Preventing Cognitive Decline with Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Rational Wellness Podcast 168

Dr. Tom O’Bryan discusses Preventing Cognitive Decline with Dr. Ben Weitz.

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Podcast Highlights

17:28  When a patient presents with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), such as forgetting where their keys are, where they parked their car, etc.  Dr. O’Bryan explained that his website, TheDr.com is a platform that provides the roadmap that helps to make it easy to take the journey back to health.  Brain deterioration is a condition of inflammation.

22:15   While we can use questionaires to assess the level of cognitive function, the first thing to recognize is that brain deterioration is a state of brain inflammation.  Then we can run some testing to help us identify some of the triggers for this inflammation, including the Neural Zoomer Plus from Vibrant Labs that looks at 48 different antibodies in your brain.  The second test Dr. O’Bryan recommends is the Wheat Zoomer, which is the most sensitive marker for intestinal permeability.  The intestinal microbiome modulates your brain function, so having good balance in the microbiome is important for brain health. 

29:41  Dr. O’Bryan likes using the BiomeFx stool test to assess the microbiome health.  So the basics of reducing mild cognitive impairment is to heal leaky gut, create intestinal microbiome balance, and avoid environmental toxins.




Dr. Tom O’Bryan is a Doctor of Chiropractic, a best-selling author, a professor for the Institute of Functional Medicine and an internationally recognized speaker focusing on gluten and other food sensitivities, environmental toxins, and the development of autoimmune diseases. His 2016 book, The Autoimmune Fix won the National Book Award and the docuseries he released the same year, Betrayal: The Autoimmune Disease Solution They’re Not Telling You  has been seen by over 500,000 people worldwide. He also organized the highly successful The Gluten Summit – A Grain of Truth. His website is www.theDr.com  His second book You Can Fix Your Brain: One Hour a Week to the Best Memory, Productivity, and Sleep You’ve Ever Had was released in 2018 and it is another huge hit.

Dr. Ben Weitz is available for nutrition consultations, including remote consults via video or phone, specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also specializing in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure and also weight loss, as well as sports chiropractic work by calling his Santa Monica office 310-395-3111 or go to www.drweitz.com. Phone or video consulting with Dr. Weitz is available.



Podcast Transcript

Dr. Weitz:                            Hey, this is Dr. Ben Weitz, host of the Rational Wellness Podcast. I talk to the leading health and nutrition experts and researchers in the field to bring you the latest and cutting-edge health information. Subscribe to the Rational Wellness Podcast for weekly updates. And to learn more, check out my website, drweitz.com. Thanks for joining me and let’s jump into the podcast.  Hello, Rational Wellness podcasters, thank you so much for joining me again today.

Today, we have a very special discussion with Dr. Tom O’Bryan, and we’re going to be talking about how we can prevent and reverse cognitive decline which as we know is a precursor to some of the degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and we currently have close to six million Americans age 65 and older living with dementia, and 80% of these patients are age 75 or older. 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s and dementia and almost two-thirds of those with Alzheimer’s are women. We predict by the year 2050, we’ll have 13.8 million with Alzheimer’s.  So, this is now one of the leading causes of death for seniors and a major burden on our healthcare system. And of course, the best time for intervention is prevention and during the beginning stages of when you start to see what we call mild cognitive decline. The current medical model provides very few treatment approaches that can help and not even any of that help with symptoms, never mind preventing the disease progression.

                                                Dr. Tom O’Bryan is going to be discussing with us an approach using a functional medicine model that has been pioneered by Dr. Dale Bredesen that looks at a number of underlying risk factors, triggers, and causes using a network-based approach that looks at functional and lifestyle factors, looks at metabolic parameters, everything from hormones to food sensitivities, to infections, to toxins, to sleep, to insulin sensitivities and a bunch of other factors that we can reasonably intervene on and get some improvement.  Dr. Tom O’Bryan is a doctor of chiropractic, a best-selling author, a professor for the Institute of Functional Medicine. Dr. Tom is an internationally recognized speaker focusing on gluten and other food sensitivities, environmental toxins and its development of autoimmune diseases. His 2016 book, The Autoimmune Fix, won the National Book Award and the docuseries released the same year, Betrayal: The Autoimmune Disease Solution They’re Not Telling You, has been seen by over 500,000 people worldwide.  He’s also organized the highly successful, The Gluten Summit: A Grain of Truth. His website, TheDr.com, is a very popularly visited website and his second book, You Can Fix Your Brain: One Hour a Week to the Best Memory, Productivity, and Sleep You’ve Ever Had, was released in 2018 and it’s another huge hit. Thank you so much for joining me, Dr. O’Bryan.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Thanks, Dr. Weitz. Always a pleasure to be with you.

