Sleep and health

The sleep/wake cycle impacts health in many ways. The hormone melatonin has become more familiar as it now more available over the counter as a supplement that may help with sleep. It may help with getting to sleep – but timing – when it is taken, and how much – not an excess, are important factors, and it may not help with staying asleep. Sleep and wake are very complex processes within the brain and body, with many chemical signals causing activation or inhibition of different areas of the brain which then signal activation or inhibition of body functions. Reviewing all of them is beyond the scope of this post – including just the summary points is my goal.

  • Insomnia seems to be a hyperarousal of the system, both the brain and body remain more metabolically active than within normal sleep causing difficulties falling asleep and then leaving the person lest rested after sleeping because it was never reaching deeper relaxation of the brain’s activity levels. The hyperarousal tends to continue during the day so the person with insomnia may be irritable and not able to concentrate as well but may not feel tired or sleepy as might be expected after missing that many hours of sleep. The risk with ongoing insomnia though is the person is in need of deeper sleep and accidents may be more likely to occur in physical activity or in oversight of details in mental activity, especially when there are multiple demands on attention.
  • The wake/sleep cycle is essential for health for many reasons but the overall point is that different functions of metabolism occur when awake than during sleep, and both are important to overall health. Repair and detoxification, roughly, are the focus of the sleep hours and energy use and activity and learning/creating new connections between brain and nerve cells are the focus of wake hours.
    • Sleep and wake have different specialized genes and proteins for metabolism – what gets made or what gets cleaned up and reused or excreted/detoxified. Wakefulness activates genes that are used in active metabolism, using sugar for energy, and sleep activates genes that are important for using fats for building cell membranes or myelin sheaths around nerve cell connections.
    • Chronic sleeplessness can cause insulin resistance and lead to increased risk for diabetes or metabolic syndrome, whether the sleeplessness was due to inadequate hours of sleep because of a busy schedule, or due to poor sleep quality because of insomnia or other health problems or overuse of caffeine or stimulating lights late at night. More about insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome is available in a TEDmed video talk about obesity and insulin resistance. A doctor suggests that the approach medical research has taken in looking at obesity as a cause of insulin resistance may be wrong – insulin resistance may lead to obesity. Peter Attia-What If We’re Wrong About Diabetes?, TEDmed.
    • Hypertension, high blood pressure, is also a risk of chronic sleep problems.
    • Add up the problems of reduced myelin sheath production, blood sugar and blood pressure problems, and it is easy to see that long term risks of poor sleep quality may include dementia whether typical forgetfulness type due to loss of connections between brain cells or the loss of brain cells in Alzheimer’s dementia.

Solutions vary depending on the type of sleep problem however general tips for an ideal sleep setting include:

