Friday, October 8, 2010

Change Your Brain Change Your Body by Daniel G. Amen

Amen, Daniel G. Change Your Brain Change Your Body: Use Your Brain to Get and Keep the Body You Have Always Wanted. New York: Harmony Books, 2010.

Psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen explores the brain-body connection in his medical practice and in this book. In particular, Change Your Brain Change Your Body focuses on how taking care of the health of your brain can result in better health for your entire body.

In the early chapters of the book, Amen makes the case for brain health and how it can affect the health of the rest of the body. This is enhances by images from SPECT scans, which Amen uses in his practice to measure activity in different parts of the brain.

The subtitle of the book touts the brain as a means to get “the body you’ve always wanted.” For me, that includes getting my weight under control, and several chapters are devoted to the subject. There is no escaping a good diet and exercise, both of which get a chapter. What Amen adds is that an understanding of how one’s brain works can help on curb cravings and address brain deficiencies that may be roadblocks to sticking to a weight loss program. By addressing problems in the brain, one becomes more able to address problems with weight.

Good health is more than proper weight. It includes the skin, heart and glands. Good health is also a full life, which includes relationships, the ability worthy pursue worthy goals and the capacity to remember and savor our experiences. Each of these issues is addressed.

Amen doesn’t prescribe a single solution for everyone. Depending on your brain issues, the solution may be as simple as diet and exercise, it may include supplementation or even particular medications or therapies. Obviously, medical interventions should only be undertaken with the supervision of a physician and you should supplementation and physical fitness programs with yours.

The book doesn’t stick too close to traditional medicine. Amen thinks nutritional supplements can be useful and can reduce reliance on medications, but supplements can have issues of drug interaction and side effects that should be covered with a physician. He suggests meditation for stress management and has used hypnosis in his practice to address several issues including weight loss. (For those interested in meditation, Amen recommends The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson. Hypnosis is recommended in other weight loss books including I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna, which includes a self-hypnosis CD.)

In some ways, the book could say change your body change your brain. Many of Amen’s recommendations, especially related to diet and exercise are good recommendations for physical health. Throughout the book, he says that what is good for the heart is good for the brain. He even mentions a study that shows that physically active children perform better academically.

If your interested in this book, you may also be interested in
The Emotional Energy Factor by Mira Kirshenbaum
How Much Does Your Soul Weigh? by Dorie McCubbrey
I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna
Instant Self-Hypnosis by Forbes Robbins Blair
The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson with Miriam Z. Klipper