Dr. Weitz:                            So, before we get into the topic at hand, how are you feeling about life in the midst of the continuing coronavirus pandemic? And you can take that question whatever direction you want.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Oh, man. It’s really difficult in this world of polar opposites that we’re in now for the last 10 years. Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on anything. They’ll fight to the death on every topic. You’re either red or you’re white. You’re black or you’re white, and not only in that race-wise but in terms of opinions. There’s-

Dr. Weitz:                            And unfortunately all these health factors like wearing a mask or whether or not hydroxychloroquine works is now political and it should just be scientific.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        A paper came out just last week, one of my mentors is Professor Yehuda Shoenfeld from Tel Aviv, Israel. And when I interviewed him for Betrayal, at that time, 28 of the PhD students who received their PhDs in immunology under him, there are many more, but at that time, 28 of them shared Departments of Immunology in med schools and hospitals around the world. This guy is the godfather.   And he just published a paper last week with nine other world famous immunologists. Six of them shared Departments of Immunology somewhere in the world. So, these are the cream of the crop in terms of experts on your immune system, cream of the crop, very best. And in the first paragraph of the paper, they say about this current viral epidemic, pandemic, is that worldwide the death rate is between 0.02% and 2% of the population depending on whether you’re an elder, do you have high blood pressure, do you have diabetes.

                                                But the top end is 2%, and that’s not what we’re hearing in the news, that the numbers are being manipulated. I’m not going to go into why. I don’t know why I have some ideas. But if somebody dies in a motorcycle accident and a family member said, “Well, they had some sniffles.” The death certificate said trauma and SARS-COV2, COVID-19, that they’re manipulating the numbers.   And if somebody gets an antibody test to see if they developed immunity for this thing, they inflate the numbers to say, “Oh, he’s got the virus.” And so, millions of people have, “Well, if you’ve got the antibodies, you’ve got immunity. That’s a good thing,” but they’re representing it as more people are sick with this thing. So, there’s a whole world of things going on and it’s really difficult to understand what to do. It’s really difficult.

                                                And my wife has been so patient with me over the last few years to understand this whole thing about news, and news broadcast because she’s from Poland. And she told me early on in our relationship, US news stations and newspapers don’t say the whole story. And I’m like, “What? You’re challenging The New York Times? Oh, my gosh, I think you’re a pretty cool lady but don’t challenge The Times,” because I read the Sunday times. Every Sunday, I have some coffee, relaxed and just update.   Now, I see because I started … First, I’d read The New York Times, then I’d read the London Telegraph. Then I’d read the French Le Monde in English and I’d see and then I’d read something from Argentina about world events and the whole world is consistent on reporting an event except in the US, that the US story was consistently different. And I was just startled.  I was born and raised in Detroit, raised my family in Chicago, I’m red, white and blue. I just was startled by this. And it was hard to hold. It was hard to accept. I mean, wait a minute … And that’s what’s going on now for people with this whole viral pandemic. It’s when you look, when you really look and say, “Wait a minute. That keeps happening again and again, because it doesn’t make sense.”

Dr. Weitz:                            I think there’s one thing that we should take from this whole pandemic is when they talk about the risk factors, I was talking to somebody and they say, “Well, it’s only people who are high risk are really a problem.” “Oh, really, just a few people?” Well, let’s see. What are the risk factors? One of them is being overweight, 70% of Americans. You got people with hypertension, people with cholesterol. You got people with fatty liver. You got people … You started listing all these chronic conditions and you think, “Wait a minute, maybe in some other country, there’s a small amount in a population.”    But this is like 80% of our population. This should be a wake-up call for us to get more healthy because if we were, we wouldn’t have to worry about having the worst outcome with situations like this.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Well, you’re exactly right, Dr. Weitz. That’s why it’s important for people to realize that this pandemic is a lifestyle disease, meaning how we’ve lived our lives up to now determines whether or not we get sick, period. No discussion, that every single person that they looked at who has a reaction here, lifestyle, and whether they’ve got deficiencies of vitamin D which over 96% of the people or 5,700 people in New York who died in the hospital from this, 97% of them had low vitamin D levels.

Dr. Weitz:                            Absolutely.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        So in the words of Roseanne Roseannadanna, you think? You just want to check your vitamin D to make sure you’ve got adequate levels. Now, I’m not saying vitamin D cures viral infections, but I’m saying when you have low vitamin D levels, your immune system can’t work the way it’s designed to work.

Dr. Weitz:                            There was another huge study in New York City where they had two groups that both took hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin and one group also took 100 milligrams of zinc. The group that just took the hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, they got really no benefit. The group that took the zinc in addition had a 49% reduced risk of death.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Well, I’ll tell you why that is-

Dr. Weitz:                            And so this is the reason why some of the hydroxychloroquine studies have shown a huge benefit is because it’s the zinc transporter.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        That’s exactly right. I’ve done the research on that one. It came from India, the fever tree, the cinchona tree. They take the bark of that tree and they extract quinine from it. And quinine has been an antimalarial drug in India for a couple of hundred years. And what they found was that what the quinine does and that’s where hydroxychloroquine came from was to make a drug that copied what quinine did.  And hydroxychloroquine has been around for over 60 years, really relatively safe as drugs go. Well, what happens is the quinine, it’s called an ionophore and that’s a geek word, but it means as you said, a zinc carrier that if you have enough zinc inside your cells, the only way this virus can grow is it sheds. It’s kind of like dandruff. Viruses have dandruff inside your cells. It’s called shedding. And then that dandruff gets inside some of your DNA and then more virus grows from that.   So, the virus doesn’t reproduce, it sheds. But it only sheds inside your cell. A virus in your lung or in your bloodstream won’t shed. It won’t develop more. It has to get inside your cell to do that. Well, when you enough zinc inside your cell, it can’t shed. That’s why zinc is so important. Zinc of the bloodstream, it doesn’t help very much. It’s necessary to have adequate levels in your bloodstream, but you got to get it inside the cell.   So, to get it inside the cell, you need a carrier, and in the natural world, the most prevalent carrier, number five of all ionophores is called quercetin, which is part of vitamin C.  That’s why quercetin is good to take.  It helps to get zinc inside your cell.  So, when you’re exposed to viruses, the viruses can’t shed. There’s no dandruff.

