The Evolutionary Health Conference, London 2019
What a day! On Saturday 8th June we attended the Evolutionary Health Conference organised by Dr Lynda Frassetto, an expert in using an alkaline diet for anti-aging, and Darryl Edwards, the Fitness Explorer who promotes exercise as preventative medicine.
Darryl recently gave a TEDx talk on the epidemic of physical inactivity, how it impacts our health and wellbeing, if you haven’t seen it, you must watch it here.
The Cognitive Argument for a Coastal Diet
It’s common knowledge that DHA is an essential fatty acid for brain function and development. However, scaremongering regarding toxic mercury levels in fish have decreased the consumption of seafood to the extent that IQs have suffered due the lack of essential fatty acid consumption from seafood. The average western IQ has dropped 8 points since the 1950s, when fish was consumed more frequently. See Professor Michael Crawford’s slide below.
Along with the biohacking movement, the popularity of a meat heavy ketogenic diet, as well as the carnivore diet trend, there has been an increasing shift towards a red meat rich diet, at the expense of seafood. Although DHA and fish oil supplementation have become more mainstream, a supplement itself is never as beneficial as deriving the DHA from the original food source. Real food should always be the first option, before supplementation.
Professor Michael Crawford’s research on DHA and brain development was ground breaking in that he argues:
“High Selenium in Seafood Nullifies any Potential Mercury Toxicity…and it would have been impossible for humans to evolve the brain (and IQ) that we have without marine nutrients.”
This argument is further supported by the Institute for Food, Brain & Behaviour:
“Health benefits of eating fish and seafood outweigh any theoretical risks”
“Fish and seafood contain high quality protein, essential omega-3 fatty acids in addition to a wide-range of other nutrients such as vitamins A, B-complex, and D, iron, iodine, magnesium, zinc and selenium which are health promoting. Selenium for example is an important cofactor for antioxidants and is thus probably protective against methylmercury.” —IFBB
‘We Lose the Brain, We Lose Everything’
‘Brain disorders have been rising especially in young children and particularly in the countries with a high death rate from heart disease and diabetes. This causative link lies in the common denominator of pathogenic fats and empty calories, and especially in a failure of government to address the specific nutrient requirements of the brain in food policy. The rise in brain disorders and mental ill health is a greater threat than global warming and now threatens the extinction of humanity.’ –Professor Michael Crawford, Imperial University London
“The Ketogenic Diet is far superior in supplying energy to the brain”
Prof Crawford also asserted that a “Ketogenic Diet is far superior in supplying energy to the brain” if it includes seafood, compared with than any other diet. He also highlighted that humans can swim before they can walk on land, indicating that a more coastal lifestyle and diet is optimum for human development. He warned of the extinction of humans without ‘Marine Agriculture’ as we have exhausted arable land for growing and rearing enough food to feed our growing global population of 7 billion. Furthermore, he reaffirmed that the average IQ in the western world had decreased since the 1950s—attributed to a reduction in essential fatty acid consumption—namely from seafood. We need the dietary guidelines to promote a diet that supports brain health.
This is literally food for thought…perhaps a pescatarian keto diet is the optimum diet for the human brain?
Food & Mood: The Link Between Poor Diet and Poor Mental Health
Psychiatrist Emily Deans gave an enlightening presentation on the relationship between food and mood; particularly on how gut microbiota produces neurotransmitters. Depending on what you eat you, feed different gut bacteria and there is a direct correlation between an unhealthy diet in highly processed foods and depression, anxiety and psychosis.
The 'Controversial' Doctor who promotes Prevention over Intervention
The renowned Dr Aseem Malhotra has repeatedly criticised doctors for giving advice to patients that is based on old, outdated science and funded by compromised sources.
“85% of public research for doctors is false”
Dr Malhotra has rightly slammed other doctors and the healthcare system in the UK for unethically prescribing statins to patients without explaining the side effects. This is even more pertinent when you consider the statistics on statins that demonstrate just 1% efficacy in preventing heart attacks in patients, yet 20% of patients experience negative side effects from the drug.
Dr Malhotra argued that 85% of research papers are false and that doctors often base their advice to patients on what they learned 20 years ago, as well as on sensationalist news stories—rather than the latest research in medicine and healthcare.
From Cardiovascular Disease to Competing in an Ironman Triathlon with the Low Carb Approach
Dr Malhotra described how many of his patients had significantly improved their cardiovascular health by shunning medication and switching to a low carb diet. One particular patient followed a high fat, low carb diet to reduce his cholesterol and then recovered so well he went on to race an ironman triathlon–no small feat for someone who had previously been at risk of a heart attack!
