TEDxOrangeCoast – Daniel Amen – Change Your Brain, Change Your Life

Translator: Linda Anderson
Reviewer: Denise RQ Good afternoon. I am so excited to be here. I actually film all my shows here at the Orange County
Performing Arts Center. So, innovation is a brain function. It is dependent on
the physical health of your brain. So, did you know obviously, your brain
is involved in everything you do: how you think, how you feel, how you act,
how you get along with other people. At the Amen Clinics, we have looked at over 63,000 brain scans
over the last 20 years, and it is very clear to me
that your brain is the organ of judgment, personality, character, and innovation. And when you brain works right, you work right. And when your brain is troubled, you are much more likely
to have trouble in your life. So what you see on the screen
are two brain SPECT scans. SPECT is the study
that we do in our clinic. It is a very sophisticated
brain imaging study that looks at blood flow
and activity patterns. It looks at how your brain works. And it basically shows us three things:
areas of the brain that work well, areas of the brain
that are low in activity, and areas of the brain
that are high in activity. So good activity, too little, or too much. And then our job becomes balancing it. The image on your left is a healthy scan. It shows full, even, symmetrical activity. The color doesn’t mean
anything, it’s the shape. The image on the right
is an alcoholic scan. Alcohol is directly toxic
to brain function. I know many of you believe you have to have
your two glasses of red wine a day because it’s good for your heart. It is not good for your brain. With a healthy brain,
it’s very clear to me you’re happier, healthier,
wealthier, you’re wiser, you’re more creative, more innovative. When your brain is not healthy,
for whatever reason: you had a brain injury,
you have a terrible diet, you live in a toxic environment, you’re sadder, sicker,
poorer, not as smart. You’re more rigid, and you’re inflexible, which is the opposite of innovation. I’ve said this tens of thousands of times,
and it always blows me away. Your brain is the most complicated
organ in the universe. There is nothing as complex
as the human brain, nothing. It is estimated we have
100 billion nerve cells. And each nerve cell is connected
to other nerve cells, not in a one-to-one connection, but up to 10,000 individual
connections between cells. Which means you have
more connection in your skull than there are stars in the Universe. Information in your brain
travels at about 268 miles an hour. Unless, of course, you’re drunk. And even though your brain
is only 2% of your body’s weight, it uses 20 to 30%
of the calories that you consume. So, of the breakfast you had this morning,
or the lunch you had this afternoon, almost a third of it goes to feed
2% of your body’s weight. Your brain is the most expensive
real estate in your body. On average, you lose
85,000 brain cells a day. And what we’ve discovered
at the Amen Clinics is you can accelerate the aging
process with your behavior, or you can decelerate it. How exciting is that? The health of your brain
also decelerates innovation, or it accelerates it. So what are the things
that hurt your brain? Brain injury should be obvious. I just finished the largest NFL study, brain imaging study
on retired NFL players. The NFL is no longer lying
about brain injuries. They’re taking it much more seriously. Do not let your kids play tackle football,
or hit soccer balls with their head. Come on, the brain is very soft,
about the consistency of soft butter. And your skull is really hard, and it has many sharp, bony ridges. You have to protect it. Drugs and alcohol should be obvious, but what our country
has no clue yet, but is learning, is that obesity damages brain function. There are now ten studies. We just published a study
in the Nature journal, “Obesity”, that says as your weight goes up, the actual physical size and function
of your brain goes down. Whoa. That should scare the fat off anyone. (Laughter) I read that study, the first one
that came out about three years ago, I dropped 25 pounds. I was serious, when it comes
to the brain, size matters. You do not want a smaller brain. (Laughter) Smoking constricts
blood flow to the brain. Like it prematurely ages your skin,
it prematurely ages the brain. High blood pressure,
as your blood pressure goes up, the blood flow to your brain goes down. So you need to know your blood pressure
on a regular basis, and if it’s high, take it seriously. Diabetes, standard American diet,
environmental toxins, lack of exercise, and something I call
ANTs – Automatic Negative Thoughts, the thoughts that come into your mind
automatically and ruin your day. They are the seeds
of anxiety disorders and depression. So if this is true, it is, what are the things you can do
to help your brain? Positive social connections. Unbelievable, the people
you spend time with determine your longevity. Isn’t that interesting? If you spend time with people who have healthy health habits, you pick those up,
because people are contagious. If you spend time with people
who do not have healthy habits, you die early. Become very serious
about who you spend your time with. New learning, so TED is perfect for this. Whenever you learn something new,
your brain makes a new connection. When you stop learning, your brain
actually starts to disconnect itself. Diet is absolutely essential. You are consuming the nutrients
that are helping you, or the toxins that hurt you. The SAD diet, the Standard American Diet, is not only associated with heart disease,
cancer, and diabetes. It’s associated with depression, attentional problems,
and Alzheimer’s disease. Food is medicine, or it is poison. Sleep, again it’s absolutely essential. Because you know, in 1900, we got,
on average, nine hours of sleep at night. In 2011, we get six hours
of sleep at night. Less than seven hours of sleep, you get
lower overall blood flow to the brain. Your brain cannot go through
that kind of transition in such a short period of human history, without there being
very serious consequences. And as sleep goes down, weight goes up, because your cravings get out of control. So, being physically healthy is important. But having anxiety is important. Did you know there are
great studies with longevity, and the children who were the “Don’t worry,
be happy” children die early, because they didn’t take
their health seriously enough. I hope I give you a little anxiety. You know, I’m a psychiatrist by training. I was teaching people to chill out,
and what I came to realize, is I need to motivate them a little bit
and just increase their fear, so that the double cheeseburgers
are not calling their name. Meditation fooled us. What we thought, you know,
meditate, zone out, brain calms down. Absolutely not like that at all. When people meditate,
it activates the front part of their brain which is the most human,
thoughtful part of their brain. You want the best antidepressant? It’s not Prozac, it’s gratitude. You write down three things
you’re grateful for every day. Within three weeks you’ll notice a significant difference
