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Do Your Thoughts Have An Impact On Your Physical Health? with Dr. Caroline Leaf

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

You may be aware that stress can have a negative impact on your overall health, but what exactly is the connection between what you think and how you feel? In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are joined by author Dr. Caroline Leaf for an extensive discussion on how your emotional state influences your body to promote either health or illness.

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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 amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen:
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.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
Welcome back. We are here with Dr. Caroline Leaf, communication pathologist, cognitive neuroscientist, worldwide teacher, the author of Switch on Your Brain; Think, Learn, Succeed; Think & Eat Yourself Smart, which we're just huge fans of. We're talking about trauma
Tana Amen:
It's so interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
... and what you can do. First step I'm hearing Caroline is, one, you got to calm yourself down, because-
Tana Amen:
[crosstalk 00:01:25].
Dr. Daniel Amen:
... if you're physically freaking out, you are not going to make a good decision. The second step is get appropriate information.
I suspect, I don't know this for sure, but I don't trust the medical establishment. I don't.
Tana Amen:
I don't trust anyone.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
I've been a doctor for 40 years.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Too long to know, yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
I've been a psychiatrist and making diagnoses based on symptom clusters with no biological data and then prescribing medication. I'm just not a fan of it.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
No, not a fan.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
In the pandemic, no one's talking about, at least you don't hear it at the president's briefings or from the CDC, that the United States is 4% of the world's population. It has a third of the COVID cases.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
That's insane.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
Our death rate is completely unacceptable, and everybody's talking about medicine and vaccines, and no one's talking about, well, why is the US hit? It's because we are unhealthy as a society.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Exactly. Thank you, Daniel. Absolutely.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
Our incidence of obesity is out of control. Brand new study, 42.4%. That's insane.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Crazy.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
The incidence of diabetes or pre-diabetes is 50%. Hypertension or pre-hypertension is 60%. We're going to spend these trillions of dollars and really not focus on the underlying cause, which is our immune systems are weak, because we are unhealthy as a society. So to just go, "Oh, I'm going to stay at home until there's a vaccine" is a bit insane, because-
Tana Amen:
We're putting another Band-aid over a bullet hole.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
... what we should be doing is really optimizing our health and the health of those we love.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Absolutely.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
I don't think I'm a conspiracy theorist, but I've been imaging for just about 30 years. My colleagues go, "You shouldn't do that. Why would you want more information?" It's made me suspicious.
Tana Amen:
Yeah, as a trauma nurse, I dealt with a lot of gunshot wounds and bandages only hold so long. So you got to treat the actual wound, or it's not going hold.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Oh, I totally agree with you. It's going to explode somewhere in you. Just you saying that, I'm leaping inside with joy, because that's why I love you two. I agree 100%. If we don't change our internal environment and recognize how important that is, alongside doing all the medical research for antivirals and vaccines obviously, and finding the best way to reintegrate back into society and keeping our hands washed and social ... We've got to do all those basic things while we [inaudible 00:04:23]. We've got to build the army tents. Remember the old battles, build the army tent. You being a nurse, you know. Put them in the temporary until you can actually treat and sort out the whole issue. Put the Band-aid on in a temporary state, but we still have to deal with the festering wound.
I think you've hit the nail on the head is that it's internal environments. I've been saying this as well for weeks now that we've got to address, as you talk about the physical, you've got to eat properly and all that. We know that.
60 years ago, when the modern American diet came in, at the same time, the whole psychiatric change happened, so the way people managed mind. The simplest way to explain this is, more or less 60 years ago, we started eating processed junk food. Also, at the same time, we started forgetting about the mind, and we started focusing on brain, brain, brain.
You and I are totally in love with the brain. I mean, the three of us, we brain. But brain is controlled by the decisions you make with your mind to eat healthy, to exercise, to capture those thoughts, to do the ends, to do all which is mind works. So the brain is reliant on how we actually look after it.
That changed 60 years ago. It was all reduced down to, as you said Daniel, the biological components. To say, "My amygdala made me angry," is the most stupid thing. Your amygdala can't do anything. Your amygdala just responds to what you are doing. So what are you doing with your internal environment?
That's been a huge part of what I've been trying to help people do is understand that your mind ... The series I developed, the work that I've done for 38 years, has focused on the non-conscious mind largely. The non-conscious mind, not subconscious, non-conscious, is 90% of who we are. It's our spiritual nature. It's you, it's your power that you have within you to think and feel and choose. As you think and feel and choose, that moves through your brain. You can't do that without your brain. Your brain is your responder. It's holding all your thoughts. It's where the memories are. The mind and brain are separate, but inseparable. So like you say, we've got to look after our brain. So the mind, you think and feel and choose, and that moves through your brain. Your brain is going to respond. Your body's going to respond.
In other words, we have huge responsibility to make decisions about what I eat and put into my physical brain, and my body is going to impact. How I'm thinking while I'm eating is huge. Your digestive system is controlled by your thought process. So if you are, a simple example, totally anxious and you're eating that organic farm-to-table, sustainable food, you're eating the right food, but if you're in an anxious state, your pancreas, which is only one part of your digestive system, is not going to secrete all the neuropeptides required for assimilation simply because your emotional state has affected the functionality.
