The Exciting Journey of Podcasting: From Curiosity to Global Impact.
Doctor & Therapist To The Worlds Superstars: Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Bella Hadid! - Daniel Amen | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Doctor & Therapist To The Worlds Superstars: Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Bella Hadid! - Daniel Amen".
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Four of my patients have a billion followers. Justin Bieber, Nylie Cyrus, Bella Hadid, and we looked at their brains. And what we found is... Thank you so much, Dr. Ayman. Dr. Daniel Ayman. As a clinical neuroscientist, New York Times best-selling author, one of America's leading psychiatrists and brain health experts. Why don't you do what you do? I have to do what I do. Someone I love tried to kill herself. If she would have died, I think I would have always been left with a whore in my soul. Most psychiatric illnesses are not mental illnesses. They're brain health issues. When you reimagine mental health is brain health. Change is everything. So you want to damage your brain? Do not engage in new learning. Don't ever eat fish. Never floss. Play football. Marijuana. Alcohol. Nicotine. Happy. It's a drug. You want to keep your brain healthy? It takes three seconds. So... Do you know about the ACE quiz? It's 10th of the most common childhood trauma. If you have four or more, you have an increased risk of seven of the top 10 leaving causes of death. If you have six or more, you die 20 years earlier. Is there something that can be done to change it? Absolutely. You came to see me. I would have you. Before this episode starts, I have a small favor to ask from you. Two months ago, 74% of people that watch this channel didn't subscribe. We're now down to 69%. My goal is 50%. So if you've ever liked any of the videos we've posted, if you liked this channel, can you do me a quick favor and hit the subscribe button? It helps this channel more than you know, and the bigger the channel gets, as you've seen, the bigger the guests get. Thank you and enjoy this episode. Dr. Ayman.
Brain Health And Wellbeing
What's your mission? (02:01)
Why don't you do what you do? It's part of my soul. I have to do what I do. The short story, so I got to do what I do, is when I was 18, Vietnam was still going on, and I had a low draft number, and I became an infantry medic where my love of medicine was born. But about a year into it, I realized I didn't like being shot at. It was irritating. It was horrifying, and I got myself retrained as an x-ray technician, and just developed a passion for medical imaging, as our professors used to say, "How do you know unless you look?" And that became a theme for my life. And then I got out of the army in 1975, and finished college, and when I was a second year medical student, someone I love tried to kill herself. And I was horrified. I had no idea what to do, and I took her to see the chief of the Department of Psychiatry, where I went to medical school. And I realized if he helped her, it wouldn't just help her. That ultimately it would help her children, and even her grandchildren, is they would be shaped by someone who is happier and more stable. I fell in love with psychiatry, 1979. So 44 years ago, and I've loved it every day since, but I fell in love with the only medical specialty that never looks at the organ it treats. And even back then, I'm like, "Why aren't we looking at the brain?" I mean, obviously the brain is the organ of depression. The brain is the organ of bipolar disorder. The brain is the organ of anxiety. Why aren't we looking at it? And they said, "That's the future." We will, but not yet. And growing up, my dad thought I was sort of a pain in the ass. He called me a maverick, because I didn't just accept what he said, and it turns out he's true. And I'm pushing, we should be looking at the brain. In 1991, so I've been a psychiatrist almost a decade. I went to my first lecture on brain-spect imaging. Spect is a nuclear medicine study that looks at blood flow and activity. It looks at how your brain works. And it basically shows us three things. Good activity, too little or too much. And then it rocked my world. I mean, it's explosion in my world. It's like, "I have to look. How do I know unless I look?" And the lessons just kept coming that the first lesson, most psychiatric illnesses are not mental illnesses. They're brain health issues. If I get your brain healthy, well, your mind tends to follow because your brain, the physical moment-by-moment functioning of your brain creates your mind. And if your brain isn't healthy, your mind isn't healthy. So I was the first lesson, and I'm like, "These are not mental illnesses." And when you reimagine mental health as brain health, it changes everything. It changed everything I do as a psychiatrist. Most psychiatrists, you go to them and you go, "I'm depressed." And then they'll give you a diagnosis with the same name of what you just told them to go, "You're depressed." And then put you on an antidepressant, which in large-scale studies work no better than placebo. And I'm like, "So next lesson, "this depression is like chest pain. "It doesn't tell you what causes it, "and it doesn't tell you what to do for it." But we have whole industries built on money for medicine, for mental health conditions. And I think it's complete crap because they're not looking at the organ. They don't know, is it from head trauma? Is it from an infection? Is it from a lousy diet? Is it from being sedentary? Is it because you don't know how to manage your mind? And I then learned that mild traumatic brain injury is a major cause of psychiatric problems. And nobody knows about it because they don't look at the brain. And I was just like a little kid. So excited. I still am. 32 years later, we've done 225,000 scans. And it's so fun to be in the future helping people get well. So I have to do it. I know that's a long answer. - I like long answers. You all come to learn that. You've written so many books and you seem to have the same energy you've always had about this subject matter. When you sort of, if you were to encapsulate or to summarize the mission that you're on, which is the source of all that energy, what is that mission that you're on? - The mission is to end the concept of mental illness by creating a revolution in brain health. And that mission just evolved. You know, my mission when I graduated from medical school was to be a really good psychiatrist 'cause it's personal to me. And to be a writer, I wrote my first book, The Year I Graduated from Medical School. And I found, I love the process that writing brings me joy. That when I can take complex concepts and make them really easy to understand and that's helpful to someone, I love that. That's joyful to me. And that skill has served my career so well because my books bring a lot of people. We have 11 clinics around the US and they often come because they've read one of my books. So they serve the purpose of educating and then allowing us to do the work we love doing. - If someone's listening to this and they've never really taken the time to learn about the brain before because they don't necessarily think it's so important.
Why your brain health & function matters (09:07)
They understand things about dieting or whatever else, but the brain, they kind of just assume it's there, right? Like a lot of people do. What case would you make to them about the importance of positive, healthy, cognitive functions and brain health? What is the case? Why does it matter to the ordinary person? Say if they don't have a psychiatric predicament, they don't have a mental health disorder. Why does the brain matter to them? - Because your brain's involved in everything you do. How you think, how you feel, how you act, how you get along with other people, your brain is the organ of intelligence, character and every single decision that you make. And when your brain works right, you work right. And when your brain is troubled for whatever reason, mold, COVID, head trauma, not sleeping, chronic stress, when your brain's not right, your sadder, sicker, poor, less successful. I got to scan Tony Robbins, the famous success guru. And I love him and I love his work and I think he's so smart. And he said publicly, he had mercury poisoning. He decided he'd love swordfish, but it didn't love him back 'cause it's loaded with mercury. And when we did a Facebook Live, I'm like, you are the software of success. But if the hardware is not working, it's gonna be really hard to implement the wonderful strategies that you teach. And always think of people in four big circles. First week of medical school, Sid Garrett, our dean, he said, never think of patients as by their diagnosis. Always think of them in these four big circles. He went to the board and he drew the first circle, which was biology. And for me, it's like the physical functioning of your brain and body. And that's why the scans are so important. But then the second circle he drew was psychology. How's their mind working? How are their thoughts? Are they loaded with a term by later coin called ants, automatic, negative thoughts? The thoughts that come into your mind automatically and ruin you. And also in this circle is development. That's really the quality of your mind. And then the third circle. So if you think of the brain as the hardware of your soul, the mind is the software that needs to be programmed. So you gotta get your brain healthy, program your mind, and then work on the social circle, which is, so what's going on in your life? Think pandemic. That was a social disrupter. But also, how are your relationships? How's your job? How's your money? And then the last circle that most psychiatrists would never touch is the spiritual circle. It's like, why the heck do you care? What is your deepest sense of meaning and purpose? And so I think assessing those four circles and working always to optimize them at the same time. It's critical for you being a whole healthy person. But if your brain's not healthy, because you played soccer and you had four concussions, doing all the therapy, it's not nearly as effective as getting your brain right and then doing the therapy. I mean, 'cause I'm like a huge fan of therapy and I have my therapy patients that I love. But it's hardware, software, network connections, always understanding someone's sense of purpose. - Let's go into those four areas then. Just to pause on that though, you mentioned Tony Robbins there. When I was reading through your story, it became apparent that you're quite the celebrity psychiatrist because a lot of celebrities have come out and said that they work with you. Give me a taste, do some name dropping. Give me a couple of examples. - It's public knowledge. Bella Hadid came out and said she stopped drinking because of me. And then the newspaper tried to take my head off for that. Controversial psychiatrists gets Bella to stop drinking. Dealing with haters is something I've become quite skilled at. Public knowledge, I've been noisily Cyrus's doctor for 11 years. I'm really proud of her. She had the number one song in the world right now, "Flowers," and it's about self love, which makes me so happy. I'm in Justin Bieber's docuseries seasons because I've been his doctor. I love helping them. You know, I often say four of my patients have a billion followers. So it's about influence because if the mission is to end mental illness by creating a revolution in brain health, well, you gotta have an army. And so you might as well have an army with a lot of soldiers. And so it's a very disruptive concept because when you really understand it, you realize we're living in a war. And I'm serious about this. Everywhere you go, someone's trying to give you bad food that will kill you early. Everywhere you go, you hear negative news that's driving depression. It's not the news. It scares you so they can sell you stuff. Everywhere you go, someone's trying to put a gadget in your hand or your pocket. It will steal your dopamine and give them the mind share you should have. And the incidence of diabetes is 50% of the population is diabetic or pre-diabetic. Obesity is 72% or overweight or obese. I published three studies. It shows your weight goes up the size and function of your brain goes down and people go, "Oh, you can't talk about that." It's like, no, you can't not talk about that. Alzheimer's is expected to triple and depression has gone up 400% since Prozac came on the market. So obviously that didn't fix it. And so it's what my wife and I often refer to is the brain warrior's way. You wanna be armed and prepared to win the fight of your life. - That's so true. I'm currently doing this glucose test as part of this company called Zoe. I had Tim Spector on the podcast. He's one of the co-founders. They do personalized nutrition. It's this incredible company based out in the UK. And so because I can see my glucose right now on my phone, when I went into a gas station the other day or a petrol station as we say in the UK, I looked around at my options and every single thing was bad for me. Every single thing in that gas station was sugar or processed carbohydrates. The only thing I could get in that gas station was water. And I said to my partner at the time, so if you're hungry and it's what was if you're stressed or tired, you are going to eat this junk. But anyway, going back to-- - Unless you plan, unless you put stuff in your car, or in your computer bag. And when you really love yourself, you take time. And like you know, for example, the plastic water bottles are toxic. That you just like turn them over. And does it say a two or four or five on the recycle? And like those are pretty good. They don't leach toxins. Narrowly as bad is one, three, six and seven. And just knowing that, see I always say God gave us a big brain for a reason. It's like when you get motivated, this isn't hard. Brain health isn't hard. Being sick is hard. Brain health is not expensive. Being sick is expensive. - You just plan a little bit better.
