'Grain brain' book review

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Grain Brain is a book all about our grain diet, and how eating lots of grains is a bad idea for us, as human beings. Dr David Perlmutter clearly knows his stuff in the book, as he is a doctor and nutritionist. He also explains the issues well, in clear prose that includes interesting details and a good balance between the science and the practical consequences.

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In brief, Dr Perlmutter explains that we are not built to consume grains. This is hardly surprising, since the practice of growing large amounts of grain to feed a human population is only a very recent development, at least in terms of the human species. Before that time, around 4,000 BC, human beings existed on a hunter-gatherer diet, which would have consisted of very fresh meat, fresh fish, nuts, leafy greens and seasonal berries. Our ancestors would have eaten carbohydrates, in the form of tubers, but we would have eaten hardly any grasses, including wheat, rye, barley and rice. Our digestive systems have therefore evolved to digest this diet. The sudden influx of large amounts of starch into our diet, which is quickly broken down into sugars in the gut, as well as actual sugars, especially in the form of concentrated fruit sugars, has been a shock to our digestive system.

Our body has a Hell of a time dealing with carbohydrates and sugars. Because meals heavy with these foods causes a rapid increase in the amount of sugar in our blood, our body has to work hard to remove the sugars from our blood system. It does this by pumping out insulin, which shepherds the sugar into our cells. But our cells can only take in so much sugar, and they soon begin to close the gates to more sugar coming in. As a result, even though our pancreas has pumped out lots of insulin, the sugar hasn't left our blood system, which is bad for our body as sugar is a toxin. As a result, not only can we get diabetes, we can also get blood pressure problems, heart problems, circulation problems etc etc.

Many people already know about sugar's effect on the body, but Dr Perlmutter also points out that high carbohydrate and sugar levels can cause inflammation in the brain, which in turn can cause long-term cognitive damage. In addition, gluten, present in wheat and other grains, can break down in the gut to form peptides that have a strong effect on our brains too. These peptides can give us a warm, fuzzy feeling, because they bind to opiate-type receptors in our brain. In this way, eating a pizza can give us a high, but it can also rot our neutrons.

I found Dr Perlmutter's book to be a fascinating and sobering read. I've taken on board his recommendations and tried to switch to his recommended diet. I'm already finding that I'm not drowsy after meals, and that I don't get peckish anything like as easily as I did before. I've also found that when I do have carbohydrates, such as pasta or potatoes, I get a headache shortly afterwards, which persists for several hours. I may be noticing this now because my head's been clearer without the starchs.

For anyone that worries that they might gain weight with a diet high in fats, Dr Perlmutter explains in great detail that people don't get fat on a fat and protein diet, they get fat on a sugar and carbohydrates diet, because their body has to turn the sugars into fats and store them to get them out of the bloodstream. By comparison, once you're on a fat and protein diet, the body burns the fats in its cells naturally and sends your signals that you're full and okay for ages. This is known as ketosis, or a ketosis diet, and it is also recommended to prevent certain cancers, since cancer cells can't burn fats, they can only burn sugars.

Here's my summary of Dr Perlmutter's recommended diet. Check his book for confirmation, extra details and recipes:

Antioxidant boosters:

These boost the body’s own antioxidant system, leading to better body and brain health.

Turmeric (350mg twice daily), Green tea extract, Milk Thistle, DHA (often from fish oils: 1g daily), Broccoli, Ashwagandha, Coffee, Vitamin D.

Healthy oils:

Coconut oil (1tsp daily), Olive oil, olives, sesame oil, almond milk, avocados, nuts and nut butters (remembering that peanut is a ‘groundnut’ or tuber), cheese, pasture fed butter, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds.

Healthy vegetables:

Peppers, cucumber, courgette, leafy greens and lettuces, spinach, cabbage, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, sprouts, artichokes, green beans, celery, bok choi, watercress, asparagus, garlic, leek, spring onions, ginger, parsley, water chestnuts.

Healthy proteins (for a piscetarian):

Eggs, wild fish (salmon, black cod, herring, trout, sardines), shellfish and mollusks (shrimp, crab, clams, mussels, oysters), hummus.

Foods to have in moderation (once in a while):

Cottage cheese, cow’s milk, beans, lentils, peas, rice, pure oats, very dark chocolate, berries.

Foods to have very sparingly:

Melons, apricots, papayas, mangos, prunes, pineapple.

