Red Meat Risk for Health

The “so-called” experts on diet and health seem to be once again twisting the numbers to achieve some alternative gains at the expense of public health. This has been highlighted by Kevin White in the UK publication “The Grocer”.

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

There is a group led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle (USA), that publish a paper each year which is titled The Global Burden of Disease (GBD). They recently published a paper in The Lancet, which suggested that deaths from eating red meat around the world had risen

  • from 25,000 in 2017
  • to 896,000 in 2019.

This would be a 36-fold (3,484%) increase in the threat to human health from eating meat in two years. These same authors stated in 2017 that red meat was the least important of 15 dietary risk factors studied.

Understandably this has been challenged by nutrition scientists who have requested that the group produce the evidence for this increase. The claim by GBD is puzzling when we realize that after a “forensic examination” of the data and its assumptions by the nutrition scientists – which also includes globally-recognized meat expert professor Frederic Leroy of Vrije Universiteit in Brussels – it was then compared to a collection of global meta-analyses looking at the relationship between eating red meat and human ill health and deaths. The scientists concluded they could “find no relationship” between the meta-analyses and the GBD data.

A big problem with junk science like this is that it is picked up and published and then used as justification for policies. For example:

This “statistic” has been used as part of the justification for a reduction in red meat consumption as published in the “Eat Lancet Diet” and is referenced in major UK policy documents – including Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy. It has also been referenced in publications by the UN Food System Summit, and the EU’s Farm To Fork Strategy. According to an article in “Farming Independent”, by Claire McCormack, Since publication, GBD 2019 has been cited by 635 documents, including 351 scientific papers and nine policy documents such as the UK’s National Food Strategy.

Here is how the Global Burden of Disease study is described on their website:-

The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study is the most comprehensive worldwide observational epidemiological study to date. Led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle (USA) the GBD study offers a powerful resource to understand the changing health challenges facing people across the world in the 21st century.

Unfortunately a failure to provide the evidence for this will severely undermine the GBD reporting validity and raise serious ethical questions about the motivation of this group and their supporters.

It is very unlikely that a rise of over 3000% in 2 years is even possible, let alone likely.

The great danger of people taking this “junk evidence” seriously Is that it may lead to policies and activities that further erode the understanding of the critical nature of animal food for human health.

To their credit, I understand that the Lancet Publication has also requested evidence to support the GBD claims.

Animal foods are very important for world wide diets because of their high nutrient density. Vitamin K2 for calcium management and vitamin B12 only come from animal foods. Both are critical for reducing heart disease risk. Many people are iron, zinc and folate deficient which is exacerbated by the low bio-availability of these in plant foods. These are much more bio-available in animal foods.

Most plant foods also have some form of anti-nutrient which binds up the minerals in your meal and removes them from your body leaving you under-nourished. For example, wheat flour binds up zinc and iron in your meal so you get less of these essential mineral nutrients from your meal. It is thought that this binding action could be a major factor in the cause of so much poor health in the longer term vegan community.

The very high levels of Omega-6 fats from heavy consumption of vegetable/seed oils and the very low levels of Omega-3 fats is another major concern. Enlightened heath experts recommend a ratio (Omega-6:Omega-3) of these at about 4:1 or less, based on historical levels before the introduction of industrial seed oils to the diet.

As always, if you want to understand how to improve your health with your diet, take a look at my book – “Take Back Your Health”, by George Elder for sale on Amazon.com or available from the Selwyn District Library, in New Zealand.

www.takebackyrhealth.com

Best of health to you, George Elder.

Overcoming Anxiety

You may have heard of serotonin, the happiness molecule, but do you know what it really does?

Serotonin is a chemical produced in your body, mostly in your gut, but some is produced in your brain. It is a neurotransmitter, which means it helps with nerve signaling, and is involved in sleep, memory, learning, healing and is the chemical that promotes calmness and contentment. People with healthy levels of this are generally happy.

In order to make serotonin, your body needs all the necessary components. Magnesium is needed, but the most important component is the essential amino acid, tryptophan, which comes from various foods, a little from bread, pasta, corn, bananas, and cookies, but the most abundant sources of tryptophan are high protein foods like tuna, dairy products, turkey, beef, pork, chicken, and eggs.

It is easy to get too little of this essential amino acid because if you drink diet sweetened foods or caffeinated drinks, or you are not getting enough healthy fats such as butter, olive oil, and animal fats then your tryptophan levels can be depleted. Tryptophan levels can also be depleted by stress, lack of natural light, low calorie diets, skipped meals or by lack of exercise. While coffee will stimulate dopamine (the pleasure molecule), it will suppress serotonin (the happiness molecule) over time.

In USA in 1989, the FDA called for a voluntary ban on tryptophan supplements due to a faulty contaminated batch and these only became available again without prescription in USA in 2000. In other countries it has continued to be available, while in USA many doctors switched to prescribing Prozac.

All this means is that if you want to be happy, calm and contented, then your diet really matters as does exercise and getting sufficient natural light. This is especially important for women because females typically generate about one third less serotonin than males. For vegetarians or vegans this is even more difficult as the tryptophan level in their diet is usually very low.

This might be much more important than just a happy feeling. People, who have low levels of serotonin can suffer from anxiety, lack of confidence, panic attacks, depression, obsessive behavior and sleep disorders. It seems that the psychology profession is just beginning to realize the importance of this diet and mental health linkage.

The new field of nutrition psychology is gaining traction fast with psychologists now realizing that poor diet is a major factor in many of the conditions patients present with, and often these conditions can be assisted or even corrected by changing the patients diet. Central to these changes is increasing the level of animal protein while reducing grains and sugar.

