Change Your BRAIN, Change Your LIFE! These Hacks Will Improve Your BRAIN | Dr. Daniel Amen

Change Your BRAIN, Change Your LIFE! These Hacks Will Improve Your BRAIN | Dr. Daniel Amen

because i really think better brain better decisions better brain better relationships better brain more money better brain better life hope you enjoyed the episode brought to you by our sponsor thrive get 50 off your at home gut health test when you go to try thrive dot com slash impact theory enjoy the hey everybody welcome to another episode of health theory today we are joined by a psychiatrist best-selling author and a brain scan ninja dr eamon thank you so much for being here i always love spending time with you and reading your books they are incredible have been life-changing for me and the most recent one your brain is always listening is no exception so thank you so much for being here well thank you for helping me spread the word about brain health so speaking of the brain if it’s always listening what is it always listening to and what is this idea of dragons that you talked about in the book i find this really useful well your brain is always listening it’s listening to your past it’s listening to the food you eat it’s listening to marketers it’s listening when you say it’s listening to your past is it listening to what you say about your past or are you using listen as sort of an umbrella for reliving the past for many people is always present for them and i got this idea of dragons from the past that still breathe fire on your emotional brain so i was doing a podcast with dr sharon may who’s a friend of mine a relational therapist and she started talking about dragons from the past that were ruining relationships and then she and i started collaborating it’s like well let’s identify the dragons and we came up with 13 of them and a couple the pandemic just exploded like the death dragon or the grief and lost dragon but my whole life i was living with the invisible abandoned or insignificant dragon one of seven i was in the middle i’m a second son in a lebanese family which means you’re expendable which turned out to be beautiful because i didn’t have to go on the grocery business right and lebanese families the oldest child the oldest male child goes in the business and is your brother still in the business my brother is president of the business wow i don’t think i’d ever heard you talk i mean your dad was really successful in the business that he built i didn’t realize just how much sort of i guess ended up not being familiar pressure for you but certainly would have been for your brother well it’s pressure when you grow up with a dad that’s very successful and he ended up being the chairman of the board of a four billion dollar company um you often just go like i can never live up to that and so you’re struggling in that comparison which is actually the second dragon the inferior flawed dragon and i had that one in spades you know being short and second and um you know it helped me in so many ways right the dragons have downsides but they also have upsides if you have felts insignificant well i built a life based on being significant and it sort of worked so how do you help people reconcile that like when i when i read the book i’m hearing about these dragons they mostly sound negative but you in terms of if they go unchecked your prefrontal cortex is offline it really does become pathological and it becomes a problem but i’m obsessed with this idea that there’s pathology on both sides so if you have too much drive it’s going to spill into pathology you know if you’re feeling too broken too inadequate whatever but if you don’t have enough there’s also pathology on that side how do you help people walk that balance is it the prefrontal cortex well it’s always this balance between your prefrontal cortex so think of that as the break in your brain but you don’t want it too strong when it works too hard people have ocd it’s sort of like the break is always on and so if you think of a car like i like going to big bear and think about coming down the hill you need a good pre-frontal cortex you need a good break because if the brake’s not on you die because you go off a cliff which is apropos people don’t break their behavior and they make bad decisions and so they die early but if the break is always on you can’t get down the hill either because it’s like stop stop stop stop think of people have ocd so it’s about balance between the front third of your brain prefrontal cortex and your emotional brain because we need passion we need purpose we need a reason to do something but if it works too hard we get sad or we get too anxious or we come traumatized the wounded dragons just so common way more common now since the pandemic wounded dragon is i am broken in some way or something it’s i’ve had trauma okay and i tell literal stories of reliving it was so hard for me but when i was little i had this beautiful white goat who um was our pet sugar yeah and um i actually have this video i did a public television special on the new book and i actually showed the video of me when i’m five playing with sugar and sugars kissing me and it was just beautiful but sugar also liked my dad’s roses and so one day sugar went off to the farm which means sugar got slaughtered right and a couple of nights later my dad