The Meaning of Depth and Breadth in Education

Sea port with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba, by Claude Lorrain (1648)

This image is used by Iain McGilchrist in his discussion of depth. On Plate 7 in his book, The Master and His Emissary, he writes: Here light, colour and texture of the stone surfaces all emphasise the depth of perspective in both time and space, drawing us into felt relationship with the world.

Depth is another theme from Iain McGilchrist’s book that I am currently exploring. McGilchrist doesn’t write about this in relation to education. Rather, in his book, The Master and his Emissary. The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, he examines the ways in which the two hemispheres of the brain attend to the world, both attending to everything, but each attending differently. Through extensive research and presentation of evidence he makes the case that we live in a world increasingly dominated by a left hemisphere perspective. In relation to the topic of ‘depth’, this is the hemisphere that views the world as a two-dimensional representation from the perspective of a spectator, whereas it is the right hemisphere that has a three-dimensional perspective and appreciates depth. For McGilchrist depth is related to perception and a world that has depth involves seeing beyond the plane of vision (p.300).

McGilchrist also believes that it is the right hemisphere that underwrites ‘breadth and flexibility, whereas ‘the left hemisphere brings to bear focussed attention’ (p.27). Here, McGilchrist is referring to the breadth and flexibility of attention, rather than of the curriculum.

What does this mean and why might it be significant for education?

Breadth

McGilchrist relates breadth to types of attention; the neuropsychological literature has distinguished five types of attention: vigilance, sustained attention, alertness, focussed attention and divided attention. McGilchrist writes: ‘The right hemisphere is responsible for every type of attention except focussed attention’ (p.39) i.e. a broad, flexible and global attention.  What might it mean to think of breadth in education, not in terms of curriculum coverage, but in terms of flexibly using different types of attention to open ourselves up to understanding the world? McGilchrist has said that how we choose to attend to the world determines what we see. From this it follows that a broad, flexible and global attention is required for a broad perspective.

Depth

McGilchrist, like Merleau-Ponty, believes that ‘Depth is the necessary condition for embodied existence’ (p.149). For McGilchrist depth is related to the importance of context, and an understanding of spatial depth is essential to knowing how we stand in relation to others. He writes:

Depth is the sense of a something lying beyond. Another way of thinking of this would be more generally in terms of the ultimate importance of context. Context is that ‘something’ (in reality nothing less than a world) in which whatever is seen inheres, and in which its being lies, and in references to which alone it can be understood, lying both beyond and around it. (p.181).

For McGilchrist (p.183):

Depth, as opposed to distance from a surface, never implies detachment. Depth brings us into a relationship, whatever the distance involved, with the other, and allows us to ‘feel across’ the intervening space.

Breadth and depth in education

Whilst educators may be familiar with the idea that depth refers deeper thinking and to digging deeper into a subject with the aim of gaining deeper knowledge, we may not be so familiar with the idea that ‘A sense of depth is intrinsic to seeing things in context’ (p.300).

More commonly, in education, depth in learning is often counterpoised with breadth. How to balance depth and breadth of learning and the curriculum has long been a concern of teachers and curriculum designers. To what extent should students cover a broad range of subjects as opposed to covering fewer subjects in depth, and which subjects merit being studied in depth? At what point in a student’s education should specialisation be introduced? As one blogger has put it, ‘The exact mix between coverage and depth is elusive…’ and these questions continue to be difficult to answer, particularly in the current age when specialisation may be regarded as counter-productive given the changing job market and uncertainty about the future of work. In Times Higher Education (March 7, 2019) Anna McKie asks: In a rapidly changing world, is a broader approach to the university curriculum needed to develop the critical thinking and creativity increasingly sought after by employers. It is not hard to find similar reports pushing for more diversity in the curriculum. For example a recent article questions whether the Bachelor’s degree is fit for purpose in the twenty-first century and concludes that there is a need for universities to ‘shift their models to accommodate the lifelong learning needs of students for whom breadth of knowledge, rather than just depth, is key to a successful future.’

