I’m thankful to be thriving after decades of health problems. The gratitude for my own health transformation propels my work helping people restore their brain health. We all deserve to fulfill our potential for vitality and cognitive clarity.
Though my story has a happy ending, my first signs of depression and ill health emerged after I was temporarily taken from my mother as a toddler. My childhood included lots of severe gut pain, bloating, headaches, and a summer spent lying around listlessly at age nine, wanting never to have been born. By my twenties, my medical diagnoses included irritable bowel syndrome, pre-diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, chronic depression, and insomnia. I was working as a research associate within UCLA Medical School’s Department of Neurobiology at that time, so my health insurance and proximity gave me access to prestigious UCLA doctors. Yet, these well-meaning physicians and their prescription medications failed to address the underlying causes of my chronic health conditions.
While I was supposed to be in my prime, I often felt awful and desperate for help. A turning point came when one sensible doctor advised me to stop drinking freshly squeezed orange juice. This simple dietary change immediately evened out the blood sugar roller-coaster I had been on. This got me wondering: how else I could use food as medicine?
Around age thirty, my irritable bowel became disabling. I took my healthcare into my own hands, relying on my education in human biology, scientific training evaluating evidence, and desire to self-experiment. In the days before the explosion of health information on the internet, I slowly tested my personal hypothesis that eating, exercising, and living in a way that was more biologically appropriate for humans would improve my health. I gradually alleviated all the conditions that had incapacitated me. My improved health allowed me to conceive my lovely daughter in 2005. I felt like I had climbed out of an abyss and wondered how much higher I could climb.
Postpartum sleep deprivation helped me appreciate the significance of sleep and community. My daughter inspired me to garden, source foods directly from farmers, and learn to cook nourishing family meals.
My journey wasn’t without setbacks. I hadn’t yet deeply invested in developing stress resiliency. After my younger sister and father both slowly died from cancer and I experienced a couple of relationship calamities, the sum of the blows seemed to unleash my genetic predisposition to autoimmune disease and my newfound health collapsed. These new afflictions fueled my desire for a more rigorous and comprehensive understanding of lifestyle medicine.
In my late thirties, I went back to college to complete numerous UCSD courses in subjects including metabolic biochemistry, clinical nutrition, and kinesiology. I attended two Ancestral Health Symposia, one at UCLA and another at Harvard, where I found my tribe and embraced the “mismatch theory”. A greater understanding of ancestral health and preventative medicine sparked me to advocate for public health in a variety of settings. I also became drawn to functional medicine teachings about the interconnections between our complex physiology and psycho-social-emotional selves.
Modern medicine often performs miraculous interventions for injuries, infections, and acute conditions. Nonetheless, it lacks incentives for up-front investing in preventative health measures that would spare us prescriptions, procedures, and avoidable suffering later on. I missed out on a lot of my youth feeling awful and not getting much help from conventional healthcare. And I had been unable to afford premier holistic healthcare. These life experiences sparked my drive to play a role in a more cost-effective combination of lifestyle and cutting edge medicine that reverses chronic conditions successfully. I decided to become the healthcare professional that could have been life-changing for myself and my family.
So, in 2016, I started training in unconventional medicine to become a functional medicine health coach—a value provider of true preventative healthcare who uses diet and lifestyle to address the underlying drivers of both mental and physical illness.
During my training, an incident shifted my being: my mother jumped off a bridge. This made me grasp the preeminence of mind and spirit. Many of us need to deal with stress, relationship issues, fears, and negative self-talk if we are to be truly well. Functional medicine elucidates how emotional, social, mind, gut, and brain health are intimately intertwined—how the body affects the brain and how the mind influences the body.
Dr. Bredesen had published “Reversal of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease” around this same time. Dr. Bredesen’s case studies had me reflect on how my grandmother’s decline with Alzheimer’s dementia could have been possibly been prevented. She had truly been the sweetest person in my life. The diet and lifestyle of the Bredesen Protocol™ lie where my interests in ancestral health and cutting-edge science converge. And I was fired up by his unconventional program to to truly deliver greater health.
In January 2018, I began working with a Bredesen-trained doctor who had decades of experience utilizing integrative medicine. I completed Dr. Bredesen’s “Reversing Cognitive Decline Advanced Clinical Training”. The coalescence of life events and my passions cemented my career path. Optimizing brain health became my calling.
Now coaching prevention and reversal of cognitive decline, I remain true to my roots by staying grounded in evidence-based science. Beyond this, I use critical thinking and cultivate wisdom about diet and lifestyle therapies which do not yet have randomized controlled clinical trials in humans. And, having always lived on a budget, I strive to steer people with cognitive issues toward true healing in a cost-effective way. Often times, holistic health measures don’t have to be expensive or complicated to be powerful enough to reinvigorate you…provided that you are willing to invest time and effort into lifestyle changes. I’m living proof of this.
I’m on a life-long pursuit to rebalance, heal, and learn. I try to practice all aspects of the Bredesen Protocol™ daily in an easy-going, affordable way. After figuring out what works well for me and with repetition, I get abundant pleasure from my KetoFLEX 12/3™ diet without needing to count macronutrients or calories. Cooking seasonal, tasty meals with food from my two gardens and my favorite KetoFLEX™-aligned groceries has become a comfortable routine. In addition, I’m steadfast with my stress management and cognitive training practices, trusting that I’ll continue to be rewarded with more personal and intellectual growth. An aspect of the Protocol that remains difficult for me is getting to bed early. I’m a work in progress who will keep iterating on my lifestyle habits and appreciating this journey.
I genuinely enjoy more overall wellness now than anytime previously in my life. I feel strong, coordinated, and mobile for most every activity I want to do. This contrasts my sedentary youth when I was labeled “uncoordinated” and never played any sport. I regularly hike with my daughter and friends, do almost all of my own gardening and landscaping, dance, and fill in the gaps with supplemental exercise. This is how I maintain strength, flexibility, aerobic conditioning, and balance in fun and satisfying ways. Since adopting the Bredesen Protocol™, my brain can finally pick up choreography enough for me, a non-dancer, to take urban dance with trained dancers less than half my age. Compared to the stifling depression that shrunk my world in the past, I stretch myself daily as a solo entrepreneur in a pioneering field of healthcare. I’m amazed at how both my body, brain, and mind are flourishing more in midlife than before.
It’s wonderful to be finding my groove and gratifying to help others do the same.