Boost Your Brain: Boost Your Body, by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. (Mar. 15, 2010)

So, I’m sick, and stuck in front of the TV between favorite shows, and the only channel that’s coming in clearly is an educational program called “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body” by Dr. Daniel G. Amen of The Amen Clinic. This one caught my interest though. Primarily, he talks about taking fish oil supplements and exercising daily. Here are his top 10 subjects from his book (and his seminar):

1. Boost Your Brain to Lose Your Belly. When it comes to the brain, size matters.

2. Know Your Motivation: have a burning desire to be healthy — family, friends, etc. No amount of cheeseburgers, double fudge brownies, etc., is worth losing time with my family. Sugar and fat act on the brain’s addiction center.

3. Know Your Brain Type:

  • The Compulsive Overeater (stuck on thought of food, feel no control, worry, trouble sleeping, night time feedings, lower levels of serotonin), Help: exercise and 5HTP or St. John’s Wort, Nix NIght Time Eating after dinner to boost serotonin.
  • Impulsive (Poor Impulse Control, Easily Distracted, Common in ADD, Low Dopamine levels, short attention span, disorganization, inconsistent), Help: Boost Dopamine levels, Strengthen Prefrontal, High Protein, Low Carb, Green Tea, calming meds make this type worse.
  • The Impulsive-Compulsive Overeater (too much activity in attention region, stuck on negative thought, too little prefrontal cortex activity, trouble with sleep behavior), Help: increase dopamine and serotonin, exercise, combo of 5-HTP AND Green Tea.
  • The Sad Overeater (to medicate feelings of sadness, depression, low energy, low self esteem, tend to gain weight in winter, pain symptoms, high limbic activity, low vitamin D level), Help: boost vit D, exercise, fish oil, SAMe supplement.
  • The Anxious Overeater (medicate anxiety with food, headaches, stomach problems, high basal ganglia activity, low GABA chemical), Help: sooth brain with meditation and hypnosis, B6, Magnesium and GABA.

Note: It is common to have more than one brain type. Work on most bothersome area first, then move on to the next one.

4. Use Brain Specific Supplements to Boost Your Body: 91% of Americans do NOT eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Recommend Multivitamin and Omega-3 supplement daily. Low Levels of Omega-3 linked with heart disease, strokes, depression, ADD, Obesity, Suicide. Good for heart, eyes, skin, joints, hair, ad brain. Also decreases appetite and cravings. 1-2 grams of high quality fish oil daily. Low levels of Vitamin D associated with MS, Diabetes, cancer, obesity, alzheimers, depression. Typically, get boost from sun, but our levels are falling. Recommends asking doctor for a 25 Hydroxy-vitamin D test. Take Vit D3 if levels are low.

5. Get Your Cravings Under Control.

  • Keep your blood sugar balanced. Substitute fruit for simple sugars.
  • Decrease artificial sweeteners in your diet.
  • Reduce Stress
  • Manage Food Triggers: mall, advertisements, vendors, home for the holidays, etc.; know your vulnerable spots and plan ahead.
  • Hidden Food Allergies can trigger cravings. Wheat gluten and milk allergies can decrease activity in your brain.

6. Kill the ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) that Steal Your Health. Need an internal ANTeater. Lies: I can’t control it; It’s in my genes.

7. Eat Right to Think Right.

  • Think High Quality Calories In vs. High Quality Energy Out.
  • Drink Plenty of Water and Not too many of your calories.
  • Eat High Quality Lean Protein throughout the day.
  • Eat Low Glycemic, High Fiber Carbohydrates (Whole Grains, Vegetables and Fruits like Blueberries and Apples). “The whiter the bread, the faster you’re dead.” Sugar increases inflammation, and recently linked with aggression.
  • Healthy Fats, especially Omega-3 fatty acids. Fat stores toxins, so any fat you eat from an animal is giving you any toxins that the animal ate.
  • Eat from the rainbow: natural foods of many different colors to boost antioxidant levels.
  • Cook with brain healthy herbs and spices. Saffron as effective as anti-depressant, cinnamon helps with attention.

