Category: Diet Wars
Reading Stewart Brand's How Buildings Learn. Interesting book on how certain architectural designs become 'old' if only because they've become adaptable over long periods of time, and how so very few of our most recent architectural 'gems' shown any of this tendency.
Probably the most interesting story is one in which he discusses an analysis of how office furniture gets moved around over time. Apparently the most common second location for furniture is simply just back to its original site. As in so many other areas of life, first impressions often lead to the most workable solutions.
This last issue of Newseek magazine was devoted to 'Diet and Genes', so not surprisingly, there was no reference to blood type whatsoever. During an MSNBC chat with the article author, Anne Underword, the following interaction occurred:
Fredericksburg, VA: Did you ever hear about Dr. Peter D'Adamo, who has been advocating for over 20 years to eat according to your genetic profile: your blood type?
Anne Underwood: I'm amazed that his ideas have proven so popular. I certainly know people who swear by his books, but I've never seen any hard evidence backing up his ideas. Blood type is just one genetically determined trait among thousands. Tiny changes in genes, known an single-nucleotide polymorphisms, can determine the functioning of any gene in your body, including those that control the way you process different nutrients. Why would those tiny mutations, occuring randomly, have anything to do with blood type?
Perfect non-answer. 'We are doing an article on genes and diet, but the part about genes and diet that we want to talk about are the SNPs, and since blood type has nothing to do with SNPs, it must have nothing to do with diet.'
Cassini-Huygens has provided some reassuring proof the we can still 'get it right.' Now I just have to convince myself that these wonderful photographs are not just close-ups of my old LP collection.
Someone left the comment that I was a 'betterer,' which is why I can't always just relax and take in the view.
Everything has to be made better by The Betterer.
However, there are some things that cannot be made better.
Had the most interesting email exchange over the last week with a Swedish neurology professor. The gentleman contacted my publicist and requested some early articles that I had written while at Bastyr College, as he had been asked to write an evaluation of the Blood Type Diet for a Swedish medical journal. He suggested that he had been chosen as he had 'taught classes in alternative medicine.'
When the email was forwarded to me, I noticed that he had a website. Featured were a few articles on homeopathy and acupuncture, seemingly quite negative, which to me called his alternative medicine-teaching career into question.
Over the last five years I have noticed an increasing infiltration of quackbuster-types into positions involving alternative medicine. From these internal positions, medical students and the public interested in alternative medicines can be taught that they are dangerous or ineffective. A good example of this is the hyperbolically titled â€˜The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine,' which in fact is staffed by renowned opponents of alternative medicine, and which does not feature a single researcher or practitioner of any alternative medicine on its editorial board. This last year, at a local hospital, the first thing the new â€˜Department of Alternative Medicine' did was to sponsor a lecture of the dangers of herbal medicine.
Although the homepage was in Swedish, an obvious link to a page about the Blood Type Diet was available, so I investigated. Since I don't read Swedish, it was not completely decipherable, but the gist was evident. Every negative article on the internet on the diet was featured, though virtually all of these are ad hominem attacks (an ad hominem rejects an idea on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument.) An example of ad hominem attacks against the Blood Type Diet are the 'reviews' of the diet by vegan authors, such as Klaper and McMahon who are simply against the notion of anybody eating meat, regardless of how you came to that conclusion.
Had I recommended that each blood type adopt a different version of veganism, I'd certainly be a darling of the vegan world.
Curiously, on the professor's webpage I was described as the Editor of the Journal of Neuropathic Medicine which, while I am interested in nutritional approaches to neuropathy, was not the journal I edited.
I answered back with a link to the article he requested and pointed out the nature of the material he was including in his article. As a series of emails unfolded between us it became evident that the gentleman had long ago made up his mind. Eventually the exchange came down to semantics, centering on the syntax of whether his â€˜opinion' on the Blood Type Diet was all that relevant. Obviously not happy about having a â€˜opinion,' his last note tried to make that appear that opinions are a bad thing, which, at least to me, they are not.
As long as they remain â€˜opinions.'
And yet, other things can be made better.
I have been slowing reconstituting my research lab, moving it out of mothballs at the clinic and into an area behind the garage at home. It will be great to have the ability to work on projects right here versus having to motor over to the office. It's nice to see the â€˜old friends' one more time! The back-breakingly heavy star of the lab: an Integrated Separation System electrophoresis unit, long-ago birthday present from Martha. Incubators, centrifuges, Treff tubes, micro liter pipettes â€“hello again!
I'm especially interested in looking at a class of mucopolysaccharides in Fucus vesiculosus called â€˜fucoidins' which have very fascinating anti-microbial and metabolic effects. Interestingly, (perhaps in true type A fashion) I'll be restarting my research at exactly the place where I left it.
However, it will also be a good time to test a variety of new food substances as well. When the time comes for that, I'll put up a submission form so readers can make suggestions.
Yesterday I went through with what I call â€˜weather head,' a fullness that I occasionally feel when the outside barometer goes up while the inside barometer in my head is still heading down, or vice versa. Better this morning.
Great day in the office. Eight office calls, several featuring favorite patients who I have tended to for literally decades. What a delight it is to grow old with a good patient! To see their children mature and develop; to see the lines and wrinkles and gray hairs develop on their faces and they on mine.
Dinner tonight will be at my brother's place. He and his wife have a delightful little one-year-old son, Alex.
Ally-Boy, as his proud godfather prefers to call him (as opposed to Andy-Boy, a brand of broccoli) is a true child of the â€˜info-toy' generation. By this I mean the battery-operated, push-button, stimulus-response and â€˜educational' device toys everybody gives kids nowadays.
Now at age one, Alex thinks everything that looks like a button should produce some sort of computer voice, light or music tone when he pushes it. How insulted he gets when his best effort to twiddle a knob or dial on an unplugged radio or push a knot or whirl pattern in a piece of furniture is repaid with stony indifference!
On my way out to my office (which sits behind my garage) Martha passed me a news article from the NY Times about a man who is suing the estate of Robert Atkins and the company that promotes his dietary products.
A group with the improbably highfalutin name â€˜Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine' (PCRM) but who are actually a veganism and animal rights support group is actively assisting the plaintiff. The lawsuit seems more of a publicity stunt and is not surprising, since the PCRM has maintained an â€˜Atkins-watch' website for several years now, where people can report adverse reactions to the use of animal products in their diet.
Apparently Mr. Jody Gorran, a wealthy manufacturer of solar panels and swimming pools, and who ate quite a bit of cheese and cheesecake while on the Atkins Diet, had his cholesterol increase from a rather low 146 to a potentially hazardous 230. This resulted, he claims, in a 99% blockage in one of his coronary arteries, requiring angioplasty.
From what the article said, most law experts do not believe the lawsuit would get anywhere, and even the plaintiff said he contacted the PCRM â€˜because they are familiar with publicity.'
So I guess this is where the Great American Diet Debate eventually winds up.
Not that I believe for a second that this will end matters. In fact, I'm certain that the heavy-handed manner of the PCRM will eventually boomerang badly, since they in turn leave themselves open to litigation from any ex-vegan who goes on to develop cancer or some other ailment supposedly prevented by their vegan diet.
Blades cut in two directions.
But who knows? If one-year-olds can eventually adjust to their lack of results in expert knob twiddling and button-pushing, then perhaps there is hope for Mr. Gorran and the PCRM.