How to keep your brain healthy (18:20)
- In terms of the hardware then, which was the first circle of your four circles, what can I do to make sure the hardware of my brain? What are the most important things to be cognizant of? To make sure my hardware is in good shape. So that I have a chance of my psychology and my connections, my spiritual circle being successful also. - So I like looking. It's like the brain is one of the only organs that doctors virtually never screen. - You've looked at a lot of brains, right? - I've looked at 230,000 brains. And I mean, I'm obsessed with, if you came to see me and you go, you know, I'm pretty good, but I wanna be great. How's my brain? And we would look at it and is it younger than you are? 'Cause you have good habits. Is it older than you are because your habits aren't so good or, or let's just say it has nothing to do with you. Your mom smoked when she was pregnant with you or she smoked when you were a baby and you're inhaling this second hand smoke, which is stealing a concept I call brain reserve. So your brain health may have something to do with your habits or may have to do with the habits of other people. So I think the first thing it's a concept called brain envy. I often say Freud was wrong. Penis envy is not the cause of anybody's problem. I've actually not seen it once in 40 years. He was focused on the wrong organ. It's the brain. And Freud actually in 1895 said, "The brain science of my time is not up to the task "of explaining patient symptoms." Which was true in 1895. So he went off and developed psychoanalysis and had a lot of really nutty ideas, but some really great ideas. But the brain science now can explain a lot of your symptoms. So the first thing is to assess it. And this is 1991. I ordered my first scan. I started scanning everybody I know. I scanned my aunt who had a panic disorder. I scanned my mother, had a gorgeous brain, which fit her life. And then I scanned myself and it wasn't awesome. And because I played football in high school, had meningitis when I was a young soldier. I had bad habits. I wasn't sleeping. I ate a lot of bad food. And I was the top neuroscience student in medical school. But I didn't care about my own brain. And when I saw it, that's when I fell in love with it. Wanted my mother's brain, the idea of brain envy. And I've been in love with it ever since. And one of my patients said when he saw his scan for the first time, was like seeing one of his children. And he knew he'd never heard it again. And so that's step number one. You want a healthy brain? You gotta care about it. Step two, you have to avoid things that hurt it. And you just have to sort of know the list. And step three, is engage in regular brain healthy habits. Again, you just have to know the list. And the simplest way, and I love this, and I noticed throughout my books, throughout the arc of the evolution of my books, the prescriptions get easier and easier. 'Cause I'm always thinking, how do I plant it? So it takes root and grow. And I work with BJ Fogg. I don't know if you know Dr. Fogg from Stanford. He's in charge of the persuasive tech lab. It was basically, how do people change? And he said, either they have an epiphany. So when I saw my first scan, it was an epiphany. I didn't want an unhealthy brain. 'Cause I understand what that means for my life. But he said, most people, it's not the epiphany, it's the tiny habits. It's like, what's the smallest thing you can do today that will make the biggest difference? And it comes down to the mother tiny habit. So whenever you come to a decision point in your day, like you're at the gas station, is this, you ask yourself this question. Takes three seconds. Is this good for my brain or bad for it? And if you can answer that with information and love, and this is very important, love of yourself, love of your mission, love of your work, you just start making better decisions. And whenever I say, well, you shouldn't do this and you shouldn't do that, it just never works. You gotta tie into, I want something special for my life. And this is gonna get it for me. And so if I'm at the gas station, I'm looking at the waters and I'm like, okay, what's got a non-toxic bottle attached to it? And I'm going for the nuts, because people who have a fat-based diet, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, healthy fish, healthy oils, have 42% less risk of getting Alzheimer's disease. People have a simple carbohydrate-based diet. So most of the stuff in the gas station, Brad, pasta, potatoes, rice, fruit juice and sugar, the standard American diet, have a 400% increased risk of getting Alzheimer's disease. This is a study from the Mayo Clinic. And I love that you're monitoring your blood sugar, I just love that so much, because Alzheimer's disease, people refer to it often as type three diabetes. And one of the best things you can do for your health is make sure you're fasting blood sugars under 90. And if it tends to run high, you can go, I'd take my performing for that. Or you can get rid of this simple carbohydrates in your diet. So there's two things I was really compelled by as you were speaking in two directions I wanted to go in.
