Foods for Better Memory and Focus with guest Rich Frieder

February 17, 2020

Are you worried about your memory, or perhaps your children’s ability to focus? Listen in as we discuss how to train your brain to have better focus, better memory and better recall – just like you would train your muscles to gain strength. Along with the training you can FEED your brain for optimal focus and memory as well. Listen in to learn how!

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DARLENE: Well, welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Our show and podcast today is all about how you can improve your memory and focus. You know, maybe you're not worried or concerned about your own focus and memory, but are you concerned about a son or a daughter or maybe a grandchild? And so it's going to be an interesting show about all of this about memory and focus today.

MARCIE: It is.

DARLENE: I'm Darlene Kvist. I'm a Certified Nutrition Specialist and even after working in the field for 40 years.

MARCIE: That’s it?!

DARLENE: And I’ve been counting those years; maybe a little bit more. You know, I am still really amazed with the health benefits of eating real food. So joining me and you heard her voice already as our co-host is Marcie Vaske, who has a master's degree in nutrition and is also a Licensed Nutritionist. And she's been helping clients achieve better health for the past five years. Time has gone so fast.

MARCIE: It does.

DARLENE:  So Marcie, I'd like you to explain to people, you know, what our show's all about today because we're introducing them to a new concept called brain training.


DARLENE: You know, one of the ways that I was thinking about this was, one simple way to explain brain training is just as you can train your muscles to work better… everybody goes to the gym for that.

MARCIE: That's right.

DARLENE: You can train your brain to have better focus, better memory, and a better recall. And I think, don't you think that's a pretty new concept for people?

MARCIE: Well, that's what I was just going to say. I think it really is. I, you know, I even for myself, I don't think I've thought about, “Oh, I need to train my brain”. I just figure it works perfectly. I mean come on.

DARLENE: When you get to be my age, you think about that all the time.

MARCIE: Right, exactly. So, but before we kind of dig into all that, our plan is to start by sharing some information about how you can feed your brain for better focus and memory. And then Rich Frieder, our in-house expert this morning in the field of brain training is going to fill us in on exactly what we can expect and give us some great stories. And Rich is actually the owner of three Learning RX centers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Some of you that listen to myTalk have heard about brain training from maybe Julia on the Lori and Julia Show. And Julia, if you're listening today, we invite you to give us a call and maybe share your story about how brain training really helped you.

DARLENE: We know you listen sometimes, Julia.

MARCIE: Yeah. So call in. You know, and I think it's fair to say that many of us often think that brain training is only for children and maybe teens, but really more and more adults are really seeking out that Learning RX brain training to help with the those unexpected senior moments. You know, I even took the little quiz on the website. Unfortunately it’s telling me that I think my memory might be failing me.


MARCIE: I know.

DARLENE: Brain training for you.

MARCIE: For sure.

DARLENE: So first, in order to have great focus, concentration and the ability to remember, the brain needs to have adequate nutrition. Well, that's a new concept for people; so which means there are certain foods that feed the brain the required nutrients to function well. And then there are foods that interfere with brain function.

MARCIE: Right.

DARLENE: So you know, we're going to start with the ones that interfere with focus and memory. And I bet all of our long-time listeners are thinking, “I bet the first food that Dar is going to mention is sugar.” Well, if you are one of those who thought that, well pat yourself on the back because you're so right. However, let's not just look at what I believe. Let's look at what research has said. And we always look at research.

MARCIE: We do.

DARLENE: You know, many research studies are linking excess sugar to memory problems and to brain inflammation. And when I say excess sugar, that's not a lot, is it Marcie?

MARCIE: It really isn't. And I think everyone's going to be sad when they hear what we have to say about that. So you know, and there has been just so much research about sugar and there was actually a study reported in the Behavioral Brain Research Journal that found a high sugar diet, even, and this was really interesting; even for just one week...

DARLENE: I know.

MARCIE: Right? One week; I was kind of shocked.  …was linked to memory problems and brain inflammation. So you might be thinking, you know, “What exactly is a high sugar diet? Well, as we have said many times, if you're a long-time listener and we’ll continue to say, “The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar consumption to six teaspoons of added sugar per day for children and women.” So let's put that into perspective by looking at maybe the three most popular breakfast cereals that you might find in front of you this morning.

