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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.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Facebook

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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The Farthest-Reaching Ball

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Every mother’s journey is unique, however, they all share one thing: heartache. In one way or another, every mother travels down a difficult road as she fights tooth and nail to bring her child to adulthood unscathed. Sandra Bowman, author of The Farthest-Reaching Ball: A Memoir of Motherhood is no stranger to heartache. As the mother of two children, Grant and Parker, Bowman relates the trials and tribulations she overcomes as she raises her children virtually on her own. A mother’s love is nowhere more evident than in Bowman’s explanation of how she comes to understand the needs of her children and the struggle that has permeated her son’s life since an early age.

Sandra Bowman describes virtually every aspect of her journey as a mother in her poignant memoir, The Farthest-Reaching Ball. She details the birth of her sons so vividly that I felt, as the reader, that I attended the delivery. Her emotions surrounding the births are clearly drawn, and any parent who has experienced a particularly difficult birth will appreciate how very frank Bowman is with her details.

As a teacher, I am struck by the battle Bowman and her son, Grant, face as he begins school. His gifts are both amazing and obvious to all, but the obstacles he faces are numerous. Children with talents beyond those of the average child are often overlooked in the regular classroom, and they are not always afforded the opportunity to showcase their skills. Grant is one of those children with a mother on a mission to find a setting that suits her child’s best interests.

When Bowman’s son begins to experience behavior challenges and depression sets in, the author’s challenges multiply. Moreover, Grant’s own slowly-revealed identity crisis begins to consume his thoughts and every interaction. Bowman is more than understanding and is the proverbial mother bear–she is fierce and stops at nothing to make sure her child is content with himself. The author is beyond adept at communicating her feelings and her ever-fluctuating fears regarding Grant’s mental state. His worries are her worries, and his unhappiness is hers to bear.

There doesn’t seem to be a problem Bowman and her son haven’t endured. From excessive weight gain, to depression, to attention deficit disorder, Grant runs the gamut. Bowman is exceptionally open with her own feelings of defeat, despair, and utter helplessness. She is at loss as to how to help her son deal with an identity crisis that threatens to be the end of them all. Mothers of all walks of life can relate to Bowman’s honesty as she admits to her own suicidal thoughts.

I am impressed with Bowman’s forthrightness and openness. She lays out every frustration, worry, and obstacle for readers and shares with them the most intimate of details about her own regrets as a mother. Parents of children struggling with identity crises of all types will appreciate Bowman’s story.

 

The World’s Greatest Mousetrap

The World's Greatest Mousetrap by [Fegan, B.C.R.]

Mice don’t grin. Mice certainly don’t chuckle. Or do they? For dear old Reginald, devoted reader and shopkeeper, a grinning mouse in his bookshop simply won’t do. Children and adults alike will delight in reading along as Reginald makes several hapless attempts to catch the cleverest mouse of all time in B.C.R Fegan’s The World’s Greatest Mousetrap. Will Reginald’s madcap quest to construct increasingly elaborate traps succeed in catching one tiny mouse, or, will he end up catching his customers instead!?

In this warm and humorous tale of determination and unlikely friendship, Fegan offers a look at what could happen if humans let go of preconceived notions and open their minds to new ideas. Fanny Liem’s illustrations are instantly engaging for children and, importantly, intriguing for adults. Readers’ will enjoy Liem’s drawings and Fegan’s writing of the distinctively bespectacled Reginald as a slightly zany and lovable bibliophile whose expressive eyes tell of excitement, resolve, and kindness. Fegan has a knack for turning a small story in a small setting into a laugh-out-loud epic battle between mouse and man. Can you guess who wins? This is a cozy, funny, and heart-warming tale for all ages.

Pages: 44 | ASIN: B07PB4NHBY

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Weepy The Dragon

Weepy the Dragon by [Hebert, J. J.]

Weepy the Dragon has proven to be a big hit in my household. I bought this book as a bedtime storybook for my two children, and having read this book (several times), I have nothing but good things to say about it. This book is full of illuminating pictures and cute dragon images which creates a very interesting plot line. J.J. Hebert does an exceptional job at captivating a young reader.

The characters were well drawn and my children loved them. I thought the plot about the dragon world was solid and teaches children about the importance of not judging a book by its cover.

The only negative thing I have to say, which is more constructive than negative, is that the writing could have been written in a larger font. Trying to get my two children to read along was a bit of a struggle due to the small font. But, other than that, the writing itself was clear and intriguing. I highly recommend this book to anyone with young children who love a good story! “Weepy the Dragon: the happiest, friendliest, and kindest dragon in the world” – a story for every child!

Pages: 36 | ASIN: B008CRVNKE

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Strength That Lies Within

April Pulliam Author Interview

April Pulliam Author Interview

Strong Is…” shows that children can be strong in their own way when they’re up against tough challenges. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I began writing “Strong Is…” when my friend, Kathy, was battling breast cancer and had her in mind the entire time I was planning the path the story would take. It was important to me to convey her strength and at the same time write a book her young daughter and other children could understand and find relatable.