  • A cool room temperature – the body temperature is at its lowest during sleep.
  • Complete darkness – for the pineal gland to make melatonin the use of a light blocking eye mask on long airplane rides may help provide deeper sleep. In the home setting or when traveling cover alarm clock lights or other digital lights during the night and close curtains. Complete light blocking curtains are ideal.
  • Stop using digital screen devices about a half hour to an hour before intended time to try to sleep. Additional tips about electric light: Digital screens are a very bright type of light and blue lens glasses are available for eye protection for anyone who spends many hours per day using laptops or smartphones. The light settings on the device may also offer a dimmer evening setting which may help reduce eyestrain.*
  • Avoid coffee or other caffeine containing stimulants for about four to six hours prior to intended time to try to sleep.
  • Have a regular time to go to sleep and wake up each day. The average person does need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night and teenagers and toddlers ideally may need 10 hours of sleep for best cognitive performance and physical health.  Lack of sleep for adults seems to negatively affect reasoning and verbal performance more than short term memory. (3)
  • Avoid high fat, hard to digest meals or snacks in the hours prior to intending to try to sleep.
  • A cool compress on the forehead or over the eyes or on top of the head may help relax sooner if insomnia and racing thoughts are a problem or feeling hot and jittery. Reusable gel packs designed for sprained ankles or other sore muscles can be kept in the freezer and then wrapped in a few layers of thin fabric to protect the skin from being overly chilled. The gel pack will eventually lose its coolness but use on the forehead may help slow down the metabolic activity of the brain, which then helps slow down signals to the body to be jittery – 20 to 30 minutes with a cool gel pack may help reach a more relaxed state before the pack is warm. Having several in the freezer could allow you to rotate the warm one with a chilled one if reawakening in the middle of the night is a problem. **
  • If reawakening in the middle of the night is a problem but you are still sleepy, try not to use any bright lights while visiting the bathroom or kitchen, etc. If wide awake, then it is recommended to just get up and do something for a while until feeling sleepy again rather than tossing and turning in bed and getting more anxious or jittery.
  • If reawakening in the middle of the night is consistently happening around 4:00 am then low serotonin levels may be a problem.  (University Health News) Taking the precursor to serotonin, 5HTP or the herbal St John’s Wort, may help provide your body with serotonin.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for sleep issues has been found to be as or more effective than sleep promoting medications while they are in use, and more effective at long term benefits even after the therapy or medication is no longer in use. Anxiety may be an issue but habits can also affect insomnia, naps and early bed times may disrupt sleep and staying awake during the day, and ideally getting some bright sunshine or full spectrum light during wake hours can help with the body’s 24 hour metabolic patterns. (CBT-I, National Sleep Foundation)

*Modern laptops or smartphones emit bluelight which may inhibit sleep. (1) Wearing blue light blocking glasses in the evening for any screen time may help reduce the effect. It has been found helpful to prevent sleep difficulties to wear them during the three hours prior to trying to go to sleep. The blue light blocking glasses are not needed for use throughout the day however. Eyestrain from a long day working with a light screen may cause dry itchy eyes and eyedrops for moisture and taking occasional breaks may help prevent that problem. Read more: (2).

**The tip about keeping gel packs in the freezer for use as a cold compress for the forehead that I mentioned for insomnia in the last post is something that I have found helpful in the past for migraines. I tried it recently for insomnia after learning in the course about sleep and neurobiology that a “biothermal device” had been found helpful in sleep lab studies for patients with insomnia. (Sleep, Neurobiology, Medicine and Societycoursera.org)

The drawing suggested they had an electric blanket type compress size cooling device that laid over the forehead and slightly over the ear area, so a little bigger than a gel pack designed for sprained ankles. However a gel pack for sprained ankles is already at stores and electric cooling biothermal devices are not yet available to my knowledge. The point – my trial use with a freezer gel pack for insomnia was very helpful at slowing my thoughts and helping my body reach a relaxed state fairly quickly. I didn’t immediately go to sleep but it did seem to help. I’ve tried it several times now and one night got another out of the freezer when I was awake but sleepy in the middle of the night. 

Environmental cues and genetic differences can effect sleep patterns. (Sleep, Neurobiology, Medicine and Society, coursera.org) (How Nature and Nurture Shape the Sleeping Brainnature.com)

There is more on this topic however this is an overview of the importance of sleep.

/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./

  1. Dustin Eves, Do Computer Screens Emit UV Light? techwalla.com, https://www.techwalla.com/articles/do-computer-screens-emit-uv-light
  2. Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Really Work? 2018, nymag.com,     http://nymag.com/strategist/article/blue-light-blocking-glasses-work.html
  3. Conor J Wild, Emily S Nichols, Michael E Battista, Bobby Stojanoski, Adrian M Owen; Dissociable effects of self-reported daily sleep duration on high-level cognitive abilities, Sleep, , zsy182, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsy182

Distractions from nutrition – a timeline

Goals for the chronically ill often are different than for those who enjoy typical health – avoiding a cold is less difficult than avoiding increased inflammation that can lead to an inability to digest food, or to heal small wounds, or to grow skin in areas where skin cells are replaced on a weekly basis such as in mucous membranes of the nose or mouth or in the ear canal. Those rapidly growing areas represent all of the lining of the intestinal tract. If your skin isn’t healing well from minor scrapes and you have frequent nose bleeds then likely your entire digestive tract isn’t in good shape either. Cells are replaced throughout the body on a regular basis but some areas have a longer life cycle for the replacement than other areas.

