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The Brain Warrior’s Way With Dr. Daniel Amen & Tana Amen

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Interview Summary:

  • 70% of our military candidates don’t qualify due to health issues
  • The news channels know that we pay more attention to the negative things
  • There are a lot of ways to get sick but one real way to get well
  • What’s god for your brain is also good for other organs
  • Fat organs become their own organ and produce inflammatory cytokines
  • Belly fat turns healthy testosterone into unhealthy estrogens that can cause cancer
  • Amen clinics scanned and treated 200 NFL players when the league was still in denial
  • UCLA study- gave rats a brain injury- ½ given a healthy diet and other with fructose were confused
  • In the 1960’s the sugar industry knew their product was harmful but they hired top scientists to write papers to demonize fat instead
  • ANTS- Automatic Negative Thoughts that invade your mind and drive you to make poor decisions
  • People with low levels of anxiety die earlier (study)

Interview Notes From the Show:

Pedram: Hey, we are back in studio. I am so happy to have my neighbors, the Amens, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen. You guys are at it again

Tana: We are at it again, yes.

– Oh my goodness, you write more books than anyone I know. We are local. We live, I don’t know, maybe 15 miles apart

– Yeah.

– Not even, 10-15 miles apart.

– Here in Orange County.

– Yeah, I’ve been in your studio once for I think it was Origins we filmed, right there. Your interview was in your studio. And now you’re here in my studio, so welcome.

– Yes, thank you.

– Thanks for having us.

Pedram: Yeah, yeah, great

– Yeah, this is great.

– I love this title. We were just talking offline before we got going, the Brain Warrior’s Way, and you know, and so there’s a book and a cookbook. This is like I’m actually lifting–

Tana: They’re heavy, right?

– I’m lifting weights right now. Yeah, this is serious. And so what is a brain warrior? I love the stance that you’re taking, because it’s not a weak one at all.

– Definitely not, this is not for everybody. I mean, we’ll come right out and tell you. You know, this isn’t for everybody. It’s not a two-week plan. It’s not a four-hour plan. It’s not to lose 10 pounds. It’s literally to change your life. And if you have ever been sick, or you have taken care of someone sick, you know it’s a war. So everywhere you go, I mean, someone’s trying to shove bad food down your throat that’ll kill you early. And tell ’em the stats on Alzheimer’s disease.

– Well, I mean, the more we do this, the more we work on trying to get people healthy, and I’ve been at it for decades, it’s a war. As you said, everywhere you go, someone’s trying to shove bad food down your throat that will kill you early. The real weapons of mass destruction are highly-processed, pesticide-sprayed, high glycemic, low-fiber food-like substances that are literally destroying the health of America. I was at the Pentagon yesterday, and–

Pedram: Yesterday?

Both: Yesterday.

Pedram: That’s far.

– The health of our society is a national security crisis.

– It’s crazy.

– 70% of the people who try to sign up for the armed forces are rejected because of their health, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, ADHD, depression, and these things are skyrocketing in our society. And I published two studies. At Amen clinics, we do brain imaging work, and I published two studies that show as your weight goes up, the actual physical size and function of your brain goes down, which should just scare the fat off anyone. But if you think about it, two-thirds of us are overweight. Brand new study, 40% of women are obese. It’s the biggest, brain-drain in the history of the United States. So if you’re not armed and prepared, so that’s what a brain warrior is. Someone who loves their brain, understand how important it is, and they know how to take care of it.

– Right.

– And this is a program around a word called mastery. We teach people how to develop mastery over their brain and body. So it starts with mindset. Are you a sheep, or are you a sheepdog? And we go deep into that concept. Assessment, can’t change what you don’t measure. Sustenance, which is food and supplements, and Tana wrote this gorgeous cookbook. Training, well, what are the things you do everyday? Essence, turning pain into purpose. I mean, this is really a purposeful program.

– Why is the world a better place because you breathe?

– R is responsibility. Because once you know this information, you have to share it. You have to create your own tribe, and why? This is years long. We’re so done with the 10-week program to get well forever.

– Oh come on, give me six hacks to fix everything, doc.

Tana: Right.

– Right? It’s exhausting.

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– It’s like know the truth.

– The truth is let’s develop habits that you can live in an abundant way for the rest of your life.

– Right, it doesn’t have to be miserable, and you and I share a love of martial arts. We’ve talked a little bit about that. So I’m a martial artist, and I love that. The first thing people say is “But this sounds really hard. “I don’t want to think about fighting and war.” Well, I don’t want to either, but if you’ve ever been sick, that’s the way it is. I was really sick for a long time. And it’s a war. You have to fight it. So I practice martial arts, in part, because it’s symbolic. It’s symbolic of overcoming. It’s symbolic of never giving up. You know, that’s the warrior message. And we were talking before we went on. My favorite quote in martial arts is “Master, why do you teach me to fight, “but you speak of peace?” And the Master replies, “Because it’s better “to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.” So you can be peaceful if you’re prepared. We want you to have the information and know what to do, because you’re less likely to get yourself in trouble. One of the first things that I learned in martial arts was don’t fight with people bigger than you right, so don’t fight with cancer and diabetes and all these things. Run really fast if you can. Stay away from it. So it’s preparation, awareness, avoidance, deflection. Right, you fight only when you have to.

– Well, sure, but the fight has almost come to our shores–

Tana: It’s you don’t have a choice.

– In so many places.

– It’s being pushed on you. So you have to be aware, and you’ve got to know what to do.

– And it’s not just food.

– Sure, it’s the cologne the guy in the elevator was wearing. It’s all of it, right.

– And it’s the news channels that know that you pay attention to negative things before you pay attention to positive things.

– Because it’s survival.

– So they pour that down our throat. And it’s literally pollution to our mind. It’s the gadgets that steal our attention span. According to a new study from Microsoft, the human attention span is now eight seconds. A goldfish is nine seconds. This is evolution going the wrong way. And we are just being bombarded. They did that same study 15 years ago. The human attention span then wasn’t very good. It was 12 seconds, but we have lost a quarter of our attention span in 15 years.

Pedram: Unbelievable.

