Elective 4 / Lesson 1

SANE Ways to Improve Your Mood


JONATHAN: Hey everybody, Jonathan Bailor and Carrie Brown back with another SANE show. Carrie, how are you today?

CARRIE: Hello.

JONATHAN: You didn’t answer my question.

CARRIE: Ah, I’m doing just fine, thank you.

JONATHAN: You’re doing just fine — well, I’m glad to hear that you are doing fine, or better because today’s show, we’re going to talk about mood and SANE things we can do to boost our mood naturally.

CARRIE: Okay. That’s something I can get excited about.

JONATHAN: Woo-hoo so –

CARRIE: Yay –

JONATHAN: So, mood boosting activities. So, I want to start talking about mood boosting activities with a personal story from my own life which I don’t know if I ever shared publicly. Are you ready?

CARRIE: I’m sure you’ve told us. I don’t know why though.

JONATHAN: So –

CARRIE: You want me to stroke you half way and say you’ve said that before?

JONATHAN: Well, in fact, I have so, the first SANE mood booster has to do with physical movement and that might seem obvious, but we all know and we’ve had a lot of guests on the show, we’ve talked a lot on the show, all books cover the fact that the standard medical care in this country does not reflect a lot of the modern nutrition and exercise science that we talk about, right? It’s pretty much like the standard of care, prescribing people statins, blah-blah-blah, all this kind of nonsense, but, however, so I say that because the story I’m about to tell shows an incredibly SANE change that’s taking place in the American Medical system. So, without further ado, awhile back, specifically right before the Calorie Myth book came out, so late 2013, there’s a bunch of stuff going on in my life, some personal crisis and yada-yada-yada-yada, so I actually went to see my doctor and they’re like hey, like I have some anxiety problems, what’s going on and we talked about it and they said, there’s three things you can do and this is a standard western MD, three things you can do, one is, we can put you on SSRIs, and I was like I don’t want to do that — second thing they said is you can go get counseling, and I said, I don’t think I need to do that because this is totally situational and then they said the third thing you can do, is exercise.

CARRIE: You didn’t have your shirt off for that doctor did you?

JONATHAN: But, just think about how – think about how amazing that is — so the three things that are standard of care for an MD who is not necessarily trained specifically in anything we talk about here, right? You can get an MD – you can become a licensed medical doctor without taking one class on nutrition, or exercise physiology, right?

There’s three things that are standard of care if your mood is suffering, one is putting on you SSRI medications, so that requires obviously a doctor, we’re talking pharmaceutical stuff, the other one is counseling, which is again, psychiatrist, doctor, hard core, third is exercise and the reason for that is the research around the types of exercise we advocate is part of an Eccentric lifestyle, both restorative, low impact things like walking, Pilates, yoga, Tai Chi, as well as low impact, high intensity activities such as interval training and resistance training, the clinical data on the mood and brain boosting benefits of these activities is arguably more compelling than the metabolic benefits and if you want a really good example of this, look up the research of Dr. John Ratey, at the Harvard Medical School. He was kind enough to provide a blurb for the Calorie Myth and his work deals extensively with the profound neurological impact of smarter exercise on your mood.

CARRIE: I need to interrupt this broadcast just to let the listeners know how insanely hot it is in this studio.

JONATHAN: Not helping your mood?

CARRIE: Now, I’ve got that off my chest we can move on.

JONATHAN: But, Carrie, and the reason I bring up exercise to start off with is not only because it is the least ambiguous of the suggestions we’ll talk about in this episode and this is fact.

Smarter exercise will make you feel better completely independent of its impact on your body and metabolism purely from a mental perspective. It’s worth your time, but we spent a bunch of podcasts talking about your success recently and a big part of your success is you actually went from — I’m not going to exercise no matter what you say, Jonathan, to you do both forms of smarter exercise. You do restorative exercise and you do Eccentric exercise and the benefit’s not only physical, but mental have been great for you as well.

CARRIE: They have. I actually – a few weeks ago, there had been two weekends where I had not – and if you’ve read my transformation you’ll know that I started going seriously going and doing Eccentrics at the gym back in February, and that just became what I do. Every Saturday, that’s what I go do and I hadn’t missed and then a few weeks back there were two Saturdays where I did not go, so two weekends. So, it was three weeks between exercises and I went to the gym and I actually posted on Facebook because it was quite profound to me how much better I felt emotionally and mentally when I left the gym that first time I went back after having a three week break – it was very obvious to me how much better I felt mentally and emotionally after I went back.

