Eat Less Often, Live More – Book release


Eat less often

The beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting. For health and weight management.

Intermittent fasting is becoming one of the most talked-about and researched weight loss and health management tools. In this short ebook, Angela G. Gentile explains what it is, how it can benefit you, and how it helped her and her husband lose weight. IF can enhance any diet and it can also help make you feel better. In this easy-to-read book, you will be inspired and motivated to try this safe and healthy way of eating (and not eating!).

Eat Less Often, Live More: What one year of intermittent fasting taught me,

by Angela G. Gentile

Buy the ebook (for Kindle) on Amazon.


Managing High Cholesterol with Lifestyle Approaches – Sheila’s Quest

photo of woman wearing pink sports shoes walking

Photo by Daniel Reche on

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

My good friend Sheila, 55, recently shared with me her story about high cholesterol and how she has made a very concerted effort to change her lifestyle in order to avoid taking “statin” drugs to help keep her cholesterol counts at a healthy level. High cholesterol, of the “bad” kind (LDL), can cause an increased risk for a heart attack or stroke. I am happy to say Sheila has been very successful in getting on top of her cholesterol levels and she would like to share her story here in hopes of perhaps helping others.

41% of Canadians have hazardous blood cholesterol levels, so this is not an uncommon problem. Some only find out after their first heart attack. Research indicates that there is a fairly high percentage of adults in Canada who are unaware of their unhealthy blood cholesterol levels (also known as dyslipidemia). The older we get, the higher our risk for unhealthy cholesterol levels.


According to Statistics Canada’s “Canadian Health Measures Survey” released in 2010, 47% of adults between the ages of 40 and 59 and 54% of those aged 60 to 79 had high levels of total cholesterol.


At around age 52, Sheila learned she had high cholesterol. Her doctor at the time told her her total count had gone from 3.2 to 6.8 and tended to minimize it because her “good cholesterol was high so don’t worry.” The doctor gave her no strategies at this point. Sheila told me she was worried because her mother had had a few TIAs (mini-strokes) later in life and her grandmother (her mom’s mom) had died of a stroke. As she talked to her siblings, she found out 3 of 5 were on statins (a commonly prescribed medication for high cholesterol – such as Lipitor or Crestor). Sheila did not want to go on medications as she knew she would probably have to be on them for life. This was a lifestyle change she prefers to avoid. She preferred to take a “change in lifestyle” approach to help manage her health. At first, she didn’t acknowledge the severity of this condition (and her doctor didn’t either). She occasionally dieted to lose a few pounds but never really connected it to her overall health. She would lose some weight, then soon after, gain the weight back.  She was a member of Weight Watchers (WW), but the dieting program which focuses on counting points didn’t really stick with her at the time.

A couple of years later, Sheila’s doctor was reducing the number of patients in her practice, so she had to find a new doctor. In September 2018 she saw her new doctor who ordered blood work including a lipid profile and did a blood pressure check. Sheila was soon called back for a follow-up appointment to discuss her high cholesterol (now at 7.6 total cholesterol) and high blood pressure (her previous doctor was aware of these issues, but did not do anything about it). Sheila told her new doctor that she didn’t want to go on medications and asked for an alternative way to manage these conditions. The new doctor replied, “Start with weight loss.” Her doctor also instructed her to monitor her blood pressure for three months and come back to discuss the results.

bright cardiac cardiology care

Photo by Pixabay on

Sheila started back on WW and started taking her blood pressure regularly. She increased her physical activity and increased her time walking the track at work from 20 minutes daily to 30 minutes daily. She went back to her doctor every three months to show her where she was at with her blood pressure. As her weight loss increased, her blood pressure progressively decreased. She was seeing progress. The doctor also said she wasn’t able to take her blood test to check her cholesterol more than once a year so they would check for that in the fall.

One year later, in September 2019, Sheila was happy to report she had lost 25 pounds. Her blood pressure was down to 130/90 and the doctor said there was still room for it to go down but was pleased with her progress. After increasing exercise and losing weight, the blood tests showed that Sheila’s total cholesterol was down to 7.5, which was down by only measly 0.1. Sheila was disheartened by this as she felt she had been working so hard. Her LDL was at 5.0, whereas the normal target is under 3.5. Sheila wanted to know if there was anything more she could do to reduce the numbers (other than going on medication). The doctor asked her if she wanted to go to a Lipid Clinic and to see a dietician. Sheila agreed to both.