– And it’s getting worse. And ADD, one of our specialties, has tripled in the last 25 years, and it’s about our habits that are literally assaulting the health of our brain. And Alzheimer’s disease, one of our other specialties, is expected to quadruple in the next 35 years. And there’s no cure on the horizon. But if you’re serious, we are absolutely convinced you can prevent it and even reverse it if it’s early enough by using the Brain Warrior’s Way. So we say, you know, with all these epidemic problems, the answer is not to see them as separate disorders but rather as different expressions of the same unhealthy lifestyle that have exactly the same cure.

– Right, so we like to say there’s a lot of ways to get sick, but there’s one real way to get well. Does that mean that everyone does the exact same thing? No, you tailor it to your numbers. We have to get your important numbers checked. But it’s still that same way that you get well. What’s good for your brain is good for your heart is good for your hormones, right. It’s not like different diets for every part of your body.

– Okay, so we’re talking about the walls caving in from a lot of areas. The standard American diet, let’s unpack this a little bit and talk about what specifically is causing the problems with the brain shrinking here. Like, how is, you know, the high-carb diet affecting my brain? Is it inflammation?

– Well, that’s part of it. Inflammation, sugar’s a disaster. As your blood sugar goes up, that’s a disaster. As your weight goes up, that’s a disaster. So just starting with sugar, which increases not only your blood sugar and causes diabetes and prediabetes. That makes your blood vessels brittle. So that’s just a nightmare for every organ in your body but especially your brain. As your weight goes up, and you get fatter, it makes your brain shrink, so that’s another problem.

– And the reason is fat cells are not innocuous. It actually becomes its own organ and produces something called inflammatory cytokines.

– So the inflammation you’re talking about.

– And so inflammation damages.

– It’s all connected.

– Plus, fat stores toxins. And so your toxic load in your body goes up. And the fat on your belly takes healthy testosterone, in men and women, and turns it into unhealthy cancer-promoting estrogen, which is just a disaster for you. So we’ve all seen, you know, there’s just way too many pregnant men in our society.

– Right.

– And it’s like dude, deliver the baby, because that belly fat in particular is more toxic. So yes, it’s sugar. Fascinating study from UCLA, so at Amen Clinics we did the big NFL study. So we scanned and treated 200 NFL players at a time when the NFL was lying they had a problem. And it was awful. Now through this program we talk about in Brain Warrior’s Way, 80% of our players showed improvement. But at UCLA, they did a study where they gave rats a head injury, and then half the group, healthy diet. The other half of the group, same diet plus fructose, which is fruit sugar, which is often added in packaged foods. The group of rats with the healthy diet could do the maze three weeks later after the head injury. The group with the fruit sugar couldn’t do the maze. They were confused. So think of all the kids on soccer fields, on football fields, playing gymnastics, that get head injuries, and what’s the big, orange tub on the side of a football field? It’s Gatorade. And what is Gatorade?

– Fructose, which makes you thirstier, by the way.

– It’s sugar water, it’s sugar water. So give them the standard American diet, the trauma that we’re subjecting our kids to, they’re not gonna be able to heal from it, and that ends up causing long-term problems in school, in relationships, at work, and puts them at risk for things like dementia at the end of their lives.

Tana: And we haven’t even gotten to things like hormone disruptors yet. So pesticides and other toxins in your food, cans that are lined with something called BPA or plastic bottles that leech, those types of things, they have hormone disruptors. So we’re seeing lots of problems with young girls going into puberty earlier or having problems with something called polycystic ovarian syndrome, where they have, you know, their cycles are not right, women going into menopause earlier and having problems with that, men having low testosterone. So infertility, lots of things going on that we didn’t have before we had the changes with our food supply. And so that’s a complicated question.

Pedram: It is a complicated question, but it’s a complicated war.

Daniel: But it’s a war. In the ’60s, and this just came out. The sugar industry knew–

Tana: This is terrible.

Daniel: Sugar was associated with heart disease, but they hired scientists from places like Stanford and Harvard to write review articles saying oh no, it’s not sugar.

Tana: They paid them.

Daniel: It’s the fat. And so fat was demonized.

Tana: They paid them.

Daniel: And the federal government got involved, and you know, it’s like oh, well, low-fat everything in the early ’80s, and you can see a direct correlation to taking fat out of food.

Tana: During that time, and adding sugar.

Daniel: Replacing it with sugar, and obesity just skyrocketed.

Tana: So I just want to say that one more time, ’cause it’s really important. So the sugar industry basically paid off scientists to demonize fat and say sugar was fine, ’cause that’s a big deal

Pedram: It is a big deal. That is a big deal, and you know, listen, if there was some sort of outside influence of this, if the Russians did this as part of the Cold War, it would be ingenious, because within two generations, it’s destroyed the fabric of America.

Tana: And that’s what’s happened, right.

Daniel: Well, and Putin actually just came out and said that. He said, “We are not gonna go with the West.”

Tana: ”Down the road you’ve gone.”

Daniel: “Because they have adulterated food.”

Tana: It was a great article.

Daniel: And the quality is awful. And so, you know, we think of them as the enemy, but in fact, we are the enemy of ourselves.

Tana: He actually went further and said he would improve their economy by growing organic food and feeding their country healthier. So, just sayin’.

Pedram: Just sayin’ Well, and that’s just it.

Daniel: We’re not movin’ to Russia. We’re gonna change the United States.

Tana: You thought I was just sayin’, right, but we all wonder why we have a broken food supply.

Pedram: But we have a broken everything, right. We have a broken economy. We have a broken healthcare system. We have a broken military, because no one can even, like, qualify for it. And everyone’s sitting here blaming each other. I mean, we did this call yesterday about how like racism is on the rise. Is it really the other races, or is it the everyday things that are collapsing our lives, where we just feel like we’re panicking, ’cause nothing’s working, right? And so if my brain is under stress, I can’t think clearly. I can’t make good decisions. I can’t say no to the pumpkin pie, although, you know, this part of my brain would tell me to do so. So how quickly can one start to turn this around? I’m like okay, I’m genuinely freaked out now.

Tana: That’s a great question.

Pedram: Right?

Tana: Yeah.

Daniel: So 10 days, it takes 10 days–

Tana: You’ll start to feel better.

Daniel: To change your taste buds. And people feel so much better. Now there’s two kinds of people, and we talk about this in the book.

Tana: There’s actually three, but–

Daniel: There’s the people like Nancy.

Tana: Oh, I’m sorry.