Why don't we make the right choices? (25:11)
The first is I want to know the list. When we talk about the things that are good and bad for the brain, but just before we get on to that, you said about how you have to pause during your day when you're making decisions and ask yourself, is this good for my brain? Now, I often wonder why people know information, but don't change. You talked about the persuasive tech lab. I've always wanted what the connection between someone's self-worth and their ability to do the right thing when they're in that moment of making a decision for or against them, because it's been my observation, which is completely unproven that people who have, and I wondered if you'd seen this in your practice, but people that have a, maybe a more stressed life, a lower sort of self-worth, a lower sort of self-image of themselves, tend to make short-term decisions that are less constructive or positive for the brain. But just generally in life anyway. And I wondered if there's a link there. I often, I'm asking this question, 'cause I often wonder with some people that are close to me, with some of my friends, why they continue to make decisions that they objectively know aren't healthy. They're not good for their, you know, their life, their long-term prospects of relationships, their health, whatever it might be. And I just, it's a bit of a left field question, but is there a correlation in your view between one's self-esteem, their self-worth, their self-image, and their ability to sort of delay gratification and make the right health decisions? So it's actually connected that, do you know about the marshmallow test? I do, yes, I really about it. Yeah, so Walter Mitchell from Stanford would give children, small children, three, four-year-old children, an opportunity to either have a marshmallow now, or two, a bit later. And the children who delayed gratification, their self-esteem was better. Their success virtually in every area of their life was better. Now, he later discovered you can actually train the ability to delay gratification. There's another study at Stanford. I love the study so much. They looked at 1,500 and 41 10-year-old children in 1921. It's the longest longevity study ever done. And Lewis Terman, psychologist at Stanford, evaluated them, and then he and others followed them for 90 years, looking at what goes with health, success, and longevity. And what he found was a bit shocking that don't worry, be happy people, died the earliest from accidents and preventable illnesses. And I always wanted to be that, 'cause I've never been the don't worry, be a happy person. I like show up on time, I'm driven, I'm motivated. Of all my books, they get turned in a week or two early. I'm like, no, conscientious. And what they found was people who were conscientious lived the longest. - What's it, don't worry, be happy person. How'd you define it? - Well, it's my brother. And I love my brother, but he's 150 pounds overweight. And he leaves work at three o'clock, plays golf. He just doesn't care. And for years, I tried to help him get healthy. And I even set him up with the cutest nutritionist who I trusted, and he didn't show up. And then I realized I was cared more about this than he was, and it sort of broke my heart. But it's that nonchalant attitude that's not taking things seriously. And it'll kill him early, and that breaks my heart. - Can you tell me about the journey of trying to help your brother, because I think a lot of people listening to this have their own experience with trying to help someone that they love. And it's an often resentful, bitter, failing battle. I've been there myself. - So let me switch it to my dad. - Okay. - Because that has a better ending, at least now. I did not have a good relationship with my father. When I told my dad I wanted to be a psychiatrist, he asked me why I didn't want to be a real doctor. Why I wanted to be a nut doctor and hang out with nuts all day long. And that's just hurtful. But I'd already not cared what he thought. 1972, I turned 18, I get to vote. George McGovern, who's very liberal, is running against Richard Nixon. And I'm like, maybe I'll vote for McGovern. And my dad said if I did, the country would go to hell. Well, I did, and the country went to hell, but had nothing to do with McGovern, it had to do with Nixon and Watergate and all that craziness. So we were like butting heads. When I started looking at the brain, I'm like, come on, dad, I went, let me scan your brain. And he said no until years later. And I'm like, dad, what I'm learning is the brain is an organ, like your heart is an organ. We gotta get you healthy. And he's like, oh great, my nut doctor son is now a health nut. He's like, what's with you and the nuts? And so for 25 years, I nudged him to get healthy and he belittled me, he made fun of me, he would do it publicly and it was hurtful. But his opinion of me, even though it hurt, it didn't matter, I kept doing what I do. And when he was 85, they had mold in their house and he developed a chronic cough. And then a heart arrhythmia. And then heart failure. And I went over his house and I saw he was depressed. And my dad didn't get depressed. My dad gave depression, but he didn't get depression. And he looked at me and he said, Danny, I'm sick of being sick. What do you want me to do? And he so stubborn, he did everything I asked him to do. He texts me a picture of the food. He's like, can I eat this? And I'm like, send me the ingredient list. And then I would circle it and I'm like, in what universe is this good for you? And I'm one of seven children. Now he starts talking about me to all of them. And they would text me and tell him to not be so enthusiastic. And we started working out together. He's a beast. He could do a six minute plank 'cause he's so stubborn. And over six months he lost 40 pounds. His energy came back, his heart was better. He starts driving again and live the next five years in love with his brain and love with his body. And if he would have died, before those five years, I think I would have always been left with a whole in my soul. That helped. Repair it. And the only reason he did it is 'cause I did. The only reason he got healthy is because I modeled the message. And ultimately that's what I tell my patients. You never know when they're gonna turn. Like I still never know if my brother will turn. I love him. I model. I'm always there with a suggestion, right? But I'm not caring more than he cares. - What would that have whole have been? - I think it's one of the big gifts that I was given that he looked at me and said, what do you want me to do? - Is that, I'm assuming from hearing that, it's because that was the moment where he kind of accepted you and your worth and your job and your. - Yes. And he told everybody besides me, that how proud he was of me. Yeah. And the first time he told me love me was when I was 50. Which is just nuts when you think about it. I mean, he's from a different generation than I just can't even imagine it. - When we have someone in our lives that maybe wasn't fair to us in some way, whether it's a parent or an ex-partner or whatever, how do we not let the resentment or the negative emotions or the negative experiences, all that feeling of injustice in us, that this situation wasn't fair, how do we get to a place of empathy with those people so that we can live without the burden of that resentment or regret or whatever it might be? - Well, I have a perfect example. So I started imaging in 1991. I am a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. I want a research award. I am respected by my colleagues, but I start imaging. And initially there was acceptance. And then because the imaging doesn't really go with the diagnostic orthodoxy, they're like, you shouldn't do that. And now I'm caught in a bind. I love being connected to my colleagues, but there's no way I'm not looking at your brain if I can. And so there's this tension. And for three or four years, I feel challenged. I feel belittled. I feel anxious. And I'm starting to become ostracized from my group. So I'm anxious and I'm furious. And then in 1995, my nine-year-old nephew, Andrew, attacks a little girl on the baseball field for no reason. So my brother's youngest son. And my sister-in-law calls me up and she's crying. And she said she went into his room that day and found two pictures. He'd drawn one of them. He's hanging from a tree in a suicide attempt. Nine years old. The other one, he's shooting other children. So he's like Columbine or Parkland, Florida or Sandy Hook. I mean, we're into that kind of darkness. And 999 child psychiatrists out of the thousand would have put them on medicine and put them in therapy. But because now four years I've been looking at the brain, we'd already correlated violence to the left temporal lobe, left temporal lobe dysfunction, often went with violence. I'm like, I wanna see him. And so they drove eight hours and I'm sitting with my nephew who I'm also his godfather. And I'm like, buddy, what's going on? He said, Uncle Danny, I don't know. I'm mad all the time. I said, is anybody hurting you? I said, no. Is anybody teasing you? He said, no. Is anybody touching you in places? They shouldn't be touching you. I said, no. And when I held his hand while we scanned him, when the scan came up on the computer screen, he had a cyst the size of a golf ball occupying the space of his left temporal lobe. It's the first time I've seen it. I've seen it a hundred times since. And when the neurosurgeon drained it, his behavior completely went back to normal. It was that moment the war began for me. It's like, if you don't look, you don't know, stop lying about it. And I became a warrior to change psychiatry. But there's a lot of negativity with being a warrior. I was also in the army. I was an army psychiatrist. And what I came to realize is a wonderful psychologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, Worthington, who came up with a method for forgiveness. Because when you're holding on to that toxicity, it's sort of like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. And he did this method and someone murdered his mother. And he said it even worked for him when he was dealing with the grief of losing his mother to a horrible crime. And so I can recall the hate that I've experienced. So that's the R. So we'll call it in detail. The E is empathize. It's like, so what are the haters feeling? You're doing something they don't know. You're doing something that's different than them. You're doing something that threatens them. See if I'm right and I'm right. Everything in my body knows I'm right. 230,000 scans later, this isn't fake, this is real. And if you don't look, you miss all sorts of important things. But they don't know that. And if they don't know it and they're threatened, well, of course they're angry. I mean, I still hold on to, they should at least come visit. Right? I mean, my work is so public. The A is altruistically give them the gift of forgiveness. 'Cause, and I actually don't really pay attention to them because I do what I can, we publish studies, but I don't need the negativity. So you altruistically give them the gift of forgiveness, commit to it and hold on to it. And if you can do that for that relationship, you have more control over your happiness. Plus, if you're me, you're like, I wonder what their brain is like. And so one of the first things the scans did for me is they increased forgiveness. So I asked my dad to get scanned, 1991. My mom came 'cause she's like, what can I do to support you? I don't wanna do that. My dad, 12 years in a row. No, I don't wanna do that. Why do you want me to do that? No, I don't wanna do that. And then he came. And I'd never seen this in a 72 year old person, his anterior cingulate. So we should talk a little bit about different parts of the brain and how they influence work. His anterior cingulate, it's the brain's gear shifter. It allows you to go from thought to thought, move from idea to idea, be flexible, go with the flow. And when it's busy, and he had the busiest anterior cingulate of any older person I'd ever seen, worry, hold grudges. My dad was masterful at holding grudges. Argumentative, oppositional. I used to joke that I'm like, "Dad, why is it every time I ask you for something?" You say, "No." He goes, "I don't do that." I'm like, "No, you do it. Why?" He's like, "I don't know. It's just easier." And Tony Blair, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, said the first hallmark of a leader is his ability to say, "No." Well, my dad was just masterful at it. But I have to tell you, seeing that part of his brain so busy was helpful for me to forgive him. That it was a brain misfire rather than it was a soul misfire. - You talk a lot in your book about how we can reverse a lot of these things, and we can change our brain, which I guess is the hopeful, optimistic side of all of this.