I thought the art was cute and fitting for the story. What was the art collaboration like between you and the illustrator Amy Grantham?

Amy is a phenomenal artist. We work together on a daily basis, so discussing the story and our ideas for the illustrations was simple. Once we decided we wanted the entire book to slowly reveal the character’s point of view, the rest was easy. Over the years, I have seen enough of Amy’s artwork to know what look I wanted for the illustrations, and Amy listened to my descriptions and more than delivered.

I thought you handled this sensitive topic with respect while also making it accessible. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

It’s my hope that readers of all ages realize that no matter the challenges they face, there is a strength that lies within each of us. Overall, I want the book to be a bright spot during difficult times for those struggling with cancer, their families, and their friends.

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

Our next book is “Bottom Down, Penelope Brown” and should be available in the next 2-3 months. I won’t give anything away about it–my mom wants to be surprised.

Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Strong Is . . . by [Pulliam, April B.]Author April B. Pulliam explores what “Strong Is” through a child’s eyes. Nothing defines strength like a battle, and there is no battle like the one presented by cancer. This book is for anyone touched by cancer and amazed by the strength found within during the darkest of days.

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Hey Baby – Deja’s New Adventure

With a new baby comes new responsibilities for an older sister. This is what Deja is about to learn. Join Deja on her new adventure in this picture book series with an empowering message: You are never too young to learn the value and joy of helping.

Deja has been waiting for her baby brother to arrive and he is finally here! Now she is a BIG Sister! While visiting her baby brother at the hospital, Deja gets a special gift. The gift gives her SUPER HELPING POWER!

Find out what happens with Deja as she begins a new adventure as a SUPER BIG SISTER, learning how to use her SUPER HELPING POWER to save the day!!

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Osteoporosis and Osteopenia: Vitamin Therapy For Stronger Bones

Osteoporosis & Osteopenia: Vitamin Therapy for Stronger Bones by [Lusk, Bryant]

Osteoporosis & Osteopenia: Vitamin Therapy for Stronger Bones, by Bryant Lusk, is a comprehensive guide to bone health. The author discusses the link between lifestyle choices, age, gender, and eating habits (largely vitamin intake), and bone health.

Interestingly for a book of this subject matter, Lusk seems to have gone the ‘choose your own adventure’ route for his writing technique. Readers can choose between intensive study modes and brief overviews to ‘get the main idea’, and there are ways to achieve a hybrid approach that sits somewhere between the two extremes. It is a fantastic idea on the writer’s part to include that kind of flexibility for his readers, and it is a tool that will likely help this work reach more people than most other books on the subject.

The driving principal behind this work is, of course, to educate. To that end, the author goes to great length to discuss each topic as fully as necessary. The book is laid our in bite-sized chunks, each one focusing on a particular aspect of the overall topic. For example, there is a chapter on zinc, one on vitamin D3, another on liver and kidney health, and many more. Included in each section, there is information related to standard vs vegetarian diets, guidelines for how much and how often various vitamins should be taken, information on inhibitors that adversely affect the given vitamin or mineral, and then personal advice from the author.

An example of the type of background information provided for each of the mineral and vitamins can be found at the start of each chapter. You’ll see the vitamin or mineral’s impact on the human body in list form. Not only for bone-related issues but for all others as well.

One of the most useful parts of each chapter is the ‘how much and how often’ section. Here, the author goes into the recommended daily dosages of the various supplements, all the time adjusting for different types of people living different types of lives. Then, a convenient table is provided to show what types of foods contain said vitamin or mineral and how much would need to be consumed in order to absorb enough. Then, another table showing differences between common supplements, along with which are best and which to avoid. A short discussion about how to inhibit and enhance absorption is then held before advice from the author and finally moving on the next chapter.

This book is certainly important and is full of wisdom that is not always easy to find in such a digestible package. In fact, in all the years I have researched the effectiveness of supplements, I’ve only come across a handful of texts as well balanced as Osteoporosis & Osteopenia: Vitamin Therapy for Stronger Bones. This book is going to go into my collection as a reference book that I will frequently visit.

Pages: 138 | ASIN: B07QPWPLG7

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Strong Is…

Strong Is . . . by [Pulliam, April B.]

What is strong? According to Merriam-Webster, strong is not mild or weak. But what exactly does that mean? To determine if someone or something is strong you need to look at it in context and compare it to other things that are similar. Strong Is… by April Pulliam and illustrated by Amy Grantham looks at the situation through the eyes of a child. The child is relaying all the ways they have heard the word strong used to describe people and things. Each situation gives a new view on what makes something strong or not. As you go through the book you encounter funny images like a stinky dog or a hungry lion, but then it starts to focus more on people and the images become more serious; a hospital, a distraught mother. It all leads up to the end with a picture of a small child. While the book never says cancer in the story line, it is implied with the imagery and by reading up on the author’s page at the end.

