Banting’s Letter on Corpulence

Banting's Letter on Corpulence

I was looking through my (as yet unorganized) library a couple of days ago and came across a couple of books that I thought I should blog about. After giving it some more thought I decided to start a series of posts on the books that I found most essential in my own low-carb reading. These would be the books that should make up the core of any good low-carber’s library. So here we are with the first post in the series.

Probably the most influential diet book of all time was not really a diet book, but a bound letter written by a satisfied patient. William Banting (1797-1878) was a middle-aged undertaker living in London who had become obese. He sought the help of multiple physicians and other practitioners who prescribed a variety of remedies for him, none of which worked. Or as he put it

I consulted…high orthodox authorities (never any inferior adviser), but all in vain. I have tried sea air and bathing in various localities, with much walking exercise, taken gallons of physic and liquor potassae, advisedly and abundantly; riding on horseback; the waters and climate of Leamington many times, as well as those of Cheltenham and Harrogate frequently; have lived upon sixpence a-say, so to speak, and earned it, if bodily labour may be so construed; and have spared no trouble nor expense in consultations with the best authorities in the land, giving each and all a fair time for experiment, without any permanent remedy, as the evil [his obesity] still gradually increased.

He tried all the above along with simple diets, i.e., low-calorie diets, without success. Despite all his efforts and all the advice of the many practitioners whose opinions he sought

the evil still increased, and, like the parasite of barnacles on a ship, if it did not destroy the structure, it obstructed its fair, comfortable progress in the path of life.

Banting finally fell into the hands of a physician who recommended a low-carb diet, or, in the words of the time, a diet lacking in starch and saccharine (sugar and sugar-sweetened foods) matter.

He took to his new diet with a gusto and began for the first time to lose substantial amounts of weight. As the months wore on, his fat dropped off. After about a nine months he had lost 35 pounds (which made a large difference as he was only 5′ 5″ tall) and was ecstatic. In fact, he was so fired up and had had enough people ask him about his regimenbanting-photo.jpg that he decided to publish at his own expense a small, bound pamphlet describing his own experiences that he could pass out gratis to anyone who wanted one.

The first printing of 1000 of these pamphlets that Banting called A Letter on Corpulence went fast. He then wrote an addendum and printed 1500 copies of this second edition and gave them all away. By this time the demand had become such that Banting didn’t want to continue the expense of printing these booklets, so he wrote yet another addendum, called it the third edition, and charged sixpence for it, which was enough to cover its cost. Banting’s Letter on Corpulence went through many more editions and started the first worldwide dietary movement.

So popular were Banting’s writings that his name became synonymous with dieting. In the UK people still often speak of banting when they are talking about dieting. Other languages picked it up and use bant or some variant as their word for dieting in general, not just low-carb dieting.

I happen to own an actual copy of the third edition of Banting’s Letter on Corpulence. I have scanned it and made it available online in its original size to anyone who wants it. So now you’ve got the first book for the core of your low-carb library. (Click here for your copy)

I reread this little gem before I decided to go to the effort to scan it and put it up (all of which was a giant pain in the rear), and discovered it to be a valuable addition to any low-carber’s library because – although it was written in 1864 – just about everything in it applies to our current situation. And before I put it up I searched online and found a number of sites that had PDF’s of (mainly) the 4th edition, but I didn’t enjoy reading those nearly as much as I did the actual pages. The Victorian prose went down more smoothly when read on yellowed Victorian pages with a bend in the middle made by someone who a hundred or so years ago folded it in half to stick in his pocket. I wanted readers of this blog to be able to have the same experience – or as close to that as possible, so go for it.

The whole thing takes about 15 minutes to read (maybe a half hour max) and is loaded with pearls of wisdom or explanations of situations many of us find ourselves in today.

I’ll go through just a few quotes from the Letter to show you what I mean.

One of the reasons Banting gives for writing the letter was because he was

earnestly hoping the subject may be taken up by medical men and thoroughly ventilated.

Fat chance. The medical establishment of the day was as pigheaded about low-carb dieting as the medical establishment is today. They basically sniffed at his book and pronounced it a fraud.

