Did you know that biochemical changes brought about by the things you eat can affect your brain and alter consciousness dramatically? So much is this true that foods can produce imaginary fears and even hallucinations. But, as a result of several generations of psychologically-oriented doctors influenced by Freudian theories, only recently have we begun to chart the exact mechanisms of how the foods you eat can have such a powerful effect—both positive and negative—on your brain. You need to know about this. It matters enormously.
YOUR CONTROL CENTER
Your brain is the center of thought, emotion, mood, perception, drive and memory. Few people are aware that your brain is also the control center for an abundance of important hormones and other neurochemicals responsible for changing the way you think and feel. Joy, paranoia, even despair are thanks to the delicate balance or imbalance of these important chemical substances that come from our foods. If, as many researchers now know, we can influence this without causing adverse side effects—such as those which result from the use of tranquilizers, antidepressants, drugs or sleeping pills—we are able to exercise enormous control over destructive moods and feelings, and to increase our enjoyment of life tremendously.
Here’s the biggest surprise: Nothing is more powerful in influencing all of this than making very careful choices about the foods that you eat. Because each one of us is unique, this is highly individual. Some foods work beautifully for us, other foods are absolutely destructive.
CHOOSE YOUR FOODS CAREFULLY
Food sensitivities were once uncommon. Now they’ve become so widespread that nutritionally-trained doctors estimate between 70 and 90% of us experience symptoms associated with food reactions, although few of us realize what is taking place. There are major reasons for this exponential rise in food reactions: First, our immune systems are increasingly challenged by the presence of chemical and energetic pollution in the environment. Next, our massive consumption of convenience foods has rendered large segments of the population deficient in minerals and vitamins, which would once have helped protect us from sensitivity reactions. And the packaged foods on which most of us live these days are chock-full of the foods highest on the list of reactive substances, such as cow’s milk products including cow’s cheese, milk, and yoghurt; wheat, grains and cereals; junk fats and chemical additives. As a result, your body’s enzymes, whose job it is to digest milk products and grains—and protect you from chemical pollution—have become gravely overtaxed. So you can become addicted to a food to which your body reacts negatively, without realizing it’s the very act of eating that has caused your addiction.
HOW IT WORKS
Let me explain. When you are sensitive to a food or chemical you react negatively on first contact, although it sometimes takes a day or two to experience the negative reaction. But if you eat or drink this food again and again, so that you are continually exposed to it, this negative reaction—together with the symptoms it produces—becomes “masked”. It’s very much like the alcoholic who feels OK so long as he has a drink in his hand. Then, when alcohol is withdrawn from him, he goes “cold turkey” and feels terrible. If you stop eating a food (or drinking the alcohol) to which your body reacts negatively, WHAM—you get withdrawal symptoms, just as the alcoholic does when he or she is deprived the “fix.”
I’ve seen a lot of this happen to people at the start of the Cura Romana program, especially those who’ve been drinking a lot of coffee or diet sodas, or eating a lot of grains, cereals and sugar-based convenience carbohydrates. Symptoms often include no energy, a bad headache, depression and cravings. Fortunately—thanks to the power of the changes that take place in the brain on Cura Romana—such experiences usually clear within a few days.
Experts in clinical ecology have discovered that alcoholism and food reactions share a common cause, common triggers, and a common biochemistry. When you eliminate the foods to which your body is sensitive—those your body literally hates, in fact—false hunger, cravings and addictions completely disappear.
When you’re tired, upset, depressed or anxious without apparent cause, the problem most often results from the kind of foods you’ve been eating. I know this is hard to believe. It is something that most people would never dream of. But this is how potent the effect is that foods can exert upon us. You can not only suffer from food sensitivities and allergies to specific—sometimes even highly nutritious—foods which set your mind and emotions whirling, or make you lose confidence in yourself and blame yourself in negative ways; you can also experience an upset in mineral balance in your body, or low blood sugar.
On the positive side, some foods can be used to alter states of consciousness, improving mood and inducing relaxation. Understanding how the foods you choose to eat can affect your own moods and mental states, and discovering the foods that work for you in a positive way, can be life-changing. But you also need to learn the foods that are destructive to you. This is a highly individual thing, which you learn only by testing your foods.
What is hard to believe is that the question of food sensitivities is still met with hostility, even scorn, by most doctors—who, ever since Freud, have been taught that problems such as chronic anxiety, depression, hysteria, psychosomatic illness and other functional disorders arise entirely from psychological factors. It just ain’t true. The work of some brilliant biochemists and psychiatrists such as Dr. Abram Hoffer in Canada, and allergists Dr Ted Randolph and Albert Rowe, as well as British psychiatrist the late Dr. Richard Mackarness, has shown quite clearly that factors in our physical environment—such as chemicals in our foods and water, as well as certain foods themselves—cause mental and emotional symptoms, as well as weight gain and the development of degenerative conditions and rapid aging. They do this by inducing sensitivity or allergic reactions that involve the central nervous system. The study of this phenomenon is called clinical ecology.
