Posted by: Nito | January 19, 2014

Think Healthy Thoughts

Recently I’ve started reading the book called “The Edge Effect” written by Dr. Eric Braverman. Right from the start it intrigued me to find out that medical science has discovered and is studying the link between our thoughts and our health. Basically, the book talks about the link between the mind and the body, and this link is what we call the brain.

The electrical impulses that are sent from the body into the brain are processed through four biochemical neurotransmitters: dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA and serotonin. Based on the particular electrical input the brain will create a specific output composed of a combination of those four neurotransmitters and send it back into the body. Each body function is controlled by the specific order and precise amounts of these neurotransmitters, so different order and amount is required to control, for example,  liver as compared to what is required to control the heart or kidneys.

So, if we imagine these four neurotransmitters as elemental codes (letters), the brain is controlling the body by the means of a chemical language written with these four neurotransmitters. Similar principle of using a four-letter language is also found in DNA, where all of its operational knowledge is programmed into it by using four biological compounds that we label with letters G, A, T and C. Through its program written with these “letters” DNA knows how to do pretty much everything at the cellular level, from growing body parts to renewing them constantly throughout the life of a person. Similarly, four neurotransmitters could be viewed as part of the body-wide language that brain is using to do pretty much everything at the body level and control its function as a whole.

I wonder if we could take this principle of having four components to create an operational language as an universal principle. Like, a thought comes to mind that at the macroscopic level of the universe, God is again using a set of four “codes” to control how everything ties and works together—these four “codes” we call the fundamental forces: the force of gravity, electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force.

Nevertheless, back to the topic, the brain sends instructions to organs and body parts as particular combinations of the mentioned four biochemical neurotransmitters. Every organ knows to which chemical instructions to react and how to react, and everything functions normally as long as clear instructions are sent out from the brain. The problem starts when signals coming into the brain are distorted (so brain gets the wrong message and sends the wrong output instructions) or when due to chemical imbalance in the brain it cannot create the proper output message (as it lacks all of the required building/coding material).

When the instructions sent by the brain are wrong, or due to the particular chemical deficiency the duration of the required chemical instruction is cut short, the receiving body part will start altering its normal function which will then have a knock-on effect on other body parts that depend on its proper function. In other words, small imbalances at the brain level are amplified into bigger health problems and due to the interdependency of body parts a problem in one part will create domino effect(s) in other body parts.

So, how is this linked to the mind I hear you ask? Brain sends chemical instructions but what does that have to do with thoughts? Well, apart from the electrical impulses sent from the body into the brain, thoughts (within the mind) are another source of input stimuli to the brain that would cause chemical instructions to be sent into the body.

For example, when you remember a stressful or frightening situation that happened sometimes in the past, your brain will send a chemical instruction which will cause adrenal glands to start releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline, which are hormones that together raise the heart rate, increase respiration, dilate the pupils, slow down digestion and allow muscles to contract. This will pretty much prepare your body to react to a stressful or dangerous situation, albeit there is none around, as you are just thinking about it.

So, your thoughts do create chemical reaction in your body. But, what surprised me the most is that in the 3rd chapter of the book, where the reader is given two quizzes to determine which of the four neurotransmitters are predominant in their body and which are deficient, they can find questions like:

– I will do anything to reach the goal. (true/false)
– I value religious philosophy. (true/false)
– I have high standards for myself and for others. (true/false)
– I foresee a better future. (true/false)
– I’m inspired to help other people. (true/false)
– I believe in participating in service for the community. (true/false)
– I don’t have particularly high morals or ethical values. (true/false)
– I do what I want, when I want to. (true/false)
– Savings are for suckers. (true/false)
etc.

Based on one’s answers to these ‘true or false’ questions a calculation is made about his or hers neurotransmitters. This means that your lifestyle, personality and character do determine the chemical composition of your body, which in term determines the functioning of its body parts. So, if you change your thoughts you would automatically change the amount of the four neurotransmitters. In other words, as you change your thoughts you would change the language that brain will use to talk to the body. Therefore, if you want to change your body and how it functions you “just” need to change your thoughts.

So, one conclusion that comes to mind is that the placebo effect (i.e. thinking positively) is pretty much a powerful thing because it does create chemical changes in the body.

Second and more important conclusion is that a believer is always better off then any atheist or agnostic. Even in the case that God does not exist (like I’ve hypothesized in the “Who has more fulfilling life: the Atheist or the Believer?” article), a believer IS still in far better position because of his positive thinking.

However, because God does exist, the benefits of having a working relationship with Him are multifold; and one of them is His ability to help you change your thoughts, clean your heart, discard old filthy desires (i.e. the “old man”) and put on pure thoughts (i.e. the “new man”) that will make your mind, brain and body function properly and consequently you will have a long and healthy life. Now, this sheds a new light on the Bible verses like these listed below:

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:17-24).

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2)

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:6-8).

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

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