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Dec 2, 2015

Alzheimer's disease: A new epidemic?

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in people over the age of 65. Symptoms include memory loss; impaired judgment and decision-making capacity; a decline in the ability to perform daily living activities; changes in behavior, mood and personality; and increasing dependence on caregivers. A 2007 report released by the Alzheimer's Association estimated there are 5.1 million people in the United States with Alzheimer's disease. And within another generation the number of people with Alzheimer's disease will exceed 15 million. Alzheimer's is a leading cause of death after cardiovascular disease, cancer and cerebrovascular disease. Causes of death in Alzheimer's patients include falls, severe cognitive decline and function impairment, and the development of Parkinsonian signs.
Alzheimer's is the third most expensive disease after cardiovascular disease and cancer in terms of total costs. In the outpatient population, approximately $18,000 is spent per patient, per year for mild Alzheimer's, with increased costs associated with disease progression and severity ($30,000 per patient per year in moderate stage and more than $36,000 per patient per year in the severe stage).
Although age is by far the most important risk factor associated with the onset of Alzheimer's, a number of other risk factors are also important such as female gender, low educational attainment, and head injury (usually associated with a loss of consciousness) appear to increase Alzheimer's risk. Depression, particularly developing in late life, appears to signal the impending onset of Alzheimer's and may precede memory deficits by several years. Family history of dementia in first-degree relatives appears to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's slightly. Recent evidence suggests that the same risk factors for cardiovascular disease may be important contributors to the risk of developing Alzheimer's. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high homocysteine levels. There are also several genes that are associated with Alzheimer's. This is why it can be hereditary.
The most common symptoms of Alzheimer's include memory impairment such as repetition; trouble remembering recent conversations, events and appointments; frequently misplacing items; decreased ability to solve problems; difficulty with calculations; and impaired driving. Many diseases are associated with memory loss such as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, depression, diabetes, chronic inflammation, Wilson's disease, hemochromatosis, B12, vitamin D and antioxidant deficiency, menopause, alcoholism and heavy metal toxicity etc. The list goes on. Also, many drugs can cause memory loss.
It is important to treat memory loss at the early stages and try to identify the cause of the problem. A complete lab work up is necessary to help identify the cause. There are many nutritional and amino acid deficiencies related to memory loss, blood sugar problems, hormonal issues, alcohol, drug and heavy metal toxicity. The list goes on again, which is why a thorough work-up is important. Each patient should be examined individually. Unfortunately the drugs used to treat Alzheimer's are not very effective and tend to have a lot of side effects.
Certain activities - exercise, exposure to classical music, social engagement, playing a musical instrument, reading and bingo - have been associated with improved cognitive function and can prevent the onset of Alzheimer's. The earlier these activities are started in life the better.
Caring for a family member with the disease is very stressful for the care giver. Family caregivers are also at risk for depression, anxiety and physical illness. A caregiver's depression or health decline may affect his or her ability to adequately provide care for the patient and increases the likelihood of premature institutionalization for the patient. Therefore, taking care of the caregiver is just as important as taking care of the patient.
Studies show that Alzheimer's may reach epidemic proportions in 20 years. The goal is to get early diagnosis and treatment for memory loss so one can delay progression of the disease, improve function and reduce caregiver burden. Health problems should not be ignored. Many times they can be treated easily at the early stages of the disease.
Deborah Wiancek is a naturopathic physician specializing in natural medicine at the Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic in Edwards. She can be reached at 970-926-7606,

Root Vegetable and Chickpea Tagine


Roma tomatoes, diced
parsnips, medium roll cut
carrots, medium roll cut
onion, medium dice
chickpeas, dried
1⁄2 cup
dried apricots, diced
ginger, diced
garlic, diced
cinnamon, ground
cumin, ground
coriander, ground
1⁄2 tsp
1⁄2 tsp
red wine
32 oz
vegetable stock (such as Pacific Brand low-sodium)
1⁄2 cup
1⁄4 cup
orange juice
1⁄2 cup
almonds, slivered (for garnish)


Place all ingredients except for the cilantro, orange juice and almonds in a 4-quart crockpot, and cook on high for eight hours. Before serving, add in cilantro and orange juice. Serve in bowls over quinoa, rice or with a whole grain bread, and top each bowl with 2 tablespoons of silvered almonds. 

