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Individualized nutrition counseling is a little like solving a mystery

Being a nutrition counselor can be like being a detective. Each patient has their own food preferences and cooking skills and their own health history and genetic make up. Basic nutrition recommendations are similar for most people but individualized counseling looks for ways to help the person with more specific ideas for their preferences and health issues.

The goal is to promote improved health and quality of life by reducing any negative health symptoms that might be caused by their dietary or lifestyle choices. The first step for a counselor is building rapport with the patient (which is not always easy either), and then asking about all of their symptoms and their lifestyle and dietary habits and then figuring out which, or if any, might be involved in causing the negative symptoms and which might be helping promote health. Then education is provided regarding which habits are likely to be helpful ones for health and which might need to be modified or limited in order to promote improved health.

Public health can be similar — the nutrient recommendations are basically the same for most people and are used for menu planning — however individual people may still have health or genetic issues that make the standard recommendations less helpful for promoting health or possibly even harmful.

Epidemiology is the study of health statistics at the population level. It can be like detective work also. Statistical trends in health and disease are studied in order to identify outbreaks of infectious diseases before they can spread to more people or to identify other changes in health that might be preventable through educational efforts or that might be due to a change in the environment such as increased asthma in areas with increased air pollution. Identifying a potential problem can then allow solutions to be attempted such as better filters being required for factory smoke stacks to reduce air pollution, or designing and implementing community educational programs to help people quit smoking or encourage them to use air filters in their homes, and then the health statistics can be tracked to see if there were any improvements.

Back-tracking to the 2010 vitamin D video story — my own health history was part of my motivation to research the issue of low vitamin D levels at the population level — but the other reason was I had observed a huge increase in supplementation of vitamin D in many random foods and beverages in varying amounts. I had seen the same thing happen in the past after research suggested a food or nutrient was beneficial. I thought it was funny when oat bran was being added to everything — oat bran is heart smart but it would be less heart smart if only a tiny amount is added to a frozen waffle product, so the box can say “heart smart” or something like that, rather just eating a bowl of oatmeal.

Random fortification of many different foods makes planning a balanced menu somewhat impossible. Liquid milk has a regulated level of vitamin A and D fortification but milk used for cheese and yogurt does not. Some cheese and some yogurt has extra vitamin D added but not all of the types and it can vary quite a bit in how much is added. So a menu planner would need to know the amount of fortification in a specific brand or type of product to be able to fit it within the day’s meals for a balanced diet. Vitamin D is also added to breakfast cereals and snack bar or breakfast replacement type products and it is naturally rich in sardines, salmon, tuna and other fish and is found in egg yolks and can be found naturally in mushrooms or may be increased in mushrooms that were treated with UV light which increases the vitamin D content.

During the 2010 advertising frenzy vitamin D was showing up sports drink type products and larger amounts, 50-100% of the Recommended Daily Value, was being added to some yogurts and meal bar type products. If a person ate a few of those foods plus some milk and cereal and salmon very often then they might end up eating more vitamin D than necessary — and it is just a slightly different form of cholesterol. As an advertising tactic proudly proclaiming that a sports drink is vitamin D fortified likely sounds better than that it is cholesterol fortified but if the person is getting plenty of sunshine or milk and cereal and other vitamin D foods then they wouldn’t need any extra in their sports beverage.

The advertising frenzy did stop eventually as the controversy around the topic increased towards 2012 it became less of a positive sales tactic. The increase in research however did lead to stopping the recommendation for routine screening and use of high dose vitamin D supplements for most people. Now individuals are screened as needed based on individual risk rather than having most patients screened.

Vitamin D is very important but it is one of those Goldilocks nutrients. A moderate amount is essential while health issues may result from too little vitamin D and while average healthy people can break down excess amounts, some individuals may have increased health risks if they have excess amounts in their diet or from supplements.

Transparency — I would be happy to go anywhere and talk to anybody about health, nutrition, politics, PTSD, or do whatever else, but my health has been very bad when I’ve tried to travel in recent months.

Transparency — I am not really healthy enough currently to be a grocery store clerk (part of my job history) let alone be President of the U.S. but my fears in 2011 about the escalating rates of obesity and chronic illness made me feel that the the country was no longer healthy enough for me to not try to share my concerns at the time or more recently. Did I expect to win though? No.

In the current two party system it is historically very unlikely that a Third Party or write-in candidate would win. However it can still make a difference to try because Independent and Third Party platform topics sometimes become incorporated into the main party’s platforms when it seems like there are voters who support the topic. 

Glyphosate use increased greatly over the last ten years and superweeds have already developed that are resistant to it. And now DDT a chemical that was in the dangerous herbicide Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War, which has been proven to have negative health effects, has been approved by the FDA for use in the U.S. with new genetically modified crops. Why should we not expect superweeds to develop resistance to DDT within another ten years then?

