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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!

2nd Installment

Read 1st Installment Here.

Since the start of my ketogenic lifestyle journey on Dec 7th, 2019, I’ve lost 9 lbs and 2 1/2 inches off my waist. Though brain and metabolic health is my primary goal, this is a welcome byproduct and actually an expected result on a ketogenic diet.

I’m consistently in nutritional ketosis confirmed by daily prickings/blood readings. This was not easy at first as I don’t like needles or eliciting pain on myself.  With that said, the lancet is tiny and relatively painless and has become so easy now that I take multiple readings daily to monitor how my food is affecting my body.

The fact that I’m preferentially burning more fat for fuel and less glucose is good for brain health, decreasing inflammation and improving energy levels.  I feel strong, alert and am not experiencing the dips in energy I used to feel during the day from erratic blood sugar levels.  I don’t feel deprived or hungry at all. My sleep has improved dramatically which helps my body to heal and my brain to detoxify and regenerate.

An unexpected bonus, I just got back from the dentist and my hygienist was amazed at the improved status of my gums. She asked what I was doing differently and when I told her, she said the gum improvement was a direct result of the anti-inflammatory effects from the Keto diet.

Nuggets to Share with You

Intermittent fasting is something that helps boost your metabolism, healing, and weight loss.  We need to make sure we don’t eat for 3 hrs prior to 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 really 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.

Sleep  Install f.lux (a free app) on your computer so that the blue lights will dim as the sun goes down. This helps your natural melatonin to do its job.  I started wearing a light-blocking eye mask ($10 for three on Amazon) at night to help with sleep and it’s helping tremendously. I had to get beyond the fact that they look like training bras for the eyes but the comfort and effectiveness won out! I’m going to try earplugs next.

Sauna is great for sweating out toxins. I’ve discovered through my lab work, that I have a high toxic load and because I don’t naturally sweat, even when I exercise at normal ambient temperatures. Because of that, I don’t detoxify well. I’ve now added with my doctor’s recommendation, 4 days of hot sweaty yoga and  1-2 days of dry sauna to accelerate the removal of my toxin burden.

I found the following quite interesting and pertinent to my goals.  A 2016 study done in Finland found that among those who used a sauna 4-7 times a week, the risk of any form of dementia was 66 percent lower and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease 65 percent lower than among those taking a sauna just once a week.

You can read more about the study Here

Online Brain Training is one of my daily requirements as a study participant. The program we are using, BrainHQ.com is the most scientifically validated program on the market. This is way beyond crossword puzzles in sophistication and 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.

Favorite Keto Foods
Thankfully I love avocados and eat them daily with olive oil as they are a keto superfood. Packed with healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and magnesium, you can eat them on their own or put them in salads, smoothies or enjoy some guacamole.

Eggs have gotten a bad rap but they’re one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet – especially the yolk! I’ve been advised to only purchase ” Pasture Raised” eggs as they are the safest and healthiest.

My two new favorite snacks are macadamia nuts and raw cauliflower florets dipped in Trader Joe’s Mixed Nut Butter, a delicious blend of almonds, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans.

In January we had a gathering of the clinical study participants with our doctor, nutrition coach and fitness coach. This allowed the participants to meet each other and share insights and challenges. The highlight of the meeting was a call in from Dr. Dale Bredesen, the creator of the protocol that we’re using. He was inspiring, answered all our questions with wisdom and humor and let us know through our participation in this study, that we were becoming a part of history.

Keto 101 Basics

If you’re interested in trying a ketogenic diet here are some of the main points.  You can also find plenty of info and recipes on the web.

Under normal circumstances, the cells of our body rely on glucose as their primary energy source. Glucose comes from dietary sources and from the breakdown of glycogen in the skeletal muscle and liver.  When glucose is in short supply, the cells tap into fats as an alternative source of fuel. The breakdown of fats leads to the production of ketone bodies and a metabolic state called ketosis.  The benefits of being in ketosis are listed at the end of this post.

Keto diet principles:

  • Fat: 60-75% of daily calories of daily calories
  • Protein: 20-35% of daily calories
  • Carbs: roughly 5% of daily calories

Most people are in chronic sugar burning mode due to a diet high in carbs for many years. That’s why it can take days to weeks on a low-carb, high-fat keto diet to get keto-adapted as the body learns to preferentially use fat/ketones for fuel.

