Posts Tagged ‘food’

ADHD, Obesity, and Chronic Pain, Correlations and Causation!

July 2, 2012

 

Subjective Pain Measurement Scale

I apologize for the length and complexity of this discussion, but there is very little in the scientific Literature that studied ADD/ADHD and Chronic Pain. All I could find was one technical article, yet if you go to the bulletin boards and forums, there are many individuals begging for help. Just as obesity programs fail for those with ADD/ADHD, I suspect that Chronic Pain Treatments will be difficult for this unique subgroup with out working to resolve all three issues, ADHD, Obesity, and Chronic Pain.

Science Daily reported “A clear association between obesity and pain — with higher rates of pain identified in the heaviest individuals — was found in a study of more than one million Americans published January 19 in the online edition of Obesity. In “Obesity and Pain Are Associated in the United States,” Stony Brook University researchers Arthur A. Stone, Ph.D., and Joan E. Broderick, Ph.D. report this finding based on their analysis of 1,010,762 respondents surveyed via telephone interview by the Gallop Organization between 2008 and 2010.

Now from a marketing perspective, telephone surveys have the greatest incidence of error and this may account for the lower National rate of obesity reported in the study with only 28% claiming a height and weight indicating obesity.  Now without interviewing people in person or providing extensive education on the happy face pain scale, I am not certain how they reached the conclusion that “finding suggests that obesity alone may cause pain, aside from the presence of painful diseases [associated with obesity]”

“Interestingly, the pain that obese individuals reported was not driven exclusively by musculoskeletal pain, a type of pain that individuals carrying excess weight might typically experience.”

“Drs. Broderick and Stone also suggest that there could be several plausible explanations for the close obesity/pain relationship. These include the possibility that having excess fat in the body triggers complex physiological processes that result in inflammation and pain; depression, often experienced by obese individuals, is also linked to pain; and medical conditions that cause pain, such as arthritis, might result in reduced levels of exercise thereby resulting in weight gain. The researchers also indicated that the study showed as people get older, excess weight is associated with even more pain, which suggests a developmental process.”

Now the implication is clear, lose weight, grow younger and all your aches and pains will disappear. But the underlying assumption, the so called jump from conjecture to conclusion, is that obesity causes pain in some yet to be discovered but currently unknown ” complex physiological processes.” That does not sound like a true scientific explanation but more like junk science at it’s worse.

In a very well researched paper by E. Amy Janke, PhD;Allison Collins, PhD;and Andrea T. Kozak, PhD entitled “Overview of the relationship between pain and obesity: What do we know? Where do we go next?” the authors point out that there are many different types of pain including lower back pain, lower joint pain and generalized pain and their is no simple direct relationship between weight loss and reduced pain.

They summarize dozens of studies and a sample is presented below and represents both a lack of improvement for some pain and for others dramatic and lasting improvement especially for pain in the lower limbs.

In general, “Few studies examine both pain and weight as primary outcomes, and variability in measurement makes comparisons and conclusions difficult… Methodological differences among studies make conclusions about the influence of weight loss treatment on pain tentative at best. One issue relates to the samples used in the research. Samples in the reviewed studies represented potentially very different populations, thus making comparisons across studies difficult. Whereas some  researchers recruited based on overweight/obesity status, others selected individuals based on type or severity of pain condition in addition to weight.

They mention one, “early review of seven studies, found no evidence to support the recommendation of weight loss to treat Lower Back Pain [LBP.]

They ask, “How can we know so much about overweight/obesity and LBP and still know so little?  One answer to this question is that perhaps the relationship between the two is much weaker than previously hypothesized. A direct causal relationship between weight and LBP may or may not exist; indeed Leboeuf-Yde et al.’s meta-analysis certainly suggests that the relationship, if present, is weak

On the other hand, “Being overweight is a risk factor for development and progression of Osteoarthritis [OA] in the knee and hip, and possibly development of OA in the hand.  Weight loss is recommended for overweight persons with OA. Even being slightly overweight may increase your risk for developing knee OA.”

“However, other studies that have examined lifestyle interventions, such as enrollment in Weight Watchers and increased physical activity, traditional aerobic activity versus lifestyle physical activity, and diet and exercise treatment versus control,found no significant effect on bodily pain sub-scale scores despite significant improvements in physical functioning.”

In still another study, “Although the diet only group experienced greater weight loss compared with the healthy lifestyle group, no pain-related improvement was evident. In the exercise-only group, the only significant improvement was in mobility. However, the diet and exercise group had significant improvement in physical functioning, self-reported pain, mobility, and weight.”

Similarly another study “found that without exercise, weight loss alone did not lead to significant improvement in pain or mobility among overweight/obese individuals with knee OA”

In a different cited study, “the treatment group evidenced improvement in several aspects of Quality of Life and maintained an average weight loss of 13.9 percent of baseline weight. Improvement in bodily pain was only temporary and no longer evident at 4-month follow-up.”

Clearly the results bounce all over the place between some improvement and no improvement at all. In a very unique manner, there is no discussion of ADHD in any of the studies despite the fact that one third of Obese people suffer from ADHD and the greater the obesity, the greater the chance that the person also has ADD/ADHD.