Daniel: Nancy’s one of the stories–

Tana: I thought you were talking about sheepdogs.

Daniel: In the book, and a couple of years ago, she bought my book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life in a used bookstore in England for 50 cents. And it laid around for a year. And then when she read it, she said it was riveting. So I liked that. But she said, “Oh, there’s too many things to do.”

Tana: She got overwhelmed.

Daniel: I’m just gonna do one thing at a time. Now she was obese. She was isolated. She was depressed. She had no friends, and she was getting ready to die. So she’s 80 years old. So she started drinking water, ’cause the brain is 80% water. So she starts drinking water, and she feels better. And she goes, “Well, I’ll do another thing.” So she started walking. And she’s like, “Well, I’m feeling better still.” And then she changed her diet. And then she added supplements. And then she added new learning. By the time she came to see us, so for her 83rd birthday present to herself, she came and got scanned. That’s when we met her. And she was learning three languages. She had dropped 73 pounds. So she did it slowly over a year and radically changed her life. And she came with a list of things she was doing, and I love that. Some people are like Nancy. Other people are like my dad. And he’s the last story in the book, but he got really sick a couple of years ago. And he would never listen to me, until he got really sick. And one day he said, “Danny, I’m sick of being sick. “What do you want me to do?” And I said, “Everything ’cause I don’t want to lose you.” And he’s so stubborn, he did everything.

Pedram: Everything, everything, yeah.

Daniel: Everything, everything, immediately.

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Tana: And did it all at once.

Daniel: And within–

Tana: He’s more rare, I would assume.

Daniel: Six months, he had lost 40 pounds. His energy soared. He started driving again. He’s back to work full-time. And we work out. You know, first it was like three pounds and then six pounds. And last Sunday, I counted up all the weights we lifted, 17,000 pounds.

Tana: This guy who was about to die.

Daniel: Unbelievable. And he’s 87.

Tana: So he was on the couch. He couldn’t move.

Daniel: He’s 87 years old. So it’s never too late.

Pedram: He’s back to work full-time? Did I hear that right?

Tana: Yes.

Daniel: Back to work full-time.

Pedram: That’s great, that’s great.

Tana: So it doesn’t matter which way you do it.

Daniel:So are you the one thing at a time person, awesome! Or are you I just want to do it.

Tana: Whatever works as long as you’re doing it. Just do it! Okay, start somewhere.

Pedram: But just go in the right direction.

Daniel: Pick what you want to do.

Tana: I thought you were going to talk about sheepdogs and wolves and sheep. That’s why I said three.

Daniel: No, but you can talk about that.

Tana: So we also talk about in the book that there are sheep, sheepdogs and wolves, and we took that from Lieutenant David Grossman, from his book. He writes about this. But it’s really interesting. And we equate that to being a brain warrior. So if you’re a wolf, like the food industry or some of the people that are benefiting and gaining from you becoming ill. We consider that a wolf. So that would be the wolf.

Daniel: So they target the weak.

Tana: They target the weak.

Daniel: They’re looking for the lonely. They are after the sick.

Tana: And they don’t really care, knowing the consequences.

Daniel: That’s what wolves do.

Tana: Whereas, the sheep, nothing inherently wrong with being a sheep, except they just follow other sheep. They just follow the flock. And they’ll walk, you know, they’ll just go right off a cliff, and then other sheep will just follow them, not paying attention. These are people who don’t want to be party-poopers. They don’t read labels. It’s just too hard. Just gonna go with the flow.

Daniel: They take the holidays off.

Tana: They take the holidays off. You know, there’s nothing wrong with being a sheep, except you got to be careful, ’cause you might become a lamb chop. So we want to be careful about being a sheep. And then there are sheepdogs. And sheepdogs are there to protect sheep. And they have the gift of aggression. So a sheepdog scares sheep, because they’ve got that gift of aggression. They look a lot like a wolf. So they’ve got those pointy teeth and the pointy nose, and they’re able to fight. But the difference is is that they’re there to protect versus to target.

Daniel: Well, and that’s what we think of the brain warriors. They are serious, purposeful, highly-trained, and we did a six-month class on the Brain Warrior’s Way. And over time, you could just see how people became serious. And one went to one of the big box stores, and she said, “I walked in, and I saw death, “covered in death.”

Tana: “And more death.”

Daniel: “In every corner, there was death.” And when you open your eyes, wherever you go, I mean, I was in the airport yesterday. 98% of the choices were bad.

Pedram: Are terrible choices.

Tana: Right, and you travel a lot. And it’s like you really have to hunt to find things, and here’s the shortcuts on food.

Daniel: You have to have a warrior mindset.

Tana: We want you to find foods that you love that love you back, ’cause so many people say, “Oh, well, I love doughnuts.” Well they don’t love you back.

Tana: Just like an abused woman. That’s like you’re in an abusive relationship, ’cause those foods will abuse you.

Daniel It’s beating the heck out of you.

Tana: And it’s changing your mindset to do things not because you should, but because you love yourself.

Pedram: So, so many people are so far removed from loving themselves. They don’t feel well enough. I mean, they’re struggling to get through their day. It’s three cups of coffee to get out of the house, fighting through to get to lunch. And that’s all a symptom of this very thing. And so it’s like they can’t see through the cloud to realize that there’s a way out. And so the steps that you can start taking to come out of that funk and to just gain, ’cause what I’m hearing about the Nancy story is that she kind of banked up a little bit of vitality.

Tana: Right.

Pedram: And she took that profit and then reinvested it into the next thing, and eventually she was a health millionaire, right.

Tana: That’s exactly what she did.

Pedram: But those first few steps, they seem like the longest mile, right. And so what have you guys seen in your clinical experience moves the needle the fastest? And maybe it’s different for the brain types, right?

Tana: It probably is different for the brain types, but sometimes it’s the small things. Sometimes it is the small things like what Nancy did, drinking water, because people are dehydrated or taking some magnesium, because people are anxious. You know what I mean? Sometimes it’s the small things. And all of a sudden, they go, “Heh, I’m actually feeling better.” Or going for a walk, you know. And all of a sudden, they’re like, “Heh, I feel better.”

Daniel: We worked with a group at Stanford on a program called Tiny Habits. And it’s about how people change. And we were able to boil down the tiny habit from Brain Warrior’s Way. If you just do this one thing–

Tana: Just this leverage.