DARLENE: So just pick a look at one and a half cups of Honey Nut Cheerios. Do you know what? They added four and a half teaspoons of sugar to that cereal. And if you look at Honey Bunches of Oats that has three added teaspoons of sugar. But Frosted Flakes beats everything.

MARCIE: It does.

DARLENE: One and a half cups: five and a half teaspoons of added sugar; amazing.

MARCIE: Really it is.

DARLENE: So you know, just think about this: in just a small bowl of one of these very popular breakfast cereals, you or your child is getting an excess amount of sugar. And I think a lot of people eat more than one and a half cups.

MARCIE: Oh yeah. I mean it goes down in an instant. It’ll fill you up.

DARLENE: Of course when they put it on the label of the cereal box, they say a half a cup. Well…

MARCIE: I know, right?

DARLENE: You can't even see that.

MARCIE: No, that's for sure. You know, and the, there is more research out there on some sugar. So we're going to keep giving you some stats here. There is, “In 2012 a UCLA study showed that a diet high in fructose hampered memory and learning.” So if you think about that, it's all those ultra-processed foods and high in flour and sugar; you know, how are they really affecting our brains and our health? And here are a couple more alarming stats. So get ready cause this, this is sad. Currently one in three children born in America will become diabetic.

DARLENE: That's amazing.

MARCIE: It really is. And it does hurt my heart because that's a lot. And an estimated 5.8 million people will have Alzheimer's or get Alzheimer's disease.


MARCIE: It really is.

DARLENE: So what are some other foods that affect memory and focus? I bet people are asking that question as they're listening to the show. Actually foods containing bad fats; and those are found in fast foods and we know that. But honestly most restaurants, they're using bad fat.

MARCIE: Oh they are.

DARLENE: You know, of course French fries, candy bars. Take a look at a label on a candy bar; probably has soybean oil in it; and pizza.


DARLENE: You know, we really encourage everyone to stop using soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, you know, and all the products that contain these fats. So again, check the labels for any kind of prepared or fresh foods and see if you've got factory fats, these bad fats in those foods. You know, these damaging fats affect the membrane of each and every cell in your body, including your brain cells. So when a thought or a memory is blocked from transmitting from one cell to the other, when that blockage occurs, you have a senior moment.

MARCIE: There you go.

DARLENE: Or some other kind of memory problems.

MARCIE: Exactly.

DARLENE: This happens when teens are trying to focus and remember their math equations. Isn’t that interesting?

MARCIE: Very interesting. You know, and people just don't put that connection together. So that's why we're always trying to connect the dots. And we want to have enough time for Rich Frieder to share his information and his expertise about the brain training. So we're just going to suggest some real simple ways of eating that will support your focus and memory. So you'll take out, first of all, the sugar and those bad fats and put in… we always suggest eating two to four ounces of animal protein at least four times a day. Eat a variety of those vegetables: five to eight cups. So that's a lot. It's going to keep you full; include some of those good fats. So instead of that soybean oil and corn oil, we want you to get maybe, usually about a tablespoon of either some good butter, coconut oil, olive oil, nut butters, avocados; even avocado oil. And then, don't forget to add in one or two servings of fruit daily, like blueberries. Who doesn't love a yummy blueberry? They're high in antioxidants and are really a good choice.

DARLENE: They're great for your brain; every place. Eat blueberries.

MARCIE: That's right.

DARLENE: So memory problems. We recommend eliminating all gluten grains. So there goes the bread.


DARLENE: That means you need to give up those sub sandwiches for lunch and pizza for dinner. And gluten grains have been found to be inflammatory, especially in the brain.

MARCIE: They really have.

DARLENE: Are we okay with time, Marcie?

MARCIE: I think we have just a few seconds.


MARCIE: So we also want to suggest giving up your soda and juice and drink some good water, and get some good sleep. So we're suggesting seven and a half hours of sleep most nights and you know, because sleep is actually the number one reason for poor focus and memory problems. So we're going to cut it here and we're going to head to break and then we'll come back and listen to see what Rich has to say for us.

DARLENE: That sounds great.

MARCIE: So you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition, and we are discussing how to develop better memory and focus through brain nutrition and brain training.