Unfortunately, I hear that many people on bad diets often don’t know this and never realize their health problems are caused by their diet. It is only after they make major diet changes and begin to feel hugely better that they realize just how sick their diet was making them. This is particularly a problem for those who are very committed to their diet because their beliefs make them reluctant to even test whether a diet change could help.

So to pull all this together, if you suffer from anxiety, worry easily, have panic attacks, have a tendency to be negative, get edgy or irritable easily, have difficulty sleeping, suffer from jaw pain, or can be a bit obsessive or forgetful, then low serotonin might be a factor. Take a hard look at your diet or try a tryptophan supplement. I read that for many people results can be almost immediate.

As always, for more information you can view my blog at: www.takebackyrhealth.com

You will find a link to my book “Take Back Your Health”

Good Health, George Elder.


Just reduce calories

Have you heard that before, “Just reduce calories and do more exercise”.

If you asked most people including many doctors how to lose weight, they might have told you this. It seems so easy and we have seen pictures of skinny people who have been starved or who have survived famines. Some people can do it but very few sustain it, even if it seems simple.

Your body is very smart. Different parts of you body have different needs. So this means that if you reduce your calories, your body will choose which processes in your body will get the reduced available nutrients from your food and which parts will not.

Your brain and your heart are likely to be given priority, because these organs are critical to your survival. Your hair, skin and nails can probably function without the best nutrition for a while and you won’t die. You may find that these parts of your body and others deemed less important, gradually become less healthy than they should be. This is a decline in your basal metabolic rate. At the same time the alarm bells will be going off in your body with a strong message to upload more nutrients. This will make you really hungry.

There is strong proof of this problem. Towards the end of World War II, the US Government commissioned a starvation study, called the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. 36 male volunteers were subjected to a 6 month period of only about 1600 calories per day. They were fed mainly potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, bread and macaroni. This was a high carbohydrate diet and the participants got sick.

This from Wikipedia: “The prolonged semi-starvation produced significant increases in depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis. Most of the subjects experienced periods of severe emotional distress and depression. Participants exhibited a preoccupation with food, both during the starvation period and the rehabilitation phase. Sexual interest was drastically reduced, and the volunteers showed signs of social withdrawal and isolation. The participants reported a decline in concentration, comprehension and judgment capabilities. There were marked declines in physiological processes indicative of decreases in each subject’s basal metabolic rate (the energy required by the body in a state of rest), reflected in reduced body temperature, respiration and heart rate.”

The reduction in metabolic rate means that their body’s were operating with a lower required level of calories and when this happens, it usually stops further weight loss. To continue weight loss in this situation requires even further calorie reduction.

It doesn’t have to be like this. In the 1970’s, 2 researchers George Blackburn and Bruce Bistrian at Harvard Medical School developed what they called a “protein-sparing modified fast” to treat patients with obesity: 650 to 800 calories a day of nothing but lean fish, meat, and fowl. It had effectively no carbohydrates, making it a ketogenic diet, albeit a very low-calorie version. In one 1985 publication reporting on almost seven hundred patients, the average weight loss was nearly fifty pounds in four months. The patients felt little hunger while on the diet. “They loved it,” Bistrian said. “It was an extraordinarily safe way to get large amounts of weight loss.”

Bistrian and Blackburn did not continue it, because in those days they mistakenly thought that having such a low level of carbohydrates in the diet was unhealthy. Nowadays we know better.

The difference between these 2 diets is the level of carbohydrates. Unfortunately continuous high carbohydrate levels with low calories, force starvation mode because the resulting high level of insulin prevents the body from accessing fat reserves. When a person becomes fat adapted and fuels their body with high fats and very low carbohydrates, the body does not go into starvation mode because it uses stored body fat reserves to provide the missing calories and nutrients.

One of the most successful ways to get your body into fat burning mode is to switch to a ketogenic diet. My book “Take back your health” available on Amazon in e-book and paperback gives a very easy to follow guide to making this change.

I have been eating this way now for nearly 3 years and it is almost effortless. No weighing food or counting calories is necessary. I very seldom feel hungry. Do I need carbs for exercise and energy, no way. I go running, use the gym, go swimming and kayaking anytime with no shortage of energy. In fact most people who make this switch claim to have increased energy.

Am I worried that eating meat will impact climate change? Of course. But animals grown using regenerative agriculture actually sequester carbon into the earth, so I’m am doing the right thing. Grains growing in large mono-crop areas and fertilized by man-made petrochemical fertilizers is killing our soils and reducing nutrients available from our food, not to mention the thousands of small animals killed by this farming approach. So reducing my carbohydrate intake is supporting climate change objectives.

As I have explained, reducing calories does reduce weight, but unless you do it right, it is unsustainable and you will fail. Apparently almost all of “The biggest losers” put their weight back on over the following years.

For more information on health, nutrition and weight loss, read my blog at “www.takebackyrhealth.com” where you will find a link to my book.

As always, good health, regards George Elder.

Cancer and your diet.

There is a debate about cancer, as to whether cancer is a genetic disease, e.g. it’s in your genes and there is little you can do, or is it a metabolic disease, caused by what you eat, how you live, etc. The metabolic school of thought seems to be leading the argument, at present, and this suggests that you might have more control over your fate regarding cancer than previously thought. I recently finished reading Sam Apples new book “Ravenous” based on Otto Warburg and his cancer research from the early 20th centenary, which I can highly recommend.