Sheila was disheartened as all the efforts of her lifestyle changes of losing weight and exercising did not reflect in her test results. She was feeling discouraged. Determined to turn over every stone before going on statins, she went to see the dietician.

The dietician said that doctors often look at the “total” cholesterol and they need to look at the three groups – LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides. Sheila’s triglycerides and HDL were excellent and the dietician asked Sheila about her diet. She said Sheila’s diet was very healthy, which included low sugar, low white bread, limited alcohol, low fat, lots of fruits and vegetables, and whole foods. The dietician was also pleased with Sheila’s level of physical activity. The dietician praised Sheila for her weight loss and said that although the good cholesterol (HDL) and triglycerides were good, having a high LDL could mean that she has “familial hypercholesterolemia” (FH) which means she could have inherited the gene for high cholesterol.

flat lay photography of vegetable salad on plate

Photo by Ella Olsson on

To help reduce Sheila’s bad cholesterol, the dietician recommended Sheila consider adding the following to her lifestyle approach to managing her cholesterol:

  • Follow the Meditteranean diet.
  • Eat three meals a week without any animal products.
  • Make her own salad dressing because sometimes store-bought dressings contain oils that contain saturated or trans fats.
  • Eat more nuts in her diet (on salads, in yogurt). This includes almonds, hemp, flaxseed or chia.
  • Increase cardio exercise by hitting her “target heart rate” for 15 minutes twice-weekly (aka High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT).

Sheila learned that her practice of “counting steps” is good, however, it is individual for each person. Sheila’s job keeps her on her feet and it is not uncommon for her to reach 10,000 steps a day. However, for heart health, it is important to add in some cardio activity. When the blood pumps through the arteries due to exertion, this creates a “blood-plumbing” effect which can help clean out the arteries, leaving less opportunity for clogs.

Surprisingly, the dietician told Sheila it’s okay to eat eggs, they are not the culprit for causing high cholesterol. Also, she notes that eating loads of refined sugar is the new smoking.

Sheila left the dietician’s office feeling very happy and encouraged, considering two weeks prior she was feeling so defeated. She is well-aware that for some people, no matter what they do, they may still need to go on medications. She is planning on going to the Lipid Clinic as well, so as she says, “Stay tuned.”

For reference, here are what the lipid profile targets are for a 55-year-old female after fasting for 12 hours (may be different for gender and age):

Cholesterol (Total): <5.0 mmol/L

Triglycerides (fasting): <1.7 mmol/L

HDL Cholesterol: >1.3 mmol/L

LDL Cholesterol: <3.5 mmol/L

Non-HDL Cholesterol: <4.3 mmol/L

For more information on how to manage high blood cholesterol, check out this article called High Cholesterol from the Mayo Clinic.

Check out the Heart and Stroke Association’s booklet on How to Manage Your Cholesterol.

I strongly urge you to get your blood cholesterol levels checked (“Lipid Profile”) and to work with your healthcare team to help reduce your risk of heart disease. 












Integrative Medicine – The “Best of Both Worlds”

Angelas quote on sharons photo 2

Integrative Medicine and Cancer


It’s been one year since the release of my latest book, “Cancer Up the Wazoo”  and to celebrate I am offering another chapter for free! Chapter 17 is about my beliefs and experiences with “integrative medicine.”

Check out the PDF “Integrative Medicine” on how complementary therapies combined with conventional treatment can help provide the best treatment for a diagnosis of cancer.

(The other chapter I offer for free is on Anal Cancer Basics.)

Cancer Up the Wazoo

If you would like to read the rest of the book, it is available on Amazon.


Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Life with an Old Dog


Rocky the Cockapoo (14 years)

Rocky, a cockapoo, joined our family 14 years ago. His mom was a black cocker spaniel and his dad was a miniature white poodle. His black eye made him stand out in a litter of 6 puppies. Most of his black hairs have turned grey. His fur is now wiry (it used to be baby-hair soft). Considered a member of our family, he was a great addition for us with his sweet, intelligent and obedient personality.

Over the last year or two, we have seen many changes. These changes became more noticeable when we got our new puppy, Berkeley, a Havanese. The differences between a younger dog and an older dog were quite striking. As anyone who has had a dog for a few years knows, these changes come on slowly. So, having a younger dog around really made them noticeable.

