The “Wise Traditions” Conference Part 1

After the two days at the Weston A. Price “Wise Traditions” conference, my head was buzzing – so much information to assimilate and figure out how to use this in my practice. Some of the topics discussed reassured me that I am on the right path with the treatment I advise. The “usual suspects” for disease came up often – low blood vitamin D levels in the western world, low-fat diets contributing to poor health, the detrimental effect of polyunsaturated oils and of course, the importance of a good microbiota – the colony of microbes in your gut. All the things I bang on about constantly!

DSC_6904Chris Masterjohn, talked about the importance of “Meat, Bones, Organs and Skin for Mental Health”. I am far from being a scientist so I won’t go into details here for fear of getting it wrong! Suffice it to say that there are substances in these foods that work together and in a domino effect, promoting the proper function of brain chemicals – proper functioning brain chemicals – proper functioning brain!
He also highlighted, chemically, what can go wrong for vegetarians. He was vegetarian/vegan for many years, believing that this was the healthy way to eat. His health suffered and his teeth began to rot due partly to the lack of fat soluble vitamins and the amount of grain he was eating. He began researching and came upon the Weston A. Price Foundation. Read more about this here.
There is some evidence that vegetarians suffer mental disorders more frequently than meat-eaters.
His second lecture was about how heart disease and degeneration are related to the nutrients in food. The most important message was about anti-oxidants. Most of us have heard this term and understand that they are needed to help our health, but I think the main message for me was that yet again, they do not work alone but need other compounds to do the job. I feel justified in my stance – I very rarely advise supplements for just this reason. If you take a supplement in isolation, at worst it could be dangerous and at best it can be pointless. More about supplements here.

file9121341856730Philip Weeks gave a talk about adrenal exhaustion, brought about by chronic stress. We all know that it is damaging, but even I was shocked at just how badly the body can be affected! Rather than summarise the talk, I found this on his website which explains.

Next week I will conclude this blog.

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Alzheimer’s – the Disease That Wrecks Lives

file000691888818Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia which is characterised by poor short term memory, irritability, confusion and sometimes aggression. The condition wrecks families and care homes are now bursting at the seams with residents suffering this condirion. Something must be done and whilst the news tells us that a drug maybe on the way, it is prevention that will ultimately have the most impact.

 

In AD the brain shrinks and it is unable to utilize the glucose it needs to function. Plaques of amyloid, a protein, are evident in the brain and this may be associated with a poor diet as AD is more often diagnosed in people who are obese.

There has been much speculation on the origins of the disease, but that aside, as it is becoming more prevalent – even in middle age, it would be safe to assume that our modern lives have something to do with this. So what in particular could be driving this increase?

1) There is conflicting evidence regarding aluminium. Our bodies do not require aluminium so it would seem a good idea to avoid it wherever possible.
2) Look at these facts:
- There is evidence that the brain makes its own insulin
- Obese people are more likely to be diagnosed with AD
- An anti-diabetic drug has been shown to help dementia

It would seem that this brain change has, at least to some degree, a dependence on sugar. Sugar promotes insulin in the blood and if an excess is taken in the diet (that is, all carbohydrates not just the white stuff) over a lifetime, insulin sensitivity results and obesity and diabetes follow. Maybe AD too.
3) Continuing on from the previous point, since the other fuels that our bodies can use are fat and ketones (a fat bi-product and one that can be used by the brain), it is essential that if we cut one fuel source then we must give our bodies another. Animal fats and coconut oil should be included in the diet.
4) The B vitamins have much to do with nerve function and the most important of these (due to its complex metabolism in the body) is vitamin B12.
5) Vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic proportions in the Western World. This study shows that it may contribute to AD.
6) Insufficient exercise maybe a causative factor, but it is unclear whether it is due to its balancing effect on blood sugar or the exercise itself that helps.

The above are the most plausible possible causes of AD but this is not an exhaustive list.

To me there is only one way to tackle Alzheimer’s Disease and that is to prevent it in the first place. Here are my recommendations:

  1. To avoid an excess of aluminium, use steel or glass cooking pots and opt for a deodorant rather than an antiperspirant – or just use soap and water.
  2. To keep blood sugar down and balanced, cut carbohydrate consumption. Foods to limit are sweet foods, bread, cereals and other foods made from grains.
  3. Including plenty of animal fats in the diet will provide a good source of fuel, fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. Yellow butter, cream, egg yolks, fatty cuts of meat and oily fish (for Omega 3) will provide this. Coconut oil is also helpful in not just warding off AD but as a treatment for it.
  4. Shellfish and offal are good sources of vitamin B12 but many people nowadaysfile0001122917150 do not consume these foods on a regular basis. Experiment with pates, adding a little chopped liver to casseroles and Bolognese sauce or just frying with onions in plenty of butter. Folate and B12 work together so serve that liver with kale, sprouts or cabbage! Organic, pastured egg yolks are good for B12 too.
  5. Getting out in the sun and eating animal fats will supply your vitamin D.
  6. Even just frequent brisk walking will do for exercise, but find something you enjoy doing and you are more likely to stick with it.