(Non-healing sores may be more common in autoimmune condition Lupus, patient forum, may also occur with vasculitis – migraines may involve vasculitis. Patient forums for people with odd diseases can be comforting if only to let them know they aren’t alone. Sunlight exposure can make Lupus worse or be a trigger for some types of vasculitis sores.  The patient forum tips also included a warning not to use petroleum jelly (Vasoline TM) within the nasal passages as it can increase risk for a type of lung infection. Coconut oil was recommended by another forum comment and is the active ingredient in a product that I’ve found helpful for moistening the dry scabby tissue – pain is the common complaint along with bleeding or seeping plasma from the sore tissue. Applying tiny amount within the nasal passage or ear area is not easy but pain is unpleasant. /(After reading the patient forum tips I’ve switched to plain coconut oil as was suggested and it does seem more healing than the thicker chapstick which likely contains some waxes in addition to coconut oil. While a humid, moist air quality is helpful I’ve also found that clean air is important, smoke or smog like air made the skin condition worse whether there was a humidifier or not.)/

I’ve also found relief after a magnesium sulfate/Epsom salt bath and the dryness is reduced with adequate humidity in the air. A damp towel hung near a heating vent can help add humidity to a closed small room if a commercial humidifier isn’t available or seems inadequate. Commercial humidifiers should be cleaned with bleach water or another sanitizing agent occasionally or they may be adding mold or other infectious pathogens to the air – the damp towel dries each night and needs to be remoistened and simply washed occasionally as it doesn’t really get dirty or mold because it doesn’t stay damp. Mold and pathogens can grow on the commercial humidifiers because they tend to always retain some moisture in portions of the machinery. )

Not having a severe headache, migraine pain, and being able to breathe through both nostrils at the same time due to frequent congestion problems are also part of my good days versus bad days. Severe exhaustion and just having the energy to get dressed can be a limiting factor for a day’s goals to get anything else accomplished. Chronic illness is becoming more common rather than less common and how to help prevent or manage it is something that nutrition can help in ways that a bottle of medication can’t because the cell repair throughout the body needs many trace nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and an adequate amount and variety of protein and essential fats and carbohydrates – every day, throughout the day.

Strolling through the distractions used to suggest my concerns about nutrition are unfounded simply reveal the accuracy. (More on the “Weaponization of Social Media” by the U.S. and others) My providing free information is simply in the hope that it might be helpful to someone. I will be fine because I’ve found the research and am using it for my own benefit. Living in a desert is not something that my health can handle however and has never been my goal. The advantage of a virtual world is that if twenty readers find my information valuable then they can benefit from it wherever they are sitting and don’t need me to be present or to be living in a desert area.

Do your own research or find a health care practitioner that is trained in nutrition to help guide you if you are interested in taking better care of yourself now rather than waiting for worse chronic illness or brain degeneration. You could be one of the twenty readers who are interested or not, life is full of choice but consider whether you are choosing for yourself or whether you are accepting society’s Darwin Award of chronic illness via modern lifestyle. The United States is becoming one of the most unhealthy countries on average. Qatar is leading the group too but only since the decades since switching to a modern lifestyle and dietary habits.  (20% diabetes rate in Qatar)(Magnesium deficiency causes insulin resistance)

Supporting big business profit goals is noble but so is survival of the ecosystem over the next thousand years – if we make it through the next one hundred I have hope that we will have figured out more sustainable ways to produce energy and use renewable agricultural methods and that we will survive the next thousand – we are at a turning point where pretending the status quo is working is no longer helpful and is harmful even over the short term.

