Brain In The News: The Amens Break Down The Latest

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

In this episode, The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast introduces a new segment called “The Brain in the News,” where Daniel and Tana Amen review some of the latest news in neuroscience and weigh in with the Brain Warrior perspective. This episode features such hot topics as problems with the vegan diet, blood tests for PTSD, marijuana use during pregnancy, and antidepressant effects in the gut.

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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. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: 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
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Dr. Daniel Amen: Hey, everybody. Welcome back and welcome to a new segment on The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast that we're going to do each week called, Brain in the News where we actually look at, well what's happening in neuroscience that's new and interesting?
Tana Amen: Lots.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Everyday, it seems I'm sending our team an article I read or they're sending me something. And so we're just going to go through a couple on this podcast because we want to keep you up to date on what's the latest science. This article just came out. Oh, before we do, if you get a big idea from this podcast, please post it and hashtag Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.
Tana Amen: Yeah, I have a feeling this one might be... We're going to get a lot of big ideas on this one.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We're going to get a lot of big ideas. An article came out that basically said plant based diets risk worsening brain health. The article basically said exclusive plant based diets are deficient in the neurotransmitter choline, and that's a problem.
Tana Amen: That's not really new, but I think a lot of people don't know it. People often ask why we are not vegan and why we don't promote vegan. We promote 70 to 80% plant based diet with very high quality protein, no hormones, no antibiotics, grass fed and we support vegan, anyone who is vegan. We don't have a dog in the fight other than your brain health, so we want you to get tested, we want you to supplement and do the right things.
But I actually asked one of my mentors, Dr. Hymen, Mark Hymen about this. Because he believes the same thing we do, 70 to 80% plant-based with just a little bit of lean protein, clean protein I should say. So I asked him about this. I said, "Why is it that people feel better when they start a plant based diet and then they don't?"
He goes, "Well, that's exactly what happens." He reinforced that. He said, "What happens is they were eating so awful and they felt so awful and they had so much inflammation that when they start eating clean, initially, just the fact of getting that stuff out and eating plants decreases the inflammation and they feel better. It takes a while for the nutrient deficiency to kick in, so they don't end up correlating it to their diet because it takes," he goes, "What I ended up seeing is that a year to two years later, or sometimes three years later, they start to feel really awful, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious." That's what he starts to see is that a few years later it starts to get really bad, so initially they feel good, then they feel bad.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Let me read a little bit of this because a lot of people maybe have not heard about choline. Choline is an essential nutrient, which means you have to get it from your diet. It's critical to brain health, particularly during fetal development. It also influences the liver. The primary dietary sources of choline are beef, eggs, dairy products, fish and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli. [crosstalk 00:00:04:23].
In 1998, recognizing the importance, the US Institute of Medicine recommended minimum daily intakes. 425 milligrams for women and 550 milligrams a day for men. So, it's not an inconsequential amount, and so if you're on an exclusive plant base diet, it's very hard for you to get choline.
Choline is also heavily involved in memory.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And in learning.
Tana Amen: Learning new things.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Huperzine A, for example, which is in Brain and Memory Power Boost, boosts acetylcholine, which then goes to choline. So it's very important to have enough nutrients from your diet. Mead also has B vitamins, and B vitamins are critical for the function of virtually every cell in the body.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Now, if somebody is vegetarian, and we treat many people and they're vegetarian for-
Tana Amen: Religious or ethical...
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... for ethical reasons or spiritual reasons. Then it's important to supplement with things like choline and B vitamins.
Tana Amen: What I want to point out from this article is that you said something and I don't want it to slip through. That it's especially critical during pregnancy. Because we've seen an increase in kids with depression and anxiety. And wasn't there a study that showed that women who don't... who are vegan during pregnancy can have problems with children later if they're not supplemented?
