Tag Archive for: Dementia

For those who have been following my blog posts/newsletters, you know that I just completed a ReCode (Reversal of Cognitive Decline) 10-month clinical trial. In this, my final blog post on this topic, I’ll summarize key points, answer most commonly asked questions and hopefully, there will be a nugget or two here that might help you.  The main purpose of the trial was to try and halt quantifiable cognitive decline and improve cognition.

 

This newest book by Dr. Dale Bredesen, The End of Alzheimer’s Program-The First Protocol to Enhance Cognition and Reverse Decline is updated, has clearer guidelines on the diet, and is easier to understand than his first book. I would recommend it. I just got it on kindle. His protocol is the one followed in the ReCode clinical trial that I was a part of.

 

 

Clinical Study Results:

I’ve experienced improvements in cognition, weight loss, sleep, gum health, and overall energy.

 

My Cognition Improved which was my main reason for joining this trial
The Recode protocol which includes a combination of a Ketogenic diet, Intermittent Fasting, exercise, nutritional and hormonal supplementation, brain training, getting adequate sleep, and mindfulness training has helped me to crawl out of cognitive decline.

  • Cognitive function tests (both the MoCA (Montreal Cognitive Assessment) and the CNS Vital Signs (Computerized Neurocognitive Assessment Software) have all markedly improved since baseline testing in December of 2019 to the point of testing “out of the range” of cognitive decline to normal levels.  I was in the range of “mild cognitive decline” for my initial testing.  These are excellent tests to do if you’re concerned for yourself or a loved one.

 

“What do I think has made the most difference?” 

Honestly, I believe it’s a combination of many factors including:

  • Improved quality and quantity of sleep (this was huge for me)
  • The addition of targeted supplementation based on my lab tests
  • Balancing my hormones
  • Intermittent fasting to boost ones’ metabolism, for healing, and for weight loss.  We had to make sure we didn’t eat for 3 hrs. before going to bed. Our goal in the study is 12-16 hours of fasting each day. That may sound draconian at first but it’s not that bad. If you have your last meal at 7 pm, you can eat 12 hrs. later at 7 am the following morning. It also helps with sleep as your overactive digestive system won’t wake you up.
  • Getting the junk out of my diet!
  • Consistent and varied exercise has been key including my Pilates, HIIT workouts 2x/week, dancing, and walking my pandemic puppy regularly.  I learned through my research that aerobic exercise is critical for brain health but there’s more.  Our ability to dual-task deteriorates with age. Dual-Task Training– combining cognitive activity with physical activity helps promote neuroplasticity!  This is something I incorporate regularly into the virtual standing/mat Quarantine classes that I teach. An example of this is the new warm-up series I created which links various movements together into a brain-building, memory reinforcing challenge.

“We assume, that physical exercise increases the potential for neurogenesis while cognitive exercise guides it to induce positive plastic change”
~ Bamidis et al, 2014

  • Online brain training because I’ve seen objective improvement particularly in my focus and processing speed.  Online Brain Training was one of my daily requirements as a study participant. The program we were using, HQ.com is the most scientifically validated program on the market. This is way beyond crossword puzzles in sophistication and effectiveness. The exercises get harder as you become more successful so it’s continually challenging your brain.  Check it out!  You can do it on your phone, iPad, or laptop.

 

Insider’s tip-my nutritionist told me BrainHQ.com tends to run a subscription discount around Thanksgiving weekend.

 

So can I point to one thing that helped the most?  No. That’s why the Recode Protocol is a multi-modal approach and why a single pill that has not in the past, and continues to not plug up all the problems that contribute to cognitive decline.

 

In addition to improved cognition, I lost considerable weight.

I lost 15 pounds on this protocol, with a noticeable improvement around my waistline. I’ve lost fat but not muscle as evidenced by the physical testing that I underwent at the beginning and end of the study and by Body Mass Index (BMI) testing on special equipment.  For me, I believe the aspects that contributed to weight loss were intermittent fasting (no nighttime snacking), no sugar, and the high fat/low carb ketogenic diet which includes no bread.  Exercise is also very important but I was doing that already. It was the food and fasting that were the new variables.

 

What else improved?  I’m Sleeping Better

Since I’ve been in this study my sleep has markedly improved.  I used to get up repeatedly to go to the bathroom and at times would have difficulty getting back to sleep. I now sleep through the night and when I do get up, I can fall right back asleep easily.  A light-blocking eye mask ($10 for three on Amazon) at night helped tremendously with my sleep.  I had to get beyond the fact that they look like training bras for the eyes but the comfort and effectiveness won out!