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Kale Pesto


1⁄2 cup
pumpkin seeds
kale, chopped
basil, de-stemmed
garlic, toasted or raw
red pepper flakes
1⁄2 cup
olive oil
1⁄4 cup
lemon juice
  to taste
salt and pepper


  1. Toast pumpkin seeds, set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and chop kale and basil.
  3. Combine pumpkin seeds, kale, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper in a food processor.
  4. Blend on high for 2-4 minutes until smooth.
  5. Add more salt or lemon juice, if needed, then set pesto aside.
  6. Use a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles, using a large bowl to collect the noodles. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a vegetable peeler or a mandolin to make thin slices. You can also chop the zucchini lengthwise and cut thin slices.
  7. Toss zucchini in large mixing bowl with pesto and combine until mixed.
  8. Serve cold or warm.

Dec 1, 2015

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash With Apples & Pecans

Prep Time: 10 mins.  Total Time: 40 mins.  Servings: 5


  • 1 lb butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 medium baking apple, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cubed squash and apple in an 8'x8' baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons water and roast uncovered, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes, or until almost cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine butter, honey, pecans, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
  3. Remove squash from oven, and pour honey mixture over squash. Stir lightly to coat.
  4. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from oven and serve.

Sesame-Marinated Baked Tofu

Prep time: 12 hrs. Total Time: 12 hrs. 16 mins. Servings: 4

  • 1 (12 ounce) packages extra firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  1. Drain tofu and slice into 8 equal slices. Meanwhile combine the remaining ingredients.
  2. Place the tofu in ziploc or tupperware and pour marinade over. Close the container and place in fridge up to 24 hours, shaking occasionally.
  3. When ready to cook, turn on broiler and arrange tofu on a foil-covered cookie sheet. Put in oven about 5-6 inches from heat and cook about 8 minutes on each side.

8 Ways to Improve Your Attention and Regain Your Focus

 According to a study from Harvard University, human brains are in the moment for just over half of our waking hours—a mere 53%. The other 47% of the time we are thinking of something else or zoned out. As we all know, mind wandering can happen at the wrong moment—like when you are trying to focus on a lecture or presentation.
Luckily there are eight easy things you can do to improve your attention span an focus for more than half of the day.
Even a short brisk walk will do. Physical activity has been shown to increase cognitive control. According to a study from the University of Illinois, students with ADHD who participated in 20 minutes of moderate exercise scored better on academic achievement tests, especially in reading and comprehension, and were able to pay attention longer.


Paying attention during meetings can be difficult. According to the National Statistics Council, nearly half of employees consider too many meetings the biggest waste of time in their workday. Jon Acuff, author of Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work and Never Get Stuck, recommends trying to ask one good question in order to stay alert.  According to Acuff: "Good questions give you information that helps you improve your job performance," while, "bad questions are those where you already know the answer or just want to look smart.”


Being dehydrated is bad for your body it shortens your attention span. The University of Barcelona, found that mild dehydration-–as little as 2% can negatively impact your concentration.  Be aware that a 2% drop in dehydration isn’t enough to trigger thirst. So make sure to bring along plenty of water before you go into a situation requiring focus.


Meditation trains your brain stay at attention for longer periods of time, similar to the effect weight lifting has on your muscles. According to a study from the University of California at Santa Barbara, undergraduate students who meditated for 10 to 20 minutes four times a week for two weeks scored higher on exercises requiring attention and memory tests than students who changed their nutrition and focused on healthy eating as a way increase cognitive control.


L-theanine, an amino acid found in black tea, has been shown to affect areas of the brain that control attention. A study from the Netherlands, found that tea drinkers were able to perform tasks better and pay attention longer than those who were given a placebo to drink.


