Around the Web; Back from Vacation Edition

A lot has happened since we last did a round-up. Here is a sampling of things we’ve found interesting:

[1] Interesting posts: Jamie Scott channeled his inner Staffan Lindeberg and performed the Vanuatu Study: “The Diet and Lifestyle of the People of Vanuatu: Paleo in Paradise”. It has a lot of pictures and descriptions of the Kitava-like Paleo diet and attractive good health of the natives. Unfortunately, fewer Melanesians are eating traditional diets, and we may not be able to observe traditional diets in native populations much longer.

Chris Masterjohn helps us understand Weston A. Price. He also did a fascinating podcast with Chris Kresser on LDL cholesterol: The Healthy Skeptic Podcast Episode 11. Speaking of cholesterol, Ned Kock reported that alcohol increases LDL cholesterol in people with the ApoE e4 allele, but decreases LDL cholesterol in people with the ApoE e2 allele.

In another post, Ned notes that a 6-foot man can be strong and healthy at 145 pounds. The moral: Be yourself; don’t think your body needs to look like someone else’s.

The opportunity to reverse Type 2 diabetes by diet was in the news, because of a UK study (Pubmed, Full text) in which 11 patients experienced normalization of beta cell function and reversal of Type 2 diabetes on a diet of 600 calories per day: 280 carb calories, 200 protein calories, and 120 fat calories per day (plus considerable fat released from adipose tissue). This is a starvation diet, below our safe minimum of 600 carb+protein calories and undoubtedly deficient in micronutrients and complex biological compounds, since it’s almost impossible to be well nourished on less than 1200 calories per day of real food. Indeed, people on the diet felt they were starving:

“It was very tough. I was hungry all the time. It was a starvation diet and food was on your mind all the time,” he said.

Many bloggers commented, including Peter Dobromylskyj, Jenny Ruhl, and Pål Jåbekk.

Melissa McEwen cured a skin condition by getting more vitamin A. Matt Stone offered a Paleo failure story, and linked to some pictures of hypothyroid faces. CarbSane found that selenium cured her insomnia; in the comments Mario argues that selenium may be protecting against metal and halogen toxicity.

Keith Woodford links to research showing that opioid peptides from cow’s milk drank by the mother can enter babies via breast milk and argues “the implications are huge”. Dr. Briffa notes that the artificial sweetener aspartame is converted to formaldehyde, a potent carcinogen, in the body. Chris Kresser discusses why it’s possible to have trouble with coconut milk. In the comments Tony Mach says the biggest BPA exposure comes from handling cash register receipts.

At Angelo Coppola’s “Latest in Paleo” blog, breastfeeding advice from a recovered boob nazi. (I may discuss this post a bit in an upcoming blog post.)

Via The Telegraph, many dishwashers are infected with fungi and deposit potentially dangerous fungal pathogens on plates and utensils. Via Craig Newmark, Top Ten Myths About Introverts.

Tom Naughton reveals that the government issued health warnings against cholesterol in the 1960s at the direction of Lyndon Johnson – who wanted to reduce the price of eggs to improve the inflation statistics!

NBA player Robert Horry leaves a poignant letter to his daughter, who died from a genetic disease.

Finally, for our academic readers, the oldest known journal rejection letter, written to Ptolemaeus in regard to his method for measuring the circumference of the earth.

[2] Don’t sleep on the sofa darling: Thursday’s post called to mind Petula Clark’s great hit:

In this video, recorded live in 2003 in Paris, Petula is 70 years old and looks great. At 78 she’s still performing. I wonder what diet she eats?

(The 1967 studio version can be heard here.)

[3] It’s safe to come out:

[4] Thank you, Pål – and thank you, readers: While we were on vacation, Pål Jåbekk of Ramblings of a Carnivore posted a very nice review of our book: “The As Good Health As Possible Diet”:

I would like there to be one diet book. One book that is constantly updated with new research. It would be The Diet Book. The book that made all other diet books superfluous. The go to place for everyone interested in achieving good health. The only book we would need….

The one book I’ve found that comes closest to being the diet book to end all other diet books is Perfect Health Diet. Had it replaced the official dietary guidelines we might actually be getting somewhere. The Perfect Health Diet book is not a perfect book, nor should it be. I think that some of the composition could be improved as well as the lay out and I would’ve liked to see some statements moderated, but content wise and information wise, Perfect Health Diet appears as a good first draft of a book with the potential to end the need for any more diet books.

I am excitedly looking forward to the second edition.

Pål is one of our favorite bloggers and a perspicacious writer on health, so this is high praise. As he says, our book is a work in progress. We are still learning, and that is why blogging is so much fun. The growth of knowledge is a cooperative process, and we continue to learn from other bloggers and from our readers.