“If a food is marketed as ‘healthy’ and especially if it says: ‘Proven to Lower Cholesterol’ I advise my patients to stay well away from it.”
Dr Malhotra also criticised the widespread misinformation and deceptive labelling of ‘healthy foods’ and the failure of food standards regulation to label foods correctly. He suggested that there were too many conflicting interests—from pharmaceutical companies to the private funders for advisory bodies. Ultimately, the public’s health is not the priority for the regulatory bodies.
It is pretty remarkable that a doctor has the courage to go against the goverment, the healthcare system and big pharma in the interest of public health. If only we had more doctors like Malhotra–people like him can change the world.
Learn more about Dr Malhotra’s work, book ‘The Pioppi Diet’ and his public appearances here.
Challenging Your Doctor
On a personal level, we know exactly what it is like to be given outdated advice by medical practitioners. If you know our story, we set up Keto Supplements to source ketogenic friendly products for Francisco (my hisband), who had been diagnosed with late onset adult epilepsy.
The only advice we had from the doctor and neurologist at the time was to take the prescribed medication (Epilim – Sodium Valproate). There was no talk of side effects nor any suggestions about diet—even though it is medically known that the ketogenic diet was invented as a cure for paediatric epilepsy in the 1920s.
However, Epilim is pretty much a depressant—as it slows down neurotransmitters—and on researching alternative options we came across the ketogenic diet. Francisco went keto and I did too–in solidarity. Immediately his energy levels increased, some of the negative side effects from the medicine were slightly alleviated by ketosis and his seizure frequency also decreased. But we were attempting to manage Francisco’s epilepsy with diet without any medical or nutritionist support.
“Do NOT Eat More than 3 Eggs a Week” Doctors still give this advice, UK 2018
On occasions where Francisco spoke to his GP about the ketogenic diet, his GP advised him ‘not to eat more than 3 eggs per week’ as this would increase his cholesterol levels. Obviously, we ignored the doctor. When Francisco has asked for ketogenic advice from his Epilepsy Neurologist and to be referred to a ketogenic nutritionist for epilepsy they have refused the referral and advised him “NOT to follow a ketogenic diet because the brain needs glucose.”
“Do NOT follow a ketogenic diet because the brain needs glucose.”—Epilepsy Neurologist, UK 2019
Correct, the brain does need glucose, but it needs essential fatty acids more since it is the largest deposit of cholesterol in the body…the brain is made of fat!
The Epilepsy Neurologists have completely negated the need for a ketogenic diet to manage epilepsy and would prefer patients to be on pharmaceutical drugs instead. From a government budget pers[ective, does not make sense to prescribe medication over lifestyle change. Pharmaceutical drugs are far more expensive than real food.
We are just grateful that we have been critically inquisitive enough ato do our own research. Sadly, so many people simply follow their doctor’s advice, whithout question. So, serious kudos to Dr Malhotra for leading the way in challenging doctors to reassess how they advise patients!
Alkaline Diet for Ant-Aging, Ancestral Sleep Patterns and the Causes of Chronic Inflammation
Dr Lynda Frasetto gave gave an illuminating talk on how an alkaline diet can slow down aging. David Pardi discussed how an ancestral circadian rhythm differs to western sleep patterns and demonstrated what we can learn from primal sleep behaviour. Dr Pedro Bastos thoroughly explored all the different factors that contribute to chronic inflammation: from poor sleep to a diet high in processed foods.
“Movement is one of the Best Medicines” –Darryl Edwards
As always, Darryl Edwards had all the academics, doctors and attendees up and on their feet, laughing, playing tag and experimenting with primal play. Darryl critically questions the exclusive nutritional approach to cancer when exercise and movement are often the best preventative methods for disease.
Darryl runs some brilliant workshops and you can find out more about his work and watch his Ted Talk here.
Darryl’s talk is called “Why working out isn’t working out!” and was launched in April 2019.
Even with all of the documented physical and mental health benefits of movement as medicine we are still not getting our daily dose. Many of us find it difficult to find the time, the money, or the motivation to exercise. So here Darryl provides some novel solutions.
Overall, it was an incredibly informative conference led by scientific excellence. Don’t forget to follow the Evolutionary Health Conference to keep updated.
Top tips from the conference:
- Follow a coastal diet for brain health.
- Exercise to prevent illness.
- Always ask about the side effects from any medication prescribed by your doctor. Do your own research! Which, considering that you are reading this blog post, you probably do a lot of your own health research.
- Food is certainly medicine, but it can also be poison!