I think it is possible to reverse AD to some degree with the measures above, but by employing them now, you dramatically lower your chances of developing it in the first place.

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Where Does Your Source of Vitamin K2 Come From?

Here is yet another study showing how fraught it can be to take supplements.

Natural foods (that is – not skimmed, not low-fat, not high fibre, not cholesterol-free, not added vitamins or in any other way fiddled with) are our source of nutrients. If you eat processed foods and take supplements, you are just consuming what someone else thinks you should have. We are programmed for a hunter-gatherer diet primarily, with some good quality dairy thrown in and it is this that ensures our health. (If you eat a bar of chocolate occasionally, your body won’t mind!)

In this article, it is shown that if you are taking calcium (the mineral for bone strength) and vitamin D3 (to aid calcium’s absorption) then you have to also ensure that you are taking adequate vitamin K2 either as a supplement or in the food you eat. K2 is the vitamin that steers the calcium to the bones to be deposited. Without it, you risk the calcium being deposited in your arteries (which used to be called “hardening of the arteries”) leading to high blood-pressure and heart disease.

172677_8674The article refers to supplements but I urge you to address the problem with your diet. Getting the balance just right with supplements is complicated but also, why pay for them when you have to eat anyway? Natural foods often contain all the nutrients needed to allow the body to carry out its necessary functions. What is difficult about eating cheeses such as Gouda, Edam, and Brie? Other foods containing K2 include liver, whole raw milk and good organic bacon. I know which I prefer.

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Animal Fats Back on the Menu!

Hellooo!  Why does it take SO long for medical science to reach mainstream medical advice? Around twenty years ago, it was discovered that vitamin D was a pre-steroid hormone and as such, vital to virtually every process in the body. We get it from the sun, but we are still being told to use high factor sunscreen and the Western World is vitamin D deficient! The same is true of dietary fats.

This article leaves no doubt that the current (and for the past 30 years) recommendations regarding saturated fats and health – are wrong. We started by recommending all vegetable oils (PUFAs – polyunsaturated fatty acids) willy-nilly as an alternative to Dairy Cowsaturates (SFAs) then we moved on to mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MFAs) such as olive oil. We do need some of the PUFAs in oily fish but these are different from the seed oils. Obtain these from sardines, wild salmon, shellfish etc.We have had SFAs ever since our time began! We have had MFAs (olive oil mainly) for thousands of years but the PUFAS? Around 150 years.

Cheap seed oils being used in industry, were then refined for human consumption. WHY would something born 150 years ago ever have been better than something we evolved with?

For the record, coconut oil which is a highly saturated fat and olive oil which has medium saturates are both great but we need animal fat too or we miss out on the fat-soluble vitamins A, D3, K2 and important fatty acids that only animal fats supply.

Eat the fat from pasture fed animals – never remove it. Butter and cream are included here too. Don’t be fooled by “organic” margarine and seed oils. Olive oil spread is Organic Butterseed oil margarine with a splash of olive oil to make it fit with government guidelines. We do need some of the type of fats in nuts and seeds so do include nuts and seeds in your diet – but not their expressed oils which quickly go rancid and become toxic to us.

                                        Here is butter – cream and salt..

Margarine

..and here is margarine -
Liquid and Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Water, Buttermilk,  Salt, Soy Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Mono and Diglycerides (Emulsifier), Lactic Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta Carotene (Color). CONTAINS: Milk and Soy . (Or similar)


Let your taste-buds be your guide. Margarine or butter? Vegetable fat cream (Elmlea) or thick, yellow, unctuous dairy cream?


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Acne – The Most Common Skin Disease in the Western World

The skin problem Acne Vulgaris is another condition of several combined factors – hormones, diet, infection, over-production of sebum (our skin oil) and possibly the way we wash. There may be others too.