DARLENE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. It seems that so many people actually understand and believe that cooking for themselves and their family is truly what they want to do. However, the convenient, the fast foods and the processed foods seem to find their way either through the fast food window or into their grocery cart.

MARCIE: Right.

DARLENE: That being said, how do you really stay committed to a real food plan? Hey, it isn't easy.

MARCIE: That's right.

DARLENE: I mean, we have to talk to ourselves all the time about this. You know, because of our clients’ personal commitment to their health, many of them take our nutrition classes over and over and over.

MARCIE: They do.

DARLENE: And that's great. And they say, “Gee, I learned something different every time I take these.” But so I'm just kind of putting it out. So if you're one of those people, we invite you to come on in. So come in on March 23rd because we're offering our Nutrition for Weight Loss series at all seven locations. Come join us. You know, it's once a week for three months and you'll develop those life changing habits. It doesn't happen... It's not a one and done thing.

MARCIE: No, it has to be a habit. It has to be a life change.

DARLENE: So give us a call at 651-699-3438 to reserve a space or you can go online and take it. So it's, either way.

MARCIE: It's totally accessible and it's just constant learning. And when you come in each week, it's that, you know, a lot of accountability. And I know people really like that.

DARLENE: Yes, I mean, we all need that.

MARCIE: Well, we do, right? In everything we do. So, just kind of jumping back in, I think we want to just point out that, you know, we're talking about brain training here and how to keep the health of our brain up. And we talked about sugar and those bad fats and you know, to kind of just sort of throw it home, is that the Standard American Diet, like those French fries and the pizza, you know, so many people just say, “I can't give up my pizza.”

DARLENE: That's right.

MARCIE: That's right. And then they say, “Well, I…” …and then they end up having some senior moments because you know, they can't give up their pizza or they want to go and get some fast food.

DARLENE: Well, you know, Marcie, I always say, “Hmm. It's really interesting how addicted adults are to pizza.”

MARCIE: Right. I know, I just had somebody yesterday and she's like, “And I was eating like a teenager.” Pizza all the time.

DARLENE: But they were also, they start to notice that their memory is going.

MARCIE: Right, so what's more important?

DARLENE: So we could talk nutrition about memory and brain function all morning.

MARCIE: We sure could.

DARLENE: But we're going to kind of leave that discussion about how good nutrition helps to improve focus and memory. You know, it's, we, we, we're not even going to talk about the, the connection between gluten and memory because that's another whole show.

MARCIE: It really is.

DARLENE: What do we talk about now Marcie?

MARCIE: Well, I think we should let Rich do the rest of the talking for the rest of the show.

DARLENE: Ok, we’ll turn off our mics.

MARCIE: We might as well. So Rich Frieder is here. Again, like I said earlier, he is the owner of three Learning RX centers in Minnesota: in Woodbury, Eagan and Savage. So welcome Rich.

RICH FRIEDER: Thank you. It's great to be here.

DARLENE: You know, Rich, I knew of you because I had heard Julia on the Lori and Julia Show talk about brain training and how it had helped her and I think maybe her children. And I thought, hmm, I better check this out, this brain training things for my granddaughters, Willow and Cedar because you know, they were educated in Alaska in some remote areas, and I could just tell that some of the little things were missing in them. And so we brought them in and they had an evaluation. And so kind of give people a little clue about what is an evaluation? Because it was, it was fascinating. And they actually wanted to do it.

RICH: Yeah, well and our evaluations shed so much light on why a child or an adult for that matter struggles either academically or in life. So the evaluation that we administer takes an hour to an hour and a half. We actually use a tool called the Woodcock Johnson IV of Cognitive Ability Battery and the Kaufman Test of Reading Achievement. So these are not our tests. They're used by school systems, neurologists, psychologists, and they're the gold standard in cognitive testing, but they give an age equivalency for an individual percentile and where they're at with memory and processing and basically all the skills that are required to be successful academically and the skills that make up our IQ.

DARLENE: So, as you know, I think that it's kind of interesting. I think that, I don't think people even realize the things that they might be missing even if they're adults.

RICH: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. And, you know, we, we kind of, we just get used to living a certain way often, and don't realize that, you know, we just assume senior moments happen or things like that. And yeah, as adults, unfortunately this will maybe depress some of your listeners, but when we hit that age 35 to 40, there is a natural decline in our cognitive abilities. But the good news is you don't have to settle for that. I do a lot of talks about brain health as we age and things you can do to strengthen it. And one of them, obviously that you're talking about is a big one is nutrition.