But some times practitioners and researchers really do get it right. In a 2006, paper by Michael S. Kaplan and Leah R. Kaplan, entitled Why Do Chronic Pain Patients Have Multiple Accidents?, the authors explored the relationship between ADHD and Chronic Pain. The underlying assumption is that people with more physical trauma events have more chronic pain.

According to their paper, “A retrospective review of 460 random patients during a 6-month period included new and existing chronic pain patients. Our results preliminarily identified a trend in patient’s histories, characterized by anxiety problems and depressive symptoms, coupled with a family history of ADHD… The preliminary data support the hypothesis that chronic pain patients have a greater incidence of ADHD than might be expected and more importantly. We do not believe there are any previously published reports suggesting a correlation of ADHD with chronic pain resulting from increase incidence of accidents.”

There is ample evidence linking ADHD to obesity by people self medicating with food to elevate their dopamine levels and have their minds work in a normal manner and trauma links ADHD to chronic pain. but there is more to the relationship than that.

Recent research has documented the devastating effect that Chronic Pain has on the brain of a healthy person. For those suffering Chronic pain which had lasted six months or more, “researchers found abnormal brain activity during an attention-demanding cognitive task. They also found one region of the brain, was thinner in those with chronic pain compared to the healthy patients. This area of the brain plays a key role in mood, social judgment, short-term memory and higher-order thinking.

After the patients had corrective surgery for their medical conditions, the group of pain researchers from McGill University and the McGill University Health Center found that relieving pain actually causes physical brain changes they can see on a brain scan. During the cognitive test, the differences that the researchers had observed in brain activation in the first round of tests disappeared for eleven people in the group who had successful surgery. . Three of the 14 treated patients after treatment reported worse back pain or disability six months later. When researchers looked at their brain scans, their gray matter had not regenerated itself at all.

“Our results imply that [successfully] treating chronic back pain can restore normal brain function,” the authors conclude in their study, which appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.

In an article on Rewiring the Brain to Ease Pain in the Wall Street Journal,  Sean Mackey, chief of the division of pain management at Stanford, and his colleagues were just awarded a $9 million grant to study mind-based therapies for chronic low back pain from the government’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine  Some 116 million American adults—one-third of the population—struggle with chronic pain, and many are inadequately treated, according to a report by the Institute of Medicine in July.

According to the article, “one of Dr. Mackey’s favorite pain-relieving techniques is love. He and colleagues recruited 15 Stanford undergraduates and had them bring in photos of their beloved and another friend. Then he scanned their brains while applying pain stimuli from a hot probe. On average, the subject reported feeling 44% less pain while focusing on their loved one than on their friend. Brain images showed they had strong activity in the nucleus accumbens, an area deep in the brain involved with dopamine and reward circuits.

So research has finally come full circle and linked ADHD, Obesity and Chronic Pain. The same rewards that ADD/ADHD sufferers developed to stimulate dopamine production when self-medicating to think normally and function in our modern world are the same rewards that can be used to self medicate and mitigate the damaging effects of Chronic Pain.  Somehow, that result doesn’t surprise me.

Sex and ADHD: Part 1, Ranking my Obsessions!

June 23, 2012

Pretty much I accept that the cause of obesity from ADHD is direct. MRI studies show a decrease in dopamine in the brain for people with ADHD. Prescribed stimulants increase dopamine, but for those who never were treated or diagnosed with the disease, there are other ways to self medicate and increase dopamine levels. Sex, eating, taking risks, exercising or achieving goals all increase dopamine. Alcohol, cocaine, nicotine and other addictive substances have a remarkable ability to elevate levels of dopamine. Falling in love, buying lottery tickets, eating chocolate also increase dopamine. We get a much bigger blast of dopamine eating high-calorie foods than we do low-calorie foods.

If I had to rank my obsessions in order, my choices would be difficult because some obsessions seem to always be able to top other obsessions in my body and depending on  factors, some rise and fall on the list.  I have self medicated over a lifetime and have serious long term and short term obsessions. The only addiction that I really believe I encountered is cigarettes as there was no such concept as controlled usage which I believe I have mastered with food and alcohol. Since I quit smoking in 1984, I will rank my current obsessions in the order that they have guided my life and indulging in them gave me the ability to focus, preform well in society and control my ADHD without medication.

Family Love: I learned about the love of family from my mother. She had four children and was devoted to them. My father had his problems which he self medicated with Valium and Alcohol and did the best he could with family love but was simply not as active. 

Romantic love: My wife suffered a lifetime of depression but there was far more good than bad. When she occasionally made poor decisions, I deleted them from my official vision and lived with my perfect romantic image of her which was still true the majority of the time.

Sex: During some periods in our marriage, my wife would lose all interest in sex with me and rather than wander and cause disruptive problems, I suppressed my sexual desires while there were children in the house and focused on the love of my family and my image of our Romantic Love. The power of sex over everything below it on this list, was covered in my First Fat Savage blog which was obsessed in a crude way with losing weight because I was too obese to engage in sex and wanted that part of my life back.

