080: How To Fix Your Brain w/ Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Brain fog, menstrual memory, dementia, and Alzheimer's are all conditions and diseases that affect our brain. All of us worry about those times when we forget something, and in our 20s and 30s it’s usually not a big deal. But when we get older, into our 50s, 60s, and beyond, the concern can definitely be real -- are we losing our memories for good?

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Oftentimes, the cause for these illnesses starts well before we’re even aware that we have a problem, but there is good news. You can fix your brain! And today’s guest and expert, Dr. Tom O’Bryan, is here to tell you how.

Dr. Tom O’Bryan is a leading expert, author, and specialist, studying how gluten-containing foods impact our gut. He’s basically the Sherlock Holmes of chronic disease. His latest research shows the links between gluten, the gut, and the brain and highlights how important it is to have good immune health.

Today we’re talking about the changes your body goes through that means you might test positive for Celiac disease later in life. We learn about oral intolerance and explain why it’s something you need to understand to start managing your gut symptoms. Plus, we’re looking at the factors in early to mid-life that can contribute to issues, gut symptoms, and poor brain health later in life.

Dr. Tom also goes over what simple changes you can make in your diet and fitness routine to help promote healthy brain function. Finally, we’re looking at the blood tests you can ask your doctor for if you’re really worried.

Are you worried about your memory? Do you suffer from brain fog? What changes to your diet have you made to try to help your symptoms?


In This Episode:

  • Why everyone should know what their normal fasting glucose is
  • What the connection between the gut and the brain is
  • What happens to cause Celiac disease later in life
  • What loss of oral tolerance is and why it’s important to understand
  • Why wheat can change from a minor to a major irritant
  • Why living a stressful life can cause menopausal memory
  • What simple and basic food changes you can make to improve your brain health
  • What tests you can ask for to help diagnose these health problems


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“These tests that - in general doctors use that tell you are you sick? Or are you healthy?- Can actually be interpreted from 'where are you on the scale?” (6:45)

“70% of people with a sensitivity to wheat have hypoperfusion of the brain, a decreased blood supply to the brain.” (12:58)

“When your ovaries start shutting down it’s the job of your adrenal glands to start ramping up and making about 1/10th the estrogen that your ovaries used to make.” (27:48)



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Dr. Anna Cabeca

Hello everyone Dr. Anna Cabeca here. Welcome to Couch Talk.

Today we're going to talk about the mind and memory and how important our immune system is to that.

So we so often begin to get terrified at a certain age when we forget where we put our keys, where we can find our shoes, where we realize we've walked into a room and we do not know why we went into this room.

Oh, I know I'm not alone in this. It's fine in our 20s, 30s, but when we hit our 50s, it's like, okay, is this a sign of early dementia or early Alzheimer's or what the heck is going on?

So today to talk about this topic I'm bringing an old friend on and this is Dr. Tom O'Bryan.

And today we're going to talk about autoimmunity in the brain and how that affects brain function, also about menopausal memory and some key biomarkers we can use to figure out, you know, what's going on and do I really need to be concerned? As well as how we create healthier brain health, which is so important, right? We can't go on without it.

You know, it's often that I share with you the story of my father who, when he was 79, and was really struggling with losing his memory, was irritable and cranky. How I talked to his doctor, his cardiologist, and his doctor told me, he goes, “you know, Anna, he's 79. He's lived a great life.”

And I'm like, I can't deny that, he was 79. And he has had a great life.

But it wasn't over yet. So, frustrated. I asked my dad, “Dad, are you done living? Are you ready to just kind of, you know, check out?” He's like, “heck no! I want to see 80!”

I was like, “Okay, so let's follow my program.”

I did my detox program with him and took away his beer and scotch for just one month, as well as, you know, gluten free, dairy free and stopped his snacking, among other things, balancing hormones, as well as nutrients and supplements.

Well, I can happily say that in 30 days, dad lost 30 pounds, went from 120 units of insulin to 20 units of insulin. And he went from taking the wheelchair around when he came in, flew in from out of town, to actually getting out on the tennis court with the kids. In just 30 days.

I'm even more blessed and grateful to say he lived to 91 and he lived good cognizant years, his memory was sharp, continued to do sudoku, and anytime he would start to lose that edge, I knew we had to tank things up a little bit to just tweak a little bit here with his nutrition, his diet, his lifestyle, and to empower that.

So I've seen that happen for him. And I’ve seen it happen for so many others.

So let me tell you about our guest today, Dr. Tom O'Bryan. He is considered a Sherlock Holmes for chronic disease.

And I first heard him speak on why gluten was so bad for us over a decade ago, he was really on the cutting edge of this movement. And he does it in a very bold and brilliant way.

So he currently has a recent book out called You Can Fix Your Brain: Just One Hour a Week to the Best Memory, Productivity, and Sleep You've Ever Had. This has been published by Rodale in September 2018, and it has received global accolades.

So I highly recommend this book. And I look forward to your feedback on this conversation.

This is an episode you certainly want to share. And please do that. That helps us get the message out to so many people who are really struggling.

Well, hello, Dr. Tom O'Bryan, it is great to see you here today. Thanks for joining me.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Well, thank you. It's always a pleasure to hang out with you.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

I feel the same, I feel the same. And now you're actually in Italy, right? We're talking from - I'm in Vegas on at a conference here in Italy. I know that I appreciate this time taking away from that beautiful environment.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Isn't technology incredible? I mean it's just incredible. You know, and this is a great lead in.

25 years ago, it would have taken a room 20 by 20, floor to ceiling computers at Princeton to do what this iPhone does in terms of computing power.

25 years ago, we never could have imagined that you can do all of this in something in the palm of your hand.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

Right, absolutely.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

The same is true in laboratory medicine. That when we talk about tests for your brain, that most laboratories are using tests that are 10, 15, 20 years old. The technology, I mean, they're good test, but they're not current.  

The current test, the most cutting edge stuff that’s as cutting edge as this is to someone 25 years ago, it's called silicon chip technology and Mayo Clinic published on this - May Clinic!

And they said, 97 to 99% sensitivity and 98 to 100% specificity. And as you and I know, that mean that's all geek language to everyone that's listening. But it means it's right every time.

And they can look at 6000 antigens in one blood draw. 6000 antigens.

So when we talk about tests to measure inflammation in the brain, which we'll get to in a few minutes, the technology is so cutting edge now that anything less than this is no longer acceptable.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

I agree. And so I look forward to talking about those biomarkers, those cutting edge biomarkers.

But so many people to, when we're doing our, even our routine lab tests, the ones that we get, you know, just as a routine doctor's visit - the CBC and the CMC - by the time we see something wrong in those tests, it's like, yeah you're pretty you're pretty sick, we could have picked it up.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

You’re pretty far down the road, right?


Dr. Anna Cabeca

Pretty far down the road.

But still, some things are missed.

So, most people have at home, even their complete metabolic panel, their CMP, it starts with their glucose test, gives them liver function, gives them kidney function.

I mean, but there there's some good biomarkers right in that test that they have that don't get addressed.

Like we're in the normal range, right? What’s normal mean - 8 out of 10 people going into Walmart is your normal comparison. So we want to be optimal.

So look at the normal versus the optimal.

So if someone's home and they pull out their CMP, and we can say, Okay, well, you know, where's your glucose? Where are your liver functions? Where's your kidney function, you know, what's your protein or albumen and things there that can so already be good indicators just overlook because their normal.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Right, these tests that in general, doctors use to tell you, are you sick or are you healthy, can actually be interpreted from where are you on the scale? Where are you going, which direction are you going?

And, you know, it’s the difference... there's two ways to measure the temperature in the engine of your car. You know, I'm from Detroit originally. So I'm a car guy. I grew up with muscle cars.

Some cars have a hot light that comes on the dashboard. That hot light comes on, everybody knows you got to pull over really quick over, or you're going to blow up the engine. No negotiating.

Other cars have a temperature gauge instead of just a hot light. An example, 1986, my wife and I were driving back from the summer vacation in Michigan going to Chicago, I used to live in Chicago, and we had a 1986 Chrysler Minivan. A new minivan. Two kids in the backseat, six and nine years old. It was a 9090 day: 90 degree temperature, 90% humidity, one of those hot, humid days in Michigan that are just sticky.

And so we're cruising down the highway at 70 miles an hour, air conditioning on, listening to some nice classical music, kids to the backseat, you know, playing with some games or something. And I'm watching, all of the sudden the temperature gauge starts climbing. And over the course of about 10 or 15 miles. It hugs up against the red zone.

And I go, “oh, no.” My wife said, “what?” I said, “the engine’s overheating. Okay, it's okay.”

So what did I do? I saw the warning. And so it gave me the opportunity to take preventive action. What does that mean? I slowed down to 55, I turned off the air conditioning, you take the load off of the engine, roll down the windows and listen to the kids complain about how hot it was.

But we made it home okay. The engine didn't go into the red zone, it didn't overheat.

That's the tests that you're referring to when a doctor who knows what they're doing is not just looking to say you're healthy or your diseased. They're saying, you know, in here, this tells us that you're kind of headed in the wrong direction here.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

Yeah, I mean, even starting with the glucose. So like even looking talking about the glucose, everyone should know like what their fasting glucose is.

So the normal range, at least it used to be like from 70 to 110, right? We've narrowed that down a little bit to 100. But talk about that a little bit. Dr. Tom?


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Well, that's true. That's true. And there are doctors now that are telling us that's being somewhere around 75 or 80 is the ideal. And if you're hugging up closer to 100, that's too high. That's pre-diabetes.

It's like the other markers that where you sit on the scale can be a good piece of information that tells us what direction is your body heading right now in terms of your liver function.

So if the range is zero to 43, for your liver enzymes, and you're 41, you think you're okay, well, it's normal, you know, so wait a minute, you're kind of hugging that high end there. Your temperature gauge is right up against the red zone.

And so we want to get that back down around 20 or 25. But what do I do? Well, I don't know, let's see how you're taxing your liver too much.


And then you explore you find out what a person's diets like, what their microbiome is like, because the microbiome directly affects liver function. So you just start looking to see what you can find.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

Absolutely. And you know, you're one of the pioneers and leading forth on the gluten awareness and talking about, not just like gluten with issues of celiac disease, but gluten sensitivity, and just the negative effects of gluten.

And now let's talk about the gluten brain.

