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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 ten point action plan, or what to do next:
- Take a start weight and write it down and record the date.
- Measure: waist, chest, hips, mid-thigh and write it down.
- Make a shopping list using the “which foods to eat and avoid” list here, thinking about breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the next week.
- Go shopping.
- Download a food tracker app.
- Start tomorrow with eggs for breakfast (with butter and cream) maybe even some bacon.
- Only come back for lunch when you are actually hungry.
- Start an Instagram account, follow some low carb/keto people for ideas, inspiration and community
- Tag me on IG (@keto.edges) or on Twitter (@edgesuz) and let me know that you’re giving it a go, because support is important.
- Understand that ditching sugar, like any addiction, can be tough at first but it can be very worth it.
Some more places to go…
- I always suggest visiting dietdoctor.com because it is great, in fact much much better than my offerings. There are more getting started tips and videos and there are recipes also.
- Instagram – I have already mentioned IG because for me it has been a useful community for support and ideas and despite it being IG, they are not coming from skinny teens who don’t get the problem, there are many normal people like us, trying to lose weight. Find me @keto.edges.
- Pinterest can be inspiring. Of course, it is all the beautiful pictures in one place but there are some recipes and inspiration. On Pinterest you can find more and more complicated recipes for things like fatbombs and fake breads, these aren’t necessary but can be fun if you are a foody.
- Ketogenicforums.com is a forum all about keto diets where lots and lots of questions can be answered.
- Podcasts can be really informative and inspiring. Search within the music store for keto or low carb podcasts but I would suggest 2 Keto Dudes and Keto Woman podcast are good places to start.
Let me know how you are getting on.