Making Changes Obvious

I am a creature of sartorial habit – a fashion icon for those who have one ‘look’ for the season – and stick to it.

photo from another day – but you see what I mean

Let’s just say that last week, five days worth of washing saw six short-sleeved black tee-shirts and two 3/4 sleeved black tee-shirts on the line (along with other clothes – I hasten to add) but there’s the thing – I like black cotton tee-shirts – I have many, and usually add a couple of short sleeved and a couple of 3/4 or long-sleeved each year. The previous ones just move down the wearing order – oldest for working in the garden or doing the cleaning, the next  for work-wear (writing / general clean in-house occupations), and the newer ones for venturing outside the environs of our property.

This year I found, to my delight, a pair of black and white patterned trousers, cool, comfortable and not too expensive. I was so delighted that I bought a second pair. Then they went and had a SALE … so I’m afraid I have to admit – I bought a third pair.

This now meant that I could be seen apparently wearing the ‘same’ clothes everyday of the week when out and about. (I have old black jeans I wear for gardening and cleaning, and I like to wear long skirts around the house too)

Ok, got the picture?  Now it may seem to the casual observer that not only does it look like I never change my tee-shirt (who notices whether the sleeves are long or short?) but that I never change my trousers either – as these patterned trousers were very noticeable!wp_20160920_10_19_31_pro

In fact – even I was getting bored with them being black and white – so I had a look at what they were made of (Viscose) and then I purchased a packet of dye* – viscose being one of the materials that will dye properly.  *Not a ‘dye in the machine pack’ this time … as I had a plan.

I wanted burgundy but the nearest they seem to do is burlesque red … so that had to do. I chose one pair to remain white and set these aside! Then I chose the pair to go burlesque red and having got them thoroughly wet and wrung out, added them to the mix first. After the first fifteen minutes of agitation of these I added the second pair – with the hope of a lighter shade. These I also agitated for 15 minutes.

wp_20160919_10_44_41_pro
I’m pleased with the results

Gazing at the colour of the dye water I thought it had some life left in it yet and I suddenly remembered I had a white Tee-shirt (yes I had bought a white one at some time – for some unknown reason) – but generally didn’t wear it since it had been splashed by turmeric, leaving a mucky-looking indelible stain near the hem.

I grabbed the tee-shirt – wetted it, rolled it and secured it with a number of tight elastic bands for a tie-dye effect. This also entered the dye and was squeezed and agitated.

After the full time I duly cold washed, then washed the trousers and the, now unrolled, tee-shirt. wp_20160919_10_48_02_pro

I am pleased with the results for the trousers (see above) – I now have three distinct patterned trousers and a tee-shirt I can wear without a grubby-looking stain (albeit probably for gardening 😉 NB: It looks pinker than this photo shows)

So, £2.50 – a change of look – which I hope will dispel rumours before they start 🙂 .

And I learnt something (which usually makes me happy) – as I realised that I had no idea what Viscose was – apart from a material that took a dye well. Now I just hope that the viscose I am wearing was made using the more up-to-date methods of production as the older methods are not too good for the environment.

Viscose is, essentially, made from wood. The old method of changing wood into a viscous material (cellulose) that would make a ‘silk-like thread’ uses a lot of harsh chemicals and a lot of water. [The other name for Vicose is Rayon (a combination of the idea of the sun-rays and the word cotton) and was first advertised as Artificial Silk] Modern methods of production are considerably better, less damaging to the environment – but how to tell how your garment’s threads were made – now there’s a problem!?

Do any of you have adventures with dyeing?

Do you use the machine-wash dyes – or play around?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you

Who put the butter in the jam?

Who put the butter in the jam? No, it isn’t a fussy query from the person who deals with such things as the butter dish on the tea table – this is something I wondered aloud – though there was no-one to answer me  (yes – I talk to myself even when there is only the radio to listen).WP_20160917_20_51_23_Pro

I was making some bullace and apple jam (recipe for Bullace Jam is HERE – but the bullaces (wild damson-like fruit) were not as numerous or as large and juicy as usual so I had a feeling that the 4½ lbs lbs would make nothing like the 10 x 1lb pots I hoped for.

SO, as the windfalls have started to come off – I added half a pound of cooked apple per 2 ¼lb lot of bullace.

