The Simple Food Rules To Radically Improve Your Diet Today

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

Most of us have heard many times that in order to get your brain right, you first need to get your food right. But what exactly does it mean to “get your food right”? Where do you start? In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen share another segment from The End of Mental Illness live class. This session focuses on the simple food rules you can begin incorporating into your life today to dramatically transform your brain and body.

For more info on The End of Mental Illness live class and challenge, visit

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

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

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 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.

Dr Daniel Amen:              So this is a study from the University of Wisconsin where they actually put [inaudible [00:01:25] monkeys on a calorie restricted diet. So one group, group on the left got to eat anything they wanted, the other group, 30% less, none of the monkeys in the calorie restricted group got cancer. They had a dramatically lower incidents of diabetes, none of them were obese. Calorie restriction is one of the few interventions that has actually been shown to prolong life. Now there are ways to mimic calorie restriction like intermittent fasting, going 12 to 16 hours between meals and you’re like, wow, that’s got to be really hard. It’s like no, it’s not that hard.

Dr Daniel Amen:              If you finish dinner at 6 o’clock means you don’t eat till 10 o’clock the next morning, so not everybody should do calorie restriction. We’re doing this program at the police department. You don’t want to be at the end of a food cycle or a fasting cycle when you need to respond to a high stress incident, for example and so, you have to know when it’s right for you. Calorie restriction, the most studied way to extend life. It works by controlling inflammation, helps with glucose control, and really helps decrease aging. I want you to know how many calories a day you are putting in your body.

Dr Daniel Amen:              So these are just some more of the benefits of it and how you mimic calorie restriction, high quality food, herbs and spices, which we’re going to talk about. Exercise, intermittent fasting, stress reduction like hypnosis, meditation. I wonder, and I’m watching this feed, how many of you use the hypnosis session I gave you for sleep and whether or not you found it helpful, getting good sleep, making it a priority, and Metformin, a medication that helps balance blood sugar. There’s a question on what is the best brain training exercise to grow the hippocampus the way the London cab drivers do. That is a great question and I’m going to give you a secret. If you’re exercising, like you’re on a stationary bike or on a treadmill, learn something new. That’s how they grow their brains is they’re exercising and learning at the same time. Scott, thank you for saying that.

Dr Daniel Amen:              Hussein actually fell asleep all night. I love that. I find it very helpful. Wonderful. All right. Principle number two, you need to water your brain. Unless you’re morbidly obese, you should be drinking about half your weight in ounces. So I’m 150 pounds, that means I need 75, 80 ounces of water a day. Being hydrated improves your cognitive function, increases your strength and you also want to stay away from things that dehydrate you, like caffeine, alcohol and diarrhetics. And at BrainMD we make something called Brain Boost on the Go and it’s sort of my form of Crystal Light. So Crystal Light, it has all sorts of bad ingredients in it, like artificial sweeteners and colors and nonsense. So I know I should drink water, but if I just had water in front of me I really wouldn’t drink it. I have a sweet tooth and it’s berry flavored and it has B6, B12, folate and thiamine and it tastes amazing. And if I get a little slump in the afternoon, it picks me up 100% of the time. Brain Boost on the Go works for me.

Dr Daniel Amen:              This is my friend Bill Phillips, he wrote body for life. He’s a world famous bodybuilder. He came and we were studying healthy food. I looked at his brain, his first one was on the left and his brain looked terrible and I’m like, Bill, it’s like cocaine or methamphetamines, why does your brain look so bad? And he’s like, no, I don’t do any. And I found out the next day he had purposefully dehydrated himself for a photo shoot. Bodybuilders do that so they look ripped. So when you’re looking in these magazines at these ripped bodybuilders, they don’t really look like that. They look like that on the day of the photo shoot because they’ve taken Lasix, a diarrhetic, which is obviously not good for your brain. The next day with good hydration he actually had a much healthier brain. You never want to be dehydrated. Principle number three, high quality protein. Protein we think of it like medicine, it provides the building blocks to many of the neurotransmitters in your brain. I am not a fan of low protein diets.

