Foods & Supplements to Support Memory

November 28, 2020

Three nutritionist answer what causes memory problems? From traumatic brain injuries to the food you choose to eat, there are a lot of contributing factors. Listen in to understand the critical relationship between poor blood sugar control, losing some memory and even getting Alzheimer’s disease.

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DARLENE: So welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I'm Darlene Kvist. And in 1992, I started Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Then in 2003, we were given the opportunity to begin this Dishing Up Nutrition radio show. And eight years later, under the guidance of my son, Kory, our radio show turned into a podcast so everyone could listen, whatever topic they wanted whenever they wanted, and wherever they might be.

SHELBY: Well and Dar, that's actually how I found Nutritional Weight and Wellness is the podcast.

DARLENE: Really? Tell us more.

SHELBY: I was in graduate school and I thought, “Well, I probably need to be learning more about how people work with, you know, nutrition in the real world.” And so I, I got on iTunes and searched “nutrition” and Dishing Up Nutrition was the first thing that popped up. After that, you guys were talking about classes in Mendota Heights and St. Paul, and I realized this company is in my backyard. I have to know more.

DARLENE: That’s great.

NIKKI: I love it. I was the same. I was the same. I found the radio show in my first job as a dietitian at a nursing home. And I was hooked when I heard it the first time.

DARLENE: Well there-that's great!

SHELBY: We found you Dar.

NIKKI: We found you!

DARLENE: So, you know, when we think back about 17 years, that's a lot of nutrition shows and a whole lot of nutrition information that we've shared over those last 17 years. You know, as I kind of think back when I started Dishing Up Nutrition, my goal was to provide nutritional information that someone like my mother could use to live longer and feel great as she got older. And that's what happened. So I really wanted people to learn and understand the information about lifestyle and nutritional choices that would support their wellbeing. You know, now 17 years later, you know, I was thinking about 17 years ago, all my friends were retiring, but not me; not yet. So during the time of, you know, we are right now in a high stress time. So what I want to offer up to people is a different way to think about food and nutrition. You know, not only how food and nutrition will support your immune function, but also your mental health. And it's really a challenge right now, our mental health. So we need to be eating everything possible to support our brain health I think. And I, a lot of times, I don't think people have even connected that.

SHELBY: I think that is a new idea, Dar, that what we eat affects our mental health.



DARLENE: So, so if you have been a long time listener, you know, and this is a word that we always use: real food is the foundation of good health.

SHELBY: And we know that people love this real food message because we are receiving emails all the time from listeners across the country, across the world that are following the Weight and Wellness way of eating, and have actually been able to overcome many different health problems. All of us at Nutritional Weight and Wellness wish that for each and every one of you listening.

DARLENE: That's for sure. That's perfect.


SHELBY: Thank you to those that are listening to us live today, and a big thank you to those of you who have continued to download and subscribe to our podcast or listen to our podcast on our website.

DARLENE: So before we move on to our topic for today: Food and Supplements to Support Memory, I want to say how delighted I am. I am delighted to have two co-hosts joining me this morning to share knowledge and their personal experiences. We always like those personal experiences.

SHELBY: We’re real.

DARLENE: So Shelby, I'm really glad to have you in studio to help me with the show this morning. You know, I really work weekly with Shelby and we've worked together on many clients. And I hear your passion in your voice and about eating real food and helping people feel better.


DARLENE: So that's kind of a little bit about Shelby. So, tell us a little bit more about yourself.

SHELBY: Yeah, I definitely do love to share the power of nutrition. You know, back when I was completing my master's degree in nutrition, I don't think I had a clear sense of how many people needed to hear this message, and really going back to the basics of eating real food. And now fast forward five or six years, my husband, he still says to me, “Well, you can't buy all workbooks.” He says, “If you're going to read books before bed, they have to be fun books too.” So I, you know, I have a collection of both that, that I like to keep up on the research and like to continue to challenge myself.

NIKKI: Shelby, I do the same thing. I have a rotation.