We believe that diet should be a primary therapy for all diseases, and that with a good diet and appropriate antimicrobial therapies nearly all diseases can be cured. It’s exciting therefore to hear from readers, especially sick readers, who apply our ideas. We are grateful to readers who share their experiences with us, whether good or bad. Both successes and failures are educational.

Like Pål, we look forward to a second edition. We aim for the perfect diet, but we know that we have not yet written the perfect book. To achieve excellence, an evolutionary process is usually required. We’re most grateful to all those who apply our ideas and help us refine them.

[5] Another migraine success story: Speaking of reader feedback, it was great to hear from Rebecca Lachance on Facebook:

Just a note of thanks for helping me control migraines/headaches. Ketogenic diet has made an enormous difference in my life. Down from 24 days of headaches in February to only 4 days in June! My M.D. is suffering cognitive dissonance – thrilled with the decrease of headaches, but “suggests” a minimal dose of statins to prevent atherosclerosis – despite an HDL of 99 and TRG of 52. Obviously, I won’t be taking statins!… Thanks again.

We believe that ketogenic diets are probably therapeutic for nearly all neurological diseases, so we hope more people with brain or nerve disorders will try our version of the ketogenic diet.

[6] Don’t rush to your funeral: A Russian woman, wrongly declared dead, woke up at her own funeral and had a heart attack when she realized she was about to be buried alive.

[7] It’s good to supplement magnesium: A study in AJCN found that women in the highest quartile of dietary magnesium had a 37% lower risk of sudden cardiac death, and in the highest quartile of serum magnesium had a 77% lower risk of sudden cardiac death, than women in the top quartiles. In the same issue, a clinical trial found that supplementation of 500 mg/day magnesium was beneficial for obese people.

We recommend supplementing magnesium at 200 mg to 400 mg per day. 500 mg/day is more likely to produce an observable effect in a 4-week trial, but is more than we would recommend for long-term supplementation.

[8] My interview with Cary Nosler’s Wide World of Health: The podcast is available for download here.

[9] Getting Real at Whole Foods: This has been making the rounds, but it’s good enough for one more showing:

Via Melissa McEwen.

[10] O Primitivo on LDL, meat, and mortality: Ricardo (“O Primitivo”) of Canibais e Reis (“Cannibals and Kings” in Portuguese; inspired by Marvin Harris’s book), who was the source of the data discussed in Tuesday’s post, tried to leave a comment there but it had too many links for our spam filter and was lost. Fortunately, he emailed me with some fascinating information.

First, he has compiled a database specifically correlating LDL cholesterol levels to various health conditions. This is a very valuable database and I hope he’ll blog about it before long. LDL levels are highly correlated with total cholesterol, so the results are similar to those in his total cholesterol database, but still interesting.

O Primitivo also sent links to some of his blog posts:

Plus a number of links to recent papers which I’ll leave for him to blog about.

Since he has so much good material, and many people will lack time to explore it all, let me give you one highlight. From his document on animal-vegetable ratios, the fraction of food intake from animals versus mortality:

Take that, vegetarians!

Thank you, Ricardo, for all the great information. You have a fantastic blog.

[11] The cat who didn’t bark:

[12] Quote of the week: From a comment by Chris Friederich on Chris Masterjohn’s blog:

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as the souls of those who live under tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

[13] Who eats better, lab mice or humans?: Paleo bloggers frequently mock scientists for the “Western” diet fed to lab mice: usually some mix of sucrose, casein, and soybean oil. After watching this video, what strikes me about the ingredient lists is that the scientists are right. “Western” humans are eating an awful lot of artificially-colored animal chow:

[14] Race to the bottom continues: Via Bix at Fanatic Cook, a Japanese food scientist has learned how to make “turd burgers” – fake meat made of protein derived from bacteria in sewage, and “improved” by the addition of soy protein:

[15] Shou-Ching’s photo art: Belated Father’s Day edition:

[16] Weekly video: The United States has been losing family farms. One reason is aggressive enforcement of counter-intuitive and health-damaging farm regulations. The new movie “Farmageddon” documents how difficult it is for family farms to produce healthy food. Here is the trailer:

Farmageddon – Movie Trailer from Kristin Canty on Vimeo.

Via Scott Kustes.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Hi, that Jefferson quote is just a paraphrase. The correct quote is:

    “Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now. Thus in France the emetic was once forbidden as a medicine, and the potatoe as an article of food.”

    see here:

    Have to give it to the French, they are not entirely stupid. Pass me some emetic please…

  2. The full quote is in The Jeffersonian cyclopedia. P 386

  3. Thanks, Ben. Since our government has banned the potato from school lunches, but not emetics, I’d say we’ve progressed little.

