June 1943 American Hairdresser on Behind the Curtain

I just found these Scans from a June 1943 American Hairdresser Magazine on Behind the Curtain. There are a lot of other neat magazine scans and recipes on the blog. 

Don't Panic!

Blimey there's so much to worry about isn't there? Getting skewered on the way to the pub (or more likely coming back), getting so incredibly obese we'll all explode like Mr.Creosote, fat cat bank bosses running off through the overheated traffic with all our money. Well, help is at hand in the soothing- well, most of the time- words of Simon Briscoe and Hugh Aldersey-Williams (you have to trust someone with a name like that) in their Panicology, just out in paperback. And so I don't have to panic about a neat quote, The Observer puts it very well - 'Gloriously deft in their rebuttal of some of the more egregious cases of media-fuelled herd idiocy'. That's the thing isn't it? We only ever hear or read of all these terrible things that are going to happen to us by tuning in to the wireless or, God forbid, picking up the Independent someone's left in a Little Chef. I don't go out into my back garden on a hot summer's day and think 'I wonder if the ice caps are melting today, those poor polar bears', (or penguins, arctic foxes, Michael Palins), and I certainly didn't when I stepped out into six feet of snow. Briscoe and Aldersley-Williams are the much-needed voices of reason. Not that we don't need to worry a little bit. Earlier this month I ended-up in the cottage hospital having stitches put into my hand from a broken glass, and only this morning a screen flew at me from the cooker ventilator thingy and sent my bacon spinning to a secret place I've yet to find. Both accidents were in my kitchen. Didn't tell me not to worry about that did you Simon, Hugh. Eh?

Psyche Knot

(Click on the image for a larger version.)
Source: The Hairdo Handbook, 1964, Chapter XVIII: Handling and Styling Long Hair

Figure Eight

(Click on the image for a larger version.)
Source: The Hairdo Handbook, 1964, Chapter XVIII: Handling and Styling Long Hair


(Click on the image for a larger version.)
Source: The Hairdo Handbook, 1964, Chapter XVIII: Handling and Styling Long Hair

Cholera’s harsh toll in Zimbabwe serves as health reminder

Thanks to public health practices like sanitation, many diseases from centuries-past are rare in the industrialized world. Take cholera, for example. The water- and food-borne intestinal disease, which has caused at least seven pandemics since the 19th century, is not a major threat in the United States.

Unfortunately, cholera still wreaks havoc in some parts of the world. Among the worst off? Zimbabwe. Thousands of Zimbabweans have died in the past year and continue to get sick and die from this horrible epidemic. Why? Poor water and sanitation, as well as a weak health care system, are to blame. Rainy season makes it worse.

Leadership has also been a problem in fighting the epidemic in Zimbabwe. The country's president, Robert Mugabe, initially denied that there was a cholera problem in the country and then declared it contained even as health experts said it was getting worse.

Cholera is easily treatable with antibiotics and rehydration, but sadly, the treatment is often out of reach in many countries. Zimbabwe, where life expectancy is about 40 years, is a country with a broken sewerage system, where soap is hard to come by and where hospitals lack medicines and staff.

While cholera's wrath is largely an ocean away, its toll is a grim reminder of the importance of preparing for and protecting our communities against disease. Even so, we're not immune. Overseas travelers can be at risk and can bring the disease back to the United States.

Want to know more or help? Visit the World Health Organization for the latest update on the cholera epidemic. Several humanitarian agencies such as Doctors Without Borders are working hard to save lives and could use your support.

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John Raven-Hill's Coronation

Later on I may be recruiting images for a possible book on motor cars. So, keep it to yourselves for the moment, but in the meantime I feel moved to share this fabulous photograph with you. The father of The Mother of My Youngest Children (doesn't it get complicated), the late John Raven-Hill, took his camera to the Coronation in 1953. Judging by his pictures we don't think he was there on the actual day (he'd have been at home in Middlesex pointing with a large briar pipe at an Ekco television or similar), but he appears to have gone round either earlier or later snapping buildings decorated with celebratory flags and heraldry. Marble Arch, the Dorchester, Hawksmoor's frontage on Westminster Abbey. Except what he really did, quite accidentally, was photograph the traffic in front of them. Incredible, never-to-be-repeated, random selections of vehicles. Unconscious, brilliant. So I come to the photograph, and the reason for this post. The background's easy- that's The Sanctuary, just to the side of the western end of the Abbey. Together with a Ministry of Works van, a Ford Prefect and a Bedford Duple coach. But what's the car speeding across the foreground? I'm here to be shot down in flames, but my money's on a Humber Imperial.

Dietary Fiber and Mineral Availability

Health authorities tell us to eat more fiber for health, particularly whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Yet the Diet and Reinfarction Trial, which determined the effect of eating a high-fiber diet on overall risk of death, came up with this graph:

Oops!  At two years, the group that doubled its fiber intake had a 27% greater chance of dying and a 23% greater chance of having a heart attack. The extra fiber was coming from whole grains. The difference wasn't statistically significant, so we can't make too much out of this. But at the very least, it doesn't support the idea that increasing grain fiber will extend your life. 

