Sunday, 27 October 2013

Kendrick on Blood Pressure

After my brief run in with hypertension I still look to monitor my BP readings.  Malcolm Kendrick has put up another superb piece on the measurement of BP and a few other passages that calm anyone who is tarred with the 'lower is better' broad brush.

My readings have fallen massively since I've resolved the underlying cause (sleep quality/'cold-showers & cortisol').  My BP is still very dynamic but morning and evening readings regularly touch sub-120/sub-75.  Resting pulse is often in the low 40s.  I am happy with where I am, and improving sleep quality seems to have brought a host of other benefits.

The reason for this post is to draw attention to something in Kendrick's post that really stood out, to do with 'a series of bullet point in the European Journal of Cardiology entitled ‘There is a non-linear relationship between mortality and blood pressure’':
  • •Drugs that lower the blood pressure by about the same amount have very different effects on outcomes

    •Cardiovascular benefits of ACE-inhibitors (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme – Inhibitors), independent of blood pressure, are not observed with calcium antagonists, despite the latter having more pronounced effects on blood pressure.

    •HOPE (Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation study) demonstrated that ACE inhibitors provided diverse and profound cardiovascular benefits, with only trivial differences in blood pressure between the treatment and control groups

    •ALLHAT (Antihypertensive and Lipid Lowering treatment to prevent Heart Attack Trial) showed a dramatic difference in cardiovascular risk between alpha blockers and diuretics, with essentially no difference in their effect on blood pressure. The investigators of ALLHAT concluded ‘blood pressure lowering is an inadequate surrogate marker for health benefits in hypertension.
We're big fans of MK here at Natural Messiah.  His reputation continues to grow!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Slow Metabolism

Laughably there is talk of drugs to treat a slow metabolism.  Why no talk of gene expression and efforts to effect epigenetic change?

Slow metabolism 'obesity excuse' true!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Sat Fat Myth

The Moment We've Waited For

Saturated fat heart disease 'myth'

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Vitamin A Overdose

A heads up for those in the UK for tonight's episode of "Trust Me I'm A Doctor" (BBC Two at 20:00 BST on Thursday 17 October 2013), which has a piece on vitamin A toxicity as experienced by polar explorer Douglas Mawson:
  • A month into their journey, one of the team, along with the tent, most of the provisions and six dogs plunged into a crevasse, never to be seen again. Mawson and the other surviving member, Xavier Mertz, started to return to base, surviving in part by eating the remaining dogs. After a few weeks Mertz developed stomach pains and diarrhoea. Then his skin started to peel off and his hair fell out. He died incontinent and delirious a few days later.

    Mawson suffered similar symptoms. With the kind of understatement typical of his generation of polar explorers he described the skin of the soles of his feet peeling off: "The sight of my feet gave me quite a shock, for the thickened skin of the soles had separated in each case as a complete layer... The new skin underneath was very much abraded and raw."

    It was the suffering of early explorers and sailors that motivated the first studies of vitamins and their deficiency diseases. At first sight Mawson's story seems to be another such tale - starvation combined with a lack of some vital nutrient. In fact, Mawson's description of his symptoms is an almost textbook description of vitamin A overdose - probably from eating dog liver. As little as 100g of husky liver could give a hungry explorer a fatal dose. 
Non-UK residents can see this program on the BBC iPlayer.

I've asked before where people who 'pill-pop' think we got our vitamins from in our ancestral past.  Pill-popping is a 'downstream' intervention which may or may not have the desired effect.  Better to tackle problems at their root and make the necessary lifestyle adaptions.

Pill popping may also be seen as reductionist to the extent that taking a vitamin pill ignores all and every other compound and bioactive ingredient in the food or foods from which humans may have historically sourced the said vitamin.   All this before we get to the question of the bioavailability of vitamins in pill form.

Unless directed by a doctor, the advice from here is save your money and eat real food!  What is real food?  You KNOW it when you see it.  It 'ain't difficult.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Industrial Living

An article recognising we live in a culture that owes more to the industrial revolution and factory-working than it does to human biology.

Breakfast Champions or Chumps? How Breakfast Can Accelerate Aging.

Monday, 7 October 2013


If there is one concern I have about modern medicine it is to do with its commercial motivation which makes it more profitable ti treat peripheral symptoms rather than underlying cause.

A further problem is that a focus on the peripheral manifestation of disease and illness  as discrete conditions in their own right may over simplify things.

Binge Drinking Could Make It Harder For Broken Bones To Heal

Two Types of Obesity (including 'Bad Obesity')

From New Scientist:
  • "It clearly shows that there are two types of obesity, and that bad obesity is characterised by a fatty liver," says twin researcher Tim Spector of Kings College London, author of the book Identically Different: Why you can change your genes. However, what predisposes some individuals to accumulate fat in the liver, and" to grow fewer, larger fat cells remains unclear.
I've mentioned Identically Different before here and here.

I'm not really in to the Sisyphian task of dividing stuff in to simple 'good' and 'bad' categories - and 'bad obesity' stumbles in to that exact same problem.  But it is good to see some issue developing naunce.

It is easy to establish that obeisty is nuanced.  Ask a skeptic 'why do we get hungry' and you'll get talk of an 'energy deficit' and the body requiring to restore its energy levels, of conditioning and hormonal factors.  But here is the kicker - why do the obese get hungry?  I mean clearly the obese do not have a calorie deficit - they are carrying kilograms of energy!  Why can't they access it?

Similar complexity is evident with the obese who are often relatively weight stable despite eating whatever they want.  How is it that for many, their weight gain is slow if at all, despite not watching what they eat?  And yet when they slim down, they cannot sustain the lower body fat levels (despite rigourous dietary control), return to 'normal eating' and rebound quickly to their previous weight where they once again stabilise? 

The critical points are that they can enjoy a stable weight without any requirement to control dietary intake when obese, but are not able to enjoy weight stability in a lean state.  Why?  Similarly why is that rebound so quick?  Why does the weight gain stablise when back to pre-diet weight....almost as if a set point is being defended?

Friday, 4 October 2013

Roadkill Grill

Check out @TheEconomist's Tweet:

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Where Do Bears Sh!t?

BBC News - Exercise 'can be as good as pills'
  •  Exercise could be just as effective as drug treatments for some patients suffering from heart disease and stroke, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.  
Do people who pop a regular diet of vitamin pills ever stop to wonder where we used to get vitamins from? Do the obese and sick ever ponder how their lifestyle may be affecting their health? Does anyone doubt that exercise can form an important pillar of ones' health?  There may be cases where exercise may be as good as a pill but there is MORE to it than that.