Talk about that a little bit. And, you know, just your story, your passion behind that, and how that brought you here, we can touch on the gut-brain connection.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Sure, you bet.

Well, you know, that, you know, there's a segway, but a really good one is that I was reached out to by the Celiac Society of India, and they asked me if I’d chair their annual conference in India. And I said, “well, I don't really know anything about chairing a conference.” And they said, “We want to talk about more than just Celiac Disease.”

And I said, “oh, great! Absolutely.”

So anyway, I put the thing together, and I'm bringing the dream team to India, to New Delhi, January 12 and 13th of 2019.


Dr. Anna Cabeca



Dr. Tom O'Bryan

They’re from all over the world. Rodney Ford, a pediatric gastroenterologist from New Zealand, Yehuda Shoenfeld, the godfather of autoimmunity from Israel, Aaron Lerner from Germany, the professor who identified microbial transglutaminase . All these cool people that are big thinkers in the world of wheat related disorders.

And the conference is called the International Conference on Wheat Related Disorders: Beyond Celiac, Beyond the Gut.

Because if you are sensitive to wheat, and not everyone is, but if you are, for every one person that has gut symptoms, there are eight people that don't have gut symptoms.

They have brain symptoms, or kidney symptoms, or joint symptoms, or muscle symptoms. It's all over the place depending on where your genetic vulnerability is.

But people think if you eat something, and you don't get sick from it, it's good for you.

That's not the case!

The ratio is eight to one for manifestations of a sensitivity to wheat. And the most common area is the brain.

There are 13 different mechanisms that I know of by which the brain is affected in a sensitivity to wheat. And the most common one is called hypoperfusion, it means a lack of blood flow. And 73% of people with a sensitivity to wheat have hypoperfusion in the brain. It’s lack of blood flow into the brain.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

Let me say that again, real quick, 70% of people with a sensitivity to wheat have hypoperfusion of the brain, a decreased blood supply to the brain.

Quickly? Right when they eat it? Long acting?


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

When it gets into the gut.

And so that's why people that have a pasta dinner, 45 minutes to an hour later, they're all tired, they want to sit around, they feel a little sleepy.

So when I'm on stage, I tell people, “okay, Docs. How many of you know or suspect that you have a sensitivity of the wheat? Show of hands, please. Come on, come on. Raise your hands, aye. Hold them up for a minute, hold them up, look around the room.”

And they go: wow.

And 80%, 70 to 80% of the room raises their hand. And I say this is not a talk to Celiacs. This is a talk to healthcare professionals.

“Now, how many of you know or suspect that if you are exposed to wheat, it seems to affect your brain. Show your hands, please look around the room.”

And it's about 70% of the first group that raised their hand it affects their brain.

So, and I say to them, “Look, this is your practice. This is what's walking in your door every day. Somewhere between 6 to 7 out of every 10 people have crossed the line and they have a sensitivity to wheat, whether they know it or not, that is likely contributing to whatever symptoms they presented into your office with.”

And the most common system of the body is the brain. That's by far the most common


Dr. Anna Cabeca

So that brain fog we typically attribute to the dose of carbohydrates after our pasta meal. So beyond that.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Yes, yes. The blood sugar rise and the crash usually take somewhere between an hour and a half, two hours to occur.

But this one usually occurs within 30 minutes to an hour, that lack of blood flow, and it happens really quick, quickly, really quickly. And you just feel tired, you know, kind of dragging, you really don't want I'd like to take a nap. Maybe I'll watch a show on television or something.

You know, your brain just slows down.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

I’m laughing to myself, I have to digress a moment, if you’ll amuse me.

I remember Dr. Alessio Fasano and I were talking, you're in Italy, so I'm thinking, Alessio, Fasano.

And really we know him as the father of discovering Zonulin, and how important that has been in this whole concept of gluten sensitivity and leaky gut. And I've drank wine with him while he ate his bread.

So you're in Italy right now? Like, are you not eating any Italian pasta?


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Oh, yeah! But gluten free. And, you know, you know, the best place to get your pasta is you go to the pharmacy. And when you go to the pharmacy and Italy and you say, “Can I get some gluten free pasta? They said Madonna, of course. Of course. It'll be here tomorrow.”

And they place the order and the next day, here it is. And it's fresh, freshly made gluten-free pasta. Why? Because there's 34 centers in Italy designated by the government as wheat related disorder centers.

And if you get a diagnosis from one of these centers. There's 27 Gastroenterology, 4 pediatric, couple allergy clinics. If you get a diagnosis of a wheat-related disorder from one of these clinics, your food bills are a deduction, a tax deduction.

And so you just go to the local pharmacy and say, “you know, I'd like to pick up some ravioli tomorrow, gluten-free.” And it's like this, it's delicious.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

What are they using? What kind of flour are they using?


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

I'm not a baker anymore. So I can't tell you. You know, I used to be a baker back in the late 60s, early 70s, whole wheat bread. But corn is very common, rice is common, sometimes potato starch or potato flour. I think those are the most common things that they used to make it with. I don't really know


Dr. Anna Cabeca

But now, a lot of times we think, “okay, the issue with so much gluten sensitivity now than last century is because of the increase in gluten.”

Can you talk about that? Like, what's the truth behind that? Is that really the case?


