When You Stop Learning, Your Brain Starts Dying

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

In part 3 of a 12-part series on Memory Rescue, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen dig into the next memory health risk factor from BRIGHT MINDS: Retirement & Aging.


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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast, I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: 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 brainMD, 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.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back, you're listening to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. This is lesson three of memory rescue, where we are talking about the 11 major risk factors that steal your mind. In the last episode we talked about blood flow, you thought I was obsessed with sex-

Tana Amen: I don't think it.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's not going away, the obsession stays.

Tana Amen: I don't think it, I'm very clear.

Dr. Daniel Amen: In this lesson we're gonna talk about retirement and aging.

Tana Amen: I'm like, how old are you anyways?

Dr. Daniel Amen: The R in bright minds. I'm very young.

Tana Amen: Apparently.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Very young.

Tana Amen: You keep reminding me about your genes. Your genetic testing, like-

Dr. Daniel Amen: In this one we're actually gonna talk about telomeres. Telomeres are the end caps-

Tana Amen: Yes, that's the test you keep reminding me about.

Dr. Daniel Amen: The end caps of your chromosomes, and as we age, they get shorter and shorter, but if you do the right things, you can actually lengthen them. I had mine tested-

Tana Amen: Yes, you can test to see how old yours. I don't even wanna have mine tested, because, having cancer, I already know, like, I don't even wanna deal with this, because-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, but I'm 14 years older than you, but physically I'm younger than you are.

Tana Amen: You aren't actually. Like, I do all the right things, but I don't even wanna hear it, because even if we're the same age, I don't wanna hear it. I just don't wanna hear it.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I'm 63, and when I had my telomeres tested it said my telomere age was 43. I did the little happy dance. I was so excited, so happy, but being married to you, and this is really important. If you have a partner who supports your health, it just makes it so much easier than if you have a partner that doesn't.

Now, if you have a partner that doesn't, make sure you find someone at church, or somebody at work, or one of your friends, to do this with.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You know, I mean, I did the happy dance because I love my wife. I love my children. I love my grandchildren. I love my mission. I love my life. I wanna keep it going, and the only way you're gonna keep it going, as you age, you actually have to be more serious about doing the right thing.

Tana Amen: I agree, and in all seriousness, I mean, I give you a hard time because you're, he is. He's a little adolescent once in a while, when he gets these tests back, but in all seriousness, yeah, no, I took a big hit. You take these tests and the first thing they ask you, have you ever had cancer. You get a big ding for those things.

Yeah, it drops or it increases your score rather. I do appreciate the fact, because I have to work harder than most people might have to just get a normal, to just feel good, to just be able to fight some of what I've already had to deal with. Having a partner who lives that way, who supports my health habits, is critical for me. I would still do it, because that's just me and I'm kind of a brat, but makes it so much easier to have someone who really supports me in that journey.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, there are a lot of couples where there's an age difference.

Tana Amen: Oh my gosh, yeah.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Yes, cougars for women, but also women who marry older guys.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You want to support each other's health. We were at a basketball game with one of our friends, Bob Delaney who's the head of NBA referees and he has a younger wife and working with him on how to get healthy. He said, the one thing that sort of hit him between the eyes. I said, "You don't want to be doing all of this work to get your wife ready for the next guy."

Tana Amen: That's just mean. That's just mean.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Wow, but it's true. You obviously, I don't want to put stress on you by having to take care of someone who's cognitively impaired or more likely to be sick. The risk factors under retirement and aging. The older you are, the more likely you are to get dementia. That's no secret. When you stop learning, your brain actually starts dying.

Tana Amen: Right. It's sort of like the signal to the planet, alright we're done. Time to make room for the next generation and yeah, it's like this sort of process that happens.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. Even if you're in a job that does not require new learning, you increase your risk of getting dementia, or your retired and you're not engaging in new learning activities, whether it's a language ora a musical instrument, or traveling, where you have to learn new streets and new directions. If you watch too much television, that increases your risk, especially today. If it's MSNBC or Fox News.

Tana Amen: It's brainless.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's all the stress about the political divide, that's going to increase your risk of cognitive impairment. Being lonely or being socially isolated like your dad, who had become a recluse. That increases your risk as does having high ferritin levels. Ferritin is a measure of iron storage. When the iron storage in your bod is too high, it like promotes rusting.