This from Sam Apple’s book, “In 1982, researchers at the American Cancer Society selected a population of more than 900,000 Americans and asked them to fill out surveys that included basic personal information, such as their weight, height, and smoking habits. By 1998, almost 60,000 of the participants had died of cancer, and the American Cancer Society was anxious to figure out why. Among those digging through the data was Eugenia Calle, an American Cancer Society epidemiologist. Her study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2003, found that being overweight or obese increased the risk of nearly every cancer she looked at. Compared with a woman of normal weight, the women in the highest-weight category were 62 percent more likely to die from cancer. The most obese men, in turn, were 52 percent more likely to die from cancer.”


In 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer Research jointly published a five-hundred-page report entitled ‘Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer’. The report discusses the evidence linking diet to cancer and finds that the most convincing link is ‘greater body fatness’ to ‘cancers of the colorectal, esophagus (adenocarcinoma), pancreas, kidney and breast cancer,’ and possibly gallbladder cancer as well.

Most significant is that there is a group of ‘diseases’ including: Type 2 Diabetes, cardio vascular disease (CVD), PCOS, caries, macular degeneration, obesity, hypertension, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Cancer. These diseases are sometimes referred to as ‘Western’ diseases, or diseases of civilization, as their prevalence significantly increases after a society adopts western style nutrition including sugar, white flour and polyunsaturated industrial seed oils. So although we don’t hear it stated, cancer growth does seem to be assisted by a high carbohydrate diet including high levels of sugar and polyunsaturated omega-6 seed oils.

I read that cancers growing in a laboratory are fed insulin and glucose and don’t survive on ketones which also supports the research mentioned earlier. One researcher claims that fructose is the “perfect food” for a growing cancer precisely because it helps cancer cells to survive in low-oxygen environments.

Researchers have found that insulin and glucose reduce cancer sensitivity to chemotherapy, meaning that the chemotherapy is less effective. With a Ketogenic diet, chemotherapy is apparently more effective, cancer is more sensitive to the treatment and patients could expect to have a faster and easier recovery. There is a recommendation that they should also fast for 3 days prior to chemo, fast during the chemo and then for 2 days following. This comes from Dr Nashua Winters and Valter D. Longo, but undertake your own research of course.

From Annette Bosworth MD comes the information that one of the most renowned cancer treatment centers in the world, M. D. Anderson in Texas USA, will not begin chemotherapy for brain cancer until the patient has been in ketosis for 2 weeks.

There is a description of how cancer cells grow and divide called the Warburg effect named after the researcher Otto Warburg who was the first to identify that cancers are ravenous for glucose. This claims that most cancer cells need a glucose fuel source to grow and divide, and depriving them of this prevents cancer from growing. There is a secondary related effect of high levels of Insulin and Insulin Like Growth Factor (IGF-1) caused by high levels of insulin, stimulating cancer growth. Both have been known about for decades but until recently, largely ignored by mainstream cancer therapy. This suggests that a low carbohydrate diet, reducing glucose in the body and thereby lowering insulin levels, could halt or slow cancer proliferation.

A Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan makes use of cancer’s affinity for glucose. By inserting into your blood, a radioactive dye with glucose, a subsequent scan can locate the places in the body where glucose is being absorbed. For a cancer scan this lights up the body in places where cancer cells are ravenously eating the glucose, helping to identify if and where it has spread.

Professor Jurgen Schole, from the University of Hanover, in 1986 after his low carbohydrate research said, “we were able to demonstrate that the rates of tumor growth in experimental animals, which follow the application of carcinogens, diminish significantly when carbohydrates are replaced by the isocaloric amount (same calorific value) of fat.”

Do vegetarians suffer less from cancer? It is my understanding that many Hindus in India are strictly vegetarian. They suffer from Cancer as do other vegetarian societies. In The Masai, The Inuit and native Americans on the Great Plains, cancer was rare to absent and these societies were heavy meat eaters, sometimes solely for many months of the year. Although this is only an association, it does seem significant, as does their very low levels of sugar consumption.

It seems clear from very recent research and examination of historical research that has been overlooked for years, that sugar is likely to be “a primary cause” of cancer. Sugar pushes up glucose and fructose levels, which push up insulin levels which then stimulates cancer.

This also from Sam Apples book, – Lewis Cantley, the scientist who pioneered the study of how insulin activates the pathways linked to cancer, is among the researchers who have grown alarmed about sugar. He has reportedly stopped eating sugar himself for a simple reason. His research has led him to the conclusion that today’s “high consumption of sugar” is “almost certainly responsible for the increased rates of a variety of cancers in the developed world.

The repeated heating and cooling of Omega-6 polyunsaturated oils in restaurant fryers, breaks down molecules, oxidizing the oils and creating new compounds and this gets worse as the heating is repeated, as it contaminates and reduces the ‘smoke point’ for the oil. Novel polymers (molecules your body does not recognize, so triggers inflammation) are produced, that cause problems for restaurant cleaning, with new and more powerful cleaning compounds needed to remove the residues from walls and drains.

If we eat food cooked in this ‘soup’, I am not surprised that cancer rates are rising. At home you can avoid this by frying in saturated fat with lard, tallow, avocado oil, butter or coconut oil. Olive oil is not generally advised for frying as it has a lower ‘smoke point’, which is the temperature at which it begins to burn, oxidizing and creating harmful chemicals.

I am aware of another suggestion, that long term use of ‘fat soluble’ statins is anecdotally linked to multiple cancer events in people, maybe because the statin mechanism interrupts the body’s manufacture of LDL cholesterol, which now is becoming recognized in its non-oxidized form, as a healing material and integral to an immune response.


