In today's episode, we uncover the healing power of music as Kate Kunkel, a brain health expert, reveals her journey to an incredible mental health breakthrough by utilizing music's good influence on the human brain. Tune in ...
In today's episode, we uncover the healing power of music as Kate Kunkel, a brain health expert, reveals her journey to an incredible mental health breakthrough by utilizing music's good influence on the human brain. Tune in to discover more about the probable causes of dementia and how to live a healthy lifestyle to lower your risk of having this debilitating disease.
When it comes to Dementia, here's what you need to know:
About Kate Kunkel
Kate Kunkel turned her mother’s tragic illness and death from dementia into her mission in life. When she learned that this and most dementias were preventable, Kate expanded her healing work as a sound therapist and vegan nutritionist and became an Amen Certified Brain Health Professional.
Now, through coaching, retreats, and in her books and podcast, Kate helps people take action to remedy the mental and physical health issues that can threaten their ability to learn, remember, make good decisions and enjoy life.
She is also the international best-selling author of “Don’t Let the Memories Fade”, a holistic guide to preventing dementia and creating a healthier, more vibrant future, and The Healthy Brain Series which includes The Vegan Brain, and The Musical Brain. Kate’s passion and empathy shine through in her commitment to better brain health for all, reminding us that it is never too early to look after your brain, but it can become too late.
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[00:00:00] Dementia is an inflammatory disease because what happens is those Tau proteins and the tangles that happen in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, I'm talking about Alzheimer's cell. Those protein tangles are actually the body's defense system, immune system in the brain defending the brain against inflammation. This is the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions Podcast, and I'm your host, Maya Acosta. If you're willing to go with me, together we can discover how simple lifestyle choices can help improve our quality of life. Let's get started.
[00:00:42] Nearly 6 million people are living with Alzheimer's disease in the United States alone. In the general population, brain function is going downhill Concentration memory focus, creativity and productivity all of these are suffering as our brains struggle to keep up with the demands that we place on them. There are also related issues such as the rise in other dementias and stroke as well as depression and anxiety. Something a whopping 17.3 million people in the United States struggle with.
[00:01:13] That comes from teen shoreside. Join me today as Kate Kunkel, the international best-selling author of Don't Let the Memories Fade a Holistic Guide to Preventing Dementia and creating a Healthier more vibrant future. Shares with us tips on what we can do to prevent and reverse dementia before it's too late. As always, the full bio for all of my guests can be found on the website healthylifestylesolutionorg. And also, make sure that you follow me on social media on Instagram.
[00:01:44] I am @maya_hls_podcast I hope you enjoyed this episode. Welcome, Kate. Thank you very much. Thank you.
[00:01:54] I'm very happy to be here with you. Well, thank you. It is a pleasure for me. You probably know when we exchange emails, you said that in some ways, some of our interests and some of the content that we have on our podcasts are very similar. And by the way, I do want to let the listeners know that you also have a podcast and you invite guests on the show to talk about brain health as well like other things that we can do to enhance our brain to prevent dementia.
[00:02:23] Exactly. Brain health matters. Yeah, everything I do is about helping people protect and enhance their brains. So, that's podcast, the books, everything. And I've enjoyed many of your guests.
[00:02:36] As a matter of fact, I thought I'd reach out to a couple of them because, one of them you had an individual speak about therapeutic dogs, basically the benefits of having animals in our lives. It's one of our most popular podcasts. Yes, therapy for dementia therapy for any kind of mental health issues, most of the time. And, of course, mental health issues are intricately connected to dementia the likelihood of developing dementia. So, it's very important to look after those things.
[00:03:07] And therapy animals are a great way to look after it. Either the question was brought up or someone mentioned that as we age, it could even be more helpful. So, I have for example I have my mother who is gosh, I want to say she's probably 76 now. She lives with another sister of mine in Phoenix and suddenly my mom finds herself caring for more of the dogs in the family.
[00:03:33] And so they're keeping her very busy and entertained. Everybody else works. So, my mother is the one spending quality time with the dogs and one particular that's new to the family my sister's dog. My mother and I, when we get on the phone she's always telling me about Emilio. That's his name.
[00:03:53] And Emilio is learning this and he's doing that. And none of us had dogs growing up because our father did not allow it. So, my mother actually didn't know how much she enjoyed animals until she had access to them. I'm seeing also that or we learned that having healthy relationships and feeling a sense of love can also be good for us as we age. And I'm seeing that with my own mother.
[00:04:16] So, when heard that episode it just really resonated with me. I said I need to share that episode with my mom she needs to know that there is tremendous benefit in her interacting with the animals now. Oh, that's what a lovely story. I'm so happy to hear that.
[00:04:31] And you know what? That will hold her in such good stead because they're being useful is also very important. That's why so many people once they retire if they don't keep busy if they don't do something to feel like they have a purpose in life, still decline very quickly. So, that's another great thing. Besides the companionship and the learning and the love, she's protecting her brain.
[00:04:57] Absolutely yes. So let's learn about you. I'm very excited that you will be talking about the benefits of music something that I've spoken about here before. How did you switch from being a harvest in Las Vegas to being an Amen-trained brain health professional. Yeah.
