We all run on Chemicals/Chemistry.
(A post put together with one of our readers, a retired General Practioner.)
We all run on chemicals – hormones, endorphins, neurotransmitters, enzymes and thousands more chemicals. How well we feel, perform, our health and our quality of life all depend very much on our brain and body chemistry. To have a good life we need to develop habits that keep our chemicals/chemistry normal, which isn’t difficult if you get a simple understanding of how we each make our own chemistry.
Our chemistry is mostly made from what we put in our mouth. The foods and drinks we put in our mouth are broken down and then made into chemicals/chemistry, firstly by our stomach acid and other digestive juices, secondly by billions of helpful bacteria, viruses and fungi that live in our intestines, and thirdly by our genes in every cell in our body.
Our gut and genes come down to us from our ancestors, through our parents, very little changed in the last 150,000 years. But what we put in our mouth today is drastically different to what our ancestors ate and drank. Today it’s from farms, market gardens, factory farms and factories, not from the uncultivated virgin nature our ancestors got their foods and drinks from. These greatly changed foods and drinks are very difficult for our unchanged ancient gut and genes to create normal chemicals/chemistry systems from. So many people now have high sugar, salt, fat and cholesterol in their food, and so suffer from obesity, blocked arteries, high blood pressure, heart diseases, strokes, diabetes and dementia. Also, altered brain chemistry causes mental disturbances and chemical cravings that can cause substance abuse and addictions.
The three most damaging changes to what we put in our mouths today are, (1) the great amounts of sugar and white flour products, (2) the lack of fibre from fruit, vegetables, berries, nuts and seeds that our helpful gut bugs need to thrive, which has changed our gut flora, and, (3) the increased saturated fats and cholesterol in meat, dairy and eggs from caged, cramped, inactive grain fed fat factory farm animals that eat no greens. High saturated fat is very different from the small amounts of unsaturated fats and cholesterol in the diets of our ancestors’ diets that came from the lean meat and the small eggs of free wild active lean grass and plant eating animals.
The changed foods and drinks changes the type of bacteria, viruses and fungi that thrive in our gut, which further changes the raw materials passed through our genes to make our chemistry from.
We need to get raw materials through to our genes that they are used to and adapted to making into our chemicals/chemistry from over a period of 150,000 years. The more our foods and drinks come direct from nature and are like our ancestors’ foods and drinks, and the less they are changed by factories, factory farms and cooking with lots of sugar, white flour, saturated fat and cholesterol, the more normal our chemistry is. And then the better we feel and perform and the longer we stay healthy.
Our chemistry is also changed for many of us by a lack of daily physical activity and exertion in sunlight and fresh air, and a lack of nightly rest and sleep in quiet darkness that humans adapted to over thousands of years. Our chemistry is also changed by water, air and noise pollution.
So American health and life expectancy have got worse each year for the last 3 years despite largely beating the starvation, infections, physical injuries and childbirth problems that killed most of our ancestors. And despite Americans tripling spending on health care from 5% of their GDP in 1965 to !8.5% in 2018, which has produced far better knowledge, laboratory tests, imaging, thousands of new medicines, and many new surgical operations, devices, facilities and hospitals, average life expectancy is falling.
And the zeitgeist of our times has deteriorated because so many products and so much marketing hype today have upset the very important balance between the brain effects of the chemicals, dopamine and serotonin. We need a balance between two kinds of happiness – dopamine based pleasure and excitement and serotonin based satisfaction and contentment. Too much dopamine based pleasure and excitement is giving excessive restless quickly discontented consumerism, waste and pollution, and is crowding out the calmer serotonin based satisfaction and contentment that we all need.
The books, “How Not to Die,” (See this review, and other reviews.) “The LDN Book,” “The Disordered Mind,” and “The Inflamed Mind,” are excellent source of information on physical and mental chemistry, health and addictions.
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