 

From my understanding, the following that I’m taking positively affects my sleep. Remember the recommendations may look very different for you and your body.

Over the counter supplements:

  • NeuroMag by Designs for Health 3 capsules at bedtime  (=144 mg magnesium)
  • Melatonin SRT by Designs for Health 1 tablet bedtime (6mg)

Prescription meds

  • Progesterone 200mg cap (Costco has it the cheapest)

 

What else got better?  Improved Gum Health

Dentalcidin toothpaste with Biocidin by Bio-Botanical Research 

This is the natural toothpaste that was provided for me to use for the entire clinical study. My dental hygienist asked me what I was doing differently as my gum health improved significantly. I told her about the study and apparently, the change in diet and toothpaste resulted in this improvement. Warning, this stuff is not cheap-about $30 for a month supply.

 

How will I proceed now that the study is over?

Though it’s technically over,  my doctor is continuing to refine certain aspects of my protocol including potencies of hormones, etc so I’m doing more blood testing in Nov. and Dec. so she can dial in the correct dosing.

I will continue with many of the supplements I’ve been taking, though thankfully we did discontinue or minimize some. I’m remaining on all 3 bioidentical hormones.

I know I said previously that I’d be adding A2 milk back into my diet, probably in the form of lattes.  I’ve since changed my mind. Amazingly I now find I prefer the flavor of the oat milk in my coffee to regular milk so I’m sticking with that. BTW, oat milk has 240 mg of Calcium per 8 oz serving.

I’ve found that this Califia brand Oat Barista Blend is the best for foaming milk for lattes.

I will be adding in cheese here and there which is technically within a keto diet but was not part of the clinical study guidelines.

I’ll be continuing with Infra-Red sauna but on an intermittent basis.  It was hard on my family for me to disappear so frequently in the evening to detox during the study. I have to juggle the needs of many.

I’m sticking with the Biocidin toothpaste for my gum health. I don’t mess with good results and people I’ve recommended it to have had similar positive gum effects.

Intermittent fasting will continue to factor into my wellness plan.

My go-to snacks are now Macadamia nuts, Trader Joe’s Mixed nut butter with Jicama sticks, or cauliflower florets.  Avocados with olive oil are my healthy fat of choice along with fish.  I regularly cook with avocado oil now as it doesn’t degrade at high heat.

I will continue to prioritize quantity and quality of sleep over late-night TV or getting more “work” done.  The positive effects have been far-reaching including more energy, focus, and clearer thinking.

Re: the Keto diet, there are no studies about the effects of being on a keto diet long term.  I don’t particularly want to stay on keto long term.  I’m interested in carb cycling and one option that was presented by my study nutritionist is keto for morning and afternoon and higher carb allowance for dinner. That’s what I’m doing presently.   I’ve added back in my Puerto Rican rice and beans-very happy about that I must say.  Have also reintroduced higher carb foods like bananas and sweet potatoes.

On the last day of my clinical study, my son surprised me after dinner with a slice of my favorite chocolate fudge cake with cream cheese icing. Hadn’t touched that for 10 months. Decadent, delicious and you know what, I don’t crave it anymore which I’m grateful for.  It used to be a weekly indulgence!

In full transparency-I still eat high cacao count chocolate (over 80%) not a lot, just enough to satisfy my chocolate craving.  I particularly like the brand Blanxart at 82% cacao. I purchase it at my local Zanatto’s market.  I also sneak in occasional spoonfuls of ice cream.  I’m not a saint!

 

Protocol for the Study for those interested in the details

As a ReCode (Reversal of Cognitive Decline) clinical study participant these were my requirements:

  • Adhere to a Ketogenic diet
  • Be gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, alcohol-free
  • Agree to undergo various genetic tests, as well as blood, poo, pee, MRI and everything in between.
  • Prick myself daily to check my ketone levels to ensure adherence to the diet.
  • Take bioidentical hormones (testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone)
  • Daily online brain training through BrainHQ.com
  • Daily mindfulness training-I’d wear a biofeedback gadget that tracked heart wave variability and coherence to teach you how to reduce stress and bring your brain, body, and emotions into balanced alignment.
  • Take a heck of a lot of supplements
  • Do intermittent fasting (fast for 12-16 hrs each day-starting from your last meal of the day till your first meal the following day)
  • Exercise daily
  • Monitor quality and quantity of healing sleep (I did this with a FitBit)
  • Sauna or hot yoga regularly (3-5x wk) for detoxification
  • Document everything I eat and my lifestyle activities in the clinical study binder
  • Consult with the clinical study nutritionist and the exercise coach along with the medical doctor

 

Some people have asked-Why a ketogenic diet?

