Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba
Taken from Huatusco, Veracruz, the closest town to Margarita's family's ranch.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Thinking about my Maternal Grandmother; Thinking about Myself, my life: Under-Methylation, histamines, asthma, celiac, DMS-IV medical diagnosis, suicidal ideation, ADD and all related social risks...

Hi Jess, for a moment I thought I could "ignore" (put aside) the idea or concern about allergies/histimines and just focus on my new eating style and exercise and all the fascinating discoveries researching. I don't know if you noticed the recent publication in the New York Times about heart disease or cardio-vascular disease not being related to animal fat, but to LDL cholesterol and triglycerides created by simple carbohydrates... In any case, this was part of a cycle of some really fascinating reading for me. Over the past 4 weeks, I've removed from my diet simple carbs and most milk products with the exception of Natural Yogurt, since I found that it has greatly helped with pouchitis (J-Pouch) over the past 8 years... Last week I read that the risk of high animal protein diets is the increased risk of cancer connected with the amino acid methionine... It was written that eating skinless and boneless increases your methionine intake and subsequently your risk of various cancers. Chris Kresser's and the Paleo dieters' response is bone broths and gelatin, since the glycine in gelatin helps metabolize or remove the methionine from your body... Sounds great! And I wrote a long piece related to all of this and posted it on Facebook and my blog.

As you may remember, my mother and her husband visited us for 5 days near Puerto Vallarta. The last complete day of their stay and the 3rd to last meal shared together, 3 of the 4 of us had a bad experience with the seafood. The strange thing is that for my mother and her husband, the reaction appeared 2 days later when they were home in New Jersey. My reaction began that same day, although, it showed with full-blown diarrhea 3 days later... In those days, I read about bone broths and gelatin and prepared a wonderful chicken soup with Jalapeño peppers (wonderful flavor imparted by the jalapeños); and probably a good solution to all the fluid loss. Those days I had also bought an electrolyte drink for cases of diarrhea and found that it was strangely too sweet. On the ingredient label was Dextrose. I imagined that dextrose was different from Glucose and researched Dextrose. It seems that the marketers of this electrolyte drink were concerned that if they put Glucose on the label, the diabetics and other health concerned people would not buy the product, since I learned that Dextrose is just another name for Glucose. But, what was interesting in the research is that someone wrote, "Glucose, the secondary energy source", which peeked my interest. I wondered what was the primary energy source and learned that it is Fatty Acids (lipids/fat) and that carbohydrates are basically unnecessary for not extremely active athletes.

Over the past month I had dropped between 15-18 pounds (5-7kgs) and was additionally thrilled reading about glucose as being a secondary energy need, next to protein, after fat... So, with the removal of simple carbs combined with moderate excercise, let the body metabolise the stored fat for energy and we are free. Throw in the stews and the soups with added bones and cartilage and eating and running will be so much easier (when I was a vegetarian in college 20+ years ago and running on the average of 4-5 miles six days per week, I injured my left leg (ileal-tibial band), basically ending my running days. Now with reading about gelatin and bone broths, I figured that had I known this in the early 90s, maybe I wouldn't have injured myself. So, for a moment I said to myself, "it's not too late at the age of 44; better late than never..." And then...

So, as I told you, I had this wonderful chicken soup and planned preparing an "oxtail", beef rib soup with the shank to hoof of a cow for increasing the gelatin/collagen content. The day of preparing my soup I suddenly found myself inflating. In fact, in less than 24 hours I increased my weight 6 pounds! I hadn't slept the night before (believing it was from running 26 minutes at 7pm; now I realize that it may have not been from exercise) and strangely this night of the bone-gelatin broth, I had absolutely no tiredness, although I hadn't slept the prior night (I haven't had problems sleeping in many years); just itchiness without hives, and slight problems swollowing. So, I spent a few hours investigating the possible connection between gelatin and insomnia and sudden weight gain.

The same people who promote the preparation of bone broths and homemade gelatins for lowering cancer risks tell those Paleos who complain of impressive sudden water retention after consuming bone broth, tell them, "return to a high methionine diet, since you are clearly an 'Undermethylater'" (someone who lacks sufficient Histaminase enzyme for metabolizing histamines...) Chris Kresser, who is a big promoter of Gelatin and Bone broths (eating from the head to the hoof of the animals) says that the problem with slowly cooked meats (and bone broths/stews), is that over time, the histamine levels of meat increases due to microbes. So, his response to those with allergic reactions to the slow cooked meat, bone broths and stews is, "return to steaks and eggs and boneless chicken breasts and increase your methionine levels for decreasing histimine levels"...

So, that's what I did. And now I say, "what's the difference? I live my life worried and waiting for cancer on the horizon, since it is part of my destiny and life reality... Who knows? Maybe, like what seems good for others isn't good for me (like high fiber diets), maybe increasing the cancer risk in others, actually decrease the cancer risk in me..." Today I weigh 5 pounds less than the prior day!

I've always cooked stews and light and typical bone broths... However, I generally don't like the soups (chicken, beef/lamb, fish) the day after and usually froze the excess broth or used it in the preparation of rice or other dishes. What I think happened the prior two days began on the coast near Puerto Vallarta with 5 days straight of seafood (mainly red snapper and not so much shellfish, although the meal in question had red snapper stuffed with what I believe was undercooked shellfish--the octopus was gelatiny). So, I believe that my histimine level was already high and then 2 days of chicken soup and one day of beef soup and a very high glycine level and BAM!"