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

That's not the case.

That's a convenient explanation that somebody made up. And then others picked up on it. And a couple of people have written about it now, but there's no evidence of that.

Dr. Fasano, who you reference, and others, Chatchai has written a few times on this.

It's called Loss of Oral Tolerance.

And the ancient grains, in the publications that I've read, and I’ve read many of them, the ancient grains are more toxic than the hybrids, in terms of their gluten contents and stimulating an immune response.

So it's not the new hybrid grains. It's not the GMO. I mean, GMO is a problem that makes it worse because the glyphosate in the GMO grains and GMO foods kills off the good bacteria in your gut. And so that just makes everything much worse.

But it's a loss of oral tolerance.

That's why somebody who's diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and you check their teenage son who's got gut problems and he doesn't have Celiac Disease, you're fine.

So they tell them, it's okay to keep eating wheat. And then seven years later, he's got Celiac Disease.

But what happened? He didn't have it when he was 15, how come now, when he's 22, he's got it?

There's a number of papers on that that have been published. What happened that that person who was negative in the past, all of a sudden, 7 years, 10 years, 20 years later, now they've got the disease?

It's because your immune system is working so hard, your immune system recognizes everyone's immune system recognizes wheat as a problem, everyone. There are a number of papers on this.


You get intestinal permeability when you eat wheat every time. The slang term is the leaky gut. But what the research shows is that you get that leaky gut, it starts at about 30 minutes after the food gets into the intestine, and it peaks up at about an hour and a half, and then it starts coming down within 3, 4 hours, you're back to normal, because the fastest growing cells in the body or the inside lining of your gut.

So the wheat causes inflammation that tears the lining, you get leaky gut, but then it heals really quick and you have toast for breakfast, you tear the lining, but it heals, you have a sandwich for lunch, you tear the lining, but it heals.

And so your immune system says, “you know, a couple little molecules got through the bloodstream, fine, no problem. You don't have elevated antibodies to wheat or anything like that.”

But one day, all of a sudden, you don't heal anymore.

And when that day happens, that's called loss of oral tolerance.

Now your immune system system gets activated because these weak molecules are just flooding into the bloodstream and they keep coming in for hours. You eat a pizza, that's a whole lot of wheat compared to a crouton, and it just keeps coming in for hours and hours and your immune system says, “no more. No more will we allow that. That's a loss of oral tolerance.”

So the million dollar question is, that I talked about a lot in my first book, The Autoimmune Fix, what causes the loss of oral tolerance? How come your immune system now won't put up with wheat anymore?

It won't.

Wheat’s a minor irritant, it’s not a major irritant until you cross the line, now it's a major irritant.

But why does it change from a minor irritant to a major irritant?

Here's why.

The journal, Pediatrics, and this was a position paper from the journal, Pediatrics. So as you know, that's a first tier journal. And when they publish a position paper, right, the top position paper, you know that this is a message they want to get to everybody.

And the position paper told us that currently, today, it's 250 pounds of toxic chemicals per person, per day that are being dumped in the US. 250 pounds per person, per day. Dr. Anna, for you and I that's 10 50 pound bags every single day that's being dumped in the US.

That's why would a newborn baby, today, if they check the blood of a newborn baby in America, every baby born has at least 180 toxic chemicals in their bloodstream at birth. Every single baby!

Bisphenol A, red dye number 3, PCBs, DDT, mercury, aluminum, lead - every baby!

Because there's so many toxins that we’re being exposed to, that our bodies are breathing in, drinking in, eating in, that get into our bloodstream. Your immune system is trying to fight all this stuff.

After a while, your immune system becomes so hyper vigilant, it says, “wheat? No more, No, no more irritants.”

And that's the loss of oral tolerance.

And when you lose oral tolerance, and you make antibodies to wheat, now, you go into the whole world of gluten sensitivity, wheat sensitivity, celiac disease, all of that.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

You know, we always say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure here.

So right now, you just made a beautiful connection, the autoimmune component that is caused by this loss of oral tolerance, right, to wheat, among other things, and how they all kind of culminate just an over abundant attack on our immune system, on our bodies resilience, our primary line of defense.

And that leads into the issues with not just leaky gut, leaky brain, right? The loss of brain function.

Making that connection is huge. I would say, we were never designed for cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, and bread with dinner, right? This is not part of our evolution. We can only do so much.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

One of the talks that I give is called, An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Protocols.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

Or prescriptions. I think would be good!


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Right, right. Because everything we're trying to do to help people, we've got to help them understand why all this stuff is happening to them.

And when they understand and, this is the new book, You Can Fix Your Brain, in detail.

You got to get the Tupperware out of your kitchen! You can't put food in plastic containers because the plastic leeches phthalates into the food. The next day, when you eat your leftover chicken from the night before and you kept it in your plastic container, you're eating chicken with phthalates.

Or Saran Wrap! You can't use Saran Wrap on food. You can't use this stuff. We've grown up thinking it's okay. It's not.

Let me give you an example.

They took 346, I think it was, pregnant women. In the eighth month of pregnancy they took a urine sample from them. And they measured five different types of phthalates. In the eighth month of pregnancy.