One more point to add; it's true that the food industry has been persuading people that diets high in fats are dangerous, and also that high cholesterol is dangerous. Dr Perlmutter explains in great detail that cholesterol is actually a vital component of our body and is needed to transfer fats into our brains, which are mostly fat. As reported in his book, studies have shown that people with low cholesterol, including those taking statins, have a much higher risk of Alzheimers and other cognitive degeneration illnesses. Damaged cholesterol, oxidised by sugar and free radicals, is dangerous to the body but the fault lies with the carbohydrate diet, not the cholesterol itself.

Overall, I definitely recommend Dr Perlmutter's book.

The Body Electric - book review

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The Body Electric, by Dr Robert Becker and Gary Selden, is an excellent investigation into how electrical signals control healing and general cellular function in the body. The first two-thirds of the book documents how the author, a physician and researcher in the United States, discovered how DC signals in the body, through the Schwann cells around the nerves, are critical in cellular repair and wound healing. He shows how salamanders are able to regrow their tails and bone fractures heal themselves. Clever use of current stimulation at very low levels can have a wondrous effect on wound repair, breakages and other healing effects. He shows that proteins and other cellular components act as semi-conductors, allowing rapid but low level electron flow through the body.

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The author then goes on to study how cancer growth and cancer removal are both heavily influenced by electron flow in the body. For example, he shows that when a salamander's tail is cut, its process of regrowth also heals cancerous growths in its own body, even if those cancerous growths were crafted on to it from another animal. This situation, 'cancer removal while the host is in a heightened healing state' is similar to another scenario, where a person in a high fever can actually be cured of his or her cancer. This phenomenon was discovered by the American physician William Coley, something I wrote about in an earlier blog article.

In the final few chapters of the book, Dr Becker then switches to the matter of electromagnetic pollution, from microwaves, cathode ray tubes, overhead power lines, mobile phones and other sources of radiation. During the book, Dr Becker has explained how all cellular processes on Earth, including our own bodies, are highly sensitive to magnetic fields, including our Earth's magnetic field, and all its subtle fluctuations. In the chapters of electromagnetic pollution, he puts forward a lot of evidence that the sheer mass of electromagnetic pollution we are now receiving is definitely affecting our mental states, our fertility, our cancer growths and other serious health issues. Read More...

'Magicians of the Gods' book review

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My Christmas Holiday reading this year has been 'Magicians of the Gods' by Graham Hancock. Over the last couple of decades, Hancock has written a lot of very interesting books on Giza, Atlantis, South America and related topics and has been one of the leading lights working to promote the idea that Atlantis, or at least and advanced antediluvian civilisation, did exist but was wiped out at the end of our last ice-age. Fortunately for us, some of its inhabitants survived and helped re-start civilisation around the globe and the remains of those ancient civilisation are still present today in various sites, such as in South America, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia and Australia.

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In Magicians of the Gods, Hancock puts forward evidence that an advanced antediluvian civilisation did exist on Earth in our last ice-age but was wiped out by the Younger Dryas impact, then a massive flood a thousand years after that terrible event, which also ended the ice-age, leaving Earth with a sea level far higher than before, thus drowning many ancient cities. A lot the related material has appeared in previous Hancock books, and so anyone who has read his previous books will be tempted to skim some pages of this one; I certainly did. In the end, I did enjoy 'Magicians of the Gods' but I think it added little new material to the topic that I hadn't heard before. I do still recommend it but perhaps it's more appropriate for someone just entering the whole topic of Atlantis.

I think it's also worth noting what Graham Hancock hasn't put in his book. Most importantly, Hancock is completely committed to the idea that the Younger Dryas Impact Event was caused by a periodic comet, akin to Halley's Comet. He mentions the Taurids and how our solar system's movement around our galactic centre brings us into regions of dense material, which trigger cometary events. Read More...

'The Interrupted Journey' book review

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When it comes to the topic of UFOs, there is a marked difference between many peoples' casual impression of the whole field and how the subject appears when you make an effort to investigate it. The casual impression is that it's a fringe topic with only a few really meaningful events and that most of it is silly people saying daft things to get in the papers. I don't say this to sound elitist because I've had that view myself for many years. It is only recently, when I've had the time and energy to investigate the subject, that I've realised how different the issue of UFOs is when one does a in-depth study.