Why might fiber be problematic? I read a paper recently that gave a pretty convincing answer to that question: "Dietary Fibre and Mineral Bioavailability", by Dr. Barbara F. Hartland. By definition, fiber is indigestible. We can divide it into two categories: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber is mostly cellulose and it's relatively inert, besides getting fermented a bit by the gut flora. Soluble fiber is anything that can be dissolved in water but not digested by the human digestive tract. It includes a variety of molecules, some of which are quite effective at keeping you from absorbing minerals. Chief among these is phytic acid, with smaller contributions from tannins (polyphenols) and oxalates. The paper makes a strong case that phytic acid is the main reason fiber prevents mineral absorption, rather than the insoluble fiber fraction. This notion was confirmed here.

Whole grains would be a good source of minerals, if it weren't for their very high phytic acid content. Even though whole grains are full of minerals, replacing refined grains with whole grains in the diet (and especially adding extra bran) actually reduces the overall absorption of a number of minerals (free text, check out table 4). This has been confirmed repeatedly for iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. 

Refining grains gets rid of the vitamins and minerals, but at least refined grains don't prevent you from absorbing the minerals in the rest of your food. Here's a comparison of a few of the nutrients in one cup of cooked brown vs. unenriched white rice (218 vs. 242 calories):

Brown rice would be quite nutritious if we could absorb all those minerals. There are a few ways to increase mineral absorption from whole grains. One way is to soak them in slightly acidic, warm water, which allows their own phytase enzyme to break down phytic acid. This doesn't seem to do much for brown rice, which doesn't contain much phytase.

A more effective method is to grind grains and soak them before cooking, which helps the phytase function more effectively, especially in gluten grains and buckwheat. The most effective method by far, and the method of choice among healthy traditional cultures around the world, is to soak, grind and ferment whole grains. This breaks down nearly all the phytic acid, making whole grains a good source of both minerals and vitamins.

The paper "Dietary Fibre and Mineral Bioavailability" listed another method of increasing mineral absorption from whole grains. Certain foods can increase the absorption of minerals from whole grains high in phytic acid. These include: foods rich in vitamin C such as fruit or potatoes; meat including fish; and dairy.

Another point the paper made was that the phytic acid content of vegetarian diets is often very high, potentially leading to mineral deficiencies. The typical modern vegetarian diet containing brown rice and unfermented soy products is very high in phytic acid, and therefore it may make sense to ensure plentiful sources of easily absorbed minerals in the diet, such as dairy. The more your diet depends on plant sources for minerals, the more careful you have to be about how you prepare your food.

Find The Fault No 1

A recent birthday saw The Youngest Boys give me a box of reproduction puzzle cards from the 1940's called What's Wrong? They know, don't they? Lovely innocent pictures- a house where there's no drainage grate for the down-pipe, a Wolseley with a green 'Police' sign. You know the sort of thing. But they rang a bell, and that bell sent me scurrying to the archive, and lo! I found I had a different, original set, called Find the Fault. That's it really, I just thought they'd make an occasional series. And elicit the inevitable cry of "Oh for goodness sake" when I reveal the answer.

A few thoughts on Minerals, Milling, Grains and Tubers

One of the things I've been noticing in my readings on grain processing and mineral bioavailability is that it's difficult to make whole grains into a good source of minerals. Whole grains naturally contain more minerals that milled grains where the bran and germ are removed, but most of the minerals are bound up in ways that prevent their absorption.

The phytic acid content of whole grains is the main reason for their low mineral bioavailability. Brown rice, simply cooked, provides very little iron and essentially no zinc due to its high concentration of phytic acid. Milling brown rice, which turns it into white rice, removes most of the minerals but also most of the phytic acid, leaving mineral bioavailability similar to or perhaps even better than brown rice (the ratio of phytic acid to iron and zinc actually decreases after milling rice). If you're going to throw rice into the rice cooker without preparing it first, white rice may actually deliver an overall higher level of certain minerals than brown rice, though brown rice may have other advantages such as a higher feeling of fullness per calorie. Either way, the mineral availability of rice is low. Here's how Dr. Robert Hamer's group put it when they evaluated the mineral content of 56 varieties of Chinese rice:
This study shows that the mineral bio-availability of Chinese rice varieties will be [less than] 4%. Despite the variation in mineral contents, in all cases the [phytic acid] present is expected to render most mineral present unavailable. We conclude that there is scope for optimisation of mineral contents of rice by matching suitable varieties and growing regions, and that rice products require processing that retains minerals but results in thorough dephytinisation.
It's important to note that milling removes most of the vitamin content of the brown rice, and most of the fiber, both of which could be disadvantageous depending on what your overall diet looks like.

Potatoes and other tubers contain much less phytic acid than whole grains, which may be one reason why they're a common feature of extremely healthy cultures such as the Kitavans. I went on NutritionData to see if potatoes have a better mineral-to-phytic acid ratio than grains. They do have a better ratio than whole grains, although whole grains contain more total minerals.

