Even though the so called Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, is quoted in about 450 BC to have taught "Let your food be your medicine, and let your medicine be your food.", this wisdom has been lost for so long that it now seems unbelievable to the modern mind.
A whole new field of nutritional science called glycobiology has been growing in the last 8 - 9 years. This science has been validating what Hippocrates taught thousands of years ago with his empiric wisdom.
Beyond the Mindset of Modern Medicine
For some unexplained reason it takes 20 - 30 years for a scientific truth to become mainstreamed in medicine. Folic acid for example, has been known to be related to spinal cord birth defects since 1970, however this information did not become mainstreamed in medicine until the last 10 years or so. I think that the best explanation for this sad phenomenon is called 'Mindset'.
Most of us have been amazed as we observed little children react to their environment. We can see them become aware of their surroundings and experience feelings and emotions. We can observe their desires and attempts to satisfy them, and we can observe them learn and remember. The rapidity of the growth of young minds is exciting to see. I marvel at the capacity of these minds to learn and have wondered what would be the result if this capacity to learn would continue throughout our lives.
Children's minds have great 'plasticity'. This refers to the brain as a dynamic, constantly reorganizing, malleable system, which is influenced and shaped by its environment. The learning potential of the brain is now presumed to be continuous and life long, but we know that the rate of learning slows down considerably and may even become 'set'.
This mindset seems to come from "mind filters", which shut out information that is not familiar to us. We are continuously exposed to bits of information that become filters for conflicting information, which we do not take the time to evaluate before it can reach our conscious mind.
Sometimes there is so much information that our mind is overloaded and unable to process it, and it is filtered out.
Society norms, constant messages from advertisers, messages from corporate and political 'spin doctors', and what we have previously experienced is all part of the filter-forming process.
Most people have many compartments of thought. Some compartments are able to learn new things while other compartments become 'set' at an earlier age. We all have mindsets.
The varieties of mindsets are infinite. Examples of this range from the youthful terrorist who believes that blowing himself and others up is the sure ticket to be with God; to learned professionals who feel that they have had the best education, have learned everything worth knowing and doubt if there is 'anything else out there'. They are usually too busy to check it out.
Mindsets act like filters, which keep certain information from reaching our level of consciousness where it can be recognized as new or significant information, and then acted upon.
In my opinion these mindsets occur when we are no longer searching for the truth, because we feel that we already have it. It is a kind of intellectual or emotional block that keeps us from learning new things. Frequently we are not even aware of our mindset. This represents 'thinking in the box' and external forces pounding on this box have little impact.
Mindsets are extraordinarily difficult to change unless the individual has an unmet need that prompts the question "Is there anything else that I can do to help myself"? "Why am I hurting"? or "I need to change this situation, but how can I"? Setting goals can be a way of breaking out of a mindset.
Caregivers will need to search their heart and ask, "Is there anything else that I can do to be of help (to others)"?
Science has shown that it is possible to 'rewire' our brains to learn new thought-processes, changing from a fixed mindset to a mind that sees things differently. It has been shown that this can occur in a rich environment of stimulation and education.
Mindsets are the 'box' in "learn to think out of the box" fame. In order to think out of the box, we have to ask the question, "what else can I do"? "Is there another way to think about this"? With these humble questions, we are able to recognize that we don't know it all. For some, this thought is very threatening but, for others, it can stimulate intellectual curiosity.
There is little significant learning that goes on "inside the box" unless a special need is recognized. This special need opens the box (removes the filters), and enables new information to come in.
A Mindset is the way that our brain is 'working'. In order for us to change our mindsets we need to be aware and evaluate what our minds are 'doing' and how our minds are being influenced. Doing this will enable us to use our mind rather than having our 'mindset' use us. Our Mind is a creation of God. We should not allow it to be hijacked by external forces.
Using our minds as God intended (always searching for the Truth) should be regarded as a basic individual responsibility.
Mind versus Mindset
The concept of 'Mindset' has helped me to understand why change is so difficult.
The definition of mindset is "having one's mind, thoughts, or opinions firmly fixed; obstinate, stubborn."
When we as individuals have our mindsets, that is our problem. The big trouble comes when whole societies have a certain mindset. One of the most famous examples of this was when all of the smart people in the world, thought the world was flat, except for Galileo. History shows that it can be pretty hard going for the Galileos of any day.
Societies however are made up of many individuals, and I suspect that it takes a critical mass of people with one mindset before it becomes 'general belief'. The beliefs that a society has can actually become self-destructive for that society.
The idea that a Low Fat, Low Cholesterol Diet is healthy and one that should be followed, is an example of an erroneous medical concept that developed over 20 years ago. This mindset has been 'sold' to Americans to the point where they cannot believe that this has caused an epidemic of obesity, because of our greatly increased sugar consumption. The complications of obesity are now the cause 420,000 deaths a year. Obesity statistics are catching up, and will soon exceed the 440,000 deaths a year attributed to smoking.
This diet mindset seems almost 'set in stone' and has been vigorously promoted by processed-food companies, soft drink manufacturers, and drug companies selling cholesterol-lowering drugs. I have seen patients dying of cancer still taking these drugs, and still concerned of their cholesterol level!
The individual mindset will not change easily given the above circumstances. It is apparent to me that the mindset and not the minds are frequently in charge. This should be reversed. We should not live our lives on 'automatic pilot', but make conscious decisions that search for the truth.
We live in a world where our minds are under continual assault. This has been true since the beginning, however the 'information age' has made this assault even more overwhelming.
Our minds, a significant part of our gift of creation, were given us to make decisions. Our minds needs to be skeptical of new information, but also need to 'be open' 'to find out the truth'.
Our mindsets frequently usurp the function of our minds. They can influence our perceptions, our decisions, and our actions. They frequently filter out new information. They can stunt our individual growth and learning, by filtering out what is new and unfamiliar.
Our minds are a great gift of the Creator. With this gift comes the responsibility to use it as intended.