A study from Cardiff University in the U.K. found that chewing gum increases your alertness and improves attention. Chewing itself tells the body that nutrients are on their way to the brain, and gum can reduce hunger pangs.


Researchers at Princeton and UCLA found that when students took notes via pen and paper, they were able to identify important concepts, and listen more actively. The ability to checking email or log in to social media on a laptop provides easy distraction. Also note taking on a laptop leads to mindless transcription.


Classical music helps you pay attention, so break out the Beethoven. A study from Stanford University School of Medicine found that listening to short symphonies engages the areas of the brain involved with making predictions, paying attention and updating memory.

The Stress-Sickness Connection

Many of us have heard that stress is bad for us, but fewer of us actually know why this is. Knowing what stress does to your body, and how manifests as sickness and disease may make you more inclined to limit worrying.  
When stress is chronic, rather than temporary, it can make you more vulnerable to infection by slowing down your immune system functioning. Under stress, the adrenal glands increase the release of  cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. These hormones can cause damage in a number of ways if left unchecked.
Adrenaline raises blood pressure by speeding up your heart rate. Simultaneously, the brain relays stress signals to the gut, allowing your body to focus on the stressor. A change in the gut's normal routine can affect the composition of bacteria in your gut and lead to digestive problems.

Cortisol can prompt the body to put on deep-belly fat or visceral fat by increasing appetite, especially for sweets and refined carbohydrates. This type of fat releases compounds called cytokines which subsequently raise your risk of developing chronic diseases.

Stress is most damaging for people who experience it all the time. Frequently working long hours to meet a dead line, or constantly worrying about things like paying the rent, or getting adequate childcare can contribute most to poor health.
To avoid some of these stress induced consequences, Sharon Bergquist, a professor of medicine at the University of Emery recommends viewing your stressors “as challenges you can control and master.” While it isn’t easy to just make all of your worries disappear, it’s worth putting in the work to limit the amount of stress you deal with on a regular basis.   

Nov 24, 2015

How Diet and Drink Affect Your Face

You probably have experienced a lackluster or pale complexion after a few too many cocktails, but did you know that drinking milky lattes could also be giving you dark circles under your eyes, and spots on your chin? Did you know that spidery eyebrows and forehead wrinkles could be chocolate induced?

Skincare specialist and Naturopathic doctor Nigma Talib has found gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol to be particularly damaging to the complexion. Each taxes the body in specific ways, and contributes to aging symptoms such as spots, puffiness, changes in skin tone, premature fine lines and wrinkles or sagging. Over the past ten years, Nigma has become convinced that what you eat, and its effect on the health of your gut, is fundamental to the way your face ages.

Typical symptoms: Droopy eyelids, dehydrated skin with feathery lines across cheeks, reddish cheeks and nose, deep nasolabial folds, pronounced lines or redness between the eyes.

Nigma calls it 'wine face' because these characteristics are distinctive of women who enjoy a glass or two on most nights of the week, however these aging characteristics can be triggered by any kind of alcohol.

Alcohol dehydrates the skin, which worsens the look of fine lines and wrinkles. The deeply ageing nasolabial lines, can lift and lighten as soon as you stop drinking and become rehydrated.  Additionally, alcohol is known to inhibit the action of the enzyme that the body uses to fight the skin-destroying inflammatory process, so a couple of glasses of wine could be enough to allow the inflammatory process to take over, resulting in highly colored cheeks and a red nose.

Alcohol is high in sugar, which damages the protein collagen - vital for keeping skin elastic.  According to face mapping, the space between the eyes is associated with the liver and cause the deep lines or redness between the brows.
Like hot drinks and spicy food, alcohol can cause the delicate capillaries of the cheeks and nose to dilate, drawing blood to the surface of the skin.
If this happens frequently, they remain enlarged, giving a permanently ruddy appearance.

What Should I do?
Take a short alcohol break (three weeks, to allow your gut to rebalance) then sticking with an 80/20 rule.  Abstain for 80 per cent of the time, but enjoy an odd glass in the other 20 per cent. Choose lower-sugar wines such as sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, merlot or pinot noir.