I cooked the bullace in the microwave with the three tablespoons of water, allowed to cool a little then drained them and squished them around and around in a large-hole colander until all I had left in the colander were bare stones and tough skins.

The apples I peeled, cored and cut into slices (on the apple/peeler/corer contraption which I love (see here) then just cut the prepared apple into 4 and spread them out in a covered pyrex dish and cooked until mushy.

This I added to the bullace and reheated – proceeding to then add the 3 lbs of granulated sugar and stirred well to dissolve it before returning to the microwave. When this mixture had heated to bubbling point I added a “knob” or ‘walnut-sized piece’ of butter … and said (aloud)

‘Who put the butter in the jam?’ … in fact I added, laughing to myself … ‘Who on earth, while making jam, thought – I know – I’ll put some butter in this!’

The effect of putting butter in the jam is to prevent (or largely prevent) a ‘scum’ forming on the top of the jam as it boils, giving a brighter, cleaner jam, and obviating the need to ‘skim off the scum’ – which always sounds pretty revolting – even though it isn’t.

Useful … yes … but who would have known this would be the result? Why would they even think to try it? Beats me!

(you know – it is the jam recipes that keep bringing random new people to the blog – maybe I should be writing microwave jam recipe books instead of fiction – lol)

On another jam note altogether – people will go and eat it! Unfortunately I couldn’t even enter this year’s village Autumn Show – though I had promised I would enter some jam this year – as people had only gone and eaten ALL the jam I made last year! I’m hiding a nice jar or two this year – so at least I can participate next year!

So – that’s my blog for today …

And the question still remains – if you know – do tell – Who (first) put the butter in the jam?

best

Ann

BTW – just to keep you good folks up to speed … my new book* A Respectable Life will be released on 28th October! (*for which you can blame my absence from the blog)

Get your gut bacteria happy

At last, what you can do if you believe Dr Perlmutter and his theory in his book Brain Maker. As I said at the beginning, there are critics, but, apart from the book itself, he doesn’t point you to buying proprietary brands of anything – instead giving some recipes to make!happy bacteria

Let’s assume you want to make some change: that you want to encourage the correct balance of the bacteria that would be best for your body. How do you do it?

Firstly, the message that has run throughout this book – go gluten free. Or, at the very least, cut your gluten intake to the minimum.

Secondly, Go low carb & embrace high-quality fats. Wherever possible eat organic, grass fed, free-range.

Make sure you include plenty of leafy green vegetables, plus, mushrooms, onions ( and any in the oinion family) ginger, parsley and water-chestnuts.

Low-sugar fruits lemons, limes, and avocado, cucumber, tomato, courgettes, bell-peppers, aubergines.

Eat Fermented Foods. Yoghurt, Pickled (fermented not in vinegar) fruits and vegetables: sauerkraut, kimchi, Fermented meat, fish or eggs.

Healthy Fats: extra-virgin olive oils, sesame oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, grass-fed lard, pasture-fed butter, ghee, almond milk, avocado, coconut, olives, nuts, nut butter, cheeses (except blue cheese) and seeds.

Protein: Whole eggs, wild fish, shellfish, molluscs, grass-fed meat, fowl, poultry, pork, wild game.

Herbs, seasonings and condiments: mustard, horseradish, tapenade,  and salsa – as long as they are free from gluten and sugar or soy.

Thirdly, include in your diet the foods that the right bacteria like to feed on – so that these thrive. Perlmutter recommends that you make sure you eat at least 12grams of foods that are these prebiotics a  day – this is easy.. just 12 grams each day – a mixture is fine, just one, all of them – you choose. The easiest of all of these is ONION. Cooked or raw. The others are all RAW: Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, garlic, leek, asparagus, chicory root – plus acacia-gum (gum-arabic)

What all these have in common is that they are fibre-rich non-digestible (by us) though perfect for our gut bacteria to feast on.

Fourthly, drink filtered water (Perlmutter believes that the chlorine added to the water supply to kill pathogenic bacteria – and thereby make the water safe – will also kill off our good bacteria) – so he recommends filtering the water to remove the chlorine before drinking.