McGilchrist has been quoted by Richard Lagemaat on Twitter as saying:

“Our educational system …. has become specialised in such a way that it is now quite possible to become a scientist with only the most rudimentary acquaintance with the history of cultures and ideas. This is regrettable, but it is a fact.”

But when McGilchrist writes about depth he is not thinking of depth solely in relation to specialisation or how this should be balanced with breadth, and he is not thinking about breadth solely in terms of curriculum diversity and coverage.  Rather, he is thinking about how we attend to the world and he is concerned that in a world that is increasingly viewed from a left-hemisphere perspective, we fail to see things in context.

McGilchrist’s belief is that everything is interconnected; everything is in relation to everything else. ‘One must never lose sight of the interconnected nature of things’ (p.154), i.e. we must not lose sight of the whole. But the thrust of McGilchrist’s book is that, if the left-hemisphere’s view is now the dominant view of the world (and there is plenty of evidence in his book to support this claim), this is exactly what we are losing sight of. We are losing the ability to see beyond and around the object of our attention, to see it in its full context. We are increasingly seeing it in two dimensions or even in one plane as a schematic, abstract, geometric representation of the visual world, with a lack of realistic detail. This loss of a sense of depth alienates us from the world.

We need to see through the eye, through the image, past the surface: there is a fatal tendency for the eye to replace the depth of reality – a depth which implies the vitality, the corporeality and the empathic resonance of the world – with a planar re-presentation, that is a picture. In doing so, the sublime becomes merely the picturesque. (p.373)

Depth is related to the profound.

Do McGilchrist’s ideas about breadth and depth have implications for education? They seem to offer the possibility of a different perspective on the meaning of breadth and depth. There will always need to be choices made about which subjects should be included in the curriculum, and whether and when students need to specialise in specific subjects. But perhaps thinking about breadth in terms of flexibility (i.e. flexibility of attention) instead of coverage, and thinking about depth in relation to the need for an appreciation of context offers an alternative perspective. Breadth and depth do not need to be opposed or even thought of in terms of balance. They are both integral to counteracting a view of the world which is dominated by the left-hemisphere’s perspective, a world which we see from the perspective of a spectator as a two-dimensional representation.  Instead more focus on breadth and depth, as understood in McGilchrist’s terms, would encourage a view of the world as a connected whole, where everything is seen in context and there would be increased insight into the nature of complexity.

We now live in an age where we are told that 4-year old children need to learn about relationships so that they can grow up healthier and happier; that screen addicted children spend just 16 minutes a day playing outside; and that 75% of UK kids spend less time outdoors than prison inmates. Whether or not these reports are accurate, they do reflect, to some degree, McGilchrist’s concerns that we need more experience of the lived world, viewing it from a broad, global perspective and experiencing it in context in three dimensions through first-hand experience, rather than through a two-dimensional screen. McGilchrist’s explanation of the meaning of breadth and depth offers an alternative perspective which could bring new insight into these issues.

Reference

McGilchrist, I. (2009). The Master and his Emissary. The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. Yale University Press.

21 thoughts on “The Meaning of Depth and Breadth in Education

  1. x28 March 8, 2019 / 9:40 am

    Thanks for clearing out this source of confusion. I think the confusion is particularly trappy because there is also an interpretation of McGilchrist’s message in terms of the traditional meaning of a tradeoff between breadth and depth: too much narrow focussing, and deep specialization, may impair the awareness of diverse contexts and a broad critical literacy — while balancing an exemplary depth of a few subjects with sufficient breadth in diverse topics would be desirable.

    And very similarly, Csikszentmihalyi’s flow (in your previous post) may well be interpreted in a sense that is compatible with McGilchrist’s message: finding a balance between boredom and anxiety, will avoid both too much eager focussing on a goal that stimulates the reward mechanisms (say, a prey, in left hemisphere mode), and too little afraid/ cautious circumvision for predators (too little right hemisphere mode, ending up as someone else’s lunch).

