50 Year Plan

Walt Disney is quoted as suggesting making 50 year plans – setting goals not just for the present year or so or decade but also for the much longer term. Even if you don’t expect to live that long the team of family or community or business will continue, hopefully.

I don’t spend a lot of time directly with other people currently but during my career I frequently helped ten or twenty families per day and sometimes forty or more during large group events. Empowering people to help themselves is the job of an educator and a public health educator specializes in helping any community members who are interested either in person or with educational articles or Public Service Announcements. It may seem like I don’t help because it is indirect but my long term goal has been to provide whatever help I can to whoever is interested. We as a group are suffering economically for a variety of reasons and one is the high cost of health care and health insurance.

Even with health insurance there can be copays and tests or specialists that aren’t covered by the insurance. Costs can be even greater for those without insurance but they may be more likely to ask about price before proceeding with a recommended treatment plan. (2) It is a good idea to ask about the reasons and necessity for a test or prescription and if any other options are available. Guidance regarding self-advocacy as a patient is available in a book written by a medical doctor. (3)

Magnesium deficiency is involved in many chronic physical and mental health conditions and it can be an inexpensive solution that helps a variety of symptoms at the same time, which can save trips to the doctor or specialist too. I’ve made a lot of mistakes with my own health simply by not continuing with new habits that I found helpful such as taking magnesium, or by thinking that since I was feeling better that meant I could go back to eating or doing things that are considered normal and often expected in social situations. Holiday settings and celebrations can be difficult for someone with health issues that include food sensitivities however hurting yourself just to be polite isn’t helpful to yourself and illness can cause more trouble than saying no thanks.

Recently the healthcare costs of the U.S. healthcare system were found to be expensive compared to other nations because they truly are more expensive. We are getting charged far more than other nations for prescription medications, lab tests and screenings, and many health care workers have much larger salaries or fees than in other nations. We are getting billed more and those with insurance have to pay copayments on those large bills and people without insurance often have to pay even more for the total because insurance companies often have negotiated for slightly lower fees. We also are not providing healthcare for much of the population. The number of prescriptions, lab screenings and healthcare visits is similar to other nations. We are paying more for the same amount of service and many people are left without care. (1)

Lack of healthcare increases costs to society in other ways – from emergency visits and lost wages for people too sick to work, to increased prison costs for people who might simply need mental health care.

My family has a of Alzheimer’s and my genetic screening showed increased risk for it. Based on the material I’ve read on the topic and seen shared by others we need to start early and prevent it because the symptoms occur late in the process of cell death. For a summary of some potential prevention lifestyle and diet strategies see:

Preventing preeclampsia is also easier earlier than later in a pregnancy and can save mother’s and baby’s lives or long term health.  See: https://effectivecare.info/g-preeclampsia-%26-trp-ch

The fifty year plan – as many healthy children of all species as possible. That isn’t up to me, it isn’t something I can achieve on my own, it is up to all of us. The information I share is for anyone interested in do-it-yourself strategies, health is daily habits, and it is possible to improve health for many people with work.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes. Thanks.

  1. Why are U.S. Health Costs the World’s Highest? Study Affirms ‘It’s the Prices, Stupid’, CommonHealth,  http://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2018/03/13/us-health-costs-high-jha
  2. 1,495 Americans Describe the Financial Reality of Being Really Sick, (Oct. 17, 2018), The N.Y. Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/17/upshot/health-insurance-severely-ill-financial-toxicity-.html
  3. If Laughter is the Best Medicine, Then Self-Advocacy may be the Second Best and a U.S. Physician has Written a Prescription for Both; a Book Link. April 2, 2105, https://transcendingsquare.com/2015/04/02/if-laughter-is-the-best-medicine-then-self-advocacy-may-be-the-second-best-and-a-u-s-physician-has-written-a-prescription-for-both-a-book-link/

Focus on a goal – okay

I do focus on a goal – the sustainability of the food-energy-water nexus (1) for supporting life on earth. (2)

That is a short sentence representing some very big topics and issues.

