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Welcome! My blog now contains over 200 articles and recipes. To help you find them more easily I’ve given the front page a bit of a refresh and created some attractive topic archive pages which you can access from the ‘By Topic’ menu in the black bar above or by clicking on the icons above. Have fun exploring!
LATEST ARTICLES
Thinking of going vegan or avoiding red meat? Read this first… (19/Aug/17) - This article was originally going to be part of the July 2017 News Round-Up, but there were so many news items about veganism that month that I decided to give it it’s own post and include more commentary. Vegan diets … Continue reading
Health Hack #2: Starters to improve digestion (9/Aug/17) - Starting a meal with bitter and sour foods will stimulate digestive juices, improve appetite and reduce over-eating. Here are some delicious ideas to try. Continue reading
Home-grown ratatouille (5/Aug/17) - Whether you grow your own ingredients or not (we did), this is a must-try summer dish: a vibrant, garlicky stew of mediterranean vegetables dripping with extra virgin olive oil. Continue reading
THINKING ALOUD: SHORT POSTS

IN THE NEWS
Thinking of going vegan or avoiding red meat? Read this first… - This article was originally going to be part of the July 2017 News Round-Up, but there were so many news items about veganism that month that I decided to give it it’s own post and include more commentary. Vegan diets … Continue reading
JULY 2017 MEGA News Round-Up - Let food be thy medicine; Grow your own microbiome; Cod: back on the menu, then off again; Bog butter - it's a thing; Bring back the bear, wolf and lynx. or not; Plus a bit o' bitter news. Continue reading
NUTRITION & HEALTH
How can bitter foods be good for us when they taste so bad? – Resolving the paradox (28/Jul/17) - Keir Watson presents his carefully argued hypothesis based on evolutionary considerations of hunter-gatherer feast-famine cycles, that explains why bitter foods stimulate cellular functions essential for health. Continue reading
The bitter truth is sweeter than we thought (23/Jul/17) - Cocktail bitters started out as Victorian patent medicines, yet their health credentials are being confirmed as researchers discover that bitter taste receptors affect cells throughout the body. Continue reading
Even in the land of barbies and beer vegetarians DON’T live longer (25/Jun/17) - A second big study finds no all-cause mortality benefit of vegetarian diets, among the general population. Continue reading
MOST POPULAR POSTS
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EVOLUTION & DIET
How can bitter foods be good for us when they taste so bad? – Resolving the paradox - Keir Watson presents his carefully argued hypothesis based on evolutionary considerations of hunter-gatherer feast-famine cycles, that explains why bitter foods stimulate cellular functions essential for health. Continue reading
Paleo veggies (video and infographic) - Spoiler Alert! The Paleo diet included veggies. Recent evidence confirms the obvious: our hunter gatherer ancestors both hunted AND gathered. Continue reading
Neanderthal Herbal Medicine - Recent evidence has uncovered the use of herbal medicines amongst our closest evolutionary cousin. We look at the therepeutic properties of these herbs. Continue reading
UNDERSTANDING GLUTEN
THE ENVIRONMENT AND FOOD PRODUCTION
Study: dairy, not plant based diets is the best way to feed the planet - New Zealand farm analysis finds that mixed dairy/cropping systems feed the greatest number of people. Protein considerations prove pivotal. Continue reading
Why home-grown food is up to ten times better than arable crops - Study shows that UK allotments and gardens are more productive and fertile than farmland. Continue reading
Safari in deepest Sussex – now you can experience the Knepp re-wilding project for yourself! - From glamping in a sepherd's hut to night safaris led by bat experts - Knepp estate now offers many ways to experience the UK's top re-wilding success story. Continue reading
Featured videos: the environmental argument for pasture raised meat
HERBAL MEDICINE
The bitter truth is sweeter than we thought - Cocktail bitters started out as Victorian patent medicines, yet their health credentials are being confirmed as researchers discover that bitter taste receptors affect cells throughout the body. Continue reading
Neanderthal Herbal Medicine - Recent evidence has uncovered the use of herbal medicines amongst our closest evolutionary cousin. We look at the therepeutic properties of these herbs. Continue reading
Aloe vera plants – why every home should have one - Aloe vera is the number one treatment for first and second degree burns. Easy to grow - a must have plant for every home. Continue reading
LATEST RECIPES
Home-grown ratatouille - Whether you grow your own ingredients or not (we did), this is a must-try summer dish: a vibrant, garlicky stew of mediterranean vegetables dripping with extra virgin olive oil. Continue reading
Giant Puff Ball with Garlic and Rosemary - Giant Puff Balls have been spotted in the wild. We caught one and cooked it in true hunter gatherer style. Here's how... Continue reading
Oxtail Caserole, country style - A simple but classic dish making use of some of those 'odd bits' that make nose to tail eating so easy. Continue reading
My Grain-Free Christmas Dinner - Our traditional Christmas dinner worked exceptionally well this year, and included roast turkey with all the trimmings. Continue reading
Grain-Free Christmas Pudding - It's the traditional pud gone paleo. Soaked fruit, almonds and honey make this rich Christmas bomb go with a bang. Continue reading
More Recipes
Related post: Eating well needn’t cost a fortune
PHOTOTHERAPY: LIGHT AND HEALTH
Red light phototherapy (3/3): Hair regrowth, Pain reduction, Wound healing and Practical applications - In part 3 we look at NASAs original work on red light and pain reduction, recent discoveries about wound healing, and finish with a range of simple things you can do to benefit from red-light at home. Continue reading
Red light phototherapy (2/3): Brain, Muscles and Eyes - Red light stimulates mitochondrial function. We look at the accumulating evidence that phototherapy can improve brain function in Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and Parkinson's. Plus red light enhances muscle endurance and a has major role in eye health. Continue reading
Red light phototherapy (1/3): The Skin - Research is uncovering a huge range of beneficial effects of red light. In part 1 I look at the remarkable protective effects of red light on the skin. Continue reading
WEST SUSSEX HISTORY OF MEDICINE SOCIETY LECTURES
Afifah Is the official blogger for WSHoMSoc which meets in the Autumn at St Richard’s Hospital Chichester
WSHOMS Nov 5th 2016 - 1) How Graylingwell Hospital near Chichester West Sussex served war wounded during WW1 2) Why Malta was known as the 'Hospital Island' Continue reading
WSHOMS Dec 5th 2015 - (1) The incredible history of plastic and cosmetic surgery that was initially mastered in ancient India (2) Toulouse Lautrec and his Muse, Jane Avril Continue reading
FEATURED VIDEO FROM OUR SEMINAR
RECOMMENDED POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVE
Vitamin A from animal sources – more good news - Studies show vitamin A may prevent obesity, diabetes, and protect the heart - but Beta-carotene may counteract vitamin A health benefits. Continue reading
Is Low-Carb really Normo-Carb? - Looking at the effects of high and low-carb diets on glucose, insulin and free fatty acids suggests low carb diets are normal. Continue reading
New study vindicates Weston A Price - Scientists identify Price's 'Displacing Foods of Commerce' as ideal for inducing full-blown metabolic syndrome in rats. Continue reading
Calorie Counting vs Meal Timing - Why a high protein breakfast might work better than calorie counting. Continue reading
Keto Pancakes - One of our most popular recipes. Makes low-carb breakfasts a doddle. Continue reading

