kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

The brain is the control center of the body, managing memory, speech, and movement, along with regulating the function of many organs.  Surprisingly, the brain is 75-80% water, with the rest split between fat and protein. When the brain is healthy, it works quickly and automatically.

Bill Bryson, the author of The Body, A Guide for Occupants, calls your brain the most extraordinary thing in the universe. “You could travel through every inch of outer space and very possibly nowhere find anything as marvelous and complex and high functioning as the three pounds of spongy mass between your ears.”

“The great paradox of the brain is that everything you know about the world is provided to you by an organ that has itself never seen that world..”

Keeping our brains working optimally and addressing health issues of the brain BEFORE they happen is critical.

Memory loss can be caused by;

  • Depression
  • Dementias – formerly called “senility” and Alzeheimer’s
  • Age-associated memory impairment not associated with dementias
  • Multiple minor strokes

Stress elevates cortisol and sends it coursing through the body. This added cortisol can cause memory loss due to damage in the limbic area. The cerebellum sits at the back of the skull. Its main job is to process procedural memories; the hippocampus is where new memories are encoded; the amygdala helps determine what memories to store, and it plays a part in determining where the memories are kept based on whether we have a strong or weak emotional response to the event.

Another impediment to memory is a deficiency of serotonin, acetylcholine, dopamine, norepinephrine, and endorphins. Depression related to life events, especially chronic stress and trauma, may deplete these chemical messenger levels. Memory is basically biochemical.

About 20% of cognitive decline is due to impaired circulation. The brain uses 25% of our blood supply and is very vulnerable to any loss of circulation. Atherosclerosis is a condition caused by hardened arteries and is one of the most common causes of poor blood circulation. To avoid atherosclerosis:

  1. Stop smoking. Smoking damages your arteries.
  2. Exercise most days of the week. Regular exercise can condition your muscles to use oxygen more efficiently.
  3. Eat healthy foods.
  4. Lose extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Manage stress.

To help prevent aging of the brain try adding some supplements:

  • Ginkgo biloba increases blood flow to the tiny vessels in the brain. Ginkgo lowers amyloid proteins in the brain. Amyloid plaques are clusters of mis-folded proteins that form in the spaces between nerve cells. These abnormally configured proteins are thought to play a central role in Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid plaques first develop in the areas of the brain concerned with memory and other cognitive functions. 120mg/day for preventative care and 360 mg for a therapeutic dose.
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine has positive effects on brain aging, both therapeutic and preventive. It helps to regenerate mitochondrial function, making more energy for neurons. Acetyl-L-Carnitine relieves depression in the elderly at 3 grams a day.
  • Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine (alpha-GPC) – Phospholipid delivers choline, essential for brain development, to the central nervous system.  400 mg/day is a preventative dose and 400 mg 3 x day is a therapeutic dose. The therapeutic dose helps cognition post-stroke.
  • CoQ10 easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. The blood–brain barrier protects against circulating toxins or pathogens that could cause brain infections, while at the same time allowing vital nutrients to reach the brain. CoQ10 is an excellent antioxidant and will protect brain cells from oxidative damage and reduce the action of harmful compounds that can lead to brain disease. CoQ10 is found to be low in neurodegenitive disorders. CoQ10 will counter changes made by amyloid deposits in early stages. A typical daily dose is 100 milligrams to 200 milligrams.
  • Phosphatidylserine consistently shows improved memory, learning, cognition and mood in studies. It may also reverse cognitive decline. 100mg/day as a preventative does and 300 mg a day if you have memory issues.
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is essential for the growth and functional development of the brain in infants. DHA is essential for brain development and accounts for 97% of the omega-3 fatty acids found in the brain and 25% of the brain’s total fat content. DHA is taken up by the brain in preference to other fatty acids. DHA may help protect against age-related cognitive decline, suggests a 2010 research review from Current Alzheimer’s Research. Analyzing data from previously published clinical trials, the review’s authors found that taking 900mg of a supplement containing both DHA and EPA may help treat mild cognitive impairment. All vegan/vegetarian DHA+EPA supplements are derived from algae instead of fish or krill. While research on algal oil supplementation is limited, studies so far have suggested that its bioavailability and subsequent health benefits are comparable to that of fish- or krill-based DHA+EPA sources.
  • Vitamin E slows the progression of brain aging. Some foods with vitamin E are almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, beets, collards, pumpkin and red peppers.“Vitamin E” is the collective name for a group of fat-soluble compounds with distinctive antioxidant activities. Doses of up to 1,000 mg/day (1,500 IU/day of the natural form or 1,100 IU/day of the synthetic form) are safe for adults.

