How to Avoid an Early Death

by Admin on November 29, 2011 · 1 comment

in Patients, Tools

Food, Inc.

Food, Inc. (Image via

As the widow of a doctor, I have devoted a lot of energy to thinking how to live to a healthy old age. Life extension theory has changed radically over the course of my life.

When I was a kid, there was not much processed food, and we ate meat, vegetables, and potatoes, along with dreadful stuff like jello. Yes, we ate cookies and cake,but my mother went to a butcher and a bakery, and our foods were fresh. Calories were the main concern. You had to limit the number of calories.

Oh, and drugs were just being discovered. My doctor put me cheerfully on amphetamines to lose weight, barbiturates to sleep, and tranquilizers for anxiety. We thought they were all good for you. We now know they are as addictive as “street drugs.” Indeed, the current wave of addiction is to prescription drugs, not street drugs. Even then, I hated the side effects of those drugs and quit taking them as soon as I could.

Things changed in the 70s. When I met my mother-in-law, she had just turned 65, she was concerned with longevity, and she followed Adele Davis, who believed in high protein diets and B-12 shots. She took those. At the time, they were called “liver shots.” Those of us who didn’t take shots ate liver, because it was high in vitamin B, protein, and iron. Only later, when they began to put cows on hormones, did people become afraid to eat liver because that’s where the toxins accumulated in the cow.

When I got pregnant with my daughters, I stayed on a very high protein-and-vegetable diet because it was supposedly brain food. Pregnancy taught me about salt: cans of tuna made my ankles swell. Excessive salt, which is put into our depleted processed food to make it taste better, causes high blood pressure. So does smoking.

I had already given up smoking, because the very first inkling about the relationship of lifestyle to disease was the Surgeon General’s report in 1964 that linked smoking to heart disease.

In the 80’s, Diet for a Small Planet came out and we all became vegetarians. I grew vegetables in the 70s as well. Even then I stayed away from fast and processed food.

All the while, food processing has become more and more a chemical affair, and most food chemists and nutrition scientists trace heart disease, diabetes, and cancer to food processing: the addition of chemical preservatives, the leaching out of vital minerals and vitamins by pesticide depleted soil, and so on.

I’ve seen “Food, Inc“., in addition to “Forks Over Knives” and “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead.” The agricultural products that are subsidized (corn, dairy, beef) have ginormous PR campaigns that tell you what to eat. Then the government puts it in the school lunches and the food pyramid.

Bottom line: stay as pure as you can. I have read the medical studies. “It’s the toxins, stupid.”

You can eat beef and chicken as long as they are free range and grass-fed, and not injected with hormones, steroids, etc. Or fed wheat and corn, because those crops are now toxic because of the pesticides and the soils they are grown in. And as long as they make up less than 20% of the calories in your diet (and they have more calories than plant-based foods). My nutritionist says to prefer grass-fed beef (if eating out) to farmed fish, because farmed fish is fed toxic grains and hormones. Wild fish is best, but even it is polluted with mercury.

Stick to green leafy vegetables and fruits like berries and watermelon and citrus that don’t have much sugar. Sugar creates havoc in the blood, because it causes your energy to fluctuate wildly even if you aren’t diabetic. Protein evens out the blood sugar, which is why you need it. Nuts and seeds are also good, although you have to be careful what chemicals they are prepared with (barbecued or honey roasted nuts can be full of chemicals). Starch, by the way, becomes sugar during the digestive process, so forget potatoes and anything but whole grain bread.

Wheat free is desirable, but not necessary. I am now wheat free, and have more energy. I am also dairy free, which probably IS necessary because of the toxins in the feed our cows are given. And in my case, I’m intolerant of dairy.

Which brings me to my final step of how to fine tune: I went for a series of blood tests, including an IGC panel. That panel told me what foods I was sensitive to, which means which foods cause inflammation in my particular body. I eliminated them.

The current scientific thinking is that most disease is caused by inflammation. Cholesterol doesn’t necessarily cause heart attacks; inflammation does. It breaks the cholesterol loose and sends it through the blood. Cancer is also thought to be inflammation, which weakens the immune system so it doesn’t automatically just kill the cells that become aberrant.

And here’s where stress comes in: stress also weakens the immune system. Anything that causes the immune system, which weakens anyway with age, to weaken further could be a cause of disease. For example, stress causes the blood to pump harder against the walls of the heart, which causes high blood pressure,
which in turn causes thickening and enlarging, which in turn causes less efficient pumping, which can cause heart failure.

The health care system has known all this for a while, but has chosen to address it with technological fixes (surgery) rather than root causes (change the way you live). Now that we can’t afford ourselves as a sickly nation, you will see the preventive measures come into play. They are our “austerity program,” but they should have been our program all along, IMHO.

On balance, I feel great. My arthritis and high blood pressure, caused by excessive exercise and stress, are now controlled. What have I given up? Dairy, wheat, and processed food (which I never ate anyway). What haven’t I given up? Red wine and dark chocolate. I haven’t found any articles that tell me they aren’t good for me.

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