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Current health trends often focus on cleanses you can do to clear toxins out of your body. But, as Dr. David Perlmutter states, we must also clear toxins from our mind. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen, Tana Amen, and Dr. Perlmutter describe how ‘digital rabbit holes’ manipulate us to feel inadequate, and how we can train our brains to avoid them.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We are going to start your new year, your new decade off with a bang. Tana and I are going to do a six week live class, so starting January 21st, every Tuesday we're going to be with you for an hour, and at the end we're going to give away over $20,000 in prizes. We look forward to helping you kick off this new year by becoming brain health revolutionaries.
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 Brain MD, 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: Welcome back. We are here with our friend, integrative neurologist, David Perlmutter. His brand new book Brainwash is out everywhere to help you make better decisions, how to really implement what you've learned from his other books and from our books, how to put it in your life day to day. In this podcast, we're going to talk about detoxifying your mind. Just like when you go on a detox diet to flush out the toxins in your body and cleanse your organs, it's also helpful to flush out the toxins from your mind. For me, it just triggered toxic people, because people are contagious. Toxic digital-
Tana Amen: News.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... the news, and you know, the news is not just the news, it's clickbait. I mean, I was watching-
Tana Amen: Bunch of soundbites [crosstalk 00:02:21].
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... the news this morning because there's all sorts of stuff going on in the world, and every headline was breaking news because they wanting to hook your amygdala. You had mentioned that in our first podcast, they want to get your fear center to put you into action before your prefrontal cortex can rein it in.
Tana Amen: Half the time, the story isn't what they say it's going to be, and I'm one of those people who starts yelling at the TV, so I realized early on I need to not watch the news. I grab the headlines, I turn it off.
Dr David Perlmutter: I cannot imagine what that looks like.
Dr. Daniel Amen: She yells at the TV, yes. Better the TV than me.
Dr David Perlmutter: Network.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Talk to us, David, about detoxifying your mind.
Dr David Perlmutter: There's a lot of discussion about toxins in our environment, you know, be they heavy metals or glyphosate in our food and antibiotics and all the various things. Particulate matter, for example, that we're exposed to happens to be associated increased risk of Alzheimer's, but I think the major toxins that don't get the attention that they absolutely deserve are ones that you just alluded to, and that is these toxins that infiltrate our brains to put us in a sense of fear and to lock us into more primitive brain function.
Dr David Perlmutter: You mentioned the amygdala, for example. An area that has a role to play in impulsivity, in narcissism, in shortsighted thinking, and really an area that fosters an us versus them mentality. We don't need that anymore. We need to recognize that the them are on the same ride that we are on and we need to embrace the them, whoever the them might be. We need to distance ourselves from this type of thinking, and as such, reconnect to higher order brain thinking as we talked about prefrontal cortex-
Tana Amen: I like that.
Dr David Perlmutter: ... and that is bringing the prefrontal cortex back online, re-establishing connection, offsetting what we talk about in Brainwash, disconnection syndrome. What these toxins are, are for example, our digital experiences. We know that, by and large, we are subjected to a hacking every moment that we are online by ads that pop up, by the next YouTube video that happens to interestingly be quite similar to what we just watched that had been manipulated through artificial intelligence to gain our attention through the clickbait, Dan, that you have mentioned, et cetera. Things that take us down a rabbit hole of mindlessness.
Dr David Perlmutter: We developed in Brainwash an acronym. I know you guys love acronyms. We call it the test of TIME, T-I-M-E. T, how much time are you willing to dedicate for whatever the online adventure you want to pursue? You're writing a book, whatever you want to do, trying to reconnect with your friends from high school. How much time today am I going to spend doing that task? I, is it intentional? What is my goal. What am I trying to accomplish. M, am I mindful during the experience? Am I aware of what's going on or am I suddenly drawn away by misleading thought or something that captivates me, much as what happens during meditation, for example. We know when we meditate, we try to stay in a certain place, but we have intrusive thoughts and we gently and lovingly bring ourselves back. That same sort of mindfulness needs to be brought to our digital experiences.
Dr David Perlmutter: Finally, E. T-I-M-E. Is it enriching? Are you net positive when it's all said and done, or when it's all said and done was that wasted time? Were you taken away to be manipulated, basically? You know, to be clear, we're not anti-technology. I write my books based upon an unlimited access to information. The internet has been a powerful tool to democratize knowledge globally, pretty much, for people who have access to it. We're absolutely not anti-technology, but it's to use technology as a powerful resource, not to, as was said in 1921 by Christian Lange, Nobel prize winner, "Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master." So, we've got to use technology and not be abused by it, not let technology and those people who are tinkering with it be the master puppeteers of our attention, and ultimately where we spend our money and spend our time.