Rocky is considered a “senior” and as a medium-sized dog, his life span is expected to be between 14-16 years. He is showing signs of growing old and as an aging specialist (in humans), I see how time has affected him. I have never had a dog that lived to a natural old age, so this is my first experience with seeing it first hand.

The signs of aging for Rocky have been:

Decreased hearing (he has had many ear infections over the years, so I suspect this has contributed to his deafness). He can still hear loud claps and whistles, or other loud noises like his sister Berkeley barking right beside him. We have learned to use hand gestures and touches on his butt area or head to help guide him to where we want him to go. On runs with Cupp (his “dad”), he has to be on a leash now, as it is difficult to get his attention as he likes to wander off to sniff or go pee/poo.

Decreased eyesight. The vet said about a year ago that he was developing cataracts. This is very common in humans, too. We notice he can’t see that rabbit on the lawn as quickly as he used to. Or he may miss that treat that fell on the floor (his sister Berkeley is quicker to snatch it up so we have to watch that!)


Rocky (right) wearing his belly band

Urinary incontinence. Rocky started having “accidents” and I looked up to see what “doggy diapers” there were. I learned about belly bands for male dogs and bought some for him (“Teamoy” brand on Amazon). We keep this on him most of the time, especially when he is sleeping. I observed that his accidents happened usually while he was sleeping. In humans, we call it “nocturnal enuresis.” The absorbent washable fabric band has velcro and goes around his waist area. I put a feminine napkin inside to catch the bulk of the liquid. He doesn’t mind wearing them and it is working out quite well. It took us some getting used to, as we would forget he was wearing the diaper and he would go outside with it on. He would go pee with it on! Our bad. 

Coordination issues. Sometimes I will notice him stumble a bit, especially on stairs. He is more cautious now before he tries to climb up on things. His back end kind of “drags.” He takes a little more time getting around.

Prefers soft, canned dog food. We noticed he wasn’t eating his hard kibble, so we added some soft food to his kibble. This is more appealing to him, and we can get him to eat a lot more than if we hadn’t added the soft food to it. (His teeth are still good as far as we know. Many older dogs have issues with gums and teeth.)


Rocky under my feet while I brush my teeth.

Anxiety. Rocky has been showing signs of anxiety, especially in the mornings. On bad days, he will tremble, pant and shadow me (stay really close). I suspect he feels “out-of-sorts” with his declining senses (decreased hearing and vision) and he is very attached to me. He may sense that I am getting ready to go to work, therefore leaving him behind to fend for himself. I have been giving him 10:10 cannabis oil (THC/CBD) and a very small amount has been helping him settle. Marijuana can help people in many ways and it’s not just for “getting high.” I thought I’d give it a try and when I notice him having an “anxiety attack within”, I give him a very small dose of 10:10 and within 30-45 minutes, he is resting comfortably. This effect lasts about 3-4 hours. We may continue with this solution, or I may end up getting him a prescription for an anti-anxiety pill or something similar from the vet.

Growths, lumps, bumps, and warts. Rocky has many little sores and bumps all over his body. The vet said some of it could be cancer. He likes to lick these areas and we have tried using creams and ointments but he just licks it off. We could use a cone, but that seems to be a moot point because I believe these abnormalities on his skin aren’t going to heal. I suspect many more skin issues are to come. We try to gently redirect him from licking and it usually works.

IMG_1664Sleeping a lot. Rocky rarely plays with his toys anymore and tends to sleep a lot. He still enjoys walks and “running” beside Cupp when he is on his bike. When we are chilling, he prefers to be right beside me and part of his body cuddled up against us. He never used to be a cuddler, but now he enjoys touch more than ever. He will not sleep at night if he is not on our bed. I always said I didn’t want my dog sleeping on my bed, but he gets very anxious if he is not near us.

Shadowing me. Whenever I get up, Rocky gets up. He is usually right underfoot, and I am afraid I will kick him or trip over him. He seems to need the reassurance of having someone else be his eyes and ears for him. This is probably related to increased feelings of anxiety.

“Doggy dementia moments.” Sometimes Rocky will do strange things, like stand in the bathroom behind the door (lost perhaps?) or scratch on a door that is already open. One time he was staring at a bedroom dresser. Some days he is “off” and more confused than other days.