[00:05:17] So, firstly as a harpist while l was an entertainer that is how l earned. Most of my money of course, was as an entertainer. But while l was there in Las Vegas, I began exploring the healing power of the harp because I was doing a gig once at a lady's house. It was an engagement party. And there was a couple there at the engagement party and his name was. Steve I'm sorry, I don't remember his wife's name but they sat with me the whole evening.
[00:05:47] They just loved the music. And sometime later, about six months later, I got a call from the lady who had the party and she said, Kate, do you remember this couple? And I said, of course, I do. They were great. And she said, Well, Steve is really sick.
[00:06:03] He has cancer, and there's nothing they can do. And his wife has been asking him if there's something he would like. And he says, I'd like to hear that little girl on the harp again, referring to me, of course. So Michelle called me and said, could you go to their house? And I said, yes, of course, I'll go to their house.
[00:06:24] I'm happy to do whatever l can. When I got to the house the whole street was full of cars. His driveway was full of cars. And I go in, and the whole family is gathered. Steve is in a hospital bed, and he's only partially conscious.
[00:06:41] I didn't realize that he was that sick. I thought was just going there to hang out with them but he was really sick and dying actually. So, I went in and kind of got my stomach together and went in and I grabbed. Steve's hand and I said, Steve, it's Kate. I'm here to play my harp for you. And I like to think that he understood because he squeezed my hand a little bit.
[00:07:10] I believe he did. Anyway, I sat down and I played because I remember she loved the old Irish stuff so I played a bunch of Irish tunes. And then all of a sudden Maya, my energy shifted. Everything shifted.
[07.07.20] And I wasn't playing songs anymore, I was somehow I swear I must have been somehow connected to Steve's energy. And I just started, I was just playing my fingers were doing what they're supposed to do, but my mind was completely disconnected from it.
[00:07:44] My heart was there. And that went on for a good 20 minutes. And then as suddenly as it started it stopped. And I kind of came out of my trance and looked up and his wife was patting his brow and kissing him and saying goodbye I love you.
[00:08:03] Oh, my God. So, he passed away. That's why the energy stopped so that got me. Firstly, I had to pull myself together and try to drive all the way home again because I was so impacted by this experience.
[00:08:18] But I left the house I went home the next day. I told my husband I've got to figure out what happened last night I need to understand what that was. And so that put me on a whole research thing.
[00:08:34] Of course, this is long before all the Internet and everything we didn't have access to all of that. But I got exploring and I learned about how another harpist has healed himself from a form of Parkinson's. And then I got into MS, and I helped a lady with MS and that's how l kind of morphed.
[00:08:55] I wouldn't say switched I morphed and did more of the healing work. And then my husband and I started working more in the healing field as well. And everything just kind of went that a way. I guess that's what I was supposed to do with my life.
[00:09:12] And then when my mom got sick, I realized that that was part, part of her healing or her treatment because she wasn't going to heal from this. It was too late by the time we figured out what was going wrong. But it was part of her comfort level to hear the music. And then when I realized how much diet and everything else impacted what was happening to her, I realized that that was how l had to take my life I needed to use those skills.
[00:09:42] I learned the information had from the healing music and add it to my arsenal of things that could do for mom and anyone else with this issue. What a beautiful story. It's very touching. Not long ago, I had a guest who was featured in the documentary, Going Om and I don't know if you've seen it.
[00:10:03] I kind of figured because we have very similar interests and you're very tuned into that whole spiritual and energetic aspect of our lives, of who we are. And ever since then I've paid close attention to how music affects me when it's intention to kind of ground myself to center myself to calm down. Because I have suffered with anxiety in the past. And I've heard you talk about anxiety as well. Prior to this incident with Steve, had you ever had because it sounded like you said you were kind of in this flow.
[00:10:40] You were overtaken by this music almost as if the energy was directing it all. Have you had that experience before. And how long have you been a harpist. I'm just curious because I love music and instrumentas well. Well, I haven't been to harvest the whole story of me getting would you like to hear how l even became a harpist.
[00:10:59] If you'd like. Yeah, sure, why not? Well, that's also kind of a spiritual. It's very much a spiritual story. I had a business very high-stress business in California and it involved a lot of meetings lots of them in the evening and I hated what I was doing.
[00:11:20] I truly did not like it and I felt like I wasn't supposed to be there. But I was there for whatever reason. One night was coming home from a meeting. We lived in Rancho Mirage California and there was a big, deep gully, like a wash between where l was at the meeting and where we lived.
[00:11:41] And just for a nanosecond as I was driving home that night. I thought boy, it would be so much easier if I just drove off this bridge.
[00:11:54] Anybody who's had any kind of depression or anything like that. Do you understand of course l didn't but it scared me that I would feel that unhappy and desperate? So, I got home that night and I cried and I cried and as I was going to bed, I lay there in bed and I said, please, if there's anyone out there help me.
[00:12:19] I don't know what I'm doing here on this planet and I don't think I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing If I can have some message, some signal, something. That night I was given a dream and in the dream I was playing the harp I'd never even seen a harp in my life before that day and I remember to this day, 30 years later, how l felt at that moment in the dream playing that harp.
[00:12:53] It was absolute peace and knowing. So, that morning I got up, and I said to my husband. I've got to learn to play the harp.