  1. Obsessive about vitamin D, must be crazy – no my recommendation to not take excessive vitamin D and calcium supplements as it is not a sure way to protect against bone fracture risk and may be harmful, has been since supported by research and is now the standard recommendation. My initial recommendation was in February 2011, this update is December 2017:  https://www.acsh.org/news/2017/12/27/calcium-and-vitamin-d-supplements-still-do-not-prevent-fractures-12329
  2. Some people may truly have low vitamin and hormone D levels while others may have a condition that causes the inactive vitamin D level to be low while the active hormone D level is elevated and likely causing an elevation or tendency to elevation of the body’s calcium levels through increased absorption and decreased excretion and which also leads decreased magnesium absorption and increased magnesium excretion as the minerals are kind of a team. In ancient times magnesium was very plentiful in the water and food supply while calcium is rare so our evolutionary physiology tipped towards conserving calcium and wasting magnesium. Ideally simply ask to have both your inactive vitamin D level (25-D) and your active (1-25-D) hormone D levels to be tested but the current treatment and research recommendations generally just test the less expensive measurement of 25-D. Sarcoidosis, HIV, tuberculosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis are some examples of diseases that may have altered balances of 25-D and 1-25-D. The metabolism of vitamin D is complicated and the commonly used herbicide Roundup which contains glyphosate may be inhibiting the CYP enzymes that are needed to make the active form of hormone D from the inactive form or to make the inactive form with sunshine. This is not a widely accepted theory yet (more on the topic in a previous post) but my own health is better for having reduced my intake of foods that may contain glyphosate and by adding a powdered form of the amino acid glycine to my daily routine. I added the supplemental powder when I had a genetic screening performed that revealed a double gene difference in my ability to digest larger proteins down to the individual glycine. It has active roles within the brain which can help reduce anxiety as well as performing other functions and my health has been much improved. Glyphosate is only one methyl group (-OH, one atom of oxygen and one of hydrogen) different from glycine. (more on glycine & glyphosate in this previous post) Inhibition of CYP enzymes might also increase risk of pancreas problems and diabetes and may play a role in risk of developing autism but it isn’t the only chemical that is likely involved and deficiency of vitamin D is likely not the only nutrient deficiency involved – (more on that in this post.)  By the way, I’m looking for a particular link and just haven’t found it yet – please be patient. Still looking but here is a post with some dietary guidance for prenatal or other people interested in reducing intake of foods that may contain glyphosate: (Self care for prenatal care, part one) Okay I found it, see link [page 19, 1] “Other pathogens that have been shown to reduce the activity of the Vitamin D Receptor, in addition to the pathogen that causes Tuberculosis, include the mold Aspergillus, the viruses that cause Epstein-Barr chronic fatigue syndrome and HIV/AIDS, and the autoimmune diseases sarcoidosis, Crohn’s Disease, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Elevated levels of 1, 25(OH)2D are seen with the bacterial infections: “Elevated 1,25(OH)2D appears to be evidence of a disabled immune system’s attempt to activate the VDR to combat infection.” [page 19, 1]”  an excerpt from post: [http://transcendingsquare.com/2015/08/11/whether-to-be-compliant-or-to-be-healthy-seems-like-an-easy-question-to-answer/]” which I included in (Preventing autism perinatally – before conception) Newborn umbilical cord samples which are already collected could be tested for more chemicals in order to help identify which infants are likely to be more at risk for developing autism – I would be because of my genetic difference in my ability to digest protein down to the individual amino acid glycine. A researcher found 15 lab test biomarkers/chemicals in common and to save money organized them into three groups – if an infant has the first five, then pay for the screening of the second set of five and if the infant also has those differences then screen for the last set of three chemicals. If all fifteen or most of the fifteen are different than average than the infant may need dietary modifications to help with special methyl forms of B vitamins or supplements of glycine or methionine or help with detoxifying heavy metals for example. See (Newborn Sceening for Autism – 3 sets of 5 potential biomarkers) As an overview and update I will add a link to an article about a recent review of research on the finding that low vitamin D levels are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer – but – excess levels of vitamin D don’t help protect even more than adequate or good levels. Some nutrients and chemicals are safe at elevated levels because they are excreted easily while others are safe and helpful in a -U- shape, too little or too much can be unsafe to health. Vitamin D when activated to the hormone can help control our own immune system’s ability to make antibiotic type chemicals of our own – all day, everyday as long as the nutrient building blocks are available. Too much or too little vitamin/hormone D can increase risk of cancer or of autoimmune disease.
  3. This isn’t about “I told you so” it is about our government or some other agent actively preventing helpful information from being shared. I will keep sharing information that can be helpful because I know how much pain hurts and some chronic degeneration of body and brain function can not be reversed it can only be prevented – seeing your loved ones and having them not remember basic facts about themselves or their family members hurts emotionally – having them forget how to be able to swallow food hurts them physically unless caregivers to spoon feed them can be afforded or are available within the family. You may have to physically massage their throat to help stimulate a swallow reflex, simply putting the spoon in the mouth may not be enough to stimulate a swallow reflex in end stage Alzheimer’s Disease.
  4. Magnesium matters – and Epsom salt baths or foot-soaks (about one cup magnseium sulfate salt to a half bath for 20 minutes every 3 to 4 days or half cup in a tub of water for a 20-40 minute footsoak) can be a better absorbed method – this is now supported by research. It may also help protect against and reverse early stages of Alzheimer’s  Disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4182554/
  5. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include mood changes such as depression, anxiety, or anger and irritability and physical symptoms such as muscle cramps, eye twitches, or dry eye. https://www.healingtheeye.com/dry_eye.html
  6. Magnesium is nature’s method for blocking calcium channels – and it doesn’t cause the potential side effects that pharmaceuticals may cause (PPIs such as Pprilosec, Nexium and Prevacid.) http://transcendingsquare.com/2015/10/18/magnesium-deficiency-can-cause-irritability-anxiety-and-chronic-degeneration/
  7. Iodine is an essential nutrient for a healthy weight and appetite for adults and infants and moderate deficiency during pregnancy may be an under lying cause of later development of autism. For some reason I can’t imagine the U.S. nutrient database for iodine content was deleted some point in time between when I first started writing about it in 2010/2011 and now. I keep checking in the hope that the information has been restored – but that day isn’t today: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/index
  8. Zinc, B12 and vitamin D deficiency can mimic symptoms of schizophrenia which is a mental disorder where the brain isn’t recognizing the person’s own subvocal thoughts and mutterings. Treating with psychiatric drugs or only one of the missing nutrients wouldn’t cure the person of the symptoms if multiple nutrient deficiencies were the cause.  Low thyroid levels may also be a risk factor and elevated C-reactive protein or an elevated copper to zinc ratio may also be a factor. http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/03/19/the-voices-that-people-with-schizophrenia-are-hearing-are-probably-their-own-inner-thoughts/
  9. Calcium or vitamin D deficiency can cause hyperparathyroidism which can cause disoriented thinking and may cause self injury or suicidal urges. http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/04/23/self-injurious-behavior-in-autism-patients-with-low-calcium-levels/