JONATHAN: And this is literally folks — I’ve read a lot of research in my life. I have never seen something that is so consistent and specific. For example, like if you were about to have a panic attack, you could take – what is a name of a prescription – Zoloft, is that – or is that a sleep drug?

CARRIE: Xanax.

JONATHAN: Xanax, okay.

CARRIE: Is used for anxiety.

JONATHAN: So, you could there are literally studies. It might not be specifically Xanax, but where they will take people and they will say, you either take this incredibly powerful SSRI, or you do smarter exercise — and the response, the neurological, the actual chemical changes in the brain are as strong or stronger if they do the smarter exercise.

So, it’s not just like — mother said eat your vegetables, ahha – like it’s literally the most hard core science you could ever imagine is showing that you could either take medication, which you might need to do, not that there’s anything wrong with medication, but that there is — in addition to medication, or in – it’s just amazing to know that the traditional western medical system, the research is so compelling that even they, the slowest movers, have said, look, counseling, medication, or smarter exercise. I think that’s amazing, so the other reason that’s important is if exercise makes you sad, if you’re doing some crazy workout DVD or you dread going to the gym, that’s not — exercise literally should be one of the most mood enhancing things you could possibly do. So, if the type of exercise you’re doing is not doing that or is doing the opposite of that, it’s time to exercise smarter.

CARRIE: However – there are some people who have mood disorders that actually require medication, so if you are on medication do not suddenly stop taking it.

JONATHAN: Yes, please. And speaking of someone who has lots of this in my family, this is not a recommendation that you go off your medication that’s been prescribed by a physician at all – at all.

CARRIE: So, just – and some people, there will always be some people who need both, who will be helped by the exercise, but they still need — if you have a chemical imbalance, don’t think that they’re interchangeable.

JONATHAN: Just like for example, if you have terrible vision like I do, yes, eating Vitamin A might help with your vision, but that doesn’t mean you should drive without glasses.

CARRIE: Right.

JONATHAN: You should probably still put your glasses on and you should probably still do exactly what your doctor is telling you so it’s just important to note that if you’re in a spot where you are or aren’t on medication, in both spots, if you exercise smarter you will feel better — proven – proven – unambiguous so that’s recommendation number one.

CARRIE: So, then my question would be — we only exercise Eccentrically or smarter, once a week. With my crazy brain that’s taking care of so I’m going to be happy on Saturday.

JONATHAN: Yep.

CARRIE: What about the other six days of the week?

JONATHAN: So, remember smarter exercise consists of two complementary things, the first is the Eccentric or interval training so this is the high intensity, no impact activity that you do once or twice a week, twice if you’re doing both, Eccentric and the intervals and just getting started, simply because it’s impossible to do it more frequently, but not restorative activity, such as walking, Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates, playing with your children, gardening, stretching, this can and should be done as much as your lifestyle will allow.

So doing this smarter, low intensity, low impact restorative activity, so something that I like to do in the two months that it’s sunny here in Seattle, if I just got off a really stressful conference call or it’s just been kind of rough, 15 minute walk outside – and I feel better, right? Just go 15 minute walk outside – 15 minute walk. Low intensity, low impact, stretch, yoga Tai Chi, breathe — you can do that stuff as much as you’d like and in fact, should do it as much as you like.

CARRIE: Okay.

JONATHAN: Make sense?

CARRIE: Yes.

JONATHAN: All right, so from an exercise perspective, very compelling, very mood enhancing. Now, number two, which is going to be a little – well, two and three are definitely a little less typical, they’re not going to be as compelling as exercise, but something to definitely think about.

One is you’re probably already doing this if you’ve gone SANE, but if you’ve gone SANE, chances are you’re eating a good deal of nutrient dense protein, which is actually great, because a lot of amino acids, the building blocks of protein, play a huge role in mood. So, for example, there are a lot of naturopathic physicians who will prescribe specific amino acids to help with mood. Now, it’s very difficult to do this without the guidance of a naturopath because you’re talking about this amino acid versus this amino acid, but the important to thing to note is that increasing your consumption of nutrient dense protein, remember when we say nutrient dense protein that is generally humanely raised animals, so think wild caught seafood whenever possible, humanely raised meats, things like that — the amino acids found in complete and healthy proteins are very much in addition to being delicious and nutritious going to help you with your mood.

