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Enhancing our Capacities

Shantha Kumar Author Interview

Shantha Kumar Author Interview

Functional Nutrients For Brain Health is a perfect title for this book as it outlines the different foods that can cause different health effects. What is a common misconception people have about food and brain health?

As we enter a new millennium, we are endowed with astounding knowledge about our Universe and ourselves and it is in our best interest to use them to our maximal advantage. We have to strive to protect our environment, our health and well-being and continue the momentum in the right direction. For this, we have to harness and combine the wisdom of the past with the insight and progress gained in the current information era. Lifestyle options with adequate and nourishing food, exercise and rest are needed to cope with the challenges we face every day.

Thus, the focus of this book is to provide guidelines for preserving and enhancing our capacities of intellect and thinking with proper dietary practices. This is especially important as we have extended lifespans, a plethora of commercial food products, food supplements, food fads and drugs that may be baffling to consumers. With increases in incidence of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementias and symptomatic brain disorders like autism, a retrospective look into how diet can influence proper brain function can help alleviate these conditions.

The brain is the control center of the body and as such, it has to function ideally for the rest of the body to be in perfect health. Besides its role in coordinating motor and sensory functions, the human brain has a major function in higher-order thinking and information processing skills. The role of the brain in fact extends beyond the physical into the meta-physical realm and consciousness.

A common misconception that people have about food and brain health is that what is good for the body is also good for the brain. However, this may not always be true, because every system in the body is specialized and nutrient needs are based on this. A high protein diet may favor an athletic body but may not be an ideal composition for brain functional activities. Similarly, a ketogenic diet may favor weight loss but may not be the best fuel for the brain. Also, growing fetuses, infants and children can have different nutrient requirements than adults for proper brain development.

What were some topics in the book that were important for you to cover?

I would consider this book as a preliminary attempt to understand the relation between diet and brain health. There are contradictory views on the effects of foods on brain health and the diversity of dietary practices, cultures, food availabilities makes it challenging to discern the right foods to use and the wrong foods to avoid. The approach I used for my book is to look closely at “best practices” in cultures where brain health was a priority and use scientific data to support their dietary styles. Another approach was to look at studies where specific diseases were correlated to dietary principles and try to have a disease model with a scientific basis to fit into these conditions.

However, to make the book useful to consumers, I have some dietary guidelines, plans and recipes which is the ultimate goal and this is a work-in progress.

One thing that I discovered with some of the food discussed was that although foods have health benefits they often also carry negative affects. What is a food that carries more health benefits than negative affects?

The ideal food, especially for infants and children, is milk. It is a complete food with correct proportions of macro and micronutrients and fluids. For adults, adequate and optimal quality and quantity of nutrients is important and foods can be beneficial when this principle is applied. Foods should also be customized according to a person’s needs and health status to maintain the body in homeostasis.

Do you plan to write more book on health and well being?

At this time, I would like to concentrate on making my ideas and work useful by applying the knowledge base about diet and health into the actual practice of planning diets. Also, providing people with better awareness and information regarding scientific evidence and strategies, so they can make informed choices in their food habits.

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The evolution of mammals and humans is marked by a massive expansion of higher thinking abilities which has paralleled changes in associative regions of the brain and inter-neuronal connections.. This book aims to portray the role and influence of dietary factors in brain health and its intricate networks and has suggested menu options in diet planning for preserving healthy cognitive functions and preventing disease. With increasing life span, it has become a challenging issue to preserve the normal functions of the nervous system and prevent cognitive decline due to aging processes. The rising rates of diseases like obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, autism, depression disorders that affect personality and brain health can be countered by dietary practices that establish better equilibrium and homeostasis in the body and central nervous system. Thus, optimal brain health involves nurturing and maintaining these capabilities and the structural and metabolic networks in the brain. Some of the relevant macronutrients (Caloric Energy, Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats) and micronutrients (Vitamins, Minerals, Phytonutrients – Flavanoids, anti-oxidants, etc.) and their cellular and systemic functional roles in normal and abnormal health are discussed. Traditional practices in dietary control in cultures with a strong history of mental abilities have been used as the foundation for many of the recipes and suggested diet plans, while scientific advances in our understanding of the nervous system has been used as the rationale for some of the dietary modifications to achieve optimal cognitive abilities and preserve memory functions, especially in the aging process.

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Rose Above Their Limitations

Laurie L.C. Lewis Author Interview

Laurie Lewis Author Interview

The Dragons of Alsace Farm is a beautiful story about love and family. What was the inspiration that spawned this novel?

