Malabsorption

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First off, apologies to my long-time followers for always being so preoccupied with Weston A. Price and others that witnessed the sudden dramatic decline of health at the dawn of modern food. But the shift of human health really dominates my thinking. From the beginning I’ve really been perplexed and driven to understand how and what, specifically, brought about this shift.

As a very brief recap for all the newbies, Price directly observed a dramatic change in physical, mental, and even societal health amongst several independent groups of humans worldwide, as they were exposed to modern foods for the first time from a previously natural, nutritious, and untainted diet. Highlights include improper formation of facial structure resulting in crooked teeth, something we now just consider to be normal and “genetic” in nature. Other highlights include crime, which didn’t exist in any of the 14 pristine cultures that he encountered. Although this seemed implausible when I first read Price’s bold claim, there is actually more merit to it than I ever would have thought possible due to actual malabsorption/endocrine alteration-induced neurological disturbances, which I’ll get into later. Finally, Price observed a dramatic spike in infectious disease irregardless of exposure, digestive disorders, and also the onset of degenerative diseases like arthritis, cancer, and the list goes on.

For those that had the courage to read my lengthy “Status of the Puzzle” entry, a summary of my understanding of the decline of human health posted late 2007, you may remember that the two prime suspects in the causation of most illness were disturbed digestive function and hormone imbalance (which includes insulin, thyroid hormones, adrenal hormones, and many others, not just sex hormones). I was, and still am unsure of what comes first, the chicken or the egg in this scenario, but Robert McCarrison’s work did influence my leanings towards hormone imbalance by showing that it precipitated and even caused digestive malfunction in his hundreds of animal subjects and laboratory studies (induced by any number of nutrient deficiencies, lack of protein in the diet, and/or too much carbohydrate).

But hormones aside, let’s talk specifically about sugar malabsorption. Malabsorption is basically the improper ability to digest a food properly, to transform it into a substance that is useable. Most attribute this disorder to altered bacterial flora that resides in our digestive tract – the presence or overgrowth of certain types of bacteria or yeasts in concentrations that become harmful and suppress normal physiological activity. This appears to be pretty accurate, and altered gut flora can do tremendous damage, in and of itself, including impairing intestinal villi responsible for proper absorption.

But that’s not all baby. When gut flora is altered, not only does it prevent the uptake of key nutrients, it also suppresses the manufacture of certain vitamins, which are normally manufactured from within by ‘normal’ microbes. This brings me to the next piece of the puzzle.

A study was done specifically on fructose malabsorption, something brought up originally in “Fruc Fructose.” Researchers found that a huge percentage of adults and the majority of young children that they tested were not absorbing fructose properly. Keep in mind that white, refined sugar like that which was always found amongst the modern foods in the societies that Price observed, is 50% fructose. Accompanying failed hydrogen breath tests, used to determine fructose malabsorption, were three distinct and predictable changes…

The first difference found in those who couldn’t absorb all of the fructose they were administered was lower levels of the B vitamin folic acid. Folic acid is a well-known nutrient among expectant mothers because of the very well-established connection between folic acid and birth defects. We’re not talking just any kind of garden variety birth defect, but very specific birth defects. Folic acid embryologically controls the neural tube formation where neural crest cells that determine facial structure originate – a deficiency of which is well-documented as causing facial and spinal deformity. This is interesting seeing that the entire bulk of Weston A. Price’s legendary book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, is a pictorial of altered facial structure and dentition seen after the introduction of modern foods. He’s got some spinal malformation pics as well. Hmmm?

The second difference found among fructose malabsorbers is low blood levels of the amino acid Tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential precursor to the formation of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is thought of as our body’s ‘happy juice,’ as it is the ultimate influence over our moods. But serotonin is not just one isolated biochemical. The biochemistry of the human body is a system, dependent entirely on each and every individual part. You can have the finest car in the world, a Ferrari with 10 miles on it, the entire machine clean and perfect. But forget oil and you will ruin the perfection of the whole system until the car won’t move at all, much less go from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye. This of course is just a general metaphor, but it does apply to serotonin and the functioning of the whole human being as well.

