DHA for your Brain: fish or fish oil supplement?? Does it depend on your genes?

Animal and epidemiological studies support an association between docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fatty fish, seafood, and supplements and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). DHA is a top supplement recommended by Dr. Dale Bredesen, author of the groundbreaking book The End of Alzheimer’s.

DHA is an essential Omega-3 fatty acid that comprises 30% of the fats in the human brain!  DHA is mainly found in the gray matter of the brain. DHA influences the structure, function, and signaling of the brain. Supplementation with DHA in a mouse model was found to reduce amyloid-b plaque accumulation. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17442823/

However, some studies show that DHA found in fish oil supplements does not reduce the risk of AD or improve symptoms in individuals with the APOE4 allele. Carriers of APOE4 are at higher risk for AD.  Is there a connection to the form of DHA consumed and the APOE variant?

Some of the DHA in fish and seafood is in a phospholipid form, whereas fish oil supplements do not contain phospholipids. According to an interesting article by Rhonda Patrick, this influences how DHA is metabolized and how it is transported across the Blood Brain Barrier.  “I propose that APOE4 carriers have impaired brain transport of free DHA but not of DHA-lysoPC, as a consequence of a breakdown in the outer membrane leaflet of the BBB, putting them at increased risk for AD. Dietary sources of DHA in phospholipid form may provide a means to increase plasma levels of DHA-lysoPC, thereby decreasing the risk of AD.”  doi: 10.1096/fj.201801412R

In other words, she postulates that APOE4 carriers will respond better to DHA in phospholipid forms because APOE4 carriers may have impaired transport of free DHA across the Blood Brain Barrier. If you can’t get DHA into the brain one way, then take the other way. Where can you find phospholipid rich DHA?  Fish, fish roe, and krill oil are rich sources!  In supplemental form, krill oil is your best bet.   

This is an example of a phospholipid
[photo courtesy of: Marc-Olivier Trepanier]

I am NOT suggesting that you give up your DHA fish oil supplement based on this article. DHA is associated with reducing risk of AD and improving cognition in many studies.  However, if you have done a genetics profile and know that you are an APOE4 carrier, then it might be a good idea to eat more fish and/or add a krill oil supplement in addition to your DHA fish oil supplement. 

What is one of the best ways to support your immune system and brain health this fall? Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet!

Small amounts of sugar directly depress the immune system.  Even a glass of orange juice can alter your immune system activity.  And sugar indirectly affects your immune system by altering your gut flora.  As you probably already know, most of your immune system resides in your gut!

Sufficient sleep is key to a strong immune system.  Did you know that emerging evidence shows that your intestinal microbiota plays a critical role in how you sleep?

Research suggests that the intestinal microbiota is a source of sleep-promoting signals. Too much sugar – altered gut flora  –  less deep sleep – less immune resilience.

Excess sugar also has a great impact on the brain.  In fact, over time, you can develop insulin resistance in the brain (also referred to as Type 3 diabetes).  Once this happens, your neurons become unable to utilize the glucose in your brain – your brain’s primary source of energy.  Over time, this can ultimately lead to dementia.  This is when a ketogenic diet can be helpful; your brain can also use ketones as a source of fuel. 

Excess fructose consumption has long been known to be bad for your health. Most fructose consumed ends up in the liver. When there is too much fructose in the liver, it is converted into fat in the form of triglycerides, which can increase the risk of fatty liver and heart disease. 

Recent research shows that both the fructose and glucose in high fructose corn syrup appear to be as bad for your health as consuming sugar in the form of fructose alone, elevating the risk of several heart disease factors.  Plenty of evidence shows that cardiovascular risk factors play an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Where is high fructose syrup found?  Most of the high fructose corn syrup we eat or drink comes from soft drinks and sweetened fruit drinks. However, high fructose corn syrup can also be found in canned fruits, boxed desserts, sweetened yogurts, baked goods including breads, breakfast cereals, granola bars, salad dressings, coffee creamers, and condiments like ketchup, barbecue sauce, jams and jellies.

Read labels carefully!