  4. I always enjoy Shou-Ching’s photo art but this one was especially good. Ain’t that the truth, although some men are more bumper stickers than volume, but that doesn’t sound as profound so I’ll forgive Mr. Channing.

  5. A little off topic, but I’m gonna ask anyway: Do you guys think the ketogenic diet has promise for depression? The only evidence i found was a study done in rats: PMID: 15601609

  6. Ricardo of Canibais e Reis is fantastic! He is so prolific that is hard to imagine where he gets time to have a life!

    BPA from cash paper is scary! It’s everywhere! Imagine the huge contamination of the environment.

    It’s absorbed thru skin, and, if for those who have the habit of using alcohol for disinfection, it will penetrate deeper!

  7. Hi Stabby,

    I’d like to see your photo art! Raccoons and humor could be a good mix.

    Hi Ben,

    Yes, we do.

    Some benefits would be immediate but there may be long-term therapeutic benefits as well, if depression as we believe is usually precipitated by brain infections. The ketogenic diet promotes the brain’s immunity against bacteria and viruses.

    Hi Mario,

    Yes, I’m sure I miss many gems from Ricardo because he writes faster than I can read!

    BPA – I’m not sure how bad it is but it’s a great tip to avoid the cash register receipts.

  8. I love Ricardo too. Amazing. I wish I could read Portuguese. As for BPA (and other plastic-derived chemicals) – I never heat anything in plastic anymore, and I try not to let the children handle receipts (I handle them as little as possible) and for the most part avoid canned food (the exceptions being coconut milk and some tomato products).

  9. Nice to see Ned getting more press — he has a great blog. However, I left a comment on his blog expressing my disagreement with some of the specifics of his claim, though. Namely, the fighter in the photo is probably not quite 6′ tall (Ned agrees), and right after the weigh-in, he probably went on to gain 20 lbs.

    I’m nitpicking, but I think most men at 6′, 145 lbs. are not going to look very good, and will probably be healthier if they gain some weight.

  10. Hi Jae,

    Yes, I’m doubtful the fighter could maintain all 3 of health, strength, and 145 lbs indefinitely. It’s much easier to be healthy, strong, and hit 145 lbs for a single weigh-in.

    Still, Ned’s main point stands. A lot of hunter-gatherers are slender, lean, and wiry, but still strong. There are different body types. One should strive to be healthy and strong, not strive after someone else’s specific weight and build.

  11. Oh, I agree absolutely with Ned’s larger point, and told him as much. I just think the 6′ and 145 lbs. figure is a bit hyperbolic and not realistic for most of the general population.

  12. Native Forest brand coconut milk is PBA free. So is the canned fish from Vital Choice.

    The lining of the metal tops for both Ball and Kerr home canning jars has BPA

  13. The “meat” of the turd burger is composed of proteins and other stuff extracted from bacteria who are feasting on the feces. Since bacteria are their own kingdom (i.e. not animal in nature), turd burgers are fully vegan compliant. So, let them eat that sh…

  14. Hi Stipetic,

    Yes, vegans shouldn’t oppose the killing of bacteria! They don’t object to antibiotics.

    Still, they will like to know what they’re eating … I know I would prefer my bacteria to be organic, live and probiotic.

  15. On the “Statistics on the ratio of animal to plant foods in the diet versus longevity” : sorry but doesn’t seem really convincing. Basically when you look at the graph you can very quickly see a correlation between level of wealth of a country and the level of animal consumption + a correlation between level of wealth and life expectancy, but very hard to prove a direct correlation between animal consumption and life expectancy from those data: of course Zimbabwians have trouble buying meat right now but I am sure the state of their health care system is more of a problem, Cuba -a classic outlier on health related graphs- probably demonstrates once again that the state of the health care system is crucial.

    This graph would be a bit more valuable if it was comparing countries with the same level of development. But when you look only at the developped countries, which are all at the top of course, with higher life expectancies (above 70), you lose the correlation and get a wide range of animal consumption (from 0.25 Japan, to 0.70 Iceland). Seems like a pretty flat line to me….

    I totally agree with your ideas about nutrition but I don’t think we need to present flawed data to prove them 🙂

  16. Hi Anais,

    “Flawed” data? The data is not flawed. Inferences drawn from it may be, but not the data.

    We don’t generally present information here to “prove” our diet. Actually, we kind of think our book presents the proof for our diet. On the blog we look at all kinds of data with interest, sometimes for entertainment, sometimes to see if we need to refine our ideas.