and his brother were joking that they were feeding us sugar for dinner which was incredibly traumatic for me and years later were you at this point like six five or six and i mean i remember it like it’s yesterday but years later i was in monterey mexico giving a big talk and they have goat meat for sale in street vendors like we don’t do that in the united states and as i walked by i got flooded with that memory and all of a sudden i’m 43 or something have a panic attack wow because the past is always connected to the present and so if there’s trauma learning how and i talk about this in the book how to recognize it and disconnect from it okay so that’s recognizing it disconnecting doing the unwinding is a tall order before we get to that can you what are some of the most common dragons and if you have one of these running rampant in your life your prefrontal cortex isn’t putting the brakes on it what what does that manifest as in in the more common dragons well so we’ve had over a hundred thousand people take the quiz knowyourdragons.com so people can do that it’s free and on average people have six of them so it’s common to have issues and the anxious dragon is the most common the responsible dragon where you feel like you have to take care of other people which actually can breed this thing called codependence and entitlement and others just be careful with that the wounded dragon the inferior flawed dragon it’s very common and it’s basically i compare myself to you in a negative way um social media is driving that epidemic um and the death dragon sort of surprised me but you know we did the study during covid and is that a fear of death it’s the fear of death dragon and a lot of people haven’t come to grips with death like one of the strategies i have actually played out today is write down 10 good things about dying whoa and um it’s like oh well that’s okay because if it’s inevitable it is right it’s it’s like you have to learn to embrace it and there’s a lot of writing exercises in in the book because i actually want people to write their story and give it the ending they want and then ask themselves every day then kick in your prefrontal cortex is my behavior getting me what i want because too often people go for fixes that fail rather than fixes that fix okay so first we’re going to identify our dragon okay so i have the fear of death reagan or i have the anxiety dragon as somebody who suffered with the anxiety dragon that one’s very easy for me to relate to okay so i have the anxiety dragon i’m obsessing about a future that i’m practicing the failure unintentionally this was my thing i would find my what i thought of as exit ramps like if this situation becomes problematic what’s my exit ramp but in thinking about all of my exit ramps i was rehearsing it going wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong and when i’m journaling the idea i want to bring together with this so i identify my dragon but now when i’m doing the journaling how do i get to accurate thinking because the problem in the first place is that i have a cognitive distortion i have a a tendency to think of how the things could go wrong or at least that felt like the right way to plan for the future i’ve since stopped doing that how do you recognize what accurate thinking actually is and you go through this in the book because you you have that like four questions that you have people do i think it was for and there’s uh a part in there where they would often say like i’m gonna fail are you gonna fail yes like to them that seems self-evidently true so how do you help them recognize that that isn’t actually accurate like help them question it whenever you feel sad or mad or nervous or out of control write out what you’re thinking and then it’s five questions but it’s is it true is it absolutely true with 100 certainty and that’s the one that usually cracks it like um worthless is it absolutely true now you’re getting thoughtful it’s like well i’m a mother and i’m a sister and i’m a daughter and no it’s not absolutely true it’s ridiculous the third question is how do i feel when i believe i’m worthless dead withering sad lonely and the fourth question is who would i be without the thought or how would i feel if i didn’t have the thought the most common answer to that one is free and then you flip it around to the opposite it’s like i am worth something or i have work and then give me an example or two or three or four and you have to do that exercise at least 100 times to begin to retrain your automatic response i mean i’ve been teaching people to kill ants for a long time automatic negative thoughts but i just found these five questions they’re just so elegant to just have a dialogue with yourself i’ll never be successful or i won’t have enough money or my life has no meaning it’s like well let’s put that under a microscope not positive thinking accurate thinking okay so putting myself in the shoes of somebody that’s trapped in one of these dragons my gut instinct and you’ve done this so much more than i have but my gut instinct is the part that they’re going to struggle with the most is they’re going to say the opposite right so i have worth i have value it just isn’t going to feel true or it’s going to feel true at such a low rung level like yes okay fine i have some value but jesus is it enough to be