Hormones: Miracle-Gro For Your Brain

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

In Part 10 of a series on Memory Rescue, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen discuss the N in BRIGHT MINDS, which is Neurohormone Deficiencies. Without healthy hormone levels, you will feel tired and foggy, and your hippocampus can become smaller.


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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 SPECT 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 nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit brainmdhealth.com.

Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way podcast.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back to the memory rescue series that we're doing. We're talking about the risk factors. So if you want to keep your brain healthy or get it back if it's headed to the dark place, you have to attack all of the risk factors that steal your mind. We put it in a pneumonic, BRIGHT MINDS. Today we're on the N, so we're almost done.

Tana Amen: This is such an interesting one.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It is for neuro-hormone deficiencies. Given that you've had thyroid cancer three times, hormones have sort of been a big deal in your life.

Tana Amen: It's really interesting because when we have these hormone issues, whether they're sex hormones like female hormones, male hormones, whether they're thyroid, whether they are things like insulin, whatever it is we often attribute them to the illness that we're treating and not to the brain. But I've got to tell you, like the thyroid disorder I had, man, I ended up with this horrible depression, you can end up with anxiety. If it's sex hormones, boy does that do a number on you, if your sex hormones are out of order. I just had someone write in to me asking questions. She saw one of the videos I did on Facebook on PMDD.

Dr. Daniel Amen: So tell people what that is.

Tana Amen: It's pre-menstrual-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Dysphoric disorder.

Tana Amen: Dysphoric disorder. It's basically PMS on steroids, okay? We've done scans of women at the worst times in their cycle and at the best times in their cycle, and there's no comparison, you wouldn't know they were the same brain, right?

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, it's crazy.

Tana Amen: The frontal lobes drop, the emotional centers flare up, and the part of the brain that's responsible for shifting gears is just inflamed, it's like bright red and you can't ... Which means it's got too much, it's overactive.

Dr. Daniel Amen: They get stuck.

Tana Amen: They get stuck. They can't shift.

Dr. Daniel Amen: They hold on to hurts.

Tana Amen: Right, so she wrote in and she's like thank you so much for this video because I had my husband watch it and it explained everything. It's really helping us not to have as many problems because now we know to go seek help. And that's the big issue, is go get help.

Dr. Daniel Amen: So hormones are so important, in the book we talk about how they're like Miracle Grow for the brain.

Tana Amen: Or, they're trouble.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Or, they're trouble.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. They're critical to get tested on a regular basis. The ones we think are especially important, excuse me, the ones we think that are especially important are estrogen and testosterone, I'm sorry, estrogen and progesterone for females.

Tana Amen: For sure.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Testosterone for males and females. DHEA, for everybody. Cortisol, for everybody, the stress hormone.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And thyroid. And low thyroid, you can't think.

Tana Amen: Oh, it's terrible.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You get depressed. High thyroid, because

Tana Amen: Nervous

Dr. Daniel Amen: Given that you have thyroid cancer, the chemotherapy

Tana Amen: No, I have done

Dr. Daniel Amen: The thyroid cancer

Tana Amen: I've been on this craziness

Dr. Daniel Amen: Is high thyroid, which can make you anxious

Tana Amen: Jittery, anxious, high heart rate, lots of craziness.

Dr. Daniel Amen: All of these hormone abnormalities have been associated with memory loss.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And cognitive issues.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: So, the important thing is to get them tested. And I think, on a yearly basis. Along with zinc. So if you get your zinc level tested because low levels of zinc go with low testosterone.

Tana Amen: Right

Dr. Daniel Amen: Levels, because it's critical in

Tana Amen: So interesting

Dr. Daniel Amen: Production of testosterone. So the intervention ... test it, know what your level is, optimize it. Work with an integrative medicine doctor or functional medicine doctor, who is not looking for you to be within the normal range, but in the optimal range. I can't tell you the number of people I see who have normal a thyroid, but it's completely sub-optimal.

Tana Amen: Right

Dr. Daniel Amen: And how many of you ever wanted to be in the bottom of any of the classes you were in?

Tana Amen: Right

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. You may be passing, but with a C-. Does that really make you okay? Did you feel good about that, and especially not you.