For more Information about using your food as medicine take a look at my book on Amazon US$3.99.


Regards George Elder

Fruit, Is it Healthy?

Five servings of fruit and vegetables per day is the UK nutrition guide. But why are fruits and vegetables grouped together in this statement? They bear little relationship to each other in how they impact your health. While fruits are often brightly colored to attract predators and are sweet to encourage you to eat them, vegetables more often come with toxins to dissuade you from eating them and as a result, often require special preparation.

When I am speaking to a group about nutrition and how to heal your body with food, a question is sometimes asked about fruit. Surely it is good, and are we not being told to eat it daily? It contains natural fruit sugars, so cannot be harmful. There is a lot to unpack here so let’s work through the history and science.

Historically humans, birds and many animals have always eaten fruit. It is clearly an ancestral food. However, there are some significant differences between the fruit we see in the supermarket and the fruit our ancestors ate. First the ancestral fruit was not stored in a cool, managed environment and was not available all year around. It was out there growing on the bush or tree and was attractive to all manner of insects, birds, and animals. It had a relatively short ripe season before it was eaten or fell off the tree. There was no farmer protecting it from fungus and insects or putting up bird netting to ensure that it stayed in good condition.

Selective breeding of fruit varieties has changed the ancestral fruits from small, less-sweet varieties to large, sweeter varieties and increased the yields significantly. The original kiwi fruit for example was a small brown plumb like fruit (called a Chinese Gooseberry), before being extensively bred. Most important though is the availability. Our ancestors only had fruit that was in season where they lived and only had the fruit that was not taken by animals, birds, and insects. Once picked it had to be eaten almost immediately.

The breeding of fruit varieties has also changed the fruit in other ways. Fruit has been bred for longer shelf life and to make it able to withstand the rough handling of sorting and packing machines without damage. This changes the fruit in ways that we may not always understand. As a similar example, the breeding of wheat to increase yields in recent years has increased the level of gluten. In another example I am told that heritage tomato varieties have much better taste but their skins damage very easily with handling, so are unsuitable for the supermarket.

Fruit sugar is called fructose. In recent years it has been discovered that the human body metabolizes fructose in a completely different way to other sugars, so different, that it does not spike insulin in the same way as glucose. Dietary fructose is immediately transported to the liver after eating. In the liver it is converted to glucose for energy or uses a process called lipogenesis to convert it to fat for storage within the liver or in our fat cells. Fructose does not stimulate insulin in the same way as glucose because of this different metabolism. This means that a food manufacturer can load a processed food with fructose and “claim” it to be a low GI food and therefore healthier. Unfortunately, excess fructose going to the liver can eventually result in fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Late stages of this will damage a liver forever.

At an ancestral level this different fructose metabolism might have had advantages for primitive people, encouraging them to eat lots of fruit when it was available, because the time window was so small, and they may not get anymore for a long time. Stored in the liver, the resulting fat would be available for many days.

It is fascinating that fruit generally comes ripe just before winter, when many animals need to build up fat reserves to last them through this cooler period. In addition, the fructose (fruit sugar) in fruit is uniquely managed in the body, going directly to the liver to be turned into fat and stored.

Much of the fructose in today’s diets comes from High Fructose Corn Syrup, (HFCS), which uses a process invented in Japan to convert corn into this sweet syrup. This factory-made product has become a very common food additive because it is very sweet, is low cost and being a liquid is easy to handle in the factory. Another item used regularly by manufacturers to make food sweet and “adjust” your view of the nutrition label is fruit juice concentrate which is another name for concentrated fruit sugar.

The thinking that fruit is healthy has driven the establishment of the fruit juice industry where fruit is pulped, filtered to remove unwanted fiber, and packed for easy handling. Unfortunately, this concentrates the sugars while removing most of the fiber. In some cases, sugar is also added to heighten the sweetness. In a normal piece of fruit, the fiber and bulk of the fruit, helps slow down digestion and increases the level of nutrients available to your body. My advice is to avoid fruit juice because the concentration increases the level of sugars markedly and overcomes your natural satiation mechanism. It is easy to drink 6 apples as fruit juice but pretty much impossible to eat 6 apples at one time.

Fruits also develop higher levels of sugar as they ripen, so a green banana will be better for your blood sugar balance than a ripe banana. As an aside, green banana flour has a massively high level of resistant starch which acts as fiber in your body.

There is a wide range of sugar levels in fruits and a little knowledge here can make choosing the better fruits easier. If it is a berry, such as blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries then it is generally much much lower in sugars than other fruits such as apples or bananas. Strawberries are perhaps the best with only 4.9 grams of sugar per 100 grams of fruit. Compare this with banana at 12 grams per 100 grams of fruit. This means that an average sized banana converts to the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of sugar. As already said, greener fruit has lower sugar levels.

Fruits from the nightshade family, including tomatoes, eggplant, capsicum or peppers come with their own toxin. Solanine, which can cause muscle stiffness, arthritis, dizziness, sore throat, stomach cramps, vomiting and headache, if you are susceptible to this. Cooking well, will reduce this but will never completely eradicate the problem. Early people tested food on pigs and feeding them nightshades apparently gave pigs arthritis so were mostly avoided until the last 100 years or so. They taste good. Maybe they should be eaten sparingly.

To get best value from eating fruit, I would suggest you attempt to mimic the way fruit was eaten by our ancestors. Only eat fruit that is in season in your location and limit yourself to one piece per day making sure you eat the whole fruit including the skin, where appropriate, to get all the available nutrients. If eating “trucked-in” fruit, I would suggest limiting yourself to only one piece periodically.

