Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Back from the dead

Well not literally dead, but in a bad state and going downhill fast.

This is the story of how Dr Terry Wahls went from a fit and active parent and academic to someone unable to sit up or rest without being in a specially padded recliner.  She had relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and the standard treatment wasn't working.

Today she is back and now cycles many miles without difficulty.

How did she do it?

Terry is a medical doctor, practising and teaching at a medical school in the USA.  She knew how to dig into research on MS and ways of treating it.  After 7 years she found Functional Medicine, an organisation which helps doctors take better care of complex chronic diseases.  After taking nutritional supplements and finding some improvement in her condition, Terry began to consider how to derive the same nutrients from her food intake.

Her research and experimentation led to the Wahls diet, which can be summarised as:

1  Eat 3 cups of greens, 3 cups of sulphur rich vegetables, 3 cups of colourful fruit and vegetables, fats from food (seafood, grass fed meat, game, wild fish, organ meat, flaxseed, walnuts)

2  Avoid gluten and dairy (to prevent allergies)

3  Find high quality food (organic, locally grown or your own produce)

The focus of her efforts was to keep her mitochondria in good condition.  These are the the oval shaped sub units of human cells, which are known as the 'power plants' of the cell.  They supply energy to the cell in the form of adenosine triphosphate as well as playing an important part in signaling and the growth and life cycle of the cell and the aging process.

One of the difficulties that many enthusiasts have is in convincing people that their findings have value.  Dr Richard Bernstein was dismissed when he tried to get his results published in medical journals, because it was 'just anecdotal evidence' of improving health and minimising symptoms of diabetes.  He studied for a medical degree so that he could publish and treat others who deteriorated on the standard diet and lifestyle recommended by government and diabetes associations.

As a practising doctor and university lecturer, Dr Terry Wahls is not so easily dismissed.  Watch her TED talk and make up your own mind.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Flat Earth 4

I was wrong.  There are small signs that some people are beginning to see sense.

Dr Oz has invited Dr William Davis on his show as a guest and treated him respectfully in discussing the negative effects of wheat on health.  He has also discussed cholesterol truths with Jonny Bowden in a recent programme.

More research results are being published about the effects of insulin in fat accumulation and obesity in both insulin sensitive and resistant individuals, though there isn't universal agreement on what these mean.

Today I read that an endocrinology professor at John Hopkins Medical School has challenged the lipid hypothesis using exerpts from 'Supersize me' and 'Fat Head' films to stimulate debate amongst his students.

I imagined that medical students at a prestigious medical school would participate in this discussion with energy and enthusiasm.  Apparently not.  Most students started to leave and muttered disapproval as they did so.

Perhaps 'Invasion of the body snatchers' has come true.  Maybe mass indocrination from an early age has worked and students of higher education are no longer interested in seeking truth or engaging in science, just received opinion.


Friday, 14 December 2012


OUBS B822 is no more

Here's part of the message from the Supreme Leader, David Mayle:

'OK, the final presentation has now ended, with just re-sits and deferrals to wrap up in May13, so while we can all still remember what the fuss was about it seems sensible to organise the wake.

In a nod to workloads and 'organisational forms', we're out-sourcing this to a colleague, Bill Naylor...

Stage one is to build the database of invitees. I have a 'Friends of B822' spreadsheet which I maintained religiously up until maybe 8 years ago, but these contact details – even if still current – are not mine to disseminate. The OU could of course (OK; 'probably') provide names of both CourseTutors and ResiTutors, but they too would not issue them – for all the usual reasons.

The solution is to go viral, and this eMail is a start (I'm pasting all sorts of eMail addresses into the bcc field, so you shouldn't get to see other folks' details, just your own; I'll probably have to send out a few, 'cos I suspect spam filters use the number of recipients as an indicator). I'll also be comparing the emergent list with my own records so that we can check for completeness.....'

(Someone video taped this from their tv, methinks.  Poor quality, but hits the spot.)

Outbreak of sanity at the EU

I've been listening to a radio consumer programme, which criticises new EU regulations on food labelling.  Health claims on food labels are now strictly controlled.   For example 'gut healthy probiotics' must now be labelled 'contains micro organisms'.

Labels may not claim that fruit and vegetables are part of a heart healthy diet, for example.


Because no cause-effect relationship has been established.

In spite of Western governments misinformation over saturated fats and 'healthy whole grains' and skewing of research statistics, the EU Commission has decided to let science take the lead.

A £2 billion 'healthy food' UK industry is threatened.

Some concern has been expressed that high sugar breakfast cereals with added vitamins may get an easier ride than other 'healthier' foods.

Why is this man smiling?  What is he thinking?

Tom Naughton says:  "I told you so."

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Leaving toilet seat up kills

A new study confirms the damage to health caused by leaving the toilet seat up.  Women have long complained about this behaviour by men, but scientists have now confirmed the ominous consequences.

A team at the prestigious Aardvark Medical School carried out a 3 month research project to test anecdotal evidence about toilet seat effects on heart health.  Professor Manteaublanc explained that previous studies were marred by excessively broad parameters.  "We excluded people who usually take a dump in the woods and those with chronic heart disease.  Our 30 test subjects were 50/50 male female and a range of ages."  His colleague Dr. Brad Huffenpuffer pointed to studies that failed to monitor people adequately.  "Unless you confine people to a closed research facility, it can be difficult to monitor behaviour 24/7.  We overcame this by using undergraduate students on a rotating schedule to monitor each subject continuously."

