Transcript for Episode 142 – Dr. Daniel Amen – Diet, Nutrition, Brain Imaging, Defeating Depression

welcome to the human experience podcast

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strangers thank you for listening ladies

and gentlemen welcome we have got an

incredible program planned for this


tonight we’re gonna be speaking to dr.

daniel amon and his work is

world-renowned he has been working in

the study of healing the brain scanning

the brain for many years yesterday we

looked at the psychology of anxiety

panic attacks and depression so today

we’ll look at the neuroscience of this

and see what we can unwrap this is gonna

be a show that you want to hear until

the very end so sit back grab a drink

and enjoy this conversation the human

experiences in session my name is Xavier

katana my guest for today is dr. Daniel

almond dr. Amin is an expert on brain

health who has made his life’s work

merging the disciplines of psychiatry

and neuroscience to better understand

how our brains work dr. Ayman is a

double board certified psychiatrist he

is a 10 time New York Times bestselling

author he’s widely regarded as the

foremost expert in brain scanning he’s

scanned roughly a hundred thousand

brains in his career Discover Magazine

named his brain imaging work as

one of the top 20 stories in science in


Washington Post calls him the most

popular psychiatrist in America he has

been featured on media outlets such as

dr. Phil Larry King

Time magazine Newsweek the BBC and now

we were welcoming him onto the human


dr. Raymond it’s such a pleasure thank

you so much for making the time sir

welcome to hxp thank you so much for

having me I am grateful to have you help

me spread the message of brain health

yes sir that’s that’s what it’s all

about that’s why we’re here right so you

know I really want to get into your book

and I want to talk about the brain but

let’s let’s start let’s preface this

conversation with a little bit of an

introduction about you know who you are

and what you do for anyone that might

not know that already so I am oh my

goodness when you go I am what does that

mean I’m a father I’m a grandfather I’m

a psychiatrist I look at people’s brains

I fell in love with my own brain almost

30 years ago and since then we’ve

scanned we’ve done 160,000 scans on

people from 121 countries and it just

completely blew my mind that you know I

need to take care of the three pounds of

fat between my ears because if I don’t

my life won’t be as good as it could be

mm-hmm yes and you know I I wanted to

change this up a little bit because I

you know I think people go right into

your work in what you do but I kind of

want to talk a little bit about your

writing process and how that works for

you because I mean when I read that

you’ve written ten you know ten times

you’ve gotten this New York Times

bestselling author list you know how

does that process work how do you get

into you know writing so I was turned

down about by about the

d publishers early in my career and but

when I graduated from medical school I

had a book in me that I wanted to write

it’s actually being re-released in two

weeks called changer brain changer


and when I graduated from medical school

I wanted to be a really good

psychiatrist and a writer because I

found that I loved the process of

writing and even though it took me a

while to get started my first national

book was published in 1992 you know it’s

a matter of doing it and I write with a

pretty clear structure I always start

with you know so what’s the big idea and

then a table of contents and then I just

sort of build out the table of contents

with stories and important points to

make hmm it’s all wrapped around stories

because people don’t remember facts they

remember stories sure sure so you know

what is your story like how did you

decide to pursue this I mean there was

there was an early part of your life

where you were exposed to the two

disciplines that would later become you

know your career that of medical imaging

and psychiatry so how did that merge

together for you so I’m one of seven

children I have five sisters pray for me

oh it’s interesting growing up in my

family it’s a Lebanese family and I’m

the second son in a Lebanese family

which is a very interesting place to be

because the oldest son goes into the

family business the second son gets to

do whatever he wants so actually it was

a blessed place for me

or today I might be a grocer 1972 I

turned 18 and the Vietnam War was still

going on and I had a very low draft

number which

meant I was likely to be drafted so I

ended up joining so I could pick my job

I became an infantry medic where my love

of medicine was born but about a year

into it I realized two important things

about myself one is I don’t like being

shot at it’s just I’m not okay with that

and when you’re an infant traumatic

you’re a shot at a lot and oh I didn’t

like that and I didn’t like sleeping in

the mud so I got myself retrained as an

x-ray technician and that was pivotal

for me because our professors used to

say how do you know unless you look how

do you know unless you look and I got

out of the Army in 1975 and went

finished college went to medical school

and when I was a second-year medical

student someone I loved tried to kill

herself and I took her to see a

wonderful psychiatrist and I came to

realize if he helped her which he did it

wouldn’t just help her that ultimately

it would help her children and even her

grandchildren as they would be shaped by

someone who was happier and more stable

so I fell in love with psychiatry

because I realized it has the potential

to change generations of people but I

fell in love with the only medical

specialty that virtually never looks at

the organ it treats and that’s insane

and so it’s funny you know growing up my

dad had two favorite word’s

one was this Kent one was know

I found out you know as I became a

psychiatrist and people go well you

shouldn’t look at the brain it’s not

part of our training it’s not part of

our tradition we don’t do that well I

just felt myself going like

that’s crazy

I mean obviously is this Khayat rest’

