Diet and Brain Function: Eating Your Way to Higher Function

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Does Food Affect Your AS? (Food & Brain Video)
I'm on a special diet for managing my AS symptoms 10%  10%  [ 4 ]
I think I'm sensitive to gluten, yeast infections and/or refined carbohydrates 17%  17%  [ 7 ]
I'm allergic to one or a few specific foods that screw up my functioning 12%  12%  [ 5 ]
I can eat anything so long as it's not artificial and processed 12%  12%  [ 5 ]
I don't know, never thought about diet linked to changes in my AS symptoms 21%  21%  [ 9 ]
I can eat anything! Hand me another deep fried twinkie, Slim Jim! 29%  29%  [ 12 ]
Total votes : 42

ephemerella
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06 Mar 2009, 12:11 pm

I've spent the past few months studying nutrition and reading the medicine of how food and nutrients affect brain function and mood. What I've found is that our internal bodies can be either our friend or our enemy depending on what kind of environment it provides us. As someone who has sensory integration dysfunction and AS, I'm very sensitive to having changes in my functioning and mood based on how I'm feeling, what's going on in my environment or who's being kind to me or who is harassing me. What I've found in the past few months is that what I eat has a big impact on how I function, too. In fact, I've come to view diet as the single most important thing I can do for myself in terms of any therapies.

I'm going to make a series of posts on nutrition and brain function, and aggregate them in my journal later. This first post is a non-scientific talk given by a doctor, summarizing large topics in how a high-sugar, refined starches, processed foods diet can have big effects on brain function and social behavior.

More and more, I'm coming to view my AS and sensory integration dysfunction as conditions of my mind that makes my brain work a certain ways that I can't control. For example, I can't turn off negative stimulations in my environment and have difficulty focusing when I'm emotionally stimulated. But what I can control is my environment (to some extent) and the condition of my body. I might not be able to turn off my mind when it fixates on my special interest or when it's threatened by some negative aggressor. But I can feed myself things that affect my mental clarity, my moods, and sharpen my ability to focus on important things. I can't make my AS go away, but I can make my environment, including my body, a better place for my AS symptoms to act more like a gift than a bad thing.

The full (48 minutes) lecture outlining the ideas and their scientific background:
LINK: Nutrition & Behavior: A Lecture By Russell Blaylock, MD


If you don't want to watch the full thing, here's a short advert YouTube:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7W-gba0GPwU[/youtube]

I'll check the thread from time to time in case anyone wants to talk about specific foods or topics like sugar-and-alcoholic metabolic syndrome, what amino acids affect mood and attention span, etc. But I can't monitor discussions at this time... got mice in the house that I have to catch!



Last edited by ephemerella on 06 Mar 2009, 12:52 pm, edited 7 times in total.

ouinon
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06 Mar 2009, 12:28 pm

ephemerella wrote:
In fact, I've come to view diet as the single most important thing I can do for myself in terms of any therapies.

Me too. :D

See my thread "Starch, or the Decline and Fall of the AS Organism", at:

http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt91412.html

in which I posted links/references to several interesting studies/discoveries that have been made about the connection between diet and behaviour, mood, and cognitive functioning, with particular emphasis on their relevance to AS.

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I'm going to make a series of posts on nutrition and brain function.

Great! :D I look forward to that.

.



ephemerella
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06 Mar 2009, 12:39 pm

ouinon wrote:
ephemerella wrote:
In fact, I've come to view diet as the single most important thing I can do for myself in terms of any therapies.

Me too. :D

See my thread "Starch, or the Decline and Fall of the AS Organism" which is now somewhere on page 3 - 4 of General AS Discussion, at:

http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt91412.html

in which I posted links/references to several interesting studies/discoveries that have been made about the connection between diet and behaviour, mood, and cognitive functioning, with particular emphasis on their relevance to AS.

Quote:
I'm going to make a series of posts on nutrition and brain function.

Great! :D I look forward to that.

.


I'll check out your discussion and links.

It's so exciting, how I'm learning I can manage my moods, after years of frustration because the things that normal people do to manage their moods didn't work for me. And starch -- especially refined, nutritionally depleted ones like white flour, peeled potatoes, white pasta, white rice -- really crashes my I.Q. if I eat it more than once a week or so.



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06 Mar 2009, 1:31 pm

Thank you for this wonderful thread. I look forward to discussion on this topic, as I think I am finally also realizing the connection between diet and brain function.


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ephemerella
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06 Mar 2009, 2:13 pm

Acacia wrote:
Thank you for this wonderful thread. I look forward to discussion on this topic, as I think I am finally also realizing the connection between diet and brain function.


