Autism Genetics Not So Simple, Think ENVIRONMENT! & Tips to Stay Healthy and Avoid Autism, Cancer, and Heart Disease

autismrainbowThe study, “Whole-genome sequencing of quartet families with autism spectrum disorder,” published in Nature January 2015 (and found here… ) shows that it is really the environment and not specific genes. In this study, they sequenced entire genomes of 85 families (340 genomes) and found that 69% of siblings had little to no overlap in the gene variations known to contribute to autism.  Put another way, sibling pairs shared the same autism-associated genes 31% of the time.

Researcher Dr. Scherer says, “We believe that each child with autism is like a snowflake – unique from the other”.

The evidence keeps pouring in.  Autism is not a single disease any more than obesity, cancer, or heart disease.  These are conditions that result from exposure to environmental risk factors.  Sure, some of us are more vulnerable than others. For example, some of us might carry the MTHFR genetic defect.  In that case, we would be more vulnerable to toxins and to all three of the diseases I just mentioned.

But being vulnerable doesn’t mean you need to suffer from those diseases.  This is where lifestyle and choices come in.

Since autism hits mostly in the first two years of life, we must do all we can to avoid toxins during the 9 months in the womb and the first two-three years of life.

Here is your list of what to do and what not to do:

  1. Eat organic, drink filtered water, and for those sensitive to it, avoid gluten, sugar, and grains all together for some.
  2. If pregnant, take your prenatal vitamin, iodine, vitamin D at 4-5,000 IU a day, methyl-folate and methyl-B12.
  3. Don’t receive vaccines while pregnant.
  4. Don’t give your newborn the Hepatitis B vaccine unless birth mom has Hepatitis B.
  5. Vaccinate carefully, not giving more than one aluminum containing vaccine at a time.
  6. Wait on the MMR until age 3 unless you will be in a measles outbreak area (3 or more cases linked in the same area)
  7. Get moving (exercise to the point of being a little short of breath) at least 30 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week.


Dr. Paul


Global Causes of Death are Mostly Life-Style Related

HealthyPlanetThe article from Lancet, “Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioral, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks in 188 countries, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013,”  (which you can read here… ) gives us 25 years of disease data for 188 countries of the world. A high BMI (Body Mass Index) implies that one is overweight for these studies.


The risks that were most significant for deaths were:

  • Dietary risks accounting for 11.3 million deaths
  • High systolic blood pressure for 10.4 million deaths
  • Tobacco smoke for 6.1 million deaths
  • Air pollution for 5.5 million deaths
  • High BMI for 4.4 million deaths
  • Child and maternal malnutrition for 1.7 million deaths


Clearly, over half of global mortality is a result of behavioral, environmental, occupational, and metabolic risks that are largely life-style related. The burden of high BMI has increased in the past 23 years, and poor or inadequate diet sadly tops the list. As a world, we need to do a better job of sharing food, promoting healthy food choices and promoting life-style choices that will result in lowered BMI and less obesity, overweight, and diabetic people. If we significantly reduce air pollution, and make smoking a thing of the past, we have an opportunity to make changes for a better world.


Regional risk factors include:

  • Smoking is the number-one risk in many high-income countries
  • In South and Southeast Asia, household air pollution is a leading risk
  • India has high risks of unsafe water and childhood under-nutrition
  • Middle East and Latin America, high body mass index is the number-one risk
  • Alcohol is the number-two risk in Russia
  • Sub-Saharan Africa struggles with childhood malnutrition, unsafe water and lack of sanitation, unsafe sex, and alcohol use
  • 38 per cent of South African deaths were attributed to unsafe sex and HIV
  • Wasting (low weight) accounts for one in five deaths of children under five-years-old


On a personal and individual basis, take this information to heart and do your part to improve your own health risks by lowering your BMI (weight) if you need to do that, and quitting smoking as your top priorities. If you struggle with high blood pressure, this is another risk factor that you can moderate with diet, exercise and weight loss and treat to reduce your risks.


Dr. Paul


How Much Vitamin D Should You Take? It Takes More Vitamin D to Restore Levels if You Are Darker Skinned.