the brain is my organ and in the late

1980s I started looking at the brain

with a study called quantitative EEG

looking electrical activity in the brain

and then

in 91 I went to my first lecture on

brain SPECT image SP ECT and SPECT looks

at blood flow and activity it looks at

how the brain works and from my first

scan I was hooked it’s like this gives

me more information to help my patients

it makes me a better doctor it decreased

stigma increased compliance and opened

up a whole world of brain health have a

book coming out next year in March

called the end of mental illness and I’m

originally excited about the book

because these things aren’t mental their

brain and if you don’t understand that

you hurt people get your brain right and

your mind will follow mm-hmm okay I love

everything that you said let’s let’s

rewind a little bit you mentioned SPECT

imaging what is brain SPECT imaging how

does it differ from other scanning

methods I mean there’s MRI fMRI PET

scans so how to suspect imaging

different from these other methods

suspect is a nuclear medicine study

litepad that looks at blood flow and

activity in the brain PET scans look at

glucose metabolism spec looks at blood

flow MRI and CT or structural scans they

look at what the physical structure of

the brain looks like so think of a car

engine analogy that an MRI is like

looking at what the engine actually

looks like SPECT or pet is looking at

the engine when it’s turned on and so

MRI of a dead person a brain MRI it’ll

just show the structure of the dead

brain but SPECT scan of a dead person

will show a big hole because there’s no

blood flow and no activity it’s

different than an fMRI fMRI also looks

at blood flow but the resolution of fMRI

is not very good where we’re actually

getting an inside

outlook rather than an fMRI is sort of

an outside-in look hmm okay it’s

fascinating I mean so so you’re able to

you know put someone in in this machine

and then have a real-time look at what’s

going on in their brain as they’re

thinking it you know as it’s happening

right and spec basically tells us three

things about every area of the brain is

it healthy is it under active or is it

over active and if you don’t have that

information I mean how do you really

treat people who have mental health

issues if you don’t know and so

unfortunately you know most mental

health professionals fly blind and and

I’m not okay with that mm-hmm okay so so

let’s get into the details then I mean

you know so what is a healthy person’s

brain look like under this imaging

versus someone with anxiety disorder or

melton mental illness or depression so

healthy is full even symmetrical

activity with the highest activity in an

area of the brain called the cerebellum

so the cerebellum is in the back bottom

part of your brain it’s about 10% of the

brain’s volume but it has about half of

the brains neurons and so we typically

see that is the most active part of the

brain on SPECT and for example people

have cerebellar problems or might not

think as quickly or process information

as quickly they may have more language

problems or more emotional problems

obviously every area of your brain is

healthy but the cerebellum is

particularly helped important and it’s

particularly important which is why

sports are such a good idea for children

because it helps them develop the

err cerebellum okay and not sports that

put them at risk for concussions that we

sort of have it backwards in this

society where we let children play for

tackle football or hit soccer balls with

their head or ride big horses we we need

to be more thoughtful in protecting

children’s brains yeah for sure so you

know I mean you’ve done over a hundred

and fifty thousand scans I think you

said that’s a tremendous amount of just

looking at the brain I mean was there a

feature that you noticed that was the

most common you know as far as

deficiency or ill health well I guess if

you asked me the single most important

lesson I learned sure and is that mild

traumatic brain injury ruins people’s

lives and nobody knows about it that

that car accident the fall off the roof

the concussion playing football

falling off a swing the damage it

potentially can do to the brain that

then starts a cascade of negative events

that really erode a person’s sense of

happiness and who they are it’s it’s

just something that stands out your

brain is soft about the consistency of

soft butter your skull is really hard

and has multiple sharp bony ridges

anything that damages your brain

basically damages your life your ability

to be a good dad or a good mom or to be

married to manage your money to be good

at school or good at work you know all

of those are brain functions and when

you heard it you hurt your ability to be

successful hmm yeah I mean um I wasn’t

gonna bring this up but you know just in

my personal life there is someone very

important to me that

you know she was walking at work she

fell she tripped she didn’t put her

hands out suffered a concussion and that

was about eight years ago and it it it

completely changed everything you know

that for her that she knew and she

struggled quite a lot you know through

that time of recovery but something I

noticed as well as that Western medicine

doesn’t seem to be up on concussions and

how to treat them do you agree

absolutely that we can do such a better

job and and we need to because if we

don’t so many people will continue to

suffer so okay so let’s let’s move

around a little bit let’s talk about you

know there was a TED talk that you did