Here are some of the benefits of Ketosis as quoted by Dr. Jockers from DrJockers.com

  1. Reduced inflammation
  2. Enhanced mitochondrial health
  3. Reduced oxidative stress
  4. Increased mental clarity
  5. Abundant energy levels
  6. Reduced cravings
  7. Accelerated fat burning and Weight Loss
  8. Improved insulin sensitivity
  9. Reduced risk of chronic disease
  10. Anti-aging effects

 

If you are interested in trying this protocol, I would start with Dr. Bredesen’s newest book mentioned above and I would do a google search for Bredesen-trained practitioners in your area.  Given the complexity of the program and the multitude of tests that need to be done and interpreted, it is not something you want to embark on without guidance.

 

With that said there are many aspects of the protocol that you could start right away, like diet, intermittent fasting, focus on exercise, brain training, and sleep.

 

 

Wherever you are in your cognitive journey and whatever your concerns are for your cognitive health, I wish you all the best.  Please comment, offer your suggestions, or post your questions below.  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

8th Installment

As most of you know, I’m part of a 9-month clinical trial to prevent or reverse cognitive decline. Based on my strong family history of Alzheimer’s, this is an area of concern.

Latest Additions

The latest addition in my protocol has been a 10-day colon cleanse.  This involves taking 2 Enzylase (enzyme) capsules along with 2 scoops of TruFiber in water for 10 nights.  According to my doc, this helps to “get the crud out”.  I kept expecting to see things like black tar or other strange things in my “specimens” but they never looked remarkably different. I definitely feel better though.

TOXINS and DETOX

My doctor shared something else new with me to help detoxify and get the mold and toxins out of my body.

An important aspect of this protocol for certain participants including myself is taking binders. These are substances you ingest, either pills or powder that bind in your system to internal toxins and flush them out.  One of the binders that I take is GI Detox -the binding ingredients include clay and activated charcoal.

People have all kinds of illnesses related to these toxins, including dementia.

Binders help with removing chemical toxins, Mycotoxins (related to mold), as well as Metals.

Watch this powerful 5 min video by Michael Gray M.D., which highlights the positive effects of using a binder like activated charcoal/clay twice a day vs once a day.

Apparently, that frequency of dosage helps keep our body’s inflammatory responses down and made the key difference with his patient.

Feel free as always, to ask your questions especially if you have any you want me to direct to my clinical trial physician.  I’m here for you.

3RD INSTALLMENT

Next week will mark my 3-month milestone in this clinical study, and I’ll be repeating a battery of cognitive tests to see how I’m faring on this program-results in the next installment.

Progress

I’m down another 2 lbs but I’m holding steady in muscle mass as seen by my body composition analysis today. At 13.5% lean body mass I am in the best shape I’ve ever been, but more importantly, I’m feeling strong, healthy, and clear-headed.  Subjectively my memory and recall are improving but I won’t know objectively the changes until I get the results of the cognitive tests this Friday.

Surprising Discoveries

This keto journey is full of discoveries. I received the results of my DNA testing and am positive for 1 Alzheimers gene, ApoE4. In addition, I also learned I’m hypersensitive to a particular general anesthesia, to benzene in plastic bottles, and that I’m predisposed to diabetes and obesity.  However, the takehome message from this 68-page genetic profile is that our genes are not our destiny.  The information gleaned from this report will help drive changes in my lifestyle, my anesthesia choices, and supplementation to lessen the chances of falling victim to these propensities and other risks discovered in the report.

Exercise for Cognitive Health

As there’s a big focus on exercise in this clinical study, my daily Pilates practice reminds me how important Pilates is for improving the mind as well as the body. Pilates helps reduce stress (which interferes with cognition) by encouraging you to focus your attention on breathing, good posture, and efficient movement.

Pilates and Cognition

Does Pilates—with its emphasis on precision, concentration, and memorization of movement patterns—enhance brain function as well as physical function? Scientists from Yanshan University in Qinhuangdao, China, and Beijing Normal University in Beijing wanted to find out.

In preliminary research, the investigators measured changes in brain activity as a result of Pilates training—and found an increase in the brain’s alpha peak power after 10 weeks of training. Alpha peak power is believed to be related to increased neural network activity, memory performance, and other cognitive functions.

The authors of this study suggested the Pilates method may be a valuable intervention for people with brain-degenerative diseases and cognitive dysfunctions that affect learning, memory, and thinking.  The study is available in Computational and Mathematical Models in Medicine (2013; doi: 10.1155/2013/295986).