What to Eat

Your diet should be a majority of healthy fats, polyunsaturated fats, and some saturated fats such as avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, fish oil, and ghee. This increases ketone bodies making the body crave fat instead of sugar.

Veggies preferred are non-starchy above-ground low carb veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, cabbages, and leafy greens. I’ve substituted spaghetti with zucchini noodles using my spiralizer and honestly don’t miss the pasta!

Onions, garlic, cilantro, and basil are all great additions.

 

Fruits: best are organic berries such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries. strawberries, as well as lemons and grapefruit. Other fruit like bananas and oranges and tropical fruits like pineapples and mangoes are higher in carbs and should be avoided or minimized.

Alcohol is not recommended on this clinical study diet although red wine (1x /wk is permitted later in the study protocol)  Woo hoo!

We’re instructed to stay within 50 net carbs per day.  To calculate your Net carbs,  look at the label for Total Carbs and subtract Fiber and that = Net carbs.

For example: 1 serving of my Mixed Nut Butter is 7g carbs minus 3g of fiber so it’s 4grams total Net Carbs.

 

Are you afraid that eating fat will make you fat? 

That has been proven scientifically as incorrect. One of the major causes of fat accumulation is inflammation. Being in ketosis reduces inflammation and helps you lose extra fat weight as I’m experiencing first hand.

What to Buy

We’ve been advised to buy organic as much as possible with grass-fed meat and pasture-raised eggs to minimize toxic exposure of antibiotics and GMO’s. Grassfed animal products have the proper ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 to support optimal brain health, fat burning and keep inflammation levels down.  You’d be surprised how much affordable organic food you can find in Costco and Trader Joes.

Measuring Ketone Levels

There are several ways to measure your level of ketosis such as urine strips, breath monitors, and blood meters. The blood ketone reader  (I use Keto Mojo) is the gold standard, most precise and is what we’re using in the study. Here’s a link to the Keto Mojo kit on Amazon.  Although nutritional ketosis is defined as above 0.5 ml/mm, in the clinical study we’re shooting for a ketone level of 1.0 or above ml/mm as that level has been shown to better improve brain function and cognition.  Though it took me a while, I’m now pretty consistently at or above 1.0

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 desease
  10. Improved mood and emotional balance
  11. Healthier Skin
  12. Anti-aging effects

Comment or post your questions below (rather than emailing me) to consolidate things and I’ll answer them as best I can and will try to include them in my next installment!

1st Installment

Do you find yourself forgetting appointments, names, where you put your keys, why you walked in that room you’re in? This is a concern for me.

My family history is steeped in Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s been difficult to witness my 94 y/o dad’s symptom progression. He is the last living sibling of a dozen brothers and sisters, more than half afflicted with this particular disease.

I’m certainly cognizant of my own risk especially as I begin to see my own decline in word recall, orientation, name/faces, etc.  But here’s the good news!

I just qualified to be in a national clinical study that’s administering a multi-modal approach to prevent or reverse cognitive decline. This approach was spearheaded already successfully by Dr. Dale Bredesen, author of the book “The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline.”  This is a must-read if you have cognitive concerns. The link above takes you to the book on Amazon. I get no personal gain for recommending this. The science is cutting edge.

As a ReCode (Reversal of Cognitive Decline) clinical study participant, I’m required to be on a gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, alcohol-free, Ketogenic diet, am being closely monitored by a physician, have had a slew of genetic tests, MRI, blood, poo and pee tests and everything in between. I prick myself daily to check my ketone levels. I’m on bioidentical hormones. I’m also supported by a nutrition coach and fitness coach with specific fitness parameters. Daily I’m required to do brain building games on the computer, and a computer program that promotes mindfulness and stress reduction.

This is a 9-month study and though I miss my latte’s, rice and beans, chocolate and wine/cosmos,  I’m committed to the long haul and choose to focus not on what I’m giving up, but on what I stand to gain.

If any of you are well versed in Keto diets, ping me. I would love to acquire more knowledge and favorite recipes. I can use all the support I can get!

I anticipate learning tons on this journey and will assimilate key learnings into the classes I teach. I look forward to sharing with you here on this platform, any nuggets that might help you on your journey to physical and cognitive health.