and you talked about you know the most

important lessons from 83,000 brain

scans at the time that you thought you

had taken and you know you were looking

at illnesses such as a HD anxiety

depression and you were talking about

how you know there are multiple types of

this that 2-page patients with the same

diagnosis could have radically different

brain activity how does this work I mean

how is what does it look like how does

this manifest in the structures of the

brain yeah I love doing that TED talk

and it has almost 10 million views now

and you know one of the lessons is that

things like ad D and anxiety and

depression we’re just it’s it’s so funny

if you go to the pediatrician and you

say my child can’t concentrate they’re

distracted they’re disorganized they end

up on adderall or Ritalin and no one’s

ever looked at their brain and it’s sort

of a crapshoot on whether it’s going to

help them or not and what our imaging

work taught us was oh a T DS seven

different things

you need to know what type of a TD you

have or what type of anxiety or what

type of depression or what type of

addiction or even I wrote a book on

obesity you need to know what your brain

type is so that you can target the

treatment not to a group of symptoms but

to your brain mm-hmm I mean when we’re

talking about something you know as

wide-ranging as depression like when

someone is diagnosed with depression and

it seems like in modern Western medicine

the the sort of you know blanket thing

to do is throw a bunch of medications at

this person until one sort of lands

right so you know what are we seeing in

the brain happening when when you see

when you’re when you’re looking at

someone’s brain that is depressed or

suffers from depression what are we

seeing happening there well it’s not one

thing so often we’ll see they have low

activity in the left front side of the

brain so the left front side is the

happy side and if you damage it either

with trauma or there’s just low blood

flow to that side of the brain you’re

gonna struggle more with depression but

sometimes there’s too much activity in

that part of the brain and so to just

give everybody an SSRI serotonin drugs

calm down activity in the brain but what

if you’re starting with low activity

that’s just not a good idea so we

believe we should look at your brain

before we just start medicating give you

this give you that because we can often

make people worse hmm okay so you know I

mean what is something practical that we

can do that we can apply for you know

someone suffering from anxiety from

panic disorder from depression from

depression you know what is something

that they can do actively in your

experience so many things I mean they’re

just so many things

head-to-head against antidepressants

exercise has been shown to be equally

effective the first thing you should do

if you’re depressed is go for a long

walk and Hippocrates said this 400bc and

if you’re still depressed go for another


so people who look like they’re late 45

minutes four times a week have the same

response as people who take Prozac over

12 weeks so exercise learn not to

believe every stupid thing you think we

call it killing the ants the automatic

negative thoughts then still your

happiness cognitive behavior therapy and

studies head-to-head against

antidepressants have been shown to be

equally effective omega-3 fatty acids in

a study from New Zealand was actually

found to be more effective than Prozac

so if you’re struggling with your mood

exercise cognitive therapy don’t believe

every stupid thing you think and omega-3

fatty acids well that’s sort of a simple

place to start you also want to make

sure to get your important health

numbers checked because low thyroid low

testosterone high C reactive protein a

measure of inflammation low omega-3

index all of those can be associated

with depression and so that’s why in the

end of mental illness I talked about get

your brain right your mind will follow

but that’s the first thing to do and

think of it like hardware and software

hmm is that you you wouldn’t want to fix

the software on a computer that has

hardware problems

it first thing you want to fix is the

hardware to make sure the CPU works

right that there’s enough RAM and if you

don’t fix the actual physical

functioning of the brain there’s no

amount of software programming that’s

going to make it work and so too often

people go to psychotherapy or marital

therapy or

group therapy and it doesn’t work for

them and they and they get demoralized

because it’s like well it’s helping

other people why isn’t and helping me

and it’s because we’re starting in the

wrong place is that we should start by

optimizing the physical functioning of

you know I I love what you’re saying I

love the note on exercise that seems so

poignant you know just go for a walk

it’s so simple to you know just do that

but you know I’ve I’ve struggled from

from anxiety in my life and and panic

attacks and I mean I don’t think I know

anyone that hasn’t struggled with that

in some way or some regards so I mean

let’s let’s say you know let’s just put

ourselves in that moment you know if we

go back in our memories what would you

what would your diagnosis be dr. Ayman

like I’m having a panic attack what is

the first thing that I should do in the

middle of a panic attack so let me give

you six things to do before you do

medication okay the first thing if

you’re starting to have anxiety somebody

should check your thyroid someone should

also check your blood sugar because