1146989_45040779It is probably brought about by diet (although there are drugs and medical conditions that can cause acne, but they are rare).  Your diet and your health are inextricably linked and just being told “it’s your age and you’ll grow out of it” – is nonsense. Also, people well into their middle-age can suffer from acne – including me. In fact I had acne well into my 40s. It disappeared when I drastically changed my diet and my skin

So what of these other factors? Testosterone over-production is one (men and women produce this hormone). As we know acne is common in teenagers and this is the very time when hormones are buzzing. Interestingly, teenage acne is uncommon amongst primitive people eating a natural hunter-gatherer diet and very common in the Western World and countries with similar lifestyles.

Another factor is the bacteria on our skin. We are absolutely heaving with bacteria – both inside and out! Normally these live in harmony with each other and with us in fact we would not live long without them. Unfortunately, antibiotics are often prescribed for acne and whilst these may help temporarily, the protective bacteria may also be destroyed ensuring the condition returns.

Since “we are what we eat” it stands to reason that if you are eating a lot of foods that are not ideal, that your body fluids and structures will alter over time. The sebum (oil) in your skin will be not only over-produced but chemically changed.  Opportunist bacteria – that is the ones that don’t contribute to our health – see their chance to move in and create havoc, in this case – causing acne.

Yet another factor is indirectly to do with the sun as we make vitamin D from skin oils reacting with sunlight (the UVB rays). You may not be surprised to learn that vitamin D is needed for our immunity and for the production of hormones! Just a few thousand years ago we lived pretty much outside and our vitamin D levels would always have been high, very similar in fact, to primitive people now. We live and work indoors, use cars for transport and slather on high factor sunscreen before venturing outside. The Western World now has an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. There is also some evidence that shows that the action of a moderate amount of sunlight directly on to acne-affected skin can improve the condition.

There are many medications for acne, but in my opinion, they only work temporarily and can damage our gut bacteria. A natural approach is a better option and these are my recommendations:
1) Adopt a low-carbohydrate diet which contains animal fats and not seed oils. Eat plenty of vegetables and eggs too. A low fat diet will not help and may make the condition worse.
2) Wash your skin twice a day only with a very mild, preferably unscented and un-perfumed skin-wash or better still use jojoba oil to cleanse. Lightly massage in, remove with tissue then wipe gently with a clean, damp cloth. This is very effective, as jojoba oil has a similar chemical profile to sebum and can dissolve it and remove grime at the same time. Add a drop of tea tree oil to the jojoba oil sometimes.
3) Get some sun!

This is not an overnight solution but changing your diet will, within a month for most people, show real benefits.

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Breast Cancer and Diet

It is a sad fact that we are less healthy today than we were fifty years ago. Cancer, including of the breast, are diseases of ageing and waning immunity so why is it that it is being diagnosed in mid-life or even earlier now? The answer almost certainly lies in our modern diets and lifestyle.

Every day we all make cells that are less than perfect. This is not a problem for a healthy body – the immune system does not allow these cells to flourish. They will be dismantled and removed to ensure the body stays healthy. This protective action is seen time after time within the body. Think of the liver – it is probably the busiest organ in the body and is an expert at multi-tasking. It works tirelessly to make the nutrients we require and detoxify us of the substances we don’t need or could be dangerous. We constantly bombard our bodies with toxic chemicals – shampoos, shower gels, cosmetics and importantly in the case of breast cancer, antiperspirants. We also receive noxious substances in our food – antibiotics, hormones, chemical preservatives, colourants and flavourings. The liver has a hard time removing all this and if it can’t get rid of it, the liver will store some “out of the way”. This is not a good idea at all.

In order that these mechanisms work efficiently, the right diet in addition to avoiding the wrong one is of paramount importance. Why would you want to aim for anything else? Cancer is a horrible disease wherever it is, but for women breast cancer can change everything that is held dear and ruin confidence and self-esteem as well as health.

One of the most important aspects of the diet, are the choices we make choosing fats. Yes – we need fats and we need the ones that are loaded with the fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins that are essential for the correct functioning of cells, hormones and Salmonthe rebuilding of tissues. These must be the traditional fats including butter – the best ones are from organic and preferably pastured beef, pork, lamb, duck and goose fats. Also, two excellent vegetable oils are (again organic) coconut and olive oils. These are in addition to, not instead of the animal fats. Oily fish such as wild salmon, mackerel and sardines provide essential fats which are anti-inflammatory. We definitely do not want highly processed seed oils – either for frying or as margarine. These are very harmful to us and compromise our immunity.

A diet high in sugars and other carbohydrate foods will increase blood glucose and therefore insulin levels. There is a good deal of research to show that constantly high levels of insulin encourage the growth of at least some cancers – including breast. It is beneficial for your all-round health to adopt a low carbohydrate, organic diet.

It is also a good idea to forgo soya. Not only is it usually genetically modified, but it messes with hormones due to its phytoestrogen content. Our hormones are best left to their own devices.

