How to Detox Your Brain to Lose Weight and Reduce Inflammation – Dr. David Perlmutter on The Genius Life, Hosted by Max Lugavere

Check out The Genius Life Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways 

  • Most people these days seem to be making their health decisions from an impulsive perspective, utilizing the amygdala as opposed to the prefrontal cortex
  • Sleep deprivation increases amygdala reactivity 
  • Chronically sleep-deprived individuals tend to consume ~350 extra calories each day
  • Being fat some with a litany of health consequences
  • Spending time in nature reduces inflammation and cortisol level
  • “We eat the wrong foods. Those foods make us gain weight. We gain weight; we don’t sleep well. When we don’t sleep well, the very next day, we make bad food choices.” David Perlmutter
    • Said another way: “People are making the wrong choices because they’re making the wrong choices. Wrong choices beget further wrong choices.”

Intro

David’s New Book: Brain Wash

  • The primary question the book aims to explore: Why do so many people make poor decisions when it comes to their health?
    • “By and large, people know what to do. They know they should exercise. They know that sleep is important. They know they should be eating less crap. And yet, how many people are actually able to follow through?”

We’re Living an Amygdala-Based Life (When We Should Be Living a Prefrontal Cortex-Based Life)

  • Most people these days seem to be making their health decisions from an impulsive perspective (using the brain’s amygdala) (AKA using a reactive, not a reflective, part of the brain)
    • The amygdala tends to prioritize short-term rewards over long-term outcomes
  • Compare the above to using our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that sets us apart from other animals
    • The prefrontal cortex lets us think about our decisions in terms of the long-term consequences and paves the way for empathy, compassion, and executive function
    • “The world, today, is conspiring to keep us away from using this prefrontal cortex for making better decisions” – David Perlmutter

It’s a Bad Cycle

  • —> Using the amygdala, we make poor decisions when it comes to diet, leading us to consume more processed food and sugar
  • —> Processed food & sugar increases inflammation & weight gain
  • —> Inflammation causes Alzheimer’s disease, coronary artery disease, diabetes, AND disconnects us from prefrontal cortex-based thinking, leading us to make more impulsive (amygdala-driven) decisions 
  • 🎧 “We eat the wrong foods. Those foods make us gain weight. We gain weight; we don’t sleep well. When we don’t sleep well, the very next day, we make bad food choices.” David Perlmutter
    • Even one night of poor sleep affects your decision-making the next day
    • Chronically sleep-deprived individuals tend to consume ~350 extra calories each day (and ~3500 calories = 1 lb. of fat)
  • In summary: “People are making the wrong choices because they’re making the wrong choices. Wrong choices beget further wrong choices.” David Perlmutter

Where does this lead us?

  • “A Western diet… that’s the diet that’s become pervasive around the world. This Westernization of the global diet is changing the mindset of the planet, making us more fearful, making us more ‘us vs. them,’ and more impulsive.”David Perlmutter
    • (The amygdala, in addition to driving impulsive thinking, also drives an “us vs. them”/fear-based mentality)
      • This “us vs. them” mentality is quite harmful, as it makes it extremely difficult to think about the world through other, alternative perspectives
  • “We’re seeing this level of impulsivity and inflamed thinking play out on such a large scale. It’s not limited to the decisions we make in our personal lives and the foods we choose to eat. We’re seeing it in politics, the media… It’s such a cascade, but it all comes back to the individual.” – Max Lugavere

Digital Experiences Must Pass the Test of Time

  • T: How much time are you willing to invest in day-to-day social media/digital experiences?
    • In America, adults spend over 6 hours/day in front of a screen (and when you’re parked in front of a screen, you’re not exercising/moving, bettering your relationships, improving your health, etc.)
  • I: Is your time spent on digital media intentional? Does it have a purpose?
  • M: While you’re using digital media, are you mindful of what’s going on? 
  • E: Is it enriching for you?
    • If not, it’s time to turn it off

Sleep Deprivation Increases Amygdala Reactivity

  • “It’s important to know that on one night of poor sleep, your amygdala becomes about 60% more reactive” – Max Lugavere
    • One study found that sleep-deprived individuals had a much more severe response to aggressive photographs 
    • This increase in amygdala reactivity is also easy to see in real life – people are much more irritable when sleep-deprived, and more prone to react in a negative manner

Stop Lying to Yourself, Being Fat is Unhealthy

  • “Excess body fat is pro-inflammatory, and inflammation is NOT a good thing.”David Perlmutter
  • 🎧 Body fat profoundly influences the product of ghrelin, the hunger hormone
    • In other words, the more body fat you have, the greater your appetite
    • As Gary Taubes says: “We don’t get fat because we overeat, we overeat because we’re getting fat”
  • Also, the higher your body fat percentage, the worse your sleep quality – how so?
    • Higher body fat increases risk for sleep apnea
    • Given everything discussed above, a higher body fat percentage drives more amygdala-based (short-term-reward-minded) decisions surrounding sleep choices (like choosing to stay up late bingeing Netflix) 

What does living a genius life mean to David?

  • “To recognize what our gifts are and exploit those gifts as much as we possibly can beyond our own self-interest.” – David Perlmutter

Additional Notes

  • This interview was recorded at Max’s West Hollywood apartment
  • For the first time in history, life expectancy in the United States decreased for the second year in a row
  • Of the 1.2 million foods sold in American grocery stores, 60+% have added sweeteners
  • “You’re not overweight because you forgot to count calories. You’re overweight because you inherited a food environment that begs you to overeat.” – Max Lugavere
  • 🎧 Spending time in nature reduces inflammation and cortisol (the stress hormones) levels
    • Similarly, research shows having plants in your home or place of work reduces cortisol