Podcast – 1st April 2011

My (successful) intermittent fasting experiment, why carbs are bad for the brain (and cholesterol isn’t), and why it’s important to focus on health (not ‘markers’ for health) when judging the effects of medication.

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22 Responses to Podcast – 1st April 2011

  1. MrWeetabix 1 April 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Dr Briffa,

    Would you agree that a paleolithic diet for a majority of people in the United Kingdom, let alone other countries is sustainable?

    As surely the grain used to feed animals, could be used for the less priveledged people of the world?

    Also with rising food prices, meat would become much more expensive than it already is, meaning the possibility of long term primal eating is not possible?

    Regardless of nutrition etc, what is your view?

  2. John Briffa 1 April 2011 at 11:20 am #


    There seems to be an assumption among some environmentalists and some vegetarian/vegans that livestock farming is inherently wasteful and that agriculture is ‘clearly better’ somehow.

    First of all, many of these arguments are based (as you allude to) on the idea that we should be feeding livestock grain. I’d argue this approach is not the best for animal, those who eat them, or the environment. Other forms of farming, that are better all-round do exist and, I think, should be encouraged.

    Also, do please remember that mass-agriculture is utterly destructive, especially when vast swathes of land become devoted to the growing of corn or soya beans or wheat.

    I don’t think we can leave aside the nutritional and health issues either. Even if eating meat and fish raises environmental and economic challenges, that’s not a reason not to talk or write truthfully about the impact food has on human health. Otherwise, we risk, I think, having more individuals endning up malnourished and ill as a result of their clinging to nutritional ideals that are, in fact, jeopardising their health.

    Can I strongly suggest that you read ‘The Vegetarian Myth’ by Lierre Keith if you have not already. It’s a real eye-opener (for some).

  3. Robin Davies 1 April 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Dr Briffa,

    RE Lierre Keith’s book (which I must say I haven’t read as I’ve only just heard about it via this website)I went (as I tend to) to Amazon to see if there were any reviews. There are, and the first one is very, very withering.
    If you’ve time to look at that, do you have any comments?

  4. John Briffa 1 April 2011 at 12:12 pm #


    It’s usually possible in a book of hundreds of pages and tens of thousands of words to find something that is either inaccurate or you do not agree with, right? But even here, it’s not always black and white. Keith’s reference to bacteria in the stomach, if my memory serves me correctly, was essentially about ‘normal commensals’, not potentially pathogenic bacteria.

    I’d encourage you not to let this negative review put you off reading what I regard as a thoughtful and relevant piece of work.

  5. Asclepius 1 April 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Mr Weetabix, industrial scale arable farming is not sustainable, relying is it does on oil for fertilisation of the land (along with transport costs etc…). If you grow a crop and export that crop to another area, the land loses nutrients and these nutrients are exported with the crop. You NEED animals to refertilise the soils in a sustainable way.

    In the UK we waste at least 20% of our domestic food – (food we won’t eat such as that which has gone past its sell-by date, food we can’t eat such as orange peel, and food we don’t usually eat such as potato skins). This food could be fed to pigs who are omnivores quite capable of turning waste (ultimately) in to protein. Add in marginal land that cannot be cropped (such as hill farms) and you have an ideal place for sheep to graze. Now think of crops – much of which humans cannot eat – but which ruminants like cows can turn in to food. So you see there is a lot of potential to sustain animals whilst feeding our population. Also we need to rediscover the eating of ALL of an animal – including organs and offal, and also exploit the commercial value of sustainable material such as skins (leather).

    But the real problem here is population overshoot. If we feed the world, then what happens? Population increases. The cruel reality of life is that the consequence of abundance is procreation. If you feed everyone to satiation then what actual brake do you foresee on population increase? In the wild hunger and resource-competition is a natural control.

    So you see that the problem of sustainability is actually much greater than simply whether “the paleolithic diet for a majority of people in the United Kingdom, let alone other countries is sustainable”.

  6. Kirsty 1 April 2011 at 2:10 pm #


    Firstly as Dr Briffa says, the impact on human health needs to be considered.

    Secondly, the arguments for sustainability of vegetarianism require analysis. For example, sheep and lambs eat grass in areas that are not suitable for growing vegetables for human consumption. There should be more focus on feeding animals on natural pasture Also, how much oil is used to grow, harvest, process and transport grains? The same goes for other industrial foods eg quorn, soy and unnatural oils like sunflower, maize and rapeseed oil.

  7. MrWeetabix 1 April 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    So vegetarians should give up all their morals are just eat meat? are you saying

  8. John Briffa 1 April 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    Mr Weetabix

    That’s certainly not what I’m saying.

