Another day, another mass murder, this latest one in Longmont, Colorado. There were only four killed, and they were adults, so it didn’t get the media coverage devoted to the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook in Connecticut, but it is now more apparent than ever that we are dealing with another epidemic. Everyone is asking “why did this happen?,” and, “what can we do?”
Investigators are looking into the lives of the shooters to try to find the commonality between them. Gun control is being suggested as the solution, and that might help, but guns are a symptom, not the cause. There is a lot of anger toward the perpetrators, but they may be victims too. No one seems to see what links all our current epidemics, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, autism, depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Asperger’s, Celiac’s, Alzheimer’s, and on and on.
Over the past 30-plus years there has been a dramatic change in the eating habits of Americans in response to advice from our government and health groups. Many whole foods, such as whole milk and real cheese, have almost disappeared from store shelves and high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, and starchy fillers have replaced fat in most commercial products. Restaurants and food companies replaced natural fats with processed soy and grain oils for cooking and most magazines and cookbooks now routinely specify egg substitutes, low-fat cheese, non-fat milk, and low-sodium ingredients in their recipes. These changes coincide precisely with the epidemics of many conditions that have gotten worse during this time period.
Our bodies, especially our brains, need natural fats. (The brain is mostly made of fat. Next time someone calls you a Fathead, say, “Thank You!”) Just as important is what replaced the fat in our food supply.
In 1977, when a Senate Committee decided to recommend that all Americans over the age of two should eat less fat and more carbohydrates, Phillip Handler, then President of the National Academy of Sciences, accused them of conducting a “vast nutritional experiment” on the American people based on “so very little evidence that it will do them any good.” When the USDA released its newest set of guidelines lowering the recommended daily salt intake to a level never before seen in any traditional society or population, they promised to “monitor for unintended consequences,” clearly an admission that they are conducting another uncontrolled experiment using us as subjects. But would they recognize an “unintended consequence” if they saw it?
You probably saw this heart-breaking story titled, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” on the Huffington Post, about what it is like to be the parent of a child with mental illness: www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-mintal-illness-conversation_n_2311009.html?icid=maing-grid_19%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cd18%Csec1_link3%26pLid%3D246517
Here is another account from a mother who may have saved her 2-year-old daughter from a similar fate with a simple change in diet: www.anchoragepress.com/news/the-gluten-made-her-do-it-how-going-gluten-free/article_39e2478e-4585-11e2-a80c-0019bb2963f4.html
The “Twinkie Defense” entered our vocabulary after Dan White’s lawyers used it as evidence that he was depressed and incapable of premeditation when he gunned down San Franciso mayor, George Moscone, and supervisor, Harvey Milk, in 1978. The public was outraged that White got off lightly because of “pseudo-scientific nonsense” about junk food. Maybe the “Twinkie Defense” deserves a closer look after all.
The brain is a physical organ just like the liver or the pancreas, and it cannot function normally without proper nutrition; it can be damaged by bad food or the lack of the good food it replaces. When fat in the diet goes down, carbs go up, especially when whole grains are pushed as the ultimate health food. There is a strong connection between gluten and schizophrenia. Celiac disease is known to be caused by gluten-containing grains, like wheat, rye, and barley. Celiac’s sufferers are thirty times more likely to become schizophrenic. (Lierre Kieth, the Vegetarian Myth, Food, Justice, and Sustainibility.)
In his book, Wheat Belly, Dr. William Davis says, “wheat, in fact, nearly stands alone as a food with potent central nervous system effects….wheat is one of the few foods that can alter behavior, induce pleasurable effects, and generate a withdrawal syndrome upon its removal. And it required observations in schizophrenic patients to teach us about these effects.”
Below is the abstract from a 2010 case report by Dr. Eric Westman and Bryan Kraft at Duke University. www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/6/1/10
“We report the unexpected resolution of longstanding schizophrenic symptoms after starting a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet. After a review of the literature, possible reasons for this include the metabolic consequences from the elimination of gluten from the diet, and the modulation of the disease of schizophrenia at the cellular level….”
One final observation about this sad story: Adam Lanza was a vegan. http://www.salon.com/2012/12/17/adam_lanza_was_a_vegan/
To end on a more happy note, I’m including yet another chocolate truffle recipe, full of good fats and the easiest ever!
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Good Luck with the End-of-the-World-Zombie-Apocalypse Thing. See you on the other side! ~ Judy BB
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 cup butter
8 ounces sugar-free, semi-sweet chocolate chips OR chopped, sugar-free chocolate bars*
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or part mint extract
Heat cream and butter to a simmer. Pour over chocolate chips. Stir until melted and smooth. Add vanilla extract. Chill for 1 hour. Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll in finely chopped nuts or coconut, or cocoa powder. For a festive holiday version, roll in crushed sugar-free peppermint candies.
*Nevada Manna chocolate chips don’t have maltitol. Chopped Choco Perfection bars would also be wonderful.
(c) 2012, Judy Barnes Baker, www.carbwarsblog.com
Hi Carole. It is good to hear from you.
Researchers are starting to recognize that foods can have a huge impact on mental health. Many of the people in our prisons are really just suffering from food related conditions. (Prison food probably doesn't help!) I hope you can encourage the families of the children you work with to try systematically eliminating foods to see what helps.
Your truffles sound great. Xylitol has some health benefits, but it can cause digestive upset for some of us and it has about half the carbs of regular sugar. I try to use some every day, but not too much. You can sub an inulin- or oligofructose-based sweetener for some of it if you have problems.
Thanks for the insight into how diet can affect behaviors. I work with emotionally disturbed children and I would love to see what could be accomplished with a change in diet.
As for the truffle recipe, I made one last night, very similar to yours, but from an old Suzanne Somers' cookbook. I was out of her brand of sweetener, so I used Xylitol and these were simply the BEST chocolates I've had…even counting ones made with sugar. I couldn't see how to exchange her sweetener's measurements to the Xylitol, so I just added 1/4 c. (to 1 1/2 c. cream and 6 oz. of unsweetened baking chocolate). It was PERFECT. Not too sweet, but rich and creamy. I rolled them in crushed toasted almonds, coconut, and plain cocoa powder. Beautiful as well as delicious.
Thanks for the comment, sb/10. I had not heard the story about Jack LaLanne before. It really makes the point! (And our food now is much worse than what he had as a child, I'm sure.)
A famous man once described himself as a juvenile delinquent who tried to kill his brother twice, once with an axe and once with a butcher knife. He also set fire to the family home. When he was 15, his mother took him to a lecture by a nutritionist. This was the young boy's salvation. That young boy was Jack LaLanne.
How can the crap that Americans have been shoveling into their mouths NOT affect them mentally if they are dealing with epidemic levels of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity?
Wow, thanks for sharing the article about the little girl who is so allergic to gluten that it affects her behavior in such a bizarre way. Love your truffle recipe – will be trying that this holiday. Thanks!