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9 Myths You Never Knew Were Stealing Your Brain

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

Many people don’t know the hidden negative behaviors they engage in that steal brain health. In this episode we will discuss 9 of them.

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Donny Osmond: Hi, I'm Donny Osmond, and welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way, hosted by my friends Daniel and Tana Amen. Now, in this podcast, you're going to learn that the war for your health is one between your ears. That's right. If you're ready to be sharper and have better memory, mood, energy, and focus, well, then stay with us.
Here are Daniel and Tana Amen.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We are so excited you are part of our community. We are creating and training brain warriors. And today what we're going to do is we're going to talk about nine myths that you never knew were stealing your brain.
Tana Amen: We're so excited about this because they're actually pretty simple. And if you just follow a few of these, master one at a time, and then go to the next one, master the next one, and just follow us through this podcast, you'll be surprised at how much better you feel very quickly.
Dr Daniel Amen: So one at a time reminds me of Nancy.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: So Nancy is 83, and a couple of years ago she bought a copy of my book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, in a used bookstore for 50 cents, and actually let it lay around the house for a year or so.
And then when she read it, she said she was riveted. I like that. But there are so many things to do, and you're going, "Oh, there are so many things to do, I can't do everything."
Tana Amen: Yeah, she started to feel overwhelmed.
Dr Daniel Amen: She just did one thing at a time. And before she did anything, she was obese, she was a couch potato. She was isolated and depressed. She said she was unmotivated and uninspired.
And the first thing she did is she started drinking water. So she hydrated herself. It's like, well, how easy is that? And she drank eight glasses of water a day, and she noticed that she felt better. And then she started to walk, and she noticed she felt better. And then she changed her diet to what we recommend in the Brain Warrior's Way and felt better. And then she started to take simple supplements and felt better. And then she took a language, and then took guitar, and by the time we met her, she was learning three languages. So new learning was part of it.
And then she shared what she learned with her family-
Tana Amen: Love that.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... who was completely blown away by the change in her. And over a year, she lost five stones, which was 73 pounds.
Tana Amen: So cute.
Dr Daniel Amen: And lost her depression, lost being a couch potato. And she said at 83, she had no idea at that point in her life she could be this happy. And she came to our clinic because her 83rd birthday present to herself was a scan.
Tana Amen: That's so cool.
Dr Daniel Amen: And her scan was stunningly beautiful. And when she saw it, she cried because she said, "A year ago, it wouldn't have looked like that."
Tana Amen: And she's probably right.
Dr Daniel Amen: And she was probably right.
Tana Amen: So I love that story because, honestly, it was a lesson for me. As somebody who, when I first started out on this journey and I first started coaching, I'm a pretty intense person, and I used to think that if you were going to do this, you had to do everything. You just needed to do everything, jump the canyon. You can't do one thing at a time, you got to do everything. And I was pretty adamant about it. And I couldn't figure out why some people did everything and they got really, really well, and other people had a hard time grasping that.
And what we've learned is that there are a lot of Nancys. There are a lot of people like me and there are a lot of Nancys. and some people just need to break it down really small, and they get better faster doing it that way. So it was a huge lesson to me to learn that.
In fact, we created our poster, 50 Ways To Grow Your Brain, sort of based on Nancy. And it literally has 50 tiny habits, small habits that you can break down into bite size steps if you will.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, and it just depends on the kind of person you are. You want to do one thing at a time, awesome. We'll help you with that. You want to do everything at once, awesome. Because my dad, on the other hand, is sort of more like you, which may be why I've struggled with him.
Tana Amen: I love your dad. I think he's awesome.
Dr Daniel Amen: Growing up, his favorite word was bullshit [crosstalk 00:00:04:29].
Tana Amen: See, I thought you were going to say, which is maybe why you were attracted to me. But hey.
Dr Daniel Amen: His second favorite word was no. And I struggled with him. But when he was sick two years ago, he's like, "I'm sick of being sick. What do you want me to do?" And then he just did everything, and over six months, lost 40 pounds, his energy skyrocketed.
And this past Sunday, he's so hysterical, he and I work out every Sunday together, he lifted 17,000 pounds. I counted it with all the reps.
Tana Amen: Yeah. He's so cool.
Dr Daniel Amen: And then my cousin came over, and my dad can do a plank longer than anybody in my family, including me, and she challenged him. And she went for two minutes, and he went for six.
Tana Amen: Yeah, just because.
Dr Daniel Amen: Just because he could. So what are nine myths that you never knew were stealing your brain? You have a High BMI, dozens of studies now, I published two of them, that say as your weight goes up, the size and function of your brain goes down. That should scare the fat off anyone. The first study was at the University of Pittsburgh half a dozen years ago that showed if you were overweight, that meant your BMI was between 25 and 30, you had 4% less brain volume, and your brain looked eight years older than healthy people. If you were in the obese category, you had 8% less brain volume, and your brain looked 16 years older than healthy people. So this is why we want to help you with your weight. And two-thirds of America is overweight, so it's no small problem.
