Dr Suzie Edge on 21st century nutrition and health

Recent Posts

If RD’s want nutrition responsibility then they have explain the obesity crisis to us.

If RD’s want nutrition responsibility then they have explain the obesity crisis to us.

It was the same story for Tim Noakes in South Africa, Annika Dahlqvist in Sweden and now Gary Fettke in Australia. They all had their medical careers threatened by dietitians who couldn’t stomach these doctors giving dietary advice that was contrary to their own. These […]

As (IF) we should be eating breakfast.

As (IF) we should be eating breakfast.

Bottom line: the body could use more time off eating to lower insulin and to use its own stored fats for energy. Remember when we were growing up we might occasionally have had “a snack”? It was a cheeky stop between meals for something yummy […]

Carnivores don’t do sprouts (or scurvy).

Carnivores don’t do sprouts (or scurvy).

It may come as a surprise but the medical wards at our local hospital are not bursting at the seams with rows and rows of scurvy sufferers, despite the rising numbers of people turning to zero-carb all meat diets. Carnivores don’t get scurvy the way you might think they should and we have known this for a while.

British Army doctor Andrew Halliday, the nineteenth century Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals in the West Indies knew it. He faced a court martial in 1834 for falsifying records, stating that there were multiple cases of scurvy amongst his soldiers. He did it so that he could justify an order for more supplies of fresh meat. Fresh meat, not fresh lemons.

I came across Sir Andrew Halliday whilst researching for my Masters in Modern History studying medical hierarchies, organisation and decision making in the nineteenth century Army Medical Department. Halliday was also accused of getting away with it, because he had friends in high places, but that’s a story for another day.

When it comes to the story of scurvy, it is James Lind that you have more likely come across. This eighteenth century naval surgeon carried out what is thought of as the first controlled trial where he provided different foods to sailors on a long voyage and noted who contracted scurvy and who didn’t. His conclusion was that fruits helped in curing sailors who had fallen ill with the dreaded disease. It was not necessarily that lack of fruits had made them sick though. It would have been a combination of a grain based diet with meat that was preserved for travel that had therefore lost it’s micro-nutrient content. That’s not terribly practical knowledge though for sailors. Instead they became known for carrying citrus fruits on their journeys, and hence why you hear of the British being referred to as Limeys. You can read about James Lind and see his MD thesis here.

One suggested reason for carnivores not falling apart in front of us, is that Vitamin C and glucose compete for space getting into cells. With a similar structure they can both bind the GLUT1 cell receptor and fight it out. This would mean the more carbohydrates you eat (including the beloved whole grains that break down to glucose, sorry) then the more vitamin C you would need for it to compete. Hence adding citrus fruits into the diet would be useful in preventing scurvy. So would removing the carbohydrates though. It’s handy that bottles of orange juice have so much Vitamin C seeing as how they are so packed with sugar. It’s a little more complicated than that though and Amber O’Hearn at Breaknutrition.com has written more about this here, with links and references.

When I was at University a fellow student, a fit rugby playing lad, became unwell and was later diagnosed with scurvy. It turned out that he would make a big batch of porridge at the beginning of the week and eat only that for the rest of it. Students can have odd behaviour can’t they? Would we have called his behaviour odd twenty years ago if he only ate meat? Maybe, but we wouldn’t have had to call him an ambulance.

The last time I checked, well known carnivores Shawn Baker and Mikhaila Peterson are still alive and both in better shape than ever.  We live in a strange old world where people would rather see them fail and get scurvy (based on stuff they learned age 9 and orange juice advertising) than acknowledge the changes they have made to their health. They have both made remarkable changes on their carnivore diets and they aren’t the only ones.

So next time you see someone tucking in to a steak whilst you’re eating your low fat cereals, don’t bother reminding them they might get scurvy, it’s more likely that that’s your fate rather than theirs.

Suzie

Please help me write the book – a new Patreon page.

Please help me write the book – a new Patreon page.

Let’s do this! Please help me write the book. I’ve launched a Patreon page to help enable my research and writing. Against The Grain – a lifestyle manifesto for the future of the NHS. You can follow this link to become a patron here. Thank […]

Beanz means more than they care to tell you about…

Beanz means more than they care to tell you about…

I adore baked beans, I always have done. Whenever I went home from University my Mum would make a special  effort to stock up on lots of tins just for me. It wasn’t just Heinz that I liked, any variety would do. I love them […]

I don’t have time to wait for your precious trials.

I don’t have time to wait for your precious trials.

We go to conferences for a lot of reasons, education, CPD, a day out of the office, networking. Networking means meeting up with like minded people but it also means stepping out of your bubble and meeting face to face with those who may not share your song-sheet. This latter scenario is more than likely to happen at a conference for medics about nutrition and public health, especially if you have a slightly controversial way of eating.

If I had known, I wouldn’t have chosen to sit next to the excitable judging vegan at dinner but the opportunity to talk did lead to some interesting discussion.

