Everyone gets sick now and then — even natural-food fans. An individual may have a genetic predisposition to a disease, nr he may come in contact with a contagious disease too strong for his natural defenses, or he may just push himself too hard. Whether it's cancer or the common cold, sickness or injury can strike you no matter how well you eat. What's important is how you deal with your problem, and how you get yourself on the road to wellness.
Unfortunately, most people today cannot cope with sickness. At the slightest sign of an ailment, they reach for the pill bottle. If that doesn't help, they run to the doctor and beg him to do every test that he can think of and prescribe something, anything, to make them well again.
The total cost of medical care in America is expected to reach one trillion dollars by 1994. For 250 million citizens, this amounts to $4,000 for every man, woman and child in America. Luckily, most of it does not come directly out of our paycheck but indirectly it does. Nearly half of this money is spent in the first few years of life and the last few years, with government paying a large share of these costs. Medical costs are expected to continue to rise at a rate of 15 — 20% per year, as they have for the last decade.
America is heading for a collision with its destiny. No individual, no company and certainly our government cannot continue to pay for skyrocketing sickness care cost. Health care is not the problem— sickness care cost is. Health care is free to everyone because its cheaper to eat healthful foods than junk foods. Let me repeat the cost of health care is not the problem. The problem is the medical cost of disease care. We hope that this book will help decrease degenerative diseases, and thus cut medical costs. Our death rates from degenerative diseases are almost the highest in the world.
Our rate of death from major cardiovascular diseases rose from 359 per 100,000 at the turn of the century to 440 In 1978. Our rate of cancer mortality more than doubled in the same period of time, while the diabetes mortality rate rose 25%. The rate of increase in deaths from cancer Is a far larger problem than deaths from heart disease.1 It's clear that our slavish devotion to the disease establishment is foolhardy.
While I don't want to condemn the entire medical profession, I do believe that self-reliance is of primary importance in combating sickness or any physical problem. We must take responsibility for our own well-being, rather than blindly trusting the physician to patch us up or give us a pill when things go wrong. I think a few of my experiences with the medical establishment will help to illustrate the value of self-reliance. During the years when I was working for Quaker Oats, I had an experience with hospital care that profoundly affected my outlook on medicine. One evening at work I was sprayed all over my back with extremely hot liquid. I was rushed to a hospital with second-degree burns over 25% of my body. All the emergency staff did was pack me in ice, which helped to minimize the burn and ease the pain. I fitfully awaited the morning, when I thought a doctor would surely see me.
The morning came, but no doctor appeared. Instead I was brought a skimpy breakfast, the main entree of which was Jello. The whole meal was high in sugar and low in the protein my body so badly needed. I waited the rest of the morning for a doctor to show, but in vain.
The lunch they brought me was just as unsatisfactory as breakfast. I was given one paper-thin slice of turkey, a carton of milk, white bread, and vegetables with the life boiled out of them. I began to realize that a continued diet of hospital food would do me more harm than good.
Late that afternoon, the doctor finally came to see me. He looked me over, and I asked him what he was planning to do. He replied that there was nothing he could do except to keep me on clean sheets and occasionally apply a salve. Nevertheless, he recommended that I remain hospitalized.
Then I complained about the diet. I said that, because I had lost so much skin, I thought I should be getting a high-protein diet to aid my body in replacing the tissue. He disagreed. He told me that my body had its own protein stores on which it could call. I later found out he was talking about a temporary body-storage facility called the amino acid pool, which can be depleted in two hours!
I began to get angry. I told the doctor that if all his medical wisdom could offer me was clean sheets and lousy food, I would rather go home and treat myself. I was checking out.
I went home and kept myself on clean sheets, changed my shirt frequently, and was careful not to lie on my damaged back. I ate whole grains, eggs, a little lean meat, and other high-protein foods. So great was my skepticism about the hospital's course of treatment that, before I applied the salve on my back that the doctor had prescribed, I tried a little on my arm. Before long, that area of skin darkened with a red, ugly, irritating rash. I threw the rest of the jar of salve away.
In short, I gave my body the time and material to heal itself, and it did a beautiful job. Instead of staying in the hospital for two weeks, as my doctor had planned, I was back at work in two days. I made up my mind that from now on, I was going to take the doctor's advice as a guideline, not as the gospel truth.
Perhaps one of the most famous examples of the role of self-responsibility in health is the case of Norman Cousins, which he describes in his book, Anatomy of an Illness.2 In 1964, Cousins, editor of the Saturday Review, contracted ankylosing spondylitis, a collagen illness in which the connective tissue in the spine disintegrates. He gradually lost the use of his limbs and could scarcely turn his neck. Hard nodules formed under his skin. At the low point of his condition, his jaw was almost locked.