  2. jennymackness March 9, 2019 / 6:04 pm

    Re breadth and depth what struck me, from reading McGilchrist’s thoughts about this, was that he writes of breadth and depth as both being underwritten by the right hemisphere, so my interpretation was that both are needed in equal measure and that for McGilchrist they do not have exactly the same meaning as they do for educators.

    And the point that struck me about ‘flow’ was that McGilchrist writes that we are always in flow, whereas for Csikszentmihalyi writes that flow is experienced when certain conditions are met. So again, my interpretation was that McGilchrist means something different by flow – although what you say about both flow and depth and breadth also makes sense.

    Thanks for your comments.

  3. allieverwanted March 11, 2019 / 4:10 pm

    McGilchrist is right. Today, you get science grades by passing multiple choice questions but a true understanding of science can only be revealed by setting up your own experiments, making your own observations and deciding what it all means. This requires individual curiosity, independence of mind, a creative hypothesis and total confidence in your own observations. By memorising a lot of data and equations you can get through science tests without appreciating any of this & believe that you are a scientist. McGilchrist’s message will fall on deaf ears because people today ‘know it all’. Art, history and religion are also relics to people today but the failure to study real science will be the true undoing of them.

  4. Benjamin David Steele March 13, 2019 / 11:59 am

    I have a learning disability. I was diagnosed with it when I was a kid. It has to do with word recall, but affects other areas such as reading comprehension. I had difficulty with standard teaching methods, as I didn’t relate well to factoids.

    It was only in adulthood that my learning abilities improved in developing my strengths and compensating for my weaknesses. I’ve found that, as I’ve increased my breadth of knowledge, I’ve also increased my depth.

    My mind works through making connections, which brings together breadth and depth. The more I know the details of one areas of study the easier it is to grasp other areas of study. Knowledge and ways of thinking, to some extent, transfer outside of the original context they were learned in.

    But this way of thinking and learning is mostly useless in conventional education, not showing up in standardized testing. And it has little value in the job market, even if necessary for a well-functioning society.

  5. jennymackness March 14, 2019 / 9:07 am

    @ ALLIEVERWANTED – thanks for leaving a comment. Having a science degree myself, what you say reflects my own experience, but hopefully McGilchrist’s message won’t fall on deaf ears. It would be interesting to know how many copies of his book have sold. There is certainly a lot more written about the book now than there was when it first came out, and McGilchrist himself seems very visible on the lecture and interview circuit, such that I wonder how he finds to time to work on his new books.

  6. jennymackness March 14, 2019 / 9:13 am

    @ Benjamin – many thanks for sharing your experience. My background is in teaching and I have often thought that school is completely the wrong place for some people, or at least school as we know it, for exactly the reasons you mention.

    You have written >> I had difficulty with standard teaching methods, as I didn’t relate well to factoids.<<

    If you come back here, could you say a little more about what you mean by this?

    Jenny

  7. Anonymous March 14, 2019 / 7:14 pm

    Sadly there is so much money and social prestige at stake in passing crude tests of memory rather than journeys of exploration and understanding. I love that 1648 painting – contemporary tastes in visual art that Jung and McGilchrist talk about, I believe, reflect how shallow and narrow today’s minds are in relation to an earlier age [1970s] where classic landscapes and subtle seascapes at home in middle-class lounges were common. The no.1 new car colour in the UK right now is grey – could this represent something dark and oppressive about our current mental state?

  8. jennymackness March 16, 2019 / 11:33 am

    @ anonymous – thanks for posting this interesting comment. I agree that the money and social prestige in passing tests is problematic. But I also wonder why the current system is not questioned more.

    I have often heard McGilchrist talk about art. His lectures (like his book) always seem to include reference to at least one painting and he is quite derogatory about conceptual art in his book. I have always been unsure about how much his personal taste influences his arguments about art. I can’t see how it couldn’t, but then I have to remind myself of this when reading what he has to say about art.