You remember when I was in Nashville and I was having dinner with our friend Mark? And he was injecting himself with insulin at the table, and he was overweight. And we both love Mark. And so, I'm at dinner, and I'm like, "Hey Mark, what do you weigh?" He said, "244." I said, "How tall are you?" He said, "I'm six feet tall." And so, I got the BMI Calculator on my phone, and I'm like, "Dude, you're obese," because his BMI was 33, it was in the obese range. And he's like, "Daniel, you're so cold." And I'm like, "Dude, not as cold as you're going to be when your dead." I'm not that much fun to go out to dinner with I suppose.
But the next month he lost 10 pounds. And then two years later-
Tana Amen: A little bit of fear is good.
Dr Daniel Amen: Two years later, we're at the same conference in Nashville at the Opryland Hotel, he just looked phenomenal. And I'm like, "What happened to you?" He said, "Well, I lost 53 pounds. Oh by the way, I'm on half the insulin I was on." He said, "Thank you for having that hard conversation with." So most people don't know that extra weight on their body is actually not good for their brains.
Tana Amen: Exactly. High blood pressure is another one. So high blood pressure actually will affect how much oxygen your brain gets. So you want to be very careful and make sure your blood pressure is within normal limits. Get it checked, get it treated. But really losing weight, eating the right foods, and exercise are probably the best way to treat your blood pressure.
Dr Daniel Amen: And get sleep apnea treated if it's not, because that can damage your brain as well. And most people don't know that. High blood sugar is associated. So high BMI, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar are all associated with brain atrophy. That means it shrinks your brain. And all of these things are treatable.
As we've talked about many times, alcohol is not a health food. People who drink every day have a smaller brain, and that's not a good thing. So less is better. And if you don't drink it all, it doesn't mean you're not a man or not a woman.
Tana Amen: So people hear, "Oh, it's not good for me. Oh, it's not good for me." Tell them why. What is alcohol doing? It's shrinking their brain. What else?
Dr Daniel Amen: So it also increases your risk of cancer. And when people drink, they lose track of time, it activates their appetite, and so they end up eating more. There's a reason-
Tana Amen: So you don't make good decisions.
Dr Daniel Amen: You don't make good decisions. There's a reason why you first sit down at a restaurant, someone goes, "What can I bring you to drink" And they are talking about alcohol, because you're just more likely to order dessert if you have a drink before you eat. It's also why they give you bread, because bread actually will drop your frontal lobes, which we'll talk about at some point.
Tana Amen: And regarding alcohol ... regarding the cancer, women are more affected than men. So, unfortunately, it's not fair, but it's a gender bias. Women are more affected by alcohol in the cancer game.
Dr Daniel Amen: Marijuana drops brain function. Now, I know it's legal in many states. In 10 states, it's actually legal for dementia. Well, we published here at Amen-
Tana Amen: But for dementia, that seems bizarre.
Dr Daniel Amen: It does. Well, we published the world's largest imaging study on marijuana users in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, on just about a thousand patients, and what we saw, compared to a healthy group, virtually every area of the marijuana group was lower in blood flow and lower in activity, especially in an area of the brain called the hippocampus-
Tana Amen: Interesting.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... which is the brain's major memory center. But guys, first-
Tana Amen: Right. so why does it make sense?
Dr Daniel Amen: ... in Alzheimer's disease.
Tana Amen: So why does that makes sense?
Dr Daniel Amen: And marijuana, as you know, activates your appetite, so decreases motivation, and can have a significant impact on learning and memory.
So I am not for making it illegal, because the last thing I think we should do is be throwing potheads into jail and let them hang out with people who do seriously bad things. I think we have to attack it from an education standpoint.
Lack of sunshine is bad for your brain.
Tana Amen: Yeah, low vitamin D is a disaster.
Dr Daniel Amen: Because low vitamin D ... And the other good things that sunshine does, it's associated with mood, and the immune system function. And the higher latitudes are actually associated with this thing called seasonal affective disorder and higher incidences of MS.
Low cholesterol-
Tana Amen: We've talked about this one a couple of times. So there must be a reason that you think this is important.
Dr Daniel Amen: It is, because 60% of the solid weight of your brain is fats.
Tana Amen: Well, and cholesterol is-
Dr Daniel Amen: Someone calls you a fathead, say, "Thank you."
Tana Amen: Exactly. And also, cholesterol is necessary, a certain level of cholesterol is necessary for helping you produce hormones. So you will not be a happy camper if you're not producing the right hormones.
Dr Daniel Amen: I see so many people on statins whose total cholesterol is 110, 120. And I just, I'm so worried for them, because there's a higher incidence of depression, suicide, homicide, and death from all causes when your cholesterol is under 160. Lack of healthy fat is one of the things that hurts your brain, because your brain is fat.
And lack of sleep. With all the gadgets, and going to bed with your phone and the iPad and so on, the blue lights are disrupting the production of melatonin in your brain. And so, then you have trouble sleeping.
So these are just some myths that people think about the habits that we want to bust up for you, because brain warriors are serious, but they're armed and prepared with the right information. Stay with us.
Tana Amen: Thanks a lot.
Donny Osmond: Thanks for listening to today's show, The Brain Warrior's Way. Why don't you head over to brainwarriorswaypodcast.com, that's brainwarriorswaypodcast.com, where Daniel and Tana have a gift for you just for subscribing to the show. And when you post your review on iTunes, you'll be entered into a drawing where you can win a VIP visit to one of the Amen clinics.
I'm Donny Osmond, and I invite you to step up your brain game by joining us in the next episode.