He has a great description of how obesity is regarded by both the public and the medical fraternity that rings true today.

Obesity seems to me very little understood or properly appreciated by the faculty and the public generally, or the former would long ere have hit upon the cause for so lamentable a disease, and applied effective remedies, whilst the latter would have spared their injudicious remarks and sneers, frequently painful in society, and which, even on the strongest mind, have an unhappy tendency.

And he – like thousands of patients I’ve seen over the years – describes how he got fat.

…my corpulence and subsequent obesity was not through neglect of necessary bodily activity, nor from excessive eating, drinking, or self-indulgence of any kind, except that I partook of the simple aliments of bread, milk, butter, beer, sugar, and potatoes more freely than my aged nature required, and hence, as I believe, the generation of the parasite, detrimental to comfort if not really to health.

Among the many prescriptions he got for reducing his bulk was this one to exercise.

I consulted an eminent surgeon…who recommended increased bodily exertion before my ordinary daily labours began, and thought rowing and excellent plan. I had the command of a good, heavy, safe boat, lived near the river, and adopted it for a couple of hours early in the morning. It is true I gained muscular vigor, but with it a prodigious appetite, which I was compelled to indulge, and consequently increased my weight, until my kind old friend advised me to forsake the exercise.

As you can see, Banting had about the same results with his exercise program that people do today with theirs.

He was told to eat ‘light food’ and in moderation, but to no avail.

I have spared no pains to remedy this by low living (moderation and light food as generally prescribed, but I had no direct bill of fare to know what was really intended), and that, consequently, brought the system into a low impoverished state, without decreasing corpulence, caused many obnoxious boils to appear, and two rather formidable carbuncles, for which I was ably operated upon and fed into the increased obesity.

When he finally fell into the hands of someone who had good sense, he got the following advice:

The items from which I was advised to abstain as much as possible were:–Bread, butter, milk, sugar, beer, and potatoes, which had been the main (and, I thought innocent) elements of my existence, or at all events they had for many years been adopted freely.

These, said my excellent adviser, contain starch and saccharine matter, tending to create fat, and should be avoided altogether.

Take a look at pages 18-19 in the book to see the actual diet Banting ended up following. Note how much booze he drank along with his low-carb fare. Had he only drunk half this much, he would have no doubt lost half again as much weight.

Here’s what he was eating before. Is it any wonder he was corpulent?

My former dietary table was bread and milk for breakfast, or a pint of tea with plenty of milk and sugar, and buttered toast; meat, beer, much of bread (or which I was always very fond) and pastry for dinner, the meal of tea similar to that of breakfast, and generally a fruit tart of bread and milk for supper. I had little comfort and far less sound sleep.

How many people – maybe even you yourself – find themselves saying something along these lines after they discover the beauty of the low-carb diet.

I can conscientiously assert I never lived so well as under the new plan of dietary, which I should have formerly thought a dangerous extravagant trespass against health.

Here Banting is 150 years ahead of his time.

The simple dietary evidently adds fuel to the fire, whereas the superior and liberal seems to extinguish it.

In other words, low-cal, low-fat diets add fuel to the obesity fire while higher-calorie, higher-fat diets do the opposite. We know why now.

Mr. Banting even fiddles with a maintenance plan in much the same way that I follow my own maintenance plan and recommend patients follow theirs.

I…have frequently indulged my fancy, experimentally, in using milk, sugar, butter, and potatoes–indeed, I may say all the forbidden articles except beer, in moderation, with impunity, but always as an exception, not as a rule. This deviation, however, convinces me that I hold the power of maintaining the happy medium in my own hands.

And, like all of us, he has seen people successful on the diet get sabotages by their friends and family.

Many…doubtless return to their former habits, encouraged so to act by the ill-judged advice of friends who, I am persuaded (from the correspondence I have had on this most interesting subject) become unthinking accomplices in the destruction of those whom they regard and esteem.

You’re on what?!?!?! One of those dangerous high-protein diets? You’ll damage your kidneys; you’ll have a heart attack; etc. I wonder what they said back then?

Finally, Banting was really prescient when he used the term ‘parasite’ to describe the fat accumulating on his body.