That’s the short list.

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.

Pleasure, happiness and a book to avoid

An old song that became part of pop culture as the opening lines of a television show suggests that love and marriage have to do with baby carriages. As a rhyming song lyric it does work well and it was the definition I grew up with – love and marriage was about picking the best person to be your children’s other parent – and be sure to have the marriage first and baby carriage second, that was important in my family even though the wedding itself wasn’t. Recently a book about addiction suggested that in our commercial world marriage seemed to be about large weddings, which some popular reality television shows about weddings have reinforced. Some brides can be very difficult and some weddings can be very large and expensive.

The average marriage that ends in divorce in the U.S. lasts an average of eight years. Children who see their parents divorce are more likely as adults to have a marriage of their own end in divorce so it is something difficult for the whole family. Longer getting to know you courtships may help couples have a better idea of what they are getting into but then who knows how many would never try? (U.S. divorce statistics)(healthy signs & questions to consider for a good relationship)

In my own upbringing it was always made clear to me by my father, who I love dearly but who doesn’t always say things in a kind and gentle manner, that with multiple daughters we were  all to elope – no money would be spent on large weddings. It was meant as a joke but clothes were never important in my family especially clothes to wear only once. In my family nature’s birthday suit was considered beautiful, love the skin you’re in, and any clothing on top of that was just window dressing for society. Elopement was an okay idea with me, and my sisters survived as well – small weddings were our thing, no difficult brides demanding special treatment. My point if there is one is that definitions are different for different people and one person’s impression even if it is in a book may not be correct or may not be correct for everyone.