SHELBY: Exactly. But I think one of the common denominators with all of the nutritionists and dietitians at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is we love to learn and we love to problem solve. Now with our show today, we want to help people understand the relationship between poor blood sugar control and losing some of their memory and even contributing to things like Alzheimer’s disease. I teach the blood sugar connection day in and day out. I remind my clients that blood sugar is the most basic biochemical connection to how you feel. You know, when your blood sugar levels drop, that contributes to more cravings. Your blood sugar levels directly reflect what you're putting in your mouth.

DARLENE: That's, and I don't know if all people with blood sugar issues like people with type-two diabetes connect that, you know.

SHELBY: Right. So, you know, we've said this before on Dishing Up Nutrition, but the food that's on the end of your fork changes the inside of your body. It changes how you feel. And so to keep it really simple, what you eat affects how you feel. Really, what you're eating affects the amount of glucose in your blood. And your blood sugar level is directly connected to your dietary choices. So essentially if you're eating too much sugar or too many processed carbohydrates, that's going to pop your blood sugar up. And that high blood sugar contributes to damage, that cell damage. But, you know, I'm kind of rambling here a little bit, getting into it before... Before I get so wrapped up in this message, I want to introduce you guys to a coworker who is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. Nikki Doering joined the staff at Nutritional Weight and Wellness two years ago. And I want to remind you guys that our nutritionists and dietitians: they're real people too. So the same is true for Nikki. Not only is she knowledgeable about the field of nutrition, she's fun to work with. I mean, when we get to be on our conference calls, I always know her laugh. She's just a real person. And Nikki has some life experiences that influence how she works with clients. It really helps her understand the struggles people have around food. Now, before joining Nutritional Weight and Wellness, Nikki was doing nutrition counseling for weight loss surgery. So she's worked with clients experiencing out of control cravings. Many of her clients had 200 or 300 pounds to lose. So as you can tell, she is trustworthy and is able to listen to her clients. Nikki has that deeper understanding about memory problems from a car accident about three years or so ago, which led to a concussion. So you know that she has firsthand knowledge about the role that nutrition plays in brain health, like focus and memory and fatigue. So Nikki, welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition.

NIKKI: Thank you.

DARLENE: You know, it's a real pleasure to have you on the show today to help us out with this topic on memory. Nikki, please tell listeners about your memory problems. You know, you know, it's kind of hard to talk about your own issues, especially on the air. But we’re going to make you talk about them.

NIKKI: I'm an open book. I'm an open book.

DARLENE: So with your memory problems, which probably they came from having a concussion, right?

NIKKI: Yeah, I would say so.

DARLENE: So what helps you as far as when you're eating, what helps you?

NIKKI: Real food.

DARLENE: What helps and what makes it worse?

NIKKI: Sugar makes my, my memory issues worse, my fatigue worse. Memory, if, you know, if you get fatigued, your memory suffers, your cognition suffers. So, I have learned really since starting working at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, the importance of keeping my blood sugar balanced for my health and my brain health and function.

DARLENE: So we just went through Halloween. So did the Halloween candy, or did you just stay away from it? Or did some of that sneak in?

SHELBY: True confessions.

NIKKI: True confession time! Cue the music. So Halloween candy is really hard to avoid when you have a little one. I have a four year-old at home, so we did take our little Ghostbuster out Halloween trick-or-treating definitely; socially distanced of course. But I have been avoiding for the most part, maybe one or two snuck in there, but let me tell you the cravings spike up. Even, I have found that even just eating a little piece, a few pieces of Halloween candy or a small Halloween cookie maybe from your local grocery store, you know, those little pumpkins just scream at you. I get brain fog. I get headaches. Those are not fun when you have them daily and they just, you know, they're not going away until you get to go to sleep. I, you know, I, I forget what I've planned for dinner: things like that. There are many people, including me, who suddenly can't remember how to spell a simple word or even think of the word in itself. And you know, why you walked into the other room? How often has that happened to you? Why am I here? Or where's my phone, but you're holding it kind of thing.

DARLENE: Yes. That’s another one isn’t it?

SHELBY: And we would maybe call those senior moments in the past, but I'm looking at Nikki and she is not senior.

