All About Brain Health for Longevity: Insights from Neuroscientist Dr. Kristen Willeumier 

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

Episode 142

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I'm cLAUDIA!

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Performance coach, detail-loving educator, big-thinking entrepreneur, podcaster, mama, passionate adventurer, and health optimization activist here to help people transform their lives, and reach their highest potential! All rolled into one.

“It's taken me a lot of years of study to get to this point where I can speak about the brain and tell people why it's important to protect it. I also think it's important to share this information because nobody teaches us how to take care of our brain and how to possibly reduce the risk of dementia, degenerative disease, or altered cognitive function. We always take that for granted.” - Dr. Kristen Willeumier, Neuroscientist and author of “Biohack Your Brain”

Brain health is a topic that’s often overlooked when we talk about longevity, yet it plays such a crucial role! Nutrition, gut health, and cardiovascular fitness are usually the first subjects to pop up.

Little do we realize that by adopting healthier habits, we can slow down cognitive decline and help our brains stay in top shape.

Unlock the secrets of brain health and longevity in today’s episode with neuroscientist Dr. Kristen Willeumier. Besides having a Ph.D. in Neurobiology, she’s a widely published author in peer-reviewed journals such as The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Translational Psychiatry, and The Journal of Neuroscience.

We talk about the pivotal role of social connections, the impact of technology on aging minds, and proactive measures to bio-hack your brain for a vibrant life.

As the discussion unfolds, we touch on Alzheimer's and dementia prevention, genetic factors, neuroplasticity, mental well-being, detoxification for brain health, the impact of alcohol, and much more.

Are you ready to take control of your brain health and longevity? Tune in and empower yourself with practical tips from Dr. Kristen.









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Show Notes 

Audio

Introduction (00:00)
Meet Dr. Kristen Willeumier (00:56)
Technology is causing isolation (06:01)
What’s happening to brain health? (10:30)
How head trauma relates to brain health (16:01)
Will the average diet and modern lifestyle lead to cognitive decline? (19:21)
Brain health and hydration (28:11)
What’s the optimal amount of exercise for brain health? (40:54)
The effects of alcohol on brain health (44:37)
Types of head trauma and what to do to rehabilitate the brain (1:03:59)
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (1:21:16)
Brain tests and when to get them (1:33:02)
Dr. Kristen’s vision for optimal brain health (1:38:33)
Stress, mental health, and self-care (1:39:52)
Outro (1:48:39)

Video

Introduction (00:00)
Meet Dr. Kristen Willeumier (00:15)
Technology is causing isolation (05:19)
What’s happening to brain health? (09:49)
How head trauma relates to brain health (15:20)
Will the average diet and modern lifestyle lead to cognitive decline? (18:41)
Brain health and hydration (27:31)
What’s the optimal amount of exercise for brain health? (40:13)
The effects of alcohol on brain health (43:57)
Types of head trauma and what to do to rehabilitate the brain (1:03:18)
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (1:20:34)
Brain tests and when to get them (1:32:21)
Dr. Kristen’s vision for optimal brain health (1:37:52)
Stress, mental health, and self-care (1:39:12)
Outro (1:47:59)

People mentioned

MORE GREAT QUOTES 

“The brain throughout your lifespan has this ability to be plastic, which means that you can make new connections throughout the brain. There are also very specific regions where we can still grow new neurons, which is phenomenal.” - Dr. Kristen Willeumier



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PODCAST EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Claudia von Boeselager: Welcome to another episode of the Longevity and Lifestyle Podcast. I'm your host, Claudia von Boeselager. I'm here to uncover the groundbreaking strategies, tools, and practices from the world's pioneering experts to help you live your best and reach your fullest potential. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast to always catch the latest episodes.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note, to avoid any unnecessary headaches, Longevity & Lifestyle LLC owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as the right of publicity. You are welcome to share parts of the transcript (up to 500 words) in other media (such as press articles, blogs, social media accounts, etc.) for non-commercial use which must also include attribution to “The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast” with a link back to the longevity-and-lifestyle.com/podcast URL. It is prohibited to use any portion of the podcast content, names or images for any commercial purposes in digital or non-digital outlets to promote you or another’s products or services.


PODCAST EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 00:00
Nobody teaches us how to take care of our brain and how to possibly reduce the risk of dementia or degenerative disease or reduce the risk of having altered cognitive function. And we always take that for granted when we're young.

Claudia von Boeselager 00:17
Are you ready to boost your longevity and unlock peak performance? Welcome to the Longevity and Lifestyle Podcast. I'm your host Claudia von Boeselager, longevity and peak performance coach. Each week we'll explore groundbreaking science unravel longevity secrets share strategies to grow younger and stay up to date with world-class health and peak performance pioneers. Everything you need to live longer, live better, and reach your fullest potential ready to defy aging optimize health, and promote peak performance visit llinsider.com. For more. My guest today is a return guest and now a dear friend Dr. Kristen Willeumier. Dr. Kristen is a neuroscientist and author of the book Bio-hack Your Brain she conducted her graduate research at UCLA and site at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, earning MS degrees in physiological science and neurobiology as well as a Ph.D. in neurobiology. She also served as a postdoctoral scientist at Cedars Sinai focusing on neurodegenerative diseases in her role as the director of neuroimaging at research at the Almond clinic structure will have my lead pioneering studies, including one on the long-term effects of repetitive sub-concussive impacts and NFL players, and the development of a protocol to reverse brain damage and enhance cognitive health. Kristen, welcome back to the Longevity and Lifestyle podcast. It's such a pleasure to have you on and Oscar as well. So for those listening, we have beautiful Oscar on also. So hello to both of you.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 02:02
Well, hello, thank you for the lovely introduction. And you know, one of our rescue dogs, Oscar here wanted to say hello to you and everybody in the audience. So Hello there. Hello, everyone.

Claudia von Boeselager 02:18
As we were saying as well, pets and animals are so important for our health and our mental health and overall well-being as well. Right. So yeah,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 02:27
well, we, you know, we have discussed during the pandemic, there was the highest number of people adopting pets in the home because of just the feelings of social isolation and the lack of connectedness. So I thought it would be fun to have Oscar make a cameo. And we can certainly, I can even lead by telling you that there was a new study that was published in the Journal of Neurology, that used brain imaging, and looked at older adults who were experiencing social isolation and loneliness. And what the brain imaging results showed is people who are less socially active or socially connected, had smaller brain volumes. And this some of the regions, they originally analyze, and one of the areas that had the smaller brain volume was the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with learning and memory. So the moral of the story and they do this to teach neurologists in the clinical setting the importance of asking patients, right, are you socially connected? Are you getting out? Like, if you're socially connected? Are you feeling lonely? Right, because sometimes people are out and about in the world, but they still feel lonely inside. And so pets are a way to open our hearts and make us feel less lonely. And we're connected. So I thought there was a perfect way to start our conversation. And, you know, ask her always loves to sit by me during a podcast.

Claudia von Boeselager 04:04
So beautiful. He's so sweet. And then you have your new adopted dog as well. Olivia. Yeah, she's

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 04:09
here too. Yeah, she's the baby one year old. So

Claudia von Boeselager 04:12
sweet. And obviously, the longest-running studies since 1938. On longevity and happiness and longevity out of Harvard, also says the importance of relationships and connection as a fundamental role for later in life. And I'm in the process of watching the Netflix series. How to live to 100. So I don't know if you've seen it. I think not.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 04:33
What have you learned was so the, the episodes of it. Steve Buettner, right?

Claudia von Boeselager 04:39
Yes. Yeah. He's in Okinawa. And then so then yeah. And then he was somewhere in California actually, as well. And but it's

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 04:46
not Dave. It's Dan Buettner. Dan Buettner wonderful book. Yeah.

Claudia von Boeselager 04:52
Yes, yeah. Yeah. And he, of course, part of it is that sense of community that is At an age that they're not just put into a nursing home. But instead, they're still very much part of the community. They're seen as like a wise, knowledgeable person respected because of that, and supported by younger generations. So again, it's that community and lack of isolation, which makes sense. I mean, we are humans to have connections. And we think with this little device that we call our phone that we're more connected, well, hey, we forget how it was in the good old days when people used to write a letter and be like, I'm gonna come visit you for a week.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 05:35
That was actually how I grew up, right? I'm a little bit older than you, like. And I laugh because, you know, I think I might have told you this on the last podcast, but I brought a typewriter with me to college so that

Claudia von Boeselager 05:50
I have one in the home. I know a typewriter. Do you know what that is? I do

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 05:56
that's okay, so I brought a typewriter. But it's interesting, you bring up our little phones. And right now we've got kids who are glued to their phones using them. I just read some research, kids are using phones an average of eight hours a day. That's what the screen time is. Pre-pandemic, it was two to three hours. Now post-pandemic is eight hours. And that's, again, facilitating the sort of isolation piece. So you're connected, but you're not physically with people. And now we're seeing this big increase in kids having mental health issues. Again, you know, when I grew up, it was like, you go outside, you play with friends, you go play with, you play your sports, you can come in for dinner, right? We had to be out of the house. And there was no in my house, there was no television like you could, I could watch an hour, but my mom was really like no TV, you're going to be a kid, you're going to read a book, you're going to be playing sports, you're going to be connecting with the neighbors. And if you left me outside long enough, eventually I wouldn't meet people, you know, you just so it is kind of funny. We're laughing. But the phones start to isolate people, whether it's kids or even adults. Right? They think they're like, we're connected. And I'm connected with my family. But you have to be out with people. Right? And you were talking about, you know, this documentary. You know, what I love about it. A lot of people who live in the United States are afraid to get older because they feel like they're going to be left alone and isolated. And a lot of people do that they put their parents in assisted living facilities, and they'll go visit them. But in Dan Buettner his documentary, I'm sure he was showing that as people get older, they're the wise elders of the community and their kids and the grandkids come and visit them. And they're taken care of, and sometimes they all live together, which is so beautiful,

Claudia von Boeselager 08:02
sweet and so nice. And communities like in Florida and certain neighborhoods, right, I saw going back a few years and our pre-pandemic, but my mom used to go to this gym class, and there was a 90-plus-year-old and she was a former dancer, and she was still able to kick her leg higher than the rock. Yes. Go for you. Exactly. Yes. My rocket is talking to another guy. He's like, Yeah, just spinning four days a week. And then I do weight training. And you know, I'm going to celebrate my eighth birthday next year. I'm like, sorry. This isn't your mom's gym. Yeah, exactly. Amazing with the dementia. She doesn't go there, unfortunately, more. But that that was right. And I was so impressed. And I think because of that community. I mean, my then 95 has passed since but my 94-year-old grandfather was just like, I'm as young as I feel that heart and he's like, I'm not interested in speaking to older people, because they just complain about their health. He's like, I focus on your people.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 09:04
You know, what's really, what's cute as my, my grandparents on my father's side lived to 92 and 95. And I remember when my grandpa retired, he owned his own auto parts business and sold it. Then he became a volunteer police officer and he volunteered at the Toastmasters. So now he was 70 years old. Toastmasters is where you go and learn how to give speeches in front of an audience. My grandfather was doing all of this in his 80s and 90s. And they'd go on cruises, to see the world just travel and, you know, we really can learn a lot from our, you know, from our grandparents and great grandparents. And the reason why it's so important and I think you and I have talked about this before is now the average lifespan of somebody living in At least in the US is 79 years of age. Now, you're telling me hear your grandparents lived into their 90s. Mine lived into their 90s. But then my parents both passed in their 70s. So my mom passed at 70, my dad at 78. I'm like, we're going in the wrong direction. Yeah. Right, we're going in the wrong direction. So what is it? Yeah, we

Claudia von Boeselager 10:24
should, in theory, have all the resources and the technology and the things, but we are poisoning ourselves. And this is what I'd love to, you know, look at as well with you is, you know, why is the brain deteriorating? Like, why does that happen? And then, you know, many people focus on their, like cardiovascular health or like their good health. But how many people have got a game plan down for their brain health, yet that drives the whole system? So let's talk about that, Kristen, like what's happening?

