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How To Overcome Your Genetic Biases

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

Dr. Daniel Amen often says that when it comes to positivity training, positive thinking isn’t necessarily the goal. What is most helpful is ACCURATE thinking, or thinking objectively without bias. But what if you seem to have a never-ending stream of negativity and stress in your thoughts? Surprisingly, this may be due to your genes. In this episode of the podcast, Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen continue the discussion from the End of Mental Illness Live Class by discussing how to overcome your genetic biases.

To take The End of Mental Illness 6 Week Class and Challenge, visit https://endofmentalillness.com/brainhealthchallenge/

Read Full Transcript

Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel. Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

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.

Daniel Amen, MD:

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 amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Hi, this is Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen:

And I’m Tana Amen.

Dr Daniel Amen:

We’re so excited you’re with us. For this week’s series, what we’re doing is we’re playing the live class from the end of mental illness.

Tana Amen:

We wanted you to join us on this journey, because we had such a good time in our class and the people who joined us had just saw such incredible transformation that we wanted to share the challenge with our tribe. So we wanted to share this with you and we hope that you will join us in the challenge.

Tana Amen:

And so, when you teach people this positivity training, how to notice what’s good. I think one thing that I’ve actually heard people say, and I certainly had this question, are you able to, so for people watching this who have grown up in trauma, are you able to learn positivity training, but not necessarily sacrifice that part of you that’s able to spot the thing that’s a threat? Does that make sense?

Dr Daniel Amen:

It’s absolutely true. Which is why, those of you that listen to our podcast the Brain Warrior’s Way, the Brain Warrior’s Way, I mean the premise of it is you’re in a war for the health of your brain. Everywhere you go, someone is trying to shove bad food down your throat that will kill you early. They’re trying to give you an addictive gadget. They’re trying to scare you with the news to drive clicks. Everything is breaking news when everything is not breaking news and we’re in a war. So the idea is not pie in the sky positive thinking, the idea is accurate thinking. But if you tend to be anxious or you tend to be depressed and your negativity bias is too high, it’s going to drive you and the people you care about to have a lot more stress. So we are fans of accurate thinking. But on the podcast we certainly, we had Mark Wolynn who wrote this great book, It Didn’t Start With You, and it was so clear why you’re a little bit of a security freak and I’m not, because-

Tana Amen:

Well there’s so many reasons. So many reasons. We didn’t have, our entire lives were nothing alike. Like, nothing.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Well, no, you’re an only child. I’m one of seven.

Tana Amen:

Right. I grew up in trauma. You grew up with the kind of chaos you grew up with was normal, like-

Dr Daniel Amen:

Five sister kind of chaos.

Tana Amen:

Right, that kind of chaos but not like, who’s going to break in my house? Is it a heroin addict coming in tonight that’s going to like put ax marks in the wall?

Dr Daniel Amen:

But it wasn’t just that. I mean, what we learned in that podcast is your grandmother-

Tana Amen:

Right.-

Dr Daniel Amen:

… on-

Tana Amen:

And my mom did better than her parents.

Dr Daniel Amen:

… on your mom’s side. Your grandmother grew up during a war.

Tana Amen:

Right, during the great famine.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Where the Turks actually purposefully unleashed a famine on the people in Lebanon.

Tana Amen:

Greater Syria.

Dr Daniel Amen:

In greater Syria. But you know, what is now Lebanon. And she got lost in the forest.

Tana Amen:

For three days, which is five years old.

Dr Daniel Amen:

When she was five years old. So do you think security would have been one of her issues?

Tana Amen:

She never got over that. She was traumatized.

Dr Daniel Amen:

And so when your grandmother was born, actually when your grandmother was inside her mother, at about five months, she’s creating the eggs in her ovaries that has the genetic material, yes, for your mother, but also for you. And her chronic stress changed her genes, which meant it changed your mom’s genes-

Tana Amen:

Yeah, that podcast was wild.

Dr Daniel Amen:

… and changed your genes.

Tana Amen:

Yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen:

And that’s why we talk about how important the end of mental illness is, because it’s not just about you.

Tana Amen:

No.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Only to the latest generation.

Tana Amen:

If you get a chance, you should listen to that podcast. Any of you who have sort of quirky or odd behaviors that you can’t really explain. It’s like, where’d that come from? That podcast was pretty wild. Like you told me it was going to blow my mind and it blew my mind. Because, he talks about how it didn’t start with you and he talks about your ancestral, the sort of DNA part of our behavior. And it’s like, what? Like it sounded kind of weird to me, but it was so fascinating. And then when you started talking about it, I’m like, Oh that’s so true that actually did, like that did, that makes sense in my life and I’m sure that a lot of people listening are thinking the same thing.

Dr Daniel Amen:

And that’s why these habits are so important to retrain your DNA, so you don’t just pass it on. And, one of the things I did when I learned about this sort of genetic transmission is I went to my dad and because, growing up, my dad had two favorite words. One was bullshit and the other one was no. And I’m like, bullshit, now where does that come from? Like why is he like that? And he always worked. I mean he worked like 80 hours-

Tana Amen:

Yeah, but he’s a self made person. I mean-

Dr Daniel Amen:

He absolutely is and when you realize he grew up during the great depression-

Tana Amen:

And he has a similar background to my family.

Dr Daniel Amen:

… during the great depression and then during World War II, he remembers all about during World War II. But then what I learned is, well tell me about my grandfather. And I knew my grandfather on the other side because I was named after him. He was my best friend. He played football at Texas A and M. He was like 5’4″ and 240 pounds. Not good for him. Anyways, my other grandfather, and I didn’t know this, when he was 19, he came from the old country, from the middle East to Los Angeles and with his brother and his sister and his brother borrowed his sister’s car and his brother apparently was a bad driver.

