Tag Archives: Nervous System

Digestive Dangers Dog Dogs

There’s a reason human food is called that.

You’re supposed to feed human food to, well, humans. Same thing with dog food. Although, I did grow up with a girl who enjoyed nothing more than snacking on a dog biscuit, but I think that was more along the lines of a cry for attention than an actual appreciation for the crispy taste.

A recent article in the Huffington Post went on about twelve human foods that can harm dogs. And I’m not talking about dropping a huge wheel of Cheddar cheese on your dog’s head. Don’t do that, either. No, these are foods that are dangerous if digested.

In yesterday’s post, I went over the first part of the article, which included foods like chocolate, milk, cheese (see?), avocado, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, garlic and onions.

This go round, I start with something I’ve been doing to Buzz, The Garbage Disposal That Walks Like A Dog, with a distressing regularity.

The humans in our family love apples. Their favorite is the Honey Crisp varietal, which is pretty expensive. Because of the cost, I’ve encouraged the young dudes not to share their cut-up apples with the dog, no matter how much he begs. However, they and I have a tendency to give in to those puppy-dog eyes and drop the dog the apple’s core.

Turns out, that’s not such a smart thing to do. Apparently, apple cores (as well as the cores of plums, peaches, pears and apricots) contain cyanogenic glycocides, which you might know better as cyanide. Yeah, the poison. It’s not enough to drop you in your tracks if you eat just one, but it can build up and dogs weigh less than a human, so it builds up quicker.

Another no-no is feeding the dog active bread yeast or dough. If a dog ate active yeast dough, it can ferment in his stomach producing toxic alcohol or could expand in the digestive system, producing dangerous levels of gas and rupture the stomach or intestine.

One of the reasons we’re told not to give a dog chocolate is that chocolate contains caffeine, which is bad for them. (Us, too, but no way am I giving up my Diet Coke.) So it should go without saying that you shouldn’t actually let your dog drink the leftover half-caff, skinny latte. Or any coffee. Or Coke. Or Monster or other energy drink.

Caffeine overstresses the dog’s nervous system, leading to vomiting, hyperactivity, heart palpitations and even death.Bacon, yes, bacon, is bad for dogs. The poor dears.

Finally, most surprisingly, and most horribly, the food we’re not supposed to share with our doggie friends is. . . wait for it. . . not yet. . . bacon.

Yes, bacon.

I’ll pause here while we contemplate the appalling wasteland of the future without bacon. All right, enough. It’s not like we’re being told no more bacon, just don’t give it to Spyke.

Bacon, like most foods high in fat, can cause a dog’s pancreas to become inflamed (called pancreatitis) and stop working. Once that happens, the dog’s digestion gets all wacky and derails nutrient absorption.

All in all, that’s a pretty heavy and extensive list of human foods that are explicitly not for dogs.

Just to be safe, and prevent a lot of table-side begging, maybe we should just not feed Spot any human food at all.

Well, other than broccoli. Buzz, The Garbage Disposal That Walks Like A Dog, loves his broccoli and those greens are good for everybody.

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The Stars Like Grains Of Sand

There’s a very good chance, if the doctor to whom I’ve been talking for the last little while, that autism and autism spectrum disorders like learning disabilities and Asperger’s Syndrome aren’t caused only by genetic factors.

Picture courtesy of autism.lovetoknow.com

Dr. Robert Melillo, founder of the  Brain Balance Achievement Centers, an internationally recognized expert on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and author of the recent book,  Autism: The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders–and What Parents Can Do Now, stressed that people with an ASD must have a genetic predisposition. That is, the genes that can cause ASDs are there in the person’s body, but it’s a whole host of environmental factors that actually triggers the disease process.

One very important environmental trigger, he said, is stress in parents. Not just job-stress, but a more pervasive stressed caused by constant activation of the body’s sympathetic nervous system, or the flight or fight response. This stress, he said, not only causes inflammation in the parents’ bodies, which certainly isn’t good, but it also can change how their genes work without changing the actual genetic code.

When our bran and body are active and we’re healthy, our brain inhibits our fight or flight system in our body, what’s called the sympathetic nervous system,” he said. “If our body is working correctly, the stress levels go down. It lets us sleep better and eat better and we keep our stress response very low.”