[00:13:07] Looking at me like, okay, whatever. Fortunately, he was the kind of gentleman who, whatever l wanted he would try to make it happen. So, it was about a month and a half later that I got my first little harp and it was a little folk harp. And I picked it up, and I knew that that was what I was supposed to do with my life. That had something to do with why I was here on the planet.
[00:13:30] But before that, I was a pianist. So, it's not like I'd never touched an instrument before but one year from the day I got that little shop we locked the door on the business and walked away like that I knew that that wasn't my destiny. And one year after that we started a seven-year gig at the Excalibur.
[00:13:52] Fun. Wonderful. So, you do have a natural gift for music and so then you just crossed over to being a harpist and so beautiful I know our listeners are going to find a lot of benefits with all the tips that you will share with us as we move on to talk about your story. But I do want to add, and we know this, that playing an instrument can be very good for our brain.
[00:14:16] My husband not long ago, well, let's just say he picked up the guitar again after years of putting it down to teach himself again. And early in our relationship, remember him just kind of asking, I'd work in one room he's practicing and playing in another room. And then one day he was just like, isn't it annoying to you? Am I bothering you? And I said, what are you talking about.
[00:14:40] I love it so much. And we both love the acoustic sound, right the acoustics of the guitar and just the practicing and the practicing going over is so soothing for me. And so I said, I even say even today when he's so busy, I said, honey, when are you going to play again? I really miss hearing the sound of the guitar. It's so soothing.
[00:15:03] And the experience that you had with Steve, is something that would like to experience during my last few hours on Earth is that I would love to transition soothingly with music. You know that there's a whole movement of harpists and other musicians who play bedside. It's a wonderful thing, Oh, yeah. Oh, my gosh.
[00:15:25] I'll think of her name as we go through the meeting but it's a hospice project and they have harpists and guitarists and others who go around and play for people as they're passing. Wow. I'm learning so much. Yeah. Thank you for telling me about that.
[00:15:42] I just know especially when someone and I don't want to get emotional but when someone is, I can't even think right now.
[00:15:53] I can help you. But when that family has to decide on whether to keep someone on life support for example that's a time where l would want something like that present. Like, if I had a family member who was suffering I would just want them to because it just feels like the angels are just welcoming you home. Exactly. Yeah.
[00:16:16] So, tell us about now, I've never heard of Amen-trained health professionals. So, tell us about that program. His name is Dr. Daniel Amen and he's a psychiatrist and he got very interested in, he says that psychiatry is the only medical specialty where they don't look at the part of the body they're treating. Most psychiatrists never look at the brain.
[00:16:43] They don't. They only use their guidebook to tell them okay, this is the symptoms you're having so you must have this. So this is the drug we give you. Dr. Amen saw that that was not working.
[00:17:01] Psychiatry is not working all that well. So, he because of his background he understood that if you look at the brain you can see where there are actual physical issues going on inside the brain that cause these mental health issues. So, for example, if you are not getting enough blood flow and oxygen to certain parts of your brain due to a TBI, due to toxicity due to poor diet diabetes or whatever the reason a different part of your brain may be affected because it's not receiving the proper amount of nutrition the form of oxygen and blood flow and all the things that come with the blood. Right. So he began looking at Spec scans, which is a special kind of tomography that can see what's happening in terms of the blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
[00:17:58] He has, like, 100,000 different scans that he has as a reference and he can tell. We know that if there's something going on here in the prefrontal cortex there are going to be issues with executive function. There's going to be less likelihood of being able to make good decisions that sort of thing. So, we know that that happens. There are other parts of the brain that have to do with depression with anxiety.
[00:18:25] You're more likely to be depressed if this part is damaged in some way. A lot of people who have traumatic brain injuries for example football players soccer players, people who have been in car accidents people who have been victims of domestic abuse, those kinds of injuries can cause problems in the brain. Remember our brain is really, really soft. Our skull is really, really hard and inside our skull are bony ridges.
[00:18:54] So, even if you have like a fall, even if you don't hit your head, you may fall back or you may have a rear end, like a car accident or your skull is getting knocked around your brain is getting around inside your skull. And that soft tissue of the brain can be damaged by the bony ridges in your skull, or just by the fact that it's sloshing around in there so to speak. So, he understood that and he created a program. We call it the four pillars of brain health. The biological, psychological, social, and spiritual pillars of brain health.
[00:19:33] And that's why we use to help people overcome many issues. In my case, I specialize in dementia prevention. So, the information that l use, I use the same information but l gear it towards helping people improve their brain health so they are protected against dementia in the future. But it's all based on what we know actually goes on inside the brain so that's a man's stuff.
[00:20:00] Awesome. I like that you cover the four pillars so it's like you cover all the areas that can contribute to not just the physical injury right? But other ways that we sort of injure your brain and one of them is through nutrition. Would you like to share the story of how your mother suffered from dementia? Sure.
[00:20:22] My mother had mental health issues all her life that were unresolved so that's one thing for sure that I know contributed. Now, that can look back on it with my training, I see that that was probably one of the issues. My mother was also she was never a housewife. My mother always worked.
[00:20:39] She was always very busy. Very stressed. And she was also I hate to use the word suckered. But that's really the word that use by the food industry to convince women that time that you could save so much time you could be a better wife.
