Pilots learn quickly to use instruments, because they can only partially trust their senses when flying. Although many pilot skills are based on sight, they are taught to navigate and maneuver by instrument readings, and to know when to rely more on instruments than sight, because the two don’t always agree. Failure to make the correct choice can be disastrous.
To make the instruments valuable, they must first be calibrated. That is, they are taught the correct values before ever leaving the ground, so that when they are in use, they provide accurate information. The pilot’s natural senses can’t be so precisely calibrated. But the pilot knows that instruments can’t tell them everything: a bird flock or physical airborne danger may not register on instruments. So pilots have to learn what to rely upon under different circumstances, but in most cases they go by the instrumentation, not by the 5 senses.
Do you eat various foods because you “have a taste” for a particular snack, or do you eat by rules to be sure you take in only a certain amount of calories? Do you eat on a schedule, or when you feel like it? Have you given much consideration to diet?
Most of us think we should eat in a more healthy manner, yet few do. Knowing what is healthy to eat is like calibrating the instruments — if you know what you should eat, you can trust that calibration. We hear plenty of opinions on what is healthy food, and labels on packaged food try to convince us that those products are health-promoting, but how trustworthy is all that information? If you know what food choices are best, would you follow them? Many of us would, at least partially, but are skeptical of what food choices are truly healthy.
Should you ignore your body’s cravings and eat totally by the rules, or consider your senses? In most cases the answer is that you should ignore cravings because they have had years of wrong food addictions that produced those cravings. Most everyone would do much better by flying totally by the instrumentation.
Once you get your calibration correct, once you are calibrated with healthy choices, the body in time will crave those healthy choices.
You have three instruments that are involved with sense of what we call tase. The first is the taste center, which resides in the tongue: the second is smell; and the third the orbital frontal cortex, which is located just behind your eyes, which coordinates information from the other two centers into a single flavor determination. Smell and taste are both needed to get the full effect: try drinking a familiar tasting liquid while pinching your nose closed, and see if you think it tastes the same.
Why would this combination of senses to determine flavor be helpful? In previous eras where food was not processed much and came directly from the farm, this combination of senses was valuable in determining unsafe food: food that was molding, tainted by toxins, or otherwise harmful. Today, taste and smell are manipulated by food processing to enhance the flavor regardless of the food quality. In fact, since processing necessarily degrades food, without taste enhancements you would likely reject much of that food in favor of fresh options. Also, cooking is a major form of food processing, and we have cooking techniques to concentrate and combine food flavors to make them more appealing. Food processing is designed to present the best taste regardless of the nutrition. But the taste/smell detection system is designed to help us find the best quality food as it appears in nature. We’ve just become very proficient over time in fooling the system.
An acquired taste
You may have heard how wine tasters “train the pallet” to appreciate fine distinctions between wines. They are finely calibrating their taste/smell instrumentation. But most of us do not set out to intentionally train the pallet — we just do it without realizing we are. As we eat certain foods, we train our brains to accept those flavors. This means we are training our pallets, whether we intend to or not, by what we eat regularly.
Research is showing that food addiction is real, and has similarities to drug addiction in its effects on portions of the brain. Published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut along with the University of Texas and Arizona State University studied brain activity of 48 women using functional magnetic resonance (MRI) technology before and during consumption of food. The food was particularly appealing to those who had a high food addiction rating, and those participants showed the highest activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and caudate nucleus portions of the brain in anticipation of the food, while during consumption they showed reduced activation of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, meaning the reaction was muted during actual consumption of the food. These reactions were similar to brain activations of those with drug addiction due to drug use.
Tastes and cravings
Not only do you have hunger to prompt you to eat, but you have desires for certain foods at certain times. Biofeedback hormones can affect your appetite and desire for food, but they are very imprecise. They can’t differentiate between nutrient-dense foods and empty calories. In nature, your body would tell you when it needed food and you would have few or no empty calorie options. Modern society has confused your senses to where cravings can’t be trusted — unless you’ve so trained your pallet that it seeks out good food.
A research study performed at the University of California and published in The Journal of Neuroscience examined the effects of skewed diets on eating choices. In the short term, participants would naturally shift from a high sugar diet to a high protein diet, or the reverse, keeping their diets balanced initially, but over the long term if the high sugar diet remained available, they would eat more of those foods. The neutral pallet was not seeking an imbalanced diet, and in fact biofeedback was apparently telling them to balance their intake, but over time the food addictions settled in.
Food cravings can be very misleading. An extreme case is something called “pica”, which is a condition that can cause people to crave non-food items like dirt. Studies suggest that the cravings stem from severe nutrient deficiencies such as low iron, calcium, or zinc. Their bodies are trying to convey need to them to change their diets, but the signals are quite muddled.
Hunger and cravings have a purpose, and they represent some sort of need, whether they be due to a nutritional imbalance or a badly trained pallet. Like pilots in bad weather, your senses can mislead you if not using well-calibrated instrumentation.
Let’s consider a case example: garlic. You may know that garlic is good for you, but when you bite into a clove, it bites back. The main component of garlic that is so healthful is allicin. Cooking garlic tones down its bite massively, but that is because it destroys allicin. So you have little choice with garlic: if you want its benefits, you have to eat it raw, and your senses will revolt — initially.
Allicin affects an ion channel in nerve cells, causing the channel to open up. When other molecules rush into the open channel it fires, causing the stinging sensation. You get the same effect for the same reason with chili peppers. Once you learn of the health benefits of raw garlic, you will want to bring some into your diet and find a way around the sting.
Some people learn to enjoy the taste of garlic or hot peppers. However, you can also disguise much of the heat effect by combining with other foods — more initially, then less over time. This is a case where training your pallet serves you well.
Learn to fly the right way
Eating well tends to reinforce more eating well in the future. And eating poorly promotes more poor eating. Research has determined that part of the process of determining the flavor of a food is familiarity; that is, your brain catalogs tastes by comparison to other, familiar tastes. The first thing you do when tasting an unfamiliar food is to try to figure out what it tastes like. By shifting your catalog of preferred foods to healthy choices, you make it easier to desire those foods again. Bad foods lose their appeal, and you wonder why you ever found them appealing in the first place. Training your pallet is really training your brain by calibrating your onboard instruments to good choices. That’s the easiest way to stay on course.
Dr. Nemec’s Review
Food addiction is just as strong as drug addiction. Sugar and carbohydrates are extremely addictive to the brain so this must be recalibrated with some type of fast from these food items.
We cannot go by our senses initially with food because we must retrain our brain neurotransmitters with healthy food: this is setting the calibration to health-promoting food. The best way to do this is to eat living and raw plant foods exclusively for 3 months. After this time period 90% of people are re-calibrated to health-promoting food. If they went back and ate what they ate before, not only would they not like the taste of it but they would usually have some negative symptom arise after consuming it. When do you let the 5 senses chime in on food choice decision making? Not until after 6 months of eating the right foods. What would that look like? Let say you are going to have a nice breakfast of living raw plant foods like you have been doing for the last six month but when you wake up you do not feel so good. Then your 5 senses should override and tell you do not eat this meal your body is fighting something and to not put any food in — just water. General rule is if you are not hungry, do not eat.
So a quick recap:
1. You must calibrate your brain and neurotransmitter for a period of time with true healthy food choices alone.
2. Next your brain will crave these foods and not crave the wrong foods anymore.
3. Do not eat just to eat, but eat because hunger for health promoting food is present.
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