Part 1 Create a Better Brain Through Neuroplasticity – Chapter 9 Gutless Fat Shaming, Illness Shaming and Mental Health Shaming

Part 1 Create a Better Brain Through Neuroplasticity – Chapter 9 Gutless Fat Shaming, Illness Shaming and Mental Health Shaming January 21, 2020

Editor’s note: Two weeks of high winds here in Tamarindo has trashed my internet connection. I’m still waiting for Kolbi to come out and fix it. Being that everything here runs on Tico Time I doubt I will have connection again for a few more days. So I pushed on through to break down the next chapter of Debi Pearl’s book, into the most dangerous and disturbing chapter yet that will take days to unpack. So for the next four days we’re looking at Debi’s horrid shaming tendencies.

We’re back in Debi Pearls book Create a Better Brain Through Neuroplasticity and the entire book has just gone from painfully silly to ‘hey someone’s gonna die here’. The book starts to look like a way to blame everyone for what they are living through, mixed with Debi conveniently forgetting her own personal history. The die has been cast, the Rubicon crossed and there’s no turning back now and pretending this is a harmless little book written by a nice senior citizen lady. This is dangerous garbage lies disguised as advice that will get someone killed if you follow it.

This chapter involves gut health. Debi takes all of the recent new discoveries on how the gut and the brain are linked and does what she always does. She extrapolates them out to places scientists have yet to go, right down to making claims about your gut “thinking” Oh yeah, guess what happens when you tell your gut to answer that algebra pop quiz? Nothing. Your gut is important, but it does not “think” as we understand thinking.

We’re not saying here that Debi is 100% in the wrong here, oh no. Guts and gut health is very important. It’s the reason I make sure to take in adequate fiber daily and probiotics. The gut is very important because that’s where your body gets all of the nutrients it needs to keep moving and grooving.

Debi just figures out a way to use everything gut related against most of the population to tell them that this is why they suck so badly. There are over the top amounts of blaming and shaming into today’s chapter.

Yesterday I gave a guy I know a ride home from town. This guy is some version of not normal, and spent the fifteen minute car ride babbling about how only organic magnesium works, keto water taken from the bottom of the sea, and how aliens created junk food. I am pretty sure this guy is a 1960s burn out that fried his brain with too many acid trips. Even if your body cannot tell the difference between a magnesium supplement or natural magnesium in the water Jerry still made better nutritional sense than Debi.

Fat Shaming

Let me just say that fat shaming is always wrong. The science is just not fully established on why some folks gain and some do not. It’s not always selfish overeating. There’s likely a genetic predisposition involved, along with the fact that everyone’s metabolism is different, different medical conditions and even medication factor in. Since you have no way of knowing how that particular person ended up heavier than normal it’s pretty tacky to judge them just for being that way. Be merciful because in all actuality it’s really none ofyour business how too thin or too plump someone is.

We start with a charming and likely very false story of a Pearl grandchild. A miraculous and likely faked grandchild that always turns down sugary cereal for a boiled egg and an avocado. Debi spends a couple of pages yammering on about this miracle grandchild being thin, physically active and devoid of screens while obsessing over the bacteria in her gut. She’s written out a ridiculous scenario where said grandchild talks to the bacteria in her stomach. Yeah, right, like that happens? Insert an eyeroll here.

She claims kids with more gut bacteria are more curious, positive, social and extroverted while those without as much tend towards fearfulness. So she thinks personality traits are hinged on nutrition even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Debi never met a piece of pseudo-science she didn’t embrace.

First bit of really stupid dangerous piece of anti-science codswallop? It is not even literally true. One study suggested that hyper obesity might, MIGHT, play a role in brain shrinkage. Not established settled science yet.

As your weight goes up, the actual physical size and function f your brain goes down.” Dr. Daniel Amen

This is all followed by page after page of claims linking thinking neurons in the guts to thinking neurons in the brain. Debi goes on to claim if you eat the wrong foods not only will you be fat, but you’ll also wreck your immune system and develop the dreaded ‘Brain Fog’

It is the result of a malfunctioning digest system that is unable to supply your brain with the proper fuel.”