Fifthly, enjoy wine, tea, coffee and chocolate.. yes – drinks without sugar or sweetners – and yes – good dark chocolate with high levels of cocoa mass

Sixthly, and lastly – Fast every season. At least four times a year – maybe on the equinox, fast for a day. Do drink water, but avoid caffeine.

Permutter suggest you do this – a one day fast – before you start your change of life-style to one that cares for your gut-biome more.

He also suggest you might like to take a one month course of probiotics (not telling you whose to buy) but listing the five core species of bacteria that need to be in them – and thereafter maintain these colonies and keep them thriving by eating the foods recommended above.

Lactobacillus planatarum – also found in sauerkraut, kimchi other fermented vegetables

Lactobacillus acidophilus – also found in  yoghurt, kefir

Lactobacillus brevis – also found in sauerkraut & fermented vegetables

Bifidobacterium lactis  – also found in yoghurt

Bifidobacterium longum – also found in some yoghurts – fermented vegetables

But as you can see – you could do it the slower way – build up the bacteria required by adding fermented foods to your diet. He lists these on his website here.

Fermented foods were, and are, used in all parts or the world, in all cultures at one time. In many these have been forgotten, overtaken by the quicker dousing in vinegar instead of an anaerobic fermentation that both preserves and grows a community of certain bacteria.

The world of fermented foods, some only bacterial, some a symbiosis between yeasts and bacteria, is fascinating once you start and there is plenty of help to be found on the internet as interest in these old methods of preserving and keeping healthy grows.

A last word on Vitamin D – a hormone really rather than a vitamin, made by your skin when in sufficient sunlight – is required for many of your body functions. When you realise that in the UK we do not have strong enough sun from October to May to make vitamin D we may all need a vitamin D boost (simple tablets) during those months.

Go to Dr Perlmutter’s website for plenty more information…

I continue my nutrition journey – and the more I read the more I believe we need to look back to how people ate before the industrialisation of food.

Does this ring bells with you?

Are you on your own nutritional journey

Do share – you know I love to hear from you

Win a Druid Heir with our Guest Writer

Yesterday saw me with fellow Pendown author, Sally Newton, at the launch of her latest book at the Bodmin Heritage Festival – today she is guesting on my blog – giving an insight into writing historical fiction and with a draw where YOU could WIN a copy of her latest book – The Druid Heir – and news of a special eBook Offer!

beast, helliers, iron-age warrior and sign for the book-launch
The beast of Bodmin, Helliers, Dru (Iron-Age warrior) and a sign for the book-launch!


IMG_2706Thanks Ann for inviting me to do a guest post on your blog. I’m rather excited this week as my second book, Caradoc:The Druid Heir, was launched yesterday!

Everything moves very fast at this stage but Druid Heir took me a very long time to write. The research alone was a real labour of love for an ex-archaeology student like me. The whole trilogy is told from the point of view of Caradoc, better known to ancient history buffs as Caratacus, who was the British prince who came to lead the resistance to the Roman Empire’s invasion of Britain.

Writing about a real person and genuine events weighs rather heavily on me, in terms of responsibility to try to get things right, but I do also enjoy it. Some of the scenes and characters in my books are inspired by archaeological finds I have read about. For example the chilling sequence towards the end of Druid Heir, when Caradoc and his people search the dead bodies found in a temple, was inspired by this Iron Age temple outline spotted in Savernake forest by ‘lidar’ survey work 

I can also draw upon some historical accounts, such as that of Roman historian Cassius Dio, when I was writing about Caradoc’s battle against the initial Roman invasion force in Druid Heir, tacitusand Tacitus’s account of Caradoc’s later years for the book I am writing now, Rebel King. [Photo – Tacitus -Gaius-Cornelius – courtesy wikimedia commons]

All the research has its own issues, however, so there are times I have to just go for an educated ‘best guess’, and trust that my books are as plausible as they can be whilst also – hopefully – being great stories.