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 10:51
I love that you just said that because you're talking about my favorite organ in the body, the brain, which drives the whole system. And if you know, the operating system isn't working appropriately, right, if the master organ that's receiving all of the signals from your external environment, right, what you see, hear, feel touch, and then process it and tell the body what to do, you're not going to be able to function appropriately. And of course, everybody can relate to Alzheimer's disease. Most people know dementia, and Alzheimer's is when you start to lose your memories. But why does that happen? It happens because proteins start to abnormally fold and accumulate in the brain over time. And I will share with you one of the many revelations that I learned from being a scientist in a neuroimaging clinic was that we could use brain imaging and see what was going on in somebody's brain. And they might come to us and not be symptomatic. So their cognitive health might be intact, you know, their memories intact, they say, Oh, I'm getting older, you know, maybe I've, you know, can't remember where I placed my keys I'm having a senior moment. But we could look at their brain image and see that there were areas of the brain that had very low blood flow, and we knew if they didn't change their behavior, that a potential Alzheimer's or dementia diagnosis was possible. This is when I started to learn that there are these biomarkers that we can look at in the brain 10 years, 15 years before anyone has a symptom that will tell us this person is heading that way. What can we do to slow things down, and possibly prevent an Alzheimer's or dementia diagnosis from happening? So, you know, we typically give those diagnoses starting around age 65. And older, but if you back calculate, you go okay, 65 minus 15, or 20 years now you're in your 40s, which is, you're in your 40s. You know, I'm in my early 50s. So this is just the time when I just turned 51. And you know what I always tell people my age, because it's, I'm proud of it, it's taken me, you know, a lot of years of study to get to this point where I can speak about the brain and tell people, you know why it's important to protect it. But I also think it's important to share this information because nobody teaches us how to take care of our brain and how to possibly reduce the risk of dementia or degenerative disease or reduce the risk of having altered cognitive function. And we always take that for granted. But we're young,

Claudia von Boeselager 13:49
I just to make a point on that as well. I think that there's even a lack of awareness around that it's even an option. And so when I even, you know, talk to some people about this, and they're like, oh, I don't even want to know about it. Like, you know, I dread the day that I get that diagnosis, and I just don't want to know about it. And it's like, well, actually, there is prevention, right, there is the opportunity. So I'm excited to discuss that as well. So, you know, for people listening who might be like, well, I can do something about it. It's like, yes, you're speaking as a protocol. So we

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 14:21
have protocols, yes. But it's the first part is just knowing that you can change your brain and that there is the possibility to make these changes. I always have to say a small caveat, if a very small percentage of dementia cases are due to certain genetic mutations, right? There are certain sorts of ancestral patterns that we see. So you could have a gene that may be responsible, but before and

Claudia von Boeselager 14:48
Kristin sorry, if I just asked is that the APO e4 gene or a different to that, you know, okay, it's

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 14:55
different from apo e4. So they're re-signaling genes. There are different Genes that we can look at, that we know we say are causative of Alzheimer's. So if you have it, the probability of getting it is very high. And you see this in families. So if your mother or father had it, and they did the genetic testing, and they have one or two, alpha-synuclein, different genes are have been implicated in causing Alzheimer's, but the Apo E for alleles and the variants, they just increase or decrease the risk of getting Alzheimer's just because you have the variant doesn't mean you will get Alzheimer's. So what is great about that is if you do the APO II, whichever testing I'm sure you've done, do you get a

Claudia von Boeselager 15:46
single copy? Yeah. And you have a single copy, if my mother doesn't have a copy, and she has dementia, we did the analysis with Dale Bredesen, Dr. Bredesen on hers is mainly due to lack of HRT and several head trauma incidents

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 15:59
in Boise. So interesting, you bring up head trauma, it is why I have been a passionate advocate of people taking care of their brain health if they've played a collision-based sport, even if they've done it in their youth like myself, I was a competitive equestrian, I have fallen off hundreds of times, you can hear I speak fluently, and my cognitive capacity is currently intact. But when you have head trauma, sometimes it can cause damage to the brain that, you know over time, certain things we can't change, right? So there's reversibility to some things, but irreversibility to others, right, if I share in damaged neurons, can't repair them. But I might be able to grow more blood vessels around them to make sure they're still well-oxygenated and nourished, I can still help create new neural connections. So if there's an area of the brain that's damaged, the brain can undergo what's called neuroplasticity and make a single neuron can make up to 10,000 connections with its neighbor. So if it gets damaged, the brain has the compensatory process to be able to make other connections. So I think that's the part we want to highlight, like the brain throughout your lifespan has this ability to be plastic, right? So you can make new connections throughout the brain. And then there's very specific regions where we can still grow new neurons, which is phenomenal. And I think that's why we and I know you've talked about this on other podcasts with other scientists and doctors, it's revolutionary, and it's changing our field because now we can look at the brain in a completely different way and say, Wow, we there are things we can do to protect it. There's, there's sort of a certain reversibility to, let's say, some of the symptoms you might be having, we might be able to preserve network connections and slow down the brain aging process and help preserve some of the brain volume changes that sort of naturally. or prevent, I would say, some of the brain volume changes we might naturally see with aging due to our dietary and lifestyle habits. This is so exciting question for you. And I'm gonna backtrack. So your mom has no copies of the Apple II four. Correct. Very, and you have one.

Claudia von Boeselager 18:28
I have one from my father. Yeah. One from your father. And

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 18:31
did your father do the analysis?

Claudia von Boeselager 18:34
He hasn't done it since you've been so focused on my mother, your mom, right? Dementia? I mean, it has to come from him. Right?

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 18:44
Yeah, I was wondering if he had one or two copies, but your dad's doing well, and he

Claudia von Boeselager 18:48
was caught legally. Yeah. And yeah,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 18:51
but he's cognitively intact. So he is a shining example that you could still have those two copies and

Claudia von Boeselager 18:59
I think he has 111 copies, right? So one or one or two, maybe? That's true. I'm not sure. But yeah. So but it's interesting. I must ask him if he's got one or two, but it is an example. And I think it's just being aware of what the right lifestyle choices are, which we need to dig into. You need to share with my audience like what what are the things to look out for? But I guess a question I want to ask just off of this is that if with modern diets and lifestyles, if the average person right, that existed if the average person were to not do any preventative measures and just have the average diet and the average stress levels and the lack of sleep and all the other things that we do to ourselves, is it inevitable that cognitive decline will continue as we're seeing you bring up an

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 19:52
interesting question. So I think of average person can have a lifespan of 79 years of age because at least I don't know what the youth Hey numbers are but so let's just say 78 7980. We're seeing more centenarians, which is very exciting. It's probably because of the longevity community. And thanks to wonderful people like you who are spreading the word about the importance of brain health. And when you take care of your brain health, you extend your health span and your lifespan. But your question is, so somebody can go through their whole life and do nothing and stay cognitively intact? But what I might ask them is, and again, I've come from a psychiatric clinic, right? I've worked in psychiatry, and I, you know, one of my mentors was the head of neurology over at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. So I've sort of had a foot in both worlds. What I found is most people, as they age, start to struggle with mental health issues, anxiety, depression, and inability to focus, is it clinical, no, it might not reach the point where there's a clinical diagnosis, sometimes you have to have these things for a certain period of time to be able to get the diagnosis. But if you're struggling with a mental health issue, that's a brain issue. And imagine, if you take care of your brain health, using some of the foundational principles we're talking about, you might be able to better regulate your emotions, and you won't have to deal with, you know, anxiety, depression, inability to focus. Having those senior moments that people start to have when they, you know, crossed the Rubicon of 50, or 60, right, I always hear about, you know, people having their senior moments, and here I am 51, I just read a recent paper where they called 55, like, older adults, like wait a minute, I'm gonna I'm getting into that category. That's my Laurel. Yeah, 100. And then we got to an old, we've got to reframe I know, I used to tell patients in the clinic, I'm like, you're not allowed to say you're old until you're 85. Like, you know, 65 is the new 40. But what I would just say to your audience, is that, the more that you start to embrace a brain-healthy lifestyle, and weave it into everything from the things that you eat to the things that you drink. So what you're consuming, to what's in your environment, to how much you sleep to how much you exercise, like, how many of these things can we help optimize, so that you have the greatest ability to have the long healthspan and lifespan, and reduce your chance of having to go to the doctor because we're in the clinic. We also like to say going to the doctor can be very expensive, it's expensive to see a psychiatrist, especially if you're going to do it weekly, the medications are expensive and have side effects. Having to be put in an assisted living facility can cost anywhere from 10 to $12,000 a month. So, you know, it's a really interesting way to shift your perspective. And I'm speaking to you who's very financially literate, you're coming from the fight, you know, you come from investment banking, investing in your brain health pays dividends, and that could be later in life, not having to go through, you know, dealing with the doctors and potential medical expenses you can have. So, you know, you can look at it from that perspective as well. But again, I will say, if you do nothing, you know, to support your brain health is just sort of live your life the way you want and don't sort of proactively address it, you probably just have a higher chance of, you know, dementia are diseases of aging, you know, the brain volume changes as we age, as I've written in my book, by the time we hit the age of 40, brain volume starts to decrease anywhere from five to 10% per decade. And what that means is you just start to lose neurons over time your brain is not in this active growth phase like it is when you're younger. Which is why when you're 18 and you're crazy, and you're bungee jumping, it's playing football and you know, you're knocking your head around but you can you get knocked down and you get up again like that song says it seems like kids are Teflon and their brains are super resilient. Well, it's because the brain is plastic, it's growing all these new neural connections and you're you are a lot more resilient. You know, as you get older, your energy levels go down and you're not quite as resilient. Sometimes neurotransmitter production goes down and you just, you slow down a little bit and that's okay, you don't have to you know, you can be running marathons and you know, you can be at your mom's health club where the gentleman who's 88, or 90 is spinning, like, that's what we love to see by, you know, we change right as we get older. So, but

