The Science Delusion and #teamslugslayer

ScienceDelusion

Happy Friday Geeks,

Hope you all had a great week. My week was amazing. It was amazing because one of my dearest friends and sister who was diagnosed with stage four cancer not too long ago received the greatest news from her Doctors. After only three cycles of chemotherapy treatment the cancer was found to have decreased by 30%. Words cannot truly express to you all the happiness and love I felt upon receiving this news, it was so so much I literally thought my heart was going to explode.

I am sharing this with you here because, this morning when I was going through my labelled folder of topics to write about and the first one I instinctively opened was the TED video by Rupert Sheldrake discussing his book titled The Science Delusion. I read the book earlier this year and really enjoyed it. His book dissects the often ignored statement that our current form of mechanistic materialism based on outdated “set” laws of physical matter or theory, is a detriment to scientific enquiry and is in-fact very destructive to the evolution of scientific research, and medicine in the modern world (note that non-modern Scientific enquiry started out as scientific philosophy based on the laws of the “gods” or “stars” thousands of years ago, all over the world from East to West).

He discusses how we can’t approach important mind-body topics such as consciousness or the origins of life while we still treat matter in 17th-century style as if it were dead, inert stuff, incapable of producing life. And we certainly can’t go on pretending to believe that our own experience – the source of all our thoughts – is just an illusion, which it would have to be if 17th-centuary style laws were indeed the only reality.

I am not going to go into it too much here in writing as I think Rupert does a good job of explaining it, with a sprinkle of humour, in his TED talk below. Instead I am going to share with you a short story.  When I was fresh in university as a first year undergraduate, my evolutionary genetics lecturer, who also happened to be my supervisor, would continuously pull me to the side after our once a week class and try to “negotiate” with me the “fact” that we evolved from monkeys. Now, I am a very faithful person, true to the name my grandmother (RIP) bestowed upon me which means faith. I would listen to his argument but was absolutely resolved in telling him I believed we came from Adam and Eve, and they were created by God; and God is the beginning and end of everything and nothing he could give me as proof would change my faith in that. He would get red faced and insisted he could not understand how I kept getting good grades if I didn’t believe in anything he was teaching me or I was writing down in my exam papers. I would always say, I understand the theory but that doesn’t mean I have to have faith in it and believe it.

I am a scientist and yes, I do understand and hold a lot of respect for the process and power of scientific inquiry, but I also believe in the power of God, the power of  our minds (not brains), the power of our souls and energy, as do hundreds of other scientists around the globe. My father is also a cancer sufferer and to this date he has beaten it three times alhamduliallah, the most recent being 6 months ago. He beat it with the aid of chemotherapy and amazing surgeons who have the skills and knowledge to remove the cancer. However, he also beat it due to his faith. Despite the pain of surgery and side-effects of chemotherapy, he would still pray 5 times a day, no matter what. He always maintained a positive attitude and was surrounded by an abundance of love and prayers from his family and friends. Each time the Doctors would be amazed by his recovery. Furthermore, every time his cancer re-appeared, it followed a very stressful and negative period in his life.

Rupert Sheldrake, who has long called for the need to develop medicine and science beyond the 17th century laws, spells out this need forcibly in his book. He shows how materialism only has gradually hardened into a kind of anti-faith, an ideology rather than a scientific principle, claiming authority to dictate theories and to veto inquiries on topics that don’t suit it, such as unorthodox medicine, let alone religion. He shows how completely alien this static materialism is to modern physics where matter is dynamic. He ends each chapter with some very intriguing “Questions for Materialists”, questions such as: “Have you been programmed to believe in materialism?”; “If there are no purposes in nature, how can you have purposes yourself?”; “How do you explain the placebo response?”; “How do you explain the thousands of spiritual healings that are reported annually?” and so on.

Click play below and hear him out.

My beautiful sister Yosra, who’s amazing news this week made my heart near explode from happiness is surrounded by a team of wonderful friends and family, globally, both near and far. She calls us her team of slug slayers, as she affectionately named her tumour the “slug”. We, under her guidance and love have been collectively showering her with a constant abundance of love and prayers to help her destroy the “slug” and restore her to full health. Her treatment cocktail includes chemotherapy, love, light, positive energy, food, more blessed food, blessed water, water, homoeopathic remedies, laughter, tears, more prayers and even more love. This woman is amazing and an inspiration to so many people, I feel beyond honoured and blessed to be a part off her team. I believe the 30% reduction in her cancer is not only due to the effects of the chemotherapy drugs, medicine and scientific research expertise of the talented Doctors around her, but a combination of all that came with #teamslugslayer and the homeopathic remedies alongside the chemotherapy. That, as a scientist, I have 100% faith in.