NIKKI: Oh, Shelby you’re my best friend.

DARLENE: Ok, I think before we go on, we really need to kind of take a break.

SHELBY: You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. There are just a couple of days left for you to take advantage of our popular online classes. You can take those in the comfort of your own home. And we are offering them to you at a special price. With everyone staying home and staying safe, we have added more classes to keep you entertained and to help you make that connection to your health. And when we come back from break, we will share some of the names of these popular classes that you can check out. We'll be right back.


DARLENE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are now offering 15 different individual online classes at a special price: $10 each; amazing! There's still time to take advantage of this great offer, but you must decide pretty soon because this special ends Monday, November 30th. So you only have a couple of days to think about this and sign up for a lot of them.

NIKKI: They're great classes. I love our $10 classes. After listening to today's Dishing Up Nutrition show, many of you will want to take our Breaking the Sugar Habit class, or Building a Better Working Memory class, which are great topics from today's Dishing Up Nutrition. And another great one to take: I would highly recommend is Why Drink More Water? Because that also plays into blood sugar balance and memory and brain health. So, because water is 75% or approximately 75% of our brain.

DARLENE: Really? Is that true? 75% of our brain is water?

NIKKI: Yes, it is! And we’ll get into that a little bit more.

DARLENE: A lot of sloshing around in there.

NIKKI: It is! It literally sloshes around in there.

SHELBY: Right. So besides that fat, our brain is predominantly water. So that dehydration, you know, that could be something that many people who are struggling with memory are, are overlooking, or maybe not even aware that that's a connection.

NIKKI: Exactly.

SHELBY: So how do people sign up for these classes, Nikki?

NIKKI: So to sign up for any of the $10 classes, you go to our website,, or you can give us a call at (651) 699-3438, and we will help you sign up.

SHELBY: Absolutely.

DARLENE: That’s great.


DARLENE: So Nikki, you know, I know that you are experiencing some, some side effects from having the concussion. But I don't know if people understand what goes on when we have a concussion. So let's go into this a little bit.

SHELBY: Yeah, what happens in the brain with a concussion?

DARLENE: Maybe a fall, or you have an auto accident or you fall on the ice or you're playing sports and you hit your head.

NIKKI: So if we look inside your head at your brain, you can find that your brain is very soft and kind of resembles a soft butter, or, you know, the butter that's kind of sitting out on your countertop. And that material is made up of mainly fat like butter. Mm butter-we love it. But the skull is hard. It's designed to protect the brain. So if you, when you fall or you hit your head or you experience a blow like from a car accident or auto accident or playing sports, that soft-like butter material brain bounces around and ultimately hits those sharp bony areas of your skull; damage occurs, inflammation sets in, and now you have a bruised inflamed brain.

SHELBY: So that, that concussion on the football field or in a soccer or hockey game, a skateboarding or snowboarding accident, or even like you had mentioned, a car accident, any time you fall and hit your head, that is setting the stage for more inflammation in the brain.

NIKKI: Exactly. Concussions are not just football injuries. They can happen to anyone anytime. So, you know, I've learned a lot about head injuries and how my concussion has affected my memory and my moods, and so much more of my life, which we'll talk more about. Until I personally experienced it, though, I didn't realize what it meant and what a head injury could have, you know, that a head injury could have such a negative impact on your life. And I think, you know, I've had, I've had multiple clients since starting at Nutritional Weight and Wellness that kind of are, people don't believe them or they don't, they don't understand. You know, family members or friends or even doctors just don't understand what they're going through because you don't look sick.

DARLENE: Yup. And I don't think the people have any idea how long it takes to recover. So you've been in this process of recovery for…

NIKKI: Almost three years.

DARLENE: Almost… and you still have some symptoms don't you?

NIKKI: I do.

DARLENE: And you know, thinking about your symptoms, what's the, probably one of the worst symptom that you might be having?

NIKKI: I would say headaches and fatigue, I guess. Fatigue is rough and the headaches come from the fatigue.