Eating: This is the first of my obsessions which had a negative impact on my body, if I am allowed to ignore a few STD’s among close friends. Actually, it is this obsessive crutch which allowed me to get focused and organized and make a pretty decent living and be a pillar of my community for 40 years.  In my second Fat Savage Blog, which I have not yet organized for publication, I learned to control the timing of my meals and what I ate, in order to balance mid-range obesity  with my sexual performance, ability to do physical labor and mandatory office time. The next two obsessions can temporarily suppress my eating but I am lucky to find many goals or risks that obsessively possess me for any length of time.

Achieving Goals:  Every now and again, an almost impossible intellectual challenge comes into my life and I become obsessed with the solution. On the few occasions this occurred, the goal becomes more important than everything except family love, but once accomplished the goal was forgotten and there was no afterglow of success as there is with food, sex and my vision of romantic love.

Taking Risks:  Taking risks is low on the list because my family loves adventures and risk taking so these turn out to be great adventures where everybody has fun, socializes and gets their adrenalin flowing. The same is true of starting a business ,investing in the stock market and other financial risks which always get the family involved. There is no such thing as a solitary risk in our family.

Purpose driven manual labor (Goal Driven): This is on parity with Alcohol but occurs earlier in the day when I am programmed not to drink. The harder I work to finish a project in my house or yard, the more tired I am and the more likely to go to sleep and feel less of a need for alcohol.

Alcohol: My bottle of wine every night has elements of both social crutch and sedative. In terms of a sedative, I have never been able to beat the narcotic effect on my body after the first two glasses, and I don’t enjoy socializing and banal conversation without those two glasses. I have always recognized that when I drink a bottle of wine I will pass out within the hour and sleep soundly for the next eight to ten hours.  If I don’t drink a glass or two of wine at a party, i will go find something beautiful to stare at and ignore every living person at the party. If I drink the whole bottle and my wife was having a good time, I would find some place and go to sleep until she was ready to go. I don’t fight, argue, drive fast, chase women, have sex, say rude things or swear when drinking, I do that when sober.

Exercising: I really don’t like exercise where I have to go at fixed times to a gym or act like a hamster on a treadmill in a cage.  I would rather find something productive to do and go do it but since that is so low on my list of obsessions, it doesn’t make the cut very often. Still, when enraged in a situation with no answer, I find it easier to walk home six miles than to either drink or drive both of which I enjoy and which I do  not consider mutually exclusive. Finally, I developed “Walking with Wonder” and exercise is part of my new lifestyle.  Still, hardly an obsession.

Driving Fast Cars:  I have had a Toyota MR-2 which takes some skill to drive especially with big winds coming at you and potholes. I know for a fact it will start to go airborne where you lose all control at a combined speed and headwind speed of about 100 MPH especially if you hit  a bump or pot hole the wrong way. My fastest driving is during the day and after my two glasses of wine while socializing, I go home have a couple more and go to sleep. There is a thrill in being able to control a dangerous beast.

Eating Candy especially chocolate: I haven’t quit nor do I believe that I have been on my last binge. I still gain from one candy bar in some circumstances, but there is no benefit at all from binging, but what the hell, it’s an obsession.

Buying Lottery Tickets:  Playing the lottery is a fools game for the math challenged and at one level I know this. On occasion when I am poor, I get obsessed with spending my last $500 on tickets.  When challenged by friends and family, I point out that from Dante’s Inferno, the sign over the portal to hell is “Ye who enter here,give up all hope.” and in my mind, False hope is better than no hope. If you don’t play, you can’t win so you have no hope at all and you are living in hell. If I have quit, it will have been last week, probably because I have no more money.

Marijuana: Quit in 1971 the day my son was born without concern and have been around people who smoked ever since with no temptation. Contrary to most medical reports, I smoked because it kept me awake and allowed me to drink for a longer period of time in social gatherings without falling asleep.

Dangerous Obsessions that caused actual withdraw:

Nicotine: Quit in 1984, worthless addiction that when continued prevents the pain of withdrawal. Very serious withdrawal symptoms which lasted three to six months with several close calls to relapse and flashbacks for years.  I could only do it for love of my daughter.

Caffeine: Coffee in very small amounts had been my friend, however, too easy to increase the quantity in social gatherings and large amounts ruin my day.  Serious short term withdrawal symptoms for one week, with no flash backs. I quit for love of my mind.

I am amazed that Religion did not make the list of items that raise dopamine level because 50 years ago before being kicked out of church for heretical beliefs, I would have included it well above the middle, well maybe not higher than alcohol because I had started drinking a few years before and was discovering my limits at that time.

The Short Term Effects of Alcohol, Protein and Spices on my Body and ADHD Mind.

June 21, 2012

I can tell when my focus is improving because I don’t get distracted from my mission, when my computer or in this case Open Office wipes out everything I have created in the past two days. Even though I am beginning to feel like Job, I also appreciate that I have regained enough of my focus to identify the cause of the problems and solve them.  While it certainly is a challenge when focus and diet have only returned for a few days, at least I am focused enough not to get frustrated and quit.