Interesting that new research out of the University of Colorado suggested that fructose made in the brain could be a mechanism driving Alzheimer’s Disease.  The researchers proposed that “Alzheimer’s disease is a modern disease driven by changes in dietary lifestyle in which fructose can disrupt cerebral metabolism and neuronal function.” 

In summary, reducing sugar intake supports a healthy gut and immune system, improved brain health, and reduces cardiovascular risk.  And as a bonus, you are likely to sleep more deeply!

Nutritional and Lifestyle Tips to Keep Your Immune System Strong and COVID-19 Resources

Within a span of five days, we went from concern about COVID-19 to a pandemic and then a US national emergency. These are uncertain times, and uncertainty can lead to fear and panic. Earlier this week, I felt my old friend anxiety starting to take a hold of me as I was driving and quickly changed the station from news to music. Music helped me get back to the present moment.

I have been learning as much as I can about COVID-19 and want to share with you what I have learned, as well as a couple of resources and blog posts with the intent to help you and your loved ones stay healthy and strong. We don’t have control over the virus, but we do have control over how we take care of ourselves during this outbreak.

I am sure you have read and heard to wash your hands frequently, keep living areas clean, practice social distancing, and other precautions that I will not go into here.  Although they are not the topic of this email, I do encourage you to follow these precautions. Please do your part in flattening the curve! The purpose of this email is to share a few lifestyle tips and of course nutritional suggestions to keep your immune system strong.  Do not wait for a vaccine!

We could read and listen to news about the Corona virus all day, because understandably that is the hot topic right now.  What really has helped me this week to stay out of fear mode is to spend 5 minutes in complete silence in the morning and focus on my breath and then write for a couple of minutes in my gratitude journal. I highly suggest not looking at your mobile device or turning on any type of news for the first 15 to 30 minutes you are awake.  By finding a bit of peace and calmness in the morning, you can take that feeling with you and bring it into your day. If you have ever thought about starting a meditation practice but just never got around to it, now is a great time!   Stress has a negative impact on your immune system and having a stress management technique will only help you! 

I also suggest checking in at the CDC site for factual and up to date information about COVID-19.  Although we need to stay tuned into local news to know what is happening in our communities, the CDC provides facts without the hype.  Make informed decisions utilizing this resource.  If you are prone to anxiety, watching local news or following the corona virus on social media 24/7 will almost certainly increase your anxiety levels.

Since we have been advised to practice social distancing, going to the gym or your favorite Pilates class might not be an option for a while.  I have noticed that many of my yoga studio’s classes have been cancelled. Exercise outdoors and get fresh air!  Moving your body is good for your immune system and being outside in nature will reduce stress levels.     

Now for food and supplement suggestions!  Please note that there is NO cure for COVID-19 and everything I suggest here is to support your immune system and keep you healthy. 

Increase your intake of Vitamin C! 

Citrus fruits are a good source of Vitamin C and they are in season right now.  Lots of yummy varieties to choose from!  Add ½ squeezed lemon to a glass of water every morning or you can add the squeezed lemon to a glass of hot water with ½ to 1 tsp of local honey.  Red peppers are also a good source of Vitamin C. Although not in season, you can find organic red peppers from Mexico in many grocery stores.

Add garlic to your meals!  I personally cannot tolerate raw garlic, so I mince it up and sauté it in olive oil with veggies, eggs, and more.  Garlic has a long history of being an effective anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti- viral!  And note that egg yolks are a good source of Vitamin A, which is also immune supportive!

Stay well hydrated with water, herbal teas, and vegetable or bone broths.  You can sip on teas and broths in between meals.  If you do not want to make your own bone broth, Whole Foods does have their own brand of organic chicken broth and Kettle and Fire also offers a variety of good quality bone broths.

I am taking extra supplements to support my immune system health until this virus starts to dissipate.  This is my personal regimen, based on what I have learned and immune system support in general. 