You're not stuck with the brain you have (42:37)
So in the case of your father, you see that in his brain. Is there something that can be done to change it? - Absolutely. - I mean, that's sort of the big exciting message of my life, is you're not stuck with the brain you have. You can make it better and I can prove it. I did the big NFL study when the NFL was lying that it had a problem about traumatic brain injury in football. I'm scanned 350 NFL players at high levels of damage. Stop lying about it. But 80% of my players get better when we put them on a rehabilitation program. And there's a story in the book about a mixed martial artist who I was giving a lecture at the clinic and he raised his hand and he said, "I just really love your work, "but you're not gonna like what I do." I'm like, "What's that?" He said, "I'm a mixed martial artist." And I'm like, "Well, I can like you, but yeah, you're right. "I'm not a fan of people bashing your head in." And I said, "Let's look at your scan." And it was troubled. I said, "You know, I know these supplements work "because they were my NFL formula, "but I don't know how fast they work. "Will you come tomorrow at eight o'clock? "I'm gonna give you the supplements. "I give my NFL players. "And then I'm gonna scan you two and a half hours later." His brain was remarkably better, two and a half hours later. Now, it didn't mean it would stay that way, right? He had to stay on the program and stop doing the things that hurt his brain. But how exciting is that? To know even a couple of hours from now, if I do the right things, my brain can be better. And going back to my dad, what we found is low levels of serotonin go with high activity in the anterior cingulate. So if he would have chosen, I could have calmed it down and helped him be more flexible. Now, he chose not to do that. But I just remember my grandmother, my mom's mom, when she was 92, she went in the hospital diverticulitis. And my mom's mom had always been mean. She was not kind. When she met my wife for the first time, she goes, "Oh, your Danny's next victim." Grandma, I said, "I'm gonna talk bad about you after you're dead." She had that same brain. And when I put her on medicine to increase serotonin, she became sweet, which just goes, it makes you wonder, how many people end up divorced because of a brain dysfunction that could be fixed? It's just given me great empathy. It's easy, easy, easy to call someone bad. It's harder to ask why. - In the case of your father or your grandmother, is their brain and the mood kind of disorder that you've observed in it, is that a consequence of chronic bad habits in terms of brain health in your view? - It's always both, that whenever you give in to saying no, you make saying no more likely. You develop these ruts in your brain, which is why behavior changes hard, because you have these ruts in your brain where it's after dinner I smoke or it's after dinner I have ice cream or it's the first thing in the morning I have sugar syrup. - And they just become like pathways that-- - They become ruts, like deep pathways in the brain. And I've had them for years, I mean, for a long time before I got healthy. You know, I'd go by Jack in the Box and get a Diet Coke and get a chicken for heat a pita and it was habit. And so sometimes I'll see a Jack in the Box, and be like, oh, and then of course, my supervisor comes in and like, really? And I think of it like-- - Your supervisor is in your better sense. - Well, I think of it like children, that too many people are run by the four year olds in their head, like I have five grandchildren and Haven is four. And Haven is funny and smart and sweet, but she doesn't get her way, she totally can have a fit. And the rule in my house is if you have a tantrum to get your way, the answer is no. It's always gonna be no, go for it. And so it didn't have tantrums with the kids growing up. But too many people, the four year old in their head is running the show. It's like, no, I go by Jack in the Box, I get curly fries and a Coke. I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it. And their parent cell doesn't go, doesn't fit your goals. You don't want it, right? You crave it, and there's a difference between craving and wanting, and it's like inhibit behavior. And that's where, we haven't talked about this yet, and I knew we would on this podcast, the CEO in the brain, right? So the front third of your brain is called the prefrontal cortex. It's called the executive part of the brain. And so you talked about some of your friends who don't make good decisions, who don't wait or delay their impulses, their frontal lobes are probably sleepy or smaller. And that'll give them huge problems in their lives. And my work, I've seen tens of thousands of people have ADD of one form or another, and it often goes with decreased activity in their frontal lobes. - Is that natural nurture? - Nature, with input from nurture. Because they did this great study in Holland where they took 380D kids, put them on an elimination diet, so they basically eliminated all the crap in their diet. And three months later, 72% of the children did not have ADD anymore. So, but when I diagnose someone with ADD, I generally see it, you know, coming down their mom's side or their dad's side. It generally doesn't occur in isolation. It is that strongly heritable. In fact, if I have a kid who's really ADD and I can't find in mom or dad, I look at the kid to see if he looks like mom or dad wondering if they got switched at birth. Just my experience. - Really? - And, really. No, not kidding. And, so say that again. So if the child's brain doesn't resemble the mother of the father, you suspect that. - So I wonder if the child's not related. - If the child had been switched. - Because you're that confidence. - Because I'm that confident about the heritability of this. Now, there are other causes of ADD-like behavior, like traumatic brain injury. The child fell down and flight is stairs and was unconscious, even for just like 15 minutes. That can damage their frontal lobes. If the child was a head banger, that can damage their frontal lobes. And so.
Psychological traumas (50:49)
- Psychological trauma. I sat here with Gabo Maté. - Ah, interesting. We're just doing a study on ACE scores. Do you know about the ACE quiz? Stands for adverse childhood experiences. And it was first done in combination with the CDC and Kaiser. They looked at 17,000 people. And they just gave people this simple questionnaire. And it's 10 of the most common childhood traumas. So physical, emotional, sexual abuse, having a parent with mental illness, with an addiction, incarceration. And you get scored zero to 10. So I have a one. My dad could really be nasty to me. So there's some of that sort of psychological abuse. But I didn't get beaten, no one sexually molested me. So on. My wife, and she wrote a book about this called The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child, has eight out of 10. My two nieces who Tana and I adopted are both nines. And they found if you have four or more, you have an increased risk of seven of the top 10 leading causes of death. If you have six or more, you die 20 years earlier. Now it's not a death sentence if you know it and you work on it, like Tana has, you have normal lifespan. But how wild is that? And so when I learned about it, I started giving it to all of our patients. And I now have 10,000 ACE scores on my patients. And we looked at their brains. And what we found is it tends to activate the medial frontal lobe and they become hyper alert. They begin to watch what bad thing is going to happen. And I love a therapy. Have you ever heard of EMDR? - Yes, I've heard of it. - It's a psychological treatment for trauma, stands for it. Eye movement, desensitization and reprocess. My favorite psychotherapy. I love doing it with patients. And when I met my wife, she's beautiful, she's smart. I mean, I like fell for her. And then I'm learning about this. So one of my first gifts to her was 10 sessions of EMDR, which I know is pretty weird, but she went for two years. And I think it changed the trajectory of her life because she doesn't live with the past still present. - How did it help her? And what exactly does the therapy involve? - So trust, a good history. And then, so for example, if you came to see me, I would have you write down, we'd do a timeline of your life. I just wanna know for each five year period, what were the great things that happened to you and what were the horrible things that happened to you? And I do that purposefully so you'll have a balanced view. If you just talk about the crap in your life, you feel like crap. And then I'd have you write down the top 10 traumas. And then it's a structured process, but I'd have you bring up the worst one. We always go for the worst first. And while you bring it up, I'll get your eyes to go back and forth. And we'll let your brain direct where you need to go. And so initially you could feel relive the trauma, but then it tends to dissipate. As opposed to just talking about the trauma, generally you relive it and feel like crap. The bilateral hemisphere stimulation helps it sort of just sucks the life out of it. You still remember it, but it's not haunting you anymore. You can go, yeah, that happened, but you're not sweating or you're not having nightmares. And it just takes therapy to a whole different level. It's sort of like doing mushrooms with outside effects. - If I wanted to, you know, earlier on you said, you gave like three points and the second point was you just gotta know the list. So you said, if you wanna damage your brain, if you wanna hurt your brain, you just gotta know the list. If you wanna help your brain and have a healthy brain, you gotta know the list. Going to the damaging my brain part, if I was intent on damaging my own brain, what would you advise me to do? - So in the book, I talk about it in a monic called Bright Minds. You wanna keep your brain healthy or rescue it. You have to prevent or treat the 11 major risk factors that steal your mind. So if you wanna damage your brain, Bright Minds, the B is for blood flow. Low blood flow is the number one brain imaging predictor of Alzheimer's disease. - Okay. - How do you get low blood flow? - Cafe. - Oh shit. - Nicotine, marijuana, alcohol, having a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight. The R is retirement and aging.
Why is caffeine bad? (56:43)
- Can we pause on this low blood flow? You are the first person I've ever spoken to who has a comprehensive and very believable hypothesis that caffeine has a side effect. I've asked my guests over and over again because I think people refer to caffeine often as like this miracle drug that comes with no cost. But you're the first one through my research that seems to be very clear that caffeine does have a significant cost. - It's a drug. It's the most common drug. It's addictive. I mean, a little bit's fine, but more than a little bit is not fine. It increases cortisol. You know, when I increase cortisol, puts fat around your belly. It shrinks your hippocampus. But you know, the reason I started really paying attention to it is on-spact, the study I do, which is a blood flow study, it constricts blood flow 30%. I have all my patients hold caffeine the morning of their scans because I don't want it to artificially show me they have less blood flow than they really do. It fakes you out to think you have energy. What it does is it blocks a denticing, the chemical that tells you to go to sleep. And so often people rely on caffeine because they're sleep deprived, but it's just this bad cycle. And so many of my patients stop. And uniformly they tell me they feel better. They said their energy's better. - You talk about one particular patient in the book who was struggling with a variety of difficulties. I think it was like brain fog and memory issues and so on. And one of the things you advised him to do was to cut coffee. - Jeff, yeah. I remember Jeff, he was a pilot. I live on caffeine. I'm like, you gotta get rid of it 'cause the brain looked terrible. - His brain looked terrible. - His brain looked terrible. And he's like, no, no, no. And he's like, all right, I'm gonna do it. And so he didn't get headaches. We cut it down by 5% a day. So three weeks it was gone. He didn't have any withdrawal. He didn't have any headaches. And he's like texting me. Unbelievable energy. Unbelievable clarity. And it's a drug. And why, you know, I wanna teach my patients skills. I don't want them to just take pills. And caffeine's a drug. - Do you drink caffeine? - A little bit, not much. - How much was Jeff having? - Jeff was having about 600 milligrams a day. - Jesus Christ. - Which is two venti-starbucks. One venti-starbucks is 330 milligrams of caffeine. And, you know, we've supersized everything in this country. I don't know if they do that in the UK, but we certainly do it here. And it's not a good strategy.
