Bonus: Jill Escher – The Link Between Eating and Autism


Jonathan: Hey, everyone. Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. Very, very excited about today’s show, because we have Jill Escher with us, who is going to share a subject which is becoming more and more popular – not because it’s a good thing but it’s becoming more and more common in an area that I have very little expertise in, but I know a lot of you listeners are very, very interested in – and that’s the subject of autism.

Jill is really an awesome individual to speak with about this because not only is she familiar with the nutritional side of things because she is the author of the wonderful book the Farewell, Club Perma-Chub as well as a big advocate of ending sugar addiction, which we’re all fans of ending as well; she is also a former lawyer, a business owner, and she is the parent of two children with autism, and I have a special respect for her because she, like me, is a huge science geek and loves to just spend her vast amount of spare time reading everything she can and talking with the researchers about autism and what can we do to help out with it. So Jill, welcome to the show.

Jill: Thanks for having me, and happy Autism Awareness month. I’m glad we get to touch on this subject in April. Woo-hoo!

Jonathan: Absolutely. Well Jill, let’s just dig right into it. Obviously, with two children who have this condition, why you’re interested is quite clear, but can you tell me – obviously there are quite a few people in the world that suffer from this condition, and you are the only Jill Escher – what made you take that next step?

Jill: Well, for several years, I’ve been a very active autism science philanthropist, and that means that I’m heavily involved in funding and also coordinating and championing autism research. Now, what does autism have anything to do with Smarter Science Of Slim? There must be a connection, and we will get there. I want to promise your listeners that we will get to connections between this crazy epidemic of really horrific neurodevelopmental disability that we are seeing with our kids, and it’s subtle, but I think there is actually a connection between what’s happening with overall global human health and nutrition, and this catastrophe that’s happening in the younger generation. It’s not an obvious connection, but we’ll go over that, and autism I’m sure listeners know, has increased explosively in the last two decades. It used to be a very rare disorder, really on the lines of one in 10,000 people. The latest numbers from the CDC peg it at one in 50 children.

That is gigantic. So what we have now are schools that never, ever, ever had had an autistic kid, no matter what label they use. They might now have two, three, or four autism classrooms. We have a growing number of young adults with autism who really have nowhere to go because we never developed the capacity in terms of programs. We have an incredible demand on our healthcare system for therapies and interventions for these people, whereas there was never much of a demand before. They didn’t exist.

Some people say, “Oh, it’s better capture, it’s better diagnosis.” That’s really not true. There is actually a developmental change in this generation. Their neurodevelopment – at least a good portion of them – has been compromised in some way. The question is what is happening to our kids? Why is it that when I grew up in West L.A., I had never heard of autism, I never met anyone with autism. It was crazy for me to even to think of somebody who just couldn’t talk and couldn’t play and socialize and couldn’t function for no apparent reason.

They had no genetic disability, they didn’t have trauma at birth, this didn’t exist. But all of a sudden, I look around my community and they’re everywhere, including my two children. What happened, Jonathan? Why do we have this catastrophic tidal wave of disability? By the way, this is not a small disability. Some people say, “Oh, a lot of autism is mild.” There is no such thing as mild autism. If you are autistic, by definition, you have a very substantial impairment, which prevents you from living a normal life.

What is happening to our kids’ brains? This is something that has been preoccupying thousands of scientists and hundreds of thousands of parents in this country for a long time because we can’t figure it out. We can’t figure out what’s going on, and I, in my position as a champion of Autism Science, have been working on a number of projects to try to figure out what is going on. I want to tell you, I think we are getting closer and closer. I think we are at the point where we’re beginning to understand why our kids are suffering so tremendously. I think it’s a number of things, but it primarily has to do with certain prenatal exposures that have risen in prevalence within the last 50 years or so. What are these things? I’m going to cut to the chase. There’s a really, really long story that I could preamble this with, but I’m going to cut to the chase, and I’m going to talk about three of them.

The third one is going to be the most important. One is the increase in the use of prenatal medications, and that includes antidepressant drugs. Antidepressants, SSRIs were introduced in the 1980s, and their use has grown enormously during that time, especially among women of childbearing age, and animal studies and human cohort studies have both shown that fetal brain exposure to these SSRI antidepressant drugs impairs normal developmental process of the brain.