in your level of happiness. ANT-killing means don’t believe
every stupid thought you have. You go, “OK, Dr. Amen, you’ve been
a psychiatrist for 30 years. Single most important thing
people can do?” Don’t believe every stupid
thought you have. Have this little question,
in your head, “Is it true?” So when you feel like your husband
doesn’t love you, is it true? Because when you question your thoughts,
you live in a more rational world. Here are examples
of three 60-year-old brains. One with Alzheimer’s disease. One that is overweight,
that has sleep apnea, which is a disaster for brain function. And a healthy scan. Which brain do you want? I know which brain I want. Here are five ways brain imaging
will change everything you do. The first thing,
it will give you brain envy. (Laughter) So, I started doing scans in 1991. I was 37 years old,
and I scanned my own brain. And I looked at it,
compared to a lot of other scans, and I went, “Yuck,
too many bumps, bumpy places.” And I’ve actually never drank. I got drunk when I was 16,
I had a hangover for five days. I went, “This is not for me.” Never smoked, never did drugs. I’m like, “Why does my brain look so bad?” But at the time, I had
a lot of bad brain habits. I only slept four or five hours a night because I was driven. I was drinking diet soda
like she was my best friend. And I carried more weight, was under chronic stress, and it showed. And so, since I saw my scan,
and developed brain envy, at 52, I scanned myself again,
and it’s much younger. My brain looks better. And you know, you can do that. That’s the cool thing about the brain. You’ve probably heard
about brain plasticity. But if you make good decisions today, we found this out with our NFL study, that you can start to improve
your brain within two months. It’s like, how exciting is that? And, with a better brain,
everything in your life is better; from your body to your money,
to your relationships, to the level of innovation. The second thing is, since brain imaging, I would never let my kids
play tackle football. When does the brain finish developing? Twenty-five. Your brain, and in males, some people think it’s more like 28. So the idea that you are an adult at 18, from the neuroscience perspective,
is just flat-out stupid. And the insurance companies know that. When do your insurance rates
change and stabilize? Twenty-five. Why? Because you’re
making better decisions. And the decisions you make
are a brain function. So do not let your kids
put their brains at risk. You’ll take environmental toxins
so much more seriously. This is one of the firefighters
that we scanned recently. And you see this overall low activity. Those holes? He doesn’t have
physical holes in his brain. What he has is
serious overall low activity. You’ll take your weight
a whole bunch more seriously. And you’ll think about the early detection
and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is expected
to triple in the next 25 years We cannot afford this. And how you prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Is you prevent all the illnesses
that are associated with it, like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure. So, how to create a brain-smart
world to accelerate individuals? This is my goal. And we see individuals and families
at the Amen Clinics, but we’re very interested in schools, in churches, businesses, and communities. And, I love this. Andy came to see me about four months ago. First time, about ten years ago, when he was 53, and his brain
just looked awful. And I got him to buy
into the program of brain health. And, this is what his brain
looked like ten years later. Isn’t that cool? And I want to talk
about getting systems involved. So, I was working on my new show. And while I was working
on my show, I went to church. And my wife said she’d drop Chloe off, our seven-year-old, at children’s church,
and I would go save us seats. And, it’s at a very large church nearby,
and it’s not Saddleback. And as I walked into church, I passed 500 donuts for sale. And I was just irritated. And then I walked by bacon
and sausage cooking on the grill. And I’m furious. And right before I go into the sanctuary, they’re cooking hundreds of hot dogs for something after church. And as I sat down in the sanctuary,
the minister started talking about the ice cream festival
they had the night before. And, I’m nearly psychotic at this point. (Laughter) And when my wife found me,
I was typing on my phone, which she hates. And she gave me that look
that only your wife can give you, that said, “Why the hell are you
on this thing in church?” (Laughter) And I showed her what I was writing: “Go to church, get donuts, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, ice cream. They have no idea. They’re sending people to heaven early!” (Laughter) It’s like, not the plan. (Laughter) And I have no idea what the minister
said the rest of that service. I just sat there, praying that God would use me
to change churches. Because this isn’t the plan. No lie, two weeks later, Rick Warren calls me. He said, “Dr. Amen,
we’re doing this program called Decade of Destiny
in the next ten years at Saddleback. I want to get the congregation
and myself healthy. Will you help me?” I’m like, “Oh my God,
God was paying attention.” (Laughter) Often in my life I don’t feel
like that, but I’m so excited. And so we have put together a program called The Daniel Plan:
God’s Prescription for your Health, for the 30,000 members at Saddleback. And we give them
the opportunity to sign up for the research part of the program. We now have nearly 15,000 people
in our research study. Saddleback, as we developed
the Daniel Plan, is connected
to 400,000 churches around the world. Next year, after we’ve beta tested
this year, we’re going to export it. I couldn’t be more excited about this. And we deliver the content
through small groups. Why? Because people get well in groups. They get well as families,
they get well in support groups. And after three months, the church has already lost
160,000 pounds. People report improved energy,
focus, creativity, sleep, mood, reductions in asthma, stress,
blood pressure, blood sugars, and many medications. We have our own Daniel Plan menu,
and I have my challenges. I am still trying to get them
to kill the donuts at church. You might pray for me. (Laughter) I couldn’t be more excited to be part of what has the potential
to change the world from the church up. But you know, it also needs
to happen from the school up. The food they serve
your children is a scandal, and research suggests that it actually increases
attentional and behavior problems. There’s three studies now
in the journal The Lancet that said, “put kids on elimination diet,” which basically means eliminate
all the crap in their diet. And within three months, 73% of them show greater than a 50% reduction
in their symptoms. This isn’t hard. We need to change our society, though. From businesses up, from hospitals up. I went and visited my aunt
in the hospital, I said, “I have to get you out of here,
the food is going to kill you.” (Laughter) Brain health and innovation
are intimately connected. Please help me create
a brain healthy world. Thank you. (Applause)

