Around the Web; Do You Know Where Your Neurotransmitters Were? Edition

We have guests this weekend and so I’ll be brief.

Just a reminder: Our meet-up at the beach is next Saturday, July 23, 4:30 to 6:30 pm, at the Massachusetts state park on the south end of Plum Island, which you access through the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport. I’ll have more detailed directions next week. We’ll picnic and will be delighted to chat, share food, play Frisbee, and just hang out with whoever cares to join us.

[1] Interesting posts this week: Emily Deans has been a rich source of information this week. She touched on an interesting topic – the ability of germs to produce human neurotransmitters:

Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species are known to produce GABA.  Escherichia, Bacillus, and Saccharomyces produce norepinephrine.  Candida, Streptococcus, Escherichia, and Enterococcus produce serotonin.  Bacillus and Serratia produce dopamine, and Lactobacillus species produce acetylcholine. That’s pretty much the entire hit parade of major neurotransmitters (there’s histamine and glutamate and a few others – and histamine is known to be produced by some bacteria that infect shellfish, for example, causing food poisoning).

It seems that many bugs may come pre-equipped with tools to modulate human moods and behaviors – if they can infect the central nervous system. No wonder the mechanisms of mental illness are so hard to understand.

Ned Kock explains why fasting might cause weight gain. Stan the Heretic thinks that statins and low-fat diets may cause osteoporosis.

The New York Times gave us evidence that maintaining immune function is the key to avoiding dementia (“Small Woes Increase Risk of Dementia”):

A runny nose, fallen arches and dentures aren’t risk factors typically associated with brain health. But new research suggests that small health problems can add up, and the combined effect can increase a person’s risk for dementia….

Taken alone, none of these health conditions are related to a person’s dementia risk. But when investigators combined these relatively minor physical ailments into a single “frailty index,’’ they found a significant cumulative effect on dementia risk.

Some economists find that food deserts only correlate with obesity, they don’t cause it.

Brian St Pierre finds papers showing that brown rice isn’t more nutritious than white rice. Doug McGuff reports that exercise reduces inflammation in diabetics. Lucas Tafur reports that ketogenic diets help clear environmental toxins.

I was intrigued by the headline “Nutritionists salute First Lady’s burger binge.” It turns out what the nutritionists like is Michelle Obama’s “balance and moderation,” which is to say, her unwillingness to consistently follow her own health advice. I’m inclined to agree: the burgers may improve her health!

Via John Durant, photographic evidence that standing desks used to be widespread.

[2] Music: I believe the musical term for this is “a cupola”:

Via The Brothers Judd.

[3] Good hair day:

Via Yves Smith.

[4] It’s smart to eat rice: Emily Deans, with a hat tip to Jamie Scott, offers more evidence for the superiority of rice to wheat. Apparently kids who eat rice have more brain matter and 5 more IQ points than kids who eat wheat:

Japanese researchers (funded by a national Young Scientists’ grant) studied 290 healthy children ages 5-18 years.  In Japan, apparently boiled white rice or white bread make up a typical breakfast.  (I remember eating a lot of this cereal plus sugar in skim milk when I was a kid. Kapow!)  The scientists were able to split the children into groups of habitual rice-eaters, habitual white bread eaters, and those who consumed both regularly.  Then they tested the IQs (using standard measures for kids <16 and a separate standard test for 16 and older), scanned the kids in a MRI, and collected their data.  Questionnaires were filled out by the kids or their parents with respect to morning eating habits, health, wealth, etc.

Using varying statistical techniques and a couple varieties of imaging data collection, the researchers found that the gray matter ratios (gray matter volume divided by intracranial volume) were significantly higher among the rice eaters vs. the white bread eaters, even after adjusting for age, gender, wealth, average weekly frequency of eating breakfast, and number of breakfast side dishes.  The Verbal IQ in the rice group averaged 104.7, in the bread group 100.3.  The Performance IQ was 102.1 in the rice group and 97.9 in the bread group. This difference was non-significant.

As the kids became older, the differences in gray matter ratio increased between bread and rice groups.

If only I hadn’t wasted my youth eating Wonder bread.

[5] Sitting is bad for you: Obesity Panacea cites a review of prospective studies on the effects of being sedentary. It turns out that time spent sitting affects mortality much more than it affects weight:

Based on inconsistency in findings among the studies and lack of high-quality prospective studies, insufficient evidence was concluded for body weight–related measures, CVD risk, and endometrial cancer. Further, moderate evidence for a positive relationship between the time spent sitting and the risk for type 2 diabetes was concluded. Based on three high-quality studies, there was no evidence for a relationship between sedentary behavior and mortality from cancer, but strong evidence for all-cause and CVD mortality.

So a standing desk may not cut your weight, but it will reduce your chance of dying. That’s pretty good.