hypoglycemia or high thyroid can clearly

trigger anxiety issues so we need to

make sure it’s not a physical thing and

those things are easy to have your

family doctor do the second thing is

don’t leave a situation where you’re

anxious because if you leave the anxiety

will start to control you instead

breathe and breathe in a very specific

pattern three seconds and six seconds

out do that ten times I mean it’ll take

you like a minute but if you can take

twice as long to breathe out as you

breathe in and really slow your

breathing down it triggers an automatic

parasympathetic relaxation response

in your body the fourth thing is write

down what you’re thinking

just to evaluate whether or not it’s

true so I had an interview on CNN it was

my first one on national television was

1989 and I’m sitting in the greenroom in

LA and I had a panic attack my heart

started beating out of my chest I

couldn’t catch my breath I desperately

just wanted to leave the the situation

and then you know thankfully you know

I’m a double board certified

psychiatrist I started laughing and I’m

like you treat people I have this

problem what do you tell them to leave

breathe write down your thoughts and so

I wrote down my automatic thoughts my

first one is you’re going to forget your

name now I’ve been on television my

shows on public television run a hundred

and ten thousand times across North

America and Everett them on TV nobody

ever asked me my name they always know

it because you know they can put the

little Chiron under Neath my picture

but that’s just such a horrible thought

the next thought I had is you’re gonna

stutter and then I wrote down two

million people are gonna think you’re an


panic attack I mean these are thoughts

that make anybody anxious and so I

corrected those thoughts you know I’m

not gonna forget my name and if I do I

have my driver’s license in my wallet so

that isn’t gonna happen I probably won’t

stutter but if I do they’ll be

stutterers listening to me they will

have a doctor they can relate to and

with the two million people think you’re

an idiot I wrote probably so but right

next to it I wrote these three letters

are these three numbers eighteen forty

sixty which is a rule I teach my

patients that says when you’re 18 you

worry about what everybody’s thinking of

you when you’re 40 you don’t give a damn

what anybody thinks about you and when

you’re 60 you realize no one’s

been thinking about you at all people

spend their days worrying and thinking

about themselves not you and so you know

I was able to calm myself down and then

do okay intelligence since then I become

pretty good at it

hypnosis and meditation are so helpful

for anxiety disorders when I was

hypnotized the first time in medical

school it just was like this warm

peaceful feeling washed over me and so I

became a master hypnotist which you know

I often don’t talk about now cuz you

know I’m more famous for my brain

imaging work and but I love it I think

it’s so powerful to hypnosis self

hypnosis meditation to calm your anxiety

centers down since the scale they should

teach in second grade and if all of

those things don’t work magnesium gap

theame all can work to calm your anxiety

and you’re never gonna be addicted to

him so all six of these things will

never hurt you

there’s science that shows they will

help you and we can’t say that about

medication which unfortunately people go

to their family doctor and in a seven

minute office visit end up with a

sleeping pill something for depression

and something for anxiety and they don’t

know once you start them they actually

may be hard to stop yeah and I’m not

opposed to medication and I prescribe it

what I’m opposed to is that’s the first

and only thing you do yeah I love the

practical tips I mean I those are so

usable I love you know the aspect of

when in the middle of an anxiety attack

don’t leave because you know then as you

said the anxiety tends to control your

behavior and then you then whenever you

have an anxiety attack you’re running

out of the room you know it’s just not

practical so you know focusing on the


and writing things down you know I never

really thought of that you know just

just sitting down and writing down you

know what I’m thinking in that moment

they think that’s really helpful um I

want to ask you know what your thoughts

are about the I mean I run a media

company and so we we study this you know

we study the attention span of human

beings you know like that’s what we’re

looking at and what I’ve noticed is that

the attention span of most people has I

don’t know what to call it really other

than like the evolution or just

decreased or you know because we’re so

hooked on to our devices and the next

thing and the next thing and the next

thing and you know what’s going on in

the brain there’s that’s something with

the prefrontal cortex I mean is this

something that could be considered a

disability so a DD has more than

quadrupled in our society since I

graduated from medical school and I mean

a DD is real it’s a genetic disorder you

got it from your mom or dad but but it

doesn’t skyrocket like that unless

something is going on in our society and

it’s the nonstop fast information that

is wearing out our pleasure centers

together with the gadgets in the video

games for kids that is really driving

them to require more and more excitement

in order to pay attention to anything at

all and that is really problematic for

our society we need to decrease the

amount of screen time that children have

