Day 57: Food: Effects on Mind, Body and Spirit
Sugar, Mind, and Behavior; Breaking the Food Seduction; Case Studies; Juice Feasting and Mental/Physical/Emotional Health; Alzheimer’s Disease; Nutrition and the Brain
Welcome to Day 57!
The information today began from Gabriel Cousens, M.D. in Conscious Eating, in which he introduces you to the powerful effects our food choices can have not only on the body, but on the emotional moods, mind, and spirit. The effect of diet on spiritual receptivity, strength of moral character, clarity of mind, and the enhancement of the spiritualizing energies in the body is something well known in the Judaic-Christian tradition as well as other traditions around the world. Food choices may have either a dulling or enhancing effect on our ability to receive God’s grace. Are you ready to consider how what you are eating may be affecting your mental and spiritual abilities?
Let Food Be Thy Medicine (from “Food: Effects on Mind, Body, and Spirit”)
HIPPOCRATES TAUGHT THIS MESSAGE IN 431 B.C., yet in the late twentieth century its meaning is just beginning to influence modern public and medical opinion in the West. Food can be looked upon as possessing several levels of energy. Particular energies exist within each food that affect our physical functioning, the nature of our thoughts, and even the expansion of our consciousness. The color of the outer coating of a food, the five (Chinese) or six tastes (Ayurvedic), their aromas (which I haven’t yet worked out), and the six qualities comprise several systems with which one can tune into these more specific food energies. Foods can also be classified by their shapes, yin or yang energy (Chinese), and the three gunas (mental state characteristics in Ayurveda).
For thousands of years different cultures have been aware that the types of food we eat have subtle effects on the mind. Herodotus, the Greek historian, reported that grain-eating vegetarian cultures surpassed meat-eating cultures in art, science, and spiritual development. It was his view that meat-eating nations tended to be more warlike and more focused on expression of anger and sensual passions. It is said that the ancient Egyptian priesthood ate specific foods to increase their spiritual sensitivity and awareness. In India today, the Brahmin priests still prepare their own food and eat separately from people of other social classes. They also keep themselves on a vegetarian diet that is aimed at enhancing the subtle spiritual qualities of the mind. The implication of this practice is that the dietary patterns of a Social group affect the spiritual consciousness of that group. The logical extension of this is that the type of diet a whole nation follows may affect the mental state of that nation. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of biogenic gardening, the Waldorf School, and Anthroposophical medicine, felt that the spiritual progress of humanity as a whole would be enhanced by a progressive increase in a vegetarian eating pattern. Conversely, he felt that overemphasis on a flesh-eating diet would exert a negative influence regarding an interest in spiritual life.
Fasting [Juice Feasting] and Mental/Physical/Emotional Health (Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D.)
FASTING IS PERHAPS THE SIMPLEST and most remarkable self-healing approach related to our food intake for rebalancing and clearing the body and mind and elevating the spirit. I call it the elixir of fasting. It is one of the greatest health benefits. Although classically defined as complete abstinence from food and water, in a larger context it means to abstain from that which is toxic to body, mind, and spirit. Fasting is the elixir of spiritual nutrition. I base this statement on my own experiences of fasting two to four times per year for seven to ten days’ duration each, my experience of one forty-day spiritual fast, a 21-day water fast, and my observation of the awesome body, mind, and spirit transformations of many people on my biannual, seven-day spiritual fasting retreats offered since 1988. Within four days of fasting, participants on the retreats have shared that their concentration improves, creative thinking expands, depression lifts, insomnia stops, anxieties fade, and the mind becomes more tranquil. It is my hypothesis that when the body’s toxins have cleared from brain cells, mind-brain function greatly improves. I have also observed that a natural joy begins to make its appearance.
As early as 1917, Drs. Satterlee and Eldridge presented 518 cases at an American Medical Association conference that had mental symptoms which were cured by removing the intestinal toxemia. They reported symptoms of intestinal toxemia which are familiar to many people: mental sluggishness, dullness, and stupidity; loss of concentration and/or memory; mental incoordination, irritability, lack of confidence, and excessive and useless worry; exaggerated introspection, hypochondrias, and phobias; depression and melancholy; obsessions and delusions; and hallucinations, suicidal tendencies, delirium, and stupor. Senility symptoms are also common with intestinal toxemia.
Fasting [and Juice Feasting] is one of the best and quickest treatments for bowel toxicity. I have found in my research that the urinary indican was “markedly decreased” even after a seven-day fast. Phenols, another class of bowel toxins, have also been decreased significantly by fasting. The fasting process allows the bowels to rest and the inflammation to subside. If there are no proteins on which to feed, the putrefactive bacteria will also diminish.
Breaking the Food Seduction
So why is it that we go after some foods in tough times, or just to relax? Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D. of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, and author of Breaking the Food Seduction, did an excellent presentation at the Vegsource Convention in 2003 on this very question. Dr. Barnard discusses the science behind food additions. Willpower is not to blame: chocolate, cheese, meat, and sugar release opiate-like substances. Dr. Barnard also discusses how industry, aided by government, exploits these natural cravings, pushing us to eat more and more unhealthy foods. A plant-based (vegan) diet is the solution to avoid many of these problems. This video seen at right is one of our favorites, and starts out with “How to Magnetize a Baby.”
Sugar, Mind, and Behavior (Dr. Gabriel Cousens)
The American Fast-Food Diet: In assessing the American fast-food diet, which is eaten by hundreds of millions in this country, it becomes obvious that this is a strong tamasic diet that also has stimulating rajasic overtones. This type of diet, along with its accompanying drug use, contributes to the fact that Americans rank 21st in life expectancy and number one in murders among the industrialized nations. According to federal statistics, the US has more than 20,000 murders per year, which is more deaths per year in peacetime than averaged in Vietnam during the war. Our society has become very violent.
Case Study: Mrs. Barbara Reed, Probation Officer
The link between a tamasic-type diet and social violence has been supported by consistent research findings on teenage offenders. When teenagers’ diets were changed from their typical high white sugar, fast-food, tamasic-type diet, a marked decrease in the teens’ acting-out, violent behavior occurred. For example, Mrs. Barbara Reed, a probation officer in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, found that when she switched offenders from what was essentially a tamasic diet of fast foods, et cetera, to a diet higher in fruits and vegetables, every one of the 252 teenagers in her case load stayed out of court as long as they maintained themselves on a healthy diet.
Study: Juvenile Delinquent White Sugar Consumption
A two-year, scientifically precise study with 267 subjects by Steven Schoenthaler, Ph.D., published in the Journal of Biosocial Research, showed that while the average American eats approximately 125 pounds of white sugar per year, juvenile delinquents in custody averaged about 300 pounds per year. When this sugar intake was significantly reduced, junk food was reduced, and fruits and vegetables were increased, there was a 48% decrease in antisocial behavior of all types, including violent crimes, crimes against property, and runaways. This was true for all ages and races. This amazing result was achieved simply by changing the diet with no cost to the taxpayer.
Please enjoy the excellent information today on this important topic for ourselves and the world. We can cultivate personal peace with dietary choices and body/mind awareness as foundations for social and global peace.
See you in The Green Room!
Impact of Food on Mood by Lynn Berry
Research has found that certain foods trigger particular brain chemicals which impact on our emotions for as long as two to three hours. Thus our diet can contribute to feeling positive or negative. Knowing what foods trigger which brain…