In the weekend paper today (19/10/08) I read an article on obesity entitled “Obese eat more but enjoy less” A finding based on a study of the brains of obese people found that when they are eating the pleasure centres do not light up like they do in average weight people. The study was published in Science journal and found that obese people may have fewer pleasure receptors in their brains, leading them to have to “take in more of a rewarding substance such as food or drugs to experience the same level of pleasure as normal people”
Built into the healthy body of human beings is a ‘reward’ system that releases the ‘pleasure chemical’ dopamine from the brain and floods receptors giving a feel-good response as a reward for eating nutritious foods that will sustain it. It seems that obese people do not have this system fully developed and it is theorised that their reward centres are weakened, prompting them to eat more to eventually get a ‘hit’.
This piece of research can be translated into energy terms. The desire to eat and the pleasure derived from eating resides in the organ system responsible for digestion – the Stomach/Spleen. This organ system delivers what is known as ‘post-natal qi’, the vital energy that maintains functioning and provides the energy to live, and to do things. When the Stomach/Spleen organ system is under-functioning a person becomes tired, lacks energy and is unable to digest food completely leading, over time, to weight gain. The poorer the Stomach/Spleen function the less energy a person has, the more they will eat and the more obese they will become, further weakening the system.
The integrity of the Stomach/Spleen organ system is determined at birth and is intimately linked to the bonding process that occurs most successfully in a normal, natural birth within minutes and hours of the infants life.
If the birth has been natural and calm, stroking the baby immediately afterwards triggers the digestive system to ‘switch on’ and open up in anticipation of the first experience of post-natal feeding. (Of course up until now, baby has been nourished via the umbilical cord known energetically as pre-natal qi). The baby suckles immediately if placed at the breast in the first few minutes after birth. It is the stimulation of the baby’s mouth together with gentle touching and stroking from the mother, that sends signals to the body’s digestive system to start functioning.
Within six hours of birth the natural reflex of both mother and baby to bond is reduced significantly if they are separated. In many hospital births separating mothers and babies is not seen to have any significance and is considered lightly.
In my understanding the practice of separating mothers and babies has contributed to the current epidemic of obesity and diabetes, now being found in younger and younger children and reaching epidemic proportions in the adult population. Interestingly, it seems to me that it is since the so-called ‘enlightened’ days of hospital birthing that these digestive diseases have become rampant.
What is needed is for mother and baby to be kept together for at least the first precious 24 hours after the birth. Many systems are being switched on in the baby’s body-mind that will have repercussions for an entire lifetime. This practice also dramatically affects the child’s psychology as many new nerve pathways are created in the brain immediately following the birth experience. Those pathways tell the infant how safe and loving the world is and persist for a lifetime.