Tana Amen: You know, it's so interesting. We had just done a podcast about the dangers of social media and the internet for children, and it was a really great podcast. I think we have this tendency to think, well, as adults, especially if you're adults who know the problems that this can cause, know the adverse effects, we won't be subjected to that. I have to tell you how sneaky it is. It was not even a week after that that I was doing Christmas shopping. I hate shopping, so I was doing Christmas shopping online, and all of the sudden something caught my attention and I end up on Instagram, and within five minutes I'm going, "Wait, why does that woman who's my age look like that and I don't-" And I go down this complete rabbit hole of nonsense, complete useless waste of my time. Now, fortunately, because of what we do-
Dr David Perlmutter: That is a powerful tool right there. What you just characterized is a very powerful tool that creates problem and solution. Problem is, generally, you don't measure up.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr David Perlmutter: You're not thin enough, pretty enough, I'm not strong enough, rich enough, tall enough, you name it, and here's the solution.
Tana Amen: Right, and I thought I was immune to it.
Dr David Perlmutter: Exactly right.
Tana Amen: So, yeah.
Dr David Perlmutter: That's a powerful tool, always has been in marketing, problem and solution based, and just one of the many tools that is used in our digital worlds and beyond to make us fear that we're deficient in some area, and here is the quick way to fix that. You know, it's seductive and it's addictive. We talk about addictions, and generally people think that, you know, to be compromised by an addiction, you have to have a needle hanging out of your arm. Well, people can be absolutely compromised by their addiction to internet time, their addiction to online shopping. There are a lot of things these days that can ultimately form addictions that can be profoundly maladaptive to an individual in terms of his or her happiness, his or her availability to participate in life, and ultimately fostering discontent.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr David Perlmutter: The way that we are hacked into is, these are quick avenues for us to think that we're going to be content. But, content means having enough, and if you're constantly trying to feed that, you know, chase the dragon of to feel content by buying these things and doing these things that you're seeing, for example, online, you are by definition not content, nor will you ever be content, and you're locking yourself into the amygdala because you are locking yourself into impulsivity. To get back to the original question, that's a powerful, powerful, immediate toxin that is rewiring our brains, and that was one of our major goals in Brainwash is to call it out as a toxin and then to provide the tools for detox.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You know, I want to just go back to I'm not enough, because I think that is driving the epidemic rise in teenage suicide, especially among girls, is because of social media and exactly the path that you described. Now, you know, with your intelligence and your experience, you could override it.
Tana Amen: More life experience than anything.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You could override it. But, imagine this happening to a developing brain that is vulnerable and lonely. According to a new study in the United Kingdom, 90% of the young adults said that they had loneliness issues. They actually created a minister of loneliness. It's, if they're lonely and then they feel less than, they're more likely to feel hopeless and helpless.
Tana Amen: Well, and you have to know, like, I love your description of the evil ruler because you have to understand, like, you can be doing something as innocent as last minute Christmas shopping, and the next thing you know that clickbait is there. They know what they're doing. This is-
Dr. Daniel Amen: And they have your history.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So they know-
Tana Amen: They have your entire history.
Dr David Perlmutter: Oh yeah, no question.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... that you may be vulnerable to that issue.
Tana Amen: Right, and the next thing you know, that pops up on your, so this is, it's not an innocent thing that's happening. It's an intentional thing that's happening, so we have to be equally intentional.
Dr David Perlmutter: Oh, it is aggressive and it is the evil ruler. You know, a couple things you said, "Well I," and I think you meant me, "I am able to override it." That was the words that you used. Override means, what? It means bringing online the prefrontal cortex to bring the adult back into the room to make a better decision. Well, plenty of adults cannot override because they suffer from disconnection syndrome. They suffer from disconnection of the prefrontal cortex's ability to do exactly that, to override, and they're basically functioning from an amygdala level.
Tana Amen: The primitive.
Dr David Perlmutter: That functionality is enhanced by not enough restorative sleep, not enough nature exposure, not eating the low inflammation foods that you've talked about for years, and by the things that happen on our digital experience. As you well point out, you know, young girls are suffering from what has now been called Snapchat dysmorphia, meaning that their perceptions of their looks are profoundly influenced by the ideal characterizations that they are seeing based upon what they see on Snapchat or Instagram or whatever the platform is, to the extent that there's been this incredible upsurge in plastic surgery to make people look like they want to look on social media or what they think they should look like on social media.
Dr David Perlmutter: You know, what does that say? We talk about contentment. That is a glaring example of being discontent, of discontent, you're not content with your looks, and we've got to really do what we can, A, to call it out and, B, to provide those tools then to allow people to regain a sense of contentment. To stop the comparisons. To realize that whomever you're looking at on social media, that truly when you get down to it, their lives are not what they are portrayed to be on [crosstalk 00:13:27].
Tana Amen: And, they don't look like that. I told my daughter, supermodels don't look like supermodels. They're all photo-shopped.
Dr. Daniel Amen: All right, when we come back, we're going to talk about eating your way to better brain health. David has been studying this for a very long time. Stay with us.
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