The Amens’ Simple Guidelines For Optimal Nutrition Pt. I

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

Back to school! In this episode, you are invited once again to a private, Amen Clinics company presentation on nutrition. In this lesson, the Amens reveal their simple guidelines to follow for optimal health, revealing the facts behind protein, water, fats, carbs, and more!

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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 Brian. 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 nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To lean more, go to
Hi, this is Tana Amen, in this episode, we're once again taking you behind the scenes to our company event on nutrition that was held here at Amen Clinics. You may notice a change in the audio quality. The following episode is part one of our guidelines for everyday nutrition, enjoy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Okay, five meals you love, and then we're going to ask you at the end, do they love you back. This is one of the most important statements Tana and I have developed over the last 10 years. Do you love things that love you back? Doing the right thing is never about you should do it, it's does it serve you. Are you living to eat, or do you eat to live? It's an interesting question. Food is medicine, or it's poison.
Tana Amen: This is Angie, she's one of the people that I coached, and she just -
Dr. Daniel Amen: On Facebook, right?
Tana Amen: Yeah, I coached her because she lived in -
Dr. Daniel Amen: Virginia.
Tana Amen: Virginia. I had to do most of it over e-mail, then I'd talk to her on the phone. Anyways, Angie became ... She was a prisoner of war, no doubt. When she was eight-years-old, she started with weight problems early on. Lots of other issues. Her mother put her into Jenny Craig when she was eight. This started a huge issue with body shaming for her. She felt ridiculed. Massive problems.
She started hiding in the closet and binge eating when she was a child. She had this lack of focus, lack of follow-through, lots of physical issues. She had migraines, she had depression and anxiety that literally ruled her life. Mostly, she had this shame, this feeling that she was being ridiculed everywhere she went. So, she became sort of reclusive. She didn't want to go out anywhere. She had ovarian cysts, she was trying to get pregnant. The doctor was like, not only is it not healthy for you to get pregnant at your weight, but you're gonna have a hard time getting pregnant because you've got so many problems going on with your female organs.
She had brain fog, all sorts of problems. A friend of hers handed her my book, when it first came out, 'The Omni Diet'. She's like, oh great, just another diet. That's how she felt, why am I doing just another diet. Her friend said just read the opening couple chapters, if you don't like it, don't do it. So. She did. Angie got hoked. She went, I realized it was not me, it was what food was doing to me.
No one had ever taught her that it's not just about willpower. The food industry does not have your best interests at heart. That's why we say it's a war. There are chemicals in the food that are literally making you and keeping you addicted and depressed. They're hijacking your hormones. When she really got that and went okay, I'm gonna be more gentle with myself, I'm just gonna change what I eat. She wasn't gonna focus on so much the weight, she just wanted to focus on wellness. That's when she really got well, and the weight loss was a side effect.
She lost 103 pounds in 14 months. Three years later, when I was still talking to her she had kept it off. Every time she started to slip, when the scale would jump by five pounds, she was like I know I'm not doing something right. That was her cue. So, she would do it all over again. She would start from the very beginning. She lost all of her digestive issues, her migraines. She lost her ovarian cysts ... I don't know if she lost her ovarian cysts, but she lost all side effects of her female issues with her diet.
She had the highest confidence she's ever had. She loved going out in public. People were now like, what did you do? How are you doing this? She gained control over her moods. It's not that she never had mood swings, but now she never thought that they were going to overcome her. The biggest thing that happened for Angie, was she was able to forgive her mother. That just changed all of her relationships.
Her relationship with food allowed her to forgive herself, which then allowed her to forgive her mother. She realized, if I had this problem, this relationship with food, my mother couldn't do any better. It was able to change her life.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Let's talk about what we think. Based on decades now of research of foods that are good for your Brian, and ones that are bad for your brain. If you think of a plate, about 70% of it should be plants. Why? Because, plants have medicine I them. You can go to the pharmacy, or you can go to the farmacy. The foods that are grown on a plant, rather than made in a plant. We're fans of protein. You can get protein from vegetable sources, you certainly can. If they're from animal sources, you just wanna make sure they're clean, as we talked about.
Tana Amen: And, when people say but it's so much more expensive, it is more expensive. We want you eating less of it. Higher quality, less of it, and small amounts throughout the day. Some of the ways you can supplement that is protein shakes. You can get plant-based protein as long as you're getting all of your amino acids. There are a lot of vegans who ... I have no dog in that fight. I don't care if you wanna be a vegan, as long as you're healthy. We just wanna check your numbers and be following that.
Supplement. You still need to focus on getting the right amounts of protein, even if you're vegan.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're vegan, you can have potato chips, and french fries, and pasta.
Tana Amen: It doesn't equate to healthy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: A number of the doctors that first came to work here were vegan, and vegetarian, and they're some of the most unhealthy people I had seen. Don't equate being a vegan, necessarily with being healthy.
