17 November 2009

New Chapter for Trick and Treat

When I was researching Trick and Treat, I came across a new scientific theory called 'Epigenetics'.

It had always been taught that our DNA, which is fixed at conception, determined all our physical characteristics, and that these could not be changed throughout our lives, and would in turn, be passed on to our children. But then several observations were made in the middle of the last century which questioned this 'truth'. And so Epigenetics was born.

As it now seems that life experiences - including what we eat (or don't eat) - can have a profound effect on not just us but our offspring, and for several generations.

I wrote a chapter about Epigenetics for Trick and Treat. But then, as the book was getting a bit too big already, it was decided to leave it out.

But it seems a shame to leave it on my computer; it is an important subject in that the incorrect diet we are all being forced to eat, could have serious unforeseen effects for generations to come. It's a year late, but here it is.


Jim Purdy said...


Does that mean that I can blame my grandparents for my gluttony?

I still prefer the Flip Wilson excuse -- "The Debbil made me do it!"

chris said...

What a fascinating chapter Dr. G! Any chance you'll follow it up with another book?

Justine said...

Hi Barry

I am trying to understand this paragraph from Part 2 - do you mean that famine or a shortage of food in the slow growth period before puberty in 9-12 yr old boys shortens the lives of their grandchildren? If so, I think you mean in the 2nd to last sentence, that 'a shortage of food' rather than plenty of food.

"Dr Pembrey collaborated with Swedish researcher, Dr Lars Olov Bygren of Umea University. Their research showed that a famine at critical times in people's lives, and their slow growth period just before puberty, could affect the life expectancy of those peoples' grandchildren.[5] Data were collected by following up children born in 1905. The individuals studied were characterised by their parents' or grandparents' access to food during their own slow growth period. What the data demonstrated was that, if there was plenty of food in the environment when the paternal grandfather was a 9- to 12-year old boy, that shortened the life of the individual offspring studied, even though that individual was well-fed himself. In other words, you are what your grandparents ate."

Dr.A said...

Thanks, Barry. I'll print the chapter and keep it with my copy of Trick and Treat.

Barry Groves said...

Good one, Jim :-)

Hi Chris

Thanks. I haven't a new book along these lines planned. My publisher wants a cookbook.

Hi Justine

What I have written is correct - I just haven't written it very well. That was a draft. I'll rewrite this piece so that it is clearer.

Here is the abstract of the relevant study.

Kaati G, Bygren LO, Edvinsson S. Cardiovascular and diabetes mortality determined by nutrition during parents’ and grandparents’ slow growth period. Eur J Hum Genet 2002 Nov;10(11):682-8

Overfeeding and overeating in families are traditions that are often transferred from generation to generation. Irrespective of these family traditions, food availability might lead to overfeeding, in its turn leading to metabolic adaptations. Apart from selection, could these adaptations to the social environment have transgenerational effects? This study will attempt to answer the following question: Can overeating during a child's slow growth period (SGP), before their prepubertal peak in growth velocity influence descendants' risk of death from cardiovascular disease and diabetes? Data were collected by following three cohorts born in 1890, 1905 and 1920 in Overkalix parish in northern Sweden up until death or 1995. The parents' or grandparents' access to food during their SGP was determined by referring to historical data on harvests and food prices, records of local community meetings and general historical facts. If food was not readily available during the father's slow growth period, then cardiovascular disease mortality of the proband was low. Diabetes mortality increased if the paternal grandfather was exposed to a surfeit of food during his slow growth period. (Odds Ratio 4.1, 95% confidence interval 1.33-12.93, P=0.01). Selection bias seemed to be unlikely. A nutrition-linked mechanism through the male line seems to have influenced the risk for cardiovascular and diabetes mellitus mortality.

Justine said...

Thanks for clearing that up for me Barry - Trick and Treat is such a great book, and this is great blog with wonderful articles so thank you for your time in maintaining it.

And YES - a cook book would be great - and maybe you could get your blog readers to contribute recipes for you to test.

Here is one which I find delicious.

I have adapted the breakfast pancake and coconut biscuits. Not sure if is a biscuit, a pancake or a slice or even a coconut frittata! It is much easier cooking all the mixture at once rather than making individual fritters.