Like humans, dogs need love, affection, attention, and activity no matter what their age. Old dogs need an increased level of it and some extra patience. Special needs will arise, and it’s important to pay attention to these needs to help your little buddy have a good quality of life in his or her golden years.

Please share your experiences about living with, and loving, an old dog.

Angela G. Gentile




Intermittent Fasting Information Session



Please join me (Angela G. Gentile) at Village Chiropractic in Winnipeg (482 River Avenue) on Friday, April 26, 2019; 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm. I will be presenting an education session on “Intermittent Fasting for Health & Weight Management.” I’ve been practicing an IF lifestyle since December 26, 2018 and I haven’t looked back. I am excited to share what I have learned and I am looking forward to answering any questions you may have.

Please register soon – it’s FREE and spots are limited!


Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

My 72-Hour Fasting Experience, Part 3


7:30 am. Half-way (36 hours) into my fast, I woke up after having a bad dream. I dreamed I was being chased by a large, vicious, hungry lion! I haven’t remembered my dreams that vividly for a long time. I was in some sort of building, a school perhaps, and I heard a loud rustling noise. My intuition told me danger was lurking. As the noise got closer, I saw the lion coming around the corner! I ran into a room and locked the door. That’s when I woke up. (Maybe it was all that thinking about hungry animals yesterday that brought it on!)


I felt noticeably “lighter” this morning, so I stepped on the scale. I lost three pounds! Now going from 163 to 160 isn’t a lot when you look at the bigger picture, but wow, it’s interesting how lighter one can feel after not eating for 36 hours!

My energy is still good. I have a slight little nagging headache, but that will soon pass once I have my green tea and some Himalayan pink salts (I hope!). (See the screenshot above of the app I am using, it’s called LIFE.)

I will be working today so I will be kept busy.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW



Puzzle-Time Challenges


When making a puzzle, one doesn’t usually think about how many challenges will have to be overcome. Well, we had our challenges with this one. This beautiful “Bull Moose” artwork by Robert Bateman had been chopped into 500 little puzzle pieces. I had been keeping it safe in my closet for a number of years, waiting for the right moment to put it all together.

My son Lorenzo pulled it out of the closet and said he’d like to complete the puzzle with us (my husband Cupp and I). The guys said, “We can finish this in a couple of hours, no problem!” I had my doubts. I hadn’t done a big puzzle like this for years. I remember them taking hours or days to complete. Puzzle-making is fun and relaxing. We would work as a team!

I cleared off the kitchen table. We got at it and found the light that was shining down over the kitchen table was too bright, so we had to find something to filter the glare bouncing off the pieces. I tried a pink sunbrella, but the pink tinge over the puzzle made it to hard to see. I tried another one,  but it was orange –– same problem. We thought something white would be best, so I found a white sheet. That worked fine, but the sheet wrapped around the light looked quite strange!

We ate a couple of snacks, and I had a big glass of water. Finding pieces that fit together was a bit of a challenge. We started with the border. We looked for the pieces with the flat sides. Sometimes it seemed like forever before we found pieces that fit together. One time when I found a good fit, I declared, “Win!” That became our signal when something fit.

Unfortunately, I knocked my glass of water over onto the puzzle! Now we had water all over the pieces. We had to quickly sop up the mess. Then we noticed as the water penetrated into some of the pieces they started to come apart. Oh no! Now we needed to glue some of them back together. This wasn’t going very well.

The puzzle-making adventure seemed to be going slower than we had anticipated. I was getting a bit tired of it all and went to sit down on the couch. I noticed our pup Berkeley chewing on something. I got closer to her, and realized it was a piece of the puzzle! Oh no! Now we have some pieces that need to be glued together AND a piece that is chewed. This is getting a bit ridiculous!

A half-hour later, Cupp told me “We are getting close to the end, you may want to come and help us finish it up!” I went over to see how far they had gotten, and I noticed there was a piece missing from the moose’s nose. I scanned the table looking for it. I couldn’t see it anywhere. I told them “We won’t be able to finish this puzzle if we don’t find this missing piece.” We figured it may have fallen onto the floor. I got down on my hands and knees, using the light from my cell phone, and I couldn’t see it anywhere. I started to worry that perhaps Berkeley ate it. I started looking in places she may have brought it, like her bed or her favourite carpeted area, and nope. Not there. I said, “Maybe it’s still in the bag.” So, I dug into the garbage and checked the bag. Nope, not there. Now I am convinced that Berkeley ate it. Oh no! Now we have an incomplete puzzle with pieces that need to be glued together and a piece that is chewed!