Vitamin C: minimum of 1000 mg twice daily

There are currently 3 clinical trials in China using IV vitamin C to treat COVID-19. China Treating Coronavirus COVID-19 with Intravenous Vitamin CIn addition, Dr Richard Cheng MD PhD, head of the IV C studies is also suggesting oral vitamin C for prevention

Vitamin D:  A good maintenance amount is 2000 IU per day.  Best to take with Vitamin K. If you have low levels of Vitamin D and are going to high dose Vitamin D, please do so under your physician’s care.  Your Vitamin D levels can go too high.

Zinc: critically important for immune system health.  I take Zinc Supreme, which gives me an extra 30 mg of zinc per day.  Or if you start to feel symptoms, consider zinc lozenges.

Andrographis, an herb long used in traditional Chinese medicine, is a big player here.  My favorite immune support product that includes andrographis is Immunitone Plus. I actually use this product during normal cold/flu season for prevention at a lower dose of two caps per day.  If I feel I am coming down with a cold/flu, I take two capsules twice per day. This is an awesome formula!

Andrographis has been shown to restrain virus replication and virus-induced pathogenesis and provide symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children.

Gupta, S., Mishra, K.P. & Ganju, L. Broad-spectrum antiviral properties of andrographolide. Arch Virol 162, 611–623 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00705-016-3166-3

Hu X-Y, Wu R-H, Logue M, Blondel C, Lai LYW, Stuart B, et al. (2018) Correction: Andrographis paniculata (Chuān Xīn Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS ONE 13(11): e0207713. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0207713

Can’t find Purell or any other alcohol based wipes?  Check out Dr. Elisa Song’s blog post on how to make your own alcohol based hand sanitizer!

Another great option is Silvercillin Spray, which I travel with all the time, even during non-cold and flu season!  You can spray it on surfaces, utensils and drinking glasses if you are out at a restaurant (although I do not recommend eating out now), in your throat, and really anywhere!  Non-colloidal silver is a potent anti-bacterial and anti-viral!

Let’s empower ourselves with facts, take precautions, and be proactive.  And take good care of yourself!

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Stay strong and healthy,


My Top Five Foods/Nutrients/Herbs to Lift Depression AND Prevent Cognitive Decline

Vitamin D rich foods!  Ideally, we want to get as much Vitamin D as we can from the sun.  However, if you work inside most of the day or live in an area where sunshine is limited, be sure to eat foods rich in Vitamin D like fatty fish, portabella mushrooms, and egg yolks!  Egg yolks are also an excellent source of choline, which is a precursor to acetylcholine. Acetylcholine travels between nerve cells, creating and calling up memories. You may need to supplement with Vitamin D.  Check your vitamin D levels at least once a year.

Eat foods rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids.  Foods rich in the Omega 3s include your fatty fish like salmon and sardines, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.  If you are not a big fan of fish, do not eat it regularly, or may not be able to access wild caught fish, then take a good quality Omega 3 fish oil supplement.  Although you can get Omega 3s from flaxseeds and chia seeds and other plant sources, animal sources like fish provide beneficial EPA and DHA directly. The plant sources have to be converted to EPA and DHA, and many people lack the enzymes to make this conversion efficiently.  My favorite fish oil product contains a ratio of EPA and DHA pretty close to 1:1 – EPA to decrease inflammation, DHA to support brain cell membranes.


Have you heard of saffron?  What a wonderful spice!  It is widely used in Spanish and Middle Eastern cuisine. (It’s what gives paella its famous yellow-orangcolor.) Traditional Persian and Ayurvedic medicine have long used saffron as a natural mood booster, and preliminary research shows it may also help assist with memory!


Eat foods rich in zinc! Low zinc is associated with depression. Zinc is an important co-factor in converting 5-HTP to serotonin, your feel-good neurotransmitter that promotes ease and contentment. Zinc is also a crucial co-factor in converting L-Dopa to dopamine, your neurotransmitter that promotes drive and desire. Zinc deficiency may result in the destruction of nerve cells and the formation of plaque tangles found in Alzheimer’s Disease.

Depleted zinc levels are all too common in Americans. Zinc is also important for immune health, sexual health, and blood sugar regulation.  Zinc deficiency results in loss of taste and smell. Oysters, beef, lamb, and pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of zinc!!  I highly recommend having your zinc plasma levels tested. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you may need to supplement with zinc.