Claudia von Boeselager 25:15
so that's the question then as well, right? So is it, you know, the probability, I don't know how much research is around that, but like people who don't make proactive brain health decisions? Like what is the probability of developing a disease? I guess there isn't any research on that. But the good news is like, what can people focus on to be that positive brain health so that they don't even begin to decline,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 25:42
that's the best way to think about it, it's like having a savings account and putting money in your savings account, or however, diversifying your portfolio, right, we're going to make sure we own some land, and we're gonna make sure maybe we have some gold, and then we're gonna have something in the stock market, and we're gonna, you know, it's, it's a way to help ensure that you're going to reduce the risk of having to contend with the neurodegenerative disorder, right? By the time people hit the age of 65. They say one out of 10 adults, will be contending with, you know, potential neurodegenerative disease, like the risk increases with age. And that's why it's really easy to go up until you're probably the age of 50, and not think about your brain health. And then you cross the age of 50. Now you're taking care of your aging parents who you see have dementia. And, you know, it's the cycle of life, like as one gets older things change. And, you know, we have the stamina and energy to manage that. But you see that you're like, number one, you're like, I don't want to be like that, right? How do I change that? So I don't have to depend on other people. So I don't have to lose my memory. So I can still be a functional member of society, you know, how many people work their whole lives and then retire. And then you should be having fun that they're taking care of medical issues. So for all of the young people listening, it's like being proactive, right? If you're 20, and you're listening to this podcast, you're a million steps ahead of the game. And I think it's in the collective consciousness. Now, more young kids are really sort of excited about brain health and addressing their mental health. And if you're older, if you're 60, and you're listening to the beautiful cloudy on this podcast, then I love it, because I would say it's not too late. And you can still change your brain function. And the things we'll talk about can help support your brain health. And that is the most important point if you get nothing else from this conversation, like listening to cloudy and I, you know, I'm a neurobiologist by training, right, I used to look at individual neurons and study what happens to them. Specifically with regard to Parkinson's disease, what happens at the level of the synapse, and how things change in the brain. So I like to think that every neuron in your brain is precious. And when we think of these degenerative disease processes happening 510 15 years before you have a symptom, we're now talking about how we protect the cells of your brain, these beautiful neurons. And what are we doing every day? To protect yourselves? So if we think about it now at the cellular health, the cellular level, it makes more sense. Oh, this is why I shouldn't be drinking water. Right? Because we want you know, our beautiful cells to have a lot of, you know, nutrients coming in and you need water to flush out the metabolic wastes and help bring the nutrients and help keep our blood pressure to a healthy level. Some people don't even realize if you have high blood pressure, just making sure you get the right amount of water in can help to regulate it. Because how many people out here are, you know, I write in the book is one of my favorite points, or brain is 75% water. It's not 75% Coffee, fruit juice, Gatorade, iced tea, Kombucha tea, like it's, and my husband gives me a hard time because I drink a lot of green juice. And he doesn't always see when I drink water. And he's like, you know, you talk about water, but you're drinking juice. Like, I'm like it but that's fresh. Exactly. And those most of all, there's a lot Yeah, it's they're, they're they're very hydrating, but, you know, I just bring up this point. Something is simple. If people do nothing else, but drink the proper amount of water each day for their body over decades, that's preserving your brain function. And

Claudia von Boeselager 29:53
I think for women, it's like three liters a day, and for men for something like that, depending on activity levels. Is that right? Yeah. that.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 30:00
So the Institute of Medicine statistics say 3.7 liters for men each day, which is I think 125 ounces. And for women, it's 2.5 liters, which is about 90 ounces. So I've rounded up, you brought your rounded up. So I like it because you optimize here. I'm gonna take, I'm going to factor in everybody's exercising, who listens, because my husband also says that he's like, You exercise all the time, you're not drinking enough water, which I love because He drinks a ton of water. And you probably are good at

Claudia von Boeselager 30:34
the lemon and ginger tea here. So I need to, yeah,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 30:38
and that is fine. That works. Oh, I love your well, you know, I have my collections here. So it is, I mean, it's, it is so important, right not to be dehydrated, because sometimes, over time, and again, I think this happens more on an older population where people are 60s and 70s. They just don't think about it, they don't do it. And so you've got to get the fluids in. Yeah, because I always say if you if you go to the hospital, for many issues, the first thing they do is hook you up to an IV to make sure you're well, you know, you have high blue IDs. So that's just one of those little reminders, that it's not easy. You know, when I taught the brain-directed weight loss groups in our clinics, that was the number one thing, the very first thing I had everybody do. I said, that's what we're going to start with our first goal, the first week is you're going to calculate how much water you should be drinking, and I want you to accomplish that every day, we're not even going to move to number to tell you to get that down. So that's how simple it can be. But

Claudia von Boeselager 31:51
you know, and I think with that, just for I know, some people are like, well, you know, depends. And personally, myself, I'm working at my desk, like, I'll have my tea and I'll have my things there. If I'm out and about like, I will not drink as much. And then I noticed that I'm I have to remember. And I think it's having your schedule, like having those optimized knowing the days you're going to be out and about, like maybe it's always in your car, you have like your water there. Or if you're out and about you always have your bottle with you. And you know how many times you need to refill it in the day to just remember right to make it as easy as possible. So you don't need to think, oh, okay, I missed a day of it. And then I know some people are worried like, well, I don't want to be up at night. And there are different strategies around this. But some people say, you know, get the hydration in earlier in the day, so that you can stop drinking by 6 pm, or whatever that time is for you so that you're not, you know, running to the bathroom all night.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 32:41
Well, it's great that you mentioned that. So one of the things people in my group did is they get 32-ounce bottles, so those BPA-free bottles in different colors. And so if you get three that's almost 100, you know, ounces of water. And that worked for both the men and women. And you can do you know, your blue bottle, your pink bottle, your green bottle, and you have them throughout the day. And so I would do it too. So anything I talk about in the book or anything I teach I do because it's it's living the message, and it's being authentic. You even saw I had my green juice just before we started and then I was like, Okay, wait, I've joined I drank too much. I'm like, No, I have to use the restroom. Right? That's normal, and healthy. But you're right. You know, if you're somebody who has a prostate issue, or you already know, like, you can stop drinking your fluids, you know, earlier in the evening, so you don't have to do that. But it's just, it's smart to get that as your number one strategy. Like I said if if people leave this podcast with nothing else, you trust me when I say just getting those fluids in. And again, it's not just the water, you know, you can get 20% of your hydrating fluids from soups and teas and the green juices and you're hydrating fruits and veggies, fruits and vegetables. So I like that. But just try to find water. Yeah.

Claudia von Boeselager 34:11
But this is also I think an interesting point. I want to hear what your view on this is that there was a point where I was drinking buckets of green tea with fresh lemon thinking this is great. It's a diuretic. And I woke up one morning, and it was really really bizarre. I almost felt like I was in a dream. Now this has probably been about a week of like drinking three liters of my pot with the thing I'm thinking is so great that

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 34:36
you're drinking three liters of tea. Yeah, well, like

Claudia von Boeselager 34:39
Oh, two and a half three like I was the thing and so I woke up in the morning, Kristen, and it felt like I was in some cartoon with this like super rocky ship. I couldn't even like what is going on like and I don't take medication and I don't like healthy but I was like I can't get to the kids just Go like I literally was really. And so I had a doctor and I spoke to the doctor come and see me. And he's like, Well, you know, it could be your heart, your middle. Yes. He was like he was totally baffled. He couldn't figure it out. And then somebody and they're like, Oh, well, green tea we'll do is to use a diuretic. So I was dehydrated. But meanwhile, I'm thinking I'm drinking liters and liters of I had drank some water, but because it's a diuretic, it was just draining me completely. So what are the big things people should be careful of? A no caffeine is a diuretic is a coffee

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 35:33
is a diuretic? Exactly. I didn't know you were drinking three liters of good tea.

Claudia von Boeselager 35:40
Yeah.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 35:43
But you know what, I'm so happy. You brought that up. Because this, this is authentic. And it's real. And it's what happens is what happens with the tea. It happens with supplements, too. Right? People are like, Oh, I was told I should take this supplement. And then they have a side effect. And they you know, their doctors trying to figure out what in the world is caused this? So yes, when we talk about the water, we want it to just be water. That's why we're saying the other 20% can come from and that's the tea. So I said the tea so 20% of three liters. three liters. Yeah, exactly. Right. So no, go.

Claudia von Boeselager 36:21
Don't do what I did. Don't

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 36:23
fall, but learn from her right? knowledge, experience and training. Don't try to three liters of green tea or whatever tea you've done, David, because you probably did it several days in a row is what oh, it was

Claudia von Boeselager 36:36
like a week of it. Yeah,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 36:37
we Yeah.