[00:20:58] You could be a better mother if you fed your kids this package whatever it was or canned whatever it was. And she fell for it because she was not a great cook. She didn't like to cook.
[00:21:11] She didn't have time to cook so we can use processed foods. As soon as I learned to cook, I did the cooking because I knew intuitively that this was not the way to feed people. So, as soon as I could cook, at about age ten, I took over that role. But when left home she did not eat well.
[00:21:31] She gained a lot of weight so she had stress, she had a bad diet. She worked in a factory for many years that was making the foam that we use for car seats. Imagine the chemicals that she inhales every day for a decade. So she's got that. There were just so many things and she had cancer.
[00:21:56] I believe the cancer came because of the chemicals. But she also had cancer, and she took allopathic treatment four times. She had cancer four times. So all of those things together now that look back on it I can see that that's what contributed. But we didn't know that when she was diagnosed in 2010, I had also been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis while my mom was diagnosed with dementia.
[00:22:24] So that got me like, oh, I got to fix this because I'm not going down that path. So that's what got me following. But Mom's decline was very rapid. I believe because it was so multifactorial. There was just so much going on with her. And my father is not a caregiver by any stretch of the imagination.
[00:22:46] And my sister was still working and I'm 5000 kilometers away in Ecuador, so I couldn't do a lot to help them. But mom ended up going into a nursing home which is the worst thing that would have happened to her because there they feed them at least at that nursing home. At that time in Ontario Canada, they were fed what I would call flop. I wouldn't feed it to anybody and it was devoid of nutrients because it was just reprocessed nonsense and it was filled with food coloring and they were giving them diet drinks and everything. And my sister and I, when I did go out to visit my sister was always battling with administrator feed mom better.
[00:23:25] But I believe that's why once she went there she declined very rapidly and she was gone. She died about Christmas two years ago, but she had cancer again. She actually died of cancer with dementia so advanced I mean she knew who we were but that was about it. She couldn't feed herself or anything by that time.
[00:23:47] So, mom had, excuse me, a hell of a life, a hell of a journey. And watching her decline my poor sister, I don't even know how she did it because she's very gentle very sweet and it must have been so painful for her. And I was doing it from a distance and feeling all the guilt that you feel when you're not there when you should be. But Mom's journey also because I could see what had happened to her. And as I started learning more and I was doing my own research before l ever got involved with Dr.
[00:24:19] Amen or anybody else, I realized that the same thing that caused Mom's issues caused mine because the autoimmune disease has exactly the same risk factors exactly the same. And people with autoimmune can very easily slide into dementia because it's the same risk factor. So I worked on myself. I could do something about myself so I worked on myself. And I haven't had a symptom of RA in seven years, I guess.
[00:24:50] Incredible. So, it was your mother and her experiencing initially dementia that got you interested in doing all this work? Exactly. She is the reason l do everything, Oh my gosh, that's so touching.
[00:25:03] I love hearing your story about how you've taken this interest because of the story because of your mom but also yourself like you were able to reverse your arthritis. Yeah. I truly believe that most people who have an autoimmune disease also have a really good chance of reversing it It's not easy.
[00:25:27] I'm going to say that flat out It is hard work because you have to learn, you have to monitor, you have to test yourself and you have to get blood work. You have to see what you're doing, is it helping? If it's not then you have to do course corrections.
[00:25:41] If it is okay, then can I supplement it? Can I make it even better? Because that's a whole I mean, it's a whole education and it's continuing I do it all the time. How much stress are you getting?
[00:25:55] That has a huge impact on so many things Yes. You're probably aware that Sand Naughter was here on the show speaking about inflammation. And you just spoke about that inflammation how foods contribute to that and also traumatic brain injuries and stress. So can you speak to us about that?
[00:26:14] Where does inflammation fit in this whole dementia puzzle? Dr. Bredesen who I'm studying with now, I'm taking my next certification in brain health. Dr. Bredesen says that dementia is an inflammatory disease because what happens is those Tau proteins and the tangles that happen in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. I'm talking about Alzheimer's now.
[00:26:40] Those protein tangles are actually the body's defense system, the immune system in the brain defending the brain against inflammation, and many other forms of dementia are also impacted by Alzheimer's. We can see the process because the proteins are a defense mechanism. That's why all of those drugs that attack the proteins in the tangles, they don't work for maybe they might work, they might work for a short time but then people who go on them sink very quickly because the body's immune system is saying, whoa wait a minute. You took away that protective system. Now I have to make much more.
[00:27:29] So, it goes into overdrive and that's why people sink so much faster. We have to get rid of the source of the inflammation. It's the same with autoimmune disease, it's the same with diabetes, It's all about inflammation. So, we have to really protect our bodies against that.
[00:27:46] That party is diet Dairy is an absolute no, don't do that Dairy is very inflammatory pretty well. All red meat and anything that's chemicals all the chemicals. So, think of the chicken that people eat and it's pumped full of chemicals and God only knows what they feed the poor things.
[00:28:03] So that's also going into your body. Your body is defending itself against those attacks and creating inflammation we need a certain amount of inflammation. right? If we get a cut or something we need the inflammation to heal it. But then it's got to go away.
