During World War II, Europe was heavily bombed, and thousands of children were suddenly orphaned, abandoned, and starving. Some were found and taken to refugee camps to receive food and care. However, the trauma of having faced starvation without knowing if they would receive any food to stave off death made rest and sleep at night impossible for some of these kids. Even though they were receiving food regularly at the camps, they could not sleep for fear that it would all disappear like it had before and they would starve once again.
Someone had the idea of providing each child with a piece of food to hold when going to bed. It was not to be eaten, but to serve as a reminder that food would be there the next day. The children could sleep, knowing the next day they would not starve. The piece of food was the downpayment for their minds to hold onto, allowing them to relax.
Today, few of us face starvation for lack of food. The opposite is true — we have food in abundance and shun much of it to get our favorite palate-pleasers. We don’t fear lack of food so much as lack of our delicacies. We stress when our favorites are not available. Also we eat “comfort food”, drink sugary drinks, and snack throughout the day and evening. Why? We are not starving or even scrounging for sufficient food, so something is telling us to eat anyway. We look no further than our brains for the answer.
The psychological effect of food, whether in scarcity or abundance, is huge. Many of our modern health conditions tie back to food. Not just the food itself, but also our thoughts of food can contribute to poor eating — just thinking of food or seeing it sparks appetite. That is basically common knowledge, but in case you’d like proof, in a study published in Obesity, researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Germany presented pictures of food to participants and measured blood levels of their hormones. They verified that the hunger hormone Ghrelin rose after seeing the pictures as well as when their normal meal time was approaching.
A Two-Way Street
Hunger is triggered through a complex interaction of hormonal and direct signals that involve both the brain and the digestive tract. When the digestive tract has mostly processed your previous meal and much of the tract is empty, Ghrelin is produced that increases appetite through a message to your hypothalamus in your brain. Lowered blood sugar also affects appetite, and both insulin and cortisol tend to increase appetite.
A study published in Health Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, focused on the feedback loop of insulin and appetite. The research reviewed other, separate studies and showed that increasing insulin levels caused increased hunger and a greater desire for and appreciation of sweet tastes. They showed that the types of food eaten, as they impact insulin levels, affects subsequent food choices. Spiking insulin levels causes desire for sweetness/sugar intake, which spikes insulin further.
What you eat results in signals to the brain, which then signals for more of certain types of food. Unfortunately, sugar in particular activates this feedback loop in a negative way, often leading to sustained high insulin levels, which then leads more insulin and overeating. Sugar and overeating also impacts the gut flora, known as microbiota, which shift towards more sugar-loving, toxin-producing varieties of bacteria, which harms the delicate gut lining and causes “leaky gut.” That, in turn, lets toxins into the bloodstream which can lead to brain inflammation and mental stress, which can help drive bad eating patterns.
Normally, when “we eat to live, rather than live to eat”, the 2-way signaling of the digestive tract and the brain reduces appetite when we’ve had sufficient food. When the stomach and intestines detect food, hormones such as cholecystokinin and peptide YY are produced, which suppress hunger. When the stomach is full, the hormone leptin is released to signal the hypothalamus that we don’t want or need more food; unfortunately, when we override this hormone too often, we can develop leptin resistance and it is no longer effective, taking the brakes off of overeating.
The Top of the Food Chain
Although the brain and digestive tract interact with each other, the brain is the driver. You won’t be eating without the consent of your brain, and the brain controls digestion as well as the rest of your body functions. Therefore we look to the brain to break the unhealthy food cycle.
In a study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, researchers at the University of Missouri – Columbia studied the connection between children with autism (a brain disorder that impairs communication and social interaction, often leading to frustration and anxiety in the child) and gastrointestinal problems. The researchers studied data from over 620 autistic children with digestive disorders and found that their mental stress was impacting their release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine in the gut, as well as altering their gut microbiota negatively. Their poor digestion was then adding to their anxiety and depression. In a similar study published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, researchers confirmed the University of Missouri results in autistic patients and added increased intestinal permeability with hampered immune system function to the symptoms.
Studied that concentrate on extreme conditions, such as autism, more clearly link symptoms because the results are exaggerated compared with average individuals. But the “gut-brain-axis” concerns all of us: the gut and brain reinforce each other, positively or negatively. Unfortunately, much of our conventional gastrointestinal treatments concentrate on the digestive tract, not recognizing the powerful impact of the brain — even on the gut flora which are not technically part of the body! Balancing brain function brings many health benefits, not the least of which is improved digestion.
Dr. Nemec’s Review
The more carbohydrates and sugars we eat, the more insulin rises, which causes us to crave more carbohydrates and sugars. This is why many Americans are insulin resistant, which is the precursor to diabetes. Insulin resistance means you’ve eaten too many carbs and sugars so now the insulin receptors have turned off. It now takes a lot more insulin to make them work. So what this causes is more insulin in the blood which causes greater carbohydrate and sugar cravings. This is a vicious cycle which is best broken with some type of a fast.
The next issue is demonstrated in autism (which is a brain disorder) — the imbalance in the brain neurotransmitters causes an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the gut which stimulates a growth of an unhealthy mix of intestinal microflora. This unhealthy mix causes increased intestinal permeability and poor digestion, and both of these cause increased cravings in the brain in response to the requests of the microflora in the gut.
But you would say, “I don’t have autism”, but practically every person has some degree of brain dysfunction due to stress, trauma, diet and lifestyle. So you do have brain imbalance which causes gut imbalance.
The brain rules all!
So in autism the brain is out of balance, which causes the neurotransmitters to be out of balance, which then causes the gut to become leaky, which then causes inflammatory particles to enter the bloodstream along with increased carbs and sugar cravings to feed the pathogenic microflora. This is a vicious cycle. It started in the brain, went to the gut — now the gut is controlling the brain with more cravings for carbs and sugars and also inflaming the brain with inflammatory molecules.
What you do to the mind you do to the brain; what you do to the brain you do to the gut; what you do to the gut you do to the brain — so what is the answer?
We balance the conscious and subconscious stress programs written on the hard drive of the brain first by analyzing 3-D brain imaging and brain mapping — this is part of our Revolution New Medicine® protocol for balancing brain wave function. Next we balance the neurotransmitters in the brain and gut. Next we customize diet and supplemental micronutrient intake according to epigenetic testing.
With a balanced mind, brain and intestinal tract your health transforms in ways you can’t even imagine.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.