Dr. Weitz:                            Exactly.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        … the viruses inside your cell. Well, quinine is a zinc ionophore. It carries zinc inside the cell. And in the late 1800s, it was the British who were occupying India and their soldiers were given quinine to prevent malaria but that stuff is really bitter. I mean, it is bad news taste.   And so, they took a little fruit water and added sugar to it with their quinine. That’s where the song came from just a little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down. It came from the Brits from the late 1890s. And the British soldiers and that was the formation of tonic water, which is quinine, a little bit of fruit, a little bit of water, a little bit of sugar.      The British soldiers got permission to put a spoonful of gin with it. Thus was born the gin and tonic. That’s where the gin and tonic came from. It was a medicine.

Dr. Weitz:                            Who knows what you’re going to learn when you talk to Dr. Tom O’Bryan?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Well, I really like that kind of geek stuff. So, once I learned that, my wife and I started drinking a little bit of tonic water every day. I don’t know that it’s going to help but it sure is not going to hurt. But you just have to make sure of two things if you do this, that there’s commercial tonic waters that are chemical copies and don’t have quinine in them.   So, you have to look on the label and make sure there’s quinine. That’s the first thing. And the second thing is most of the companies add a whole lot of sugar to that bottle of bitter-tasting quinine tonic water. But there’s one–the company’s called Fever Tree, like the tree in India where quinine comes from. And they have five different tonic waters, one of them is India Light.   And so there’s an India tonic water but the India Light has, I think it’s six grams of sugar in the bottle. So, it’s not much at all. So, what we do is we do about a … They’re small bottles so we do like half a bottle and then put sparkling water in there and then a little slice of lime. And it’s a nice pleasant little afternoon drink, but I’m taking a zinc ionophore to help carry the zinc inside the cell.   It may help. It’s not going to hurt. It doesn’t cure viral infections, but it may help a little bit.



Dr. Weitz:                            I’ve really been enjoying this discussion, but now, I’d like to pause to tell you about the sponsor for this episode of the Rational Wellness Podcast. This episode is sponsored by Pure Encapsulations, which is one of the few lines of professional nutritional supplements that I use in my office. Pure Encapsulations manufactures a complete line of hypoallergenic research-based dietary supplements. Pure products are meticulously formulated using pure scientifically-tested and validated ingredients. They are free from magnesium stearate, gluten, GMOs, hydrogenated fats, artificial colors, sweeteners and preservatives.

Among other things, one of the great things about Pure Encapsulations is not just the quality products but the fact that they often provide a range of different dosages and sizes, which makes it easy to find the right product for the right patient, especially since we do a lot of testing and we figure out exactly what the patients need. For example, with DHEA, they offer five, 10 and 25-milligram dosages in both 60 and 180 capsules per bottle size, which is extremely convenient.

                                                Now, back to our discussion.



Dr. Weitz:                            Now, let’s get into our topic. This one got off topic, my fault. So, how would you … Now, your brain book I know was kind of a self-help book but in this discussion, I’d like you to play the role of the clinician and let’s say you have a patient who comes in your office with symptoms of mild cognitive impairment, how would you assess the patient? How would you set up your consultation and then how would you work that patient up and go about making some recommendations?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Really good, really good question, thank you. And it’s a really tough topic and I’m going to explain why. When someone is suffering from mild cognitive impairment, which means they’re forgetting where their keys are, where did I park the car in the parking lot, things like that. They’re forgetting things that happened yesterday. “What did you have for breakfast yesterday?” “I don’t know.”  When people notice that kind of thing, it scares the hell out of people. And when we get scared, we tend to avoid the topic. That’s human nature especially in the US. We like everything to be convenient and easy. What pill can I take so that this doesn’t happen anymore? So, one of the platforms at TheDr.com, my website, is that our goal is to make it easy to do the right thing. So, what does that mean?   Well, in order to do the right thing, you have to understand what’s going on and what the goal is of every step you take, so the journey to health. When your body is not functioning the way you want it to, it’s a journey to get back to health again. And if you can take a journey to go from New York to Miami, you need a map. And so we have to teach you how to read the map of your journey to health. But people often don’t want to hear that. What they want to hear is what pill do I take that gets rid of this?

