Veganism

Vegetarians are people who do not eat meat. Their diet consists mainly of plant foods but they will often consume animal products like milk, cheese, yoghurt and eggs. Some of them are pescatarians and they will include fish in their diet. Vegans take things a step further and exclude all animal foods. They only consume plant foods and some will also refuse to use any animal products like wearing leather shoes or belts. There has been a surge of interest in veganism in recent times. Reports in the media suggest that a vegan, or plant-based, diet is more healthy than an omnivore diet; it is kinder to animals and it is better for the environment. Are these claims true?

No, they are not true. An important aspect of this site is to demonstrate the benefits of animal-sourced foods for our physical and mental health and the necessity of correctly managed livestock for environmental health. An entirely plant-based diet leads to nutrient deficiencies, especially in children. The intensive farming of single plant crops involves herbicides and pesticides with devastating effects on biodiversity. Vastly more creatures die in the production of grains and vegetables than die for the meat on your plate. This section of the website concentrates on why the pro-vegan story is a fallacy.

How did veganism begin?

We evolved into the people we are because, for millions of years, our ancestors ate the meat and fat of large animals. Our species is the most dominant species on the planet and we have adapted to life in all the extreme climates that exist on Earth. Indigenous tribes, unaffected by modern life, still exist around the world from rainforests and deserts to the Arctic Circle. Their diets vary but none of them have adopted a meat-free, vegan diet.

The avoidance of animal-based foods began in America in the 1850s within an illogical, religious sect called the Seventh Day Adventist Church. I call them illogical because, although they believe that God created them, they believe that sexual arousal is a sin. (Surely, if God created us, God created arousal so we ‘would go forth and multiply’.) Their leader, Ellen White, also believed that eating rich foods, like meat, stimulated sinful passion and bland foods diminished it. She preached this doctrine with great determination and convinced everyone in the Seventh Day Adventist Church to accept this idea as part of their belief. (John Harvey Kellogg was a member of this church and you can read about him here.)

In Britain, veganism began with a man called Donald Watson who founded the Vegan Society in 1944. He is credited with coining the word ‘vegan’ which he created by joining the beginning and end of the word vegetarian. He was an animal rights campaigner whose interest in veganism began when he witnessed the slaughter of a pig on a farm. He campaigned for a meat free diet because he thought farming was cruel to animals.

A plant-based diet, without the animal foods that our ancestors ate for a million years, was invented in America to reduce sexual arousal and was copied in Britain because one man thought it was cruel to animals. In neither case did it have anything to do with improvements to human health or the environment. Both of those false ideas have been added later in a cynical attempt to persuade unsuspecting people to avoid the most nutritious foods available to us, namely meat, fish, eggs and dairy.

Vitamin D and disease

Chris Whitty and Patrick Valence have consistently failed to mention the potential benefits of adequate Vitamin D levels in Covid19 patients. The following links are a sample of references relating to Vitamin D and infectious diseases, which those two senior medical advisers should be aware of. Sensible supplementation with Vitamin D carries no risk but can be of great benefit. There is no excuse for not making this information available.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27714929/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20067648/

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2770157

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.09.04.20188268v1.full.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7455115/

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/9/2757

http://www.societaitalianadiendocrinologia.it/public/pdf/hypovitaminosis_d_covid19.pdf

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315886

Covid Testing and Cases

The media is still full of horror stories about Covid19. The Government is still imposing local lockdowns and international quarantines in and from a constantly changing array of locations. The fear of this viral disease is rampant and constantly maintained by the mandatory wearing of face masks so that wherever we go we are reminded that our fellow humans may be dangerous. The graph below of Daily Deaths shows that for the last two months there have been almost no deaths related to the Coronavirus. So why do we suffer all this loss of liberty?

The story has changed. We used to hear about the number of people dying but now we only hear about the number of new cases. We are told that new cases mean the virus is spreading and, even if we have no symptoms, we could be giving it to someone who will die. As we can see in the Cases graph below numbers diminished steadily from April to mid June but have since risen slowly. The media want us to believe that the “second wave” is coming and we will have to lockdown all over again. However, there is another explanation.