Work progresses on book 3 in the trilogy, Rebel King, but for now the first two books, Defiant Prince and Druid Heir, are available AND from NOW for ONE WEEK we are holding an ONLINE LAUNCH – with a special eBook offer (just as we had for the paperbacks on the launch-day in Bodmin)

Book launch poster y1Firstly – For ONE WEEK ONLY the first book of the Caradoc trilogy ‘The Defiant Prince’ will be available for kindles on Amazon for JUST 99p! (or for other eReaders – from PendownPubishing.co.uk) Please let everybody know! (back to full price on Monday 11th 9pm)

Secondly – you can Enter a DRAW* for a signed paperback* 9781909936218-DRUID HEIR cover blank Perfect_OLcopy* of The Druid Heir by signing up to this blog (see top right – subscribe by email – this so that you will see the notification of results – so if you already follow this blog you’re cool) AND POSTING A COMMENT below this post – no matter how short!

Thank you, Ann, for inviting me take-over your blog for this week 🙂

***

Thank you Sally for some insights into writing historic novels based on a real person and an opportunity for my readers to win a copy of your new book (Druid Heir) and pick-up the first (Defiant Prince) for just 99p as an ebook!

You can also find Sally on Facebook HERE  and Twitter HERE – she’d be most grateful if you’d LIKE her author page and Follow her on Twitter.

Now tell me, do you like historic fiction?

How accurate does the author have to be – when so little is known about some periods of time?

Curious to know your thoughts 🙂 do share! All comments welcome and create and entry to the draw!

***DRAW RULES*** UK only – if from outside the UK please feel free to enter but an ecopy will be offered instead if you win. Draw opens Sunday 3rd July 2016. Draw will be made 1pm Monday 11th July 2016 using a random number generator. Winner will be notified at comment email address and via this blog. If the prize remains unclaimed for more than 28 days the draw will be re-made.***

Mind on fire

At last – the final ailment or condition in my interpretation of Dr Perlmutter’s book ‘Brain Maker’brain on fire

I came to the study of the gut biome (and this book ‘Brain Maker’ as part of it) because I was looking for the things I can do to help prevent brain deterioration. A dysfunctional gut-biome is found in a very high proportion of people suffering from Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.

Let’s start with something simple. B12. A vitamin that is found to be deficient in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimers. Though we can try to make sure we eat foods with B12, though we could take supplements, the fact is that our gut bacteria, when operating properly, MAKES the B12 our bodies require. It is well documented that a low level of B12 is a huge risk factor for dementia

In Brain Maker Dr Perlmutter leads us through the effects of gluten again in the sections relating to Dementia; even those who are not shown to be sensitive to gluten (no bloating or diarrhoea) can be affected, as the constituents of the gluten have two effects on the intestine. One is to be ‘sticky’ and prevent the uptake of some nutrients, and, two, the gliadin in the gluten causes leaky gut, causes the body’s immune system to be on high alert (producing anti-gliadin antibodies) AND allows the passage of LPS (lipopolysaccirides) into the bloodstream which, as explained previously, can pass through the blood brain barrier, (leaving the door open for other large molecules to follow) and cause changes in the way the brain sends signals to the body and inflammation there too.

gluten groupThe Anti-bodies to gliadin not only cause the release of cytokines (which are inflammatory in the brain) but they also cross-react with certain brain proteins. From many studies it is shown that this then leads to complications such as neuropathy, ataxia, seizures and neuro-behavioural changes.

Is it any wonder then that Dr Perlmutter connects the rise in dementia (over and above that expected just through living longer) to a disrupted gut-biome?

A word on fats. Omega 3 fats are essential for good brain function.

The over-use of Omega 6 oils (sunflower / corn -oil) is also brought up in this section. The demonising of saturated fats* to such an extent that Omega 6 oils now take up too much of our dietary fats is a concern as in the western diet now the ratio of Omega 6 intake to Omega 3 (Olive oil : cold-pressed rape-seed oil) intake is around 10 : 1 (or higher). The ratio of Omega 6 to the mono-unsaturated Omega 3  (shown to be required for brain health) is critical. It ought to be 1:1 or at the very most 3:1 – any more and the Omega 6 oils prevent the take-up of the Omega 3s (to the detriment of the brain!)

*Saturated fats are demonised as being Cholesterol raising. More and more evidence is being produced to show that this is not the case. Simplistically – an observation was made and the ‘result’ was viewed as the ’cause’ (arteries blocked by cholesterol plaques = therefore cholesterol causes blocked arteries) – from then on cholesterol and saturated fats have been demonised and a vast theory and business (phamacutical and dietary) has been built up around it. Why ‘saturated fats’ – well, because, though they do not contain cholesterol, they are found in the same source – animal products. When it comes down to it, our liver makes the majority of cholesterol our bodies need, if we do not eat enough of it, and it is quite hard to eat as much as is required, – it makes it.