RICH: So, yeah, we don't, you know, there is a natural decline as we get older, but you don't have to settle for that because you know, the concept behind what we're talking about today and what we do at Learning RX is neuroplasticity, which means that at any age you can change the way the brain functions. Our oldest graduate actually is 95. We'd go higher, but that's the oldest that showed up so far.

MARCIE: That’s cool; all right.

RICH: So and we helped that individual stay out of memory care for example. So, yeah, even up to individuals who we just had research published related to early stage Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment showing that we can help in those areas as well.

DARLENE: So I know with both Willow and Cedar, when they were tested or evaluated, you know, one of the things that you said, “You girls are really smart.”

RICH: And they are.

DARLENE: But they had a little bit of trouble focusing and especially, you know, like, I've noticed a difference in, in Willow’s, you know, because she was, she just didn't want, she might do her homework but she didn't but she'd forget to turn it in or didn't turn it in. Now she is just focused on getting her homework done and turning it in.

RICH: Yeah, and that's great to hear. And that's what we're all about is what we're doing at Learning RX is we're, we're very different, Dar, in that we're not a tutoring center, right?

DARLENE: Oh, I think that's a good point. Bring that out a little bit more, Rich.

RICH: Yeah. So you know, when people hear our name: Learning RX, they assume we're a tutoring center that's exclusive to kids. And we're not. We're actually what's called a Cognitive Skills Training Center. So what that means is, what we're working on is getting to the root cause of a learning struggle for a child because if there are consistent academic struggles year over year, the typical approach is “Let's do more tutoring or school interventions” and things like that, which don't hurt. But if they're, let's say our weaknesses and memory or attention or processing, those are the root causes of why that child struggles with attention or reading or even sometimes motivation. And so what happens is you do more tutoring but because it's never addressing the root cause, it's just focused on more academic content, you wind up kind of in the cycle of having to do tutoring every year because you never addressed the root issue. And every school year is more difficult. So what we're doing is strengthening skills like you mentioned, like attention, like memory, like processing, and address the root cause so that kids can excel and don't need extra tutoring or extra help in the classroom.

DARLENE: So I think one of the things when we come back because Marcie’s signaling that we might have to take a break. Is that right?


DARLENE: I think Rich, if you could just, think in terms of what actually goes on in brain training.

RICH: Sure. That sounds great.

MARCIE: Break it down a little bit. Yes. So you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. So here's a little known fact: vitamin B12 is vital to your memory and energy and the only food source of B12 is animal protein; so beef, pork, turkey, chicken and fish. They're all excellent sources of vitamin B12.

DARLENE: And we need that, don't we?

MARCIE: We do. We'll be right back.


DARLENE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. You know, at Nutritional Weight and Wellness we always say “food first”, but sometimes because of poor nutrition habits in the past or maybe a lot of stress, some people need supplements with key nutrients.

So if you're serious and have a very serious memory problem, I'd like to recommend a couple of supplements that are very helpful. I suggest, and we've had this product for a long time.

MARCIE: We really have.

DARLENE: Taking one or two scoops of Brain Vibrance daily; and a couple of things that's in there. There's phosphatidylserine, which is something that helps with memory. There's choline and we get choline from egg yolk; and acetyl L-carnitine, which kind of turns the brain on. And so it really helps people with memory problems. I won't say that it is not expensive because it is, but another favorite is omega-three DHA fat and this is from algae oil and it matches up to our brain. So it works perfectly and it helps the reception. So I often suggest taking three or four of those softgels daily. Sometimes I even recommend taking six; six for six weeks.

MARCIE: Right.

DARLENE: You know? So where do you find DHA? Well you find it in breast milk. You find it in eggs that, from the egg yolk with the chickens that have roamed around outside. So, all these things help to support the basic things that your brain needs for better nutrition or better memory; so…

MARCIE: Right. And so that they, when you go into brain training with Rich over here, you'll, you'll soak it all up. So I think what we were, we decided when we got back, we were going to have Rich just sort of run through what brain training really is.