                                                So, the first thing is it’s a wake-up call. And the geek term is you have to change your paradigm. You have to be receptive to thinking a different way, obviously, and I don’t mean that in a pun but you have to think differently. So, first, reality check. The Alzheimer’s Association of America which is the number one group. They have hundreds of thousands of people. They get lots of good education programs they have and all of that.  They told us last year, one out of three elders dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, one out of three. We’re hearing numbers all the time. You started the show with some numbers about Alzheimer’s. People don’t know how to hold the numbers. So, here’s how you hold that number from the Alzheimer’s Association. Dr. Ben, you’re interviewing me right now, and then there’s that person listening. So, between you Dr. Ben, you the listener and me, one of the three of us will die with dementia and it sure as hell ain’t going to be me.

                                                That’s the goal here. But that’s the reality check. That’s how common this thing is now. And people don’t get it. It’s not going to happen, because everybody knows someone that had a heart attack and survived and changed their diets, started exercising, they looked better than they’ve looked at years. Most of us know someone diagnosed with cancer that went through the protocols, whatever they were, who’s in remission and they feel great.  No one knows anyone diagnosed with a brain deterioration, mild cognitive impairment that’s doing great.  It scares the hell out of us.  So, we avoid the topic. You can’t avoid this topic that you have to learn how to read the map.  And it’s a day by day journey to learn how to read the map. Critically important, or else people are going to feel a little bit better for a while but they continue to go downhill.  And as a doctor, you say, “Well, we told him what to eat and then told him what to take, and they did it most of the time.  But that really didn’t help very much.” So-

Dr. Weitz:                            How do you … Let’s say the patient comes in your office and maybe they recognize their memory is off or maybe their spouse, how do you assess what their level of cognitive impairment is?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Yeah. Well, so you’re saying let’s get to the meat of the matter?

Dr. Weitz:                            Yeah. Do you use a questionnaire or-

Dr. O’Bryan:                        I understand. Well, the first thing to understand is-

Dr. Weitz:                            I didn’t mean to cut you off.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        It’s all right. I understand. It’s your podcast. The first thing to understand is that your brain deterioration condition is a condition of inflammation. It’s always inflammation without exception and I’ll challenge anyone to show me that it’s not inflammation because there are so many studies that show your brain is on fire. And when your brain is on fire, you’re killing off brain cells.  So, the question is, is it the frontal lobes or the occipital lobes in your brain that’s on fire? Is it gasoline or kerosene? Where is the fire coming from?  But your brain is on fire. And you say, “Well, I feel fine. I don’t have a problem going on.” You don’t feel when you lose a hundred or a thousand brain cells because you got so many.  But every time you pump gas, every time you pump gas, you fill your gas tank, if you can smell the gas, you’re smelling benzene.  And benzene goes right up to your brain, killing brain cells. It causes inflammation killing brain cells every single time you smell gas.   “Well, I have to pump gas.” I understand.  But when you put it on there, if you’re smelling gas, you’re downwind.  Walk around to the other side of the hose, now you’re upwind.  We just have to start thinking differently about this. We need a paradigm shift, and that’s really difficult for people because they want the magic fix right now.  So, what type of test do you do to identify?

Dr. Weitz:                            Do you use a questionnaire to assess cognitive function? I know there are some good online ones.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        There are some really good questionnaires and I don’t, because if someone comes to me and said, “I’ve got mild cognitive … Doc, I’m not remembering the way I used to. There’s something going on.” I don’t need to document it. I get it already. But they’re very valuable to do and you can compare them six months later. We do multiple symptom questionnaires, so we have a number of questionnaires we use specific memory questions.   I think it’s a good idea to use it, and I just don’t in my practice.

Dr. Weitz:                            And then how do you conduct your consultation to get an idea of what some of the underlying triggers might be for this particular person?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        We have to read the map. So, in order to read the map, you have to have a map. So, to have a map, you have to do some testing to identify where is this coming from? What are the triggers setting it off? So, the number one test … There are two tests we do on every single person, two tests that come in with these complaints. The first one is called the Neural Zoomer Plus.  The Neural Zoomer Plus is a blood test that looks at 48 different antibodies in your brain. If you have elevated antibodies, you’re killing off brain cells. And so, it’s the most comprehensive test I’ve ever seen on this. And we use this at the beginning to see how many different tissues are on fire right now, how many are there?

And the second test is the Wheat Zoomer.  And we do the Wheat Zoomer for two reasons. The first is that it’s the most sensitive marker for intestinal permeability or leaky gut. And when you read the science out there, inflammatory diseases whether it’s brain inflammation diseases, kidney inflammation diseases, skin inflammation diseases; inflammatory chronic, inflammatory diseases, there are five factors required or five pillars as Professor Fasano talks about, the five pillars in a development of chronic inflammatory disease.