Today is Veteran’s Day and I honor veterans including my father for their contribution to helping our nation’s safety. Budgeting for elopements versus large weddings seems worth a discussion based on the national budget however. When a bill called a tax reform bill is trimming care for citizens at the expense of health and children’s futures simply to provide more tax savings for a small percentage of the population that seems like a party that is excluding the majority for the sake of a fancy plate wedding that seats only a few. Blaming others doesn’t solve problems and we can’t  just blame President Trump or the Trump administration for the House passing a massive military bill that provides more than was even requested.  http://theantimedia.org/house-approves-700-billion-ndaa/

We can hold him accountable for his Tweeting though:. /twitter.com/

This post is not really about weddings or Veteran’s Day. It is about addiction and endocrinology and the need in my opinion to not blame patients or parents for underlying health problems in themselves or their children, more on that is included later in this post, and to not ever suggest to a sober addict that the addict’s definition of sobriety or description of it is wrong. Words mean different things for different people. Writing a book with a theme is nice but blaming addicts for not fitting neatly into the jargon of the theme in wrong in my opinion. The author includes in his blame game  the use of LSD and the 60s  flower power generation on a rock and roll musician without including a reference which would be difficult because the story he writes about is inaccurate – a slander lawsuit could possibly be filed for that (chapter 8, book).

I read this book to save anyone else the effort:  book that needs to be rewritten.

If interested in neuroscience and behavioral psychology, nevermind the jokes, because who cares, the references are cited thoroughly and accurately I would recommend reading Sapolsky’s Behavehttps://www.amazon.com/Behave-Biology-Humans-Best-Worst/dp/1594205078

Sugar is blamed for most of chronic illness and the section on nutrition doesn’t even include carbohydrates as an essential food group. Too much starch and sugar is not good but the brain minimally needs at least roughly 100 grams of carbohydrate per day and it can’t use fat for energy. Protein from muscle mass will be broken down into a form that the brain can use for energy.

After having finished the book, there is some value in it but there are also errors and opinion presented as fact. A dangerous idea is presented, likely meant as a joke but there is no qualifier given that it was a joke and not meant as advice and that the idea shouldn’t be followed. (p125,book includes a maybe slip a mood altering substance in someone’s drink idea – no don’t do that ever, even if it is a legal substance and meant to boost the mood, it is illegal. https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/6158/is-it-an-offence-to-spike-someones-drink

References ideally should be included for all information presented as facts in a book with educational goals. The section on nutrition is simplified to the point of dangerous misinformation and sugar is stressed as the primary problem with our processed food diet. It is a problem but not the only one. Sugar is blamed for most of chronic illness and the section on nutrition doesn’t even include carbohydrates as an essential food group. Too much starch and sugar is not good but the brain minimally needs at least roughly 100 grams of carbohydrate per day and it can’t use fat for energy. Protein from muscle mass will be broken down into a form that the brain can use for energy.

Drinking any calorie containing beverage as a thirst quencher is a problem that I observed and counseled parents about for helping children who were heading upward on the weight to height ratio. Within three months usually, when the next appointment would be typically scheduled, the parents often had such success that they had forgotten that there had been a concern. Children are good at regulating food intake however the intake of liquids is not regulated in the same way as solid food. Our brains expect water for thirst because that is what nature provides. Once a baby is weaned from mother’s milk there is not typically any other calorie beverage in the natural world. As cavemen and women we did not milk wild animals or squeeze juice from fruits. We ate the fruits and wild animals as whole foods which are recognized by the brain as filling due to fiber or fats. Carbohydrates alone do not have the appetite satisfying effect on the brain that fiber and fats provide.

