Vanishing of the Bees & How it Relates to Autism

I went to see Vanishing of the Bees last week with my teenage daughter. She came as a favor to her “composting- buy at the local farmers’ market- mother”, but walked away educated and engaged. Ever since, she happily takes out the food scraps for composting. http://www.vanishingbees.com/trailer/

According to the movie, approximately one-third of the food produced in the world is dependent on honeybees for pollination and increased crop yields. Bees are an essential part of modern agriculture and their economic contribution is valued over $15 billion. We were amazed to learn that a third of the bee population disappears every year- just vanishes without a trace. This rapid loss of the adult bee population is known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and has been happening since the mid-1990. Bees are an indicator of environmental quality and their decline points to a broader environmental degradation that will threaten not only the quality but the variety of our food.

Research in France* had demonstrated an interaction between the use of systemic pesticides on crops and a weakening of the bee’s immune system, such that they become susceptible to pathogens and diseases. These interactions on the insects’ central nervous system are cumulative and the cause and effect does not have a direct immediate correlation. Multiple interacting causes are at a play. Therefore the government has been slow to act.

As the movie discussed the symptoms of CCD, I was struck by the similarities to autism. Like CCD, autism is a complex pervasive developmental disorder characterized by severe deficits in social interaction and communication. Research suggests that autism is influenced by an immune response of the central nervous system; however there is no immediate cause and effect relationship in autism. While the rate of autism in the population is much less than that of the bees, 1 in 70 boys, the prevalence rate is increasing 10-17% annually. Is the rise of autism an indicator of human environmental degradation? Are we slowly falling victim to weakened immune systems?

Another threat to U.S. bees is cheap imported tainted honey. The scene that was most impactful to my daughter was when they showed honey from China, diluted with milk or high fructose corn syrup, “beeing” used in food manufacturing. If the honey in Honey & Wheat Bread really isn’t honey what about the other ingredients not on the label?

We don’t need to wait for government action. We can make a difference today! One in every three bites of food is dependent on honey bees for pollination. What can you do? First and most importantly, take the time to understand the issues. For more information about systemic pesticides and what you can do go to: Boulder County Beekeepers and http://www.panna.org.

Second, vote for your health with your wallet. Buy local and when possible, organic; plant a garden; learn to cook; compost. Support companies that use high quality ingredients you can trust, such as Hail Merry. Remember that one determined person can make a difference and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.

* http://www.bouldercountybeekeepers.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Widespread-Immune-Deficiency-Disease-in-Wildlife.pdf).

INFLAMMATION and a LEAKY GUT MAY PLAY A ROLE IN AUTISM

April is Autism Awareness Month. Inflammation of the brain is a factor with Autism and the major cause of inflammation in the body is a leaky gut. Talk About Curing Autism spokesperson, Jenny McCarthy, advocates not only a gluten-free casein-free diet (GFCF), but also one free of sugar including fruit, yeast and food dyes to reduce the symptoms of autism and heal the body. Jenny McCarthy will be a special guest this Saturday at Dallas Rocks Against Autism, proudly sponsored by Hail Merry®, a GFCF, raw, vegan snack food company based in Dallas.

According to Autism Speaks™, Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex pervasive developmental brain disorders characterized by severe deficits in social interaction and communication, by an extremely limited range of activities and interests, and often by the presence of repetitive, stereotyped behavior.

One in 110 American children has an autism spectrum disorder (1 in 70 boys) and the prevalence rate is increasing 10-17% annually. Interestingly, females suffer from autoimmune diseases 3x more than males but autism is 4x common in males.

The cause of Autism is unknown. The is no medical detection and there is no cure. Each case is individual with different levels of severity and combination of symptoms. Children with Autism generally have problems in three crucial areas of development- social interaction, language, and behavior. Common signs include failure to respond to name, avoidance of eye contact with other people, lack of empathy, repetitive movements and delayed speech. Common treatments include educational and behavioral interventions, medications and other therapies including a gluten-free casein-free diet (GFCF).

Recent research found little evidence that supports the use of most medications for treating autism in children, with the exception of the anti-psychotic drugs risperidone and aripiprazole.  Risperidone is probably the most common antipsychotic in use. It helps to lessen aggression, agitation and explosive behaviors. Side effects include a sedative effect, weight gain, dizziness and muscular stiffness. Aripiprazole has shown success in controlling severely disruptive, hyperactive and repetitive behaviors. For more on the study go to http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/peds.2011-0426v1.

There is a growing interest among researchers about the role of the functions and regulation of the immune system in autism – both within the body and the brain. Piecemeal evidence over the past 30 years suggests that autism may involve inflammation in the central nervous system. There is also emerging evidence from animal studies that illustrates how the immune system can influence behaviors related to autism (http://www.autismspeaks.org/whatisit/index.php).

In past blogs, I have discussed how inflammation is the underlying cause of most chronic and autoimmune disorders. The major cause of inflammation in the body is the food we eat. Food allergies and intolerances have been implicated in a wide range of medical conditions, affecting every part of the body: from mildly uncomfortable indigestion, to severe illnesses including celiac disease and diabetes, to developmental disorders such as ADHD and Autism. The inflammatory reaction occurs when an ingested food molecule acts as an antigen, a substance that causes the immune system to produce antibodies against it.

When you ingest something your immune system does not like or perceives as undesirable, it attacks by means of inflammation. When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues in an attempt to rid the body of foreign substances. This release of toxic chemicals increases blood flow to the area and may result in irritation, redness and swelling (think arthritis). The common thread in all these conditions is an unusually permeable gut caused by inflammation in the small intestine as a response to the food we eat- and we eat mostly wheat, sugar and acid forming foods like polyunsaturated oils and beef. With a leaky gut, undigested food proteins, bacteria, viruses, and yeast (Candida is a problem for many with ASD including Jenny McCarthy’s son) can escape into our blood system thru the inflamed cell walls of the small intestine. The body recognizes these proteins as foreign invaders and our immune system attempts to fight them off causing more inflammation which sets the stage for various chronic and autoimmune disorders including IBD, lupus, allergies, asthma, even Autism.

In an interview on Oprah, Jenny McCarthy states, “I cannot express enough how IMPORTANT diet is to our kids and I mean, with or without a diagnosis I guarantee your child will benefit from eating healthy. If your child has behavior problems but does not fall on the spectrum I would still highly recommend the GFCF diet.”

On Saturday April 9, 2011 Dallas Rocks Against Autism. BUY YOUR TICKETS to see Jenny McCarthy!!!!! Proudly sponsored by Hail Merry Snacks!  http://dallasrocksagainstautism.ticketleap.com/dallas-rocks-against-autism/

Hail Merry Snacks are GFCF and contain no yeast. Go to http://www.hailmerry.com/.

For more information about inflammation go to http://www.foodphilosopher.com and The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook.