Some snippets from a conversation I had with someone on the spectrum and with a minority background. Highlighting odd aspects of diet and poverty that seem to impact symptoms related to mental health, and how I've been leveraging research into ethnicities to understand my own health history better.
I've been somewhat depressed since high school, but the first year of college really did me in. I actually dropped out my second year because of the depression. My grades were great and I really like the environment I just couldn't handle my own mental state.
I also had strange gastrointestinal issues from the food. When I went back, I spent more time being picky about my food and I did a lot better. Something instinctual in me was choosing food that wasn't giving me bathroom issues. I was also more aggressive on selecting courses that fit with my odd sleep schedule (I have non-24-disorder), giving me time in the day to sleep when I was staying up at night. I think that was significant.
Looking at my life now, and what I've learned about my gut issues, I think that's the only thing that got me through. I know I was eating a lot of yogurt, avoiding milk, and generally eating something that I would describe is keto diet given how will I was avoiding sugars.
It said that autistic people thrive under routine. I don't think that's exactly the case. I think that we've needed routine to reduce anxiety when our bacteria arent able to help us endure it. Which as best as I can tell from the Western diet is all the fucking time because of how it messes with our immune system.
After college I didn't have the luxury of having access to a lunchroom, so my diet shifted quite significantly and I think that's what led to a slow ramping up of burnout in work. Combined with my sleep schedule being messed up, not really compatible with a 9to5, and stresses associated with lack of routine: I just got progressively worse.
Every risk factor for autism I've seen is an immune system related phenomena. Even the intestinal cancers that are more common in autism are all driven by gut bacteria not functioning well (loosely speaking, if you squint at it a bit).
Throw in lipid processing problems tied to the liver, and now you have a recipe for poor endocannabinoid function, and large-scale knock-on effects on the body's ability to regulate the immune system.
One of the weirder things my research has lead me to is NAFLD and schizophrenia. I believe statistics show people of color in America are more likely to have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and particularly in America they face higher rates of schizophrenia. Also high rates of heart disease oddly enough, and obesity associated problems like diabetes. These all fit a disease model of it being tied to inflammation in a very particular & systematic way.
I mention issues facing people of color because it's been something I've been digging into to help explore my own issues. Up here in Vermont there's not a lot of people of color, so most of the people that I know are white and living in poverty. But most of the research in the spaces I'm into are focused on people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease whom are also poor people. That is to say, minority groups who face a much higher disease burden.
Huge number of my friends growing up could be classified as mentally challenged or otherwise mentally Ill in some degree or another. Jumping around low-income-housing in Vermont while living with my disabled mother introduced me to a large swath of people who struggled in this space. I also have a significant amount of NAFLD related genetic risk factors, immune problem genetics, and PCOS genetics. I don't think this is all a coincidence.
There was a study done on the Mediterranean diet for health, and poor people tended to eat more grains because they were cheaper, and had less fresh meats and fewer healthy fats. The biggest factors I saw was poor nutrition from how grain is milled, how preserved meats are often done with nitrates which also do a number on the gut bacteria, and generally higher levels of stress and lower flexibility of being strapped for cash.
I've got a hunch that it's not necessarily the grains itself but how it's grown and milled, and cooked. There's also some weird ties between a pesticide and possible direct impacts on a metabolic pathway present in soil bacteria (and by association some gut bacteria). https://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/does-glyphosate-affect-the-gut-microbiome/
The pesticide factor is still being investigated so I can't be as confident there. But I do know that most of the gut bacteria that seem to play a role in my own issues are ones responsible for mucosa production. They seem to be also responsible for changes in snail/foot and worm aevistation associated mucus function, so my suspicions are raised.
There's all sorts of smoking guns, I don't think it's any one thing in particular. Though I find it interesting how people who avoid grains end up improving symptoms across the board. I'm even waiting for some fasting related studies to come out exploring their efficacy for treatment resistant depression and Multiple Sclerosis given how much success I've had with that.
There's some strange outlier cases where somebody living in poverty ends up getting a better lifestyle through things like going to college and getting a good job. And while they do better off in terms of autism risk, they're more likely to have children with autism then people who have been higher class for a longer stretch of time. It's easy to assume that this is a genetic defect, but everything I've explored on the risk factors for autism seem to suggest that it might actually be dietary. That is to say people who grow up poor end up eating more 'like a poor person' (at least culturally speaking). Even among people with a western diet, levels of sugar and other inflammatory agents tend to be way higher in lower class diets.