Dr Daniel Amen:              Now don’t go too crazy, but about three or four times a day protein about the size of your palm, so if you’re bigger, you can have more. If you’re smaller, that means less of clean protein hormone and antibiotic free, free range, grass fed if you can afford it. Fish is awesome because of the omega three’s. Lamb can be helpful some people don’t like the taste of lamb. I grew up with lamb being Lebanese, I love it. They even fed us raw lamb. Turkey, chicken, beans for some people are sensitive to it, raw nuts and some vegetables like spinach and broccoli are actually pretty high in protein. So know your calories, water your brain, clean protein and does fish make you smarter? Well, my friend Cyrus Raji published this study in 2011 he asked about fish consumption. He did MRI studies and cognitive testing. 10 years later, people ate baked fish at least once a week they had greater amounts of gray matter in three areas of their brain.

Dr Daniel Amen:              Their hippocampus, we’ve talked about that remember? The sea horse produces 700 babies sea horses every day, the posterior cingulate, which is involved in visual memory integration, it’s the first area to die in Alzheimer’s disease and in part of their prefrontal cortex, focus, forethought, judgment, impulse control, and they perform better on tests. Fish once a week, at least once a week, five times. Think about that. Five time less risk of Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment. Healthy fats, low fat diets are bad for the brain. Let me show you why. Now of course I want you to eliminate bad fats like trans fats and focus on healthy fats, especially omega threes, salmon, avocados, walnuts, green leafy vegetables. High cholesterol is not good for your brain, but low cholesterol is bad for your brain, under one 160 total cholesterol is associated with homicide, suicide, depression, and death from all causes. I just said that. Also, antisocial personality disorder, violence, suicide, conduct disorder, and death from all causes.

Dr Daniel Amen:              Fascinating study, it’s actually a horrifying study from the Mayo Clinic that said people who have a healthy fat based diet, so look at the pictures have 42% less risk of Alzheimer’s disease, are you getting a theme here? People have a protein based diet, so like the Atkins Diet, 21% less risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but people who have a simple carbohydrate based diet, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, fruit juice, sugar, have a 400% increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the food that helps you feel good or makes you feel bad. Fiber, fiber is so important. So before I get to the fiber, I want to talk about smart carbohydrates. So we talked about simple carbohydrates increasing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. TC, haven’t had any fast foods since challenge. Oh my God, my energy has been so much better just drinking water. I love that.

Dr Daniel Amen:              Okay. We talked about simple carbohydrates, bad for your brain, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, fruit juice, sugar. But carbohydrates are not bad, they’re not the devil. They’re essential to life you just want to be smart with the carbohydrates, so we call them smart carbohydrates, low-glycemic. What that means is they don’t raise your blood sugar and their high in fiber. So why fiber? It decreases ghrelin. What’s? Ghrelin? Ghrelin is a hormone in your stomach, produces it says, I’m hungry. So fiber helps you feel fuller, faster, longer, slows the absorption of your food, reduces cholesterol, keeps your digestive track moving, reduces high blood pressure. Notice some of these are risk factors for mental health problems, reduces the risk of cancer and you want to get about 25 to 35 grams a day, and there is a linear correlation between the number of fruits and vegetables you eat a day up to eight. So if you eat four servings of fruits and vegetables a day, you’re happier than those who have two. If you have six or eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day you’re happier than those people who have four or six.

Dr Daniel Amen:              On average, Americans eat 150 pounds of sugar a year, this is what 150 pounds looks like. So why do we celebrate birthdays, graduations, promotions, holidays by hurting ourselves and hurting other people? I just want you thinking about that, that is really an evil ruler strategy. There is a pleasure button in your brain, we’ve talked about it called the nucleus accumbens, your ventral tegmental area, VTA and other areas of your brain produce dopamine they push on your pleasure centers and you get happy. Researchers at Purdue University found that sugar may be as addictive as cocaine or morphine, so the researchers actually gave rats cocaine and they liked it and then they gave them sugar and they liked it and then they gave them a choice and more rats chose the sugar.

Dr Daniel Amen:              Sugar has many different names and so, if you just look at these whenever you’re reading food labels, please read food labels. If you’re a Brain Warrior you have to read food labels and if your state doesn’t require labeling, like none of the gum now has what’s actually in it. You have to go online and hunt for what’s in it. Do you know what that means? Don’t buy gum because most of it now has artificial sweeteners in it that are not good for you. But just looking at all of these things like organic cane crystals, oh, well that must be good for me because it’s organic. No, it’s poison without pesticide, so it’s poison without poison.

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 or a 10% discount on all supplements at For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.