Dr. Daniel Amen

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Dr. Daniel Amen is a psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist who is also a New York Times bestselling author. His specialty is using brain-imaging equipment to diagnose psychiatric disorders. Dr. Amen will be featured in a PBS program that will air on Arizona PBS: “BrainFit: 50 Ways to Grow Your Brain with Daniel Amen, MD and Tana Amen, RN.” Dr. Amen will discuss the show and his work.

TED: DR. DANIEL AMEN IS A PSYCHIATRIST AND BRAIN DISORDER SPECIALIST WHO USES BRAIN IMAGING TO DIAGNOSE PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS. DR. AMEN IS ALSO A BEST-SELLING AUTHOR AND WILL BE FEATURED TONIGHT ON ARIZONA PBS AT 7:00 WITH "BRAINFIT: 50 WAYS TO GROW YOUR BRAIN." WE WELCOME DR. AMEN TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.

DANIEL AMEN: THANKS SO MUCH.

TED: WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING THIS, BRAIN FIT, 50 WAYS TO GROW YOUR BRAIN. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

DANIEL AMEN: WHEN I WAS IN MEDICAL SCHOOL THEY TAUGHT US YOU WERE BORN WITH ALL OF THE BRAIN CELLS YOU WOULD EVER HAVE AND IF YOU LOST THEM, THAT WAS IT. THEY DISCOVERED THAT, THAT'S NOT RIGHT. YOUR BRAIN IS GROWING OR SHRINKING DEPENDING ON YOUR HABITS. IN THE SHOW, I'LL TALK ABOUT 50 WAYS TO GROW AND ENHANCE YOUR BRAIN.

TED: WE ARE TALKING MEMORY, FOCUS, ALL OF THOSE THINGS CAN BE IGNITED AT ANY AGE?

DANIEL AMEN: THE OLDER YOU ARE, THE MORE SERIOUS YOU NEED TO BE. THERE IS THIS THING -- WE HAVE SIX CLINICS AROUND THE UNITED STATES. WE HAVE A DATABASE OF 125,000 SCANS. NOW THAT I TURNED 62, IT'S SO CLEAR TO ME THAT AS YOU AGE, YOUR BRAIN GETS LESS AND LESS ACTIVE, BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE TO. THAT'S THE EXCITING THING. I KNOW WHAT AN 85-YEAR-OLD BRAIN LOOKS LIKE, AND IT'S AWFUL, BUT NOT ALL 85-YEAR-OLDS ARE LIKE THAT. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOMEONE WHO KEEPS THEIR BRAIN HEALTHY LONG-TERM, AND THOSE PEOPLE WHERE AGING IS NOT GOOD?

TED: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN GENETICS GET IN THE WAY, ALZHEIMER'S, THESE SORT OF THINGS. IT'S LIKE THE RUNNER WHO RAN UNTIL HE FELL OVER. GENETICS HAVE TO BE A FACTOR.

DANIEL AMEN: THEY ARE, BUT IT'S 20 TO 30% OF YOUR RISK IS YOUR GENES. MOST OF IT IS OUR LIFESTYLE. WITH 2/3 OF US OVERWEIGHT, NEARLY 40% OBESE, IT'S THE BIGGEST BRAIN DRAIN IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY. AS YOUR WEIGHT GOES UP, THE SIZE AND FUNCTION OF YOUR BRAIN GOES DOWN. NOW ACCORDING TO A NEW STUDY 50% OF AMERICANS ARE DIABETIC OR PRE DIABETIC WHICH SHRINKS YOUR BRAIN. ANOTHER 30% HAVE HYPERTENSION WHICH SHRINKS YOUR BRAIN. IF WE KNOW THE RISK FACTORS, WE KNOW HOW TO ATTACK AGING. THAT'S THE EXCITING NEWS. IF YOU GET SERIOUS AND YOU HAVE A PLAN, YOU CAN MAKE YOUR BRAIN BETTER.