RICH: Yeah. So, so it's, basically what we're doing are intense mental exercises that are targeting weaknesses that students or are adults have. So weaknesses and memory or processing logic, visual auditory processing. So we don't call them intense mental exercises for kids. They're actually games.

MARCIE: Okay, good. I don’t think my kids would get into that.

RICH: But here's what's really interesting is most of the clients we work with like the training, because it's all one-on-one with the same trainer. So that trainer really gets to know them and how to work with them, which means it's also completely customized to that individual. So if a child has really high logic, let's say, but really low memory, well, we're not going to waste time on logic. We're going to focus where they need the most help. So it feels very game-like. It's actually kind of fun. And we've actually had a lot of students when they're done that are kind of sad because they really connect with their trainer. And then the other thing we see that's so neat is kids build so much confidence going through our program, especially in their ability to persevere through difficult tasks where you know maybe parents are experiencing homework battles and that kind of frustration. When you're able to get to the root cause of what's driving the struggle, often those types of issues go away because most kids want to do well and now they have the ability to do it. So they just attack their homework and can be more independent.

MARCIE: Right. Oh, that sounds great. And how long would one of those sessions be? Like half-hour? 45 minutes?

RICH: Yeah, so the programs go for anywhere from 12 to 32 weeks. And then the actual sessions are usually about an hour and a half, but those can also vary. So, for example, if we're working with a five-year-old that's probably too long or on the other end, we're working with an individual who's 82, an hour and a half’s too long. So it's, it's anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half depending on the individual.

MARCIE: Oh cool. Yeah.

DARLENE: So, you know, Rich, we have people that listen to our show on podcast.

RICH: Oh sure.

DARLENE: So we have listeners all over the United States, Canada and Australia and all over, you know.

RICH: That’s great.

DARLENE: And so, you know that Willow and Cedar, my grandchildren live in Oregon. So we were trying to figure out how are we going to do this? How are we going to get brain training…?

RICH: That’s a long commute to Minnesota.

DARLENE: Yes. So we figured it out that you can actually do it by, with their computer and do it remote, right?

RICH: Yeah. Yeah. We've been doing remote training for a while now and it works really well. And so that enables, you know, if someone lives an hour, like we're working with, you know, obviously your grandkids or are on the west coast. We're working with individuals who are about an hour away from a center and we can do it remotely. So yeah, there’s really no… the geographic location doesn't preclude someone from going through our program.

DARLENE: So, you know, I spent the last month with my grandchildren and it was really fun. Willow, who is an early morning person; she is up at six o'clock at least three mornings a week and you could just tell it; she loved being up and she loves her trainer and she, it turned a brain on.

RICH: That's awesome.

DARLENE: Now Cedar is not an early morning person, so she was doing it after school. And again, she loved her trainer and was doing fantastic.

RICH: Yeah.

DARLENE: Now I have to tell you, the good news is they both took their driver's tests last night because, and they both passed; first time.

RICH: That’s awesome. That's such great news.

DARLENE: And, you know, I don't, I can see that it has really changed their focus and their ability to just do things, you know?

RICH: And that's what's kind of neat. So obviously in parents come to us because the focus is “I want my child to do better academically”, but skills we train like, you know, the skills that make up our IQ, these are life skills. And so driving, sports, anything like that, this helps with, in fact was really neat. Now that we've been open 11 years, you know, we're seeing students we've worked with nine, 10 years ago who are now in their career. And that's one of the biggest benefits of our training is the gains our clients achieve are long lasting. We actually do, you know, an up-front assessment that I mentioned at the end, but then also a year after our clients complete the program and we have a 98% retention rate. So that's one difference between like brain training is kind of like working out. Unfortunately, if you stop working out, you lose it. The difference is when you're brain training, we're creating stronger neural connections and as long as an individual uses of their brain in a normal, healthy way after training, the gains stay with them. So they kids are set up to excel going forward.

MARCIE: Right.

DARLENE: You know, I brought the girls in last August.

RICH: Yeah.

DARLENE: I got to know you. It was kind of neat and I realized that, “Hey, you thought nutrition was pretty nice.”

RICH: Oh, absolutely. It's so important. In fact, even the, I shared that research. I think that came out regarding our work with individuals with early stage Alzheimer's. Well, part of that research, it was multidisciplinary, so it was brain training, but it was coupled with nutrition changes. So we worked with a nutritionist with the seniors we worked with, as well as sleep improvement, which you mentioned just a bit ago; stress reduction, because it's a systemic issue.

