March 9, 2021

Danielle Karsies Previews Dietitian Tips for Nutrition & Brain Health Symposium

At the March 18 symposium, Michigan Medicine lead dietitian Danielle Karsies will discuss the role that nutrition plays in brain health and strategies for selecting what foods to eat to maintain optimal brain function.

Click here to register for the symposium

Danielle Karsies, Michigan Medicine Lead Dietitian


How long have you been in your position here at Michigan Medicine? What variety of patients do you see?

“I have worked for Michigan Medicine as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) since my internship here, 20 years ago. I started out working several years as a RDN with the Michigan Newborn Screening Program helping infants and kids with inborn errors of metabolism. I then transitioned into inpatient nutrition services working with the cardiac and oncology services. Wanting more continuity of care and impact on long term outcomes, I switched to outpatient oncology nutrition therapy and have been doing this for the past 10 years. As I love a good challenge and excuse to learn new skills, I added working in Adult Neurology with the Pranger ALS Clinic a little over a year ago.”

How has the work you do changed since you first began? What drives the change in your field?

“There are many more career paths now than even 10-15 years ago. At that time, the majority of RDN positions were found in hospitals and nursing homes, working with the sick. Now RDN’s are working in public health focusing on prevention; the commercial sector promoting healthy food products or helping improve the nutritional content of food; private practice optimizing sport performance or disease prevention/health optimization; blogging or writing articles for magazines or news and more. Just like with any science, we are constantly learning and tweaking the recommendations as we learn more about the specific nutrients, foods and combinations that contribute to overall health. Such as with cardiovascular disease all fat was the focus, but now we know there are beneficial fats, as well as fats that should be limited. The research into the role of the gut microbiome really exploded in the 21st century, linking the health of our gut to many other systems in our body, including the gut-brain axis important in neuronal health.”

What do you hope you can share with people in the symposium that will help them make a difference in their lives?

“The main point I hope to get across is the rationale for eating more healthful foods. I think we all know the foods we should focus on eating: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, bean, lentils, nuts and fish. But we don’t always make them a priority in our busy lives. Learning all the benefits of these foods and how just focusing on eating more of them, even it not changing the other foods we eat, could have a significant impact on our neuronal health. The bonus is that these diet additions will also have benefit in preventing many chronic diseases as well.” 

What are you interested in hearing from Dr. Feldman and Dr. Reid?

“I look forward to learning more about Dr. Feldman’s research on how different fats affect the nervous system, as well as the impact of obesity on cognition. I’m also interested in Dr. Reid’s historical look into how our diets have been modified over the decades, sometimes making less nutritious, and the efforts being made to move back to whole foods.”