Tana Amen: What about when it's low because that really makes you feel lousy too.

Dr. Daniel Amen: When it's low it's not good for you because-

Tana Amen: No it's terrible. You feel terrible.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You don't have energy. You have anemia. You can't focus.

Tana Amen: I take ferritin and it's like the Lazarus effect.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It promotes heart disease and it promotes brain disfunction.

Tana Amen: Right, you need to know that number.

Dr. Daniel Amen: How do you know? You get your ferritin level checked, a simple blood test. You engage in these 10 habits. Let's talk about the 10 habits to decrease retirement and aging, that risk factor, unless also talk about my grandmother, who was mean as a snake.

Tana Amen: I still remember what she said to me the first time I met her. You're Danny's next victim. It was hilarious. I'm like, what? I almost ran right then.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I was so in love with my grandfather and he was married to this woman that was just never nice to him. That just really upset me. I scanned her at 92. She got depressed after she had a diverticulitis attack and was in the hospital. Her singulagirus worked way to hard. Worried, rigid, inflexible, things don't go your way, you get upset. I put her on a medicine that increased serotonin in her brain. Now, I would have put her on a supplement to support serotonin. She just became the nicest person. It was really interesting. At 92 her brain was much healthier than most people's brains. It was busy.

Tana Amen: Which explains your mom.

Dr. Daniel Amen: One of the strategies that she used, which she's always doing crossword puzzles, and she knitted. Knitting or crocheting is a fine motor coordination exercise.

Tana Amen: My grandmother crocheted up until she died.

Dr. Daniel Amen: That activates the cerebellum that can actually help with cognitive functioning. I'm a huge fan of that. Alright, 10 strategies to reduce the risk for retirement and aging. Limit charred meats.

Tana Amen: People like barbecuing. They like that idea of barbecued chicken or grilled meat. You can get an indoor grill, like a grill for you cook top inside, and you will limit that charred effect and still get your grilled meat.

Dr. Daniel Amen: What's the problem with charred meat?

Tana Amen: Ages. A-G-E.

Dr. Daniel Amen: We're talking about retirement and that stands for advanced glycation end products.

Tana Amen: Right, which they actually age you.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It promotes aging.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It promotes wrinkles in your skin. The whole benefit of memory rescue, if you're vain like me, is you have prettier skin because your skin, largest organ in your body, is the health of your skin is an outside reflection of the health of your brain. Okay, so limit charred meats. Get your ferritin level checked. If your ferritin level is high, like mine has often been high, donate blood.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: When you donate blood, it decreases your ferritin levels.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: The other thing you can do is you can be bled by leaches. They are outside the spice market in Istanbul when we went to visit a couple of years ago, and they actually had these big jars of leaches.

Tana Amen: I actually felt like I was back in the trauma unit. We used leach therapy. I though they were joking when I started working there, when they told me it was my day to learn leach therapy. I'm like, what? We are not in the 1700s. Why am I learning leach therapy? They use it to increase blood flow. I'm like, what are we talking about? It's crazy.

Dr. Daniel Amen: We're not doing leaches. Donate blood if your ferritin levels are high. Try a daily 12 to 16 hour fast. I try to do this most days because what they found is fasting helps to decrease the beta amyloid plaque formation thought to be one of the causes of Alzheimers disease. Now, this is not hard and you won't feel deprived if you eat dinner at 7:00 at night. Don't eat until 7:00 the next morning, or if you can push it to 11:00 it's probably better for you.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Cloves, they're super antioxidant.

Tana Amen: They're yummy and they're good.

Dr. Daniel Amen: They are the most potent. They have the most potent ORAC value, which is just the value of antioxidant potential. Cloves.

Tana Amen: There's a lot of people who don't know how to cook with some of the things we're talking about. Believe it or not, at night I do tea every night. My favorite tea is sleepy tea. It helps relax me before bed and whatever. It tastes delicious. In my tea, I will often ground up some, I'll just shave up some fresh ginger. I'll put some cayenne pepper in there sometimes. I sort of switch off between what I do. I'll put cloves in there. I put saffron. I'll put a pinch of saffron in my tea.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, we got a lot of saffron in Turkey.

Tana Amen: You don't have to cook it necessarily. Put it in your tea or some hot water.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. Some of these spices are just amazing.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: There's this supplement I like, acetanilide carnitine, which increases mitochondrial energy.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: As we age, our mitochondria, the little power plants in our cells become old and weaker and not as strong.

