Sample Course: Brain Fuel Evolution
Would you be interested in taking the course described below? If so, please let us know by completing and submitting the accompanying "I'm Interested" form. Note: this course has already been offered in Spring 2016, and is left here as an example of a Test Drive.
How Nutrients Advance Civilization
Guy Beretich Ph.D.
We’ve learned a lot about the brain – which nutrients are required to make neurotransmitters, which nutrient deficiencies cause depression, and even which nutrients increase our intelligence. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a diet that is high in these “brain fuel” nutrients? Fortunately, the USDA recently analyzed several thousand foods for their nutrients, so we can now truly formulate a diet with brain foods. That’s the practical side of this research.
The “cool” side of this research is that looking back through human history we discover that major changes in civilization occurred after new brain foods came into the diet – for example, the Renaissance and the Elizabethan Era started shortly after an increase in brain foods.
This concept - brain foods fueling human evolution - brings together several fields of study and endeavor such as intelligence, mood and behavior, nutrition, cuisine, science and the humanities.
The study of intelligence spans from the fundamental function of memory to the higher manifestations of intelligence, such as linguistic intelligence, logical/mathematical, musical and existential. Moods and behaviors influenced by nutrients include motivation and self-control, both necessary for sustainable advancement. An amazing new discovery is that empathy is also influenced by nutrition, and while it might be obvious that we need empathy to work in the arts, it turns out empathy is important in an unlikely place – business.
We judge civilizations in many ways. One way is to look at the arts and determine the technical expertise and the artistic expression embodied therein. Looking within civilizations we see step changes in one or both of these features after a major change in brain foods. We also see major changes in philosophy, literature and other arts. Science also started after the serendipitous confluence of all the brain fuels in abundant supply in Ancient Greece.
The times and places studied include the first civilizations, such as Ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica, the three eras with the most abundant brain fuels (Ancient Greece, Renaissance Tuscany and 19th Century France), and places where a partial abundance of brain fuels resulted in advancements in specific fields, such as Elizabethan England, the Dutch Golden Age, and the Scottish Enlightenment. There are also specific examples of civilizations using a deficit of brain fuels to create aggressive warrior classes (Roman legions, Mongol horsemen).
There are several modern diets (e.g. Atkins, Paleo, and Mediterranean) and an analysis of these shows that many have some fundamental tenets that improve the level of brain fuel nutrients in the diet, but all have a deficit in one or more brain fuel nutrients. We will look at these diets from a brain fuels perspective and discuss how to change them in a relatively easy and sustainable manner to maximize our mental performance.
Interested in this course? If you haven't done so already, please complete and submit the "I'm Interested" form at the above right. Remember, there is no obligation to take the course and the instructor will not be obliged to offer it.
Listen to Guy Beretich explain the course.