Yeah, well, Debi, medical science has also shown that you can get that dreaded brain fog when you don’t get enough sleep, if the blood sugars in your body are off for any reason, or if you are sick without knowing why. Many ailments create that foggy brain. Sometimes its stress levels being so high you cannot concentrate, or worrying and anxieties. Medications. There are a laundry list of things that can slow down your thinking. It’s not always eating the wrong foods.

Debi goes on to talk about the many times in the Bible that the word “Bowels” is used for when you might think “Heart” would do better. This is her link as to the Bible establishing the guts can think? Brains, bowels and hearts do very different jobs in the body, all rather important but so diverse.

Back to the Fat Shaming

And then we end up with a fictional George, more of a junk food junkie that Lori Alexander’s husband Ken on his worst potato chip and ice cream scarfing days that Lori despaired over.

George eats almost entirely processed foods. He has brain fog. He feels bad. He is way larger than he should be. Debi claims he has killed off a significant portion of his gut bacteria. That may or may not be true. Science does show that living on a diet of processed foods isn’t good for anyone, but processed foods eaten in moderation aren’t as likely to have an effect on long term health. It’s really okay to have that once in a blue moon bag of chips or ice cream.

..much of the food George eats is now partially indigestible. So it is rotting instead of being digested, which explains why George stinks and has skin rashes..”

Whoa, whoa here! Do you know what happens when you eat something your body cannot digest? That’s right, it’s expelled quickly during the process of elimination through defecation. No worries of months of rotting food backed up in there. I know there are some practioners of the more woo types of medical thnought that think you need to have your colon blown occassionaly, but for most of us our digest tracts take care of undigested foods quickly on their own.

If George is stinking he needs a shower.

And do you know the best way to build up that wonderful bacteria in your gut? Taking probiotics helps tremendously.

Debi then goes on to talk about the importance of eating fish, or taking fish oil supplements. The story she chooses to illustrate the importance compares kids with mental illness, claiming that the kids that got the fish oil were miraculously prevented or cured from psychosis. Again, literally not how those supplements work. All this talk of fish oil supplements, but not one word about eating yogurt or taking live active gut culture supplements. And tomorrow we are onto Chronic Illness Shaming.

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NLQ Recommended Reading …

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

I Fired God by Jocelyn Zichtermann

13:24 A Dark Thriller by M Dolon Hickmon

About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.
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  • Aloha 2

    An avocado every day for breakfast is very expensive … Are we to believe that the Pearl kids are actually earning enough money to buy healthy foods?

  • Nea

    Bullet List of Bull*cough*!

    A miraculous and likely faked grandchild that always turns down sugary cereal for a boiled egg and an avocado
    I dunno… which is the child shamed and potentially beaten for reaching for? It’s a miracle what you can make little kids pretend to hate if you hurt ’em enough.
    ETA: However, a growing kid is going to need far more fats than a fatphobic, poor family is going to want or be able to feed them to fuel that growth, so maybe the kid’s body really is telling them to go for the healthy fats and proteins instead of unfilling sugar cereal.

    She claims kids with more gut bacteria are more curious, positive, social and extroverted while those without as much tend towards fearfulness.
    Citation needed. Also, you know what makes kids fearful? Teaching them that any question, any exploration, even any emotion = sudden pain. I’m just sayin’.

    much of the food George eats is now partially indigestible. So it is rotting instead of being digested
    Did. Debi. Just. Repeat. The. Urban Legend of. Years-old. Undigested Gum? Seriously? SERIOUSLY????

    The story she chooses to illustrate the importance compares kids with mental illness, claiming that the kids that got the fish oil were miraculously prevented or cured from psychosis.
    Soooo…. the bipolar kids didn’t eat enough fish to counterbalance the down cycle? Mikey-Mike wasn’t fed enough fish to prevent the depressive crash he describes in detail?