The biggest thing I learned in my first 9 days of detox is an affirmation of how evil caffeine has become to my body and the change is so dramatic and important, it deserves it’s own post because I ditched the caffeine before I started this detox and eliminated all refined sugar, and alcohol. The former has been discussed in three posts; junk science, my relationship with sugar and what I consider a valid experiment on the effect of sugar on children. Since I don’t eat sugar very often, except for a few times a year when I binge, it really has no major impact on either my weight or my mind. 

Alcohol is a separate issue and few will believe I am telling the truth. After the first three days there is no effect from quitting alcohol at all except for the calories. Now part of the reason is that I know I have a diet that hampers my ability to focus and I am working on that. I also know that if I start compulsively eating I can regain focus.  Perhaps I don’t feel any additional effect because the symptoms of food withdrawal are the same as alcohol withdrawal so I really don’t feel any difference. 

I compensate for missing happy hour by being more social during the day, being more physical during the day and watching a movie during happy hour. Since I am used to drinking my bottle of wine everyday before bedtime, it acts as a sedative and I go right to sleep.  When I quit, I have a problem with sleeping for three days and then I am back to sleeping soundly. When on detox, I intentionally don’t eat more so that when I start back drinking, I wont have problems with the extra calories. Perhaps living on 1500 calories or 600 below normal is why I worry more about food than wine.

I only hope to God when I stabilize on a diet that helps me focus and reintroduce wine that it doesn’t have a negative effect. Oh well, it wont be an issue. My mind is more important to me than socializing and drinking wine so if I find the wine to be detrimental, the wine will go.

The most important fact I am rediscovering is the critical impact of protein and the time of day that I consume it. It is beginning to appear that I need more than 100 grams a day just to hold the wild and woolly things in my mind at bay.  I am also finding that I need half right before I start mind tasks and the other half during the course of the day. Vegan and vegetarian are OK at night as long as I load up on ham and eggs before sitting down at my desk. 

It’s ironic that after a year of suffering the ill effects of lack of organization and focus I am  rediscovering something that I routinely discussed in my second Diet blog.  That is, if I wanted to do manual labor, go to work hungry and it was easy to focus on work. If I needed to spend time at the desk, go to work walk around and check everything that needed to be checked, do the little chores that needed to be done and then go have a big egg and bacon breakfast before sitting at my desk for the rest of the day.  Of course back then, 2006 to 2007, I was more concerned about work than I was about my weight and hovered in an obese range between 215 and 235 pounds.

The other thing I have learned in my first 9 days is highly speculative and has nothing to do with ADHD. I have also been loading on healthy spices which fight inflammation and have referred to this as my “Spice Right Diet.” I have been documenting my Inflammatory Factor using the data from NutritionData.Self.com and comparing it to the happy face pain scale for my next day pain level. In the past 9 days that I have been on my “Spice Rite Diet”, my pain has been dramatically lower than before I started but my pain is always lower in  summer than it is in winter. Before jumping from conjecture to conclusion I will wait until next winter to see how I do.  Besides, I never think about pain when I am totally focused on research and writing so that could be another reason for lower apparent pain.  

Does Obesity Affect School Performance? Is the Research Flawed?

June 15, 2012

A friend referred me to an article at CNN relating obesity to poor performance in school. In the pontificating on the relationship,  issues relating to food additives, diet, poverty and parenting are discussed. Of course every one of these is easy to blame, difficult to evaluate and almost impossible to cure.  Not one person in the article or comments  linked ADHD to obesity perhaps because many do not consider ADHD a real disease. 

Before I even begin to discuss the connection. I would like to point out that ADHD is a neurological condition that can be observed with an MRI. The brain is slightly deformed similar to blunt force trauma and there is a lack of activity in the frontal area. ADHD is recognized as a medical condition by the National Institutes of Health, the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and every other major professional medical, psychiatric and psychological association or organization.

The connection with obesity is extremely strong and from conjecture it is almost a direct symptom of adult ADHD.  What is know is that about 30 percent (27%-33%) of obese people have ADHD and the worse the obesity, the worse the percentage of ADHD. Perhaps as many as half of the people who are Morbidly Obese have ADHD.  This research has been emerging and published since about 2002 or for a decade. Now the exact number of treated and untreated adults with ADHD is difficult to measure but has been estimated by Medical Professionals to be as low as 4% or as high as 16%.

Let’s take a closer look at the data by starting with low estimates for both obesity and ADHD combined. If only 27% of Obese adults have ADHD and obese people (but not Morbidly Obese)  are only 33% of adults, than that means 9 percent of Adults have ADHD and are obese.  If only 3% are morbidly obese, and 40% have ADHD, thats another 1% with both diseases. Or a minimum of 10 % of the adult population who are have ADHD and are suffering from obesity. That means on the low side twices as many people are struggling with both ADHD and obesity then were believed to even have ADHD and there is no accounting of those who are overweight or those who beat the odds and maintain a normal weight.  If the numbers for ADHD are 33% and 50% respectively for both groups, then the minimum number of adult suffering from ADHD and Obesity rises to about 13% or almost equal to the highest estimates for adult ADHD and only works if mostof the adults with ADHD are actually obese or Morbidly Obese.