Soaking grains reduces their phytic acid content, but the extent depends on the grain. Gluten grain flours digest their own phytic acid very quickly when soaked, due to the presence of the enzyme phytase. Because of this, bread is fairly low in phytic acid, although whole grain yeast breads contain more than sourdough breads. Buckwheat flour also has a high phytase activity. The more intact the grain, the slower it breaks down its own phytic acid upon soaking. Some grains, like rice, don't have much phytase activity so they degrade phytic acid slowly. Other grains, like oats and kasha, are toasted before you buy them, which kills the phytase.

Whole grains generally contain so much phytic acid that modest reductions don't free up much of the mineral content for absorption. Many of the studies I've read, including this one, show that soaking brown rice doesn't really free up its zinc or iron content. But I like brown rice, so I want to find a way to prepare it well. It's actually quite rich in vitamins and minerals if you can absorb them.

One of the things many of these studies overlook is the effect of pH on phytic acid degradation. Grain phytase is maximally active around pH 4.5-5.5. That's slightly acidic. Most of the studies I've read soaked rice in water with a neutral pH, including the one above. Adding a tablespoon of whey, yogurt, vinegar or lemon juice per cup of grains to your soaking medium will lower the pH and increase phytase activity. Temperature is also an important factor, with approximately 50 C (122 F) being the optimum. I like to put my soaking grains and beans on the heating vent in my kitchen.

I don't know exactly how much adding acid and soaking at a warm temperature will increase the mineral availability of brown rice (if at all), because I haven't found it in the literature. The bacteria present if you soak it in whey, unfiltered vinegar or yogurt could potentially aid the digestion of phytic acid. Another strategy is to add the flour of a high-phytase grain like buckwheat to the soaking medium. This works for soaking flours, perhaps it would help with whole grains as well?

So now we come to the next problem. Phytic acid is a medium-sized molecule. If you break it down and it lets go of the minerals it's chelating, the minerals are more likely to diffuse out of the grain into your soaking medium, which you then discard because it also contains the tannins, saponins and other anti-nutrients that you want to get rid of. That seems to be exactly what happens, at least in the case of brown rice.

So what's the best solution for maximal mineral and vitamin content? Do what traditional cultures have been doing for millenia: soak, grind and ferment whole grains. This eliminates nearly all the phytic acid, dramatically increasing mineral bioavailiability. Fermenting batter doesn't lose minerals because there's nowhere for them to go. In the West, we use this process to make bread. In Africa, they do it to make ogi, injera, and a number of other fermented grain dishes. In India, they grind rice and beans to make idli and dosas. In the Phillipines, they ferment ground rice to make puto. Fermenting ground whole grains is the most reliable way to improve their mineral bioavailability and nutritional value in general.

But isn't having a rice cooker full of steaming brown rice so nice? I'm still working on finding a reliable way to increase its nutritional value.

Shelving Storage

Modern Designer Sideboard - Storage
Contemporary Storage Solution in a wide variety of finishes
Dimensions: W216.2 x D46.7 x H74.2cm
These sideboards offer choices of finish for you to create the perfect storage solution. Great for living rooms, dining rooms, even home-office set-ups and bedrooms. By selecting the finish that complements the surrounds, you can work this storage solution into any room of the house.

People DAY Modern Designer Floor Storage System

With an understated contemporary aesthetic and clean lines, choose from the characterful grains of Daniellia wood, or a matt or high-gloss lacquer. Then complete with wooden door modules or with doors of polished or metalized glass – and internal shelves are supplied in transparent glass.

Modern Designer Sideboard - Storage
Contemporary Storage Solution in a wide variety of finishes
These sideboards offer fantastic quality & value with many choices of finish for you to create the perfect storage solution. Great for living rooms, dining rooms, even home-office set-ups and bedrooms. By selecting the finish that complements the surrounds, you can work this storage solution into any room of the house.

MDF Italia Random Modern Designer Shelves

Launched in Milan 2005, this is THE perfect bookcase for those who like to have clean, sculptural library systems. Shelves at various standard heights fit into the backs through concealed dovetail slots; appearing fitted they happily stand alone. The Random Shelves have a lasting appeal that looks as if they have been made to measure. Create your own sculpture with the colours and objets d’art that you place within. Whether yellow or green is your current theme you can tailor the feel to suit your pleasure. We LOVE the Random shelves when placed side by side to create a whole wall of sculptural shelving. A complementary backdrop for classic and minimal modern spaces alike.

How to Eat Grains

Our story begins in East Africa in 1935, with two Bantu tribes called the Kikuyu and the Wakamba. Their traditional diets were mostly vegetarian and consisted of sweet potatoes, corn, beans, plantains, millet, sorghum, wild mushrooms and small amounts of dairy, small animals and insects. Their food was agricultural, high in carbohydrate and low in fat.