                                                The first one is you’ve got the gene that says you’re vulnerable to that. It doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. It just means you’ve got the vulnerability. The second one is an environmental trigger that sets it off. And that can be benzene you’re breathing when you pump gas, or wheat if you have a sensitivity to wheat. The third one is the environmental trigger alters your microbiome, the intestinal microbiome which the geek word is modulates your brain function.   Now, what does that mean? It means it had its hands on the steering wheel, that the bacteria in your gut have their hands on the steering wheel of how your brain functions. For every one message from the brain going down telling the gut what to do, there are nine messages in the gut going up telling the brain what to do. So, when your gut is out of balance, the term is dysbiosis. But when your gut is out of balance, you’re sending the wrong messages to your brain.   So, just imagine you’re driving down the road, if the bacteria has got its hands on the steering wheel of your brain function and you just turn the steering wheel 10 degrees to the right, a hundred yards down the road, you’re off the road. And in your brain that means the hormones that your brain makes called neurotransmitters that they’re way out of balance when your gut is out of balance. And that sets up brain dysfunction. So, that’s the third one, is the microbiome in the gut.   The fourth pillar is intestinal permeability or leaky gut. And when you come back positive for leaky gut, you’ve got leaky brain and we’ll talk about that in a minute. And the fifth one is chronic inflammatory immune response. Whether it’s going into your brain or into your kidneys or your joints or your skin or your heart, but this chronic inflammation is determined by your genes where it’s going to manifest.

                                                So, there are five different parts to this, but the ones that we got complete control over without exception, we’ve got our hands on the steering wheel ourselves is the environment that you expose yourself to, what’s on the end of your fork is the most common environmental trigger, changing the microbiome to a healthier more balanced microbiome, and focusing on healing intestinal permeability. And those three, you’ve got complete control over.  So the baseline, the very baseline of dealing with mild cognitive decline is those three, what’s on the end of your fork, what foods are you sensitive to, what’s your microbiome like, let’s rebuild the healthier microbiome which helps to heal the inflamed gut causing the leaky gut or intestinal permeability. That’s the key, those three.

Dr. Weitz:                            So, how are you going to assess the microbiome?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        There’s a number of gut tests, stool tests that you can do that look at the microbiome. Currently, we’re working with one called BiomeFX that I’m seeing as the most sophisticated one out there right now. But there’s a number of good ones that different doctors will use. And some focus on one piece of information, some focus on others.

Dr. Weitz:                            The BiomeFX is the one that Microbiome Labs is involved with, right?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        That’s correct.

Dr. Weitz:                            Yeah. We just had Kiran Krishnan on our monthly meeting, talking through Zoom. And he was talking about the microbiome and gave us some information about that full molecular analysis stool test.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Right. It’s a great test. I’m really impressed by it. But that’s the three. That’s the three things that everybody has control over. Now, you don’t fix them in a day. You have to first be able to read the map and then start heading in the direction from New York to Miami. You have to be on the right road to eventually get to health, to better health.

Dr. Weitz:                            What are some of the things that you might see on that Neural Zoomer panel?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Oh, man, we’ve never had one come back negative yet. Of all the ones we do, every … And I tell people. I tell them this when they first come. And I say, “Mrs. Patient, my favorite patients are the ones that have been to Mayo Clinic and they’re told that they don’t know what’s wrong.” I said, “That’s great. That’s really great.” And they looked at me like I’m a little weird which I am.  But I say, “That means that you don’t have a disease because if you had a disease, Mayo Clinic would find it. You’ve got dysfunction. Something is not functioning right, so the tests we’re going to do are going to look at functional problems, not disease markers.” And they’d say, “Oh, okay. That kind of made sense.”    Then they come back in the next visit, everybody is nervous with test results. They always are. And I look at the test results and I say, “Well, this is really good news. You’re a mess. Look at all these problems on here. These are great because this one will take two months to fix. This one might be six months. This one, somewhere of six months to a year. But every single one of these markers can be turned around and we’ll show you how to turn them around. But this is what we have to focus on, is get the inflammation down in your brain.” So, what’s it going to take? Whatever it takes to get the inflammation down.

                                                I’ll give you an example. The number one type of Alzheimer’s, you mentioned Dr. Bredesen, the real pioneer here. And Dale says that of the five types of Alzheimer’s, the number one most common type is inhalation Alzheimer’s. It’s what you’re breathing that goes right up to your brain. That’s the gasoline on the fire causing the inflammation, killing off brain cells.   And you learn that indoor air pollution is much worse than outdoor air pollution. Molds are huge problem in our country today, huge. “Well, there’s just a little bit of mold on the shower curtain. It’s not too bad.” Yes, it is. If you see it, it’s way too much. It’s way too much, right?   And NASA came out with a study and they showed these common houseplants. You put two six-inch houseplants in every room and you suck up formaldehyde, trichloroethylenes, molds, spores by depending on the chemical for anywhere from 42% to 76% of what’s in the air. The plants suck it in, take it down into the roots of the plant. The microbiome in the dirt converts that stuff, breaks it down and then the plant produces more oxygen in the air.   So, it’s really simple things. You get houseplants in every room. “Well, I don’t have a green thumb.” So if they die, you buy more. You don’t have to have a green thumb, and you’ll learn how often to water them and when not to water them. But the idea is-

Dr. Weitz:                            What about air purifier or plants that are-

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Exactly, much better if you can’t afford an air purifier or in addition to an air purifier, houseplants in every room. And people don’t know that your air … If you can see the sunshine coming through the window, sometimes the rays of the sun and you see kind of the dust in the air, you’re sucking all that stuff in all day every day. And what’s in that dust? Formaldehydes from pressboard, cabinets like your kitchen cabinets or your bathroom cabinets. They outgas formaldehyde into the air. You just can’t smell it.