    I have to say that I have a grey car and it has always been my colour of choice for cars. I hope this doesn’t represent something dark or oppressive about my current mental state 🙂

  9. Benjamin David Steele March 16, 2019 / 11:59 am

    I posted a reply to your last comment requesting that I say more. But it apparently didn’t post. I know, from personal experience of blogging on WordPress, that comments often end up in Spam or Trash (used to be more the former but, for some odd reason, these days usually the latter). If you can’t find it and retrieve it, I can attempt to re-post the same comment that I saved just in case.

  10. jennymackness March 16, 2019 / 12:14 pm

    Sorry about this Benjamin. Your comment doesn’t seem to be in Spam or Trash. It would be great if you would re-post your comment. Thanks

  11. Benjamin David Steele March 16, 2019 / 3:01 pm

    @ Jenny – I was raised by teachers — to be specific, a business management professor and a public school speech pathologist. So I have much respect for the profession.

    By ‘factoids’, what I mean is isolated pieces of info. I’m not talented at remembering anything without making connections. So, a teacher giving me a list of names, dates, equations, etc to remember simply doesn’t work for my brain. To survive high school, I depended on cheat sheets and I developed the ability to write very small. I could do well where memory wasn’t an issue, such as reading, writing or other creative tasks. It wasn’t a lack of intelligence, as I was particularly high on fluid intelligence. But it was an endless struggle to memorize and recall.

    There is one odd aspect of my memory. When younger, I couldn’t take things out of order. My mother tells me about how, when asked about a movie, I’d narrate the entire movie from beginning to end. This apparently is a common tendency among those with my learning disability.

    In an AP history class, I was barely keeping up because the teacher would give massive amount of info to be remembered. One time, I had 20 pages of notes that were going to be on the test. I managed to remember them by repeating them in order, but the only way I could recall any given fact was to go through the info in linear fashion until I got to the specific fact needed. I didn’t do well on the test, though, since he required us not only to answer questions but to write essays. I couldn’t separate the individual facts out of their linear sequence in order to synthesize them.

    My mind wasn’t organized at the time, not in a way that was useful for formal education. It wasn’t for a lack of potential to have an organized mind, as I later learned how to do so. It was that no one in my later years of school knew how to help me in the way I received help in the first few years of elementary school. Until I figured out how to use my mind, I couldn’t take advantage of my strengths. If you’re curious to know more, I wrote some about it here:

    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/aspergers-and-chunking/

    I’ve come to a broader understanding of my neurocognitive issues. It wasn’t only the learning disability. There is the possibility of undiagnosed autism or something akin to it. My learning disability has aspects similar to autism. Along these lines, I could be socially clueless and oblivious when younger. Also, see the beginnings of depression showing up maybe in elementary school or at least by 7th grade, although I wasn’t diagnosed until a suicide attempt shortly after high school. I was also diagnosed at the time with something like “thought disorder”, but I don’t know exactly what the label was. Besides the antidepressant Paxil, I was also put on the antipsychotic Risperdal.

    Basically, my brain didn’t work normal. But I’ve started to wonder if there are underlying physiological factors that either caused or contributed these diverse issues. I’ve recently went on a low-carb diet and shifted it to a ketogenic diet. Such diets have been successfully used for many neurocognitive conditions. Depression, schizophrenia, etc often involve brain inflammation and a low-carb diet, especially when ketogenic, has scientifically been shown to decrease inflammation. Since changing my diet, my depressive symptoms have decreased and my memory has improved. This makes a lot of sense considering I ate a lot of carbs as a kid and I remained a sugar addict into my 30s. The past decades of struggle maybe could have been avoided entirely, if we knew then what we know now.

    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2019/02/23/fasting-calorie-restriction-and-ketosis/

    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2018/12/02/ketogenic-diet-and-neurocognitive-health/

  12. Benjamin David Steele March 16, 2019 / 3:08 pm

    I split up my comment. The first part posted. But the second part didn’t post. And I added a third comment with another link and it also didn’t post. I’m thinking your blog has an issue with links in comments. I don’t know where my comments are going when they don’t post. Check the Trash and Spam again.