Green tea is rich in EGCg, short for epigallocatechin-3-gallate, the primary active ingredient responsible for green tea’s health-promoting effects. EGCg may support brain and central nervous system health by limiting oxidative stress. Green tea is also rich in the amino acid theanine, clinically proven to reduce stress and improve quality of sleep.

To Take or Not Take Hormone Replacement Therapy Years After Menopause?

I admit it – I am concerned about my brain health.  I have greater risk due to my genetics, family history, and a really bad concussion when I was younger (and several hard knocks to my head when I used to snowboard).  But new research is helping us to understand why people get Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) in the first place; and Dr. Dale Bredesen along with practitioners that he has trained are demonstrating reversal of AD in some patients.  This is encouraging and exciting! Dr. Dean Ornish is also getting ready to conduct the first randomized controlled trial to determine if the progression of early to moderate Alzheimer’s disease can be reversed by a comprehensive lifestyle medicine program, without drugs, devices, or surgery.

Two BIG questions for many women who are at increased risk for AD: do I take Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) to protect my brain?  And when do I start taking it? This is also a question I am pondering as I enter my later perimenopausal years.

There is no question that estrogen (specifically estradiol) is protective to the brain. See my previous blog on the protective mechanisms of estrogen.

There is some debate about when to start BHRT to protect the brain (and cardiovascular health and the bones).  The timing hypothesis evolved from a large clinical trial and proposes that if a woman is not on estrogen and is 65 years or older, she will NOT benefit from HRT, especially if she already has cardiovascular issues. Dr. Ann Hathaway, Bredesen trained practitioner and also women’s hormone expert, disagrees.  This timing conclusion is based on research that used oral estrogen in the form of premarin and progesterone in the form of medroxyprogesterone. See her YouTube video on this topic here.

Dr. Hathaway has found that topical bioidentical estradiol (patch or cream) and topical or oral real progesterone yield totally different results.  But at the time there is no large-scale study to counteract the current timing hypothesis. However, there ARE smaller studies and research out there that do demonstrate the benefits of taking BHRT several years after menopause to protect the brain. Check out the research of Dr. Natalie Rasgon. Dr. Rasgon looks at PET scans of menopausal women’s brains on HRT and the brains of women who discontinue HRT for a two year period. Fascinating!

And please don’t forget that hormone production and balance is dependent on so many factors, including diet, sleep, stress management, GI Health, and LIVER health.  And happiness!  When balancing your hormones, you really have to look at all these factors. In fact, you may want to address these factors BEFORE doing hormone testing to get an accurate picture of your hormones.

Of course, there are other hormones that are important to brain health including testosterone, progesterone, and thyroid hormone.  If you have never had your hormones tested and you are in your late 30’s or 40’s, I suggest testing them to get a baseline.  If you are in your 50’s or older and have not had your hormones tested in a couple of years and are concerned about AD, cardiovascular disease, or osteoporosis, I highly suggest working with a good integrative hormone doctor to evaluate your current state of hormones.

My Revitalize Your Brain program offers a starting point for you to look at all these factors, including basic hormone testing!  If you are ready to take charge of your brain health and need direction, please schedule your complimentary strategy session here! 

Is Mold Linked to Anxiety, Depression, and Night Sweats?

Mold exposure and inability to detoxify mold and mycotoxins from your body is detrimental to your health, especially the health of your brain.  In fact, chronic brain fog is a big sign that some kind of biotoxin like mold is crossing your blood brain barrier and causing inflammation and other havoc. Other BIG mold symptoms include anxiety, panic, and night sweats. Yes, your anxiety and depression may be linked to mold exposure.  And your night sweats may not be early menopause; they could be a result of exposure to mold!  When I was in my early thirties, I started to suddenly have night sweats.  I was so perplexed.  I thought “I am way too young to be going through menopause!”  Thankfully, one of my instructors at my nutrition school suggested it may be mold in my bedroom.  Sure enough, there was mold in the corner wall close to my pillow (this wall never got any sun) and as soon as it was remediated, my night sweats went away!