SHELBY: Yeah. So listeners, if you've taken a blow to the head, or maybe you've been in a car accident, maybe you need to work with someone like Nikki, someone who really understands what you're going through, because Nikki, I'm sure that you are giving people this glimpse of hope. You're working full-time. You're juggling lots of things. You're a mom. You're a friend. You know, you have found ways to take care of your brain and reduce that inflammation. We know that there are lots of you out there. The research says or the, the statistic shows that 2 million new head injuries occur every year in the United States. And over 350,000 military vets have had a traumatic brain injury. Head injuries can be a very serious problem and can cause a wide range of symptoms. Now, when I work with clients who have had a concussion or a traumatic brain injury, these are the most common and debilitating symptoms. Now, Nikki, you mentioned headaches and fatigue, but they also comment on things like dizziness, brain fog, difficulty remembering where they put things, even things like irritability and nausea. They have a hard time with their balance, and even difficulty sleeping, which I, I would love to get your take on, how this inflammation in your brain has affected your sleep.

NIKKI: Yes. I can relate to most of that list that you just shared. Yes, because I've had them maybe not all currently right now. Thank goodness. I've done a lot of healing, but at one point I've had all of that and in different degrees. So sleep was a huge thing for me. Especially in the onset of my concussion, I would get two to four hours of sleep and do that for several weeks. You feel like you're literally going crazy. So sleep is huge for me. So, and then the memory goes, the brain fog sets in and things just, you don't heal. We know we sleep, we heal when we sleep.


NIKKI: So since the onset of my concussion, I've experienced many different symptoms, just like I said, which have been really frustrating. That's the one thing that, I think we see that in a lot of different conditions because a lot of these conditions that people come to Nutritional Weight and Wellness for, you can't see them. You know, it's, you can't see heart disease. You can't see diabetes. So when people have to change things in their life, it's hard to explain.

SHELBY: Right.

DARLENE: You know, what's kind of interesting, Nikki, you know, when you said people can't see these disabilities or these health problems, which is so true, but I, we've worked with so many people that have sleep problems too. And you wouldn't know that unless you start asking people questions. You don't, you know, like when you were only getting two to four, two to four hours of sleep a night, people didn't know that.

NIKKI: No. Nope. They didn't. I did. And I would frantically, I'm sure… I feel like I picture myself as a cartoon character with like the crazy hair and the big, buggy eyes, like I'm getting two hours and you know, the doctor's like, “Okay, okay.” And I'm just like, “You don't understand.” And I consider myself a pretty big advocate for my healthcare and a lot of people aren't. They don't know how to be. I have a medical background, so I know the questions to ask. I know what's normal; what's not, most of the time. And so, so yeah, I, I suffer even daily, you know, writing notes, you know, our client notes. Sometimes I'll forget what I'm writing or have a hard time spelling something.

DARLENE: That sounds like a senior moment.

NIKKI: Yes. I'm getting them early, I guess. But my biggest thing too, and I think any client that's probably listening all of a sudden, just say, “I lost it. Give me a second.” And I have to come back. And you know, it's very gracious. My clients are always gracious with that. You know, I'm open with my clients that I've had a concussion and I think they appreciate the honesty and knowing that they can be real with me because I can be real with them.

SHELBY: Right.

DARLENE: So, you know, I think most people understand that like an auto accident or, you know, a head injury in a football game or something will end up affecting people's memory, you know, but do they really understand that the memory problem is due to inflammation in their brain? You know, I think, again, I think most people understand that when you have a sprained ankle, you know, you can see the inflammation, but the same thing actually happens in your brain when you have a concussion or you have a fall. It's exactly the same that happens in the brain of someone with Alzheimer's disease. It's inflammation, inflammation, inflammation, and it's really hard to spot because we can't see swelling in the brain.

NIKKI: Well, I remember that's the first thing I learned was, “We can do testing, but we won't see anything.” That's what the doctor said to me. “We can, we can scan your brain, but you're not going to see it.”

SHELBY: Right.

DARLENE: So researchers have clearly demonstrated that inflammation over and over and over is the fundamental process that underlines the development of Alzheimer's. So it is brain inflammation.