If choosing sugars, I believe that glucose is better than fructose for your body.
For more information on using your food for medicine, go to my website at www.takebackyrhealth.com or use the link there to jump to my book on Amazon.

Good Luck. George Elder

Picky Eaters

Do you have family members that are very picky eaters? Maybe they claim that they are full after only a few mouthfuls of food, or maybe they are unwilling to try anything new. How annoying is it when they look at a new food option and say they don’t like it, despite never tasting it or even smelling the food.

This is a problem that seems to be getting more common. When my children were small, they ate the same food as their parents. There were no special meals being prepared for dinner. There were some foods they didn’t like, such as mushrooms, but the occurrence of this was quite low. Today it seems more and more parents are preparing fully separate meals for the parents and the children.

The level of sweetness in food is getting higher and higher, with many foods children are willing to eat having added sugar. Syrups, added sugar, sweet cereals, seem to be common. Many families seem to be experiencing this problem of picky eaters only willing to eat sweet food as they offer their children new dietary options.

Unfortunately, some parents believe that their children will naturally seek out healthy or sufficient nutrition, but Kelly Dorfman MS, LND, in her book “Cure your child with food” describes treating hundreds of picky-eating-children with serious nutritional deficiencies, manifesting in growth, health, psychological and behavioral problems that are very serious for their ongoing development.

A possible cause of picky eating could be zinc deficiency. Zinc is critical for taste and when a person’s zinc level is low, food can lose its taste, or even taste bad. Your children may be experiencing tastes that are very different to how the food tastes to you. It could be that masking the taste in sweetness is the only way that the food tastes OK for them.

Kelly Dorfman states that children with a mild zinc deficiency are often picky eaters and with a zinc supplement, the excessive numbers of foods with “off” smells and “yucky” flavors can be reduced to normal levels.

Why does this picky eating problem seem to be getting worse?

A major contributor to this is the very high levels of corn and wheat-based foods in the diet today. Tortilla’s, bread, bagels, cereals, doughnuts all have high levels of phytic acid or Phytates. Phytic acid is a chelation agent that binds to iron and zinc molecules in your food and prevents your body from being able to absorb these. Some of the processes we use to prepare foods can minimize this impact, but unfortunately only soaking and sprouting can reduce phytic acid and this is not often done.

Another contributing factor is the reduced levels of zinc in today’s food compared to historical levels. By 1972, zinc deficiency was reported as the most common plant micronutrient deficiency in the United States and now it is estimated that nearly one-half of the soils in the world are low in available zinc. The consequences include low production of grain and other products if soil is not amended with zinc.

This from Dr. Libby Weaver: A hundred years ago, zinc was abundant in many soils. Nowadays, most soils in the world are zinc deficient, except for soils predominantly from biodynamic farms. This means that, where once fruit and vegetables, and even grain-based foods such as breads and cereals, provided us with a small, steady top-up of zinc, the zinc levels in many of the foods we eat today are inadequate to avoid deficiency.

A move towards a greater level of plant-based diets is also making the zinc deficiency in diet problem worse, because meat, dairy, eggs and seafoods are where a high level of zinc is sourced from in the diet. The highest levels of zinc are in oysters and high levels are found in lean red meat.

The graph above shows the levels of zinc in blood (in plasma) with 3 different meals illustrates the considerable impact on zinc absorption levels from consuming phytic acid containing food in the same meal as the zinc source.

So, what are the problems associated with a low zinc level?

Humans have no ability to store zinc, which means that we must get a steady supply of zinc from the food we eat daily. Low levels of zinc have been associated with:
– stunted growth
– low immunity,
– increased susceptibility to inflammation,
– poor healing,
– Dry skin
– Thin and sparse hair
– Poor condition nails
– Loss of appetite

This from Wikipedia: Cognitive functions, such as learning and hedonic tone, are impaired with zinc deficiency. Moderate and more severe zinc deficiencies are associated with behavioral abnormalities, such as irritability, lethargy, and depression. Low plasma zinc levels have been alleged to be associated with many psychological disorders. Schizophrenia has been linked to decreased brain zinc levels. Evidence suggests that zinc deficiency could play a role in depression.

Zinc can have a very important impact on our ability to deal with viruses in the body such as COVID19. According to nutrition and health expert Mary Ruddick, zinc will attract viruses within your body and transport them out. It could be useful to compare the impact of COVID19 in specific areas with the levels of zinc in local soil and therefore in the food being eaten.

How can you increase your zinc levels?

Including plenty of seafood, red meat, liver, lamb, dairy, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, shiitake mushrooms and egg yolks in your diet is a very simple solution. Although there is zinc on legumes and grains, the addition of phytic acid from the grains and legumes could mean that very little of the included zinc is bioavailable to your body. To preserve the zinc and iron in grains, you could choose meals where these were sprouted or soaked overnight before being included in the meal.

George Elder
Author “Take Back Your Health” Learn how your diet impacts your health, both good and bad, so that you can use food as medicine.

Your Microbiome is You?

Perhaps you are being controlled more than you realize. Ed Yong wrote a fascinating book called “I contain multitudes” in which he highlights the recent research linking your microbiome to many health conditions. Apparently, we are made up of a huge number of organisms that work for us or against us depending on how we treat them. Scientists are focusing heavily on the organisms in your gut (your microbiome), but they are in many other parts of the body as well. I have heard it suggested that your microbiome makes up more than 60% of you.

Mary Ruddick a well-respected nutritionist, says that if you have cravings, this is really the craving of your microbiome that is demanding the type of food it wants. If you have sugar cravings, then your microbiome has a higher level of the bad guys.