Is everyone sensitive to mold?  No.  But now that we have more advanced testing to detect mold in our environments and in our bodies, a lot more people are mold sensitive than previously thought!


If you have any of the symptoms listed above, and cannot visibly see mold in your environment, do a quick history timeline and see if a move or change in work environment corresponded to the onset of your symptoms.  Has there ever been water damage in the building where you reside or work?  The answer is often yes…people forget!  If you are not sure or have lived in a place for a long time and symptoms have gradually worsened, you can always do a home test to start that is not very expensive.  The ERMI test is popular and although not 100% accurate, it can at least give you an idea. Qualified mold inspectors are quite expensive, but worth the investment if you suspect mold and your health is deteriorating – affecting your mood, relationships, work, and overall joy in life. Ten questions to find a qualified mold inspector.

There are many tests that can indicate mold or other biotoxin illness.  For example, a couple of tests that you can request from your primary care physician include ADH (Antidiuretic Hormone) and osmolality.  ADH and osmolality are usually low when there is mold or other biotoxin exposure.  If osmolality is low, replenishing with electrolytes can be very helpful.

New testing now allows us to measure mycotoxins in our bodies.  Mycotoxins are molecules produced by mold and mycotoxin elevations can come from our foods or our environments.  Certain mycotoxins are carcinogenic, while others may affect our endocrine, immune or neurological systems.  In any case, there is a lot we can do to support lowering the body burden of mycotoxins.

Mold is tricky. Supporting immune health, the gut and the liver, and detox pathways are all critical to getting rid of mold and decreasing mycotoxin load.  Often, we see overgrowth of pathogenic gut bugs, parasites, and even heavy metals along with mold.  Mold really weakens us and makes us more susceptible to everything else.

Of course, there are solutions and you can heal from mold illness and get your brain back!  The first step is to get rid of the mold exposure, whether from food or your environment. Specific foods can help decrease the adverse effects of certain mycotoxins.  Certain nutritional supplements are very helpful in binding up mold toxins and also supporting overall detoxification and immune system health.

Antioxidants are often used to mitigate the oxidative effects of these  mold toxins like Vitamins A, E, C, and also N Acetyl Cysteine and liposomal glutathione. Bentonite Clay and Zeolite Clay are reported to reduce absorption of multiple mycotoxins found in food.

Movement and sweating are critical in detoxification of just about everything!  Support your drainage system by dry skin brushing or jumping on a mini rebounder!  If you are not a good sweater, this can be a sign of toxicity!  If you cannot induce a sweat through exercise, then use a sauna regularly (under the guidance of your physician!)

Mold is one of the many contributing factors to brain decline.  When you address mold, you are often also covering other biotoxins that may be contributing to brain decline.  It can seem a bit overwhelming to know where to start.  That is why I offer my three month Revitalize Your Brain program. We look at all the possible contributing factors and prioritize where to start!

Please set up your complimentary strategy session with me today to determine if this program is right for you!

Green matcha withdrawal: Observations and upside of being caffeine free for seven days!

Day 8 of my two week “no caffeine” challenge.  Funny how it is all relative.  I had become rather addicted to my one matcha beverage in the morning.  Even at ½ the normal serving size of matcha powder, I noticed that it was ramping me up too much.


I was feeling restless, agitated, and rather unfocused in the mornings. My matcha drink was getting me going, but certainly not helping my focus and mood.

I know I am a poor caffeine metabolizer; I always have been.  I cannot drink any caffeine in the afternoon and expect to sleep that night. We are all biochemically unique in how we process caffeine. If you metabolize caffeine quickly, you will most likely benefit from the antioxidants and other potent compounds in green tea, matcha, black tea, and coffee.  If you don’t, less likely to derive benefit.