Daniel: And that, it’s a game we’ve played with Chloe, our 13-year-old, since she was two. Is this good for my brain or bad for it? So you just have to know the list. And it’s not hard. You know, obviously, if I said football, she’d go thumbs down. Brain is soft, skull is hard.

Pedram: Easy one, right?

Daniel: Yeah, right, and if I said avocado. She’d go two thumbs up, God’s butter. If I say blueberry, she’ll put her hands on her hips and go, “Well, are they organic?” ‘Cause non-organic blueberries hold more pesticides than almost any fruit. And she says, if they’re organic, she says thumbs up, God’s candy. So it’s knowing the list, loving yourself enough, and so we talk about a concept called brain envy, which is, you know, I’m a psychiatrist. Freud was wrong. Penis envy is not the cause of neurosis. It’s they don’t love their brain, because it’s the three pounds of fat between your ears that runs everything. Know how to take care of it, you do so much better.

Tana: And, you know, the other thing, the reason we work on mastery, because mindset and essence are so important. So we spend a lot of time on getting your mindset right, because like you said, people don’t love themselves. So you got to spend time on that. If you don’t know your why, you won’t do your what. So we have to really spend a lot of time on that talking about things like meditation and prayer and getting those daily habits right. But also a lot of people have been beat up, like you said. They’re just at this place where they feel like victims of whatever it is they’re going through. And if we can get them to grasp that and understand that they can rewrite that story, they get to rewrite that if they know how to, and turn that pain into purpose and help other people and propel themselves forward. You know, it’s a beautiful thing. But we have to work on those things.

Daniel: And you wrote a two-week starter guide to help people just get started.

Tana: Just do these things.

Daniel: And the thing that shocks us is, ’cause this isn’t a weight loss program, although you can lose massive amounts of weight on it.

Tana: It’s this stunning side effect.

Daniel: Is just the first two weeks, people end up losing 10 pounds or 15 pounds.

Tana: But their memory, their mood, their focus, you know, all that stuff, the brain fog starts to lift.

Daniel: And that’s what motivates us, that sort of payoff for us.

Pedram: I see people losing spiritual weight, way before they lose physical weight. You know, it’s the stuff that gets in the way first, right.

Tana: And that’s why we say the weight loss–

Pedram: It’s heavy.

Tana: The weight loss is the stunning side effect of vibrant health. We don’t focus on that. It happens, because of what you just said.

Daniel: What I like about what you guys are doing is there’s a lot of self-help crap out there that talks about, you know, getting all the stuff out of your way, and then, you know, people just fail, because there’s no physiological basis to saying eat avocados and do these right things for your brain. ‘Cause when you do start treating your brain differently, it’s a feedback loop that then starts making you feel the progress and stay with it versus just clicking my heels and tapping my whatever and not quite crossing over into, you know–

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Tana: And it is different for every person, ’cause people do, some people are more anxious. Some people, you know, their brains might be sleepier, and they lack more motivation. So you have to know that and work from that place and that does really help.

Daniel And that’s part of the A, which is–

Both: Assessment.

Daniel: Which is, you know, are you spontaneous, persistent, sensitive, cautious? So what is your type? There’s specific prescriptions for each type. So the person with low frontal lobes, well, we really need to pop them up.

Tana: So they make better decisions.

Daniel: And dopamine helps to do that.

Tana: But if you’re over-focused–

Daniel: But if you do that to the persistent person who’s over-focused, they can’t let go.

Tana: Someone like me.

Daniel: And you give them dopamine, you’re gonna make them focus more on the things that upset them.

Pedram: They make them obsessive.

Tana: Right, they get too intense.

Daniel: They may become obsessive.

Tana: Interesting.

Daniel: Right, or the sensitive, sad person, they may be overeating. You know, if you eat carbs, it raises serotonin.

Tana: You feel better temporarily.

Daniel: It’s why people are addicted to the two to three doughnuts in the morning, ’cause initially they feel better. Now long run, it makes them sick. But there’s a reason that bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and sugar are so popular, because they almost work like antidepressants. The problem is they’re proinflammatory, and they cause illness. So there are other ways.

Pedram: And calories.

Tana: Right

– And they become calories. So there are other ways. New study, just out yesterday, blowin’ my mind, girls and women who are on birth control pills, have a 40% increased risk of depression. And we know, we talk about this in the book. 23% of women, it’s almost a quarter of women, between the ages of 20 and 60 are on antidepressant medication. That’s a scandal. It’s part of the war, and another new study, just out this week, that the elderly on SSRI, so that’s the most common antidepressant out, it causes sleep problems and is associated with dementia. And I’m like, depression, head-to-head, Prozac versus fish oil, equally effective.

– And saffron.

Pedram: And no side effects on the fish oil.

– And no side effects. Prozac against exercise, equally–

– But insurance pays for my Prozac, doc.

– That’s true.

– That’s the problem.

Daniel: But it’s part of the war.

Pedram: That’s part of the war.

– Part of the war. And so we want you to be a warrior.

Tana: So one of the things you mentioned was failure. So one of the things we need to get people, now, you practice martial arts. I practice martial arts. And one thing that was so odd for me as a female, who’s a recovering perfectionist, was this idea that falling is normal. So you know what I mean? Like, falling is part of martial arts, and you have to learn how to do it a lot. And you have to learn how to do it safely and get up, right. So it’s just part of what you do. So we want people to really understand. There’s no failing, there’s falling. As long as you get up, the only time you fail is if you stay down, right. So in a fight, the only time you fail is if you stay down.

Pedram: That’s it.

Tana: You got to get up, even if you fall 100 times, just get up 101.

Pedram: Roll out.

– And what we say is whenever you make a mistake–

– Know how to do it safely.

– Is be curious, not furious, so important. I work with my patients on that all the time. It’s just let’s be more mindful of our behavior and say–

Tana: Learn from them.

Daniel: You know, I didn’t eat the way I really wanted to today. Well, what happened? Maybe I didn’t sleep. Maybe I was believing every stupid thought I had. There’s a whole section in the book on killing the ANTs, the automatic negative thoughts, that, you know, invade your mind and steal your happiness. Maybe you went too long without eating, drop blood sugar, which drops blood flow to your frontal lobes. Now you’re gonna make a bad decision. So if you can understand your vulnerable times, just like a warrior, you can protect against it.

