Seafood, Sex and Evolution (3 videos)

This talk was originally given at The Bassil Shippam Centre, Chichester, West Sussex, England on Saturday 18th July 2015. A live audio recording of the event has been combined with the original presentation slides to create the videos below. A few additional slides have been included for clarity or to illustrate answers to audience questions.

We explore the role of seafood in evolutionary and contemporary health. Groundbreaking research is presented in a clear, accessible and entertaining manner. Ideas covered include:

  • The intimate role of fish and shellfish in human evolution
  • How key nutrients needed for brain development are found in seafood
  • How to choose seafood to maximise the health benefits and avoid contaminants
  • How human female curvaceousness and baby fat are unique in the animal kingdom and the remarkable link between these and seafood

[Credits: Music "Equinox", courtesy of longzijun]

Feedback from attendees at the original talk

Hi Afifah and Keir,
Thank you very much for another spellbinding talk!  I learnt so much – literally food for thought.  Thanks for all the effort you put into the research and presentation.
– Rhiannon
Dear Afifah,
I wanted to thank you and your partner for giving such an interesting talk about seafood on Saturday. I particularly liked the way you combined the history of human evolution with the biochemistry.
– David
Dear Afifah and Keir,
What an enlightening evening ! We always learn so much at your talks. I love the thoroughness of your research and the way your conclusions are so irresistably feasible!! I concentrated on every fact ( but can’t remember all if it now! ). It was great and really makes you think- which I like very much …
Must do the squid ‘pasta’ again. Also inspired by the recipes on your blog and must do the salmon and mushroom one.
– Jane and Michael
Hi Afifah and Keir,
Many congratulations on your talk last Saturday – you certainly excelled yourselves and my 5 pages of notes are testimony to that!!
– Bill

After watching the videos above, please leave your own feedback and comments below. Thanks!

Autumn Seminar 2014 (post 2) – Dr Malcolm Kendrick video pt1 Ten Key Contradictions

Here, at last, is the video of Malcolm Kendrick’s first presentation: ten key contradictions that show why the cholesterol hypothesis is wrong.

This talk was originally recorded on 27th September 2014, 7:40pm at the Assembly Rooms Chichester, West Sussex, England in front of an audience of over 100 people. It was organised, hosted and promoted by Rosemary Cottage Clinic Education Trust. The video was recorded and edited by Keir Watson.

Autumn Seminar 2014 (post 1) – In defence of cholesterol

Francesca_GreenstreetOur 2014 Autumn Seminar with Dr Malcolm Kendrick entitled “Why cholesterol does not and cannot cause heart disease” was opened by Francesca Greenstreet, an undergraduate biomedical student from University College London.

When Francesca was a 6th form student at Westminster School she became interested in the cholesterol hypothesis and read Dr Kendrick’s book ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’. After undertaking her own research she used what she had learned to write an essay ‘In defence of cholesterol’ which much to her surprise, considering its controversial message, won her school essay competition.

When he heard about this Dr Kendrick commented that “her essay is extremely well written and makes all the points that I have been making for years. It is just gratifying to see that the evidence on cholesterol and heart disease is clear to anyone with a brain.”

Continue reading

Public Talks – 2014 update

Venue: Bassil Shippam Centre, Tozer Way, Chichester,PO19 7LG
Time: Friday, 7:30-10:00pm (doors open at 7:15) Cost: £6.00 inc tea/coffee

Fri 11th July
This not-to-be-missed seminar on one of the hottest topics in nutrition will update our 2013 sell-out talk “Cereal Killers” and fully clarify this vexed  area of food and health science, which currently confuses most people.
The gluten-free diet is the fastest growing dietary trend across the Western world in 2014. Is this just another fad, or is there something in it? We will take a look at the wealth of detailed research emerging on coeliac disease, glutens, grains in general and their staggering implications for everyone’s health.
 ∗ Autumn Special ∗
I am pleased to announce that I have a preliminary booking for:
Dr Malcolm Kendrick
Author of The Great Cholesterol Con

If you have never heard Dr Kendrick speak you are in for a treat: A practicing GP in Macclesfield, he has dared to read and understand the research around heart disease, and made sense of it. His talks are full of wit and humour, are incredibly informative and uplifting. He should have his new book out by then too (not sure what it’s about yet!), so there is a good chance you will be able to pick up a signed copy and with it stay ahead of the pack.
∗∗∗∗∗ Date and venue to be confirmed. ∗∗∗∗∗

Re-wilding Our Food

Part of our 2013 Autumn Seminar: The Grass Fed Meat Revolution

Rewilding-Our-FoodOn the estate of Knepp Castle, in West Sussex, there is a farming experiment, ten years underway now, that has gone so far beyond free-range and organic farming, even beyond mob-grazing, that it has merged with the cutting edge of environmental restoration – re-wilding.