I don’t attack anyone who chooses a lifestyle that is different to mine, there are of course good vegan diets and there are highly processed, sugary breakfast cereal and Dorito diets. In my opinion if any diet requires supplementation then there is something fundamentally wrong with that diet. As I said, I don’t make personal attacks but I do get them, in social media land, for eating meat. That aside, and back to dinner…

As my prawn in garlic butter starter arrived I was informed that I really needed to consider a plant based diet for my health.

My dinner companion was staunchly against a low carbohydrate diet, her main argument being that “there is no existing data about low carb diets that tells us they are safe in the long term”. It is a line that I have heard before, to the letter, so I concluded that this was not her own conclusion. That aside, she went on to acknowledge my recent weight loss, that I no longer need to take a PPI or an inhaler, or regular pain killers, or any antidepressants that I had taken in the past. She acknowledged that it was great I could now ski with my children and that I enjoy martial arts training with them also, but she remained concerned about my future because “there’s no data”.

Well, here’s my data.

Right now I’m sitting on a high speed train heading home. There are no double blind randomised controlled trials by some eminent Harvard epidemiologist to tell me that not sticking my head out of the door is better for my long term health. Without that paper, I just don’t know what decision to make! My point is this. It is not a good enough academic argument to tell me that there are no high-evidence-level papers. If a student said that to me I would say “well done for your literature search, now let me hear what YOU think, what’s your best educated guess? Let’s formulate some ideas and thoughts. What do you think my future might have looked like without a change.”

I will tell you what my future looked like, as I told her. It looked like more and more physical inability, not being able to play with my children, it looked like diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, perhaps chronic kidney disease and hypertension. It looked like more medication, more PPI, more painkillers, diabetes medication, antihypertensives. It looked like more issues with PCOS and more depressive episodes.  It looked like an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and some cancers. With this going on I can tell you that my risk of dying younger is increased. It looked sad. That’s what we can say my future looked like, before I ditched the sugar and the grains, the breakfast cereals and the low fat yoghurts. So you might not have a paper, but I’m not waiting for you to catch up. I’m hedging my bets right now.

The conversation then turned to our views on intermittent fasting or time restricted eating but that’s for the next blog post…

As my main course arrived, a steak with a few more prawns, she looked longingly at my plate. “I love prawns in garlic butter” she muttered.

Yes, so do I.

Suzie

 

My Keto Woman Podcast episode

My Keto Woman Podcast episode

I had the absolute pleasure of talking with Daisy Brackenhall last month on her Keto Woman Podcast. We talked about low-carb diets, how I have managed mine and how doctors in the UK are using them to manage diabetes and obesity, as well as other […]

We treat the NHS the way we treat Type II Diabetes. Really badly.

We treat the NHS the way we treat Type II Diabetes. Really badly.

We treat the NHS the way we treat Type II Diabetes and our priorities are all wrong. With T2DM, a condition brought on by years of sugar and carbohydrate loading, we continue to shovel in more refined carbohydrates, starches and sugars. We hope it will […]

You need to make a choice.

You need to make a choice.

Newspaper headlines can be confusing with what’s good for you one minute being bad for you the next. It’s understandable that you feel confused, that is after all what the headlines are designed to do, to unsettle you. The difference between relative risk and absolute risk is often lost when it comes to drama hunting headline writers, they will pick the most dramatic.

The answer to all this though, is not apathy or blaming confusion for your lack of action. If you’re worried about weight gain and ill health then you need to make a choice.

Making a choice to follow an idea might just be the action you need. It is action, one way or another, that gets results. I have nothing against people who choose to eat a vegan diet, though I don’t think it is the answer for good health, but people who have chosen this diet have made a choice and that is to be commended. There are others who eat are carnivore diet, again it isn’t my choice, though I am probably not far off it. Again, they are to be commended for making a choice because ultimately they will find that it works for them or if it doesn’t.

Give something a chance but if it doesn’t work, change it.

This is the problematic rut that many of us have found ourselves in. Yo-yo dieting happened because we kept trying what ultimately didn’t work. Weight came back on, so we’d better just try that miserable low-fat calorie counting again. That’s the definition of madness is it not? Trying to do what you’ve always tried to do, and expecting something different in return?

If you’ve tried this approach before but you still find yourself unable to lose weight or if you can’t find the health you’d like, it is time to try something else. I would suggest a low-carbohydrate and high fat diet, eating real food and ditching the processed starch, sugar and fake seed oils.

I can say for sure that doing nothing and not making a choice will lead to exactly where you are now.

Eat the bacon.

Suzie

 

Getting started with your ketogenic diet : Part II

Getting started with your ketogenic diet : Part II

After I received a few questions about how to get started with losing weight on a ketogenic or low carbohydrate diet, I wrote Getting started with your ketogenic diet : Part I,  giving my thoughts on which foods to eat and avoid. Now for a […]

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