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Are Your Store-Bought Foods Missing Something? with Darin Olien

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

In his new book SuperLife, author Darin Olien describes how the alchemy of foods and spices have the ability to turn on or off certain genes. But what if the stuff you buy at the store doesn’t actually contain what it advertises? Surprisingly, this is often the case. In the second episode of a series with Darin, he and the Amens discuss some of the surprising discoveries Darin made during his extensive research for his book, and why it’s so important to be aware of how your food is sourced.

For more info on Darin’s new book “SuperLife: 5 Simple Fixes That Will Make Your Healthy, Fit, and Eternally Awesome”, visit https://www.amazon.com/SuperLife-Simple-Healthy-Eternally-Awesome/dp/0062297198

For more on Darin’s new Netflix series “Down to Earth with Zac Efron”, visit https://www.netflix.com/title/80230601

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Daniel Amen, MD:

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

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.

Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome back. What should I eat? We are here with Darin Olien and excited to talk with him. Talking about his book SuperLife, and the new Netflix show he’s on with Zac Efron, which is really fun, Down to Earth. And Darin, we’re just so grateful for your time. So how did you get involved in superfoods? And you’ve actually brought a couple of superfoods to the attention of the world. So I’m really excited to learn about your journey with food.
Darin Olien:
Yeah. Well, I think it came out of the way of necessity breeds kind of the investigation. And I think the genesis was… I mean, early in my days, I started working with a pharmacist in Colorado after I graduated school and I started looking at the supplement world. And then when I started digging into supplementation and foods and functional foods, I realized that no one really knows where these foods are coming from. Where’s your turmeric coming from, where’s the active compound, is there even an active compound in it anymore? When it shows up in this powder and you’re supposed to take the marketing honest truth. We all know that that’s a dangerous proposition, right?
So as I was seeing the marketing stories of this incredible indigenous and longstanding food and supplements and spices from Ayurveda for 40,000 years of use to traditional Chinese medicine, 10,000 plus years of use of some of the great medicinal plants in the world, I just didn’t buy the story that all of these marketing people. I started testing them. And then these active compounds that were really the gatekeeper of turning on and turning off different genes and expressing different things in the body for health, longevity, recovery, stress, all of this stuff. And it just wasn’t, it wasn’t lining up with this story and what was actually in these bottles and packages and food.
So it was just this light bulb moment where I said, “Listen, I’m actually from South Dakota, Minnesota, and my grandfather sold tractors, my cousins and everything are ranchers. And my dad was an agricultural professor at the University of Minnesota.” So for me, farmers are first. Who are the farmers who are the collectors? Who are the foragers? How are they caring for these incredible plants and where the hell are they and where can I go to understand that? So the innocence of literally going around to 40 plus countries around the world, in the middle of the Amazon and the peaks of the Andes…
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
How cool.
Darin Olien:
And everything in between, I really came by way of it as an innocence because I said, “Listen, I can sit here and do a Google search and look at research, but that’s not going to tell me how that plant is being cared for that comes all the way into a product that sits on a shelf. And is that actually going to benefit somebody?” So, that’s how it all happened. And then I just got so curious with the myriad of things. I’d go after one food or ingredient or botanical, and I’d come back on seeing 30 different things I never even knew existed.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
That was wild, that’s wild.
Darin Olien:
Yeah, it’s phenomenal. So everything from maca, to sacha inchi, to yacón, to schisandra, to chaga, to ashwagandha, to astragalus, to all of these kind of different botanicals each having their own story, their own compounds and their own way to preserve as they’re… How are they grown? How are they cared for? How are they actually processed in a way that will translate into someone taking them biologically. So, that’s how it all happened.
And then once you’re in that world and you realize that this incredible alchemy between this plant world and what these plants and these compounds that are also going through stress that are developing these compounds that we can actually benefit from is just extraordinary, just on their own.
And you also look at alchemy, one of my favorites because we’re talking about brain health, is this alchemy between a common coffee bean or technically as a seed with a fruit that’s on the outside. A good friend of mine spent a decade understanding that when you dry those together in a very careful way, and you adjust them, the alchemy of that is incredibly powerful. One of the most powerful brain derived neurotrophic factors. So you realized that, man, what we are putting in our mouth is so pleomorphicly affecting so many systems that it’s just a miracle. And I love the research into reduction side of things, where you can see a compound has incredible benefit and you can take that and all that stuff. But also I marveled at the kaleidoscopic effect and healing potential of actually taking in some of these whole plants and things like that as well.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
I love that.
Daniel Amen, MD:
