End Your Addiction: Nutrition Habits For Recovery

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

Many alcoholics and drug addicts have poor nutrition habits, but the things they put into their body can rob them of what little nutrients they do have. In this last episode of a series focused on addiction rescue, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen discuss ways to use supplements as a strategy to train the body and brain.


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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. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.

Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain spec imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information visit Amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information visit BrainMDhealth.com. Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast.

We are back and we are still talking about addiction and how to heal the recovering brain. We're talking about supplements today, but I want to read something that came in from Niko. He said, "I've known for a long time that I have something going on with my brain." Don't we all? "I've struggled with depression, anxiety, memory, weight loss. I'm so happy to have found this podcast. I feel like for the first time I found a group of people who look logically and scientifically at these issues holistically and consider one of the most important elements of our lives; our diet. I'm looking forward to learning more and learning ways to improve my brain health and life with the smarts of Dr. Amen and his clan. Thank you all."

Thank you so much for that, and we are talking about the recovering brain. We talked about food in the last episode and we're talking about supplements now.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Just this week there was a study that came out in the Journal of Psychopharmacology that omega-3 fatty acids cut cigarette smoking cravings dramatically compared to placebo. It's actually the second study showing that.

We talk about eating omega-3s. Salmon, avocados, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, it's just a critical part of the diet. You want healthy fat in your diet, but I actually like it better for myself and my patients rather than eating a lot of fish that can have pollutants in it like mercury to find the highest quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement you can get like Omega-3 power, the one we make. But it's so important.

We did a study here at Amen Clinics where we looked at 50 consecutive patients who are not taking fish oil, and then we took a drop of blood, our little vampire experiment, and we measured the level of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood. It should be 8% or higher of the fats in their blood. 49 of them had low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, often dangerously low. How stinking simple is that to do? Is increase more omega-3s in your diet or take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement.

Then I published a study this year, I published a study this year that said people who had lower levels of omega-3 fatty acid had a smaller hippocampus. The seahorses in their brain were shrinking. They're like, "Give me fish. Give me fish."

Tana Amen: I've taken almost 300 hours of metabolic medicine. It's very interesting, and one of the, it just seems like fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, I'm gonna stick with omega-3 fatty acids. The proper fatty acids are important for almost, for so many things. In fact, they're necessary for hundreds of functions in the body. Hundreds. They're called essential fatty acids for a reason, because they're essential. But when you think about all of the things-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Give me fish oil. Give me fish oil.

Tana Amen: When you think of all of the things that essential fatty acids are required for, all the functions in your body. They're required for proper eye sight, for your hair, for your skin, for your joints, for proper mental functioning, right? For cognitive function. If you are low in these-

Dr. Daniel Amen: For the developing brain. If you're seven, you have to take your omega-3 fatty acids. Our niece is here who is seven, and it's like so important 'cause you see better.

Tana Amen: This is really critical. In fact, even our dog who was, he just struggling ... What is up with you today? Anyways-

Dr. Daniel Amen: I had my omega-3s.

Tana Amen: Crazy. Our dog was going through this horrible thing with his skin for the second time, and we changed his food back to a raw food diet, got him off of all grains, which are high in omega-6 fatty acids, right?

Dr. Daniel Amen: Are you gonna make me do that?

Tana Amen: Inflammatory-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Are you gonna make me talk about six versus three?

Tana Amen: Not right now. We've already done this. Hold on.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Six is the devils number.

Tana Amen: It's not. It's just they have to be balanced. You need some six, but we've got balance then. If you're eating a heavily processed, grain based diet, lots of sugar, and flour and rice and all that stuff you're gonna get too many sixes.

Dr. Daniel Amen: 'Cause you hate yourself if you're eating that way. Omega-6s are called-

Tana Amen: Can we focus for one minute?

Dr. Daniel Amen: Fall fats. But no, it's a really important point because you're not a fan. I used to be a huge fan of corn. I love popcorn-

Tana Amen: Right, not a fan.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Go to a movie, get a big diet soda, and big tub of popcorn.

Tana Amen: I think I need to get you some fish for lunch because this episode's going sideways.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's not. It's really important. We talked about food and how important it is. The Brain Warrior's Way is basically gluten free, corn free, dairy free, soy free, but there are reasons for that. It's not because we don't like people.

Tana Amen: And we don't just take it away. We replace it with things that taste great and make it easy.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. It's just phenomenal.