  13. Benjamin David Steele March 16, 2019 / 3:25 pm

    I even tried to post the second part without any links. It still wouldn’t post. It’s odd that it did finally allow me to post the first part with one link, though. WordPress can be glitchy at times.

  14. jennymackness March 16, 2019 / 4:16 pm

    Hi Benjamin – I found all the comments you made today in Spam and have reinstated them. It does seem that I have a problem with comments on this blog. I will investigate.

    In the meantime, thank you for sharing further details of your learning experience. Thank you for explaining what you meant by factoids and it is really interesting to learn about how you manage your learning disability. It’s also good to know that you have figured out how to manage it. That must have taken a lot of work and persistence.

    I have looked at your blog and there is a mine of information there, which I will continue to explore. I am a very slow reader!

    I wonder if you have read Iain McGilchrist’s book or followed his work. If not, you might find it interesting and informative. His book, The Master and His Emissary, is very long and very dense and maybe not the best place to start.

    He has recently published a short summary which I think is a helpful introduction – Ways of Attending. How our Divided Brain Constructs the World – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ways-Attending-Divided-Brain-Constructs-ebook/dp/B07FF9LBBJ

    And in case you are not aware of it, there is a good introductory video on YouTube – https://youtu.be/dFs9WO2B8uI

  15. Benjamin David Steele March 16, 2019 / 9:00 pm

    I’m glad you finally found the comments. I figured they had to be somewhere. WordPress informed me, in one case, that I had already posted a comment, even though it wasn’t showing. I’m sorry to dump all those extra comments on you.

    My blog is an example of over-compensation for my learning disability. I hated school so much in 7th grade that I almost flunked out. The only reason they let me pass was because I moved out of state. But one magical and wondrous thing happened that horribly depressing year. I discovered the school library. I realized that, despite my dislike of reading what the teacher told me to read, I loved to read what I wanted to. I did manage to graduate high school with the help of cheat sheets and then dropped out of college. What I kept through all of that was a love of reading and somehow I managed to develop a love of learning, as long as it wasn’t formal education. My parents, as teachers, were an immense help in instilling this value in me.

    I still read and write endlessly. I’ve learned the strengths of my brain which, as I said, is the ability to connect. I can accumulate massive amount of information and remember it, as long as it is connected and the more personally I can connect it in my experience the better. I have a talent for connecting almost anything to almost anything else. This talent was utterly useless for formal education, but it makes me happy as an adult. That is how I ended up as a parking ramp cashier who sits around reading whatever catches my fancy, often scholarly books. Since my parents moved back, I spend a lot of time with my parents. My father, in particular, is extremely intellectual and so that has shaped me. Also, I live in a highly educated college town — many of my fellow employees have college degrees and one other parking ramp cashier has a PhD. I get plenty of intellectual stimulation.

    I don’t mind lacking formal education. My parents have college degrees, of course. And both of my brothers eventually finished college as well. But that has never made me feel inferior. I’ve long been confident in my intellectual abilities and, besides, with the internet memory issues are less of a problem. Even when I can’t immediately recall something, I can almost always find what I’m looking for with a web search. The internet was a revelation to me when I started using it in my late 20s. I realized that my brain works like the internet, i.e., through connections. And I love authors who make connections, such as Iain McGilchrist. So, yeah, I am familiar with his work. That is actually what brought me here. In a discussion of McGilchrist, someone linked to this post — the discussion was in Scott Preston’s blog who regularly brings up McGilchrist:
    https://longsworde.wordpress.com/

    I mention McGilchrist in my own blog every now and then. I probably should write about him more often. But I need to read his book again to refresh my memory. Here are some posts where I quote him:
    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/on-being-strange/
    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/12/31/bundle-theory-embodied-mind-social-nature/

    I’m much more familiar with Julian Jayne’s book and the scholarship around it, very much related to McGilchrist’s material. I am re-reading his book at the moment or rather I’m reading it the first time in a linear fashion. I tend jump around in books and I’ve been reading Jaynes piecemeal for many many years. I’ve written a lot on Jaynes:
    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/tag/julian-jaynes/
    Here is one particularly good introduction:
    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/beyond-that-there-is-only-awe/

  16. jennymackness March 17, 2019 / 7:32 am

    Thanks again Benjamin for the comment and for the links and references and in particular to pointing me to Julian Jaynes’ work, which I do not know. From a quick look at The Master and His Emissary I see that McGilchrist writes about Jaynes with respect, but is not in total agreement with his ideas. I will look further at this, since it is all new to me. I’ll also explore your blog posts.

