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Sunday, 28 February 2010

Manchester professors claim that priests in Ancient Egypt developed atherosclerosis from eating rich food high in saturated fat

I heard Egyptologist, Professor Rosalie David, of Manchester University speaking on Radio 4's Sunday programme this morning. She was recounting "how the food that the Ancient Egyptians offered to their gods was ultimately eaten by the priests - who paid with their health." She explained that rich, fatty food, like beef and goose, was a feature of the food offered to the gods, and she claimed that because of eating this rich, fatty food, the priests developed atherosclerosis - furring of the arteries - leading to their early death. She also mentioned 'natron' as being a sort of early toothpaste they chewed to cleanse the palate. - My ears stood to attention at this because that sounded like a substance high in sodium. (Natrium is the Latin word for Sodium and Na is the chemical symbol for Sodium.)

And indeed Natron is a substance high in sodium. Wikipedia tells us that "Natron is a naturally occurring mixture of sodium carbonate decahydrate (Na2CO3·10H2O, a kind of soda ash) and about 17% sodium bicarbonate (also called nahcolite[1] or baking soda, NaHCO3) along with small quantities of household salt (halite, sodium chloride) and sodium sulfate. "

This evening I found further information about the research. See Manchester University webpage. See also BBC News article.

Professor David, of the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology in the Faculty of Life Sciences, worked with co-author Professor Tony Heagerty, of the Cardiovascular Research Group at the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences. They conclude that their research provides clear evidence that atherosclerosis was a disease caused by fatty diet in ancient times, just as it still is today.

I'm sorry, Professor David and Professor Heagerty, I don't buy it! I don't believe that saturated fat is the guilty party today and I don't believe it was the guilty party then!

Now the professors may think I'm impertinent to say that, when I am neither an Egyptologist nor a cardiovascular researcher. - But I have become increasingly aware that the belief that saturated fat is unhealthy food, a belief zealously held by many health professionals and by the Food Standards Agency and other Government agencies and quangoes, is a belief less and less held by medics and other scientists who have opened their minds to a wealth of research that does not support the 'conventional wisdom'. And I am persuaded by this more recent research that finds saturated fat is healthy to eat, not unhealthy. See, for example, http://www.drbriffa.com/blog/2010/01/21/heart-surgeon-waging-war-on-saturated-fat-seems-seriously-short-on-science-to-support-his-claims/

My own belief, based on my experience as a steroid victim, is that high sodium intake is the primary cause of the atherosclerosis. The Manchester University webpage referred to above tells us that those priests ate a lot of salt and when I couple that with the additional sodium that would ingested from chewing the Natron 'toothpaste', that clinches it for me. See my own webpage on Fat Retention.

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