by Yuval Levental
The largest post that I have written about diet so far covers most of the well known basic foods (https://corticalchauvinism.com/2020/07/27/the-best-diet-plan-for-autistic-people-and-for-everyone-else/). One type of food that I didn’t consider was sugar, which is added to many kinds of foods. Since the seventies, sugar has been artificially modified by several companies to lower the cost (https://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/nutrition/article/high-fructose-corn-syrup-worse-regular-sugar). The most well-known artificial sugar is High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). While reducing the cost of sugar seemed beneficial at first, it’s also highly likely that the quality of artificial sugar is also much lower, leading to difficulties such as obesity and lack of focus.
As seen in this graph (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity), there was a dramatic increase in obesity starting in the early eighties. This is when HFCS and other artificial sugars became more popular. The relatively significant rate of obesity before this might have been because of refined grains such as white flour and white rice, which are still unhealthy but not as bad as artificial sugar.
Additionally, the rate of autism started to accelerate in the eighties (https://www.behaviorismandmentalhealth.com/2013/06/12/autism-prevalence-increasing/). Part of this increase is because the definition of autism is changing, but clearly, there must have been a significant environmental factor driving this significant increase.
Avoiding HFCS and other artificial sugars can be hard at first. Many sugary foods and beverages simply have the label “sugar” as an ingredient, which could potentially mean anything. Additionally, even if a product says “No HFCS” on the package, they could have replaced it with a different kind of artificial sugar. The only sugary foods and beverages that I would buy are those that are labeled with the exact type of sugar that is used. For instance, labels such as “cane sugar”, “brown sugar”, and “molasses” are acceptable. Jones Soda, a famous craft soda company, only uses pure cane sugar in its beverages.
Finally, manufacturers of HFCS claim that this kind of sugar is needed for its unique baking properties, which they say don’t exist with other products. However, traditional corn syrup is a great alternative to HFCS, and has existed since the 19th century. The chemical process for making traditional corn syrup is very simple in comparison to HFCS and other artificial sugars.
Addendum (05/02/2020): Ten years ago, John Robison participated in a TMS experiment with interesting results (http://jerobison.blogspot.com/2011/03/john-elder-robison-on-ingenious-minds.html). One of the results was that he could see color far more vividly in his environment compared to before.
For over a month now, I have barely consumed any artificial sugar. As a result, I have recently noticed that the world around me appears far more colorful than before. I definitely feel far more connected to things now, and don’t feel the need to look down at the ground as often. The difference was that his experience happened instantly, whereas my experience happened very gradually. I am surprised that I didn’t have to go to a high-end lab for treatment, and that my personal method seems to be very effective.
Obesity is a symptom of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Consuming sugar exacerbates both obesity and PCOS. There is a known link between maternal PCOS and autism. Before fertility treatments were widely available, those with PCOS often didn’t have success getting pregnant. Fertility drugs and treatments made pregnancies a possibility for this population. It seems logical that this could have contributed to the rise in autism diagnoses. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30867561/
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I have had a number of autistic patients that shared PCOS as a comorbidity. I am firm believer that this is more than a coincidence. Thank you for sharing.
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