  • Nea

    Y’know, avocados are high in fat2. Although I just made a snarky comment, we also know that the Pearls advocate severely underfeeding growing kids lest they get fat2 (not to mention your point about not being able to afford food).

    So maybe that avocado really, really does taste good to a kid whose body is desperately trying to get what it needs to fuel a growth spurt.

  • Nea

    *sigh* nannybotted and I don’t know what word was my doom. You’re right, that’s part of the comment…

    Ugh… I figured it out. The first word is “growth” and it means kids getting taller. It’s frustrating when the nannybot has a dirtier mind than I do.

  • Tawreos

    This is dangerous garbage lies disguised as advice that will get someone killed if you follow it.

    Do you mind if this gets copied and put into product reviews over at Amazon?

  • Nea

    Certainly someone needs to counterbalance all the fawning going on over there.

  • Polytropos

    Your gut is important, but it does not “think” as we understand thinking.

    Sure, but neither does Debi. Low hanging fruit, I know, but I couldn’t resist. This whole chapter seems like she’s taken a bunch of silly ideas from the crystals and tinfoil hats section of the internet, and dialed them up to 11.

  • Nea

    Don’t forget urban legends!

  • Dude, nuh.

    I LOVE fish. I regularly eat fish. It’s done less than nothing for my headspace beyond “ooh, fish, yummy.”

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Not at all

  • persephone

    It panicked when I used the word mon9ster.

  • persephone

    Wasn’t there a recent study that indicated that fish oil supplements aren’t that beneficial?

  • AFo

    This gets to the heart of the entire Quiverfull line of thinking. Everything is about appearances. You have to have your family visibly skinny, well-behaved, and eating only “nutritious” foods. Somehow Debi still thinks that if she can just polish up the surface, no one will bother looking at at the rot barely hiding beneath it.

  • CindyatUnderMuchGraceDOTcom

    I can’t resist adding this “interesting tidbit” (a favorite expression of my A&P professor) about the similarities between the gut and the brain. The gut has what is now understood as it’s own little version of a central nervous system which is, of course, intricately connected to the brain as primary. When we eat fat2, our gut releases a neurohormone called cholecystokinin which makes the gall bladder contract, releasing bile which acts like a fat2 emulsifer. I don’t know that we know why yet, but there are detectible levels of this same substance found in the brain.

    Only a few people laughed in my class which was about 80% female, but without mentioning any off color terms, the professor said that it could be interpreted that we, in fact, have $#^! for brains.

    From this window into the book that Suzanne has given us, graciously sparing us all from the pain of reading it ourselves, it seems that some people have more than others do.

  • persephone

    If you have land, which the Pearls do, you can easily spro9ut one from a pit.

  • persephone

    Those kids have grown up on the QF starch-based diet. It’s cheap and terrible.

  • CindyatUnderMuchGraceDOTcom

    It depends. It competes for the cyclooxyrgenase in the process of oxidizing fats. Omega 6s and 9s convert into a certain type of prostaglandin (which is needful and in all cells of the body), and that causes platelets to stick together, clots to form, and they cause a lot of inflammation. By competing for the enzyme which gets depleted, the fish oil converts into a different prostaglandin that does not cause inflammation. It diminishes the effects of “leaky gut syndrome” by limiting inflammation, it helps with arthritis for the same reason, and according to several studies which I know that Jean Carper sites in her books several studies that show that it drops seukoltriene production by as much as 50%. Leukotrienes are the allergy mediator responsible for most asthma and allergy (the substance that the drug Singulair mitigates). It also inhibits platelet aggregation which is why fish oil use is an issue in people with blood clotting problems. Platelets live for a week, I believe, so stopping fish oil before surgery takes care of that bleeding risk.

    You must take it for a month (for your enzymes to be depleted) before you see any effect, but it does drop inflammation. I believe that the studies that claim that fish oil is ineffective looked at cardiovascular disease factors to evaluate them, not decrease in symptoms related to inflammation in general.

