Autonomy, Meat, and Mental Health

What does eating meat have to do with your psychosis, depression, and anxiety? How important is child autonomy?

Autonomy, Meat, and Mental Health

The Cultured Warrior Newsletter #008


Thoughts to Ponder:

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted.~ Bertrand Russel
I don’t think this needs much explanation, but here goes… The media constantly sends us contradicting messages; that we should reduce stress at all costs AND that we should hustle and grind. If you hustle and grind in misery and for someone else’s benefit — is that not slavery? My point isn’t that you shouldn’t bust your butt, it’s that you are the one who has to look at yourself in the mirror and eventually take your last breath. “Faking it until you make it” only works if you really want to make it; and you can’t fake that. Ultimately your heart of hearts knows the truth. How “enjoyable” (read “fulfilling”) does that sound? I’ve worked with many clients over the years and have met persons with psychosis who are far happier than “successful” businessmen.
You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft, that you will die without ever realizing your true potential.~ David Goggins
This edition of the newsletter is special (and long) in that it really illustrates what I’m all about. Nobody, save maybe Jocko, has more hustle-and-grind than Goggins. No doubt, he is in an inspiring figure to say the least. Obviously I don’t know him personally, but the punchline in this quote isn’t “go hard or go home”, it’s to induce stress that metamorphosis occurs. In the SPEAR system, Tony Blauer describes a “comfort zone”, a “discomfort zone”, and an “oh shit zone.” To Goggins’s point, many many people never leave their comfort zone — are we not being civilized to death (thanks Chris Ryan!). As I’ve said in other newsletters, if we go to the opposite end of the spectrum (Oh Shit! zone), we are laying the bedrock for our own trauma. It’s seems that “the game of life” is no exception to other “infinite games” where there’s a range of “optimal stimulation (stress)” to provoke and promote growth — so long as we’re able to recover from it. I guess, however, we won’t know until the end.

Things I’m Reading:

Growing Up Under COVID-19: Young People’s Agency in Family Dynamics

“In presenting the findings from the study about how young people’s family relationships were affected by the experience of growing up during the pandemic, the adult research team analysed the data for this article under three headings: the family as a prism mediating and colouring young people’s experiences of the pandemic; the transformative effects of the pandemic; and young people’s agency.”
“The active participation of young people as co-researchers — engaged not just as interviewees but also as close observers and commentators − was an original feature of the study. It allowed the research team to confirm the importance of the role played by young people’s agency within the family, in influencing family responses to the pandemic, and broadening perspectives on young people’s participation in everyday contexts (Esser et al., 2017; Spyrou, 2018; Abebe, 2019; Percy-Smith et al., 2019a). Their agency was illustrated by their decisions to take on a more active caring role and by challenging their own beliefs and sense of identity in relation to those of other family members.”
“The findings reported in this article suggest that policy responses designed to promote the well-being and development of young people should consider wider familial contexts and prioritise targeted support for families with specific needs, whilst recognising young people as autonomous citizens who are active participants in both family and civic life.”

Incident Major Depressive Disorder Predicated by Three Measures of Insulin Resistance

“Three surrogate measures of insulin resistance (high triglyceride-HDL ratio, fasting blood glucose, high central adiposity) positively predicted incident major depressive disorder in a 9-year follow-up period among adults with no history of depression or anxiety disorder. In addition, the development of prediabetes between enrollment and the 2-year study visit was positively associated with incident major depressive disorder.” As is often the case, we can’t infer causation here. However, as is also often the case, we need to use this as a jumping off point. Ethically, of course, we can’t induce depression (or diabetes) in clinical trials, but we can reverse this study and monitor symptoms of depression and very ethically, to the patients’ benefit as well, reduce their degree of insulin resistance by the metrics above — of course, then post-testing the depression metrics… see below.

Meat and mental health: A meta-analysis of meat consumption, depression, and anxiety

“Meat consumption was associated with lower depression (Hedges’s = 0.216, 95% CI [0.14 to 0.30], < .001) and lower anxiety ( = 0.17, 95% CI [0.03 to 0.31], = .02) compared to meat abstention. Compared to vegans, meat consumers experienced both lower depression ( = 0.26, 95% CI [0.01 to 0.51], = .041) and anxiety ( = 0.15, 95% CI [-0.40 to 0.69], = .598).” It’s interesting here that the relationship between meat consumption and depression/anxiety isn’t nearly as strong when comparing meat-eaters vs. vegans. This is interesting because it suggests first that “more meat is better”, but also that eating any animal products at all (dairy, cheese, fish, etc.) has a tremendous effect — far more so than “meat or not.” Of note as well, “The analysis also showed that the more rigorous the study, the more positive and consistent the relation between meat consumption and better mental health.”

Low levels of omega-3 associated with higher risk of psychosis

“At age 24, the n-6:n-3 ratio was positively associated with psychotic disorder, depressive disorder and GAD, while DHA was inversely associated with psychotic disorder.” The authors continue, “In longitudinal analyses, there was evidence of an inverse association between DHA at age 17 and incident psychotic disorder at age 24 (adjusted odds ratio 0.44, 95% confidence interval 0.22–0.87) with little such evidence for depressive disorder or GAD.” What more needs to be said? What happens when you drink diesel fuel, I mean fertilizer, I mean what’s now being sold as “vegetable (seed) oil?” This could be a whole podcast (in deed dozens have been done) on it’s own but it’s easy enough to Google (DDG or Brave) the conversion ratio of ALA (plant N-3) to EPA (animal N-3) — spoiler, it’s about 5%. All of that is compounded by the gross overconsumption of PUFAs (N-6); specifically from plant sources (e.g. vegetable oil).

Resources to Thrive:

  • Chris Palmer, MD (website): If you’re interested in the overlap between mental health and nutrition, Chris is an excellent resource; specifically because he delves right into more “severe and persistent” conditions such as Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia. There are numerous publications on his website that describe varying degrees of intervention and success with dietary protocols to aid in comprehensive treatment for the patient.
  • Stephen Ilardi, PhD (website): I am not super familiar with Stephen’s work, though he has amassed an entire division within Kansas University titled Therapeutic Lifestyle Change. What I have read, and found it quite provoking to share (especially with other clinicians), is Stephen’s article titled “The Hunter Gatherer Cure for Depression.” Now, typically I get shot from both sides for trying to walk the middle path — nutritionists want to attribute all disease to nutrition; pharmacists want to cure everything with medication, therapists want to solve problems relationally or cognitively (or whatever their school of training promotes). The reality is that all of these things can serve functions in one’s route to “health” or “wellness.”
  • The Cultured Warrior Podcast (on Anchor, and everywhere else): The Kombat Kitchen isn’t dead! It’s just evolved. I made a post on Medium earlier this week describing the evolution of my “personal branding.” The new format is (for now) an audio edition of the newsletter. The sub-ten-minute episodes should be pretty easy to digest.

Trainer’s Corner:

  • Following up from last we, I found the article I mentioned regarding energy system use in grappling sports. I’ll make a separate post on Instagram this week, but mulling over the literature again I’d make the bold suggestion that we (definitely include myself in this) have been conditioning for combat sports wrong all along.

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