  • The production and distribution of high quality food requires energy and water and fair policies.
  • The production of and distribution of energy also requires water and in the case of biofuel also requires a portion of the crop yield which diverts both water and crops from people who might need it for sustenance.
  • The treatment of freshwater for various uses and treatment of wastewater for reuse or for safe return into surface and ground water sources requires energy and includes food and sewage within the wastewater. Some types of salts, other chemicals, and decomposition bacteria are also used. Fresh water needs to be produced and distributed fairly and wastewater transported back for safe treatment and reuse or return to surface or groundwater supplies.

All three areas of production and distribution use energy and all three are needed for sustaining human life on earth. Protecting the environment while producing the food, energy, and treated water in a sustainable manner helps sustain other types of life throughout the ecosystem, from the tiny microbes at the base of the food chain up to predator species at the top of the food chain. All are important for a sustainable and healthy ecosystem. Food, energy, and water are interconnected within industrial systems and societal needs and within our bodies. Life is complex, the goal is simple – sustain life.

What can I or anyone do in their daily life to help sustain life on Earth?

  • Use less energy intensive crops and buy food in bulk or with more biodegradable or recyclable forms of food packaging. 
  • For example – potatoes and sugar beets are less energy intensive to grow than sunflower seeds or wheat. Chickens and pigs, poultry and pork are less energy intensive meats to raise as farm animal products than to raise cows for beef. See Figures 2.3 and 2.4 (3).
  • Crops also vary in how water intensive they are to grow, wheat and sunflower seeds require more water than beans, peas, barley, millet, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, sugar beets, and melons for example. See Table 5 for seasonal total water needs for a number of crops: (4).

What can local government and industry do? or neighboring countries or states? – work together to devise more efficient use of the available water supplies for energy or food production and plan methods for treating and reusing wastewater from agriculture or urban areas. Urban areas use water and create wastewater within their local area but food and energy is generally produced elsewhere and is transported to the urban location. Currently some progress has been made to treat and recycle wastewater for fertilizer use and to produce some energy (methane is produced during decomposition of food and sewage treatment).

For the sustainable production of crops, within just 40 years, human civilization needs to shift to primarily using recycled fertilizer because there is a dwindling supply of phosphorus available in a form that is bioactive for use as a fertilizer. Recycling wastewater also retains nitrogen and both phosphorus and nitrogen can cause disruption of coastal waters when it enters the water supply within run-off from agricultural or lawn treatments.

Many example case studies from around the world describe ways that communities have worked together to make processes that maximize food and energy production and preserve water by planning the best use of resources for the region. See: Implementation and Case Studies, Nexus – The Water, Energy, and Food Security Platform, (water-energy-food.org).

Some of the ideas I have been working on focus on increasing use of foods or food waste that actually has significant health benefit but which might not seem as appealing as more familiar foods. Reducing food waste directly increases the nutritional value from the energy and water that was used to grow the crop and reduces the amount of food waste that would be entering the waste stream. 

Some foods with significant health benefits that are being under-utilized or currently are being thrown away:

  • Pomegranate peel is being discarded when it could be helping prevent or treat cancer and inflammatory disease and other conditions. (more about pomegranate peel extract)
  • Sassafras leaves were the second largest export from the American colonies in the 1700’s because they have healing benefits and are a natural food thickener and emulsifier when dried and powdered. (more about sassafras leaves/Gumbo File/Choctaw Spice)
  • Fennel seeds are used commonly in India as a crunchy snack or similar to an after dinner mint as a digestive aid/breath freshener/dessert. Fennel seed powder is less crunchy but has the health benefits and could be used in baked goods or as a thickener in sauces or soups. (more about Fennel seeds/Fennel powder in baking).

What can we do to sustain life? My answer: Everything we can think of, soon.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

For more information on water management and food-energy-water nexus implementation strategies check to see if another session becomes available of a United Nations free course on developing local water sources to help meet future water needs, Local Water Solutions for Global Challenges, (GaiaEducation.org).

