7

votes

Mental > Physical?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 06, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Once during a lecture, Alfred Korzybski offered his students some cookies, which they seemed to enjoy, then he showed them a label on the bag, ???dog cookies,??? and some of them felt sick. "I have just demonstrated that people don't just eat food, but also words, and that the taste of the former is often outdone by the taste of the latter." Hypnotists have often demonstrated that words can have physiological effects.

If I've learned one thing from all this nutrition talk and experimenting, it's that having the right mental state (mood, concentration, ...) has the biggest effect on my 'health' (= life quality). While food can help my mood and brain function, do you think a stimulating environment ('having fun') is more important than eating 'right'?

76d3c543f8cbedb5a6f2ad1b49c3c733

(71)

on June 18, 2012
at 11:50 PM

Maybe that's why we tend to lose our appetite when we get upset. For example, someone says something that hosts you at the dinner table and you suddenly lose your appetite. Your body is telling you that it is not a good idea to eat while stressed.

1e58ba5c171a122541d8b4873f604327

(229)

on June 07, 2012
at 11:14 PM

First off whats a normal person? I don't think there are too many on this website.... Secondly I disagree. It's much simpler than trying to explain to your "normal" person that their mind and body are two separate things with a complicated relationship that we don't understand. What you eat can have a direct effect on your mood. It takes out the middle man

1e58ba5c171a122541d8b4873f604327

(229)

on June 07, 2012
at 09:55 PM

First off whats a normal person? I don't think there are too many on this website.... I would say the mind-body separation is much less useful to your normal person than thinking of them as the same thing. Secondly I disagree. It's much simpler than trying to explain to your "normal" person that their mind and body are two separate things with a complicated relationship that we don't understand. What you eat can have a direct effect on your mood. It takes out the middle man.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on June 07, 2012
at 05:13 PM

My dad ate cat food by accident. When we told him it was cat food, he said it was very tasty and that he wanted more...

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 07, 2012
at 04:21 PM

If you want to know some serious stuff that will REALLY make you think about just how much (and badly) stress affects almost every aspect of physical and mental health, the book *Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" will blow your mind. It's FANTASTIC.

Bf2291448a06d573f0fdc87cd514e512

(519)

on June 07, 2012
at 01:54 AM

There was undoubtedly times during SADness where I was, in fact, quite full of energy and very happy due to my stimulating environment/goals/whatever was going on that day. You can still get sad being Paleo, and you can still be happy being SAD.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 06, 2012
at 05:17 PM

This is basically a reductionist argument, which in essence is true and can be useful to a scientist, but is quite useless to a 'normal' person trying to get healthy.

1e58ba5c171a122541d8b4873f604327

(229)

on June 06, 2012
at 03:42 PM

yes absolutely. the "thought" is a chemical reaction to a physical stimuli (in this case, the sight of the words on the cookie bag) that sends an electrical signal to part of the body that creates a sensation of nausea. My theory is that the things we call "thoughts" or "moods" are just as "physical" as objects or actions

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on June 06, 2012
at 03:00 PM

Yes I think physical has a huge role in a mental state, but don't you think the thought of eating a dog cookie, or losing a relative can really change once's physiology too?

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on June 06, 2012
at 02:23 PM

Would body and mind be like mass and energy in Einsteins theorem? There's so much science out there about psychological stimuli but I haven't seen much talk about it here. Thanks Dave!

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5 Answers

4
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 06, 2012
at 02:07 PM

This is a great question!

My opinion is that it goes both ways: Mental state <--> Physical state.

In my prior years of practicing Japanese Buddhism, the concept of "shiki shin funi" was emphasized. This is often thought of as the "oneness of body and mind". But actually, it literally translates as "Body, mind, not two". The meaning is that body and mind are two and not two at the same time. Reminds me of the wave/particle duality. The point is that the mind and the body cannot really be in completely different states - a disease of the body affects the mind and a disease of the mind affects the body.

if you eat badly, you're mental state is bound to deteriorate as well as your physical state. Just ask Dr. Emily Deans! A good mental state should lead to better actions and a better physical state as well.

Maybe Jack Kruse is right, your thoughts can change your gene expression! Actually, as loopy as he sounds, he is not incorrect on that point.

PS. There are two additional "funi's": self/environment and individual/society. I think these concepts are completely congruent with science (and paleo).

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on June 06, 2012
at 02:23 PM

Would body and mind be like mass and energy in Einsteins theorem? There's so much science out there about psychological stimuli but I haven't seen much talk about it here. Thanks Dave!

3
Eb2a562ceb4e96ee12d7d94a29b73553

on June 06, 2012
at 02:06 PM

I'm 17 and have been Paleo for a little over a year now, but I do cheat when I go out with friends because I'm still young and I want to enjoy myself. It's all a matter of what you want to get out of being Paleo.