worth everything that i’m going through i find that people are so ill-equipped to accurately identify what their abilities are their capabilities their worth their value all that but i’m like don’t even worry about what’s true ask yourself what’s useful and if it’s useful to tell yourself i’m a good person i have worth and that gets you moving towards doing the things that are actually worthy then we’re gonna do it does that make sense to you or do you think there’s something better well well not better i like it it’s with each of the dragons in the book i have their origin story so where did they come from what’s the upside because all the dragons have upsides my abandoned invisible and insignificant dragon had tremendous upside for me um how do you tame it so it’s more than just correct your thinking so there’s strategy so for one seeking significance well that’s useful and it could be volunteering at church it you know whatever fits your definition internally of significance and then i have meditations around each of them um so think of that as foundational like the wounded dragon for example i talk about emdr eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and it’s so powerful it’s when you’re traumatized it actually gets stuck in your brain and we see a pattern we call it the diamond pattern in the brain so your emotional brain gets turned on and it can’t go back to normal or healthy and emdr they actually have you bring up the trauma while they get your eyes to move back and forth and it settles it down so as an example 1996. so i’ve been doing imaging for 30 years the first 20 years it was like a horror film in my life because i was getting picked on and i had the new york times pick on me the washington post and my colleagues calling me bad names and i’m like i just want to look at the brain what’s your problem um and in 1996 i had the state of california’s medical board investigate me yeah i never heard that before crazy that was traumatizing and i couldn’t sleep and one of the original emdr trainers worked for me and i walked into jennifer lindell’s office in my clinic and i’m like you need to help me after an hour of this treatment i was absolutely fine if they took my license from me i could get a job i could take care of my family i was going to be fine but you can just imagine you spend a big chunk of your life trying to do what you do and now someone’s trying to take it away from you why does the lateral eye movement shift the brain so profoundly that you go from i can’t sleep this is a total mess to one session and now i’m good i think it’s more than just eye movement there’s another technique that’s somewhat similar that’s a part of the same technique no but it’s similar it’s called havening okay and but they’re both bilateral hemisphere stimulation so for example off camera we talked about how my dad died last year and a couple of days after he died um in a random stack of papers i’m at my mom’s house just helping her organize things is a picture of my dead dad in the mortuary and i’m like what idiot because it just bothered me and i noticed it was just bothering me throughout the day you know i’d see the picture and i’d be irritated and then i’m like oh you help people who have this problem and havening is bilateral hemisphere stimulation so it’s either rubbing your hands like this while you think of the trauma it’s rubbing your face probably not cool in a pandemic or what my favorite thing is and i do this a lot with my patients is i have them hold their shoulders and then rub down to their forearms and they do it for 30 seconds and the idea is to get stimulation on both sides of your body on both sides while you bring up the trauma do you have to do it yourself or can someone else do it for you either way and people can learn about it at havening.org like safehavenhavening.org and so i did that with the picture and you rate it like on a scale of one to ten and that was like a nine i was pretty irritated by this and after i did it for 30 seconds it’s like a four and then after i did it again the irritation was gone i did it two more times for 30 seconds and i fell in love with the picture because it was the last picture of my dad on earth and so there are techniques so that you don’t have to live with trauma spinning in your brain whether it’s emdr other people do tapping which can be helpful or haven’t i want to speculate about why that’s working so when i meditate what’s useful about meditation the only times that it works for me are when i can really lock into the pleasure cycle of the breath so i have to be thinking about optimizing the pleasure of each part of the breath by doing that i really pull my brain to like what is happening right here right now one it helps because it’s truly when you’re breathing in a meditative way it it just feels good like purely hedonistically it just feels good and then my mind can’t wander to whatever is freaking it out because i’m there in my breath and i’m wondering if this is a there’s something about stimulating both sides of the brain that’s the important part or if this is just your focus is now locking in on the sensation of being touched or touching yourself and that disrupts because i think a lot about pattern interrupting that you’re just hitting the brakes on this runaway thought and by touching yourself by tapping