My friend and colleague, Dr. Devaki Lindsey Berkson, celebrated the release of her new book Sexy Brain this week—and I’m a big fan. I was lucky enough to receive an early galley copy of this fantastic read and even with my hectic schedule, poured through it in a matter of days. For peri- and menopausal women, this is a terrific adjunct for fans of my book, Before the Change.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Berkson and discuss her sizzling new title.
Ann Louise Gittleman: Why is sex such a powerful subject?
Dr. Berkson: Sex—everybody thinks about it. A monk or nun in a monastery has fleeting thoughts. A doctor who sits across a desk from you, as professional as can be, has momentary thoughts. Why? The pull of our biology is undeniable. We are spiritual beings inside human bodies. The pluck of our physiology is enormous and pretty much unavoidable. Sex is how the race moves forward. So, yes, it’s about reproduction. But ancient humans were “doing it” long before they connected the act of love-making with baby-making. Science is now proving, beyond a doubt, that sex is more than sexy and reproductive things. Intimacy is also about keeping you and me healthy and our families stable.
ALG: Why would intimacy have such a pull way beyond reproduction?
Dr. B: Nature never does anything without a reason. Nature is all about the next generation. So built into sex are the payoffs that Mother Nature designed to do just that. It turns out that connection and pleasure, our human birthrights, bathe the human immune system and brain in molecules that keep both working better. Yes, big O’s ward off the big A (Alzheimer’s disease).
ALG: How did you come to write a book on intimacy?
Dr. B: Several years ago a surgeon and urologist approached me to write a book for the reception tables in their growing erectile dysfunction clinics. When doing due diligence, I was stunned by the science on intimacy and human health, especially about the brain.
Mix this with seeing more and more of my younger patients having less libido, enjoyment or powerful orgasms and I realized I had to write this book.
ALG: By intimacy, are you mainly referring to bedroom interactions, or what?
Dr. B: By intimacy I am not referring only to intercourse. I am also describing a swath of emotions—from bonding by hanging with friends and loved ones, to hugging and cuddling, and then all the way into the bedroom. All of these activities release protective hormones and diverse chemicals that bathe the human immune system, gut, muscles, brain tissue, and other cells with effervescent good health.
ALG: Can you explain what you mean by nature’s intention?
Dr B: Nature’s intention is that pleasure and connection protect the brain and health of adults. Hopefully, from this ensue healthier parents and more stable relationships. From that, kids born to those parents benefit from a more stable and supportive home life.
ALG: How does intimacy relate to brain health and warding off the big O?
Dr. B: Research is clearly showing that the more couples engage in connection and pleasure—sensuality both in and out of the bedroom, random acts of connection throughout the day, and regular orgasms throughout the week—the better cognition and quality of life they enjoy for decades to come. Happier parents set the scene for happier families.
ALG: I have heard you say that love is under attack, what do you mean by this?
Dr. B: Ironically, at the same time that sex is being seen as beneficial as veggies and exercise, especially for our brain, our toxic environments—the outer one of pollution and high-tech lifestyles, and our toxic inner environment of unhealthy guts, excess drugs, and poor food choices—are hijacking our ability to want, enjoy, or benefit by these intimate connections.
ALG: What are some other modern day life style changes that are flat-lining our intimacy life?
Dr. B: Texting; porn; bad food; toxins in our air, food, and water; obesity; unhealthy home syndrome; and even habits like sitting all day in front of the computer and TV are creating less healthy humans who want intimacy less. Less intimacy means you move through life with less immune and brain protection.
ALG: You and I have been on the same detox page, and you are saying this now overlays to intimacy?
Dr. B: Just as Dr. Gittleman has written so profoundly in her urgently needed book on the fat flush diet, we need to detox our hormonal systems so they can function optimally and we can benefit brilliantly.
ALG: What are some of the firsts that my community may enjoy when they read your book?
Dr. B: Inside my new book, Sexy Brain, I introduce many firsts:
• The Hormone Language of Love: Understanding how estrogen and testosterone have been hard-wired for millennia, translates into more successful and less frustrating relationships.
• The 10-day Sex Hormone Receptor Detox:
And why you need to add ALG’s bile supplement to these recommendations.
• The growing science on oxytocin, the bonding hormone: Oxytocin connects a man and a woman. And what else? Learn its connection with our gut, the mothership of our health, and how it keeps our muscles buffed even without strenuous exercise.
