The nutritional factor

Roman Deambrun instinctively at
Sun Sep 5 16:45:13 EST 1999

I would like to share an hypothesis with specialists on this newsgroup.
I'm an avocalist and neurobiology is far from being my field so please
forgive some potential irregularities in my expose. I would like to have the
latest ideas in neuroscience regarding this hypothesis.
Suggestions and corrections are very welcome.

The nutritional factor

I would think most people agree that any intake of a specific chemical
substance can have an effect on the way we think, the way we act and can
influence the way we perceive the world. Drugs, for instance, strongly
modify an individual's perception of the world, especially hallucinogens,
but even more "light" drugs certainly do. (Strassman)
Liquors are also have an influence on the way we act, we simply have to
observe a drunk person. Even coffee can excite a persons nervous system and
make her act differently than she would have without coffee. (Mackay,
When we process food we do nothing more than provoke chemical reactions. A
kitchen is nothing else than a chemical laboratory. Maillard's experiments,
French chemist from the beginning of this century, showed that the simple
fact of cooking a potato in water creates 400 new molecules that do not
exist in nature, and what is more important, that never existed in nature in
the past 3.5 billion years of genetic evolution.
Now, if we prepare a whole recipe, we might end up with millions of new
molecules which never existed in nature, at least not before humanity
started processing food on a regular basis, 10.000 to 40.000 years ago.
(Finot et al.)
Since Maillard we discovered so many new chemical substances in modern
processed food that chemists have not been able to classify all of them or
even name them. Some of these molecules, new to life history, have been
classified as aromatic (Thomas), others as toxic (Derache) and some as

This leads to a very important question:
how do these new chemical substances affect our bodies, our neurological
functions, our senses and finally our actions ?

How would human beings act, think and perceive their world when immersed in
a 100% non processed food environment ?

Through basic and simple experiments we can observe that an animal placed in
a processed food environment has its instinctive behavior modified even
disturbed depending on what it eats (emphasized aggression, inappropriate
sexual behavior, abnormal fears,etc...). A general miscoordination between
instinctive impulses and environmental triggers is very common to be
observed in this case (mating impulses of dog towards the leg of his owner
is a typical example). If the same animal is returned into a 100% non
processed food environment (2), which is the natural environment for every
animal on the planet, we can easily observe a normalization of its
instinctive behavior within a few days or at least a few weeks. This
experiment can be repeated and always leads to the same results.
The best possible conclusion for these experiments is the following:
specific molecules contained in modern processed food seem to disturb the
nervous system, neurons and brain functions, and lead to inappropriate
instinctive behavior. (Dohan)
In humans new chemical substances from food have a direct effect on brain
functions. (1)

Instincts and genes have always been connected to a non processed food
environment, since the beginning of life on earth. Approximately 99.089% of
3.5 billion years of instinctive and genetic evolution have been performed
in a non processed food environment. Only for 0.011% of this amount of time
we find ourselves in contact with processed food as we known it today.
Genetics in species are evolving relatively slowly. Humans have changed
their dietary habits extremely fast, a few thousands years only.

Is the human brain genetically adapted to handle new chemical substances
contained in modern processed food ?

Seen that genetic evolution is relatively slow, it would probably have been
possible for the human brain to adapt to one changing factor, one or maybe a
few new chemical substances, over the last 10.000 years of important dietary
changes (Neolothic), but we are confronted with thousands of new chemical
substances in modern processed food. (Eaton. Konner)
A hypothesis of a possible genetical non-adaptation to substances contained
in processed food can not be excluded especially not if we study behavior
directly generated by the brain, organ which is the most sensitive to
chemical changes.
(For a definition of non processed food please go to notes (2))

Empirical methodology

Alternative experiments on total immersion in a 100% non processed food
environment have been done in Germany, France, Australia and Hawaii for the
past 25 years.
The creation of experimental human groups made it possible to observe
important changes in social behavior when switching from a traditional food
environment to a non processed food environment and vice versa.
Each time a processed food product has been introduced, by decision or by
accident, in the food choice of  an experimental group it resulted in an
immediate response within the balance of this group.
Increasing tensions between individuals, increasing conflicts, increasing
communication problems, reinforcement of ego-centered type behavior,
confusion in sexual impulses, etc... have been the result.