along with feeding them better since the

1980s sugar has gone way up in our

society which decreases your attention

span because you got a sugar burst and

then your pancreas sees it and produces

insulin and it’ll drop you’ll become

hypoglycemic which your brain then turns

to mine hmm

so so decreasing screen time just flat

out you know like I have this own

process for myself where I mean I’m in

front of most of us I think are in front

of computers you know most of the day I

think for our jobs I you know I’m in

front of a computer screen most of the

time and so one day a week I will just

have an O screen day where you know I’m

not in front of a computer and I have a

very minimal attachment to my phone so

you recommend this this is you know

something that you you suggest that we

do yeah the more you do it the better it

is for your brain otherwise you know

every time your phone buzzes you get a

little dopamine hit and your basal

ganglia and it’s like oh I’m paying

attention but but the more that happens

the more it actually wears out your

pleasure centers so pretty soon you’re

not gonna be feeling anything at all and

you know I think the more time children

spend with screens the harder it is for

them to pay attention okay dr. Amy I’m

moving a little bit quick I hope you

don’t mind this you know I I want to

talk about relationships I want to talk

about what’s happening in the brain when

you know you you diagnose someone with

like love you know I’ve heard heard this

old rumor about how there was a brain

imaging scan done on someone in love and

then someone with I don’t know like

schizophrenia and the imaging results

were very similar is is there any basis

or truth to that Helen Fisher at Rutgers

actually did a number of studies and

I’ve done some individual people who

just fell in love and it looks like a

new head of cocaine it lights up their

basal ganglia just where their pleasure

centers are and people if you remember

the last time you were in love for your

you fell in love so new love is cocaine

that you know you became a little bit

obsessed you couldn’t sleep all you

thought about was the other person that

this would loop in your brain and that’s

the sort of thing that happens when

people are on cocaine but then over time

love changes to heroin and where

whenever you you know when I’m with my

wife I get this warm pleasurable feeling

and I just I feel comfortable and so

love is a drug and that’s why kids who

have a Dede their attention span is just

fine in classes or teachers they love

but for regular routine everyday things

homework school school or paperwork

chores they can’t pay attention at all

you know there was a question that came

in and we were asked quite a bit about

this yeah while we were talking about

when we were promoting the show before

you came on you know what is in

spiritual communities and people talk a

lot about the pineal gland and I mean I

want to know more you know what have you

discovered about the pineal gland is it

the source of anything that you can

determine spiritually it’s about the

pineal gland yes

so yes it’s really important and is also

it’s involved with your circadian rhythm

and melatonin and it’s a very important

part of the brain that you don’t want to

damage and head trauma actually

condemning it which can really upset

someone’s rhythm and sleep is

calcification of the pineal gland and

actual thing or is that just a rumor

you know I didn’t hear you say that a

gall cific ation people talk about you

know fluoride and this calcification

process that happens with the pineal

gland rendering it less active

notification sure tio X I see sure yeah

you know it’s a problem with every part

of your brain

and fluorides an interesting discussion

because some of my colleagues think it’s

toxic you know that it becomes at and

the whole population is loaded with

fluoride okay can you go on please I

mean so should we be avoiding fluoride

it seems like there are two different

you know spectrums of thought on this

completely and and it seems like you

know most people are deciding to avoid

it yeah I don’t think it’s been proven

safe and in my mind if something’s not

been proven safe you should avoid it as

opposed to what a lot of companies will

say it’s not been proven to be toxic and

i know joe mercola writes about that a

lot in my work especially in my book

memory rescue I came up with a mnemonic

I love called bright minds so if you

want to keep your brain healthy or

rescue it if it’s headed to the dark

place you have to prevent or treat the

11 major risk factors that steal your

mind and we know what they are and so I

created a mnemonic called bright minds

and the T in bright mine stands for

toxins and it’s just critical we live in

a toxic society and it’s not just

gadgets and toxic news its lead and

mercury and fluoride and cadmium and

arsenic and did you know 60% of the

lipstick sold in the United States has

led in it so you just imagine what’s

happening to these women as they absorb

because whatever you put on your skin

goes in your skin right your skin is a

porous organ and it’s just horrifying to

me there’s an app that people can

download for free called think dirty and

it’ll let you scan all of your personal

products to

see you know is what’s in him helping

you were hurting you and so for example

soft soap on a scale of one to ten ten

being bad was it ten and that was the

bath soap I was using the body wash I

was using before I got smart and now use

something called Alafia that I get off