Note however, that our brains need cholesterol (yes – even the ‘bad’ one) – to function properly, as do most of the other cells in our bodies. In one of the largest studies ever, where a very large cohort was followed over fifteen to eighteen years, those with naturally lower cholesterol in their systems as they aged were shown to perform less well in all cognitive tests.

The real question following the observations should have been ‘why has the cholesterol formed a blockage here?’ The answer comes back to the gut-biome (and gluten) as it seems that the arterial blockage is the result of frequent damage / inflammation repairs – and the damage is caused by the intrusion of proteins that should never have made their way in the bloodstream, (LPS – gliadin etc) and couldn’t have done, or wouldn’t have done, if the gut-biome was healthy and gluten wasn’t so prevalent in the diet to crowbar a way through the tight junctions. And if you are thinking that I have strayed from my concerns for the brain into heart-attack waters – I have not. The cause of vascular dementia is the blocking of blood vessels in the brain – resulting in brain-cell death and strokes of various sizes and effects – so if the damage to the lining of the blood vessels can be prevented, the blockages due to repairs should not happen either.

The final part of this book deals with How to keep your good bacteria happy and thriving and in balance for optimal health – and I will work on a summary of this soon.

What do you think – have saturated fats been demonised unnecessarily?

Have you ever tried a low / no gluten diet to see how you feel on it?

You know I love to hear from you – do share

Best – Ann

ps – for those interested, my Dad’s book is now also available for Kindles (from Amazon) or other ebooks from PendownPublishing

 

 

THIS …

THIS is the reason I have been absent from my blog for  so long. 9781909936904-Perfect_FINAL copy

Yes, my father’s book, his first volume of his memories … and it only takes him up to the age of eighteen!

So, why would it be that editing a book for someone else absorbed every last spare minute I had (including my own writing / editing time).

As it happens, and as he will cheerfully admit, he was never given a good formal education but has had a ‘life-education’ in a lot of areas and is self taught in many others. He is also now ninety … so that means his writing is slow and difficult. He has a tendency to write as he speaks, and for the story to ‘just come out of the pen’ as it would come out of his mouth, including running on without a full stop.

AND THEN being the favourite link between what not only had to become sentences, with full punctuation, but then also paragraphs and chapters.

Then, there were the Devon dialect terms he used, not because he knew no different, but because they were used to him and formed part of this fascinating ‘education’ he received. These all had to be checked and, in some cases, explained.

Words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into cohesive chapters with titles that form some kind of sequence of their own and … to keep it all in his words – not to change anything unless the meaning was obscure without some clarification..

This all took a lot longer than was expected … and the deadline was fixed – no fudging this one – His Ninetieth birthday!

So, this had now come and gone – and a successful ‘book launch’ made as he gave copies to the members of the family. After all – that was his only intention originally – to let future generations know ‘where they started from’ – ‘where they’d come from’.

We are rather proud of the finished article (click on the picture to read the blurb on the back)  – it seems to have hit the right spot – it is in his own words – and a fairly easy to follow, great story with lots of insights into social history possibly not recorded elsewhere.

Currently the book is only available from Pendown Publishing but we are wondering whether to make it more widely accessible as those who have been reading it are reporting back as to how much they are enjoying it….

So – it’s welcome back if you have taken he trouble to read this weeks blog – and I’ll be writing again soon, completing that look at gut bacteria and starting out on something new…

And, even though I’ve been absent for so long, I still love to hear from you – so what’s on your mind 🙂

Ann

When your body turns against itself …

When your body turns against itself … they call it an AUTO-IMMUNE disease.  autoimmune

And there are plenty of them … and they range from the uncomfortable – to the downright debilitating.

The one thing that they all have in common is inflammation. Why am I not surprised therefore, that Dr Perlmutter cites a  disrupted gut-biome as the main cause of auto-immune diseases.

