This month: Let food be thy medicine | Hunter-Gatherer diets | Grow your own microbiome | Bitter foods for brain health | Long-term weight loss | Sleep | Grass-fed meat and dairy | Fish on the menu | Ketogenic diet | Rewilding the lynx
It’s been a busy month for nutrition news and I found so much to write about I’ve actually hived off a chunk for a separate post later about the rise of veganism. In the meantime, let’s start with the quote of the month…
It’s worrying just how little student doctors are taught about nutrition and health. My own experience has been that even gastroenterologists — specialists in intestinal disorders — have little or no interest in what their patients are eating.
‘Let food be thy medicine’
The quote above came from The Daily Mail (Jul 10th) in an article titled can food be better than drugs? which tells the stories of five people who beat their medical condition with diet (MS, IBS, raised cholesterol, epilepsy and diabetes).
So what do we reckon of the training of the people at NICE? This month they ordered millions of more patients be given statins (Telegraph, Jul 27th). Not sure which country they think they are in, North Korea or England.
Several news outlets ran articles about Professor Tim Spector who spent three days living with the Hazda – one of the last remaining hunter-gather tribes – and eating baobab fruit, tubers, wild honey, berries and porcupine. He was amazed at the health benefits, especially the rapid increase in his gut microbe diversity. Read his story here:
- Daily Mail (Jul 6th) or The Independent (Jul 6th) – short reports
- CNN (Jul 5th) – in-depth article written by the prof Spector, RECOMMENDED
“The Hadza don’t use disinfectants or sterilisation equipment and so are more exposed to potentially beneficial bacteria”, he said.
He added that westerners who frequently garden and are exposed to more bugs tend to have more diverse gut bacteria and advises that we could get some of the health benefits of the prehistoric diet by being less stringent about food sterilisation.
Which leads us nicely to our next piece…
Grown your own microbiome
Homegrown food has many benefits: organic, higher in nutrients, as fresh as can be, plus you get an enhanced microbiome from gardening. If you think your garden is too small or shady to grow your own fruit, then check out The Guardian (Jul 2nd) where James Wong gives tips on growing fruit in shade. No garden? BT give 4 reasons why you need an allotment (Jul 28th).
For a great overview of the microbiome and beneficial bacteria I recommend this article: Essays on health: microbes aren’t the enemy, they’re a big part of who we are (The Conversation, Jul 10th)
Bitter foods for brain health
Following our recent posts on the importance of bitter foods, here are some news items linked to foods whose bitter components appear to provide many of their health benefits:
- A substance found in green, but not black tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, alleviated high-fat and high-fructose (HFFD)-induced insulin resistance and cognitive impairment in a mouse study. (Medical Express, Jul 28th)
- Walnuts – well known for their brain protecting nutrients – exert some of their effects by a prebiotic action on beneficial gut microbes (Medical Express, Jul 28th)
- Study finds that extra virgin olive oil preserves memory and protects the brain against Alzheimer’s (Science Daily, Jun 21st); which perhaps explains another report: that better cognitive function in older people was linked to adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet. (Science Daily Jul 25th)
- In recent review, dark chocolate (flavanol-rich cocoa) consumption was linked to improving memory, short-term cognitive function and counteracting cognitive decline. (The independent Jul 6th)
Long-term weight loss
We have written before about meal timings and emphasised the importance of breakfast. Now a major study reported in The Telegraph (Jul 18th) has concluded that four factors help long-term weight loss:
- Eating one or two meals per day (without snacking)
- Fasting for 18 hours
- Eating breakfast
- Making breakfast or lunch the largest meal of the day
Whilst The Independent (Jul 6th) reports that poor sleep can contribute to Alzheimer’s risk. New Scientist (Jul 12th) presents an evolutionary hypothesis for changes in sleep patterns as we age: In our hunter-gatherer past it ensured there was always someone awake around the campfire to spot predators.
Grass-fed meat & dairy
This month we heard that Amazon is in talks with ranchers to promote grass-fed and organic meat (Fortune, Jul 25th). Here at Rosemary Cottage our belief is that a post-Brexit farming strategy could be developed, with a major increase in grass-fed meat and dairy products, for home use and export – for a great article exploring post-Brexit farming see How New Zealand cleared the field for subsidy-free farms, The Times – (subscription), but I found a free version here ).
Indeed a nice little article about grass-fed dairy from Lake Geneva News (July 5th) refers to Kerrygold cheese. This isn’t available in the UK, where the Irish Kerrygold brand is famous for its butter. Ireland, of course, is known as the Emerald Isle due to its lush grass – ideal for grass-fed dairy production. 85% of their animals’ diet comes from pasture. And I’ve just discovered that Kerrygold are promoting bulletproof-coffee!
You may have to pay more for butter right now, as it’s popularity has pushed up the price (The Guardian, Jul 7th). In the past butter was considered so valuable that the Irish would bury it in peat bogs where it would be preserved and could be dug up at a later date. These secret butter stashes are still dug up today, after being buried for thousands of years. Don’t believe me? Check out Atlas Obscura (Jun 27th).
Fish on the menu
North Sea cod stocks have rapidly improved since it was placed on the endangered list (ITV News, Jul 5th), with some papers suggesting that Brexit Britain could become a ‘fishing powerhouse’ (Telegraph, Jul 5th). Unfortunately, Sky News (Jul 7th) pours cold water on the prospect reporting on evidence that cod stocks appear to be moving further North out of UK waters as the seas around Britain warm, whereas warm water fish such as anchovies, sea bass, sardines and squid are on the rise. I wonder when these will appear on the Fish ‘n Chip menu.
The Telegraph (Jul 7th) got all excited this month when it declared “Goodbye carbs, hello high fats: the Atkins diet is back, and this time it’s called Keto“. Don’t they know the ketogenic diet has been around for a century? Hey ho…
Psychology Today (Jun 30th) is in no doubt and has an excellent and detailed account of the medical application of the ketogenic diet reviewing its use in Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Anxiety, Depression, ASD, ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease. Recommended
The popularity of wild food and the paleo diet may be contributing to the rising price of farmed venison (NZFarmer, Jul 10th). Here in the UK the wild deer population has reached 1.5 million – the highest level for 1000 years apparently – which is leading to calls to reintroduce wolves and bears to Britain (Telegraph Jun 30th). Not sure why we don’t just eat them, but some people want to see wolves and bears too. Farmers, however, are understandably opposed to this idea, so, for now, there is little chance of anyone seeing a wolf or bear in the woods…
…Lynx on the other hand …
Will the lynx help the largest forest in England claw back some tourists? (Telegraph Jul 30th), or will the farming unions prevent the release arguing Lynx release would breach the Dangerous Animals Act (The Scottish Farmer, Jul 10th).
We wait with bated breath on that one.