by whatever that you you’re grounding in a physical sensation which stops your brain from thinking about the traumatic thing that’s sort of bullet point one but bullet point two is that you fell in love with the photo but let’s take these one at a time do you think is it the bilateral activation of the brain that’s critical or is it just the focus i think it’s a bilateral hemisphere stimulation because a lot of times people will bring up drama and focus on it and it doesn’t make them feel any better it makes them feel worse but i did a study on emdr we took police officers who were involved in shootings and they developed ptsd and couldn’t go back to work and [Music] i scanned them and then i scanned them during their first emdr session so while the therapist was bringing up the trauma and the scanning them in that moment or you scan them after it in that moment interesting and so okay before you go what’s up they’re emotional what does it look like when they’re ptsd’d out so when they have ptsd if you look at the scans i do it looks like a diamond pattern where their limbic or emotional brain is more active compared to a healthy brain and then in that trauma activation it gets bigger gets more intense but after they did an average of eight sessions calmed it down and that psychological intervention had biological effects okay so that all makes sense now when i’m stroking myself i am recalling the memory i’m activating bilaterally my brain i don’t understand why that breaks the elevation of the emotion why yeah and i’m not sure we know why we just know it does it was actually discovered by francine shapiro when she was in menlo park that when she looked left and then right and did it over and over again what she was upset about didn’t upset her as much and it was really from that moment she then started working with soldiers from the va and did she comment on why she did it the first time was it accidental it was accidental so intriguing okay yeah and now we have other groups like the haven in group there’s another group called brain spotting but they all seem to be bilateral hemispheres stimulation tools to bring up the trauma and sort of suck the emotion out of it so you still remember uh you know i still remember being investigated by the medical board [Music] but i don’t get freaked out do you tell yourself a new story so you pull so one of the things i find most fascinating about memory is that every time you pull it into your working memory you’re affecting it and so you can change the tenor of that memory the emotional resonance of that memory as you hold it in working memory and then store it back so as you’re doing this you’re doing the havening you’re or the bilateral eye movement or both you’re pulling the memory forward are you to optimize the process do you need to tell yourself a different story about it do you need to focus on the positive things that came out of it and you talk about being able to find positives and death is that what we’re doing or you literally just need to think about it in the normal way that you always think about it in your i’m sure obsessive way but as long as you’re doing that bilateral contact it’s going to lower the emotion for many people that’s exactly what happens other people not so much and so then you have to go what else is going on and do they have a hurt pre-frontal cortex so a lot of the soldiers that we work with their ptsd and traumatic brain injury people just didn’t focus on the fact that they were around three ied blasts and so when things don’t work like you hoped they would that’s where the imaging work i do becomes so helpful let’s talk about thrive did you guys know that your gut is related to so many potential health issues trouble focusing bloating constipation maintaining a healthy weight and skin blemishes like acne and eczema our gut communicates with our brain through nerves and hormones and when gut health is poor it can directly contribute to these types of health concerns my wife 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favorite movies ever pollyanna teaches people to play the glad game whatever situation you’re in what is there to be glad about in this situation so i’ve trained my brain to do that over time and when you take the emotion out something’s going to replace it and if you have skill in managing your mind you’ll often look for what’s right rather than what’s wrong and and i’ve worked really hard on that because it wasn’t my nature growing up i was pretty anxious and i was masterful at predicting what’s the worst thing that could happen and then i’d make it worse so hallmark of people that have panic attacks but i’ve worked really hard and it’s the blessing of my job i get to help people and in that i always help myself okay so we need to identify what our dragons are we need to engage our prefrontal cortex to make sure that we pump the brakes on that stuff we need to reframe things get good at the glad game the pollyanna game whatever we’re going to call that we need to engage with reality so how are things really instead of trying to run or hide from it both the good and the bad so don’t over think you’re a loser failure whatever um yeah it’s completely not helpful because negative thinking disrupts brain function um but at the same time too positive of thinking you could be driving down the