Claudia von Boeselager 36:41
You know, I go all in when I go and I'm like this has

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 36:43
to go all in. And the other thing that I believe we probably talked about this on our marathon podcast that we did the first time you interviewed me, which I think went three hours

Claudia von Boeselager 36:55
for four hours, I think or so it was for a few episodes, clearly

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 36:59
we Yes, what you drink your water. One of the things that I love to teach people because I think it's really important. And I wish somebody taught this, to me the importance of drinking water when you wake up, like the first thing that you should have. Isn't shouldn't be coffee. So you've spent all night sleeping, right? Hopefully, eight hours for some people who are super achievers might be six hours. But you want to hydrate with water first before you have a cup of coffee, which is dehydrating. So to all of your listeners out there who sort of regularly wake up and say, Oh, I wake up with my coffee. Do your best to try a glass of water first or hydrating green juice. Right? And then do your coffee. Because that's thinking about supporting your body. Again, I'm all about nourishing and nurturing this incredible brain and body that you have. And what are those, you know, small pearls of wisdom that I can share with you from working with, with 1000s of patients that come in our clinic, where we see their brain scans, see what's going on and go okay, we need to kind of do a reboot. Right? What can we do to kind of get you on the right path? And I will say many of the things that get people on the right path they have to do in their own homes. Right, you know you go to a doctor to get medicine, you know, we've got supplements, and we've got medicines and technologies. But you've got a whole kitchen there everything that you put in your mouth every day, the environment you're living in. Like I said, that exercise you're getting all of that is such a big contributor to your overall brain health. So

Claudia von Boeselager 38:56
that's really important. And but we'll I'm excited to dig into that again and to share that with people. And just one point I had. Professor Dr. SACHIN panda of the Salk Institute. I'm not sure if you're familiar with

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 39:09
it might have seen that. Did you have him talk about circadian

Claudia von Boeselager 39:12
rhythm? Yeah, that's I think I saw that one. Okay. Beautiful. Yeah. So he was also saying that, you know, research is there that because of the cortisol response, when we're waking it's actually important to wait 90 minutes. So as for coffee lovers to know this, you're having your cup of coffee. So 90 minutes,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 39:30
is it because you've had the cortisol boost when you wake up? Yeah, right. Okay, caressing

Claudia von Boeselager 39:34
your body if you have caffeine, which is a stimulator as well by having it during that timeframe. So hey, I love that.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 39:41
Well, you know, I don't drink coffee. So I'm probably one of your very few people. But I think that's fascinating. And it just goes to show, you know a lot of people that I've worked with and I'm sure those that you've coached and work with. A lot of people don't wake up with energy. So if First thing to do is reach for the coffee for energy. And the thing that I like to really focuses on is how do we wake up just feeling energized naturally. And so I think these little things like waiting the 90 minutes after you get up to have your coffee, right, wake up if you can get your exercise in, because that's when you have the highest amount of cortisol, it'll be energizing, you get your workout in, right, you'll boost your mood.

Claudia von Boeselager 40:27
And then BDNF factor as well right by get

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 40:29
your bedient your brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps grow new neurons in the brain. So you're gonna help support growing neurons in the region of the brain that actually starts to shrink as you get older, the hippocampus. And so we want to preserve that beautiful brain region. And doing exercise every day is what helps it boosting the BDNF the exercise.

Claudia von Boeselager 40:54
Kristen, just a question on that, is there an optimal amount of time to exercise? That's the minimum effective dose I want to say, right. So it's not like doing a two-hour run like a maniac around the neighborhood, right?

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 41:11
We actually have a few of those in our neighborhood, I'll be driving, it'll be six o'clock at night, there's this woman power walking. He's like, I see her at all hours of the day, she's got her whole little suit on, like her whole outfit. And while hours of the day, and I was like, wow, she's very committed. But for all those of us who have to, like live in the real world, and you know, hold down a job and take care of a family or aging parents, this was a really cool study, I always love to share this because it drives home that it doesn't have to be, you do not have to go crazy with two hours of running to get your exercise in. So as we age I was talking about the brain like slowly starting to shrink. And that's called normal aging. But there are certain regions, like the hippocampus, I'll keep mentioning, it's the area of the brain essential to learning and memory, and we need to preserve as much of that volume as we can. Because when we learn things during the day, it goes from our short-term memory, which is the front part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex. And at night, you know, it gets shuttled into our long-term memory, but it has to go through the hippocampus like that. That is the essential component to sort of transfer the energy from short-term memory to long-term memory. Okay, so it's all about how do we protect this beautiful part of the brain. So we just talked about the exercise. A gentleman by the name of Erickson says last name that all published a paper in PNAS, and he asked the question, Does 40 minutes of walking, so he looked at an older population, and I'm about to cross over into that, I think it'd be called older like 58. Yeah, like 58. To add, I mean, I can't remember the exact numbers could have been 55 to 80. But looks at an older group of individuals did brain imaging like baseline brain imaging, and then after a year, he followed people that just did 40 minutes of walking with their heart rate elevated between 50 to 70%, VO to max and you can wear a little heart rate monitor, you know, 50 is reasonable. So it's like power walking for 40 minutes, and compare their hippocampal volume to those individuals who just did stretching and toning, right? So they're your non-aerobic activity people, but still did, probably their Pilates and their stretching. And he found that those that just did the 40 minutes of power walking throughout the year, increased hippocampal volume by one to 2%. It might have even been 2%. Well, those who did the stretching and toning it decreased by about 1.4%. So why am I saying this? So as we age, like when we get older, the hippocampal volume shrinks by about one to 2% each year. So just the 40 minutes of power walking. That's it. As you cross the Rubicon, you're 55 and older, is going to help preserve that hippocampal volume. Why? Because you're getting your heart rate up. It's boosting blood flow to that region of the brain. More blood means more oxygen and more nutrients. It boosts that brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is like Miracle-Gro for the hippocampus and the neurons there. And as long as we don't do habits that swart, the growth of that region so like drinking alcohol every night, like don't have a glass of wine every night after your power walk. And I do have to say that because we're in a clinical setting where you start to ask people, you know, do you drink? What are your drinking habits? A lot of people feel that having a glass of wine each night is okay, or having a beer after work is okay. And that will shrink your brain volume. So do your 40 minutes are walking and, you know, try to refrain from the alcoholic, you know, celebrating with the cocktail afterwards. If I do not say it, you know, I will preface this by saying, you know, if you would come into our clinic, and you're you were healthy, and you didn't have any psychiatric diagnoses, and there was no concerns about Alzheimer's in your family, we always say one to two glasses of something a week is okay, if you have a healthy brain. I personally feel like you should probably be kind to your liver and your brain and not do it except on special occasions rather than birthdays holidays. Because it's just, you know, that's not a brain health food. And I actually think you know, at one time, people, even doctors were recommending, yes, you can have a glass of red wine, red wine is good for you. And I think the tide is changing. Now, when you're looking at these large brain biobank studies, I think one was actually published out of the UK brain biobank where they looked at. Well, yes, and they looked at drinking habits and found that those and I'm, I'm not going to quote it accurately. So I'm just going to make sort of a general statement, but drinking alcohol was associated with, with smaller brain volumes. And of course, to me, that is not that statement is not rocket science, it is just a reality. Like, I don't like people. You know, sometimes people try to make their bad habits seem okay. Like, my doctor says, It's okay. Or I've read the Mediterranean diet, you can have a couple glasses of wine. If you want to be a longevity enthusiast, you know, alcohol, your poor liver has got to, you know, process those toxins. And they do flow through the bloodstream to your brain. So, you know, it's not good for your neurons.

Claudia von Boeselager 47:17
Yeah. And I think it's, it's like a shift as well. So, you know, I'm genuinely not a big drinker. I mean, this is not talking about my student days at university, and we're all

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 47:26
going to put our college days like, we're just gonna pretend Yeah, cuz I have had, you know, turning 21. And things are fine this moment.

Claudia von Boeselager 47:39
For another story another day, exactly. But for the half marathon that I did recently, I was like, you know, yes,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 47:45
congratulations. Bye. Thank you.

Claudia von Boeselager 47:48
Thank you. Some people are like running multiple marathons or like ultra marathon. They're like, you know, what's this? But for me, it was a big thing. So I've done it. I met a long distance runner, I don't need to do it again. But is that off your bucket list? Wasn't even on it. Okay, it is what it is. But I gave up drinking alcohol. And I just thought in social settings, like I was at at some dinners and stuff as well. And like, when you're able to make that shift, and again, I had the half marathon as my like thing, and it was fine as your excuse. Excuse? Yeah. So make it Yeah,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 48:23
socially acceptable. So people don't pressure you. Like you have to.

Claudia von Boeselager 48:28
Exactly and I guess it depends on your friends in your environment. I'm, you know, speaking, people listening, right. But um, it's like, I know, especially like, in an Irish or UK culture, that's very much like, Oh, you're not drinking, like have something depends who you're with. My group of friends are not like that, thankfully. So there was no no issue with it. And I was surprised myself because I'm gonna go, we'll just have one drink tonight or whatever. But it's so nice to wake up the next day. And like, you know, when I was in my 20s, like, I was fine on like, three hours asleep and a few

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 49:00
Teflon when you're young, you can do it. Yeah,

Claudia von Boeselager 49:03
I was fine, then. But now I notice and speak to friends as well, like, you know, it just doesn't, what's the point? Like, I don't want to ruin my next day, like, always I want to do and achieve and like, etc, that, why would I write off a day, right? And so it's interesting now, like, how long I'll keep it, keep it this way. Never say never. But I think what you said was a valid point in terms of, you know, if there's certain celebrations or whatever, like just feeling to it, but it's not having a regular check in assuming Mediterranean diet and a glass of wine every day is okay. I mean, I know people who drink half a bottle of wine by themselves.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 49:40
I know. I know. I know people who do that as well. And they're like, I'm functioning. I'm fine. And I'm like, if we looked at your brain, it might have a different story. Yeah, it's it's well, and I realize it's habit. I think for people it becomes habit and I will say, again, this is the beauty. I'm very, very grateful I had the opportunity to work with the Amen Clinics and actually see for myself what these things do to people's brains, like, you know, you

Claudia von Boeselager 50:16
share some of those examples like what were some Yeah,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 50:19
so I'll tell you, when we had people come in who were dealing with issues with alcohol, it causes very low perfusion globally throughout the brain. And what that means is low blood flow. And we can see very clearly on the imaging, and sometimes people would come and fill out the forms. And we'd have their history and they speak with the historian for two hours. So we're very thorough and getting the medical history. And you look at the brain scan and you go, Wow, this doesn't comport like there's a piece that's missing, and you go, you know, what's, you know, have you had traumatic brain injuries? Right? Is there an alcohol issue? So the brains of people who are alcoholics, we show very, very low blood flow could be throughout the brain and like a scalloping toxic looking pattern. What's

Claudia von Boeselager 51:09
happening though, that what does the alcohol do to prevent blood flow,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 51:13
it's toxic. So think of alcohol is toxic to the brain, it's toxic to the white matter, which is the what surrounds the axon. So your neurons have a very long axon, it can be surrounded by white matter, which helps neurons communicate efficiently from one to the other. So you overtime, I mean, so you've got that it's just a toxic can can damage neurons. And number two, it can slow thinking in the brain, because right you're slowing the communication between neurons, it's it's central nervous system depressant. So you know, but and you know that because everyone who drinks alcohol, at least feels calm, and they feel good, initially, but I talk about how you know, it impacts your sleep. So if you have alcohol, and then you go to sleep, and interferes with your sleep architecture, so you're going to have a harder time with your memory. Remember, I was telling you about you take all of that great information you learned during the day in it, it's when we sleep, that we get it into the long term memory, so alcohol will slow that process down or impede that process. It takes a lot. I mean, I will tell you, and you and I've talked about this, one of my family members, who is brilliant, had a PhD, and worked at university, she quietly had an alcohol problem, you know, she was a functional, high functioning alcoholic, highly intellectual. And she died of cirrhosis of the liver in her 50s. And it shocked our whole family because we did not see it. So the one thing I will say, having worked in a brain imaging clinic, and I've had the opportunity, pretty much everybody who walked in our clinic for evaluation would be getting either electrical or functional imaging of the brain. So you start to see the patterns, like what do people's brains look like? What do people's brains look like? Who, you know, who are alcoholics or functional alcoholics door having that glass or two glasses. And it's, it's deleterious to your brain health as well as your liver and other organs of the body. So it's just it's a toxin that needs to be metabolized and removed? And it's, it does take a lot, you know, yes. You know, you probably know people who been alcoholics, they seem to be functioning, but where it might catch up with you as as you age, because think about the it's the aging brain meets the toxic brain. Right. And so that's the part where if anybody's listening, and they're like, Oh, I didn't think of it like that. And maybe it's good to stop now.

