All those ugly, painful, low energy things you thought were just part of aging—they’re not! They are what happens when the delicate balance you were designed for gets out of whack. And that includes the biggies like cancer, heart disease, arthritis and weight gain! The good news is it’s a self-healing unit—if you give it what it needs and quit giving it what it doesn’t.
I’ve been saving up some articles and videos that are more
or less related to issues of wellness that I care about (and I include us and
the earth too, in that wellness); perhaps you do, too.These subjects are all over the place but
boil down to the same basic subject—sustainable health and wellness for humans
and the environment.
First up is information from a new study that reminds us
that alcohol is a carcinogen and (duh) causes cancer.Wine, beer, hard liquor—even in small amounts
raises the risk of cancer.Let me also
remind you that it adds empty calories of no nutritional benefit.
Number three today is a 4 minute video by the doctor who
developed The South Beach Diet.Some of
it is more interesting than all of it, but pay attention to his comments about
gluten, asthma, ear infections, and allergies. Practically main stream, lol…
Dan Barber is an executive chef who talks about a
different kind of food production.He is
also very entertaining.Barber’s
farm-based restaurant also teaches eaters what they’re eating.Watch either or both of the following Ted
talks about sustainability and TASTE!
And another Ted talk.This one might turn your ideas on their heads!It is more about sustainability for the whole
planet (desertification and climate change) and one of the strongest arguments I’ve
seen against being a vegetarian.
And last today if you have time to watch an entire movie
about wellness and such, Here’s the link to STATIN NATION: The Great Cholesterol Cover-Up.Should you be unaware of the real cholesterol story this will set
Since I don’t write these posts very often these days (life
is busy with my little farm), today’s article will combine multiple ideas about
aging and health.I talk a lot about
nutrition.It’s important— even critical
for functional life span. And today, I’ll
throw in some at the end. But it’s not everything.
Elsie Calvert Thompson died peacefully in
her sleep in March.She was two weeks
away from her 114th birthday.There's no doubt her birthday bash would have
been a swinging one.
“She was a very
positive person. She loved people. She was always happy, she loved music, she
loved to dance,” George, her son said. “It was just wonderful to have her as
long as we did.”
Thompson's caregiver of 13 years, said she never saw the
elderly woman in a bad mood. she had worked with Thompson for the past 13 years
as she continued to live in her own condominium in Florida as opposed to an
assisted living facility.
Then there is 100 year old Fauja Singh who ran
the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon recently.He finished last, but he finished.In fact it’s
Singh’s eighth marathon. Though he was born in 1911, he didn’t start running
until age 89.
And from a study on longevity:“We regard these individuals as wonderful
models of aging well. Some of our subjects, ~15% have no clinically
demonstrable disease at age 100 years and we call them “escapers.” About 43%
are “delayers,”or subjects who did not exhibit an age related disease until age
80 years or later. Finally, there are about 42% of our subjects who are
“survivors”, or those with clinically demonstrable disease(s) prior to the age
of 80 years. We have observed amongst
supercentenarians (age 110+ years), that health span equals lifespan. Thus we
believe that instead of the aging myth “the older you get the sicker you get,”
it is much more the case of “the older you get, the healthier you’ve been.”
My own feeling is that living to 100 or more is no fun if
you’re not fully functional.I am
interested in the strategies that promote wellness and function.I think they ultimately lead to longevity,
too, but that’s not the point.The point
is to have good years at the tail end of life, wherever that is
chronologically.Again, from the
Once it truly became apparent that
living to 100 was a terrific advantage, not just in years of survival but
importantly in many more years of quality life, we set out to understand what
factors the centenarians had in common that might explain such an advantage.
Not all centenarians are alike. They vary widely in years of education (no
years to post-graduate), socioeconomic status (very poor to very rich),
religion, ethnicity and patterns of diet (strictly vegetarian to extremely rich
in saturated fats). However, the centenarians we have studied do have a number
of characteristics in common:
Few centenarians are obese. In the case of men, they
are nearly always lean.