If you want to lose weight too, try eating some kimchi at your standing desk.

[6] Thomas Edison anticipates the Perfect Health Diet approach?: Every once in a while someone asks if I know of health care providers in their area who are familiar with our ideas and recommend our diet. Chris Kresser, who is located in the Bay Area but can do Internet consultations, is one. I know some other doctors recommend our book – for instance, a woman in the UK wrote to say that her doctor suggested our diet as a treatment for PCOS – but I don’t know their identities.

Well, I can offer another name, because Dr. Jay Wrigley of The Art of Living Center in Charlotte, North Carolina tells me that he is recommending our diet to his patients. That caused me to look up their site and it features this excellent quotation:

Doctors of the future will have less use for medicines of any kind. Instead, they will instruct patients in the proper care of the human mind and body through correct ways of eating, proper care of the human frame and the right attitude that facilitates healing of both the mind and body.

— Thomas Edison

I suppose that this was a failed prophecy: Doctors today must be more dependent on medicines than ever before. Perhaps Edison over-estimated the intelligence of the future. But as prescription, I have to agree. Diet and a healthy lifestyle are keys to good health.

[7] Shou-Ching’s photo art:

[8] Weekly video: As a former physicist with artists in the family, I like to see the two subjects married:

Leave a comment ?


  1. Re standing desks, there is a fine antique standing desk belonging to a former supreme court justice (Story, I think, but don’t quote) in the office of the dean of Harvard law school.

  2. Love Plum Island, spent a lot of time up there fishing with my father. Havent been able to bring myself to pick up a rod for a long time.

  3. Wow the Rice vs Wheat is great. Explains so much and this will obviously add fuel to the fire in the “Asains are smarter than American” jokes. Looks like we have something else to add to the “they eat more fish” argument!

    Also, as per your recommendation Paul, I will be getting my doctor to prescribe me fluconazole and the mop up drug (forget its name, know it begins with a C) on Friday based on a protocol for it’s efficacy agaisnt sebhorreic dermatitis. Do you have any other recommendations?> I was going to hold out for your candida and rosacea posts (athough I don’t have rosacea).

    Since starting Iodoral this week I have noticed a much stronger sense of smell… I was almost overwhelmed by it today. I have not been able to smell very well unless something is very very close or very very strong for the longest time. I know this is connected to low T and low thyroid. Of course, I broke my nose in a fight back in 10th grade (never push a fully clothed friend with anger problems in the pool, they might brake your nose), so I’ve always had nose issues… but the effect was striking today as I went through the Asian market and noticed the strong smell of tea everywhere!

  4. Is the high GI of white rice detrimental to health in any way? I say this because I consume close to nine cups of it daily, I am a training athlete looking to gain weight, and I can’t seem to digest sweet potato, or anything containing fructose for that matter, at all. Potatoes give me trouble too. Conventional health communities are in favor of brown rice, but I know it has a lot of antinutrients and white rice is advocated because it lacks those harmful antinutrients. But will having this high GI food as a staple affect my health in any way? And do you consider the GI of foods important?

  5. Ignore my question Paul. I just read the linked article which answered my questions perfectly.

  6. I love your around the web posts 🙂

    Do you think sauerkraut offers some of the same benefits as kimchi? I can buy raw fermented sauerkraut, but no kimchi, and every attempt of making it myself fails..

  7. As allways, very nice work from Shou-Ching!

    Although I do not believe in such thing as good and evil, but if you take in account Emily’s article above, maybe you can realise that the wisdom you think you have it’s not exactly yours! 😉


  8. Paul, the mind boggles at the thought of your IQ elevated by proper childhood nutrition. BTW – I thought physicists were like marines. Even when not in active service, you’re still always on call.

    Not only do I not remember ever eating rice as a child, but an after school treat used to be Wonder bread slathered with butter and topped with sugar washed down with chocolate (whole) milk. Yum.

    Love Shou-Ching’s moon and the Cicero (a great favorite) quote.

    Re: Edison. Too bad the old boy couldn’t figure out how to make cheap, efficient light bulbs. :-{

    Have fun.

  9. I think Texas had an embargo on importing rice during my childhood. Nobody I knew ate it. I loved the white bread sandwiches growing up. For breakfast, homemade white biscuits, white bread toast, pancakes, or cereal. No wonder I’m as dumb as a box of rocks! Just think, I’ve been blaming the Crisco shortening and Coke instead. It’s amazing I survived at all.

  10. Although I do not believe in such thing as good and evil

    Must be a modern liberal. No one else would utter such idiocy.

    Nice set of links Paul.

  11. Jaybird, I too am amazed that I actually learned to tie my own shoe laces given my early diet … and by early, I mean the first 70 years!