Pedram: And having a strategy against the ANTs, the automatic negative thoughts, is not an option, because we live in a world that’s just so filled with memes and just belief systems that aren’t even your own. They come from TV. They come from news. Everything’s depressing.

Tana: You’re untrained.

Daniel: But you can get rid of them.

Pedram: Well, sure.

Daniel: That’s the exciting thing. And here’s the exercise for people, is whenever you feel sad or mad or nervous or out of control, write down what you’re thinking. And then ask yourself if it’s true.

Tana: Like you just said. It might not even be your thought.

Daniel: We were never taught to question the noise and the nonsense going through our heads. And just doing that, in the class we just taught, was so powerful. People talked about killing the ANTs, all the time. I don’t have to believe everything I think. It’s just such a freeing thought.

Tana: No, we always have people who are Buddhists, and they’re like, “I don’t want to kill ants.” Okay, fine, get an anteater. I want to kill them. I want to stomp on them. So I want them gone.

Daniel: However you do it, right.

Tana: It’s okay if you want to do the recycling thing. It’s okay.

Pedram: There’s also this thing that I get, and maybe Sean, you could maybe attest to this, right, ’cause I saw him, and he’s a young guy, and I was like, “Yo, you got a dairy thing.” He’s like, “What are you talking about?” “You got a dairy thing.” And so, I pulled him off dairy, how long, two weeks?

Sean: Yeah, two weeks.

Pedram: Two weeks, pulled him off dairy, and he’s like a new man, right?

Sean On what, two months now or something?

Pedram: Two months, yeah, and he’s like, you know, he’s got a new lease on life kind of thing.

Tana: So what was the thing? What was the dairy thing?

Sean: I would eat, and then I would, like maybe five minutes after, be asleep, non-responsive. You could snap in my face, and I would just be like no. Dark circles under my eyes.

Tana: Dark circles, yeah.

Sean: All that kind of stuff.

Tana: That’s common.

Sean: It was just, I guess it was class A, you know.

Tana: Yeah, but then, like so for me I would get that, but like I will have dairy, and then just be like, “Wow, the world sucks.” And I’ll have all, my ANTs start booting up. If I have a food that’s inflammatory, I’ll find that my psychological flavor is now skewed towards the negative stuff.

Daniel: They feed your ANTs.

Tana: They feed it.

Daniel: Like sugar feeds your ANTs. Wheat feeds your ANTs. Dairy feeds your ANTs. Corn feeds your ANTs, because corn, 85% of the corn in this country is raised with pesticides, and we talk about your gut has 100 trillion bugs. What do pesticides kill? They kill your bug, and the bugs in your gut actually make neurotransmitters. They make vitamins. They help you digest your food and so on.

Tana: Gluten and dairy are special, ’cause they have exorphins. So they actually have a compound that crosses the blood-brain barrier. So what you’re saying is actually very true. So for us, we have psychiatric clinics. A lot of people, if we take them off of gluten and dairy, and you know, not everyone reacts the same. Does everyone need to go off of it? Probably not, but what we do is we just have everyone try it.

Daniel: Everyone who has headaches, everyone who has–

As Your Weight Goes Up, Your Brain Function Decreases - @DocAmen & @TanaAmen via @PedramShojai

Tana: Dark circles. Or negative thoughts.

Daniel: Everyone who has upset stomach should try it for a month, that they should do the Brain Warrior diet for a month. And it’s basically you eliminate things that could potentially hurt you. And you eat things that help you, ’cause food is medicine, or it’s poison.

Tana: But what ends up happening is when we do that elimination diet, we’re like look, just try it. They end up feeling so much better. They realize it, but you have to do it long enough. Once they realize it, then they’re like oh, okay, I don’t want to go back now.

Pedram: They can’t go back.

Tana: Right.

Pedram: Or when they go back, it’s like getting punched in the face.

Tana: It’s miserable.

Daniel: Yeah, it’s so bad.

Tana: Even worse than before.

Daniel: And we just want them to pay attention to them. Pay attention to how you feel. And people go, “Oh, but it’s expensive.” And I’m like, “No, being sick is expensive.”

Tana: No, I’ve been really sick. That’s really expensive.

Daniel: And we’re trying getting rid of the dairy. Well, that’s a cost savings.

Tana: Right, being tired, missing work, not being productive, that’s–

Daniel: Forget about it.

Tana: Right, missing school, you know, that’s expensive.

Pedram: Well, and you start counting the heartbeats and how many you have left. How many more are you gonna invest down the road of that kind of oblivion, right, where it’s just you don’t feel well? You just don’t have the same amount of energy. You don’t have the clarity. You’re not good with the people in your life. I mean, are you living or not? Right, and a warrior lives. And that’s why I love the warrior language, right. I come from kung fu, so it’s just, you know, and it is. Like, so how, this is a loaded question, of course. ’cause it’s me, but when you say it’s a war, I mean, how aggressive is it? Like, is this premeditated? Is this market-driven?

Tana: Yes

Pedram: Or is there something just much more, because it’s so all-encompassing?

Tana: It’s pervasive.

Pedram: It’s pervasive. It’s the media. It’s the food. It’s all of it, and it’s like, when you wake up to it, it’s–

Daniel: Well, food companies hire neuroscientists.

Tana: Come on, they’ve got food scientists.

Daniel: They hire neuroscientists.

Tana: They know the right meltiness, crunchiness, the aroma. I mean, come on, it’s a science. They know, you know, Cinnabon actually has their ovens in the front of the stores, and every 30 minutes, if you have one of their stores, you have to be baking those, you know, because they know–

Daniel: They’re baking sugar.

Tana: Right, so what it is is they know–

Daniel: And we wanted to know, Chloe wanted to know who Katherine Webb was. So she’s the cheerleader from Alabama who Brent Musburger went crazy.

Tana: She’s gorgeous.

Daniel: And later, she was one of the Carl’s Jr girls. And so, you know, she’s beautiful.

Tana: You know she’s not eating those burgers

Daniel: And she’s eating these burgers.

Pedram: Good luck.

– And then we heard about spit buckets. That on the set of doing that–

– They keep spit buckets.