If you want to follow her journey more closely please visit her blog www.teamslugslayer.com

To learn more about Yosra’s care and cancer visit

www.maggiescentres.org

www.macmillan.org.uk

www.cancerresearchuk.org

In the name of fairness, if you read Rupert Sheldrakes The Science Delusion (2012) you should also read Richard Dawkings The God Delusion (2006) for the counter argument. All things fair in love and war as they say.

This song has already been dedicated to you by Beyonce herself but here it is again honey, I love you and your slug but wont be sad to see the slug gone  #teamslugslayer #healingwithlove

Have a great weekend everyone.

E

Update; literally 30mins after I posted this post. This happened. Beautiful. Masha’allah. We got your back monkey, we’re with you. Thank you Beyonce and the tour family for this amazing gift.

Advertisements

Meet Ibrahim El-Salahi

Ibrahim_Salahi1Hello All,

Hope you have all been enjoying the glorious sunshine this past week in London, New-york, Paris and everywhere else in the world where the rays from that big ball of fire and light has touched.

This post is short and sweet and it is also not hugely scientific so a slight cheat, although like I said everything started with science including art! and this is my blog, so I am allowed to cheat once in a while especially when it is to big up one of my own.

I feel proud to tell you that the first Tate Modern exhibition dedicated to African Modernism traces the life and work of Ibrahim El-Salahi, a Sudanese artist. Sudan stand up. I am super excited to have the opportunity to support this great man from my home country.

“This major retrospective brings together 100 works from across more than five decades of his international career. The exhibition highlights one of the most significant figures in African and Arab Modernism and reveals his place in the context of a broader, global art history” Quote taken form the Tate site.

Ibrahim_Salahi2

We learn about Mr El-Salahi’s journey from Sudan in the 1950’s, his education in London and how he returned to Sudan in 1957 as a pioneer in the Art scene. His story is amazing, he shares his life, his joys, his deep spiritual faith and his dreams with you in his work and I urge you all to go and see it. It is showing from 3 July – 22 September 2013, do not miss it geeks.


Click on the video below and meet the man himself.

Also, while you are at the Tate you should also go see Meschac Gaba: Museum of Contemporary African Art also showing from 3 July – 22 September 2013.

Since the theme is Sudan here I’m going to introduce you to these beautiful young ladies who have re-created some of our cultural songs which I used to hear my grandmother and great aunts sing around a coal burning coffee pot. I absolutely love this rendition of this song and I hope you do too.

Thank you for reading, please share the information and have a great weekend everyone.

Eyman

Geek Out: Angelina and family take on breast cancer

Angelina

Hello Geeks,

I want to start by saying thank you to all my followers, readers and sharers. It has been a few weeks since my last post, life sometimes throws you a curve ball that takes you off track but I am back on it now. I have received so many lovely messages asking me to write more and your support is invaluable. Thank you so much.

I am in the middle of writing up a few posts simultaneously, one of which is very dear to my heart but before I wrap them up and post them I wanted to share Angelina Jolie’s amazing story in which she shares with us her decision to have a preventative double mastectomy. I have always secretly admired this woman for her strength, leadership and fighting for what she believes in despite what the media or people say about her.

It was the first thing I read this morning and it resonated with me much for two reasons. One, my father suffers from cancer and although it was in remission for a while it came back full throttle early last year and it made me wonder about the chances of me and my siblings developing the same cancer. Two, I remembered writing a post a while back about how important it was for all women to do the monthly breasts check up for lumps, this is one of the simplest ways for us to take some preventative action and control. My favourite quote from Angelina’s story is “Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of”

Click here for her full story. Read it, share it and then go back to my post about breast cancer checks , in-fact I am going to re-post it right after this post. In the words of Angelina and Janet, take control ladies, only you can. Play Janet in the background and do it now, if you are at work take a toilet break and do it in the toilet, don’t procrastinate with your health.

Ex

Q- Dr E, how do I know if I am lactose intolerant or not?

SayCheese_Lactose

Happy Friday Geeks,

It has been a while since my last knock knock post and I’m excited to put this one out. I get asked this question all the time and it is not an easy one to answer scientifically but I am going to give it my best shot. It is science “thick” but I am going to do my best here to touch all bases and hopefully make the science easier for everyone to digest (like my little pun here?)

I hear people say they think they are lactose intolerant quite often and they usually go to the extreme of cutting out all dairy products. I can definitely understand why that would be the first point of action for many, but it has always worried me because dairy products are our main form of calcium intake (as well as good protein and carbohydrate sources). Calcium is a very important part of our diet and it is hard for many to grasp how important it is until they are at an age (50 and over) where they are prone to an increase in bone fractures and other calcium related dis-orders associated with calcium restriction.