Consider the following:

Serotonin and its neurotransmitter counterpart dopamine, exist in a healthy, balanced person in a state of balanced equilibrium in the limbic region of the human brain (where the hypothalamus, the conductor of the hormone symphony resides). Any time serotonin is low, dopamine is high. The pair exists on an axis. Low serotonin, and therefore high dopamine levels results in some good old-fashioned schizophrenia depending on the severity of this imbalance. Natasha Campbell-McBride, specialist on the connection between schizophrenia and other mental disorders and altered gut flora, has defined an absolute association between the microbial world in the digestive tract and psychological disturbances of all kinds, ranging from depression to Autism. Disturbances in serotonin/dopamine are also found in people with negative thought patterns, suicidal tendencies, substance abuse problems, violent behavior and aggression, and other abnormalities common amongst criminals but never found by Price to be present amongst those on their native diets. In other words, Price’s bold claim on criminal behavior’s link to refined foods, despite the shock value that such a claim has initially, has oodles of validity depending on how deep you want to go in tying the pieces of that puzzle together. Consider simply the title of Chapter 22 in The Age-Free Zone by Barry Sears: “Serotonin: Your Morality Hormone.”

Also, consider that melatonin (the hormone secreted at night that helps you sleep) is made from serotonin, which is converted at a particular time of night based on your exposure to light and the general attunement of your body to its natural circadian rhythms. Melatonin is therefore dependent on adequate serotonin, which is liable to be lacking if tryptophan levels in the blood are reduced. Melatonin regulates the timing of the release of sex hormones. Melatonin regulates the immune system because of its influence over another hormone called prolactin. Melatonin, because of its influence over circadian rhythmicity, influences cortisol levels which determines what time you wake up, and even how hungry you are and what you are in the mood to eat because of cortisol’s influence on insulin production, which in turn effects the utilization and storage of body fat and so much more. Melatonin is also the most potent antioxidant in the body, well-known for its ability to scavenge hydroxyl free radicals, the most destructive of all free radicals. Excess free radicals that haven’t been neutralized by a potent antioxidant like melatonin are associated with heart disease, cancer, and other free radical-associated degenerative diseases (of which there are plenty).

So do you get my point? Do you think low tryptophan levels at least might be particularly significant? Maybe? Perhaps? There is much potential there for disruption, that much is hard to argue against. The above is but the tip of the iceberg on neurotransmitter balance and the cascade of ensuing events. On the other side of the coin, irregardless of gut flora, consider that high insulin levels that result from a high sugar intake result in high serotonin levels, which might deplete the blood of tryptophan for the excessive production, which could lead to a host of other mental illnesses and more. Further still, serotonin requires proper functioning of receptor sites which get burned out from overuse. Overproduction could result in underutilization. Thus, the result is still high dopamine levels. One thing that is known, regardless of the details of the scenario, is that autistic children for example, do have significantly higher levels of functional dopamine. Dopamine is also the neurotransmitter of memory, learning expansion, and mental skills — perhaps why autistic children are sometimes associated with savant-capabilities. Counting cards, yeah, definitely counting cards. Burn baby, burn baby!

The third and final difference found in fructose malabsorbers was low blood levels of zinc. Low zinc levels during pregnancy are also associated with birth defects. Zinc is considered one of the primary nutrients for healthy sexual function. Zinc is also a key player in controlling blood sugar regulation and may play a huge role in the development of Diabetes. And it’s very important to note that minerals also exist, not independently, but form relationships with other minerals on an axis. Zinc has a strong connection with copper in particular, and those with a low-zinc: high-copper profile often have severe health problems, including Wilson’s disease, the most severe form of copper toxicity – considered along with ADD and Asperger’s Syndrome, to be mental/physical steps on the way down to Autism.

Looks like we’re back where we started – altered gut flora as a result of malabsorption linked to mental disorders and birth defects.

What’s particularly alarming about all this, is that much of the old school research showed a continual degradation of health from generation to generation. This wasn’t an unchangeable genetic phenomenon, but is certainly hereditary. Price labeled the process “intercepted heredity,” a term he used to describe his very clear observation that the offspring of those fed modern food were worse off than their parents. And as the data on fructose malabsorption shows, children are absorbing fructose far more poorly than the generation before them. In fact it’s estimated that it is twice as prevalent amongst young children and adolescents right now than adults. Also keep in mind that fructose malabsorption often has no outwardly symptoms.

As a hugely important side note, Pottenger’s cats, who were fed a cooked food diet, developed all of the same phenomena – crooked teeth, osteoporosis, allergies and asthma, cavities, decreased immune system function, neuroses, and reproductive disability. None of their food was refined or modern per se, just cooked. So this was blamed on the heat treatment of the food. However, cats raised on lifeless dry kibble, although their health is far from perfect, generally have good dentition, decent immune system function, good bone structure, and more than ample reproductive capacity. Bob Barker hello! The extinction-inducing component in Pottenger’s experiment was most likely pasteurized (cooked) milk, also one of the modern foods in the areas Price studied. Without the presence of lactase, an enzyme found in the raw milk fed to Pottenger’s flawless raw-fed kitties, combined with the fact that cats in adulthood do not produce their own lactase from within, cooked milk sugar (lactose) cannot be absorbed properly. This in and of itself is probably what brought about their demise. Cooked milk is also bringing about the demise in humans that don’t produce sufficient lactase (nearly everyone). Even a small portion of undigested lactose is a severe problem, and is the reason why milk (cooked milk mind you, not raw milk teeming with lactase enzymes), is associated with, you guessed it, asthma, allergies, digestive problems, osteoporosis, tooth decay, heart disease, breast cancer, yada yada yada.