Increased rates of autism and Alzheimer’s disease overlapped with the increase in use of glyphosate. How are we to know what a combination of glyphosate and DDT will do to our bodies or our environment over the next ten years? How are we to know what health problems are likely to be present in the next generation of children. Children born within the last ten years will have been exposed to glyphosate for their whole lives; in addition to aspartame, Neotame (sources of formaldehyde) and other food additives and pollutants.

The genetically modified crops have also been shown to be less nutritious than natural crops and may cause health problems for farm animals.

If we care about tradition then we need to let farmers return to traditional seeds and traditional growing methods. Farmers for thousands of years have always saved part of the seeds from the current year’s harvest to plant the next year. The genetically modified seeds are required to be purchased each year as a patented item and farmers have been sued by the patent owning company if windblown seeds from a GMO happen to land in the farmer’s non-GMO field. [2] Increased rates of suicides by farmers has been associated with GMO cotton seeds but the story goes back farther than Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton seeds. High yield cotton had been the first creation but it led to increase in a population of pest insects and so the Bt cotton seeds were created to resist the increased insect problem, read more: [1] http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/09/no-gmos-didnt-create-indias-farmer-suicide-problem And more information on the benefits and responsible use of Bt crops, [2]: http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/06/gmo-bt-pesticides-crops.

Food is supposed to be nourishment not decorative and addictive food like toxin delivery units. Most of our corn and sugar beets are now Bt GMOs which means they make Bt delta endotoxin within all parts of the plant — we can’t rinse the toxin off if the plant is actually growing it within the seed or within the beet. Supposedly, just like glyphosate, the Bt toxin isn’t supposed to be harmful to humans except that it does seem to cause symptoms for some people, it may be harmful for intestinal bacteria. The Bt protein binds to the gut wall of susceptible insects and causes it to break down and allow the insect’s gut bacteria to enter it’s body and cause septaecemia. More information: [3]https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef130. Other research suggests that the genetically modified plants are producing a slightly different form of the Bt delta endotoxin which may be toxic to a wider range of insects then the older version of the pesticide which was sprayed on the surface of plants. [4] http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/3-health-hazards-gm-foods/3-8-myth-gm-bt-insecticidal-crops-harm-insects-harmless-animals-people/

The glyphosate and Bt toxins are harmful to bacteria and our intestinal health, and our health in general, depend on having a good variety and quantity of bacteria. We are actually dependent on our intestinal bacteria for some essential nutrients that they produce and they also produce brain neurotransmitters. Some of the beneficial bacteria even help fight off negative bacteria by producing their own version of hormone D which then activates our own immune system to make our internal form of antibiotics. Yes, good guy bacteria in our gut can make hormone D in order to prompt our white blood cells to produce antibiotics that then keep bad bacteria under control.

It’s fascinating what you can learn on the internet these days. What will we have learned ten years from now? That chronic illness has escalated at an even faster rate? A glyphosate plus DDT plus aspartame and Neotame rate?

We don’t know what we don’t know until we learn it — and then ideally we should act on what we’ve learned.

In 2012 I eventually closed the vitamin D video from public display because it had became too controversial and the research about risks had not been reviewed. Research with high dose supplements showing their ineffectiveness or risks had not been completed at that time and I was making a recommendation to be cautious or stop the high dose supplements — opposite of the trend at the time.

This video was from May 2012 about something different I learned online:

Re-watching it four years later was interesting for me from a nutrition counselor perspective. My autoimmune hyperthyroidism was discovered late 2012 / early 2013 but having met other hyperthyroid patients I think this video is displaying symptoms. I was thinner in this video than I ever had been before (or am now) and the flamboyant manner in the early part of the video doesn’t seem like my normal style. Mania and loss of weight even while eating a lot are normal though for hyperthyroid patients. I had been able to eat a lot of cornbread at that time without gaining weight – that was kind of great, but mania is less so.

A note to myself was included in the text on a different video from April 2012:

Stop procrastinating and get a round tuit“, said self to self. [What’s a tuit?]

This is also me in earlier in the year 2012:

Dancing is a healthy form of exercise and stress reduction, I should get a round tuit more often.

