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In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen discuss some of the recent news items centered around our favorite organ, the brain. This week’s episode features content on such topics as COVID-19 and encephalopathy, statin drugs and their effects on cholesterol, HDL vs LDL cholesterol, and the effects protein, fiber, and sugar have on the body and brain.
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. We’re talking about “Brain in the News” in this episode. But before we get started on that, you have a winner you want to announce.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
We have a winner, Kim [Badzinski [00:00:58], from the United States. “I listen to your podcast and I have read your book. I love what you are doing with your treatments for people with mental health issues. Once I read your book, I did call for information on making an appointment. I’m hoping someday more doctors will be doing these tasks. So often, we bring people of all ages during a crisis, and basically they are talked into taking meds and sent to psychiatric facilities. Your scans would help detect if there was more than meets the eye and they could at least be properly diagnosed. Maybe in the future the insurance companies will help with the costs of these scans so everyone could at least be given a fair shot at improving their brain function. Thank you for all you do.”
I’m not sure if Kim [Badinski [00:01:55] is a healthcare worker, but it sounds like it when she says we get people in. It sounds like your healthcare worker. If you are, we are grateful for you being on the frontlines right now, and to all of the, what we consider first responders, if people are coming in with COVID, so thank you for that.
“Brain in the News” is a segment we do just to sort of scour the newspapers and see what is going on. And there’s a new study about statin drugs that said people who are taking statins, where it significantly lowers their cholesterol, actually have more aggression.
And you’ve been saying that for a long time.
People don’t really understand that low cholesterol can be just as harmful as high cholesterol. And we have this mindset in medicine that cholesterol is bad, bad, bad, and so you should get it low, low, low. But under total cholesterol of 160, it’s associated with homicide, that’s a bad thing, suicide, depression, ADHD, autism, and death from all causes. We think healthy fat is your friend, people who have a fat-based diet… And you sort of have been eating that [crosstalk [00:03:28].
Oh, no, I have 70% sometimes, 60-70.
Think healthy oils, nuts and seeds-
Olive oil, avocados.
…Avocados, green, leafy vegetables, spinach-
… butters, have 42% less risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Just think about that. People who have a protein-based diet, so think mostly meat I suppose, have 21% less risk. But people who have a simple carbohydrate-based diet, think bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, fruit juice, and sugar, have a 400% increased risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the sugar and foods that quickly turn to sugar that are a disaster. And my cholesterol is total typically around 230, but my HDL, think of good cholesterol-
Right, that’s what I was just going to say.
… is often 90, it’s higher than most people have ever seen. And it’s because of the fish oil I take and the diet that I eat.
And beyond that, it’s not just your HDL versus LDL, it’s what kind of cholesterol are you making? People produce different types of cholesterol depending on how healthy you are or unhealthy you are in that area. You either are producing big, fluffy [crosstalk [00:05:01] cholesterol or you’re producing tiny, dense cholesterol. And the big fluffy ones are what you want. The little, tiny dense ones are what damage your vessels. It really is not as simple as like, get the number down. It’s very, very specific to what type of cholesterol you make and you should have it fractionated to make sure, so have your doctor fractionate your cholesterol. Sometimes they’ll fuss about it, because they’re just like take a statin, but trust me, make them fractionate it.
And then you were talking about diet. One thing I want to emphasize to people because we spend so much time trying to help people get their diet right and one of the gifts we give because of that is my cookbook, The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook. But one way I think of it is, I eat a very, very high healthy fat diet, and so don’t think trans fat. No trans fat, no processed stuff, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about what we talked about, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, that kind of stuff that’s really healthy for you, and not so much protein. I do eat high quality protein, but only probably 20 to 30% of my diet is protein and not all of it is animal-based protein. A lot of it is plant-based protein.
And then the sugar, keeping the sugar down. The way I think of this is I have no more than 30 grams of carbohydrates, net carbs, so I remove the fiber. Don’t count the fiber because that you actually want. You want to increase fiber. Fiber doesn’t count. But when it comes to sugar, things that turn to sugar, keep that down to about 30 net grams if you want to really get this right. And then I don’t count things, like I said, I don’t count the fiber, so I eat a lot of greens, lots of greens and a few berries.
Yeah, so think colorful fruits and vegetables that have a low glycemic index. That seems to make the most sense.
Another article that came out just yesterday was that of the hospitalized patients with COVID-19 a third had something called encephalopathy, which means COVID-19 for a high percentage of people is affecting their brain, all sorts of issues from coma to memory problems, to irritability, to loss of smell and taste, to depression, to hallucinations for some people. And so we want you to be smart around COVID-19.
Now, we want you to go live your life. Your best defense against COVID-19 is your immune system and your decision-making. That’s why when we were in Fredericksburg and I saw that mass number of people, I went, “No, I’m not just going to hang out here.” I think we just need to be smart, and we may need to be smart for another year. I hate the term social distancing. It’s a bad term. They should’ve called it physical distancing. I hate the term social distancing.
Because that’s what creates problems.
But we need to be physically separated so we’re not spewing the virus on people, but we need to be socially more connected than ever. We hope that this episode has been helpful to you. If you learned something, write it down, take a picture of it, post it on any of your social media sites and go to brainwarriorswaypodcast.com. Leave us a comment, question or review. In our next episode, we’re going to talk about questions and answer questions that you have and we have another winner that we will share with you. Stay with us.
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