Shawn Stevenson’s podcast, The Model Health Show, has been named the number one health and wellness podcast because Shawn’s strategies are both practical and based in science. In this last episode in a series with Shawn, he and the Amens discuss some of Shawn’s top strategies you can use to lose weight and improve your overall health.
For more info on Shawn’s new book “Eat Smarter”, visit https://www.amazon.com/Eat-Smarter-Metabolism-Upgrade-Transform-ebook/dp/B07W3M55SP
Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome back everyone. We are here with our friend, Shawn Stevenson. We’re just having a great time. I mean, we’ve talked a lot about food on The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast, but we’re really bringing you some unique information with our friend, master teacher, Shawn Stevenson. His new book is Eat Smarter: Use the Power of Food to Reboot Your Metabolism, Upgrade Your Brain, and Transform Your Life. Tana just is like a little kid.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
I’m just like on fire. Yeah, I’m like on fire.
So excited about talking to you. In this last podcast, though, let’s really talk about what are the practical things people can do every day to fall in love? One of the things I often tell my patients is, “You’re in a relationship with food, and I only want you to love food that loves you back.” Both Tana and I have been in bad relationships in the past, and we’re not doing that anymore. And we really protect our relationship, but it’s that you have a relationship with food.
But to that end, you said something in the last episode, and actually in the last couple, that I want to just make sure that we touch on, because it’s so important. You mentioned people’s personal makeup. You also mentioned your genetic… where you come from, and how that affects you, how stress affects you. All these things are so important, and checking in with yourself. And I just find this so fascinating when we talk about creating a program, because I’ve often wondered. It’s like so many people are just hell-bent on telling you that their way of eating is the only way. And it’s the way that it’s got to be, whether you’re a vegan, or a caveman, or whatever. But the truth is they don’t all work for all of us, right?
That one thing doesn’t work for all of us.
I was a vegan because I thought I needed to be for my health, but it didn’t work for me.
And that’s not what works for me. So talk to us a little bit about this.
Thank you so much for saying that, and I think we have to go through that phase. In my clinical practice, where I was seeing folks every day, early on, we’ll say 15 years ago, if I was into a certain diet, that’s what you’re eating. Because I’m believing that this is the way, right? Like The Mandalorian, I don’t know if anybody watches The Mandalorian, “This is the Way.” But the reality is we hit a level of incredible success for the people we are working with, once we really focus on them and what they need right now. Which inevitably will change as well, and giving them the tools to adapt to change as life goes on.
And so for me, there are some overarching things that we’ll just hit on, [inaudible [00:03:06] some bullet points that every diet protocol needs to address. And so Eat Smarter is really a unifier, there are so many wonderful diet frameworks. And the truth is each and every one of these physicians, or healthcare practitioners, nutritionists that are putting these books out, these are my friends. I know the guys. Whether it’s everything from the vegan protocol, to the keto protocol, to the paleo protocol, everything in between. I know the top people, and the reason they publish these books is they get results for their patients, but not all of them.
Right, [crosstalk [00:03:43]
There’s always a large group who’s not getting the same results. And this is because we’re not addressing, again, your unique metabolic fingerprint. So what are the things that are across the board essential in each of these frameworks? I’m going to throw a couple of things out here, because they’re very important, and they’re not talked about enough. So we did talk about this, I believe, in our first segment, but I want to emphasize this again. When I was in school, and the education I paid for, I was taught there are three macronutrients. Fats, proteins, carbohydrates, but there’s really five, technically six, you’ve got one coming off the bench in fiber. But we got fats, proteins, carbohydrates, alcohol is a macronutrient, and water. Water is the most important of all the macronutrients, but it continuously is overlooked in trying to finesse the different aspects of the diet.
And the reason I’m bringing this up, and this is very powerful, is that there was one of these really interesting studies. They found that there’s something called water-induced thermogenesis. And so what they did was have the test subjects to consume about 17 ounces of water within a couple of minutes, and then they tracked their rate of calorie burn. And they discovered that drinking that water caused them to burn 25 to 50 more calories within a certain time segment. And stretching that out a little bit, if we’re doing that four or five times a day, we’re literally burning hundreds more calories without taking in calories. And without getting out and running on a treadmill.
And the question is this, how is it happening? Because is it the cold water, the body is heating it up, it’s thermogenesis? No, it’s none of that. It doesn’t matter the temperature of the water. What matters is water makes everything work better.
Right, [crosstalk [00:05:28].
Because it’s required for everything to do its job. Right?
That’s so cool.
And why is alcohol a macronutrient? Talk about that.
