Our Nutrition Principles: What to Choose & Lose

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

It’s no secret that what we put on the end of our fork matters when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Most of us are living to eat when we really should be eating to live. In part 7 of the Success Starts Here series, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen give you a set of food rules you can incorporate in your life to radically change how you feel and function without feeling deprived of taste.


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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Doctor 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.

Welcome back to Success Starts Here. We are talking about food today. We're talking about fueling your brain. So foods to choose for optimal brain performance, foods to lose to avoid failure. And this is so important and people never make this connection until they actually hear the studies and the data and why it's so important to eat healthy. I'm always amazed that people don't make this connection.

Dr Daniel Amen: So, food is medicine.

Tana Amen: Or it's poison.

Dr Daniel Amen: Or it's poison.

Tana Amen: Absolutely.

Dr Daniel Amen: And you can choose, I mean one of your best gifts, is you can take super healthy food ... I mean, medicine quality food, and make it taste awesome.

Tana Amen: But everything you put on the end of your fork, matters, and that's never truer than when we're talking about success and failure. Because food ... What you eat is affecting your neurotransmitters. It's affecting your hormones. So, it affects your decision making day by day. It affects your moods over time. It's gonna build and it's gonna really affect your moods, your relationships, how you interact with other people, how you see the world. Food matters.

So, it's really important. So, let's talk about the rules.

Dr Daniel Amen: So, but, society is really-

Tana Amen: Against you.

Dr Daniel Amen: Against you.

Tana Amen: Yes.

Dr Daniel Amen: Right, because if you think of success, focus, forethought, judgment, impulse control, empathy, relationships-

Tana Amen: They know all the science-

Dr Daniel Amen: And you are overweight, and we've already talked about as your weight goes up, the size and function of your brain goes down. If belly fat is producing inflammatory cytokines ... Cytokines and inflammation shrink your brain and are cause of dementia and depression. They take healthy testosterone and turn it into unhealthy cancer promoting forms of estrogen.

You have to get your food right if you want to be as successful as you can be.

Tana Amen: Well, and the crazy part is, before we jump into the food rules, is that you would think that it's like, okay well we've got all this information. We keep saying this information over and over again. People should or could do what they're told when it comes to health. You should just make the right decision.

Dr Daniel Amen: But the brain hates change.

Tana Amen: But it's not just that simple either. You really are being sabotaged because here's the reality. The entire food industry knows brain science. They know neuroscience and they use it. So you're being sabotaged. If you don't think ... That's why we talk about thinking like a warrior so much and using the brain ... The big brain God gave you. Because if you are not paying attention, they know what music and jingles get into your head. Bet you can't eat just one, and you still remember it, right?

They know that using sex works. So, sexy women. They know it works.

Dr Daniel Amen: The Carl's Jr. commercials are crazy.

Tana Amen: You can't even forget that even still, right. But they know that flashing certain images and certain colors, doing that works-

Dr Daniel Amen: But see, I see both the girl and the burger as weapons of mass destruction.

Tana Amen: Right. And that's how you have to think of it. And all of that happened before you ever put the thing in your mouth, because then that's a whole other set of food science laws that they've discovered and they've learned how to-

Dr Daniel Amen: Crunchiness.

Tana Amen: Right. Meltiness, the right texture-

Dr Daniel Amen: Aroma.

Tana Amen: It's crazy, right? The flavors ... They know exactly how much sugar, salt, and fat to put in stuff to make you completely addicted. It's just nuts.

Dr Daniel Amen: The bliss point.

Tana Amen: Right. So, it's not just-

Dr Daniel Amen: And it wears out your pleasure sense. People who are obese, their nucleus accumbens is actually less responsive to food-

Tana Amen: So they're more likely to be depressed.

Dr Daniel Amen: So they're more likely to be depressed and more likely to overeat to try to just feel normal.

Tana Amen: Right. So it becomes more about living to eat instead of eating to live. So it's really important to understand that it's not just as simple as like, I have the information and I need to do it. You actually need to be aware that there's an enemy out there. That's where you have to start.

Dr Daniel Amen: Arm prepared and aware.

Tana Amen: Aware. Right.

Dr Daniel Amen: Arm prepared and aware.

Tana Amen: And you have to avoid it.

Dr Daniel Amen: Alright, so help them, in the 10 minutes we have, help them pick the right things. Help them to develop a system for food to empower their success.