They grouped the results by quartiles. The lowest quartile, the next quartile, the third quartile, and the highest quartile. They followed the offspring of these pregnant women for seven and a half years. The children of the women within the highest quartile of phthalates in their urine compared to the children in the lowest quartile of phthalates in the urine, same kind of kids, socio-economic class, everything's the same, just mom's phthalate levels.

The children of the moms with the highest quartile levels, their IQ were 7.6 points lower on average, than the children in the lowest quartile. 7 and a half points!

Now one point IQ change is substantial. 7 and a half points is the difference between a B+/A- students and a C-/D students. Every one of these kids was 7 and a half points average lower IQ. Every one of them compared to the kids with mom having the lowest amount of phthalates.

You can't use plastic!!

Because it hangs out your body and it affects the development of your baby's brain. And then your brain also because the phthalates cause a breach of the blood-brain barrier: leaky brain.

So for adults, they get leaky brain from phthalates. That’s one of the triggers, there are many triggers, but that's one of them. You can read it the book, all that.

That's why you have to get rid of your plastic containers.

My wife just came home last night from going to IKEA. And she was so happy. She got a whole load of glass storage containers with glass lids. And she said, “it was only like, $40!” It's Euros, because we're in Italy right now. it's like 40-45 Euros, which is about $60 for 10 or 12 different glass containers.

Right. That's why the subtitle of my book is Just One Hour a Week to the Best Memory, Productivity, and Sleep You've Ever Had. It's not a cutesy title. Because the only way I know that people can be successful is one hour a week.

Say every Tuesday nights after dinner, you're going to listen to Dr. Anna's podcast again, and take some notes, or you’re going to read a chapter from my book, or you're going to go online, you're going to go to Amazon or IKEA, and you're going to order your glass storage containers. You're going to say, “okay I need 4 round ones, and 6 rectangular ones.” And then you pay the credit card, you order, it took you an hour, you're done for the week! And in six months of doing that one hour a week, you've changed your life.

You've successfully changed by just doing one thing at a time.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

It doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be all encompassing. But it can, you know, it can work in baby steps and it does make a difference.

Let's talk about this. We're talking about the autoimmune and brain issues. And let's talk about menopausal memory.

Because we see, right, after menopause we have a higher incidence of autoimmune disease in women also. So let’s talk about that, put that together from this perspective.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

There's a number of reasons for that.

One of the reasons is that so many women have hormone imbalances, where their estrogen and progesterone levels are lower as they're going through menopause.

You know, when you're ovaries started shutting down, it's the job of your adrenal glands to start ramping up and making about 1/10th the estrogen that your ovaries used to make, you don't need much, but you need a little, right?

But if your adrenal is are worn out from a lifetime of stress, and you have low hormone levels, the result is you start losing bone cells, you get osteopenia, and eventually osteoporosis.

When you lose bone cells, all the crud that's been deposited in the bones, like lead and Mercury, when you lose the bone cells, the lead gets released into your bloodstream. It gets into the bloodstream, and it goes up to the brain and it tears the blood-brain barrier. It’s called a breach of the blood brain barrier. I call it B4.

So bone loss, just subtle, little, every day, a little bit of bone loss, leaching these toxic chemicals out because B4, a breach of the blood brain barrier, the lack of hormones themselves, low progesterone will cause a breach of the blood brain barrier.

And when you get leaky brain, this B4, now, molecules get into the brain that aren't supposed to be able to get in. And just like a leaky gut, things get out of the intestines into the bloodstream, leaky brain means things get out of the bloodstream into the brain that are not supposed to get in there.

And you have four different immune systems in your body, right?

There's one in the gut, there's one in the liver, there's one in the bloodstream, and there's one in the brain. And the one in the brain is the big kahuna. This guy doesn't mess around.

The one in your gut, they've got six shooters are called your innate immune system, they fire these chemical bullets called cytokines.

The one in your bloodstream, the major one, is antibodies. And they're like Special Forces with high powered rifles.

But the one in the brain, they've got a bazooka. Anything that gets through the brain that's not supposed to be there, they just fire this bazooka to destroy it, no questions asked right away.

That's the power of the glial cells in the brain.

Great, except you keep getting tears in the blood brain barrier, more molecules come in, the soldiers get activated firing their bazookas and you get collateral damage.

The collateral damage is your brain tissue gets damaged. Now you make antibodies to damaged brain tissue to get them out of there.

And that starts a whole cascade effect. And here comes the autoimmune mechanism of your brain. And that is a primary mechanism in the development of MS is that the antibodies that got through the blood brain barrier started destroying the myelin, which is the Saran Wrap around your nerves. And and you get MS. That's a very common mechanism.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

You know, it's like one of the things that I remember, just speaking on inflammation and making the connection, keep looking in functional medicine, right? The underlying, underlying cause of disease, right?

In the gut, we know it's the leaky gut, right? The gap in the cell to cell connection, the loss of our healthy boundaries.

In the brain, it's the, you know, we've got the membranes of the brain leaking.

In the heart, it’s leaking of the cardiac vessels, right.

So with all that loss of integrity, like you said, the collateral damage that's occurring from this, you know, initial defense mechanism, just like the lines of defense have been worn down.

That's significant.

But this can be reversed. Let's give our audience hope now. Because we're like, in a circle, like feel like we're riding up a ferris wheel right now.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

You can fix your brain.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

Yes, I've heard that! I've heard that! In just one hour a week.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Yeah, absolutely.