Tana Amen: Back to Aslom for one minute. Aslom lost all of his hair, he was ripping his hair out, chewing his skin. He could not lift himself up off the ground. He was a mess, they were gonna do a double knee replacement. We've told the story before so I'm not gonna go into detail. We switched his food, started putting our fish oil in his food and I added some probiotics. You can't use people probiotics for dogs, but you can use people fish oil.

Dr. Daniel Amen: So actually used our fish oil [crosstalk 00:06:58].

Tana Amen: Our fish oil, and then I got him some dog probiotics and no joke, all of a sudden within two weeks he was running around. He now runs around like he's a puppy. It's a little annoying actually. Runs around like he's a puppy, and it took about a month for, his skin got well. It cleared up instantly and healed, but it took about a month, but now his hair finally grew back in. It took a while for it to heal, but he was lacking fatty acids and his gut wasn't well.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's one of the things that women always tell me when I put them on omega-3s.

Tana Amen: Their hair is better.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Their hair is better and their nails are better. Their cosmetologist will comment, "Oh you must be taking fish oil..." Because they know that. Supplements to recover your brain, what we did in our big NFL study is omega-3 fatty acids, actually fairly high dose. 5.6 grams, which was for our Omega-3 Power. Multiple vitamin because you don't have the nutrients according to a study from the Mayo Clinic.

Tana Amen: Especially B vitamins.

Dr. Daniel Amen: 97% of the population, 97% of the population does not engage in the four simple habit to keep yourself healthy long term. You're not smoking, you're not drinking excessively, you have a healthy diet, and you exercise. 97%. I think everybody should take a multiple vitamin, omega 3 fatty acids. If 49 out of 50 people are low, probably you are too unless you're doing that.

Then we help really repair the brain in multiple ways, so that's why I think of addiction rescue, and partly just like we did memory rescue. We did 12 lessons on memory rescue. It's the same bright minds approach, so we have supplements to support blood flow, supplements to counteract retirement and aging, supplements like omega-3s to decrease inflammation and so on.

Tana Amen: Before we get into going into too many specifics, we talked about fish oil, I want to sort of paint a picture of addiction.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You are my artist.

Tana Amen: I am. I'm not really, but I am.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You are my artwork.

Tana Amen: But today, okay.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Actually as a psychiatrist, you are the canvas I paint on.

Tana Amen: I am not exactly sure how I'm going to take that at the moment, but anyways, let's go for a second with this picture of addiction which I have lived with with a lot of, several people in my family as we talked about so I know a little something about this. Let's talk about when someone's going through addiction.

They're putting substances in their body that are radically depleting them of nutrients, like horribly depleting them of nutrients. On top of that, they are often not eating at all, and when they are eating, they're eating really bad food. Not only are their omega-6 high, their inflammation is high, or they're not eating at all so that's a really bad thing.

Dr. Daniel Amen: So I guess jack-in-the-box has several different meanings. Being jacked up, or-

Tana Amen: So alcohol damages the gut lining. Many drugs and pills damage the gut lining, so now we've depleted nutrients, we're damaging the gut lining, we are not going outside, we are not exercising, we are laying around we are poisoning the body. Now if I've painted that picture correctly, you can see where-

Dr. Daniel Amen: I'm afraid.

Tana Amen: You should be. But my point is this, this is where you can see which nutrients begin to take priority. You obviously need fish oil, but probiotics to heal the gut become really important, and probiotics are really important to heal the brain. That's why it's one of my favorite supplements is the studies out, the studies that are out on the connection between the gut and the brain and what probiotics do-

Dr. Daniel Amen: You said something really interesting that lot of people don't know. That alcohol can actually damage the lining of the gut. You're a nurse. Why do nurses put alcohol on your skin-

Tana Amen: To kill bacteria.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Before they give you a shot?

Tana Amen: To kill the bacteria.

Dr. Daniel Amen: What is in your gut?

Tana Amen: Bacteria. Bugs.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Hundred trillion-

Tana Amen: But not the ones you want to kill. You only want to kill a small percentage of them.

Dr. Daniel Amen: They are actually there-

Tana Amen: To protect you.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Your microbiome to protect you.

Tana Amen: But they communicate directly with your brain. If your gut is not healthy, your brain will not be healthy. You will not think right. That's why it's one of my favorites.

