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In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are here to answer your questions. This week’s installment includes information on the ApoE4 gene and Alzheimer’s risk, combining supplements and medication, and the health ramifications of coffee. If you’d like your question answered on the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, you can submit your questions at brainwarriorswaypodcast.com.
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 brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
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 learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Welcome back. We've been talking about hyperbaric oxygen this week, and now we're going to read your questions. We love when you leave questions, and also reviews. Speaking of reviews, I'm going to read one right now. From Bellina K., "If only the brain scan was a requirement for everyone, like the flu shot or a multiple vitamin. Oh, how happy this world would be."
Dr Daniel Amen: Thank you so much. I'm actually not a fan of flu shots, so ...
Tana Amen: I'm not either, but multiple vitamins we're good with. So ...
Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah, I want you to keep your immune system as healthy as it can be. Now we'll probably get hate mail about the flu shot.
Tana Amen: I know, but let me take that back, if you are someone like your mother who can't afford to get sick, is very fragile, then I would probably consider it. But not for the average person.
Dr Daniel Amen: So we're doing questions today, and if there's one thing you learn, write it down, post it. We want to get The Brain Warrior's Way to as many people as we can. It's been growing, which makes us thrilled. Here's a question from Sheila V. "I have two APO E4s." So the apolipoprotein E gene, there a couple of different types of it, there's the E2, E3, and E4. E4, if you have one of them, increases your risk of late-onset Alzheimer's disease by about 5%. Two copies actually increase it about 25%.
Tana Amen: Ouch. But isn't it still affected more by the choices you make?
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, let's read the question. "I'm 62 years old. Is it too late to change my chances of Alzheimer's? I've already gone gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free."
Tana Amen: Awesome.
Dr Daniel Amen: "I eat more primal, except no dairy and honey."
Tana Amen: Awesome.
Dr Daniel Amen: "I lean toward a keto diet. I exercise at least three to four times a week, I do weights, biking, and yoga. I feel I've found out too late. Thank you." Sheila V.
Tana Amen: Well, I love what she's doing.
Dr Daniel Amen: And I absolutely don't believe it's too late. I think, as soon as you know that you want to become a Brain Warrior, you want to be armed, prepared, and aware ... Because you are clearly in the fight of your life. So having double E4s, the apolipoprotein, your doctor can order it, 23andME I think will tell you about it.
Tana Amen: But isn't it also ... What I would want to know is what are your symptoms. If you don't have any symptoms yet, can't she halt the progression from where she's at by her lifestyle?
Dr Daniel Amen: In people who have two of the E4 genes, they have a 25% chance of getting it. But that means they have a 75% chance they'll not get it.
Tana Amen: And a big part of it's based on her lifestyle.
Dr Daniel Amen: So if I was Sheila, if I was you, I would get scanned, see where your brain is at. Leeza Gibbons, who's a friend of mine, her mother and her grandmother died with Alzheimer's disease, and when she came to see me when she was 51, as she was going through a divorce, her brain was clearly not healthy. I mean, it was headed to the dark place. But she just did everything I asked her to do, many of the things, Sheila, you're already doing, and 11 years later her brain was better.
So if I was you, I'd look, I'd come to one of our clinics, or somewhere where they do SPECT scans or PET scans. I'd look at the blood flow and activity in your brain. If it's really low, I'd just ramp it up and be even more serious with the supplements, hyperbaric oxygen, all the things we talk about.
You certainly should get my book Memory Rescue. You should know, "What are my risk factors?" We talk about the Bright Minds risk factors a lot on the podcast. And you say you have the G, G is for genetics, but you want to know all the other risk factors you have and be serious as soon as possible. You're already serious, we're very proud of you, and I believe, for you especially, it is not to late to really push this thing off for as long as possible.
Tana Amen: So the next one, "Did I hear you say some people with a sleepy brain should not drink coffee?" Heather L. So let's talk about coffee.
Dr Daniel Amen: We have this discussion periodically.
Tana Amen: We have this discussion ... So when I met you, I was drinking two pots a day. But I love coffee, I love the taste of coffee, I love the idea of coffee, but I don't want to drink too much caffeine.
Dr Daniel Amen: But it does not love you back.
Tana Amen: Right. So what we do is we brew it actually less than half-caf, it's more like third- or quarter-caf, and then we use half almond milk, so by the time we actually have the coffee, it's less than a quarter-caf. Very little of it is actually caffeinated coffee. And so that way I get the idea of the coffee, it's more of a latte, and you can even do it decaf. But yeah, I like the idea of it, but just try to get less caffeine or no caffeine. Or go to green tea.