• The microgenderome: A new way of looking at the microbiome and hormone cross-talk.
• Testing your hormones: Most testing methods, such as blood, saliva, or urine, do not tell the whole story of your hormonal health. Learn how to keep your hormone system watching your physiologic back, your intimacy and even your cognition.
• Hormone Receptors: Be amazed by the hormonal Internet System and why it needs detox caretaking.
• The 17-steps to being a great lover: Actually, be the most amazing lover, who also gets the most health bang for your intimacy buck.
• The real vitamin C: Connection! Learn exactly how to get out of your heads and into each other.
ALG: Your say that the science suggests that even sex needs practice and education, can you chat on this?
Dr. B: You can’t sit down in front of a piano and immediately become a great piano player just because you want to. You need training. Then you have to practice. And practice.
It’s the same with getting great bennies from sexual intimacy. To be a great lover, and to be connected in a way that most promotes your own and your lover’s health, also needs education. And practice. I describe exactly how.
ALG: I read in your book Swedish research that supported the need for intimacy education, can you chat about this?
Dr. B: The Swedish government had been noticing that one out of three Swedish couples were breaking up before one of their children was five years old. To figure out why this was happening, Gothenburg University tracked almost 60 Swedish couples for 8 years to see who stayed together and who didn’t . . . and why.
The scientists found (and published in Nordic Psychology 2016) that the couples who stayed together had better sensual connection (not necessarily intercourse) “in” and “out” of the boudoir, throughout a number of hours during each day. The researchers said that sensual connection saves families. They suggested that falling in love doesn’t make this happen, but that education does. I say, add detox to this and healthier lifestyle choices and now you have the recipe for more advantageous and intimate daily living. And better cognition for decades to come.
ALG: Why do you call SEXY BRAIN a breakthrough book?
Dr. B: SEXY BRAIN is a breakthrough book, because it shares a new 360-degree understanding of sex and the critical role that nature intended for it to play in our lives beyond reproduction, especially our brain and our personal family life.
ALG: How do you see parents sharing this with their adult children?
Dr. B: SEXY BRAIN is a book parents could, with good conscience, gift to their adults kids when they get engaged. It’s written in a delicate, educational but very funny and science based manner. It is the perfect gift for parents to gift their adult children when embarking on marriage or serious relationship. It promotes religious familial points of view, and I was shocked when I saw that the science pointed in this direction. The information inside helps people achieve successful love and family life, avoid loneliness and isolation, and ensure that lovers get bennies of being human that nature envisioned.
ALG: What if someone is single or their mate is unable to make love with them due to illness or other issues?
Dr. B: You can even use this information if you are perfectly content being single or find yourself, for whatever reason, riding solo in the intimacy department. You get exact steps on how to protect your health, especially your brain, by being more connected with yourself. You’ll learn how to unclog your hormonal signaling system with food, nutrients, detox, and human connection to make sure your hormones are working for you, not against you.
ALG: Why are hormones so critical to achieving great health in body/mind/and spirit?
Dr. B: Your hormones are your most powerful signaling molecules and, when they wane, your health wanes. So no matter your relationship status, you want healthy hormones on board.
More satisfying orgasms are linked to less breast cancer, less prostate cancer, better memory, and even more neurogenesis, which means a healthy increase of nerve growth in your brain and central nervous system.
ALG: What is the age range of your audience for this book?
Dr. B: This can happen at any age, even up into your nineties. This book is not just for young adults!
ALG: What about those shy or embarrassed or guilty about reading a book on sex?
Dr. B: SEXY BRAIN is written in an easy, gentle but entertaining manner. You’ll learn how (as the book’s subtitle says): sizzling intimacy and balanced hormones prevent Alzheimer’s, cancer, depression and divorce. And how to achieve all the benefits that nature set up for us by clearing out the toxic remnants of our modern lifestyle. It is a book based on science. Realizing that the scientific literature is saying that sex should enter the medical clinical arena, should make all potential readers have complete peace of mind.
ALG: Any last sentence to share?
Dr. B: SEXY BRAIN shows you exactly how to gain all the benefits of connection and pleasure that are our human privilege, and add more joy and brainpower into your today and tomorrow. No one should ever feel too guilty, too fatigued or too embarrassed about the world of intimacy, ever again.
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