About the author


  1. Enhances Brain Health:
    1. Social connections(The people with you spend time with)
    2. New learning
    3. Great diet
    4. Sleep
    5. Exercise
    6. Physical Health
    7. Healthy anxiety
    8. Meditation(Activates front part of brain)
    9. Gratitude
    10. ANT killing

  2. I’m going to pray for him, since he asked.

    He has all the answers. I smell a man who studied psychiatry as a method to fix himself. I’m unsure if he feels fixed or not, but I do know he lacks empathy and only expresses his thoughts, which means he isn’t fixed at all.

    We can scan brains and make judgements. Let’s not just look at a diagnosis and a fancy scan (all highlighted;) let’s look at a human being and what we need to do to hel them.

  3. About the church. It depends how you use it. If they use it or just abuse it, it doesn´t help the brain. ( I live in a religious country. )

  4. You are doctor Danial. AMEN! Greatest TED TALK ever. Very important. Revolutionary. Revealing. Eye opening.

  5. Achieve TMS Centers (844-HOPE-TMS) helps patients everyday regain their mental health using TMS. About half of our patients are completely symptom free after only 6 weeks of treatment. No pill will ever give you those results.

  6. This should become widespread public knowledge –especially in the government sectors of mental health, the department of corrections, and also department of education….please keep promoting this information!