It's going to take you six months or a year. Who cares? “Well I want it now!”

Not going to happen now! “Well, my doctor says, if I take this, I'll be better.”

And so you start taking these nutrients feel a little better for a while, but then you crash again, because the underlying mechanism is still going on destroying your brain, distorting your brain.

Here's an example.

There are 246 studies, as of about six months ago, I haven’t checked since then. 246 studies on the direct association of herpes infections, cold sores on your lip, and alzheimer's. 246 studies on this.

Anytime you get a breakout on your lip, the virus has taken over. Your immune system has been unable to suppress it any longer. And stress causes that, many things can cause that. But the virus has taken over and those antibodies to fight the virus, which rise up because of viruses taking over, taking over those antibodies go right into the brain.

When they do autopsy on people who have passed from Alzheimer's and they look at the brain, it's loaded full of antibodies to herpes. Loaded!

So what does that mean? It means that we have to stop the breakout of herpes for that person.

Well, how do you do that? You have to strengthen the immune system so that it doesn't get weakened where the virus takes over.

Well, how do you strengthen the immune system? You have to figure out why is it working so hard? What's it fighting that's fatiguing it?

Well, what does that mean? The most common trigger is what's on the end of your fork.

And the most common thing on the end of your fork that’s inflammatory is wheat, and then dairy, and then sugar, and then bad fats.

And those are the things that so many of us love to eat every once in a while. “I can have a little once in a while.” Well, no, you can't. You can't be a little pregnant. You can't have a little this stuff once in a while, without paying a price.

I'll stop now.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

No, no. I mean, you make a point, you make it strongly. And we often need to hear that strong because I'm that like, you know, like things. Rules tend to change when I travel.

I'm like, “Okay, well, I can eat this in Italy, but I cannot eat it here. So when's my next trip?” You know?


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

You know, our good friend, Dr. Jill Carnahan got really, really sick a few years ago. Really sick, a mold infection, really sick.

And when she realized what it was, you may know what she did, she left her house that day, she never went back. She left all the clothes, all the kitchen appliances, all the books, and she started over.

And now she is vibrant and dynamic. And when she travels, she's got three big suitcases because she's got an air purifier for the room that she's in, in a hotel.

She orders food ahead of time from whole foods in the town to be delivered to the hotel. So she's got her cases of water. So she's not drinking the tap water. You know, she's got her snacks, so she doesn't go down and eat what the hotel food is.

So it's possible to set up our lives that way. But I'm more like you. You know, I haven't gotten that sick to where it's essential to do that.

And I try not to cheat. But my cheat once in a while is when I’m in an airport and you know, I had a 6am flight so I didn't eat and I land somewhere and I'm changing planes. Now I'm landing in New Jersey at 4:30 in the afternoon and I haven't eaten anything all day, I often get a bag of potato chips. And that's my cheat. That is not good for you. Anything deep fried like that.

One of the things that produces are called acrylamides and they are just nasty. They cause a lot of cancers. But in any event, you know, I cheat a little.

But when you get sick enough, or when it gets important enough, then you tow the line.

I just talked to somebody a little while ago. Her baby was born eight weeks ago. And she's a rheumatoid patient with lupus. And during her pregnancy, she miraculously felt so much better. She was running up and down the stairs, where usually she has to have her husband go get something upstairs, because it's too much pain to walk up the stairs.

And she was pregnant, just going up and down the stairs! Just unbelievable how good she was. And of course, you and I know it's a hormone problem for her. But her hormones test normal. But during pregnancy, you make more hormones than usual.

So now instead of having a high powered rifle, now you got a shotgun. You got a whole lot of hormone that's finally getting into the cell.

So, for that person who cells working, weren't getting the hormone that they needed. It was in the bloodstream, it tested normal, but it wasn't getting into the cells.

Why? Her receptor sites are all full of toxic chemicals, endocrine disrupting chemicals, so the estrogens and progesterones can't get into the cell.

So I had to run some tests. Sure enough, and we see it so often, loaded with PCBs in her body. Loaded, you know.

So that's the kind of detail, that that's the kind of investigation you have to do, is figure out where is this stuff coming from?

And that's what the book is about, to give you the basic principles to ask the questions so that you can find out: why does my daughter have this condition? Or why is my son Attention Deficit? Or why do I have rheumatoid or whatever the condition is?


Dr. Anna Cabeca

Right. And I think that's an important thing, because we can feel great, but sometimes we don't realize how bad we're feeling until we start feeling good again. Because we're so used to it.

So like, none of this cost any money, right? I mean, a lot of this is just making different choices.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan


But there are small expenses, like get glass containers instead of plastic, you know. But simple things, you don't have to do any really fancy stuff.  

But it's making different choices. Learn how to make the choices for root vegetables, and prebiotic vegetables, and of course, the greens and just the basic things. And it makes such a difference.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

I agree wholeheartedly, and I also think just in living by example.

Because our younger generation has a rougher time. They're exposed to a lot more. So the changes we make now, for ourselves, also, I mean, we're doing it for them to and their kids.