I eventually went to bed and woke up in the morning to find the puzzle done, with the glued pieces, the chewed piece, and the missing piece. It was a puzzle-making activity that didn’t quite go the way we had planned. It was fun, nonetheless!

Angela G. Gentile



“Improving Your Memory” –– A Great Handbook for Those Concerned About Memory Changes (Book Review)

What do you get when two clinical social workers who work in a geriatric centre write a handbook on how to improve your memory skills? A fine little guide for helping older people who are concerned about the changes in their memory!

Janet Fogler and Lynn Stern team up in “Improving Your Memory: How to Remember What You’re Starting to Forget” (2014) in this fourth edition. Originally published in 1988, these social workers have created the book that I have been looking for. In this fourth edition, they have included the smartphone and other technologies that are helpful to us as we manage our daily tasks and are challenged by our aging minds and bodies.

The paperback (168 pages) is medium-sized and is packed with real-life stories and examples to help the reader understand the concepts. There are also quizzes throughout to help the reader apply the knowledge learned (to help one remember!). It is divided into four parts:

  1. How memory works
  2. How memory changes as we age
  3. Factors that affect memory
  4. Techniques for improving your memory

I cracked open the book and dived into section four, as I was eager to see what techniques the authors were recommending. They offered some great ideas, and even ones I had not heard of before. One of them had to do with switching your ring or watch to your other hand or wrist, as an indicator that you had something to remember. It is much like the classic “tying a string around your finger” trick. I found some of the mental exercises fun and a little tricky, and I enjoyed trying out some new skills to help me remember things. The one example for myself that comes to mind is when I am attending an appointment and I have to park in a large parkade. I will use an “active observation” technique so I won’t forget where I left the car!

The first three parts of the book are very easy to understand and come with an illustration of “A Model For How Memory Works.” For us visual learners, these kinds of diagrams are helpful. Encoding (getting something to stick) and retrieval (being able to recall something) can become a little more difficult as we get older, for a variety of reasons. The authors explain, in simple language, why these things happen and how we can try to combat them. Whether our forgetfulness is due to stress, grief, depression, poor concentration, medications, or illness, memory problems can cause added stressors. The authors give some good advice in the appendix on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias; “What is good for your heart is also good for your brain, so monitoring heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol is important” (page 142).

I was surprised to learn the book doesn’t talk about “mild cognitive impairment” and the prevalence rates of Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias. Knowing that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease increases with age is important to know, but not knowing the level of risk does not allay any fears or concerns one may have. (The World Health Organization estimates, of those 60 and over, 5 to 8 people per 100 will develop dementia.)

I also noticed the absence of the terms “mindfulness” and “meditation,” as those two terms are used quite often in most of the current brain health literature I have been reading. Fogler and Stern mention how alcohol can negatively affect your memory, but they omitted any mention of drugs. Interestingly the nutrition section has no reference to supplements. I also observed God, higher power, and spirituality are not discussed.

Overall, a highly recommended guide and workbook for those who want to learn about: how the brain stores and retrieves information (in our “working” and “long-term” memory); what happens to the aging brain; what may cause memory problems; and tips and techniques on how to maximize your chances of remembering things. I’ll leave you with these two tips: “Much of what is called ‘forgetting’ is a lack of paying attention” (p. 137); and “Study after study shows that increased fitness levels result in improvement on cognitive tests” (p. 64).

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW
Author/Specialist in Aging

“Brain Rules for Aging Well” Misses the Mark – Book Review


Dr. John Medina’s book, “Brain Rules for Aging Well: 10 Principles for Staying Vital, Happy, and Sharp” (2017), disappointed me. Perhaps I had high expectations as I was impressed with his first book “Brain Rules.” He has labeled himself the “grumpy neuroscientist” and his writing in this book shows. The hefty price of the hardcover ($36.99 CAD) made me believe that the information contained within must be good. As a specialist in aging, and someone who is very interested in the concept of “aging well,” I had to take a look.