Oh, this is so good, this is crazy. All right. So alcohol, and this is not an advocation for alcohol, this is not, but your body can use it to do processes. All right? And so in school we were taught you’ve got nine calories per gram of fat. You’ve got four per gram of carbs, four per gram of protein, there’s seven per gram of alcohol. And now here’s the rub, your body cannot store alcohol though, unlike the other things. If alcohol comes in, and I’m not saying that this is a good thing, it might be an alarm process, your body immediately uses it. It does something called fat-sparing. It will literally stop the burning, or the oxidation of fat, and literally stop burning everything else, and use that alcohol immediately. It is like a top priority. And so it can use alcohol as fuel to do processes, but it’s not a very clean burning fuel if you want to put it like that. And I know you’ve said this before [crosstalk [00:06:42].
Well, [crosstalk [00:06:42] you just said something really important, it will stop burning fat. Your body will stop burning fat when you drink alcohol.
Yeah, it’s really, really interesting. And again, there’s a lot of nuance here. And this is not to say that people can’t find some benefit in red wine, or whatever the case might be. But this is just like, a lot of folks don’t know how this stuff works, and I wanted to demystify it. And also wonder why, like, “Okay, if I go too far into this realm… ” Which you guys know, especially in the data during this quarantine, and all these shutdowns, the consumption of alcohol has skyrocketed.
Which has gone right along with the Quarantine 15, or the COVID-19 pounds gained.
And part of that process… Yeah, I’m sorry.
The American [inaudible [00:07:25] Society came out last year and said, “We probably shouldn’t drink, because any alcohol is associated with seven different kinds of cancer.” And given-
That’s a big statement.
Yeah, no, our biggest blog last year is titled, “I told you so.” And when Tana and I first dated, she told me, “I’ll never tell you, ‘I told you so.'”
He keeps saying this, I don’t remember saying that. Because it’s my favorite thing to say.
She doesn’t remember, but I remember it. And she completely lied about it.
I don’t remember that.
But I’ve been saying that for 30 years, and I have no dog in the fight. I just have 170,000 brain scans, and alcohol prematurely ages the brain.
So if magnesium can decrease the aging of your brain, alcohol and marijuana both increase the aging of your brain. But that’s really interesting. We only have like three minutes left. If you had to go, ” These are three top tips from Eat Smarter.” And I just recommend everybody get Eat Smarter.
Yeah, I mean, everything I’ve heard has just got me excited. So, yeah [crosstalk [00:08:39]
Awesome. So number one is to really dial in and focus on our number one macronutrient, which is making sure your hydration needs are met. We go through all the nuance in the book, so that’s number one. I advocate for folks to wake up and take what I call an inner bath. All right? So [inaudible [00:08:54] of us take an outer bath, or outer shower for the rest of the world, but the inside is more important. All right? Beauty is from the inside out. So I wake up every day for the past 15 years, and I drink about 20, to sometimes 30 ounces of water. So that’s number one.
Number two is to increase the diversity of foods that you’re eating, which increases the diversity of your beneficial bacteria, which we talked a little bit about earlier. So that’s number two. And in that, let me give another little nugget, specifically increasing the diversity of our green leafy vegetables. Rush University Medical Center found that folks who ate two servings of green leafy vegetables, had brains that were 11 years younger. Compared to folks who were eating less than one serving a day.
All right, incredible.
That’s like nothing.
That’s it, right? Two servings. And it’s one of the big reasons, and we talked about this in the first segment, it’s a great source of magnesium, anything that’s green. All right, so that’s number two. And number three, and again, you’re such a pioneer in this and the importance of this. Every single person needs to be adamant about getting enough DHA and EPA in their diet, it is so important. One of the most mind-blowing studies that I shared in the book, the researchers used MRIs and actually looked at the brain. They found that the folks who had the lowest intake of DHA, had the highest rate of brain shrinkage, all right?
And it was just under 1.2 teaspoons a day led to accelerated brain shrinkage. And this is not the shrinkage that’s like, it’s cold outside if you’re a guy, it’s just like, it’s kind of cold and [inaudible [00:10:32]. This is like, could permanently mess you up type of shrinkage.
And DHA, because it literally makes up the structure of, they’re called structural fats. And you’ve got express pathways into the brain for DHA, for signal transduction, for plasticity of your brain cells. You have to get your DHA. Food first, last little part here, as we go out, the journal Neurology found that folks who ate just one meal of seafood per week did, in fact, perform significantly better on cognitive skills tests. So we got fatty fish…
[inaudible [00:11:08] I’m actually friends with the author of that study. They actually had more brain matter in their brain. Eat Smarter, Shawn Stevenson. Shawn, we love you, and we’re grateful for you.
Awesome, that was a great conversation.
We look forward to having you back, and sharing you with The Brain Warrior’s Way audience. So you can get that book anywhere great books are sold. What did you learn? Write it down, take a picture of it. Post it on any of your social media sites. Brain Warriors, first thing [inaudible [00:11:45]
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