That can result, of course not always, in lifelong, either subtle or moderate or very severe neurodevelopmental impairment, including autism. We’re going to get back to SSRIs, because I think the reason so many people are on SSRIs, Jonathan…. Why are so many people on SSRIs, Jonathan?

Jonathan: Well, I would say, Jill, that it has to do with an insane pattern of eating.

Jill: I think you’re right. I think that the way that people are eating is a very pro-depressant way of eating, and this has had huge impacts on the rates of depression and how we’re treating depressio. And the failure of the medical establishments to recognize the triggers, the actual biochemical triggers for depression, which include this insane diet that you talk so well about, so that’s one thing.

Jonathan: Well, Jill, and I certainly do not want to cut you off from getting to the other two, but I just really quickly wanted to pause, and this is such a wonderful example of how there’s kind of a one, two punch going on here. Correct me if I’m taking this too far, but step number one is we go insane because we’ve been given improper information. That makes us feel depressed, and that’s certainly not good in the first place. That, in and of itself, no good. But then we take medication which, in and of itself, then causes generational problems and we’re not cured of depression.

We’re just now in a fog when all of this could have been avoided, not only in ourselves but in our children. If we attack the source of the problem, not just treating the symptoms, and that is improper nutrition.

Jill: You are hitting the nail on the head. What happens to a woman? Think about this. This is very, very common. Let’s say she’s about 20. She is on a low-fat diet. Anyone on a low-fat diet is going to be depressed, let’s face it. She’s eating processed food. She’s eating sugar. She’s eating sugar substitutes. All of those are powerful depressants, and then she goes on the pill. She takes oral contraceptive drugs, and that is also a depressant. She feels like crap. She goes to the doctor.

The doctor, following the pharmaceutically guided standard of care, prescribes her an SSRI drug like Prozac, Paxil, all those, and then it becomes worse because these things are addictive. So she doesn’t go off them. The doctor certainly never stops the prescription. The doctor keeps filling the prescription. She becomes addicted or dependent on them. She gets pregnant, and then the doctor advises her stay on the medication.

It’s safer for you to stay on the medication than to go off it at this point. It’s insanity. It’s the definition of a world gone completely mad that all of this could have been avoided. It’s just one thing on top of another that leads, unfortunately in the next generation, to sometimes a quite catastrophic result.

Jonathan: Jill, it really shines a light on the complete – I’m just going to say it – ignorance of this, the body is just as mathematical equation and clearly just eat less and everything is good, right? And like “Just take some drugs” and like “What’s the problem?” and “Hey.” When we start not appreciating just how beautifully complex our body is and how sensitive we need to be, and how taking a pill – I always say there is no such thing as side effects, there are just effects – and when you start putting things in your body that we don’t even really even understand… Let’s be clear, with a lot of these pharmaceuticals, we don’t really understand them. They’re brand new by definition. We can’t understand the long-term impacts of them because they haven’t existed in the long-term. Lettuce has, spinach has. Those things have been around for a long time. We do understand what they do to the body, so I am sorry to distract. Second item.
Jill: No, you’re right, and before I leave SSRIs, I do want to say if anybody’s interested in this, there is a wonderful doctor. He is based in Boston. His name is Adam Urato, just Google Urato, antidepressants, pregnancy, something like that, and some of his writings will pop up. He explains in far better detail than I ever could what the risks are of taking these drugs, and you never hear these risks from your doctor, so look him up. So that’s antidepressants.

Let’s go to the next thing that actually ties into nutrition, and that is fertility. What is another cause of autism and one is really people don’t talk about this, most people don’t know about it, but it’s assisted fertility treatment, usually IVF but not always IVF, which is in-vitro fertilization. What happens? Why is assisted fertility related to autism in some way? That’s because of a set of molecular mechanisms called epigenetics. Have you heard of that, Jonathan?

Jonathan: I love epigenetics, and I did some research on it for the upcoming book The Calorie Myth. Don’t go as deep as I would have liked to, but it is an emerging and super fascinating area. I focused mostly on how hormonally clogged/diabetic/insulin Leptin resistance, uterine environment affects the fetus, and that is shocking and scary, so I can only imagine what we’re going to talk about here is also shocking and scary.

