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We are what we eat . . . 2 May 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Islam and contemporary society.
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George Monbiot, writing in today's Guardian, seems to be confirming what we Muslims always knew – that what we eat determines not just our physical appearance and girth, but also our personality, emotions and thought processes; in the words of one of the authorities on the subject, quoted by Monbiot:

". . . having a bad diet is now a better predictor of future violence than past violent behaviour … Likewise, a diagnosis of psychopathy, generally perceived as being a better predictor than a criminal past, is still miles behind what you can predict just from looking at what a person eats" 

Key excerpts from the article:

Why should a link between diet and behaviour be surprising? Quite aside from the physiological effects of eating too much sugar (apparent to anyone who has attended a children's party), the brain, whose function depends on precise biochemical processes, can't work properly with insufficient raw materials. The most important of these appear to be unsaturated fatty acids (especially the omega 3 types), zinc, magnesium, iron, folate and the B vitamins, which happen to be those in which the prisoners in the 1997 study were most deficient.

A report published at the end of last year by the pressure group Sustain explained what appear to be clear links between deteriorating diets and the growth of depression, behavioural problems, Alzheimer's and other forms of mental illness. Sixty per cent of the dry weight of the brain is fat, which is "unique in the body for being predominantly composed of highly unsaturated fatty acids". Zinc and magnesium affect both its metabolism of lipids and its production of neurotransmitters – the chemicals which permit the nerve cells to communicate with each other.

The more junk you eat, the less room you have for foods which contain the chemicals the brain needs. 

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