When I was in college, I couldn't stand the junk food on campus, and didn't have time to cook. So I lived off cut-up fresh vegetables, granola, fruit, nuts, seeds and cheese, all of which I could pack in little baggies and carry in my backpack. When I did cook, it was simply sauteed fish or other real, whole foods. Whenever I stopped attending college, I experienced crashes in functioning, but I always associated that with changes in environment and stress.

While a lot of my crashes or declines in behavior and brain function no doubt were related to changes in environment, stress and so on, a lot of it I know now simply was due to going off the whole-grain, fresh vegetables and fruits based real food diets and eating in restaurants and prepackaged foods again.

I probably experienced 30 point drop in I.Q. alone due to diet changes from going from being in college to working. That and not exercising.

Exercise really stimulates healthy brain chemistry, flushes out stress hormones and has a great antidepressant effects, too. As a related matter, I have more energy to work out and get fewer injuries, when I'm on a good diet, too. But that's another topic (sports nutrition).



millie
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06 Mar 2009, 2:36 pm

a fantastic thread, ephemerella, and oft overlooked.
I eat well and have very little wheat or dairy in my diet. i have bad reactions to both and my AS traits can increase a bit if i have a diet high in these.

i also take good supplements od omege 3,6 and 9 by taking a daily dose of flax seed oil.
i eat a lot of vergetables and i try to look after my body. i learned the hard way with this.

luckily i hate lollies and sweets, so they are not an issue for me.

Interestingly i cam off dairy and whete long before i was dx'ed wiht AS. i get very severe psoriasis if i eat too much of either and i also get bloated and feel sick and disoreiented and confused and can have digestive problems as well.

then i found out some people with AS experience this with these foods.

i think diet and health are important - one of the ketys to optimum living.



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06 Mar 2009, 6:26 pm

All I need for good functioning is a balanced diet. Artificial stuff isn't a problem; it's just that it tends to come in foods that are rather unhealthy anyway.


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07 Mar 2009, 8:39 am

A decent diet (sufficient fiber, veggies and not too much fat and sugar) along with exercise is all you need to be fit. Also keep your brains busy.

There is no specific diet for affecting AS since AS is not caused by nutritional factors. A generally health diet and lifestyle will help everyone, NTs and Aspies.

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07 Mar 2009, 8:49 am

I couldn't stand giving up any food I wat now really. The only dieting I could do was drinking water instead of soda for a meal and eating 3 pieces of pizza instead of 4.


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07 Mar 2009, 9:00 am

None of the above. I removed nightshades from my diet as of this year and it has made a tremendous difference for RA. Inasmuch as autism is linked to autoimmune dysfunction, avoiding nightshades has done wonders for my health. The only one I am 100% certain about is tomatoes because I ate some on Superbowl Sunday (in the form of hot wings and pizza) and felt just dreadful for two days after. I have hesitated to give the other nightshades such a test because I felt so bad after the tomato experiment. It almost seems insane to embark on an experiment to see just how much poison I can ingest without feeling bad, but it does say something about being human. :?


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ephemerella
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07 Mar 2009, 9:33 am

grizeldatee wrote:
None of the above. I removed nightshades from my diet as of this year and it has made a tremendous difference for RA. Inasmuch as autism is linked to autoimmune dysfunction, avoiding nightshades has done wonders for my health. The only one I am 100% certain about is tomatoes because I ate some on Superbowl Sunday (in the form of hot wings and pizza) and felt just dreadful for two days after. I have hesitated to give the other nightshades such a test because I felt so bad after the tomato experiment. It almost seems insane to embark on an experiment to see just how much poison I can ingest without feeling bad, but it does say something about being human. :?


Thank you for the comment. I've heard about nightshades being bad but wasn't able to find out why. I have autoimmune issues, too, making me very sensitive to my diet. I'm still trying to find the right diet, although I think I'm getting close. I'll look more into nightshades and autoimmune function.

Mostly, I've had to dump refined starches like white flour, white rice, white pasta and go with whole grain versions of things. Also have little sugar intake. I also can't eat processed food and foods with artificial ingredients in them. All of the foregoing makes me break out in rashes, makes me mentally confused and slow, makes me gain weight, gives me yeast infections and makes me moody and depressed.

Now I have a lot of energy, a clearer mind and much less emotional turmoil. I mainly eat a lot of vegetables and whole grains, fish and free range meat. Tomatoes and peppers are a big part of my diet. It would be hard to give them up, but I'm still having rashes and irritability, and other signs of food allergy, which can be a lingering autoimmune problem.

Can you comment more about a connection between nightshades and autoimmune function?