Stress is a very significant factor. Any stress, be it physical or mental sets up the release of stress hormones from the glands. They are there for our protection – should we need it for instant energy to allow us to get out of danger. This is fine for a short period of short duration but long term, this is harmful for health. As the stress hormones release glucose into the blood, over time the blood vessels become inflamed. Our bodies hate inflammation and this is the cause or at least a factor in many diseases.

I couldn’t possibly write a blog without the mention of vitamin D! Whilst we are carefully staying out of the mid-day sun in order to avoid skin-cancer, we are inviting a whole host of other disastrous illnesses – including some types of breast cancer.

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Vitamin D and Gut Problems

Over the last ten years, inflammatory bowel disorders (IBD) have steeply increased in both adults and children. They are autoimmune illnesses. This is a very serious situation as both IBD – ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease – are usually controlled with steroid drugs and many will go on to have bowel surgery – more than once in many cases. Celiac disease – a severe gluten sensitivity – is also thought to be an autoimmune disease.

Walking BarefootThese diseases are capable of disrupting normal childhood activities and bringing isolation to sufferers. They are characterised by persistent diarrhoea, sometimes accompanied with blood and mucus; severe stomach cramps; anaemia; tiredness and often, emotional upsets. It is a truly catastrophic illness for all involved.

As usual, I believe that it is a nutritional problem. If all of us were able to feed on the diet we are programmed for and obtain sufficient sunshine to keep our vitamin D levels in an optimum range, I doubt there would be very much in the way of chronic illness – not in adults or their offspring.

But things are constantly changing. We largely live indoors, use the car, eat fast microwaved food and know little or nothing about the art and science that should go on in a kitchen.

With this in mind, how can we and our children expect to stay well? Wholesome diets for human beings encompass all the known nutrients for our health. But what of the nutrients we don’t yet know about? We shouldn’t worry. Nature takes care of that providing we eat the food we are genetically programmed for. (Plenty of information about this in my other blogs.) Anything else just wouldn’t make any sense. After all, wild animals don’t have nutritionists and books to guide them, they just eat what they instinctively know is right.

One of the biggest problems that the western world faces is vitamin D deficiency – yes, here I go again! We have carefully slathered on the high factor sunscreen before venturing out to prevent skin cancer but effectively screened the UVB rays that create vitamin D in our skin – and thus left us wide open to a multitude of other cancers, infections, porous bones and gut problems amongst others. This is devastating and will lead to a very poorly world indeed – and it’s already started.

“Our vitamin D needs to come from the sun”

People with gut disorders often have low vitamin D levels in their blood. There is speculation as to whether this is the cause or effect of gut problems but to me there is no doubt – our vitamin D needs to come from the sun, not in supplement form. This accompanied with a healthy diet could protect us all from from these life-changing illnesses. Evidence is emerging that the diet of a pregnant woman also affects her offspring – for better or for worse.

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Supplements or the Natural Way?

One of the reasons that I rarely advise nutritional supplements is because in taking them, it is easy to over or under-do these chemicals. Whether the body has too much or too little of these substances, it will become stressed with ridding the excess or trying to meet the body’s needs, with insufficient.

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Nutrients cannot be seen in isolation. They work together, like an orchestra. Each depends on others to perform their role to ensure the whole is working effectively.

A side issue is that many supplements are poor quality and the nutrients are in the wrong form for our digestive systems. This is so often the case with vitamins D and B12 but there are others too. People who suffer IBS and other gut problems have even more difficulty with absorption.

To maximise nutrient uptake, food should be eaten in its natural state with minimal processing. We should also eat that which we are genetically programmed for. (Lots of information about this in other blogs.) There is little point in humans eating grass, even though it is probably full of nutrients – after all, cows love it!. Our taste buds tell us that we do not have the correct digestive equipment for grass and therefore cannot absorb its goodness. However, cattle make all these nuteients available to us if we eat meat!

Whilst all nutrients need others, there are some that are more important. Vitamin D3 needs several in order to be utilized properly. Firstly it is formed in the skin with the help of the sun. Then it reaches the bloodstream, ends up in the liver and is transformed into other substances for use. At each stage, a variety of chemicals are required to enable the function. Magnesium, vitamins A and K2, zinc and boron are the main players here.

Magnesium
This is one mineral that is becoming a problem. The soil becomes exhausted with modern farming methods. The best way to obtain a good amount is to buy organic produce and/or grow your own vegetables. Good sources are leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. This study shows the importance of magnesium for bone health in children.