We all admire The New Forest, Exmoor and Dartmoor for their ancient farming patterns. The wild ponies and deer roaming alongside free-ranging sheep and cows together maintain the unique character of those rugged landscapes – landscapes that evoke in us something primeval, an ancient group-memory of the landscapes our hunter-gatherer-forebears first cast their eyes over 30,000 years ago. Continue reading

Tickets now on sale!


An unmissable evening of talks and presentations by
leading authors and permaculture pioneers explaining how pasture can
Save Farming * Solve Global Warming * Feed the World
  Increase Biodiversity * Re-Green the Deserts * Improve your Health!

Graham Harvey
(Agricultural journalist and author)
Carbon Fields: Pasture, Real Food and Climate

Sir Charles Burrell
(3rd Baronet of Knepp Castle)

 Beyond Grass-Fed: Re-Wilding the Knepp Estate

  • Plus video presentations by Allan Savory & Lierre Keith
  • Book Signing by Graham Harvey during the interval
  • Tea and Coffee included

Date: October 12th 2013 7:00pm-10:00pm
Venue: The Assembly Rooms, North St, Chichester, PO19 1LQ
: Northgate (Festival Theatre) Car Park


  • Online booking: . . . . . . from £ 8.50 . . .  click here for secure online booking
  • Telephone booking:  . . . . . . £10.00 . . . 0844 8700 887 (lo-call, 5p per minute)
  • On the door: . . . . . . . . . . . .  £10.00 . . . subject to availability on the night

Please help promote this event…
> Download the poster above and share it
> Use the share buttons below this post to inform your friends

For additional information phone Afifah on 01243 868108

Seventh Food & Health Group Meeting – Vitamin D

By contrived coincidence our vitamin D talk was held on the Summer Solstice June 21st.

In the first set of slides, above, we look at the role of vitamin D in the body, vitamin D status – as indicated by the levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in your blood – and what level is now considered insufficient, sufficient, optimal or excessive. We see how many people in Northern latitudes are deficient or insufficient for much of the year, especially if they avoid the sun or have dark skin. A remarkable set of graphs show the link between vitamin D status and a wide range of diseases, including cancers, heart disease and autoimmune diseases – leaving us in no doubt that our vitamin D status is important. In the section “Vitamin D metabolism” the basic physiology of vitamin-D and calcium metabolism is considered, before turning to the much more recently discovered critical role of vitamin-D in cellular DNA switching. This last section was a complete eye-opener to me and to many of the doctors and laymen in the audience.

The second section of slides covers a series of independent studies of Vit D and various medical conditions; some amazing information about how Vit D is crucial for maintaining tight junctions – the ‘stitching’ between cells that not only holds them together, but also permits adjacent cells to communicate with each other. It is shown how a lack of Vit D means cells can get out of sync with each other, and so may start to behave independently leading to excessive growth and cancer (this is a relatively recent theory by the brilliant Frank Garland of University of California and explains why Vit D deficiency is so strongly correlated with cancer). The subject of which supplementation may be better is then covered, with caveats followed by the all important food sources of Vit D and why it may be that so many people are currently found to be in the deficient category.

The third section of slides covers sunlight’s varoius wavelengths and how they affect the skin and the cells within the skin including the melanocytes (that give you a tan). We look at Richard Weller’s work, which shows that sunlight itself – not just the UVB part that produces Vit D – lowers blood pressure and is a significant factor in heart and blood vessel health. Skin cancer, especially melanoma, is considered along with the relative effects due to UVA and UVB. The effect of sun creams is considered showing that their preferential absorption of UVB may tend to increase skin cancer risk. Unbelievably, no sun-block has ever been tested for skin cancer protection! In the next section we see how world-wide disease incidence correlates to latitude suggesting a central protective role for sun exposure, and particulalrly UVB. We then a look at the sun-lamps for vitamin D, leading to the conclusion that a UVB Narrowband lamp (311 nm types) are the best choice for maximising vitamin D production whilst minimising skin damage and aging. We briefly look at the skin anti-aging effect of red light therapy through stimulating collagen production. Finally, a common observation among low-carb dieters is that they burn less in the sun. We present some little known evidence for the skin protective effects of meat and animal products and contrast this with the detrimental effects of vegetable oils (n6-PUFAs) which can increase skin damage.

We hope you enjoy reading these slides as much as we enjoyed putting the talk together. A big subject, but then, it all starts with a big star – the sun!

Sixth Food & Health Group Meeting – Stress


If you missed the sixth Food and Health talk, or simply wish to look over it again, you can browse the PowerPoint slides in a low-res web format (see below)

For some people the subject of ‘stress’ was not an obvious one for the Food and Health Group, and yet it turns out that there is a lot we can do around food choices that can significantly ameliorate some of the more destructive aspects of stress, particularly important in any ongoing and severely stressful situations, but well worth knowing for all those lesser stresses that are common to us all.