The word “parasite” has been much commented upon, as inappropriate to any but a living creeping thing (of course I use the word in a figurative sense, as a burden to the flesh), but if fat is not an insidious creeping enemy, I do not know what it is.

He used the term ‘parasite’ figuratively, but fat actually does invade the viscera. And stimulates the innate immune system to attack it just as a parasite would. Macrophages swarm over and between the fat cells just like they would if this visceral fat were a parasite or other foreign invader. In fact, having a lot of visceral fat is not much different than having a big splinter deep in the middle of your belly. It catalyzes the same immune response. Banting hit the nail on the head when he called fat a parasite way back in 1862 (the date of first publication).

Spend your 15-30 minutes reading this little book, and you’ll realize just how little things have changed in 150 years. Enjoy.

There is now also available a terrific audio version of Banting’s Letter on Corpulence.

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36 thoughts on “Banting’s Letter on Corpulence

  1. Thank you for the scan! You’re right, it’s much better to see in the original format, and it’s funny to think that this is the precursor to all those modern diet books written by authors with success stories.

    Will you be doing a post on “Eat Fat and Grow Slim” by Richard Mackarness as well?

    Hi Gazelle–

    Believe it or not I have never read the Macarness book. I’ve heard of it; I’ve just never read it. I suppose I should get a copy so that I won’t be derelict.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  2. Thank you for taking the trouble to scan this in for us to read. I have read quotations from Banting before but only now the whole letter. What a generous man he was to publish the first two editions at his own expense. And yes, you can hear in his old-fashioned English that he experienced all the same problems that the obese do nowadays.

  3. Good morning, Dr Eades. Thank you for sharing this with us! And the idea of a series on low-carb reading is a good one.

  4. Outstanding. I was struck by his statement “I had little comfort and far less sound sleep.” Have you noticed how much trouble people seem to have sleeping, and with their “restless legs”? When I was on a low-fat diet (gah!) many years ago, I had that “trembly, twitchy” problem the TV commercials talk about, and I couldn’t sleep. The leg thing nearly drove me crazy, but they weren’t advertising any medication for it at that time, so I just thought I wasn’t getting enough exercise, or I was but it was at the wrong time of day, etc.

    And I’d fall asleep but wake up about 2 a.m. hungry as hell, unable to go back to sleep unless I went downstairs and had a snack (usually a bowl of cereal!).

    Funny! On a low-carb diet both of those problems disappeared!

    Many if not all of the problems the pharmaceutical companies promise to solve in their TV ads could easily be solved with a change to a low-carb diet.

    The Banting book is fascinating. I wish I had a real copy too. Thanks for going to all the trouble to put it up. I fully realize it must have been a pain but we appreciate it! –Anne

    Sleep improvement is one of the many unheralded advantages of a low-carb diet. Most people report that they sleep much, much better once they’ve gotten going low-carbing.

    It was a pain to scan, crop, fiddle with, and put up, but MD was gone so it kept me out of trouble.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  5. Odd that he believed butter contained saccharine matter (page 42). Did the butter of the nineteenth century have carbs?

    Another interesting point is that Dr. Harvey formulated his hypothesis because he discovered that the exclusion of starch and saccharine matter “checked diabetic urine”. The medical literature is full of references to diabetics being put on such low carb diets at the time, and they all were quite healthy when doing so. Remember, insulin was first synthesized from pigs in 1921. The diabetics of the time had no choice but low-carbing.

    Hi Freddy–

    I wondered about the butter myself. People of my grandparents generation alway referred to what I called regular butter as ‘sweet butter.’ Maybe folks back then – including Dr. Harvey – thought ‘sweet butter’ contained carbs. Or maybe since they lacked refrigeration, butter was something different that what we know it as today. I would love some enlightenment on this issue if anyone knows.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  6. I came across the text of “A Letter on Corpulence” a few years ago, when I’d only begun to eat low carb. It is well written, makes complete sense and really hit home to me. It is also the perfect retort to the idea that low carb is a fad diet. In fact, low carb has cropped up periodically in the nearly 150 years since Banting’s writing, but never seems to have gained long-lasting acceptance by the mainstream. You are lucky to possess a copy of one of the original pamphlets. Thanks for scanning it so that we may all enjoy it.

