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Being Well Podcast: Metabolism, Brain Energy, and Mental Health with Dr. Chris Palmer
August 21, 2023

Dr. Chris Palmer, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, joins Forrest to discuss the relationship between metabolic function and mental illness. They discuss Dr. Palmer’s work with patients suffering from severe conditions like schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, psychiatry’s current challenges with treatment-resistant conditions, and the important distinction between difficult psychological states and brain-based disorders.

They then explore the relationship between mental illness and metabolic function, the key role mitochondria play in the process, and how current treatments impact our metabolism. Forrest and Dr. Palmer close the episode by discussing a number of practical interventions to improve metabolic function, including the ketogenic diet, sleep, exercise, stress management techniques like mindfulness practice, and even love, connection, and sense of purpose. 

About our Guest: Dr. Chris Palmer is a board-certified psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. His clinical practice focuses on helping people suffering from treatment-resistant mental illnesses, including mood disorders, psychotic disorders, and personality disorders. His newest book is Brain Energy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Mental Health.

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Key Topics: 

0:00: Introduction

1:35: How Dr. Palmer’s personal experience has influenced his work

4:00: The brain energy theory as a response to treatment resistant conditions

9:05: Mental states vs. mental disorders, and problems with our diagnostic criteria

14:25: Brain disorders as metabolic disorders

19:50: Defining metabolism

22:40: The role of mitochondria

28:45: How medication affects metabolism

35:20: How stress and emotions affect metabolism

41:40: The ketogenic diet, mycophogy, and mitochondrial biogenesis

47:40: The importance of education and support around ketosis for medical conditions

53:00: Supplementing medication with lifestyle change vs. replacing it

56:20: Sleep and light exposure

59:35: Love, connection, and sense of purpose

1:06:00: A sense of safety as a prerequisite for healing

1:09:10: Recap

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Join Dr. Rick and Forrest Hanson every week on the Being Well Podcast for lively and thought-provoking conversation and practical tips for being happier, building inner strengths, and getting the most out of life.

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