[00:28:23] If something stays, that's a problem contributing to so many diseases, cancer, diabetes and so many things. So we have to really keep an eye on them. Absolutely. And I'm so glad you touched on chemicals too because we also had Kayli Anderson come on.
[00:28:40] She's a registered dietitian who spoke about chemicals, personal products that use that could be endocrine disruptors. And I was commenting that stopped. I got rid of a lot of household chemicals a long time ago. I'm very careful about what put on my skin and on my hair, but l've become highly sensitive and I'd love to know what you think about this, but when people wear a lot of perfume like some individuals wear too much perfume or cologne I have an instant headache. Like, it's hard for me to tolerate that smoking.
[00:29:14] I'm highly sensitive to the smell of smoke but l once read about how we really can't filter that out. Anything, that we inhale. It's not like we have a filter to protect our brain. It goes right there. It's right there.
[00:29:28] It's right behind your nose. It goes right into the brain. That's why smell, a lack of sense of smell is a precursor. It signals that you could be going down the path of dementia. We need that sense of smell very much.
[00:29:44] It's an indicator of problems. It's an indicator that we need to be careful. We have an innate system that warns us when things are not good for us. We just have to pay attention to them. Right.
[00:29:57] Like the perfumes, I'm like you 100%. I just do not like perfume. And I'm telling you, I live in Ecuador, and people love perfume here. It's like they bathe in it or something.
[00:30:10] So, that's a real issue for me. And smoking. Yeah, I won't even allow l have a half-acre property here. Nobody's allowed to smoke even on the property. I don't care if I'm not around.
[00:30:19] You can't smoke here because I'll smell it. I'll come in on the property and I'll smell it. I wish I could wear a sign or have a little piece of paper that could just drop in someone's purse. Like, please don't because you're affecting the rest of us. I get headaches big time.
[00:30:34] A lot of places now are sent free zones, like hospitals I wish they made airplanes scent-free because that's one of the worst places to deal with it. Yeah, absolutely. So, now I've heard my husband when he gives lectures on Atherosclerosis talk about Alzheimer's and dementia and if you want to kind of just clarify he says that most cases of Alzheimer's are kind of not properly diagnosed. That is vascular dementia.
[00:31:04] Well, Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia. Vascular dementia and frontal, and temporal dementia are the two next and lower body dementia are probably the top four. But Alzheimer's is way above. More than 70% of dementia cases are actually Alzheimer's.
[00:31:23] But yes, vascular dementia which is where my father is starting to go because he had strokes and he doesn't eat properly. And of course, I'm not there and he won't listen to my sister. So he's just going to go down that path. There's nothing we can do. But he is going down that path and that is definitely vascular.
[00:31:40] He has many he has stents in his heart and the whole shebang but it is very common because they're not getting the proper blood flow and oxygen to the brain so that part of the brain is going to be affected and it will manifest as dementia. But it also manifests other things. right? It can make them moody it can change their mental health status. The psychiatric impacts can be quite noticeable for vascular dementia.
[00:32:11] So, what can we do to improve our brain? You're talking about blood flow. I've noticed that when I exercise when I power a walk, even when I do sort of like Wim Hof breathing exercises, I'm feeling like things are moving things are happening in my brain. Maybe I'm oxygenating I don't even know how you say that but you are.
[00:32:31] You're oxygenating your brain. Absolutely. It's very important in fact exercise. Everything I've studied from Dr.
[00:32:40] Amen, from Dr. Bredesen's exercise. If you're diabetic you should be exercising. If you're depressed you should be exercised. Everybody should exercise.
[00:32:48] We need to have about 200 minutes of exercise per week. And you want to combine cardiovascular with strength especially as you get older, you want to do strength training because firstly that helps us be more stable right? We want to have a good core strength. We want to have stronger legs. In fact, stronger legs are associated with better brain function.
[00:33:12] A smaller waist is associated with better brain function. So if you want to do some strength training but you want to get your heart pumping so that you can walk fast but still talk, that's kind of the meter to walk fast but you can still talk, that means your heart is going to be going and you can talk and breathe because when you're doing more than one thing at once, that's also good. So, exercising while you're learning another language like if you're walking with your iPod or whatever, do they have iPods anymore? Anyway? Whatever you've got teaching you another language.
[00:33:48] So for me, I walk on the beach, and I study Spanish, because learning another language, learning a musical instrument, those are great things to do while you're exercising. Exercising, like something like table tennis because you're also coordinating dance, where you're actually coordinating steps, hand movement, and perhaps with a partner that's also exceptionally good. And also, you've got cardiovascular. right? So you want to do that at least five, six days a week. I try to do it every day.
[00:34:22] Sometimes, I'll take a day off. Right now. It's really cool. Here in Ecuador, where we are on the coast. So, I bundle up, and I go power walk on the beach when the tide is out.
[00:34:32] And that's just the brisk air. Also, if you can do it outside it's better because we're giving them fresh air. We don't want to have recirculated air. Now, I know many people in North America are dealing with heckish hot weather right now and you don't want to be exercising outside. But those are the best ways to do it.
[00:34:49] Also, if you can get your feet in the ground barefoot. Barefoot. Get those nice microbes in your body. You know we are so separated from nature. Most people they never go barefoot.
