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Can Drinking Alcohol Help You Live Longer?

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

We all know about the negative effects of heavy alcohol consumption, but is it true that there are health benefits for drinking just 1-2 glasses of wine a week? In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen break down just exactly what alcohol does to your body and brain, and if light alcohol consumption really is a smart way to increase longevity.

 

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: I'm Tana Amen. Here, we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.

Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit Amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit brainmdhealth.com.

Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast, and stay tuned for a special code for a discount to Amen Clinics for a full evaluation as well as any of our supplements at brainmdhealth.com.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back, everybody. I want to start by reading from MDG from the U.S., the highlight of my morning.

Dear. Dr. Amen and Tana, I don't even know where to begin. I've left a review before, but I just can't help but leave another.

Tana Amen: I love it.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Your podcasts have changed my life. Never before have I been so protective of my brain health. She's a brain warrior.

Tana Amen: I love that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And the brain health of those I love. I am inspired, I am amazed, I am empowered. Tana makes me want to start taking self defense classes for real.

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I listen to your podcasts in the morning when I walk, and I have to stop walking sometimes so I can share them right away. See, I don't text and walk thanks to you. By now, people are probably sick of me sharing.

Tana Amen: Good.

Dr. Daniel Amen: When I discovered you were doing a talk on The Daniel Plan at Saddleback in February, I knew I just had to go. Just before heading out, I was talking to my family about the work you do. Someone then said to me, "He sounds like a rock star," and I said, "Yes, he is in my life." I am not a rock star. Tana told me when we first started dating, she would never date a rock star or anybody famous.

Tana Amen: Or anybody famous. No interest.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Anyways, it goes on and on, but I'm so grateful.

Tana Amen: This is why we do this.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Our goal is to create warriors.

Tana Amen: We heard a really great message at church recently, and it really made sense to me, because it was about, really about time management, like how are you spending your time? If you do something purposeful, your time will sort of automatically ... you'll start automatically managing your time better, because you run it through the filter of does it fit my values and does it fulfill my purpose? If it doesn't, why are you wasting your time with it? It becomes easier to say no to things. For us, we have this question like, does it have eternal value? Does it fit this purpose of what we're trying to do? It becomes much easier to say no to things. One of the things I loved was when they said, it's actually, like all these verses in the Bible. It was so interesting to me.

It was really about prioritizing, but really how you can't keep taking on new things, even things that are good for you, without clearing out all the other things you're doing. You have to continually be pruning and taking things off of your plate. This is why people can't get stuff done. You get more done by doing less of the stuff that's not making a difference. We do this because it makes a difference.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Actually in my new book, "Feel Better Fast and Make it Last," under the prefrontal cortex, because that's the part of your brain that watches you, it supervises you, one of the strategies to strengthen that is learn to say no. When someone asks you to do something or you get the idea to volunteer, just before you say yes, say I have to think about it.

Tana Amen: Stop.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And then stop and evaluate, just like Tana said, does this fit the goals I have for my life?

Tana Amen: We get all sorts of opportunities that are so cool. Sometimes it's hard to say no.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Today I got invited to speak at the Bar Association at New York City, and I turned it down.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Because it's right in the middle of my book launch and our new Public Television ... and I'm like, I would love to do it, but I'm not sure it would love me back.

Tana Amen: You get asked to speak in Asia and in Europe, and it would be fun family vacations at the same time, but it doesn't fit. It's exhausting.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's okay to say no. Now, that brings us to the topic for today, which can one extra glass of wine shorten your life by 30 minutes?

Tana Amen: We need to not do fake news. We don't want to make people upset. It's the extra glass of wine. Let's talk about what that means.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, so it's above the limit of having five or six glasses a week.

Tana Amen: Now, we would say even that is probably a lot.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, I would say it's ridiculous.

Tana Amen: It's a lot for your brain. It's too much for you to handle.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And just think of the extra calories.

Tana Amen: We already know there are studies.

Dr. Daniel Amen: In fact, I'm gonna ...

Tana Amen: While you're doing that, you're gonna do calories ...

Dr. Daniel Amen: I'm gonna calculate the number of extra calories.

Tana Amen: While you're doing the calories, I'm gonna say we already know there are studies out there that one glass of wine per week, or one drink per week, increases a woman's risk of cancer more than a man's. So we would say that's probably a little too much, but there's another problem. When you drink every day, it not only sort of depresses your whole system, so if you're prone to depression and anxiety and things like that, but it increases your risk of making bad decisions, so you become more impulsive and you make bad decisions. If you're trying to lose weight or you're trying to not engage in risky behavior, you're more likely to do those things. There are other reasons, but let's focus on the death part of this.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, the reason I'm not a fan of alcohol is I see the effect on the scans. Ginkgo makes your brain healthier, fuller, fatter, healthier. Alcohol makes it smaller. There's a new study, maybe we talked about this. They found that older people, like me, make as many baby hippocampi, or seahorses, we've talked about the hippocampus is Greek for seahorse, that my brain makes as many baby seahorses as Chloe's brain, but mine don't live because I have lower blood flow to my brain, so I can't nourish those new cells that are being made in my brain, and so over time as you get older, the brain shrinks. I'm not okay with that. I don't want anything shrinking, except the fat, the extra fat I have.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I think getting your seahorses drunk is just a bad idea. I just calculated it. If you have two drinks a day, which is common.

Tana Amen: That's a lot.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Most people think that that's within the sort of recommended guidelines.

Tana Amen: Which is ridiculous.

