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Eating Smarter for Your Brain with Shawn Stevenson

Shawn Stevenson is a bestselling author and creator of The Model Health Show, featured as the #1 Nutrition and Fitness podcast on iTunes. A graduate of The University of Missouri – St. Louis with a background in biology and kinesiology, Shawn went on to be the founder of Advanced Integrative Health Alliance, a successful company that provides Wellness Services for both individuals and organizations worldwide. Shawn is also a dynamic keynote speaker who has spoken for TEDx, universities, and numerous organizations with outstanding reviews.


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How do you eat smarter for your brain?

Our brains are one of the most complex yet delicate systems in the universe, not to mention it’s the one organ that controls everything we do. 

It makes sense then that we do all we can to protect it, right? 

Today, I’m excited to welcome back an exceptional guest, Shawn Stevenson, to discuss this topic. Shawn is the best-selling author of one of my favorite books, Sleep Smarter, and creator of the #1 Nutrition and Fitness podcast on iTunes, The Model Health Show

In this episode, Shawn reveals some pretty daunting statistics about how much added sugar we consume each year and just how it’s affecting our brains in a phenomenon called hypothalamic inflammation. 

He also shares about his new book, Eat Smarter, where he empowers us to understand that there are specific foods that we can eat and things we can do to make our brains work better. According to Shawn, if we can get our brains healthy, we can get our bodies healthy.

*** Do you want to stay up to date with every new episode and get my brand new Kwik Brain Accelerator Program? Go to www.KwikBrain.com/podcast to get instant access. ***

"If we can get our brains healthy then we could get our bodies healthy."

Shawn Stevenson

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  • Our brains are made up of the things that we eat.
  • Our brain is a massively “hungry” organ. While it only makes up 2% of our body’s mass, it consumes upward of 25% of our caloric intake.
  • The brain is arguably the most complex entity in the known universe.
  • Although our brains are extremely powerful, it is also very protective and delicate — with its consistency being likened to soft butter.
  • Our brains also have an external and internal security system.
  • It is the only organ that is completely enclosed in its own hard shell or external security system — the cranium or skull.
  • Internal intrusions are potentially more problematic. The blood-brain barrier (or the internal security) is a highly sophisticated velvet rope that determines what will get into the brain and what won’t.
  • There are many different toxins, metabolic wastes, and substances circulating in the bloodstream that can be detrimental to the brain.
  • The brain has an identification system that determines what can cross over the blood-brain barrier to get into the brain.
  • Shawn references Dr. Lisa Mosconi who calls it neuro-nutrition. In other words, the brain has its own diet.
  • There are specific nutrients that are able to cross the blood-brain barrier and directly feed the development of your brain cells.
  • Most research talks about disease prevention and degradation, instead, his new book talks about specific foods you can eat and things you can do to make your brain work better.


  • Eat Smarter will be one of the first books released to educate everyday people about this topic.
  • “Leaky brain” is a developing topic that suggests that there are things that can break down the blood-brain barrier. This can allow things into the brain that should not be there like toxins and metabolic waste.
  • The buildup of amyloid-beta plaque is an example of the brain not being able to properly clean itself — more of this in Shawn’s book, Sleep Smarter.
  • Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest factors for the brain’s inability to clean itself. It’s when you are sleeping that your brain’s cleaning process or glymphatic system is 10X more active.


  • There is a phenomenon called neuroinflammation. It’s not a new occurrence but there is finally a term for it. Hypothalamic inflammation is a specific type of neuroinflammation.
  • The hypothalamus is regarded as the master regulator of the endocrine system.
  • The HPA axis, or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, controls and regulates various body processes involving your thyroid, your immune system, and thymus gland.
  • Here is the issue. When you hear about losing weight, you are generally focused on a calorie paradigm and not understanding that your hypothalamus is regulating how your body is using or not using the energy that is in your body.
  • The latest data shows that hypothalamic inflammation can directly lead to leptin resistance. Leptin is your body’s major satiety hormone.
  • Hypothalamic inflammation decreases leptin processing, causing people to become increasingly more ravenous in their appetite and cravings. This inflammation is a direct cause of weight gain that many people are not discussing in their diet programs.
  • We need to address the inflammation in the brain in order to lose weight.
  • Your brain controls what everything in your body is doing.
  • The beauty of it is, if we can get our brains healthy, we could get our bodies healthy.
  • Weight management is also important because as your waistline increases, your brain can actually shrink.


  • We have skyrocketing rates of brain inflammation that’s having a major impact on our health.
  • The blood-brain barrier is full of little pathways that only allow certain “cars to drive through them” so to speak.
  • The brain has many sugar pathways or tunnels that it shows preferential treatment toward. It loves and will absorb the vast majority of glucose calories that are in the body, taking upwards of 50-80% of the glucose that comes into the body.
  • The natural tendency for the brain to absorb glucose in this way can become faulty because of the pure access to sugar that we have today that we never had throughout human evolution.
  • The average American is consuming over 100 pounds of added sugar every year, not including the naturally occurring sugar present in food. We don’t realize that our brain is taking the brunt of it.
  • The sugar pathways that are allowing rapid amounts of sugar to make it into the brain are one of the factors behind the growing epidemic of neuroinflammation.
  • As a result, they have noticed that insulin resistance is now happening in the brain. This resistance is being referred to as Type 3 Diabetes, which is a subset of Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s is often being referred to now as Type 3 Diabetes, or insulin resistance in the brain.
  • Our ever-increasing consumption of sugar is one of the big causative factors behind the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier and inflammation in the brain.
  • This does not mean all sugar is bad or you can’t have sugar. The point is it’s not just about weight loss and or vanity. Sugar is literally destroying the most important organ in our lives that determines everything about us.
  • The goal of Eat Smarter is to give people a layered understanding of how much food really matters.


  • Our metabolic fingerprint is unique to us. The cascade that we have of our microbiome, our endocrine system, and neurotransmitters has never existed for us in human history and will never exist after us.
  • The human body is a dynamically changing entity. The type of sugar we can each consume depends on the individual.
  • There is a study that has people eat either a banana or a cookie to see the impact it has on their metabolism. You would suspect that the cookie would automatically be more detrimental to the blood-glucose, but that was not the case for everyone.
  • Some people ate a banana and it shocked their system, while the cookie did nothing to their metabolism or blood sugar. It was as if they never consumed the cookie.
  • It depends on our unique metabolism what type of sugar is going to be detrimental or potentially helpful to us.
  • You can test this with a self-quantification device like a glucose monitor.
  • Shawn suggests that we always keep track of what is going on inside our inner world. Any of us could get retracted from it, but if you could just pay attention to how you feel, look, and perform after you eat certain foods, you can gain valuable data.
  • A glucose monitor is not necessary to become in tune with yourself, but it could be very helpful and interesting to get those quantifiable results.
  • It’s good to journal and reflect on the food you eat. It gives you the opportunity to connect with your intuition and track how you feel after you consume foods.
  • Self-awareness is a superpower.


  • Take a screenshot of this episode, tag me on social media (@JimKwik & @ShawnModel), and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us.
  • Check out The Model Health Show, here.
  • Pre-Order Shawn’s new book, Eat Smarterhere.


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