– She would actually be spitting it out.

– She doesn’t eat them.

Daniel: But they use sex as a way to hook your pleasure centers, thinking, “Well, if I eat that, “I will either look like her, “or somehow she will want me.” Which is crazy!

Tana: And that’s just the food. Now, let’s, I mean, think about the elections, okay. It’s like reality TV. So I mean, between the food–

Pedram: Literally.

Tana: Right, the food and television, and we can go on and on. You tell me. Is it a war or not? And is it intentional?

Pedram: It’s a war for the minds of men and women, absolutely. And what’s interesting is the Buddhists actually called most people hungry ghosts.

Tana: Interesting.

Pedram: And they just weren’t present. They weren’t conscious.

Tana: Oh, that’s interesting.

Pedram: Conscious of what they were doing, and they were lost. And so as a brain warrior, you bring yourself back. You’re present, you’re engaged. I mean, this is the most important time in human history. I can imagine, right now. All the systems are coming into question, right. You look at healthcare. It’s a suck all the way to the top. And it’s like a concentration of wealth.

Tana: It’s screening our society.

Pedram: And all the doctors are miserable. The patients aren’t getting better. Traditional healthcare doesn’t work. Finance, everyone’s talking about Washington. Like, all these systems that are not working for us–

Tana: Big form of the government.

Pedram: You can’t afford to sleepwalk anymore.

Daniel: You cannot afford to sleepwalk–

Tana: That’s good.

Daniel: If you love your children and your grandchildren, because my grandbabies are not gonna be able to afford this tsunami of illness that’s coming our way. And this is gonna take us from being a great country to not a great country, if we are drowning in debt, because we’re sick.

Pedram: So what did the Pentagon have to say about this? Like, are they just freaked out? Like, what the hell do we do? How do we stop this?

Daniel: They’re very excited about prevention.

Tana: It’s cool.

Daniel: And resilience, building resilience, and we’re gonna do a pilot program with the VA. So we’re very excited about it.

Tana: Especially if they can show that it saves them money.

Pedram: Sure.

Daniel: You know, when you think about the war, well, we’re just coming off two wars. And these wars have a 70-year tail on them. So that both traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. So what happens in your 20s, if you don’t take care of it, if you don’t develop the brain warrior mindset, they’re gonna bite you, yes, throughout your life and probably take 10 years off your life. But if you’re armed and prepared, if you get the education and then become serious, so we have a high school course called Brain Thrive by 25. It’s in 42 states and seven countries, and we teach kids these concepts. And they love it. You know, oh, it’s like, they’re teenagers. They won’t listen. No, ’cause you’re teaching them about them. And when an independent group studied it, decreased drug, alcohol and tobacco use, decreased depression and improved self-esteem. So that’s the payoff. If you just do the program, your energy, memory, mood and your money’s better, because ultimately it’s about decision-making.

Pedram: How many people went through that program?

Daniel: Brain Thrive by 25?

Pedram: Yeah, the kids.

Tana: We have thousands of them.
Pedram: Thousands, and you guys had, like how many, so you did the Daniel Plan with Mark Hyman and Saddleback Church, Rick Warren. How many people–

Tana: Oh my gosh.

– And how many pounds were lost?

– So the first week, 15,000 people signed up. The first year, they lost a quarter of million pounds.

– But now it’s international.

Daniel: And now we have thousands of churches around the world. And as I did that, I realized we had to take that a step further. And that is, we need to be even more serious. We need to just, you know, I have a favorite New Testament verse, John 8:32, “Know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It’s a war. And you need to be armed and prepared.

Pedram: It’s interesting, in context of what’s happened in this recent election and all the kind of flack that’s now going towards Facebook. There’s so many information sources that aren’t actually credible sources, that people are referencing and sharing stories that are not actually true, on all sides, right. I don’t buy into the polarity at all. And so there are information wars, as well, happening as we speak. So it’s hard enough to think clearly. Now you have to trust where your information comes from as well. And if you don’t have a brain that’s functioning correctly– You don’t stand a chance.

Tana: And you know one of the things that I really believe in and I teach my daughter, we teach Chloe, is this idea of responsibility. Excuse me. Responsibility doesn’t mean you have to take blame, but it gives you the ability to respond. So if you think of responsibility as the ability to respond as opposed to oh, it’s my fault, if you take responsibility for your life, for that information you’re taking in, for the food you’re taking in, it’s your responsibility, right. So as a warrior, you’re responsible, right. As a martial artist, that’s your responsibility.

Pedram: So you think she’s a warrior?

Tana: Chloe? Our 13-year-old’s amazing. So she’s, I mean, she’s just way beyond her years. But she’s responsible. She doesn’t want people having

Daniel: A year-and-a-half ago– that control in her life. She would look at us. It was about a year-and-a-half ago she would look at us and say, “I’m never going to be as serious as you.”

Tana: “I’m never going to be like you.” She looked at me. She goes, “I’m never going to be like you. “I’m never going to be that intense.” And now I laugh at her, and I’m like, “No, honey, you’re far worse.”

Daniel: But what happened is she went through puberty. And she put on a few pounds, and her face started breaking out. And she freaked out. And she says, “What do I do?”

Tana: And she got a little depressed, and like that foggy feeling.

Daniel: And so what I did–

Pedram: All of it, sure.

Daniel: What I did is I took her to Whole Foods in Fashion Island, and I said, “So we’re gonna do this for 90 minutes. “I’m gonna teach you how to read food labels. “And your job is to find 10 things “that you like that like you back.” And it was amazing the transformation.

Tana: Now she reads everything.

Daniel: Now she reads everything, because she wants to know does it serve her or does it hurt her? And I love that, and you know, she’s 13. There are people, “13 year-olds won’t listen to you.” It’s like yeah, you just have to educate them and be bonded with them.

Tana: But we never forced her. It was an education process. You know, try being us and having your 9-year-old going, “Nah, nah, nah, nah” with a cupcake in your face when she’s at a party, right. But it’s not about– Right, but it’s not about other people. It’s about —

Daniel: For your kid.

Tana: It’s about her.

Daniel: Yeah, but it’s the same thing as like, so I have a two-year-old, and people say don’t talk to your kid like he’s an idiot. Speak to him normally, right?

Tana: We always do, right.

