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This is just shy of the 7 month mark-2/3 of the way through my Recode clinical trial.

I continue to feel strong, alert and energized.  The lead investigator was thrilled with the improvement in my recent 6 MONTH cognitive testing.

I’m at and maintaining what I feel is an optimal body weight for my frame and I’m happy to have finally lost my belly fat with this program. I’m even comfortable wearing crop tops and athletic bras, something I would not have considered a year ago.

 

Adjustments because of osteopenia
With my recent diagnosis of osteopenia, my doctor has added Vitamin K (specifically Designs for Health Tri-K, vitamin K in three synergistic forms that help the Vitamin D keep the calcium in the bones) to my already existing Vit D supreme (also Designs for Health brand) which is important for Ca++ absorption.

Because my spine is more compromised than my hips which are just over the borderline into osteopenia, I’m adding more spine extension exercises into my repertoire to address this deficit.  Think the Bird Dog exercise on all 4’s with opposite arm and leg reach and the following 2 extension exercises.

Because this clinical trial does not allow dairy, I’m hard-pressed to get sufficient Ca++ through my diet as I’m not a big fan of sardines or tofu, two non-dairy high Ca++ options. In addition to my oat milk which has a decent amount, I’m independently adding Bone Builder Forte by Metagenics, a good bioavailable Ca++ supplement.

My blood ketone levels are finally consistently at the ideal levels of over 1.0  for the study. This is thanks in part to the addition of exogenous ketones, specifically Designs for Health Keto-Nootropic.

I belong to a local Keto lifestyle support group where we learn from each other as we share our trials and triumphs. Some of the topics we recently discussed I thought might be of interest to you.

What am I eating?
I start the day with an oat milk latte (which has a good amount of Ca++)

Lunch is typically an omelet with veggies and salmon or sometimes a slice of bacon and a whole avocado drizzled with plenty of olive oil.  Other times it’s a soup with extra olive oil for the increased healthy fat with an avocado.  A Sunday brunch favorite is almond flour waffles topped with crushed berries and nuts.

Dinner can fluctuate between chicken, fish, sometimes beef, with a side of veggies and salad.  Our zucchini crop is abundant so I’m having a lot of zoodles (zucchini noodles) with various toppings like ragu sauce or pesto.

 

Sauna
There are studies linking positive cognitive function with regular sauna use.  I’ve been without a sauna for the last 3 months as a result of the COVID lockdown. My friend recently invited me to use his own far infrared sauna so I’m adding that back in which feels wonderful.  I’m grateful for this detox opportunity.

 

“What do you think is making the most difference?” is a question I get asked a lot.

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

  • Improved quality and quantity of sleep
  • The addition of targeted supplementation and balancing my hormones
  • Intermittent fasting for regulating my metabolism
  • Getting the junk out of my diet!
  • Consistent and varied exercise has been key including my Pilates, HIIT workouts 2x/week, dancing, walking, and biking.
  • Online brain training because I’m seeing objective improvement and I can see my focus and processing speed improving.

So can I point to one thing?  No. That’s why the Recode Protocol is a multi-modal approach and why a single pill will not address cognitive decline.

 

I wanted to share a question that one of you had which as requested, I posed to my doctor.

“If you have osteoporosis, can the Keto diet be followed? Everything I read is that it is acidic and you need an alkaline diet”

The doctor’s response:
“If you follow the keto diet according to our protocol, then it will be fine because ours is more of a Plant-Based diet with less emphasis on meat, especially red meat.  This keeps it less acidic.”

What I’ve learned independently is that eating too much animal protein also can leach calcium from your bones, so if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, you should limit red meat to two times a week and keep portions small – 4 to 6 ounces.

A study published in Advances in Nutrition in January 2017 found that cutting down on red and processed meats as well as soft drinks, fried foods, desserts, and refined grains all had a positive impact on bone health.

According to the research, the best diet for the prevention of osteoporosis includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, fish and poultry, nuts, and legumes.

 

After this study is over
With my DXA results, I will personally be adding pasture-raised dairy and A2 milk back into my diet after the study is over, to support my bones.  I’ll also be checking in with my doctor on which supplements I should stay on for the long-term to support my cognition.

Let me know how you’re incorporating Ca++ into your diet and if you have any questions you want me to share with my doctor about the keto diet. Remember I’ve got a direct line.

If you’re on or starting the Keto lifestyle or the Mediterranean diet, share your struggles and wins here.  I’d love to learn from and celebrate with you!

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.