I was encouraged by most of the reviews that this book was full of useful and helpful strategies to help one age well. As I dug in, I quickly realized that the book’s premise was inspired by the findings of an experiment from 1979 known as the “counterclockwise study” (Langer).  This was a very small study based on the experience of eight seventy-year-old men who were “stereotypically old.” For one week they were subjected to a time warp –– and lived as if it were 1959. After being immersed in the happy days of old, they came out seemingly younger –– happy with improved postures, hearing, and vision. Their hand grips strengthened and they moved with improved ease. As a woman in my fifties, I started to doubt how this book could adequately cover the topic of aging well – and my doubts were confirmed.

The book is divided into four sections, with the proposed “10 Brain Rules for Aging Well” which Medina starts and ends with as the guiding principles. Parts called Social Brain, Thinking Brain, Body and Brain, and Future Brain with a handy index at the end comprises the layout of the book. He refers to many scientific studies and other resources, and he directs us to “Extensive, notated citations at” I found this style of referencing quite odd, and it was difficult to find what I was looking for. When I sit down to read a book, I don’t want to have to go to the internet to find the references. Also, the way the references are listed doesn’t make it easy to find what you are looking for.

I found myself bored with all the scientific jargon and his stories to help explain some of the complicated workings of the brain didn’t hit the mark. I ended up skim reading through quite a bit. Some of his aging well advice, such as engaging in friendly arguments and playing certain video games were quite surprising to me. I have yet to understand how a specialist in brain research would suggest arguing with people and playing video games as part of a good plan for overall brain health.

I liked the summaries at the end of each chapter. Medina’s advice about exercise, healthy diet, friendships and “say no to retirement” were well-taken. I found the discussion on the updated term “working memory” for the outdated term “short-term memory” interesting.  The personal stories he shares were endearing, especially the one about nostalgia, reminiscing and the “our song” syndrome he and his wife share.

The book was apparently well-proofed and edited (as Medina notes in his acknowledgments); however, I found two glaringly obvious errors. The first was on page 104, where Medina mistakenly tells us that reading from books 3.5 hours a DAY will help reduce our risk of dying by a certain age when compared to those who didn’t. In actuality, the research states it is a 30-minutes-a-day activity, which translates into 3.5 hours WEEKLY.

The second error, which I was astonished by (as an author and editor myself), was on page 164. Medina was talking about research on exercise done with people with limited mobility. He said that the participants were “assessed by a test called” and there was a blank space after that. The next paragraph started with a period. Perhaps that was the period that he deliberately omitted back in the introduction on page 7? I’d be pretty ticked if I were Medina, knowing this one slipped by all the reviewers.

I believe this was a good attempt by Medina to write a book on Aging Well; however, his dated references to works from 30-40 years ago (e.g., Hauri’s book No More Sleepless Nights, and the movie Cocoon) made me less confident in thinking he was using fresh and current research. This book was a good attempt at starting the conversation about brain health and aging well, but I think he has a lot more reading and researching to do on the subject. One last thought –– I wish he’d avoid using the term “elderly.” That’s a term we are getting away from in the aging well literature when discussing older adults. I believe mainstream media is also moving away from using that term.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW







Memory Rescue by Dr. Daniel Amen (2017) – Book Review



I am a geriatric mental health clinician, and frequently I am asked: “How can I improve my memory skills?” The usual recommendations from doctors are, “Exercise and learn new things.” I have been on a quest to find some other tips and tools that people can use to help improve or maintain their brain and memory functions as they age. This need has led me to try to find the perfect book to recommend to those who are looking for more information. “Memory Rescue” has some useful information but it’s not the book I was looking for.

I purchased a copy (Amazon) of psychiatrist Dr. Amen’s book “Memory Rescue: Supercharge your brain, reverse memory loss, and remember what matters most” which has a second subtitle, “The official program of the Amen Clinics.” The Amen Clinics are found all over the USA, and the services and programs offered there are to help people with various mental health and brain health concerns (such as memory loss, ADD, and traumatic brain injury).

This book starts out with 20 testimonials and reviews which is very impressive until I realized they were all from men. The male-dominated view about memory problems and the Amen Clinic program was very strong. The only female presence I felt was from Dr. Amen’s wife, Tana, which was very sparse. There were also a handful of case studies that were about females. As a woman reader and professional, I wish there had been a more balanced perspective.

