Three years ago, filmmaker Max Lugavere’s mom started showing signs of dementia at age 59. And when he began looking for answers to the question anyone would ask—”why?”—it lead him to an unlikely source: the breadbox.
Fast-forward to today, and Lugavere, 32-years-old, just wrapped a Kickstarter campaign for his forthcoming documentary, Bread Head, which he hopes will get young people to pay attention to lifestyle practices that can help prevent Alzheimer’s, a disease not often on a 20-something’s radar until it’s way too late.
Evidence of his drive and potential for success? The campaign raised $130,880 with a $75,000 goal.
“You’re never too young or too old to start thinking about minimizing your risk for Alzheimer’s,” Lugavere says. “My point is not to say bread is responsible for Alzheimer’s. It’s that things like whole wheat bread, which is a highly processed food, are masquerading as health foods. I’m not saying that gluten is a smoking gun, but it has an affect on gut health and therefore brain health, and it’s things like this we need to pay attention to.”
The film comes at a time when the topic seems to be on everyone’s, well, minds, with Grain Brain as a recent national bestseller and top author-MDs like Dr. Drew Ramsey preaching about the connection between diet and brainpower.
We caught up with Lugavere to find out more about film, and what to expect when it debuts (most likely at festivals at the end of the year).
1. How did you first start down this path of research? I thought you inherited Alzheimer’s or it was a genetic Russian roulette. Some people got it and some didn’t, but that’s not the case. My mom is young. She was 59 when this all started, and she’s 62 now. I started looking at her environment, lifestyle, and diet. My mom was always “health conscious.” She tried to adhere to the guidelines. But at 59 she suddenly started showing these symptoms…
2. Is that what made you focus on the connection between Alzheimer’s and what you eat? I’m a big nutrition junkie. We have a much larger interaction [with the environment] through our gut than with our skin. So I started looking at diet. And there are profound impacts on brain health. What you eat weighs very heavily on the health of the brain.
3. Are there other causes of Alzheimer’s you plan to explore? Absolutely. One thing profoundly important is sleep. Your brain is cleaning itself during sleep of the plaque that ultimately causes Alzheimer’s. So even losing 30 minutes of sleep per day can be detrimental. We’re looking at all ways to optimize brain health.
4. What are some misconceptions about Alzheimer’s that you plan to clear up? That it’s a disease of the old. Many people are not old when they get symptoms. Also that it’s not a hereditary disease. There’s a rare form that’s hereditary, which was portrayed in Still Alice. But genes are not your destiny. It’s time to awaken people to the idea and wonder that is their own biology.
5. What does your mom think of all of this? She loves it. She keeps saying she’s going to be a movie star. She’s super into it, and she’s doing well. She’s always been my biggest supporter. —Jamie McKillop
For more information and to donate to the film, visit www.breadheadmovie.com
(Photos: Bread Head)