    I started off reading McGilchrist’s book in a linear fashion, from start to finish, but now I’m exploring themes, so am jumping about and reading it piecemeal. Unfortunately, unlike you, I not only don’t have a lot of uninterrupted time for reading, but I am also a debilitatingly slow reader and if I don’t write notes, remember very little. I have a terrible memory, and as far as I am aware, I do not yet have dementia! It has always been like this.

    Looking forward to following your blog now that I know you have one.

    Jenny

  17. Benjamin David Steele March 17, 2019 / 3:00 pm

    @ Jenny – I can be a slow reader too because I’m constantly processing info and making connections. I’m an obsessive note-taker. It’s not entirely about remembering, although that is involved. I started off with such a bad memory that it is strange how my memory has steadily improved over the decades, the opposite of most people. If I had the memory I have now back in grade school, maybe I wouldn’t have struggled so much. Then again, improvement is a relative thing, as I started off at such a low level of memory ability.

    I still passionately despise learning what someone else tells me to learn. And isolated facts still don’t stick well in my mind. My knowledge is of a specific variety, not the kind that is necessarily useful in everyday life. I suck at remembering faces, names, dates of birthdays, passwords, etc — what I call ‘factoids’… despite improvements. I’ve just accepted that about myself, but it remains a point of shame rooted in unhealed wounds of childhood unhappiness. At times, it can make simple everyday tasks hard and so I’m constantly reminded of sense of inadequacy, even as my intellectual capacities are above average.

    It sounds like your memory issues are severe as well. Many people in the modern world are dealing with brain inflammation or other forms of inflammation and other related health issues, such as how gut dysbiosis has multiple direct and indirect connections to neurocognitive functioning. As an adult, changes in diet and lifestyle can make a big difference, as seen in both scientific research and anecdotal experience, mine included. But lifelong damage to health is not easy to undo and in some cases the damage is permanent. I’m fairly sure I have some permanent damage, not only dietary related but also brain trauma from all head-butting of soccer balls for years as a child (studies have shown this causes physical trauma to the brain and decreases IQ and long term trauma does also show up as inflammation).

    About McGilchrist and Jaynes, I’d say there is more a difference of views than a full disagreement. Jaynes, of course, died before McGilchrist began writing and so it is about the latter’s understanding of the former. Some have argued that McGilchrist doesn’t correctly understand what Jaynes meant by the bicameral mind and consciousness, in relation to the brain hemispheres. In the Jaynes FB group, there was a discussion about this:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/the.origin.of.consciousness/permalink/2227184060693544/
    To see a fuller response with a strong contrary view, read the part 2.7 at this link:
    http://www.julianjaynes.org/critiques-and-responses-about-julian-jaynes-theory.php
    Having read both, I find insights in both and it doesn’t bother me that they have different theories.

  18. jennymackness March 18, 2019 / 10:56 am

    HI Benjamin – I don’t think of my poor memory as severe, just not good and I know it slows me down. I also fully expect to get dementia. Just about every relative in my family has died from dementia related problems. Needless to say I am doing my best to try and stave it off!

    Thanks for some further links. I will follow them up.

    I contacted WordPress about the comment problem. It probably was something to do with the links. Evidently WordPress holds a comment in a queue if it holds 2 or more Links (which I didn’t know), because this is a way of identifying spam.

    WordPress have asked me whether you received any information on the difficulty you faced, such as an error message. This would help them identify the problem.