During March and April, when the virus was peaking, people who were clearly ill and hospitalised were the only ones tested. When they all started getting better, the ‘Test and Trace’ idea became prevalent. This involves testing as many people as possible, especially those who may have had contact with someone else who has tested positive. When more people are tested more positive test results will be found. Does this mean the virus is spreading? The answer is not necessarily because of what the test is actually looking for. The PCR test involves taking a swab of the back of the throat and nostrils. The swab is then tested for genetic material from the virus. Remnants of viral RNA can remain in the body for weeks, or even months, and can be detected by this very sensitive test. Therefore, if you had the virus 5 weeks ago you can still test positive but you are neither infected nor infectious.

Most of these new cases are in people who are asymptomatic, but if you have no symptoms you have no illness. The definition of ‘illness’ is to be in poor health or sickness. All these cases are irrelevant if the people are not ill.

Michael Mina is an Epidemiologist, Immunologist & Physician at Harvard School of Public Health & Harvard Medical School. On August 21, 2020 he wrote this to explain the sensitivity of PCR tests for Covid19 and how they are able to give a positive result for people who are no longer infected nor infectious.

1/The molecular tools we use like PCR for #COVID19 tests detect the virus genome. Like detecting DNA in a piece of hair, detecting virus RNA tells little about whether the virus is still active…

2/When the virus is growing and someone is transmitting virus, it grows to billions of viruses. So it’s easy to detect when virus load is high using antigen tests (look for the virus proteins themselves) or PCR (look for the RNA) …

3/But after the virus is cleared by the immune system, all of those viruses leave little trails of RNA behind. The RNA gets stuck in vesicles one the cells and it can sit there, in the nose or mouth, for weeks or months at very low levels…

4/So what does this have to do with a super sensitive PCR test being too sensitive that it can potentially cause more harm than good…?

5/The PCR test can continue picking up that leftover RNA the whole time it is there – for weeks or months AFTER the viral infection has been essentially cleared. So ultimately, the majority of time spent in the PCR positive state is after infection, not transmissible

6/So this can be harmful if testing is very infrequent like it is in the US (most people get tested only once, if ever – but even if testing every few weeks)The idea of the super sensitive PCR test is to detect people when at low viral load at the beginning of infection

7/But if screening tests are only every few weeks, the chances you detect someone in the very short window of time between turning PCR positive and having 10x higher viral loads (the virus grows fast and exponentially inside the body) is very slim. This window is hours.

8/On the other hand, with a very sensitive test, people might stay positive for many weeks or even months because it continues to detect the leftover RNA from the past infection. But this can be bad – it leads to unnecessary quarantines of people already past their infection

9/ If doing low frequency screening of asymptomatic people with PCR, the majority of people found to be positive will be detected only after their infection. So in the US we are unnecessarily quarantining millions of people, assuming they are infected when they’re already recovered

10/And we are contact tracing all of these people and quarantining and testing their contacts looking only at the two days prior to their swab for the test – meanwhile they were likely infectious 1-5 weeks earlier! So wasting resources tracing the wrong people.

11/To sum, we are using extremely sensitive PCR tests for screening. They are expensive and limited so we do them very infrequently. What we gain is ability to find someone a few hours earlier – only IF by chance the swab is taken in the few hours where it makes a difference

12/What we lose is ability to more frequent tests and thus do not catch people when it matters. Further, we mistakenly end up quarantining millions of people for 10 days because we erroneously assume any PCR + test was collected at the beginning of an infection. When most are after.

13/So maybe the most sensitive PCR test is not only costly for screening, but maybe even more damaging than a cheaper more frequent lower sensitivity test. The apparent missed cases maybe aren’t false negatives. Maybe the (+) on the PCR are False (+) for actionable results

14/I think it’s time we take a hard look at the types of tests we are using, what they do and do not tell us about infection, and figure out how to use them accordingly, instead of just assuming that more sensitive is better. Maybe less sensitive is better for some things.

15/ To finish, high sensitivity PCR is great if you are a doctor and need to know what is wrong with your patient. Like a detective, you want all shreds of (RNA) evidence. But it’s not always better & sometimes a lower sensitivity test is more accurate at detecting active infection. We published on some of these issues as well as how the viral load data from the PCR could be better used clinically earlier this year: “To Interpret the SARS-CoV-2 year, consider the Cycle Threshold Value” 

Thousands of people have lost their jobs; businesses have closed; depression, suicides and paranoia are on the rise; cancer patients go untreated; children are frightened, unschooled and masked; we are not allowed to have parties or go to watch sport; we are suspicious of our fellow humans; we have sacrificed so many freedoms for the sake of ….. what? We are doing this for a rise in test results that show that people who are not ill had a virus at some time. This is not okay. This is not science. This is an agenda and it is not for our benefit. We need to complain and fight back.