Jill: Yeah, actually, let’s come back to that subject of the insulin-clogged uterine environment, but fertility treatments interfere with what is called the epigenetic programming of the early embryo and also the gametes that create that embryo. What is epigenetics? Everyone listening to this I assume knows what genetics are. We have a genome. We have all these chromosomes. They have a bunch of genes, and those genes code for certain proteins that create our body, but what controls the genes? On top of the genes, there are millions and millions, countless millions of these tiny chemical switches that we refer to as epigenetics.

While it’s kind of hard to mutate our genome – that takes a lot of effort – it doesn’t take nearly as much effort to screw around with all of these little epigenetic switches that tell our genome what to do. Let’s say you’re a tiny little egg, and some chemical comes along. Well, that chemical might not mutate the genes within the egg, but it might perturb the epigenetic programming, and that’s what’s happening with assisted fertility. Here are a couple of examples. Very often, the fertility clinics will use something called ovulation induction, and they’ll use a drug usually called Clomid, and what that drug does is it forces the egg, the ovum to ovulate prematurely, and that in itself can disturb the epigenetics of the egg. The second thing that can happen is that with the in-vitro fertilization, you might take a very early fertilized embryo and put it in some dish in some gooey media made of God-knows-what, and you’re culturing this little tiny multi-cellular, tiny embryo thing in this gooey mush. Well, this gooey mush of this Petri dish can also perturb the epigenetics of that tiny little embryo.

Another thing that can happen is the physical manipulation of sperm, pardon the S word here, but what happens in fertility treatment sometimes is the physical manipulation of sperm, sometimes even putting it directly into the egg. All of those things can disturb this incredibly delicate and vulnerable epigenetic programming. Now, when that epigenetic programming goes wrong, it can have lifelong neurodevelopmental impacts on the child, and that’s why you see elevated rates of autism but also other neurological disorders with assisted fertility kids.

Now, let’s go back, Jonathan, just as we did with SSRIs. There’s so much infertility on this country. Why are people flocking to fertility clinics? Why can’t they conceive children in a normal way? Well, I think there are a lot of reasons. Some of them are physical, some of them have to do with age, but a lot of the time, we have men who are subfertile because they are failing to produce enough sperm, their sperm are not healthy, and/or we have women who are failing to cycle regularly or who have altered or adulterated their natural hormonal environment in such a way that they cannot conceive or carry a pregnancy.

Now, I am not saying all of this relates to nutrition. There are many factors here, especially our endocrine disrupting chemical environment is a huge factor, but I firmly believe that nutrition is playing a big role, especially the hyperinsulinemia, which comes from eating too many, fill in the blank.

Jonathan: Insane starches and sweets.

Jill: Insane starches and sweets. Thank you. You’re scoring high today.

Jonathan: Actually two for two.

Jill: Two for two! So how can you promote fertility without resorting to this toxic chemical intervention, which is unfortunately [Unintelligible 0:18:05] in America today. I think one thing you can do – not that it’s foolproof – is definitely get onto a diet that normalizes your hormonal environment and optimizes the environment for conception and for carrying the fetus. The best way to do that, in my opinion, having read I don’t know, five billion articles relating to the subject, is through the sort of ancestral diet that you advocate, Jonathan.

It’s very much removing the modern foods, removing the processed foods, especially removing the sugars, getting over sugar addiction, which of course, billions and millions and millions of us have, and really normalizing your environment to be hospitable to new life. Again, not foolproof by any means, but hugely helpful to a lot of people, and you can’t imagine how many people I’ve talked to who have gone through IVF and before they were on IVF, they were often on a low-fat diets.

Well, low fat diet, a high carb diet, I am not going to go into the science of it, it’ll put everyone to sleep, but you just don’t want to have your body going through those crazy insulin cycles, which therefore have impacts on your sex hormone cycles. You se, there’s a connection. There’s a connection also between nutrition and IVF, which has the connection to autism.

Jonathan: Well, it’s this overriding pattern, even on the first factor you mentioned which is, we all have this tool set available to us and that is whole, nutrient- dense foods. It’s available to all of us. You don’t need a prescription, you don’t need a PhD. You don’t even need insurance to access it. However, if we’re not empowered with the information to make the proper decision when it comes to our nutrition, and then we start involving these chemical and almost like this tower of Babel type approach, to use a Biblical reference, where we try to build that tower to the sky, and we try to override and outsmart our body.

