Dr. Daniel Amen MD, is well recognized as the brain doctor and this is the title of our interview on season 3 of The Anxiety Summit: “The Brain Warriors Way to Attacking Anxiety, Depression and Aging.”
- Why we are in a war for the health of our brains?
- Why anxiety is so common in women and how depression shows up in men
- Four different brain types
- Natural ways for dealing with anxiety (instead of typical anti-anxiety medications)
- How birth control pills contribute to anxiety
- The impact of gut health on anxiety
He just has so much wisdom:
If you love your life and love the people in your life and love what you’re doing on this earth you need to get serious about your brain. This is The Brain Warrior concept!”
There is a path to keep your brain much healthier than most people every thought possible! Neurons don’t age, it’s blood vessels that age and if you understand that and can keep the blood flow to your brain healthy, it directly attacks ADD, anxiety, depression, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease.
And a great sense of humor too! We had many laugh out loud moments which are always good for us but especially great when we’re feeling sad, anxious or overwhelmed.
We talk about how important the microbiome and gut health is when it comes to mental health. He finds it funny that as the brain doctor, he now going to have to consider poop! He really does say that!
You may recall my great interview with Dr. Ted Dinan on season 2: Microbes in the gut and psychobiotics as a potential treatment for anxiety and depression
We also talk about how women make less serotonin so I just had to look up the research. Here are some snippets from this 1997 paper “Differences between males and females in rates of serotonin synthesis in human brain”
The marked difference in the rates of serotonin synthesis between male and female subjects is, to our knowledge, a new finding.
Moreover, no differences have been found between the number of serotonin re-uptake sites in the brains of male and female subjects.
The rate of serotonin synthesis will depend on numerous factors including the free plasma tryptophan levels, the plasma levels of tryptophan relative to the other large neutral amino acids, the activity of the system that transports the large neutral amino acids into brain, the gene expression of tryptophan hydroxylase, degradation of tryptophan hydroxylase, compartmentalization of tryptophan and tryptophan hydroxylase in brain cells, as well as probably numerous other factors.
Averaging over the different brain areas, the rate of serotonin synthesis is 52% greater in male than in female subjects. This is one of the largest differences between the brains of males and females that is not related to hormone binding sites. The reason for this difference is not clear at this time.
Here is an image of brain scans that were published in the above study. The color bar on the right in the same row gives an indication of synthesis i.e. blues, purples and pinks means low synthesis of serotonin. The research found low synthesis of serotonin in the women in the study.
We can tie this all back to the gut since we make so much serotonin in the gut!
As Dr. Amen says “you need to get serious about your brain” and here a few of his recommendations:
- eat real whole food, quit sugar and sodas, get plenty of healthy fats in your diet and quit bread
- use natural approaches to boost serotonin and GABA, and address low progesterone if necessary
- fall in love with exercise and get rid of negative thoughts (he calls them ANTS: automatic negative thoughts)
- and avoid medications like benzodiazapines and the BCP/birth control pill
Here are some of Dr. Amen’s wonderful books:
Dr. Amen, and his wife Tana have created this free 3-part online video series called the Brain Warrior’s Way. Dr. Amen says:
To survive and thrive, you must become a brain warrior, because without a doubt you are in a war for the health of your brain.
You can get access to the 3-part online video series called the Brain Warrior’s Way here