Cholesterol and CVD – putting the risks into perspective

“Heart disease risk”, “raised cholesterol”, “Statins” – these six words are guaranteed to strike fear into almost anyone who has been unfortunate enough to be cursed by their local witch doctor wielding these hexed mantras. For years the public psyche has been hyper-sensitised to these terms through incessant media reporting and public health messages. Continue reading

My obituary for a saint

Yes, in my book she was a saint. Probably the only saint I have known personally. If that term implies selflessness, the abundant giving of time, effort, and resources for the purpose of loving God, and all His creatures, and following the instruction to ‘love thy neighbour…’ then indeed Priscilla was a saint. Equally, she was more than capable of stating clearly and firmly when others were woefully or wilfully mistaken

Priscilla Noble Mathews

I only knew Dr Priscilla Noble Mathews for the last ten or so of her 90 years of life, and I do not claim to be an expert on her character or life path. I wish here to acknowledge the extraordinary selflessness of this brilliant and dedicated woman. I personally sought her wisdom on various matters of medicine, ethics, current research and Christianity, amongst other things, and she sought mine on various matters of Herbal Medicine, nutritional medicine and current political issues. I now wish I had delved deeper into her time as a barrister, the cases she fought, and why she dropped it as a profession. I wish I had asked her about her involvement as a founding member of SIMCAS – The South East Coast Immediate Care Scheme – which consists of doctors and paramedics that attend to road traffic accidents and the like. I also regret never having asked her about her time as a nun, nor about her books, for this accomplished woman was also an author.

We did, however, discuss her SIMCAS activity, as it was a bit of a talking point at the Chichester Medical Education Centre, where we used to meet for weekly lectures and updates. You see, she had a blue light on the top of her car, which she would set flashing when she was called to an emergency. She probably had a siren too, but I never heard it. However, I did see the racing-driver-type boiler suit hanging by her back door. It was ready to go with every bit of emergency kit you can imagine, pockets bulging with dozens of pieces of kit, ready, sterile and primed. If the call came in she could immediately step into the suit, zip it up and in two steps be ready to jump in her car and zoom, like a police carto wherever she was needed in South East England, at any hour of the day or night, and in all weathers, on any day of the year. In fact it was only about four years ago that Priscilla ceased to serve in this capacity, which must have made her the oldest emergency driver in the country, if not the world.

She also was part of the SIMCAS helicopter crew on numerous occasions. Following a particularly heroic rescue plucking a drowning child from the sea, she received a Royal Humane Society award in November 2000. (read more here)

When we first met I recall Priscilla being very pleased to have discovered me, a real, live, practicing Medical Herbalist. She had huge respect for my profession, knowing, of course, that herbal medicine is the original medicine of mankind. She was very knowledgable about medicinal herbs, many of which she grew in her garden. True to her goodness she encouraged lots of her patients and friends to seek out my expertise for their various complaints, and I think she handed out more Thyme Tea for coughs and bronchitis than most members of my profession ever do, thyme being her favourite herb. And indeed time was very much on her side! Living 90 years clearly gives scope for achieving expertise in at least three major academic fields, which were, in Priscilla’s case, law, medicine and theology. On top of this she was also a published author. Priscilla reminds us of how much one person can achieve in a lifetime. Her example is both inspiring and humbling, for this gentle, reverent lady never sought praise for her accomplishments but was just happy to truly serve.

A Funeral Mass was held for dear Priscilla on September 20th at the Midhurst Roman Catholic church and, as expected, it was very well attended, but I left somehow unsatisfied by the event. I know she made it clear that she did not want anyone to give a eulogy but I felt she could have been better acknowledged than she was, without it being a eulogy as such. For such a self effacing woman who gave endlessly to others I felt this was an opportunity to somehow reveal the greatness and goodness of her character.

I will leave the Times to provide you with an obituary proper, but here I simply wish to say how much I valued Priscilla’s friendship and kindness, as well as her intellect and spiritual fervour which burned in her as a steady bright light, guiding all that she did.

Rest in peace dear good lady. I trust you, of all people, obtain the beatific vision, and receive all the acknowledgement you truly deserve. This photo was taken of her by one of her lovely friends who has attended my clinic for treatment, to great effect. The photo was taken two weeks before she suffered the fatal stroke on September 1st. Here she looks happy and pleased with her beloved garden.

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Depressed Vegetarians for Corbyn is a thing?

“Vegetarian diets make you depressed” the article said. Tell me about it! Just being around vegetarians makes me depressed, I thought.

The article in question was in Medical Express (Sep 11th). It was reporting on a study of 10,000 people from the UK which found twice the rate of depression among the 350 ‘committed vegetarians’ in the cohort. What was also apparent was that those who had been vegetarian longest – the most committed – had the highest rates of depression. The researchers suggest that low levels of seafood, B12 and high levels of phytoestrogens may be to blame.

After reading this I felt a little sad for all my vegetarian friends, so started digging around to see if there was a support group out there. Well it seems there is, and it’s called the Labour Party…(!)

So believe it or not, Depressed Vegetarians for Corbyn is a thing! Baffling. But at least they are helping each other come to terms with their depression. First up, they can buy one of these these beautiful T-shirts:

And there is even a twitter page just for them: https://twitter.com/corbeanies

So what’s the link between being a depressed vegetarian and supporting Jeremy Corbyn? The more I thought about this, the more I started questioning the scientists. Perhaps, I wondered, It’s not the lack of B12 or seafood causing the depression, but rather their hopeless political ambitions? Either way, it’s no wonder they are depressed!