Tana Amen: No, for sure no. I'm a little competitive. But you know let me just touch on this a little bit because it's so important. And I think there's a risk for women's hormones to go a little more haywire because our bodies are so complicated. Things like

Dr. Daniel Amen: Not just your bodies, your minds

Tana Amen: Many things, well because of the hormonal issues with women and how sensitive they are, it makes it easier for other things to go a little haywire. So things like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome where your testosterone goes high, your insulin resistant, your cholesterol is out of whack, you're not ovulating correctly, you've got all these issues. But when that happens there are a number of studies now showing that women who have PCOS, have also been diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder. Sometimes they do go hand in hand, and sometimes they are mis-diagnosed.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well PCOS, although on other courses and things we've done together, you've talked about how you had that.

Tana Amen: I had that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: That it often goes with more hair on your face.

Tana Amen: See, I didn't have that

Dr. Daniel Amen: You didn't.

Tana Amen: So I didn't get diagnosed

Dr. Daniel Amen: But yours is actually very fine because you have red hair.

Tana Amen: Right, but I don't have the ... The way they normally pick it up, obesity, loss of hair on your head ... I didn't have that ... Acne, I had that. I started to all of a sudden break out and I thought, what's going on? And then you lose your cycles. Your cycles become highly irregular. And I'm like, what's happening? But with, so I thought I was going into early menopause

Dr. Daniel Amen: And then there's also insulin resistance and diabetes.

Tana Amen: Right, I didn't know I had that because I was so lean, so I didn't know I had that. So I was really lean, never thought about it and in fact I was the leanest I had ever been ... That's not one of the symptoms, although now there's whole sub-set of women with PCOS who are like me. And now they know that, there's about 10-15 percent of women with PCOS who are like that. They didn't really look for that before.

Dr. Daniel Amen: They have trouble committing .

Tana Amen: Yeah, because the testosterone. So you're more driven, you're more aggressive, you're more like a guy. To be, for a lack of a better expression.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, which I sort of liked that initially when we were together.

Tana Amen: Yeah, you used to say ... The only time you ever scare me is when you act like a girl.

Dr. Daniel Amen: So, having five sisters, I've been scared a lot.

Tana Amen: Right. But then all of a sudden I thought I was going into early menopause and that's why I went to go get checked. I'm like why is my face breaking out, like all these weird things. And she looked at me and it took 10 minutes for an expert, it didn't take very long. And she looked at me and she's like, you have PCOS I'm surprised no one's ever diagnosed this.

Right, she did an ultrasound figured it out. I had literally almost every symptom, I just didn't have the exterior symptoms, but all of the medical symptoms I had. Including the insulin resistance. But I'm like, I'm so lean. And she's like, yeah you're almost too lean because when you workout that hard you're actually at a higher risk. So I learned a lot during that phase.

So get it checked.

Dr. Daniel Amen: This is a risk factor for cognitive impairment.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: For memory loss.

Tana Amen: And for mental illness.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Check your hormones on a yearly basis. One of the most important things you can do is avoid hormone disruptors.

Tana Amen: Which is why they think so many women have problems now.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Because of the make up they wear.

Tana Amen: Plastic bottles.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Because of the food they eat with pesticides.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: So, BPA's, PCB's, pesticides, parabens, phthalates, fragrances.

Tana Amen: And that's why so many of our young girls have it.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's why so many of the young girls, why they're having their periods earlier.

Tana Amen: Or having PCOS.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Which is actually a risk factor for cancer

Tana Amen: Right

Dr. Daniel Amen: Lift weights because that helps to boost testosterone. Kill the sugar. I think we've said that before, kill the sugar before it kills you. Sugar takes healthy testosterone and it drops it.

Tana Amen: For men

Dr. Daniel Amen: For women too. If you share your cheesecake with your sweetheart, which is me, at the Cheesecake Factory nobody's getting dessert when they get home.

Tana Amen: Right

Dr. Daniel Amen: Because testosterone is involved with libido, and so if you get a sugar burst it can drop it and then you don't have the benefits of that hormone.

Tana Amen: But if you have PCOS, it'll increase your testosterone, very weird.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Oh interesting. But for most people it drops it.

Now, all of these hormones are about balance that if testosterone is too low it increases your risk for dementia and depression. When it's too high ... A lot of guys go a little of testosterone ... A lot is better ... Like with PCOS high testosterone levels are associated with an increased libido, which can cause some people to go outside their marriage. Which would be a disaster. It also decreases empathy, if your libido is up and your empathy is down that could be a big problem and you may lose half your net worth and be visiting your children on the weekends.