    I have read several books on low carb and paleo-type diets this summer, including Protein Power, which is one of my favorites for explaining things from a health perspective, and using more scientific detail. I forget which book it is (the new Life Without Bread maybe?), that had a quote from Herodotus concerning a discussion between two ancient rulers, I think one was from Ethiopia. It indicated that even in antiquity, there were cultures that understood that healthy eating (and subsequent longevity) meant limiting carbohydrates. That there is so much history to this way of eating, is quite satisfying to me.

  7. Just being lazy and not researching this myself, but any info on the doctor who recommended this diet to Banting, and how he came to his recommendation? That would be quite interesting. The pamphlet says he specialized in the treatment of a malady that was caused by corpulence. A diabetes specialist perhaps?

    Hi Leonard–

    His name was William Harvey (not the William Harvey, the discoverer of how blood circulates), and he was a specialist in the treatment of ear and hearing problems, an ‘aural surgeon,’ in Banting’s words. He diagnosed Banting’s hearing problem as being caused by his obesity and recommended the low-carb diet as a solution. According to Banting, as he lost weight on the diet, his hearing returned to normal.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  8. Started feeling guilty so I Googled up the subject of Banting’s mentor, a Dr. William Harvey. Seems he’d just heard a lecture by an emminent physiologist named Claude Bernard. Bernard discovered that the pancreas makes digestive enzymes, and that the liver can make glucose. He came up the idea of homeostasis, and was a champion of using scientific method.

    Bernard wrote: ”When we meet a fact which contradicts a prevailing theory, we must accept the fact and abandon the theory, even when the theory is supported by great names and generally accepted”.

    No truer words have ever been spoken with regard to scientific endeavor, yet nutritional and health science as it currently exists couldn’t be farther from this ideal.

  9. Ive been meaning to read Banting’s work and my library has a copy so Ill grab it today. William Osler’s approach to treating diabetes through diet pg 433 was a pretty interesting: http://mcgovern.library.tmc.edu/data/www/html/people/osler/PPM4th/OP420133.htm

    He does reference Banting on pg. 440 in his section on obesity. Good read as well.

    Hi John–

    Thanks for the scanned pages; they’re quite interesting. I’ve got many old medical papers from this era, and they all suggest a diet similar to the one Osler used. But, of course, that was back before doctors got so smart.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  10. “They have eyes but do not see; ears but do not hear.” Kind of says it all for the establishment’s continued pushing of the low-fat diet. Hope that Gary Taubes’ new book will debunk this hopelessly flawed hypothesis. (I’m not holding my breath on that though as it seems that the more the low-fat diet fails, the more they push it!)

    I would add ‘and minds that don’t comprehend.’

    Cheers–

    MRE

  11. Banting was also advised to avoid salmon. My guess is that, in the absence of lab testing for sugar, foods that tasted sweet or sweetish (and we know taste can be somewhat subjective) were thought to contain it.
    Rachel

    I didn’t notice that he was advised to avoid salmon, but if so you’re probably right about it’s being perceived as sweet, but I don’t know for sure. And why was he advised to avoid pork? Who knows?

    Cheers–

    MRE

  12. Terrific post ( as usual), and great pamphlet by Banting!

    We may smile now at his comments on how “youth” reamins unaffected, but his observation brought to mind an interesting point about that.

    Natural selection will likely never bail us out ( by creating a metabolism that CAN handle high carb ) because the bad effects of carb eating mostly manifest after the next generation of the species has been taken care of.

    Best,
    John

    Hi John–

    I think your reasoning is quite correct on this point. I’ve always thought the same thing myself. Dietary problems don’t kill us until after we’ve reproduced.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  13. Not exactly sure what a “carbunkle” is, but it’s fascinating that he mentions this skin problem that seems related to the acne I get when I binge on carbs.

    Ever since going low-carb (started Atkins last year, but will be reading your PP one of these days too) my not-too-serious acne problem improved about 90% and comes back whenever I cheat and have too many bad carbs. That’s how I *know* that low-carb is the healthy way to go. I just wish more people with skin problems would hear about low-carb.

