Gut Bacteria: What You Need To Know

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

Some of you may find this a little gross, but did you know that you have trillions of bugs living in your gut? What’s stranger is that they’re the good guys! In fact, when you kill those bugs off, your health suffers dramatically. In this episode of the podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen continue their master class on nutrition with a comprehensive guide to gut bacteria.

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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 BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutriceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Dr. Daniel Amen: Hi, this is Dr. Daniel Amen. In this episode we're continuing our coverage from our Amen Clinics company presentation, so this is where Tana and I actually taught all of Amen clinics on nutrition. You may notice a slight change in sound quality, but the information was just too good not to share.
This episode is all about the trillions of bugs in your gut and how they may actually be your best friends. We hope you enjoy it.
Tana Amen: So what decreases healthy gut bacteria? Medications. So that's kind of crazy, right? So we just talked about antacids, but one of the biggest ones are NSAIDs or Advil or the generic form of Advil, so you want to be very careful.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Ibuprofen.
Tana Amen: Ibuprofen.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Aleve.
Tana Amen: So all of those, they damage your gut lining so a lot of people have difficulty with those. You get things like gastritis. Well, why? 'Cause it's really burning a hole in that gut lining. You have to be really careful with those. So, steroids-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Let me push on that just a little bit. Practical point. You have a headache. Ibuprofen is actually better than Tylenol. So there's a fascinating study. People who use Tylenol as their pain medication on average get Alzheimer's Disease two and a half years earlier than the general population because Tylenol is no good for you either, 'cause it can negatively affect your liver. People who use ibuprofen get Alzheimer's Disease two and a half years later than the general population because it's also an anti-inflammatory.
So if you have a choice, well one, try to avoid things that cause pain for you, but-
Tana Amen: I'm going to push back on that.
So, yes, taking it for an acute situation is one thing. Taking it chronically is-
Dr. Daniel Amen: A bad idea.
Tana Amen: Because, it decreases inflammation initially but as your gut begins to deteriorate, it starts to increase inflammation, so now you get this reverse.
So take food.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So this is, no. Yes. Right when people did the Brain Warrior's Way, decreasing pain was one of the better outcomes of it. We had 21,000 people sign up for our course that we taught together called The Brain Warrior's Way and decreasing pain. But if you struggle with pain, yes, get rid of the bad food, first thing to do, but I have had chronic knee pain ever since college when I tore my ACL, and what I do and it doesn't hurt at all in the last year, so Tana help me with equiscope, putting electricity into the joint. Every day I take our SAMe, because SAMe has been shown, not only to be helpful for depression, but it's also helpful for pain and our brain curcumins, I take three of those every day and I take four fish oil. Why? Because they all have anti-inflammatory, anti-pain effects and so that's my little cocktail for my knee so that I can get my 10,000 steps every day. Brain curcumins, SAMe, and Omega 3 power.
So, stress ... sugar causes a decrease in the good bugs and an overgrowth of candida, which is a fungus.
Tana Amen: And one of the things that is the most likely to increase your pain fast in your joints.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Artificial sweeteners, especially the yellow one. Especially Splenda. Many people don't know, Splenda was actually developed initially as a pesticide and it kills bugs.
Tana Amen: It's fantastic if you're trying to kill them.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And it tastes great. Not good for your gut bugs, allergies, and insomnia. So soldiers, shipwork, all of that decreases healthy bacteria.
Tana Amen: I just thought about that. You could use that for your ant killing sessions.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Say that again.
Tana Amen: Use Splenda for your ant killing sessions.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Wow. We should have Splenda when we teach people to kill the ants, yes.
Alright, so these things are killing good gut bugs, toxins, infections, low Omega 3's. We did a study here. 50 consecutive patients who are not taking Omega 3's, 49 of them had sub-optimal levels.
How many of you, when we did our Omega 3 test had lousy Omega 3's?
Tana Amen: Before you started taking fish oils.
Dr. Daniel Amen: How many? Isn't that nuts? It's nuts.
Tana Amen: It's like the easiest thing to fix.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Low vitamin D, which affects 80% of the population, radiation, chemotherapy, or those of you that love beating your body up with intense exercise. So, I'm a fan of moderate exercise. Marathon; you'll never see me do that. Why?
The first marathon, the Greeks won the war against Persia.
Tana Amen: This is true.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And the marathon Greece, to Athens, this poor kid ran 22.6 miles ... we won the war and then he died. Anything that has that as an origin is not for me.
Tana Amen: You always leave that part out. High intensity exercise for a short duration is different that a high intensity exercise of long duration like marathons. I'm sorry but I like high intensity exercise of short duration.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Hit exercising is good, right?