Generally when we try to do that, it doesn’t work as well, and I’m not here in any way, shape or form criticizing modern medicine. Obviously, there are some miraculous… like emergency room care. There is no better time to have been in a car accident than modern day, because our ability to treat these immediate diseases is phenomenal, but it’s these chronic subtle things, which in fact, a good diet ain’t going to help you when you get a car accident, but it’s actually these conditions that are lifestyle related, which it seems like so often our attempt to bypass and say well, you can still achieve the end result even with improper nutrition, actually ends up biting us in the butt.

Jill: That’s so true. It’s very, very true, and the only other thing I want to say about IVF and infertility is we have an epidemic of something called – I don’t know if you’ve talked about it on your show – PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. Have you talked about it at all?

Jonathan: I haven’t talked about it on the show, it definitely has come up actually quite frequently in the Smarter Science of Slim support group.

Jill: Oh, okay. Well, that’s one of the leading causes of female infertility, and I don’t want to go into the details of PCOS, but in the medical world, the first line treatment of PCOS is contraceptive pills, but in reality, and of course, using contraceptive pills does nothing to address the root cause of the problem, and often what really has to be done is a very low carb, high fat diet to try to get the hormones back in balance – not that it’s easy, it’s not, but it’s just another example… We prescribed them pills or building the tower of Babel instead of looking at what’s the root cause here? How can we fix this in a way that works with what nature intended. So big, big, big issues there, and I don’t know how much time we have left. I can go into number three…

Jonathan: You said number three is the biggest and the best, so we’ve got to go to number three.

Jill: It’s the biggest and the best. It’s the scoop of the century, man. Okay, let’s go to number three. This is primarily but not exclusively what I’ve been working on, and here’s the thing: In the 1950s, 60s, and into the 70s, there was something that happened in America that almost no one knows about [unintelligible 0:23:03], and that is something…

Jonathan: Jill, this story is already starting to sound familiar, so maybe there were two things happening.

Jill: It sounds like a movie. There was a hidden secret. This is a hidden history. What happened in those era – kind of a Mad Men era – was something that I refer to as the prenatal pharmaceutical craze, and what happened was the medical profession had this idea that the placenta served as a barrier between the fetus and the outside world, and that only good and healthy things could possibly travel through the placenta to the fetus. At the same time, the chemical companies and the pharmaceutical companies were concocting an absolute explosion of new drugs, and the combination of these two factors led to what I believe is one of greatest catastrophes ever in human history, which was the mass medicating of pregnant women in those decades. What medications were sold to these women? What did they take?

Why should we care, and why does it matter today? This was decades ago. I will get there. The first wave of pharmaceuticals were sedatives, and they are barbiturates, the Phenobarbitals that were marketed for a number of reasons, usually to promote sleep, to decrease anxiety. They were used to even control vomiting and nausea. The next wave of pharmaceuticals were the synthetic hormone drugs.

These were fake estrogens, fake progesterones, and fake corticosteroids that were used primarily as anti-miscarriage agents. Now, none of them worked, but they were given to millions and millions of women under the idea that these drugs would help prevent miscarriage. There is one drug that really well-known – there were dozens and dozens of these fake hormone drugs – was called DES, Diethylstilbestrol.

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Jill: You have heard of it?

Jonathan: I have.

Jill: Okay, biggest drug disaster in history, caused cancer and infertility in the exposed fetuses, among many, many other problems. The next wave of drugs were these – I am painting a very broad brush, they didn’t exactly go in waves – were the amphetamines and methamphetamines, which were prescribed primarily for weight loss. People are like, “Are you crazy?” Yes, they used to prescribe pregnant women amphetamines and methamphetamines all the time.

It was doctrine in the 50s and 60s that a pregnant women couldn’t gain more than 20 pounds, so lots of women were given these drugs. Next, they were given anti-nausea drugs like Dexedrine. There is still one that’s widely used called Zofran, and then of course things like valium, the benzodiazepine drugs which were either kind of sedatives, anti-anxiety drugs that were given, and there were, of course, diuretics. There were antihypertensive. There were stomach acid, reflux type drugs. Lots and lots and lots of drugs. I am just highlighting a few of the major category for you. You might be saying why does this matter, all this heavy drug use when half the women were drugged or something like that.