What is damaging our brains? (01:00:03)
- And so long-term restriction of blood flow to the brain through these things you've described, caffeine, marijuana, all of these things has a detrimental impact on the development of the brain. Pretty straightforward. I get that. So that's the B. - As far as retirement and aging. You wanna prematurely age your brain? Drop out of school. Do not engage in new learning. I mean, you doing this podcast, you're always learning. New things, which is great for you. But the lack of, when you learn something new, your brain makes a new connection. When you stop learning, or you start doing the same thing over and over again, your brain starts to disconnect itself. Being in a job that does not require new learning is a risk factor for dementia. Being lonely is a risk factor for dementia. So be an ass and be more likely to hurt your brain. At my workplace, we have the no-asshole rule. So there's a book by a Stanford professor called The No Asshole Rule. Love that book. And the no-asshole rule as a CEO starts with me. So I don't get to be one, but I'm not tolerating anybody who has asshole behavior at work. And if you're not an asshole, you're less likely to be lonely. And loneliness is terrible for brain function. If you wanna prematurely age your brain, eat a lot of red meat as if your iron and ferritin levels are high. Because ferritin, it's just stored iron, 10 stage the brain. The eye is inflammation. If you wanna increase inflammation, which is a root cause of so many medical and mental health issues, never floss. Don't really care about your teeth. So you wanna love your brain, you have to love your mouth. It's absolutely critical for you not to have gum disease. Because if you have genovitis off odds are, you're at increased risk for heart disease and depression and dementia. It's fascinating. Like I didn't learn about this and I didn't really care about my teeth. And so I started seeing the lengths between gum disease and heart disease, gum disease and brain disease. And now I'm a flossing fool. But if you want to damage your brain, don't care about your mouth, about your teeth. Don't ever eat fish. People who have grilled or baked fish once a week have more gray matter in their brain. People have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have smaller brains. And if you wanna damage your brain, eat the standard American diet. So process food like eat most of your calories from the gas station and from the fast food restaurants nearby. And they spend billions on getting those foods to the perfect crunchiness, the perfect meltingness, the perfect aroma, because they hire neuroscientists to addict your brain. Be suspicious. The G is genetics. You wanna damage your brain? Blame everything on your genes. Like I have obesity and heart disease in my family, but I'm not overweight and I don't have heart disease. Why? I'm on an obesity heart disease prevention program every day of my life. Because genes load the gun. It's what happens to us and what we choose to do that pulls the trigger. So I adopted my nieces because their parents couldn't stop using drugs. And I'm like adamant. If you want my help, you have to cooperate. There's no vaping. There's no drug use. There's no alcohol. And it's working. I taught them a new word last week. Squamiting. Have you heard of squamiting? I haven't. It's a combination of screaming and vomiting. And because of the legalization of marijuana and the increase use, teenagers are getting this. And in record numbers, they're in emergency rooms, screaming and vomiting. It's called squamiting. So, genes load the gun, but know your risk and be on that prevention program. I mean, that's just the sign of intelligent life. The H is head trauma. You want to damage your brain, play football, play soccer, play rugby and box. It's and text while you're walking in LA. I mean, you're just more likely to have a brain injury. - Because you fall over just because in case that wasn't clear, people are going to think texting is bad for their brain. The T is toxins. So, see alcohol is a health food. It's total crap. See, marijuana is innocuous. It's total crap. I mean, I'm happy they legalized it. Please don't put people who use marijuana in jail. It's a really bad use of resources. Really stupid. But let's not say it's good for us because teenagers who use have an increased risk of anxiety, depression, suicide, and psychosis. That's not okay. The brain undergoes wild development. And people sort of don't get this. They think little kids, their brain is undergoing wild development. But from the time you're 15 to 25, it's gone through wild construction. In fact, that's when the highways are being myelinated. Have you ever heard of myelin? Myelin is a white fatty substance that gets wrapped on your neurons. And when a neuron or a brain cell becomes myelated, it becomes 10 to 100 times faster. It's more efficient. And when a baby's born, there's very little myelin in the cortex laid down. When they're about two months old, they're occipital lobes, their visual cortex becomes myelinated. And when you smile at them, they smile back because they can really see you. Well, slowly myelination goes from the back all the way to the front, but it doesn't get to the front until you're about 25. So this masterpiece building, if you will, is under construction until you're 25. So many teenagers, it's the crappy food. It's just like throwing poison into the construction zone. Marijuana is innocuous. We're going to the parties and getting drunk. And they're damaging the building. And yes, they're ways to repair it. But what idiot would damage the most beautiful building in the neighborhood? And I often say to my teenage patients, I said, "Hey, if you had a million dollar resource, "would you ever feed it junk food? "Would you ever get it stoned? "Would you ever get it drunk?" And the smart ones would go only if you were an idiot. But aren't you worth? So much more. And we have a high school course called Brainthrive by 25. We studied it in 16 schools, decreases drug alcohol and tobacco use, decreases depression and improves self-esteem. And one of the weeks is things to avoid, that have a healthy brain. And at the end of the lecture, it's a boy, never a girl, that's really irritating, raises his hand and goes, "How can you have any fun?" And we play a game with him called Who Has More Fun? The person with the good brain or the person with the bad brain? Who gets the girl and gets the keeper because he's not an ass? The person with the good brain or the person with the bad brain, who gets into the college they want to get into, who has the best life. And ultimately, it's the person with the good brain. So we're at T and you want to damage your brain, undergo general anesthesia for plastic surgery over and over again. General anesthesia is bad for the brain. Never read the ingredients on your personal product, labels, because you know there's an epidemic of low testosterone in young males. It's crazy. I was reading the stats the other day.
