cognitive health seattle nutritionist

Cognitive Health

Cognitive decline is common with aging and increases the risk of disabling dementia. There is a potential to prevent it by optimizing cognitive health during early adulthood and midlife using diet and lifestyle strategies. 

Cognitive health predicts quality of life, functional independence, and risk of institutionalization. As individuals age, most express a desire to remain independent, make important decisions for themselves and avoid cognitive disease and disability. Cognitive decline, cognitive impairment, and dementia are common with aging. According to the Alzheimer’s Association: 

  • 1 in 8 adults >60 years of age in the US suffer from memory loss and approximately 35% of those report some type of functional difficulties.
  • Approximately 15 to 20 percent of people age 65 or older have MCI and thus are much more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
  • Nearly 66% of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s are women! 
  • 5.7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. This number is expected to rise to nearly 14 million by 2050.

Who Would Benefit

It’s never too early to start thinking about how to protect your brain! 

People who have a family history of Alzheimer’s may have a higher risk of developing the disease due to inherited factors. Typically, Alzheimer’s is not the result of a single genetic variant, but rather multiple variants that increase risk for the disease. Depending on lifestyle and other factors, a person may not develop the disease.

Diet and lifestyle in early adulthood and midlife play a large role in cognitive health with aging. Several dietary and lifestyle behaviors, if addressed earlier in life, can reduce the risk of “normal” age-related cognitive decline as well as the risk of mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of dementia. 

Risk Factors

Vascular disease (such as coronary heart disease), metabolic disease (such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome) and biomarkers related to these (high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, BMI and CRP – a marker of inflammation) are important risk factors for cognitive decline. Chronic inflammation can alter blood flow to the brain, leading to tissue damage, cognitive decline, and the creation of damaging proteins linked to Alzheimer’s. 

Diet and lifestyle, including – poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, excess stress, obesity, smoking habits (tobacco is a neurotoxin), and poor sleep, also increase risk for cognitive decline and dementia. Lastly, genetics are an important risk factor.

Our Approach

Many of the choices we make each day about nutrition, exercise, social connections, sleep, and stress management impact every part of the body, including the brain. All of these choices form and define our lifestyle. 

We take a multi-faceted approach that takes into account your unique family history, personal concerns, and lifestyle factors to develop an individualized program designed to target the distinct needs of your body and promote your cognitive health. 

Our goals center around reducing inflammation, improving insulin resistance, correcting dyslipidemia, reducing oxidative stress, while promoting detoxification and autophagy (a process of cellular pruning). We work with you to improve sleep quality, support your body’s stress response, increase targeted exercises to enhance cognitive function, foster mental stimulation to encourage continued learning, and, most importantly, we recommend key, personalized dietary strategies to move your body and brain towards healing. 


Call us today at 206.853.0534 and schedule an appointment with one of our cognitive health nutrition specialists.

Riana Giusti, MS, CN

Riana Giusti, MS, CN

Functional Medicine Nutritionist | Cognitive Health Specialist

Believing that food is a powerful medicine, Riana infuses evidence-based nutrition with the healing power of simple whole foods into your nutrition care plan. Food is personal, and no one way of eating works for everyone. Riana’s approach to nutrition is holistic in nature: she looks at each individual as a unique being with distinct innate and personal needs. Her focus is on long-term positive transformation through offering client-centered nutritional counseling, education, mindfulness tools, and emotional awareness.



I can not even begin to express my gratitude for the existence of this clinic! The nutritionists at Starkel Nutrition are incredibly intelligent and at times I have felt that I receive better care and more quality information here than I have working with many different primary care doctors.