Fine Wines and Fish Oil: The Life of Hugh Macdonald Sinclair


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The British scientist, Hugh MacDonald Sinclair (1910-1990), is best remembered for his belief that diets deficient in essential fatty acids are the cause of most degenerative illnesses, including coronary heart disease. Sinclair's forceful arguments on this matter preceded firm scientific evidence, however; and his self-experimentation, including the infamous 100 day seal-meat diet, were the subject of widespread ridicule and professional ruin. Fine Wine and Fish Oil explores the facts behind Sinclair's rise and fall, and finds a complex story involving family life, personal ambition, and the schism between the academic pursuit of knowledge and the use of information for the public good. Much of the story is set against the events of the Second World War, and the struggle to feed people on limited rations as a means of sustaining both human health and the defence of the nation. The study of human nutrition during the twentieth century provides the thread that binds these events together.