I was telling my daughter, I was in the shower yesterday, and, and there was this bottle of something. I'm like, “you know, Meera, what's this?” She was like, “that's my new facial scrub from such such place.” I'm like, looking at the ingredients. I'm like, “I'm throwing this way. Because, number one, I want healthy grandbabies. I want you to be able to have them. So, you know, like, listen, we gotta stop this now. Yes, stop.”

So little changes can make big differences. I'm like, “what were you doing?”


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

You know, the Millennials, they want it and they want it now. Whatever it is, I want it now.

And when I explained to them that, you know this study, you may be familiar with this. The Danish government did a two year, just over two and a half year, study, Should We Recommend Women Not Breastfeed in a First Pregnancy?

I was like, “what? What?!”

And it took a couple of years of testimony. It was supposed to be six months, but there was so much information that came out.

People there eat a lot of fish. The fish come from the fjords. The fjords are long and narrow and deep. The farmers, for 35 or 40 years, have been using PCBs and DDT on their crops. The rain washes the PCB residue into the streams, into the rivers, into the fjords. The fish are full of PCBs.

But there's no study that shows the amount of PCBs in one fish is toxic to human. There's no studies on that. That's how they get away with this.

But your body is not designed to defend against PCBs or DDT or any other chemicals.

Your body is designed to defend against bugs, parasites, viruses, molds, and fungus. That's all our ancestors had to fight against. And so everything that's a threat gets treated as a bug, parasite, virus, mould, or fungus.

But PCBs don't get destroyed in your body when you attack it as if it's a bug, parasite, virus, mold, or fungus, it stays in the body. But your brain says, “get this stuff out of the bloodstream! I don't want it anywhere near me!”

So it gets put into storage. So where's it gets stored? It gets stored in the fat cells.

But, wait a minute, these are called endocrine disrupting chemicals. So that means that they have an affinity for the fat cells that love hormones, like your breasts, and your ovaries, and your testicles.

So now, here's a 28-29 year old woman been, you know, more or less healthy, your whole life, whatever, you know, they've got that kind of an attitude. Gets pregnant has a healthy pregnancy, about to have a delivery, hopefully, a good delivery, healthy delivery. And the brain says, okay, breasts, I'm going to need some milk here starting tomorrow, you know, so let's get lactation going right now. Let's start making that milk in the breast.

And where does the breast get the raw materials to make milk? From the fat cells.

What are the fat cells full of? PCBs.

So when baby is born, hopefully a healthy delivery, baby starts breastfeeding. The breast milk is loaded with 28 years of accumulation of minor amounts of PCBs. The amount of toxic chemicals in the breast milk is highly neurotoxic.

That means that affects baby's brain development.

So there was a two and a half year commission looking at this, and looking at all the studies, and they came out in the end, and this was politics and big industry. They said, “no, it's more important to breastfeed than not.”

Because the chemical industry did not want this information out there. “No, it's more important to breastfeed.”

I personally agree. But I tell this to every millennial I meet. Because every woman of childbearing age needs to detox her breasts before she gets pregnant.

Why was it only the first pregnancy? Because all other pregnancies are fine, because you've detox your breast by producing the breast milk that you gave to your baby, right?

So if you detox your breasts ahead of time, and it's easy and simple, you're not milking the milk out or anything like that. It's easy and simple to do, you detox ahead of time, and you protect the brain of your first born.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

Yes. I want to talk about how you detox, how would these women who are listening, detox the PCBs out, but also want to hit on the biomarkers, and then we'll wrap.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

The biomarkers of a brain on fire. I started off by talking about the test and the technology today.

The technology today can look at biomarkers of your brain. There's a test called the Neural Zoomer and you zoom in. It’s called the Neural Zoomer. And that test looks at 18 different markers of brain inflammation.

And the new test that's coming out in another two weeks is called Neural Zoomer 2, looking at 46 different markers of inflammation in your brain with 97 to 99% sensitivity and specificity. Right on the money every time.

So, that is a primary marker to identify. Do you have a leaky brain? A breach of the blood-brain barrier? Do you have inflammation in your brain?

So, you start looking, and if you got these markers, you say, “Okay, I got a problem here.”

Then you start dialing down, “How do I fix it?”

Well, you have to stop tearing the brain barrier. You stop getting a leaky brain.

“Well, how do I do that?” Well, where's the inflammation coming from? So you have to go explore, to see.

But you do the test first. And it's a, excuse me, but it's like a come to Jesus moment. “Woah! This has got to be a mistake.” No, it's not. This is what's happening in your brain right now.

“Well, I feel fine.” Okay, good. We'll just wait a couple more years, and you'll forget what your keys are. And you'll think you're getting old. And so many patients come in and say, “I know I'm getting old. I you know, I don't remember things like I used to.” Well, how old are you? “I'm 37.”

No, that's not supposed to happen, right?

So you do these tests, and it's all outlined in the book, and you do the test and you find out what's my current status. If it comes back negative, you're good! Don't worry about it. There's nothing going on. That's great. That's great to see.

And there's a Wheat Zoomer.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

Wheat Zoomer?

So, Brain Zoomer, Wheat Zoomer - Where are these tests available?


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

The lab is called Vibrant. Vibrant.

You go to my website, theDr.com, and you can download the information there on these tests, take it to your doctor and say, “Please order these tests for me.” And some doctors can't because they're locked into what the hospitals will do, and other doctors just won't, because they don't know what they are.