Claudia von Boeselager 53:56
So would you recommend for people listening or maybe like on the fence to say, oh, you know, I have a few drinks every week, would you just say, like, ideal to just cut down to a few times a year? And that's it.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 54:09
I think that I mean, the best is like, you slowly start to Yeah, I mean, unless you're healthy individual like, then, you know, again, we say you could do one to two glasses a week. But I would prefer to say the celebrations is the best time. And you're going to find I mean, it's a good experiment to do for yourself. Just stop for a week and see how you feel. You did it.

Claudia von Boeselager 54:35
For months. Yeah, I see

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 54:36
that how much? Yeah, see how much more productive you are, how bad how much better you feel. And then you weigh risk benefit analysis. You know, here's, it's the beauty of life. We get to choose how we want to live it you can decide what how you want to live your life and what your brain does or doesn't do the hardest part and maybe it's why I'm so sort of particular or when I make recommendations is, once you've crossed the Rubicon and you have a degenerative disease, you've lost brain volume like we see, sir. Sometimes there's nothing. There's not a lot we could do like, so we don't want to get you to that point, right? There are some people that I'm working with right now that have dementia, their hippocampal volume is at the fifth percentile of somebody, their age and gender. And, you know, that's hard, right? That so we're really working from a deficit, there's still things we can do. So it's almost like, let's just start now. I think that's the main point. And I will tell you, at least here in America, like the American Academy of Neurology is now really embracing brain health as an initiative, the World Health Organization has embracing brain health as an initiative, it's really, it's really fascinating to see because they realize now, you know, this is it's not just the decade of the brain, it's, you know, it's the century of the brain like, now we need to focus on it. And when we take better care of our brain health through reducing exposure to toxic substances, so that's cigarettes, about

Claudia von Boeselager 56:15
that alcohol, alcohol, but what about like mold and houses? What about my mold?

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 56:24
Yeah, the mold in the house, this is really interesting. We actually had bought a new house and took the roof off, just before we got these torrential rain storms in LA. And, you know, we could see there was mold growing in the house, and I had every room, you know, had somebody come in here and measure the particulates in every room to make sure that we were going to be safe. Yeah, sometimes toxic mold exposure, you don't see it. It's like it's happening. It's silence. And it's not a bad idea to think about having that done. If you've never had it done in your home, just to see what the levels are and do some remediation. It's actually very easy to

Claudia von Boeselager 57:06
do. Yeah. Can you share with people like what what does one do? So let's say somebody knows, like, oh, I had a leak, you know, from my neighbor's

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 57:14
store, is there a rainstorm or, or my basement flooded? Right. And so somebody go, yeah, you can call a mold inspector, they will literally measure the particles, they measure the particles inside the house is compared to out of the outside environment, that's the gauge that they measure by and they can physically visibly inspect it and see if it's, you know, in black mold, you can actually see it, sometimes it's behind the wall so they can cut it out. And, you know, then you can go through the mold remediation process, I think the most important part is if you've had a big storm, and there's been water in your home, you can, number one, get a dehumidifier. I think we have six of them, they bought six from Home Depot in one night, and I had six fans, they weren't going all around the house. Because, you know, there was serious water damage happening. And as somebody who studies the brain and my husband is the same way he's like, we need the bald guy here, stat. And we've done it before in the bathroom, sometimes you just want to do a check like bathrooms contend to get, you know, mold exposure. So that's, again, a nice way to see is your environment the air that you're breathing clean, right and you can also get the air we have Rabbit Air Purifiers, actually not running them in all of the rooms. But you can also do that to have like a clean air flowing through and if you get those purifiers by the way, you have to clean all of the different like our purifiers have like seven different like shields because they get a different fee at the different filters so you have to also commit to cleaning them and cleaning the filter. There's a lot to it right? There's a lot to like keeping your the area you live in clean, because

Claudia von Boeselager 59:12
my understanding and correct me if I'm wrong, but that the black mold like the mycotoxins they get into the at a cellular level, so you really are there neurotoxic, that neurotoxic as well, and so you need to detox that. So if someone has had black mold exposure, what would you recommend? Is it sauna? Is it taking certain supplements that help to extract it like what do you see as beneficial?

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 59:34
So that's a good question and not my area of expertise. I'd probably have to have somebody go to a functional medicine practitioner or somebody who specializes in that to see if I mean yes, what like overall for detoxification Saunas are great and for infrared light therapy could probably be helpful. And there are probably IV and chelation therapies that would be, you know, specific to what you've been exposed to that could help clean clear that. So that's the good news. That's what I would do. They get, like, we look at them, we look at the brain, and then we're like, okay, go see the functional medicine practitioner who can help clear that from your system. You know, and on that same point, too, we can look at, you know, when you have your bloodwork done, you can look at heavy metals, you know, have you been exposed to mercury, arsenic lead, one of my dear girlfriends who's 76 just had a comprehensive blood panel done. And, you know, she has high levels of mercury, and she's not sure where they come from. She's like, I don't really eat fish. You know, they have fillings. I know, I asked her about the fillings in the mouth. No, I don't, you know, it's It's perplexing. But she's now going and getting the chelation therapy for it. Because Mercury is toxic to brain cells, what and mercury can sort of accumulate and support the ability of neurons to communicate with one another. So it's like, it gunks up the system cuts up the cables. And so like I say, it's like two neurons talking to one another is like a nice long cable. And if you know if at No, if mercury or aluminum is in your brain, you're just not going to have a clear communication for more than one neuron to the next. And that's what causes the memory issues. So again, I love that people now, like I said, this is a different menu 76 that's doing it. And it's like Bravo. She's off. She just got an infrared light, like panel for herself. And she's like, Will this work? I mean, the infrared light and photo bio modulation is really fascinating. The data that's starting to come out on that to help cellular energetics and we're looking at it. Yeah, it's really for the mitochondria that's that's in the bloodstream, right? You're sort of helping the mitochondria start little cellular energy centers, pump up more ATP, so you feel more energized. But looking at using that to help people who have dementia and Alzheimer's disease is really fascinating, you know, so I'm seeing people use it more for their skin or for anti aging. And there's all of this, like, how close do you have to be to the panel like staff to be touching your skin? There's a lot going on there that we're still learning. Yeah, but you know, I don't see any harm in using those things. And I think we can all help

Claudia von Boeselager 1:02:40
space masks that I that I understand why

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:02:43
you look so gorgeous, like

Claudia von Boeselager 1:02:46
I think it's the Apple MacBook. Do you have one

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:02:49
of the Basques like my girlfriend, my 76 year old girlfriend got one and

Claudia von Boeselager 1:02:53
I was like, well, it's South Korean from Seoul return no affiliation. And okay, it I find it phenomenal. They've got different settings, red light, blue light, and then they've a pink light as well. And then 20 minutes. Hi, yeah,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:03:06
oh, you only need 20 minutes. Because that yeah, you know, blood circulates. And you

Claudia von Boeselager 1:03:12
see beautiful rejuvenation after that 20 minutes in, like almost like an incubator type of thing. There's like, I

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:03:19
started the whole sheet actually took a picture and they asked me what I think about it. I said, I have not used this yet. Maybe I should.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:03:29
I mean, at the end of the day, it's kind of try and see. But I did buy the panel from my parents and my mother with her dementia. But now she with the domain. Sadly, it's too far that she's like, why am I sitting on a span Are you cooking?

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:03:47
Oh, you're poor Ma. It's like baking your mom like okay, sit in front of this panel. Especially with dementia where she's like I don't even get it was it does not compute. Your mom is a really interesting example. Like, if you look back over your life, did she have any habits that you saw? Like I mean, I know Dr. Bredesen said, Well, it could be a TBI. I mean, TBI is, you know, you could have one traumatic brain injury and it could increase your risk.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:04:18
She had several right. So did she. So I think I mean, there's a larger picture with it. Right. And so I've obviously spent a lot of time and we've discussed this and with Deborah Edison as well. And one drivers, the lack of HRT after a hysterectomy in the 1990s, which she had an Ireland at the time, and so lack of estrogen falls off a cliff. I know from Burnaby that,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:04:42
okay, so that's one possibility, right? Lower estrogen.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:04:45
Okay, lower estrogen, and then

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:04:48
Oh, and there's a risk-benefit analysis with that too. With HRT and deciding like cancer. Yep. predisposition to cancer versus like the neuroprotective Isn't Yeah,

Claudia von Boeselager 1:05:00
and I've had Dr. John Manson from Harvard Medical School on the podcast who was the leader of the study that was cut short and misinterpreted as well. And so there was a lot to be seen with that. But let's park that for a minute.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:05:14
Okay, so there's one bucket there, though, so,

Claudia von Boeselager 1:05:17
but she had three more major head trauma incidents, one at the gym, a line of treadmills, what someone left a treadmill on, and she was crossing over, sort of from one treadmill to another island went flying, like really knocked her head right. So that was number one. Number two was here visiting us in London with my kids, my daughter had this kind of scooter which like a skateboard with the thing with the handle, right that sticks out. No, she was pulling it behind her and was a bit of a sight to her foot, literally, like in a cartoon sadly, got on top of it, and it went flying. And she was.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:06:01
So she got knocked out unconscious,

Claudia von Boeselager 1:06:02
she was unconscious for 20 seconds, 30 seconds, whatever it was, I mean, not like a longer period of time, but still enough to knock her unconscious with a neighbor's plate. So there's like a few few different things with the neighbors you missed a step fell on her face. And the worst of it all was in January 2020. Great Year 2020. Right. She had had a vein procedure. And honestly, I'm still very upset that the doctor thought it was a good idea for then 76 year olds to have both legs done at the same time time. So she couldn't wrapping them tightly, which means chance of blood clot is very high, because to keep your leg

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:06:43
elevated and moving and moving. Yeah, you should be moving. He was

Claudia von Boeselager 1:06:48
informed to keep them elevated and not to move too much. That was on a Friday. And Sunday morning after having them elevated for over two, you know, two, almost two days and thankfully was a Sunday morning and my father was in the next room which he went into the bathroom and she collapsed. And my father thought that like what is this noise that the whole mirror must have? Because it was so noisy and she must have literally fallen like directly backwards. And what came to pass was that there were two blood clots that went into her lungs, which caused her oxygen saturation level to be so low that she fainted in such a drastic way that she literally flaps open the back of her head. And she went from the previous week going to the gym five morning's a week at 8am She was there without fail with the 90 year old who could do the thing and all the rest of it to lying in hospital. She recognized myself my sister, my father, but she would be like, you know, who are these ladies that keep coming and touching my arm that she didn't comprehend. That was a nurse. She's in Florida looking at palm trees as in is this New York City's at Central Park like she. And that was the first time I understood what a concussion can be. And you'll know what?