freeway at 125 miles an hour in the rain i mean positive thinking by itself is harmful that we have to be thoughtful and careful um right and that’s the pre-frontal cortex there’s a whole chapter in the book on the dragon tamer it’s like how do you tame this dragon thunder and you do it with having forethought and judgment impulse control which means oh by the way you have to feed it right there’s a whole section in the book on the scheming dragons which is really how society is stealing your mind if you’re scheming to make you worse basically yeah like there’s the holiday dragon right oh it’s thanksgiving let’s eat terribly uh or it’s halloween or christmas you know we’re gonna celebrate the birth of the baby jesus by eating terribly and hurting people it’s like how does that make sense and there’s a brand new 12-step program in this book uh because there’s the addicted dragons i talk about the bad habit dragons and as i was writing that i’m like you know the 12-step program for addiction was written basically in the 1930s and there’s not one neuroscience step in the 12 steps it’s mostly psychological social and spiritual and i’m like well if a neuroscientist rewrote the 12 steps what would he add that step one in the traditional 12 steps is admit your life is out of control and i’m like no that’s step two step one is what do you want relationships work money physical emotional sp what do you want step two is your behavior getting you what you want if it’s not then you need step three which is get your brain right because i really think better brain better decisions better brain better relationships better brain more money better brain better life no doubt i’ve never heard anybody talk about goals before like i’m obsessed with that and it just seems like people don’t bring it up uh but here we go this is from the book you’re more likely to be able to protect yourself from dragons and ants we’ve talked about those when you have clear goals a healthy blood sugar level plenty of sleep no alcohol in your system and you talk about marijuana as well which would be nice and controversial you don’t mention it in this quote but you have in the book and you are not hungry angry lonely or tired and i thought that really sums up the protective mechanisms the things you have to look out for and what you have to do walk people through why are goals so important why is a guy that spent 40 years focused on brain health talking about that and how did you come to realize just how useful that is you have to tell your brain what you want because it’s always listening and if you don’t know what you want and i ask all of my patients what do you want they’ll talk about money or they’ll like i have a 17 almost 18 year old daughter and she’s had two boyfriends and i’ve dismissed them both but it’s like what do you want and they talk about money and i’m like no that’s a side effect of a meaningful purposeful life having that is the goal is a terrible goal and i like money i always say to my team no margin no mission right you have to make money but if that’s the point that’s the prescription for unhappiness and i’ve always and i got this when i was a medical student it’s people get burned out when they become unbalanced and so when i ask my patients what they want relationships work money it’s important but it can’t be the thing right physical emotional spiritual health what do you want in a balanced way because if you know then you’re more likely to get it so for example you’ve met tana i want a kind caring loving supportive passionate relationship with my wife i always want that but i don’t always feel like that but when i’m thoughtful when i know my goals because they’re posted i’m so much more likely to act like that which means i’m going to have a great marriage especially if she has clear goals too and we have similar goals for our relationship do you guys talk about your goals all the time and when you say they’re posted where are they posted so i have them posted in my bathroom and i have them on my phone very smart and and so everything it comes out i love like three letter three word sentences or three weird questions and like for the ans is it true and for goals is does it fit does my behavior today fit the goals i have for my life so last night i was at the orange county fair they had fried butter puffs doesn’t fit the goals i have right because one of my goals is to be physically healthy if you’re trying to change medical specialty you want to live a long time because it’s going to take a long time and so i want to be healthy because that gives me energy and happiness and so the butter fried butter puffs didn’t fit yeah i think this is a a super underserved um thing it it there’s a great tony robin school if you don’t know where you want to be in five years you’re already there and i remember when i heard that i was like oh my god like so many people have dreams about where they want to go and what they want to do but they stay these sort of vague amorphous blobs and they never get defined and therefore you never achieve them and your future is always five years away and you’re just you’re stuck in this perpetual sameness so it’s really interesting to hear you talk about that so now let’s say that they have their goal they’ve written it down they posted it they see it multiple places in their house how