of Amazon he made four code that’s it –

and people go but that’s more expensive

and I’m like one totally worth it do you

think being sick is expensive being sick

is expensive or the Barbasol I used to

shave with was a ten from the time I was

you know 15 to 60 and now I get

something called kiss my face which is

actually cheaper because it lasts ten

times longer and it’s a – mm-hmm so why

do I that I do it because I love myself

and I pay attention to the toxic world

that we’re living in and I grew up in LA

in the San Fernando Valley and I

remember we couldn’t go play outside

because of smog days that when you

breathe you get particulate matter in

your lungs and it would hurt and you

know so that meant I spent the first 18

years of my life around air pollution

and that’s a bad thing in there studies

showing air pollution is associated with

dementia and with accelerated aging and

I’m not okay with well if you’re

concerned about toxicity mm-hmm it’s my

five-point plan decrease your exposure

as much as possible so I live in Newport

Beach the air quality here is so much

better and then support the four organs

of detoxification your kidneys drink

more water but be careful of plastic


your god eat more fiber because fiber

helps to detoxify your system liver stop

drinking alcohol alcohol is not a health

food and it’s just not good for you it

actually increases the risk of seven

different kinds of cancer and can upset

your microbiome the bugs in your gut and

then sweat with either exercise or

infrared saunas there’s research that

shows people who take the most saunas

have the lowest incidence of both

depression and Alzheimer’s disease hmm

so I mean there was a chapter in your

book where there was a patient you know

there was a relationship and the person

was very aggressive in that relationship

and there was a question that you posed

that perhaps you know he was just being

poisoned and the aggression symptoms

that he was showing was just a reaction

to these chemicals that were in his diet

so I mean you know what kind of diet do

you recommend there seems to be so many

different lines veins of thought you

know regarding this like meat is bad for

you some people think and so how do we

find a balance with our diet and what

we’re eating well just think two words

real food

something that we’s either grown and

healthy soil or was raised to eat from

healthy soil so I think of healthy food

as calories smart calories really do

matter people don’t want to believe it

but it’s true that is both nutritious

and delicious so think of colorful

fruits and vegetables healthy protein

and do not scrimp on fat now you want to

make it healthy fat avocados nuts and

seeds fish sustainably raised fish if

you make your diet think of a plate 70%

of it plant-based foods 30%

high-quality protein mixed in that a lot

of healthy fat that’s how we should be

eating at every meal sugar cereals in

the morning seriously I mean it’s a

weapon of mass destruction and you found

the cereal aisle so a whole aisle

dedicated to death look at the soda

aisle it’s a whole nother aisle

dedicated to death you know I mean when

you understand and I think 50% of the

mental health issues I see are related

to the bad food we then happy meals

aren’t happy but we are brainwashed as

this society coke comes out what’s cokes

slogan open happiness seriously not you

understand the science the science is

that is open illness or McDonald’s you

deserve a break today well is that

really what you’re gonna get when you

eat it McDonald’s it’s like no you

deserve illness it’s like no I don’t I

don’t want illness and I want us to be

thinking about what we what goes in our

body becomes our body and there’s a

study from Australia fascinating where

they looked at two outer islands one of

them had fast-food restaurants the other

one didn’t and what they did is they

looked at the omega-3 fatty acid levels

in the population and they looked at the

the amount of depression and what they

found the island with fast-food

restaurants had dramatically lower

omega-3 fatty acids in their blood and

five times the level of depression I

times the level of depression it’s the

food yeah wow it’s incredible I mean it

seems obvious but you know it hearing

you say it I think is is that you know

much more hitting I think it’s

important here you know someone of your

authority you know talking about this

and there was a question that came in in

the chat here Alisha asks you know what

supplements that can use that what do

you what supplements do you recommend

for you know healthy brain so I

recommend everybody take a multiple

vitamin just because we have vitamin

deficiencies in this country that are

outrageous everybody should take omega-3

fatty acids because we’re deficient in

them you should get your vitamin D level

checked and supplement with vitamin D if

it’s low and then I have a brain health

assessment for free people can take

online brain health assessment calm and

it’ll tell you which of your sixteen

brain types you have and then we

recommend supplements based on your type

so if you’re a spontaneous type you need

more dopamine and so we have supplements

to naturally raise dopamine if you’re a

persistent type you need more serotonin

and we have supplements that can help

that if you’re cautious or sensitive

type we have supplements targeted to

your brain rather than take this or take

that but I’m a huge believer multiple

vitamin fish oil vitamin D if you need

it and then directed toward your type

what about nootropics smart drugs it’s