Daniel: So people say, “Oh, she’s a teenager.” It’s like a throwaway statement. It’s like no, it’s a 13-year-old human–

Tana: She’s amazing.

Pedram: With brain that is still developing and growing at a faster pace than mine is, right. And so she’s actually got a lot more going on. You know, my one-year-old is, every day her–

Tana: I give her the respect that she deserves.

Pedram: Yeah, exactly and she’s stepping into it.

Tana: She’s an amazing human.

Daniel: But that’s a really important point. The brain is not finished developing until you’re 25 for females and about 28 for males, but yet we allow children to hit soccer balls with their head, to play tackle football, to put developing brains at risk. And we don’t sort of get upset if they start smoking pot, even though we know marijuana in youngsters actually increases the risk of psychotic episodes by 350%. And we have a new study coming out next week on marijuana and 1,000 pot smokers. Every area of their brain is decreased. But if you teach them to love their brain, it’s your brain that gets you a date. It’s your brain that gets you into college. It’s your brain that gets you a car and gets you a job and gets you independence and freedom. You teach them to love it then they treat it better.

Tana: And we won’t lie. We’ve actually, probably instilled a little anxiety in herby showing her all the scans.

Pedram: Well, it’s hard.

Tana: We showed her the scans of people who have used drugs.

Daniel: Some anxiety is essential. You know, when I became a psychiatrist, I thought my job was to like lower people’s anxiety. That’s completely not my job. For a lot of my patients, they need to raise it, because a study from Stanford, the longest longevity study ever done, 90 years, showed that the people who died the earliest were the don’t-worry=be-happy people, the people who had low levels of anxiety. I have some anxiety about my health, because I’ve seen lots of older brains, and they’re not healthy. So I want to do the right thing. So in our society, we don’t have enough anxiety, which is why you see two-thirds of us overweight.

Pedram: It’s interesting. Just eat what you’ve been eating. Eat what everyone else eats. Just go to the doctor if you’re sick. Everything’s going to be fine. Watch your show. Right, that’s America.

Daniel: Yeah, you should be afraid. You should be very, very afraid if that’s your life.

Tana:You should be very afraid. Because if that’s you, you’re a sheep. You’re gonna follow people right off a cliff.

Pedram: Yeah, yeah.

Daniel: Or become a lamb chop

Pedram: And we’re training sheepdogs.

Daniel: And you guys are training sheepdogs, right. I have to believe that my show is a sheepdogging kind of show, right. And this is it. It’s just like come on, guys, this is crazy, ’cause the ones are out.

Tana: I was with you at an event one time, and someone called us the health mafia. I don’t know if you heard that. It was hilarious. I’m like, the health mafia? I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but it was very interesting.

Pedram: I think it’s actually Celeste, my book agent.

Tana: Oh, yeah, yeah, it was Celeste.

Daniel: That’s what she calls us. But it’s true. I mean, we’re out here fighting this fight. And you know, I’ve recently kind of turned the corner against how the Internet is starting to pollute health advice, which is, you know, give me three shortcuts to better abs. Give me five ways to fix my brain. And it’s like well, there’s actually 19. Do you want me to–

Tana: Right, it’s a lie.

Daniel: Cut it short?

Pedram: So we’re not doing the lie anymore.

Daniel: Through the years, I’ve figured it out. It’s three things.

Pedram: It’s only three things

Daniel: It’s brain envy, gotta care about it. avoid anything that hurts it, do things every day that help it.

Tana: So the under done.

Daniel: Now you have to know the list.

Pedram: Yeah, but that was a hierarchy.

Daniel: But ultimately, it’s that one question. Is this good for my brain or is it bad for it?

Tana: And guess what? A two-year-old can be taught to start thinking that way.

Daniel: So is that what you guys teach in here, what’s good for my brain, what’s bad for my brain?

Tana: We teach MASTERY, so mindset, assessment, sustenance, training, essence, responsibility and years long. It’s mastery over your brain and body.

Pedram: Got it, and if I start the process, within 10 days, I start feeling better.

– You start feeling better, yeah, right away. But we will not lie and say that it’s a 10-day program. I won’t work with people who just want to lose 10 pounds. That’s just not what I do, never have. Bless you, go to Jenny Craig, you know. I mean, that’s just not what I do, because it’s not going to help you long-term. In fact, it will hurt you if you keep yo-yo dieting. It’s just going to hurt you.

– And when you really understand it, under the responsibility section, we talk about epigenetics. That your habits turn on or off certain genes that make illness more or less likely in you but also in your babies and your grandbabies. So when Chloe was born, she was actually born with all the eggs she’ll ever have. So she’s born with part of our grandchildren there as well. So when you really think about it, this is serious stuff.

– And just like I won’t lie to her, I don’t lie to people I coach. So it’s like if you want, if you’re serious, and it’s not for everyone, if you’re serious about getting well and passing it on, this is a program you would like.

– You should talk a little bit about the cookbook, ’cause I know you’re so proud of it. There’s 130 recipes in it. They’re delicious.

– It’s beautiful.

– And the idea behind it–

– It’s gorgeous. I know how challenging it is to put together a cookbook, the typography, all of it.

– But it’s really, yeah. And it’s got a holiday guide in there. It has a section on how do you get your kids involved? What foods do you order in restaurants? How do you put together your lunch box? You know, I mean, literally, I broke it down that small. How do you clean out your kitchen? You know, so it’s really the go-to lifestyle guide.

– Amazing, you guys, I mean, listen, you guys could’ve stopped working a long time ago. But then you’d be bored.

– And I’m dangerous without a project

– And you’re dangerous without a project. You know, you could’ve stopped at the Daniel Plan. You could’ve stopped at a lot of these things.

– I’m miserable when I’m not helping.

– Right, because that’s what a sheepdog does.

– Right.

– And so this is the next, and I’m sure this isn’t the last, but this is the next in a long series of sheepdog contributions to the world here. Book is available when?

Daniel: So November 22nd, it is available nationwide, and we’re so excited. It’s gonna be part of a PBS special we have coming out together called BrainFit: 50 Ways to Grow Your Brain, all about neuroplasticity.

– And you’ve already done the PBS? You’ve been on the road, or are you gonna get back on?

– We’re going on the road, getting ready to leave.

– Yeah, PBS, I hear it’s a lot of work.