Simple question: Is it the obesity that cause poor school performance or the inability to focus because of ADD or ADHD?

Any experiment which ignores this direct link between obesity and ADHD must be considered to be flawed at best because if you can cure the ADHD, then you cure a third of the obesity cases in America overnight. Stimulants do not cure ADHD, they are used to control it.

In this post ADHD is used in the clinical sense to describe both ADD and ADHD.

The Definitive ADHD Sugar Experiment on Children

June 14, 2012

What would I consider a definitive experiment on the effect of Sugar on children with  ADHD?

As previously discussed in Part 1, much of the work on sugar and hyperactivity is flawed and does not translate to real life parenting. In Part 2 of this series, I discussed my 65 year relationship with Sugar, Me and ADHD. My proposed experiment on Sugar, Children and ADHD is based on real scientific evidence of the effect of sugar on the body and the way children with ADHD really behave. It is based on my 65 years of ADHD and my reaction to sugar of any type whether it’s honey, high fructose corn sugar, refined sugar or brown sugar when I binge on sugar, it is the same results every time.  (see the previous post.)

First I would select 30 controls who ares clinically screened for ADHD and do not have any symptoms of ADD or ADHD. Next I would find 30 kids who definitely have ADHD and are being medicated for the disease. All would be in the same age group, probably 10 to 12 years olds because they are naturally the wildest. Finally, if possible, I would try for a third group of kids who are clinically screened as having symptoms but the diseases is either undiagnosed or untreated.

Now the design of the experiment would be double-blind with groups split in half. Neither the observers nor the children would know which group would get sugar candy or the non sugar candy. The observers would also not know which children had ADHD diagnosed or not and which group was normal.

The experiment would be run in an area set up as a playground with swings climbing stuff etc. Each child would be fitted with a heartbeat monitor, a wrist blood pressure monitor and a number on their back and front to quickly identify the children. It would be explained to the children that they are free to sample any of four to six candies and eat as much as they want and they would be asked about which ones were their favorites.  When the children were not sampling, they could play as much as they wanted or just eat more candy.  The would be free to drink soda (sugar or sugar-free depending on the group) or water as they saw fit. This would be also monitored for each child.

There are no rules or constraints.  Some of the observers should focus on the amount consumed by each child and others on the behavior of the children.  All should act normal as some are medicated into normalcy, some have undiagnosed symptoms because they are apparently normal and the rest are normal. About every 30 minutes, the children should be seated and their blood pressure and pulse rate checked. Then they should be directed to the candy table  where they are asked which ones they tried and what their favorites are and encouraged to recheck. After that, there are again no rules and the children are free to sample more candy or play. After a couple of hours, all candy would be removed and the children would be monitored for blood pressure and heart rate for three half hour intervals and have access to water only. 

About two weeks later, the same experiment would be run again with the groups reversed so all are tested for sugar sensitivity.

I am not sure whether the ADHD children would all be hyperactive, but I would guess that for those who binged, there would be phases of increased energy, and hyperactivity without problems, followed by a crash and either passive or cranky behavior. (Can I go yet? Huh? Huh?) I am also not sure whether the Parents of the ADHD sugar group would have enough trust in scientists to return their children for the second half of the experiment.

The other possibility is for my Granddaughters to skew the test. I have ADHD and her husband does too so the probability is both girls do and depending on circumstances, there symptoms can be severe.  Both are unmedicated, but my daughter is careful about their sugar consumption and what the eat.  They have both been programmed to avoid sugar and all carbonated beverages.  The oldest one is obsessive about following the rules and when together, the little one follows her lead.   If together for this experiment, both would play until every drop of energy has been expended and then they would get disgustingly cranky on a sugar low as they would hot have eaten or drank anything but water during the experimenta period.

Not all humans are the same and not all children with ADHD are the same.

Sugar, Me and ADHD; Part 2

June 13, 2012

Sugar is both my friend and enemy and like many other foods, sugar has many different forms and all effect me slightly differently depending on the form. On the positive side, one chocolate covered peanut M&M’s, regular M&M’s, Hershey’s Chocolate Bar, or one of anything in this type of candy can be a tremendous physical or mental stimulant for a quick energy rush.

I always take a couple of candy bars along on my most grueling hikes with tourists and I usually have a candy bar when the hardest part has been reached and the rest of the hike is easier. I get re-energized and always offer some to the others in the group. Usually, people who are slim and in shape decline. However, I am constantly amazed at the positive therapeutic effect it has on those who are a little overweight and out of shape. They too get re-energized and happily finish the walk. I think they are happy to have me, as a thin fit person, share their passion for candy.

At the other extreme are the sweet candies like hard butterscotch or sour balls and the soft jelly candy like orange slices, cherry slices, gummy bears, sour worms and skittles. These are extremely dangerous when they are sold in large bags at low prices, usually six to ten portions in a bag or somewheres around 900 to 1500 calories per bag. They are pretty much pure sugar with a little color and flavor added.  The other dangerous items are boxes of malt balls (700 calories) or Girl Scout Cookies about 1000 calories a box or more.

