Connected to the Environment
If we think of human brains as chemical processors whose first job is to
steer the host through a chemical soup and find the right stuff to function
normally, a lot of human behavior makes sense or is more understandable
nonsense. Food acquisition, preparation and consumption dominate human behavior.
Feeding behaviors are automated and are designed around recursive loops.
Addictive behavior is an expression of recursive loops, locked into
dysfunctional patterns. Eating behaviors are generated by the oldest regions in
the brain and are closely linked to the basic patterns of life, which are
hunger, thirst, sleep, wakefulness, sexual arousal, flight, fight, fear, and
anger. Since the brain is the organ of the mind, molecular influences on the
brain are manifest as mental influences. A few micrograms of LSD, for example,
will profoundly alter an individual's reality and behavior, at least for a few
has deep biological roots. Eating is a social activity and it is difficult for
anyone to eat alone. Eating patterns are determined by ancient biological
determinants, food availability and by learning. Infants learn to tolerate
whatever food is available to them and children learn how to obtain the most
pleasurable foods among the food made available. Learned food selection includes
ethnic traditions, religious rules, family traditions, etiquette, and the food
section of the local community. Sharing food with others is a prerequisite of
close social grouping. Food selection and eating rituals act as social cement.
An easy way to become a social outcast is to eat differently. The social basis
of eating patterns often conflicts with individual needs. The biologic need is
to self-regulate, to find an individual, adaptive path. Individual needs often
differ from the needs of other members of the group. When a patient is ill and
needs to change food choices, support tends to be short-lived. Therapists need
to work with couples, families and social groups to modify one person's diet
We can assume that if a person's brain gets the right signals from inhaled
and ingested chemicals, then he or she will remain on a stable, adaptive course.
If, on the other hand, the wrong signals are received from the ingested
chemicals, then he or she end-up on a wobbly course, unstable and maladaptive.
Humans tend to be unrealistic about how easily and how profoundly small amounts
of external chemicals can effect their mind. They believe that they are tougher
than they really are. The molecular input to brain comes through the blood, via
the blood brain barrier (BBB). The gastrointestinal tract is the first barrier
selecting the molecules that will eventually become the molecular input to the
brain. The liver and lungs impose secondary filtration on body input material.
The BBB is the last selective barrier before brain cells are exposed to body
reasonable model of body-brain dysfunction would attempt to explain mental and
behavioral symptoms as expressions of disturbed body processes. Not a single
twitch, itch, pain, or moment of anxiety would be explained away as
"psychological". The term "psychological" is meaningless in any case and should
be dropped from the vocabulary of all serious students of the human experience.
Shifts in mood, changes in concentration, memory, motor control, and sensation
can be interpreted at the hardware level of altered brain function.
Incoming food molecules can be thought of as a chaotic chemical mix. Various
body procedures are called upon to deal with the incoming food materials. The
responses may include alarm messages that are felt emotionally and expressed as
angry, aggressive behavior. The increased presence of non-nutrient molecules in
the food supply in the form of additives, contaminants, toxins, intoxicants and
drugs makes brain dysfunction more likely and more difficult to interpret in
terms of simple theories or single-substance models.
Here are three basic principles of brainbodymind:
1. The brain is a delicate, precision instrument that is prone to error and
requires careful input management. The brain is often the first organ to
malfunction when body-input is wrong!
2. Mind-brain-body are one, interacting, whole-system. Disturbances in mental
states have physical causes - cellular, biochemical dysfunction.
3. Food, as body-input, is the molecular substrate of body-mind, the
foundation level, which permits or denies healthy function at higher levels of
integration. Without a healthy body-input, mental health is an impossible goal.