Regarding pediatric or adult endocrinology and the increase in metabolic syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes – sugar can increase insulin resistance but so can an absence of magnesium. Sugary processed foods often are not only deficient in fiber but they are also deficient in magnesium and B vitamins which are needed to process the sugar into usable energy.

More about magnesium deficiency and insulin resistance is available here: Association of Serum Magnesium Deficiency with Insulin Resistance in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus,  (G3.122)

Diabetics given opiates for pain have been found to not have the same response as non-diabetics, their pain is not relieved – unless magnesium is also given. More importantly to me at least, their pain was relieved simply by giving magnesium alone – why give the opiates then, why not just treat the magnesium deficiency? Read more:  Magnesium ions and opioid agonists in vincristine-induced neuropathy, (G3.101)

I wrote a bit more about the pediatric nutrition issues related to the book in a longer post, so I’m copying the part about pediatric nutrition and endocrinology here as well:

The planet and its nations can’t afford an increasingly ill population. We are not just overweight (or chronically ill) because we eat too much and exercise too little, some do, but why is the better question. A healthy person has a healthy appetite that guides to balanced amount of food without counting calories and a healthy person has a healthy interest in active play or work that exercises the body.

Blaming doesn’t solve problems it just denies responsibility and prevents more helpful answers from being discovered.  A book I just picked up recently written by a pediatric endocrinologist is upsetting for me to read because blaming the patient for not following the doctor’s advice is a theme rather than considering the possibility that the advice itself might be wrong or incomplete. In my experience as a pediatric nutrition counselor I observed that children are the best at self-regulating their intake and generally did quite well at eating enough but not too much and generally had a reasonable height/weight ratio- except for the few who seemed to be overweight no matter how much their parent tried  to help them achieve a healthy weight for height.

Parents have lost custody or risked losing custody of their children when too large or too small and I’ve written about both issues. Undiagnosed congenital (from birth) hypothyroidism can be a cause of a child being tiny, too slim seeming except their bone structure is also slim so proportionally they tiny child can look healthy for their tiny weight. Force feeding wouldn’t help that child. Other children can be overweight even on limited calories, possibly due to an undiagnosed hypothyroid problem that occurred later than birth. Putting either the tiny child or the overweight child in foster homes would not solve an undiagnosed endocrinology problem. (post about the overweight child, Foster Care case) (post regarding tiny child and Foster Care case)

Holding parents accountable for something that is neglect or abuse is important but blaming them for underlying health problems that aren’t being diagnosed in many many people is wrong and there is no reason to expect that a Foster Care family would be able to make the child gain or lose weight if the underlying reason is an actual health problem.

To repeat an important point: When health statistics change as rapidly as they have in the U.S. and an increasing number of other nations then it is not a question of individual choice but of environmental changes.

Returning to the questionable practice of suggesting to a sober addict that their definition of sobriety is wrong (p 282, book) – a sober addict’s definition of sobriety is always adequate if they are maintaining sobriety.

The definition of words is fluid and addiction and who might be considered an addict may also be fluid. The person who is planning to get married just in order to have a large wedding might be considered an addict to weddings and the nation with a military industrial budget greater than half the national budget might be considered addicted to the weapons industry – possibly.

If a number of addicts to more traditional addictions of substances legal or illegal describe their experience while under the influence as happiness and their experience sober as pleasure it seems worth considering what they might mean. The dictionary definition uses the two words as synonyms – meaning some what the same thing. Happiness is further defined as contentment and pleasure could be considered at the verb “to please” not just as an emotional descriptor, the feeling of pleasure.

Opiates are being overused in our current society and are deadly when a powerful street version is used in place of the controlled pharmaceutical version. Our body’s natural painkiller includes internally produced opiate-like substances and the feeling might be described as happiness, or bliss, or absolute dreamlike contentment – but then the body runs out and there is an absent feeling of loss of contentment. The person might be overpowered by an urge to seek more. I experienced a small amount of that feeling a long time ago when I was prescribed painkiller tablets after having some dental work. I wasn’t really warned that the tablets were dangerous but they did leave me wanting more for a few days after I ran out, so I am slightly familiar with the dreamy bliss of opiate based pain killers and I have avoided them ever since.