DARLENE: Yes it is.

RICH: And if you're, you know, we, we help, you know, obviously like ADHD is the most common diagnosis we work with. And I always get sad when I see, you know, kids come to our center with Mountain Dew and Doritos. I’m like no don’t eat that!

MARCIE: Oh; yeah no kidding.

RICH: And I experienced that with my own daughter as well.

DARLENE: So tell people Rich how you got involved in this whole brain training thing.

RICH: Yes. Yeah. So my wife and I, we have three daughters. My, they're 28, 26 and 18 now. My two oldest did great in school. No real struggles throughout, you know, supporting themselves; got through college. Katie, my youngest: really great kid. But at age six she was diagnosed with ADHD, receptive and expressive language delays and sensory issues. So when we were told that, and then it was like, well, what do we do, right? And so we were given really the pretty traditional way of handling that, which was Katie needs ADHD medication and she needs an IEP in the classroom, which is kind of a special education plan.

MARCIE: Right.

DARLENE: Yes, it is.

RICH: And I actually remember asking Dar and Marcie, asking, my wife and I asked “What about nutrition?” And they were like, “Yeah, no, that won't really…” You know what was interesting is my, my, we could see it cause my daughter would come home from school some days just hyper. And I would ask what happened today? “Oh, we had a birthday party. I had a big cupcake.” And I'm like, okay. So our experience didn't match what we were being told. And again, this was 12 years ago. I think there's more understanding of how important nutrition is.

DARLENE: We hope.

RICH: Yeah, we hope. But my daughter, she reacted to the medication, not in a great way. We tried a lot of different types.

DARLENE: That's not uncommon.

RICH: That's, yeah, that's not… They all made her crabby and moody. They dropped her appetite and then the IEP, we thought, we understand why the school does it, but we realized it wasn't really addressing the issue. So Katie could do her work in the hall where it was quiet or had more time to complete her work or because reading was hard, could have things read to her. And we were like, well at some point she has to cope.


RICH: So what, so this helped her get off medication for example. She loves reading now. It's one of her favorite things to do and it's because we are able to address the root cause as to why versus more treat the symptom, which is kind of what, like we're not anti-medication. Some kids do benefit, but our goal is always why don't we try to get to the root issue before you go that route or even determine that you need to go that route. Yeah.

DARLENE: So you also put her on a gluten-free diet I think?

RICH: We did. Yeah. We were really strict with her diet, which helped a lot. So that's what I mean: it’s systemic. And so you know, we always recommend, you know, to families that their kids eat right. If it's an adult coming to us that they eat right because I mean it's sort of obvious that what we put in our body is going to affect our brain function.

DARLENE: So how did you handle the birthday parties in school?

RICH: Yeah, so thankfully we had a teacher who was willing to work with us, so she would give us a heads up that, “Hey, there's a special event today where we're going to have sweets or a cake or something.”

RICH: So we went to a place then called Bittersweet Bakery. I'm not sure if they're around anymore. They were an Eagan, but, and we would get a special cupcake that was gluten-free and you know, reduced sugar or no sugar so that she could still participate, you know, cause we don't want her to feel left out.

DARLENE: Right, exactly.

RICH: But she didn't come home with the same level of energy that she did after a normal cupcake. So that was a good option. So there are options.

DARLENE: But you really could see the difference in her behavior when she came home?

RICH: Oh, definitely; for sure. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

DARLENE: Ok, great.         

RICH: Yeah.

DARLENE: So, I'm just going to keep talking, asking some questions. Just tell me to cut off when I need to.

MARCIE: We got one more minute.

DARLENE: Okay. So I know you're working with people that have concussions or brain injury and that to be in the news all the time now.

RICH: It is.

DARLENE: And I think you have some amazing stories about that.