CARRIE: I’ve also because — as everybody knows, I have a crazy brain. I’ve also been reading a lot lately, because my brain has been particularly crazy – about the incredibly important role that fats – healthy fats play in brain function. Talk about that.

JONATHAN: The good news and Carrie, I probably should have actually followed exercise with this or as a peer with exercise is SANE eating. Like protein is one component, but you’re exactly right. The vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals and chlorophyll and such that we’re going to get from non-starchy vegetables – I mean that’s just going to be key to every function in your body. Eating – I would argue eating the majority of your calories from whole food – healthy whole food fats, especially Omega 3 fats found in seafood, monounsaturated fatsfound in things like avocados, macadamia nuts, and also healthy whole food sources of saturated fats such as eggs, and grass fed meat are critical to brain function.

I mean your brain and your body is composed of protein and fats, so if you’re not eating enough of the compositional components of your biology, they’re not going to work well. So obviously exercise hugely important, diet hugely important and in all the components of SANE eating, non-starchy vegetables, nutrient dense protein, whole foot fats, and optionally low fructose fruits play a critical role there, but the reason I highlighted protein and I can actually do the same thing for fat. I’ll give you some specific examples.

So, protein – there are specific amino acids, so specific building block components of the macronutrient protein which have been shown to have a therapeutic effect in studies. The same thing applies to fats. So Omega 3 fats, there’s a doctor named Drew — it’s either Ramey or Ramsey, he wrote a book called “Fifty Shades of Kale” and also another book and he has a website – he’s a psychiatrist I believe based out of NYU, oh, Drew, I’m so sorry –and he has a section on his website called, “Farmacy” spelled like Farm, but a “C” and it talks about all the different components of food that have an impact on the brain and this is from clinical research so this isn’t from anecdotal accounts or we observed people and we found that people that are – that when it’s warmer outside people wear sunglasses, therefore, sunglasses cause it to be warm – it’s not causing these crazy correlation arguments.

Omega 3 fats — specifically, the Omega 3 fats that are only found in animal sources — so think fatty fish — have a dose dependent relationship on a lot of mood boosting neurological functions. When we say dose dependent that means literally you can look in clinical studies and see that if you take three grams of fish oil versus one gram of fish oil there will be a proportionally positive increase in certain neurotransmitters and such with the higher dose. That doesn’t mean you want to take a 1,000 grams of Omega 3 fatty acids in the day because too much of anything is bad for you, but when you can isolate something like an individual amino acid or an individual fatty acid, such as Omega 3 fatty acid, wow, it starts to make clear for example, why we talk about optimal whole food fats versus other forms of fats because if you can choose to get your fats from corn oil or you can choose to get your fats from something that is abundantly high in the Omega 3 fatty acid shown to transform and improve the way your brain works, that’s why we’re going to recommend the source that’s high in Omega 3s.

CARRIE: Got it.

JONATHAN: Make sense?

CARRIE: Yes and that’s why I’m now drinking cod liver oil.

JONATHAN: Yum. A nice hardy glass of cod liver oil.

CARRIE: Actually, it’s lemon flavored and it’s lovely.

JONATHAN: So, the other areas that we can look to improve to help our mood is – this one is going to sound a little bit odd, but cocoa. So, there’s a reason –

CARRIE: That’s made a whole bunch of people happy.

JONATHAN: There’s a reason that chocolate is the single most craved food in the world. It’s because the primary ingredient in chocolate which is cocoa has a huge mood boosting effect. So this is not only because there’s a little bit of caffeine, but there is also a substance known as theobromine found in cocoa, there is a huge amount of antioxidants, there’s (Inaudible 00:17:38) fiber protein, point being, cocoa and we’re talking natural undutched raw cocoa sometimes referred to as cacao — has a huge mood boosting effect and I will give you a little tip, a specific tip. I don’t usually give specific tips, because it’s not my bag of something I’ve been doing that I’ve really enjoyed — involving cocoa — and it’s actually in the studio right now.

CARRIE: I was wondering what that – five gallon vase of brown liquid was.