If you’re interested in learning more about the BoneSmart Pilates® method and my exercise DVDs which integrate the science of aging and neuroplasticity, check out my website

 

 

 

The Brain with Low Intensity and High Intensity Workouts

A recent new study shows how low intensity and high intensity workouts affect the brain differently.  Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (Rs-fMRI), a non-invasive technique that allows for studies on brain connectivity, researchers discovered that low-intensity exercise triggers brain networks involved in cognition control and attention processing, while high-intensity exercise primarily activates networks involved in affective/emotion processing. The results appear in a special issue of Brain Plasticity devoted to Exercise and Cognition. Though they were looking at low-intensity treadmill and high-intensity running, you can easily make the connection of low-intensity workouts with mind-body workouts such as Pilates. If interested you can read more about the study here.

CHALLENGES

Being a subject in this study is a full-time job and it’s challenging finding enough hours in the day to fit all the requirements in.  There are supplements that need to be taken before food, at breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime and binders (that clear out toxins) that need to be taken away from supplements and food which is the hardest to finagle the timing.

In addition we have to get our exercise in, sauna/sweating, online brain training and online stress reduction training and document everything in our binder pictured here. There are days when I’m bumping up against my bedtime and just need to prioritize sleep over all else.  I’m still teaching Pilates full time which I love, being a mom and wife and running my online business fulfilling orders and answering forum questions.  Not to mention the shopping, perusing keto recipes and cooking in this novel way. It’s enough to make my head spin!

RECIPES

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that so many of you have reached out to me as I’ve embarked on this journey, to share your recipes and encouragement. My friend Cynthia even found a keto cooking class that I signed up for.  All your support has meant the world to me and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

My favorite keto snacks

My favorites include macadamia nuts, hard-boiled eggs with salt, and pepper-great for on the run, avocados with olive oil, and raw cauliflower with mixed nut butter.

Three of my favorite Keto recipes

Keto Almond Flour Pancakes

These fluffy almond flour pancakes are delicious and so simple to make! Just a few common ingredients needed. For a topping skip the syrup and crush a few of your favorite fresh berries with a fork into a compote and place that on your pancake, topping it with crushed pecans or slivered almonds.  It tastes so good to me that it feels almost indulgent.  Here’s a link to this easy keto almond flour pancake recipe.

 

Cauliflower hashbrowns with eggs, bacon and avocado

Yearning for something hashbrownish, I’m thankful to my friend Anne B. for the idea of the cauliflower foundation of this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • small piece of onion diced
  • green pepper slice diced
  • riced cauliflower (i just put a 1/2 a head in my blender to rice it)
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper/garlic powder to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 or 2 slices of sugar free, nitrate/nitrite-free bacon
  1. Saute’ the onion and pepper in 2 TBsp olive oil  (I added some fresh rosemary from mygarden-add the herbs of your choice if desired)
  2. Add the riced cauliflower, mix and flatten out into a hash. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder. Allow to brown to your liking.
  3. Cook the bacon separately then set by the hash
  4. Create a hole in the hash for the eggs so you don’t need to flip it.
  5. Garnish with avocado drizzled with olive oil and Enjoy!

 

 

Keto Thai Vegetable Cashew curry w/Coconut (and Chicken)

Picture of my sisters and I cooking at my Mom's! Thanks to my friend Ylmia for this recipe. I tweaked the ingredients and added some protein by adding chicken which is not part of the original recipe.  As we made this recipe in NY last week, my mom commented that her 3 daughters orchestrated this meal like “Little Women” working industriously side by side for the whole family, and it was a hit!  If you are vegan or vegetarian just skip the chicken.

Serves 2 (we scaled this up for our family)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion2 tsp minced fresh garlicpicture of Keto Thai Vegetable Cashew curry w/Coconut (and Chicken)
  • 2tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 3 Tbsp sugar-free Thai red or green curry paste
  • 1 large yellow or red bell pepper cut into 1-in dice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Japanese eggplants, cut into 1 in dice
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 3 TBS shredded unsweetened coconut, very lightly toasted
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lime zest
  • chicken thighs cut into 1 inch diced pieces
  1.  Heat the oil in a 12in skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides. Set aside.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and saute’ until the onion is translucent about 4 minutes.  Stir in the curry paste and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the bell pepper and salt and saute’ until halfway tender, about 5 min. Add the eggplants and saute’ for3 min. Add the chicken back in and cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook until the eggplants and bell pepper are fully tender, about 10 min.
  4. Uncover the pan and stir in the milk and juice. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil until the sauce thickens slightly, about 4 min.  Check to see that the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Serve and sprinkle with the nuts, coconut, and zest.

(stats without the chicken)    Protein 11g       Net Carbs 29g      Fat 62 g