Month 4 Installment

So people wanted to know if I had cake on my birthday. Well, I didn’t but I savored every drop of wine in my glass at the last restaurant that we ventured out to before shelter in place.  Almost at the 4-month mark now, I wanted to update you on my 3-month benchmark appointment with another round of cognitive testing to check progress.

The results were remarkable!

In Dec. of 2019 for my baseline testing, I came out positive for mild cognitive decline in both the Mocha 19 and the CNS test. These are standardized tests that quantify cognition. What is encouraging to me is that I improved in 3 months’ time with brain training, exercise, diet, mindfulness, and supplementation to the point where I no longer am in the range of mild cognitive decline. If I had these results in December at baseline I would not have been accepted into the study. The clinical team is very encouraged and excited at my progress.

Someone asked me what my doctor thought about the recent study showing bone loss with race walkers on the keto diet.

Here’s the doctor’s response:

  • We don’t know what kind of ketogenic diet the participants were on. In our study, we are encouraged to do a more plant-based keto diet.
  • The study didn’t actually measure bone loss. They did not look at the participants’ Dexa results before and after. They used just a blood marker which doesn’t measure the actual change in bone.
  • The study was short term, just a few weeks, so it’s difficult to assess the effects of a keto diet on bone, longer-term.  Clearly more research is warranted.

 

Gems to Share

  • Eating mushrooms is good for the immune system and the brain.
  • A recent study showed that people who consumed more than two standard portions of mushrooms weekly may have 50 percent reduced odds of having mild cognitive impairment. My nutritionist told me any mushrooms are good but Portabello and Lion’s Mane mushrooms are best for the brain while Shitake and Mytaki mushrooms are excellent for the immune system.    I’ve since added mushrooms to my veggie omelets a few times a week.
  • The “Ketoterrian” cookbook is the closest to what we’re trying to do by Will Cole. It’s a mostly plant-based cookbook. Here’s the Amazon link if you’re interested.
  • When this study is over, I plan to start a program of carb cycling, which is being keto for a week or so, then allowing more higher carbs for a day then repeating that cycle. There are two things I’ve noted that influence my decision.
    • There are no long-term studies for being on a keto diet. We don’t know how the body, in general, will react over several years.
    • The second thing I’ve realized is that people in the Blue Zones, those who live very long healthy lives, include beans in their diet so as a Puerto Rican, that makes me very happy. Beans and brown rice will definitely picture into my carb cycling.
    • For the sake of the study though I’m sticking with the guidelines for the 9-month duration.

This is my clinical study general recommended workout regimen

  • Strength training minimum 3x week (I do Pilates and when the Y is open, I add weights)
  • Aerobic 6 days/week  (walk, run, hike)
  • (minimum of ½ hr of each of the above)
  • HIIT (high-intensity interval training) 2x week (I’m teaching this in my Friday noon virtual online Quarantine class!)

My doctor recommends the following for just about everyone as baseline support.

  • Fish Oil, Vit D and B Complex.  No matter how good our diet is, it’s difficult to get all the nutrients we need from our food. She also has me on, among other supplements,  Curcumin and Avmacol which have bone saving effects.

 

Anti-Aging Asparagus Soup Recipe

Thanks to my clinical study nutritionist for sharing this delicious, hearty keto-friendly recipe with me.  I love soup and this soup makes an excellent meal all on its own thanks to healthy fats from coconut milk, protein from healing collagen powder, and phytonutrients from asparagus, leeks, and garlic. Those benefits also make it a great way to fight the aging process and support a resilient body.  Recipe serves 4, Cook time 20 min.

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • 1/4 cup of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 3 TBS avocado oil
  • 1 medium white onion finely diced
  • 2 TBS grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 1/2 large leeks chopped (my first time cooking w/leeks!)
  • 3 TBS coconut aminos (this is a liquid in a small bottle you can find at Trader Joes or Whole Foods)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 scoops (about 1/4 cup) collagen powder (optional, not vegan friendly)
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Cut 4 of the asparagus spears into thirds and set aside for garnish. Roughly chop the remaining spears.
  2. Heat a medium saute’ pan over medium-high heat.  Add the pepitas and continuously stir and shake until the seeds are fragrant and toasted, for about 5 min. Remove from heat and set aside (I skipped these, my nutritionist just adds them to the blender at the blending point of the recipe)
  3. Heat the 3 Tbs avocado oil in a large pot over medium heat until simmering.  Add the onion and saute’ for 5 min.  Add the ginger, leeks, and coconut aminos, stir well and cook down for 5 min.  Add the chopped asparagus, broth, paprika, garlic powder, and salt and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and add the lemon zest and coconut milk.
  4. Remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool for several minutes. Pour into a blender, add the collagen powder (if using) and blend until smooth.
  5. Heat a little avocado oil in a small saute’ pan and add the reserved asparagus spears and lightly saute’ until tender, about 3 min.
  6. Divide into bowls and place pieces of the sauteed asparagus in the center of each bowl and sprinkle the toasted pepitas and freshly ground pepper.  Enjoy!

 

That’s it for now. I’ve been preoccupied, as most of us are, with staying safe and healthy in this age of COVID 19 prevention. Be well. Be safe. Be strong.   As always note your questions or comments below and/or email me.