Meat for Health

The media frequently report that people are cutting back on their meat consumption with the implication that eating less meat is better for our health. This misconception is often based on the idea that meat contains lots of saturated fat and has been associated with colon cancer. Neither of these things are strictly true. What meat contains a lot of is protein. The fat content varies considerably depending on the cut of meat but typically consists of more mono-unsaturated fat than saturated fat. (You can read more about why saturated fat is not to be feared here.)

The reports linking red meat to a possible rise in cancer have been severely criticised by many independent experts and you can read more about that here.

What a typical media reports fail to mention is the exceptional nutrient density of animal-sourced foods, especially red meat. A wide range of vitamins and minerals are available in significant quantities and in a bio-available form. For example, how much iron a food contains is nowhere near as important as how much of that iron can be absorbed and used. In red meat, iron exists as heme-iron, which is readily absorbed from the intestines. Plants contain an inorganic form of iron which is difficult to absorb.

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Activity Breaks

Young children need to play. They have a deep, evolutionary need to do so. This urge to play goes well beyond ‘having fun’; it develops important pathways in the brain involved in creativity and empathy. Children in Primary School often struggle to maintain their concentration in the classroom, which leads to fidgeting and disruption. Research has shown that short bursts of playful activity can boost children’s focus and attention span whilst also satisfying their urge to play.

Activity Breaks can be used at any time in a classroom when attention is waning. They consist of a variety of physical actions which are fun and energetic. They can be performed beside a child’s desk, take three or four minutes and need no equipment. Studies have shown that children love doing them and that teachers report a significant improvement in focus and engagement afterwards. The few minutes taken from a lesson when performing an Activity Break is recovered by the subsequent increase in attention. Other benefits include an improvement in physical fitness and the association in children’s minds with exercise and having fun.

The activities are cognitively engaging. In other words, they require thought, imagination and reaction. Research has shown this type of activity has a greater benefit than a simple aerobic exercise, like running on the spot. However, simple aerobic exercise is considerable better than nothing.

All Primary School teachers should have a pack of Activity Breaks cards in their desk for those moments each day when their children are flagging.

Of course, parents can use Activity Breaks at home with their own children and when they have children’s parties.

The activities are presented on A4 sheets as downloadable PDF files. When they are printed on to white card and cut into quarters they become 14 individual activities on A6 cards with a 15th card as a set of instructions.

References:

Fit children finish first in the classroom

Classroom-based high-intensity interval activity improves off-task behaviour in primary school students. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2014

Classroom-Based Physical Activity Breaks and Children’s Attention: Cognitive Engagement Works!

Exercise in schools can help children pay attention in the classroom

Losing weight

If we need to lose weight, we are told to ‘Eat less and move more’. Both of these ideas come form the mistaken belief that our weight is controlled by calories in minus – calories out. We do not have a calorie counting gland in our stomachs. However, we do have hormones and their response always differs to protein, fat or carbohydrate. It is the type of food we eat that makes us gain weight, and damages our metabolic health. These pictures do not demonstrate a long-term strategy for weight loss and health.

The obesity epidemic, which afflicts so many people, has been caused by our hormonal response to the high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet enshrined in the National Dietary Guidelines. The ‘experts’ tell us to avoid fat because there are more calories in a gram of fat than a gram of carbohydrate, but calories do not control our weight. The hormone Insulin controls our weight and carbohydrates cause a surge in insulin. Dietary fats have no meaningful effects on insulin levels.

The National Dietary Guidelines tell us to base our meals on carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, pasta and rice. All of these foods contain carbohydrate in the form of starch, which is a long chain of glucose molecules joined together. Our digestive enzymes easily slice these glucose molecules off the chain and absorb glucose into the blood stream. This makes the blood sugar level shoot up, which in turn triggers the release of insulin to bring it back to normal. If the cells don’t need any more energy and the glycogen store is full, insulin gets the liver to convert the glucose into fat. The blood sugar level now comes down but, if it has spiked high, the pancreas has to produce a lot of insulin and a lot of insulin makes the sugar level fall too low, which triggers a feeling of hunger. You only ate a couple of hours ago but now you feel hungry again. You eat some more carbohydrate and the process repeats itself.