Dr. Weston Price found them in good health, with well-formed faces and dental arches, and a dental cavity rate of roughly 6% of teeth. Although not as robust or as resistant to tooth decay as their more carnivorous neighbors, the "diseases of civilization" such as cardiovascular disease and obesity were nevertheless rare among them. South African Bantu eating a similar diet have a low prevalence of atherosclerosis, and a measurable but low incidence of death from coronary heart disease, even in old age.

How do we reconcile this with the archaeological data showing a general decline in human health upon the adoption of agriculture? Humans did not evolve to tolerate the toxins, anti-nutrients and large amounts of fiber in grains and legumes. Our digestive system is designed to handle a high-quality omnivorous diet. By high-quality, I mean one that has a high ratio of calories to indigestible material (fiber). Our species is very good at skimming off the highest quality food in nearly any ecological niche. Animals that are accustomed to high-fiber diets, such as cows and gorillas, have much larger, more robust and more fermentative digestive systems.

One factor that reconciles the Bantu data with the archaeological data is that much of the Kikuyu and Wakamba diet came from non-grain sources. Sweet potatoes and plantains are similar to the starchy wild plants our ancestors have been eating for nearly two million years, since the invention of fire (the time frame is debated but I think everyone agrees it's been a long time). Root vegetables and starchy fruit ted to have a higher nutrient bioavailibility than grains and legumes due to their lower content of anti-nutrients.

The second factor that's often overlooked is food preparation techniques. These tribes did not eat their grains and legumes haphazardly! This is a factor that was overlooked by Dr. Price himself, but has been emphasized by Sally Fallon. Healthy grain-based African cultures often soaked, ground and fermented their grains before cooking, creating a porridge that's nutritionally superior to unfermented grains. The bran was removed from corn and millet during processing, if possible. Legumes were always soaked prior to cooking.

These traditional food processing techniques have a very important effect on grains and legumes that brings them closer in line with the "paleolithic" foods our bodies are designed to digest. They reduce or eliminate toxins such as lectins and tannins, greatly reduce anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and protease inhibitors, and improve vitamin content and amino acid profile. Fermentation is particularly effective in this regard. One has to wonder how long it took the first agriculturalists to discover fermentation, and whether poor food preparation techniques or the exclusion of animal foods could account for their poor health.

I recently discovered a paper that illustrates these principles: "Influence of Germination and Fermentation on Bioaccessibility of Zinc and Iron from Food Grains". It's published by Indian researchers who wanted to study the nutritional qualities of traditional fermented foods. One of the foods they studied was idli, a South Indian steamed "muffin" made from rice and beans. 

The amount of minerals your digestive system can extract from a food depends in part on the food's phytic acid content. Phytic acid is a molecule that traps certain minerals (iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium), preventing their absorption. Raw grains and legumes contain a lot of it, meaning you can only absorb a fraction of the minerals present in them.

In this study, soaking had a modest effect on the phytic acid content of the grains and legumes examined. Fermentation, on the other hand, completely broke down the phytic acid in the idli batter, resulting in 71% more bioavailable zinc and 277% more bioavailable iron. It's safe to assume that fermentation also increased the bioavailability of magnesium, calcium and other phytic acid-bound minerals.

Fermenting the idli batter also completely eliminated its tannin content. Tannins are a class of molecules found in many plants that are sometimes toxins and anti-nutrients. In sufficient quantity, they reduce feed efficiency and growth rate in a variety of species.

Lectins are another toxin that's frequently mentioned in the paleolithic diet community. They are blamed for everything from digestive problems to autoimmune disease. One of the things people like to overlook in this community is that traditional processing techniques such as soaking, sprouting, fermentation and cooking, greatly reduce or eliminate lectins from grains and legumes. One notable exception is gluten, which survives all but the longest fermentation and is not broken down by cooking.

Soaking, sprouting, fermenting, grinding and cooking are the techniques by which traditional cultures have been making the most of grain and legume-based diets for thousands of years. We ignore these time-honored traditions at our own peril.

Don’t let a power outage leave you powerless

Take a minute to think about your everyday activities. How many of them require electricity? Now imagine your daily life without power. You probably couldn't watch TV or go online. Your fridge would shut down and your stove might not work. In certain types of emergencies, Mother Nature can leave us stranded without electricity for days or even weeks at a time. Before this happens, double-check your emergency kit to make sure you'll be prepared.

There are several ways you can plan ahead for a power outage. Make sure you have a good preparedness kit that includes a can opener and a radio, but be certain they don't require electricity. A residential generator could also prepare you for an emergency. However, if you decide to buy a generator for your home, follow the safety warnings and never, ever use it inside your home.

When the lights go out, it's tempting to start lighting every available candle, but this might lead to a whole different emergency. Candles can be a fire hazard, so it's much safer to use flashlights and battery-powered lanterns. If a power outage occurs during the winter, be smart when trying to stay warm. Put on extra clothing and never use a gas stove for heat.