Why testosterone has dropped 50% (01:09:27)
It's because we're poisoning them. Isn't that why? That's why. What is the headline start there regarding testosterone in men? It's decreasing, isn't it, year over year? Year over year and more than half have either low normal or low levels. I've never seen anything like it. I've been measuring testosterone levels in my patients forever. And we're poisoning them. There's an app I like called Think Dirty. It's not what you think it is. It allows you to scan your personal products. And it tells you on a scale of one to ten how quickly they're killing you. So for example, I've shaved with Barbra's All for 50 years. And when I learned this a decade ago, I like scanned it. One is good, tennis kill you early. It was a nine. And I was horrified because the parabens and thalates are known hormone disruptors. So now I shave with something called Kiss My Face. It's a two, last longer than Barbra's All. And I do that because I love myself. I mean, why would I poison myself unless I was not that smart? And so just start reading the labels of your toothpaste, of your deodorant, of your shampoo, of your body wash, of your makeup. And what am I looking for? Because if I read the labels of my toothpaste, I mean, I wouldn't know if it was good or bad. So you can scan it with the EWG, the environmental working group has an app similar to that. You just educate yourself because it's not just about you. It's about generations of you because the health of your body matters when it comes to what babies you may make. Okay. M is mental health. Believe every stupid thing you think. Be masterful. You want to damage your brain? Be masterful at predicting the worst and then making it worse. How does that have about impacting the brain? Negativity increases stress. Plus negativity drops activity in your cerebellum. So we talked a little bit about the CEO, the prefrontal cortex. Well, it's intimately connected to the processing part of your brain, your cerebellum. It's about 10% of the brain's volume but has half the brain's neurons. And negativity tends to deactivate it. So it actually makes you more confused. So if you think of an athletic slump, they're focused on, "I'm going to miss, I'm going to miss," and of course they miss. The second eye is immunity and infections. So much to talk about with the pandemic, but people who have low vitamin D levels are much more likely to die from COVID. They're actually much more likely to die from virtually anything. Low vitamin D, which occurs in about 60% of the population, is associated virtually with every bad thing, including a smaller brain. So if you want to have a smaller brain, never go in the sun, never test your vitamin D level and never take a supplement. Brand new study out just last week, people who take a vitamin D supplement have 40% decrease risk of getting Alzheimer's disease. How simple is that? How do they establish causation in these studies where you, one would also assume that people that take vitamin D supplements have a general... So this was a prospective study where they gave half the group vitamin D and then they followed them. It was a fascinating study, but there are tens of thousands of study on vitamin D and its impact and the darker your skin, the more sun you need. So an interesting study from the Bahamas, they looked at people who were raised in the Bahamas who then migrated to the United Kingdom. So healthy vitamin D to no vitamin D because of the weather. So from Botswana and the incidence of psychosis went up. So and how simple is it? It's a blood test. Get your vitamin D measured. Everybody listening to this, you should know it like you know your BMI, like you know your blood pressure and optimize it. Either get in the sun more if you can or take vitamin D3 with vitamin K2. I mean, it's super simple. And I mean, it's like that's easy. That's something you can do right away. If I wanted to mess up my immunity, I would encourage myself to have leaky gut. So I'd encourage myself to damage the lining of my gut with antibiotics and alcohol and pesticide-laden foods. And I wouldn't need any fiber. So I would really lean into the standard American diet. Going back to your point about environmental toxins, I've always wondered if it was like pseudoscience that cosmetic products we have in our house are having an impact on our hormone levels. You were talking about hormone levels there. My partner has always said to me things like be careful with what's in that toothpaste or she'll look at products that I have and go, "Nope, oh yes." I'm like, "Where's the science?" We talked about testosterone and... The science is huge. There's a wonderful book. So if you ever... If you want to get rid of the doubt, it's called The Toxin Solution by Joe Pizorno, who started Bastir University. It's one of the most well-respected naturopaths in the world. Now, if you want a shortened version, read my book, The End of Mental Illness because there's a whole section on toxins with about a hundred scientific references. So you don't want toxins and you don't want to think it's pseudoscience unless you've actually gone to PubMed.gov and studied it. So many people called my work pseudoscience and I'm like, "Go to PubMed.gov today." You'll see I've published 80 studies and oh, by the way, they're 15,000 studies on SPECT. So I'm a fan of your sweetheart.
PCOS & menopause effects (01:16:30)
She always seems to be right about everything. I'm pessimistic on my way in and then, God, this doesn't sound so great, but what she says registers and then I speak to an expert and they go, "Your girlfriend is right." That is the story of my life. So she's just a little bit, and I'll say to her, I'll leave this podcast now and I'll get, she's actually sat over there. I'll go and say, "Oh, by the way, I spoke to him and he said the stuff you said about all the cosmetic products I used is right. She'll, she won't catch you, go, yeah, I know." It happens literally every week, like three or four times a week. One of the things I read in terms of the impact of cosmetics on our hormone levels was that over the last 20 years, our testosterone levels have declined by about 50% on average, which is absolutely terrifying. Terrifying. A lot of friends who are in, I have a staggering amount of friends, people that I know, that are in sexless relationships and are struggling with sex and other hormone-related issues. I've got a friend that is, had a challenge with, it's a POS. PCOS. PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. I just have a suspicion that it's not nature that's causing some of these issues. So when I hear about how the cosmetic products we have in our life are influencing our hormone levels, I go, "Maybe this is the guy that's stitching us away." It's worth making sure someone does an ultrasound on our ovaries to see if that's in fact the case. But I have a funny story on PCOS when I first met my wife. She wouldn't attach. It was more like she was the guy. We'd make love and I'd want to cuddle and she's like, "Okay, done." I loved her and she'd come and she'd go and she's like, "Just make me crazy." And then I took her to, our first fight was on the dog we were going to get. So I wanted like a King Charles Cavalier or it's like a lap dog, something cute, something I could just have fun with. And she wanted a mastiff or she wanted some killer dog. And I'm like, "No, it's just not me." So we got into a fight about that. Anyways, I get her to see a hormone specialist and she diagnoses her with PCOS and it just made such sense. And what she did is an ultrasound of our ovaries. They were like loaded with these little cysts and she treated the PCOS and so PCOS, women's testosterone levels tend to be higher. And their blood sugar tends to be higher and they have more problems committing. So she fixes it and then Tana becomes like committed. I love this. But then she calls me at work one day and she said, "I found this pocket poodle in Northern California that's like two pounds and I'm like, who are you?" It's like change your hormones, change your dog. Do you recommend that we check our hormone levels frequently? Every year. Every year. Every year. DHA testosterone, thyroid, estrogen and progesterone for women every year. Because for women, their progesterone drops about 10 years before they go into menopause. Osterones the natural anti-anxiety hormone and when it drops all of a sudden a woman's 40 and she can't sleep and she's more anxious and she's more irritable and it's causing relationship problems and she goes to the doctor and gets a prescription for Ambien, for Xanax and for Lexapro. And oh by the way, she's drinking more. Her using more marijuana and she doesn't know why and it's easier to replace the progesterone than to deal with all those other strategies that help you feel better now but not later. Is that what they call perimenopause? It's earlier than that. Yeah, perimenopause is sort of for most women in like late 40s. Hormones are so important. And if your hormones aren't right, your brain isn't right. One of the things I talk about in the book is that women have a higher incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Now, part because they live longer than men because they make better decisions. But a man's brain is used to not having estrogen. It's been raised primarily on testosterone. A woman's brain is used to having estrogen. So when she goes through menopause and doesn't have estrogen, blood flow in her brain drops and it puts her at greater risk for things like dementia. And so I'm a big believer in the reason your hormones drop with age. It's the planet's way of eliminating you. And I'm not okay with that. I want to stick around as long as I can. And so hormone replacement can be super helpful for people who need it.
As you might know, the show is now sponsored by Airbnb. Absolutely love Airbnb. Always have. Always been a, you know, saved my life on so many occasions. And my team, when we first got in touch with Airbnb, were talking about how most people don't realize that their place where they currently live could become an Airbnb. And I guess the second question there is how much could your place be worth? And it turns out you could be sitting on an Airbnb goldmine without even knowing it. Some people Airbnb their entire homes when they're away. That's what I did in New York. Whenever I left New York, my place was on Airbnb and people rented it out sometimes for a day, sometimes for two days, sometimes for a week. And it's a great way to cover some of the bills while you're away. So whether you're looking to go on holiday or you just want some extra cash for bills or you want to buy something nice for a Valentine that you love, whatever it might be, head over to Airbnb.co.uk/host. You can find out how much your current property where you live can earn while you're not there. I suspect it might blow your mind because it's certainly blue mine.
How to stop your sleeping problems (01:23:15)
When I was researching you, I read that you've dealt with patients who have chronic difficulty with sleep several times in your career. I've got a lot of friends that always talk about I've got a lot of friends. I've got a lot of friends that have struggled with sleep. Often difficult to know what to say to them to give them advice. What would you recommend in terms of improving sleep? I know I was quite curious because I read about your hypnosis and hypnotherapy treatment which seemed to be quite effective in helping people that were struggling with sleep. But what would you say to someone that struggled with sleep? Three things. Sleep envy. Got to care about it. Avoid things that hurt your sleep and do things that promote it. So what hurts sleep? And most people know, caffeine can, you know, if you have it in the morning, it's still in your body at night. And so know how you metabolize it. If you're having trouble sleeping, I'd kill it. And just see if it has a positive impact. A warm room, impaired sleep, a noisy room, a room with light. They all impaired sleep. Blue light. So having blue light in your eyes after dark impairs melatonin production. What about glucose increases in food? I'm sorry? If I eat before bed, you become a non-dipper, which is so interesting that if you donate three hours before you go to sleep, right at sleep, your blood pressure will drop as you go to sleep. If you eat right before bed, your blood pressure won't dip, won't drop, which puts you at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. Because it's putting more pressure on your blood vessels. And trust me, you don't want a heart attack and you don't want a stroke. So whatever you can do to keep your blood pressure healthy, and that's sort of a simple thing. People who eat before bed generally have the habit of doing it, which is why I'm a huge fan of intermittent fasting. Because if you have dinner at six, you won't eat again until 10 in the next morning. But what that really means is you won't be eating right before bed. And then things to help sleep, we talked about what not to do, what to do every night when I go to bed, I think rituals are wonderful. So I say a prayer and then I go, "What went well today?" And I've been doing this for a decade. And it's a treasure hunt now. I'm like on a mission to find what I liked about my day. And so I start in the morning when I woke up and I just go hour by hour looking for what I liked about the day. And usually by early afternoon I'm asleep, you know, as I'm going through my timeline. But I'm busy. And so often awesome things will happen and I just sort of gloss over them. So it's a time to consolidate. That's what sleep does, consolidate its memories. But now I'm focused on positive things which set my dreams up to be more positive. And people who do that for just three weeks increase their level of happiness. How simple is that? It's amazing.