This is known as the blood sugar roller-coaster: blood glucose spikes up; insulin stores the energy as fat; blood sugar comes down too far and you feel hungry. You eat more carbohydrate and blood sugar spikes up again and insulin stores it as fat. This is the reason obese people always keep eating. It is not because they are greedy: it is because they are hungry. They are stuck on an extreme version of the sugar and insulin roller-coaster. The only way to get off is to stop eating food that raises blood sugar. Carbohydrate raises blood sugar and insulin levels further and faster than anything else. Protein raises insulin a little bit but fat hardly moves it all.

How can we change our food intake to lose weight and improve health? Click here.

Could statins be life-saving?

"New research shows that over-75s on statin drugs are less likely to die within a decade." This story was covered by all the national newspapers in July 2020. The research in question was conducted by geriatricians at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. After looking at data from 300,000 Americans aged 75 or older, they concluded that "those taking statins were 25% less likely to die from any cause and the drugs lowered the risk of having a stroke or heart attack by a fifth."

A full-page spread in the T2 section of The Times newspaper on July 14th 2020 praised the benefit of statins to the hilt. However, it did mention that statins have been given some bad publicity because of their side-effects but to discover the truth, "We asked leading experts for the latest insight." The most frequently quoted 'expert' in the article is Dr Dermot Neely. He is a spokesman for a charity called Heart UK. It seems unlikely that Dr Neely is an independent voice on this subject because the purpose of Heart UK, according to their website, is to "prevent early disease and deaths from cholesterol and other blood fat (lipid) conditions in the UK."

The home page of the website states that "Over half of UK adults have raised cholesterol which can lead to heart disease. Together we can make things better." The website goes on to lay the blame firmly at the door of saturated fat in the diet and recommends the use of statin drugs for the avoidance of 'death from cholesterol'.

There are several problems with all of this:

  • there is a dearth of investigative journalism throughout the media, which leads to the use of confirmation bias in the selection of 'expert' opinion. Reporters look for people who will support the story they want to write instead of seeking different opinions to strike a balance.
  • reliable evidence that cholesterol and/or saturated fat causes heart disease is not available.
  • a large number of other studies have shown that older people with high levels of cholesterol live longer and healthier lives than those with low levels.

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Cholesterol

Cholesterol does not cause heart disease.

There is more myth and misinformation about cholesterol than almost any other health topic. We are frequently told that:

  • cholesterol causes heart disease
  • cholesterol sticks to the inside of our arteries causing blockages
  • LDL is ‘bad’ cholesterol, while HDL is ‘good’ cholesterol
  • we should eat a low fat diet to reduce cholesterol
  • we should eat cholesterol-lowering foods
  • if our cholesterol is high we need to take drugs to lower it

These statements are believed by the majority of people but all of these statements are wrong. They become completely illogical when you realise what cholesterol does in our bodies.

Cholesterol is vital for human health and we would all die without it. It is an essential component of every cell membrane in the body. The membrane is like the outer wall of a cell and 30% of the membrane is cholesterol. Cholesterol keeps the membrane stable and durable, without being rigid, enabling our cells to change shape and allowing us to move. (Plants don’t have cholesterol and their cells are rigid.) It also allows essential nutrients to travel through the membrane and into the cell from the blood stream.

Almost every cell in the body manufactures its own cholesterol, as does the liver. Eating foods high in cholesterol makes no real difference to blood cholesterol because the liver produces less if we eat more and it produces more if we eat less. Consuming foods that are ‘low in cholesterol’ is a waste of time: you are just giving your liver more work to do.

Cholesterol is necessary to produce our steroid hormones. Steroid hormones help control metabolism, inflammation, immune functions, salt and water balance and all our sexual characteristics and functions. Without cholesterol, there would be no reproduction. When we produce vitamin D in our skin it is made from a cholesterol molecule.

There are thousands of miles of nerve fibres in our body which are covered by a myelin sheath. Cholesterol is an essential component of this protective layer. It is so important to the nervous system that 25% of all the cholesterol in our body is found in the brain. Studies in the elderly show that people with higher cholesterol levels live longer than people with low cholesterol and they have far less mental decline and very little memory loss.

Hundreds of millions of years ago evolution developed the cholesterol molecule, which is vital to so many functions in our body. Why would evolution allow such an important molecule to cause heart disease and kill us? No matter what the ‘experts’ say, I find it impossible to believe that cholesterol causes heart disease. Cholesterol is not the Grim Reaper’s best friend: it is more like our best friend.