  1. Leck, Hayley, Conway, Declan, Bradshaw, Michael J. and Rees, Judith. (2015) Tracing the water-energy-food nexus : description, theory and practice. Geography Compass, 9 (8). pp.
    445-460. gec3.12222.   http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/79533/1/WRAP_Leck_et_al-2015-Geography_Compass.pdf
  2. Graham Turner, Cathy Alexander, Limits to Growth was right.New research shows we’re nearing collapse. Sept. 1, 2014, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/limits-to-growth-was-right-new-research-shows-were-nearing-collapse
  3. F. Monforti-Ferrario and I. Pinedo Pascua editors & contributors, et al., Energy use in the EU food sector: State of play and opportunities for
    improvement, JRC Science and Policy Report, 2015, http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC96121/ldna27247enn.pdf
  4. C. Brouwer, M. Heibloem, Chapter 2: Crop Water Needs, from Irrigation Water Management: Irrigation Water Needs, Training Manual Number 3, (1986) FAO.org http://www.fao.org/docrep/s2022e/s2022e02.htm

Autism in females may have slightly different symptoms

Girls and women on the autism spectrum or with Asperger’s Syndrome may not be diagnosed because their symptoms may be less physical and more daydreamy, seeming to not pay attention but then able to try to fit in and look attentive. Extreme difficulty with eye contact, to the point of physically not being able to have typical eye to eye contact with others when speaking or listening is a classic trait of males with autism. Less obvious problems with social interaction for girls and women with autism may be due to a tendency towards innate caregiving traits which would be needed for child rearing and/or other physical differences that lead to less severe autism changes in the brain, such as a protective effect of having more estrogen and less testosterone (estrogen receptors during fetal development seem to be involved in risk of autism development).

Checklist for females regarding Asperger’s syndrome traits – written by a woman who herself has Asperger’s syndrome and has a son with the condition; she discloses that she has a Master’s degree with some psychology training but isn’t a psychologist; she suggests that it may help identify who may have the condition; – having 75% or more of the traits may suggest a person has Asperger’s syndrome: Adult female/AFAB Asperger’s syndrome traits – Slower and sensory friendlyhttps://youtu.be/iIgsJ6uSgMo

I would add, somewhat humorously after having completed a variety of diagnostic checklists in the past that simply making it all the way through all of the checklist’s sub-lists may be an indicator too as interest in many details is a trait – and it is a very long and thorough checklist compared to many psychiatric screenings that are for only one type of condition. Screenings that mix several types of conditions together can also be quite long. The lengthy list was like meeting a friend or family member though for me. It felt familiar in a world that can often seem confusing. Empathy for another’s situation or even expectations about how difficult it might be to tolerate something familiar like spending time in a cold room can be difficult for most people – a discussion of empathy: Why developing emotional intelligence is harder than you think, (inc.com).

People on the autism spectrum may not show their feelings in typical ways but they may still be emotionally concerned. From the video checklist about Asperger’s traits in females (youtube):

  • “Section G. Sensitive:
  • 11. Becomes hurt when others question or doubt her work.
  • 14. Dislikes words and events that hurt animals and people.
  • 16. Huge compassion for suffering.
  • 18. Tries to help, offers unsolicited advice, or formalizes plans of action.
  • Section C. Escape and Friendship:
  • 19. Cannot relax or rest without many thoughts.
  • 20. Everything has a purpose.
  • Section D: Comorbid Attributes:
  • 10. Misdiagnosed or diagnosed with other mental illness and/or labeled hypochondriac.
  • 13. Wonders who she is and what is expected of her.
  • Section F. Social Interaction:
  • 8. Comes across at times as narcissistic and controlling. (Is not narcissistic.) “

Musical interlude: “We can be kind” sung by Nancy LaMott for the 40th MSU-IIT Baccalarreate service. (We can be kind, youtube)

The video checklist about Asperger’s traits in females (youtube) also included in the section “B. Innocent, 4.  Finds it difficult to understand manipulation or disloyalty. 5. Finds it difficult to understand vindictive behavior and retaliation. 6. Easily fooled and conned. and 10. Abused or taken advantage of as a child but didn’t think to tell anyone.” While eye contact and fitting in to society may be easier for a female on the autism spectrum the ability to pick up on cues and understand what is a joke or what is meant seriously may still be difficult, and that can also make protecting oneself from being manipulated or to recognize danger more difficult. People with autism and other mental or physical disability or differences can be more at risk for being abused physically or sexually. Abusers may encourage silence with threats or guilt or if something is said then deny or blame the victim for the abuse.