Essentially, the human race is headed for disaster, whether you and I believe this is true or not. The most alarming explosion of ailments are almost all invariably linked in one way or another to sugar, especially refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup, but natural sugars certainly don’t appear to offer much other than trouble either. If you think ADD and ADHD is false, and that doctors are just labeling people to prescribe medication, you are dead wrong. If you think Autism is caused by mercury in vaccinations despite a massive increase in the disease and discontinued use of mercury in inoculations, then you are being stubborn. If you think obesity, Diabetes, and heart disease are caused by eating too much saturated fat and not getting enough exercise despite decreased saturated fat consumption and a huge boon in the exercise/fitness industry, then you are not thinking critically. If you think Cancer is caused primarily by toxins, then you are guiding the data instead of letting the data guide you. If you think that virtually any modern disease is influenced by any other factor more so than diet, then you aren’t looking closely enough at the lessons that history has clearly shown us.

Your chances of getting diabetes have escalated from 1 in 4000 to 1 in 5 or 6 in the last century. Cancer rates have jumped by almost as much. Autism occurred in 1 in 10,000 children 20 years ago and now occurs in greater numbers than 1 in 100 in some countries. Obesity has skyrocketed at an accelerated pace since 1980, to levels never before anticipated (1 in 3 in the U.S. and growing). Infertility now affects something like 1in 5 couples. Asthma and allergies have absolutely exploded, something so many of us “live with” or take medication for, in turn blaming air pollution despite increases in air quality. Mental and mood disorders (anxiety, depression, lethargy, repetitive negative thought patterns, aggression, psychoses, etc.) are increasingly common, and most of us, whether we realize it or not, are existing with suboptimal mind and mood regulation. Cavities and crooked teeth are foolishly considered normal by most, not the first warning sign of impending doom like it clearly was for Pottenger’s cats.

It’s clearly time that the world begin thinking about this as a cumulative disorder with a dominant root cause that overshadows all other contributing factors. Sure it may sound silly to equate heart disease and Autism as having the same root cause, but lastly, consider this, taken from Lights Out, by T.S. Wiley and Bent Formby:

“A man named Kilmer McCully realized about thirty years ago that children with a genetic disease called homocysteinuria always died of heart attacks from clogged arteries by the age of ten or eleven. Children with homocysteinuria genetically fail to make an enzyme that metabolizes homocysteine to remove it from the blood-stream. McCully was smart enough to realize that high levels of building homocysteine must be associated with coronary artery disease in adults too. He was right.”

What’s interesting is that an extremely helpful ‘cure’ for this inability to excrete homocysteine properly was found. The amazing drug? Folic acid – something that we can reasonably deduce that if you’re low in (seen in those with malabsorption), you might have high homocysteine levels, a pronounced risk factor for heart disease.

What if high homocysteine levels due to low folic acid damaged endothelial cells? And what if endothelial cells controlled blood clotting, fat metabolism, and blood pressure? What if microbes like h. pylori that overrun those with altered gut flora were linked to heart disease? What if heart disease patients had lower melatonin levels compared to controls? What if those low melatonin levels were a direct result of inadequate serotonin production (linked to Tryptophan)? What if there was a psychosomatic connection between heart disease and irritablity, depression, and other mental states tied to inadequate serotonin levels? What if the ingestion of fructose had been shown in a clinical study to negatively influence several prominent risk factors for heart disease to the degree that the American Diabetic Association warned Diabetics not to ingest it? What if obesity and Diabetes were found to be part of the same phenomenon that causes heart disease?

Folks, these aren’t what if’s, but verifiable, documented observations. And these are just ties to heart disease. As has virtually been proven by Gary Taubes, who has followed an independent trail of evidence just as I have, sugar has causal links to nearly all the common disorders that are pandemic today, but that Weston A. Price and others simply could not find prior to its arrival. And the beauty is that by following a very precise dietary and lifestyle manipulation strategy, you can actually get yourself to not want to eat it. Screw willpower. You don’t have to battle your body. There is another way.