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September 2017 News Round-Up

In_the_News_SepPoor diet is a factor in one in 5 deaths (The Guardian, Sep 14th)

What a cheery place to start. Let’s see if there are any tips out there this month to help us make our diets more healthy and happy…

Foods that help you feel fuller may prevent overeating

A new study found that amino acids arginine and lysine found in pork shoulder, beef sirloin steak, chicken, mackerel, plums, apricots, avocados, lentils and almonds (see graphic below) trigger newly identified cells in the brain to signal satiety (fullness).

Well that’s interesting as these are some of my favourite foods! The Telegraph (Sep 28th) and DailyMail (Sep 27th) both covered this.

Note the absence of wheat or other grains in that list: grains are deficient in lysine.

Diet determines if alcohol damages liver

We have written about this before, but here is another study finding that alcohol does not damage the liver in and of itself, but depends on the dietary components it is consumed with. News Medical (Sep 25th) reports that mice fed a high saturated fat diet along with chronic alcohol had protection from alcoholic liver damage.

All of this is great news for those who like a drink with their low-carb meals. To warm the cockles of your slightly sozzled hearts a little more, check out the Unexpected benefits of Red Wine (Telegraph Sep 13th), or if you need further convincing check out this post by our friend Dr Kendrick who unpacks the research around moderate alcohol consumption.

Keto-diet may reduce age related degeneration via newly discovered detox pathway

Wow. Like Wow! It appears that a high fat, very low carb (ketogenic) diet actually removes toxic byproducts of sugar metabolism from the blood by a recently discovered (!) non-enzymatic detoxification process. These products are associated with the damage observed in age-related diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Again WOW.  We love it when entirely new human biological entities are discovered (News Medical, Sep 18th)

In an unrelated study, a ketogenic diet was found to increase the healthy lifespan of mice and prevent memory loss. (Medical Express, Sep 5th) Zero-carb mice diets are getting many researchers excited, leading The Guardian (Sep 5th) to ask “could a drug that mimics a zero carb diet help us live longer?”

For an in-depth look at the ketogenic diet check out this Mercola article.

Sleep wake rhythm crucial for fat cell function

Evidence is emerging that fat burning is upregulated by good sleep habits via the expression of NFIL3 (a ‘fat burning protein’). This goes someway to explaining the increased risk of obesity among shift workers and suggests we could all benefit from good sleep hygiene. (DailyMail Sep 1st)

“sleep-deprived people – those who get less than five and a half hours a night – consumed an average of 385 calories per day more than those who had more than seven hours.” – according to researchers from King’s College London

A good night’s sleep – worth it’s weight in gold?


▲ Infographic to help get this complex scientific data across in a happy way.

Underscoring the importance of a good kip, The Telegraph (Sep 19th) reports on research that found well rested people scored 15 points higher on a happiness index questionnaire than those who had poor sleep. Whereas the same survey found only a two point happiness increment when household income rose from £12,500 to £50,000. So put down the lottery card and go to bed.

In a similarly dodgy recent survey, researchers found that Brits would rather give up sex for a year than reduce their sugar intake. (!?) I decided not to create a witty infographic for this one. (DailyMail, Sep 15th)

On a more serious note: eating in sync with your body clock may be beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight (Medical Express, Sep 8th). This can be done by shifting major calorie intake earlier in the day, and avoiding a high calorie meal close to bed time.

Mediterranean low-carb diet reduced heart fat more than low-fat diet plan

Plus a shed load of other benefits seen in this recent head to head study. (DailyMail Sep 18th) Also see Diabetes Daily (Sep 17th)

Good fats, Bad fats – the Express goes to war on excess weight

“Three cheers for the Express”

A quick search of the Express’ diet section might leave you wondering if the majority of their readership is obese and/or gullible. Amongst the dozens of ‘lose-fat-fast’ articles were a few half decent pieces this month, which deserve three cheers, so here goes: First up they tackle Omega 6:3 ratio head on, giving sunflower oil a good kicking (hooray!) Whilst in another article they sing the praises of coconut oil (hooray!) Neatly rounding off their ‘fat blasting’ theme they champion egg based breakfasts for fighting the flab (hooray!)

‘No way to prevent Coeliac disease’ according to short sighted experts

Although the prevalence of coeliac disease is recognised as 1% worldwide, among first degree relatives that risk rises to 5 – 10%. If you are a worried parent of a child who falls into this group The Mayo clinic has issued advice on what you can do to prevent it. And that advice is: nothing. They declare that there is nothing that can be done. (Medical Express, Sep 22nd)…

…(speechless).

I know, it beggars belief. The OBVIOUS thing to do is adopt a gluten-free diet. You can not get coeliac disease if you don’t eat gluten. Period. Sorry, but the emperor has no clothes. Sorry to be the one pointing it out. I know you’re not supposed to say it, so sorry again. But there it is. If you can’t see it Mayo Clinic experts then take an eye test…

 

 

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Link

[EDIT: Fixed the links they should work now]

The following is probably not a complete list, but it’s a useful place to start.

Click on either of the images below to go to the live pages where you can browse for your local suppliers.

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Pasture for Life Farmer explains why he does not feed his cows grains

Video

Pasture for Life is a certification standard for 100% pasture reared meat. It is an initiative of the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association which was formed in 2009, when a small group of British farmers decided to join together to extol the wide-ranging benefits of producing meat from animals fed exclusively on pasture. Our friends at Knepp Castle Rewilding Project are part of the scheme and we rave about their meat.

A few months back, one of the other farmers in the scheme, Tom Morrison, was interviewed on the BBC World Service program The Food Chain in an episode entitled ‘Of Maize and Men‘. The programme was focusing on the problems associated with Maize production worldwide and was interested to hear the views of this Pasture for Life farmer who explained why he does not use maize to feed his cattle.

We thought you would like to hear it too so we extracted a clip from the BBC podcast, and have copied the transcript further down if you prefer to read. Continue reading