Tana Amen: Good point, that's a really good point.

Dr. Daniel Amen: All of it is about balance, being in the optimal ranges. Which, we talk about in Memory Rescue. And then there's some certain supplements and foods that might actually help your hormones. So zinc can help with testosterone, L'Tyrosine can help with your thyroid, DHEA is actually a supplement you can take, probiotics. Ashwagandha, something we have in focus and energy has been found to decrease cortisol, or the stress hormone ... And measuring your cortisol is important because high levels of cortisol puts fat on your body, decreases immunity.

Tana Amen: So, I already know one of the things that's going to come in because it comes in all the time for me. Women who are going into hot flashes through menopause want to know what they can do naturally. There's some evidence, or some people believe that it at least helps if you're not gonna go through the hormone treatments ... Things like dong quai, red clover, and macca root actually has some evidence of helping with sexual libido for men and women.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And black cohosh has been found to be helpful. There are foods, especially fiber to help eliminate unhealthy forms of estrogen.

Tana Amen: Right

Dr. Daniel Amen: There are testosterone boosting foods like: pomegranate, olive oil, oysters for the zinc, coconut. Oysters used to be thought of as an aphrodisiac. Brassica's, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and garlic ... And of course cinnamon, cinnamon has been shown to be a natural aphrodisiac. If you're cooking with cinnamon and beets to increase blood flow, I'm thinking tonight is gonna be a good night.

Estrogen boosting foods: fiber, soy beans. Maybe we should talk a little bit about soy and estrogen.

Tana Amen: So a little bit of soy, if it's organic, like organic tofu, especially fermented soy not so bad. If you are eating a lot of soy that's processed soy, soybean oil, and all of the soy additives added to all of our processed foods. You don't want to do that. Because that's actually increasing your estrogen in a negative way, so not the good estrogen, that's what we want to avoid. There's some evidence that that small amount of organic soy beans and organic fermented tofu could be really good for you.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, so just to order edamame at the chinese restaraunt is not always a good idea.

Tana Amen: Especially if you're eating large amounts of it.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It may not be, likely, is not organic.

Tana Amen: Right, so small amounts of these organic soy, okay, but avoid all of those processed byproducts.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Other things to increase estrogen: flax seed, sunflower seeds, garlic, yams, foods rich in vitamin C and B's, beets, parsley, red clover like you mentioned, licorice not the red licorice with red dye.

Tana Amen: Real licorice

Dr. Daniel Amen: Hops and sage.

Tana Amen: Hops, as soon as you say hops you know what people are going to say.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Think beer

Tana Amen: Go have a beer.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, but not beer. Thyroid boosting foods that are rich in selenium, which helps with production of thyroid. Seaweed and sea vegetables, I know you like seaweed wraps.

Tana Amen: I love seaweed salad. Now people are going to say that there are people that have goiters and things like that, dark leafy greens and things like seaweed salad do have goitrogen and there are some people who believe, especially a lot of

Dr. Daniel Amen: So a goiter is a big thyroid, so your neck looks like it's swollen

Tana Amen: Right, so you may want to not over do dark leafy greens. You still don't want to not get them, because having some of them is really important. But talk to your doctor, especially an integrative doctor about what is a good balance for you. But those can be goitrogen.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Foods that disrupt your hormones: sugar, and animal products raised with hormones or antibiotics can

Tana Amen: Really bad.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Disrupt your own hormones.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Again, one of the reasons why we think girls are developing much sooner.

Tana Amen: And milk because, think about this. They want those cows to produce ... first of all cows in general have tremendous amount of growth hormone naturally and then they're giving them excessive amounts of hormones to make them produce that milk as fast as they produce it. And the hormones in that milk, we drink so much milk in this country we think that the girls are getting a lot of hormones in milk.

Dr. Daniel Amen: If you want to rescue your memory the N in BRIGHTMINDS is Neuro-hormones, you want to optimize them. For all of the strategies it's super simple: care about it, avoid anything that hurts it, and we talked about it ... Such as pesticides, meats raised with hormones. And then do things that help it, get it tested, optimize it, exercise, and eat the right foods.

Stay with us, when we come back we're gonna talk about one of my favorite topics: Diabesity.