                                                Scotchgard on your sofas outgases into you and this stuff causes cancer. These chemicals cause cancer. Now, there is no evidence that the amount of Scotchgard that reaches out into the air is toxic to humans. And that’s true, there is no evidence because it’s a minor amount. But this stuff accumulates in the body over years and years and years. Now, you got a problem. And that’s how the chemical industry got away with this crap, excuse me, but they had the legislation passed that you have to prove the amount of toxic stuff in the air is dangerous to humans. It’s not.

Dr. Weitz:                            Yeah, it turns out they actually stopped regulating PFOS and PFO recently. They said, “No, we’re not going to regulate it.”

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Yeah. And when Trump came to the office, I’m not getting political here, but in his first month in office, he removed the regulations for filters on coal burning power plants to filter the mercury, so that mercury doesn’t spew into the air. For the last seven years, there’s been a whole lot more mercury spewing into the air because of our government regulations or lack of regulations.

Dr. Weitz:                            Actually when they remove the controls on the PFOS, it was right after two scientists from his own organization published some studies showing that these chemicals and these are like the chemicals that are found in Scotchgard and Teflon pans and stuff that they’re actually way more toxic at much lower levels. And we’ve already got reports that they’re in the drinking water throughout most of the country including in California.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Right. See, that’s why all these stuff is overwhelming.

Dr. Weitz:                            And all these chemicals build up in the body like you’re saying.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Exactly. That’s the danger, is the accumulative aspect. That’s why part of the roadmap to better brain health is teaching people how important it is to detox and that we have to be thinking a little bit every day about helping our detoxification pathways, break down these chemicals we’re exposed to.

Dr. Weitz:                            How do we detox? That word is thrown around a lot.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Yeah. The first and most important thing is the highway of detox needs to be open and clear. If you’ve got a four-lane highway that’s narrowed down to one lane, everything backs up. You back your car into a snow bank, the exhaust pipe is full of snow, the exhaust comes back into the engine. What does all that mean? You have to drink a half ounce of water per pound body weight.  A half ounce per pound body weight. You just have to have the highway available to flush this stuff out.  “Oh, my god. Well, let’s see, I weigh 140 pounds, that’s 70 ounces. So that’s a half a gallon of water. Oh, my god. I’ll be peeing all day.” That’s the idea. You got to get this stuff out of you. I mean if your brain is on fire, where are the triggers coming from? And there are many, many triggers. And once again, it’s an overwhelming thing to deal with. That’s why you have to understand the paradigm, I’m learning how to read the map to get to Miami.

Dr. Weitz:                            What else can we do to promote detox of chemicals?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Number one most important is be well-hydrated with the purest water that you can get your hands on.

Dr. Weitz:                            Is there a particular type of water you like?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Yeah, tap water through a really good filtration system.

Dr. Weitz:                            Okay.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Yeah. That’s the only time you’re safe. If you can afford it, to spend 400 to a thousand dollars and get a really good water filter … The best one would be a couple of thousand dollars for the water coming into the house [crosstalk 00:38:36] to the kitchen sink because you brush your teeth in the bathroom. You take a shower and you get water in your mouth in the shower. So, having a whole house water filtration system is the best.  But if you can’t afford that, whatever you can afford is better than nothing. Even if it’s just a little countertop Brita that you put the tap water into and it goes through a little filter in the top and it drips down into the container. That’s better than nothing.

Dr. Weitz:                            You can get one of those systems that goes onto the sink that does reverse osmosis and a bunch of filters. And there’s a number of companies that will actually do it for a monthly rental fee. You pay 30, 40 bucks a month or something like that.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        So, that’s the important component on the map of getting to Miami, of getting to better brain function. You have to understand you’ve got lots of cities to drive through, lots of states to drive through to get from New York to Miami.   So, with detox, what else is critically important after water, the next in my opinion most important thing is what’s on the end of your fork. That is the most common trigger, fueling inflammation in the body. And so, the first concept is always get organic whenever you can. And when you go shopping at your local supermarket and they don’t have organic potatoes or sweet potatoes, you ask for the produce manager. There’s always some guy putting out more fruit or something. And say, “Hi, is the produce manager in?” “Yeah.” “Could you get him please?”

                                                And the guy comes out and he’s really happy, he’s the produce manager. Say, “Hi. I’m wondering how come you guys don’t have organic sweet potatoes?” “Oh, well, there’s really not … We just … There’s not that much to manage.” “Oh, my friends and I, we know how important organic is and if you carry organic, we’ll buy it. I promise.”   And then he walks away, “Oh, okay.” he walks away and he might blow you off. But what if 20 people a week do that? It won’t take long before he goes to the store manager and says, “I’m having people every day asking for more organic produce.” That’s the only way you’re going to get a change in the supermarket, is that everybody takes five minutes and ask for the produce manager and does your own due diligence to tell them you want organic carrots. You want organic apples.

                                                And you tell him and a hundred people a month do that, you think they’re not going to get organic? Of course, they’ll get it. They’ll start with a little bit and you say, “Oh, it’s there.” And you ask for the produce manager again six months later and say, “Hey, I see you got some organic rhubarb here. That’s really great. Thanks so much. Now, what about avocados?” And then they’ll have regular avocados and the organic ones that are a little bit more usually. And you just start building it up.