Typical symptoms: Pasty white hue, sagging under the eyes, thinning of the skin, gaunt look, lines and wrinkles on the forehead, painful pustular spots all over the face.

The problem is that sugar triggers a process called glycation, which is when excess glucose molecules attach themselves to collagen, making the normally springy, elastic collagen fibers rigid and inflexible.  This causes the skin to sag and thin, and lines and wrinkles to appear prematurely.  According to face mapping, the forehead is associated with the process of digestion, which is why 'sugar face' may manifest as blotches or wrinkles on the forehead.

Too much sugar affects fat distribution, too, with sugar lovers ending up with a gaunt appearance because their face loses the fat that should keep it looking plump.  But it's at the gut level that sugar is really disruptive. It has such an impact on the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut that it can trigger pustular acne on the face, shoulders and chest.

Sugar increases insulin levels, which can stimulate production of the stress hormone cortisol.  Because cortisol instructs the body to divert energy to more essential tasks, blood vessels around the face constrict, resulting in washed-out skin.

Insulin imbalance caused by sugar highs and lows can put undue stress on the adrenal glands, which, among other tasks, control eyebrow hair. Eyebrows that have become fine and thin could be a sign of adrenal exhaustion where the overworked glands start to under-perform.

What Should I do?
Cut back on sugar, and see the immediate and lasting impact on your face. For best results, cut out additional sugar entirely, avoiding cakes, biscuits, fruit juices, refined carbohydrates and processed food.  Even if you just cut your intake in half and gradually wean yourself off sugar, you will notice rapid improvements in your complexion.

Typical symptoms: Bags and dark circles under the eyes, swollen lids, small white spots and bumps on the chin.

If your body is struggling to digest milk and dairy products you may have one or all of these symptoms. Lactose in milk is one of the most common food intolerances. Problems can develop in later life because we lose the enzymes that allow us to digest lactose effectively.

Sometimes your body could be struggling to digest the proteins in milk and you won't have any symptoms.  This could be prompting your immune system to trigger the release of inflammatory chemicals that have an impact on every part of your body, including your skin.

The same inflammatory process that causes redness, swelling and heat around a sprained ankle or splinter, for instance, can trigger puffy eyelids, under-eye bags and dark circles on your face.  What’s more, a glass of milk can contain over 20 hormones and chemicals, some of which occur naturally and some which will have been fed to the cow, such as antibiotics, anti-fungals, growth-promoters and painkillers.

These disrupt the balance of your hormones and trigger an over-growth of skin cells, which can block pores and trap bacteria.  According to face mapping, the chin is connected to the reproductive organs. This is thought to be why hormone-influenced spots often cluster on the chin.

What Should I Do?
If you suspect your facial aging is dairy-related take a break from all forms of dairy for three weeks - the impact on your face can be striking.

Typical symptoms: Dark pigmentation patches or spots around chin, puffy red cheeks.

Lots of us are sensitive to gluten - a protein found in wheat, barley and rye has been shown to increase the inflammatory response. This can leave the face looking bloated, inflamed or swollen.  Eventually, this affects cells responsible for producing pigmentation in the skin, leading to age spots and darker patches on the chin.

A reaction to gluten takes its toll on the immune system, in turn disrupting the delicate balance of reproductive hormones, resulting in spots or dark pigmentation on the chin, the area associated with the reproductive organs.

Some patients who have been suffering for years from rosacea - a skin condition characterized by a red rash over the cheeks have found it entirely controlled or much improved, when they removing gluten from their diets. If you have the symptoms of gluten face, nothing will make your skin look as good as it can accept removing gluten from your diet.

What should I do?
Cut it out, drink more water and eat more fiber. You find that the puffiness disperses, and skin tone improved, and your cheekbones more prominent.

Nov 3, 2015

Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes and Lentils

This hearty and filling side dish goes well with almost anything and everything. Bastyr alumna Carly Kellogg, MS ('13), RDN, who shares this recipe with us via her blog, says the key to making it well is cooking your lentils and sweet potatoes to the right texture or consistency. She adds that this dish has a healthy serving of fiber, folate, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium, making it a great option for people with diabetes and anemia.