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07 Mar 2009, 9:52 am

so how much of what per week should we be eating(im male 170lbs)

right now i eat a lot of meat, bread AND a lot of vegetables and all sorts of soups(pretty much my entire diet)

what i dont eat or rarely eat is fish, fruits and anythin else(i dont take supplements like multi-vitamins or what have u either)

what i drink most of the time(water, snapple), sometimes vitamin water

thing is i go through a wide range of moods, but i feel like a lot of this could be a placebo effect



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07 Mar 2009, 10:05 am

Given your statements, I recommend the Ezekiel breads that are available in most freezer sections where I live.

Nightshades exacerbate inflammation, at least this has been true for me. Even though I had heard about the possible connection a couple years ago, I did not give it a try until this year. It was one of my New year's resolutions to forgo nightshades for one month. What a difference. I had a particularly bad flare up last fall that persisted through December. I just ached all the time. By the middle of January I was feeling strong again, and now I almost feel like I am 38. :P

I don't know why I waited so long. I guess I just figured it was quackery; it seems that there are so many ideas out there that go against the lifestyles to which we are accustomed. Anyway, here is a website if you are interested: http://www.noarthritis.com/research.htm.


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07 Mar 2009, 10:25 am

That's interesting about nightshades. I have suspected them in the past, but seeing as I'm smoking at the moment there doesn't seem much point in cutting out the rest of the family, ( though have already cut out potatoes because am excluding all starch and cutting down on disaccharides; eg: no dairy because of the di-sacch lactose, but a little bit of sucrose in coffee ), however it may be worth trying if the no-starch diet doesn't completely fix things!

For years I thought it was just gluten and perhaps casein, and that sugar was generally a bad idea, but recently been reading stuff that suggests that even the intolerances to gluten, casein, and other proteins might not be the bottom-line, that it might be a chronic immune-system reaction to pathogenic bacteria, ( which produce endotoxins called lipopolysaccharides ), living on undigested starch/complex carbos in our guts, which is at the root of many people's specific food intolerances.

Since finding out that AS have lower levels of carbohydrate-digesting enzymes than NTs I have been excluding starch, and the results so far are good, but as you say, Ephemerella, it takes time to see the full effects, as it took more than a year, ( last year ), to see just how much better I felt completely and consistently avoiding gluten.

I am finding that a no-starch diet encourages me to eat more raw food, lots of salad and veg, etc, which is obviously good for me too, seeing as apparently AS suffer from more oxidative stress than NTs.

And I was reading that "carbohydrate-rich diets exacerbate post-prandial lipaemia" which is something connected with alzheimers and some other things.

.



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07 Mar 2009, 12:35 pm

I'm pretty much "allergic" to the planet, or to what people have done to the planet, as well as 99% of the people. As a kid I was small and skinny and all I ate were oranges. Except for fish, yeah with all the mercury, I've been vegetarian over half my life...vegan for 15 years but not currently. I've got what used to be called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and haven't a clue what it's called now. By default, because of being uber sensitive to everything, diet and natural healing are obsessions. Basically I only know what works for me...and I know I have backwards reactions or allergies to a lot of common drugs like tetracycline, tylenol and valium. I'm deathly "allergic" to cigarettes, formaldehyde [new carpets and perfume], diesel exhaust, most glues, most new homes, most hotel rooms, and my car until the chemicals outgassed.

I call my chemical sensitivities "allergies" because it's easier to say than chemical sensitivities.. Except for commercial tomatoes, everything else commercial, and condiments, I don't think I'm technically allergic to any food, although there are very few foods I really like. I try to eat organic everything. Commercially grown food often makes me sick. Fungicide on food is almost fatal to me if ingested, which is on commercial oranges. I don't buy organic oranges anymore because it's too easy to get a commercial orange in the organic bin. I buy organic frozen organge juice. I've always been a picky eater to the point I'd much rather fast than eat what everyone else is eating. I've always hated candy and other sweets..however....

I began studying Ayurveda 16 years ago with their 6 tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, astringent, salty. I can barely tolerate salty and not a lot of sweet, bitter or pungent. My entire diet used to consist of astringent and sour. When I learned how bad sour is for me, I cut way back. I'm forcing myself to eat more sweet, pungent, bitter and salty although still don't consume enough of those tastes.

As I'm "allergic" to everything no matter where I go, I have to bring my own food and hang out in the places that are the least toxic for me. For 10 years I carried a painter's mask [looks like a little gas mask] with me everywhere I went. Then I started using a towel. Fortunately there isn't much in my home environment I'm "allergic" to. Actually I can barely function as an even remotely normal person when I have to be somewhere that is toxic for me, which is just about everywhere. What I need is a space suit for every time I have to go out in public.



ephemerella
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07 Mar 2009, 1:34 pm

alba wrote:
I'm pretty much "allergic" to the planet, or to what people have done to the planet, as well as 99% of the people. As a kid I was small and skinny and all I ate were oranges. Except for fish, yeah with all the mercury, I've been vegetarian over half my life...vegan for 15 years but not currently. I've got what used to be called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and haven't a clue what it's called now. By default, because of being uber sensitive to everything, diet and natural healing are obsessions. Basically I only know what works for me...and I know I have backwards reactions or allergies to a lot of common drugs like tetracycline, tylenol and valium. I'm deathly "allergic" to cigarettes, formaldehyde [new carpets and perfume], diesel exhaust, most glues, most new homes, most hotel rooms, and my car until the chemicals outgassed.