His doctors were generally pessimistic. They told him that the disease was degenerative, and he had just one chance in 500 of surviving. With seemingly nothing to lose, Cousins decided to take things into his own hands.
Cousins studied the causes of collagen deficiency. He was surprised to learn that many painkillers inhibit collagen production and contribute to the degeneration of connective tissue. Two of the most dangerous in this regard were aspirin and phenylbutazone, both of which his doctors were administering to him in massive doses. He went off the drugs immediately.
Cousins also learned that vitamin C is very beneficial in collagen production. Over his doctor's protests, he began to receive continuous intravenous dosages of vitamin C, starting with three grams a day and building up to 25.
Finally, Cousins knew that negative emotions could have a harmful effect on the body. If this were so, why couldn't positive emotions have a beneficial effect? He decided to give it a try. He got hold of a movie projector, and started to give himself several daily doses of laughter by watching "Candid Camera" reruns and Laurel and Hardy films. Sure enough, the laughter helped to ease his pain and permitted him to sleep more frequently.
Instead of dying, as his doctors expected him to do, Cousins began to recover. Slowly, he began to regain control of his fingers, his hands, his arms. Eventually he was able to walk on crutches, then with leg braces. Cousins became virtually free of the disease, and travelled around the country preaching the tremendous importance of patient self-reliance.
A friend of mine is a nurse who constantly tries to help people in the hospital and nursing homes avoid unnecessary medical testing and pill-popping. Her husband noticed one day that he had gangrene on his foot. His feet had felt cold for years from poor circulation.
My friend took him to her favorite doctor, who usually avoided unnecessary medical procedures. The doctor decided to do a Doppler test to see if he had a circulation problem. The results came back — no problem. Then he did a heart circulation test; again, no problem. Then he did a stress test again; the doctor said the results were negative, that her husband did not have a circulation problem.
My friend was furious, because she knew her spouse had a problem. She said, "Doc, take off his shoes and socks and feel his feet." The doctor did, then said, "I guess he's got a circulation problem. You'll have to keep his feet warm, since we don't have a drug to treat this problem." For this advice they were billed $2,000.
My friend will never go to that doctor again. She realized the tests were a gimmick to make his wallet fat. The results of the test were inconsequential because they wouldn't change the treatment method, regardless of the tests' results.
My friend had been made into a fool by the medical profession. You will be too, many times in your life, if you don't always ask many questions. Questions like: What will it cost? What good will this test do? What various treatments are available?
When do you stop treatment? Is the work guaranteed like my car's mechanic's work? You are paying the bill and have the right to ask many questions.
I want to be very clear about this. I am not saying that doctors are incompetent or obsolete, nor am I maintaining that one need never seek medical care. No, the medical establishment isn't bad — it is simply limited. Your doctor may act on his own vested interest. Your doctor has no magic pills or potions that will make you feel good if you refuse to take care of yourself. The only way you can stay healthy is if you take responsibility for your own health and your own medical costs. This means eating right, getting enough exercise, and doing all the other things which will keep you from getting sick. It also means exploring your options fully when you do get sick. Above all, it means asking first not what your doctor can do for you, but what you can do for yourself.
What are the specific limitations of the medical establishment?
Well, the first and most important is the tendency to work on the level of the symptom instead of curing the cause. You go to the doctor with a recurring headache, or persistent indigestion, or an ache in your joints, and you expect him to give you a pill (or an injection, if things are really serious), that will take away all your discomfort. So you take your pill, and you feel fine, or at least you think you do. You're happy, your doctor's happy, but your problem hasn't gone away. In fact, while you've been ignoring it, it most likely has gotten worse.
Most of all, we want the doctor to give us something. We don't feel treated unless we've been given some sort of medication, and the doctor obliges — usually with an inorganic chemical. Now, if the problem is due to something foreign to the body, like an infection, then these chemicals, for instance antibiotics, can be quite effective (although even antibiotics are overprescribed; one woman told me a doctor had given her grandson an antibiotic after he had swallowed shoe polish!). If the problem is related to some sort of nutrient deficiency, however, all the synthetic chemicals in the world aren't going to solve the problem. The best they can do is take away the symptoms.