Tana Amen: It's my medicine.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Go as fast you can for a minute and then walk for four and then as fast as you can. You do that five times, that's the perfect exercise.
Tana Amen: You like me better when I do my high speed exercise.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I do. I like you all the time.
Tana Amen: But you like me better.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Wanna do this?
Tana Amen: Greatest danger to your microbiome. So, antibiotics, we talked about some of them already, so the NSAID's, oral contraceptives, antibiotics ... So, interesting, most of it's [inaudible 00:07:23] in our food. More than 70% of the antibiotics that get into your food, not in your mouth because you're prescribed them, get into our food supply. So, that's really interesting.
So buy antibiotic-free food. You might make sure that the meats you're buying, any dairy products, meats, anything like that, you're buying antibiotic-free. [inaudible 00:07:42] raising them humanely they don't need antibiotics. They give them antibiotics because they're not raising them humanely.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So you eat whatever the animals ate. A little weird.
Speaker 3: Why would the animals need antibiotics?
Tana Amen: Because when they're not raised humanely, when they are injecting them with steroids and keeping them in confined spaces that are not designed ... just like you weren't born for that to happen, right? They get sick. And they're all together in confined spaces and they're going to get ill a lot. So they give them the antibiotics partially to prevent it and partially to treat it. And so that's why that happens. Our food system now, it wasn't designed to be that way, that's why ... people are always like "Why do I have to do all of this now?" People didn't do this a thousand years ago.
Right! They didn't do this a thousand years ago. We didn't eat that way a thousand years ago. We didn't do the things that we do to our food supply that we did hundreds of years ago. We weren't able to store it in mass amounts the way we do now and raise it the way we do now.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Do you want to talk about his little girl? She's really cute, don't you think?
Tana Amen: She was a mess. So, early bonding issues. It's interesting how when your gut is effected it can really affect the rest of your life. Bonding issues, anxiety, just so many other problems. I remember when I first met Daniel we were talking and it's so annoying. He's got this annoying way of getting you to say things you don't want to say.
I almost canceled my first date with him because he was a psychiatrist and I thought psychiatrists were just irritating, but now I realize what it really was. I somehow knew he was going to make me say stuff I didn't want to say.
So, he gets me talking about my family and I'm like, "Oh yeah. When I was born my uncle was murdered." And I'm saying it very matter of factly, 'cause, you know, all of the craziness that happened in my family. And I remember the police being there and just screaming and yelling and then I was trying to hide and it was really awful.
And before that I had told him I was one of those really sick kids. I was always sick. I was always on antibiotics. I had upper and lower GI studies when I was four. And he goes "[inaudible 00:09:49] was your uncle murdered?" And I told him and he was like "and when did you have the upper and lower GI studies?" And like, within a couple of weeks that probably started happening and I'm like "I know what you're thinking; it wasn't connected."
[inaudible 00:10:02] So, it's ... [inaudible 00:10:07] I'm just not into the whole touchy feely stuff and I'm like "Stop! Just stop!" But as I really got into what we do and I really started being more conscious and more thoughtful about it, it's where all the problems started.
And there was a lot of other chaos that was going on and it's so true and I immediately, at age nine, I started with massive panic attacks because of another issue that was happening and that was the time that I was like "Everybody out." Like [inaudible 00:10:39]
All of the crazy people in my family, you need to go away. And that affects bonding, for sure.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, early stress can damage your gut and if you don't fix it it can actually negatively impact you for the rest of your life.
So what increases healthy gut bacteria? Well, things we call pre-biotics. It's basically food for the bugs. It's food for the probiotics for the gut bugs, and basically, all of these things are fiber.
What increases healthy gut bacteria? Probiotics. So, there's probiotic foods, like kefur and kombucha, unsweetened yogurt ... and I'm not a fan of dairy and the reason I'm not is 70% of people over the age of five in the Unites States do not have the enzyme to process lactose, and so-
Tana Amen: There are a lot of other forms.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Lactose intolerance. Almost all of the dairy in the United States is raised with antibiotics and hormones, so I'm not a fan of that. And then I horrified myself when I realize you eat whatever the animals ate or you also eat whatever the animals are feeling, because when you're sad, when you're depressed, when you're anxious or angry-
Tana Amen: Scared.
Dr. Daniel Amen: -so think of confined livestock, they are producing certain chemicals in their body, just like you do when you're anxious or you're sad or you're depressed, and so we're actually consuming those negative chemicals as well.