This is a challenging subject and this book is a great way to introduce a young child to what might be going on. Learning that it’s okay and even when you’re little you can be strong in your own way. I think this is a great book for siblings or even a child that may be going through this to read and gain some confidence. It’s an emotional topic that is handled with dignity and simplified for young readers. I recommend this book to anyone that knows someone going through an illness and trying to explain it to a young child.

Pages: 15 | ASIN: B07NKH1FNC

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Stay Faithful to the Stories in Your Head

Gloria D. Gonsalves Author Interview

Gloria D. Gonsalves Author Interview

Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms follows the king and queen of Lamellia as the kingdom is dealing with the appearance of a human child. What was the direction that you wanted to take this book that was different from The Wicked Queen?

Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms is the prequel to Lamellia: The Wicked Queen. There was no direction for the plot except that I honoured the file downloaded to me by nature. The story line seemed absolutely piffle but it nudged to be told and I had to respect the idea as it came to mind. Perhaps I was paying tribute to Paula Hawkins words “Stay faithful to the stories in your head.”

In this book we get to explore more of the king’s backstory. What were some themes you wanted to capture in his character?

I recall seeing this big, ugly and brown mushroom during a forest walk. As I sat down to write the story based on that particular mushroom, it seemed natural that regardless of its appearance it’s going to be the story lead because I saw it first and the idea of the book followed.

Why did you choose mushrooms to be a large part of your world?

This book was not planned at all. I got the idea while out in the nature. One could say that the inspiration was fuelled by my husband, who likes to point out names of wild plants in the forest.

Being authentic with this story was important even though to some people it seemed ridiculous or not one to pay most money.

Some parts of the books might appear harsh to a child. I am not keen to block truth and reality from a child such as there are poisoning mushrooms out there or some human behaviours have negative impacts to nature.

I also remember one marketing person who saw the draft and told me that their child did not like the story and went further to suggest I write a different book based on trending topics at that time which made more money. It did not put me off because humans are different and our motivations are diverse. A child who is not raised to explore nature and its residents will probably not be excited by this book. It was essential to tell this story without money being the motivator.

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

I am working on two projects simultaneously. One is a children’s Swahili book co-authored by Tanzanian writers. The other is of course the continuation of Lamellia story. For the latter, I am open minded to receive ideas for where Lamellia story should go but I trust to know when the end has come.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms by [Gonsalves, Gloria D.]

Can a lost baby girl find a new home in a world of enchanted, talking mushrooms? King Polipoli is kind to all who enter his magical kingdom. When he learns that a human baby girl needs his help, he sends out all his mushroom troops to rescue her. But the journey wont be easy. After all, how can the little fungi carry a baby? Or feed her? Mushrooms of all shapes, sizes, and species must use teamwork and creativity to bring the girl safely to the kings castle. Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms is a delightful educational picture book for children. During the fun-filled adventure, your children will discover the importance of kindness, tolerance, and acceptance. If your child likes seeing beautiful illustrations, learning about nature, and using their imagination, then theyll love this charming fantasy tale. Journey to Lamellia today to have a fun time with fungi!

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Life of the Sailor: The Psychology of Who We Are

Anyone looking for an in-depth discussion on what it means to be whole and happy would certainly benefit from reading Chester Litvin’s Life of the Sailor: The Psychology of Who We Are. Litvin creates an easily digestible work on an extremely complex topic. The author comes from, as he terms it, “the Soviet Collective,” and has clearly dedicated much of his career to understanding the psychological effects of radicalization of the human psyche.

Litvin goes to great length to help his readers understand why it is that there are always certain specific roles being played out within society, and how those roles are all a part of who we are as human beings. Coming from an oppressive society that fed on reducing individualism, the author sees himself as an adventurer into the psyche where he can begin dialogues between all the different splits in the human psyche in hopes that finding ways to nurture every part of the whole will result in a complete, happy, and satisfied life and self-awareness.

Through the use of characterization, the author makes it possible for readers to quickly grasp the concept of a person’s psyche being split into a variety of parts due to both internal and external traumas. There are characters who represent all the various types of splits that one could experience along the road to finding a completed version of themselves, and Litvin expresses the vital role of these characters to create healthy dialogues in order to mend the splits that exist between them.

More than just showing his readers that it is possible for a psyche to split into sections that become distant from one another, Litvin goes into great detail to show the methods and concepts that are required to close the gaps that exist within us all.

While some may not quite be ready to take on this type of intense personal introspection, the subject matter is still important and interesting in many ways. For example, learning more about the roots of some of our most troubling psychological states, including fear, anger, and others, helps to understand and cope with these types of things whether they are internal or external.

Chester Litvin’s Life of the Sailor: The Psychology of Who We Are is an eye-opening work. Whether the concepts discussed within are new to you or you have studied them before, the author discusses many important aspects of our nature as people, and he does so in a way that can be understood by all.

Pages: 228 | ISBN: 1450219047

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