For many years, clinical ecologists have tested patients with psychiatric problems, from simple depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and even psychosis, to see if the cause of these things comes from reaction to specific foods. In general, all of us react to certain groups of foods in a negative way, such as manufactured foods; sugar; carbohydrates; packaged and convenience foods. But the more serious food sensitivities and allergies tend to be highly specific to the person experiencing them. The way all of this is tested is quite fascinating. They do this either through a complicated procedure called cytotoxic testing—checking how your blood reacts to specific substances—or by putting you on a fast for five days, then introducing a few drops of water containing the suspected food under your tongue, and charting your reactions. These may include changes in your pulse rate and other physical symptoms, as well as natural shifts of mood or emotional outbursts, indicating that this particular food is the troublemaker.
Reactions vary from person to person. They can be something as simple as a feeling of mental confusion, grief, or fatigue, to as dramatic as a psychopathic outburst in which someone tries to slash his wrists or attack those testing him. Once the offending foods are known—they could be milk, grain, cheese, vodka, sugar, or almost anything—the patient is told to eliminate them from his diet. Provided he does so, his aberrant emotional or mental state does not reoccur. If the allergies are mild, they can sometimes be controlled by a “rotation diet”, in which food intake is carefully planned so that you only eat a particular food once in any four-day period.
Food sensitivities and food allergies are far more common than people realize. Some of the worst offenders are grains, cereals, wheat, milk products, and all convenience and packaged foods. People find that when they exclude these foods completely from their diet, their energy levels increase and their disposition transforms. What is also interesting is the sense that people have of themselves. Whether they trust themselves, and whether they feel good about being who they are, depends tremendously on the foods that they are eating.
Heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium, or too high a concentration of copper—one of the trace minerals necessary for good health—can create interference with the brain and nervous system, as well as the endocrine system, resulting in aberrant emotions. An excess of copper, for instance, can produce hyper-emotionalism, hallucinations, and even psychic experiences for some people. A high level of lead in the body is linked to mental retardation in children and is often a significant factor in over-aggressive behavior. It’s also indicated as a cause of hyperactivity and learning problems in kids. Excess cadmium, from a lifestyle that includes taking several cups of coffee a day, often leads to a low blood-sugar problem, so you feel you need more coffee or something sweet just to keep going. So does eating too many carbohydrates, which themselves turn into sugar. Low blood sugar is common amongst people living on a typical British or American diet.
There are some simple tests to determine mineral balance and the levels of heavy metals in the body. These tests are not foolproof by any means, but they are still valuable. They are often done by burning a small sample of hair cut from the head, and then analyzing its mineral content. If any imbalances are found, they can be corrected by giving chelated minerals and/or by drying out excessive heavy metals from the tissues using natural substances such as pectin, high doses of vitamin C, garlic and kelp.
HOW TO TEST YOUR FOODS
Learn to test your own foods—it’s not hard to do. It’s all about becoming conscious of what your body thrives on and loves, and what it dislikes. In fact, it’s all about honoring yourself and your life. Say, for instance, the first food that you decide to test is cow’s yoghurt. You eat a nice big helping of yoghurt at one meal, then you don’t eat any more yoghurt for 48 hours, and you don’t introduce any other new foods. If, during this period, you find your energy levels have dropped for no apparent reason; you’re ravenously hungry or craving something; your bowels are upset; you feel emotionally unsettled or low; or you develop aches or pains in your body, then you can be pretty sure that your body has reacted badly to the food you have been testing. If, on the other hand, after 48 hours you experience none of these reactions, you can safely assume that the food you have tested can be incorporated into your meals as a food that your body is happy with.
If you do have a negative reaction to the food, it’s important to realize that you haven’t done anything wrong. This is the way you learn about the foods that your body can handle and which you need to stay away from. Of course, it’s important to learn by your body’s unique rules, and test each food one by one. Give thanks to your body if it says “no” to a food. Meanwhile, get plenty of top quality proteins and fresh, green, non-starchy vegetables, no matter what else you’re eating. It’s important to remember that your digestive system is, in truth, your second brain. (See “Secrets of the Second Brain” ) It boasts as many nerve endings as the brain itself. When you eat foods that antagonize these nerve endings, you experience all sorts of physical and emotional states that hold you back. Discovering the foods that work for you is sheer joy. These are foods that you can eat with impunity, without gaining weight or worrying about undermining your health—provided you avoid the foods that you discover your body does not work well with.