That happened in the 50s and 60s and into the 70s, but why does it matter now? It matters now for a very important reason, because when a woman takes a drug, three generations are simultaneously exposed when a pregnant woman takes a drug: the woman, her fetus, and then the fetal germ cells. The germ cells refer to the sperm, the egg of that fetus. We all know that a pregnant woman has a fetus inside of her, but what we tend to not know is that that fetus itself is developing its sperm or egg beginning in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Maybe you’ve heard this in high school biology class.

A baby girl is born with all of her eggs. Those eggs fully developed, except for like the last stage of meiosis basically, within the first couple of months of pregnancy. In the male fetus, you have these protospermatozoa. They developed something called spermatogonial stem cells and then starting in puberty, the male continuously develops sperm throughout their life, so the male and female are a little different, but in both cases, it is the early germ cells that develop in utero when that baby is just a tiny embryo.

Why does this matter? We have lots and lots of women taking lots and lots of drugs that exposed themselves, exposed their fetuses, and exposed the next generation, which is their grandchildren. This is a weird thing to wrap your head around. Even some of the top scientists are still trying to wrap their head around this, so if you’re having trouble with this, don’t worry, it’s okay. It’s going to become big news in a continual fashion, but the grandchildren that we’re started out in the 1980s of these women who were drugged in the 1950s, these are the offspring that resulted from these drugged germ cells.

We have a whole generation of kids who resulted from drugged germ cells, and what did those drugs do to those germ cells? Well, we don’t know for sure because we haven’t had research directly on point, but we can look at studies of similar compounds called endocrine disrupting chemicals. What we see in these – lots and lots of studies on this in the last five years – is that these chemicals impair the germ cell development, resulting in disease or behavioral abnormalities in that third generation, in the grandchild generation. I wish we were visual. If it was visual, I would have a chart with three generations, with mom, kid, [Crosstalk 0:29:54].

Jonathan: You’re doing a great job. I am following you.

Jill: This is brand new stuff, so it’s a little bit hard to explain. It’s what we see in animal models, and when it comes to DES, which was that synthetic estrogen drug, we now know in those human cohorts that there is this third generation effect because of the nature of the germ cells to that drug. That is what I believe and what other people believe is happening with autism. We are having basically a very delayed, latent time bomb effect of the prenatal pharmaceutical craze of the mid 20th century. Of course, as I said, autism is crazy heterogeneous.

It comes in many shapes and sizes. There are many causes. I am not saying that the entire autism epidemic is attributable to this hidden history of rampant pure prenatal pharmaceutical use. I am not saying that at all, but a certain subset very likely is related to this. I now finally have research underway that’s looking directly at the subject and hopefully, next time we talk, Jonathan, I will be able to talk about the results of those studies, but right now, all we have is the indirect evidence based on other chemicals that this is what may be happening.

Those are the big three, and everyone says, “autism, it’s genetic, right? Isn’t there lots of evidence that it’s genetic?” Well, yeah, it’s kind of genetic. We just have a whole bunch of stuff in the environment that’s been screwing up our genes. You know what I mean? Yeah, genes and environment do not exist in pristine separation. The environment can dramatically affect our genes.

Jonathan: I see really an underlying trend, and that is the further – and in some ways, it’s actually good news – the further we move away from simply eating food, and the 50s was just not a good time period, because that’s when we started to move away from eating food, too. That’s when we were like let’s mass produce stuff, let’s give corn subsidies and farm subsidies. Let’s outsmart the body. Let’s outsmart the last couple millions years’ worth of evolution. Let’s build that tower of Babel, and sadly, we’ve got this epidemic of autism, because we cause neurological disruption. We’ve got this epidemic of obesity and diabetes, because we cause metabolic disruption. If nothing else, we all just need to take a big slice of humble pie and say, any time someone is going to try to intervene with this magical substance — there’s one magical substance, and it’s called nutrient-dense foods, and it’s the only substance that has been proven for tens of thousands of generations to potentially be the number one mitigation against not only autism, but a host of other conditions.

Jill: You’re so right, and you have more wisdom than a thousand researchers combined. I just came back from a wonderful conference – well, I co-sponsored it, so of course it was wonderful [Crosstalk 0:33:39].

Jonathan: You’re like, “It was the best conference I’ve ever been to”.

Jill: It was the best conference. It was so good.

Jonathan: Just the way it was arranged, and whoever organized it did a spectacular job.