Results showed that far fewer female subjects left the toilet seat up.  A similar percentage of women in the study suffered heart attacks, indicating a strong correlation between seats up and myocardial infarction.

Women who suffered heart attacks during the study typically visited the toilet after a deep sleep at about 3 or 4am and failed to lower the seat to the healthy position.

Undergraduate participant tester, Bo Lurker, reported that heart attacks were more dramatic and noisy than he realised from tv and film.  "I wanted to make sure I documented everything, so I walked up alongside my subjects to check their activities, especially when they were spending a long time taking a leak or combining it with vigorous exercise.  The guys would shout and swear, pushing me away as they grabbed their chest and staggered around the bathroom."

Fellow student, Blondina Einstein, agreed.  I thought women didn't have heart attacks much and mostly took time to faint quietly.  In this study my subjects would pad to the bathroom at about 3am looking half asleep.  I'd stand in the corner and then move closer to check their behaviour.  These women would scream, stagger and push me away before falling to the floor in convulsions.  In all cases they hadn't put the seat down, which proved conclusively the danger of keeping the seat up.

Manteaublanc and Huffenpuffer undertook the research to stem the growing tide of sloppy ideas about heart health.  Dr Malcolm Kendrick's ludicrous assertions about stress and lipids and quack journalism by former physicist Gary Taubes were two of many who are spreading dangerous misinformation, according to the research team.

"We are confident that our work makes a significant contribution to the body of work, building on our previous studies of heart healthy margarine and the preventive effects of statins.  We can confidently recommend the elimination of fats (especially saturated) from the diet, routine statin supplementation to water fluoridation and automatic toilet seat closure devices as the route to heart health.  It goes without saying that  the diet should be built on healthy whole grains with 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day."

PS  I'm getting a lot of web traffic to my blog for this article.  I suspect that some readers may have missed the point.  The aim is to spoof popular science journalism, which blurs the distinction between correlations and cause effect relationships (eg when it's hot, people wear fewer clothes - versus - walking around semi-naked causes the sun to shine and raise the temperature.)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Chess TV

How do you make money with a patent diet and lifestyle with accompanying books?

If you're Dr Mehmet Oz, you write a book and appear on the Oprah Winfrey show, wearing your surgeon suit to emphasise your medical credentials.

It helps if you recommend a universal, simple formula such as healthy whole grains and lots of fruit.  You build a following and get your own tv show.  If Oprah Winfrey fails to lose weight and maintain a healthier state, the audience doesn't notice.

Once you have your own show, it's important to differentiate yourself.  One of the ways to do this is to junk people with contrasting views.

How do you junk opponents?

It's your show.  You control the format and the visual aids.  Invited guests have little option but to comply with your script.  In the case of Gary Taubes, Dr Oz parodied his low carb high fat diet and offered a comparison between diets without allowing Taubes to present his own meal choice.  Oz showed a plate of pork scratchings and implied that Taubes ate those, rather than his usual steak and salad preference.

In the media game of chess, Dr Oz has cornered Taubes' king and forced him to resign.

Make sure the videos stay on your website, so they can be buried if public opinion and Department of Health guidelines change.

How do you maintain your high profile position?

Dr Oz invites popular guests who are prominent in the media.  Their fame reflects on him.  One recent guest was Dr William Davis, a cardiologist who now focuses exclusively on treating heart disease through diet and lifestyle changes to prevent the need for medication and surgery.  He has a 'Track your Plaque' programme which achieves excellent results.  One regular comment from readers and patients was that wheat seemed to be the primary cause of health problems and the key to health improvements from his diet.  At first Dr Davis dismissed it, but then carried out a blog survey which seemed to confirm the idea.  He then researched modern wheat and wrote a book about his findings, starting a new 'Wheat Belly' blog to accompany it.  The book has been a great success and Dr Davis continues to give generously of his time and information, whether people read the book or not.

One example is his recent 'Quick and Dirty' summary of the guidelines in a blog post.

Dr Oz invited him on the show, despite the fact that Dr Davis challenges his 'lots of fruit and healthy wholegrains' diet advice.

He introduced Dr Davis as the author of a book that has been on the best seller list for 6 months.  As a practising cardiologist, it's difficult for Dr Oz to challlenge Dr Davis on the science and patient results.  Oz has previously stated he knows that a high fat diet causes heart disease, because he's up to his elbows inside people's chests daily and sees the fat. (No need for scientific experiment to PROVE a cause-effect relationship.  Dr Oz KNOWS the truth.)

Dr Oz cannot junk Dr Davis, who has a 6 month track record of pulling in the punters as well as lots of personal testimonies from patients/readers to support the efficacy of his guidelines. Oz would be rash to trash the author and risk losing that reader base and some of his own as viewers start to lose faith in him.

What can he do?

Dr Oz has no option but to embrace the new ideas.  He can attempt to save face by setting up some visual aids and sliding in 'as we've covered in previous episodes' comments, giving the impression that he thought of the ideas and understands the role of simple sugars and insulin in the creation of fat.

Oz is running to catch up and looking foolish as the central plank of his diet has been burned.

Check mate to Dr William Davis.