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:08:03
Not just a concussion but to blood clots. Yeah, pulmonary embolism. low oxygen saturation for who knows how long? Yeah, by the way. So prior to that she was cognitively she

Claudia von Boeselager 1:08:18
was like, slightly small things. But she was Yeah, I mean, there's

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:08:24
so this was the critical like incident. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, my God. Okay. Honestly, like that. To me, that seems like the most Yeah. precipitating factor. But it also goes to show I mean, this is this is why traumatic brain injuries or brain injuries are getting knocked unconscious. Like, to me that is one of the number one. These are the things we can prevent. You know, and we've got to sort of think in that preventative way, like how do we always protect our head, if we've had an incident or several incidents where we've been knocked unconscious, it increases your risk of dementia significantly, because we don't know what areas of the brain are impacted. Remember, head impacts are the invisible brain injury. And unless you go and get scanned, right, you come to the Amon clinics and get the SPECT scan or EEG or you know, they're not going to do a CT scan unless they suspect a brain bleed. So a lot of times you don't even know what's really happened to your brain. And

Claudia von Boeselager 1:09:32
so just maybe for somebody listening, like I remember not too long ago, in the kitchen or whatever, and I kind of went up quickly and I didn't realize that the door of one of the cupboards was open. So like what is and obviously I stayed conscious was quite a bit above for people who've like hit their head, you know, how well how do you define trauma like head injury?

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:09:53
Mild traumatic, yeah, there's mild traumatic brain injury, moderate brain injury. In severe brain injury, and so, you know, not probably 90% of brain injuries are going to be in the mild traumatic brain injury category. And it's the the definition is really based on signs and symptoms. So have you been knocked unconscious? Right? Number one, if you haven't been knocked unconscious, it's mild traumatic brain injury. But if you have been knocked unconscious, for it's usually for less than five minutes versus more than five minutes, or if you've had what's called Post Traumatic amnesia, so you sort of wake up for it, but you can't remember details, either pre or post impact, you know, then, you know, we're going more into the moderate category. So if you've just hit your head, but you're not unconscious, that's mild. And usually, again, the categories are separated by how long you've been unconscious, right? Is it five minutes or more, you know, usually less than five minutes, they're like, Okay, well, this could be mild more than five minutes, or having, if you've hit your head, and you have this post traumatic amnesia, right, you're having trouble remembering things after the impact. Especially if it's longer than a day, then we're going to go into the moderate category. So if you've hit your head, you haven't lost consciousness, and you still have your memory intact, it's it's mild. But when we start having a loss of consciousness that's longer than five minutes or, again, you have loss of memory, then we're going to start to drift more into the moderate category. And then severe is usually a brain bleed, or like a blunt force trauma to the head. With car accident, yeah, she had a brain bleed, she had

Claudia von Boeselager 1:11:54
bleeding in the ventricle, right? So it wasn't actually in the brain matter. So she was lucky that it wasn't in the brain matter to damage that further. But right, any trauma to that degree into the brain, I guess it's just not

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:12:08
a singular trauma, especially if it's moderate or severe, where again, you've got the loss of consciousness, or you have the post trip traumatic amnesia, that's lasting longer than 24 hours. Again, that increases your risk of dementia. And that's just because you might have lost neurons and a specific region of the brain that's important learning and memory or processing information. Because remember, the whole brain is connected, we need it all. function right to function well. And when you breathe, you know, bleeding in the brain. That's, you know, sometimes people have to go into the emergency room or surgery and get a shot to help relieve the pressure. That's why if you have an impact to the brain, and you start to lose consciousness, you know, get to an emergency room.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:12:56
Okay, so for people listening, right, if they have any

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:12:59
sort of whatever, yeah, any sort of being knocked unconscious, get evaluated by a neurologist, neurologist to you. Even if you have a mild brain injury, and you're not knocked unconscious, but you have symptoms, go see a neurologist for an evaluation. It never hurts, it can give you peace of mind, and if they have, but if, if you've had a loss of consciousness, even if it's briefly, I would go to the emergency room, tell them what happened. They'll decide immediately if you need to get scanned. And don't drive yourself, by the way, you're at home and it happens, please call 911 and have an ambulance come get you good point. Because you don't know if you've had an impact to the brain and there's a small brain bleed and you can lose consciousness while driving. So I don't know I take every impact to the head seriously. And what

Claudia von Boeselager 1:13:50
do you do like if you if you knock your head right, like what are you Is there a detox there's all kinds of hair.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:13:59
What's funny, if you have an impact to the head, you can have all sorts of things happen dizziness, nausea, blurry vision, sensitive sensitivity to light noise sound, you can have trouble with sleeping. So I mean, you have all of these different symptoms that you might have to manage. You know, because I work in the brain health space. If it happens to me, I clearly have people I can call or I can get scanned immediately. But for the average person if that happens, again, this is where you can call your general practitioner or call your neurologist. Just let somebody know that you've had it and discuss your symptoms because there might be things that can be done to alleviate headaches, head pain. You know, it's really symptom dependent. Because if you have any psychiatric issues, anxiety or depression, you know, I might say you should go see a psychiatrist to help get Something for that, but it's a head injury. So neurologist is my first recommendation. And they can do a full eval in their office to help give you some peace of mind on what to do, because truthfully, most people say to rest, right. But, you know, in our clinical setting, we then work with traumatic brain injuries and say, Okay, we're now going to put you on a brain rehabilitation protocol. And that might entail specific dietary recommendations, like the Mediterranean diet, it might include some supplement recommendations. At the end clinics, we actually created a formulation that we use for people who have traumatic brain injuries. That includes a foundational brain directed multivitamin. So it's a multivitamin with additional nutrients that help support your brain function, and there's an Omega three, I'm betting the acid, yeah, I'd have to, I'd have to go back and look at the formulation. And again to remember what this specific brain nutrients that we added to it, because I think there was like a fruit and vegetable blend again, I'd have to go back and look. Well, because then we also added the omega three fatty acids. That's when you have traumatic brain injury. The omega three fatty acids help decrease inflammation, increased blood flow, and it helps to repair the cell membranes, the neuronal cell membrane, so you want the Omega threes. And then we had a very specific brain nutrient protocol, which entails alpha lipoic acid to help balance blood sugar acetyl l carnitine. To help boost acetylcholine, which is the neurotransmitter important for memory. So if people who have traumatic brain injuries have memory issues, and we want to help support the memory, we're going to get nutrients that support the memory Huperzine A also supports memories that was part of the formulation. And acetylcysteine, which is sort of a powerful antioxidant. It helps to produce glutathione, which is powerful antioxidants, we had an acetyl cysteine Phosphatidyl serine, which is also important in supporting cell membranes. So, you know, between the multivitamin, the omega threes, and these brain support nutrients, which I talked about in the book, I actually give the detailed supplements, what each one does in the brain and also talked about, you know, you might need to talk to your doctor, because, again, when you're taking supplements, if you're on blood thinners, we have to be very careful with omega three fatty acids and some supplements that then the blood. Sometimes people are also on medications that boost acetylcholine, so we have to be careful. So I'm very mindful, right? When we make recommendations, even for recovering from traumatic brain injury, you might want to run them by your neurologist or your general practitioner, because you know, you can have the supplement medication interactions, but we'd would do dietary interventions, supplement interventions, and then we could test to see where your cognitive level was that and if we need to strengthen it, we had certain brain training games that you could do to help boost your cognitive function. And then we have tools like neuro feedback. So if we measure the electrical activity of your brain and saw certain connections need to be strengthened, you do Neurofeedback protocols. So again, I'm kind of jumping into all of this, that you can live with traumatic brain injury, you know, these are just some of the options you have.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:18:40
But Kristin is well, this is a protocol that say somebody who's in their 40s maybe had a few fun. Well, I shouldn't say fun, but like party years, let's say brain damaging party years and their brain damage

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:18:52
eight years. Oh, I see.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:18:56
How do I optimize? Can I use this protocol to is this just for people with major head brain trauma? Or would you recommend this as a general protocol? You know, obviously consult your physician and make sure it's okay for you at cetera. But say that I positions that okay that you're healthy, you can do it and you want to optimize? Is this a protocol you would recommend for most people, you can

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:19:21
use it for brain optimization, you can we would adjust the dose for people with traumatic brain injuries. So yes to your question, you know, you a healthy individual could take all of these nutritional supplements and what they will do is help support healthy cognitive function and bring more blood flow to the brain as well as helped to repair cell membrane. So yes, the answer your question is you can do this for for brain optimization. It's funny because a lot of people I'm so used to tailoring supplement protocols for people. And you know, I love people who are into the optimization shouldn't be nice because they're more open to taking more things. And I'm also used to people being like, I don't want to take a lot of settlement. So how do I streamline this for my brain? And I, in the book, I have three tiers of, you know, supplement recommendations for your brain health, I have a section called Brain basics, which sort of are healthy for everyone to take, like, I feel very comfortable with a majority of people just doing the brain basics no matter what, I have a what I call an all star category, which sort of up levels, right? Like, if you're open to taking supplements, and you really want to expand, you could do both. And then I have the part called the injured reserve, which is what we were just talking about now, how do I help take care of my brain? If I've had a brain injury? Or I'm, you know, I have alcohol issues, right? And I want to optimize my brain because we use this formula for people who had toxic looking brains as well. So that's a very long winded answer. You can take it, but if in the book, I give every single one of those supplements and you can decide, do you want to take everything? You know,

Claudia von Boeselager 1:21:12
are you converted in your food and things like that, too. I wanted to talk to you about the hyperbaric oxygen therapy. We've talked about this in the past. And I know that was part of the protocol that you did on the clinical trials with the NFL players. I'm just going to check in with you Christina know, as usual, or conversations got a bit over time for a

