Man who told the world about the Eskimo Diet

Dr Reg Saynor
Dr Reg Saynor

REG Saynor had a hand in three books that helped to encourage people around the world to adopt a healthier diet.

Two reflected on the lifestyle of Eskimos to extoll the virtues of eating fish to reduce the risk of a heart attack and one highlighted the benefits of garlic, especially for the heart.

In the early 1990s, diet was being taken more seriously and Dr Saynor was at the forefront of spreading the word from his laboratory at the Northern General Hospital.

His death at the age of 85 is also a more general reminder of a lifetime’s work as a research scientist in the NHS in Sheffield, which ranged from studies of the value of penicillin (during which he met Alexander Fleming) to devising a blood loss machine that used the principles of a washing machine to help surgeons assess the loss of blood to trials with heart disease patients (one of whom was comedian Dick Emery).

“He did pioneering research,” said one of his three children, Brian Saynor. “He started with onions, came across cod liver oil and started the ball rolling for industry.”

One of his backers was the Seven Seas vitamin supplement company.

Dr Saynor, who was born in Sheffield and lived at Lodge Moor for 47 years, developed his research reputation, despite the lack of a university education. He left school to work in the Merchant Navy, but had to switch careers when he contracted malaria.

He wrote the influential The Eskimo Diet and The Eskimo Diet Cookbook with Dr Frank Ryan - underlining the role of the omega-3s from fish and marine sources in heart attack prevention - and was the solo author of The Garlic Effect.

He was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the New York Academy of Sciences. “They always wanted him to go there to speak,” said Brian, a jeweller, who lives in Ranmoor.

“When he was doing the research, he told the world about it. He gave lectures in places like Hong Kong, Nova Scotia, India and Thailand. My mum used to get a little holiday!”

He was a devoted husband to his late wife, Margaret, caring for her 24 hours a day when she was ill for many years, including when he had prostate cancer 20 years ago.

“He was a very gregarious man, a top man and a top husband.”

Dr Saynor also leaves another son, Keith, who lives in Lodge Moor, a daughter, Julie, who lives in Baslow, and four grandchildren. The funeral is at Hutcliffe Wood next Wednesday (April 17) at 3.30pm.