Let me start by explaining to you what lactose actually does for us. Lactose is the main source of sugar from milk and milk products from all mammals except the sea lion. After ingestion, lactose passes into the small intestine where it comes into contact with lactase (a natural enzyme within our bodies) at the intestinal brush border where it is hydrolysed/converted into the monosaccharides glucose and galactose (sugars), which are easily absorbed. In-short, lactose is good for us because it can be converted to sugars by lactase which are then used by many bio-chemical processes in our systems. Remember sugars are not bad!, sugars are basically our human fuel or petrol, a car can’t run properly without a good supply of petrol and the same goes for our bodies. Over subscription to sugars is what is bad.

Save_Lactose

Now that is out of the way. What do we mean when we say someone is lactose intolerant? And this is where it can get a little confusing. Time for the hard-core science section.

Non-digested lactose can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea and distending the intestines (bloating, cramps, abdominal discomfort) as well as psychological symptoms, events that are likely to lead to clinical symptoms.

Lactose malabsorption refers to inefficient digestion of lactose due to reduced expression or impaired activity of the enzyme lactase.

Lactose intolerance is when the gastrointestinal symptoms are clinically observed in an individual with lactose malabsorption.

Lactose_Intolerance_Diagram

What causes lactose malabsorption I hear you ask? The most common cause of lactose malabsorption is lactase non-persistence also known as lactase deficiency, a common condition in which lactase expression decreases during infancy. What this means is that we naturally start off needing lactose as it is our earliest form of providing our systems with the sugars/energy it needs to grow and develop to adults. But, as we get older we don’t need it as much. I am about to really go in on this, hope you are ready?

Lactase activity changes during development. In most humans, lactase activity reaches a maximum in late pregnancy but declines after 2–3 years of age and reaches a stable low level at age 5–10 (this is thought to be a process which might help weaning). However, a proportion of the human population, especially Caucasians from Northern Europe or Northern European descent, retain high lactase levels during adulthood. This is known as lactase persistence. Just to be clear, lactase persistence means you and lactose can be good friends, if you want to.

Therefore, lactase persistence and non-persistence are both “normal” human phenotypes. What is very interesting, is where lactase persistence is found and why?  The prevalence of lactase persistence is high  in most regions in Scandinavia, the British Islands, and Germany (80–95%); however, this condition is observed in only 20–40% of Indian adults, 30% of Mexicans, 30% of African Americans.

Lactase persistence is thought to be related to the development of farming during the last 10,000 years. Just in-case you really really wanted to know, the genetic polymorphism responsible for most cases of lactase persistence in Caucasian individuals is the13910C/T variant (it’s all very straight-froward :-), T at position 13910 upstream of the lactase gene within a putative regulatory DNA-region causes persistence; C leads to non-persistence). Basically if you are from any of these regions you are good and if you are mixed, then you are also good because lactose malabsorption is a recessive condition meaning you need a homozygous genotype as a heterozygous/mixed geneotype is considered clinically negative.

African tribes that herd cattle in Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania also have high prevalence for lactase persistence. However, lactase persistence is mediated by a different polymorphism (gene/DNA change). Importantly, this tells us that lactase persistence developed several times independently in human evolution in different areas of the world. So again, if you are east African you and lactose can be good friends. Of-course exceptions to the rule do exist, as they do with everything. (for review, see Ingram et al Human Genet 2009; 124: 579–591)

Lactose_Map

Statistical calculations of genetic data estimated that selection for lactase persistence commenced relatively recently, during the last 10,000 years. Lactase persistence was beneficial for our ancestors by providing a clean source of fluid and a source of protein, fat, and carbohydrates  generating a selective advantage of 1.5–19% in each generation. This indicates a strong selection pressure comparable to malaria resistance genes (2–5% for G6PD deficiency, 5–18% for sickle-cell trait) in various parts of the world. That is a big deal by the way, selective advantages are hard to prove.

So those rumours that humans are not supposed to drink milk, especially cows milk are questionable for two reasons, two very different reasons, in my humble opinion. Firstly, no significant bio-chemical difference between lactose in breast milk and cows milk has been observed, they both get digested in the same way via the lactase enzyme, which is common and present a birth. It is very rare that you are born lactose intolerant (known as congenital lactase deficiency). Secondly, cows milk has been reported to be ingested by humans from times dating back to the father of man, The Prophet Abraham according Biblical and Quranic scriptures and that tells me something, whether you are spiritual or not, history should at least strike a cord here? or maybe be not? As a scientist, I personally believe all evidence should be taken into account, including historical, religious, spiritual evidences.