    Agreed that we can only infer limited amounts from that correlation … but what do people eat when they are very poor? The cheapest calories — grains (wheat, corn, sorghum) and beans. I think it does provide another data point that grain-based diets are bad.

    Japan is an interesting case. It shows that it’s possible to be healthy on a high-carb diet, but all the other countries with a ratio of 0.25 who have much poorer health show that it’s harder than on high-animal diets. I think this is more evidence that rice is OK, and that toxicity of plant foods matters more than macronutrient ratios. Japanese diets may be high in plants, but they’re low in toxins.

    Medical care, unfortunately, has little correlation with life expectancy or health.

    Best, Paul

  17. Medical care has little correlation with life expectancy ? 🙂

    The graph is presenting data about life expectancy at birth, i don’t see how you can deny that the huge gap in infant mortality rates between countries, due in particular to infectious diseases, is not primarily explained by medical care. And this gap in infant mortality has a huge statistical impact on the global life expectancy: in Mauritania -my country- if you live past 4 or 5 years old you can actually expect to live pretty long (nomadic country with camel milk as the basis of the diet), but because of the high infant mortality rate, the life expectancy at birth is a miserable 55 or so.

    The impact of nutrition is crucial for non communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart diseases, but those diseases have just very recently become the primary killers worldwide. If you look at the numbers, again, the extremely low life expectancy of people from Zimbabwe, Lesotho or Swaziland is not explained by the fact that they die from a heart attack at 60 after eating greasy french fries, but more likely from malaria at 4, in a civil war at 30 or from hiv-aids at 35 (sorry for the sterotypes).

    Anyways, I guess we see this issue from a very different place. In the US nutrition seem to be the key to health and now that you don’t have to deal so much with measles and tuberculosis, it probably is, but to the point that people can forget what it is Not to have some basic medical care. In other places, especially in Africa, I think we are condemned to value medical care a bit more 🙂

  18. Hi Anais,

    Little correlation after accounting for wealth … which is a point you just made!

    Infant mortality fell from clean sewage systems, plumbing, and water treatment. There was another gain from antibiotics. But at this point, the beneficial medical treatments are inexpensive and nearly universally available, and there is little correlation between amount spent on medical care and health or longevity. This is true within the US as well as internationally.

    Your observations about why people die are correct. There are certainly places in the world where more or better medical care would help. But for the most part, medical care is not the primary bottleneck in improving health – sanitation, nutrition, and cultural practices that promote disease are the biggest factors.

  19. I’m a vegetarian who’s offended by that graph, but not for the intended reason. Look closely at the countries and you’ll see what’s going on. The countries on the right are wealthier, so they eat more animal products because they can afford to. And unlike the countries on the left, they have excellent healthcare and sanitation, and are not burdened by poverty, war, and infectious disease. Maybe the reason Lesotho has such dismal healthy life expectancy is not because they eat a plant-based diet, but because they have a rampant HIV epidemic? And maybe the reason Iceland has such excellent healthy life expectancy is not because of their animal-based diet, but because their well-maintained universal healthcare system?

    • Hi Nick,

      Yes, it’s true, income is a dominant factor in health/longevity and also in dietary choices, with animal food consumption highly correlated to income.

      On the other hand, one also has to ask: why is it that wealthy people who can eat anything they want, are attracted to animal foods? Doesn’t that indicate that our evolved hunger/appetite regulation systems in the brain prefer animal foods? Would such a preference have evolved if animal foods weren’t good for us?

      To do a serious scientific investigation one would have to disentangle many factors. All we did was present a striking correlation. I don’t claim it’s decisive, but I do think it’s meaningful.

      • I think that argument is specious, since wealthy people also tend to eat more refined carbohydrates and sugars. Surely, you wouldn’t insinuate that those foods are good for us too?

        • In the US, poor people eat more refined carbohydrates and sugars. I assume you mean globally. If so, that was an issue of availability — globally poor countries had few supermarkets and access to packaged goods — but that is changing. India has had a diabetes and obesity epidemic in recent decades as supermarkets and packaged foods became readily available. I don’t believe it’s the wealthier Indians who are eating most of those junk foods.

  20. I realize this is an old post, but your item in Petula Clark piqued my interest in what she eats. I found this from an interview she did when she was 75:

    “I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to food. I always order something I haven’t had before, although I won’t eat offal. I’m not a vegetarian but I’m getting there – I have red meat once or twice a month but no more than that. I’ve travelled all over Africa and eaten things not knowing what they were but I have a curious mind.”

    She only eats red meat once or twice per MONTH! Hmm…

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