We need a good immune system, it protects us from the things outside of us that will do us harm if they end up inside. However, an immune system must know what it is fighting. Without a functioning immune system then the simplest of infections can lead to trauma and even death. However, an over-active immune system can lead to other complications – allergies (some of which can also lead to death in an anaphylactic shock reaction) or to our immune system failing to recognise parts of our own body and starting to attack them. The classic auto-immune diseases (like Rhematiod Arthritis or Lupus) leave the sufferer in chronic pain – usually treated with drugs to suppress the immune system (leaving the patient open to other dangers and altering the gut-biome even further from the optimum) and strong medicines that often cause almost as much pain as the condition.  autoimmune2

So where does the gut-bacteria come into all this? The fact is of our whole immune system 80% is created by our gut bacteria and lies within our gut. This makes sense when you acknowledge that the gut is the boundary between outside our body and inside. (As I said  at the beginning of these articles – the mouth-to-anus gastrointestinal tract can be seen as being an extension of outside our body.) The gut immune system is also in touch with every cell in the remaining immune system, if it meets a problem within the gut then the message to be alert travels throughout the body. They are the body’s first responders. The right gut bacteria teach the immune system what is safe and what is not – so that the immune system become vigilant but not in full defence mode all the time. They educate the system to know that food stuffs are safe (not requiring an immune response).

It seems that pathogenic bacteria (very bad bacteria) can not just cause us upsets but they also interact with the immune system causing a release of inflammatory molecules and stress hormones. With the wrong balance of bacteria the protective layer to the inside of the ileum is not there – the tight-junctions are vulnerable to being crowbarred open by constituents found in substances such as Gluten (there are others – but gluten is by far the biggest culprit) and the pathogenic bacteria get in (along with the over-large proteins that also cause inflammation) This is called a leaky-gut.

On the other hand –  the right bacteria can actually do the opposite – turning off the stress hormones, soothing the inflammatory responses, protecting the lining of the ileum and therefore the tight junctions.

So, if this is the case then it would seem possible – that by changing the balance of the gut bacteria and preventing the leaky-gut problem –  an auto-immune disease could be reversed – or at very least made less chronic – less painful, less disruptive to the body.

I have already written about depression in an earlier blog – it is a fact that having and auto-immune disease and having depression has a very high correlation. Logically, I think if you are in chronic pain it would be depressing – however, the suggestion is not that the chronic pain causes the depression but that both the autoimmune condition and the depression my be caused by the same thing.

Because auto-immune conditions generally grow slowly in intensity (often in the run-up to being diagnosed) it is rare that anyone can pin-point when it started. If they could it would be interesting to know how often it was triggered by a life-event that required antibiotic treatment, or another treatment or experience that adversely affected the gut-biome.

I read with interest the reports from people who suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis, in particular, who had taken up the ‘Paleo’ life-style diet only to find that it also reversed their condition sufficiently to come off medication and to feel stronger and healthier than before. This Paleo diet would, inadvertently, have produced the same balancing of the bacteria – through the recommended foods to eat (organic veg, grass fed meats, pastured poultry, fermented foods, whole-foods) and the avoidance of gluten and many of the other inflammatory ingredients in the Paleo-diet. The aim was a different eating style – the result was a change in the gut-biome, a reduction in gut attack (leaky gut) … and a healing process.

The take- away again this week is, if you suffer from an auto-immune condition – cut out the gluten (and maybe some of the other main known irritants) and top up with the right type of bacteria and eat the fibrous fresh foods that sustain them, whilst cutting back on the carbs and sugar that encourage the wrong type of bacteria to grow. It certainly couldn’t do any harm and yet may just help your system to turn the corner and start to help itself recover to some extent.

Any experience of this out there?

Do share – I’d love to hear from you

The next book is getting restless …

The next book is getting restless – I need to start writing it!

I know, I know… the book I have finished isn’t out yet … and I’m talking about writing the next one.  You see, it isn’t as simple as finishing one altogether; writing, editing, checking and getting it ready for publishing before I start thinking about the next one.

The next one has been brewing for a long, long time, but recently it is as if the stars have become aligned and the book is asking to be written.

When I am not doing anything else (that requires my verbal brain) the words start coming in – I watch the pictures – like watching a movie, and describe it to  myself. Tuesday, as I drove over to Milton Abbot to the climbing centre, a whole scene was revealed… and this keeps happening – too many times – I have to start writing some of it down in case I forget it.