The problem with that stress response, Melillo said, is that it can produce hormones which interacts with already extant genes, which then can cause a diminished cognitive response.

“If the adult has increased stress hormones, which can mask the effect of the gene for brain activiey, it doesn’t affect you much since the adult brain is already mostly already formed,” he said. “But if you pass that along in a turned-off position to your child, it will have a major impact.”

That, Melillo said, is from where the increase in ASD diagnoses is coming, a stressed-out population constantly teetering on the verge of flight or fight.

Sounds pretty horrible, actually. Still, all that bit is really some pretty good news. Which is that, if one of the major causes of ASD manifestation is parental stress and other environmental factors making an impact on the parents, there is every possibility that ASDs can be, if not cured, then severely ameliorated, Melillo said.

“One of the reasons I wrote the book is that most people are completely unaware that you can prevent it,” he said, speaking about his first book on the subject, Disconnected Kids: The Groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for Children with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Neurological Disorders.

So there are things parents can do to reduce the risk of having an ASD child, as well as, according to Dr. Melillo, reduce the impact of an ASD on a child already on the spectrum. Still, I wondered, are there certain types of people who might be more inclined than others to having a child on the spectrum?

As it turns out, yes, there are. And I’ll be back on Tuesday with out last post on Dr. Melillo and autism to tell you dudes about it.


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Crossing A Gulf Of Infinite Space

When you think about autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), you probably consider that it’s a genetic-based symptom cluster. That is, you’re either born with it or you’re not.

And I was one of those dudes who figured that was, basically the case. I knew about identical twin studies that said if a person has an identical twin with an ASD, they have a 36-95 percent chance of also having an ASD. Yeah, it’s a wide spread, but it’s significantly more than with non-twins. So I leaned toward genetics because, before I talked to Dr. Robert Melillo, I hadn’t really considered that the steep rise in the incidence of ASD cases could be due to more than simply a diagnostic culture being more aware of the disorder.

Dr. Melillo, founder of the  Brain Balance Achievement Centers, an internationally recognized expert on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and author of the recent book,  Autism: The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders–and What Parents Can Do Now, passed on what I told you yesterday: There’s no such thing as a genetic epidemic.

So how much has the diagnosis of ASD increased? Quite a lot. We’ve gone to a place where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in every 50 children between 6 and 17 have been diagnosed with some form of an ASD.

After consulting with global researchers, about 50 percent of that increase can be attributed to diagnostic awareness,” Melillo said. “Maybe less. It could be that as much as 60 to 70 percent of the increase isn’t explained by diagnostic awareness. That means the increase really represents new cases that previously didn’t exist.”

If we rule out the possibility of a swiftly changing genome running amok in the world’s population, and we most definitely should, then something more has to be going on here to cause such a dramatic uptick in the number of ASD cases.

“Ninety-five percent of the research over the last 25 years has been looking for bad genes, and we haven’t found that,” Melillo said. “The only thing that can explain that is an environmental factor.

“Environmental causes are either turning off or turning on the wrong genes or causing it at the worng time. Ultimately, the way to cure the problem is through prevention. Identify the environmental factors, eliminate the environmental factors and allow the genes to express themselves as they normally would.”

For instance, he said, women on antidepressants when they conceive and while they carry a child to term have an increased risk of having a child born with an ASD. Diabetes in a child’s mother can increase the chance of having an ASD child by 60 percent. While there are other environmental factors, like an increased exposure to various fertilizers, that can be helping cause the increase, that’s not where most of it comes from.

“The majority of the increase has to do with what we call lifestyle factors, ” Melillo said. “Our diet. Are we overweight? Do we exercise? Do we have a lot of stress, stress hormones? In other words, is our body fit?”

An unfit body, Melillo explained, doesn’t change the actual genetic code of any offspring. Instead, he said, what it does is to cause that unchanged code to express itself in a different way. Either surpress the wrong gene or trigger a different gene to produce a protein that’s not supposed to be there.

When I asked Melillo about the stress issues he mentioned above, I was thinking more along the lines of road rage, or the economy, but he quickly corrected me. The stress he’s talking about, which causes bad inflammation in our bodies, that’s more along the lines of us having almost constant activation of our fight or flight portion of the sympathetic nervous system.

Whew. Another fact-packed post. I think we’re going to have to continue this one on Monday. See you dudes then.

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