How A NASCAR Driver Shifted Gears On His Brain Health – Pt. 3 with Chase Mattioli

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

As a former NASCAR driver, Chase Mattioli knows that for all the work mechanics do on the car, the most important element for optimizing performance is the brain of the driver. In the third episode documenting Chase’s story, he and Dr. Daniel Amen discuss the drastic shift he made in terms of how he took care of his body and his 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 SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to treat the brain. For more information, visit
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,
Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.
Dr Daniel Amen: We're back and we're talking about Chase's journey and in our week on "It's insane not to look at your brain." Some more reviews on the podcast, I love this one. [inaudible 00:01:12] from the United States, "easy to follow, love the information, helpful and insightful. Thank you for your guidance and sharing your information."
Well we love doing that. I'm so grateful that you took the time to do this with me cause there are so many people who are suffering and they do exactly what you did. Things aren't right and you go to professionals, to get help. But the help's incomplete, at best. Because they didn't look at your brain, they don't know that you're really struggling with the chronic effects of multiple concussions, mild traumatic brain injuries.
Although we say mild not always irritates me, because there is nothing mild when you actually look at the scan. That it effected your frontal lobes; forthought judgment, impulse control, organization, planning, empathy, learning from the mistakes you make. I mean that's sort of important. Effects your temporal lobe; learning, memory, mood, stabilty, temper control. And even though you're really bright, you're not getting to you're potential because the organ that gets you to your potential, which is your brain, is not optimized.
Right, I mean, you're working out and want to optimized... I saw an NBA player last week and he texts me later, he said "I've spent thousands of hours thinking about, and working out my biceps, and I've not thought about my brain at all." How crazy is that?
Chase Mattioli: That's crazy, well, its funny for me coming from the world of racing. We don't work out our biceps, we do conditioning for endurance training, but the best organ we ever use is our brain and our eyes. That is the number one thing we use and nobody ever thought about optimizing the brain. And we brain optimized everything in the car, like we have engineers that are crazy and nobody thought hmm biggest computer in the car, and we're not evening touching it, like what are we doing? So it was really cool when I came here, it made me look at the brain less as like that other thing in my body that nobody knows about, than more so as something that I can actually impact and change and have an effect on the health of it.
I don't think I ever thought of it as anything other than it's in there, it's cool and that's how I think. You don't think it's something that I can play with almost.
Dr Daniel Amen: Right? And when we did your follow up scan, it was better. How exciting is that? And we realized, it can still be better, still! And when you do the follow up scan, you want to go okay how am I doing and what else can I do to make it better? What were the things that you and Dr. Sood started with? And what has it evolved into, how have you changed your life?
Chase Mattioli: Well the first thing was taking me off the medication. I got off of all prescription medication, switched over to supplements. So I take Brain MD supplements, Serotonin mood support, I also take a little bit of Focus Energy and I take some Brain and Body Power Max.
Dr Daniel Amen: So in those, just so people know. Serotonin Mood Support helps your mood. Focus and Energy, actually helps activate your frontal lobes, so that you have sustained better energy and focus. Brain and Body Power max; multiple vitamin but that best one on the planet that we could design, high doses of omega 3 fatty acids. And brain and memory power boost which has 7 different things to optimize your brain in multiple ways, in multiple mechanisms. You're on a sophisticated supplement regimen.
Chase Mattioli: That was the first thing that I started to do and I think for a lot of people, supplements, the first thing is like, what pills? I gotta take all of these? After you take a little of them, you feel the results right away. I'd rather take six pills of good supplements than one prescription pill that never makes me feel better.
So getting into that rhythm and routine was awesome and then the next step was he looked at my gut, as essentially said looks like you're having digestive issues. And as you know the gut and brain connection is super important.
Dr Daniel Amen: I've heard that, I've heard that it's like really important.
Chase Mattioli: Yeah right, it gets around.
So, I went and got a test and found out, or was diagnosed with having Leaky Gut Syndrome. So I wasn't absorbing any of the nutrients that are going into my stomach, or they're going right into my bloodstream etc and so forth. And that wasn't really good for my brain health or actually absorbing the supplements or anything else I was that I was trying to do.
