Many of us struggle with focus, mental fatigue, brain fog, and memory loss, and today’s guest Dr. Amen—one of America’s leading psychiatrists who has helped millions of people change their lives and is a ten-time New York Times bestselling author—is here to tell us not only how to counter these problems, but how to build a healthier brain.
Our brain controls literally everything—our careers, relationships, health, and happiness. This talk is about getting some inspiration and instruction on how to unleash the power between your ears.
Dr. Amen’s book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life has impacted so many people’s lives, including mine. It’s an honor to have him as an extraordinary guest on the podcast, and today we’ll be diverging from our usual guest interview format in order to give you access to an exclusive talk by Dr. Amen that we hosted at a private gathering for our Kwik Brain students.
In this episode, Dr. Amen will tell what we should be avoiding, and what we should be doing, to achieve great brain health.
As Dr. Amen says in the introduction: “if you pay attention to me, this information has the ability to improve everything in your life”—so don’t forget to take lots of notes and enjoy!
BRAIN HEALTH PRINCIPLES
- Have brain envy
- Avoid bad and do good
WHAT TO AVOID FOR YOUR BRAIN HEALTH
- Drugs and alcohol—if you’re going to drink alcohol, choose normal-sized glasses, 1 or 2 per week
- Obesity, nicotine, insomnia
- Caffeine: we’re hooked on it because we’re so sleep deprived
- Sleep: getting less than 7 hours results in lower overall blood flow to the brain—beneficial for you to remove caffeine and alcohol and just sleep an extra hour!
- Study: teenagers who slept on average just one hour less than their peer group has increased the risk of depression and suicide
- Check your testosterone, estrogen, and vitamin D levels: when your vitamin D levels are low the hormones (leptin) that tell you to stop eating malfunction
- Processed foods
- Lack of exercise
- Bad decisions: the main determinant of longevity is not happiness, but conscientiousness—meaning you keep your word and show up on time! People who work hard, are successful and have passion also live longer
- Unhealthy peer group: pick your friends and family wisely as their health determines how long you live, and be the leader for change in your group if you need to
- Be aware of your brain’s vulnerability
WHAT TO DO FOR BRAIN HEALTH
- Positive peer group: hang out with other people who are healthy
- Clean environment
- Physical health, healthy weight, exercise
- Sleep (7-8 hours a night)
- Learn new things, keep your brain engaged: a major strategy to prevent Alzheimer’s
- Great diet
- Remove ANTS (automatic negative thoughts)
- Walk regularly—this is a natural antidepressant
- Build your resilience and creativity
- Manage your stress: most of the stress in your life comes from bad decisions you make, try to avoid making them!
- Take some supplements: brain nutrients, vitamin D, fish oil
BUILDING NEW HABITS
- It’s okay to develop new habits and patterns slowly—want it to take you a long time e.g. a year so the change is meaningful and long-lasting
- Keep negative impacts of making changes too fast in mind e.g. crash-dieting meaning that when you fall off the wagon you’ll have to go back to eating 1600 calories instead of 1800
- Make your changes slowly so you do it once and do it right
$KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
- If you want self-control, you have to know what you want
- Put your 5 reasons (amensolution.com) up on your wall so you see them every day—then ask yourself if your behavior will get you what you want
- Remember: low blood sugar leads to low blood flow to the prefrontal cortex (decision-making center of the brain), which decreases your decision-making ability
- Example of the parole board: more people were paroled early in the morning and straight after lunch—results correlated with the blood-sugar of the parole board
- If you want to request something of someone, feed them first!
- Use forethought: don’t put yourself in vulnerable situations e.g. never shop in the grocery store before dinner while hungry
Join me and be a champion for the health of not only your brain but the brains of the people you love.