Same thing with your mind. 150 years of integrative medicine has shown us that the mind impacts your stress system and impacts right down to the telomeres. I've been doing research with telomeres, with cellular aging, your effectiveness and health of your cells, the way your thinking is affecting all of that. So the 90% mind stuff is not being addressed sufficiently.
Especially because of doing this podcast today, I was listening to an interview yesterday, mental health experts who were talking about what is going to be a pandemic in mental health, which I agree. But I think they've approached it wrong. What they want to do is set up a whole lot of more labeling, more medicating, making people ill, giving them a label of illness, and lumping mind issues and giving mind issues the validation of an illness. In other words, they're saying you have to make mind problems into an illness in order to validate them. Which is insane, because when you throw mind out the door, which they did 60 years ago, and you just focus on brain and you try and treat anxiety from a pandemic as though it was an illness like diabetes, you've missed the boat. Because then you want to put it in a little box, wrap it up, give it a label, give it a medication, and now you must get better.
But it doesn't, because we're dealing with a 90% to 99% of this huge individual response that each of us has and the collective response that each of us is having to this massive change in our lives. That's very anxiety provoking. We can't just say that everyone's now ill.
So the pandemic that's coming after this, like you so rightly say, is one of how are we going to teach humans to manage their mind so that they don't freak out or we're going to have over-medicated people or people living under another label. There's no logic to saying to you, "You have a clinical depression because you've gone through COVID." No, you've got through COVID, you don't have a clinical depression. You're depressed. It's so important. It's the 90% to 99% who you are. It doesn't need a medical label to validate it. Let me validate the depression you're feeling right now. Let me validate your anxiety.
What worries me with the approach that's coming up is sticking people into the box of, "You have an illness." We're not going to treat it properly. We're going to tell people that we don't have enough resources.
Meanwhile, we can help each other. Collectivistically, we can help each other process through to be [shuffed 00:09:26] the whole view and see us as humans collectively going through this trauma. Some are going to experience it this way, some that way. It's all individualistic. But we can come together. We can handle it differently.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
Big pharma is going just win all the way around.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Exactly.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
Not only the medicine, the vaccines. But from a psychiatric standpoint, you're going to get a label, anxiety, depression.
Tana Amen:
And an anti-depressant, anti-psychotic.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
And an anti-anxiety drug that is addictive-
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
It could damage your brain.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
... increases the incidence of Alzheimer's disease,-
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Exactly.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
... or an antidepressant that you won't be able to stop. I'm not opposed to medicine, I'm just opposed to it's the first and the only thing people do. In that way, they don't do the work of really learning how-
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Feed the mind.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
... to manage their minds.
Tana Amen:
Once again, to go back to what we were talking about before, one of the things ... When this first happened, they just freaked out. I mean, their lives came to a screeching half. Our daughter is 16, just got her driver's license, her first job. It's like the end of the world, the sky is falling.
One thing that we did with them right off the bat, it's what works for me, is they have to have something to do that's empowering.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Exactly, [crosstalk 00:10:46].
Tana Amen:
You've got to put your energy into something empowering, focus on something that you can do that gives you at least the sense of control. Do you know what I'm saying?
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Yes. [crosstalk 00:10:55].
Tana Amen:
You've got to have a sense of control over something, your own life, your own actions, your own decisions at least.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
I love that, because that's what we were sort of talking about right in the beginning that the uncertainty that we need to accept, that's the first step in getting control. Because as soon as I'm aware of my certainty, then I'm on the path to empowerment, because now I can start controlling. I love what you said, because you can do little things, get some purpose. We know from Dan Buettner's work, we know from global work, that as soon as you have a purpose and a passion, you're going to be more in control. You're going to handle all these wobblies, and that connection, that deep meaningful connection that happens with each other can then grow as well alongside the passion and the purpose [crosstalk 00:11:32].
Tana Amen:
Absolutely. No one likes certainty better than I do. I mean, I'm like literally the epitome of a person who loves certainty. So put me in the middle of a pandemic, and there goes certainty, right?
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Exactly.
Tana Amen:
So shut down the whole world, and there goes certainly.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Definitely.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
[crosstalk 00:11:45].
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
It's an illusion.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
... is the illusion of certainty, because-
Tana Amen:
There's no certainty.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
No, there isn't.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
Love this piece that C.S. Lewis wrote in 1948 about the atomic bomb. If you just replace COVID-19, he said basically, "The scientists have figured out yet one more way for you to die a painful death when you already have thousands of those [crosstalk 00:12:17]."
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Exactly. Yeah, that's such a good quote.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
If the virus comes, it should find us doing sensible human things.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Love that.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
When we come back, we're going to talk. Caroline, what I would love for you to give our listeners are just the most practical tips you have learned over the last 38 years of helping people have better brains and better minds.
Dr. Caroline Leaf:
I'd love to.
Dr. Daniel Amen:
Stay with us.
Tana Amen:
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Dr. Daniel Amen:
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