Dr Daniel Amen: That's a huge part of getting well, huge. 'Cause when you're, you have leaky gut, your intestinal tract has a single cell lining that this one cell lining of your gut, from your mouth to the other end. When it starts to leak, that single cell lining actually, the junctions start to widen, that means you're getting toxins from the outside through your intestines into your body. Which then makes you sick, makes it hard to lose weight, you have more pain, you have brain fog, think a lot of those things you had.
Chase Mattioli: Oh yeah, well I had a horrible diet too. First we fixed the stomach and then it was change the diet. And the best way to start reexamining your diet, is an elimination diet. At least that's what I've come to find. So an elimination diet is basically eliminating one food from your diet per week, see how it reacts within you. I did that for about two or three weeks and then I went and got a food sensitivity test done with the blood work. It's kinda like skipping ahead of the line, you can see what you're reactive too from a sensitivity standpoint. And sensitivity meaning, almost like a mild allergy that causes inflammation, causes redness, unwanted weight gain, etc and so forth, and probably a slew of problems I don't even know.
So fixed my diet, had to cut out a lot of things that I love, which was hard at first. Did the food sensitivity test and found out that I'm sensitive to tomatoes, almost all gluten, pork. So I'm Italian, that was like my whole diet right there. Also grapes, so wine. Yeast, when I learned this I decided to just stop drinking, totally, because alcohol, A is horrible for me, wasn't helping my gut at all, and the fact that everything in it was bad for me. Just was a good wake up call.
Dr Daniel Amen: So why do nurses, Tana's a nurse, why do nurses put alcohol on your skin, before they give you a shot?
Chase Mattioli: To sterilize?
Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah, decreases the bacteria in your skin. And how many bacteria are in your gut.
Chase Mattioli: Colonies
Dr Daniel Amen: Hundred trillion. Right. So people don't think really alcohol's harmful but it's disrupting the gut bacteria, we call it the gut microbiome. And those bacteria, your friends, they help to make neurotransmitters, they help with digestion, they keep the intestinal lining healthy. They make neurotransmitters.
Chase Mattioli: They're huge.
Dr Daniel Amen: They're huge. And it's hard 'cause you said you loved them.
Chase Mattioli: Oh yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: But, I don't know if you've ever been in a bad relationship, so I've been in bad relationships with women. Thank god I am not now. But I am never gonna be in a bad relationship with food. I'm never gonna love something that doesn't love me back. And so you're in a relationship, that's really sort of abusive, with food, right? You're in love with things that hurt you.
Chase Mattioli: Yeah, well it likes me, it treats me nice when it wants too, yeah know. It loves me, you don't know us. Yeah, that's exactly what food is. So I changed that relationship and now its more, food is fuel. It feeds my brain, it feeds stomach and it makes me a better person. So I mentioned on an earlier podcast, my family can barely stand me but they're working on it, right. So every time they go to eat their pasta, I'm like, "do you know what's in this? Do you know the gluten? And you know that?" And they're like, "don't care."
Dr Daniel Amen: 'Cause they haven't suffered, like you.
Chase Mattioli: But, we're getting somewhere. Let me continue on what I did beyond the diet. So you said there's more stuff that we can be doing and one of them was HBOT.
Dr Daniel Amen: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
Chase Mattioli: Mm-hmm, and luckily working here we have access to one that's fairly available. I go every morning before work and what it does is it puts about 30 lbs of pressure on your body. And when it squeezes you, its almost like squeezing a fruit and making the blood flow faster, right. So I do that every morning and its weird because people go, what does it do? And I'm like, I don't really know.
Dr Daniel Amen: Increases blood flow to the brain.
Chase Mattioli: Well, they ask me what the feeling is and I go, I don't really feel it. And then if I stopped doing it for a week or two weeks then I just feel awful.
Dr Daniel Amen: Interesting.
Chase Mattioli: So I noticed when I don't do it. It's like one of those things that so subtly helpful that like, oh I feel better today, but it's not like taking a shot of espresso and you're awake. But its been definitely helpful for me, I really enjoy doing that. And then going back to the dieting thing, what's cool for my family. We've started with the race track right, so not only do I have these issues with my gut, stomach and health. Most of my family members have a form of Gastroparesis, or some other form of, you know, gut issues. So we've decided to branch out of the racing business, and we're starting our own organic farm, which we broke fround on about a month ago.
Dr Daniel Amen: Congratulations, that's very exciting.
Chase Mattioli: We're really excited because not a lot of people associate Racing or NASCAR with organic food. But, I mean it's where farmers go to watch their sports for the most part. So we'll be the first track to offer organic fruits and vegetables at the facility, when the fans come in.