Types Of Brains And Relationship Compatibility
The different type of brains & relationships compatibility (01:27:02)
You wrote a book about the subject of happiness in 2020. It's called You Happier, the seven neuroscience secrets of feeling good based on your brain type. Now the concept of having a brain type, I find really compelling. You talk about it in this book as well, the idea that we have different brain types. Why does it matter to know what brain type I have and what are the brain types? There's 16. There's five primary types. Right. Spontaneous, persistent, sensitive and cautious. Why do you want to know? Because they're going to tell you where you're going to suffer. And if you know your type and the type of your partner or the type of your children, you'll actually be able to work on happiness in the relationship better. And so for example, the balanced person really has a pretty healthy brain and they tend to be pretty even. And they just basically need, they need basic foundational support. We all know that person. I'm sorry. I know a lot of those people that have a seemingly balanced brain. Yeah. And then the spontaneous people, you probably know a lot of them as well. They are spontaneous, they're creative, they're out of the box, thinkers. They also tend to be impulsive, easily distracted, disorganized, they tend to be late. And they love novelty and they love surprises. Entrepreneurs? They're often entrepreneurs. And they often marry the persistent type. Which is type three. Which they're like a dog with a bone, they stay with stuff. They're on time. They hate surprises. They like ritual. They like routine. It's safe for them. And so throw them a surprise party and they'll be unhappy. It won't be joyful for them. It will be stressful for them. The pandemic was really hard on the spontaneous people because they're often extroverts where the persistent people tend more to be introverts. And they sort of liked not having to deal with a lot of other unpredictable people. In that way is the phrase that opposites attract quite true. Because yes, someone that's a bit spontaneous and maybe an entertainer and entrepreneur goes for someone who's a bit more controlled and rigid and likes a schedule. You see it in relationships. You see one partner that's typically doesn't care about planning the holiday. And the other person who's done the itinerary perfectly and they make for a good team. They do initially. Initially. Then they fight. Because the persistent person can hold grudges. The spontaneous person can say things that hurt their feelings and they end up seeing me. In fact, I did a study called the couples from Hell's study where I scanned 500 couples who failed marital therapy but still wanted to be together. And 80% of them, the scan showed one or both of them needed to tune up in their brand. And my first case, which I still remember Gary and Judy initially hated them because I knew I wasn't going to help them. They brought their kids to me. One kid got better. The other one didn't. I saw the other kid and I realized he's not getting better because mom and dad hate each other. So I'm like, I want to see you guys in marital therapy. And they said, Dr. Ayman, we really like you. We don't do well in marital therapy. We tried four times and it always makes us worse. And in my head, this was my own grandiose thinking. I'm like, well, maybe they just hadn't seen anybody really good. So I saw them and on their first visit, they sat on the opposite end of each couch. It's a bad sign in marital therapy. And after about three months, I know I'm not going to help them. She has a PhD in Grudge Holding. And he's always late. He says, awful, impulsive, stupid things. And I'm like, at the end of six months, I start getting physical stress symptoms because I hate being ineffective. I hate that. And nine months, I'm in my shower getting ready to come to work. And I realize they're on my schedule and my stomach starts to hurt. I'm like, today I'm going to tell them to get divorced because it's not good for children to be in a home of chronic conflict. But I grew up Roman Catholic and the idea of divorce, especially 30 years ago was awful. And the Catholic voice visited me and said, oh, great, because you're not a good enough therapist, they're going to get divorced and go to hell. I looked at the water faucet and went, how much therapy does this take to get over? And I got out of the shower, called my friend who on the imaging center. They said, hey, Jack, will you give me two scans for the price of one? And he's like, why? I said, Jack, I have this couple and they're not getting better. And it's making me crazy. I want to see their brain. He's like, we could start a business and call it brain match.com. Anyways, they got scanned. Her frontal lobes work way too hard, just like my dad. He had sleepy frontal lobes and I'm like, how did you miss this? He has ADD. She has OCD tendencies. I put him on Ritalin. I put her on Prozac. I just read it in an article, if you believe in random chance the night before that Prozac comes down the single at Jairus. And they were fascinated and engaged by the brain because they knew it wasn't working. They took the medicine. I told them I didn't want to see them for a month because I was tired and I wanted them to have medicine to work. When they came back, they sat on the same couch. He had his hand on her leg. That's a good sign in marital therapy. And 33 years later, they're still married. Wow. And they don't see therapists because they learned what they needed to learn, like responsibility and empathy and listening and assertiveness and noticing what you like more than what you don't like, grace and forgiveness. They learned it and their brains could process it, right? Go back to hardware, fix the hardware. The software is more likely to take it. I read that you had a divorce at age 47 and you made a remark that you wouldn't get married again unless you got to scan your partner's brain. It's absolutely true. There's no way I would marry someone unless I saw their brain. It was more important than seeing them naked. And I met Tana January 1, 2006 and her first scan was January 24. You scan to the same month? I scan her. I like her a lot. And she's a neurosurgical ICU nurse. So we sort of bonded over the brain a little bit, but she said it was one of the best lines that I want to see her naked brain. I don't think I actually phrased it like that, but that's the story she tells. Is there a really clear correlation between when you think if you were to be a matchmaker professionally, you know, if that was if you pivoted to the matchmaking industry, what cut you talked about the five types of brain, what types of brain would you try and pair together? Because if type two, the spontaneous doesn't work with the persistent because they end up arguing, is there a pairing sequence that results in an optimal marriage or relationship retention? So balance brains tend to do really well with balance brains. The guy I was thinking about spontaneous brains, they need someone that just keeps their dopamine flowing because they have lower dopamine levels. So often getting their EDD treated, that will help get them on a ketogenic diet, which helps steady their dopamine levels. That can be helpful. I think I'm a spontaneous. I'm sorry. I think I'm a spontaneous. We'll see. The persistent types tend to struggle because it's the my way or the highway part. The cautious persistent types tend to do really well because they're anxious enough that they're thinking about other people's feelings. I think we missed. So we got to three, didn't we? We got to number three, which was the persistent number four is sensitive. Sensitive. They're deeply empathic, often insightful, intuitive, can be empaths, but they tend to be prone to depression. They have a lot of ants running around. Unless they discipline them, they make great therapists. Do they have high levels of stress? No, that's the cautious type. Which is number five. Five. Yeah. They are loaded with the fortune telling ant. They often will get involved with these conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, some of the conspiracy theories tended to be true. That's really hard. Like, you know, I'm a psychiatrist for 40 years because someone comes in my office and goes "The NSA is listening to my phone." And I'm thinking, "It's funny, do I need drugs?" And it's like, "No, the NSA is listening to their phone calls." So it's been an interesting time for a psychiatrist. But it's the predicting the worst. And I tell my patients, "The only people should really predict the worst are contract lawyers." I mean, they should protect you from what bad things are going to happen other than that you want to predict what's going to go right. So if I am a spontaneous, which of those five brain types the balance, the spontaneous, the persistent, the sensitive, the cautious, should I marry balanced? Okay. You want... Now, if you're a CEO, you want a persistent, a persistent, cautious type. So that's type 11 to manage you. This is a really important point. If you are a business leader and you tend to be spontaneous, do not have a spontaneous assistant because it'll stress you out and stuff won't get done and the IRS will come knock on your door because you're not going to be filling out the paperwork. Right. It's really important. You need to know your strengths, know your vulnerabilities, and hire to cover your vulnerabilities. Too many spontaneous people hire people they like that are like them, which leads to stress and chaos. It's very true. In all of my businesses, I've always found managing directors who are calmer, more organized, more risk-aware individuals. It's always worked really well because I tend to be very risk, very prone to taking risks. My default position, which I've had to learn, so I've had to become self-aware and counteract it, is to pursue multiple things at once. I have this ongoing conversation with my brain to say, "Focus. Your better self, your wisdom knows that focus is your biggest pitfall." A lack of focus is your biggest pitfall. That brings me to another point, which was this idea you touched on earlier on about disassociating from your brain. Are you giving your brain a name as you call it in your book so that you can have a conversation with it? That sounds like a funny thing to do. If I call my brain, I'm going to give my brain a name. My brain is now called, and I call it Daniel. There's Stephen, who is me, and there's Daniel, who is me. Daniel is my brain, and I am Stephen. What is the upside in creating the separation? Psychological distance from the noise in your head. You don't attach to it. If it's Daniel, then you can accept what he says, or you can reject it. When I first heard about this from Stephen Hayes, I'm like, "What would I give a name?" I named myself after my pet raccoon when I was 16. Like my mind, Hermy was a sh*tster. She'd tee-pied my mother's bathroom. She ate all the fish out of my sister's aquarium. She'd leave raccoon poo in my shoes. I loved her. I loved me. But