Saying all the above, I do appreciate that many people are experiencing discomfort when ingesting milk and dairy products. So what do you do if you are one of them?

Treatment of lactose intolerance should not be aimed at reducing malabsorption but rather at improving digestive symptoms. Reduction of lactose intake rather than exclusion is recommended because long-term effects of lactose restriction may help improve gastrointestinal complaints but can lead to other damages. For example, the long-term effects of a diet free of dairy products may be a concern as you are significantly decreasing the amount of calcium. Low calcium levels are leading to an increase in fractures and orthopaedic problems. Adolescents require approximately 1300mg and over 50’s approximately 1200mg of calcium, which is roughly equal to 3 cups of milk per day. Furthermore, in blinded studies results indicate that most patients with self-reported lactose intolerance can ingest at least 12g lactose (equivalent to 250ml milk) without experiencing symptoms and taken with other foods, up to 18g lactose can often be tolerated (Suarez FL, Savaiano DA and Levitt MD, N Engl J Med1995; 333: 1–4).

I know I took you all through the paces with this one, but I really wanted to flesh this one out. As with everything all food groups are important and good for you as long as it is taken with moderation, completely cutting out a good source of calcium because you think you may be lactose intolerant is not recommended. But, if you are then you should take all necessary steps to make sure you are providing your body with the healthy amount of nutrients it requires. Many lactose supplements and calcium supplements produced as “drugs” are available that can be taken to supplement your diet, but I hope you go the foodie route, it is much more colourful, fun and tastes all so wonderful.

Lactose_ComicStrip

Hope you enjoyed the read and if the science was too “thick” for you ( ha, not sure why I like that word today, but like I do) click play and relax to this brilliant song by James Blake.

Have a great weekend all.

E

Weapons of choice – guerilla gardening

GG1

Hello Geeks,

I have been meaning to post this video for over two weeks when a good friend of mine put me on it. You may have guessed I am a big fan of TED videos so I make no apologies for posting up yet another amazing story.

Ron Finley had a major problem with the fast food culture in his community and would drive for 45mins out of town to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables to help him maintain a healthy diet and life-style. This video is about how one inspirational man and his vision provided some alternative to fast food in a community where “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”

He plants vegetable gardens in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs in South Central LA. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some hope for future generations. Press play and witness how one man’s great vision/seed grew and became a pillar of education, empowerment and hope for his community.

One of my favourite quotes from his talk is “you will be surprised how much of a difference a sunflower makes, they are beautiful just to look at”

Sunflower

So on that note I want to leave you with one of my all time favourite songs. Special shout out to my London people fighting the April snow.

Eyman

p.s We are trying to grow our own avocado plant at home.  The roots have started to shoot but we are not sure if it’s time to pot it or not? anyone got any tips they can send my way? or even better some photos.

Fire In The Blood

FireInTheBlood

Hello,

I have been waiting to see this documentary ever since I read about it over 6 months ago. It was finally release here on the 23rd of February to my excitement. Unfortunately, viewing it turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated. Several frustrating searches revealed that it was only showing at a hand full of cinemas in London and even at these cinemas it was only showing at those “difficult to make” times.

I actually do not know why I expected it to be, maybe because it was given great reviews at Sundance and by most major critics and I some how lost track that it is actually reporting one of the worlds largest humanitarian disgraces; the failure of western pharmaceutical companies to provide affordable drugs to patients in the developing world. So of course it would not be “main-streamed”.

This campaigning documentary basically indicts the pharmaceutical giants that could have saved millions from AIDS in the developing world. This is what the the Guardian said about it:

“As presented, the corporate defence sounds horribly racist: that poorer Africans’ inability to read packaging or tell the time leaves them ill-suited to following any medication program. For some time, director Dylan Mohan Gray is limited to restating the same depressing story, using input from doctors and campaigners to punctuate footage of families grieving around child-sized coffins. But hope emerges in the form of the Indian physicist Yusuf Hamied, whose company Cipla undertook in the noughties to produce cheap, generic drugs in defiance of the Pfizer patent lawyers. As the indignation rises, the outcome of this battle cannot entirely be guessed, although one closing credit appears to address Big Pharma directly: “Help prevent a sequel.”

Please, if it is showing anywhere near you, go and watch this documentary. Conspiracy theory aside, it is important that you know that HIV/AIDs should not be around now (we know all we need to know about it as scientists/researchers) and medically we know how to put a stop to it. Why is it still around and increasing, polio isn’t and neither is small pox!?!?!?!?

