A Historical Glimpse to the Observance of Diets or Lifestyles
Hippocrates was the first to suggest the healing power of food and lifestyle; however, it was not until the medieval ages that food was considered a tool to modify temperament and mood that consequently leads to our lifestyle, although scientific methods as we know them today were not in use at the time. Modern scientific methods in neuroscience began to emerge much later, leading investigators to examine the role of diet in health, including mental well-being, with greater precision. There are some reviews that can show how short and long term forced dietary interventions bring about changes in brain structure, chemistry and physiology, leading to altered animal behavior.
Researcher & Healthy Lifestyle Interests
Ample examples can be found that can present themselves to show how diets alter brain chemistry, behavior, and the action of neuroactive drugs that would then lead to the way we end up living our lives as a mass or as an individuals. Most humans and most animal species examined in a controlled setting exhibit a fairly reproducible pattern of what and how they eat. Recent data suggest that these patterns may be under the neurochemical and hormonal control of the organisms themselves. Other data show that in many instances food may be used unconsciously to regulate mood by seemingly normal subjects as well as those undergoing drug withdrawal or experiencing seasonal affective disorders and obesity-related social withdrawal.
Nutrition & Health
When we speak of nutrition and health, we generally think of nutrition in relation to the prevention or even treatment of cancer or of obesity and related disorders. This is merely a reflection of the fact that not only have we learned a great deal about the role of diet or a well balanced lifestyle in cancer and obesity, but that such discoveries make for popular reading and that the news media are very interested in them. Most of us, however, rarely relate diet and nutrition to mental health. Only recently have we realized the potential of certain dietary nutrients (macronutrients, antioxidant vitamins, and minerals) in the control of bodily functions, including mental performance. This is supported by the fact that in the Western world alone, contemporary interest in maintaining and enhancing both body and mind through diet and well balanced lifestyle has generated a multibillion dollar industry.
Lifestyle (Diets) in Twentieth century
Twentieth century literature on the impact of diet and nutrition on mental health and behavior is laced with controversial reports, particularly when they involve investigations on human subjects. The reasons for such controversies are many. Often, overenthusiastic scientists and news-starved media are too eager to jump to far-reaching conclusions based on often soft or preliminary data. Many times, anecdotal data creep into scientific literature and with time come to be viewed as truth. Additionally, it is often expensive and difficult to run well-designed long-term human nutritional trials, making it difficult to support or refute anecdotal observations circulating in the literature. I must mention, however, that there are some excellent short-term human trials that have examined the role of diet in human behavior and one good example that I have seen many a times is Raw Food Lifestyle or Diet.
Rounding Things up Leaving Room for Thoughts
Proteins, carbohydrates and fats – the major constituents of our diet – serve not only as an energy source but as precursors to a variety of neuroactive substances. The so-called minor constituents of food – minerals and vitamins – are just now being recognized for their many nontraditional functions (e.g., as antioxidants) in health maintenance and promotion. In addition, food is a rich source of many bioactive substances like amino acids, peptides, and others. While some of these bioactive substances (CHP, casomorphins, and a variety of other substances capable of interacting directly with neurotransmitter receptors) can have a direct effect on neuronal functions, others serve as precursors (tryptophan, tyrosine, etc.) or modulators (heterocyclic amines, phenylalanine, etc.) of classical neurotransmitters (DA, norepinephrine, serotonin, acetylcholine, endorphin, etc.). Furthermore, the use of neurotransmitter precursors as dietary lifestyle changes has shown profound effects on neurochemistry and behavior.
Food basically equals to lifestyle and social culture, if used properly and wisely in a well balanced manner, may help us live healthier lives. Although ingestion of minute amounts of any given compound through food may not have any good or bad consequences, a variety of foods in combination may indeed affect mood and health. Some of these substances, such as peptides, are naturally present in food (e.g., CHP in flax seed oil and green juices), whereas others arise from in vivo digestion of food (e.g., opiate antagonists from casein in healthy living fungus products) or from the use of protein hydrolysates as food (e.g., Ensure from casein and soy protein).
By TTS Cofounder Botanical Chef Omid Jaffari