Dr. Daniel Amen: But just the extra calories from that, and they're mostly empty calories, will put 21 pounds of fat a year on your body.

Tana Amen: But that's not it. Let's think about all the bad decisions you're likely to make, let's think about ... there's things like DUIs, there's all kinds of things, but in addition to that ...

Dr. Daniel Amen: But most people are gonna go I never drink.

Tana Amen: I drink at home. I know. Never. Let's talk about one thing though. I really like what you said about the hippocampi. We have mentioned, because people always ask me this. I get bombarded with questions. I always do and I love that, we like that you're paying attention, but I want to be able to answer them in the podcast. When we have mentioned on PBS or in our books, two glasses of wine a week you should be okay, and the reason we say that is because you should be engaging in enough positive activity, now if you don't drink at all, that's great, but if you're going to drink and you limit it to two normal size glasses a week, then one or two, you are hopefully engaging in enough positive activity that you can counteract what it's doing to your body, if that makes sense. So you're not doing so much damage. It's really damage control, correct?

Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah. I was at the California Naturopathic Association on Sunday and I spoke, and someone came up and they said, "Well what about all the research on alcohol and longevity?" It's like, no, it doesn't make you live longer. Now, it may help your heart. There is some evidence, but according to the studies from Johns Hopkins, people who drink every day have smaller brains. I would just argue if you're gonna live a long time, you don't want a smaller brain.

Tana Amen: Let me ask you a question. We know about the Resveratrol, which you can take Resveratrol. The being good for your heart, doesn't it have something to do with stress? Like relaxing, the fact that you relax ... because there are a lot of people who are anxious, they're stressed out and so you tend to relax.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And they like alcohol for that. I was with somebody yesterday.

Tana Amen: I used to. I was clearly.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's like, well, how do I relax? I'm like, "Well, there's like 20 other ways to do it." Like there are 20 other ways to live longer.

Tana Amen: Let me give you one of my tips, because I fully bought into that before I met you and saw the scans and I'm like, "Oh, a glass of wine at night after work is okay." It was a healthy thing, right? It was good for your heart. Then I saw the scans and I'm like, "Oh, maybe I need a different goal." Then my daughter came to me and said, "You have to live to 100," and I went, "Okay, that was a little bit of a guilt trip and now I have to figure out how to do that and probably drinking every day is not going to do that." I learned a long time ago that drinking all the time is not going to get me to my goals of being here and being healthy and having a really sharp memory and mind.

But I am an anxious person by nature. I tend to be a little bit wired by nature.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Really?

Tana Amen: Yeah, a little bit.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Do you think anybody listening to the podcast would believe that?

Tana Amen: That's part of why I got hit stuff every day. I cannot tell you how good it feels.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Not me.

Tana Amen: No, I don't hit you. But I cannot tell you how good it feels to go just get that energy out and hit pads. Just, mm, feels so good. Anyways, one of the things I do at night to just chill and take that edge off since I'm not drinking wine every night is I get either Valerian tea, and there's all kinds of different bedtime teas, Sleepy time teas, that are very relaxing, even chamomile tea or lavender tea, but I actually shaved some ginger into it, which is really good for digestion, because sometimes people don't sleep well because of digestion, and I put some cayenne pepper in it. I know that sounds crazy. A little bit of cayenne pepper and maybe a couple drops of Stevia and that little bit of a bite helps you to sip on it a little longer. It really tastes ... it's an interesting taste. It tastes really good. It's got sort of a pungent, savory taste that's strong, but it really takes the edge off and helps you to relax. That's one of my tips for at nighttime helping you to relax and take a lavender bath.

Dr. Daniel Amen: So when people say they drink to live longer, I would probably say there are lots of other ways to live longer. That one we know increases the risk of seven different cancers.

Tana Amen: Right, so I would suggest you go sign up for karate. Don't hit people, but go hit pads. It really will help you, I promise. You're looking at me with that look again.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You know, it's this one question. It's so funny. When Chloe was two and I used to indoctrinate her into brain health, I guess with warriors you need warrior basic training.

Tana Amen: Yeah, but now we've actually instilled an anxiety disorder I think. You're good at that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: She's awesome.

Tana Amen: But you're good at doing that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I would ask her this question, and this is what I want you to ask you as you're listening to the podcast, is what you're doing today, whether it's alcohol, marijuana, crap food, not sleeping, being addicted to your gadgets, whatever, is what you're doing today good for your brain or bad for it? If it's bad for it, you have to ask yourself what's the pay off, what's the benefit? Are you going for short term gain or long term gain? Short term gain can give you long term pain. I always want you to do ... Tana and I always want you to do things that help you feel better now and later as opposed to now but hurt you later.

Tana Amen: When you ask that question, there are people out there who are going to answer I want short term. I want to be out of pain right now. You should probably ... if you're one of those people who has experienced a lot of pain, there's something going on in your life and you're like, "I just need to be out of pain," and that's why you do some of the things you do, either listen to our podcast on grief. There might be something else going on with you, and maybe you need to get some help for that. Believe me, I understand.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Or, I just had a patient this week, a young girl who was very depressed and she had Hashimoto's thyroiditis. We should do a whole podcast on the thyroid. That would be really valuable to people.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: All right. Stay with us. You're listening to the Brain Warrior's Way. Use the code xxxxxxxx to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at Amenclinics.com or on our supplements at brainmdhealth.com. Thank you for listening to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. Go to iTunes and leave a review and you'll automatically be entered into a drawing to get a free signed copy of the Brain Warrior's Way and the Brain Warrior's Way cookbook we give away every month.