Sometimes a processed food product has been introduced by accident (for
example nuts dried at high temperature and nobody knew about it) and the
effects were exactly the same. This was some kind of an accidental double
blind test, very conclusive by the way.   Only one processed food product is
enough to create disturbing effects in previously balanced groups. Some of
the molecules contained in processed food products seem to affect
neurological circuit linked to human instinctive behavior.

Humans today usually don't live in this type of 100% non processed food
environment. Processing food is a planetary phenomenon. The last human that
ever ate that way lived approximately 100.000 to 1 million years ago
according to some, before cooking, before mixing, before any use of dairy
products and before any use of grains. Going back to this primary state for
experimental reasons provides a sort of ground zero in terms of influence
through new chemical substances or maillard molecules and give the
opportunity to observe human behavior with a complete different point of

Dietary instinct and sexual instinct have been the foundation of animal
activity since the beginning of life and they still are a part of human
activity today. Even the social structure of human society is basically
built on the sexual reproductional instinct, couples, families are one
expression of it. If instincts are disturbed by a new chemical substances we
can now easily understand how even social structures, social interactions,
relationships can be affected by it. The human reproductional instinct
itself can probably at some point be disturbed. At least there is no reason
to exclude such eventuality.This might also explain why many people consider
often instincts as bad and intelligence as the absolute good of modern
societies, maybe we simply often observe instinctive behavior with the
inadequate glasses. Instinctive connected behavior we are use to see in
people and animals(pets) surrounding us can somehow be a deformation of
natural instinctive behavior partially due to a non adapted food

In going back to the life condition of hunter-gatherer before food
processing a human experimental group can provide new information in
research fields related to human nature exploration. Such empirical approach
makes it possible to separate cultural influences from pure instinctive
behavior. Cultural influences are changing from one country or region of the
world to another. Instinctive behavior is common to the human race
regardless of  location and culture. This is the part which is the most
interesting to study in our case.

Food processing habits or gastronomical habits are different from one
culture to an other. Different ways of processing food certainly produce
different chemical substances. If a specific substance has a very specific
influence on the brain, this specific influence is common to the population
of a country  or region sharing the same gastronomical habits. When such
influences are repeating over generations it can lead to behavioral habits
or tendencies. This can partially explain slight differences in cultural
behavior over the  world. Of course, this might sound crazy but can we
really ignore such influences?

This is an extract of the Primordial working hypothesis of the "Research and
Observation Center of Human Instinctive Behavior" web site.
Full text available under

A group experiment will start by the middle of the year 2000 under the name
of "Project Unicorn", providing a unique observation field of 40 people
living in a 100% non processed food environment.
The members of the Research and Observation Center of Human Instinctive
Behavior are working on bringing researchers from different fields like
Anthropology, Neurobiology, Physiology, Psychology, etc... together in order
to create research protocols that can confirm or infirm this primordial
working hypothesis.

For questions please  contact Roman Deambrum under
instinctively at

ROCHIB's other fields of research include:
- Dietary instinct in Humans
- Non reproductive sexuality in Humans, analysis of impulses and behaviors
- Correlations between sexual instinct and extrasensory phenomena


David A. Wheeler et al., "Molecular Transfer of a Species-Specific Behavior
from Drosophila Simulans to Drosophila Melanogaster", Science 251 (1991):

J.C. Hall, "Pleiotropy of Behavioral Genes" in R.J. Greenspan and C.P.
Kyriacow, eds. Flexibility and Constraint in Behavioral Systems (New York:
John Wiley & Sons 1994), 15-27

Margulis, L., and D. Sagan 1990, "Origins of Sex", New Haven: Yale Univ.