Perishable food is a concern during a power outage, and could put that expensive cheese you’ve been saving at risk. To protect your food, try to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator can keep food safely cold for about four hours if it is unopened, but never take chances with food safety. Follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture's advice: When in doubt, throw it out!

For more tips on what to do during a power outage, check out this Web page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Then take some time to make sure you are prepared to live without power. Don't be left in the dark!

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Topknot Coil

(Click on the image for a larger version.)
Source: The Hairdo Handbook, 1964, Chapter XVIII: Handling and Styling Long Hair

Checkpoints & Gauloises

Len Deighton, (blogs passim) is eighty this week. Read an interview here. I discovered his books in 1965, three years after The Ipcress File was published, and I immediately went in search of Horse Under Water and Funeral in Berlin. First I just ogled the brilliant dust jackets by Deighton's RCA mate Raymond Hawkey (two of his best shown here, look closely inside the bag) but soon I was absorbed in Deighton's terse text and the seedy world of War Office canteen crockery, rubber-stamped manila files, Smith & Wesson revolvers and stubbed-out Gauloises. Two of my earliest and greatest influences: Hawkey design, Deighton copy. Still with teenage spots I started to make covert trips down to London, lurking suspiciously in train corridors and sitting smoking Disque Bleu in Soho cafes, staring out at black cabs in the rain with narrowed eyes whilst mini-skirted girls sniggered at me from adjacent tables. Later we cooked from his Action Cookbook (the compilation of the unique Observer Cookstrips that you can see pinned to Michael Caine's kitchen wall in The Ipcress File), gazing in wonder at his drawings of cook's knives and Bialetti coffee makers and learning to always light a cigar with a match held away from the end. I had the immense pleasure (can you imagine it) of meeting him in 1993, foregoing the opening hours of a Test Match at Lords. Merv Hughes or Len Deighton? Tough call. Thank God he was as friendly and pleasant as I'd hoped. We talked for two hours about design and on joining my pals for the Test I don't think I spoke until the champagne and samosas came out. Happy Birthday Mr. Deighton.

French Twist

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Source: The Hairdo Handbook, 1964, Chapter XVIII: Handling and Styling Long Hair

Unexpected Alphabets No 8

Stamford didn't want the railway anywhere near it at first, but when they finally succumbed in 1848 its Tudor manor architecture became an heraldic trumpet for this outstanding stone-built Lincolnshire town. It's worth a detour through the old coalyards (now crowded with new houses) to see it, and, if you like this sort of thing, to visit Robert Humm's transport bookshop housed in the old stationmaster's quarters. Over on the 'Leicester' side there is what was once an island platform, now with the far side bay overgrown. On the embankment are these white letters slowly sinking into the earth. I think they've been there since I regularly arrived here on steam trains in my school holidays. And that the makeshift sign was planted out with crocii and snowdrops in the spring, dahlias and wallflowers in the summer. Of course not much of this goes on now. The station is remarkably untouched, thanks to the stern eye of English Heritage I suspect rather than the altruism of whatever garishly-striped franchise is stopping and starting here. And trains are remarkably frequent and very well used. But Mr.Humm and his delightful assistants appear to be the only occupants. Every station door was locked on our visit, including the waiting rooms, and the only remote human contact seemed to be a timetable and a poster telling you what will happen if you don't buy a ticket.

Classic French Roll

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Source: The Hairdo Handbook, 1964, Chapter XVIII: Handling and Styling Long Hair

This is my new favorite hairdo! It's so simple. I'm wearing my hair like this right now.

Paleolithic Diet Clinical Trials Part III

I'm happy to say, it's time for a new installment of the "Paleolithic Diet Clinical Trials" series. The latest study was recently published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Dr. Anthony Sebastian's group. Dr. Sebastian has collaborated with Drs. Loren Cordain and Boyd Eaton in the past.

This new trial has some major problems, but I believe it nevertheless adds to the weight of the evidence on "paleolithic"-type diets. The first problem is the lack of a control group. Participants were compared to themselves, before eating a paleolithic diet and after having eaten it for 10 days. Ideally, the paleolithic group would be compared to another group eating their typical diet during the same time period. This would control for effects due to getting poked and prodded in the hospital, weather, etc. The second major problem is the small sample size, only 9 participants. I suspect the investigators had a hard time finding enough funding to conduct a larger study, since the paleolithic approach is still on the fringe of nutrition science.

I think this study is best viewed as something intermediate between a clinical trial and 9 individual anecdotes.

Here's the study design: they recruited 9 sedentary, non-obese people with no known health problems. They were 6 males and 3 females, and they represented people of African, European and Asian descent. Participants ate their typical diets for three days while investigators collected baseline data. Then, they were put on a seven-day "ramp-up" diet higher in potassium and fiber, to prepare their digestive systems for the final phase. In the "paleolithic" phase, participants ate a diet of:
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, canola oil, mayonnaise, and honey... We excluded dairy products, legumes, cereals, grains, potatoes and products containing potassium chloride...
Mmm yes, canola oil and mayo were universally relished by hunter-gatherers. They liked to feed their animal fat and organs to the vultures, and slather mayo onto their lean muscle meats. Anyway, the paleo diet was higher in calories, protein and polyunsaturated fat (I assume with a better n-6 : n-3 ratio) than the participants' normal diet. It contained about the same amount of carbohydrate and less saturated fat.