                                                But anyway, when you go shopping, always think of the rainbow diet. Most important concept in your food selection is the rainbow diet. The deeper the colors of the rainbow, the more polyphenols and antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables – blueberries, purple cabbage, red tomatoes, green broccoli, chard. The list goes on and on.   But you think of the colors of the rainbow, critically important. Because the more of the polyphenols you get in your diet every day, every meal, even breakfast, every meal … The more polyphenols you get, the more you support your detoxification pathways so that your liver is better at breaking down the chemicals you’re exposed to. Your lungs are better at breaking down the chemicals you’re exposed to. Your microbiome is better at breaking down the chemicals you’re exposed to.

                                                So, of course you want to reduce exposures of the bad stuff but you can’t in our world today. So you want to enhance your detoxification pathways. One is water, two is food. It’s critically important. And then your doctors can check you for compromised detox pathways and there are some geek terms like methylation, others that you may need more extra support and certain vitamins to help. But your doctor can find that out for you.

                                                But the simple things, you can do it every day and it should be just your new paradigm, is always a rainbow diet and always hydrating really well. You want to be at the point just from those two things, just from that where you wake up in the morning and your spouse wakes up. And you say, “Honey, I just had the best bowel movement I’ve had in three weeks. Holy cow, I feel great.” We think that intimacy and sex is great, but I’ll tell you what man, good bowel movements, you’re a happy man.  And we don’t talk about that stuff, but those functional abilities are critically important to get your brain working better because the ratio is nine to one. The message is coming from your gut nine times more of them going up to your brain. You want a gut that’s working really well.

Dr. Weitz:                            And most of the toxins are being put into the stool and pooped out. So, that’s a major route for detoxification.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Right. And I could talk about vitamins and take this one or take that one. And those are valuable. Those are really valuable. But if you don’t do the basics, if you don’t learn how to read the math, you can temporarily feel a little better because you’re taking vitamin and caffeine. You’re taking things that jack up your brain to work better, so it’s going to work better for a little while but you keep throwing gasoline on the fire, what do you think is going to happen?

Dr. Weitz:                            So, you’re saying even if you use a specialized detox program, take a detox powder, certain capsules, glutathione, binders, things like that, all those things need to be added on top of having a healthy diet, drinking a lot of water, getting sleep. You’ve got to have those fundamentals first before those specialized detox protocols are going to be beneficial.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        That’s exactly right. When you get out of New York, you need to get … You have to go through the city of New York to get on the highway to get down to Florida. And now, it’s a straight shot on the highway once you’re there. But you’ve got to do all those maneuvering to get on the highway. And the maneuvering … What people have to understand, and people don’t like to hear this. But what they need to understand is that if you have cognitive decline, if you’re forgetting things, if your memory is not working very well, what you’re doing, the way you’re living your life ain’t working. If you’re lucky, you’re going to be one out of the three, you’re at risk of that. So, what you’re doing ain’t working, period.  And you have to understand first because if you keep doing those same lifestyle, you got mold in your house but now you’re going to take some smoothie combination and put this brain powder in there and with 18 different ingredients for your brain and you take the smoothie and your brain is working really good and you’re fired up for a while but you’re still sucking the mold air into your brain, killing off your brain cells, what do you think is going to happen?

                                                It’s like we have to change our paradigm first. I never talk to people about a bunch of supplements to start with ever because you have to change the way … You have to realize the way you’ve been living your life has created the problems you got right now.   So, the definition of crazy is doing the same thing and expecting different results. “So, I’m going to do the same thing but now I’m going to take some brain powder with my smoothie. Oh, I feel better. My brain is working better,” for a short period of time but your lifestyle is the same. You’re breathing the same air. You’re eating the same foods that you’re sensitive to. “Well, I don’t get gut pain when I eat wheat. I don’t have a problem with wheat.” Really? Just do the Wheat Zoomer test and find out.

Dr. Weitz:                            Should everybody stop eating wheat?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Say it again.

Dr. Weitz:                            Should everybody stop eating wheat?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        I never say that, ever. I’ve never ever said that. But I’m misinterpreted that way because what I do say is that if your immune system is fighting wheat, you can’t eat wheat, period. So, you just have to have an accurate test to see, is my body fighting wheat right now? Because the ratio is eight to one, for every one person that get gut complaints from eating wheat, eight people don’t have gut complaints. They’ve got brain complaints or joint complaints or skin complaints. They don’t have gut complaints.

                                                So, you think I eat wheat, I feel fine, it doesn’t matter how you feel if your brain is fried because it may be your genetics the wheat is causing gasoline on the fire in your brain. So, what I always say, if you’re not happy with your current health and how your body is functioning, do the test to see, does my immune system say I have a problem with wheat? If it says yes, you do, you don’t eat wheat anymore, period. So that’s what I always say.