Thank you. I appreciate that so much. After my father’s passing, our previously happy, healthy mother began exhibiting signs of what we assumed was depression, along with anxiety attacks and confusion. After years spent trying to get a diagnosis, it was finally determined that Mom was in the early stages of dementia. Soon after Mom’s diagnosis, we found a young couple with mild disabilities who wanted more independence. They moved into Mom’s home for a time, offering farm help and companionship in exchange for rent. Mom believed she was helping them, and they felt they were helping her. I watched how the three of them rose above their limitations to lift and serve one another. Although I changed the nature of the challenges facing Noah and Tayte, and made Agnes a composite character, it was Mom and this young couple who ultimately inspired the final book.

The bond that develops between Noah and Tayte forms over their mutual love of the elderly woman Agnes. Was there anything about the characters’ relationship that you pulled from your own life?

A bond can develop when people share sorrow. The diagnosis of dementia, or any traumatic diagnosis, can have a dramatic impact on a family. Some people will pull together to protect, and stay connected to, their loved one. Others run away. It’s occurred in our family, and families I’ve interviewed have expressed similar fractures. I did use that experience of shared sorrow to help Noah and Tayte bridge the emotional gap they couldn’t overcome on their own.

Noah, I think, goes through a dramatic transformation. Did you plan the slow personality change or did it happen as you were writing?

It was planned, but earlier drafts had him even more guarded than Tayte, and as the manuscript progressed, and after chats with editors, I decided to soften him a bit, and make him more hopeful and endearing. I needed the readers to cheer for him early on. I have had several experiences with emotionally guarded youth, and interestingly enough, most of these young people were wonderful with small children and the elderly—people less likely to render judgment. I think that acceptance helps them lower their guard. That’s what Agnes does for Noah. She validates the goodness he has been trying to cultivate, and she strengthens his hope for a future that is brighter than his past.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?

Thanks for asking! I’ve got two projects in progress. “The Shell Game” has been in the works for over a year. It’s a complex political suspense novel about two last-chance people who arrive in a dying West Virginia mining town. A tip from a ruthless informant sends fallen journalism phenom, Jackson James, to Cutler’s Ridge to chase down a story lead involving three high-level passengers headed for the town in a private plane that didn’t file a flight plan.

Young scientist, Tallie Brown’s, mother forced the two of them to live a life of seclusion. When her emotionally distant mother dies in an accident, she leaves behind a newspaper article and a cryptic message that leads Tallie to Cutler’s Ridge. But the townspeople make it clear they don’t like any strangers, and worse, they seem to fear the shy, reclusive Tallie Brown.

Even the other stranger in town, reporter Jackson James, puts Tallie on his radar when Tallie predicts the fall of the private plane he came to track, right before it falls from the sky, killing everyone on board. James uncovers some strange truths about the town and Miss Brown. She has no recorded birth certificate, and the town is riddled with twenty years of secrets that involve the halls of congress and a local military base. I hope to launch “The Shell Game” before Christmas.

Also, I’ve been invited to contribute a volume for Gelato Books’ highly successful “Destination Billionaire’s Romance Series.” Romance is a new genre for me, but it’s been really fun. You’re hearing it here first—my volume will be titled “Sweet Water.” It debuts in March. I’ve been torn about whether to use my name or the pen name Addison Tayte. We’ll see. . .

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Website

Fears and secrets are the dragons we each must face. . . In need of his own redemption, Noah Carter finally confronts his childhood hero, the once-beloved uncle who betrayed him. Instead of vengeance, he offers forgiveness, also granting Uncle John a most curious request—for Noah to work on the ramshackle farm of Agnes Deveraux Keller, a French WWII survivor with dementia. Despite all Agnes has lost, she still has much to teach Noah. But the pair’s unique friendship is threatened when Tayte, Agnes’s estranged granddaughter, arrives to claim a woman whose circumstances and abilities are far different from those of the grandmother she once knew. Items hidden in Agnes’s attic raise painful questions about Tayte’s dead parents, steeling Tayte’s determination to save Agnes, even if it requires her to betray the very woman she came to save, and the secret her proud grandmother has guarded for seventy years. The issue strains the fragile trust between Tayte and Noah, who now realizes Tayte is fighting her own secrets, her own dragons. Weighed down by past guilt and failures, he feels ill-equipped to help either woman, until he remembers Agnes’s lessons about courage and love. In order to save Agnes, the student must now become the teacher, helping Tayte heal—for Agnes’s sake, and for his.Buy Now From Amazon.com

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