Food and the Mind

The hold on the mind is so tenuous. I’m always amazed to see how well people communicate, make decisions, implement plans, and generally do things, considering that it all depends on a fleeting neurotransmitter, a capillary that remains open, a couple of neurons that speak to each other. The tenuous hold can wobble with a simple fever, not even so high — 101′ or so — which disturbs the sleep and confuses the brain, giving rise to all manner of babblings and strange irrelevant thoughts. The mind wobbles with the lack of food, the absence of sufficient nutrients, proteins, carbohydrates; it shakes with stimulants and drugs, with familiar foods, with an overdose of sugar, an excess of caffeine, a chocolate pig-out. And what of the well-intentioned drugs of our medical system? So many strange substances go into our bodies, float in our bloodstream, come calling at the blood-brain barrier asking to be let in. When they are, does their presence disturb the finely calibrated pathways of neurons and neurotransmitters? Do the substances we inject into our children find a way into their brains, there to cause havoc and knock over relay stations or damage those pathways forever?

Mind and body are not two. Mind-troubles do relate to body matters. Let us be clear about that. How do they relate? For the longest time the relationship was only intuited, accepted by the “wholistic” thinker as obvious, but without the so-called “hard science” (visible particles that can be seen and classified by more than one person) to support it. Then in the 70’s and 80’s the particles that make sense to scientists — neurotransmitters — were discovered, and mind-brain studies took off like a rocket.

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