I think a lot of this is tied to weird status signaling things and shame norms around food. Though there is a lot of compounding factors. Oddly some middle-class people end up being less healthy dietarily speaking because they end up eating heavily preserved microwaved foods. Being "time poor" seems to be a another factor in being able to eat a healthy diet. There's this weird tiers. E.g. If your extremely poor, you're almost forced to cook for yourself because it's cheaper and ends up the only way to survive. There's a gray area in the middle where some people end up going to restaurants or eating junk food, and then as you get further up in terms of income you can start paying more to get healthy food again. With the extreme upper echelons being able to afford nannies and other aspects that free up time for healthier food choices.
Teasing out the nuances here is challenging, but when you actually go and do it, ends up mapping fairly well to mental health problems. And while I can't claim to be any where close to an expert in this area (I'm a closeted autistic shut in living in one of the whitest states of the union), I believe that food challenges are particularly problematic among people of color.
There are other lenses you can take on this, but fundamentally you can frame changing class as a sort of immigration within your own country. The way I understand it, foreigners to America (depending on what economic station they end up falling into) ends up changing what foods have access to. If I understand it correctly, cultural integration effects means it's usually the 3rd generation immigrants who end up having the most amount of mental illness when adapting to the American diet. But if you can access and afford food that fits your cultural heritage, you're more likely to pass that on to children and avoid this effect.
This way of thinking suggests you wind up perpetuating food norms that aren't particularly healthy when you migrate between classes. Because you don't tend to shift into a different social group like you might be able to if you immigrant to a neighborhood with others who eat the same cuisine. The analogy isn't as clear cut, but it seems to fit.
As a consequence, I'm learning so much about my Swedish and Native American heritage. The more I learn about their foods, the more I realize that I should be eating traditional fermented foods, and biasing my diet toward what they were eating in the early 1800s before industrial agriculture started perverting everything for the sake of advertising.
Tying this back to autism, diet, and the weird social defects that I see.
What I think is actually going on is that because of evolution, these systems are tied together. Somebody being a little bit sick would be benefited by getting helped by their family. But if you're a lot of sick, driving anxiety and irritableness would lead to you naturally distancing yourself from other people. So I'm thinking that at a lower level these are functions of how we respond to disease, that are simply being repurposed for social and brain development. With sickness and famine being tied to the hip. Which place an american/poor person diet as a sort of partial famine situation, at least in terms of immune system relevant nutrients & gut health factors.
This phenomenon shows up in almost every social creature I look at. Although my obsession is ants; not only do they have this effect in their social network when they get sick, it's quite literally mediated by something called an insulin-like peptide. This peptide also controls their brain development. So basically healthy ants and the forging patterns differ than unhealthy ants, because it literally changes the way their brain and social structure are wired.
I actually discovered the impact of microbes on humans by learning about how much they impact the methylation Pathways in ants.
For the most part ants are all genetic clones when they're within a colony structure, and it's the diet and microbes that impact there gene expression.
My model is a lot of autism symptoms are being immune-related along similar immune/insulin pathways. Some research into demyelination among hibernating mammals also suggest to me that different parts of our brain might be selectively preserved. There were some studies in Alzheimer's that suggests memory can be recovered that fits my model, but I haven't dug into it yet. A surprisingly High degree of autistics and ADHD people have tinnitus, but also a fondness for music. Another similar condition called Williams syndrome is predominantly focused on music and they love singing.
One of the causes of tinnitus is actually a brain dysfunction and nothing to do with the ear. Although distinguishing between the two is hard. I found that curious as it seems to be highlighted in my sensory processing issues.
I also realized a while back that I probably had subclinical pellagra that was driving my lack of sense of smell. This has to do with tryptophan metabolism which is upstream of serotonin in the gut. It also ties directly to systematic issues facing people of color and other minorities in America https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12680009/
Pellagra symptoms are at least associated with autism. And likely beyond the normal expected issues with selective diet issues.
As an aside, I also suspect weirdness going on between pellagra and Alzheimer's, but haven't been able to get a good bead on it. I actually uncovered my 'sub-clinical pellagra' as a result of my investigations into Alzheimer's symptomology because of an interest in poor sense of smell. It might be more common than thought, but symptoms may be understood differently among minority groups https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3396146/ so I am still on the fence.
So I can smell when it's going to rain now and it's freaking wild. Having no sense of smell since puberty, this whole thing has been life changing. My responsiveness to other's emotions seems to be tied to my ability to orchestrate and work on them cohesively. When I don't have my sense of smell and my body is numb I feel like empty. And I don't cry. I think it's all being tied together with how my gut is creating serotonin.
It's only when the senses can integrate do I end up having the access to that emotional context. I don't understand what it is exactly yet, but it seems to be helping me mitigate a lot of the emotional defects seen in autism.
Another weird problem that shows up in autism is how often the symptoms manifest in a sort of hikkomori.
