A Healthy Diet: What To Choose & When To Eat It

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

In terms of a healthy diet, many of us have a handle on what we should be eating, but another important yet often overlooked component is when we should be eating. In this episode of the podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and his wife Tana discuss strategies for an eating schedule that can make a major positive impact in your overall health.


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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And 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 BrainMD 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.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We are in the middle of-
Tana Amen: I don't have my contacts, so-
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... nutrition to feel better fast and make it last.
Tana Amen: You have to do all the reading today.
Dr. Daniel Amen: This review is from V.C. "Love these tips. My husband and I sat down and discussed them. I am going to write them all down and start doing them every day. Very practical, thanks. Definitely sharing the link."
Tana Amen: Awesome.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I love that. Don't try to do everything at once.
Tana Amen: Right. I was just going to say that. Pick one, do it until you do it well, then pick another one, add it on.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, and the one tiny habit that Tana and I talk about all the time, when it comes to food, is this good for my brain or bad for it? It's actually a game I've been playing with Chloe for 13 years now, ever since she was two, is I'm just like, "Sweetheart, is this good for your brain or bad for it?" If I said, "Avocado," she'd say, "Two thumbs up." If I said, "Blueberries," she'd ask me if they're organic because that's the kind of child she is. That's what you want to do for yourself because you want to be healthy because you love yourself, and you don't want the food industry going after your health that is just so important.
Let's talk about meal timing. The reason I became interested in this is because people who have low blood sugar often get themselves into psychiatric trouble.
Tana Amen: Oh, yeah, or all kinds of trouble, relationship trouble, like all kinds of trouble.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Listen to the symptoms of low blood sugar, of hypoglycemia. Many of my patients have this.
Tana Amen: This was a question on my nursing exam.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I didn't know that.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Thank you for sharing.
Tana Amen: Very similar, yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Feeling sleepy or drugged, mental confusion, inability to concentrate, impaired memory, dizziness, lightheadedness, nervousness, depression, irritability, blurred vision, overwhelming fatigue, anxiety, panic attacks, palpitations, shaky hands, butterflies, flushing, sweating, faintness, head pressure, headaches, insomnia, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
Tana Amen: Wait. On my nursing exam, they only picked the really acute ones like aggression, dizziness, aggression, fainting, those pretty significant, severe ones. The answer was low blood sugar.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Isn't that crazy?
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I'm actually beginning to work on a new book called The End of Mental Illness, and I'm like, "Get your diet right." This is so important. It's very important to have protein and a healthy fat at every meal, and try not to go too long without eating-
Tana Amen: Didn't we have-
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... if you have these symptoms. Now, we actually like it when people do intermittent fasting.
Tana Amen: Didn't we have one of our young, high-profile patients come in, and he was getting himself into some pretty hot water?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah. He's not been arrested since he started eating in a more consistent way.
Tana Amen: Right, but his blood sugar was insanely low. Of course, everyone's like, "Well, that's too simplistic." No, actually it's not. You make bad decisions.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Intermittent fasting has been shown to be helpful-
Tana Amen: I actually like this.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... to clean up the trash that builds up in your brain.
Tana Amen: I have a question on intermittent fasting. You can drink clear liquids, right?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yes.
Tana Amen: Yeah, so it's not that hard.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But that is not vodka.
Tana Amen: Okay, really? It's not-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Vodka's a clear liquid.
Tana Amen: It's not Kool-Aid either, but I'm ... Okay, my point being you can have tea. You can have green tea and stuff like that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yes.
Tana Amen: Okay.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's the calories.
Tana Amen: Yeah. I'm making a point that this isn't that hard. You can have clear liquids.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I do intermittent fasting virtually every day.
Tana Amen: Me too.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because if I stop eating at 6:00-
Tana Amen: I don't usually eat breakfast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... I won't eat again until 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning.
Tana Amen: Well, and, for me, sometimes it's like 11:00. I'm actually not advocating that if you work out or anything, but I sometimes am not hungry until then.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you can go 12 to 16 hours, it's been found to improve your memory, improve your mood, lose weight, your blood pressure's better, and you inflammatory markers are better, so nightly 12, so that's a piece of cake to do it. What it does is it prevents the nighttime eaters, and you don't want to be a nighttime eater because it gives you an increased risk of having a stroke and a heart attack. Why? Because when we go to sleep, our blood pressure dips, and it protects us from strokes and heart attacks, but if you ate right before bed, you're called a non-dipper because your blood pressure doesn't drop. It stays high, which puts extra stress on your blood vessels, so you don't want to be a non-dipper. You want to be a dipper. Okay, so stop eating at night.
Now I want to talk about foods to choose. It's like, "Oh, I can't have this. I can't have that." It's like stop it. You can have ... I mean let's just talk about some beverages. You can have water. You can have sparkling water. You can have tea. You can have spa water.