Although it was a rainy evening we had a good number of people at this talk, with a few new faces amongst the regulars.

I must apologise to Prince Charles and Diana for reproducing the very telling photograph of them struggling with their own very public stresses, and I must thank Prof Sapolsky for his outstanding work around the HPA axis and cortisol which I drew on quite heavily. I intended to include some of his work on baboons and their societal stresses, which have parallels with our own, but these sections had to be cut due to time constraints. I did, however, manage to keep to time, and for that I deserve a medal, as it was not easy. Stress involves every aspect of our physiology, and I had to cut a lot of material that had ranged rather wider than seemed necessary at the final edit. So to all those aldosterone aficionados out there, my apologies.


Isn’t it empowering to know that, through carefully selecting the right food and drink, we can help ourselves and our loved ones to better handle stress when it happens? I am so pleased that our national drink, tea, has had some of the acknowledgement it deserves. We all know it is ‘the great reviver’, through experience, but it does not get enough credit in general as a medicinal herb, and yet that is truly what it is. Not only that, but it is a fermented product. Go back to look at the slides on the importance of fermented foods (the second of the Food and Health Group meetings) to remind you of the significance of this fact.

However, it is coconut oil that is the star of this particular show. Coconut oil, with its medium chain triglycerides (MCT) is readily converted into ketones which can be used by the areas of the brain (the hippocampus in this case) that cannot get the glucose they need due to cortisol overstimulation causing, effectively, cell starvation. Thus, coconut oil through its provision of an alternative fuel for these tissues prevents the neuronal death that would otherwise occur. In my clinic I always stock top quality, organic, cold pressed, virgin coconut oil. I currently have it in two sizes, 400g and 300g (£8 and £6 respectively).

So next time the pressure is really on and you can’t cope or are shaking all over, or just don’t know what to do and can’t think straight, or if you have had a stroke, or an accident, or an operation or whatever form the stress takes, you can take a spoonful of coconut oil and drink a cup of tea and repeat this at regular intervals. Don’t have a biscuit or any other carbohydrate or sweet food with your cuppa, of course, as they will simply add to your already raised blood glucose due to the stress hormone, cortisol’s, glucose-raising effect, and we know that glucose will glycate valuable proteins throughout your body which is very damaging. Tea (without sugar, obviously) and coconut oil will, however, reduce your cortisol level and protect your hippocampus (seat of active intelligence) from the harm that would otherwise occur.  Once the immediate pressure is off, find a space of calm, even if just for a minute, and be still, go inwards, breathe consciously, and see that at this moment there is a pause in it all. And as soon as you sensibly can, find a yoga class at a time that you can regularly attend, and make it a time for you to do nothing but be in your own body, in a calm and meditative manner.

Making coconut oil part of your daily diet, along with good quality grass fed animal products, such as liver, eggs, fatty meats, unpasteurised full fat milk and milk products, seafood and fresh vegetables (all organic, obviously), and fermented foods is easy, as we have shown at all of our events. Fry an egg or a batch of keto-pancakes in coconut oil and they won’t stick to the pan. Use coconut oil in curries of all sorts and you have an authentic flavour base that will combine well with your choice of spices. Making your own coconut milk with unsweetened desiccated coconut and hot water, or using a fresh coconut is incredibly easy and utterly delicious (see recipes). Thanks to Caroline’s demonstration of this simple process, and the samples we all tried, we now all know how to proceed.

Although we didn’t discuss this at this event, I am also a great fan of ‘earthing’ following a stressful experience to mind or body. By ‘earthing’ I mean being directly in contact with the earth, preferably by lying down on it, on your garden lawn for example, or even just walking barefoot on some grass if it is too wet to lie down. I always do this if I have been jangled by a visit to the dentist, for example, or by a contratemp with someone. I suggest it to my patients if they have had an injury, or a tooth out, or a blood sample taken, or any of these small assaults on their body. It is free and seems to steady the body and the being at some subtle yet profound level. It almost definitely reduces cortisol, though I haven’t seen any studies on it. I just know it to be very effective at getting me back into myself, naturally.

I want to end with a quote from the great Robert Sapolsky. He is concerned to prevent the sort of daily damage that doctors can do if they apply what they assume is good medicine, without considering the way things actually work. He is talking here about the standard procedure of giving steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, such as prednisalone, to stroke patients with a view to reducing the inflammation and swelling in the brain brought on by the stroke. However, these drugs do not have the same effect in the brain as they do in the rest of the body, and will make things much worse:

“If you have just had a stroke, the last thing you want is for your neurologist to give you glucocorticoids [steroids] because it is going to make the brain damage worse.”

Robert Sapolsky

Professor of Neuro-endocrinology at Stamford University