 Dr. Kristen Willeumie Dr. Kristen Willeumier1:21:31
little bit. Yeah, yes, yes, we could definitely do the hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:21:36
Yeah, and what you were seeing, and maybe for people like that not that familiar, can you just give a little bit of context to it as well? Yes,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:21:46
so hyperbaric oxygen therapy is where you actually go into a chamber and breathe 100% partial pressure oxygen, so it's used to help readily get oxygen into the tissues. And it's classically used for people who have gangrene, radiation poisoning, carbon monoxide poisoning, deep sea divers who get the bends, burn victims. So these are the classical indications for using hyperbaric oxygen therapy, we need to very quickly get oxygen into tissues dying tissues. And that is sort of the appropriate use for it. Interestingly, now, as people are looking at ways to help support, brain health and longevity, you know, we started exploring using hyperbaric oxygen therapy for people who had traumatic brain injuries and looking at ways to help re oxygenate the brain. And, you know, this is one of the methods that can be used. So you need to get a prescription for it. If you're going to use it at a dose of one point, that's usually 1.5 atmospheres or higher. There's, so what does it do to your brain. So what we found is it helps it helps grow new blood vessels in the brain. So we use imaging modality called Brain SPECT imaging, where we can look at blood flow patterns in the brain. And if we put somebody in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber at 1.5 atmospheres, or above for usually an hour, what we would find is it would help to increase blood flow to the brain. And we would do 40 sessions in our patients. So usually what we could do is a baseline scan to see where the blood flow was at. Have them do 40 sessions at 1.5 atmospheres or above, and then do a follow-up scan. And so we saw these areas of the brain that had really low blood flow as we would see with traumatic brain injury or in the case of even people who've had alcohol issues or Lyme disease where you see that low perfusion. This is a way to help bring the perfusion back. But it's also anti-inflammatory. It can actually upregulate 8000 different genes, you know, in the body. So it's a very powerful modality. Not just for growing new blood vessels and helping bring more oxygen to the tissues, but also it's an anti-viral, anti-bacterial. It's like it boosts your immune system. So they were actually looking at hyperbaric oxygen therapy during the COVID pandemic. The problem with that was people were having issues with their lungs and breathing and, you know, that's another piece that needs to be factored. And so we we did this before the pandemic so we were using exclusively for people with traumatic brain injury and how do we help restore and rehabilitate brain function? There are now clinics that are open that offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Not all of them are in these chambers, there's ones that have, you know, that they're like bags that you can get in and zip. And you know, the atmospheric pressure is a lot lower. It's usually 1.3 atmospheres, which is around sea level. It's like normal breathing. So if you want to use one of those, those are safer. We did not test them. So in the clinical setting, we used protocols that were clinically indicated that we knew we could make a measurable difference in brain function. So I can't speak to the efficacy of those that are really more at 1.3 atmospheres that are popping up in sort of more health and longevity, like clinics. I mean, I know people who are doing them routinely, and I can't, because I haven't studied them, I can't really speak to their efficacy. So I can only speak to the efficacy of the ones where you're going in a chamber, you know, you have to get the dive down to the 100%, partial pressure oxygen, we know that it's now getting into your bloodstream. And we can see the measurable effects. With the brain imaging,

Claudia von Boeselager 1:26:18
that's at 1.5 atmospheres. And you said it was an entire oceans. And how well, these missions over what period of time like what cadence Good question

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:26:27
is. So it's more so for people who've had traumatic brain injuries, or even acutely, like who've had strokes, people have used hyperbaric oxygen therapy, if you've had the acute injury, we might say we want you to go in five days a week. And that's a lot for some people, but we want them to get the best benefit. If you can go five days a week, doing the 40 sessions, it's expensive. hyperbaric oxygen therapy, if you're going to do the 40 sessions could cost eight to $9,000. So it's not an inexpensive proposition. But when you're talking about saving your brain health, if it's clinically indicated, it's worth it. Again, if it's in one of these clinics, where you're going in the gym, or you're zipping yourself in and out, it's at 1.3 atmospheres. That's different. So I just don't really know the benefits. You know, you might have to do ad sessions for to warm, but I don't. I can't really speak to that. Yeah,

Claudia von Boeselager 1:27:31
no, it's just interesting for people. And I'm also thinking, I'm going to be seeing my father as well. I remember we, I don't know the atmospheres where he was at. But it was so funny. We went for dinner after and he was like, super jokey. He was like, joking with the weight. It was almost like he was like, Yeah, teenager again. And I was thinking, wow, from one session of the day,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:27:50
one session. Yeah, he did one session of each

Claudia von Boeselager 1:27:54
session of it. And like, I've sent him to do it more often. My parents get them on my biohacking ideas. I'm like, go and do this. But do they? Are they

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:28:02
doing the chamber? Like where they're locked in and brought down?

Claudia von Boeselager 1:28:06
It looks like a hospital bed with the glass dome over it? Yeah. So yes, that one like here, I've been to one and it's more of a like a room with a green light, and you put it on and you can feel like it feels like a plane taking off. So I don't know the exact atmosphere. Pressure, like I don't know how much pressure was in that one as well. So now at least I have the measurement to double check, but from one point, clinical research to say that it makes that difference. Yeah,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:28:34
it's like anything under that I just can't be you know, I've had plenty of people ask because they pop up all over the place here in Los Angeles. And I'm like, well, and I, you know, I guess I'm the person that stays more with like the clinically indicated usage of it. Because there's an appropriate time and place for these kinds of things. So if you've, you know, played a collision based sport and have had a lot of brain issues, you know, these are people who can go in for more than 40 sessions, and they're sometimes they're being followed over time, you can do your 40, and then wait a year, a couple years, see how you're doing clinically. So it's all evolving research. But I will say I was I was impressed to see the changes that it could make using brain imaging. I mean, these are measurable changes that are consistent over time. And it's really because you're growing new blood vessels. So that's always been one of the reasons why I've really liked it. And it also helps to mobilize stem cells in your body that will go to wherever they are needed, which is why it's used in wound healing. Many times have gone you know, people have gone in to accelerate wound healing, but you need the prescription for it. So the places where people are going in where you don't get a prescription written by a clinician, I don't I'm not quite sure how that works or what the Yeah, yeah.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:30:07
People exactly to know, because I know that, you know, go to these conferences on longevity, etc. And these people are selling devices for the home. So I guess it's just to be aware I've,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:30:15
I've had people that I've worked with that are like, should I spend 60 grand to put one of these things in my home? You know, it's interesting, because a lot of times, we're using these with the athletes that have played the collision based sports and are really wanting to help restore and repair their brain function. I remember speaking to a guy who was I think he was an MMA fighter, and he had one in his garage. This is I think, when we were still doing our research I was talking about, I was fascinated. And he goes, Yeah, I've had one of these things in my garage for 10 years. And I would go in it and use it. He's a fighter. So they learn. I mean, when you're in the sports, where you're taking impacts to the brain, I think you're in you're not feeling great. Get right, yeah, you're like, wait a minute, how do I protect myself and take care of myself and remember, these like, cognitively cognitively proficient was really thankful his brain was okay. And he attributed it to his, this chamber that he had in his in his garage, and I'm like, oh, okay, so I, I'm not gonna rule anything out, like, you know, I'm very open minded, you know, as long as it's safe. I mean, there's things that can happen in these chambers, right? They're highly explosive, like, you know, it's a hot, it's high pressure, oxygen, like, you know, explosions can happen, they can happen, they have had happened, they have happened to people I know who have been in them. And it's so you, when you put when you put oxygen in a very high pressure, you know, you have to be very careful. So and also, you know, for certain people, there's contra indications to going into these chambers. If you've had cataracts or things with your eyes, because it's the high pressure, and it can actually help, it could damage the vessels around the eye. So yeah, also, you want to be mindful going into these chambers. This is why you require prescription, like, make sure that it's appropriate for you. But again, I'm like this with everything from the supplements you take, make sure they work with your medications. Because as you said, in the beginning of our conversation, you drank three liters of greens, you know, your your tea, for several days in a row, and then you were loopy. And it's like, you know, we're the sort of, we have like a set point that we're used to being at. And when we start to change that, we want to make sure there's a medical professional or somebody who knows what we're doing. So follow through and

Claudia von Boeselager 1:32:59
exactly to take care of us as well. So Kristen, let's say someone is keen to know where they are in their brain health status, what are tests, right, because it's not a typical test that you go to see your, you know, annual doctor's visit, and they say you should do a brain scan. Right. So what is something you would recommend people ask for? And from what age would you think it's important to ask, like, what type of brain health tests are available? Yeah,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:33:30
that's a good question. Because it depends on where you go. So if somebody lived in the United States, and they wanted to go to the Amen Clinics, they do brain optimization all of the time. And there are standardized neuro psychiatric assessments and cognitive assessments that can be done and even simple quantitative EEG just to look at how the brain is functioning, which is relatively inexpensive and you're not exposing your brain to potential radioactive chemicals, right when it is sometimes when you do these scans, like a brain SPECT scan, you do have to have a radioactive tracer to be able to see what's going on in the brain. So those are things that yeah, one has to think about. But getting back to your question, you can there are tests available that can be done online. I mean, for certain people I work with, I have a test that I send out to people that can be done annually just to assess how is your brain functioning? Because that then looks at your brain across 12 Different Okay? Something Macondo it's, it's no no no. Oh, did

Claudia von Boeselager 1:34:42
you say Mocha? Mocha? Yeah, mocha. Yeah.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:34:44
We talked about mocha. Yeah, mocha. No, this is more assessing different domains like your different cognitive domains. It usually takes people about 40 minutes and I can see what's going on and it's adjusted to to a normative database, and so that's something you know, you can have that done every year you can have, you can go to your neurologist and say, Hey, I would like to have my brain evaluated. And, you know, there are different batteries of tests that can be done. It's more about finding a location, right. So I was saying the Amen Clinics is one location, you know, I work with people and I have certain tests that I use for people, a neurologist is going to have their specific battery of tests. But I think we're, we're in an environment now where brain health is an important topic. And I would really advise, somebody might go to a neurologist, and they'll say, You're perfectly healthy, you don't need a brain health evaluation. And I would say, We'll find another neurologist, or, you know, or reach out to me, because I do feel like it's important, even if you just want to have the baselines on file, you know, most people are probably going to perform well on a mocha test unless you start to show signs, right of clinical symptoms. And, really, you and I are more in this space of optimizing brain health and taking what we have and making it better. And that's going to be to be able to do that you have to find people, like I said, like myself, or you know, yourself, you know, people who are really more forward thinking in this space. And you can even ask your general practitioner, believe it or not, like, you know, people are picking their own batteries of tests and realizing this is something that people want. Now, if you've had a brain injury and want to take a look at your brain, I do highly recommend, you know, getting a baseline test. Or if you have a child who's going to play a collision based sport, I would recommend having a cognitive test at the beginning of the season, and maybe a baseline EEG just to see how their brain is functioning. And then after they have an impact, you could do a follow up. But again, I acknowledge that this is very forward thinking and not everybody is at that space yet.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:37:07
Yeah. But I think it's just very helpful for people to realize that I know when I spoke with Dale, he said, you know, from the age of 50, you should be having a Cognos copy. He was saying, like, once a year,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:37:18
I agree with him. I and I might even say 40, but I agree with Dale 100%. He's absolutely right. You know, and I know they have a clinic, and they do this sort of work. So I think people have many options, you know, if they want to look into their brain health, they can start with, you know, people that might be covered under their insurance. That's why you know, I start like, let's do the basics. Like if your insurance carrier will allow you to go to your GP, or your neurologist and say, I'm really interested in brain health, can I do a basic cognitive assessment, and if they don't have something that would work for you, because they, they're like you're cognitively normal. If you take this exam, you're not, you know, you don't need to take this exam yet. Find somebody else, like, reach out to me reach out to Dr. Bredesen reach out to the even clinics reach out to you, there's places that are equipped to be able to do this for people. That if insurance can cover it, if insurance can cover it, and you can just do it annually, right to your doctor go over better. So I'm all about, you know, being financially prudent. And sort of

Claudia von Boeselager 1:38:33
Christian, what's your vision for optimal brain health? Like what needs to happen? Where does the world need to be to get to an optimal brain health society?