Sunny Boy How much vitamin D should you take? The current recommendations from the CDC and AAP are grossly inadequate, especially if you are person of color and thus you naturally make less vitamin D. I have been testing vitamin D levels in my practice for the past 2 decades and everyone (ok 99% of us) are deficient and most severely so. For myself and most adults I know that follow their vitamin D levels, it takes at least 5,000 IU daily to reach an optimal level of 50-80 ng/ml. Don’t be fooled by the 30-100 ng/ml normal range.  A normal range is established by what is normally found in the population.  Since everyone is deficient, a level of 30 should be considered low. Many of the cancer prevention benefits show up at levels above 50 ng/ml, which should be the low end of your goal.

In the study, “Dose and time responses of vitamin D bio markers to monthly vitamin D3 supplementation in overweight/obese African Americans with sub optimal vitamin d status: a placebo controlled randomized clinical trial,” (which you can read here… ) patients were randomly assigned to receive a supervised monthly oral vitamin D3 averaging 600 IU/day, 2000 IU/day,  4000 IU/day, or placebo. Other studies have shown you can safely give the entire daily dose of vitamin D as one large monthly dose, even to lactating moms or children. They found “monthly dosing, 2000 IU appears to be sufficient in achieving a 25(OH)D level of 30 ng/mL in this population. However, importantly, 4000 IU, rather than 2000 IU, seems to suppress iPTH.” Note that they only achieved levels above 30 ng/ml. Adults of all types (obese or thin, African American or otherwise) should take at least 4,000 IU daily vitamin D3.

I have had good results, giving Vitamin D3 as follows:

Newborns to 40lbs (20Kg)       1000 IU daily

40 – 80 lbs (20 – 40 Kg)           2000 IU daily

80 – 120 lbs (40 – 60 Kg)         3000 IU daily

Over 120 lbs (over 60 Kg)       4-5,000 IU daily

Note that this recommendation is far higher than the CDC, AAP, or standard recommendations. This does seem to be what is required to get your levels to an optimal, health promoting, cancer preventing level of 50-80 ng/ml. Please consult with your physician or at least check your levels after a couple months at this level of supplementation to see if for some reason this recommendation it either too high or inadequate for you.

Many of us get very little sun exposure, the only natural way to make vitamin D. Don’t be fooled into thinking drinking vitamin D supplemented milk will get your level up. It won’t. You would need to drink a couple of gallons a day. Because most of us have such low stores of vitamin D, you can continue to supplement throughout the summer. Most people use sunscreen anyway, and that blocks most of the vitamin D production.



Dr. Paul



Vitamin A (Retinoic acid) Vital for Normal Gut Immune System Development

vitaminA  Our skin and the lining of the GI track from mouth to anus represent the two largest surface areas where our body comes into contact with the outside world. We have an intricate immune system that allows our bodies to absorb nutrients and avoid toxins. There is increasing awareness that the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), which represents more than 50% of our entire immune system, is vital to health and normal brain function. What can we do to maximize our chances of having a vibrant and healthy GALT?

In the study, “Retinoic Acid Differentially Regulates the Migration of Innate Lymphoid Cell Subsets to the Gut,” authors point out that ILC1 and ILC3, Innate lymphoid cells, undergo a homing receptor switch to migrate to the gut. They show that this process is regulated by the gut-specific tissue factor retinoic acid (vitamin A). You can read the study here…

We have known that vitamin A is important in disease prevention, avoiding infections and is even a treatment for measles. In a recent review of the vitamin A role in our immune system, “The pleiotropic role of vitamin A in regulating mucosal immunity,” we see the role of vitamin A is extensive. They write, “the role of vitamin A on mucosal immunity is far beyond regulating the adaptive Th1-Th2 cell response, but is highly pleiotropic and more complicating, e.g., polarizing the phenotype of mucosal DCs and macrophages, directing gut-homing migration of T and B cells, inducing differentiation of effector T cells and Treg subpopulation, balancing mucosal ILCs subpopulation and influencing the composition of microbiota.” Indeed there is a vital role for vitamin A in regulating mucosal immunity. You can read the study here…

The natural sources of vitamin A are fish oil (cod liver oil being especially high in vitamin A) and the yellow vegetables, like carrots, squash, and cantaloupe, all of which are high in beta carotene that we convert to retinoic acid (vitamin A). Be sure you are eating these during pregnancy and while breast feeding, and consider supplementing your infant with a small amount of cod liver oil. Studies have shown that supplementing with cod liver oil (1/2 teaspoon before age 1 and 1 teaspoon after age 1) reduces infections. Learn more about the benefits of cod liver oil here…



Dr. Paul



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