Correct hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia to keep your brain healthy. Hyperglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels are too high. People develop hyperglycemia if their diabetes is not treated properly. Hypoglycemia sets in when blood sugar levels are too low. Hypoglycemia starves the brain and speeds brain aging.  Diabetes and borderline diabetes increase the risk of developing Alzeheimer’s.

Your best approach to maintaining a healthy brain is to feed it well.

  • Green, leafy vegetables. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene. Research suggests these plant-based foods may help slow cognitive decline.
  • Berries. Flavonoids, the natural plant pigments that give berries their brilliant hues, also help improve memory, research shows. In a 2012 study published in Annals of Neurology, researchers at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week delayed memory decline by up to two-and-a-half years.
  • Tea and coffee. The caffeine in your morning cup of coffee or tea might offer more than just a short-term concentration boost. In a 2014 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, participants with higher caffeine consumption scored better on tests of mental function. Caffeine might also help solidify new memories, according to other research. Investigators at Johns Hopkins University asked participants to study a series of images and then take either a placebo or a 200-milligram caffeine tablet. More members of the caffeine group were able to correctly identify the images on the following day.
  • Walnuts. Nuts are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats, and this nut in particular might also improve memory. A 2015 study from UCLA linked higher walnut consumption to improved cognitive test scores. Walnuts are high in a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which helps lower blood pressure and protects arteries. That’s good for both the heart and brain.

Practice a Brain-Healthy Lifestyle

  • Avoid toxins
  • Avoid stress and high cortisol
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Quit smoking
  • Stimulate intellect with exercises for your brain like crossword puzzles, sudoku, and jigsaw puzzles
  • Get regular aerobic exercise
  • Go outside often


Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, the seeds of berries from certain Coffea species. When coffee berries turn from green to bright red in color, indicating ripeness, they are picked, processed, and dried. Dried coffee seeds are roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavor.

Not so long ago, many health-conscious American wondered whether they should stop drinking coffee. In recent years coffee’s reputation has gone from addictive health hazard to powerful potion that provides a long list of surprising benefits.

In a June 2016 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially lifted coffee from the list of potentially carcinogenic foods. It went on to designate coffee as potentially protective against cancer of the uterus and liver.

The WHO is not the only organization to include coffee in its list of foods that are probably harmless and possibly healthy. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (commissioned by the secretaries of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture) thoroughly reviewed the evidence and declared that “moderate coffee consumption (two to four cups per day) can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern…” And the World Cancer Research Fund International concluded that coffee consumption was linked with a lower risk of several types of cancer.

There’s evidence to suggest that regularly drinking coffee lowers the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, colon cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, depression, and even premature death.

Coffee, both regular and decaf, contains an abundance of antioxidants. For many people, it is the single largest source of antioxidants in their diets, followed by fruit, tea, wine, cereals, grains, and vegetables. This doesn’t mean the coffee is a universal health food. This reflects the fact that the average person isn’t eating enough broccoli, kale and blueberries.

Coffee contains vitamin C, Magnesium, polyphenols, catechins, flavonoids, and cholrogenic acids – indicating that antioxidants are its main selling point.

Moderate coffee consumption has been linked with longer lifespan. In fact, a November 2015 study in Circulation found that coffee consumption was associated with an 8% to 15% reduction in the risk of death (with larger reductions among those with higher coffee consumption).

Considering all of this good news about coffee consumption, you might feel tempted to increase your intake or to start drinking it if you don’t already.

  • If you don’t like coffee, there is no current recommendation to drink it.
  • If you are already a coffee drinker, it should be reassuring that after decades of research, no strong link can be found between coffee intake and cancer and, to the contrary, a number of health benefits seem to accompany coffee consumption. But, the evidence isn’t powerful enough to recommend an increase in your daily habit. One reason is that researchers don’t know for sure that coffee consumption actually caused the health benefits observed in these studies. Some other unmeasured factor could be responsible. Another reason is that the overall effect was small. And, it’s worth noting that some people are quite sensitive to the side effects of coffee.
  • Moderate your coffee intake. Although we don’t know how much coffee is too much, the risk of side effects is lower with moderation.

The news on coffee isn’t entirely positive.

Coffee can increase insulin production in people who have type 2 diabetes.

Caffeine is a stimulant and can raise cortisol and adrenaline which can lead to adrenal exhaustion. The way that you respond to coffee has a lot to do with your genetics. Some people can have 1 cup and be wired all day. Others can drink 10 cups and still have trouble keeping their eyes open.

Coffee can lead to heart palpitations. If you are regular drinker  who misses a dose, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and anxiety.

Bladder and pancreatic cancer. Studies performed more than 30 years ago suggested a potential link between coffee consumption and cancers of the bladder, pancreas, and possibly others. Since then, better research has largely refuted these concerns. In fact, some of the older studies raising red flags about a cancer link have since been used as examples of “fishing expeditions” and weak research methodology.