Now what causes my binge eating of candy?

There is only one answer and that’s availability. Candy bars are sold in 200 calorie units and I have programmed myself to buy just one so there is no problem. When it comes to the second group and without much forethought, I continue eating the sweets until they are all gone. It usually takes less than an hour.

Initially, there is a feeling of childlike euphoria where I am “happy as a kid eating candy.” This moves beyond euphoria to a real sugar rush, almost like an adrenaline flow, where my blood pressure and heart rate both go up. Eventually there is a return to normal where I get very drowsy and irritable and some might even say argumentative.  I am now down 90 pounds from my peak but old habits die hard. I have probably had five or six sugar binge episodes in the past year. I have learned to pretty much avoid them at home by not buying more than a candy bar for any reason. However, on two occasions, the price of gummy candy got so low that I just couldn’t resist the bargin and purchased big bags of gummy candy.

The rest of the time, I binged at my daughters house.  She really is trying to help but just doesn’t understand the word obsession. She will save all of the Halloween Candy and put it in a candy bowl on her counter for guests. Her family has been programmed to avoid eating candy and drinking any type of carbonated  beverage. Before I started the diet she scolded me at Thanksgiving  when she noticed I had not only eaten the candy bowl, but found her stash and eaten my favorites out of that and was working on the rest. I had compulsively eaten more candy in two days than her whole family had in three weeks. 

This started the Great Obesity Debates and the fact that I couldn’t go to Space Camp with my Granddaughters unless I dropped 40 pounds.  She thought my obsession with candy and food was more disgusting and obscene than the bottle of wine I drank every night. I have gotten better, well a little bit anyway, with a lot of  help from her.  Since no one in her house really likes or eats candy, she quietly discards it after Halloween right before I come.  The same is true of Easter.

My only temptation is when I search for and find her stash of Girl Scout Cookies, which she likes and it only takes an hour or two for me to eat the whole box. When she discovers the missing cookies, I put partial blame on her kids and Cousin Cait but she knows I’m lying.  I feel so ashamed, I normally only do one box per trip unless she doesn’t catch me. 

You can shed fat, you can’t shed obsessions. 

ADHD and Sugar Research: Part 1 – Junk Science

June 12, 2012

The things which qualify me to speak on the impact of Sugar on people with ADHD are multiple.  First of all is my education which is on parity with most of the researchers on both sides of the issue. I have a Bachelors in Chemical Engineering From The University of Pennsylvania (with Honors) , attended the Masters in Chemical Engineering program from Cornell University and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for about 20 years. I myself have published papers in many areas.

Lack of a formal education does not prevent many people from commenting on research whether qualified or not but I think my 65 years of experience with ADHD qualifies me to understand all the bad habits that people indulge in and what the impact is on my body so as I have said before, you are reading a case study of one person.

Aaron Carroll at the The Incidental Economist wrote an essay that Sugar, and candy, do not make kids hyper and he is a little one sided on the issue. My favorite study is also his, as I quote:

“In my favorite of these studies, children were divided into two groups. All of them were given a sugar-free beverage to drink. But half the parents were told that their child had just had a drink with sugar. Then, all of the parents were told to grade their children’s behavior. Not surprisingly, the parents of children who thought their children had drunk a ton of sugar rated their children as significantly more hyperactive. This myth is entirely in parents’ heads. We see it because we believe it.”

Now I took the time too read the background of Doctor Aaron Carrol and academically and career wise, he is far more qualified than I am to pontificate on the subject except his picture and physique appear to me as unlikely that he has ADHD and can pass judgment from what he feels in his own body.

Without getting into what I feel, I would have been more impressed if this study had a control group of problem hyperactive kids selected by teachers and school psychologists and let them consume all the candy and soda that they wanted over the course of 2-4 hours while running wild at a birthday party and then dumped them back on the parents while swearing to the parents that the kids only had sugar free candy and soda and gluten free artificially sweetened cake. Then ask the parents if the sugar free party overloaded the child because of all the excitement alone.

Experiments without control groups are not experiments at all. The placebo effect is well known in medical research but it should be run against a control. Better yet, a double blind experiment should have been done where neither parents nor researchers know which half of both groups actually got sugar or sugar free sweets and soda. Then they all could have been clinically evaluated. I don’t know about Dr. Carrol, but in my mind experiments without controls constitute junk science that allows a jump from conjecture to conclusion without benefit of a really controlled experiment.

In 1994, Mark L. Wolraich et al, published a study entitled the Effects of Diets High in Sucrose or Aspartame on The Behavior and Cognitive Performance of Children. This study had an excellent design, with random diets spread over 9 weeks to test the three sweeteners.  In the study, 25 normal preschool children (3 to 5 years of age), with an estimated average weight about 15.5 kg (34 pounds) were fed (±SD) of 5600 ±2100 mg of sucrose per kilogram of body weight per day while on the sucrose diet. That works out to  86800 mg sugar, per day or 3 oz of total refined sugar or 330 calories from refined sugar. There were 23 school-age children (6 to 10 years) described by their parents as sensitive to sugar with no mention of ADHD. They weighed approximately 24 kg ( 53 pounds). These children considered to be sensitive to sugar ingested 4500 ±1200 mg of sucrose per kilogram, which works out to 108,000 mg (3.8 oz) or 418 calories of refined sugar.