My mom doesn't go outside much, and frankly neither do I. I was attempting at making a habit of it but then the f****** pandemic hit most of the places I would go we're swamped because people didn't want to be inside.
One of the key findings that I've made is that vitamin D seems to be a huge for mitigating problems with MS. But our bodies don't seem to be good at creating Vitamin D from cholesterol. Literally cholesterol is irradiated by the Sun and turns into Vitamin D. And as Vitamin D is a steroid it's hugely immune active processes.
Something about my biology means that I don't make vitamin D if I don't eat animal. I don't seem to be able to make cholesterol from plant fats like other people seem to be able to do. So I get sunburns really bad and get light sensitivity.
The pellagra thing seems to also cause light sensitivity. I get sick with this double whammy going on where I was basically act as a vampire hiding from the Sun and staying up all night sleeping all day. :V
If you're from, or have heritage from, countries near the equator, I would make an assumption that you have darker skin. Darker skin makes it even harder to make vitamin D.
In America the loss of recess, and the reduction and eating cholesterol due to the fears about heart disease seem to be a perfect storm 4 causing immune dysfunction among people of color.
People with extremely dark skin need to be on the Sun for like three times as long as someone with pale skin like me. Apparently some redheads can survive perfectly fine with indirect lighting because of how their body makes vitamin D. I'm not redhead, but I know that I get freckles instead of tanning properly.
Apparently it's beginning to be framed as a form of racism to point out the impact of dark skin on serum vitamin D. I don't talk about this much in public because I don't want to be misconstrued. My interest in genetics already makes that hard.
Though my slant is always that it's about diet and environment. With the genetics biasing it because of adaptions to environmental factors.
Vitamin D also plays into that weird thing about poor people eating grains. America is afraid of salt fat and cholesterol, but ironically too little salt, poor cholesterol metabolism, and not enough healthy fats can end up causing the same things were afraid of it for. Minority groups with unique Health needs related to immune function end up being the worst hit by this. It's tragic, and seems mirrored in the experiences of impoverished people within Vermont areas.
I dont really know much about cholesterol metabolism, can you go into more details?
So cholesterol is a lipid which means it's kind of a fat. Normally plant fats can be turned into them. It is digested via bile salts in the stomach, which is then reabsorbed in the intestine. If you end up getting liquid-y acidic shits its because that process isn't happening properly.
Cholesterol is made bioavailable by it binding with calcium, which is then able to be moved through the bloodstream and deposited wherever the body needs it. Poor cholesterol metabolism also means troubles with calcium processing. So you end up getting weak bones and heart problems as a result. Also because it has to do with calcium, levels of acidity impact its solubility. The amygdala at its core is a CO2 sensor that measures acidity in the bloodstream. There's all sorts of strange chemical shifts that stress causes that can change the way that cholesterol is deposited.
A normal cholesterol metabolism the body will make it on demand from fat stored in the liver. So you don't actually have to eat cholesterol from an animal. In fact most cholesterol just gets pooped out if you eat too much.
But there's something weird going on with carbohydrates being turned into fats in the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is one example of this process. Also the cooking process that you can do with ducks called 'foie gras', it's basically feeding them tons and tons of grain so that their liver gets fatty and tasty.
An arterial plaque is when that cholesterol ends up filling up the blood and depositing on the side of a blood vessel. Sometimes it's not that you make too much cholesterol, it can also mean that the cholesterol has no place to go, or isn't being consumed by the cells that need it because it's not actually floating through the blood properly.
Schizophrenic patients have this strange phenomenon where nothing that they do seems to impact their cholesterol except one thing. Eating niacin. Specifically the kind that causes Flushing. And for some strange reason they have genetics that tend to make it so they don't flush.
At a fundamental level pellagra is a niacin deficiency which impairs tryptophan metabolism. So it all ties back together with diet, and my own symptoms around pellagra and immune function.
Carbohydrates... So like too much rice?
Really any complex carb, but a lot of it depends on your gut bacteria ability to metabolize it. It has to do with blood sugar, the liver is pulling blood sugar out of the bloodstream and turning into fat. So ties directly to insulin and insulin sensitivity
Blood sugar spiking can be very individualized, and it can also change depending on what else to eat with it. A piece of white bread versus a piece of white bread with butter on it can make a huge difference. As can whether or not it's sourdough. A bunch of lactic acid bacteria actually play a role in telling the liver whether or not to release bile acid. And a lot of this changes how much of the food and heading to the bloodstream, and how quickly.
The term glycemic index is fundamentally about this. The same food like an oatmeal can change how a spike blood sugar depending on how it's processed. Literally like if it's chopped in chunks should really well or a powder. Apparently oatmeal powder gels up and sticks in the small intestine for an extremely long. Of time the spiking blood sugar more than just quick oats or steel cut oats, for example.