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If one properly investigates the subject of UFOs, then a very different world comes into sharp focus. As Timothy Good has explained in many books, there is an enormous amount of evidence all around our planet of human encounters with UFOs. It's certainly true that many of those encounters have little physical evidence and rely for a large part on eye-witness testimony. Such reports can therefore be dismissed as too thin for serious analysis, but there are also a very large number of reports that have many respectable witnesses and a host of supporting evidence, for example the UFO encounter in Rendlesham Forest. It is also clear that military forces around the world are grabbing as much of the physical evidence as they can and censoring reports before they reach the mainstream media. This is especially true of the United States military who have soldiers in more than 150 countries around the world (considering there are only officially 196 countries in total, this is a huge slice). If we also consider the simple fact that most Western media outlets will not publish anything that is marked classified, for sensible reasons, It is hardly surprising that if the U.S. military decides to put a lid on the UFO phenomena, it would become a fringe and murky subject. Read More...

'Command and Control' by Eric Schlosser - book review

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This week, I've been reading Eric Schlosser's 'Command and Control', an extensive and comprehensive non-fiction book that looks into the history of nuclear weapon safety in the U.S.A. since the Second World War. Schlosser wrote the excellent 'Fast Food Nation' and this book is just as thorough and just as alarming. Schlosser's book makes it clear, using an exhaustive list of events, that it's pretty much a miracle that a nuclear weapon didn't accidentally explode in the United States in the last sixty years.
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I'm a supporter of CND, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and so I was keen to read this book to be as knowledgeable as possible on such an important subject. I came to the decision, several years ago, that I would rather be killed by a nuclear weapon than be even partly responsible for dropping one on millions of other people. There are many visceral examples of what such a nuclear strike would do in books and television, from an excellent passage in the book 'Doomsday Men', that I recently reviewed, as well as the harrowing and brilliant series 'Threads', made by the BBC (when the Beeb was being brave). I heartily recommend both items, but be aware, the Threads programme pulls no punches at all.

'Command and Control' is a thick wedge of a book. Schlosser exhaustively reports on the history of nukes in the U.S. and the cold war. To be honest, there were sections that I skipped, as page after page of descriptions of missiles and strategies can get dull. Fortunately, the book switches between this history and the recounting of a particular event; a disastrous accident that occurred at a Titan II missile silo. Schlosser's account of the accident is riveting. His writing reminded me a lot of Stephen King's 'The Stand', with the same approach of giving each character's back story, before narrating what happened to them during the accident. I wouldn't be surprised if Schlosser starts writing fiction soon, he's certainly prepared the ground.
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Heisenberg: Physics and Philosophy - book review

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This week, I've been reading 'Physics and Philosophy' by Werner Heisenberg. Heisenberg was one of the leading lights of the Quantum Physics generation in the early twentieth century. He was the prime discoverer of the Uncertainty Principle; that it is impossible to know both the velocity and position of a subatomic particle at the same time.

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I'll say, straight away, that 'Physics and Philosophy' is a dry read; the book is never going to succeed as a mainstream popular science book. Heisenberg writes like a physics professor giving a church sermon, but he also writes with an air of calm authority. He isn't polemicist or a demagogue. There's no sign that he has an axe to grind. As a result, the book reads as a benchmark of sober thought on the philosophical implications of what physicists discovered in the early twentieth century.

During his book, Heisenberg stays very much in the middle ground of the philosophical interpretations of quantum physics. He never concludes that the mind is required for matter to appear out of the quantum realm, unlike Wigner and Von Neumann, but neither does he follow the lead of Einstein and doggedly advocate the Classical Physics viewpoint of an external reality that is present and real all the time, whether we observe it or not. Instead, he talks calmly about what he thinks we can reliably conclude from the experimental evidence and the mathematics, and how that is elegant and beautiful and sufficient just by itself. Read More...

Fever: a magical cancer cure

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This week, I've been reading 'Farmer Buckley's Exploding Trousers and other odd events on the way to scientific discovery'. It's a popular science book from the people at New Scientist magazine and is a series of short stories (each a few pages long) about weird and wonderful and often very important scientific and technological inventions and discoveries. I'm enjoying the book, although reading a long string of disconnected stories can feel a bit laborious sometimes, but there some absolute gems amongst the collection.