The addicts who described feeling happy while drugged and feeling pleasure sober might be trying to express the difference between an artificial short term bliss that leaves an unsatisfactory feeling afterwards with the more gratifying experience of sober pleasure – taking pleasure in pleasing oneself or others naturally. Helping others can be a significant form of pleasure, pleasing oneself by pleasing others can be gratifying in a lasting way that a short term felling of contented happiness may not. In our modern world we can have addictions to video games or to shopping or other non-drug related experiences, even social media Likes and reshares may have an addictive quality for some users. Feeling grateful and helping others in a social group may provide long lasting pleasure and short term contentment. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/teen-angst/201701/achieving-happiness-helping-others

Definitions are important to help oneself understand one’s own behavior and for trying to communicate with others.

Cannabinoids are also chemicals that are produced naturally in our bodies but there is many more types of them than opiates and the functions the many types play are much more versatile than simply relieving pain. The primary one found in our body during times of health is known by the initials 2-AG and it is not euphoria inducing. The pain killing and euphoria producing one that is similar to the euphoria inducing cannabinoid found in cannabis known by the initials THC is called anandamide, a word that includes a foreign term for the word bliss. Anandamide is not found in large quantities in the body during times of health. It increases in quantity shortly before death and may help us “go gently into that good night” to reverse the meaning of a famous poem. when starvation is severe the body goes into a contented state, a desperate urge to seek food or water is no longer present – this might be when the anandamide levels increase naturally. Attempts by the pharmaceutical industry to synthesize cannabinoids for medical purposes have focused on THC when it might be the non-euphoria producing 2-AG that is more medically helpful for people who are alive.

Definitions are important and not mixing science and moral religious values is also important. Addiction can involve poor choices but it may also involve underlying differences in genetics or metabolism that leave some people needing more excitement to stimulate an increase in neurotransmitters because their body is overly efficient at breaking down the supply of neurotransmitters. It would be more helpful to tell that person that exercising vigorously each day is important for their mental health rather than telling them they are morally wrong for wanting excitement. Some bodies do better with the calm of simple stretching exercises while others need vigorous tiring workouts.

Veteran’s health care choices were recently limited for treatment of PTSD. The use of medical marijuana can be very helpful and safe for the condition while pharmaceuticals that are frequently subscribed instead have been associated with suicide and homicide. Second opinions and a personal right to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness is in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. It may be time to review that document at the federal level. It has been approved for veterans with PTSD as a treatment choice in New York State. http://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/on-veterans-day-cuomo-oks-medical-marijuana-for-ptsd/article_1166f91c-c708-11e7-9093-079ffabc38d1.html

The strain of medical marijuana can be important for health benefits. THC alone can increase anxiety and is balanced by calming effects from non-euphoric cannabinoids in strains that contain a variety of cannabinoids. Some food substances also contain non-euphoric cannabinoids or the precursor nutrients which include phospholipids. Currently my own PTSD symptoms are being helped by daily large salads which I describe in this post: Is it Addiction or Starvation?

The difference between 2-AG and THC is discussed in the post: What do we have in common with pine trees and ticks?

It is good to find out one’s own definition of pleasure and happiness rather than always trusting other’s definitions. People are similar but we are also different. Some may feel safer with half the country’s budget dedicated to war while other’s might feel safer with adequate prenatal care and a system that supports families with children so that the children are growing up in secure environments that help them become pro-social trusting adults.

Returning to the baby carriage – life worked out in the right order to please my parents and in time for them all to meet. My babies arrived after the small wedding and early enough to get to know their grandparents before they passed on to whatever may happen next. Marrying young may have difficulties however there are also advantages – children have a lot of energy. Would I do things differently if I could start over again? Not when I look at a picture of my babies. Tips for helping an older child adapt to a new baby: New Baby Sibling

Happy Veteran’s Day. May peace reign supreme today and everyday.

~~~~~

 

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.