Generally Speaking

Intermittent Fasting – another thought

Further to last week’s item under this heading, it isn’t just the dietary pattern which means you never have a really empty stomach which would have been so unusual throughout most of our evolutionary past. Surely, having a bloodstream suffused with high quality nutrients absolutely all the time would have been another thing which would have occurred rarely, if ever, during hundreds of thousands of years of hunter-gatherer ancestry.

It seems to be open season for speculation about this new dietary idea, because we lack the body of scientific evidence that would support a claim that any particular way of doing it is better than any other. All that can be said with confidence is that a wide variety of eating patterns which result in the stomach being empty – and therefore not  releasing fresh nutrients continuously into the bloodstream – for periods of about a day at a time, all seem to result in weight loss. What’s more people trying out these patterns report that they are surprisingly easy to maintain, that they do not cause ravenous hunger the next day, and that they seem to be associated with feelings of well-being and clear-headedness. And possibly also with improved memory.

All this is of course so subjective that anecdotal reports (and even one’s own experience) must be treated with the greatest caution. But they are effects which would be eminently testable in controlled conditions. Just so long as nobody comes up with a ‘right’ way of doing it which destroys the complete flexibilty which is its greatest attraction.

The sell-off of our National Health Service

I have to think they cannot understand
What they have done;
They cannot understand
What made us tick.
Perhaps they lack some vital cog
Like cripples with important bits missing.
I try to see that as their loss

But I can’t.

I am too angry
I am too sad
They do not understand
That they have killed for me a deeply precious thing.

And they have cheaply flogged
Something that was ours
Without our leave
Having promised
Honest injun
That they never would.

But promises they made elsewhere
Have mattered more
Than ones they made to
Coarse proles on streets outside their Club
How could such people understand
What they have done.

The world’s too full of greed,
Too full of hate,
Too full of deceit,
Too full of self-interest,
Too prostrate before the worthless rich
To have destroyed a thing so deeply good

Just because its warmth and wisdom
and the awkward fact of its success
Those who denied the world could work this better way.

This balm for the new callousness
This moral for the new amorality
Had to be destroyed
Or they’d be proven wrong
These modern barons,
Pathetically locked in counting up their spoils

So, we must not let them once deny
the fact that it worked
For half a century it worked
This inspirational dream
Of far far greater men.
And, though they cannot understand what they have done,
That simple truth will live
Must live
To prove that they are wrong
All along
About it all.

JARW  13 March 2012

Intermittent Fasting – DIY gastric banding?

An article in this week’s New Scientist tells us that the stomachs of competitive eaters become disgustingly distended

“…Somewhere into the seventh [hot] dog, the normal eater reported to Metz that he would be sick if he ate another bite. His stomach, on the fluoroscope, was barely distended beyond its starting size. Eater X, by contrast, effortlessly consumed 36 hotdogs, downing then in pairs. His stomach, on the fluoroscope, became “a massively distended, food-filled sac occupying most of the upper abdomen”. He claimed to feel no pain or nausea. He didn’t even feel full…”
(The body: Can you eat yourself to death? New Scientist, 16 March but behind pay-wall)

So, perhaps, the stomachs of people who fast moderately on one or two days a week become correspondingly smaller.

One of the many attractions of this trending dietary pattern (See BBC News 5 August 2012: The power of intermittent fasting), is that it is completely flexible. Many of the people I know who have adopted it, including myself, fast on a single day in more weeks than they actually fast on the nominal target of two days a week. Certainly, nobody I know adopts the grim-sounding alternate day fasting that the above BBC news item refers to.  Nonetheless, gentle and sustained weight loss seems to be the rule. And although the greatest attraction of all is that you can gorge as much as you like on the non-fasting days, people actually find that they simply don’t want the size of portions that they did in the past.

My expertise in this area extends no further than having been a family doctor, but it seems eminently plausible to me that a stomach which remains more or less empty for 24 hours tends to shrink and stay shrunk, so that it fills up more quickly for some time afterwards. This is the opposite of the way stomachs which are grotesquely stretched, as the New Scientist reports, tend to stay stretched.

It also seems plausible that eating three square meals, regularly, every day of your life, so that your stomach is almost never empty, would have been an exceptionally rare pattern during our evolutionary past.

Surely this should be properly investigated as a vastly simpler alternative to gastric banding. But with nobody standing to gain from the research except you and me it is hard to see it being funded any time soon. Although the necessary research would be relatively simple to do. Until then, the anecdotal evidence is suggestive.

Getting Streetview back in Google Maps

I have just solved a problem with the Maps app on my Samsung Galaxy I which was not answered in any of the advice I could find online.

The problem was that I couldn’t find Google Streetview, even though it was apparently correctly installed.

There is no option to delete the Maps app in Android, so I couldn’t do that and then reinstall it as I intended. So I just tried simply clearing the Data, without much hope it would do anything. However, when I re-started Maps it installed the latest updates and, bingo, Streetview was back again, working perfectly, as one of the options when you touch the down arrow on any ‘location’ box.

I don’t know anyone will see this, but if they do and they have the same problem  I hope it helps.

Climate Surfing – a selection of links

We tuned up the following list of links during our recent Climate Week 2013 event.
I’m posting it here in case it is useful to anyone else.
Concern about Climate Change
Answering Denial
Ways forward

Saving energy

Wind Power

Tidal Power

  • Sea Gen – Sea Generation Tidal Turbine (1min)

Solar Power

  •  A Shade Greener A short video by the BBC explaining the benefits of Free Solar Panels: 

What can We do?

  • * Reality Drop: Makes it easy to help ‘Spread Science about Climate Change, Global Warming’

The Climate Week Declaration

Climate Week 2013 starts tomorrow and I have just signed the Climate Week Declaration. Here is the full wording.

Britain must do all it can to create a secure, prosperous and sustainable future by helping to prevent climate change.

We call on the government to maintain its commitment to the Climate Change Act by taking further steps to encourage investment in the green economy, greater use of renewable energy and positive action across society.

The Energy Bill currently being considered in Parliament is an important and urgent example of the commitment needed. We urge the government to act on the recommendation from its own Committee on Climate Change to include decarbonisation targets in the Energy Bill.

And I got the nice badge to prove it:Print

Now I’m seeing if my colleagues on the Alton Society committee will agree to us signing up as a body. STOP PRESS: Yes they have, with enthusiasm!

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