  • CindyatUnderMuchGraceDOTcom

    And it does little if you also don’t drop your intake of less healthy fats (think animal fat2), because the enzyme still prefers non-fish oil first. Many physicians now prescribe Lavaza (the pharmaceutical grade fish oil) as an alternative to statins for cholesterol, and I’ve seen people prescribed as much as 10 grams per day which I think is the rare extreme.

  • CindyatUnderMuchGraceDOTcom

    Nancy Campbell is the worst for the health food religion — like it’s a comorbid religious fixation with her version of Christianity. It’s part of the whole tendency toward a Luddite mentality, the perception that illness shares a cause and effect relationship with sin, and the idea that bleeds over from faith healing that all you need for illness is the elders of the church, their prayers, and some olive oil for anointing.

  • CindyatUnderMuchGraceDOTcom

    And Aspirin and NSAIDS inhibit prostaglandins which is why people who take them and/or fish oil have decreased pain and increased mobility with their use.

  • Saraquill

    Debi, you and Michael are ever going to live down animal feed.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    From what I can tell it really looks like it depends on what you are taking them for. I cannot take them, nor any type of blood thinner or statin. I have a low grade bleeding disorder that prohibits them. Guess I am stuck with crisco blood unless I am eating oatmeal at every meal. But I have seen folks whose cholesterol levels have come down who take fish oil. It’s interesting to me that what does not work for one works for another.

  • Oh, yeah, that’s going into the tell-all books, guaranteed. (And I can’t wait to read ’em!)

  • smrnda

    Maybe writing health advice should be reserved for people with actual medical training?

    Another reason why fat2 shaming is so irritating is that, in addition to health issues that can cause weight gain, obesity tends to be correlated with things like poverty, zip code, food deserts, to the point that it seems like another thing you can’t blame on choices.

  • Jenn H

    An egg and an avocado are probably more filling than the sugary cereal.

  • SAO

    Yes, if you eat an unhealthy diet, food will rot in your gut. The same is true if you eat the world’s healthiest diet. What is rotting food? It’s food being digested by bacteria and being turned into something inedible, like poop2. What do our digestive systems do? Digest food with the help of bacteria to turn it into something inedible, like poop2.

    Bacteria, having very few cells, reproduce with great speed. If you eat a long diet of junk, your gut bacteria will adjust to it. But they will adjust if you change your diet. If you’ve ever had the joy of having a colonoscopy, you realize the doctors are worried about nuts and seeds not getting fully digested, not junk or other food.

  • Nea

    Without question – more fiber, for one.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I just cannot get why she never mentions fiber, fiber supplements and probiotic supplements, the best way to have a healthy gut

  • Nea

    I bet I can guess. Part of it will be money – for all the bragging that the books sell so well, the Pearls have been very poor for a long time and supplements cost $$$ that Mikey probably just all spent in one of his manic phases junk auctions.

    Part of it will be complacency – Debi seems to think that the only real fiber comes from whole wheat. I’m assuming, based on her previous writings quoted here, that whole wheat flour is going to be good for the gut which is good for the brain.

    Part of it will be xenophobia – probiotics are part of yogurt, which is part of the yoga and feminist culture, and therefore BAD by definition, along with other forms of Western silliness like vaccines and antibiotics. Also, this whole section of the book is coming across as “listen to me about your gut flora and not some yogurt company. I am the only voice you need.”

    And part of it will be practicality. She has written before about how “smart” it is to feed the family congee, which is a little rice, a lot of liquid, and all day in a crock pot2. Economical and delicious – I have friends who gave me chicken congee when I was sick – but of little nutritional value and absolutely no fiber value. Stretching food means padding it out with water and using it as pudding or sauce, both of which break down fiber into uselessness.

  • Mimc

    I have a toddler that refuses anything sweeter than a banana (he loves dark chocolate though). So it’s possible the grandchild does exist. She’s definitely wrong about everything else though.