Dr Daniel Amen: So I have a patient recently who I convinced to go off caffeine. And it was a hard week for her, I think she swore at me more than normal. But she's so much better off of it. Everybody I've gotten off caffeine likes me more, not for the first week or two, but later. Because caffeine, the reason I don't like it is it constricts blood flow to the brain.
It's addictive, that's why they have trouble going off of it. It increases your stress hormone, it decreases something called adenosine that tells you to go to sleep. And I'm just not a fan. I think the more you can do it with clean water, not tap water as we found out, the better for you. So yes, decaf coffee has a lot of antioxidants in it, and so decaf organic coffee may be better.
There's another question, "I'm curious what an anemic brain looks like and the problems it causes in a person's thoughts and decision making." I love that question, because SPECT is a study of blood flow and activity. So I scanned one of my friends from medical school, and her brain just looked terrible, like she was a drug addict. But I went to Oral Roberts University School of Medicine, we didn't have any drug addicts in our class. And if I didn't really know her, I'd be sending her to the lab to get a drug test.
It turned out she had pernicious anemia, which is a B12 deficiency. And whenever you're anemic, you are getting less oxygen. So we talked about oxygen, where you're getting less oxygen to your brain and you don't make good decisions. Your anxiety level goes up, you're tired. You need healthy blood flow in order to think right.
Tana Amen: Right. So several people I know, including myself, have had ferritin deficiencies. And when they are able to replace it with ferritin, which is a form of iron, it's like the Lazarus effect.
Dr Daniel Amen: So everybody who is having cognitive issues or emotional issues should get your iron level checked.
Tana Amen: It's one of the things we mention in Brain Warrior's Way, and Omni Diet, and your books in our assessment.
Dr Daniel Amen: All the time.
Tana Amen: Right, in our assessment.
Dr Daniel Amen: Right. You should get your ferritin, it's a measure of iron storage, checked. And if it's low, you should either eat more foods with iron in them, like spinach ... But if it's high, yours tends to run low, as many women do, especially if they have heavy periods because they lose blood. But if it's high, it promotes heart disease and aging, and mine's always been high, so I generally donate blood every year to keep my iron levels healthy.
Tana Amen: Right, and here's the tricky part. A lot of women think that, when they go through menopause or when they have a hysterectomy, they no longer need to supplement with ferritin. It turns out not to always be true.
Dr Daniel Amen: So you just need to check.
Tana Amen: You need to get it checked, right.
Dr Daniel Amen: You need to check your blood.
Tana Amen: Don't assume that.
Dr Daniel Amen: One more. "I want to make sure that I'm doing the right thing. I'm currently taking all of the type 8 targeted supplements, and Brain & Body Power, and the ProBrainBiotic. My question is, I went to see a nurse practitioner who put me on Abilify. What I want to know is if Brain Type 8 would do better with just the supplements with Abilify, or the way I've been doing it, which is all supplements, because he said for me to take Abilify at night."
So here's my thought on supplements versus medicine. If you can do it with the supplements and you feel awesome, great. But if you really do the supplements in a targeted way and you need more help, then medication becomes an option. Now, seeing a nurse practitioner, here's my thought on Abilify.
Abilify, like Risperdal, like Zyprexa, like Seroquel, they're anti-psychotic medications and they have a boatload of side effects. And if you're psychotic, I'm a huge fan, I'll prescribe them for you, because being psychotic has all sorts of side effects. But willy nilly, that's the wrong word, but prescribing anti-psychotics to people who are not psychotic just doesn't make sense to me. It is clearly not the first thing I would think is rational.
Tana Amen: We don't know if this person is psychotic or not.
Dr Daniel Amen: I don't know, she didn't tell us. Brain Type 8, so for those of you who haven't taken your brain type test, go to brainhealthassessment.com. And it's a self-report test, so take it with a grain of salt and talk to a medical professional about it. But 8 generally means there are issues with anxiety, and sadness, and worry, and focus problems. And so the supplements we recommend go to support those issues in the brain.
We always think you should talk to a healthcare professional, but one who knows about supplements, so won't just diminish them. That's why, at Amen Clinics, we actually have two naturopaths working with us, because they know about medicine but they also know about supplements.
Tana Amen: And I would hope and assume, and I shouldn't assume, but hope that the nurse practitioner you're seeing, who's putting you on the Abilify, is at least a mental health or psychiatric nurse practitioner.
Dr Daniel Amen: All right, so is there something you learned? Please post it on any of your social media sites, #brainwarriorswaypodcast. Leave your questions, like these great questions, on brainwarriorswaypodcast.com. Also leave us a review. Thanks so much.
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 a five-star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr Daniel Amen: If you're considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code "podcast10" 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.