Tana Amen: Yep. So the first thing I do is I think like either an athlete or a warrior, right? I think like an athlete or a warrior, like when I was trying for my black belt test, I knew that everything I ate was gonna matter. If you're an athlete, everything you eat matters. So you gotta put yourself in that place of being a warrior or an athlete.

So, the first rule is high quality calories and not too many of them. So, calories do matter, but you've gotta eat high quality calories. I don't care if you're only eating 800 of them. They've gotta be high quality calories or they're still gonna trigger inflammation. You can't go on a Twinkie diet. I'm sorry, that's just the reality. You've gotta be eating high quality calories if you want to be successful.

Dr Daniel Amen: Right, so when Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers and they show these great desserts 'cause they're low calorie, that you may lose weight, but you're going to get sick.

Tana Amen: You're gonna get sick. Now we've got great desserts. I've got recipes for amazing desserts, but they're actually made with ingredients that are going to feed your brain, fuel your brain as opposed to making you sick and increasing inflammation. So, that's the first one.

The second rule is, meal timing matters. Okay, so when you eat matters.

Dr Daniel Amen: So, studies on intermittent fasting ... You should have sort of a daily 12 hour fast, maybe even a 15 hour fast. But it's not hard if you eat at six o'clock at night, don't eat again until six to nine o'clock in the morning because it turns on this process called autophagy, where it helps your brain clean up the trash that's been built up throughout the day.

Tana Amen: So, when you're talking about success, really important because you're not gonna have brain fog.

Dr Daniel Amen: And better to have more calories at lunch than dinner. So, people who eat the same number of calories during the day, but they eat them when the sun's up verses when the sun's down, lose more weight.

Tana Amen: Interesting.

Dr Daniel Amen: Isn't that interesting?

Tana Amen: Yeah, really interesting.

Dr Daniel Amen: Right? And we want you to eat enough so that it maintains your blood sugar. So how do you do that?

Tana Amen: You want to have a little bit of protein with each meal.

Dr Daniel Amen: What does that mean? Make that practical.

Tana Amen: So, I like to say shake hands with protein, right? About the size of the palm of your hand. That way, based on your size, it's independent of just a regular measurement. It's about ... For a woman, about three ounces, for a very large man it could be five ounces of protein, but high quality protein with each meal.

So, think of free-range chicken, grass-fed meats, wild fish that's really clean. If you're a vegan, you want to be thinking of organic tofu, fermented tofu. That's probably one of your best options besides some of the ... Like, we make a plant-based protein powder that's really good, but you still gotta get your protein. Just 'cause you're vegan doesn't mean you don't have to follow certain basic rules.

Dr Daniel Amen: So protein is like medicine.

Tana Amen: It's like medicine.

Dr Daniel Amen: But you don't want to overdo protein because it can trigger inflammation in the body.

Tana Amen: Well and if you think of it like medicine, you'd never go take ... If the doctor ordered you to take six pills of something during the day, intermittently throughout the day in certain intervals, you're not gonna go take all six of them at once, it's gonna make you sick. You need it in small doses throughout the day.

And then include some high quality fat. So, things like fish oil, avocado, nuts, seeds ... These are the types of fats ... coconut ... That are going to help satisfy you. They actually improve the satiation. So the protein increase is focus, and the fat makes you feel full longer. So it's really important. It also is really good for hormones and things like that for helping you to keep your hormones healthy.

And then you need the right carbohydrates. So, it's really important to have the right carbohydrates.

Dr Daniel Amen: So, smart carbs as opposed to dumb carbs.

Tana Amen: Dumb carbs, exactly.

Dr Daniel Amen: And I'm not being facetious when I say dumb carbs. So, sugar has actually been shown to increase learning disabilities in children and in animals-

Tana Amen: And increases rapid brain cell firing, right?

Dr Daniel Amen: Foods that turn erratic brain cell firing ... It's addictive and it's been associated with increased aggression.

Tana Amen: So it goes up and down so you're constantly ... You're never feeling quite stable.

Dr Daniel Amen: So, dumb carbs are sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes.

Tana Amen: And almost all processed food, 'cause they're just the wrong kind of carbs. The right-

Dr Daniel Amen: Which is loaded with grains like corn and soy that increase your bad fats.

Tana Amen: And trans fats and it's just really awful.

Dr Daniel Amen: Bad fats.

