The Bottom Line
- Explains genetic risk factors in a clear, straightforward fashion
- Provides useful tips and strategies for reducing Alzheimer's risk
- Covers a range of diseases instead of specifically addressing Alzheimer's
- Published 2007; Penscott Medical Corporation.
- 421 pages, including sample exercise plans, menus, and recipes
- Appendix C provides instructions for pursuing anonymous ApoE genetic testing.
Guide Review - The ApoE Gene Diet -- A Handbook for Tailoring our Lifestyle to our Genes
In "The ApoE Gene Diet," McDonald explains that we each carry one of six combinations of the ApoE gene: 2/2, 2/3, 3/3, 4/2, 4/3, or 4/4. Which combination we carry affects how our body processes food and reacts to the environment, she says, creating unique risk profiles for different diseases.
Here's what I found most startling in the book: Only 5% of the population has the ApoE 4/4 combination, but those who do have a 90% chance of developing Alzheimer's if they don't engage in a "gene-supportive" lifestyle. Only 20% of us have ApoE 4/3 or 4/2, but those who do have a 49% chance of developing the disease without a gene-supportive lifestyle.
A gene-supportive lifestyle is a combination of smart choices about diet, exercise, stress management, and other factors. McDonald points out that there are people with ApoE 4/4 who don't develop Alzheimer's; there are also people with less risky ApoE combinations who do get Alzheimer's. Clearly, both genes and environment are at play.
Genetic testing isn't for everyone, and McDonald doesn't try to convince everyone to do it. She provides risk reduction tips that anyone can employ. She also shares specific diets for each ApoE combination for those who do get tested, cautioning that these should only be followed by those who know their ApoE status.
I was impressed with this book. It doesn't focus solely on Alzheimer's, but it can't hurt to learn about other ApoE-related diseases. McDonald hits upon what may be a major focus of medicine in the future -- tailoring our lifestyles to our bodies' own genes.