do they go about getting the brain that they’re going to need to actually get there so we know that we don’t eat our butter puffs in fact what i’ll ask is why don’t we eat our butter puffs we want to live a long time i get that but specifically what what is the problem with fried butter yeah like what makes something bad food i think that’s the right way to ask it i come up with this new phrase i just love so much that you only want to love food that loves you back that you’re in a relationship with food i think 30 of the mental health problems in america are related to our terrible diet that you are what you eat in large part and if you’re eating i call them the weapons of mass destruction highly processed pesticide sprayed high glycemic low fiber food substances stored in plastic containers you’re not going to be healthy you poison your gut you’re poisoning your brain and i publish three studies now the last one on 35 000 scans one of the world’s largest imaging studies tom you will not believe this there was a linear correlation on virtually every area of the brain as people’s weight went up the activity and blood flow in their brain went down i believe that absolutely healthy weight overweight obese morbidly obese in a linear fashion when i saw those graphs when i was doing the research i was just like horrified and i come from a family of fat people my dad used to hate when i’d say that but i have a brother that’s 150 pounds overweight and a sister the same thing and i know if i just ate everything that looked good to me i would be too and no i’m not having that especially because i don’t want a small brain right and and people go oh that’s fat shaming and i feel terrible about it because 72 of the country is overweight think about that i mean how insane is that 42 of people are obese the pandemic made it worse we should be worried about that because the extra fat on your body produces inflammatory cytokines and we know inflammation is a major cause of depression and dementia the fat on your body takes healthy testosterone which we need which men and women need and it turns it into unhealthy cancer-promoting forms of estrogen that’s a bad thing fat stores toxins we need to get serious about being in a healthy way with healthy food and so diet is critical exercise supplementation i think is really important it is studied 97 of the population low on omega-3 fatty acids and so finding ways to supplement about 80 of us are deficient in vitamin d in a pandemic that’s not okay nope right because people with low vitamin d actually die more if they get covered 19. so yeah going back to what you’re saying about fat shaming so first of all i come from a morbidly obese family as well and i’ve often said that you when you love something you don’t hate on it look down on it like i don’t think less of people because they’re obese but going back to the idea of facing reality at the same time i know that i will lose them earlier than i absolutely have to if they continue to live that lifestyle and so getting people especially now in a pandemic to just face that it isn’t fat shaming to say you’re more likely to survive this disease that’s ravaging you know the entire human population if you are living a healthy lifestyle get your weight under control exercise eat right work out all of that stuff because there’s nothing worse than trying to solve a problem when you ignore the thing that’s actually causing it like you’re just at that point it’s really about symptom mitigation versus figuring out what’s really going on um do you think that this so going back to weight specifically i want to pick up on that for a second because i learned a long time ago as a psychiatrist if you don’t admit you have a problem you can’t solve it dude that is so true until i finally admitted to my wife that i was anxious i couldn’t make progress and finally i just was like i have to tell her and it really did not make me feel good about myself because you know there is something about the way that she would look at me like i could do anything and that felt so good and to finally be like yo i’m over here i am struggling homie like this is really gnarly and of course it wasn’t the turn off that i feared it was going to be and it only brought us closer together but that was really hard to admit but then once i could say it out loud to the person that was the only person i really cared about impressing then it was like okay now i can actually deal with this because when you become more real you become more relatable and this so many guys don’t understand this that they deny that they have a problem because they want to be perceived as the person who has it all together but then nobody can relate to you um you know that’s one of the reasons i became really vulnerable in the book and i haven’t gotten any haters i mean i have plenty of haters don’t get me wrong but from writing for that from on that stand um but i remember when i did the big nfl study at the time when they fell was sort of lying they had a problem and my letter to the commissioner said don’t admit you have a problem you can’t solve it and it’s going to get worse and and that came from marriages where especially the guy wouldn’t admit that they were struggling and it ended up falling apart yeah i can certainly understand that so okay we admit that we have a problem