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Judy Foreman: With ‘The Memory Diet,’ Judi and Shari Zucker Have a Personal Stake

Mindful of their mom’s plight, ‘Double-Energy Twins’ explore ways diet can help those with dementia

In their new book, The Memory Diet, Judi, left, and Shari Zucker take a hard look at dementia and other memory-related conditions. “You only have one body in this life, so take care of it,” they advise. “Then it will take care of you when you get older.” Click to view larger
In their new book, The Memory Diet, Judi, left, and Shari Zucker take a hard look at dementia and other memory-related conditions. “You only have one body in this life, so take care of it,” they advise. “Then it will take care of you when you get older.” (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo via iPhone)

What better place to hear about Judi and Shari Zucker’s latest plant-based food guide, The Memory Diet, than the kitchen at Shari’s house in Montecito?

One thing I know for sure when I hang out with these twin sisters and best friends is that I’ll get to eat something delicious and healthy, learn something new and have a lot of fun.

I’ve featured the pair in previous columns, but for those Noozhawk readers just getting introduced to the Zuckers, nicknamed “The Double-Energy Twins” by their dad, the 54-year-olds have the expertise to back up their health-conscious lifestyle eating guides.

Both are graduates of UC Santa Barbara with degrees in ergonomics, which is the study of physical education, nutrition and physiology. They started writing their first books on nutrition at age 16, and have been on a plant-based diet since they ran track at Beverly Hills High School.

Passionate about good food, social interaction and staying healthy, the two wives and moms (who have five children between them) are often seen swimming laps in the early a.m. at the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club and on their afternoon walks around Montecito, their blond ponytails swinging with every stride.

In addition to The Memory Diet, they’ve published six best-selling health books on plant-based eating and allergies, and are regular guests on local and national television shows, including Today.

Currently, they’re tackling perhaps their most personal project to date. The Memory Diet is dedicated to their mother, Devra, who has dementia.

They based the book in part on exhaustive research on the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) through Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The study concluded that the MIND diet might reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53 percent.

“With over 47 million people suffering from dementia, and no known cure at this time, The Memory Diet is a relevant guidebook that also benefits diabetics, vegans and anyone who wants to eat healthier, and those preventing or recovering from cancer,” Judi said. 

While not cured, “our mom is more alert,” say the sisters after they replaced her processed foods with increased amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Memory Diet helpfully includes 150 easy-to-follow recipes that are sugar-free, plant-based and taste good, too.

I recently sat down with my advanced copy of the book and, instead of going right to the recipes, I read the extensive forward, preface and well-documented introduction. It was a bit sobering but well worth it.

As a baby boomer myself, the predictions for the number of people who will have memory issues and some form of dementia are staggering and scary. I love the idea that there are easy things we can do to improve our chances in the fight. It got me motivated to get out of my comfort zone and go grocery shopping with the book.

While the Zuckers remain strict vegans, they do understand that proteins in the form of fish and chicken are a part of many people’s diets — but they don’t include any recipes that include animal protein.

Both feel passionate about the real culprits in the increase in the dementia population; smoking, large amounts of alcohol, charred red meat, lack of exercise and lack of social interaction. Their 88-year-old dad is a great example of someone who has taken to heart life-long social interaction and a diet that includes ... lots of onions — which remain a mystery to the daughters.

“We love to eat but treasure our bodies,” Shari said.

It’s great to look good but their advice was to me, their family, friends and readers was more important: “You only have one body in this life, so take care of it. Then it will take care of you when you get older.”

The Memory Diet will be released May 23 and will be available at Tecolote Book Shop, 1470 East Valley Road in Montecito’s Upper Village, and through Amazon.com. The authors are holding a book signing at 7 p.m. May 25 at Chaucer’s Bookstore, 3321 State St. in Santa Barbara.

— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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