Tana Amen: We also skipped over don't drink your calories. You want to get plenty of water. It's one of the fastest ways to perk up your brain is to be hydrated. Being dehydrated by only 2% can radically affect your cognition. So, make sure you are hydrated throughout the day. It's really important.

Dr Daniel Amen: And then spices are like medicine.

Tana Amen: Yes. So we think of them ... I always say it's probably better to keep them in your medicine cabinet than in your kitchen cabinet. They are just so powerful. So we are constantly loading our food with herbs and spices and it's just a really ... It's a really powerful way to increase anti-oxidants, especially for kids. Kids who are picky and won't eat a lot of green stuff, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla. All of those things have really powerful benefits.

Dr Daniel Amen: Eat from the rainbow. Eat foods with many different colors.

Tana Amen: As you like to say-

Dr Daniel Amen: Not Skittles.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr Daniel Amen: And then if you're struggling with ADD, anxiety, depression, irritability, brain fog ... Go on an elimination diet at least for a month. Get rid of sugar, corn, soy, dairy-

Tana Amen: Dairy, gluten-

Dr Daniel Amen: Gluten. And people go, "Oh, well there's nothing left to eat." Well, that's true if you're-

Tana Amen: Four hundred recipes.

Dr Daniel Amen: If you're just eating at McDonald's. But, there are so many things to eat. There are literally thousands of things. God gave you a big brain for a reason.

Tana Amen: And I've come up with hundreds of recipes that are very simple, just because people say that.

Dr Daniel Amen: So, what do we eat during the day? So, we start the day. I make you a cappuccino.

Tana Amen: Yeah, Chloe and I will usually start with warm lemon water with a little ginger because that hydrates your brain. And then we have our almond milk cappuccino, which is like ... By the time we're done with it, quarter caff ... It has very little caffeine in it. You can do it with decaf-

Dr Daniel Amen: And it's 40 calories.

Tana Amen: Forty calories

Dr Daniel Amen: So it's calorie smart and tastes amazing. And then I'll often make you eggs and I'll have a cup of frozen blueberries.

Tana Amen: I often have smoothies. So, i have my kitchen set up so they're quick to make with plant-based protein powder. I throw in a whole bunch of greens, about less than a cup of berries of some kind, and some Stevia. And it's really pretty simple. And I usually put a little fat in it.

Dr Daniel Amen: I may or may not have a snack in the morning. Maybe a couple of nuts and an apple, and then for lunch I usually have a salad. I like this one Greek salad. It's got lots of veggies. I never let anybody put dressing on my salad. I like oil and vinegar, so I put the vinegar on first and then a little bit of oil 'cause it saves calories that way.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr Daniel Amen: We make Brain In Love, which is a chocolate bar that's sugar-free, dairy-free. I'll usually have that after lunch.

Tana Amen: And one of the things I do is, to make life easy, whenever we're cooking, we make extra of whatever we're cooking and then I just automatically pack it in lunch-sized containers, and that's my lunch the next day. So it might have been the herb ... The rosemary thyme chicken that we made the night before. Or maybe it is chicken wings, or-

Dr Daniel Amen: And people go, "Oh, well this is hard." This is totally not hard.

Tana Amen: No.

Dr Daniel Amen: We're in a routine, and that's what we want you ... You're already in a routine that maybe is not working for you. So, you want to get in a routine of things that serve your health rather than steal your health.

Tana Amen: And by the way, you do get to have some desserts as long as the desserts are healthy. Things like nutty butter cups, or-

Dr Daniel Amen: I have one probably every day.

Tana Amen: Right. And there's two ingredients. Sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate and some almond butter. It's a super easy thing to make. Or some blueberry muffins, but they're the kind of blueberry muffin that is not like a commercially made muffin. They're going to fuel success for you. Or brownies-

Dr Daniel Amen: And I'm gonna go ... Like a regular muffin before, I'd like want two or three of them. And here, one and I'm just happy.

Tana Amen: Right. You should feel satisfied. You should not be triggered to eat more.

Dr Daniel Amen: So, success really does start with your food. If you just get anything out of that and you can get your food right, Tana's got a great cookbook. The Brain Warrior's Way Cookbook. She's also got other ones. Live Longer with the Brain Doctor's Wife. Healing ADD Through Food.

Tana Amen: Brain Warrior's Way is where I made it really easy, so it's my favorite.

Dr Daniel Amen: Right. The Brain Warrior's Way is super easy. Success starts here at the end of your fork. Stay with us.

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