Recent Posts

Thinking of going vegan or avoiding red meat? Read this first…

Influential celebrity promotion is fuelling a rise in vegan diets, but can this ideologically driven movement really be healthy? Above: Keeping up with the Kardashians star Kylie Jenner, and footballer Jermain Defoe, both champion the vegan diet. Perhaps they should stick to what they’re good at.

This article was originally going to be part of the July 2017 News Round-Up, but there were so many news items about veganism that month that I decided to give it it’s own post and include more commentary.

Vegan diets are suddenly being promoted by every celebrity and her dog. Another major recruiting factor is a sensational documentary out on Netflix “What the Health” which is pumping the anti-meat message hard. Fortunately, Vox (Jul 26th) takes the film’s twisted message to task and untangles the facts brilliantly (Thank you Julia Belluz for doing such a good job – now I don’t have to!) “Debunking What the Health, the buzzy new documentary that wants you to be vegan” Julia Belluz, Vox – Highly recommended. Others are challenging the films objectivity too:

“films like this are sensationalised pieces of idealism, minus the practical strategies”

Susie Burrell, Nutritionist, news.com.au (Jul 26th)

Closer to home, a UK nutrition professor caused an angry twitter storm for her comments on live TV. “It’s really hard work to make a vegan diet healthy,” said Sophie Medlin, RD, a lecturer in nutrition and dietetics at King’s College in London, during a BBC segment on the rise of veganism. (Health.com Jul 27th)

“You have to think very carefully about what you’re eating all the time. I have never recommended any of my patients follow a vegan diet; I can’t see myself ever changing that. It’s very complicated to make sure your diet is safe and gives you all the nutrition you need.”

I couldn’t agree more, and find it a little surprising that other nutritionists took issue with this statement (for example, Abby Langer in Flare, July 27th). After all, there is no reason to think that a vegan diet is healthier per-se, unless you buy into the kind of pseudo scientific propaganda portrayed in What the Health. Unfortunately most vegans do.