TED: I KNOW YOU HAVE A COOKBOOK OUT TOO. IT'S THE BRAIN WARRIOR COOKBOOK IS WHAT IT IS. I THINK WHAT YOU EAT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE. WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, I ATE HORRIBLY. THE OLDER I GOT, THE BETTER I ATE, THE BETTER I FELT. HOW MUCH IS FOOD, WATER, DRINK, HOW BIG A FACTOR IS THAT?

DANIEL AMEN: FOOD IS MEDICINE OR POISON. IN OUR SHOW, THE TWO NEW BOOKS, WE TALK ABOUT, IT'S A WAR. EVERYWHERE YOU GO, SOMEONE IS TRYING TO SHOVE BAD FOOD DOWN YOUR THROAT THAT WILL KILL YOU EARLY. I THINK THE REAL WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, ISIS HAS NOTHING ON OUR FAST FOOD INDUSTRY. HIGHLY PESTICIDE SPRAYED, HIGH GLYCEMIC FOOD STORED IN PLASTIC CONTAINERS. THAT'S DAMAGING OUR HEALTH, AND WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, BUT THE BRAIN WARRIOR IDEA IS THAT YOU HAVE TO BE ARMED, PREPARED AND AWARE. YOU HAVE TO BE SERIOUS ABOUT YOUR BRAIN BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY FACTORS AGAINST US. DARK CHOCOLATE, SUGAR FREE. RED WINE IS A RUSE. I PUBLISH STUDIES. PEOPLE WHO DRINK EVERYDAY HAVE SMALLER BRAINS. WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR BRAIN, SIZE MATTERS. YOU DON'T WANT A SMALLER BRAIN. IF YOU DRINK RED WINE WHILE EATING A STEAK, YOUR BODY IS ABSORBING TOO MUCH IRON. THINK OF IT AS RUST. I'M NOT A FAN OF THE WHOLE, I NEED TO DRINK TWO GLASSES OF RED WINE A DAY. THE MORE YOU DRINK THE WORSE YOUR DECISIONS BECOME. AND IT'S EXCESS CALORIES YOU DON'T NEED.

TED: WHAT ABOUT A GLASS A WEEK?

DANIEL AMEN: THAT'S FINE, BUT TWO GLASSES A DAY IS DENT MENTAL TO HEALTH.

TED: WE DIDN'T EXPLAIN WHAT BRAIN IMAGING IS. IS IT AN MRI?

DANIEL AMEN: WE DO SPECT. IT LOOKS AT BLOOD FLOW AND ACTIVITY HOW YOUR BRAIN WORKS THE IT'S DIFFERENT THAN A CT SCAN OR MRI. THEY SHOW WHAT THE BRAIN LOOKS LIKE. SPECT LOOKS AT HOW IT WORKS. IF IT'S LOW IN BLOOD FLOW, YOU CAN MAKE IT BETTER. WE DID THE FIRST STUDY ON ACTIVE NFL PLAYERS AT A TIME THEY WEREN'T TELLING THE TRUTH. 80% OF OUR PLAYERS SHOW IMPROVEMENT IN AS LITTLE AS A COUPLE OF MONTHS DOING THE THINGS I TALK ABOUT TONIGHT.

TED: WE HAVE 30 SECONDS. ARE WE ALL GOING GRUMPY GUS BECAUSE WE HAVE NO JOY OR FEELING THAT WE CAN'T DO THIS OR THAT?

DANIEL AMEN: WHEN YOU LOVE YOURSELF, YOU DO THE RIGHT THINGS. THAT'S WHAT LOVE IS ABOUT. YOU DON'T ACT LIKE A FOUR-YEAR-OLD, I CAN'T DO THIS OR THAT. WHO HAS MORE JOY, THE PERSON WITH A GREAT BRAIN OR THE PERSON WITH A DAMAGED BRAIN. I ARGUE YOU GET MORE WHAT YOU WANT IN LIFE, MORE LOVE, MONEY, MEANING AND PURPOSE IF YOUR BRAIN WORKS RIGHT.

TED: STOP BEING A FOUR-YEAR-OLD. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. APPRECIATE IT.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist, New York Times bestselling author

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