There are a couple of twists to this study that make it more interesting. One is that the diets were completely controlled. The only food participants ate came from the experimental kitchen, so investigators knew the exact calorie intake and nutrient composition of what everyone was eating.

The other twist is that the investigators wanted to take weight loss out of the picture. They wanted to know if a paleolithic-style diet is capable of improving health independent of weight loss. So they adjusted participants' calorie intake to make sure they didn't lose weight. This is an interesting point. Investigators had to increase the participants' calorie intake by an average of 329 calories a day just to get them to maintain their weight on the paleo diet. Their bodies naturally wanted to shed fat on the new diet, so they had to be overfed to maintain weight.

On to the results. Participants, on average, saw large improvements in nearly every meaningful measure of health in just 10 days on the "paleolithic" diet. Remember, these people were supposedly healthy to begin with. Total cholesterol and LDL dropped. Triglycerides decreased by 35%. Fasting insulin plummeted by 68%. HOMA-IR, a measure of insulin resistance, decreased by 72%. Blood pressure decreased and blood vessel distensibility (a measure of vessel elasticity) increased. It's interesting to note that measures of glucose metabolism improved dramatically despite no change in carbohydrate intake. Some of these results were statistically significant, but not all of them. However, the authors note that:
In all these measured variables, either eight or all nine participants had identical directional responses when switched to paleolithic type diet, that is, near consistently improved status of circulatory, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism/physiology.
Translation: everyone improved. That's a very meaningful point, because even if the average improves, in many studies a certain percentage of people get worse. This study adds to the evidence that no matter what your gender or genetic background, a diet roughly consistent with our evolutionary past can bring major health benefits. Here's another way to say it: ditching certain modern foods can be immensely beneficial to health, even in people who already appear healthy. This is true regardless of whether or not one loses weight.

There's one last critical point I'll make about this study. In figure 2, the investigators graphed baseline insulin resistance vs. the change in insulin resistance during the course of the study for each participant. Participants who started with the most insulin resistance saw the largest improvements, while those with little insulin resistance to begin with changed less. There was a linear relationship between baseline IR and the change in IR, with a correlation of R=0.98, p less than 0.0001. In other words, to a highly significant degree, participants who needed the most improvement, saw the most improvement. Every participant with insulin resistance at the beginning of the study ended up with basically normal insulin sensitivity after 10 days. At the end of the study, all participants had a similar degree of insulin sensitivity. This is best illustrated by the standard deviation of the fasting insulin measurement, which decreased 9-fold over the course of the experiment.

Here's what this suggests: different people have different degrees of susceptibility to the damaging effects of the modern Western diet. This depends on genetic background, age, activity level and many other factors. When you remove damaging foods, peoples' metabolisms normalize, and most of the differences in health that were apparent under adverse conditions disappear. I believe our genetic differences apply more to how we react to adverse conditions than how we function optimally. The fundamental workings of our metabolisms are very similar, having been forged mostly in hunter-gatherer times. We're all the same species after all.

This study adds to the evidence that modern industrial food is behind our poor health, and that a return to time-honored foodways can have immense benefits for nearly anyone. A paleolithic-style diet may be an effective way to claim your genetic birthright to good health. 

Paleolithic Diet Clinical Trials
Paleolithic Diet Clinical Trials Part II
One Last Thought

Young Shortie

(Click on the images for a larger version.)
Source: Modern Beauty Shop, July 1949

Minnesota clinic sets record for flu shots

Today's guest blog entry is by Tricia Todd, MPH, assistant director of the Health Careers Center at the University of Minnesota.

Oct. 28, 2008, will go down in history as the day the University of Minnesota shattered the Guinness World Record for most flu shots given in a single day — 11,810. Attempting to break the 2006 record of 3,271 shows just how important the university feels flu shots are to public health and safety.

"We learned a lot about giving out thousands of vaccinations in a very short period of time," said Edward Ehlinger, MD, MSPH, director of the University of Minnesota's Boynton Health Service. "This is important information for other emergency preparedness planning. I would also expect to see a drop in overall influenza cases on campus. The health of students plays a very important role in their academic success."

Students and staff lined up in crisp weather at four locations across the Twin Cities campuses to get their shots. Clinic personnel — who included students and staff from the health service, nursing and pharmacy students, members of the Medical Reserve Corps and staff from the the Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association — gave shots from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"It was exciting to participate in this event, and it was neat to think that I contributed to the 11,810 immunizations administered," said Emily Croswell, a senior nursing student. "I felt like we worked well as a team, set a goal, and successfully achieved our target. I was proud to be a part of this experience, and I will carry this memory for a lifetime."

