I’ve long been fascinated with the work of Dr. Daniel Amen of the Amen Clinic in Newport Beach, California. I’ve visited personally, read his prolific books on the brain, and love to watch the way he evolves in his research.
Dr. Amen is a psychiatrist who has probably run more brain scans than anybody else in the world. His last New York Times bestsellers (I’ve lost track on the number he’s written at this point–he writes them faster than I can read them) are showing the strong connection between our physical health and our mental health. He calls our gut our second brain.
And this makes sense because the gut, much like the brain, has receptors for neurotransmitters such as serotonin and other mood regulators. Food can works like an antidepressant. The problem is food acts much like alcohol, in that it’s a quick fix with a hard let down. Like alcohol, comfort food can be emotionally (and physically) addicting.
One research point worth noting: as your weight goes up, your brain shrinks and has greater trouble functioning. (Yep. As your body gets bigger, your brain gets smaller. What does that say about us as a nation?) Dr. Amen has nicknamed this the “dinosaur effect.” No offense, Triceratops.
I don’t know about you, but this gives me added incentive to stay at my ideal weight. I need all the help I can get with menopause lurking around the bend.
Amen recently did a study of NFL players with major brain damage from repetitive knocks to the head. The study showed the resiliency of the brain and would suggest that through diet and exercise, and certain brain exercises, we can actually change our brains.
Phew. That’s good news. We got that, right? Right!
Is your brain healthy? If you’d like to test your brain health, you can actually do that here on his site: www.amenclinics.com. Then go and take the health assessment under free sources on my site and let’s get this party started: www.jamieweil.net.
Here’s to a healthy you — brain and body!