Esophageal cancer. In a 2016 report, the WHO raised concerns that drinking coffee (or other beverages) at temperatures higher than 149° F may increase the risk of esophageal cancer. However, this is not unique to coffee. And drinking coffee at such high temperatures is unusual among most coffee drinkers in the US.

Cardiovascular disease. Studies linking coffee consumption to cardiovascular disease have mostly observed it with higher consumption (well above four cups per day), and some of these studies did not account for smoking, which often accompanies coffee consumption and is, of course, an important cardiovascular disease risk factor on its own. Other concerns include modest and temporary elevations in blood pressure, and fast or abnormal heart rhythms.

Bothersome, but mostly minor, side effects. The caffeine in coffee can impair sleep, cause a “speedy” or jittery feeling, and even cause anxiety. Heartburn, frequent urination (because caffeine is a diuretic), and palpitations are problematic for some coffee drinkers.

Avoid “coffee drinks”. These are usually just big cups of milk, sugar, artificial flavors, and whipped cream with some coffee mixed in. One Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha has 470 calories and is mostly sugar.

How to Buy

Many coffee farms receive as little as 10 percent of the retail price of their product. High demand for coffee has also led to the destruction of rain forests and animal habitats. According to the World Wildlife Fund, more than 2 million acres of forest have been cleared in Central America for coffee farming. Additionally, industrial coffee farming requires a massive amount of chemicals and fertilizers that pollute our environment.

Please look for organic, free-trade labels.

Pre-ground coffee loses flavor as it sits in the package on a shelf in the grocery store for weeks or months or years. If your coffee doesn’t say where it was grown and roasted, it’s probably not that great. The roast date is the most important piece of information on a bag of coffee. You want beans that were roasted no longer than two weeks ago. Once they pass that stage, they start to lose flavor. And once they hit a month, they’ll start to taste like cardboard. If you cannot find the roast details, it is because the people who made the coffee don’t want you to know when the beans were roasted.


How to Store

Coffee does best stored in a dry, airtight container, avoiding air, moisture, heat, and light.

  • Choose a cool, dark, dry place, such as in a pantry or cabinet.
  • Avoid warm spots, such as above or next to the oven or in cabinets that get hot from exposure to sunlight or cooking equipment.
  • It’s OK to keep your coffee on a counter if it’s in an opaque, airtight container out of direct sunlight and away from any heat source.

If you choose to freeze your coffee, quickly remove as much as you need for no more than a week at a time, and return the rest to the freezer before any condensation forms on the frozen coffee. Freezing your beans does not not change the basic brewing process. That said, many coffee aficionados believe that the cold messes with the oils and fibers that lead to full, flavorful coffee.

How to Cook

Remember that what you add to your coffee can make a difference in how healthy the beverage really is. Instead of loading up on cream and sugar, add up to two tablespoons of dairy-free milk, and use naturally sweet spices and flavorings. Try stirring in a ¼ teaspoon of the following for extra flavor:

  • Vanilla extract
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon
  • Cocoa powder

Raw Vegan Coffee Tiramisu

Vanillacrunnch/ Lara

12 Bars


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • ¼ cup cacao nibs
  • ½ cup pitted Medjool dates
  • 3 tablespoons espresso/ strong coffee
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • Dark Layer:
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 cup Medjool dates
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup espresso/ strong coffee
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • White cream:
  • 2 cups macadamia nuts, soaked
  • 1½ cup coconut cream*
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cacao butter


  1. To make the crust process the rolled oats, cacao powder, cacao nibs, dates, espresso and cinnamon in your food processor.
  2. Process until a sticky mass forms.
  3. Press evenly into the bottom of a rectangular silicon pan.
  4. Set in the fridge.
  5. For the dark layer first process your cashews until fine.
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine until the mass sticks together.
  7. Spread the mass on a silicone sheet or a sheet of parchment moon a baking sheet and “bake” on lowest heat for 30 minutes on each side.
  8. While the dark layer is in the oven, make the creamy white layer by blending macadamia nuts until very fine.
  9. Add coconut oil, melted cacao butter, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  10. Keep on processing.
  11. In a separate bowl whip up your coconut cream until fluffy. To make the coconut cream, place a can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight. Then take the coconut milk out of the fridge and spoon off the really thick stuff on top. Put it in your mixing bowl add a tablespoon of maple syrup and mix until it’s thick.
  12. With a spatula carefully combine with the macadamia mixture.
  13. Spread half of the white mixture onto your crust, then place a layer of your dark mixture on it (optional: Nutella layer, recipe )
  14. Add the rest of the white layer on top and freeze for at least 3 hours.
  15. Before serving dust with cacao powder.

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