Dr. Weitz:                            Right. What about just doing an elimination diet and taking wheat out and see if you feel better?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        The concept of … I have to plug my power in here on my phone, there we go … The concept of an elimination diet, the danger of that, it’s a good concept but the danger of that is that you’re looking for how you feel to determine whether or not wheat is a problem. And quite honestly, most people that eliminate wheat, they feel better pretty quickly. But some don’t or they feel better, and if they have a little wheat once in a while, they’d still feel fine. They can’t tell.

                                                So, by the time you’ve got symptoms, it’s the end stage of that organ or that tissue and its ability to function normally. You can’t function normally anymore? You got symptoms. So, there’s a long degenerative process that goes on before you ever have a symptom. That’s the whole world of predictive autoimmunity. That’s what my book The Autoimmune Fix is about.

                                                So, it’s a good idea to do an elimination diet but it’s not comprehensive. Let me see if I can come up with the analogy for that. It’s kind of like saying if you’re driving on the highway through the city and everything is fine, you’re just driving along, everything is fine. You may not know there’s a riot going on four blocks over and there’s lots of chaos and lots of police and maybe the National Guard has been called out. But you’re on the highway and everything is fine.   So, you eat a little wheat once in a while and you can’t tell your brain is on fire. You can’t tell. Sometimes you can, but most of the time you can’t.

Dr. Weitz:                            Your immune system could be reacting to wheat. You could be having some clinical inflammatory reaction that hasn’t created symptoms yet and it could be a period of time before symptoms occur and by then you may be risking organ damage, so better to know early.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        That’s exactly right. You say it much clearer. And there’s only one test, though there are two tests that are really good tests now compared to the ones that almost every doctor does. The ones that most doctors do, the tests have been around for 25, 30 years and they’re good tests but they’re not comprehensive. Then in 2010, a laboratory opened up called Cyrex Labs and they looked at 10 different components of wheat instead of just one. So that’s better. But then a lab opened in 2015 called Vibrant Wellness that looks at 26 different components of wheat, and not just one. Most doctors look at one or maybe two components.

                                                So, if you test for that one component, gluten, and it comes back negative, your doctor says, “Oh, wheat is fine for you. See, the test is negative.” But you may not be reacting to gluten, you may be reacting to what’s called the wheat amylase trypsin inhibitors, that’s in wheat, and that’s causing your brain inflammation or that’s causing the thrombosis, the clots that you’re forming in your blood stream. And wheat does that a lot and you don’t feel any of that. So, you have to test comprehensively. So, those two labs are the only labs that are in the ballpark of being comprehensive.

Dr. Weitz:                            Great. So, I think we have to wrap because I have a patient coming up. As usual, it’s always fun to talk to you.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        I’d like to say one more thing if I may.

Dr. Weitz:                            Oh, yeah, absolutely. I was going to give you an opportunity to give some final thoughts.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        The subtitle of this book, You Can Fix Your Brain, the subtitle is Just 1 Hour a Week to the Best Memory, Productivity, and Sleep You’ve Ever Had. And it’s not a cutesy subtitle. It’s the only way to be successful with mild cognitive impairment, is that you don’t think you’re going to do it all immediately today. You just allocate a little bit of time if you have impairment every day one hour a day or one hour every two days, every Tuesday night after dinner or every Tuesday and Thursday or every night after dinner, I’m going to spend one hour. And I’m just going to review a little bit more.

                                                So, what’s the name of those plants that I need to buy? You go back to the book and you write down the name of the plants or you write down the URLs to look for glass storage containers to get rid of the Tupperware. The only thing Tupperware should be used for is out in the garage for your husband to store nails or for your kids to store crayons, but not around food. But you have to order glass storage containers, that’s going to take an hour, you’re done for the day. But you do this regularly, consistently.  And that’s how you start to change your lifestyle, is a little bit every day, a little bit every week, depending on how severe your symptoms are. In the book, I said one hour a week. But if you’ve got mild cognitive impairments, one hour a day.

Dr. Weitz:                            Yeah, absolutely. We all need to take steps to get as healthy as possible and mild cognitive impairment is one of the more important conditions that we want to do all these things, optimize our lifestyle and once again using a functional medicine approach. This is something that could be prevented and reversed. And just relying on the blockbuster drug that’s going to fix that is not the way to go. And that drug doesn’t exist with this condition anyway.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Well, you know I know of two, there may be more, pharmaceutical companies that closed down their Alzheimer’s research departments. They closed them down and laid off the scientist after spending literally billions of dollars over the years trying to find the drug because they now know there is no drug and Dr. Bredesen taught us there’s 36 different things that have to be looked at and fixed. It’s a step by step progression. You have to fix this, fix this, fix this, and fix this.   That means there’s a map. To get from here to there, there’s a map and you have to learn how to read the map, which is every step along the way. That’s where the one hour a day or one hour a week comes into play. Be patient, be consistent and you will make it to Miami.

Dr. Weitz:                            Excellent. On that thought, we’ll bid adieu and listeners can find out more about you through TheDr.com website, correct?

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Yes. That’s TheDr.com. Don’t spell the word “doctor” out, TheDr.com.

Dr. Weitz:                            Okay, excellent. Thank you Dr. O’Bryan.

Dr. O’Bryan:                        Thank you, Dr. Weitz.


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