    Also, is there any better title than “Letter on Corpulence”. It’s just fantastic.

    I’m also curious as to why he lumped butter in with all the rest of those carbs. I’ve done some googling and “sweet buter” seems to be just butter that’s not made from sour cream, i.e. it’s just plain old regular butter. Perhaps because butter was usually used with bread/pastries/sweets it came to be associated with these high-carb items?

    Hi Billy–

    A carbuncle is a large boil or abscess – i guess what he called a boil would be what we would call a small boil.

    Your guess on the butter issue is as good as any.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  14. Maybe off topic, but how does obesity correlate with hearing loss?

    Banting’s doctor (and Banting himself) thought it was from an accumulation of fat pressing against the ear canals. Doesn’t sound likely to me, but I’m glad his doctor put him on the diet he did to fix it.

    MRE

  15. It doesn’t surprise me that Banting’s diet never took hold. The real enemy of the low-carb way of eating is that the manufacture and delivery of grains, sweets, biscuits and breads is astronomically profitable (compared to heavy, slow-growing, labor-intensive and perishable proteins.) These pressures would have existed in Banting’s day, and would keep the establishment firmly against low-carb.

    The real problem with low-carb is that it’s low profit!

    Another rationale, but from the economic perspective. Makes sense.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  16. Here is Mackarness’s book:

    http://www.cybernaut.com.au/optimal_nutrition/information/library/eat_fat.pdf

    http://ourcivilisation.com/fat/

    About butter and pork:

    “The reason that butter and pork were denied him was that it was thought at this time that they too contained starch”

    Or so says Barry Groves (http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/)

    Thanks for the Mackarness book. I’ll give it a read. And thanks for the research on Banting and butter.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  17. Very Interesting. Found some of the sites with 4th edition, which I think I will print (2-up and double sided), as I hate reading for long on the screen.

    Thoughts on the butter… I’m gonna guess that it just wasn’t understood, and that it being sweet cream butter (same as today, only not as perfectly square) they felt it might be high in lactose. Probably a mistake.

    I suspect that in Banting’s day, LC would have been on the fairly expensive side. Beef and other meats would have been less available and more expensive unless you lived on a farm. Wheat products would have been cheaper, relatively speaking.

    I think the economic issue with LC tends (and more so in Banting’s day) to run towards shelf life. We’re talking pre-spam here. The grains would have been labor intensive too, and much lower yield than those of today. But they’d have likely long shelf lives relative to protein and fat products.

  18. Thanks for going through all that trouble to scan and put up Banting’s book! I’d love to find a hard copy…are they difficult to get hold of?

    Copies can be had from time to time from online book sources for anywhere from $100 to $500 depending on condition. Try http://www.bookfinder.com

    Good luck. Let me know if you score.

    MRE

  19. Hi Dr. Mike,
    Love your books, blogs and website. All this has saved me
    from the evils of hypoglycemia and gluten intolerance. Reading
    the postings and comments have been an inspiration more than you know.

    Two or three thoughts:

    “Sweet” butter means that it is not “salted ” butter. Most groceries still sell both types. I don’t think this is new – my grandmother, who was born in the 19th century, used both terms freely.

    The discussions about the relationship between exercise and
    weight loss reminded me of farm people, who in my youth were
    seldom chubby, in spite of hefty meals that included meat,
    vegetables, potatoes, homemade bread, etc. Why was that?
    Then I remembered that in those days, the people had more
    consistent activity all day (not as many machines to help
    out), three meals and NO eating between meals. Dessert was
    a Sunday treat most of the time. In effect, daily mini-fasts with
    heavy all-day-long activity. No wonder most rural people
    were fairly slim/muscular for much of their life. It looks to me
    like day-long activity helps use up both calories and insulin-induced flab. An hour or two at the gym every day coupled with a sit-down job does NOT help with weight loss; just ask my dis-
    appointed boyfriend.