What I have noticed over the last seven days:

  • Although it takes me a little longer to wake up in the morning, my morning work outs are actually better and my energy is more even throughout the day.
  • I am more focused in the morning once I get my blood circulating.
  • I am more patient.
  • I feel less anxious about getting what I need to get done for the day.
  • I get to bed earlier at night knowing that there will be no caffeine in the morning.
  • My sleep duration has increased by about 30 minutes. This feels good!
  • My jaw does not hurt in the morning.
  • I don’t have the same drive to get out of bed super early in the morning. Once I am up though, all is good!

I have found some great decaf substitutions including Teeccino beverages, Four Sigmatic Cordyceps Mushroom Elixir Mix (this one has no stevia added to it) and Coffig (roasted fig beverage).  These are all rich and robust and go well with the dark mornings!  In the warmer months, you can enjoy these iced as well!

“Pure” matcha is not available decaf.  Matcha is the result of shade grown green tea leaves covered for a certain period of time, increasing the caffeine and L-theanine content. However, there are “mock” matcha powders available.  These are not covered until harvested and this results in minimal caffeine.  I am curious to try one of the decaf green powders next week.

Yes, I miss the taste of my green matcha with fresh almond milk from the farmer’s market.  It got me up early in the morning, knowing that it was waiting for me.  I also miss that early morning pop and spring in my step.  But I don’t miss the feelings of restlessness, agitation, impatience, and tightness in my jaw.  I guess my “pure” matcha has stepped down to an occasional treat!

This blog is for all those people out there that are caffeine sensitive!!

But I don’t want to move! Cleaning up Mold and Mycotoxins in your Home…

MOLD and MYCOTOXINS have become very scary words!  What do you do if you live in a climate or place that favors mold growth?  I live in San Francisco, along with thick fog that keeps everything so damp in the summer months.  Mold is a big concern here.  I don’t want to move, so I have been learning as much as I can about testing for mold and cleaning it up! In some cases, mold and mycotoxins may be so bad that you need to pack up and leave your house and belongings behind.  Especially if certain species of mold are found in your home and you are susceptible. But often, you can clean up your home and keep it unfavorable to mold growth.  I hope this blog is helpful to you!

What can you do to prevent mold overgrowth and keep mycotoxins at bay in your home?

  • Make sure that you have a fan installed in your bathroom that you turn on while showering. Leave the fan on for at least 30 minutes after you shower.  Avoid the bathroom mats that are thick and take a long time to dry.
  • Mold likes washing machines. Be sure to check your washing machine and make sure that mold is not growing in the agitator, if you have a top loading machine.
  • If you live in a humid climate, a dehumidifier can greatly help. Use throughout your living space.
  • If you do have a water leak, make sure that everything is completely dried out after the leak occurs. You may have to have a professional come to your home to assess that the leak is contained and that you do not have mold growing in an area that you cannot see (like behind the dish washer).
  • Basements are a hotbed for mold. If you have a basement and it smells musty, consider a dehumidifier.  You may want to do the ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) test to assess quantity and types of mold growing in the basement.  If your reading comes back high, you will want to contact a qualified environmental mold specialist.
  • Invest in a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) vacuum cleaner. Especially if you have wall to wall carpeting!  A HEPA vacuum will clean up mold spores from soft materials such as wall-to-wall carpet, area rugs and upholstered furniture. Typical vacuums are good at picking up filth, including mold, but the majority of vacuum cleaners spit the really small particles, like mold spores, right back into the air. Where they settle in your home, all over again!
  • Clean hard surfaces with microfiber cleaning cloths. I learned from John Bantas, Environmental Mold Specialist, that these microfiber cleaning cloths pick up and hold tiny particles, such as mold spores and fungal fragments. Examples of microfiber cleaning cloths that John Bantas recommends include the Swiffer dry wipe and the Bona microfiber cleaning cloth. He also notes that if you are using the non-disposable microfiber cleaning cloths (like Bona), it is important they are washed thoroughly in a very hot water wash cycle in order to remove the mold contaminants. Best to air dry afterwards. Be aware that the non-disposable microfiber cloths will lose their effectiveness after about 50 washings.

FYI: Regular sweeping with a broom or mopping spreads the spores from one place to another, but doesn’t remove the spores from your home!!