For the children described as sugar-sensitive by their parents with no known diagnoses of ADHD, there were no significant differences among the three diets in any of 39 behavioral and cognitive variables. For the preschool children, only 4 of the 31 measures differed significantly among the three diets, and there was no consistent pattern in the differences that were observed.

Now this study also has several serious flaws not the least of which is that parents are not doctors or even child psychologists so it is hard to accept their claim of sugar sensitivity. As Dr. Carrol mentioned for the previous group; “[They] see it because [they] believe it.” The only technical problem that I have is that the sugar levels tested are exceptionally low. It was 3 oz for the preschool children and 3.8 ounces for the older group. To put that in perspective the average American consumes about 4.5 ounces per day and the average child 4.2 ounces of refined sugar daily. So these children were being tested for the effect of sugar at subnormal levels and the results extrapolated by some to children with ADHD. More Junk Science.

I tried to review a few more articles but since I am not part of the medical community and am retired on substandard fixed income, I could not afford the minimum $43 per article. There are others of course which take the opposing view but that is not my point. My point is that all articles on the topic should be critically evaluated and those with substandard design or pure junk science should be eliminated before trying to find a consensus.

Now I know the effect that sugar has on my body and I also know about how irresponsible I can be when binging on sugar which still occasionally occurs. I know the benefits that I get from small amounts of Candy which is why I still purchase it and I know the measurable negative effects when I go on a sugar binge. Both are equally real to me and while I don’t think the negative effects are good, I am not sure they trigger hyperactivity at my age.

In my next post, I will describe binging on sugar, the effect on my body and what I would consider to be a definitive experiment on Children with ADHD.

Detox and My Anti-Inflamatory Diet

June 11, 2012

I am really not proud of Saturday’s food consumption. Particularly the wine. I could use the excuse that it was an unusual day with dinner with friends. But Sunday was another unusual day with a pool party at cocktail hour.  On Saturday, there is an obvious show of self medication with constant snacking, a huge diner and the wine consumption. 

Now on Sunday, I did not achieve intelligence, but there was a simple element of control. I loaded up on hot sauce for my fish and egg breakfast and added even more with dinner. The big effects was a feeling of fullness so less snacking and I dropped the inflammatory popcorn. I added spices too my food and most spices seemed to have anti inflammatory properties.  It is far easier for me to add spice than drop foods that I am comfortable with . (Maybe I’ll try popcorn with hot sauce.) By the way, my older granddaughter (12 years old) is a natural hot sauce fan as is my son in law and I am beginning to understand the connection. We all need to control our minds and bodies and anti inflammatory spices seem to be part of our personal programs of self medication. I ate less on Sunday, drank slightly less on Sunday and hope I weigh the same tomorrow. (I did.)

Well the last three days are constant at 175 pounds which is ten pounds over “normal” and not a bad place to be starting my detox of all alcohol for sixteen days starting Wednesday. The last time I did this was the first three weeks in April and I started at 180 pounds.  Obviously the weight I lose during the year is pretty permanent until the Holidays when the family gets together from December to March and in those three months I pick up 15 pounds.

During this detox period, I plan to focus on anti-inflammatory combinations of foods and see if I notice a difference over the next three weeks. I naturally like spices but get tired of eating the same meal over and over and am sometimes too lazy to enjoy any type of cooking other than grilling while having a glass of wine and listening to and watching the sea. For three weeks I can pretty much endure anything so I will be fairly diligent about sticking to my diet especially as I am now starting to redevelop my focus without picking up any negative side effects other than perhaps a little too much wine.

This is what I ate and drank over the weekend.

Saturday’s Food Consumption

Consumption                 calories    protein    inflammation

tea 2 cups green                 0                   0               12

peanuts 1.6 oz                  260                13               11

Moon Fruit     6                  90                 3

small cucumber                   8                    0                  0

eggs 2                               154                  12            -102

Mango (cup)                      107                   1              -15

Popcorn                             193                   6              -158

carrots                                  67                   2                270

garbanzos                           286                 12               -127

Steak 8 oz rib eye               484                 68                 17

Potato(smaller portion)        278                  7                -179

fruit salad cup plus               75                    1                -21

1 3/4 bottle wine                 1110                   0

Total                                    3112                125             -292

Target                             2000- 2200         60-175           50

Sunday’s Food Consumption

tea 2 cups                                0                       0                8

peanuts 1.6 oz                        260                   13               11

Moon Fruit 6                             90                     3

Mango (cup)                            107                     1               -15

garbanzos                                286                   12              -127

tilapia fish   (3 oz)                     144                   28                84

eggs 1                                        77                     6                -51

Hot Sauce 2 tsp                                                                     700

carrots                                        67                     2                 270

Potato(smaller portion)              278                    7                -179

Sour cream  2T                            54                    1                 -31

Chicken drumstick 2 pc              325                   36               -100

Hot sauce 2 tsp                                                                        700

1 1/2 btl. wine Merlot                   975                    0

Total                                            2740                 109             1555

Target                                     2000- 2200          60-175            50

BTW, the Inflammation Factor is a registered Trademark of Nutritiondata.self.com and seems to provide some benefit so if I were them, I would defend my knowledge base against encroachment by suing anyone who doesn’t reference them.