Now I must read about under-methylaters and the recent discovery connecting people with histamin (undermethylation) problems with asthma, food allergies, celiac, ADHD/hyper-activity issues, depression, mental "illness"/suicidal tendencies, metabolic disorders and high levels of creativity, since by the age of 30, I had been "diagnosed" with basically all of the above.

They say that under-methylation is hereditary. My mother's mother was diagnosed Schizophrenic and died in a mental hospital (of gangrene of all things...) when she was in her 30s. I wouldn't be surprised if my mother and various aunts and uncles thought (when I was an adolescent and young adult) that I had inherited my maternal grandmother's "illness". Sounds wonderful! Although I haven't met either grandmother, since they both died when my parents were children or adolescents, I am directly connected with them by aspects of their genetic pattern that killed both of them early in life....

Why mention this if I put myself at risk of being "judged" as mentally ill? Yes, I was "suicidal" until the age of 30+. Suicidal could be a philosophic stance, such as saying, "why go to Gastro-Enterologists if my FAP/Gardners is a time bomb ticking away deep within and will kill me early anyway; why have more surgeries?" I believe that the people who live with death hanging over their heads from early childhood (due to diagnosis and family history and death of parents) relate much differently to life and death, suicide and survival much differently than those who spent their childhoods, adolescency and early adulthood (before the ages of 45) never thinking about these difficult and "negative" possibilities, since a negative possibility isn't a reality and can be conveniently ignored; they can't truly understand the a-typical stress lived by the person diagnosed with such genetic and health differences... So, the person who displays unhealthy behavioral/mental traits automatically is diagnosed with one of so many possible mental illnesses, like my maternal grandmother. But, under extreme situations it is possible that one could consider the individual's behavior a normal and (strangely) healthy response; like a baby crying directly after coming into this world... When a person suffering uncurable stomach cancer pleeds for euphanasia due to unbearable pain or unbearable nausea (probably not even classifiable as nausea if it is anything like what I experienced the 2 weeks after having my last surgery for J-Pouch) would you diagnose them with mental illness and suicidal tendencies?

I've always wondered what was behind the diagnosis of my maternal grandmother as being Schizophrenic and what else had been happening in her life between birth and death; born into a poor immigrant Jewish family either in Russia or in New York City, the last of 12 children... You may be aware of the tendency of diagnosing women as "hysterical housewives" during that period of North American and European psychiatric history (1880s-1940s); there was very famous movie (possibly starring a young Meryl Streep) about a famous actress who was institutionalized for "hysterical housewife"... also a tendency towards institutionalizing early "American" and European suffragists for very similar diagnostic criteria; see the wonderful film starring Hilary Swank during the time of Woodrow Wilson.

My mother would say, "of course my mother was schizophrenic; I lived with her and her antics!" But, my concern isn't with the diagnosis so much but the circumstances and causes... Schizophrenia is also hereditary. So, which offspring of my maternal grandmother didn't inherit certain traits of the "illness"? Yes, I'm turning the question on it's head; Who of her offspring show aspects of mental illness; behavioral traits; obsessive/compulsive disorder, tendency towards depression and obesity, alcoholism, hyper-activity etc...?

But, my concern is with the possibility that history has been unjust towards my maternal grandmother. In ways she has been treated as a pariah... a failed mother, a failed human being. And most of my life I've struggled with that same concern of being considered a failed human being.

So, it is interesting reading that under-methylation, which is the genetic "defect" of producing too little histaminase enzyme is connected with asthma, celiac disease, food allergies, ADHD, seasonal allergies, depression and suicidal tendencies. You would think that if the child is diagnosed with histaminase enzyme deficiency, the concerned parents would remove carpets and pets from their houses, and control their child's diet limiting high histamine foods (most berries, aged and processed foods, shellfish; the list is uncomfortably long)... and maybe their child won't be diagnosed ADHD later on, meaning that maybe their elementary, middle and high school scores will be much higher, and possibly they won't suffer insomnia, academic inferiority complexes and related mood disorders related with depression and will end up in good colleges graduating and entering into successful careers...

But, here we are terminating another very long message to you extremely within the issue and ideas of allergies... But truthfully, you wouldn't "lock up" a person for having issues with histamines, allergies, asthma and celiac disease. You would say, "it's not their fault. Let's seek a medical solution to this physiological issue..." just as no one would blame me for being allergic to penicilin, cats and dogs, for being asthmatic, for having FAP/Gardners Syndrome. However, so easy we forget the person's personal background, family history and experience when they start behaving in ways that become stressful for us... That's when the person becomes disposable and is swept into the trashcans of our consciousness, much like my maternal grandmother.

But you my friend, didn't give up and persevered, although without ridding yourself of constant suffering that the "normal" middle-class person doesn't suffer. Not only did you persevere way beyond social norms considering the circumstances, you serve as an incredible source of information and inspiration for so many people. I, on the other hand, haven't been "suicidal" and haven't experienced depression since 2001. But, like you, I don't have the luxury of looking at the symptoms and making changes the typical person makes and seeing the wonderful results. It's much more complex and requires much more time, energy and consciousness for obtaining the same goal; health, security, comfort, success.


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