interesting because if you have a TD

that something like adderall can

actually be really helpful for you and

I’m not opposed to it I’m opposed to

that’s the only thing you do but if you

don’t have a TD in fact it will actually

make you worse and it will disrupt brain

function there are other ones like

piracetam Jim and a drew afternoon


and and I would rather people really

work on getting their diet exercise

sleep right rather than rely on a

substance unless they’ve been able to

look at their brain and then oh it’s

like you have sleepy frontal lobes let’s

pop those up try first with supplements

and if those don’t work

we’ll use medication yeah and I agree

with you um let’s talk about the

mystical experience doctor even if if we

can you know the the good drugs

psychedelic drugs ayahuasca has been

used in their therapy therapeutic

sessions maps is using MDMA with PTSD

assisted therapy what’s your position on

those types of compounds and people well

it’s certainly getting a lot of

attention and what really concerns me is

the two big advances in psychiatry in

the last couple of years is legalizing

marijuana and using hallucinogens in

psychotherapy and there’s no mention of

looking at people’s brains and getting

their brains healthy so in my mind those

are way lower options so you know I

think of them as 12 to 20th options and

it’s like well let’s just do the simple

things first because we have evidence

that ketamine will hurt you if it’s not

the right thing for you that marijuana

increases the risk of anxiety depression

and suicide if you start using it as a

teenager that it disrupts white-matter

development in the brain and I did

before and after study on ibogaine which

is a hallucinogen used sometimes for

addiction and it completely made the

guy’s brain look worse

was and I was pretty irritated because

he was doing it for a documentary and I

had scanned him five times and his brain

was terrible when I first met him and

then it was better and then it was

better and then it was just freakin

perfect and but he wanted to do it for

the documentary and when I scanned him

as follow-up after ibogaine it disrupted

the progress that we had made so you

know I know a lot of people there’s a

book Michael Pollan wrote a book about

it and and and it’s like would you

really want to go there before you got

there diet right does that really make

any like logical sense to you it

certainly doesn’t to me so there’s I

mean there’s no magic bullet there’s no

magic pill that you can take it’s not

gonna be this instant process and

jumping into you know taking psychedelic

drugs to treat these underlying issues

and in your experience with the brain

scans they’re actually showing that that

the brain is worse food is sort of a

magic bullet in that my wife and I did

course so we have a university a manned

university if you like this stuff we

love teaching it and together she and I

did a 26-hour course over six months

called the brain warriors way based on a

book we wrote and we had 25,000 people

sign up the first week and the stories

of transformation throughout those six

months we taught the class we’re so

special from people not only losing a

lot of weight their anxiety brought 30

percent their pain levels dropped their

moods improved their sleep improved when

you learn to get your habits right in

that bright minds way that I discussed

your life

changes for the better and you know my

new book coming out next year called the

end of mental illness begins with a

revolution in brain health and so the

Magic Bullet habit if you will I worked

with a group at Stanford BJ Fogg and he

ran the persuasive tech lab at Stanford

he’s gone how people change and he said

generally they don’t make all the

changes at once they start with little

tiny habits and so he and I worked

together for six months on the tiny

habit for brain help and it’s so simple

and here it is whenever you come to a

decision point in your day so I’m gonna

go eat dinner soon whenever you come to

a decision point in your day all you

have to do is ask yourself this question

is it good for my brain or bad for it

mm-hmm it’s good for my brain or bad for

it and if you can answer that question

not out of habit but out of intelligence

and love you’ll do the right thing and

and I say love because you shouldn’t do

things right I’m not a fan of should and

must and ought to and have to I’m a fan

of I do the right thing because I love

myself I love my mission I love my wife

I love my four kids I love my five

grandkids I love the people I work with

I want to be here and I know the

statistics and they’re horrifying 50% of

people 85 and older will be diagnosed

with Alzheimer’s disease or another form

of dementia so if you’re blessed to live

to 85 you have a one in two chance you

have a 50% chance of having lost your

mind and that about you

Xavier but I’m not okay with that and

can’t be thinking about that when I’m 83

I need to be thinking about it when I’m

40 when I’m 50 when I’m 60 I need to

love my brain

because when I love my brain I love my

life and so the little tiny habit the

smallest thing you can do today that’ll

give you the biggest bang is go

throughout your day just ask yourself

it’s my behavior what of this decision

good for my brain or bad for it mm-hmm

it’s very simple it’s a very simple

question to ask yourself and then you

should get a very direct answer and then

if you’re still if you’re still fighting

that then you know that is something you

need to work on great so you know dr.