Perhaps we should look to India – a country with a tradition of vegetarianism – to see what is happening there. This month, the Indian Dietetics Association has warned that vegetarian diets are failing to meet protein requirements for no less than 90% of the population! (India TV, Jul 19th).

“Proteins from different sources complement each other. Even with a ratio of 5:1 cereals and pulses combination, the protein quality in terms of digestibility and bio-availability is only around 65 per cent when compared to milk protein,”

B. Sesikeran, pathologist,,India TV, Jul 19th

Another Indian news outlet, ran the story of a vegetarian who returned to meat eating after 6 years (The Times of India, Jul 7th), using bone broth and chicken to correct deficiencies in B12, calcium and Vitamin D.

Back in June this year, newspapers ran a story about a remote Indian tribe that had been studied for two years. Despite having no access to junk food, living a very active lifestyle, and consuming a vegetarian diet they suffered from high blood pressure. (Daily Mail, Jun 30th) Contrast that with the report in March, about an Amazonian tribe that had the healthiest cardiovascular system ever studied, yet their diet contains 14% animal protein. (Treehugger.com, Mar 27th). With all of this evidence stacking up against it, the vegan theory of health has got some explaining to do.

Stories like these support Sophie Medlins statement that vegan diets are hard to get right. However, that does not deter the vegan adherents who took to twitter to condemn her, and seem not be interested in the facts about nutrition. Fundamentally, the raison d’être of veganism is an absolute belief in animal rights, which is an ethical or political ideology first, and merely co-opts nutrition as an attempt at justification. Vegan dogma comes with a kind of spiritual superiority, as anyone will tell you who has met a vegan proselytiser (and let’s be honest, have you met a vegan who isn’t one?)

Such ideological thinking can lead to even more extreme positions such as a fruitarian diets in which only fruit is eaten. Such diets lead to many health problems, including reduced growth, mineral and vitamin deficiencies, dental erosion, pancreatic and kidney problems, mental instability and diabetes. (See Dr Axe, Fruitarian Diet: Are All-Fruit Diets Dangerous to Your Health?) One blogger, in The Metro (Jul 24th) warns how her obsession with a semi-raw food /  fruitarian / vegan diet wrecked her health. She is now sounding the warnings about the fanatical aspects of veganism.

Vegan junk food

As far as health goes it’s possible to eat junk whichever dietary path you choose. So, as The Independent (Jul 17th) reported this month, a recent study that found that some vegetarian diets can increase the risk of heart disease, especially if they are high in sugar, crisps, chips, alcohol and refined carbs – all of which are plant based, and thus ostensibly vegan.

Interestingly, in this analysis of the Nurses Health Study data, even those who ate a significant proportion of their diet from the ‘vegetarian’ category also ate meat regularly, so they were not vegetarian in the accepted sense of the term, even though these data are used by some to promote such a diet pattern.

Meanwhile scientists in the UK are recommending women eat more, not less, red meat to prevent iron deficiency anaemia. This comes on the back of the latest UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey which found that more than a quarter of women (27%) aged 19 to 64 don’t get enough iron. To make things worse this vulnerable group is the one most likely to have reduced their meat consumption, and the one most likely to be influenced by celebrity endorsements for the vegan lifestyle. The issues around this are laid out very well in Net Doctor, Jul 11th.

Vegan diets are not better for the planet

Vegan politics finds much support from the Greens: “BUT A VEGAN DIET IS MORE SUSTAINABLE FOR THE PLANET?” sympathisers cry in desperation, as they wave their fists at meat eaters.

Well, no. Not according to a new study which found that the carrying capacity—the size of the population that can be supported indefinitely by the resources of an ecosystem—for the vegan diet is lower than both versions of a vegetarian diets (dairy/egg) and two out of the four omnivorous diets they studied. (Health Freedom Alliance, Jul 26th), because it failed to use areas of land that are only suitable for rearing animals and not crops.

For more on this topic: See our posts showing that neither UK nor Australian vegetarians actually live longer, and that dairy is the most sustainable farming system in temperate countries, yes really!

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  1. Health Hack #2: Starters to improve digestion Leave a reply
  2. Home-grown ratatouille Leave a reply
  3. JULY 2017 MEGA News Round-Up 2 Replies
  4. How can bitter foods be good for us when they taste so bad? – Resolving the paradox Leave a reply
  5. The bitter truth is sweeter than we thought Leave a reply
  6. Health Hack #1: An alternative to fizzy drinks 3 Replies
  7. June 2017 News Round-Up Leave a reply