Something I’ve been putting off is sharing one other disturbing theory I discovered about the rapid change in rate of autism. Graphs of the timeline when glyphosate and aspartame were introduced to the market and the increasing amount being sold closely parallel the increasing rate of autism. Sadly, very sadly, with a few tears, the graph of increasing rates of breastfeeding also closely parallel the increasing rate of autism. And the rate of autism within families correlated with whether the infant was born earlier or later in the mother’s pregnancy history. First children were more likely to have autism than later children. Children who breastfed longer (and just four months was considered long if I remember correctly) were more likely to have autism. Toxins are filtered out somewhat by the placenta so the developing fetus may be exposed to less than the mother’s stored toxins which collect over the lifespan but breastmilk tends to concentrate toxins which frequently are fat soluble. A mother’s body actually loses toxin load during breastfeeding and second and third children would receive less than the first child. [5] http://www.breastfeeding-and-autism.net/ [6] http://www.pollution-effects.info/  [7] http://www.breastfeedingprosandcons.info/ *These links are long and full of science research, and don’t share how wonderful breast feeding can be. I was in email contact with the author who is concerned that women should have access to the information rather than just hear about the benefits. He would like more people to write about the issue and seemed frustrated that he hasn’t gotten any feedback from people in positions of authority. Um, nobody wants to hear that breastfeeding might be associated with autism.

As a lactation educator and mother of two breastfed children I would never recommend not breastfeeding as a general principle. It is too wonderful of a bonding experience for mother and baby and there are many health benefits for baby and mom. However as a mother and person with similar genetic defects as people on the autism spectrum I was astonished by the information but I had already been aware that a women’s toxin load could be too great for healthy breast milk (see below) and it matched my own experiences as a mother. I breastfed both of my children for two years and a few months and it was the first one, the one who didn’t receive any vaccinations for the first years of life and who was fed mostly organic homemade foods, that was the one who displayed a few symptoms of autism later in life. There weren’t many and it never worsened into an obvious problem but some issues when under stress are still issues that the person has to learn how to handle. The second child who did receive vaccinations, albeit slightly fewer and more spaced out over time than the standard recommendation, and who got processed foods much earlier and more regularly, did not display any symptoms of autism later in life.

So the bad news our bodies may be so overloaded with who knows what toxins that breastfeeding is no longer safe, and yet I breastfed my first child for two and quarter years not just four months. So the good news might be that autoimmune flair up that can lead to autism in a susceptible baby might be preventable by limiting early exposure to toxins with a delayed vaccination schedule and use of mostly organic foods — (and also use of a baby sling and backpack most of the time instead of leaving baby in a car seat, and lots of interaction, eye contact, singing, no TV, art projects, Head Start, etc.). Vaccinations inject amounts of the metal aluminum straight into the bloodstream. The molecule is larger than what would be absorbed easily in the intestines and is difficult for the body to excrete once it has been entered the bloodstream. So the vaccination itself isn’t necessarily a risk to a genetically susceptible infant but the aluminum and formerly the mercury might add to a toxin load that the infant can’t detoxify well. Infants in general don’t have a well developed detoxification system and part of the genetic susceptibility is in the area of toxin removal.

So reducing the use of toxins like glyphosate and Bt foods and the food additives aspartame and Neotame (they break down to formaldehyde which is very toxic to humans and especially to fetuses and infants) might help reduce autism rate and other chronic illnesses and would be better for the environment. Bees and butterflies may be at risk from the genetically modified Bt toxin too not just the pest it was designed to kill. [4] http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/3-health-hazards-gm-foods/3-8-myth-gm-bt-insecticidal-crops-harm-insects-harmless-animals-people/

It wouldn’t be easy but feasibly a woman could have her body levels of toxins tested and then initiate breast milk production with an electric pump and then pump and dump the milk for a few months — prior to ever trying to get pregnant — in order to help clear her body of toxins before conception. Some of the changes that leave an infant susceptible to autism later in life may occur within the very early days and weeks of pregnancy possibly before a woman is even aware she is pregnant. Vitamin D is involved but that is in a different post. http://transcendingsquare.com/2015/12/22/preventing-autism-perinatally-before-conception/

So individualized nutrition counseling and public health epidemiology are both a little like solving a mystery.

~~

A draft article that I never posted:
Pollutants evaporate in hotter regions of the world and dissipate out over the cold regions of the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. Indigenous populations of the Arctic region have more contamination problems than the rest of the world. Breast fed babies there were actually sicker than formula fed babies on average – not typically seen when comparing health aspects of human milk versus formula [1].     Fair?    No.
Is the Arctic a big waste producing region? – an industrial factory zone? No, it is just very, very cold and toxins leave the gaseous form – ie get too cold and fall out of the air. They were produced elsewhere and just drifted til it got cold – life isn’t fair – ask a Polar Bear.
  1. by Joe Thornton, Pandora’s Poison, Chlorine, Health, and a New Environmental Strategy, (MIT, 2000) (pages 151-152) * Inuit children exposed to organochlorines in breast milk and had more ear infections and altered T-cell ratios, a sign of immunosuppression compared to formula fed infants. The formula fed infants had lower blood levels of organochlorines than the breast fed infants. [amazon.com]

/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./