Tana Amen: I know some people with mitochondrial disfunction, and that's one of the things that they end up.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Acetanilide carnitine can be really great. We actually have a supplement called brain and memory power boost that has ginko, then posotine, acetanilide carnitine, and some of the other supplements we'll talk about as we go along. Add acetyl choline rich foods. Acetyl choline is the nerve transmitter that works to help with memory and learning. Huperzine A is an acetyl choline supplement. It helps boost acetyl choline in the brain. That's also in brain and memory power boost. You can add acetyl choline rich foods like shrimp. Shrimp is loaded with it. You want steak.

Tana Amen: Aren't eggs also?

Dr. Daniel Amen: Eggs are as well. You want to stay connected because loneliness is a risk factor, so going to church, volunteering.

Tana Amen: Lots of people write in to me and say, well I don't have family. I live alone. I don't have any family where I'm at. Churches, synagogues, like any sort of small groups related to those types of organizations are so good for if you are alone.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, and if church isn't your thing, then volunteering at The Red Cross or volunteering at the hospital.

Tana Amen: The hospital.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Look for ways to be connected.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: A lot of people don't want to be connected to their families, because they've been hurt or they don't have family.

Tana Amen: One of my dear friends who I just adore her, but she lost her daughter in a drunk driving accident, and she not only has started an organization, she actually speaks now and she has a ministry speaking, and that's the way she healed, was to go out and teach and speak to mothers who were in the same position. She also is part of a mentoring group, sort of like Big Brother, that type of a thing. Only, she mentors young girls who are in foster care or who have been removed from their homes and she is able to mentor them, so that they stay on track and go on to have a good life. Just do something that's meaningful in your life.

Dr. Daniel Amen: We are not polar bears.

Tana Amen: No.

Dr. Daniel Amen: If you were a polar bear, it doesn't matter.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Human beings are meant to be connected. The more connected we are, with healthy people, the more likely we are to have sharp brains.

Tana Amen: There's no better way to feel better than to help someone.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Music training has also been shown to be really helpful. We're actually coming out with a music album, bright minds coming out I think it's early November, late October, because listening to music and learning to play music has been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus that seahorse shaped structure.

Tana Amen: I have to tell you something. This is really interesting, because you know Chloe our daughter, is taking, she's actually we're producing right now her first song. I'm so excited. It's amazing. She has some pretty cool coaches. Roger Love is her voice coach and then we've got a song writing coach Drew Lawrence. She's got, she's doing keyboards and guitar and all this stuff. They're producing her song. He started a new program because he's had so many requests. It's amazing. These high level executives started flying in. He started this program. They're finding it helps them with their creativity and decreases their stress level. They're going to him to learn.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Playing music?

Tana Amen: Yes, learning how to play and write, so song writing. Like what Chloe does only he's doing it at an executive level because they find that not only does it increase their creativity, it decreases the stress because those are very high stress jobs. Crazy right? I thought that was really cool.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It increases the size of your hippocampus and you want to have hippocampal envy. Then, one of the most important things under retirement and aging is started daily practice of learning something new every day. New learning is absolutely critical to keeping your brain healthy.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Decrease the television. Turn on a new learning program, music, a new hobby, traveling, a language, something to get your brain working. Now, a lot of people go, oh well I do crossword puzzles and that's why I keep my brain, or that's how I keep my brain strong. I've always thought if you just do crossword puzzles, it's like going to the gym doing right bicep curls and then leaving. It's only working out one side of your brain. You want to do multiple things and in memory rescue, which you can reorder, go to memoryrescue.com, that it will help you give you all sorts of ideas on what are great new learning activities.

Tana Amen: There's all sorts of fun things you can do. Think of something that you've always wanted to do, like I can't just continue, like you said, continue to take nutrition classes. That sort of doesn't stimulate that new part of my brain. I love doing that, but I need to do something else. I started taking survival classes and going to the range and doing like things that are sort of outside of your box, outside of your comfort zone. It's really fun to do, and it really stimulates that growth and keeps you thinking about new things all the time. It's really fun.

Dr. Daniel Amen: That's how you keep your brain young. It's a very important part of memory rescue. Stay with us. Coming up we're going to talk about inflammation, the fire in your body you need to put out.

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