Substantial smoking history is rare.
A preliminary study suggests that centenarians are
better able to handle stress than the majority of people.
Our finding that some centenarians (~15%) had no
significant changes in their thinking abilities disproved the expectation
by many that all centenarians would be demented.4 We also
discovered that Alzheimer’s Disease was not inevitable. Some centenarians
had very healthy appearing brains with neuropathological study (we call
these gold standards of disease-free aging).5
Many centenarian women have a history of bearing
children after the age of 35 years and even 40 years. From our studies, a
woman who naturally has a child after the age of 40 has a 4 times greater
chance of living to 100 compared to women who do not.6 It is
probably not the act of bearing a child in one’s forties that promotes
long life, but rather, doing so may be an indicator that the woman’s
reproductive system is aging slowly and that the rest of her body is as
well. Such slow aging and the avoidance or delay of diseases that
adversely impact reproduction would bode well for the woman’s subsequent
ability to achieve very old age.
Some families demonstrate incredible clustering for
exceptional longevity that cannot be due to chance and must be due to
familial factors that members of these families have in common.9
Based upon standardized personality testing, the
offspring of centenarians, compared to population norms, score low in
neuroticism and high in extraversion.
I think numbers 1, 2, 3 and 7 are very
interesting findings. Below is another study/experiment that indicates there
are mental considerations to how we age.
In 1979, psychologist Ellen
Langer conducted a piece of research designed to test this idea. She invited a
group of 75-year-old men to spend a week on a retreat. It was a retreat with a
difference, though. The men were instructed to dress, speak and act as though
the year was 1959. Their environment was decked out like it would have been in
1959, and no magazines or books dated later than 1959 were allowed at the
Before the retreat, men
underwent assessment of physical and mental function including their strength,
posture, eyesight, intelligence, perception and memory.
At the end of the week, the
men were tested again, and most of the men had improved in all of the
assessments. Even characteristics that are generally regarded as fixed – such
as eyesight and intelligence – were found to have improved across the group.
This research was subsequently detailed in Ellen Langer’s 2009 book entitled: Counter-Clockwise:
Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility.
How old you are biologically is not just about
biology!But a lot of it is.I submit the following information as well.
probably the most-studied Neolithic man in history. More than 5,000 years ago,
the ancient iceman was
hit by an arrow and bled to death on a glacier in the Alps between
modern-day Austria and Italy. The glacier preserved his body until it was
discovered by hikers in 1991.
his discovery in the Ötzal Alps by the hikers, scientists have reconstructed
Ötzi's face, analyzed his clothing, scrutinized his body and sequenced his
studies on Ötzi tell us are interesting from a nutritional standpoint.He was a middle aged, well-off
farmer/agriculturist, and he had heart disease and joint pain (arthritis).His teeth tell the story of a carbohydrate
rich diet, with several cavities, tooth wear and gum disease.It’s the same kind of wear and tear and
disease that’s also found on Egyptian mummies who ate grains.
more mummies from many walks of history were examined and something like 34%
showed signs of heart disease.Some of
these were pre-agricultural, so they were not eating grain.Most of the Egyptian mummies were upper
classes and most assuredly WERE eating grain heavy diets.But blaming heart disease on grain is too
the advent of research and investigation of inflammation as the cause of heart
disease we find more enlightenment.Do
grains contribute to inflammation?Absolutely.They are packets of
sugar which causes a rise in blood sugar, a rise of insulin—both inflammatory
(not controversial, btw).They also are
heavy on Omega 6 oils, a surplus of
which is highly inflammatory.But many
other things cause untoward inflammatory response which starts the disease
process.Not enough sleep, stress, bad
attitudes, loneliness, injury, malnutrition.For a complete treatise see my booklet on inflammation or do your own
can you and I take away from the above?An
up-attitude and seeing yourself as young and vital as opposed to old and frail
is a wellness and longevity strategy.Nutrition that is very light on high glycemic load foods that raise
blood sugar and insulin.(I recently
read an article that recommended whole grains as low glycemic foods.THEY ARE NOT!!Glycemic load of 2 slices of white bread is 18,
almost in the high range (20 is high, 1-10 is low).The glycemic load of two slices of whole
wheat bread is 12.Not low.All grains jack up blood sugar and insulin.Wheat has many additional toxins, of which I
have talked at length (see old blog articles).