So if you can't get it ordered, then you find a doctor who can order it for you. You also can order them on my website.

But I rather you go and find, you know, have your doctor do it. So that they learn more about this stuff, you know?

And you may be copy of page or a chapter of my book and give it to them to read so that they understand what these tests are.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

Yeah, no, that makes a difference.

And your book is a great one to hand to a doctor. I always tell clients that when I was early on, I think 1999 or 2000 in my private practice in Southeast Georgia, someone brought me a book.

And it was Christina Northrop's Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. And like, I hope that my book, The Hormone Fix, will be that book that they give to their doctors, and your book, you know, You Can Fix Your Brain, is another book for us to give our doctors.

Because that's how that's how we do it, you know, like whereas physicians are busy. And you know, it is just crazy what's valuable information that impacts you and how do you want to help others learn this information as well.

So we take that responsibility as the consumer.

We also measure our markers on a regular basis. Like our weight or blood pressure are things we can identify for ourselves. I believe blood markers are something we should take into our own control, too, and look at that for our own interest just like the number on the scale, just like you know the temperature on the thermometer. I mean we really need to look at these numbers ourselves.

So advocating for that is really important. So I like that we're looking at Brain Zoomer and Wheat Zoomer.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

There actually are seven Zoomers now. There are seven.

There's corn, dairy, and, for example, you know in the book, I talk about three different papers that talk about if you have a sensitivity to casein, that's a protein in milk, if you have a sensitivity casein, baby inherits that and you give baby milk, casein is a trigger to tear the blood-brain barrier, leaky brain.

And they're associating casein sensitivity with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

The studies are saying, “it might kill your baby!” So you need to find out about this stuff.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

And the guys next steps, the next right step is You Can Fix Your Brain by Dr. Tom O’Byan. It's available at theDr.com, on his website, through Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, pretty much anywhere they sell books.

So we'll also have links. Dr. O’Bryan has offered our audience a free download of this chapter, the start of his book, the first chapter.

And also a Heck Yes, Heck No guide as far as eating, right?


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Yes. Yes. There's a company called…


Dr. Anna Cabeca

You called it something different. Better and worse.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Heck Yes, Heck No... Heck No, Heck Yes. Yeah, that's a good title, actually.

But the best and worst foods for your brain. There's a handout called The Best and Worst Foods for Your Brain.

And then the pantry essentials, what do you really want in terms of herbs and spices, and proteins and beverages and fermented foods and nuts, seeds? What are the essentials in a healthy, a brain friendly, pantry.

And so those handouts are there on the website. When you click to order the book, you can download those handouts, they're there for you.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

Tom let’s just close with, I like to ask my guest on the spot. Just give us a glimpse of a day in your life. Something that you have to do every day that just keeps you on task, keeps you as healthy, vibrant as you are. So give us a little glimpse on that one.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan
When I opened my eyes, I always look over to see my wife. And you know, just to see and be grateful that she's my wife, you know, have a moment there. And then I lay there. And I think of two more things I'm grateful for. And I'm really trying hard to do that every day. Every day. I forget sometimes, but I'm really trying to do that.

Then I get up. When everybody gets up. They go to the bathroom. That's the first thing most people do.

Then the next thing I recommend this to everyone, you have two big glasses of water right away to start your day before anything else.

I put 4000 milligrams of Vitamin C in it and 500 milligrams of Magnesium in my first glass of water. So I start my day with 4000 milligrams of Vitamin C.

You know, I've got a video from Linus Pauling. Dr. Linus Pauling is the only man that ever won the Nobel Prize twice. And he was the mentor to Dr. Jeffrey Bland, the founder of functional medicine.

I've got a video of Pauling, he was 84 years old. And he says, “Yes, yes, my wife and I take 10,000 milligrams of Vitamin C every day. And when I get old, I'll take more.”

So after the Vitamin C and after the magnesium, then I start my day either it’s going to be meditation for 20 minutes, or I'm going to work out a few times a week, go to work out with a friend. Afterwards, it's breakfast and get started on the day.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

I like that good, healthy start. Good, smart start. Thank you for sharing that with us Tom. I really appreciate that.


Dr. Tom O'Bryan

Well, thank you. It's a pleasure. It's a pleasure to be here with you.


Dr. Anna Cabeca

I feel the same. And I really want to thank you. And thank all our listeners for being with us today.

So on Couch Talk, please share this episode. You know so many people that will benefit from it and Dr. Tom's book, You Can Fix Your Brain, and such valuable information.

I've been watching this man evolve, just inspiring, heal lives for the last decade. And the information is just so valuable. And you can see the passion and science right there behind it and the intuition and good judgment as well that comes with it.

So it's a must read and some must share book, as well as this podcast.

I thank you all for listening today. And I look forward to seeing you on the next Couch Talk.

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Dr. Anna Cabeca

Dr. Anna Cabeca

Certified OB/GYN, Anti-Aging and Integrative Medicine expert and founder of The Girlfriend Doctor. During Dr. Anna’s health journey, she turned to research to create products to help thousands of women through menopause, hormones, and sexual health. She is the author of best-selling The Hormone Fix, and Keto-Green 16 and MenuPause.

Learn more about my scientific advisory board.