Your microbiome is much more important than you may realize. It makes your feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, it makes vitamins, it breaks down food and much of the goodness we get from food is a result of it being consumed first by the bacteria in your microbiome. It produces B vitamins for us and can affect whether some of our genes are activated (expressed) or not. 70% of your nervous system is based in your gut lining.


There is a belief that the microbiome must be diverse to be healthy, however testing of some very healthy traditional native groups has shown that you can have low diversity and still be very healthy. Apparently, it is the quality of bacteria in your microbiome and the integrity of your gut lining that matters, whether it is diverse or not, not so much.


How do you know if your microbiome is healthy or not? One clue is whether you are craving sugars and starches. The bad bacteria in your gut including those that can cause overgrowth, thrive on sugars and starches and they will influence your brain to crave them, to ensure that they get the food they want. Your good bacteria can also eat sugars and starches but prefer fats and protein. This suits your body perfectly because your cells also thrive on fats and protein.


If you need to clean up your microbiome, you can use food to do this by starving out the bad bacteria. So, a diet with no sugars or starches is required. However, these bacteria can live for quite a long time, some for over 3 months. If you starve them out for many weeks, but then have a cheat day before they have died off, you will refresh them and you will have to start the whole process all over again. So that slice of pizza or spoonful of dessert at the girl’s night out might be enough to derail your whole campaign. Only 100% adherence to the program will work. This makes it very hard for people to do. In the GAPS diet book, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride suggests that 16 months was the minimum required time for full effective treatment.


How will you know that you have eliminated the bad bacteria? Amongst other benefits, the cravings will be gone, you will wake up refreshed in the morning raring to go and you will feel very calm.


Unfortunately, antibiotics can and usually will damage your microbiome, so if you have taken a dose of these in recent months, you may be having to rebuild your good bacteria as well. Some ways to help with this are:

– Minimize plant foods with oxalate toxins and lectins such as beans and spinach.

– Don’t overdo the fiber and limit grains. Fiber is less important than is commonly believed.

– Eat more animal fats and limit omega-6 seed oils (vegetable oils)

– Get your proteins from a range of animal foods and minimize plant proteins. –

– Remember that vitamins A, E, D and K2 come from animal fats.

– Avoid soy-based food and tofu- Get outside in the mornings to get more vitamin D and to assist with melatonin production.

– Get the sugars and starches out of your diet to stop feeding overgrowth.

– Socialize.


Intermittent fasting with a non-eating window of at least 18 hours can help with microbiome and gut lining repair as it provides an opportunity for your gut to rest and rehabilitate between the sequences of food arriving. It also promotes autophagy where the body can replace proteins, replace damaged cells and run a general maintenance program. An easy way to do this is to finish dinner by about 6pm and then only consume water, coffee, or tea until noon the next day.


For more information about the suggested lifestyle changes and “Taking back your health” with diet as medicine, take a look at my blog page, www.takebackyrhealth.com There you will find a link to my book on Amazon.


Regards George Elder.

How much Protein should I eat?

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Research that compares historical dietary protein levels with typical levels today, commonly finds that early hunter gatherer humans ate a lot more protein. Analysis of the ratios of nitrogen and carbon in ancient bones can reveal details of protein sources in their diet.

Early explorers and people studying native diets have documented these higher levels. For example, the Inuit in Northern Canada, lived primarily on seal, caribou and fish accompanied by lots of fat and very little carbohydrate and their protein level was medium to high. The Red Indians on the American plains ate a high protein meat and organ diet from herbivores such as deer and bison, with very little of the animal not used in some way. Early explorers commented on how very fit and healthy these people were. They had none of the metabolic diseases that are common now and apart from a higher infant mortality, their life expectancy was very similar to humans today.

Hunter gatherers typically ate about 30% protein and body builders can sometimes get up to 40% protein but to do this they consume special pea or whey protein powder supplements for muscle building. It takes a strong focus on building up the protein in the diet to do this. Even a steak only contains 16-21% protein, you would need to eat a lot of steak and you would struggle to eat that much. Even a whole egg only contains 6 grams of protein.

There is a known condition that afflicted some early Arctic explorers called “rabbit starvation”, which could occur during periods of poor hunting, when some explorers ate mostly rabbits because they were available. Rabbits have very very little fat, and this lack of fat caused sickness due to excess production of ammonia. The same issue plagued Vilhjalmur Stefansson during the first few weeks of his year-long 1928 demonstration of survival on an all-meat diet, because the initial diet provided by the hospital, failed to include sufficient fat. It seems that there is an upper limit to protein for humans which is around 40% of your calories. Levels above this can overwhelm the liver’s ability to convert nitrogen from protein into urea, causing ammonia levels to increase leading to stress in the body. Vilhjalmur Stefansson is quoted as saying that rabbit starvation in the arctic could kill a person more quickly than eating nothing.

This suggests that about 40% of calories as protein, is a hard upper limit for humans. However, 40% is very difficult to get to because the protein is buried in food with fats, carbohydrates and vitamins, so you get the other stuff as well. Not only that, but your protein thermostat turns off your appetite as your protein consumption rises, making it harder and harder to continue eating.

What about the bottom end of the protein scale? The official recommended daily allowance (RDA) is about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, however, I understand this is an absolute minimum. Going below this could mean that many of your body maintenance functions are not happening as they should. Things like cell replacement, muscle repair, bone growth, hair growth, joint repair, etc. If you experience brittle hair and nails or wounds take a long time to repair, then maybe your protein level is too low. Your body has no way to store protein so you need to get it every day, maybe every meal and eating more on one day will not carry forward.

