Yuval Levental: Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Autism

Introduction by Yuval Levental: I am a person on the autism spectrum who critically analyzes autism advocacy. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from ESIEE Paris. Other hobbies of mine include recreationally solving complex math puzzles, traveling, eating new foods, and learning about different cultures.

Last time, I attempted to reduce inflammation allegedly caused by autism by including sprouted whole grain bread and kefir milk in my diet (https://corticalchauvinism.com/2019/02/25/yuval-levental-whole-grains-kefir-milk-and-autism/). Although this change helped me out, I was interested in exploring further potential root causes. After looking online, I discovered that a genetic bacteria imbalance, or dysbiosis, may be present in some people with autism. The solution would be to eat more probiotic foods to correct the imbalance, providing overall better health (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=autism%20clostridia). I have attempted this method, and have obtained some very unusual results.

I found that the most powerful naturally fermented probiotic item available today is a tea drink called kombucha. Kombucha was far more popular all around the world in different forms before the industrial revolution, since it was hard to create drinks high in sugar or corn syrup. It is produced by fermenting sugared tea using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, or SCOBY for short. While it is a very healthy drink, its claims can be unfortunately overly exaggerated (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha).

However, I still tried drinking kombucha daily starting a few weeks ago and found some interesting results. I noticed that my stomach was getting flatter, and I felt less inflamed all around. Others noticed that my skin complexion was becoming much more clearer. It became far easier for me to think through complex ideas without stalling or pausing. More interestingly, it seemed that my soft drink cravings were simply gone. Others have also noticed the same effect in terms of food cravings (https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a20705895/kombucha-health-benefits/).


Figure: Image taken from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5951603/

There was one effect that I didn’t initially catch, namely that my stomach started feeling cramped again. After doing more online research, I discovered that for probiotics to effectively work, one must also consume prebiotic foods. Prebiotic foods contain indigestible ingredients that feed probiotic organisms (https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/the-benefits-of-probiotics-and-prebiotics). Most prebiotic foods are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which are easy to find virtually anywhere. Fortunately, it seems that drinking kombucha helped me develop a better taste for those items.

Although I am not sure if I should test for dysbiosis, I find that regular consumption of probiotic foods could play a large role in changing society in the future. For instance, I mentioned in my last post that the Chinese consumed more calories than Americans but were slimmer, because the food quality is better in this regard. Additionally, probiotics may help in every aspect of human life, from improving the immune system’s responses to enhancing cognitive abilities. This knowledge will likely be a great investment for everyone’s future.

Addendum (4/19/19):  Interestingly enough, about a month ago, the fruit drink company Odwalla released a drink called Smoobucha, which is a combination of kombucha and prebiotic fruits, making it easily possible to have probiotics and prebiotics at the same time (https://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/from-the-fringe-to-the-mainstream-odwalla-launches-smoobucha).

Addendum (4/30/19):  Something strange is happening to me.  Ever since I started drinking kombucha on a daily basis, I have suddenly lost the urge to stim and am far less distracted.  This is good, but this sudden change doesn’t fit with my current mental routine and makes me nervous.  As Charlie Gordon from Flowers for Algernon said, «I keep telling myself I’m the only person in the world who can describe what’s happening to me.» (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowers_for_Algernon)

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