NIKKI: Yep. And what's exciting is doctors now have the ability to actually image the brain, you know, and see that inflammation and the, and the ways those inflammatory chemicals are, go in action in the brain. And they can also see the connection between the degree of inflammation to the level of memory loss.

SHELBY: I think before we talk about brain inflammation, more Dar, I think we need to go to our next break.

DARLENE: So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I think most of us agree that 2020 has been a highly stress-filled year for many of us. 80% of people living in the U.S. are struggling with stress, anxiety, and depression. Mental health issues are a real concern for many. It is important at this time to support your brain chemicals with quality food, especially quality protein. So many of our clients are making weekly appointments with their nutritionists and dietitians to have the support they need through December and January. I'm having a lot of people calling for appointments. So if you are interested in an appointment, call us at (651) 699-3438, and we'll set it up for you at your convenience. And we’ll be right back.


SHELBY: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I want to share a special that's going on. We have 15% off on several of our probiotics. Through the end of November, we are offering 15% off on Bifido Balance, Acidophilus, Biotic 7 and Biotic Duo. We also encourage you to think about your vitamin D levels this time of year. Especially when we're talking about supplements, we want to address vitamin D. Having your vitamin D level is so important for your brain health.

NIKKI: I just had mine checked.

SHELBY: Yep. Vitamin D is very active in the brain. So having an adequate vitamin D level is so important for your immune function and for your mental health. And, you know, Nikki, before we came on this morning, you had mentioned as a nutritionist and dietitian, having that vitamin D level checked helps us get that individualized dose so we know what your body needs. So we really encourage you to do that. Now, of course, eating real food is the key to good health. And then we add in those key supplements for the things that we can't get from food.

DARLENE: So let's go back to talking a little bit more about brain inflammation. And we know that if you have a fall or, you know, you maybe have a car accident or something like that, you can have brain inflammation, but there are other factors that cause brain inflammation. And I think this is the real, the key to what happens when people have the beginning of Alzheimer's disease or even serious Alzheimer’s disease.

SHELBY: Yeah. And it's interesting, Dar, because oftentimes I will have clients coming in that, maybe they have a family history of Alzheimer's disease, or, you know, they're taking care of a mom or a dad or, you know, a spouse and they have this fear of developing Alzheimer's disease. They really come to recognize that they think better and do better when they follow an anti-inflammatory diet, which makes sense when we see that inflammation in the brain. So here are some interesting facts: worldwide, a person is diagnosed with dementia every seven seconds. Isn't that amazing? Every seven seconds; and more than 5 million Americans currently have Alzheimer's disease. So 75% or three-quarters of adults suffer from memory problems. And Dar I know you're not one of them.

DARLENE: I hope not; at least not on this radio show.

SHELBY: So today it's not just adults, older adults having memory problems. Young adults and even children are having memory problems. The question that needs to be addressed is “What's the underlying cause of those memory problems?” Because just age doesn't dictate how well our brain works.

NIKKI: Yup. I agree with that. I think the question is best answered of course by research. We know from research studies that there is a link between developing dementia and the higher blood sugars in your body. Both prediabetes and type-two diabetes put you at risk for developing memory problems. I'm afraid that many people don't know what causes high blood sugar levels in their body. And I'm, I don't think people really understand how inflammatory sugar can be and those processed carbs can be.

DARLENE: Well, it's interesting. Before when we were talking before, you know, I made the comment that I probably eat to keep my blood sugar controlled.

NIKKI: Yes you did.


SHELBY: That's such a new idea for people. And I think as we continue to share this real food message, there hopefully are more people that say, “Well, I'm eating to support my blood sugar.” And that really is a practical way for us to reduce that inflammation. So when I'm working with a client who said that they're worried about their memory, or, you know, maybe they're having some of these lapses in memory, I teach them about balanced eating. And for those of you who have listened to Dishing Up Nutrition, you probably know: protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. And I kind of think of it as animal protein, colorful carbohydrates, predominantly vegetables, and those really nourishing anti-inflammatory fats. So as we think about the carbs specifically, I like to keep the number of carbs that these clients eat daily to about a hundred grams or less. The amount of carbohydrates for breakfast should be between 25 and 28 grams.

So if we were to think about that in practical terms, if you were to eat vegetables for breakfast, that would be a cup of green beans and maybe a half of a cup of squash. For lunch, eat a salad containing 25 to 28 grams of carbohydrates. And really what you're hearing us say is that the best and most healing carbs come from vegetables. And so I really try to reprogram that carb message for my clients. And I try to change that over to color because when you're thinking about color, you're naturally gravitating more towards the vegetables and the fruits.

DARLENE: Now that sounds like a nutritionist talking.

NIKKI: Yeah, eat your rainbow. But not that Halloween candy rainbow: eat your rainbow veggies.

SHELBY: Sometimes people say “Color? Does that mean I get to eat Skittles for breakfast?” Now, when we're thinking about dinner, that would be another 25 to 28 grams of carbs.

DARLENE: So when you're thinking about snacks, it's probably best to kind of keep your snack number of carbohydrates down to about 10, 10 to 15 at the most, and probably have two snacks at least every day. And you know, really most people are eating too many carbohydrates. And sometimes they're eating up to 200 grams, sometimes 300 grams of carbohydrates. So if you want to avoid type-two diabetes, and I think everybody does, and also how to avoid Alzheimer's disease, it's better if you can kind of keep your carbs down, that level down to about a hundred grams of carbs a day.

NIKKI: It’s easy to do that with vegetables too.


NIKKI: Carbs are so easy to overeat. Before the pandemic, when I'd have people over, you know, when we weren't socially distancing, for a holiday dinner, I would say, “Oh, I need to put something out, you know, to kind of munch on.” Well, would think: chips and salsa. That's easy. Have you ever noticed how it's hard to stop eating just one or two tortilla chips?

SHELBY: Yes, I have, Nikki.

NIKKI: Honestly, can you stop after eating just seven chips? I would say most people listening and maybe people in this room too would agree that it is difficult to just eat seven chips. So, and then close the bag up and put it away.

SHELBY: And why are seven chips important?

NIKKI: Because seven chips, seven chips contain 20 grams of carbs.

SHELBY: Only seven.

NIKKI: Yeah, that's a fifth of the a hundred grams that we were just talking about. So if you aren't mindful, which is easy to be with chips, food like that, it's easy to not be mindful about what you're eating, of how much you're eating. You can eat your entire day's worth of carbs with only a couple handfuls of chips.

DARLENE: So Nikki, what happens when your guests leave? What do you do?

NIKKI: So, you know, you close up that bag of chips and there it's sitting on the counter or maybe you don't even close it up. Maybe it's just sitting out and you're cleaning up after your guests leave and oh, maybe a few more sneak out. What's the harm, right? Just a few more. Well now you've maybe nibbled on those 14 chips. So that bag of chips usually still is out on the counter or we're wrapping it up or maybe it's just in the bowl still while you're cleaning up your, after your guests leave. And you think, you know, you may be grabbing a chip here or there. You think, “What's the harm?” Well, all of a sudden you've nibbled on 14 chips and then maybe up to 21 chips. And now we've just got 60 grams of carbs, not including the carbs from the meal.

DARLENE: Yes. And that's very close to a hundred.

NIKKI: Yes. And your blood sugar goes up above the normal range. And what happens then ladies? Inflammation sets in.

SHELBY: Right, that elevated blood sugar stirs up inflammation in the bloodstream. So now we're going to talk a little bit about that biochemistry, but I promise we won't scare you away. For some people, the more they know the reason why they're going to do something different, the better they can make those changes, the more willing they are to make those changes. So for example, when sugar binds to the proteins and certain fats, that actually results in deformed molecules that don't function well. And when we look at this in the brain, sugar molecules and brain proteins combine to produce harmful new structures that can lead to degeneration of the brain. So we really see that inflammation damaging the brain. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. In our show today, we talked about the butter-like consistency of your brain. Now your brain is actually just a mass of fatty tissue and water. So we want to keep that brain hydrated. Most of the brain fat is an omega-three fatty acid. So to reduce brain inflammation, we recommend 4,000 to 6,000 milligrams of omega-3 fish oil. For other mental health issues like depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, and even low motivation, we recommend a special type of omega-3 fat called DHA. And DHA comes from algae. We found 300 to 400 milligrams of DHA fatty acid supports brain function. If you have questions for us, feel free to call our offices at (651) 699-3438. Or you can submit a question online at We'll be right back.