Damon I wanted to I want to ask you

about something that I learned about a

long time ago I’m wondering if I’m sure

you know about this what about binaural

beats or hemispheric synchronization

have you heard of this you know I didn’t

hear I’m sorry I know beats or

hemispheric synchronization yes

Hemi yeah like it I’ve been a fan of it

for almost 30 years on a concept called

entrainment yeah her brain picks up the

rhythm in the environment and when you

introduced me and you didn’t say that I

have three albums out uh-huh music

albums in warriors way bright minds for

memory rescue and feel better fast and

make it last and they have all been on

the billboards new-age charts our music

for bright minds forty four weeks in

fact in it was 2018

I was the number six Billboard artist of

the year in the new age category and we

have been creating music to optimize

brain function for years and we use

rhythm to help your brain be happier

less anxious more focused to help you


so there’s tracks on all of our albums

for those kinds of things because the

music you listen to matters you know can

directly impact

your brain mm-hmm and just to answer you

with the introduction I want I had to

shorten it down and you’re sure so

highly-acclaimed I think I had to had to

trim out some of it that was there okay

so Alicia has another question as far as

binaural beats go and hemispheric

synchronization can you apply this if

it’s only going into one ear if you’re

deaf in the other ear and I mean it does

it work with both ears well it’s not

going to work with both ears but the

rhythm you listen to is also impacting

your brain and so certain music will

make you happier will make you more

anxious will help you sleep or keep you

awake and so the quality and rhythm of

the music really does matter binaural

beats though need to go on both sides

mmm okay so it would not be effective if

it was just going on to one side correct

okay you know I want to get into I know

time is running short here but I want to

get into addictive behaviors addiction

and what that looks like under a brain

imaging scan and what your experience

with that is I mean can you talk about

different forms different levels of

addiction and and how we can you know be

better at recognizing that in our

behavior so I wrote a book with David

Smith who’s the founder of the

haight-ashbury free clinic called

unchain your brain wrecking the

addictions that steal your life and I’m

very proud of that book and what we

argue so you know you’re an addict when

you engage in behavior that gets you

into trouble and you do it again

it’s like you don’t learn that these

behaviors get you in trouble and your

relationships your money the law or your

health and what we discovered through

imaging is all addicts are not the same

they’re impulsive addicts often have a

TD they’re compulsive addicts

they’re sad addicts anxious pattex

addicts that occurred after a traumatic

brain injury and then all sorts of

combinations with that basic type and

the brain type tests that I talked about

it brain health assessment calm brain

health assessment calm you can actually

know what’s your type so that you can

target the treatment to the type you

know I just saw Brad Pitt came out and

said he went to AAA so that’s public

knowledge and and I was really proud of

them because I’m a huge fan of they eggs

as long as you don’t go to a meeting

where they’re poisoning you with donuts

and cake and you know bad coffee and so

on but it’s more complicated than that

it’s like well what’s the brain of an

addict look like and how can you heal

their brain to ultimately heal their

life yeah so much there it’s so much to

unpack with this this episode covered so

much I I’ve got a couple more questions

for you if you’re up for it doctor a man

dead I I want to ask you you know what

were what was some of the biggest

lessons I mean I know that you did one

of the world’s largest brain imaging

databases so I mean what were the main

things that you were seeing in in those

imaging scans well we talked about one

how mild traumatic brain injury ruins

people’s lives and nobody knows about it

protect your head you know I think the

biggest lesson and you know the most

important lesson that I talked about in

my TED talk is that you’re not stuck

with the brain you have that you can

make it better I can prove it and that’s

what drives me every day and I know if

my behavior is Right today my brain will

be better tomorrow

and if my behavior is not right today my

brain will not be as healthy tomorrow

and I just find that to be so hopeful

uplifting exciting

is that I can make this batter and even

if I’ve been bad to my brain so we

didn’t talk much about the work I do

with the NFL and I’ve scanned and

treated 300 NFL players and the level of

damage is really high

so stop lying about it it’s a brain

damaging profession don’t let your kids

play football I’m not kidding it

increases the risk of damage to their

life but 80% of my players get better in

as little as two months just by doing

the right things the right brain healthy

things the right supplements and so on

and and that’s the story I will talk

about and until I’m not around anymore

is you’re not stuck with the brain you

have you can make it better choose to do

the right thing because everything else

in your life will be better mm-hmm

yeah I love that you know doctor I just

want to give you a chance you know to

address the people while we’re here if

there’s anything that you want to tell

people maybe that are struggling with

depression anxiety panic just different

disorders you know what would you say to

someone that’s listening to the show and

in looking for you know something direct

so I would tell them go get my new book

feel better fast and make it last and I

know I talk about a lot of books but

there’s not one person who ever came to

me that wanted to feel better slowly and

so I went well what are the quickest

ways you can feel better while you’re

putting brain healthy habits into your

life and they’re just there’s so many

things but you know if you’re feeling

depressed I want you to start every day

when your feet hit the floor in the

morning go today is going to be a great

day and then your unconscious mind will

find why it’s going to be a great day

and it just sets you up for more success

and at the end of every day what I do is

when my head hits the pillow I say a

prayer and then I just go through my day

with this question

what went well today and it’s amazing

every night and I’ve been doing this for

years every night I’m surprised by the

awesome things that happened during my

day that I didn’t know about that I

didn’t remember consciously

and what that does is it actually sets

your dreams up to be more positive and

if you get more positive dreams it also

generally means more REM sleep your

brain’s gonna be cleaner and healthier

the next day which means when you say to

yourself today is going to be a great

day you’re actually going to be able to

make that happen

absolutely dr. Amy net I’m so happy to

have had you here on the show we’d love

to have you back you’re welcome back

anytime where can people go to you know

find your work your website so they can

listen to our podcast we’ve done 450 of

them is nexi called the brain Warriors

Way podcast brain warriors way podcast

calm or it can find it on Apple and


go to Amen Clinics comm to learn about

our clinical work or brainmd dot-com to

learn about our supplements and our

educational programs also Eamon

University I’m so grateful Xavier for

the opportunity that you offered so that

I could share my work with your audience

no that’s the pleasure’s all mine sir um

guys that’s gonna do it for us here dr.

demian hang tight while I just do this

close really quick guys thank you so

much for listening to this episode what

a phenomenal listen I mean so much

information that we covered and so much

for you to think about I mean I would

even recommend going back and listening

to this twice definitely check out you

know dr. Raymond’s work and and you know

find out for yourself you know what’s

going on with your your brain and what

you can do and need to do for yourself

to to make it better

we will be back next week with another

episode thank you so much for listening

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