Dr. Amen’s Average Daily Diet:
Breakfast: Protein/Fruit Shake
AM: Fruit and a few Nuts
Lunch: Chicken, Avocado, Veggie Sandwich on Whole Grain
PM: Fruit and a few Nuts
Dinner: Large Salad or Soup, Lean Protein, Veggies
Dessert: Frozen Blueberries with Greek Yogurt

8. Know Your Important Numbers

  • BMI – Body Mass Index – normal between 18.5 and 25
  • Calories
  • Fruits & Veggies per day – strive for 7-10
  • Sleep Hours – at least 7, preferably 8
  • Vitamin D Level
  • Know Your Inflammatory Levels
  • Know Your Hormone Levels: Thyroid, DHEA, Cortisol, Testosterone, Progesterone, Estrogen
  • Cholesterol Levels
  • Blood Pressure
  • Blood Sugar Levels
  • 5 Things You’re Most Grateful for

9. Hypnosis and Meditation Can Boost Your Brain. Recommends at least 12 minutes daily.

10. Start Today.

  • How Can I Love Others?
  • How Can I Take Better Care of Myself So I can Love my family and do the work I love for as long as possible, despite my genes?

Note: if you’ve been bad to your brain, you should start seeing results within 2 months of following this plan.

More information can be found on his website at http://www.amenclinics.com/.

Top 50 Best Brain Foods: I like 45 of them. My husband likes 23. But that’s still almost half of them! I can deal with that. How many do you like?

  • Almonds, raw
  • Almond milk, unsweetened
  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Beans (black, pinto, garbanzo)
  • Bell peppers (yellow, green, red, and orange)
  • Beets
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cheese, low fat
  • Cherries
  • Chicken, skinless
  • Cranberries
  • Egg whites, DHA enriched
  • Grapefruit
  • Herring
  • Honeydew
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons
  • Lentils
  • Limes
  • Oats
  • Olive oil
  • Olives
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Peas
  • Plums
  • Pomegranates
  • Raspberries
  • Red grapes
  • Soybeans
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Tea, green
  • Tofu
  • Tomatoes
  • Tuna
  • Turkey, skinless
  • Walnuts
  • Water
  • Whole wheat
  • Wild salmon
  • Yams and sweet potatoes
  • Yogurt, unsweetened

I’m not a 100% believer at this point (first off, not a big fan of the BMI because it doesn’t take enough factors into account), but this does have a lot of helpful information that can help boost our brains and lose those pesky pounds that are still hanging around. I am 100% convinced that exercise and sleep are directly correlated to energy levels and emotional health. Diet and water intake are just as important. Happy researching!

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5 responses to “Boost Your Brain: Boost Your Body, by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. (Mar. 15, 2010)

  1. Excellent post here! I was just doing a search for Dr. Amen’s 5 things I’m most grateful for today and came across this post that does an awesome job covering what I just saw on his PBS special. So nice to have in 1 place. Thank-you for this!!! Brian

  2. Hi Melissa,
    Thanks for this great summary. It’s great to have this listing to refer to. I came to you because, while watching Dr. Amen, I wrote myself a note to check 25 hydroxy-vitamin D and Googled it today. I’ve been taking Vit. D3 for some time as recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil, so I’m probably okay with that.

    One question about your summary of brain types. Here you say:
    “Impulsive (Poor Impulse Control, Easily Distracted, Common in ADD, Low Dopamine levels, short attention span, disorganization, inconsistent), Help: Boost Dopamine levels, Strengthen Prefrontal, High Protein, Low Carb, Green Tea, calming meds make this type worse.”

    Does this mean that calming meds make this type worse? or some of those others make it worse, too? I couldn’t tell where the break was between what helps and what makes it worse.

    Wishing you a wonderful journey to a leaner life.

    Thanks,
    Don

    • Thanks, Don. I was writing furiously while watching the PBS special. I believe he said calming meds may make this type worse…not all meds. He seemed to recommend fish oil and exercise for all types. Remember, some types overlap for different people, so check the Amen Clinic website for specific details.
      Enjoy the journey!
      Melissa

  3. I have a question anyone take his brain vitamins and seen a difference ? Thank you Ann

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