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Autism and Diet – Is There a Connection With Carbs and Processed Foods?

Published on August 7, 2013,

Dr William L. Wilson of the CARB Syndrome Project has a paper published in NAJMS – the North American Journal of Medicine and Science – which asks if autism can be caused by diet. Dr Wilson believes this is the first time the concept that a brain disease can be caused by diet has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. The implication is that carbs could be bad for your brain as well as your body. This is how he describes it from the CARB Syndrome Project…

Dr Bill Wilson with patient

Dr Bill Wilson with patient

The article describes how many people with autism also have a second disorder—Carbohydrate Associated Reversible Brain syndrome or CARB syndrome. CARB syndrome is a form of food-induced brain dysfunction likely triggered by long-term exposure to processed foods.

The idea that your diet can cause a common brain disorder is nothing short of revolutionary. That’s because changing your diet has the potential to reverse CARB syndrome and put the rabbit back in the hat. People with CARB syndrome can develop up to 22 brain dysfunction symptoms that can interfere with your ability to function. Some of these symptoms overlap with other common brain disorders like autism, depression, PTSD and bipolar II. Because CARB syndrome is a new concept not yet well known in the medical community, when clinicians are faced with someone with autism they assume that all their symptoms are coming from this disorder. They don’t realize that many people with autism also have CARB syndrome.

Although autism can be very challenging to treat, the treatments for CARB syndrome are relatively straightforward and easy to implement. I outline the basics of treatment of CARB syndrome in this article. When you treat the CARB syndrome and a person is just left with their autism, they often feel and function much better.

Although CARB syndrome is a new and unproven concept, it does have a lot of support in the medical literature. I think it also reflects what many clinicians are seeing in their patients. It is exciting to envision that simple dietary changes might help many patients struggling with autism. Changing your diet carries virtually no risk and in my experience if you leave your CARB syndrome untreated, you are condemning yourself to a life that doesn’t match your potential.  Hopefully this article will stimulate the medical community to take a closer look at the connection between diet and brain function.

More at The CARB Syndrome Project:  Autism and Diet – Is There A connection

Read the NAJMs paper here: Autism and Diet: Is There a Connection?

Anorexia and Obesity – Are They Both Driven By Carb Cravings?

Published on February 4, 2013,

Dr Bill Wilson has written a fascinating article asking if eating disorders like anorexia are in reality the other side of the coin to obesity, with both sides being driven by carbohydrate cravings, or what he refers to as Carb Syndrome. He believes the right kind of food intake – low carb (especially fructose and high glycemic index carbs), modest protein, and high fat – can improve brain function and in turn return people with either condition back to more normal states. This is an extract from Dr Wilson’s Carb Syndrome blog…

[25/52] sorted colors sugary little things

sugary little things (Photo credit: Davi Ozolin)

Carbohydrate Cravings Are Driving The Bus. 

To see how eating disorders are tied into CARB syndrome, an example might be helpful. Recently I admitted a young woman into the hospital with severe anorexia. Her blood electrolytes were abnormal to the point where it could adversely affect her heart. In the past she has also been diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression. She has the binge-purge type of anorexia and she is extremely under-weight.

The most prominent symptom of CARB syndrome is strong cravings for sweet and starchy foods.When I asked her about this symptom, she denied having such cravings. That’s because when someone with anorexia restricts their food intake to a severe degree, they end up in ketosis which tends to suppress both hunger and carbohydrate cravings. That’s one reason why they can easily avoid eating—they simply have no hunger or cravings. They can only achieve this state by severely limiting food intake. Without huger or cravings, their life settles down somewhat, even though they still have other typical brain dysfunction symptoms.

When I asked her about her past, she admitted that she used to have very strong cravings for sweet and starchy foods and she also used to binge on this type of food. That’s one reason people with anorexia don’t eat. Once they start to eat, the cravings return and when they eat this type of food, they quickly feel worse and start storing more visceral fat even when they are thin. They somehow sense that they are storing too much fat even when everyone else thinks “It’s all in their head”.

Although all patients with CARB syndrome regardless of their size or weight tend to have brain dysfunction symptoms, these symptoms are often worse in people who are thinner. That’s because when they restrict their eating, they consume very little of the amino acids that are necessary to make dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Because they already have low levels of these neurotransmitters, starving the brain seems to make these symptoms worse.