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One story really jumped out. On page 21 of the book, the author describes the fascinating story of Dr William Coley, an American doctor living and working in New York in the 1870's. During his work, Dr Coley stumbled upon a fascinating pattern. He treated many patients with tumours. The standard medical treatment for these tumours was to cut them out, but they invariably grew back. Coley found that patients who had tumours, but then suffered an infection that sent them into a high fever, very often were entirely cured of their tumours. For example:

The man's medical records were quite clear. His case was hopeless. In the space of three years, he had had five operations to remove a tumour from his neck. The last was a failure: it was impossible to remove the whole tumour. He would die soon. As if that wasn't bad enough, the poor man then suffered two attacks of erysipelas, a skin infection that produced a lurid red rash and a high fever. But when the fever broke and the man recovered, his tumour had vanished. Seven years later, he was still alive and well. There could be only one explanation: whatever had caused the fever had also destroyed the cancer.

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'Supernormal' book review and Influence Idea thoughts

The purpose of this article is to review a book, but I thought I’d chat some more about the Influence Idea and 'Reality is Light' before the review, as they are connected. Just a quick note: The links in the following paragraphs connect to the larger articles I’ve written about these ideas, available elsewhere on this website, so feel free to switch to them if you'd like a fuller explanation.

To start off with, I'll explain the Influence Idea again, briefly. It's surprisingly simple. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that everything in our physical universe becomes more disordered over time; this is called Entropy, but something strange is going on because Life becomes more ordered over time. Life grows, develops and reproduces, constantly increasing order in the universe. Since Life exists in the universe, and is clearly acting entirely against Entropy, and Entropy governs all physical things in the universe then, logically, Life must be being created and maintained by a non-physical, positive, organising influence originating from outside physical reality.
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Doomsday Men and Dr Strangelove

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Here's a quick book review of a book I've just finished called 'Doomsday Men' by P.D.Smith. The book is all about the history of atomic research, from Madame Curie onwards, and how it became used to build the ultimate military weapon, the hydrogen bomb and its fictional but apocalyptic dark sibling, the radioactive 'cobalt bomb'.

I enjoyed the book. It was pretty clear from early on (in fact, P.D.Smith admitted as much himself) that the author had been writing a biography of Leo Szilard, an admirable and brilliant Hungarian physicist who had to leave his home in Budapest when Nazism and anti-Semitism emerged in central Europe. He ditched up in London and finally emigrated to the United States. Unlike other brilliant Hungarian physicists who ended up playing a major role in the development of atomic power and the atomic bomb (such as Von Neumann and Edward Teller), Szilard was a compassionate and ethical man. Read More...

The Utter horror of the 'three for two' offer

I was in Waterstones today to buy a present for a relative. I had a rough idea what I was after and went straight to the appropriate section. There, stacked neatly on the shelf, were two books by John Lindqvist, the writer behind the hit Scandinavian film ‘Let the Right One In’, which I think is currently being remade in America on the grounds that the original is full of foreigners who talk funny. They’ve also shortened the title to ‘Let Me In’. I guess this is because a) no movie about Vampires should ever refer to them as ‘The Right One’ or b) Five words in a title is too long. Since ‘Twilight’ and ‘True Blood’ are incredibly popular and are stuffed full of blood sucking creatures of the night who somehow retain tender romantic feelings while their souls sit writhing in the nethermost depths of hell, I’m guessing it’s mostly about the title length.


Film tie-ins aside, I picked up the two books by Lindqvist that I wanted. Sorted! I could go home and have a cup of tea. Then I spotted something. Sitting prominently on the front cover of both books was a sticker marked ‘3 for 2’. Oh. That’s good, I thought. I have two books I want. I can pick up a third for nothing. I looked around casually. There were lots of ‘3 for 2’ books on the tables around. I’ll definitely want one of those.


The only thing was, each one I spotted I didn’t want.

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My favourite cycling books and films

A friend asked me recently to recommend some cycling books and films. Instead of just telling him, I thought I'd stick them on my blog so everyone can check them out.

First off, an absolute gem of a French animated movie called 'Belleville Rendezvous'. There's not much dialogue but there doesn't have to be. The expressions and actions tell you everything you need to know. A young french lad is given a bicycle and it transforms his life. With the help of his grandmother, he becomes a professional racer (incredibly skinny apart from HUGE thighs). He takes part in the Tour de France but ends up in the broom wagon. From there, he is kidnapped, taken to New York and made to take part in a 'simulation' Tour De France ran by gambling gangsters. Strange, magical, often hysterically funny. The only criticism I would have is that the middle section about the three old ladies - the Belleville triplets - drags on a little too long. Apart from that, brilliant.

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