    However, I do think it’s right for individuals to be aware of the potential health consequences of vegetarianism/veganism. Though I appreciate these thoughts are unpalatable to some for ethical/moral/ideological reasons.

  9. MrWeetabix 1 April 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    I understand and am worried about the consequences.

    Would the introduction of daily dairy be a good option? or would it be correct to assume milk products are not of health value?

  10. Barbara Place 1 April 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Am I the only one having trouble downloading this podcast? (I loved listening to the last one on my iPhone.) I don’t see the little Download label in the upper left hand corner. It was easy with the first podcast.
    I’m very interested in IF. I’ve been on a low carb diet (with healthy fats, meats, veggies, etc.) for 65 days, and I’ve tried the IF, and am amazed at how long I can go without getting hungry or without having any insatiable cravings. Weird. I have over 70 pounds to lose (I’ve lost 20 already) so signs like this are very rewarding.

    Thanks for the great info and podcasts.

  11. John Briffa 1 April 2011 at 3:54 pm #



    Download (and subsribe) buttons have been added now.

  12. Brian Wu 2 April 2011 at 5:08 am #

    What are your thoughts on lactaid milk (2% or whole) mixed with chocolate syrup to make chocolate milk? I don’t add too much chocolate but have heard that chocolate milk is a good post workout fuel and have been doing it in place of protein shakes for about a week.

  13. Julian 2 April 2011 at 9:12 am #

    HI Dr John – Loved the podcast. Would be really interested to see what you would suggest for my mum. She was diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia and started to take a statin. Not too long after, she developed a heart problem, where she is unable now to walk very far without being out of breath – after regularly fast walking 3-4 miles a day at 72. An angiogram revealed that one of her arteries has a small blockage and this apparenly ‘explains’ her condition. However, despite her age she has always been fit and healthy and this event was suspiciously sudden. What would you recommend reading also.

  14. Jo tB 2 April 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    I recently came across this article on animal husbandry, which puts the above discussion into a new perspective.

    Allan Savory increased animal grazing by 400 procent to stop desertification !!

    It was an eye-opener for me.

  15. Jo tB 2 April 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    Sorry, I forgot to add the link.


  16. Jill H 3 April 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    Before I left the UK I had the privilege of living in a small farming community and I learned a lot about ‘singing nature’s song instead of trying to change the tune’. From what I learned agriculture based on only growing grains, fruit and veg. would create intense pressure on the environment. The organic system of farming depends for its success on an integration of arable and livestock systems and the use of natural animal manures to replenish and sustain organic rich soil. Hedgerows and coppices supporting important wildlife, bees and insects would become redundant and disappear. I have every respect for a vegetarian viewpoint – but the argument of more sustainability does not sit well with me. Industrial farming whether that be agriculture or livestock to me is a huge experiment that has gone wrong. I will be generous and say that in the beginning this system of farming after the war was to bring cheap and nourishing food to as many people as possible – now it gives huge profits to huge corporations and is far from cheap and depletes the health of especially the vulnerable.

  17. Jill H 3 April 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Oh, and just finished listening to the podcast whilst doing the washing up (and having a cup of coffee) and found it really informative. Lots of new and interesting information to think about. Really appreciate it. Thank you Dr Briffa.

  18. MrWeetabix 4 April 2011 at 2:23 pm #


    There doctor, I just thought you’ll like to have a look…She wasn’t even a vegan.

    And even when she was on here vegan days, she ate the one grain you are not to against ( beown rice ).

    The book ‘Vegetarian Myth’ is ridiculous to be quite honest.

    I believe people are just honestly trying to find a excuse to eat meat due to so much choice these days.

    If you just look at real vegans like Benjamin Zephaniah, Donald Watson..You’ll see they are above average in terms of health.

    Animal products are by no means neccessary…Thanks for the reference by I will continue to refuse my animal secretions and chicken periods full stop

  19. Peter Andrews 4 April 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    I searched on iTunes both via my iPhone and on my PC’s iTunes App’s iTunes Store and your podcast is not visible. I searched for your name which turned up your 3 audiobooks plus 2 podcast episodes – one from The Livin’ La Vida Low-card Show and one from Carbohydrates Can Kill.

    A search for “A Good Look at Good Health” on iTunes also did not find your podcast.

    Not sure if it matters but I am in the United States.

  20. Peter Andrews 4 April 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    Hitting the subscribe button above did work.

  21. JoAnne 5 April 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    I am in Canada and I do not see a subscribe button on my iPad to listen to the podcast….thanks

  22. JoAnne 5 April 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    I am already subscribed …..thanks

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