But they don't even do a very good job of that. Take, for example, a very prevalent complaint among Americans: extreme tension and nervousness. As we've seen, the hypertense individual is probably deficient in one or more of the B-complex vitamins, and usually eats too much protein, fat, salt and consumes too much caffeine. When she goes to the doctor, chances are good he doesn't ask anything about her diet and probably doesn't care. He just prescribes a tranquilizer; Valium is a big favorite, although there are plenty of others. So she takes the Valium, and it does indeed have a calming effect. But it has a lot of other effects as well. It makes her feel groggy, out of it, and just not herself. Her sleep is neither deep nor refreshing. When she wakes up, she feels drugged, and may need an amphetamine (which the doctor is only too happy to provide) to get her going again. Then she'll need another one, because she still has a vitamin deficiency. No amount of tranquilizers will repair a vitamin deficiency.
An investigation conducted by the Milwaukee Sentinel a few years back will serve to illustrate how overeager doctors are to hand out medicine. A Sentinel reporter received a physical examination from a doctor, and was found to be in perfect health. He then went to scores of doctors in the Milwaukee area, and complained of a sore throat.
The results of the study were shocking. The vast majority of the doctors confirmed that the fake sore throat was indeed real, and they prescribed dozens of different medicines for it. A few gave him antibiotics, and a couple even tried to have him hospitalized! Only a handful had the wisdom to say, "No, I don't see anything wrong. You're OK; go home." After the test, the reporter had himself examined privately again. Sure enough — he was still in perfect health.
You also gain distrust for the medical establishment when you learn how often they change their recommended "cures." Two hundred years ago, the favorite treatment was bloodletting. Surprisingly, the treatment worked in many cases. Bleeding is no longer in favor with doctors, but it has been replaced with treatments just as untenable. As recently as a decade ago, doctors all over the world were recommending a low-fiber diet for diverticulosis and colitis. Then, some five years ago, medical scientists in Great Britain declared that it was high-fiber, not low fiber, which was the cure for these intestinal diseases. Although the high-fiber theory was harshly critized at the time, most doctors in this country today feel that it's sound medical advice.
A more familiar example of the 180-degree turns of which medical science is capable is that of cholesterol. In the early '70s, people were warned that cholesterol was the primary cause of heart disease and should be avoided. Predictably, a multitude of new, low-cholesterol products crowded the supermarket shelves. In May, 1980, a report by the Food and Nutrition Board in Washington, D.C., declared that there was no satisfactory evidence linking dietary cholesterol with serum cholesterol, and that cholesterol presented no danger to the average healthy individual. Several years and millions of bottles of no-cholesterol vegetable oil after its first announcement, the medical establishment has come full circle.
Examples like these make it clear that we've got to take a new, more cautious attitude toward medicine and health care. We've got to learn that in order to feel well, we have to live well by eating fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes, whole grains, seeds, and drinking 7-8 glasses of good water daily and exercising. This simple formula will pay dividends.
With all this in mind, how often should a person seek medical treatment? The answer is a conditional one. People who are on a whole-food diet are generally in tune with their bodies. Since they don't abuse themselves with junk food, they know how well they should be feeling.
They've studied their own health, and paid attention to their own physical reactions. Consequently, when they're not feeling well, they can tell whether it's something serious that requires a doctor's advice. They realize that they themselves are limited, and that there's only so much they can do for themselves with good diet and food supplementation, within the wellness concept. They know that they are not omnipotent, and so they will seek medical care when they become aware that there's something significantly wrong or different going on in their body.
People who live on junk food and pay little attention to their bodies can't tell if they're really sick. Half of them run to the doctor with every little complaint, and the other half doesn't seek medical attention until they're nearly dead. So I would suggest first of all that you get in touch with yourself by adopting a healthful, careful, whole-foods diet. Then you'll be able to tell how much medical attention you need.
If you do decide to go to a doctor, treat him as you would a used car dealer—with caution. If his diagnosis is serious, don't be afraid to get a few more opinions. Chances are, you'll find that your prognosis is not as cut and dried as your doctor would have you believe.
The kind of doctor I recommend is one who will sit down with the patient and talk candidly about the problem. He will discuss the various alternative treatments and the effects of those alternatives, so that the person can decide for himself. The ideal doctor is not one who says dogmatically "This is unquestionably what you've got and my suggested treatment is the only way it can be cured." Instead, the best doctor treats the patient as a partner. Together, they will find a way back to health.
If you've been going to the same doctor for several years with the same complaint, and that doctor has never once asked you about your diet, then it's time to change doctors. A good doctor recognizes that nutrition is the foundation for good health, and he will insist on doing a complete nutritional profile on each patient. If the patient shows several symptoms of hypoglycemia, the doctor will order a glucose-tolerance test. The best doctor knows that his patients will never get well on junk food.