I beat two (or more) free range eggs, add dessicated coconut and grated cheddar cheese (amounts can vary) to almost fill up the egg mixture - no salt as I cook in salted butter.
If you have time, leave it to sit for a while so the coconut can absorb the egg.
Heat heaps of butter (New Zealand butter of course) in an appropriately sized frypan till just turning brown and then tip the mixture into the frypan, squish it down to spread over the base.
Turn heat down, and cook slowly till a little brown, turn over to cook the other side till brown, turn off heat and leave in the pan to absorb any extra butter.
Cut into wedges or quarters when cold - great for a packed lunch.
I have cooked it in bacon fat as well.

Then enjoy!

Barry Groves said...

Hi Justine

Sounds scrumptious, and it's a great idea for other blog members to send recipes for inclusion.

If you, and others would like me to attribute recipes to you, please send your name to my website e-mail address with the recipe.

All contributions gratefully accepted.


Anonymous said...

The Brachiosaurus must have been very well fed

Megan said...

Great - a Barry Groves' Cookbook! Just what I was looking for.

Justine - that sounds great and I might try it with coconut flour as I loathe desiccated coconut. Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Lamarck lives! and maybe Lysenko.

Barry Groves said...

Hi Anonymous

Indeed so.


marco said...

Hi Barry.

In your book you address the Vit.D issue ("Our irrational fear of sunlight") and you cite Dr. Trevor Marshall, who suggests that lifelong supplementation of Vit.D is thought to be contributing to the current epidemics of chronic disease.

Do you really think this "Falling in love with Vit.D supplementation" (as proposed from Vit.D Council) to be largely unjustified or even dangerous for its immunosuppressive properties?

Do the studies about Vit.D show an association or a causation?


Thanks a lot.


Justine said...

Hi Megan

Coconut flour? I have never heard of that here in NZ.

If you like the taste but not the texture, try grinding the dessicated coconut in a food processor. Haven't tried it myself as I like the texture of coconut threads!

I added a few fried onions to mine the other day!


Barry Groves said...

Hi Marco

There are many intervention studies using vitamin D supplements. Put "vitamin D supplements" into PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez) to find enough to keep you reading for days.

Vit D is a fat soluble vitamin. This means that it can be stored in the body and can build up over time to high levels. While this storage ability is useful in that you can go for quite a long time without sunshine, it also means that it is possible to OD on it. That said, however, it's well nigh impossible to OD on the pills available over the counter these days as they contain only 400 IU, and the body can easily handle ten times that amount.

A recent study found that to correct low serum levels of Vit D required some 50,000 IU a week of Vit D2. That's effectively 7,000 IU a day.

I added that caveat at the end of chapter 11 because it is safer to use the natural method of synthsising D3 - sunlight - as, that way, one can't OD.

Getting to the Vit D Council's recommendation, they are trying to rectify the results of the ridiculous 'healthy' recommendation that we should stay out of the sun by selling something we shouldn't need. It's symptomatic of the incompetence (or greed) of our 'health industry'.

What they should be telling people to do is get out in the sun from March to September for half an hour (in UK) in the middle of the day, with as little on as possible and without a sunscreen.

But if they did say that, the imbeciles who have been pushing 'slip-slap-slop' would go bananas.


Natural Food Finder said...

Barry, could you email us info@naturalfoodfinder.co.uk were really keen to talk to you further asap see: www.naturalfoodfinder.co.uk


Ben & Rachael

lightcan said...

Dr. Groves,

have you read the reports that you link to from the interview with Uffe Ranfskov? Not that different from previous ones. In the one by Sanders it says that high fat meals cause post prandial lipemia which is atherogenetic. And that eating sat fat and cholesterol raises your LDL and your heart disease risk. Obviously it's all based on the idea that high LDL leads to the formation of plaque.

lightcan said...

Sorry for the mistakes. I meant Ravnskov and atherogenic

Barry Groves said...

Hi Lightcan

No, I haven't read that paper. However, I do know Tom Sanders, who is professor of nutrition and dietetics at London Uni. His predecessor, Professor John Yudkin, was much more on the ball. Sanders, it seems to me, tends to 'toe the party line' without questioning.