[00:35:06] We need to go barefoot. We need to get our fingers in the soil. I just started my new garden so I'm like out there digging in the soil. It's very important. It's so good for you.
[00:35:17] We need those for our microbiome. l wonder also, and I do believe in grounding and the barefoot concept but l wonder if that's why we feel even better when we are on vacation for example and we're walking around without our shoes. We're at the beach. We may be somewhere else. And we just have this overall sense of wellness when we're vacationing.
[00:35:40] Sometimes depending on where you're at I'm sure that has a lot to do with it. Absolutely. Because most people like you said, very few people go barefoot. Now, here where l am, a lot of people go barefoot.
[00:35:51] We just on the beach. But even people who live here and work here they've been here all their lives. They don't go barefoot. They flip flops even on construction sites, which makes me crazy. But at least they're getting in the dirt right?
[00:36:07] They may not be walking barefoot but they're not also completely encased in something because we really need that exposure to bacteria. The world is too freaking sterilized. We weren't meant to be that way. We need bugs. We need to be able to build an immune system.
[00:36:26] We need to be healthy. They did a really interesting study in Finland. Finland? It's right next to Russia. Yes.
[00:36:35] There was a village there where everybody was sterilizing everything They kept their windows closed, they kept their doors closed. No pets in the house. And the kids had such bad allergies. They checked, they compared and they couldn't figure out why.
[00:36:51] If they're so clean, why should they be so sick? Why should these kids? They compare this village with another village across the border in Russia, where they have the windows open the critters come in and out the kids are running barefoot the windows are open to sleep. These kids had hardly any allergies. Why is that?
[00:37:11] Because you need the bugs. We need the bugs. That is true. So the things that we're talking about lifestyle things that we can implement prevent dementia are you saying that dementia can be reversed? As well.
[00:37:28] Yes, it can. Absolutely
[00:37:32] In fact Dr. Brett just published another research paper. They had a couple of people with mocha scores of, like, six, which is very most is 30. Right. So they were actually able to get people to more than double their score in a matter of six months.
[00:37:49] That's huge. That means that it's reversing. And the other thing is, partners have actually said, he's so much better or she's so much better I don't have to fill in their sentences anymore. Those sorts of things we can reverse but you gotta start early. You can't wait till you're in stage four.
[00:38:08] You need to start early. However, Dr. Heather Sanderson who has a facility called Marama California where they use the protocols that Dr. Bredesen has created to reverse Alzheimer's the whole center is built around these protocols of detoxification of good nutrition. They use keto Flex and they have actually been able to she was able she didn't really think that it was a good idea to have this one lady come in because she was already in diapers and she was non-communicative but they were actually able to turn her around enough so that now she doesn't need to have personal care and she can also form full sentences.
[00:38:55] Now. Do you know how huge that is? Wow. Incredible. That is incredible.
[00:39:02] It can be reversed. Now you're not going to go back to work that woman is never going to go back to work. She's not going to go back and manage her household. But she can address her own needs.
[00:39:13] She can say if she's hot or cold. She can say if she needs something that she couldn't before. My mom couldn't when she died she couldn't say anything, so it can be done. But you have to have people helping you, and that's where coaches come in.
[00:39:30] If you're on a good path, if you're just starting to feel like, oh, I'm not sure, I'm losing words sometimes or I forget where I put my keys all the time if you're starting there get help now get involved now. Don't wait until it gets where somebody says, oh, you have mild cognitive impairment because that's actually stage one dementia. You don't want to go there you want to catch it before that happens.
[00:39:52] Okay, so I noticed even in my own self, I'm in my early fifty's now, and I recall even maybe even seven years ago when I wasn't as active with what I'm doing now. I was starting to forget things even the word for the doorknob the basic things that you're like, wait a minute what is happening to me? And then l got involved in this world of lifestyle medicine of plant-based nutrition and I started doing research just because I'm interested and suddenly I'm retaining more information. I’m learning not to rely on certain things, I enjoy reading I always have.
[00:40:29] But now can something like that because I wonder like, well if I'm spending time on the computer and I'm researching, is that working for me or against me? If you're learning that's a good thing. Okay. You don't want to be sitting 8 hours a day because that's sitting as the new smoking. Right?
[00:40:42] Right. So you don't want to be sitting all the time. But the fact that you're learning something new is a good thing It's like if you did crossword puzzles all your life, doing crossword puzzles isn't going to improve your brain. But if you did crossword puzzles all your life and then you learned how to do Sudoku or you did some other brain training that is going to help until it gets old.
[00:41:05] So, you want to keep always learning something new, engaging your brain in a new way. Learn to know it. Learn something where you're doing something new because it makes your brain work. Yeah. Okay.
[00:41:16] And so I love this because my mom actually went back to school in a way. My mother was originally from Mexico, and she spent most of her life speaking in Spanish because that was her comfort zone, not because she doesn't understand English. But she decided recently that she wanted to challenge herself and she went back to school to kind of improve her English her grammar. And recently she gave a presentation in front of her class. She was so proud.
[00:41:44] She sent photos. She had a slide show. And I have seen an improvement. As I said, I could tell just through conversation that she's fine when can ask her about something from the past or something more recent. And she's able to recall.
