Monday, 28 June 2010

The Tapeworm Diet

Guest Post by A.Hack

Once again, a new diet craze is sweeping through the rich and famous.

In a gory reversal of medical best practice, a huge parasitical worm normally removed when found in humans, is being deliberately introduced into the bodies of desperate dieters as a way to reduce the number of digested calories.

It seems the lengths to which people will go for the perfect figure knows no limit.

The man behind the new technique is Dr Gustaf Glockenspiel, Head of Dieting Technologies at the University of Diet Science in Latvia, Europe.

In his new book, Beat the Tape Measure with the Tape Worm, he describes how he has been introducing tapeworms into the intestines of clients from his Latvian clinic for nearly 2 years, with a 100% success rate.

"Not one of my clients has ever come back," he proudly claims.

Fully grown tapeworms can reach 10 metres in length, and once ensconced in the human intestine can consume thousands of calories per day.

"It's the perfect solution," gushed Ami Stardust, a 23-year-old glamour actress from Estonia, who intends to have the treatment as soon as she has raised the money. "With this, I would be able to eat one extra slice of cheesecake each day without affecting my figure. I might even have two worms so I can have two slices."

Indeed, introducing more than one tape worm is not something Dr Glockenspiel rules out.

"Our bodies are full of parasites," he explains. "In years gone by, we'd all have one or more tape worms as a natural part of our internal ecosystem. I firmly believe that the obesity epidemic is a result of the elimination of tape worms from our bodies. Bringing back the tapeworm could be the answer we have been looking for."

Crowe - jerky
Apparently, stars are paying Dr Glockenspiel up to $10,000 to introduce tapeworms into their bodies. When challenged about the price tag, Dr
Glockenspiel points out how much work goes into training the tape worms.

"These are not just any tape worms," he says. "It takes many months of training to ensure they eat the right foods."

"A regular tapeworm would eat anything that came into your stomach - or worse, it might eat the wrong things. If your tapeworm liked fruit and veg, you'd end up vitamin deficient."

"We train our tapeworms to eat only the things that are bad for humans, like chocolate and cake. This way, you are actually making your diet more balanced by having the tapeworm, as well as cutting calories."

"We use electric shock treatment to punish the trainee worms when they eat the wrong things, and when they eat the right things, they get extra helpings."

As Dr Glockenspiel's book rocketed to 13,456 on Amazon's bestseller list, experts were falling over themselves to criticise his work.

Jobs - at home
"This is a breathtaking abuse of just about every ethical principle I can think of, said Harry Peters from some government agency in the US. "Off the record, it might be best if we just send the CIA in and torch this guy's clinic."

In the UK, Mr Peters' counterpart said "He doesn't sound like a very nice man - I would suggest his practices might be less than cricket."

A Hollywood rumour has it that actor Russell Crow is paying Dr Glockenspiel a seven-figure sum to train a tapeworm to eat only beef jerky, after the star developed a 25 packet-a-day habit on the set of the new Robin Hood movie.

Steve Jobs, who has nothing whatsoever to do with this story, was reputedly at his home in Palo Alto yesterday.


Post Script

After writing this spoof post, I read this article, which suggests there may be people who really would go to these lengths to lose weight.

I then found, the author of which offers a more evolutionary perspective, not far removed from the ideas I gave the fictional Dr Glockenspiel. They are selling their tapeworm product for $2,000.

Knowing there are few stones unturned in this area by Mark Sisson, I searched his site and found an entry about the tapeworm diet in his post about crazy diets.

Verdict: the truth is at least a strange as fiction.

Other Diet Stories:

The Hair Colour Diet
The Amputation Diet
'The Roman Box' Allows you Eat Without Digesting
... Read more

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Fordhall Farm - the Future of Farming?

As oil prices increase and the cost of flying food around the world increases, local farming will almost certainly become more important; and increasing relocation of services and manufacturing overseas will make the production of tangible, local goods the best way to guarantee a wage.