Studies that purport to demonstrate that a fatty meat diet is atherogenic, obviously don't consider the many populations and cultures throughout the world who eat such a diet as a natural everyday part of their lives - yet are completely clear of coronary disease.

The reason that such studies in 'civilised' countries seem to show atherogenisis from a fatty diet, start from a biased perspective of what is considered to be 'healthy'. Thus they tend to use diets that contain not just 'bad' elements, but also a strong carbohydrate base. Resultant atherogenesis is then blamed on the fats because we all 'know' that fats are 'bad', while the carbohydrates, which we all 'know' are 'healthy' are discounted.

In fact, epidemiological evidence shows that, generally, an unrestricted protein+fat diet is entirely healthy and a protein+carb diet is also healthy, so long as that diet is calorie restricted. The unhealthy diets are those that combine carbs and fats in significant quantities. Which is exactly what modern diets used in such trials are composed of.


lightcan said...

Thank you, Dr. Groves.
I was wondering if you received my e-mail, maybe I sent it to the wrong address.

Barry Groves said...

Sorry about the delay. I was in Lanzarote and Internet Cafes are not the easiest places to work from - expecially when I shouldn't have been working, accordong to my wife!

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry
Please could you comment on the article in the Sunday Times today 10.01.10 that 'IVF babies have a higher disease risk'. Scientists using epigenetics have discovered that the DNA of babies conceived through IVF differs from that of other children, putting them at greater risk of diseases such as diabetes and obesity in later life. They have shown that in vitro conception is associated with differences in gene methylation and that some of these differences may affect gene expression, but they are unable to ascertain the actual cause of the epigenetic changes observed. I have a healthy IVF teenage son who eats a high fat low carb diet. Thanks

Barry Groves said...

Hi Margaret

It is certainly true that IVF can have health consequenses in later life for those conceived this way. However, an 'increased risk' does not mean that obesity and diabetes - or any other condition - is inevitable.

As your child is eating a diet that is not likely to lead to either obesity or type-2 diabetes, I doubt that the risk of these conditions is important.

That said, you might have to fight kindergartens' and schools' 'healthy meals' dogma, as well as peer pressure from other children when you child goes to school.


Luddite_Jean said...

I found this to be particularly interesting - I have a daughter with a genetic condition. It doesn't have a name, but it affects the MC4R gene, which controls appetite, and to some extent, metabolism. Basically, her appetite has no 'off button'. The doctor's advice was to fill her up with pasta, bread, bananas etc which unfortunately I did, only to see her weight skyrocket to 25 stones. Now she has left home and doesn't eat much in the way of carbs as she 'got fed up of them' and mostly eats green veg and fried meat and offal - and her weight is dropping! I bought your book and see this is similar to the diet you propose and I wonder if she continues with this eating pattern, if she will someday be a normal weight?

Barry Groves said...

Hi Jean
I'm sorry to hear about your daughter. I can't give a definitive answer to your question, as I am no geneticist.

You say that her weight is already falling, which certainly bodes well. So, even though her appestat isn't functioning as it should, it does look as if weight loss is possible, so I don't see why she shouldn't achieve a normal weight if she carries on with a low-carb, high-fat diet.

Coming down from 25 stones (350 lbs, 159kg) is going to take time. Please ensure that your daughter doesn't try to lose the weight too quickly. A steady weight loss of, say, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds a week will get her weight down to an acceptable level in two to three years. That may seem a long time, but if she put the weight on over several years, it would be unrealistic to expect to lose it in months. Slow and steady is easier, healthier and more sustainable.

Best wishes to her


Luddite_Jean said...

Thank you for answering my question, Dr Groves. For what it's worth, the medical 'industry' doesn't fully understand the condition, either.

Since it was discovered, she's been seen by a veritable barrage of geneticists and drug researchers. The only drug developed was found to have 'unacceptable side effects' and is now marketed as a libido-enhancing drug with a side effect of losing weight!

Her weight loss is quite gradual, she doesn't know what it is exactly because domestic scales don't go above 20 stones.

Thanks for the advice.