Tana Amen: So, I'm fascinated with warrior dogs, studying warrior cultures [inaudible 00:12:45] the Apache. The Apache knew that they wouldn't eat animals ... the weren't vegetarians but they wouldn't eat animals that ate other animals. They would only eat animals that were vegetarian, so that they did not consume another animal because they fel that they were consuming whatever that animal had experienced and they didn't understand the hormonal part of it but they understood the feeling that was going on.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Kimchi, if you like kimchi, not for me-
Tana Amen: I like it. I don't like sauerkraut.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But I love sauerkraut, so ... whatever works for you. And then supplements, like our pro-brain biotics, and the reason we like that one, there's actually studies with it that show it decreases anxiety and decreases depression.
Tana Amen: And one thing about kombucha, most of the commercial ones you really have to pay attention. Most of them, because it's so tart and bitter they add so much sugar to it. There are a few brands, I have found one that has two grams per serving, because it's going to have some natural sugar in it. Where there's no sugar added and it just has the natural sugar from fermentation, so look for those. You do not want one that's got 11 grams, eight grams of sugar in them.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And while we're talking, I want you to start writing down in your notebook or in your phone your five favorite meals, 'cause tonight we have a question for you about them as we go along.
We have organic cane juice. What's another name for organic cane juice?
Group: Sugar.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Sugar, right? I mean, quote "Health food industry, they're really trying to murder you with false advertising."
Tana Amen: I found a new one. I [inaudible 00:14:29] all the terms for sugar. Corn syrup solids is another one. It doesn't say I process corn syrup, it just says corn syrup solids. Sugar.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, when we did the Brain Warriors Way [inaudible 00:14:43], Tana actually created this story to help really bring-
Tana Amen: It's a lot.
Dr. Daniel Amen: -to help bring this gut brain connection.
Tana Amen: So, this is Larry Leaky and this may help you to put it all together and see how we live our lives and how most of us live our lives, how easy it is to have this muffin, right? So, this is Larry Leaky. He goes to work one day, gets into a huge fight with his boss, 'cause his boss is an idiot, [inaudible 00:15:12] he gets fired. So, he's super upset. He leaves work, he's like, "I need a drink. I deserve it."
So he goes, has more than one drink, he's getting a little of his gut bacteria, lays one on pretty good, goes home, acts like a total idiot, his wife, sort of like me, she creates more stress for Larry Leaky. She increases his cortisol, disrupts his digestion just a little bit.
Dr. Daniel Amen: She sort of looks like you, too.
Tana Amen: She's very angry that he comes home drunk and is acting like an idiot, she's having none of it. So she puts him in the doghouse. This just upsets him even more. Now he's starting to get really depressed. He goes inside. He's like, "I'm not hurting anyone. It's only this one time. I deserve a break today."
So, he starts having lots of sugar. Sugar feeds the bad bacteria, not the good bacteria. So now he's just increasing the problem even more. All of a sudden, about a week later, he's starting to have pain. He's starting having pain in his joints. He's having back pain, he's having headaches, he doesn't really understand why. He's like, "that was a while back." But he's been home now. He's fine. So, he's sitting in front of the TV, he's not moving, he's eating junk food, and even though he's not laying one on every day, he's not feeling well and he doesn't understand why.
So, what's the first thing he does? He reaches for NSAID's. He reaches for something to help the headache, to help the pain. So, he starts taking those regularly and injures his gut further. Now all of a sudden it's a month later and he's like "I don't understand why I keep getting sick. I have the sniffles, now my ears are hurting, I'm just getting sick." And-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Sort of like a lot of us the last three months around here.
Tana Amen: So, he's like more susceptible to everything going on around him. He gets really ill, his immunity's compromised so he goes to the doctor. The doctor says, "There's nothing wrong with you. You have a common cold. Go home, let it just rest. Let it go away."
He's like, "What? I came to the doctor. I don't have any money. I came, spend the last little bit of money that I have and you're going to tell me 'go rest'?" The doctor's like, "Oh my God, another one of these idiots." [inaudible 00:17:24] I'll give you some antibiotics, just get out of my office. So, he prescribed antibiotics for the common cold, which isn't going to help at all, all it's going to do is damage his gut even more.
How many of you go to the doctor expecting to get an antibiotic or get one even when you don't want one? Right? How often does that happen? So now he goes home, goes to bed, and all of a sudden, couple weeks later, now he's depressed. He's gotten massive fatigue. He's got digestive issues. All of his other symptoms are worse. He's got more pain, more headaches. He just doesn't feel like doing anything.
Finally, his wife, who no longer has the [inaudible 00:17:59], she's like "Okay, fine. Now will you listen to me? And she teaches him how to become a Brain Warrior.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Hysterical.
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Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're interested in coming to Amen Clinics, give us a call at 855-978-1363.