Add to this the growing movement away from industrialised farming and farms like Fordhall Farm in Shropshire, England, look set to go from strength to strength and increase in numbers in the coming years.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or check in on my meals page from time to time will have noticed I eat a lot of animal products, some of which are a little unusual. Heart, liver and kidney are menu regulars. Sometimes I make a meal of chicken bones. Whatever I am eating, the fat always gets consumed, even if this means great forks full of pork rind.

And if you've read the Making the Most of Animals articles you'll know why Mrs M and I feel able to eat like this - because the meat we get from Fordhall is naturally reared, full of good fat and free of antibiotics and other nasties.

(Well, okay, Mrs M doesn't eat what she considers the really weird stuff, but she'll certainly eat most of the fat that's put in front of her. God help anyone who tries to take some crackling from her plate. )

As I mentioned in the first Animals post, much of the offal we get from the farm is free, because otherwise it would get thrown away. I was curious to know more about this and to understand why other people buy their meat from Fordhall farm, so I sent Ben Hollins, Fordhall Farm Manager, some questions a few months back.

I was recently inspired to finally put metaphorical pen to paper by a trip to a great summer fair at Fordhall (more about this below) and by Girl Gone Primal's article last month about Farmer Dan, from whom she has now started ordering meat, also including some free offal.

Why do People Buy Meat at Fordhall?

First of all, I wondered why other customers bought their meat from Fordhall farm - was it because, like me, they wanted to give their bodies better nutrition, or was it because of the smaller scale, environmentally and community-friendly approach to farming they take? Or was it because, by rearing the animals properly, they created better-tasting meat?

A recent customer survey provides some insight:

According to Ben,

The flavour contained in Fordhall meat is often described as 'As it used to be' or 'like real meat'. All the cattle and sheep at Fordhall are reared purely on grass and this in its self has lots of benefits apart from the flavour. Grass fed cattle are known to have greater tasting meat, better marbling, higher levels of omega 3 and many other nutritional benefits.

Dr Mercola in USA has done lots of research into this and we find we have a lot of new customers come to us after reading his work.

It was interesting to see Ben reference Dr Mercola (his site is here for those not familiar with him), who of course is often linked to from Paleo blogs. If customers are mentioning him, then they must certainly be interested in more than just the taste and the ethos.

Is Offal Becoming More Popular?

In the first Animals post I was unsure whether I wanted people to wake up and see the value of offal. After all, it is thanks to widespread ignorance about its benefits and squeamishness about eating it that I am getting it free myself.

According to Ben, there is a slight trend towards more offal eating, but they still "...throw away the occasional heart and tongue," which as far as I am concerned are the best parts.

Does Cost Matter?

I was also curious about was cost. People often say they can't afford to eat higher quality, organic meat - but my view is that buying low quality meat is a false economy unless you are willing to eat the fat as well, which has health implications.

Buying quality meat and eating all of it brings the cost per calorie closer to that of the industrialised alternatives, something I discuss in the second Animals post, Glorious Fat.

Looking at the results of the Fordhall survey we can see that cost features relatively low down in customer motivation. From just these figures there's no way of knowing whether their customers are just rich enough not to care, or alternatively because they have committed to spending what is necessary to lead a healthy life.

Organic, free-range meat is more expensive than its industrially produced equivalent, and I am sure the meat at Fordhall is no exception. But I did wonder whether people were taking advantage of the cost per calorie benefit potential. I asked Ben whether he thought people were eating, or throwing away, all that wonderful fat. He said:

I have a number of customers who buy from me purely because our meat is grass fed, these people sometimes ask that we do NOT trim any fat as they understand the difference between this fat and that of intensively reared meat. Others do not eat the fat as they are buying from me for different reasons.

The Importance of Community

It's clear from the survey that 'Ethos' is an important part of why people come to Fordhall for their meat.

I like the history of Fordhall Farm, because it involves one of my least favourite junk-peddlers, Muller, whose low-fat, carb-laden yogurts and other ghastly offerings propagate the low-fat doctrine and contribute to failed diets everywhere.