Click on the trailer below.

I am going to see it tomorrow at Ritzy, Brixton, London. I hope it gives us all food for thought and further understanding to the type of world we live. Maybe in the future, we can figure out a way to support those who do not follow the “rules” and get rid of medical patents. I hope.

E

Fasting makes you younger

Hello Geeks,

As it is Ramadan again, I thought it would be a good idea to re-post this blog post to help keep us fasting people motivated lol. It is the third day in and this year I can honestly say I am struggling. Summer Ramadan’s are not the one, the day is so long and come 9.20pm I am not the most pleasant person to be around but at least I know I will look younger. Please re-blog, re-tweet and like the post.

Ramadan Kareem everyone, Love, Light and blessings to all.

Eyman

Hey All,

Hope you have all been well. Some of you may know that it is the holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic calender. This special month means that from sunrise to sunset, people of the Muslim faith abstain from eating and drinking (yes, not even water!!!). Ramadan is my favorite month, but I have to admit, this year it has been tough as the days are super long and I am definitely feeling it.

A friend of mine sent me this link to the third horizon episode called Eat, Fast and Live Longer presented by Michael Mosley.  I wanted to write a post on the scientific health benefits of fasting towards the beginning of the month but it is so much and can get very complicated. This episode is the perfect introduction into the world of health metabolics and you can see Mr Mosley take him-self through all the different types of fasts and the huge mental and physical health benefits he personally gained from actually doing the fasts. Clink on this link and watch it on bbc iplayer before it’s gone.

In-case you do not have the time to watch the whole episode. I am going to do my best to summarise the power of fasting here.

Mosley goes through different phases of food restrictions before delving into fasting. Calorie restriction, eating well but not much, is one of the few things that has been shown to extend life expectancy, at least in animals. We’ve known since the 1930s that mice put on a low-calorie, nutrient-rich diet live far longer. This is also true in monkeys, the mammal of choice for testing a theory before human trials.

The world record for extending life expectancy in a mammal is held by a new type of mouse which can expect to live an extra 40%, equivalent to a human living to 120 or even longer. 120 years of life, i’m not sure I want to live to 120 but some of you may 🙂

Why I hear you ask does this mouse have such a healthy and long life? the answer is it has been genetically engineered so its body produces very low levels of a growth hormone called IGF-1, high levels of which seem to lead to accelerated ageing and age-related diseases, while low levels are protective. Tah Dah!

A similar, but natural, genetic mutation has been found in humans with Laron syndrome, a rare condition that affects fewer than 350 people worldwide. The very low levels of IGF-1 their bodies produce means they are short, but this also seems to protect them against heart disease, strokes, cancer and diabetes, all age-related diseases.

The IGF-1 hormone (insulin-like growth factor) is one of the drivers which keep our bodies in go-go mode, with cells driven to reproduce. This is fine when you are growing, but not so good later in life, it makes us get old :-/.

How does all this relate to fasting? I’m getting there, evidence suggests that IGF-1 levels can be lowered by what you eat. The reason seems to be that when our bodies no longer have access to food they switch from “growth mode” to “repair mode”. As levels of the IGF-1 hormone drop, a number of repair genes appear to get switched on according to ongoing research by Professor Valter Longo of the University of Southern California.

Mosley had a go fasting for 3 days and saw his levels of IGF-1 drop by over half, dramatically reducing his chances of age associated diseases and diabetes, to 1 in a billion! His face on hearing this information is priceless. Finding three continuous days of fasting difficult he researches fasting diets further and goes for the Alternate Day fasting (ADF). This diet involving eating what you want one day, then a very restricted diet (fewer than 600 calories) the next, and most surprisingly, it does not seem to matter that much what you eat on non-fast days says Dr Krista Varady of the University of Illinois at Chicago who carried a range of clinical trials.

Mosley decided, he couldn’t manage ADF, it was just too impractical. Fair enough, he was being honest with himself. Instead he did an easier version, the so-called 5:2 diet. As the name implies you eat normally 5 days a week, then two days a week you eat 500 calories if you are a woman, or 600 calories, if you are a man. It worked for him but it is important to note that there are no firm rules because so far there have been few proper human trials.

The final conclusion, fasting can be good for you both physically, mentally and spiritually. Why not try it? If you want to read some of the hard-core science click on this link.

Hope you enjoyed the read, now I’m going to enjoy my fasting experience just that little bit more knowing that it’s giving my aging processes a run for it’s money. I’m working on being forever young again like Ghost. Click on the video below for Napolean Dynamites reinterpretation of Forever Young.

Until next time, happy fasting.

Eyman