Effective Treatment: Focus on the Brain.

If eating disorders and obesity are connected, then the treatment approach for both conditions should be similar. The only difference between these two groups when it comes to body size is the amount of food they are eating, but both groups are in the same type of fat-storage mode. The key to successful treatment is to slowly move them out of this mode and the best way to do so is to focus on improving their brain function.

The most effective way to improve their brain function is to remove the triggers of CARB syndrome from the diet—excessive fructose and high glycemic carbohydrates. Although someone with anorexia obviously needs to increase their food intake and someone with morbid obesity needs to eat less, I place most of my focus on the type of food they are eating. If they eat the right type of food, their body composition will tend to drift back towards normal. If you give someone with anorexia the wrong type of food, their brain function will get worse, not better and they will strongly appose this by once again reducing food intake.

For both groups I recommend following a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat diet. The fats should be healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, omega 3 fatty acids and animal fats, especially from grass fed animals. I also recommend taking certain supplements to improve brain function and I discuss these supplements in detail on other posts on this site. Exercise is helpful mainly because it is a good way to improve brain function.

I believe that Hudson and Pope were right—many common brain disorders are driven by a shared pathology. They just didn’t take their concept far enough. The CARB syndrome disease model completes the connection between common brain disorders, eating disorders and obesity. Treating eating disorders is still very challenging, but this new disease model gives us more effective tools to use. Hopefully future research will help us to better define the connections between these common disorders. In the mean time let’s use the effective tools derived from the CARB syndrome model to help these desperately ill patients.

See the full article at:  Eating Disorders and Obesity – Are They Two Sides of the Same Coin?

The Bottom Line on Alcohol and Low Carb Living

Published on January 25, 2013,

The blog ‘The Carb Syndrome Project” has an excellent post from Dr Bill Wilson all about alcohol consumption and health, especially for those trying to restrict carb intake. It covers the basics of what alcohol actually is, looks at when drinking it can become a problem, and asks if it makes you fat. The post is recommended reading for all (link below) and here are Dr Wilson’s concluding eight tips for alcohol consumption…

English: A montage of different alcoholic beve...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. Wilson’s Rules for Alcohol Consumption

  1. If you have CARB syndrome, don’t consume any alcohol until your disease is under control. There is a lot of information on this site about how to manage this common disease.
  2. Probably the best form of alcohol to consume is dry, red wine. Red wine has very little sugar and it is also loaded with healthy anti-oxidants. In his latest book “Antifragile”, Nassim Nicholas Taleb states that the only beverages he drinks are water, coffee and red wine. I share his perspective.
  3. Don’t mix your distilled spirits with fructose containing juices or soda. The exception would be a little lemon juice tinged water.
  4. Limit you daily intake of alcohol to one drink for females and two drinks for males. Binge drinking is definitely not a good way to go. If you can’t control your alcohol intake, you probably shouldn’t drink any alcohol.
  5. Don’t drink any alcohol if you eat a diet loaded with sugar, HFCS and grain-based high glycemic carbohydrates, especially if you care about your liver. Clean up your diet before consuming any alcohol.
  6. Beer should be limited because as my fructose researcher friend Richard Johnson has shown, beer raises uric acid levels and uric acid drives up blood pressure and triggers central fat storage. That’s where the term “beer belly” comes from. For more information I recommend reading his excellent books “The Sugar Fix” and “The Fat Switch”.
  7. My Paleo friend Robb Wolf recommends what he calls a “Norcal Margarita”. It consists of two shots of tequila, a little soda water and the juice of a whole lime. I agree that this is relatively healthy and safe way to consume alcohol. For more tips on healthy eating and drinking, I recommend reading his book “The Paleo Solution” or Loren Cordain’s book “The Paleo Answer”.
  8. If you know that you may be drinking a little more alcohol than usual on a special occasion, I recommend taking N-acetyl cysteine 600 mg daily and thiamine 50 mg daily on the days you are consuming alcohol. These supplements will help to protect your liver and your brain.

Alcohol can be your friend or your worst enemy depending on how you integrate it into your life. Hopefully this article gives you a perspective on how to do so in a healthy way. Bottoms up!

More at:  The Bottom Line on Booze: Alcohol and CARB Syndrome

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