.

44:10 A greater number of small dense LDL particles seem to be related to lower than expected performance on tests of executive function, as has been the observation of a colleague of Max.

45:15 Cholesterol lowering medications lower your body’s cholesterol production has been related to cognitive problems that can, in extreme cases, look like dementia.

46:23 Inflammation is closely related to heart disease risk. Heart disease risk relates to the brain because the brain is fed blood and nutrients by a vascular bed of nearly 400 miles of microvessels.

46:49 Cholesterol isn’t the bad guy. Keep it and the lipoprotein carriers healthy. Cholesterol is a fatty waxy substance which is prone to oxidation. Every cell in your body has cholesterol in it. Chronically elevated blood sugar, poor diet and other mechanisms oxidate/disfigure our cholesterol.

48:01 Within your cardiovascular system and your brain, small lipoproteins are more prone to causing trouble, imbedding themselves in the vascular bed, accumulating immune cells and form a fatty streak.

49:45 IRS-1 (insulin receptor substrate 1) inactive form is found in higher amounts in people who appear to be at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. IRS-1 is related to insulin resistance in the brain. Within 10 years, scientists can predict with 100% accuracy whether a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease. This test is not being used clinically.

51:25 Lifestyle interventions can, not only delay cognitive decline, but improve processing speed by 150% and improve executive function by 83%, according to The Finger Trial of older at-risk participants. APOE-4 is the most well-defined risk gene. Even in patients with the APOE-4 allele, lifestyle interventions were as effective if not more so.

56:33 Saturated fat reduces the amount of LDL receptors on the liver, impeding LDL recycling, important for large bus cholesterol. When we consume animals that have eaten their natural diets, they have less saturated fat. Eating large amounts of saturated fat is not necessary for us and may be deleterious to brain health. Max does not restrict saturated fat in whole foods.

01:01:36 Oils and fats are not nutrient dense. With the exception of EVOO, which he consumes between 2 to 3 tablespoons a day, Max is not a proponent of consuming extra fats. Fats do not promote satiety as well as protein.

01:07:33 The sugar industry has formed an organization to place the blame for obesity upon inactivity and sedentary lifestyles, as opposed to food. They also actively troll social media to refute critics of sugar.

01:08:36 Diminished glucose metabolism is a feature of a brain with Alzheimer’s disease. By the time someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, regardless of the APOE-4 allele, brain glucose metabolism has been reduced by 45%. People with the APOE-4 allele have slightly diminished glucose metabolism in their brains. When people develop insulin resistance and obesity, it effects their brain’s ability to produce energy from glucose.

01:10:08 Nurture your body’s metabolism as a means of protecting brain metabolism. The ability of your brain to generate energy from ketones is not deterred by ageing, the APOE-4 allele or Alzheimer’s disease.

01:12:11 Alzheimer’s patients develop a sweet tooth. It is thought to be their brains crying out for energy. It is ironic because those processed foods promote inflammation and are linked to reduced glucose metabolism in the brain. Max believes that being in an intermittent ketogenic diet throughout life is beneficial.

01:18:56 Experience thermal stress. There is a 65% reduction in Alzheimer’s disease with sauna use, 4 – 7 times per week. Temperature/thermal stress is important. Type 2 diabetics exposed to mild cold for 6 hours a day for 10 days had a 25% improvement in insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity correlates to brain function and performance.

01:22:15 Max’s Morning Routine: He goes outside for cold exposure and sunlight. He drinks water, perhaps with salt. He tries to do his creative work in the morning and exercises in the middle of the day.

01:23:58 Max’s Desert Island Nutrient: Astaxanthin, a marine carotenoid, is good for your skin, eyes and brain, and stokes the FOX03 pathway, which is associated with longevity.

01:26:55 Max’s Elevator Speech: He would like regulation over what is marketed as healthy.

  1. 12:20 – “EVOO is the only oil shown to improve health.” Huh?? Has he heard of fish oil? Sources would be a great addition to the parascript of your videocast.

    • Hmm, OK, I admit fish oil may have only limited health effects: lowering triglycerides and relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

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