Tana Amen: No, you need to focus.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You can be, but it takes a lot of work.
Tana Amen: You need to be thoughtful about what you eat.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Over the years, Tana and I together, have created some very simple food rules. Calories matter, but the quality of them actually matters more.
Tana Amen: I like to explain this to people by saying you can go on an Oreo, or a Twinkie diet and drop you calories down to 800 a day, you will lose weight, initially. What will happen over time, if you keep doing that, you keep eating lousy food, your inflammation is going to increase. As your inflammation increases, your joints are gonna hurt, your pain's gonna increase. All this stuff starts to happen, the autoimmune reactions that we talked about.
As your gut becomes less and less healthy, the weight loss not only stops, but your metabolism becomes affected, and you begin to actually gain weight with less calories when you do that. When you eat really healthy, when you eat the right foods, you get to eat a whole lot more, and get all the benefits of decreasing inflammation, of getting healthy, of being leaner, fitter. More energetic, having a higher mood. And you can eat a lot more calories doing that.
It doesn't mean you can go crazy and eat 4000 calories a day, I don't care what you're doing. It just means you get to eat more, if you're eating the right stuff.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Water, 80% of your brain is water, so anything that dehydrates you, like alcohol, decreases your cognitive function, and your physical strength.
Tana Amen: Two of my favorite studies, when people are like, but I don't like water. You just need to know this, there are so many people who don't like drinking water. You can put stuff in your water, like the Brain Boost On The Go is fantastic from doing that. One of the things that really helps me get this through to people, two studies. One shows that your physical power goes up by 19% when you're fully hydrated. In the gym. They did this study on people working out.
Cardiac output, how much they could lift, went up by 19% when they were fully hydrated. Well, that's obviously to me. I'm weaker when I'm not hydrated, I don't like being weak. That's one thing. The other study was done a group of pilots. They showed that when pilots were dehydrated, their cognitive function, and their spacial reasoning went down significantly. That's not a plane I want to be on. That's really indicative of what happens to your brain when you are not hydrated. We actually can prove that and show you what happens.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If I have a bottle of water when I lecture, I will drink actually, very little of it. The reason I created Brain Boost On The Go, it's sweet, it's loaded with B6, B12, folate, and thiamine. I love the taste of it, so I'll take this, and I'll drink the whole thing. It's good for me. I actually use it in the afternoon. If I've not slept well, or I'm tired, around 2:00, I'll have a bottle, and I'm good until seven.
It really is, my five hour energy. But, it has no brand violations in it, like caffeine and sugar. It's sweetened with stevia.
Tana Amen: I've been saying one of the fastest ways to increase your energy, focus, mood, is to water your brain.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's so smart. We got to scan Bill Phillips, he's a very famous body builder. He wrote the book -
Tana Amen: 'Body for Life'.
Dr. Daniel Amen: 'Body for Life'. He came in, and we were doing a research project on eating good food, then comparing it to bad food. We did a baseline study, and his brain looked like he was a cocaine addict. I'm like, Bill what's the deal, cocaine. He's like oh, no, I promise.
Tana Amen: He prides himself on being healthy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What we had found later he had purposely dehydrated himself for a photo shoot, because that's what body builders do. Right before they go get a shoot, you see them with the ripped muscles -
Tana Amen: No one looks like that normally. Not even them.
Dr. Daniel Amen: They have to dehydrate him. So, he took 40 mg of Lasix. As he was showing these ripped muscles, is brain was clearly not good.
Tana Amen: His brain was [inaudible 00:11:20]
Dr. Daniel Amen: When he rehydrated himself, his brain was much better.
Tana Amen: High quality proteins, we talked about that. Make it clean. Hormone free, antibiotic free. You wanna do free-range as much as you can for sure.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Why grass-fed, as opposed to grain-fed?
Tana Amen: Because, you want to be eating ... If you're gonna consume protein, you want that animal to have been eating what is natural to the animal. Just like you, if you're eating stuff that's not natural to you, it makes you sick. Of the animals are eating stuff that's not natural to them, it makes them sick. When they force animals that are not supposed to be eating grains to be eating grains, or soy, it makes the animal full of inflammation, it makes them sick. Hence, antibiotics. That's why that happens.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We were actually at Mount Vernon, a couple of years ago in Virginia. You know, George Washington's estate. They knew back then. At the end of the 1800s, they knew. There was actually a sign there, in order to make the animals fat, they would gather them and feed them corn and potatoes.
Tana Amen: And keep them still.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And keep them still. Why are we fat in this country? Seventy percent of us are overweight, 40% of us or obese, and it just keeps climbing up. It's because we're using pro-inflammatory potatoes and corn and soy. We're feeding ourselves what they knew hundreds of years ago make people fat. I'm not a fan of much corn, I don't really eat potatoes at all, because I have obesity in my family. My genes say I should be fat and I'm not. Why? Because, I don't give into the behaviors making it likely to do something.