This sounds much worse than my allergies, but I'm increasingly sensitive to chemicals and industrialized food products. What happens to me is that I gain weight really quickly (inflammation/water retention), get rashes, get yeast infections, and my AS symptoms get much, much worse. What I eat has more impact on my level of functioning from week to week than any other environmental condition -- at I didn't realize this fact for most of my life, because it takes a few days for the effect to appear and it's very gradual.

Quote:
I call my chemical sensitivities "allergies" because it's easier to say than chemical sensitivities.. Except for commercial tomatoes, everything else commercial, and condiments, I don't think I'm technically allergic to any food, although there are very few foods I really like. I try to eat organic everything. Commercially grown food often makes me sick. Fungicide on food is almost fatal to me if ingested, which is on commercial oranges. I don't buy organic oranges anymore because it's too easy to get a commercial orange in the organic bin. I buy organic frozen organge juice. I've always been a picky eater to the point I'd much rather fast than eat what everyone else is eating. I've always hated candy and other sweets..however....


Sounds a lot like me. I've never been fond of candy and sweets, and my family never ate dessert, etc. In the past few years I've gone more and more to eating organic, fresh foods because the taste & texture is so much better and I was eating a lot of raw foods instead of cooking. What's happened is that I've noticed in the past few years that when I fall off my diet of organic, fresh vegetables and fruits and other unprocessed, natural food, that I get really sick, gain weight and I get lower-functioning and my intellectual function drops. So I gradually build up in a good diet habit whenever my lifestyle was stable, but whenever I moved or started working or something that disrupted my schedule, my diet shifted back to convenience and processed foods, and I got "sick" (went downhill dramatically).

This food effect has become really obvious to me in the past year since we started visiting the in-laws in Cape Cod a lot. They are totally refined-starch, sugar crazy, vegetable-hating typical American diet eaters, and I spent weeks after each visit sick. Now it's obvious to me that I've had this all my life, just never realized that much of my fluctuations in functioning were related to something as simple as diet and allergens.

Quote:
I began studying Ayurveda 16 years ago with their 6 tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, astringent, salty. I can barely tolerate salty and not a lot of sweet, bitter or pungent. My entire diet used to consist of astringent and sour. When I learned how bad sour is for me, I cut way back. I'm forcing myself to eat more sweet, pungent, bitter and salty although still don't consume enough of those tastes.


I'm just now learning these things. Along with biochemistry and physiology, I've been reading natural healing and Ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I'm totally amazed at how powerful foods are in impacting our health.

That taste balance thing of Ayurvedic diet makes a lot of sense. The different tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, astringent, salty) map onto different families of molecules that the taste buds are designed to sense. I mean, you know that when you want something citrusy and tangy that you're craving vitamin C, right? At first, the Ayurvedic system seemed arbitrary and bizarre to me, then it started to make a lot of sense, when you look at biochemistry and see that families of organic compounds in our bodies have definite organic and aromatic properties. Like the organic acids that have net alkalizing effect in our blood, that correct some metabolism problems.

Quote:
As I'm "allergic" to everything no matter where I go, I have to bring my own food and hang out in the places that are the least toxic for me. For 10 years I carried a painter's mask [looks like a little gas mask] with me everywhere I went. Then I started using a towel. Fortunately there isn't much in my home environment I'm "allergic" to. Actually I can barely function as an even remotely normal person when I have to be somewhere that is toxic for me, which is just about everywhere. What I need is a space suit for every time I have to go out in public.


That sounds really tough. I've told my in-laws that I'm not going to eat any more of their food, ever. I still don't know how well that will go over, or if I'll be ostracized or punished. I can't imagine having to deal with so much environmental contaminant stress, beyond processed foods.

One thing that helps me is that I eat a lot of anti-inflammatory foods and chelating agents. These help reduce allergic response that is excessive, since a lot of that has to do with inflammation. Also, the chelation agents, which I eat/take every day, tend to bind with chemical compounds and metals and help the liver filter them out of blood. The anti-inflammatories are turmeric, pineapple and a lot of vegetables and spices. The chelation foods/supplements are cilantro, lemon, Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), glutathione (have to take sublinqually b/c it will get denatured if you swallow it), and N-Acetyle-Cysteine (NAC).