The overall takeaway of this book, for me, was that this was a big advertisement for his Memory Rescue Program that he offers through his Amen Clinics and the website. There were case examples of how his clinics help people, and there were lots of “SPECT” (single photon emission computed tomography) scan photos to “prove” it. Even after looking at numerous SPECT images, I still wasn’t 100% sure what I was looking for. I felt these images were a bit overkill.

Here in Canada, we don’t have access to Amen Clinics, and SPECT scans are reserved for those exceptional cases (which I am still not sure what those cases are.) We tend to favour CT, MRI and PET scans.

Ultimately I was looking for concrete tips on “how to improve memory skills” and “how to improve memory problems.” Amen’s program is intended to enhance your mood and memory skills using the BRIGHT MINDS risk factor approach, with each letter standing for a component of the “ultimate memory formula.” Blood Flow, Retirement and Aging, Inflammation, Genetics, Head Trauma, Toxins, Mental Health, Immunity/Infection Issues, Neurohormone Deficiencies, Diabesity, and Sleep Issues. There was quite a lot of repetition throughout the book, with the main recommendations being: Exercise, Nutrition, Nutraceuticals (and supplements).

On pages 28-30, you can take the “Amen Clinics’ Early Warning Signs Questionnaire.” Your score will provide you with a risk of “significant memory issues,” from low to high. Amen states, if you are at moderate to high risk, it is important to get a thorough medical evaluation.

This book brought up some new terms and concerns. Those including my need for nutraceuticals (which Amen sells on his BrainMD website), getting tested for the APOE gene (related to Alzheimer’s disease), an integrative medicine doctor (but doesn’t say where I can find one). He was heavy on the recommendation of Gingko Biloba (a natural supplement that has limited research evidence to help prevent memory problems, see GEM study). He was anti-marijuana use and wasn’t that clear on what the recommendation was for alcohol use (was it 2-4 servings a week or only 2?).  He suggests coconut oil is good for our brains, but I have read that it is not good for our bodies. There is a lot of reference to the Memory Rescue Diet, but it is not discussed until chapter 16. There are a lot of references to the Bible, which surprised me. He also suggested that “praying to release your worries and to rejoice over the good things around you can help reduce your risk of mental health problems” (p. 337).

Ultimately, as I mentioned earlier, I was looking for specific tips and techniques to help people improve their memory skills. The most helpful part of the book in this regard is found in Chapter 17 “Sharpen Your Memory––Brain Workouts for a Richer Life.” He provides a lot of suggestions of what activities can help strengthen the different areas of the brain such as playing Scrabble, completing crossword puzzles, and learning to play a new musical instrument. He suggests engaging in “map reading” without a GPS device. He’s a big fan of table tennis and other coordination activities, such as dancing, yoga, and tai chi. He says we should travel to new and interesting places and develop relationships with smart people. Music, especially classical, can enhance memory and cognitive function. Surprisingly, I didn’t find the instruction to “pay attention” to what we are doing, which I believe is an essential tip for being able to remember things in the first place. He doesn’t speak to word-finding difficulties, either, which is one thing a lot of older folks are initially concerned about.

The book is well-referenced, and he claims to walk the talk. The index is sub-par, and it could have been enhanced to make finding things a lot easier to find. Some of the reviews online of Amen Clinics state it is a very costly program. There is no mention of costs, but there is mention that the process of improving cognition or mental health often takes months. It’s assumed the program costs thousands of dollars. The online program also has a cost, a yearly fee of USD 99. There are some free Brain Assessments (which I completed) which can help one decide on the level of risk one is at. If someone already has memory impairment, a caregiver or loved one will need to read this book as it tends to have some jargon and technical language, and there is lots to read and learn about.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Amen Clinic Memory Rescue Program. For specific information on brain health and tips for improving memory skills, Chapter 17 is where you want to start. If you believe in God or a higher power, this will also confirm your faith in how prayer and scripture can support your mental health. The book is somewhat repetitive, however, it drives home the main message––that having a healthy body means better chances for a healthy brain.

I’ll leave you with this: Amen provides hope––“Yet new research suggests that a ‘memory rescue’ program, like the one presented in this book, can dramatically improve memory and can prevent and sometimes even reverse some forms of dementia. Given how most doctors approach this issue, however, you cannot count on traditional medicine to rescue your memory.” (p. 4).

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW (Specialist in Aging)