Physical health can make mental skills or symptoms better or worse – better is better in my opinion.

How healthy or well rested and well nourished a person of any health can affect their ability to understand and respond quickly to situations however it can make even more of  difference in a person with an inflammatory condition which may be an underlying problem for many people on the autism spectrum or with Asperger’s syndrome (the terms are used somewhat interchangeably but symptoms can vary among individuals significantly). Nutrient deficiencies can make mental health symptoms worse for anyone but again may have more obvious impact for someone with a history of trauma or with ADHD or bipolar disorder – symptoms can be somewhat similar across a variety of mental health conditions. Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can also increase mood or physical symptoms.

Recognition of social differences and recovery from physical problems led to improvement in Asperger’s symptoms – with a lot of work – according to this story: https://blog.bulletproof.com/aspergers-symptoms-treatment/

Many factors have been found that can be involved in developing autism however they all lead to the similar problem of inflammation. So individually discovering what toxins and environmental or physical problems are causing inflammation and slowly working to reduce the load of negatives and increase the positives such as antioxidants or relaxation methods is the – with a lot of work. The goal isn’t to negate a person – to prevent a person but to improve health for a person and to improve quality of life physically and that often also improves mental agility in a variety of settings, social or academic or creative. Asperger’s syndrome and some individuals on the autism spectrum may have above average skills in some areas. The increased number of synaptic connections may also increase some creative and intellectual abilities.

The potential benefit of having a healthy brain on the autism spectrum: More synaptic connections and supportive brain cells may be involved with increased creativity and intellectual ability.

Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton were both scientists who may have had some traits similar to Asperger’s Syndrome and who both made significant discoveries regarding physics. (newscientist.com) Albert Einstein’s brain was examined after his death to see if there was any differences, the number of brain cells involved in sending nerve signals was similar to average however more support cells/glial cells were found, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. (npr.org)

Astrocytes are a type of glial cell that may help with supporting fluid balance within the brain and helping with removal of toxins from normal metabolism – think a lot and you burn a lot of energy and that does leave some leftover material that needs to be removed. Oligodendrocytes are glial cells that help build the myelin coating around the connecting branches between brain cells. Myelin coating allows brain signals to be sent at a much faster rate than between cells without the fatty layer of insulating material. Oligodendrocytes support many brain cells, not just one, so they may also help with strengthening more helpful connections and pruning off less helpful branches – speeding up beneficial routes and removing less efficient pathways.

Autism seems to involve a difference in early childhood development when typically excess connecting pathways between brain cells are removed. The extra connecting pathways are removed as much as typical in the brain of a person with autism. This difference may make it easier to notice many details but also may make it easier to become overstimulated. Valuing each other’s differences can aid society as we benefit from each other’s strengths and support each other in ways where we may need help.

The connecting pathways in men and women tend to be slightly different – men tend to have more stronger connections within each separate side of the brain – within the right or left hemisphere, while women tend to have more strong connections that cross from one side to the other. (video) Loss of communication abilities after a stroke may be less severe in women than in men due to this tendency. 

Reducing inflammation may help protect against both short term worsening of symptoms and protect against development or worsening of chronic illnesses.

Reducing inflammation after a stroke or in any inflammatory condition can help protect against damaging oxidative stress chemicals. Foods rich in antioxidants and other plant phytonutrients can help reduce oxidative stress directly by providing antioxidants or indirectly by helping to signal to our own body to increase our own production of antioxidants. In normal health we make many protective chemicals and it would be difficult to match the amount from diet alone. The combination of antioxidants from the diet and our own internal production can be most effective. Pomegranate and other colorful fruits, (variety of links), vegetables, herbs and spices, and whole grains, nuts, beans and seeds all can help provide antioxidants and the other beneficial phytonutrients to help boost our own production of antioxidants.

