May News Round-Up

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A bumper crop this month including:
· Herbs for Sleep

· Vit-D deficiency in sunny countries
· Dark chocolate helps weight loss
· Butt er and eggs won’t kill you
· Exploring ancestral nutrition
· Salt does not raise BP (yet again)
· Inequality began with farming

Herbs for Sleep

Our upcoming post ‘herbs for sleep’ has received a celebrity endorsement in The Mail (how did they know? – did they get our press release?). The article is about passiflora (passion flower) by gardener Chris Beardshaw, who excitedly tells us that there is a “real and effective medicine chest in your garden”. Thanks Chris – Yes, I know. Herbal Medicine is real medicine. Tell me about it.

Lack of sun exposure and VItamin D deficiency – a worldwide iatrogenic illness?

The hypothesis that medical recommendations to avoid sunshine and use sun screens is causing widespread vitamin D deficiency gains further support from two studies this month.

Medscape Medical News reports on a study that found 70-90% of pregnant women in mediterranean countries are vitamin D deficient. The Authors note that “In Greece, physicians advise pregnant women to stay out of the sun for fear of skin cancer; they also use sunscreen, which blocks UVB, the primary source of vitamin-D production.”

Meanwhile the Times of India reports that 70-90% of the Indian population are now vitamin D deficient partly due to sun-phobic medical advice, but also because widespread vegetarian diets lack vitamin D containing foods.

Recent vit-D supplementation trials seem to point towards positive results primarily among deficient patients (<30ng/ml 25(OH)D or <75 nmol/l in UK units), one such reported on Web MD found supplementation among vitamin D deficient overweight Americans improved weight loss. At the other end of the spectrum Medpage Today nicely summarises recent findings that vitamin D ‘overdose’ is extremely rare.

Dark Chocolate and weight loss

Mother Nature Network reports on a study that compared normal diet v low-carb diet, and a low-carb that included 40g of dark chocolate per day. The group with the dark chocolate ended up losing more weight, and keeping it off, once the study period finished.

Saturated fat and cholesterol

Daily Mail, 25th May: Why butter and eggs won’t kill us after all: Flawed science triggers U-turn on cholesterol fears. Reports on changing attitudes at the American FDA towards dietary recommendations. (When will UK guidelines be adjusted?)

Ancestral nutrition

The Guardian ran a nice article about two friends exploring North American ancestral wisdom by living off the land: “My friend Jordan and I spent a week in the wilds of Oregon, reflecting on the way my ancestors lived.”… a recommended read.

The Inquisitr reports that a woman who suffered from Lyme disease found that the only food she could eat without allergic reactions was beef. Consequently, she and her family have eaten a zero carb all-beef diet for 17 years (?!)

This reminds me of the controversial study with Stephansson who was isolated for 12 months and ate only meat, yet didn’t get scurvy. But that was 100 years ago. Here is a link to a 1930 paper in JAMA on this remarkable experiment. It would be really interesting to know more about this family’s health, blood profiles, vitamin C status etc. BTW I’m not recommending this diet just yet, but wow!

Finally, Munchies report on a young paleo couple weaning their baby on liver. The comments from the nutritionist are interesting – especially the recognition of the importance of fat in babys diets and their need for iron. Weaning babies on meat can help this. Liver seems to fit the bill, although I would limit it to once per week.

Salt – not so bad after all?

As we explored in our post Salt of the Earth sodium is probably not the health devil it has been painted as. Further evidence has emerged that “Reducing Sodium Has Minimal Effect for Teen Girls” – and includes a good general discussion of the salt controversy.

How the adoption of farming lead to inequality

To round off this month’s bumper crop of news stories, The Guardian reports on a study that compared gender roles in hunter gatherer societies to those of early farming societies. Mark Dyble, an anthropologist who led the study at University College London, said: “There is still this wider perception that hunter-gatherers are more macho or male-dominated. We’d argue it was only with the emergence of agriculture, when people could start to accumulate resources, that inequality emerged.”

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