It is time to turn in the complete opposite direction, to make a complete “one hundred and eighty-degree turnaround.” The ingestion of huge quantities of sugar – the biggest dietary change the human being has ever undergone, coupled with an array of foods that are depleted of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other factors that the human organism depends upon for harmonious function, is a trend that must be reversed. If we, as a society, continue to eat and live the same, our problems will continue to get exponentially worse, but there is a way to opt out of this collective collapse, and I hope to light that path.

On that note, this post brings an official end to Sacred Self and the beginning of something much greater. I’m channeling the time normally dedicated to the upkeep of this site to the development of the large-scale launching of http://www.180degreehealth.com/, due to emerge in August of 2008. Even more monumental will be the release of my book, 180 Degree Health, arriving the first of January, 2009. I fully anticipate it to be one of the most comprehensive and intelligent discourses on health that’s been written in human history… barring that my brain doesn’t screw it up. Don’t worry, I’ll still find a way to figure Mr. T (aka Dr. T) and Corey Feldman into the equation as well, if need be.

Thank you everyone for following along.

“If you want a longer life with better physical health, food is your passport. If you want better emotional relationships, food is your passport. If you want better oneness with the world around you, food is your passport… It’s not living longer that should be your first goal, it’s living better. It’s enjoying life and trying to achieve balance and harmony.”
-Barry Sears

To receive direct e-mail updates from now until then, please send an e-mail to sacredself@gmail.com (subject: “subscribe”).

References:

Amen, Daniel. Change Your Brain Change Your Life. Three Rivers Press: New York, NY, c. 1998.

Appleton, Nancy. Lick the Sugar Habit. Avery Publishing Group: New York, NY, c. 1996.

Campbell-McBride, Natasha. Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Medinform Publishing: Cambridge, c. 2004.

Cohen, Robert. “Milk and dairy products cause heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis – interview with Robert Cohen.” http://www.naturalnews.com/002695.html

Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions. New Trends Publishing, Inc.: Washington, D.C., c. 1999.

Garnier, C., E. Comoy, C. Barthelemy, I. Leddet, B. Garreau, J. P. Muh and G. Lelord. “Dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DBH) and homovanillic acid (HVA) in autistic children.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders: Springer Netherlands 0162-3257, pp. 23-29; Volume 16, Number1/March, 1986. http://www.springerlink.com/content/n338552522344535/

Hallfrisch, J., S. Reiser, and E.S. Prather, “Blood lipid distribution of hyperinsulinemic men consuming three levels of fructose,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 37, May 1983, pp. 740-748, abstract online at http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/37/5/740.

Hayes, Catherine, M. Werter, Walter C. Willett and Allen A. Mitchell. “Case-Control Study of Periconceptional Folic Acid Supplementation and Oral Clefts.” American Journal of Epidemiology. 143:1229-1234, 1996. http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/143/12/1229.pdf

Ledochowski, Maximilian. “Fructose Malabsorption Is Associated with Lower Plasma Folic Acid Concentrations in Middle-Aged Subjects.” Clinical Chemistry: 45:2013-2014, 1999. http://www.clinchem.org/cgi/content/full/45/11/2013

McCarrison, Sir Robert. The Work of Sir Robert McCarrison. Faber and Faber Limited: London, c. 1953.

McCarrison, Sir Robert. Nutrition and Health. Faber and Faber Limited: London, c. 1936.

Mendosa, David. “Fructose.” Number 28; January 4, 2002. http://www.mendosa.com/diabetes_update_28.htm#Fructose

Price, Weston A. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. The Price-Pottenger Nutrition
Foundation: San Diego, CA, c. 1939.

Pottenger, Francis Marion. Pottenger’s Cats. The Price-Pottenger Nutrition
Foundation: San Diego, CA, c. 1983.

Sears, Barry. The Age-Free Zone. Harper Collins: New York, NY, c. 1999.

Taubes, Gary. Good Calories, Bad Calories. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, NY, c. 2007.

Wiley, T.S. and Bent Formby. Lights Out. Pocket Books: New York, NY, c. 2000.

Happy Birthday Dad and Caroline!!!

9 Comments

  1. Check out advancing paternal age as a cause of schizophrenia, autism, autoimmune disorders etc. etc. Gut disorders are important in these syndromes. http://how-old-is-too-old.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  2. Huh?

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  3. Refer to this statement for clarification on that hypothesis…

    “If you think that virtually any modern disease is influenced by any other factor more so than diet, then you aren’t looking closely enough at the lessons that history has clearly shown us.”

    Reply
  4. Thanks Matt, it’s been a lot of fun reading your insight up until now.