RICH: Yeah, I mean, there's a couple of stories. One is, we worked with a gentleman named Ben Utecht; and Ben, Ben is known in the twin cities. He won a Super Bowl to Colts back in 2007 and he had to retire in 2009 because of his multiple concussions. But he came to us because… great guy, really bright, but memory and focus and things like that were tough. And so we worked with Ben and brought his memory from the 12th to the 98th percentile. It was life-changing for him. So concussions, car accidents, strokes, chemo brain; we worked with a lawyer in Burnsville who, very successful, but she went through chemotherapy, which affects your brain function. And we were able to bring her back up to where she was prior to that. We just had someone 20 years ago who went through chemotherapy that we just completed our program with. And he did really well; so…

DARLENE: And I don't think people even realize… I mean people that are having chemo, they realize that they've got chemo brain and we work with a lot of people that have that.

RICH: Oh I’m sure, yeah.

DARLENE: But so Marcie’s giving us the signal.

MARCIE: I am. So we're going to go to break and we'll come back and finish up our conversation here. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. In order to have a good memory, it's so important to eat every three and four hours. And I bet some of you are thinking when you have a busy, hectic schedule, how can you have food readily available throughout the day? So as a nutritionist, you know even my day gets crazy and sometimes it doesn't give me all that time I need for a snack. So what I often do is bring one or two protein smoothies and then I can just drink those while I'm, you know, even in consult with somebody. But it keeps my blood sugar balanced and so my brain can work effectively. So it's easy to mix up, you know, some protein powder, some frozen fruit and maybe some collagen and avocado for some good fat and you know, whip it up and freeze it and bring it to work. And it keeps my blood sugar stable.

DARLENE: We do it all the time.

MARCIE: We do. We'll be right back.


DARLENE: Well welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. It's been so long this show. Be sure to tune in next week as Carolyn and Melanie discuss The Link Between Obesity and Certain Cancers. You know, on Dishing Up Nutrition, we like to take very complicated biochemistry and break it down so everyone can benefit from the information that we've all researched.

MARCIE: Right.

DARLENE: Because it's kind of tedious reading all that research. You know, we really thank everyone for listening each week and we encourage you to share the podcast with a family member or friend. And this is going to be a great podcast to share with people that, you know, there's so many people that have learning problems now. You know, before we get back in and I want to make sure that people know this because they always want to know. “Well, so what happened with your granddaughters?” Well, hey, you know, they are both doing… I mean Cedar always did super well in school. I mean, no problems. She's, you know, she's an A student all the time. But one of the things that she mentioned to me is he was having trouble taking notes when someone was lecturing. Now her memory is better and she can take notes and hear the lecture. So she's got all parts of her brain going at once.

RICH: Yeah. And that usually is, can be due to, areas like short-term memory and processing speed that aren't, that need to be strengthened because multitasking requires those two skills. And that's what note taking is.

DARLENE: And Willow has really turned on to be a student.

RICH: Awesome.

DARLENE: You know, and she, you know, one of the things is she came home from school one day and she had gotten 30 out of 30 on her math test. And that was like proud time.


RICH: Yeah, and that’s what's so fun is we, I, I talk to so many parents, especially more adolescents where they feel like, well, “My child just needs to try harder”. There's a motivation issue. And that can be true, but often there's an underlying reason they're not.

DARLENE: I agree with you.

RICH: And it's just because if there's weaknesses in these areas, school's hard. Human nature is to avoid things that are hard, so it can be a conflict at home or just avoidance and procrastination. And when you strengthen the skills, that almost always improves.

DARLENE: And then of course I was concentrating on high brain nutrition for that month.

RICH: Definitely.

MARCIE: Of course you were. You know, so Rich is going to share a few more stories I think of some other examples of all the good work he's doing.

RICH: Yeah, I would say that for, for school-aged kids, the most common issues we deal with are reading and attention issues. So we had a student, one of our first, and this is really pretty common. Her name was El. And she came to us because they had tried interventions in the school. They had tried outside tutoring and El just could not pick up reading. Her mom had even been told, you know, some kids just don't get reading and maybe your expectations are too high. So we did the initial assessment, which identified why El was struggling, which almost always relates to with reading, memory struggles because of word recognition and you know, so many weird words in the English language; and auditory processing being low where she struggled to blend and process sounds correctly. Once we address those weaknesses and strengthened them after her training, her reading level and up four grade levels.