In the meantime I have two projects I must finish before I complete A Respectable Life. One is preparing another person’s book for publishing – and as such is my job so has priority – and the other is preparing the first volume of my father’s autobiography for printing in time for his 90th birthday this summer. So those of you who are waiting for A Respectable Life – I apologise for the delay – but it should be out this summer some time … and I’ll carry on catching the new one as it arrives 🙂

Writing a book is just the beginning … here’s Fascinating Aida’s take on writing a best seller.

The gut and the Autism question

Autism is a delicate condition to talk about. autism As Dr Stephen Scherer, director of the Centre for Applied genomics at Toronto who has just completed the largest-ever autism genome study says ‘Each child with autism is like a snowflake – unique from all the others’. Contrary to what had been assumed – it turns out that even siblings who share the same genetic parents and a diagnosis of Autism don’t always have the same autism-linked genes. This has raised the suspicion that the mechanism that creates Autism is not only genetic even where it appears to run in families.

Dr Perlmutter points out that despite the many difference between people with autism, one thing is certain – they are all people whose brains function a little differently. It is suggested that during their early development something triggered changes in their physiology and neurology that led to this disorder.

One indicator of this is that individuals with Autism almost uniformly suffer from gastrointestinal disorders. (This is something that I have come across myself in children with Autism I have known. The expression of the behaviours associated with the autism increased as the child’s extreme constipation built up over four or five days and then, after the explosive expulsion of faecal matter, the behaviours lessened) 

Children with Autism are 3.5 times more likely to suffer from chronic constipation and diarrhoea than their peers without autism – and that a strong association between constipation and language impairment has been found.

When the contents of the guts of people suffering from Autism is examined it is found that they exhibit different patterns in their composition to that of people without Autism. The particular bacteria that are found in their guts in abundance are Clostridia, which are able to create a compound that adversely affect the immune system and brain, causing inflammation. This is Propionic Acid – PPA.

PPA has multiple deleterious effects. Firstly it makes the gut leaky – which, as we know, allows molecules that should never get through to the blood into the blood stream – including itself. When it gets into the blood stream it turns on inflammation and activates the immune system. It also affects  cell-to-cell signalling, and compromises the mitochondria, altering the brain’s ability to use energy. It also increases oxidative stress, which in turns harms proteins, cell-membranes and even DNA. If the brain is exposed to these chemicals, and the enhanced inflammation, at a formative stage it is quite possible for this to play a role in creating the autistic brain.

Clostridia bacteria also need to feed on carbohydrates – and may explain why children with Autism often crave carbohydrates, especially refined sugars, which feed these bacteria and thus create a vicious cycle.

autismAdd to this that scientist have also identified a multitude of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. If you read the earlier blog which mentioned epi-genetics then you may already be wondering if this effect is at work here. Though the work has not yet been completed, the indicators are that the epi-genetic effect could well be at work. That there may be many other people who have the possibility of being autistic within their DNA but they have not had the environmental exposure (internal or external ) to have switched on or off the genes that lead to the symptoms that are recognised as Autistic.

However, as complicated as this is it is still not the whole story  – it is far more complicated, as a condition such as Autism surely is, there is an interplay of timing of exposure, of the on-going effect of the PPA and of the chronic gastrointestinal problems it creates.

This is a huge and very complicated subject – and I have not been able to deal with it in depth – but hopefully I have picked out his main points.

If you are concerned with someone suffering from Autism then I can only recommend reading this chapter of his book (Ch 5) if you haven’t already considered the way a compromised gut-biome may be affecting the condition – it holds some hope for some cases in that, without drugs, it seems it is possible to try to even-out the bacterial balance and perhaps help alleviate, if not everything, at least some of the gastrointestinal problems. The quoted scientific experiments are very interesting in this respect – as is this case study of Jason he quotes in this chapter and on his webpage here.

Again, Dr Perlmutter’s advice for people with this condition is to avoid gluten and sugary and simple carbohydrates and to enhance the diet with live fermented foods to balance the bacteria in the gut – though more drastic measures are also suggested.

Does any of this ring bells with your experience of this condition?

 

Enjoyed this blog? Please share :)