  12. Gah, I love your roundup articles. I always feel smarter…or at least more well-read. And get great stuff to bring up for random conversation starters!

    Oh, and thank you for commenting on my blog! Haha, yes, despite the cheekiness of my research post, I definitely agree in citing your sources, especially when it concerns something like science. When I deliver research reports to a publicist, I always provide a ton of backup…and spout off at writers who don’t fact check. I was just being snarky and referring more toward people who love to regale you with just how they found the info. Sorry, a recountal of one’s perilous journey through the internet does not make me regard the information gathered any more or less solid. Just give me something to double-check!

    Oh, out of curiosity, I had an autophagy question! Does one need to fast to achieve it? Could one “activate it” by, say, drinking green smoothies and just cutting out foods with much protein? I’m curious to try it but I tend to feel really weird (mentally more so than physically) when I fast for a long time (probably because of a history with eating disorders, — no longer present but sometimes shadows manifest). Just wondering your opinion!

  13. Paul,
    Twenty five years ago in an effort gain weight I discovered that you can blend an entire loaf of bread into a quart of milk (and it only increases the volume a modest amount) to made a “breadnog.” I drank this twice a day for a couple years. No weight gain but I did develop terrible digestion problems. No doctors I went to could figure out what was wrong with my digestion. It’s a wonder I didn’t die. Just one of several crazy diets I’ve tried over the years. I would pay $100,000.00 to have had your book 30 years ago.
    When are you coming out to the west coast (or even Salt Lake City)? I’d love to meet you.

  14. Hi Bill,

    I think fluconazole and cholestyramine is a good way to start. Chinese medicine proved really valuable to me, but that may not be accessible to most people.

    Very interesting about your sense of smell!

    Hi Robert,

    GI is mostly an issue for diabetics/pre-diabetics. I don’t worry about it.

    Hi Ben,

    Yes, I think all freshly fermented vegetables offer similar benefits.

    Hi Mario,

    Reminds of St Bernard’s saying. Love me, love my germs!

    Hi Mimi,

    As you presumed, protein restriction will work even if calories are not restricted. But it may take substantially longer. You have to make the cells feel protein-starved, which could take a while.

    Hi James,

    Doctors don’t know how to diagnose breadnog poisoning. Must be an oversight in the medical school curriculum!

    I would be happy to accept $100,000 for delivering the book to you 30 years ago, if I could figure out how to do it. Coming out to the west coast seems more feasible. We’ll be at the Ancestral Health Symposium in LA August 5-6. I’ll be in Dallas in November for the Weston A Price Wise Traditions conference. Last summer we were in Salt Lake City briefly as part of a trip to Yellowstone, but not sure when we’ll get back.

    Best, Paul

  15. James- the breadnog story makes me shiver with fascination– add to that a splash of horror. Did you flavor it, or just drink it plain? Spoon or straw?

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  17. Emily’s post about germs producing human neurotransmitters, prompts me to ask a question that’s been rattling around in my brain for a while . . .

    I’ve read articles that tell us that the human body contains a significant percentage of bacteria — perhaps 90% by number of cells or 8% by weight. Some of these bacteria are “the enemy,” but many others perform useful functions. So what happens to “us” when we use antibiotics — beyond the obvious digestive problems?

    Loved the “Good Hair Day.”

    Another fun post. Thanks.

  18. Gonçalo Moreira

    What do you think of the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet?

    The book has an extensive bibliography but I wonder how consistent is the science behind the theory…

  19. Ellen,
    I just drank it. It’s really surprisingly liquid, and has a rather earthy flavor. Bread is mostly air. It makes me shiver now too. I can’t believe I did it. Of the medical professionals I went to and all tests I went through for my sickness, no one had a clue. The lone exception was a lab man I happened to talk to when I was picking up some lab results. He said he had seen wheat “do strange things to the digestion system.” With his insight, I figured out the problem and stopped it. And since then I’ve eaten very little wheat. It still makes me a little sick; especially brown bread, white less so. Virtually zero wheat since PHD 7 months ago.

  20. Hi Marilyn,

    It’s a good question. The main functions of commensal flora, in addition to digestion, is to provide a layer of defense against pathogens – before pathogens can invade the body, they have to displace the commensal flora from surfaces, which isn’t easy. So antibiotics by killing commensal flora raise infection risk dramatically. It’s not uncommon for people to contract new infections while on antibiotics.

    Hi Goncalo,

    I find GAPS and SCD intriguing, because they draw on a lot of lore about toxic foods whose effects only show up in some people. Food toxicity is a profoundly under-investigated science, so I think that lore is very valuable. However, it’s also hard to know how trustworthy it is, or under what circumstances a particular food becomes problematic. It would be nice to have more scientific investigation.

    Hi James,

    I’m glad you found us – and that lab man.

    Best, Paul

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