  7. I want to add that DHEA is a great supplement that helps the brain in many ways…please do your own research & do not take without learning how it works and how it affects the body.

  8. Müthiş performanslar var ve kendime destek vermek genel anlamda kimliklerin ne olduğunun önemi olmadan insan hayatlarının nasıl iyileştiğini ve aptalca bakılan düşüncelerin insanı nereye taşıdığını ve sevginin erdemin farkındalığına varılması muhteşem güzel destekliyorum…süper tebrikler

  9. Do your research! I highly recommend for viewers to check reviews (medical reviews) available on the web about Dr Amen's claims. Review the patient's reviews from the NY clinic (the closest to my location). Read the Observer's, Washington Post's, and a several comments by such entities as the America Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Neurology. The SPECT scans which were developed 30 years ago have not lived to expectations or not matured (according to radiologists and neurologists) and current state of the art is the use of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) which unlike Dr. Amen's scans, are covered by most insurance programs (for the right reasons).
    Dr. Amen runs several clinics throughout the states. He shows in another TEDx Talk video the scan of his nephew suffering from behavioral problems which were (mis)diagnosed/treated were in fact caused by a brain cyst identified by Dr. Amen's SPECT scan – Current MRIs and CT scans would have also likely showed the same damage with much better resolution and been ordered prior to any brain surgery intervention. Dr. Amen's scans of football players' brain dysfunction has also been published years ago, using other technologies.
    Dr. Amen has been reluctant (or refused) to submit his studies/claims to peer reviews and double-bind studies (which is the current most impartial way to validate a test, technology, and drug effectiveness).
    Dr. Amen promotes healthy lifestyle, weight loss, avoidance of trauma, drugs, alcohol, control of diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), exercise, etc., and taking his food/vitamin supplements (~$90/month). This is nothing new and lifestyle modifications have highly been recommended since the eighties.
    Contrary to some claims and popular beliefs, most physicians are dedicated professionals not under the thumb of pharmaceutical companies. Yes, we are humans and not "gods", we do not do miracles (it may happen sometimes but that is usually with Divine intervention). I am not saying that his approach is not good, I am saying that his approach is not shared by the top scholars in his neuro-psychiatry and his claim of "restoring" the brain function has not been demonstrated by valid modern studies.
    After all, it is your body, your brain and your money – I highly recommend that interested prospective clients do their research or discuss it with a sympathetic physician or medical professional. Ciao, L (MD, AAFP, CFPC)

  10. If hes so interested in healing people why does his clinics not accept Insurance. Who can afford the type of treatment he's talking about is extremely expensive and even more so at his clinics. I think he's onto something regarding finding the reason or cause of this conditions but as far as treating brain's I don't know! Although, the truth is he's getting rich trying.

  11. Wonderful man I hope people listen and he gets his message across to millions. School and hospital food is dreadful.There is so much that needs to change.

  12. As a child of the 50's, a cake, or dounut, chips or soda was for birthdays or special occasion not every day and most kids in the neighborhood were thin to average weight. We also were running around playing after school. "Treats" were expensive and scarce.

  13. I posted this on my Facebook and I hope it gets around my church and everywhere else too! I believe that he has been presented on PBS on brain health subjects in the past, I love his facts… now, can we get the government on board to include mental health care in Medicare/Medi-caid?

  14. I have a serious question: If meditation increases brain activity in the frontal lobe, then what are ways to calm the activity?

  15. I live in Indonesia. Far east. how can we get further information about this program? I hope there is already church in my city linked to your church, doc. I'm battling anxiety and panic disorder 1.5 year now. I really need your help. May God pay attention to my prayer too -as He did to yours 😀 -. Thanky you for this hope. God bless you.

  16. I just enjoyed Receiving all the informations and writing it on my Note book ! I'm 17 and I'm scared to lose my brain's health <3 Thank you Doctor Amen and Thank you TED Talks <3

  17. ممكن معلومات عن هذا القناة؟
    إذا أحد فيكم عنده معلومات عنها

  18. The size of the brain varies among all living things, even between men and women, and the size of the brain is not related to its development. The more folds on the brain, the more the brain develops. The folds in his brain are related to the development of the brain.



  20. most interesting…almost perfect speech, for me it's now to figure out how to implement the things that I learned from this speech as a schizo-effective and bipolar disorder type 1?

