Brainpower to Fight Fat, Stress, Aid Heart

Brain scan shows differences in brains of compulsive overeaters and people who aren't. CBS

We all have 100,000 miles of blood vessels in our brains. That's a lot of mental highway to maintain.

Another little-known fact: Keeping our brains healthy is key to helping the rest of our bodies, as Dr. Daniel Amen explains in his best-selling book, "Change Your Brain, Change Your Body."

Amen, a clinical neuroscientist, psychiatrist and brain imaging expert, says recognizing the power of the brain and treating it with care can help improve our bodies and lives.

Most of us think about the fitness of our hearts and bodies, but what about taking care of our brains? They're our command and control centers, not only for our thoughts and emotions, but how our bodies appear and function.

Amen spelled it all out for "Saturday Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge, showing slides from brain scans:

What is the Brain - Body Connection?

Your brain is involved with everything you do, including how you think, how you feel, how you act and even your very health. When your brain works right, you tend to be happier and healthier. When your brain is troubled, you have more stress which can affect your heart, your skin, your energy and your memory.

Do we all have the same brain needs and if not what is the common maintenance for all of us?

We all have the same basic needs for water, oxygen, a healthy, sleep, new learning and to protect our brains from toxicity or injury. There are basic principles to living a brain healthy life, but one of the most important things I have found over the past 20 years, is that problems such as ADD, anxiety, depression and obesity are not single or simple disorders and they all have multiple types. Giving everyone the same treatment for depression, for example, can make some people better, but a lot of other people worse.

Weight

This is especially true with people who have weight issues.

Through our brain imaging work we have seen that there are some people who are compulsive overeaters, whose brain works too hard and they cannot stop thinking of food and then there are impulsive overeaters, whose brains do not work hard enough and they have trouble controlling their behavior. Compulsive overeaters need interventions that calm the brain, such as boosting a chemical called serotonin, through eating simple carbohydrates and using supplements, such as 5HTP. Impulsive overeaters need interventions that stimulate the brain, which we can do by boosting a chemical called dopamine, through eating a higher protein diet and using supplements, such as green tea or l-tyrosine.

Being on the wrong diet can make people feel bad, be irritable and even cause them to have relationship or work problems.

Can we really lose weight by taking care of our brain?

Yes. I found this out when I created a 12 week home study course for anxiety and depression. When we followed up with our participants we found many people lost 20 or 30 pounds by getting their brains in shape. That gave me the idea for this new book.

Your brain is the major energy user in the body. Even though it is only 2 percent of your body's weight, it uses 20 percent of the calories you consume. A healthy brain is the first step to creating a healthy body, because it is your brain that pushes you away from the table telling you that you have had enough or it is your brain that gives you permission to have that second bowl of ice cream that makes you look and feel like a blob. If you want a better body the first place to always start is by having a better brain.

Brain / Weight Advice

Know your type (are you compulsive or impulsive)

Fish Oil - 1000 mg per day

Optimize your Vitamin D level 50 -100 nanograms per milliliter

Get control of your cravings by:
-- balancing your blood sugar
-- eliminating sugar
-- getting 7-8 hours of sleep

Spend your calories wisely and stop drinking too many calories.

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