Dr. Daniel Amen: There is all sorts of studies like that, but the one that came out recently, so another Brain in the News, is women who had low omega 3 fatty acid levels had five times the level of depression, and those also can cognitively impact kids.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Let's move on to another study. A new blood test could help identify veterans with PTSD.
Tana Amen: That's so interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Although, when I actually went and read this study, they were a little murky on exactly what tests showed.
Tana Amen: It's one of those little bit of shady...
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well now not shady, but what it said is if you had a mixture of methylation problems, so your body is not able to produce enough methyl groups.
Tana Amen: Oh, right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Which is critical to drive so many things. If there were high inflammatory markers, if there was high insulin that people were more likely to have a mental health issue. It's the whole point of The Brain Warrior's Way. Right? One of the important steps we always say is you have to know your important health numbers, and if they are not right, we want you to get them right.
Tana Amen: And methylation you need for detoxing too, correct, for clearing your body of things? And if you have a toxic brain, you don't feel good.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Looking for a blood test coming down the line, this news article is going to make you mad, my prediction. It's not a judgment, just my prediction. Mom's marijuana use impairs baby's memory into adolescents. Many pregnant women are turning to marijuana to help curb morning sickness during early pregnancy. A new study reports maternal marijuana use may be detrimental to the brain development of children. Exposure to THC in utero can cause learning and memory problems that may continue into adolescence. Let's just be honest, if they continue into adolescence, you're going to have them the rest of your life.
Tana Amen: Well because you missed so much important stuff during those critical years. Yeah, we talked about judgment in our last episode, so I think I'm going to be quiet.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy researchers found, more and more expectant mothers are turning to marijuana.
A recent report claiming that the number of women using marijuana during pregnancy has more than doubled in the last 15 years.
There is another study out of Pueblo, Colorado that found a 1700% increase in babies born exposed to marijuana. This is not a good trend. You and I fight about this all the time. I think we should legalize marijuana and then tell people it's dangerous.
Tana Amen: No, because we normalize it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You think we should throw them all in jail.
Tana Amen: No, I don't. I actually don't, so let me clarify that. I think we should change the laws around it. I don't think we should legalize it because when we legalize it, we normalize it and then kids think it's okay, and it's a whole vicious circle.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's certainly been happening.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right.
Another fascinating study came out about does, do antidepressants that raise serotonin affect the gut's microbiome?
Tana Amen: Oh.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We've actually talked about the hundred trillion soldiers you have in your gut that are helping you, the microbiome, the hundred trillion bacteria, virus, yeast, all sorts of characters. But they should be your soldiers to help you produce vitamins, detoxify your food, help you with digestion. They make neurotransmitters.
A new study in mice led by UCLA biologists strongly suggest that serotonin and drugs that target serotonin such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor, Pristiq can have a major affect on the gut's microbiome and actually decrease the production of serotonin.
It's been my issue with many antidepressants, it's once you start them, they are so hard to stop.
Tana Amen: Right. Because they actually change the-
Dr. Daniel Amen: We're both a fan of antidepressants for the right person.
Tana Amen: Sure.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But we want you to do all the other things as well. Head to head against Prozac, exercise was shown to be equally effective. Head to head against Prozac, omega 3 fatty acids were actually found to be more effective. Learning how to not believe every stupid thing you thought.
Tana Amen: Yeah, meditation.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Meditation, making sure your thyroid is right, all of the bright mind's risk factors that we talk about over and over. You want to make sure you're doing those things too, so if you need an antidepressant, you're going to need less of it for less period of time.
Those are articles for Brain in the News. We hope you liked this segment. We're going to try to distribute it or do one each week. When we come back, we're going to talk about... We're going to answer your questions and we love that because our goal is to grow the Brain Warrior community to a billion people in the next 25 years. That's our goal here at Amen Clinics and Brain MD.
Tana Amen: Make sure you leave a review for us on Apple Podcast. During the Q & A, you can also, or even now you can go to visit our review page and leave a question there. You can leave a review there. It will enter you into a raffle to win my cookbook, The Brain Warrior's Way Cookbook and I'll sign it for you.
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