  21. I'm 16 years old, I want to get know more important my brains. How to protect our brains? I will change all around the world medical systems from the AI Doctor. Can you advise me? I will choose a computer science major.

  22. I appreciated Dr. Amen's presentation until when he connects himself to Church and Rick W. He sounds convincing, but I will trust his work when I see the results. I have little trust in medical professionals who align themselves with religious leaders and celebrities because they make themselves look like advertisement showmen.

  23. I understand the importance of nutrition, but you need to be careful when helping people to increase the nutritional quality of their diets, as cutting out foods and restriction can lead to feelings of deprivation which can increase obsessive thoughts about food and lead to binging and other disordered eating behaviours, or worse… full blown eating disorders. Dietitian Evelyn Tribole – author of Intuitive Eating – discusses this in her book and how to have total food freedom which eventually allows for a healthy and balanced diet.

  24. This is fantastic. Dr Amen. but how can people like me afford to go to a clinic like yours. I have many issues I've been trying to overcome for years with everything the medical community tells me to do. Then what it doesn't work they blame it on me and they don't want to treat me anymore. I know there's a way to stop this chronic pain in my body but I don't know how. I am constantly researching about fibromyalgia and everybody has a different answer. Also why do opiates help my pain so much and help me think clearer if the medical community says they are so bad. If people are not abusing opiates and they take them for pain why are they so bad according to the medical community. Regardless of that I would like to get off of all medication I know there is a way to tap into my brain to help myself with his paint how can you help someone like me who can't afford scans and all the things that rich people can't to make myself better. I've already lost 65 lb I stay spiritually fit I've changed my diet I go to cognitive behavioral therapy I do everything that I can do in my power but still this chronic pain creeps up. Yes I had a lot of trauma but I've been through three years of therapy. If you hear me and I pray God you will give me an answer. Can you help someone like me that is poor and just wants to live a healthy life and be part of my community. To give back some of what God has given me. God bless you for what you do

  25. He mentions how toxic alcohol is for the brain (totally makes sense) but I wonder how marijuana impacts brain activity. This isn't political or personal, I am genuinely curious. Anyone knows if he has touched on this?

  26. This is one of my favourite talks. Because the informations are so helpful and practicable at a daily basis. Prioritise to take care of yourself, which means your mental and physical self. In a praticable way on a daily basis means: take sleeping seriously. Which means, sleep enough. Pay attention to what you eat. Which means eat fresh fruit. Go out into fresh air. Do sports. Look around you. Are the people around you, making you feel happy, feel appreciated? You are able to live the life you want 🙂

  27. I have never took drugs, never smoked but got a neurological disease already with 40…..this discussion is simply ridiculous

  28. This Dr has two objectives to sell his services to those in America and to put across the message which is be positive, eat well, exercise. That was being said for thousands of years. only those who are ready for it will receive the message

  29. I am a scientist and a christian. Do not mix these things. And you have a codependent personality disorder. Like lisening to a 4 year old.

  30. Extraneous variables (already mentioned as correlated) of SAD and/or lack of exercise could be the sole cause(s) of the correlation found between obesity and brain functioning. Of course, we also see dramatic brain functioning changes in those who are severely underweight. I'm surprised not to see that up there. At any rate, I'd be curious about people who are "obese" and are living relatively healthy lives. Is it the behaviors that cause the brain impairment or the body state? Also, is this compared to before (I gain weight and my brain functions worse) or compared to others (regardless of the weight I've ever been, my brain is smaller than others who weigh less than me). These are important distinctions as the majority of the US are obese and how we would treat this issue would be different based on the answer.

  31. How do I help my students? I believe in meditation and practising gratitude and I will from now practices gratitude religiously with my students. But I do help the anxiety driven, the least motivated students without understanding how their brains function?

  32. I sat across from him in his office in San Jose, back in the 90's. He looked just like this! Wow, hasn't aged a bit. What ever he is doing…I will follow. 🙂

  33. For a smart guy he couldn't think that the church came to him because he is a doctor not because he prayed.

  34. I'm just not able to sleep at night but complete it in the day but I try to take regular sleep sometime and get success but again in some day it change and get irregular from the last year before that everything was normal I think probably it because I'm 18 and overthinking

  35. A biogenesis for mental illness that is injury based, this idea is the kindest thing that could ever happen to psychiatrists

  36. Watch all YouTube videos (except music) at 2x speed to challenge your brain and save half the time for other things

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