Jill: A spectacular job. If your listeners are into autism geeking, we have a fabulous website for the fabulous conference; just look up autismepigenetics.org and all the information from the conference can be found on that fabulous website. During the conference, we had the top scientists from around the world talking about these intergenerational issues and epigenetics, and one question that came up time and again is well, gosh, I wonder what could confer protective effects, and I am sitting there – I don’t want to turn this conference into a nutrition seminar, I have noble prize people there, so I have to bite my tongue a little bit – but of course, what confers protective effects? It’s exactly what you were talking about, Jonathan. It is the real food nutrition, and we talk about there’s something called methyl donors that are important for this protective effect. Where do the methyl donors come from? Folate, chicken liver, kale, spinach, real food.

Of course, people are taking it in prenatal vitamins as folic acid, but that’s a synthetic substitute that I think has its own concerns, but I won’t go into that. That would be a long discussion, but I think the protective effects come from natural nutrient-dense nutrition.
Jonathan: It’s shocking because in some ways, it is like we’ve been lied to with this myth of complexity. Let me give another example: people are like, “what could possibly help protect us from getting a disease?” Well, what are some things that enable the body to be healthy? Well, sleeping, that’s pretty good. Drinking a lot of clean water, that’s also pretty good. It’s like we almost want it to be more complicated, because literally, how couldn’t proper nutrition be helpful? Is it just so obvious that we crave complexity? What do you think? What’s the psychology going on there?

Jill: In just having worked with a lot of researchers over the years that there is a need to be sciencey.

Jonathan: They have to add value somehow.

Jill: Yes, we need to be sciencey, and there is a general fear that if they dabble in something like nutrition, they will be called quacky and they will be marginalized and their reputations will be diminished. These people are very protective of their reputations, and there’s a lot of fear of going out off of the island of conventional wisdom. I love a lot of these people. I really do. I think a lot of them do incredible work, but when it comes to an understanding of ancestral nutrition and something that’s really basic and not super sciencey sounding, they tend to become afraid.

Jonathan: Even the fact that we have to call it ancestral nutrition – it is the normal way of eating. That’s how everybody ate up until we had these problems, but we have to qualify it with “oh, an ancestral way.” No, it’s eating food. That’s all we’re talking about. If you define food as that which you find in nature, and you define edible products as everything else, all we’re talking about is eating food, but even that, we have to complicate it.

We have to call it an “ancestral” this… I think, because I work in an engineering area, and it’s like you’ve got to add value somehow, so if you can give fancy names and you can build products, then you’re adding value. It’s kind of funny.

Jill: Well, you’ve got to justify your PhD, man. Ultimately, a lot of this epigenetics mayhem that’s contributing to the autism epidemic, I think we’re going to get there. I think we will realize that this isn’t a question of evolutionary biology, and these people know. They are damn smart, and they know that evolutionary biology is driven by these very vulnerable, tiny molecular mechanisms, and that these novel, synthetic chemicals are wreaking havoc on this process, so they are not stupid. They know. They’re fixated on the molecular part instead of the big picture, but give ’em time. I am pretty confident that we will get there.

The big problem is, in terms of clinical work, there’s no money to be made in having your clients eat Paleo-ish diet, and there’s much more money to be made by giving them Clomid and doing a $20,000 round of IVF or whatever. That’s just the way it is. They have an inherent conflict of interest. So people should, if they want to get fertility help or if they want to take SSRIs, they really have to beware of what the real dangers are, and that will help them make the decisions.

Jonathan: In addition to having you on the show, because I so admire your work and your passion and the mission and drive you have to help others, I think this is such a great example of about how this SANE lifestyle and proper nutrition, proper sleep and proper exercise is about so much more than what the scale says. That’s so freeing though; once we understand how deeply and for generations, if for no other reason, do this for your grandkids. Think about that.

Do this for your grand kids. You can leave a legacy just by eating food, and a positive legacy, and you can leave a negative legacy if you don’t give your body the nutrition it needs. If that’s not motivating, Jill, I can’t imagine what is.

Jill: Well, people are motivated by fitting into their size six jeans or whatever, and that’s fine. That certainly motivated me when I got off sugar, but oh my God, the downstream effects of eating fake food can be catastrophic. It’s not just about aesthetics, people. This is serious, serious stuff. I do want to say just one more thing, because I have a feeling your listeners might be like, “Why does this weird lady have two autistic kids? She just went over all these causes.”

