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When it comes to paths to wellness, it’s often our health struggles from early on in life that subconsciously point us in the right direction. This was certainly true for Darin Olien, who along with Zac Efron hosts the new Netflix series Down to Earth. In this episode of the podcast, Darin and the Amens discuss our bodies’ natural tendency towards healing, and how it’s so often sabotaged by the obstacles we tend to place in nature’s way.
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
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.
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.
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.
Welcome back. Today, we have a very special guest and I’m very honored to be able to introduce Darin Olien, who wrote the book, SuperLife. You may actually know Darin from his endeavors with Zac Efron in the Netflix series, where they travel around the world and they’re searching for healthier, sustainable ways to live. It’s called Down to Earth. We actually checked it out and we thought it was really cool.
We are really honored to have Darrin with us today, another brain warrior after our own heart, who’s really trying to find the healthiest way for people to live and sustain the earth. We’re just really honored you’re with us. Thank you so much for joining us.
Oh, man. Thank you. It’s a shared honor to be here and discuss these things with you guys, for sure.
Can you tell us part of your journey? How did you get to the point where health is really such an important part of your mission?
It’s funny because it literally goes all the way back to the point of birth for me. I was premature by two months and, in 1970, they gave me a 50/50 chance of surviving. Really it was through a lot of work, really discovering that in a inherent deep level, my first kind of inkling or understanding in this world was it was dangerous, I was susceptible. There was a lot of issues as I was growing up with a resting heart rate of 120 beats per minute, overactive thyroids, they weren’t sure my lungs were fully developed. It was all of these things that set this trajectory.
Really just fast-forwarding, I was a regular kid from Minnesota and just eating horribly, but what everyone else ate. Spontaneously, at the age of 13, I saw in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, I saw an article on a cleanse. Listen, my mom and dad were definitely not hippies at all, they’re regular people, and I saw this article and I told my mom to get me a bunch of grapefruits and I’m going just going to start eating grapefruits. I think she didn’t even really register, she just got grapefruits and didn’t really realize that I was just seeing grapefruits for like three days in a row. It was the first time, consciously, I felt the difference between what was going on in my mouth to how I felt. Obviously, it helped my brain as well because I was all over the place.
Of course, I went back to being a regular kid and I was stimulating myself with literally the old-fashioned bottles of Coke. I was drinking about six of those a day and just bouncing off the walls. Then really, at 16, I started working out and picking up my first dumbbell and realizing my first messaging was I was weak, I was vulnerable from that birth experience. When I started weight training and realizing I could get stronger, I then started going, “Oh, food is important because I remember I just did that at 13.” It just started coming together and I started becoming stronger and a lot of both internally and externally. I then started playing all the sports and football.
Then it really, the short answer to the long journey was that I was in college starting fullback in football and I got a career-ending injury, and then I couldn’t keep playing football. Then these whole worlds came together where I changed majors, I studied physiology and nutrition and kinesiology, and then just got the awareness that this body is an utter miracle and if we start putting the right things in place that we can actually heal it.
The allopathic world didn’t get me back playing again, it didn’t put me back on the field, it didn’t make me feel better because I was absolutely depressed. When you’re a kid that wants to play football and do all these things, naturally that just came to a crashing halt. Once I started getting into that, that was it. Then it progressed from there. I was fascinated with food and nutrition and realized that a lot of these ingredients and even these marketing words didn’t equate to actually what was showing up not only as food in the marketplace, but also as supplements. Then I started literally formulating things and traveling around the world to sources of where these great medicinal plants are. From there, I started really getting into it.
Yeah, that’s the quick version of how through my own needs and necessity and really going all the way back to the beginning, I had to find the answers myself.
Wow. I don’t know if you know, but I did the big NFL study when the NFL was not telling the truth about traumatic brain injury in football. I have 300 NFL players, cool players like Terry Bradshaw and Freddy Dryer and Jack Youngblood. The incidents of brain damage is stunning, but 80% of our players get better if we put them on a brain health rehabilitation program, which just speaks to the miracle of our bodies, is that if you put them in a healing environment, no matter how bad you have been to them, that they can be better. How exciting is that?
I felt a couple of parallels with you, as you were telling your story. You’re a sick kid, I was a very sick kid. Super sick kid, had cancer at 23 that kept coming back, lots of issues. I was always on antibiotics when I was a little, frequent flyer at the hospital. Then it was around 16 that I discovered working out. I didn’t really know how to eat healthy, but I discovered working out and my journey began there.
It’s interesting, I hear so many people that we work with who are like, “Well, I’ve just always been this way. I was born this way,” and I’m like, “I am the healthiest I’ve ever been, in my 50s, and I was really sick at one point, so much that I wanted to die.” I went into a deep depression. I was listening to your journey and I’m like, “Wow,” it’s just there’s so many parallels. Here, I’ve seen your show on Netflix and you’re incredibly healthy. You look great, you’re healthy, you’re living this amazing life. I just want people listening to hear that. It doesn’t matter, even if you’ve been bad to your brain and your body for a long time, you can still make it better. You just need to start now, you need to get started.
Yeah. I mean, it’s a miracle. Just both of what you’re saying, I mean, the force of nature that wants to heal and drive forward is so powerful, but we’ve also put so many stumbling blocks in front of ourselves from these modern day conveniences that have a sting to them in our life and they’re food quality that’s just plummeted since the Industrial Revolution. Going back to I think the health of … It’s like diversity, I think, and challenges breed opportunity. I think I saved myself from a lot more hits in the head on the one hand, doc, right? Through that stopping, that abrupt stopping, it turned this curiosity and this fascination on with this healing potentiality that exists within us.
There’s two very strong principles. If you eliminate the exposure to things that are causing disease, and you can easily go down a list of 60,000 toxins emitted in our atmosphere every year that are untested, they’re not necessarily biologically supportive, and on and on and on, but then if you increase these nutrient-dense compounds and plants and life-giving waters, then the miracles literally are spewing out and benefiting us as we go.
I can’t imagine, it would be fun to be a fly on the wall to some of the people that you’re dealing with because I think that having seen it myself in my own way, you see the power that happens if you stop one thing that’s causing harm and you turn on the other things that are causing life. You’re right, there is no stopping life in that way. It’s very powerful.
I often say, brain health is three things. It’s brain envy, you have to care about it. Freud was wrong, penis envy is not the cause of anybody’s problem. I’ve not seen it once in my 40-year psychiatric career. But you have to care about your brain and then avoid things that hurt it, just like you talked about, and do things that help it. You just have to know the lists. I’m sure our lists are actually probably very similar.
I went to our daughter’s second-grade class and [inaudible [00:10:54] on the board. I’m like, “Separate the healthy things from the unhealthy things,” and they got everything right, except orange juice, which they put in the healthy category and I’m like, “No, way too much sugar to have a glass of orange juice. It’s the sugar of five oranges.”
Eat the orange.
Yeah, just eat the oranges.
Eat the orange and you’ll be great. I think none of it is hard if we get the right mindset.
When we come back, we’re going to ask Darin about some of his most effective tips on how to have a better brain, a better body and a better life. If there’s one thing you learned, write it down, take a picture of it and post it on any of your social media sites. We’d just dearly love if you went to brainwarriorswaypodcast.com, leave us a comment, question, or a review. We’ll enter you into a raffle to win either Tana’s new book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child, or my book, The End of Mental Illness. Stay with us.
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