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WWB Wise Guru Q&A Series: Featuring the book ‘BRAIN WASH’ –How do we detox the mind to survive modern culture?

As we are all navigating the COVID 19 pandemic, I can think of no better time to feature the book, ‘Brain Wash’-Detox Your Mind for Clearer Thinking, Deeper Relationships, and Lasting Happiness, and chat with Dr. David Perlmutter and his son Dr. Austin Perlmutter. They wrote the book together and both have joined me for a thought provoking Q&A . You may know Dr. David Perlmutter as the author of the New York Times bestseller ‘Grain Brain’ and he also has PBS specials airing throughout the country featuring his books and wellness programs. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium which is the largest educational forum for healthcare professionals in the Integrative and Functional Medicine field. Interesting enough, the Integrative Healthcare Symposium in NYC was held mid February and no-one was shaking hands. We were just learning about the virus and had not gone into full panic mode, but needless to say every one was very cautious.

There is some irony featuring ‘Brain Wash’ right now because it does cover quite a bit on how technology is threatening our brains and our well-being. But right now we need our technology more than ever to stay connected through this virus crisis! Yes life is full of paradoxes, but we are also beginning to understand how toxic tech overload can affect our mental and physical health.  I think we can agree that even with Covid 19 lurking we need to practice moderation when it comes to our technology use and consumption.  When you read “Brain Wash’ you will connect the dots and I believe you will find it extremely helpful while you’re hopefully self-isolating at home. No matter where we live, self care is an absolute necessity for all human beings. However different we may be culturally, taking care of our mind, body and spirit is something all humans need to live life well. That’s a lot we have in common!

Reading this book you will discover how your brain is reliant on the overall health of your body, and your wellness is reliant on the health of your brain.  Moving forward I hope we all realize how interdependent our lifestyle, environment, and personal habits are when it comes to sustaining good health. For now I wish you safety and sanctuary from this global pandemic, and hope when we get to the other side of this, we are more committed to wellness culture than we have ever been. I have lots of hope and some comfort in knowing there are many of my fellow humans who understand what is at stake for our species and our planet. Hope you do too!

 

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Laura Connolly, Founder of World Wise Beauty

 

 

 

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Lauroly Q- I love the title of your book ‘Brain Wash’  because it really has two important meanings.  One speaks to the importance of detoxing/washing our minds and the other speaks to all the cultural influences that can ‘brainwash’ our ability to discern what is good and healthy for us. There is so much of mainstream culture hijacking our attention and decision making. Your term disconnection syndrome is so powerful. Can you tell us what it means in the context of your book?

Dr. Perlmutter: We believe that we are living in a time of unnecessary disconnection. We are disconnected from our health, our happiness, each other, and the planet as a whole. And as we describe in the book, we feel a central cause of this is a physical disconnection in our brains that makes it difficult for us to make good choices and feel empathy towards others. Disconnection syndrome is the term we use to describe this constellation of problems. 

Lauroly Q- I have read other wellness books that touch on the very prescriptions you have recommended for healing our dis-ease with modern living. I think what is so compelling about the book is David’s background as a neurologist. There is so much we now understand about the brain and how important our overall health is to it functioning properly. Is it any surprise that mental illness effects over 13% of our population now, and suicide rates are rising among the very young? We have to ask what is going on in our culture that is affecting our population. You connect the dots for us in your book, and explain how our brain works in response to the manipulations both the food (especially big agra) and the technology industries have launched upon us. Give us an example of how manipulation works and how vulnerable we are when it comes to being marked as a ‘consumer’ vs. a human being. I always says at World Wise Beauty, be careful what you say yes and no to. That’s the power of being a consumer.

Dr. David Perlmutter: To be sure, it’s really easy to imagine that big corporations are malicious and out to get us. But the truth is, they’re just trying to grow their companies and turn a profit. However, when the path to a company’s success involves getting us hooked on unhealthy foods or unhealthy use of technology, we’re the ones who suffer. And as it relates to our brains, the big issue is that food and certain tech industries like social media know how to tap into our reward systems to make it exceedingly hard for us to break a cycle of using their products, which can be damaging for both our physical and mental health. And here’s the thing: you know how ultra-processed foods (aka the standard American diet) are linked to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes? Well now we’re finding that they could be linked to higher rates of depression, and could actually be linked to our making worse choices. Basically, the brain changes we experience as a result of our interaction with the environment are really important to understand, and especially as it relates to our food and digital media, we need to appreciate that too much exposure to the wrong types could be wiring our brains in an unhealthy way. 

Lauroly Q- David is a neurologist and Austin is an internist. You both share very personal stories of how you struggled with the demands of medical school and in David’s case he literally became very ill. Your health challenges had everything to do with ‘lifestyle’ and being deprived of the most important things we ‘humans’ need to live. Bad food, lack of sleep and proper exercise, and no exposure to fresh air and sunshine is not what any doctor might suggest for their patients. Let’s not forget the high stress you must endure for 36 hours a day at a hospital! Austin is a young doctor and has really embraced ‘lifestyle as medicine’ to counteract the stress his career can have on his health. What are some of the key things you do to stay well with a busy lifestyle Austin? And what are some things you never thought you would be doing but has proven to be tremendously helpful to your health and well-being? I know some of them are part of your 10 day program.

Dr. Austin Perlmutter: In general, I think people today are simply not trained to manage the stress of the modern world in a healthy way. Our culture promotes “grinding” and “hustling” at the expense of sustainable wellness, and this helps explain why we see so many people suffering from anxiety and the other effects of unmitigated stress in our lives. In medical training, the majority of my hours were spoken for, but I was lucky to realize the importance of nature for my mental health, which prompted me to spend much of my limited time off in the woods. I also made a point of continuing to exercise and avoiding the unhealthy snacks that seem so popular in social gatherings. Probably the most unexpected part of my wellness activities today relates to meditation. When I began my medical training, I largely looked at meditation as a waste of time, but after a careful review of the data, and after seeing how much it’s helped me, it’s now become a key component of my wellness routine. However, if I could offer one piece of advice, it would be that we all need to value sleep. It turns out that getting sufficient sleep is probably the easiest (and quickest) way to improve our health and cognition. 

Lauroly Closing- Thank you so much for joining me at World Wise Beauty. Your book ‘Brain Wash’ is a very important read for anyone who is on the journey to cultivating wellness wisdom. I hope your book is read and received throughout the halls of government and industry as well. The more we can step back and questions the mindless consumerism of anything, the better we can prepare our own citizens to choose wisely and not sacrifice their health and well-being. Education and awareness is key!

Dr. Perlmutter Closing: Thank you so much for having us, and for your questions. You know, sometimes it can feel like it’s not worth investing in yourself and your brain, but the truth is that this is your most valuable investment, and we have the tools to improve our thinking and our lives today.

 

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