[00:42:01] So, I know that she's doing fine now, and I'm so proud of her. And like I said, the interaction with the animals she's exercising. She has a walking partner in the neighborhood that is encouraging her. And I think it's just the more we talk about how we can take control of our health the more we empower people to know that there are things you can do right now to improve your health I think that encourages her as well.
[00:42:27] Do you know what's a really good things to do right now? What? One of the things is that the vagus nerve connects our brain to basically everything else. And we want to keep it stimulated. We want to keep it active.
[00:42:42] And one of the things l teach in my book the Musical Brain, is about humming. So when we hum we stimulate the vagus nerve. We're also sending ourselves into a state of the parasympathetic nervous state. And that's what I want. That's the place we want to be for good health right?
[00:43:01] Ongoing good health and to help negate stress and so forth. So a really simple exercise is just you can just anything anytime. But if you do conscious humming where you're actually thinking about what's happening so you keep your body aligned. You want your spine and big good posture is important all the time too. But keep your spine aligned have a nice deep diaphragm breath in and then out and consciously pay attention to what that feels like.
[00:43:34] And then cover your ears and do it, well you got it. Those nice big headphones on but if your doing, cover your ears while doing it. You are actually going to magnify how you respond to it so humming is something we can do anytime anywhere. It doesn't take any special skill.
[00:43:53] It doesn't take anything except your vocal cords. Yes, I like that. Actually, since you're talking about that in the vagus nerve I have spoken about anxiety. Then you talked about how your mom suffered for many years with mental health issues that you believe probably also contributed to dementia. Can you speak a little more about that? Why are we vulnerable if we're suffering with stress and anxiety to then probably develop?
[00:44:22] It's a higher risk for developing dementia. Yes, it is a higher risk. And it's the same reason that we're more susceptible if we are diabetic or if we are obese because those mental health issues have the same root as those other things. Most anxiety most depression originate in the gut. Now, it could be because of a brain injury that can actually absolutely contribute or be the cause, but it's the inflammation that comes from that.
[00:44:53] Most of our Vegas nurse sends the information from Surgut to our brain right? So anything that affects the gut affects the brain and it can be different things. So if we have stress, it also affects our gut microbiome right? So it's this big circle and it just goes on and on. So you have to cut it off.
[00:45:11] You have to stop that cycle. So I always recommend to people let's start firstly by detoxing. We need to get rid of anything that's causing something to attack our body, to respond to an attack. So, we have to detox in the first instance. And getting rid of sense is the big thing.
[00:45:35] That word fragrance not a good word. We don't want it in anything with fragrance. But like you said about you cleaning products. So, we want to detox because the same thing that causes the reaction in our body to those stress sores and those stressors can be mental. They can be physical they can be toxins they can even be mold.
[00:45:58] Obviously mold is a big deal, but all of those things affect our body, causing a reaction that inflammatory reaction. We go back to inflammation because we know that the brains of people who are anxious or depressed do not have the same amount and proper blood flow and oxygen. We can see it in the spec scans. So, we have to figure out why is that happening. Where is that particular person?
[00:46:24] What is the genesis of that problem for that person? So it depends Your depression could be because of your microbiome. Your depression could be because you were hit on the head when you were six, you fell down the stairs. Your anxiety could because of the same reason same things could cause that.
[00:46:45] So we need to get to the root. It's always getting to the root of the problem. And the same thing that causes anxiety and depression in the brain cause things that lead to dementia later in life. I believe that the fact that the original assault on the brain and it first manifests in depression or anxiety it's that same assault that ultimately leads to the likelihood of developing dementia. I don't believe that.
[00:47:19] It's the fact that you're feeling depressed that causes dementia. Although Being depressed means, you might not make as good decisions about your health. You may not exercise as much, although exercise is the best thing for depression. But all of those things contribute to the decisions that we make that cause dementia. That contributes to dementia.
[00:47:39] Now, there are some instances, like there's the APOE. If you have two from your mom and your dad, you're more likely to develop dementia. Alzheimer's you have like 75% chance, but again, that's a chance. All the things you do in your lifestyle can negate that. Just because we have a gene from our mom to get cancer doesn't mean we're going to get cancer.
[00:48:04] It just means that this is a possibility and we just have to use epigenetics to make sure that doesn't come into being Yes, I get that. Do you currently have a program I know that you reference your books? Do you personally coach one on one?
[00:48:19] Oh, yes, absolutely. And I also have group coaching programs because a lot of people it's hard for them to financially do an individual coaching program but also have group coaching and I put groups together every four months or so. I use one that's called Tune Up Your Brain, which is a lot of fun. It's using mindfulness and music more. And then have eight weeks to a better brain which is what I built.
[00:48:47] Don't let the memories fade. I used that program in that book to help people go through a program to help them detox to help them with the diet and so forth. So, I have a couple of different ways people can work with me, recognizing that not everybody can afford a personal coach. That is true. And you said mindfulness and I remembered Alzheimer's Solution Team Shirt when they talked about how we multitask.
[00:49:15] And we think that's a wonderful talent and thing to have the ability of doing several things at once, when in reality that's working against us. They're absolutely right. Can you talk about that Mindfulness and how important it is? I sure can. It's a big deal.