If you don't have insulin sensitivity than the rice probably fine because the body can absorb the sugar before the liver end up grabbing it
Low vitamin D is common in people with diabetes and insulin sensitivity issues too. They seem to be related.
One of the more complicated things here is that when they go to test if you have insulin issues, they use something called an A1C level. Which has to do with the amount of sugars on the surface of the blood. This is kind of like a rolling average that occurs over time, and as independent from actual blood sugar spikes. Because it takes time for these A1C molecules to build up.
There are a couple very under referenced papers on this topic that I found while trying to figure out how come someone else I talk to has all the symptoms of diabetes without actually having the high blood sugar. It might be actually insulin sensitivity issues that aren't showing up on this long-term A1C thing because of it actually being an average. It could be spiking high during the day and then going low during the night and it wouldn't actually showcase as a higher-than-average.
A similar phenomenon shows up in multiple sclerosis. Once I figured out what the impact of insulin on the immune function, and correlated with metabolic issues tied to Multiple Sclerosis, I started eating like a type 2 diabetic it's supposed to. Basically I went with a keto diet. There's all sorts of papers talking about how keto seems to improve autism symptoms, schizophrenic symptoms, and a bunch of other issues.
Insulin is managed by beta cells in the pancreas, and it's possible to regenerate them if you haven't completely destroyed them. So there are cases where type 2 diabetics go on keto and actually don't have diabetes anymore after a while. They can start eating carbohydrates again and they're not getting the issues with it.
There's some research that came out this year I think we're they found out that one of the major hallucinogenic drugs my actually boost that regeneration process. I have a hunch that serotonin itself I also have an effect like that, but you need to make sure that your tryptophan to niacin are working well to be able to make enough to actually have it work out.
I think it was ayahuasca. I'd have to look at my notes
There's a bunch of people in India who claimed that drinking urine from a virgin how also reversed their diabetes. I think what's happening there is the nitrogen from the urea is acting as a nitrogen source to improve the bacteria colony in their gut, and as a side effects they're making more serotonin because they have more functional bacteria. I think 90% of the body's serotonin is made in the gut.
When you eat fiber to improve gut bacteria fundamentally what you're doing is creating a nitrogen source that your own body can't access. The bacteria break down the fiber and turn it into nitrogen. Nitrogen is one of the main building blocks of proteins. Unsurprisingly if you just eat a lot of protein you also exhibit an increase in bacterial diversity. But no one talks about the impact of meat on bacterial diversity.
Food Norms in America are so f***** up, and even though there are scientific studies on the topic, we have this weird obsession around Plant based products and fibers. Because of my Crohn's disease symptoms my body can't house the bacteria needed to break down plants so I've had to figure out a different way to do it. My diet is a simulated version of the Hadza.
I don't think I necessarily need to be that way. But I've basically been living on $100 a month for food without a stove or kitchen or anything to actually cook with, so I can't do things like make fermented vegetables or fermented bread products.
When I do buy that stuff I have to go out of my way to get authentic products. Like most sauerkraut isn't actually real sauerkraut, it's just some cabbage with vinegar added to it to make it taste Tangy.
I've slowly been able to eat more and more carbohydrate without getting brain fog symptoms. Some stuff still bothers me quite a bit. I think what's happening there is that the emulsifiers used in highly processed bread production are destroying gut bacteria and impeding butyrate production
Can you give examples of grains/complex carbs poor people in America eat that get weened off as people climb classes?
Re: Mediterranean diet. I don't know the details off the top of my head https://www.inquirer.com/philly/health/personal-best/the-mediterranean-diet-works-but-not-if-youre-poor-a-study-finds-20170809.html
I found this out while exploring PCOS associated hormone dysfunction that all my GFs have had (and I even predicted I have genetics for it, despite no ovaries). Worth noting that PCOS genetics seem to be more common in people of color and latinx populations. I don't know why that is exactly, but I believe it may be relevant.
Apparently people with PCOS genes in the Mediterranean have less symptoms. It causes fertility problems and menstrual issues, so there is a lot of research on it. The poor in that region are more likely to suffer from infertility and complications like diabetes
Then that study the inquirer talks about came out and it suddenly made sense.
Though it's worth noting food tracking studies and survey based methods kinda suck, that one was large enough that I think it is significant.
it seems to match demographic data, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/23/the-difference-between-what-rich-and-poor-americans-eat-is-getting-bigger/ and https://www.statnews.com/2016/06/21/growing-diet-divide/ cover another finding that is more specific on america
and another review from 2010 that goes into more detail https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2847733/