    I’ll keep my open for that book. :)

    Reply
  5. Great article, and great resources. It's nice to see the beginnings of 180 Degree Health.

    Is there a way to cure fructose malabsorption?

    Cortisol is also a natural pain killler. That's why us with chronic pain get more pain during the nighttime. I used to have to sleep in the days cause pain prevented me from sleeping in the night but lowered in the daytime.

    Also, people with endometriosis supposedly have too hight levels of copper in their bodies.

    Reply
  6. I suspect there is, but it probably takes quite a while and depends on doing some major healing to the digestive tract.

    You never know though. Doing a fruit "cleanse" or something along those lines could be a more effective "cure." I could certainly see it seeding the digestive tract with the type of bacteria necessary to digest fructose, fiber, etc. Sometimes our dietary weaknesses and demons are best to face head on.

    Reply
  7. Hi Matt,
    I'm new to 180 degree health, and wanted to let you know how much I'm enjoying your posts and insights.

    I've listening to hours of podcasts from Dr. Kendall Stewart, a neurosurgeon who now treats and recovers autistic children and others with neurological disorders (sans surgery). His work is fascinating, and I think it would link in with the 'digestive disorder' vs. 'hormone disorder' chicken or egg debate. :)

    He stumbled across the presence of viruses living on the nerve sheaths of patients in the early 1980's. and began treating with antivirals. He got into treating autistic kids, and he's able to show through lab tests, neurological scans, etc. that they have neurological inflammation from chronic pathogenic infections.

    The pathogens (viruses or bacteria) can live in various parts of the body, but they generally prefer nerve sheaths and inside the intestines since the immune systems leaves these two areas alone. Once 'embedded' in the digestive system, they begin reproducing, and 'breaking' metabolic pathways for certain vitamins…especially the difficult to digest B vitamins, which require multiple enzyme conversion before being cell-ready.

    Thought you might want to toss that into the equation. Even if you're 'eating' the nutrients, they are unable to be absorbed. And you're probably aware of the importance of the B vitamins in mental health.

    Dr. Stewart finds that replacing the missing nutrients as 'cell ready' state can bring the immune system back online again, and he's recovering kids with 'autism symptoms'.

    He says that often, vaccines with live viral components tip otherwise 'normal' babies into the downward spiral of autism, and he can pinpoint within a few months at what age the damage occurs, because myelinization occurs at a specific, known rate.

    I've recently also learned that the component in vaccines called 'adjuvents' are made from things like peanut oil, milk products, and egg whites. Whole proteins can be introduced into the blood stream, and the body responds by creating an immune response to that protein, and causes the person to be hypersensitized to that food…voila allergies.

    I'm learning a lot on your posts…thanks for sharing your research!

    Reply
    • Our kids have a malabsorption problem created by their vaccinations. I find your posts fascinating, as I do more research. I agree with you that food is a huge reason for the health woes and immune system problems of today. Given our experiences with our childrens’ now auto-immune problem, and food issues (intolerances and allergies — up to having to be on a feeding-tube food for periods of time to try to get nutrients into them), I propose that vaccinations go hand-in-hand with this. We have our children’s auto-immune problem starting, and tracked to the date of vaccinations. Furthermore, I have had auto-immune challenges that a doctor finally treated me for with gamma-globulin shots when I was approximately 15 years old. With this treatment, eventually, my immune system became quite healthy again, overall. However, the 2 lapses I have tracked and re-treated with the gamma globulin, I also tracked to vaccinations/boosters I had received (to the same month, ironically; (my last one was approximately 17 years ago). Coincidence? I think not. I wouldn’t have thought to link it all together, except that my sons reactions occurred the day he received his vaccinations. We had held off for 9 months with him, due to our daughter’s severe immune system challenges. He was healthy and strong up until that day with no food or environmental limitations (March 2011). He has not had a well/normal day since then (now January 2013), and has a ton of food and environmental intolerances that are so strong that we had to move to a different state with drier climate, etc. It’s been an interesting journey. Thanks for your incites. Hope this helps someone else.

      Reply
  8. Thank you so much for your comment Gwen. Sounds fascinating. I follow a group on yahoo that looks at all the diseased states that are caused by viral and bacterial infections. Autism certainly appears to be primarily an infectious issue. No doubt about it.

    On my end I keep looking at infection from a broader vantage point, as healthy people are completely resistant to infection. I guess you could say I'm more focused on prevention than treatment, but deep down I still feel that there must be a way to use the same preventative strategies from a treatment point of view as well. It's just a matter of dodging all the digestive and metabolic hurdles that one faces when dealing with a person who is ill, weak, and malformed.

    Reply

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