whether it’s about weight or whatever how do we begin to unwind this stuff that’s really i think the the important thing is it does it just come down to look there are because you you write in the book and i wrote them down so i can read them out if we need to but um they’re just are there just certain things you just have to do and you just you have to do them and until you do them like this is never going to change well and that’s the bad habit chapter you know i have the bad habit dragons there’s the overeater bad habit dragon the worst of all the dragons is the oblivious dragon the dragon is that an intentional like you’re intentionally being oblivious or people that really just don’t know you just don’t know and you haven’t taken the time you go i’m fat because everybody in my family’s fat it’s like no i have a lot of fat people in my family and i’m not because i don’t give in to the behaviors making it likely to be so and so it’s about being intentional reading the labels of the food you eat of the products you put on your body it’s asking yourself this one question is this good for my brain or bad for it right i mean ultimately in all of my books i try to create brain envy i want people to love their brains um and is this good for my brain or bad for it and the reason that brain envy works just to be clear is because you can improve your brain how exciting is that and i’ve proven that over and over and nfl players and soldiers and police officers that you’re not stuck and intuitively people should know that right if i don’t sleep tonight and i’m not going to think well tomorrow but no one’s thinking about the physical functioning of their brain so i’m in justin bieber’s new docuseries seasons and he came out i’ve been his doctor for a long time and like many celebrities he’d do it i’d say sometimes show up sometimes but then because he went through a really hard time he came into my office and he said i get it my brain is an organ like my heart is an organ if you told me i had heart problems i’d do everything you say i’m going to do everything you say and he got radically better and you got to love it and and we have to stop this whole mental illness thing i hate it because it’s not mental illness it’s brain health right get your brain right and your mood is better you’re happier you’re more focused you make less bad decisions which will decrease your anxiety speaking of anxiety so you said earlier that you think 30 percent of mental health brain health problems are tied to diet in my n of one experience i think it’s even higher than that so when i think about okay suffering from profound anxiety i’m trying all the mental tricks and there’s no doubt they helped i mean very very beneficial but i just couldn’t i felt like i was learning to better cope with these symptoms but i wasn’t eliminating the symptoms and so i was like what is going on and then of course because of what my wife went through from a health perspective become aware of the gut start really thinking about what i’m eating and that there are going to be things that might be messing me up that i just would never have guessed long time listeners in my show will grow tired of hearing the following statement but at the beginning of kovid i went through something really weird that i’d never experienced before i was getting super tired all the time brain fog just like almost losing my zest for life and i was like this is really bizarre and i thought okay well what would you tell somebody if they came and described those symptoms and i was like no matter what i would tell them it’s something that you’re eating because that’s just so true in terms of the way if your body’s being affected your brain’s being affected it’s almost certainly something you’re eating and i’m like but my diet’s so healthy like how could this possibly be and i was like just eliminate whatever you’re eating a lot of and see what happens and i’m like what am i eating a lot of and i was like pecans and so i cut out pecans 48 hours later i was back in business i was like how the hell is it possible that pecans evolved and they were like raw they weren’t even like roasted i mean these were like the all but just plucked off a tree so i was i anyway i couldn’t fathom that that was it but it was it and then that got me thinking wait a second could my anxiety be tied to something i’m eating and so then i started cutting out anything processed because dude i love my zero calorie drinks love them in a way i can’t even begin to tell you but of course that comes with a lot of chemicals that i’ve never even heard of and i’ve heard of a lot of chemicals and in cutting all of that out the what my anxiety feels like to me now i might still have a thought about something’s going to go wrong in the future and that will trigger that that feeling of like oh something bad is coming but it never escalates food is so important and when i put my patients on an elimination diet so we basically eliminate the bad things um they get so much better and the nutritionists that work with us have more success stories than the psychiatrists and i used to irritate me food matters what you put in your mouth your microbiome matters we have these hundred trillion bugs in our gut and what we feed them you know helps to grow the ones that make you happy or they help to grow the ones that