a lot of opinion on what are inflammatory foods. I might have to change
some of my ideas some day when they get around to more research, but carbs are some
of the most inflammatory, veggies not so much, fruit carbs less than
most. Roots less than grains, but not by much--sweet potato glycemic load
on 1/2 cup is 9, same amount of white rice, 11).
sure you are not short on any nutrients.Avoid stress, get enough sleep.Get weight down or never let it get up.Skip vegetable oils.Cholesterol
is your friend, not your enemy.Socialize
enough, love wisely but thoroughly!What
does that get you?Maybe a long life,
but for sure a better life for however long it is.
When we look at human history and the ancestors from whom we got our genetic makeup, we have to remember they developed in response to all the selective pressure of any developing species. A million or a hundred thousand years ago, the ancestors who did well biologically reproduced better, leaving their genetics behind. Otherwise a species does not survive or progress. So we come from humans who survived well on the diets of hunter/gatherer groups. That diet had some variety depending on geography. And humans are omnivores, clearly utilizing both plant and animal food sources. These are the genetics from which we come.
The advent of agriculture changed the diet but not the genetics. Anthropologists, who study this stuff, tell us that the advent of agriculture--growing grass seeds (grain)--made humans shorter and less robust. Here's the first paragraph of an article by some of those scientists in the Journal of Nutrition, June 1, 1996 (not new!!!) titled "An Evolutionary Perspective Enhances Understanding of Human Nutritional Requirements" I have taken out the reference info to make it easier to read. "Human nutritional requirements reflect evolutionary experience extending
millions of years into the past, and for nearly all this period genetic and
cultural changes occurred in parallel. However,
agriculture and, especially, industrialization produced technical and
behavioral change at rates exceeding the capacity of genetic adaptation to keep
pace.Geneticists believe that the
increased human number and mobility associated with civilization have produced
more, not less, inertia in the gene pool and that when the humans of
3000-10,000 years ago depending on locality) began to take up agriculture, they
were, in essence, the same biological organisms as humans are today. Accordingly, our ancestral dietary pattern has continuing relevance: an
understanding of pre-agricultural nutrition may provide useful insight into the requirements of contemporary humans." In plain English what that says is that human genetics haven't changed although our culture did and the two are no longer in sync nutritionally.
Yesterday I attended an Easter Brunch with a group of bright, educated, very forward thinking people. These were people who generally do not think the government is the best source of information to count on. Food was discussed a lot because we were eating lots of it. Not once or even twice, but three times I heard someone state the conventional "wisdom" about how bad cholesterol is for humans.
The cholesterol hypothesis--although wrong in every way--remains front and center as the "cause" of heart disease (a disease of civilization). It gets the funding. It gets the press. Everybody believes it because we've heard it a million times--all one word--"ARTERY-CLOGGING-SATURATED-FAT".
The story of how the cholesterol hypothesis got to this sorry state of prevalent belief can be found in the book, "Good Calories Bad Calories" and "The Great Cholesterol Con" and in many youtube videos including "Big Fat Fiasco" found here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=exi7O1li_wA The Congressional committee who decided the "validity" of the cholesterol hypothesis, and the resulting food pyramid had some dissenters who were overridden. As a result, we've had a 50 year nutritional experiment conducted on Americans. How's that working for us?
I leave you today with a comment--in the congressional record--from one of those dissenters.
"Heart disease, cancer and diabetes are what we call diseases of civilization. It's ludicrous to blame the diseases of civilization on ancient foods. Saturated fat (cholesterol) is an ancient food."
And my final comment. You and I are designed to eat animal products including lots of animal fat. We were not designed for grass seeds, vegetable oils and sugar. Avoid the diseases of civilization by eating ancient foods.