Yes, it’s True.  I usually go through my “work day” with what passes as a “daily think.”

Normally, it’s something that no one else seems to have looked into, so I begin to ask a lot of questions.

For example, since I had a hernia operation 12-days ago, that set of contemplation got me on the track of minimizing healing time and a “personal protocol to test” was developed (shared on the Peoplenomics side) and we will see how good/better or worse/bad my healing is compared with my surgeon’s 20+ years of doing such surgeries.

That’s how we evolve things like personal discovery and “what works” in real-life.

Fast-forward to Saturday’s breakfast.

Three (small) meat and cheese tacos with plenty of sauce, a couple of scrambled eggs, and a glass of omega-3 enhanced whole milk.

As I was enjoying this fine repast, an odd though wandered-by.

“I wonder is there is a link between  language on the one hand, and the  foods including spicing that certain cultures habitually use.

As I munched away, it became my “Saturday Think.”  Not sure what Sunday’s will be, but you get the idea.

I began by hitting the government PubMed website and started to look up various food and medical outcomes.  Among my “finds” to fuel thinking for the day:

To summarize the question, then:  Does the locally available food source determine (or predispose) people’s otherwise “free-choicing” in the formative stages of tribal language development?

See here:  We know that (as in stuttering) there is evolving data supporting a specific pathological speech function.  But, is the linguistic link a two-way street?  If so, how might we postulate it?

Well, take something like stuttering.  While the paper concluded “The results demonstrated that copper and thiamine had no measurable effect on the amount of stuttering (self and formal assessments) but there was a moderate, significant correlation between mood state and fluency.” that’s not to rule-out other, lower-level and pernicious foods and food-groups. Oh, and additives and preservatives and…well, you’re tracking, right?

While in a short-term study, any such effects might not be apparent, what would the data be (for these and other food-factors & nutrients) if we were to run a multi-generational longitudinal study?  What might we find?

Where are the Smart People?

God knows, this will be controversial thinking (which doesn’t bother us, at all) but are there certain locales where people can emerge who are Super-Smart?

In my Big Saturday Think, I came up with a handful of people who were at the high end of the IQ (Bell, normal, semi-Gaussian) distribution of “smart people.”

My friend Ehor, who’s (going from memory) of distant Ukrainian decent, is one of the brightest minds I know.  That got me to thinking about what might be going on as “food factors” in the area from, oh, Germany eastwards to the Russian frontier?

In my professional life, I have worked with a ton of Ukrainian and other eastern European programmers.  OMG – no such brains were available online for projects in the US and no one in Asia could hold a candle to lines of quality code.

So I started to roll back through the memorydex:

  • Nikola Tesla was born in Croatia in 1856.
  • Albert Einstein in the Kingdom of Württemberg in 1879.
  • Louis Pasteur was born Dole, France in 1822.  Quite near the middle of the eastern border of France.
  • Madam Currie was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1867.

A further research question begins to form:  Was there something about the food sources that run in a broad brush from roughly eastern Ukraine across the farmlands of eastern and central Europe that somehow “fed” remarkable insights?  And then, to what extent were these insights the result of dietary factors which might have run through the region?  Was it the farm-made yogurt, for example, that might somehow activate a deeper visualization capacity of the cerebral cortex?

Onto the reading list go several papers including Motivation for choice and healthiness perception of calorie-reduced dairy products. a cross-cultural study.

I then looked to American diets and pondered “inventive” locations:  Did they cluster?

  • Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio, in 1847.
  • The Wright Brothers were born Millville Indiana  (Wilbur) and Dayton, Ohio (Orville).  (1867 and 1871 respectively).
  • Ben Franklin was born in Boston in 1706.
  • Alexander Graham Bell was born in Scotland 1847.

Ohio?  There are other clusters:  Tim Berners Lee and Charles Babbage, both critical to the Internet and computers, were born  in London.

On the other hand, we can’t be too quick to jump directly to location or nutrition conclusions, since one paper ( Effect of environmental factors on intelligence quotient of children ) found “In the present study, we found that various environmental factors such as place of residence, physical exercise, family income, parents’ occupation and education influence the IQ of a child to a great extent. Hence, a child must be provided with an optimal environment to be able to develop to his/her full genetic potential.”

Family values breed…genius?

Which meant maybe the “big think” would need to examine parental factors in these areas.  Ah…more research!

And what about some of our favorite anomalous genius?  Edward Leedskalnin, who built the Coral Castle, for example, was born Latvia in 1887.  Again, in our broad brush region. Farmlands of Eastern Europe, a feedstock to Western greatness?

In no time at all, the Big Think was morphing into a Huge Think.  Yet, there seemed, at least intuitively,  to be something there:  People of great genius tend to have unique visualization powers.  So there must, logically, be “something there” that could be useful.

Here’s a paper ( Does traditional asian vegetables (ulam) consumption correlate with brain activity using fMRI? A study among aging adults from low-income households. ) that studied the intake of Asian vegetables (ulam): “Working memory and cognitive flexibility are supported by the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC)….”

And what it found was that “… high ulam consumption was related to a high intensity of brain activation in DLPFC; however, the elucidation of the neuroprotective properties of ulam have yet to be established from clinical trial studies.”  So whether ulam is “good” or “bad” is still open for additional research.

Having said that, however, we can now flip into Wikipedia and look up “ulam” which is found to be…

Ulam, a traditional salad produced from the fresh leaves, vegetables or fruits which can be eaten raw or after soaked in hot water eg Centella asiatica. It is typically eaten with sauces such as anchovies, cincalok or sambal. It is recognised as a popular vegetable dish in traditional villages.[citation needed]

Ulam can be eaten simply as it is such as cucumber, cabbage and longbean. Another type of ulam is traditional ulam, in which it is used more as an ingredient, such as in nasi ulam (ulam rice),[1] nasi kerabu (a type of bluish-coloured rice) and cooking with other vegetables. It also has its uses in Ayurvedic and traditional medicine, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.”

Does this give us any hints?  Cucumber, cabbage, and beans?

All of which range a bell:  Cabbage – like raw potatoes, my late grandmother who cooked in Odense, Denmark, for a minor noble, was absolutely resolute in her demand that we “eat our cabbage.”  Something there?

Well, here’s a site offering some actual data:

“China accounts for 32,800,000 tons of cabbage produced in the world.”  Japan and India are up there, too.

“Top cabbage producing nations in Europe are Russia (3,309,315 tons), Ukraine (1,922,400 tons), Poland (1,198,726 tons), and Romania (990,154 tons). The US accounts for 964,830 tons of the total world production. The US accounts for 964,830 tons of the total world production.”

“Oh, sure…whatever, Ure” you may be thinking, but let’s level the data field a bit, shall we?

  • Population of China:  1.38-BILLION people.
  • Population of Russia?  142-million *(CIA World Fact Book 2017)
  • Population Ukraine?  44-million (ibid on the cite)
  • Population of Poland?  38.5-million.
  • Population of Romania?  21.5 million.
  • Population of the USA? 323-million

Which we can use to ballpark estimated per capita consumption.

Our Big Think Conclusion

We never quite got around to answering the question of whether eating more Mexican food would help me pick up Spanish more easily.  But, based on the hints in the data, we do have a clever way to estimate national intelligence, engineering and math skills, and a personal regimen to both improve cerebral cortex function and visualization, which might even improve dreaming and fight mental decline while aging.  Because here’s the data:

The data points to an experiential correlation between cabbage consumption and intelligence.

Please carefully note which country is not only embroiled in pointless social media, but which also eats the least amount of cabbage.

Pass the taco, sauce, amigo?  Cabbage instead of lettuce, maybe?