You know, one of the things we learned is the brain doesn’t get sick in one way and therefore it will never get better in one way. Which is why single ingredient products generally do not do well in large-scale randomized controlled trials. What I did with my NFL group is I put them on a great multiple vitamin because high doses of B6, B12 folate decrease the conversion of mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. High dose, high quality Omega-3 fatty acids. We did a study that showed 98% of our population, so mental health population, were suboptimal levels of EPA and DHA. And then a brain boost that actually worked in six different ways. And there are many roads to trouble, which means there are also many roads out of trouble. So, when you talk about it, it’s the synergy or the alchemy of ingredients, that’s what we have certainly found as well. What’s a superfood that people can access that you found, this really helps people?
Darin Olien:
Oh man.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
That’s like saying, “Who’s your favorite kid?”
Darin Olien:
I’ve used that analogy. It’s like, “How do I decide which of kids are my favorite at any given time?”
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Right.
Darin Olien:
I’ll just say some common ones so that people don’t get overwhelmed with the exotic ones. The research around turmeric and curcumin and that curcumins an active compound in turmeric and also turmerones are an active compound in turmeric. I actually take… You know, there’s times where it’s great because you mentioned this population that was been at a deficit for a very long time. So we have to put these things in context. So it is appropriate to give them higher doses of things, to get them back up to a normalcy or at least ability for body to repair itself. And so there’s times, like in the turmeric world where you definitely, as a panacea, taking whole organic turmeric on a consistent basis is extremely powerful for the brain, for the immune system, for digestion, for stress levels, it’s incredible.
And then of course you can look at curcumin. If you are in a high state of inflammatory response, curcumin and higher doses can show up as a fire retardant to the inflammation. So I would just say things like turmeric and then the alchemy also of turmeric, ginger and pepper is extremely powerful for… what’s that?
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
In tea, I put it in tea.
Darin Olien:
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Extremely powerful. And so then when you take in all of those whole food forms and adding that pepper, that pepper ignites and allows for the absorbability to increase by up to 2000% of some of these compounds. So again, you kind of bow down to the miraculousness of these synergies that show up. Which is kind of the foundation of even the book I wrote. Everyone was like, “Write a book on superfoods.” When I’m like, “Yeah but, you need a foundation of health first.”
And like you were saying with the NFL guys, you got to get them the basics of the mineral kingdom. We got to make sure that they… your vitamins and all of these things or else it’s like showing up to a forest fire with a squirt gun.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Yeah, Yeah.
Darin Olien:
You haven’t dealt with foundational principles yet. And these guys were running around dehydrated too, and with severely low levels of this EPA and DHA. So I also like to take a step back and go, “Listen, let’s not reduce ourselves to taking this miracle pill or thing. Let’s make sure that the foundation is strong and you’re taking care of your sleep, your hydration, your diversity of plants. You’re getting outside, you’re healthy exposure to sun.” All of that stuff. And then we can start to look at very specific things to boost any other things. And I also believe… I look at superfoods from a… when you bring up B12’s, if you’re not coming from that population, I go into, okay, well, raw form, food grade spirulina actually has all of the B vitamins, including B12, which not a lot of people know about. So there is ways to get the microdosing from all of these things that we need on a consistent basis from our foods in this way.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
I love that. I love, we just have, again, a lot of parallels, but one thing you said about getting the foundation right before you just start throwing some of the more exotic, fancy things at people that they don’t really understand yet. We have a concept we use about the four circles. So we work on four circles when we’re working with someone’s health. Biology, so how are they functioning, their hormones, their blood levels, their brain, all of that matters. Then there’s the psychology. How are you thinking? Your thoughts matter. And they lie and they lie a lot, right? Then there’s the social circle because who you hang out with matters. So people are contagious. And then there’s the spiritual circle. Why is the planet a better place because you breathe? What are you doing to add purpose and be purposeful?
And we think of those like four wheels on a car. So, if one of the tires on a wheel goes splat on a car goes flat. You know, the car might drive, but it’s not going to drive very well. But if more than one goes flat, so if in more than one of those areas, you’re not doing well, that car’s going to crash eventually. And so getting their foundation right, I love that. And so it’s just a really important point to make.
Daniel Amen, MD:
So helpful.
Darin Olien:
Absolutely.
Daniel Amen, MD:
So when we come back, we’re going to talk about five simple fixes to make you healthy and fit. I love this. Darren, this is just so helpful. Darren’s new show Down to Earth, airing on Netflix.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
It’s a great show.
Daniel Amen, MD:
It’s informational, it’s fun, it’s funny. Zac looks disturbed, when he has to go in this iced water. I would be disturbed.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Oh it’s supposed to be so good for you though.
Daniel Amen, MD:
His book is SuperLife. You can get it now. We’re going to put a link to it in the show notes, stay with us. Now, was there one thing you wondered, write it down, post it on any of your social media sites, #BrainWarriorsWayPodcast. We’d just be so grateful. Also, if you left us a comment, question or review, we’ll enter you into a draw in to win either Tana’s new book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child, or The End of Mental Illness. Stay with us.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
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Daniel Amen, MD:

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