RICH: And she was in fourth grade at the time. And she is now in college excelling. Another is, his name is Killian. And he came to us eight years ago with ADHD as a sophomore in high school. And they had tried: same thing, counseling, medication. And they were, at the time he was actually getting detentions for not getting his homework turned in. They were trying that tact of trying to have more discipline. And great kid, really smart, but just could not be organized. And that's how the attention was affecting him; the attention struggles. And so after training, he actually earned an academic letter his first semester. He graduated a year ago from the University of Minnesota with a degree in architecture and he's working in the twin cities in that role. And mom, you know, didn't think he'd get into college because of how he was doing.

DARLENE: Yes, right.

MARCIE: Right.

RICH: So, yeah.

DARLENE: It changes lives, doesn’t it?

RICH: Our training can very life-changing, but the first step is to give the assessment to understand what's happening to see if it's a good fit for your child.

MARCIE: So can you tell us like how people can find you and all that good stuff? Because now they’re interested.

RICH: Yeah. Okay. So the best way to find us is just go out to There are seven centers in the twin cities area. And as I mentioned, I own the ones on Savage, Eagan and Woodbury. But I also want to share, that initial assessment is usually about $200. If you mention Dishing Up Nutrition when you call in to schedule the assessment, we'll actually are going to be offering a special offer of only $59 for one family member for the next week or so. So this is a great time.

DARLENE: That's really good.

MARCIE: That’s sweet.

RICH: So, and you know what, even if you just come in for the assessment, it can be so eye-opening because my goal is that, because you would meet with me if you come to one of my centers, my goal is that you leave that meeting, absolutely understanding why your child is struggling or if you are as an adult, struggling. And that's, that's half the battle. And then for us it's more about, okay, what do we actually do about it now to overcome these issues and make everything easier?

DARLENE: So you also work with older people?

RICH: We do. Yeah. Like I said, our oldest is 95. And yeah, I mean we…

DARLENE: How did she happen to decide she needed to come in?

RICH: Well it was actually the father who had two daughters in our program. So he was, and then so this was his mother. And he started, he realized, he's like, I'm sure this could help older people. And so the biggest change in our business in the last 11 years, Dar, is when we started out, we were 99% school-age students. We're about a third adults now.


RICH: And that can be seniors struggling with memory decline or even early stage Alzheimer's. Or just I think the best individuals to help who are seniors are those who are not at that point yet.

MARCIE: Right.

RICH: And our goal is to keep individuals independent, which is an improvement of quality of life.

DARLENE: Yes, exactly.

RICH: …so you don't get to that point where you're declining because you know, even financially, if someone has to go into a home, what is that; like 6,000 a month? I mean, it's a huge quality of life issue and financial burden that you… and to be able to stay in your home and be, be productive, it's just, we all want that. So that's, yeah. So that's absolutely what we can do.

DARLENE: So this person, this lady came in for brain training for how many weeks?

RICH: She was in a 24-week program. For her we actually went to her facility to train her, so it was a little bit different because she was in an independent living facility and trying to stay out of memory care and we were successful. So we strengthened her working memory, her long-term memory. In fact, we were just on Twin Cities Live two months ago for a 91 year-old we worked with. She's awesome. She still dances; really active. She actually watches what she eats.

DARLENE: Ok good.

RICH: And we brought her memory from around the 20th to 60th percentile because she was starting to see decline. And then, you know, strengthen her skills so she can do, she can excel going forward as well.

DARLENE: Okay, great.

MARCIE: Those are great stories. Wow. That's so fun.

RICH: It’s fun work.

MARCIE: Yeah, for sure. Well, we want to thank you so much for joining us today, Rich. It's been so nice to meet you and just learn about what Learning RX can do. You change lives and at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we change lives, don't we, Dar?

DARLENE: We do. We certainly do.

MARCIE: Yes, for sure.

DARLENE: So Rich, you, you really are spending a lot of time working with people that have had concussions. It's shocking the number of people with concussions. We have actually a couple of people on staff right now, a couple of nutritionists that are struggling with their, you know, with recovering from an accident.

RICH: And here's, here's what's interesting is that there's kind of a belief that once you're about a year out from whatever that event is, a concussion, car accident, chemo brain, that all your healing and strengthening has happened, and now it's your new normal. Well for us that's not true. Like Ben Utecht we worked with after six years after his last concussion. So no matter how long it's been, give us a call because we can help.

DARLENE: That's great.

MARCIE: Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a great day.

RICH: Thanks everybody.

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