Tana: It’s a lot of work.

Daniel: It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of fun. I mean, there’s nothing that can get a message to America like that.

Pedram: Millions and millions of people.

– Right, I mean, you can be on the Today Show for four minutes, or our PBS special’s–

– Which are educational.

– On for 90 minutes to two hours, and we just get people immersed in the stories.

Pedram: And it takes that long to have a real conversation and really educate. I mean, four minutes, like, so I was on Oz for my last book launch. And it was just like in and out. And you’re like, “I flew to New York “for 16 seconds of blah.” Right, and so you can’t say anything meaningful in that amount of time, but in 90, you can.

– Right, and that’s why we say it’s a years-long approach, because it takes a while to change the firing in your brain, so it takes a while to change what you love.

Tana: That’s why our class was six months.

Pedram: Mm-hmm, six months?

Tana: The class was six months, because we needed people immersed, you know, just immersed, so they could really get it.

Daniel: But the books are really the guide to get started. There’s everything they need.

Tana: Wonderful, wonderful, you guys are just, I have to say it’s very inspiring. You’re hard-working, and you keep putting out really, really good stuff. So thank you.

Tana: Thank you.

– Thank you, both.

We Cannot Afford To Sleep Walk Anymore - @DocAmen & @TanaAmen via @PedramShojai

Daniel: Thanks for your time.

– Yeah, thank you. And let me know what you think. Is there any questions? We might have a minute or two here at the end.

– So you had a few, but I mean, I’m guessing that they’ll probably get ’em all answered in the cookbook, ’cause they were asking for diet tips and that kind of stuff for memory for women over 55.

– Oh gosh, there is a whole section on, those are hormones, and I actually did, there’s a section in the holiday guide there. I have a blog right now that they can actually check out that has a holiday section in it on how to have a healthy holiday. And if it’s specifically about hormones, we do cover that in the book. I don’t know if we can answer that really quickly.

– We’re good.

– But basically, kill the sugar. If I had to say anything, kill the sugar. So that would be the big thing for hormones. What would you say in this amount of time?

– Well, there’s actually a great story about Mary Ann, who at 59 had brain fog, chronic pain, was depressed and almost quit the job she loved at Franklin Covey. And within two months, the brain fog had lifted by eating the way we talk about.

– It’s the program, yeah.

– Which is basically, you eliminate things that are gonna hurt you, and then it’s really simple. High quality calories, clean protein and fat at every meal, because they help balance your blood sugar. And carbs are not the enemy. They’re essential, but it’s the high glycemic, low-fiber carbs you need to lose. So think of colorful fruits and vegetables, three times the amount of vegetables than fruit, and then use spices, and there are special spices for memory, like rosemary, thyme, sage. Sage has A-level scientific evidence for memory in particular. Garlic helps to boost blood flow. So you always say think of the spice aisle like the pharmacy.

– The medicine cabinet. So it’s almost more important to keep them in your medicine cabinet than your kitchen cabinet. But specifically for hormones, it’s a little like what we were talking about before the whole hormone disruptors. There’s certain things you can avoid, sugar being one of them, plastics, certain foods in cans, getting away from processed foods. So we do cover a lot of that. That’s why I’m saying it’s, you know, to cover it in a sentence or two is a little more complicated.

Pedram: Yeah, well, it’s always complicated.

– But the program really covers that a lot. We talk a lot about hormones.

– And people go, “Oh, well, I’m old. “I don’t want to be serious anymore.” I’m like, “You have less room for error.”

– Then you don’t want to be much older. I’m confused.

– Right, it’s you have less room for error. So doing the right thing will actually expand your mental age.

– And there’s another great quote that I love, and it’s “If you really want to do something, “you will find a way. “And if you don’t, you will find an excuse.”

– That’s it.

– That’s it. It’s Jim Rohn.

– And there’s plenty of excuses out there. There’s too many excuses, yeah.

– But warriors don’t have excuses.

– Warriors don’t, yeah.

– They bust through them.

– Warriors don’t afford the luxury of an excuse to anyone, let alone themselves. Forget about it, forget about it. Any other questions?

– Great, we have actually one about grains. So what kind of grains should you limit? And what are the best grains that you can eat?

– So we typically have people go off of almost all grains initially. And then if they’re going to eat grains, we say eat them like a condiment. If you add them back in within a few weeks or something, eat them like a condiment and gluten-free grains. So gluten-free grains, eat them like a condiment, instead of a staple. So in our society, people eat them like a staple. Instead, if they’re gonna eat say oatmeal, it would be a very small amount and not every day. Or if they’re gonna eat a little bit of rice, it would be a very small amount, maybe a half cup, and just once in a while, like a condiment, is what we would say. But some people react right away. And if you are one of those people who is sensitive to them, stay away from them. So not everyone reacts the same.

– Yeah, and so starchy vegetables versus fibery vegetables?

– Well, we always choose the fibery, you know, the green fiber vegetables over that. A little bit of starch now and then, especially if you’re an athlete, it always depends on the individual. If you’re an athlete who’s using a lot of energy, a little bit of starch from say a sweet potato or something like that will actually help fuel you. But you have to know, you can’t lie to yourself. If you’re not a person who is a high energy person, cut back on the starch.

– If you’re the spontaneous type, so more like you have ADD, you do really well on a high-protein, very low-carbohydrate diet. But if you are the persistent type, you worry. You hold grudges. Things don’t go your way, you get upset. You go on something like the Atkins diet, it makes you mean.

– Right, you over-focus.

– So those are people where hummus and sweet potatoes really are a very important part of their diet, otherwise they’ll get upset.

– Just not too much.

Pedram: They soften the edge.

– It’s the right amounts and the right types of starch.

– Is that assessment in the book of what kind of brain you have?

Daniel: It is.

– Great, great, I’m curious. Now I’m like wondering what the heck I am. Awesome, how we doing?

– I think we’re good.

Pedram: Okay, great.

– On time.

– All right, I’ll go here. Thank you so much for being here. Let me know what you think and give us comments and questions. We’ll tag the Amens team as well if more things come up. Book is available next week, so get the book. Let’s talk about it. I’m gonna read through it and work on being my own brain warrior here and sheepdogs, love it, love it.

– Thank you.

– Thank you, thank you very much.

– Thanks a lot.

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