Judy Beniak RN, MPH, director of the Health Careers Center and faculty coordinator of a university immunization class, noted that the Guinness World Record flu clinic showed "how pre-licensed students with the proper training in mass immunization can work together to provide outstanding public health service. I'm proud of all my students."

Photo credit: J. Rosand, University of Minnesota

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The Gold Trophy Coiffure Technique

(Click on the images for a better view.)
Source: Modern Beauty Shop, April 1942

Old Git

Lot of talk this morning about what we should call elderly people. Apparently the pinko liberals are going around tut-tutting about the old folk in our midst being called 'old codgers', 'coffin-dodgers' etc. All Round Good Egg Sir Clement Freud (84) was interviewed on the Today programme and basically said he didn't give a toss what anybody called him, so long as wasn't 'young man' by patronising shop assistants who think they're being funny. As I am often called 'The Old Git' by my children, I don't give a monkey's either. After all I'm now officially infirm and probably incontinent as well since a Senior Rail Card was bestowed upon me. How to illustrate these thoughts. Well, in the seventies Penguin produced a beautifully designed trilogy of photographic books edited by Gordon Winter. On the front cover of A Country Camera 1844-1914 is a photograph taken of eighty-two years old Robert Morvinson in 1857. I've always been staggered by this image, as we are looking at a photograph of someone who was born in 1775. As it says underneath the picture, (but obviously if you're over forty you won't be able to read it) Mr.Morvinson came into the world 'when the United States was still a British colony, and Bonnie Prince Charlie was still alive'. Imagine that. I wonder what they called him? As he was a shoemaker probably 'Olde Cobbler'.

Going Potty

Last night was particularly cold in Ashley Towers. The giant cast iron radiators in the west wing need 'bleeding', which I think is the right term. Certainly it was the sort of word I used on finding them incapable of even warming-through the Unmitigated Winceyettes. So I dived under the covers with A Lust for Window Sills, a very jolly and enjoyable book about architecture by Harry Mount. In it he tells me that "Chimney pots first became popular under George III in the late eighteenth century. Not everyone liked them". Neither did Tennyson for some reason, but their ubiquity and popularity increased dramatically throughout the nineteenth century. I love 'em. Ranks of orange terracotta cylinders marking the skyline of a terraced street, tall cream clay pots contrasting with red brick on country houses, Mary Poppin's stepping stones. And it starting me thinking. The distinct lack of chimneys, and certainly their pots, is one of the many reasons why new housing estates look so dire. If they've got them at all they're just token squat stacks put there for the occasional token fire. Just a couple of feet more of masonry, and then a nice set of pots, and our skylines would be so much more interesting. And perhaps Dick Van Dyke would come back and dance on them in sooty silhouette. Perhaps not.

Give Her an Outdoor Coif for Summer... Molded-to-the-Breeze!

(Click on the images for a better view.)
Source: Modern Beauty Shop, July 1949

Nash Rambler

I just couldn't wait to share this with you. Back in November you may remember my post about the fallen ash tree on the Leicestershire / Rutland border. And my observation that it recalled Paul Nash's Monster Field, his photographs of felled trees taking on the attitude of crawling timber terrors. Every Saturday since I have driven over the bridge next to the leviathan, and on a number of occasions noticed a Landrover pulled up beside it and heard the hornet buzz of a chainsaw. So yesterday morning we parked on the snowy verge and I vaulted over the gate. (Well, alright then, climbed unsteadily.) I need say no more about my one-eyed friend, but equally remarkable are the colours and shapes, immediately redolent of a Paul Nash painting, or, for that matter, one by his brother John. My hand starts twitching to prise open the watercolour box.

I Should Cocoa

Where does that rejoinder "I should cocoa" (meaning "I should jolly well think so") come from? Anyway, after all the snow-capped topiary and frozen brussel sprout stalks I thought we could all do with a heart warming mug of hot cocoa. And what better than a big spoonful out of this splendid tin. Except of course we can't buy it like this now, mores the pity. I must admit I am tempted to buy some Bournville and decant it, (there's still some Rowntree's lurking at the bottom), but there are enough raised eyebrows surrounding me at the moment as it is. But just look at this 1950's design. The repeat patterns in cream and brown on a burnt orange, backing-up the characterful hand-drawn script. And the two exquisite line drawings of the cup and saucer and the very pretty girl glancing at us as she takes the cocoa pot (looking like one of those you once got in Boots' cafes) on its tray to a waiting table. How did I come by it? Well, a little boy of our aquaintance in the mid 1970's was always gazing up at the shelves of our cottage, and when he realised we weren't a grocer's shop he scooted off down the village street to his grandma's and lifted this from the back of her pantry shelf. "I thought you'd like this" he said. Oh yes.

APHA’s Get Ready campaign expands to prepare Americans for all hazards

Today’s guest blog entry is by Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of the American Public Health Association

It is with great excitement that APHA announces that we are expanding our Get Ready campaign from a focus on pandemic flu and emerging infectious diseases to one that is centered on emergency preparedness for all hazards.