make you angry and sad um it’s just so important and our biggest blog last year uh i wrote one called i told you so and when i and i started with when i dated tana she told me i will never tell you i told you so she lied it’s like her favorite thing to say and then i said but the american cancer society just came out and said you shouldn’t drink why it increases your risk of seven different kinds of cancer not to mention it prematurely people were given that advice i was like uh like this one just doesn’t land for me it just doesn’t seem possible that it would be essentially a health food what about weed marijuana is uh in that it’s very in it’s in i published a study on a thousand marijuana users every area of their brain is lower in activity now does help some people like when my father and what what does it actually help with it helps increase appetite for some people it can actually decrease seizure frequency it suppresses activity in the brain i’m very worried because as the perception of dangerousness if a drug goes down its use goes up especially in teenagers and if you’re smoking or eating edibles as a teenager you’ve just increased your risk of anxiety depression and suicide in your 20s so that’s it’s not good and i you know all child psychiatrists and also a child psychiatrist have the experience of all of a sudden the 16 year old is not acting right and we test them and they end up positive for marijuana that it’s not innocuous and i think that’s the important thing now is it worse than alcohol well actually i published a study on 62 000. this is the world’s largest imaging study 62 000 scans on how the brain ages and then we looked at what accelerated aging schizophrenia was the worst your brain looked 10 years older than people who didn’t have schizophrenia the second worst and it was a surprise for me was marijuana your brain worse than alcohol worse than alcohol worse than smoking what i am startled by that yeah i was too and it’s like it’s the data and i have no dog in the fight right if you smoke if you don’t smoke you’re just actually more likely to see me if you do is it lowering blood flow like it’s lowering blood flow to the brain wow i thought for sure you were going to say alcohol was the worst yeah but neither of them are good man that’s crazy yeah so food can make you happy so can drugs that’s the that’s the problem like when i think about all the the insults that people can do to their brain how important the brain is for the mind and that your mind if you don’t have your mind under control your life your life will be determined by how well you control your mind like i just because ultimately all we are is a string of emotions things either make you feel good bad or indifferent and when you spend a lot of time feeling bad life sucks when you spend a lot of time feeling good life is great and it doesn’t matter if you have all the money in the world if you feel bad life sucks it doesn’t matter if you’re broke as the day is long if you feel good life is great so but the number of things that insult our brain from just concussive trauma from certain types of contact sports to um sitting around to uh weed alcohol a lot of things that are fun and over prescription of drugs oh my god gadget screen time yeah negative thoughts like it is bananas and the amount of time that people have to put into getting it right so we have a high school course called brain thrive by 25 and i love this course and we play a game with them called who has more fun the kid with the good brain or the kid with the bad brain who gets the girl and gets to keep her because he doesn’t act like an ass the kid with a good brain or the kid with the bad boy who gets into college who gets the job they want who has the most consistent positive behavior it’s the person with the good brain this is not about not having fun it’s about having fun with all of you intact yeah and over a prolonged period of time over a long period of time dr ehman thank you so much for coming on dude i always love your books and time with you where can people connect with you and ensure that they have the good brain over a long period of time well they can find us at eamonclinics.com so amen like the last word in a prayer clinics.com they can follow me on facebook or instagram instagram it’s at doc underscore eamon we’re doing a whole cool series called scan my brain i’ve done some just wonderful influencers it’s super fun and we want to create a revolution in brain health we want to end mental illness and that whole discussion and really start talking with a better brain always comes a better life i love it i love it and thank you for everything that you do guys if you haven’t already uh followed him on every conceivable place do read his books they are transformative and speaking of things that are transformative if you haven’t already be sure to subscribe and until next time my friends be legendary take care thank you guys so much for watching and being a part of this community if you haven’t already be sure to subscribe you’re going to get weekly videos on building a growth mindset cultivating grit and unlocking your full potential
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Change Your BRAIN, Change Your LIFE! These Hacks Will Improve Your BRAIN | Dr. Daniel Amen

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