Vitamin A and K
Again there are various forms of these vitamins and the most reliable way of obtaining them is from animal foods. Liver, eggs, golden butter and cheese are good for bio-available vitamins A and K2. Leafy greens are good for K1 and beta-carotene which is a precursor to vitamin A. For the best absorption of these, eat animal fat on your greens – a good knob of butter will do it!

Zinc
Meat, shellfish and nuts are good sources.

Boron
Leafy vegetables, nuts and avocados are reliable sources of this trace element.

Fritatta So, meals can be easily put together to maximise your intake of these important nutrients. Here are some examples:
Liver and onions cooked in butter and served with kale or broccoli
Cheese omelette cooked in butter with green veg as above
Avocado and prawns, good bread with lots of butter and a handful of nuts afterwards

Whilst there will be some vitamin D in the above meals, a more reliable source is from safe sun exposure.

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Vitamin D and Pregnancy

It is that time of year again for me to start banging on about vitamin D and health. As you may already know if you have read my blogs before, the vitamin D and other benefits that the sun gives us, cannot be replaced by supplements. Please read my original article on sunshine.

Sunbathing

In this study, it has been shown that low levels of the vitamin in pregnant mothers, can result in poor outcomes both for mother and baby. The very best way to help both, is to sunbathe during pregnancy. The rules are the same – during the time of day that your shadow is as long or shorter than you are tall, vitamin D can be made in the skin. When the skin is just slightly pink, cover up or go inside. Don’t burn. This should be done on a daily basis as often as is possible to optimise vitamin D levels in both mother and baby.

In another study, the month of birth has suggested that there is a correlation between the mother’s sun exposure and the chance of future poor health in the child. Babies born during the months of May to June are the most affected as pregnancy has taken place mainly over the winter months when the UVB rays from the sun are too short to hit the northern hemisphere – therefore no vitamin D can be made in the skin.

Pregnant mothers are advised to sunbathe wisely during spring and summer and over winter, eat plenty of shellfish, free range eggs (although hens may also be suffering from a lack of sun!), offal and animal fat – especially pork fat which has come from pastured pigs.

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The Price of Health – part 2

Last week I outlined those factors that I believe are responsible for our chronically poor health. This week I have elaborated on some of these points

1)    Our food has been bastardised. Foods that we take for granted such as bread and milk, are a far cry from the bread and milk that were widely available fifty years ago.
Milk is pasteurised and homogenised rendering it not only devoid of its health-giving enzymes and some of its vitamin content, but it is structurally altered too making it hard or even, for some, impossible to digest.
Meat is often full of chemicals and other additives. Vegetables and fruit are treated with chemicals and are devoid of nutrients as they are grown on nutritionally poor soil.
Microwave meals have become the norm instead of an occasional time-saver. There are many more examples but this blog is not just about food.

2)    Medications. Oh dear where do I start? Chronic illness needs a drip-feed of medication for ever – and these drugs can cause other chronic states.  Good for the pharmaceutical companies but a disaster for good health. (I am not including emergency treatment for life-threatening illnesses.) It is difficult to overstate this factor. Millions of pounds are invested in new drugs by the pharmaceutical companies and this has to be recouped. In the U.S., television advertisements showing the “benefits” of these medications are commonplace, but there are many ways of encouraging doctors to prescribe specific drugs here too.
Keeping it topical, consider the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. Twenty years ago, no one had heard of them. Now they are obtainable over the counter. This state of affairs has come about through the (pseudo) “science” that insists that high cholesterol is bad. So we now have a drug (and there are others) which is freely available and millions of us are taking them, which is based on bad science. Make no mistake – there are massive health problems with this – both with reducing blood cholesterol and with the sometimes devastating side effects of the drugs themselves.

3)    We have been told to stay out of the sun. On its own, this may be responsible for many chronic illnesses. With the cholesterol in the skin, the sun creates huge quantities of vitamin D3 which the body uses for a multitude of functions. This happens because nature requires it for our existence. Those of you who have read my blogs before will know my feelings regarding this imperative vitamin. I will keep banging on about it until the message has reached the widest audience possible. Your vitamin D levels will only be good enough if you sunbathe.

4)    We have been told to eat a diet that is largely unsuitable for humans. Since this is the topic that I write about the most, I will keep this brief and to the point here.
Our genetic make-up has changed around 0.01% in the last 40,000 years. Our diet has changed around 90%. I invented that figure, but you get my gist. You only have to look around a chemist to see all the medications for gut disturbances to know that the situation is very wrong now.

As I seem to have written quite a bit, I will, after all, have to make this a three-part blog! So, until next time – good health!

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