Do I know why I have autistic kids? I want to address that because [Unintelligible 0:41:10]. So my kids, I am an anti-pharmaceutical person. I hardly even take Advil when I have a headache. I just don’t take drugs. I had no problems with fertility. My gestations were normal. My childbirths were normal. My kids were normal. They have no genetic defects. I don’t have any autism in my family or any mental illness in my family or my husband’s family. Everything was normal, so why in the world would my kids be so very, very disabled? One is nonverbal, the other is partially verbal but still quite nonfunctional. They’re both beautiful, by the way. Why did this happen, Jonathan? Behind which door is the answer to my personal mystery? And the craziest thing that happened about two years ago is that I obtained my own prenatal record. I was born in 1965. I’m an old lady compared to you, Jonathan, and I am the only person on the planet, apparently, who was ever seen her own prenatal records.

This was a crazy fluke that I got these things. It was just a miracle. I have no other way to explain it. It was an absolute miracle. I got this prenatal record, never having known that I was ever exposed to anything. No one assumes that they were exposed to anything in utero. Well, it turns out that I had been very heavily exposed to a variety of synthetic hormone drugs, and those were intended, again, for the prevention of miscarriage. They didn’t actually work, but that’s what they did in the crazy 60s, and this is what the doctors did.

I want to say, for the record, I don’t blame my mother in any way, shape or form. She was one of millions of women who was given crazy drugs in that period, and as today, women did as they were told. If the doctor said it was safe, you did it, so this was very innocently done. I don’t feel like I’m dragging a skeleton out of the closet. This stuff was widespread and really normal for the time, so what probably happened was those drugs interfered with the programming of my developing eggs, and so my eggs have what’s probably called these epigenetic impairments, which led to the abnormalities in my children. So yeah, it’s crazy, totally.

I could spend three hours going over the story about how we all pieced this together, it’s the craziest thing ever, but that’s my personal story, and the only reason I am different from any other autism parent is the miracle of my obtaining my records. If I didn’t know, none of this would have come to light, and I am just this wacky story. That’s my story, and I do want to say I do have my own personal blog.

If people want to learn more about pharmaceuticals and epigenetics and autism, it’s called prenatalexposures.blogspot.com and there, you will see my rantings on this subject, but extraordinarily useful ranting. I think I have an e-mail address on there if anybody has any questions. Everyone is now freaking out, “What in the world was I exposed to in utero, my God?”

Jonathan: Well, Jill, and the other thing I want to call out here and another reason I wanted to have you on the show, is truly you are being the change you want to see in the world. One of my favorite quotes from Gandhi ever, and you are being that change. I say that on multiple levels.

We’ve even talked about the nutritional components here, and Jill, we didn’t focus it in this episode, folks, but she kicked sugar addiction, and she has done amazing work around sugar addiction and providing awesome tools to help end that. She truly is attacking this from all angles and with love in her heart. If you want to learn more about that aspect of her life, you can certainly check her out at jillescher.com. She’s got her book up there. Proceeds are going to charity. Truly, Jill, I salute you for what you’re doing. It’s quite amazing.

Jill: Well, thank you. Thank you for what you’re doing. It’s so important, and if we could only get everyone to listen to Jonathan Bailor, we’d get rid of many of the chronic diseases plaguing our country, so tell all your friends “Listen to Jonathan.”

Jonathan: While you’re telling them that, please tell them to also check out Jill’s work, because it is fantastic as well, and tell them too that we can all be the change we want to see in the world, and again, I think that the more reasons we can give ourselves to make choices which in our society, may not be the easiest choices to make, we can be motivated by the size of our jeans, but we can add to that list of motivation the lives of our children and the lives of our grandchildren as well. Jill, that’s why I just wanted to have you on the show, one of many reasons, and I just think it’s a profound message. Thank you so much.

This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Jill Escher. Jill is a businessperson, active community volunteer, autism philanthropist, former lawyer, former sugar addict, author of Farewell, Club Perma-Chub, founder of EndSugarAddiction.com, and is here to discuss the connection between eating and autism.

Farewell, Club Perma-Chub: A Sugar Addict’s Guide to Easy Weight Loss