3
1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 06, 2012
at 01:53 PM

The mental aspect must not be underestimated, it is always a huge factor (as Korzybski's experiment has shown). Or just think about how often placebos work.

The physical aspect, on the other hand, must not be underestimated either; if you put trash into your body, thinking it will do you good, it will still destroy your body in the long term.

I actually advocate a less dualist approach; you can't separate the mental from the physical aspect and vice versa. What you eat influences your mental state, and your mental state influences how your body functions and react to what you put into it. Both aspects are just critically important for becoming (and being) a healthy person.

This question is, in fact, fairly similar to another one I saw here on PaleoHacks: "are psychologist needed". While you focus on the mental state, he was just focusing on the other aspect (diet).

1
1e58ba5c171a122541d8b4873f604327

on June 06, 2012
at 02:41 PM

Great question, my opinion on this is very simple:

everything is physical.

"Mental" is just our way of expressing physical realities that happen in our brain and "feel" like thoughts or moods to us.

In other words, "mental" things like thoughts and feelings are actually sensations caused by physical chemicals and impulses. I think Freud did a huge disservice by reinforcing artificial distinctions between mental and physical states.

You might say that that the mental can overcome the physical, but what is really happening is that the initial mental state is overcoming the new physical state.

I always wonder why more people don't accept this, given that we have proven without a doubt that "mental" states can be directly influenced by chemicals and other physical stimuli (i.e. ssris, other drugs, even visual stimuli!

So the feeling the students had after seeing that the cookies were intended for dogs was physical. A physical visual signal was converted into an electrical impulse that was directed at something that produced a physical feeling of illness.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 06, 2012
at 05:17 PM

This is basically a reductionist argument, which in essence is true and can be useful to a scientist, but is quite useless to a 'normal' person trying to get healthy.

1e58ba5c171a122541d8b4873f604327

(229)

on June 06, 2012
at 03:42 PM

yes absolutely. the "thought" is a chemical reaction to a physical stimuli (in this case, the sight of the words on the cookie bag) that sends an electrical signal to part of the body that creates a sensation of nausea. My theory is that the things we call "thoughts" or "moods" are just as "physical" as objects or actions

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on June 06, 2012
at 03:00 PM

Yes I think physical has a huge role in a mental state, but don't you think the thought of eating a dog cookie, or losing a relative can really change once's physiology too?

1e58ba5c171a122541d8b4873f604327

(229)

on June 07, 2012
at 11:14 PM

First off whats a normal person? I don't think there are too many on this website.... Secondly I disagree. It's much simpler than trying to explain to your "normal" person that their mind and body are two separate things with a complicated relationship that we don't understand. What you eat can have a direct effect on your mood. It takes out the middle man

1e58ba5c171a122541d8b4873f604327

(229)

on June 07, 2012
at 09:55 PM

First off whats a normal person? I don't think there are too many on this website.... I would say the mind-body separation is much less useful to your normal person than thinking of them as the same thing. Secondly I disagree. It's much simpler than trying to explain to your "normal" person that their mind and body are two separate things with a complicated relationship that we don't understand. What you eat can have a direct effect on your mood. It takes out the middle man.

1
35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on June 06, 2012
at 01:39 PM

Great question. There are lots of opinions about how much mind can influence matter.

The National Cancer Institute has this to say about how stress affects the body:

The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones, such as epinephrine (also called adrenaline) and cortisol (also called hydrocortisone). The body produces these stress hormones to help a person react to a situation with more speed and strength. Stress hormones increase blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels. Small amounts of stress are believed to be beneficial, but chronic (persisting or progressing over a long period of time) high levels of stress are thought to be harmful (1).

Stress that is chronic can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, and various other illnesses. Stress also can lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating, smoking, or abusing drugs or alcohol, that may affect cancer risk.

Science Daily reported back in 2007:

In a review of the scientific literature on the relationship between stress and disease, Carnegie Mellon University psychologist Sheldon Cohen has found that stress is a contributing factor in human disease, and in particular depression, cardiovascular disease and HIV/AIDS.

To me the answer is, of course your mental state affects your digestion since to me it's clear that mind and body aren't these two separate things.

I asked a related question a little while back: Has your state of mind affected your digestion? A few people reported their personal experience that speaks to your question.

I very much recommend the book "The Slow Down Diet" by Marc David. It's all about the relationship between how we eat and how we metabolize food.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 07, 2012
at 04:21 PM

If you want to know some serious stuff that will REALLY make you think about just how much (and badly) stress affects almost every aspect of physical and mental health, the book *Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" will blow your mind. It's FANTASTIC.

76d3c543f8cbedb5a6f2ad1b49c3c733

(71)

on June 18, 2012
at 11:50 PM

Maybe that's why we tend to lose our appetite when we get upset. For example, someone says something that hosts you at the dinner table and you suddenly lose your appetite. Your body is telling you that it is not a good idea to eat while stressed.

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