JONATHAN: All right, so this is only going to be tasty once you’ve broken your sugar addiction and so for example, if you’ve tried dark chocolate or a 100 percent chocolate bar and you think it’s disgusting, then this will not taste good for you, but if you’ve freed yourself from sugar addiction long enough that things which are – that you can appreciate bitter and it doesn’t disgust you then this might be appealing to you and I think people can, for example, beer is horribly bitter, but that doesn’t stop people from drinking it and enjoying it thoroughly so anyway, here’s what you do. It’s like SANE hot chocolate that isn’t hot. You can make it hot if you want. So, here’s what you do. You just take – it’s really, really simple. You take – Carrie are you ready? It’s good. You take undutched cocoa powder, so cacao, whatever, 100 percent cocoa powder – you take that, you take some peppermint oil, then you take – peppermint oil is like teeny tiny little dropper thing –

CARRIE: Yeah, please be careful with the peppermint oil, because peppermint oil is strong.

JONATHAN: You take some vanilla and you take some cinnamon, pop that in your blender and drink it like you drink coffee or drink it like you drink hot chocolate.

CARRIE: With what? You didn’t tell us what the liquid –

JONATHAN: Oh, water. No, just take straight up cocoa powder – it’s like the cinnamon challenge. It’s the cocoa powder challenge. No, so it’s essentially – it’s mostly cocoa powder so you could do a tablespoon of pure cocoa powder, something like a half teaspoon of cinnamon, a drop of peppermint oil, and then maybe a half teaspoon of vanilla, so mix that up and drink it and if you do want something a little bit sweeter, put a few drops of liquid stevia in there. Not only is it profoundly good for you from an antioxidant perspective, but it will really help with your mood and what’s cool too — is there are trace amounts – there’s a respectable amount of caffeine in cocoa, but this other substance we talked about called theobromine, so if you notice for example, if you drink green tea versus coffee, the kick those two substances give you is very different. So, like the high you get from coffee is like someone just took you and said, ba-boom, like just kicked you in the pants – like coffee, I’m here and I’m ready to go, whereas, if you drank green tea, even if you got 100 milligrams of caffeine from coffee and 100 milligrams of caffeine from green tea, the green tea is going to make you feel different because green tea has theobromine in it and theobromine acts as essentially an anecdote to caffeine, so it causes a smoother, slower high than would caffeine without theobromine. So cocoa does that even more.

So, cocoa, if you are just a little out of it and coffee would make you just feel jittery, sometimes coffee doesn’t make you feel like you’re in it, it just makes you feel jittery and panicky – at least it does for me than doing something like a green tea or a cacao or cocoa drink like we’ve talked about here, no sugar or anything like that — can help you get back in the swing of things, boost that mood and also provide you with an abundance of antioxidants and that also leads into the next item which is green tea, which we know and love and we’ve talked about before.

CARRIE: We don’t all love it. We all know it, we don’t all love it.

JONATHAN: We should love it and I’m going to close this episode –

CARRIE: We love it theoretically.

JONATHAN: Is here’s a tip to not only — so green tea will help you with the mood, it will help you with fat loss, it will help you with overall health and here’s a tip that improve all of those things while also improving the taste. And that is when you drink green tea, drink it with lemon juice, squeeze a lemon, get lemon juice, blend it in the Vitamix with a portion of a peeled lemon because studies consistently show that combining green tea with lemons because of the affect that lemon has in your digestion allows that which is good about green tea to only be magnified. So if you’re not a big fan of green tea, you can make it taste better and if you for example, like look Jonathan, I know you say drink like ten bags worth of green tea per day — it isn’t going to happen, I’m only going to drink three, well, studies would suggest that three bags of green tea consumed with lemons or lemon juice maybe as beneficial if not more beneficial than just ten bags of green tea without lemons. So it makes it taste better, makes it work better, boosts your mood, theobromine, exercise, SANE eating, amino acids, Omega 3 fatty acids — Carrie, you can tell that I’ve eaten all of those things today because I am just in such a good mood right now.

CARRIE: Yes.

JONATHAN: It’s also because we’re getting delusional because it’s literally 100 degrees in the studio right now.

CARRIE: It basically is, but it’s – I would – I’ve actually — confession session – I’ve actually taken myself off all my medication. I do not do that without the help of your psychiatrist/psychotherapist, Dr. whoever he is, but I am so I am particularly appreciative of the opportunity to talk about ways you can sort your brain out that don’t involve chemicals.

JONATHAN: Sort it out, Carrie.

CARRIE: And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I will be mixing up some of that brown liquid later.

JONATHAN: Think of it as SANE room temperature cocoa. I mean what sounds better than that?

CARRIE: There may be some Xylitol going in mine.

JONATHAN: Yes, Xylitol, or stevia, all good. Well, folks, hopefully this was helpful and this week and every week after, remember eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better. We’ll chat with you soon.

CARRIE: See ya.