Dr Daniel Amen: Love that.
Chase Mattioli: And we'll be able to eat now too, which is [crosstalk 00:11:27].
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:11:29] You eat when you go there.
Chase Mattioli: Yeah, it was hard for me.
Dr Daniel Amen: Now you also lost a little bit of weight too, right?
Chase Mattioli: Lost about 80 lbs.
Dr Daniel Amen: Wow, I've seen the before and after pictures, it's stunning.
Chase Mattioli: Yeah
Dr Daniel Amen: What does that do to your self esteem?
Chase Mattioli: Doesn't hurt. For me, I was about 80 lbs over weight. I had a giant red afro and I had tons of inflammation, so my skin was like a deeper shade of pink or red. You know, it was very attractive. Worked out great for me. It was really easy, once I did the diet the weight just started falling off. I lost 10, 20 lbs in about a month and then after that it just became, almost like a rolling effect. Where I was like I lost 10, I will lose another 5, and you get so excited about it. I'm sure anybody that does any type of working out or physical activity, its like, alright, I wanna lose 20 lbs. Once your lose 20 lbs, uh, I kinda want to lose 5 more lbs. And then you're like 'oh, how do I put weight back on? Now I want muscle.' So, its been fun for me.
Dr Daniel Amen: And you've also been Cycling and Weight Training and doing the diet. And I guess, I have to ask this question. Was getting healthy hard?
Chase Mattioli: Getting healthy, there's actually a really cool quote and I reference it a lot. And its not the best source, but it is what it is. I was watching late night television and there's Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. They're two famous actors, Jonah Hill recently lost a ton of weight and he's on the talk show. And they ask him, "How did you do it, like what was it?". And he goes, "I just talked to Channing Tatum, you know, he's in great shape, he probably knows how to do this,". And, Channing said, "It's simple, its not easy.". Right, so getting healthy is super simple. I mean, you read one of your books, the steps are all in there. It's not like there's some secret code. It's just not easy, you're gonna have to say no to food, you're gonna have to say no to going out with friends want to do certain things that you know are bad for you. Like you gotta take responsibility for yourself, which isn't easy.
Dr Daniel Amen: 'Cause it's a war, right. I mean it's what we talk about. Everywhere you go someone's trying to shove bad food down your throat, that will kill you early. Consistent decisions over time transform your mind, your brain and your body.
One of my friends, I asked him if it was hard. And he said, "being sick is hard. This is easy."
Chase Mattioli: It's one hundred percent true. I mean, since I've gotten healthy, I can't go back.
Dr Daniel Amen: So many people do that right. They get on Jenny Craig or Nutrisystems. They lose a bunch of weight. One of my PBS in Houston. One of my hosts who I adore, I came to the station, and I've been there a bunch of times. And I'm like, "Arnie, you've lost so much. How'd you do that?", he says "Oh I went on the HCG diet."
Human Pregnancy Hormone Diet. And 500 calories a day. I'm like "Oh, congratulations." And he says, "Well, there's a way to celebrate. Today's my last day on the diet. I ordered two deep dish pizzas from this place in Chicago as a way to celebrate." And I just looked at him like he was the dumbest person on the planet! He's like, "what!" And I'm like, "Let me get this right, you just went to rehab. And as your way to celebrate, you're gonna get drunk." He's like, "that's insane."
It's a lifestyle that you need to figure out, how can I maintain this over time. I eat, great food, consistently. But food I love, that loves me back. 'Cause it's a relationship, right?
Chase Mattioli: This past few weeks we've installed the Bright Minds Program, here at Amen Clinic. One of the best things to get healthy is to surround yourself with healthy people, right, like we keep talking about. Now I'm in an environment where everybody’s focused on it, its easier for me, because everyone I'm surrounded with isn't trying to say 'have that slice of pizza,' or 'lets get that drink.' Everyone's like 'oh no, we're conscious about, we want to do'. And that would be my biggest piece of advice, start paying attention to the things that impact your help and start paying attention to the people that you surround yourself with. Because they will make it easier for you.
Dr Daniel Amen: People are contagious.
Chase Mattioli: They are.
Dr Daniel Amen: Fastest way to healthy. Find the healthiest person you can stand and spend as much time around him or her as possible. Stay with us.
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