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:38:42
Well, I think to start is just to think about taking care of it the way we take care of our body. That's truly that's the vision, right? You people understand the importance of going to the gym, to maintain their physical health and their muscles, right? Do we know the importance of resistance training, especially as you get older, you want to make sure your body is built up to be strong and your heart is built up to be strong. Now we want to just add the brain to it. And truly going to a gym and building up your body is building up your brain. So that is one step. Most people don't realize they're actually helping their brain in many ways. But to be thoughtful about everything, the things that you're thinking that the actions that you're taking every day, I mean, we didn't even get to the mental health piece about taking care of your brain health, right? The people that we keep around us and you know, sort of managing our day to day emotions. That's a whole nother piece. And that's, that's sort of the side effect of taking great your great care of your brain health is you're actually going to be sort of more mentally fit and healthy.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:39:51
Yeah, I mean, just even to touch briefly on it with you know, mental health I guess is a big topic right? But just you with you we're seeing a deteriorating brain and with aging comes then the anxiety and other symptoms as Yeah. But you know, what role is stress having on on the whole expediting degeneration, and what people really focused on

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:40:16
that's actually like a whole nother discussion. It's a whole nother book, I feel like I need to round it round three, because it's, well, it's funny, we all go through stress. And I think one of the benefits of aging is you learn how to be better at emotionally regulating yourself, and being able to manage stress, knowing when to say when or when to say no, or when to walk away, when to walk away from a job, that's too stressful. You know, how to pivot and change your life so that it brings you greater ease. Because life wasn't meant to be hard. We just went through a pandemic, many of us lost family and loved ones, and those are traumas that could be with us indefinitely. So I, it's funny, it's like, I don't even want to gloss over this topic, because it's so important. And, you know, from a biological perspective, you know, we say stress causes an increase in cortisol, elevated cortisol in the body chronically right over time, can help shrink certain regions of the brain. So the area of the brain called the hippocampus we've been talking about at nausea in this podcast has a lot of glucocorticoid receptors. So when we're stressed, the cortisol binds to receptors in the hippocampus and can shrink it, it binds to receptors in the frontal lobes and your brain can shrink that area. So the high stress levels are just correlated with, you know, brain shrinkage. So the bigger question is, how do we help calm our central nervous system? And what's really exciting and I mean, we're seeing all kinds of great science-backed research to show the benefits of having a meditation practice having a yoga practice having a breathwork practice. And if you're not into any of that, because for some people that is not their jam, then you can go to get sometimes it's even listening to certain music, right? Being out in nature, and taking calming supplements like GABA, which we've talked about, is where I love supplements because you can actually use them to help calm the stress. You know, we can use neurofeedback, like I've talked about before, where it's a non-pharmacological approach to calming the networks in our brain so we can more easily emotionally regulate and protect our brain health. So stress is a big topic, and you're we're always going to have it. So it's, it's how do we learn? Yeah, like how can we learn to just be more peaceful, more peaceful with the choices that we've made? I mean, somebody could listen to this podcast and you feel stressed because they might have to change and feel like they have to change a lot. But I would say no, what you have to do is that there are probably small changes that can make a very meaningful and impactful difference in your day-to-day life. What I've seen from brain imaging studies is that most people walking around today have very low blood flow in their brains, right? They wouldn't know it. And it's one of the reasons why I wanted to read the book, because I was like, Oh, more people could use the approved perfusion to the brain. And why do they have profusion deficits? It can be again, for many of the things we talked about Exposure to Toxic Mold, too much alcohol. Yeah, side effects of chemotherapy, right? Sometimes certain drugs can do that to our brain. We've had a stroke, we've had a traumatic brain injury, we played collision-based sports and have like, little mini mini injuries to our brain. I mean, there's a myriad of things just being human and flipping in this world, you know, kind of puts a little bit of an assault on Oregon and nobody looks at it. You know, understandably so like, you know, unless you're in my field or you're in neurology or neurosurgery or neuroscience, you're not looking at your brain. So we're kind of saying hey, it's kind of cool to look at your brain and you might want to think about it if you can, it's important. And even if you don't look at it, right if somebody's listening to this podcast most people won't ever get a brain scan unless they have suspected yet neurological issue. I would just say think about your daily habits. Again. It's why I wrote the book, it's the things that you teach, like the daily habits that keep the blood flowing to the brain. That's, I think, what's going to help people in the long run. And, you know, I know you're asking me about managing stress, you know, I think that's something we're all going to try to perfect.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:45:21
Right? Yeah. And you listed some beautiful modalities, right with that breathwork practice. And I think that's such a keyword. It's a practice. It's just doing it regularly. There's no right or wrong. Be it breath work, meditation or yoga, or walking in nature. Right, the beautiful grounding, it's kind of going back to what people did before. You know, we didn't have those cell phones. What?

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:45:45
How did our grandparents live to 100? You know, and I don't know that they were doing breathwork.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:45:50
I'm Irish grandfather smoked. And like, we still couldn't believe he made it to 94. You know,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:45:55
what he was, but you know, what he was probably out with his friends socially engaged, like him, like to take this conversation full circle back to Dan Buettner and living to 100. I think, you know it's about living a joyful, happy life. Like, we've thrown out so many different approaches today, in this podcast, no one is perfect try, you can try one that sort of resonates with you, you know, we're learning more like, you know, the more of them they do, they're probably going to have more of a synergistic effect to help support your brain over time. I think the most important point to get out of this is, you've got a lot of options. And there's a lot of us out here with resources that can help for those who are curious, and, you know, want to know more, and you're like, wow, how do I take care of my brain and everyone thought about it, or they might be listening in, they're a former firefighter, or, you know, there's somebody who's been in a profession where they've been exposed to toxic substances, or they've, like I said, or a police officer, where there's traumas 24/7, like, oh, I never even thought maybe I should look at my brain and, you know, do something to help calm it down, and, and bring this also first full circle, I brought Oscar in here at the beginning, like, you know, as my dad aged, he got into horses and riding horses, and would just go out, you know, to the barn and hop on the back of a horse, and he was so happy, even with this Parkinson's, he would be on the horses, you know, those animals and animals in general, you know, you read the literature, you can help unravel PTSD just by putting somebody on a horse. Right paid for it. They're now being used in therapy for PTSD and autism. And, you know, again, these are things that, you know, they're they're easy to do, it's not about going into a clinic, it's about being in nature being connected with our animals. I don't know like it can, it can be that simple. Like, I think maybe that's the, that's sort of like the the point I wanted to make, like, if you want to go into everything, we've got a lot of fun things that are available that can help support you right now. But if you're like, it's simple, and you don't want to go into a chamber, you're gonna hyperbaric oxygen chamber and you know, you don't you're not the person who wants to practice meditation, you need it to be simpler, you can do that to go

Claudia von Boeselager 1:48:36
to nature, trust, it's available. Christian, you're such a wealth of knowledge and experience. Thank you so much. Now, it's, as you know, I was speaking with you all the time. But if people are interested in finding more about what you're up to, obviously, you're there's Chris's book, which I recommend everybody read. It's really, really phenomenal. It's beautifully written. For everyone to understand. There's so many practical tips and insights in there. So that's biohack, your brain available, I think, on Amazon, and pretty much everywhere. Where can people follow you and what you're up to Kristen? Well,

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:49:12
first of all, I just want to say thank you for having me on your podcast. It's always a delight. You're such a beautiful, like, bright, shiny, like kind, compassionate person doing amazing work in this world. And really, you're shining such an important light on what people can do to support their health and longevity. And I just love you for that. If people want to reach out and have questions, they can go to my website at Dr. Willa meyer.com. I'm sure you will leave a link for people to access that because spelling Yeah, that's it's a lot for people. With Yeah, I'm like I'm available, you know to address any questions you Have and you know, we'd be more than happy to support your listeners in any way possible and encourage them on their brain health journey wherever they at wherever they are at. To go to the website, you know, the book is just another resource that's available and written. Like you said, it's written for the general public. It's not a heady brain book. It's a very sort of action oriented book, and I'm glad you liked it.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:50:29
The Green Book, no, it's really phenomenal. I've recommended so many people as well. It just breaks it down. Because I think it's true. Like people focus on their body, they go to the doctor, they have their ears and their eyes and their nose and their lungs checked and you know, their blood pressure, but like who's actually looking inside our brain, which we know is so important, on so many levels. So for everyone listening, thank you for coming this far, because our conversations tend to be long, or well done. And hopefully you are inspired and empowered to take your brain health back into your hands to speak to the right people and practitioners and to get going to maintain good cognitive health as your father had Parkinson's and my mother with her dementia, and it's avoidable diseases if we catch them on time. So

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:51:17
Amen to that if they are avoidable. And you know, and you know what, if you are one of those people that have them, you know, there are still things that we can do to support you. That's, that's also the other thing to note. You know, you're not alone, as I say no brain left bond.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:51:35
Beautiful. Kristen, thank you so much. It's been such a pleasure as always to speak with you and have you back on again. Thank you so much. It's

Dr. Kristen Willeumier 1:51:42
so much fun. Thank you for the honor and the pleasure of speaking with you as well. We only did what two hours this time. Exactly. We were to two hours. Okay, perfect. Thank you, Claudia. Thank you.

I’m Claudia von Boeselager

Peak Performance Coach, detail-loving educator, big-thinking entrepreneur, podcaster, mama, passionate adventurer, and health optimization activist here to help people transform their lives, and reach their highest potential! All rolled into one.

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