  19. Benjamin David Steele March 18, 2019 / 2:28 pm

    @ Jenny – I’ll respond to your comment in reverse order. About WordPress: No, I did not receive any info. The only message I received in one case simply told me that I had already posted a particular comment, after I tried posting it a second time. That was the only case where I knew the comment must be somewhere since WordPress was acknowledging its existence.

    As for dementia, I wouldn’t be fatalistic about it. By the way, what kind of dementia runs in your family? Dr. Dale Bredesen did a clinical trial with Alzheimer’s patients. He reversed symptoms using a ketogenic diet, supplementation, and other things. Some of the patients had already quit work and, after treatment, were able to return to work. If you’re interested, he has a book out on it, The End of Alzheimer’s (I think there is a revised second addition right now). There are other related books that bring up ketosis: Amy Berger’s The Alzheimer’s Antidote, Susan A. Masino’s Ketogenic Diet and Metabolic Therapies, Bruce Fife and Russell L Blaylock’s Stop Alzheimer’s Now!, Mary T. Newport’s The Coconut Oil and Low-Carb Solution for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Other Diseases, etc. Ketosis is becoming a hot topic in the health community, especially since researchers increased their focus on it starting back in the 1990s.

    The ketogenic diet has been used to treat many severe conditions (and mild conditions). Dr. Terry Wahls also did a clinical trial but for multiple sclerosis. She had already reversed her own symptoms and regained her ability to walk again. She was able to do the same with her patients. Ketosis has also been successfully used for epileptic seizures, having been used for about a century. Other research has been done as well, from autism to diabetes. Ketosis is part of several interventions that have a profound effect on neurocognition through gut health, metabolism, immune functioning, inflammation, etc. Ketosis is simply extreme low-carb, but many have found health issues resolved or improved by moderate low-carb diets. Research has shown fasting, even if only for short periods, can have an affect on health. All of this overlaps with the reasons why caloric restriction has been effective, as caloric restriction is by definition low-carb and if restricted enough would be ketogenic, although it is harder to maintain optimal nutrition on caloric restriction.

    These kinds of methods have shown to increase longevity. This is specifically true of ketosis, which leads to autophagy, only requiring short-term ketosis. Within three days of fasting, your body is already in ketosis and will have completely replaced all the immune cells. Besides that, autophagy repairs and replaces damaged cells through out the body and does so by activating stem cells to produce new cells. This only happens in ketosis, a condition that would have been common in the past but it is rare today in this age of food abundance. Autophagy appears to be a central mechanism for health. In caloric restriction, when autophagy is blocked, the results of longevity disappear. So, it isn’t caloric restriction itself but the resulting autophagy that makes the difference.

    I could leave you a bunch of links. But I won’t do that. Apparently, WordPress doesn’t like it when I do that. Or at least your WordPress blog doesn’t like it, as I don’t have this problem at most WordPress blogs. You could check your settings. Anyway, I’ll share a single link to ensure my comment doesn’t get held up:

    https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/memory/ketogenic-diet-shows-promising-results-for-all-dementia-stages/

  20. jennymackness March 20, 2019 / 2:33 pm

    Thanks Benjamin. I think your comments are coming through fine now. WordPress doesn’t seem to know what the problem has been – but I think it might have been the number of links – although that seems OK now.

    Thanks for all the information about the ketogenic diet, which is not far removed from my current. I have never heard about this diet, so it has been interesting to read around it.

  21. Benjamin David Steele March 20, 2019 / 4:36 pm

    I’ve known about low-carb diet maybe going back to the late 1990s. I did try a low-carb diet briefly a long time ago. But it didn’t work for me at the time because I lacked knowledge for how to do it in a healthy way.

    It was only last year that I learned of ketogenic diet. I came across it in watching the documentary The Magic Pill, which is primarily about the paleo diet. With paleo, the emphasis is similar to traditional foods as presented by Sally Fallon Morell, but with lower in carbs and avoidance of grains.

    I tried a low-carb paleo diet at first. But because of past sugar addiction, I decided to reduce my carbs further. It made a major difference. I look at it as an experiment. I’m usually willing to try something to see what happens.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s