Tana Amen: One thing I wanna touch really quickly. It's rare, but I do coach people who sometimes have the opposite problem. They're hypermetabolic, because they're police officers, because they are high performance athletes. There's a guy at my karate studio, he's very thin and can't keep weight on, and that does happen. When that happens, those are the only people who I will tell, as long as it's gluten-free, don't worry so much bat some rice. Just don't make it your staple.
Some of those things, they need them a little bit. They have to, to put some weight on. They're too hypermetabolic. That will explain to you then why people who are not hypermetabolic, probably should avoid those foods. They're burning that sugar. They're burning that glucose faster than they can take it in.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Protein, you can get from vegetables. Especially broccoli and spinach, which are almost half protein. Healthy fats ... It used to be fat was the enemy. Culturally, I think that's beginning to go away. We want you to eat healthy fats. Eliminate all bad fats, frying food in unhealthy oils -
Tana Amen: Pretty much anything that's packaged, even though we now have this new law, no trans fats, it's a lie. You just need to know that. It's a lie. As long as it's under a certain amount, one half gram per serving. But, if you look at the servings, in a normal package that you would normally eat, it sometimes three or four servings that you will eat. They make the serving size really small, and that's how they get away with the trans fats. Pretty much any processed food usually contains a little bit of trans fat.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Anything that's hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated, you should avoid. There is a fascinating study from the Mayo Clinic looking at Alzheimer's disease and diet. People who had primarily a fat-based diet. Fish, nuts, seed, health oils, avocado, had a 42% less risk of getting Alzheimer's disease. Almost half. People who had a protein-based diet, think of the Atkins diet, had 21% less risk. But, people who had a carbohydrate-based diet, the standard American diet, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, juice, sugar; had a 400% increased risk of getting Alzheimer's disease.
It's sugar, and foods that turn to sugar. It's not fat.
Tana Amen: One of the things that should tip you off to this, is they're referring to Alzheimer's disease now, as type three diabetes. It's just disastrous from the brain, it makes your vessels brittle. It; just terrible.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Any of you who have high blood sugar in the testing, or high hemoglobin A1C, you need to think of that as an emergency.
Tana Amen: I know this isn't a lecture on exercise, but one of the reasons it's so important for people who have high blood sugar, or high hemoglobin A1C to exercise, and put muscle on your body is because not only does exercising in general brig down your blood sugar, but the more muscle mass you have on your body, the more insulin sensitive you are. The less muscle you have on your body, the more insulin-resistant you are.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Which means, you're more likely to get diabetes. I love her idea on how can we increase our level of exercise at work. When you're a therapist, you spend a lot of time sitting. I'm also a child psychiatrist, I used to take the kids I'd see and go for walks. The reason is if yo just put a kid in a chair and say talk to me about -
Tana Amen: Stare at 'em.
Dr. Daniel Amen: - the problems in your life, they won't talk. But, if you go for a walk, they'll talk, and it's a double benefit to exercise in therapy.
Tana Amen: Smart carbs. I think of smoothies, which I love, or protein water. I was actually instrumental in helping to create that. Along with some of or team. It is so important to get that protein. I love smoothies, which is why I put so many recipes in my books, because you get the protein, you get health fat, you get hydration, and you get smart carbs. Carbs are not the enemy, it's simple carbs. We want carbs that have what we talked about earlier, those prebiotics. You want fiber.
Dr. Daniel Amen: These are dumb carbs.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: They make you stupid. There's actually a study they did at UCLA, where they took rats and gave them a head injury. They whacked them in the head, and then ... These are rats that already knew how to run a maze. They divided them into two groups. One of them, they gave their normal healthy diet. The other one, they added fructose, or fruit sugar, think of the orange juice, to their diet. After three weeks, the rats on the healthy diet could run the maze despite the head injury. The other group with the fructose were still confused and depressed.
What do we have on the sidelines of football games? Gatorade. Which is basically sugar and artificial colors. Two bad things for you, yet we expect them to be able to heal from concussions. It's just not gonna happen.
Tana Amen: And there's a way to create an actual real drink that will help them, but [inaudible 00:19:02].
Dr. Daniel Amen: Brain Boost On The Go, would be awesome. Dumb carbs versus smart carbs, low-glycemic. What does that mean? Doesn't raise your blood sugar. All of you, whenever you go to eat, go glycemic index, or glycemic load, you can Google it and it will immediately tell you blueberries are good, pineapple's bad. Dates are terrible, apples are pretty good. I just want you to choose low-glycemic foods that are high in fiber. That's why the apple is so much better than -
Tana Amen: The apple juice.
Dr. Daniel Amen: - apple juice.
Tana Amen: In almost all of our books, there's not only a glycemic index, it will explain to you what the glycemic load is, so you can pay attention to that when choosing foods.
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Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're interested to coming to Amen Clinics, give us a call at 855-978-1363.