    Another factor may contribute to people clinging to the
    lo-fat/hi-carb eating. Addiction. Sugar addiction is no different from any other substance abuse. And it is just as hard to kick
    because sugars of all types lurk in the strangest places. (You discussed this in PPLP) When I talk lo-carb to overweight friends, I know pretty quickly when I’m talking to a junkie and that he/she alone knows how miserable he/she has to get before trying a change. I include myself in this – I was obsessed with candy bars and ice cream by the time I was nine. I got into big trouble whenever my mother caught me, but regrettably I continued the error of my ways whenever I could. It took decades to straighten out (mostly) fully. And like you, I wonder if I would have more carb lee-way today if I had behaved better
    when I was a kid.

    Hi Bev–

    A sugar/carb addiction in a kid is a dangerous thing. I know because I was a sugar/carb junkie as a kid. And skinny. That’s the problem. Many kids are thin and have, of course, the feeling of invincibility common to most teenagers. As a consequence they eat and drink a lot of junk that they shouldn’t, damaging their pancreatic cells as they go, setting themselves up for real problems in their adult years.

    Of course now many kids and teenagers are already obese and experiencing the damage.

    Thanks for writing.

    MRE

  20. Regarding “sweet butter”, another commenter got it right; it is made with fresh cream that has not yet naturally cultured. Back in Banning’s days they weren’t pasteurizing dairy yet and the industrial dairying was just getting started with the urban distillary dairies, so most dairy was still local, grass-fed, and very wholesome.

    Interestingly, there are stories of people with various serious ailments, including diabetes and esophogeal injuries, that consumed only fresh raw milk and lived very long healthy lives. Even the famed Mayo Clinic started as a TB sanitarium with a raw milk therapy. No one would suggest that anyone live on milk or dairy alone now, but that is because conventional milk is no longer a whole food product with all its original nutritients (highly processed and fractionated) nor are most dairy herds fed their natural diet – pasture.

    Cultured butter (it often is the unsalted variety today in stores has a more complex flavour because the natural (& beneficial) bacteria has changed the lactose to lactic acid. Years ago when people might have skimmed a bit of cream each day and saved it up to make butter when a quantity accumulated, it would have continued to culture. The liquid remaining from butter making is what older people remember as real buttermilk. What passes for buttermilk today is skimmed milk that has a culture added to it, which is entirely different in taste and thickness.

    Our family consumes certified raw dairy, including raw butter (I buy it in a tub, already churned. I keep it in the freezer and remove a few day’s worth at a time to store at room temp. It continues to “culture” at room temp and can get a bit strong smelling, some might say funky (which admittedly took some getting used to) esecially in the summer, but it is very safe to consume and is luscious on some fresh hot green beans.

    I highly recommend Ron Schmid’s informative and interesting book, The Untold Story of Milk, which has a lot of great referenced info on dairy, past and present. It’s eye-opening.

    Back to making my cottage cheese and chevre…
    Anna

    Thanks Anna for your usual insightful comment.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  21. Thanks so much for taking the time to scan all those pages.I am reminded of the many joyful hours I spent combing through university libraries and used bookstores looking for just such pearls of Victorian and Regency prose on just such paper.

    At that time paper was made entirely from rag. The later you go in the nineteenth century, the books are browner and more brittle, disintegrating easily because they started adding wood pulp to the mixture which raised the acid content. It’s a big problem for libraries how to preserve these disintegrating wood pulp books. I guess carbohydrates are just as bad for paper as they are for us.

    All the best,

    Chuck Berezin

    Hi Chuck–

    Thanks for the info on 19th century paper. I was unaware of any of it.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  22. Mike,

    Sadly even today this man would be laughed at and scorned. I am even sadder when I say that this would occur on many low carb discussion boards.

    He is giving personal testimony of his success and well being on this diet.

    But a lot of of people would mock him for not providing science, and going against the government. Even in low carb circles.

    Society may have changed, but human behaviour seems to be the same.

    Hi Dave–

    Of course he would be scorned. And he didn’t have the science – he just knew the diet worked. In fact, there wasn’t much science to be had at that time, so he was doing the best he could.

    Cheers–
    MRE

  23. Sir Bantings physician was Jewish by birth, rearing yet not practise and perhaps this might explain the injunction about pork ?

    He didn’t ‘dig on swine, baby’

    And how do you know that William Harvey was Jewish by birth. If so, that would account for the no-swine admonition. But is it really true?