To learn everything you need to know about cleaning up mold and mycotoxins in your home and to prevent mold overgrowth, please visit John Banta’s website: He is certainly a mold expert!

Environmental toxins are making us obese, diabetic, infertile, and contributing to dementia – what we can do about it NOW!

We can’t see them, but exposure to environmental toxins is making us obese, diabetic, infertile, and contributing to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.  They are also contributing to many types of cancer. As Dr. Elissa Epel said at the recent 12th annual Sugar, Stress, Environment & Weight Symposium in San Francisco, CA, our mind is not equipped to handle the threat of invisible toxins and their ongoing long term consequences.  As humans, we tend to react with fear, despair, or hopelessness or denial and apathy.  But we need to find a middle ground: engagement and cautious optimism. 


Why? Because according to Tracy Woodruff, PhD, Director of the UCSF Environmental Health Initiative, in 2016 alone, 30,000 lbs. of chemicals per person were produced in the U.S.  And very sadly, there is virtually no safety data on the long-term effects of these manufactured chemicals.

What are these chemicals doing to us? Bruce Blumberg, PhD, UC Irvine Professor of Developmental and Cell Biology and leader in the field of “obesogens,” has identified 50 chemical obesogens.  What are obesogens?   They are chemicals that stimulate fat storage and alter control of appetite, feelings of fullness, and metabolism; leading to weight gain and obesity.

The most common sources of obesogens are parabens, PCBs, phthalates, pesticides, and certain prescription drugs (anti diabetic drugs like Actos and Avandia and atypical antipsychotics).  Please refer to my previous blog post for the most common everyday sources of these chemicals.

Michele La Merrill, PhD recently conducted a mice study to determine if DDT (banned in 1972 in the U.S.) and DDE (a metabolite of DDT still found in our bodies!) affected calorie burning.  In this mice study, which she presented at the 12th annual Sugar, Stress, Environment & Weight Symposium, only 20% of calories were burned by exercise.  The rest of the calories burned were to keep the mice alive and support normal metabolic functions.  The study found that DDT and DDE decreases calories burned in mice.  The take home message: You may be eating a pretty healthy diet and exercising regularly, but still gain weight or can’t lose weight because you are burdened with chemicals that are decreasing your daily calorie burning expenditure.

When it comes to infertility and the health of a baby in utero, chemicals are also a great concern. BPA has been found to be harmful to the female reproductive system at low doses. And prenatal obesogen exposure reprograms exposed babies to be fat.  These babies are born to battle weight their entire lives!

And let’s not leave men out of this picture.  Phthalates have been found to negatively affect testosterone production.

Being a SF Bay area resident, I have written about what we can do to protect ourselves from the air pollution caused by wild fires.  In the SF Bay area, the biggest causes of air pollution are traffic exhaust and wildfires.  Air pollution from wild fires is now a common occurrence for most people living in the Western part of the U.S.  Air pollution is also a big problem for people living close to conventional farms, refineries and coal mines.

And yes, air pollution greatly affects your lungs.  But because it induces oxidative stress and inflammation, air pollution is not just confined to the lungs!  Systemic inflammation can negatively impact any part or system of your body. A lot of research is being done in Fresno, CA on the effects of air pollution, since Fresno is one of the most polluted cities in the U.S.  thanks to massive spraying of pesticides, herbicides, etc.)

An ongoing study in Fresno found that a seven year old kid already had elevated blood pressure due to exposure to agricultural spraying.  And there is a higher incidence of Parkinson’s Disease among farmers who used toxic chemicals like DDT (before it was banned).

And if you read my blogs, you know that I have studied with Dr. Dale Bredesen and follow his work.  He has now acknowledged that dementogens are a bigger concern than previously thought.  These dementogens are simply organic chemicals, metallotoxins (heavy metals) and biotoxins (i.e. candida, mold, spirochetes) that cause dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders.

This “toxic type” neurodegeneration is primarily occurring in women in their late 40s to mid 50s. Why?  Because menopausal women experience the osteoclastic burst (their bones start to break down because their estrogen levels greatly decrease).  And many chemicals do get stored in bone (especially lead).