I have not protected myself in situations where I was uncomfortable but didn’t seem to have control of myself let alone assertiveness skills to control the situation. Sleeplessness, extreme stress and fear, and nutrient deficiency were all problems. I have read a lot about assertiveness skills and interpersonal skills and also about the health impact of sleeplessness and nutrient deficiency and I hope to never feel taken advantage of again. I share information because pain hurts, whether physical, emotional or inflammatory. It takes a lot of work to cope with specialized health needs or even to maintain general health needs at an optimal level.

Sleep, enough and of good quality, helps in many ways, more on this topic later.

I will write more about sleep in a separate post, some information is in this previous post about sleep and Alzheimer’s dementia. Autism may also be more prevalent in males than females because Alzheimer’s is more prevalent in post menopausal females than males or younger females – some cases of autism and Alzheimer’s may be related conditions in which the presence of estrogen has a protective effect against an inflammatory autoimmune like response of white blood cells (immune cells & neurological conditions).

Colorful produce often has antioxidants and other phytonutrients that help promote our own ability to make antioxidants and benefit our immune system.

Preventing worsening of symptoms and maintaining more stable health and mood for individuals on the autism spectrum may help prevent chronic conditions or other psychiatric conditions from developing or worsening. I have been experimenting with healing foods for my own diet (summary links in this post) and a next step would be to try to prepare products to share with a test market or clinical trial group.

Pomegranate peel is more concentrated in phytonutrients and with a slightly different group than the fruit seeds and juice which are also nutritious. People already eat the fruit and juice is also available however the peel has only been used in animal and few human studies within a whole fruit extract. My health and mood seems greatly improved with as little as a spoonful or two of my version of peel extract, which is made in a similar way to vegetable soup stock which uses peels and other excess from certain types of vegetables. The peel extract is quite acidic, similar to lemon juice, and I’ve used it on salads or added to soup. I’ve also thickened it slightly and flavored it with extra spices and that recipe makes a flavorful additive for coffee or tea. I’ve baked with it in order to try to have a more shelf stable product for traveling but it can be easy to eat too much of a food that tastes good but which actually does have medicinal qualities. The dose of a spoonful or two is small enough that dehydrating it and putting it in capsules would likely be possible for a supplement company.

I share this information because I care, and it would be nice to be able to just buy (or manufacture in my own company) the powdered peel extract – the more companies and individuals who add nutrient dense foods to their diets and products the better in my opinion. The planet needs healthy people if only to reduce the waste level from medical supplies and to reduce the amount of medications in the ground water from our own waste products. Pomegranates are fairly drought tolerant and are grown for commercial sale in the U.S., South America, Australia, and New Zealand. They likely are grown in other areas too. Other varieties than the main commercial variety are available which can tolerate different growing conditions (more info, npr.org), and which may have similar or slightly different health benefits than the commercially available type.

Ideas for development – may be helpful in many areas of the world.

Recipes can not be copyrighted but a cookbook or article can be. Products based on foods and herbs can not be patented but specific company formulations can be kept a trade secret. The benefit of a trade secret is no time limit as long as the secret is protected, while patents or copyrights have a limited number of years of legal protection.

It is never too soon to try something new!

Cookbooks or video tutorials, deli style restaurant, group home with a centralized kitchen – many options exist in life and all may be helpful in different markets. Autism and other mental health conditions including Alzheimer’s dementia have become more prevalent. Alzheimer’s dementia is very sad in that the area of the brain that forms new memories is preferentially damaged and symptoms aren’t severe enough for diagnosis until after a large percentage of the area is affected. Prevention ten to twenty years earlier would be the best strategy. Brain cells don’t regrow typically. Improvements after a stroke occur by undamaged areas of the brain being retrained for new tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is an inflammatory process that effects large regions. 

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./