Tana Amen: I found a kombucha that has super low sugar, because most of them have a ridiculous amount of sugar. I actually found one that has-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Read the label. Read the label.
Tana Amen: Yeah. I have one that has, in a 16-ounce bottle, only has four grams of sugar, which means, per serving, it only has two, which is really good, and it's from the natural juice.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Okay, so plenty to drink.
Tana Amen: Everyone's now wondering-
Dr. Daniel Amen: I get SweetLeaf. They make 10 different kinds of stevia. I carry chocolate. See, when we went to Europe, we had four bottles of chocolate stevia, and we put it in coffee, put it in tea, put it in ...
Tana Amen: Sparkling water.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Sparkling water. I would actually put it in steel-cut oatmeal a little bit, and so I've not seen any health problems from [crosstalk 00:07:26]-
Tana Amen: We were out somewhere. It was so cute. We were out somewhere, and I've never seen this before. We were out somewhere, and I was ordering something. I got my chocolate stevia out, and I was putting it in something, and there was an older man sitting at the table right across from me. At the same time, he got his chocolate stevia out and was putting it in something, and we both just started cracking up, and I'm like, "I have never seen that before," so it made me wonder if he listens to our podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Did he ask you out?
Tana Amen: Really? Why is that the first thing you think of?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because I'm protective.
Tana Amen: Because you would do that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: No.
Tana Amen: Because you would do that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Absolutely not. Do not make them think badly-
Tana Amen: Do you know how I know you would not do that?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because you would kill me.
Tana Amen: Yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We're clear on that.
Tana Amen: Now that's actually recorded.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Okay, we have beverages, nuts, seeds, nut and seed butter, like almonds and Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts. You have to be careful. They have high calories.
Tana Amen: They also have a lot of special health benefits, so just go easy on them.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Pistachios.
Tana Amen: Macadamia nut oil is really good for cooking.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We're going to get to oils. Pistachios. Pumpkin seeds, actually been found to boost dopamine in the brain. We talked about that. Walnuts. Quinoa, which is a seed. Beans are a little bit more controversial, but lentils, chickpeas-
Tana Amen: My advice on beans, the softer beans are easier on digestion. The harder the skin on the bean, the harder it is on digestion, so the larger beans are actually harder, but softer beans like lentils are not nearly as difficult on digestion. They're good for you. We just recommend that you eat them in smaller quantities than people often do, so like a half cup at a time and not every day.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Like you often say, as a condiment, not as a-
Tana Amen: Right, as a condiment, not as your main staple.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Then fruits, there's all sorts of them, but you want them to be, in general, low glycemic, high in fiber, so apples, apricots, avocados. People go, "Oh, that's not a fruit." It is. Blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries.
Tana Amen: Tomatoes are also a fruit.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Lemons, peaches. I mean there are just so many. Tomatoes. Then vegetables, just you want to make them as colorful as possible. Mushrooms. Then oils, avocado oil, coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, olive oil, but only at room temperature, and then healthy, sustainably-raised meats, so there's meats, there's vegetables, there's fruit, there's nuts.
Tana Amen: One of the things I like, and I've given this tip a lot, but I'm going to remind you because it's just a great tip, when you need to wrap something quickly, especially for a kid's lunch, coconut wraps are amazing. You can find them on Amazon. You can find them at most grocery stores now. They just are so easy, and it helps you eliminate bread, and they're high fiber.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you want to feel more focused, more protein and less simple carbohydrates.
Tana Amen: Especially for breakfast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Children who are taking Ritalin for ADHD do better in school and their medicine lasts longer-
Tana Amen: Especially for breakfast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... if they are taking a high-protein breakfast.
Tana Amen: Things like eggs with avocado. That kind of a breakfast is much better, so the protein with the healthy fat for breakfast is great.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, so if you had green tea and turkey, eggs, nuts, seeds, high protein veggies like broccoli and spinach-
Tana Amen: I'm going to give you a little tip. One of the things that my daughter loves is cauliflower rice. We make it almost like fried rice, okay? That's what it sort of tastes like, but it's just healthy. Cauliflower rice with veggies in it, and then we put an egg over the top of it. It's amazing, and she's not getting the bad carbs. She's getting all the good carbs, the high fiber, and the healthy fat, and the protein, and it's like the perfect meal for her to get started.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But if you tend to be a worrier and having trouble letting go of negative thoughts, if you go on a high-protein diet, it actually helps you concentrate more on the things that upset you, and so we recommend a serotonin-rich diet, so combining foods that contain tryptophan, tryptophan's the amino acid building block for serotonin, with foods that will raise your blood sugar just a little bit. It's combining foods such as eggs and turkey, seafood, chickpea, nuts, and seeds, those have a lot of tryptophan in them, with healthy carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes or quinoa to elicit a short-term insulin response that actually can drive the tryptophan into your brain. We want you to eat for your brain type, and I talk about that in the book.
Okay, stay with us. When we come back, we're going to talk about supplements for your brain.
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