Do you know why most diets don’t work for most people? Because unhealthy eating habits are not associated with just one brain type. One size does NOT fit all!
Research at the Amen Clinics has shown that there are at least five different brain types associated with being overweight, and knowing your brain type is critical to shedding those extra pounds, and getting and keeping the body you’ve always wanted. The following extract has been taken from Dr Amen's new book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, and shows just how powerful the connection between the brain and the body is.
Rebecca, Rick, Cherrie, Jerry, Connie, and Camille all struggled with their weight. Yet they all had very different clinical presentations and brain patterns. Rebecca was a compulsive overeater. She couldn’t stop thinking about food. Her brain SPECT study showed too much activity in the front part of her brain (in an area called the anterior cingulate gyrus), likely due to low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. On a rational weight-loss program plus a regimen of 5-HTP to boost serotonin levels in her brain, she lost weight, felt much happier, was more relaxed, and got along better with her husband.
Rick was an impulsive overeater. He also had trouble controlling his behavior. His brain SPECT scan showed too little activity in his prefrontal cortex, likely due to low dopamine levels, so he had trouble supervising his own behavior. Like his son, he was also diagnosed with ADD. On treatment to boost his dopamine levels, he felt more focused and in better control of his impulses. Over the first year, he lost 35 pounds (16 kilograms) and was getting along better with his wife and child.
Cherrie was an impulsive-compulsive overeater. Cherrie had features of both impulsivity (the bulimia) and compulsivity (manifested by the repetitive negative thoughts and rigid behavior). Her brain SPECT scan showed areas in her prefrontal cortex that were both overactive and underactive, likely due to low serotonin and dopamine levels. In my research, I discovered that this pattern is common in children and grandchildren of alcoholics. On treatment to raise both serotonin and dopamine levels, she felt much more emotionally balanced and consistently lost weight.
Jerry was a SAD or emotional overeater. He struggled with his mood and weight, but only after he moved to a place where he got little sunlight. He suffered from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which has been associated with low vitamin D levels, and his brain SPECT study showed increased activity in his emotional or limbic brain and decreased activity in his PFC. On a combination of vitamin D, bright-light therapy, and SAMe, he did much better, experienced fewer pain symptoms, and returned to his premove weight over a two-year period.
Connie was an anxious overeater. She medicated her underlying anxiety with food. Her brain SPECT study showed increased activity in her basal ganglia, an area often associated with anxiety. By calming her anxiety with relaxation techniques and a combination of B6, magnesium, and GABA, she stopped the constant grazing, felt more relaxed and more in control of her emotions and behavior. She lost 20 pounds (9 kilograms) over the next year and noticed a boost in her energy.
Camille was on adrenalin overload. This was causing her to waste away. The chronic intense stress from her divorce and the recent loss of her mother reset her brain and body to an overactive state. Her brain SPECT study showed overall increased activity in the deep centers of her brain, a pattern on SPECT we call the diamond pattern because of the hyperactivity of the different structures we see. On treatments to calm her brain—including a form of psychotherapy called EMDR for people who have been emotionally traumatized, plus phosphatidylserine, B6, magnesium, and GABA—she was able to sleep, quiet her mind, and come back to a normal weight.
To help you discover which brain type you are, we have developed a simple test that you can take online in only 10-15 minutes: Dr Amen's online questionnaire.
To find out more about Dr Amen and Change Your Brain, Change Your Body (out now!) please click here.
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