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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
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
Giant Puff Ball with Garlic and Rosemary (21/Jun/17) - 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
Low fat (but not full fat) dairy associated with increased risk of Parkinson’s disease (10/Jun/17) - A new study gets me considering the role of diet and uric acid in Parkinson's disease. Yet again full fat dairy comes out on top. Continue reading
THINKING ALOUD: SHORT POSTS

IN THE NEWS
May News Round-Up - Cancer & sugar; Bone broth for skin; Tree nuts, not peanuts; Cinnamon for fat reduction; Pasta sales down; Cheese is good; More protein for elderly; Cauliflower recipes Continue reading
Gluten-free diet MAY be unhealthy and MAY increase risk of heart attack (or not) - Fake news; alternative facts; plus a dose of healthy skepticism. We take a look behind the recent gluten headlines. Continue reading
NUTRITION & HEALTH
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
Gary Taubes on American Heart Association confirmation bias (21/Jun/17) - Gary Taubs provides some insight into the apparent intransigence of public health authorities when it comes to diet and heart disease. Continue reading
Low fat (but not full fat) dairy associated with increased risk of Parkinson’s disease (10/Jun/17) - A new study gets me considering the role of diet and uric acid in Parkinson's disease. Yet again full fat dairy comes out on top. Continue reading
MOST POPULAR POSTS
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EVOLUTION & DIET
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
The Waterside Ape on BBC Radio 4 - Listen Again: an excellent introduction into controversial theory that humans evolved in riverside / shoreline environments. 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
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
The three wise herbalists brought… Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh - Let's take a look at three herbs brought from the East, valued for their broad therapeutic use. Continue reading
LATEST RECIPES
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
Keto Bounty Bars - Coconut filled chocolate sweet-meats that are suitable for ketogenic diets. 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

Even in the land of barbies and beer vegetarians DON’T live longer

A new study from Australia finds yet again that vegetarians don’t live longer than meat eaters.

We previously reported on a 2015 paper examining mortality among vegetarians in the UK based on data from the large Oxford EPIC study, which found no evidence for reduced mortality compared to the general meat eating population. [see our post UK vegetarians DON’T live longer than meat eaters study finds]

Now a similar analysis from the Australian 45 and Up Study has come to the same conclusions: there is no significant difference in all-cause mortality between vegetarians, semi vegetarians, pescatarians and regular meat eaters in Australia.

The 45 and Up Study has data on more than 250,000 men and women aged 45 and over from New South Wales (an incredible 10% of the population!), who have been studied since their enrolment in 2006. Baseline dietary questionnaires were recorded along with participants’ ongoing medical records.

In this new paper, published in Preventative Medicine in April 2017, a team from Sydney University grouped participants as follows: vegetarians (eating no meat or fish, n=1523), semi-vegtarians (meat or fish less than once per week, n=2015), pescatarians (no meat, but fish consumed at least once per week, n=1122) and regular meat eaters (eating meat or fish at least once per week, n=238,436). Mortality from all causes was then compared between groups.

The data was corrected for a number of confounders including sex and age group, education level, marital status, remoteness, country of birth, smoking status, physical activity and alcohol category, cancer, hypertension and cardiovascular and metabolic disease.

Here are the results in a cute little histogram created by yours truly.

(If you think you have seen this before, you are probably remembering the similar one from our 2016 post about UK vegetarians which I will include at the end of this post for comparison)

At first glance the Aussie graph seems to suggest that vegetarian and semi-vegetarian diets increased mortality by 10 – 15% compared to regular meat eaters, whilst eating a pescatarian diet seemed to reduce mortality by 20% but take a look at the error bars: The uncertainty means that the apparent differences are non-significant. That said, the UK study also found the highest (non significant) mortality among the vegans, and the lowest (also non significant) mortality among the fish eaters.

The large uncertainties arise from the relatively small populations in these categories. Australia is famous for its meat eating and barbies; strict vegetarians only make up 0.6% of the population, and this study is only identifying those that have died since 2006. Small numbers increase the probability that any variation is due to chance alone, leading to wide error bars. Presumably, there were too few vegans to tease out any relevant data on this sub-category.

Playing around with the confounders (also known as modelling) failed to reveal any significant differences between the vegetarian and regular meat diets whatever was left in or taken out. The absence of a benefit is all the more remarkable as the vegetarian groups were all associated with healthier lifestyle factors – lower alcohol consumption, smoking etc – than were the regular meat eaters. Which kind of implies that vegetarianism might be sufficiently unhealthy to negate the benefits of their healthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking and drinking less! But that can be no more than a hypothesis for now, given the differences were non-significant.

On the other hand, the fish diet, did reach significance in some of the modelling scenarios if not in the final fully-adjusted analysis, leading the authors to say this is perhaps not unexpected, pointing to a recent meta-analysis (Zheng et al., 2012) which concluded “The dose–response analysis indicated that every 15 g/d increment of fish intake decreased the risk of CHD mortality by 6 %”

Despite having demonstrated the null hypothesis, we can draw a few conclusions from this paper in relation to all cause mortality:

  • There was no evidence of benefit to adopting a vegetarian diet.
  • There was no evidence of harm from eating meat.
  • There was some evidence of benefit of eating fish.

The authors point out that earlier studies which reported a benefit on all cause mortality from vegetarian diets had a number of potential weaknesses: Some were based on very specialised populations where there were many other factors at play (Seventh day Adventists). Such populations do not reflect vegetarianism among the general population. Another problem is that vegetarianism is associated with a large number of healthy lifestyle choices which confound the analysis. They also point out that vegetarian diets vary considerably between study populations, and in some cases apparent benefits might be attributable to an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption, for example, rather than a reduction in meat eating. They also suggest that vegetarian diets may have become less healthy in recent years with an increase in sugar, soy products and refined carbs.

So if you have been worried in the past about the meat vs vegetarian thing, just keep calm and…

Footnote

For comparison, here are the Aussie and UK findings side by side:

  1. Gary Taubes on American Heart Association confirmation bias Leave a reply
  2. Giant Puff Ball with Garlic and Rosemary 7 Replies
  3. Low fat (but not full fat) dairy associated with increased risk of Parkinson’s disease Leave a reply
  4. May News Round-Up Leave a reply
  5. Amazing results challenge guidelines in new study Leave a reply
  6. Know your fats (infographic) 2 Replies
  7. Gluten-free diet MAY be unhealthy and MAY increase risk of heart attack (or not) 1 Reply