The Hypocritic Oath

A Short History of Nutritional Science

Posted in Uncategorized by trinkwasser on February 25, 2010

An excellent series of papers by Kenneth J Carpenter

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

He takes the story from the 18th Century up to 1985. On the one hand it’s a pity he stopped there, on the other if he’d continued he would have needed another ten parts and still only have covered half the subject.

One major point that stands out is how often in previous history “science” has rushed blindly off down a blind alley and had to backtrack. The post-Keys low fat mania is not a new phenomenon.

They don’t necessarily guillotine “savants” any more but they can still make them lose their jobs (or try to, see an earlier post on Dr. Anna Dhalqvist.)

The leading German organic chemist of the time, Justus Liebig, now comes into the picture. He too had become interested in the subject of “animal chemistry,” and wrote that Dumas must be wrong because it was well known that pigs would fatten when fed on potatoes that were rich in starch, but contained only a negligible level of fat. This meant that animals must be able to convert carbohydrates to fat even though the conversion required “reduction” rather than oxidation.

That was around 1840. That knowledge appears to have gone (temporarily) missing 120 or so years later.

Here’s one I didn’t know, from 1910

Babcock challenged him to feed breeding heifers ingredients all from a single cereal grain, and to compare the result with a diet made up from mixed cereals.

Hart agreed and, with a group of colleagues, used sixteen 6-mo-old heifers and constructed three rations each based entirely on either corn, oat or wheat products, and balancing the proportions of ground grain, gluten and straw to obtain the same energy value and proximate analysis. A fourth ration was a mix of the other three. The trial was begun in 1906 and continued for two full reproductive periods; the results are summarized in Table 3 . The heifers receiving the all-wheat ration quickly lost condition and performed extremely badly, with none of their calves surviving and two of the cows also dying before the end of the trial. In contrast, the corn-fed heifers maintained their condition and had healthy, strong calves, with the results from the other treatments being intermediate

Results are here

There are obvious parallels with wheat-fed people.

It is interesting in view of the importance of their discoveries that McCollum’s young colleagues at Yale told him that he was foolish to accept a position in which he would be working in nutrition since, “the subject was already worked out, with nothing remaining to be discovered!”

This was in 1910, and in 1945 Oxford University likewise decided to disband its Nutrition group. Sadly typical of the attitudes of some still working in the field. “Now we know everything we can go home” – yet current dietary recommendations appear to be achieving seriously minor improvements in some individuals while being central in the “epidemics” of metabolic diseases such as obesity and cardiovascular disease, including Type 2, in the rest of us.

If You Are Squeamish Look Away Now

Posted in Uncategorized by trinkwasser on February 25, 2010

Whatever bug was offending my guts returned.

My FBG was 5.8 (106) and post breakfast 7.5 (135). Afternoon was 5.8 (106), the same again before dinner and still the same after my meal. Which proves that venison casserole with mushrooms and peppers and masses of purple sprouting broccoli is good stuff.

That night I generated enough gas to power a small town, and the following morning I took a dump so massive that by the time I’d finished I could see small climbing parties roped together ascending the foothills while tiny skiers were slaloming down from the peaks.

Finally that seems to have rid my body of the offending virus/bacteria, my BG dropped rapidly back to normal.

I checked my labs, which my excellent GP had printed out and dropped off for me when she visited my mother, and the bloodcounts looked slightly off – like the BG numbers indicative of an infection.

Despite this I STILL maintain that my health has been better than many others this winter, and significantly better than it used to was, despite my “unhealthy” diet. My immune system seems to catch the infections early and blat them before they become more than minorly irritating: this was an exception.

Since then I discovered yet another hospital not far away was closed to visitors due to Winter Vomiting Bug/norovirus, and a couple of neighbours were also afflicted. One had to take time off work which she almost never does.

21st Century Metabolism

Posted in Uncategorized by trinkwasser on February 10, 2010

Sometime in the last century, metabolic research went off on a wild goose chase following Ancel Keys.

What I call 21st Century research is actually returning to stuff that was known in the past (check out William Banting – no relation to the Banting that discovered insulin – and compare with Robert Atkins, for example).

Recent work has concentrated on the Eeeeevils of Saturated Fat and the benefits of Healthy Whole Grains, and burning off the excess carbs with high levels of cardio. Is it working? well look at the statistics for metabolic diseases, all related to insulin resistance.

21st Century Metabolism largely looks back to the diet and types of exercise we evolved to handle, and which worked for several millennia without causing “epidemics” of diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases and obesity, or the rising levels of “sports injury” (apparently even the Wii is resonsible for some injuries).