    Cheers–

    MRE

  24. A propos 19th century paper you should look into the history of hemp, a similar scam of gigantic proportion. Paper was made of hemp, cotton (euro notes are still made out of cotton) or linen until the “invention” of wood pulp paper that needed a lot of chemicals to be produced (sulfuric acid to soften the fibre, chlorine for bleaching etc.). Then look who lobbied to tax hemp out of existence and invented even the marihuana propaganda: Hearst, DuPont and other industrials.
    You can read on this at
    http://www.jackherer.com/
    It might be a bit exagerated on the virtues of (indutrial) hemp, but it is a real eye opener (on the scale of the lie we live in).

    Hi gallier2–

    Good to hear from you; it’s been a while.

    I didn’t realize when I made this post that I was going to get such an education on the history of paper making.

    Thanks for the link.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  25. Slightly O/T, but related. One of the things I noticed about his diet is dry toast, and a few other carby items. The reason I mention this is a conversation I had recently with a couple of grad students. (one of the benefits of living near several universities is you often get waited on by chatty grad students.) They mentioned a threshold for carb intake and bio- marker improvement that was part of study they were helping with. Apparently they were finding a very narrow range of 130-150g/carb/day beyond which “most” people showed no further bio-marker improvement by continuing to lower their carb intake. But that at more than 200g/carb/day many folks results got worse quickly. I just thought it was interesting.

    Interesting, yes, but accurate no. The medical literature is full of studies of people who have improved all kinds of biomarkers by reducing carbs below the 130-150 gram threshold.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  26. Dr. Mike:
    You and Dave above talk about Banting being scorned without having scientific back-up.

    I’ve started rereading Protein Power where you state that in 1996 Dr. Mary Dan and yourself went to a conference where it was admitted by researchers and doctors that low fat diets didn’t work, etc., etc. and where you also quoted that statistically in the US fat consumption in the 70’s and 80’s decreased by 25% and yet all the so-called diseases that were blamed on fat consumption were sky-rocketing, only proves the point that hear-say, anecdotal, or genuine statistical data is of no consequence to those who minds are encased in “bozone.”

    I don’t know how Dr. Mary Dan and yourself, being in that field, have the patience to have to deal with the opposition, and I understand your frustration when you write articles like the one you did on Jane Brody. Not only is it enlightening to us readers, but very therapeutic for you in turn.

    I don’t know if it was enlightening to readers, but I can assure you it was therapeutic for me.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  27. Cos my great great Granfather was Dr Christopher Peacock something of an amateur medical historian, who also went to Kings Canterbury where i recall Harvey went.

    Are you sure you’re not confusing your William Harvey’s? There was a famous William Harvey and the William Harvey who treated Banting. The two were not the same.

  28. Thank you Dr Eades! What a joy it is to read this letter. Apart from the actual very interesting content and merit, the language is simply magnificent. Now my head is filled with quotes waiting to be unleashed on my friends, who, when that happens, will presumably simply reply with: “oh, how quaint”.

    That’s why I wanted to scan and post the book. There is something about reading that language on those yellowed pages that makes it all that much better.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  29. Like Bart, I love the language of that time. I have a cookery book from that period (Modern Cookery for Private Families by Eliza Acton), and find it captivating just to read – though I do cook from it, too (excellent steak pudding). Sadly, I don’t have an original copy, just the modern facsimile reprint, but it’s still worth reading.

    Thanks for the reminder about Banting. I’d read his book when I did my initial raft looking into low carb, but hadn’t thought of him for a while.

    Glad you enjoyed it.

  30. What’s most amazing is Banting simply thought through this introspective journey by using some good old fashioned common sense and then applied it. Whereas the so-called “experts” of the day insisted on sticking with the insanity of recommending less and less calories while people got fatter and fatter.

    Yep, sounds a WHOLE LOT like 2007 to me, Dr. Mike! THANK YOU for sharing Banting’s writings because it arms us low-carbers with documentation that low-carb works and has been for well over a century!

    It’s worked a lot longer than that if you believe the Paleolithic and paleopathology data.

    Cheers–

    MRE