NIKKI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. For many of our clients, health insurance covers their cost of nutritional counseling. For those private pay clients, we are offering special discounts at this time. You may want to buy a package of visits with one of our nutrition experts for maybe your mother or perhaps it could be a special holiday gift for yourself. There's no better gift than good health. Call us at (651) 699-3438. And we will help you find the perfect gift.

DARLENE: So we were talking before break about inflammation of the brain and degeneration of the brain. And we, well, I like to put things in terms that people really understand. It's a shrinking brain.

SHELBY: Right.

DARLENE: And when you have a shrinking brain, it can interfere with short-term and long-term memory. You know, the relationship between poor blood sugar control and Alzheimer’s disease is so strong that researchers are now calling Alzheimer’s disease type-three diabetes.

NIKKI: And Alzheimer's disease really hits home for me personally, because I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer's this year. So, blood sugar balance and brain health is just one of the most important things that I focus on for myself, and hopefully my family around me and my friends around me, because it's so critical.

DARLENE: Well, you know, if we stop and think about this, this is one thing that we all have control over is our blood sugar balance. We have to kind of start thinking in terms of that. And that's one thing that I think about a lot of times is “How am I going to keep my blood sugar balanced all the time so that I don't have these lows or the highs?” Because I don't want brain inflammation going on.

NIKKI: Exactly.

SHELBY: And I think that's probably a new idea for many people Dar, is that they actually do have power and control over their blood sugar based on what they're eating.


DARLENE: I think people have to take on that feeling that they are in charge of their health.

SHELBY: Right.

DARLENE: And, and, and I can eat that way. You know, you look at the lines by the fast foods now; fast food companies, and you go, hmm, what is really going on? Not good stuff, probably.

NIKKI: No. Cutting down on added sugar isn't easy for the first few days. And usually, it's usually really difficult to do. I usually tell my clients, you know, you're in for a three-day battle. You know, if sugar touches your tongue, know that you're going to be battling cravings for the next three days. But if you can stay with it, your cravings for sugar decline. When you make the decision to cut out sugar, make an appointment with one of us, a nutritionist, a dietitian. We're here to help direct and support you. And we will make it easy. We will find how this can work in your life rather than your life working into this plan.

SHELBY: I think it really helps people have that clear path of not just avoiding the sugar, but now what do I eat? You know, if I'm going to avoid the sugar or avoid the fast food, what can I eat for breakfast? And what can I eat for lunch that is going to support my blood sugar.

NIKKI: Yep. And when you have a foggy brain, it's hard to think of that. It's hard to meal plan. Each of us has different levels of sugar addiction. And each of us have different amounts of sugar consumption that they can tolerate. We're talking about the dietitians and nutritionists now, but we're also talking about everyone. You may have noticed that during these tumultuous times that you are eating much more sugar than ever before. I may have been guilty of this. The beginning, the very beginning, it was kind of a crazy time for me and my eating life right when COVID kind of hits and we were shutting down. It was, I definitely eat sugar when I'm stressed.

SHELBY: I think sugar is a pacifier for people, but when people do cut out sugar or even cut down on their sugar consumption, they find they sleep better. They think better. And they have less inflammation and magically, they start to lose weight.

DARLENE: Oh yes, that one.

SHELBY: See how we threw that in there.  

NIKKI: Yes, can’t forget that one.

DARLENE: So Gary Taubes, you know, he's the author of The Case Against Sugar. And we've had him on Dishing Up Nutrition before and we're going to have him on again, says that if he allows sugar into his life, it is a slippery slope. And then he wants more and more and more sugar. He knows eating a little sugar leads to wanting more and more and more sugar. And I think a lot of people feel that way. Not everyone for sure. But it sounds like Nikki that could be you.

NIKKI: Yep; true confessions again.