Since 2006, APHA’s Get Ready campaign has been educating the public on emergency preparedness in the event of a pandemic or disease outbreak. We’ve successfully used our blog, Twitter, podcasts, fact sheets, Web site and kids materials to spread this message. We’ve launched an annual Get Ready Day as well as a program to remind people to restock their emergency supplies when they change their clocks for daylight saving time.

While we will continue these efforts, we will also now be working to educate the public about preparedness during natural disasters, environmental accidents and bioterrorism and other terrorist attacks. Every disaster has unique characteristics, yet the same preparedness techniques can be used in a variety of different situations. At the same time, there are important differences to consider when deciding how to respond to an emergency: whether to shelter in place or evacuate quickly, whether to seek treatment immediately or to quarantine at home.

Our expanded focus on all hazards preparedness will help people make safe, appropriate decisions in crisis situations. We hope you’ll join us as we move forward.

Listen to our podcast interview with Dr. Benjamin as he discusses the Get Ready campaign expansion.

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Sprouting Lawrence

Out walking on the southern fringes of Market Harborough on Wednesday, I was suddenly taken with the desire to dodge behind the hedge that bordered an acre or so of allotments. Contemplating the view I espied these stalks sprouting up out of the snow. And it all came back to me- D.H.Lawrences's short story Daughters of the Vicar. One of the eponymous offspring, Louisa, escapes the stifling atmosphere of the vicarage on a snowy Christmas afternoon to visit her friend Mrs.Durant. "In the valley that was black with trees, the colliery breathed in stertorous pants, sending out high conical columns of steam that remained upright, whiter than the snow on the hills, yet shadowy, in the dead air." Louisa can't raise anyone at the cottage, and peeping in she sees "the scarlet glow of the kitchen, red firelight falling on the brick floor and on the bright chintz cushions". Going out into the cold snowy garden as "On the left, overhead, the little colliery train rumbled by", she finds Mrs.Durant collapsed amongst the cabbages, whimpering with pain. "I've - I've - I was pulling up a brussel-sprout stalk - and - oh-h! - something tore inside me.." The story is one of a dozen in The Prussian Officer, first published in 1914.

Smart Lines for Smart Heads

(Click on the images to enlarge.)
Source: Modern Beauty Shop, July 1946

Snow Report

Unpredictable stuff, snow. Fancy it coming down in bucket loads when we were least expecting it. In the winter too. Doesn't it know we have rules and regulations for this sort of thing? "It's a national disgrace" says Kylie Binbag of Tamworth-on-Sea, filling three Tesco trolleys with Bovril. But at least the BBC are having a snowy field day (breaking news: jack-knifed lorry at Boat of Garten), sending that poor news girl out every night to stand freezing her cagoules off by a crash barrier in Gravesend. And sending a helicopter up so that they've got clever shots of white spaces to put those graphics on that say things like "Worst Snow Since 1066 (source: Domesday Boke)". Quick, lock those buses away in the garage, close that school, hide under the kitchen table until Ed Snowballs cycles through the slushy streets giving the all clear through a red megaphone. Anyway, we got out into it yesterday morning, roped together with the washing line and pockets stuffed with climbing croutons and whale blubber sandwiches. The village took on Pickwickian resonance, neighbours raising top hats to each other, the vicar tottering along saying "Isn't it lovely, God has so blessed us" and then going apse over font on the icy pavement. The photograph is of the Old Rectory, Hallaton, complete with a very recent molehill to the right of the drive. Must have poked his pink snout out and thought "Mmm. Could make a mountain out of this".

modern decor , Creative Expression

A modern white shell might intimidate some condominium dwellers. But to the architect who lives in this modern-decor setting, this unit offers an irresistible opportunity to express her colorful personal style. She blends her love of all things Japanese with family pieces and objects collected on her travels.

A white backdrop highlights the artwork and cherished items that complete this room.

Because carpeting is required by the building to muffle sound, the owner chose plain khaki carpet that mimics Japanese tatami mats. Over this neutral carpeting, dramatic jewel-tone rugs from Tibet put art underfoot.

Dramatic rugs are an essential piece of this room's design.

The white walls set off the owner's colorful Japanese prints. Illustrating successful eclectic style, modern furniture in white and black combines with traditional pieces in warm hues.
Industrial spaces are perfect candidates for modern decor. On the next page, learn how to dress up an industrial space and call it home.

Appetizing Color

Fearless use of color makes even the most minimal modern-decor kitchen feel lively and inviting. That's because color is an emotionally compelling element in any visual arena.

Bold colors, like this cobalt blue, can make the most modern kitchen warm and inviting.

In each of these kitchens, cobalt blue is used to great effect to bring the room alive.

Bold color can add whimsy to an otherwise stark space.

Choose any bold hue you like. Whether you want a room that's light, airy, and spacious or one that's cozy and intimate, color is a quick and effective way to get the look and feel you want.

Don't shy away from mixing bold colors in your modern kitchen.

European style can contribute to a stunningly sleek and modern kitchen. Find some ideas for a world-class kitchen on the next page.