1 inch kombu

2 tsp sea salt (divided)

2 tbsp olive oil (divided)

4 medium sweet potatoes, chopped

1 cup organic brown lentils, uncooked

1⁄2 medium white onion

2 tbsp pure maple syrup


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Chop sweet potatoes into bite-size pieces, 1/2- to 1-inch
cubes. Place in bowl and add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and mix well.

2. Spread sweet potatoes onto foiled baking sheet and bake until soft, roughly 30-40 minutes. The
smaller your sweet potato pieces, the faster they’ll cook.

3. Place the dry lentils in a strainer and wash with cold water. Pour the lentils into a small pot and cover with water at least a couple of inches above the lentils. Add the kombu and cover the pot with a lid. Bring to a boil.

4. Once lentils have boiled, reduce heat to a simmer and cook them until soft and tender, 20-30
minutes. Do not overcook your lentils or they’ll become too mushy. Once lentils are at the desired
consistency, remove your pot from the heat source and add 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt. Mix well. Let the
lentils sit in the salt water while you prepare the other ingredients.

5. Chop the onion into small bite-size pieces to match the size of your sweet potato pieces. Spread on a

foiled baking sheet, combine with 2 teaspoons olive oil, then cook for about 15 minutes until softened and golden brown.

6. Strain your lentils and add them to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the cooked sweet potatoes and onions, then mix.

7. Add maple syrup to the mixture and taste for seasoning. Add salt to taste.

8. Transfer to serving bowl and serve hot as a side dish to your meal. Savor this warming dish with a piece of fresh salmon or tangy BBQ tofu.

Oct 22, 2015

Amaranth Cereal Recipe

Amaranth, a gluten-free seed known as an Aztecan staple food, makes a great addition to a whole foods-based
anti-inflammatory diet in the cold winter months. It makes a great base for breakfast porridge. Combining it with cinnamon and walnuts adds to the anti-inflammatory effect. Try amaranth in place of oatmeal for breakfast as an anti-inflammatory start to your day.

This recipe by nutrition student Kelsey Perusse was shared with the audience at her talk in January 2015 with fellow student Mirit Markowitz on "One-Pot Anti-Inflammatory Meals." Their series continues this fall with a free cooking workshop on "Fall Fermentation" from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 24, at Bastyr Center for Natural Health.
1 cup
3 cup
1⁄2 tsp
2 tsp
1⁄2 cup
1⁄2 cup
1 tbsp
maple syrup
4 tsp
ghee (optional)
In a small sauce pan add amaranth, water and salt. Bring the amaranth to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes. Once the amaranth is cooked add cinnamon, walnuts, currants, maple syrup and ghee.

Pumpkin-Ginger Soup Recipe

Description:  This vegan soup brings out the rich flavor of fall by featuring pumpkins with just a few other ingredients. Be sure to save your seeds for an additional snack!
· 1 small pumpkin  
· 1⁄2 cup raw cashews 
· 1 tsp freshly grated ginger (or to taste)
· Salt to taste

·         Soak cashews in water to cover for at least 2-3 hours. Using a sharp, heavy knife, carefully cut pumpkin in half. Scrape out seeds (see additional notes below) and place cut-side down on a cookie sheet (line sheet with parchment for easy clean up if you like.) Bake at 350° until very tender, about 1 hour. Scrape pumpkin from the peel and puree in a blender in small batches, or mash with a fork. Put pureed pumpkin in a heavy bottomed pan. Put cashews and soaking water in blender and puree until smooth. Add cashews to pumpkin. Rinse the blender with a little more water and add to the pot. Add ginger and salt to taste and heat gently for a few minutes. If soup is thicker than you like, continue to add water until it seems right.
·         Roasted and salted pumpkin seeds are a great snack. Rinse them and spread on a towel to dry. Spread out on an oiled cookie sheet and roast at 250° for 1 hour, shaking occasionally. Salt if desired, let cool, and store in a tightly closed container.