Dr. Daniel Amen: That's why one of the many reasons I've never been a fan of alcohol largely because as a psychiatrist I see people who make bad decisions when they drink. They say things that they regret, that they wouldn't say-

Tana Amen: But it's also damaging your long term health.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, okay. So multiple vitamin, omega-3 fatty acids-

Tana Amen: Probiotics.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Reparative probiotics, and then it depends on your type. If you're an impulsive addict, supplements to stimulate brain function. I particularly like green tea, rhodiola, ashwagandha, ginseng. If you're a compulsive addict, you need more calming supplements, especially those that increase serotonin like saffron, or 5HTP, or L-Tryptophan

If you're a sad addict, but not over focused we like SAMe, and a couple of new studies out this year are saying betaine, trimethylglycine actually helps SAMe work better. If you're an anxious addict, then we like gaba, another supplement called relora, magnesium can be really good at just sort of settling those areas of the brain down.

Tana Amen: I would really recommend that you go on our website and get your type because I know there are times where I'll get a little anxious and so I decided to take some gaba and 5HTP. Oddly, you actually like me when I take that, when I take some gaba and 5HTP. You enjoy how I behave because I'm really relaxed I guess and mellow.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Please. Please.

Tana Amen: I don't like it, no. I do not like it. I feel like I'm high. I feel drugged.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You don't act high. You're nice.

Tana Amen: I know, but I don't like it.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You're sweet.

Tana Amen: No. I don't like it. I'm not meant to be sweet and nice.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You're loving.

Tana Amen: And loving. I'm meant to be a butt kicker. You need to know your type because I feel like I'm walking through mud when I take that, so you need to know your type. Everyone else might like you-

Dr. Daniel Amen: But you're the over focused, anxious ADD, and so people can go to Amenclinics.com, find out their, take a free brain health assessment and know which of the 16 types of you have and then we'll recommend-

Tana Amen: Don't just guess. I just recommend you don't guess. There's one supplement-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Do we need marital therapy?

Tana Amen: I don't know. You're scaring me. Do we? I'm thinking we're fine. Are we suddenly-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Some of the people listening are like, "Are they in therapy? Not in therapy?"

Tana Amen: No, I actually I think we're great so I'm like ... That reminds me of the time I have to say this. Okay, so this is my husband. I'm at home with Chloe, we're hanging out doing homework, and I get a call from Daniel and he's like, "I am down looking at a house that I just made an offer on." And I dropped my phone.

I'm thinking, "Does he want a divorce?" And he's like, "No, I just really like this house. I think you're gonna love it." And I'm like, "Oh my God." He scared me so badly. Please don't ever do that to your spouse 'cause it's scary. And he just thought he was gonna surprise me. I don't like surprises like that. But we're fine. We're good.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Did we miss anything with supplements and-

Tana Amen: Yes, Vitamin D because if you've been-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Oh and we didn't talk about N acetyl cysteine.

Tana Amen: Yes. If you have been an addict and you have been living an unhealthy lifestyle and you haven't been exercising, there's a very good chance that you have not been getting appropriate vitamin D-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Out in the sun.

Tana Amen: Right. Some vitamin D. Almost everyone we test is low.

Dr. Daniel Amen: 80% of the US population is low. We were made or evolved in the sun-

Tana Amen: We don't want you getting skin cancer, but we need you to have vitamin D.

Dr. Daniel Amen: 20 minutes a day. Most people actually need to take a Vitamin D supplement because if you live in Minnesota, there's eight months out of the year you can't really be outside with your shirt off.

Tana Amen: Or if you have a history of skin cancer don't do that. Take vitamin D.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Then there's one other supplement I'm really fascinated by. It's called N acetyl cysteine. It turns to glutathione when you take it. Glutathione is a super antioxidant. N acetyl cysteine has been found in studies to decrease cravings for alcohol, decrease cravings for cocaine, decrease cravings for marijuana, decrease compulsive gambling, and decrease this thing called trichotillomania, which are people who have chronic hair pulling.

That's actually not how I became bald. I got that from my grandfather-

Tana Amen: No, I pulled his hair out. No I'm kidding.

Dr. Daniel Amen: That actually sounds a little kinky.

Tana Amen: I know, let's not go there, okay? I did not mean it that way.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You're listening to The Brain Warrior's Way podcast, and now everyone can understand why I am in a war for the health of my brain. Stay with us.

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