DARLENE: When we’re working with people, we have a lot of methods and ways to help people get off sugar. It's different for every person. So I have a client recently. I just started really working with her. So in the past she lost over a hundred pounds. She cleared up her depression. She got married, but then a little sugar found its way in and the weight came back and the depression came back and she decided once again to take control of her health. So she's now, we have six weekly appointments set up to get her through the holidays and to start feeling good for the next year for 2021.

SHELBY: So Dar, what I hear you saying is she's not waiting until the new year to take charge. You know, that's kind of an arbitrary day for people to do something different.

DARLENE: That's right. That's a good point, Shelby. She's taking charge now. So the great news, and this may be what is happening with a lot of people, is that she's paid off all of her health insurance deductibles for the year. So now these appointments will be basically covered by her health insurance.

SHELBY: That’s great.


DARLENE: So she really is back on the road to better health. And, you know, even after one appointment, her comment was, “Oh, I feel so much better already.”


DARLENE: “And I wasn't perfect, but I feel so much better.” So…

SHELBY: You don’t have to be perfect to work with us.

NIKKI: I think we’ve already learned I'm definitely not perfect. But I, I can totally relate. I can relate to that. So I'm a huge Oprah fan. And one of her most well-known sayings is “what I know for sure”. Well, what I know for sure to have a good memory, I need to sleep, sleep eight to nine hours most nights. If my son is restless or my husband works late and, I just don't get restful hours of sleep, my next day suffers. My memory suffers. My anxiety suffers. My, you know, my energy suffers. I'm definitely fatigued. So getting eight to nine hours of sleep per night is not always easy, but it's critical for my health.

DARLENE: I think it is for most people. I mean, we know it is for most people.

NIKKI: I have to make it a priority. I have to always think about it; always think about it. I learned that during my sleep, or I've learned over the years that sleep, during sleep, my brain detoxes, both chemicals that I'm exposed to in the environment. And also those negative thoughts that I've had maybe throughout the day.

DARLENE: That's kind of interesting, Nikki.

NIKKI: Yeah.

DARLENE: When you think about it, just sleeping…

NIKKI: Just sleeping.

DARLENE: …detoxes your brain, not only of the chemicals, but of your negative thoughts.

NIKKI: Your negative thoughts. Have you ever, I mean, think about the people in your life or have you ever woken up a little cranky?


NIKKI: Never; I know if I don't get enough sleep, I'm definitely a cranky, “cranky pants”. So we are living in really stressful times right now. I find eight to nine hours of sleep is the best antidepressant and anti-anxiety drug I can take. Who knew sleep was so valuable? Well, I know Dr. Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep, knows so much more about the value of sleep and harm, and the harm of not getting enough sleep.

DARLENE: So, we always say this: remember “the more we know the better we do.” For those of you who are struggling with getting more than, you know, maybe you're only getting four to six hours of sleep a night, Dr. Walker's book just might help you get some ideas or we concentrate on it, but we have a class on sleep: a $10 class right now. And it's so critical.

SHELBY: Well, Nikki, I have to say, I have not had a concussion. And I still find that I feel my best when I'm getting eight to nine hours of sleep. And my husband knows that. I mean, if the dog needs to go out in the middle of the night, he takes the dog out because it's safer for all of us if I'm getting a solid night of sleep. So I would like to recap some key points from our show today, just to kind of help you guys make that connection. So for a better working memory, reduce or limit the added sugar.

NIKKI: Another, recap point: for better working memory, limit the amount of carbs you eat to a hundred grams or less daily. So think of this as eating more vegetables, you know, focusing on more vegetables will create, make it easier for you to eat less carbs. And remember Shelby said, “Eat your colors”.


DARLENE: And you know, you get a lot of nutrients from vegetables that support your brain health. So here's another one: for a better working memory, eat the right foods to avoid type-two diabetes and maintain a normal blood sugar level. So what does that really mean? It means to eat real food and it means to eat, you know, quality protein, vegetables, and beneficial fat; so simple.

SHELBY: Yeah. Yeah. 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 joining us. Be safe and be well.

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