What can we do now?  How can we exercise engagement and cautious optimism?

First, decrease exposure!

Buy organic produce whenever possible. Switch out personal care products loaded with chemicals to safer alternatives.  Use cleaning supplies that do not harm the environment or yourself!

Secondly, get involved with cleaning up our environment in our communities and at local levels.  Support the organizations that are advocating to protect us from unsafe chemicals and providing education on how to reduce chemical exposure.

Some helpful resources and organizations that are advocates for our wellness:

The Environmental Working Group ewg.org has excellent consumer guides to help you choose safe personal care products, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies. EWG also has a new EWG verified program!

The Honest Company provides a variety of products for the family made with eco-friendly materials.

Sierra Club: the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization


thinkdirty.com Empowering ingredient-conscious consumers to choose the safest beauty + personal products!

Ambiciti:  first mobile app for street level air pollution and noise pollution!  Choose a less polluted or quieter route.


The Four Stages of Brain Decline: Do You Need to Take Action Now?

Have you noticed that your brain is not working like it used to?  Brain fog has increased very gradually from some days to most days? Or your brain fatigues very easily and you have to take frequent breaks from your computer or work projects?  And on top of that you have trouble focusing?  Even in your social conversations?

You are finding it harder to get out the front door on time in the morning and your organizational skills seem to have gone by the wayside.  You used to be so on top of it all…and now you feel like you are falling apart.  You are concerned; yet your family and friends tell you that you are just overwhelmed, have a lot going on, and not to worry about it.


BUT YOU KNOW THAT SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT.  AND YOU WANT YOUR OLD BRAIN BACK.  Because you want to live your life fully, not struggling every day to keep on top of your work and personal life.

Please do not ignore these early signs of brain decline!  Neurodegeneration, no matter what the underlying cause, usually starts decades before you notice any symptoms.  If you are noticing mild symptoms, then the time to act is now!  Start taking care of your brain health and work with a qualified practitioner to get down to the root cause of your brain symptoms.

I have often been asked about the difference between Mild Cognitive Impairment and actual Alzheimer’s Disease.  How do you know where you stand?  And when can you make the most impact?

Actually, there are four stages:

  1. Pre-symptomatic: You have no symptoms of brain decline yet, but you have high risk of Alzheimer’s Disease due to a previous head injury, family history, genetics, or more than one anesthesia after the age of 40.  THIS IS THE PHASE TO GET PROACTIVE ABOUT YOUR BRAIN HEALTH.
  1. Subjective Cognitive Impairment (SCI): SCI means that you notice that your brain is not functioning as well and have complaints, yet no abnormalities show up when cognitive testing is done. This phase can last up to 10 years. THIS IS THE PHASE TO GET REALLY SERIOUS ABOUT TAKING CARE OF YOUR BRAIN.   Changes in diet and lifestyle and working with a practitioner to address underlying causes of your brain decline symptoms are crucial to prevent further decline and reverse your symptoms.
  1. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI): SCI turns to MCI when tests become abnormal.  However, please note that MCI may have existed before; the tests performed might not have been sensitive enough to pick it up. MCI may last several years.  According to Dr. Dale Bredesen, 5 to 10% of MCI folks convert to AD.  AT THIS STAGE, YOU CAN STILL REVERSE YOUR SYMPTOMS AS LONG AS YOU ARE GETTING TO THE UNDERLYING CAUSE OF YOUR BRAIN DECLINE AND MAKING THE NECESSARY LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO HEAL YOUR BRAIN.
  1. MCI converts to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) when activities of daily living are affected. For example, you can no longer drive without getting lost, can no longer do bills, work, or plan ahead.  YOU CAN STILL REVERSE AD AT THIS STAGE, IT JUST WILL NOT BE AS EASY.  But it can be done and Dr. Dale Bredesen’s work has demonstrated reversal in pilot studies.

If you are at any stage above, now is the time to take action. Please check out my Revitalize Your Brain Program and schedule your complementary 30 minute strategy session with me to determine next steps.

Resource: The End of Alzheimer’s by Dr. Dale Bredesen, MD