Everyone has their own specific take on the details, but the Big Picture is satisfyingly consistent: reduced carb input, especially avoiding grains and particularly wheat, avoidance of excessive Omega 6 seed oils, increase of Omega 3, preferably animal-based, and a decent balance between healthy saturated and monounsaturated fats, and replacement of that endless jogging with heavy lifting, preferably to failure, and high impact interval training, and more low level exercise like walking. (Best started with professional advice, except for the walking, to avoid joint and connective tissue problems, especially common in diabetes).

Both sides of this equation balance one another out and produce major improvements in health not only for ill people but already healthy ones. Even people who make 20th Century Metabolism work don’t do that well by comparison.

For a crash course in the concepts, I recently found an excellent site

The Metabolic Effect

which I thoroughly recommend.

That was their blog, here’s their website

and if you want to see if it works, check out Jill Coleman

As a taster, read this post

When I first read the Lyon Diet-Heart Study I thought it was an important piece of work which gave pretty unequivocal results, but I also wondered how much better it would work if they’d removed most of the grains, some of the fruit and added more healthy saturated fats.

Like many of my thoughts this was totally unoriginal, Staffan Lindeberg got there before me.

Not All Bad News

Posted in Uncategorized by trinkwasser on February 10, 2010

My brain is rebooting quite satisfactorily whenever the sun comes out. The trouble is it doesn’t STAY out: a few dull days and



Still, the neighbours’ snowdrops are coming out now and some of the churchyards are bursting into a carpet of white. I have a bunch of crocus corsicus in flower and some of the birds have started to sing again, including a skylark in the back field.

Thinking about it though, since I started controlling my BG I haven’t caught a cold. Well not a proper one, I get the odd snuffle, sneeze and cough and then it goes away without developing further, unlike what has been occurring with some of my friends and neghbours. Also I have avoided the flu for several years.

I did have some sort of digestive upset, it started with pains which appeared to be in my kidneys, first on the right and then worse on the left. Since I was due for tests my GP ran kidney function, and a PSA: both came back normal though the kidney numbers were a bit towards the lower end.

As usually happens, the culprit was not revealed until after I visited the doctor: I developed a pain in the left upper quadrant (unusual as most of my digestive symptoms occur on the right, where I had my cholecystectomy, the old fashioned kind where they open you up like a letterbox from navel to ribcage and delve in with both hands, which may have left some adhesions) which was followed by a case of Johnny Cash Disease (a burning ring of fire).

At that time one of the local hospitals was closed due to Winter Vomiting Virus. We went to the one that wasn’t closed but there’s no guarantee I didn’t pick something up while there.

I now suspect the pains were in the region of my kidneys. This seems to have cleared up now.

I suspect it was some kind of infection because my FBG went up for no apparent reason, and my post-breakfast numbers were also high, coming back to normal later in the day. This is often characteristic of an infection and sometimes occurs before any other noticeable symptoms.

I’m now halfway back on track, I’ve been walking a lot often carrying heavy shopping and going the long way round – and meeting other people doing exactly the same thing. Next jobs are to do some lifting with the boxes in the garage, and return to gardening.

Another significant thing which is new this year, since I started adding more healthy saturated fats like butter and especially cheese, is that my knuckles have survived even the prolonged cold period without drying out and cracking. I blame the better sources of fat and the contents including Vitamin D3 and probably K2 – this has been observed by many others.

Usually I get through between a tube and a tub of Lotil each winter healing the damn things up. This year I used it once – I got a kind of jagged paper cut, probably from ice when clearing snow off the car, which first became infected (I applied a couple of smears of antibiotic ointment) then refused to seal properly. I think I used the Lotil twice.

Would that everyone else had been so fortunate this winter, strangely after the weather improved was when everyone became ill.

My 105 year old neighbour was rushed into hospital after a fall, but fortunately the injury was fairly trivial, just to her scalp which produced a frightening amount of blood. BTDT, once I caught my head on the car’s tailgate – the cut was so small it didn’t even need a plaster, but the amount of blood that poured down my face made me look like I’d gone six rounds with a velociraptor. You wouldn’t believe that a scalp could contain more blood than the whole of the rest of the body, but so it appears.

My 83 year old neighbour with diabetes and leukemia was also rushed in with a kidney infection (hmmm, about the same time my kidneys were playing up), and a few other local characters have also been hospitalised.

Mostly they are in their eighties and nineties and previously active (there’s a BIG hint there, it’s well worth finding out what such people eat and do to maintain such good health for so long). Sadly a friend’s mother just died from cancer – she was younger than me. 😦

The snow’s back today but at least the sun is shining so I think I have the energy for another post.