Tana Amen:

And Oh by the way, they probably experienced some of the same stuff my grandmother did.

Dr Daniel Amen:

About the same time. His brother got killed in a train accident when he was 19 and my grandfather never drove after that, held a grudge against his sister for the rest of his life. And so clearly, he was traumatized and he was traumatized before he made my dad, which meant it changed his genes. It’s called epigenetics. It changed his genes, which he gave to my dad, which then he gave it to me.

Tana Amen:

And isn’t that weird that both of our grandfathers were in accidents that involved trains? My grandfather was hit by a train. It was, that’s so weird. What a coincidence. Weird, huh?

Dr Daniel Amen:

Wow. All right. You do not have to believe everything you think. Now we have a lot of questions to get to today. You guys have just done a great job. Question, oh my goodness, we have a lot of questions, but we have time. What do you suggest for seasonal affective disorder in terms of supplements and possible treatments? Well, thank you for asking that. The number one most studied, most effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder is bright light therapy.

Tana Amen:

I’m taking one home tonight.

Dr Daniel Amen:

And I’ll tell my team they should post a link. We have a brand new Bright Minds, Bright Light Therapy Lamp at Brain MD that you can purchase and it has been shown to help with seasonal affective disorder to help with-

Tana Amen:

Yeah, [crosstalk [00:09:21] synthetic one. I have one right here, yeah. I’m taking it home tonight.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Bless you.

Tana Amen:

It’s supposed to give you energy, right?

Dr Daniel Amen:

So here it is, and it has both bright white at the same intensity, the same brightness, 10,000 LUX, it’s bright. And blue light at the same frequency shown to be helpful to, so this is what light therapy can do. Helps with seasonal affective disorder, helps your mood, helps your focus, helps your energy and helps reset your circadian rhythm to help you sleep more soundly and deeply. 20 to 30 minutes a day. Do not look at the light, just put it somewhere where-

Tana Amen:

It’s like while you’re getting ready in the morning.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Like, when you’re doing your makeup.

Tana Amen:

Right.

Dr Daniel Amen:

It’s just like perfect.

Tana Amen:

But, this doesn’t damage your skin like a sunlamp.

Dr Daniel Amen:

It does not damage your skin like a sunlamp, but don’t look straight into it. So the treatment for seasonal affective disorder, make sure your vitamin D level is optimal. Normal is 30 to a hundred, optimal for me is 60 to a hundred. There are studies that say people who are over 40 have half the risk of cancer to those who are under 20.

Tana Amen:

Yeah, my endocrinologist, because of having the cancer that kept coming back, wants mine pretty close to a hundred. He keeps me pretty high.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Two, this week I was more tired than usual. Then Monday I was feeling nauseous. Why is it that when I feel this way that I crave bad carbs, for instance, crackers and bread?

Tana Amen:

Yeah, because, it’s because you get that quick burst of energy. Now the problem is you also get a crash afterwards and also for some people because it gives you that quick release of serotonin, so you get that little mood boost.

Dr Daniel Amen:

That’s why people crave it.

Tana Amen:

Right. But then you, well the sugar too, but then you will crash afterwards. So the problem is it’s not a longterm fix. So if you’re going to eat carbs to get that boost, eat the right carbs that aren’t going to make you sick. Things like sweet potatoes and maybe even a little bit of brown rice or I don’t suggest doing a lot of that. Don’t make it your staple, make it your condiment, but a little bit of oatmeal, steel cut oatmeal or a little bit of sweet potato. Just something to give you that little bit of boost, but not so much that you’re going to elevate your blood sugar and keep it sustained there.

Dr Daniel Amen:

You’re going to like this question. Is there anywhere to get recipe ideas for an elimination diet that you would recommend?

Tana Amen:

So in my cookbook, the Brain Warrior’s Way cookbook, we have and in the Brain Warrior’s Way, actually like we go way into an elimination diet. The cookbook is designed to help you with that. All of the recipes are, rather than telling people go on a cleanse or eat this certain way for two weeks, it’s designed to help people eat that way all the time. Also, my website, Tanaamen.com, there are like hundreds of recipes to help you. Oh look, they just put it up.

Dr Daniel Amen:

And let’s be clear with your recipes from the Brain Warrior’s Way cookbook, it’s all in the elimination diet.

Tana Amen:

Right, that’s what I just said.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Because in the recipes there’s no gluten.

Tana Amen:

Right [crosstalk [00:12:46] It’s not a two week thing. It’s designed to help you eat that way all the time. Now you’re going to get a couple recipes, you’ll get a significant number of them for free without opting in. If you opt in, you get hundreds of them. So my suggestion, opt in and you’ll get tons of recipes.

Dr Daniel Amen:

And also, by the Brain Warrior’s Way.

Tana Amen:

Yeah, the cookbook isn’t just a cookbook. So here’s the nice thing. The website will give you a meal planning section. You can actually create your grocery list and all sorts of stuff like that. The cookbook has all sorts of tips. It’s tips to help you make this work in your life for your kids, for budgeting, for time, people who have major time constraints. It’s designed to make your life work with this plan. So that’s why it’s just really helpful.

Tana Amen:

If you’re enjoying the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode and while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating as that helps others find the podcast.

Daniel Amen, MD:

If you’re considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast 10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com or a 10% discount on all supplements at brainmdhealth.com. For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.