The Autism & ADHD Diet

June 10, 2012

I’m having a little trouble with the clustering of ADHD and Autism as a family of diseases to be treated in the same manner. My problem with this as a scientist is if you keep seeking erroneous solutions to a problem you will never solve it. Some recent work on DNA suggested that there might be overlapping genetic abnormalities that link the two diereses and it didn’t really seem plausible to me. I have a lifetime of experience with ADHD and have also closely observed Autistic children. I decided to check the original work and found one of the quickest jumps from conjecture to conclusion that I have seen in years.

In a study of 248 children with ADHD there were 22 (or 9%) with a specific type of abnormal gene that matched an abnormal gene in a few Autistic Children. With 91% of the group, there was no relationship at all.

The same study included 348 Autistic Children and there were only 9 with the same Gene. That means that 97% of the Autistic Children had no genetic overlap with ADHD. If there is a genetic link, scientists better keep on looking because the reality is exactly the opposite of the results.

In an auditorium of 600 children, about 60 will have severe ADHD and perhaps another 30 will have a milder form of ADHD or perhaps ADD which is definitely a part of ADHD. Of those 90 children with ADHD only one will be Autistic. There will be one other autistic child in the room. Now my problem is that there is a cult following of the Autism and ADHD Diets being used as part of a treatment program for both diseases and there are many books and websites devoted to the topic without much scientific study. If the Diet really works for the 89 kids who have ADHD alone, there is no reason to believe it will work for the two autistic children but they probably won’t or can’t complain.

If the diet doesn’t work for all 89 of the ADHD children, they probably won’t complain but learn to cope the same way ADHD people have been coping for generations. The easiest choice would be to eat more, get fat or obese by eating more of what they are served and then get a calming effect that goes with the food obsession. They may also seek cigarettes, sex, love, alcohol and marijuana to increase their dopamine so they can get the focus they need to survive in school.

In high school and college I did everything on that list and the only thing that saved me was organized sports. I loved the adulation from being good and the exercise also increases dopamine. I could also eat everything in sight and not get fat because of the high energy burn in sports. You could also take risks with your body and get a real adrenalin rush.

When my daughter, who is somewhat normal, asked about how to handle her ADHD kids, she knew she came to the real family expert. I told her they needed lots of love including hugs and verbal praise. They needed to be physically active to a point others might consider it excessive. As to foods, feed the brain. Fish and almost anything they like in the way of protein, whole grains, fresh or gently cooked vegetables and just observe adverse reactions and eliminate. Lots of fresh fruits and raw vegetables like in salads. The oldest is 12 and doing excellent in sports and school with only occasional symptoms that someone might question. The younger girl has not yet fallen into a pattern and still bounces off walls. Only God knows the future on her treatment but we are hoping that we all find the path without medication.

At my house, I have an artificial rock wall that leads to the roof and is exited by a fire pole. There is also a real cliff with a repelling rope and a 70 foot zip slide across a gully. There are plenty of ways to take risks and feed their adrenaline needs. In the morning, I also walk them for a swim and back after an hour or two in the sea. The walk down and back is three miles. Mid day is quiet time with structured school work and no one complains about the break. About 4 pm, I drive them back to the pool for a swim while I have my glass or two of wine. I do this for about 3 weeks each summer and have for the past four years. There is rarely a meltdown because the loss is too great. A meltdown means they need more rest so they lose all privileges and are sent to bed for a two-hour nap. If they scream, I request that they do it louder as it is music to an old mans ears. They will never know I can’t stand it. So keep my secret.

I know that this is close to the way I was raised and it worked for me and seems to be working for my granddaughters and Son-in -law. I don’t have any idea if this will work for anyone else but there is a certain element of science in raising their dopamine levels in a natural way so they avoid uncontrolled risks and stimulants.

A Day of Focus

June 9, 2012

Today was a day of focus and I don’t know why. I dropped all candy, caffeine, coconuts, and beer over the past few weeks because of a lack of focus and last night suffered from the worse withdrawal and lack of focus for several days. It was my worst night since I started elimination testing. I have been religious on all four food items until yesterday when I had 2 daytime beers with a friend after hard manual labor. I slept poorly which I never do, woke up in cold sweats, and had terrible dreams where my mind was flooded with thousands of ideas at one time. I thought I was the “Improbability Drive for the Ship Traveling to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.” I had blamed coffee and candy for my jitters, but the only thing I did different was the beer so that has to be an issue.  I will never say never again, but will be more careful to save that indulgence for when I don’t need to focus.

Of course this means that I want to test the harm from candy because I quit all four at the same time and like candy more than beer, coffee or coconuts! So much for non-professional elimination testing  of foods. and beverages.