Margulis, L. and Karlene V. Schwartz, 1999, "Five Kingdoms", Freeman Press

P.A. Finot et al., 1990, "The Maillard Reaction in Food Processing, Human
Nutrition and Physiology"

Raphael Ikan, 1996, "The Maillard Reaction: Consequences for the Chemical
and Life Sciences"

Thomas H. et al., 1994, "Thermally Generated Flavors: Maillard, Microwave,
Extrusion Processes (Acs Symposium, #543)"

Strassman, Rick J., MD (Jan-Mar 1991), "Human Hallucinogenic Drug Research
in the U.S.: A Present-day Case History and Review of the Process" Journal
of Psychoactive Drugs, Vol. 23: 29-38

D.C. Mackay and J.W. Rollins, "Caffeine and Caffeinism", Journal of The
Royal Navy Medical Service, 1989; 75(2): 65-67

Goodall, J., 1988, "In the Shadow of Man", Houghton Mifflin Company

Wilson O. Edward, 1980, "Sociobiology", The Belknap Press

Dohan C., 1979 "Schizophrenia and neuroactive peptides from food, The
Lancet: 1, 1031

M.C. King and A.C. Wilson, 1975, "Evolution at two Levels in Humans and
Chimpanzees", Science, vol. 188, 4184

S. Boyd Eaton, MD. and Melvin Konner, Ph. D., 1985, "Paleolithic Nutrition",
vol. 312, N 5

Derache, 1982, "Pyrolyse des aliments et risques de toxicite", Cahiers de
nutrition et dietetique, vol. 17, p. 39, fasc 3

Lederer J. and Dushimimana A., 1982, "Toxicity des produits de la reaction
de Maillard pour l'embryon", Cahiers de nutrition et dietetique,   vol. 17,
fasc. 1, p 37

Cood R. Derache, 1986, "Toxicologie et securite des aliments",

Duclaux R., Feistauer J., Cabanac M., 1973, "Effects du repas sur l'agrement
d'odeurs alimentaires et non alimentaires chez l'homme", Brain Research
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Darwin Charles, 1996, "The Origin of Species", Oxford University Press


 (1) Dean Hamer is head of the Section on Gene Structure and Regulation at
the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
Question: At the AAAS meeting you said that perhaps 60 percent of all
100,000   human genes are expressed in the brain. What do you think all
those genes are doing?
Hamer: I think they are setting up the very, very intricate architecture and
wiring that are required for proper brain functioning. We have so many
different parts of the brain, each of them are anatomically distinct, and
the wiring patterns are very complex and very interconnected. And one of
the things about the brain is that it's incredibly sensitive to small
changes in chemistry...
Question: Which is why I'm drinking a cup of coffee right now !
Hamer: Right. That cup of coffee is changing your adenosine levels, it's
changing cyclic AMP [adenosine monophosphate]. You'll feel it physically a
little bit, but you'll most of all feel it in your brain because your
brain's the most sensitive. It's for this same reason that there are some
biochemical abnormalities--phenylketonuria, for example--that hurt your body
very little but cause profound mental retardation: because your brain is so
sensitive to things working exactly the way they're supposed to work.

(2) Definition of unprocessed food
A strictly unprocessed food environment is the major condition for the
dietary instinct to work.
 For food to be unprocessed several conditions are required:

- no thermal processing (no exposition to heat over 40oC, no exposition to
cold under 0oC, no deep freezing).

- no mechanical processing (no cutting, squeezing, juicing, etc...)

- no chemical processing (no mixing, no interaction with liquids, no growth
with pesticides or heated compost, no irradiation, etc...)

- no genetical processing (no use of genetically transformed  food, no
selection, no hybrids)

Roman Deambrun
Research and Observation Center of Human Instinctive Behavior

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