my mind is a troublemaker. It'll like contrap all sorts of negative scenarios. If I separate from it, I can put Hermy metaphorically in her cage. Now what I do, because I love Her, is I'll put Her on her back and I'll tickle Her. Or I'll cut her on her. I'm like, "It's going to be alright. You don't have to believe every stupid thing you think. Yes, we are going to die, but we're not going to die today." And you can live in the presence by managing your thoughts, by not attaching to them, by separating from them. That's where peace lives. That's where happiness lives when you can step outside and just go, "I'm not my thoughts. My thoughts might come from my dad's generation. It might have been some of his trauma, or it might come from the voice of my mom and dad growing up or the voice of the priest or my siblings or the music I listen to." And just because you have a thought has nothing to do with whether or not it's true or whether or not it's helpful. The brain is a sneaky organ. We all have weird, crazy, stupid, sexual, violent thoughts that nobody should ever hear. I tell my patients this all the time. One of my patients goes, "Oh, I had an indecent thought about my teenage daughter's friend. I'm a pedophile." And I'm like, "That's a big leap. Did you like climbing bed with her? Did you make plans to talk?" He says, "No, no, none of that." I'm like, "Dude, you're not a pedophile. It's just your brain playing tricks on you. Just because you have that thought, well, a whole bunch of people have that thought, but they don't do anything about the thought." But people don't understand that thoughts are just creations of neuronal function, and your frontal lobe should evaluate. This is a helpful thought. I should pursue this thought. Stay away from this thought. This thought doesn't fit my goals. If I am a spontaneous brain type then, is there anything I can do without drugs to become a balanced brain type? So first thing, one-page miracle. Write it out. It's an exercise in the book. What do you want? Just like as a CEO of a company, you have a business plan and you have quarterly goals. Write it out. What do you want in your relationships, in your work, in your money, in your physical, emotional, spiritual health? Why write it down? Because you're telling your brain what you want. Then every day, you know what it is. You memorize that thing. Then each decision you make, you ask yourself, "Does it fit? Does my behavior fit the goals I have for my life?" What you're doing is you're activating your prefrontal cortex. The part of your brain that if you really are spontaneous, that's the sleepy part of your brain. The first thing is intention, to have a business plan, or have a plan for your life. The second thing, you have to make sleep a priority. Because if you tend to be spontaneous, that goes way up when you haven't slept. That also goes way up when your blood sugar is low. It's not just high blood sugar is the problem. It's often low blood sugar. It's one of my celebrities who kept getting arrested and trouble. I did a fasting blood sugar on him. It was 49. It was way too low. He had hypoglycemia. When I got him to eat four or five times a day, he never got arrested again. Make sure your diet's right, and my spontaneous people tend to do really well on ketogenic diets or low simple carbohydrate diets. That diet will make the persistent type crazy because that's a focus diet where if you put someone who can't stop thinking on a focused diet, they think more on the things that bother them. The diet really depends on the type, which we'll talk about in the book. Exercise, tensorobic exercise, boost dopamine. There's some simple supplements like L-tyrosine, or I make something called focus and energy that's got ashwagandha, ginseng, rodeola, and culling, things that help you focus but don't amp you. Daniel.
Last guest’s question (01:46:07)
We have a new tradition on this podcast. At the end of the day, I have a CO episode. We ask all of our guests to write a question and to put it into the book, the Dirova CO. You will be asked to do the same just before you leave. Recently, what we've done, because we understand that these conversations foster a sense of connection in people because they're a little bit more vulnerable than your usual conversations, and we believe that that's the door to connection, is we've turned some of the questions in this book into cards that people can play at home. This is a brand new thing we've done. Even here, these are various cards that have been written by previous guests on the show. If you scan the QR code on the back, it takes you to a video of the person who answered it to the person that came after them, and then on the front, you can see the question they've asked with their name on it. I'm going to lay these cards in front of you. I want you to just pick one at random. I've just selected some for you out of the full almost, I think there's about 70 odd questions in here. I've picked 10. Pick one at random, and I'll ask you to answer the question that you pick. Is that okay? Sure. You're up for it? Cool. Who's gone for the first one? What is one mistake that you have made that you have been scared to address or reconcile? Do you want me to answer that? The question, what is one mistake that I've made that I have been scared to address or reconcile? That I don't like firing people. That is really hard. I came to realize if I don't do it, I should fire myself. That's the one thing. It's like, why did I hold on to that for so long? When you have the no asshole will, firing people is really harder. But yet, I've come to realize that it's an essential skill to prone. If you're a CEO, you're a gardener, but it taps into something about me being bad, then I don't like it. What brain type if you go? I'm a balanced type. My vulnerabilities, because we all have wings and vulnerabilities, persistent and cautious. Can I ask you to pick one more card? Who is the person you'd most like to say sorry to but haven't? I thought about this. My dad died three years ago. I was so mad at him. I would be pretty vocal about how mad I was of him. When you focus that, you don't see all the good things that happened. I had said that my A score was one and my wife's an eight. He provided a level of stability that I didn't appreciate. He knew the last five years that I loved him and we spent a lot of time together. I think I would apologize to him for holding on to the negativity. That's exactly why we created these cards. If you want to get your own conversation cards, go to the conversationcards.com. That is the conversationcards.com. I hope everybody gets their hands on them. I think the world would be a better place if we're all a little bit more vulnerable with each other because that very much is the daughter connection. Back to the episode. The question that's been left for you in the diary from our previous guest is what topic is no one talking about now that historians will study in the future? From my perspective, it's the insanity of the mental health industry that is destroying the mental health of America. Making diagnoses based on symptom clusters with no biological data than drugging people last year. There are 337 million prescriptions for antidepressants. 27% of all doctor visits, no matter the specialty. 27% someone's leaving with a prescription for benzodiazepine, like Xanax or Valium. This is an insane time. They call me crazy and I'm not crazy. They're going to be talking about this dark period in psychiatry for centuries to come. Daniel, thank you. For me, this is very much the culmination of so much work you've done over a series of books and your life's works. I would recommend everybody if they have the opportunity to go and get it. It is out. It's one of those real pivotal books that sort of turns the lights on to something that to a room that I didn't even know existed, which is my brain. The brain is obviously the computer. It's the driving force. You said at the start of this conversation of all the decisions I get right and wrong. It's my duty to do everything that I can to love my brain. That's exactly what your book leaves me with as a parting message. This message of loving my brain and doing everything I can to treat it as if with the respect and love that it deserves. Thank you for all of your work. Thank you for the inspiration you've given me. Thank you for the way that your work has nudged my life and the trajectory of my life. Therefore, as you say, the trajectory of those that come after me's life in a little bit more positive, healthy direction because that is not nothing. That is significant, especially as you zoom out. Thank you so much, Daniel. It's a joy to speak to you. Thank you so much for such a wonderful interview for being prepared to help me actually go inside myself and see how these dots connect and helping me spread the word. I'm trying to create a revolution and I need people to help. Thank you for helping me do this. I've now been a Hewlett-Drinker for about four years roughly, so much so that I ended up investing in the company and I play a role on the board of the company, but they also very kindly sponsor this podcast. To be honest, I've never said this before, but Hewlett believed in this podcast before anybody else. The CEO Julian told me before we even launched the podcast how successful it would be and that Hewlett-back hit. I absolutely have a huge amount of gratitude for them for that support, but an even greater sense of gratitude for the fact that they've helped me stay nutritionally complete throughout the chaos and hecticness of my tremendously busy business schedule. If you haven't tried out here, which I hope most of you have at least given it a go by now, try it out. It's an unbelievable way to try and stay nutritionally on course if you have a hectic busy schedule and let me know what you think. Send me a tweet and a DM tag me. Let me know what you think. Quick one. As you guys know, we're lucky enough to have BlueJeans as a sponsor and supporter of this podcast. For anyone that doesn't know, BlueJeans is an online video conferencing tool that allows you to have slick, fast, good quality online meetings without any of those glitches that you'd normally find with other meeting online providers. You know the ones I'm talking about and they have a new feature called BlueJeans Basic, which I wanted to tell you about. BlueJeans Basic is essentially a free version of their top quality video conferencing and that means that you get immersive video experiences. You get that super high quality, super easy and zero fuss experience and apart from zero time limits on meetings and calls, it also comes with high fidelity audio and video, including Dolby Voice. They also have expertise grade security so you can collaborate with confidence. It's so smooth that it's quite literally changed the game for myself and my team without compromising quality at all. So if you'd like to check them out, search BlueJeans.com and let me know how you get on. DM me, tweet me, whatever works for you. Let me know how you find it.