I have seen it suggested that the majority of older people in USA are only getting about 12% of their calories as protein. One of the biggest issues with this is that their body will try to get the protein it needs for maintenance by taking it from other parts of their body such as from their muscles, bones and connecting tissue. The result, a loss of muscle mass and a reduction in strength. Many older people die after struggling to recover after a fall, and falls are much more common when strength declines. Keeping strength and muscle mass up should be a key objective for ageing people.

A very poor diet with consistent low protein can lead to a result where only about 5% protein becomes the normal dietary level. To deal with this the body will reduce critical maintenance and the person becomes a “lightweight” version of what they could be. Small muscles, thin bones, lightweight organs, lower level of immunity etc. Valter Longo, a gerontology researcher experimented on mice and discovered that a reduced calorie diet increased their lifespan. Some people are betting, with their lives on this, seeking a longer lifespan by reducing calories, however, this has never been proven in people and we are much more likely to have serious falls than laboratory mice are. If you chose to reduce calories, make sure that it is not the protein that you reduce.

Without sufficient protein, a person gets weaker and weaker, gradually losing the ability to live fully. They struggle to get into and out of a car. Struggle to climb stairs. If they are driving, they may not be able to brake hard enough in an emergency. They may not be able to get out of a lounge chair without help. They cannot shower themselves without support. They tire quickly doing simple tasks. Eventually their heart loses the ability to keep them alive.

I hear that some women choose to avoid protein in order to ensure that they don’t develop “ugly” muscles. Be reassured that this is impossible from just eating a medium protein level diet as recommended here.

Personally, even at 70, I like to be strong enough to be able to do what is wanted without a struggle. Lifting heavy groceries, hitching the trailer onto the car, climbing stairs, digging the garden, carrying loads when required. A regular resistance exercise regime will help and it can be very satisfying.

Older people also don’t absorb protein efficiently, so if you are a bit older, I suggest you try to keep your protein intake to a minimum of about 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. For a 70 kg man this means 105 grams of protein each day. To do this make sure you are eating plenty of meat, eggs and fish. Beans contain protein, but soy beans, grains including wheat and legumes can contain protease inhibitors and these can prevent the breakdown of dietary proteins into their amino acids, thus preventing you getting access to some of the protein you eat. This means that reducing the level of these in your diet may also help, particularly avoiding refined wheat flour. Are you in danger of overloading your kidneys? Apparently not unless you already have kidney disease, because it is almost impossible to drive protein levels to the very high levels required.

It is interesting to note that one way a farmer can fatten animals is to reduce the protein level in their feed. This causes the animals to eat more in order to satisfy their protein thermostat. Perhaps a higher level in a human diet will make you feel full sooner, reducing the calories you eat regularly.

During pregnancy a woman needs protein with the Mayo Clinic recommending 71 grams per day, although surely this will vary due to different activity levels and different size women. UCSF Health suggests a minimum level of 60 grams per day or 20-25% of your calories from protein. With a baby growing and most of their growth requiring protein, best not to skimp on this.

For a very readable guide to losing weight, diet and maintaining your health, take a look at my book linked to the blog at www.takebackyrhealth.com.
Regards George Elder

Anti-Virus, Anti-COVID

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Hi everyone. I just finished listening to the amazing Mary Ruddick talking about how to protect yourself from the more serious impacts of viruses including COVID19. What an amazing person she is. She is my new health idol and I have now listened, almost spellbound, to about 5 of her videos and podcasts.

So about viruses. I have always wondered why they would kill their host as this seems to limit their options to proliferate. But what if they preferred to remain a mild chronic nuisance to the host, but if the host is not very strong, they end up killing them. A living host would help them survive for a long time and to spread to many people. This model seems to fit past epidemics where many people had limited symptoms, but some small numbers were killed.

With this in mind, maybe the best thing you can do to minimize COVID19 risk, is to make your body as inhospitable to a virus as possible, which will mean it will struggle to survive and your risk is hugely reduced. The most important element seems to be your overall metabolic health.

Those who are less metabolically healthy with underlying diseases such as Type-2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, insulin resistance, etc are an easier target for a virus. This is because these conditions can drive up the whole body inflammation level, which if left untreated can mask the signals telling the immune system that a virus has arrived. This unfortunately gives the virus more time to proliferate within you, before your body begins to fight back and therefore severely weakens your immune system response.

A way to tell if this applies to you is to measure your waist circumference. Then compare it to your height. If your waist measurement is more than 1/2 your height measurement, then there is a high chance you are metabolically unhealthy.

Can you change this? Surprisingly YES you can. A diet that dramatically reduces carbohydrates, and removes sugars and seed oils can begin to improve your metabolic health in as little as three weeks. A Keto or Paleo diet can help with this as can getting enough vitamin D through daily sunshine exposure. I have read of people on supplementary insulin getting off this treatment within days of such a diet change.

You can also help reduce chronic inflammation by reducing your underlying stress level and therefore your level of cortisol. Perhaps the easiest way is to improve your sleep by getting more sleep prior to midnight, and waking, after at least 8 hours, at a set time every day and getting out into the sunshine. Harder in winter of course.

Another thing that may help is to focus on reducing the food that a virus can use to nourish itself. A high level of the amino acid, arginine in your body can stimulate a virus and accelerate its growth. Foods high in arginine generally come from plants and include beans, wheat grains, nuts, peanuts, chocolate, tofu, garlic, peanut butter and ginseng.