[00:49:31] It's a big deal. I make a very strong practice myself of Mindfulness, Mindfully eating a big deal. People often do so many other things while they're eating. We need to appreciate and pay attention to everything that we put in our body.
[00:49:48] Number one, because it helps our brain catch up to our belly to tell us we're full because many people just eat because they're just not even paying attention and they're way past full. Obesity is a huge issue in the country in North America especially, it's an issue here too, but that's one part, mindfully eating but also everything we do. And I talk a lot about gratitude to be mindfully grateful for things that we can do, things that we have, people in our lives, whatever. To be grateful is a huge part of mindfulness in my opinion. Also, when we're walking now, it's also good to exercise your brain while you're exercising your body.
[00:50:33] But it's also very powerful to just feel the movement. Pay attention to that movement have a labyrinth outside my window here and I walk the labyrinth very mindfully in bare feet and it's got little round pebbles on it. But then I can feel those pebbles on my feet with every step, and just little things like that being very mindful is very important.
[00:50:58] Yes, I agree with Tim Shaw's eye. Yes. So also, I'm curious what drew you to Ecuador? Why Ecuador? Why not?
[00:51:06] Costa Rica, for example, I used to have a television program many years ago, and one of the guests on my show, when we shut the show, one of the guests had a program here in Ecuador, in Quito for ex-pats. So, he asked me to come to Quito to host the show, and I turned him down because it was about the time that my mom was being diagnosed and I had just been diagnosed so I said no. But then when l met my current husband and he was talking about where to retire I said, Well, I hear that Ecuador is a nice place. So we rented a car in Quito.
[00:51:46] We came down on vacation rent a car, drove all around the country for a couple of weeks. And our second last day here we stayed at a bed and breakfast around the corner. And we said to the couple we've just really enjoyed our stay here. We'll have to come back and see if we can find a place to retire. And the lady said, well, there's a place around the corner for sale, and here we are.
[00:52:15] Awesome. So, we have a small retreat center here in Ecuador. Wonderful. So are you still happy with Ecuador? Because I've been trying to convince my husband that we need to be ex-pats somewhere.
[00:52:26] Yeah, well, I'll tell you what every country in the world right now is experiencing extraordinary things and Ecuador is no exception.
[00:52:37] The poverty here can be overwhelming sometimes I spent most of the first part of the lockdown raising money to feed people here because it was so bad. But on the other hand, I've fallen in love with my new countrymen and I can't imagine living elsewhere. Honestly, I cannot imagine it. Okay.
[00:53:00] Well, it's refreshing to know that you're there because that's been a fantasy of mine really. Costa Rica. But Kate is there anything else you'd like to share with my listeners? Maybe something I didn't ask. I think you did an amazing job pulling stuff out and sharing your story which is important right?
[00:53:19] Because that's how people can relate. We all have stories and I think just sharing stories and for people who are concerned about their own health, the stuff that we hold inside can do a lot of damage. Whether it's a coach, a life coach, a health coach if it's a good friend that you can trust just don't let it fester. I think your story and mine festering stories like my mom that's not good.
[00:53:48] It's not helpful. So that would be the one thing that would ask people to remember that it doesn't do us any good to be stoic and to hold on to things. It doesn't help. Right. And just because I like the idea of remembering what we're on a journey when we take that perspective that it's part of our journey we're never going to be perfect in anything that we do. Still, there are tools that we can pick up along the way that will enhance our quality of life.
[00:54:18] And I've always loved learning about people like yourself. Like I said, I've been listening to your podcast and you have amazing guests, and find so much benefit in just what you bring on to your podcast. And now I have to read your book of course l would like people everybody because everybody can do this is read the Musical Brain and do the exercises, because I made that It's a short read.
[00:54:42] It's all about using the things that we have at our disposal day that can make that first step toward being healthier toward being happier to being more contented. It's so easy when we use the power of sound and music and silence. Thank you. What is the best way for people to learn more about you and to purchase your book or maybe sign up for one of your programs? Just go to Brainhealthmattertoday.
[00:55:12] That's the best place to find me. And I have Instagram and Facebook and all that but if you just go to Brainhealthmatterstoday, you can find me there and the programs are there and the books are there. Awesome. And we'll also include that in the show notes.
[00:55:27] Well, Kate, it's been a pleasure chatting with you and learning about how we can take care of ourselves either to prevent dementia or hopefully be able to reverse if we already have any symptoms of dementia. Thank you again for being with us. Thank you, Maya, the brain is incredibly resilient and we can help support the brain by putting these healthy lifestyle solutions in place. These are the ones that Kate recommended in today's episode reducing inflammation and we know that nutrition plays a key role in that so reducing inflammation exercising more doing things like dancing also learning to play an instrument being present in the moment through mindfulness and even having a positive outlook on life.
[00:56:14] Working with a health coach on the emotional trauma and mental health issues that we have can also help us as we continue to age. So, friends, I hope that you enjoyed this episode. I hope that you found it valuable and make sure that you take good care of your brain. Thanks for listening. You've been listening to the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions Podcast with your host Maya Acosta.
[00:56:39] If you've enjoyed this podcast do us a favor and share with one friend who can benefit from this episode. Feel free to leave an honest review as well at rateispodcastcomhls. This helps us to spread our message. And as always, thank you for being a listener.