Muller owns a nearby factory that can be seen from the fields of the farm. They had wanted to buy the farm land in the eighties, presumably to erect more unsightly edifices, but after a long and determined battle by the family and friends of the family, a community-ownership scheme was established instead. This saw the farm safely owned by 8000 members of the community and being run by Ben and Charlotte.

Beer Festival and Hog Roast

There is a strong sense of community and environmental responsibility in the way they run the farm, and there are regular events and volunteer days. Mrs M and I managed to stop by a recent summer fair and beer festival, the highlight of which (for me, anyway) was a hog roast. By the time we arrived, the 100% free-range, chemical free pastured, antibiotic and growth-hormone-free hog had been all but consumed.

Ben Hollins with what was left of the Hog Roast when we arrived

Some activities at the fair - note the existing Muller factory, sulking in the background.

My delicious plate of pork and crackling.

The Future

Fordhall is currently expanding - a major project is due for completion next year.

The new development will expand the butchery capabilities, provide somewhere for visitors to eat and educational facilities for children. It will realise the vision from 2006 when the Fordhall Community Land Initiative was originally formed with those 8000 shareholders.

More information about the project can be found here.
... Read more

Friday, 11 June 2010

GNC Peddles Sugar-Laden Supplement Chews

I was in GNC in Boston this afternoon, seeking nuts.

At the counter was a bowl of chews, obviously available as samples. The lady in front of me was offered one.

They're good for you - they contain omega 3, stated the GNC employee with confidence.

The bags of 'Omega 3 Soft Chews' were on sale in a bucket nearby, so I had a look at the ingredients. Main ingredient - sugar, second largest ingredient, corn syrup (see image below.)

Holy crap. I mean holy crap.

It's been a while since I moaned about the various double standards practised by so-called health food stores, with their aspartame-packed muscle formulas and 'yogurt'-coated raisins - so perhaps I have just lost my ability to shrug off this kind of cynical product development and marketing.

In case you are interested, in 2008, on The Great Cake Porn Tour, I identified GNC in New York as a peddler of nonsense health food. I also wrote in this post to the CEO of a UK health food store, Holland and Barrett, who I discovered owned GNC, raising my concerns.

So today, standing in line, I was getting ready to quiz the GNC guy when he offered me a chew.

What are the ingredients? I was going to ask.

Since sugar is bad for you and omega 3 is good, but there's more sugar than omega 3 in the chews, doesn't that mean they are NOT good for you?

...was going to be my slightly flawed, but in his world, probably watertight reply.

Alas, he never offered me a chew. He must have sensed the latent awkwardness in my face.
... Read more

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Air Travel, Swollen Feet and Bad Food: New Evidence

On a recent visit to Asia I managed to acquire the feet and ankles of an old lady. Not by making some sinister purchase, you understand, but as a result of water retention caused by the plane cabin pressure.

In the comments for the blog post I wrote when I returned, someone with medical knowledge offered an explanation for something I already suspected: that eating bad food and drinking alcohol made the condition worse. As a reminder, here are the photos from the Asia trip:

During the Asia trip

3 days after Asia trip, after detoxing

Today, I am coming to the end of another business trip, this time to Boston. Earlier in the week, when I arrived after an 8-hour transatlantic flight and 90-minute connecting flight, I took this photo of my feet:

Immediately after the transatlantic and connecting flights

No swelling at all. The flight had been almost as long as the ones I had been taking in Asia, yet my feet were fine. The difference? This time I had one coffee, lots of water and no food.

So for this n=1 study, the evidence supports the hypothesis that eating and drinking crap makes flight-induced swollen feet worse.
... Read more

Friday, 4 June 2010

Paleo/Primal in a Nutshell Part 3: Sunshine

After a long wait, here is the third installment in the Paleo/Primal in a Nutshell video series. To see the first two (Food and Exercise) in various languages click here.

Also of interest:

My Vitamin D Deficiency - a Salutary Lesson
How I got My Vitamin D into the Sweet Spot
Supplements - What I Take and Why... Read more