Within your body there is an arginine / lysine balance which you can influence by increasing the level of lysine containing foods. Foods high in lysine mostly come from animal sources and can suppress viruses, so include lots of red meat, pork, eggs, chicken, sardines, lamb, brewers yeast, mung bean sprouts and spirulina. Dairy products can be good source of lysine. If you are using lots of nut flours for baking, then maybe you need to eat these items with lots of dairy such as cheese or cream without sugar to keep the lysine balance high.

Mary has suggested that there is some food that will suppress viruses by blocking the ability for a virus to attach to a cell in your body. She suggests that for this you can eat shiitake mushrooms which are relatively low cost and loaded with beta-glucans, very capable of this blocking. Finally make sure you are getting enough zinc in your diet. This can come from oysters, beef, egg yolks, liver, dairy, lamb, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and shiitake mushrooms. Apparently zinc will attract viruses and transport them out of your body.

For more information about my own health journey, plus advice for living Keto, go to www.takebackyrhealth.com, or buy my book which is linked there.

Kind Regards George Elder

I have Type-2 Diabetes, HELP

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You have a problem. Type-2 diabetes is a silent killer and is wreaking havoc on your body. Along the way it will damage your body in ways that are often not reversible and, in the end, will trigger other conditions that could become lethal. What can you do about this?

There are many conditions within your body where a balance is maintained by hormones whose role is to maintain homeostasis (balance). Examples include the arginine / lysine balance, the cortisol / melatonin sleeping hormone balance, the Omega-3 / Omega-6 Polyunsaturated fat balance and your problem is the glucose / insulin balance. In your case the balance has become too heavy on the glucose end and too light on the insulin end. This is usually the result of your pancreas struggling to produce enough insulin to balance the level of dietary glucose arriving into your blood.

You have probably been heading for this failure, for many years as you became gradually more and more insulin resistant and therefor required higher and even higher levels of insulin from your pancreas, to control the incoming glucose. Your HbA1c level will have been rising and your pancreas ramped up its insulin production, but over time it lost the ability to produce the level that was asked of it.
Because your body can only tolerate a maximum of 1 teaspoon of sugar in the blood at any time, whenever you ate confectionary, starches, sweet food or carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, potatoes, beer, cola, bagels, oats, and cereals you pushed up the glucose level in your blood. This pushed up insulin even higher to force the storage of glucose into muscles, liver and adipose fat in order to try and bring this blood glucose level down to non-toxic levels.

There are 2 ways to address a balance problem, either you put more weight on the light end or you take some weight off the heavy end. A doctor may chose to try and reduce your weight of glucose by prescribing a drug like Metformin which inhibits your liver from making glucose, or may choose to put more weight on the light end of the balance by prescribing external insulin. Often the doctor will take a path that minimizes changes to your lifestyle. My understanding is that doctors are often concerned that patients will not adhere to lifestyle changes, so a prescription which alters that balance is possibly a simpler and more sure option.

Changes to your insulin / glucose balance are very serious for your body and getting this wrong can have serious consequences for your health. My father had a pancreas failure when I was only 12 which caused him to act very irrationally at times. His last day as a school teacher was the day he took an irrational “turn” and wouldn’t let the children in his class go home, much to the consternation of all the parents. Sadly, he died of complications from this problem some weeks later.

One of the problems with taking external insulin to restore the balance is that it can maintain a continuously high insulin level in your body which is very unhealthy. This approach also fails to improve your metabolic health which ultimately increases your risk of a more serious COVID19 reaction. The high insulin level can damage many of your organs, your eyes, and can ultimately lead to obesity, heart disease, blindness and even to limb amputation. Many people on external insulin gain unwanted weight.

An alternative approach to addressing this balance is a lifestyle change. This requires a high degree of commitment to ensure success, because failure to stick to the guidelines may mean sickness and a return to external insulin. By a lifestyle change, I mean that we regain the needed balance by significantly reducing the incoming dietary glucose level in food, so that a much smaller level of insulin is needed to manage it. In some cases, this will result in a significant reduction in medication, while in other cases there may be sufficient insulin production capability left in the pancreas for you to get off medication completely. In some cases, the reduction in medication can begin within a few days.

Adding more exercise can also assist as it burns up glucose from muscles which is then replaced by pulling glucose from your blood.

Don’t for a minute think that this type of change is a pipe dream. Doctors all over the world who have begun to understand low carb nutrition are achieving this type of change for their patients. Dr. David Unwin in UK is famous for this approach having been awarded 2016 Innovator of the Year by the UK NHS. In New Zealand Dr. Glen Davies of Taupo has now put 100 patients into remission and in the USA, Virta Health (www.virtahealth.com) is treating Type-2 diabetes patients virtually and putting many into remission all over North America.

If a lifestyle change with reduced medication seems right for you, then the first step is to discuss this with your doctor. As indicated previously, this is a serious change and you will need support particularly over the first 2 weeks as the changes to your diet start to impact your hormones. Should you find that your doctor is not willing to support you, then you may seriously want to look for an alternative doctor, because remaining on high levels of insulin has a particularly nasty outcome for many people and your doctor should not be making this type of life choice for you. Some doctors have not kept up to date with the changes in treatment for Type-2 diabetes and you need to be able to evaluate these better treatment options.

If you would like to help your doctor, maybe you could provide them with a copy of this document from low carb USA, https://www.lowcarbusa.org/clinical-guidelines/

For more information about the suggested lifestyle change and “Taking back your health” with diet as medicine, take a look at my blog page, www.takebackyrhealth.com. You will find there a link to my book on Amazon.

Whatever your decision, good luck with the outcome.
Kind Regards George Elder.