It is most encouraging to see that more and more doctors are becoming nutrition conscious. With luck, the coming years will see even more extensive reforms of the medical industry, reforms which can only help physician and patient alike.
People in a special situation, be it a serious ailment or an unusual lifestyle, need a special diet. Whenever I appear on radio or television, I'm most often asked questions like "What should I eat if I want to lose weight?" or "What vitamins should I be taking if I have heart trouble?" It's not surprising that people should be interested in such topics; after eating themselves into trouble, they search anxiously for someone to show them the road back to health.
Unfortunately, just as there exists no one "average" physical condition, there is no one "perfect" diet to solve every problem. Furthermore, a full discussion of all the factors that can go into determining a corrective diet for some condition would require volumes, and indeed many fine volumes have been written. But it is possible here to point out some of the major recommendations I have for people with common complaints.
Of course, the most burning question in the minds of most Americans is "How do I lose weight?" And no wonder— obesity strikes more than half of all Americans as they get older. Every year hundreds of new diet books flood the bookstores and supermarkets, yet most people end up heavier one year after starting a new diet than they were when they began it. What's going wrong?
The problem is that there's no quick fix for a weight problem. If it's taken you years of overeating to reach the weight you're at now, there's obviously no reason to expect to become slim again in a matter of weeks. Nor is there some temporary diet you can go on that will solve your problem for very long. Obesity is a way of life. Slimness, too, must be a way of life.
There's really very little advice one can give an overweight person about food that doesn't apply to everyone else, no matter what their condition. Those who wish to lose weight should simply eat less fat. They should eat whole, natural foods, fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, etc., that will satisfy them with fewer calories, and they should try conscientiously to control their cravings for junk.
Obese people should eat plenty of high-fiber foods. Because low-fiber foods move very slowly through the digestive system, the body has lots of time to absorb every last calorie from them. Foods that are high in fiber move more quickly through the digestive tract, thus leaving up to 20% of the calories in the food. Besides, an increase in fiber content makes food more filling.
Aren't whole-grain products higher in calories? Not really, despite what the calorie charts may tell you. When most foods are tested for caloric content, they are simply burned, and the resultant heat is measured. The problem is that when you burn whole wheat, you also burn the bran, which is not digested. Thus a laboratory test will show more calories in wholewheat bread than are actually available to the body.
In addition to whole, natural, high-flber foods, you'll want to make sure that you get plenty of certain vitamins and minerals that help the body burn fat. Linolenic acid (LNA) helps to burn saturated fats, as does iodine. Inositol can aid in the redistribution of body fat. LNA is found in flax and canola oil, walnuts in the shell, dark green leafy vegetables and cold water fish. You can get inositol from dried lima beans, cantaloupe, grapefruit, wheat germ and peanuts. Kelp is a good source of iodine.
But diet is only one part of weight loss, and I'm afraid that many dieters lose track of this. Not only must you modify your diet to lose weight, but you must also increase your level of activity. When you merely fast, the first cells to be taken out of storage are the protein cells, not the fat cells. When you mix proper diet with moderate exercise, you use up fat cells instead. So the key to successful weight loss is to eat less, eat natural, and get active.
One thing you should avoid is diet foods. Not only are they a nutritional disaster, they're a rip-off as well. The reason is that, in this country, a product labelled as a diet food must contain 40% fewer calories per serving than the food it replaces. Now this sounds good, but the real catch is that phrase, "per serving." What it means is that if the manufacturer can put less real food into a serving, he can market his product as a diet food. For instance, diet cheese has more air and water pumped into it than regular cheese, so that each serving really has less cheese in it. Similarly, they take a loaf of bread and slice it twice as thin as normal (they may also add some sawdust to give it some calorie-free bulk). Then they announce jubilantly that their new diet bread has only half the calories per serving as regular bread. "Light beer" has more water in it than regular beer. Then, to add insult to Injury, the Food Giants have the gall to charge substantially more for these flimsy "diet foods" than they charge for their regular products!
The sad truth is that diet foods are heavily processed and very nutrient-poor. Diet foods only make you hungrier. Instead of wasting your money on them, invest in satisfying, nutritionally-balanced natural foods.
Diabetics are given all sorts of diet advice, but most of it is either unbalanced or just plain foolish. Diabetics are taught to concentrate on the carbohydrate content of their meals, but this is really only a small part of the story. The diabetic's problem is that sugar is absorbed too quickly into the bloodstream for a ruined endocrine system to handle. It's obvious, then, that foods with a high-fiber content will aid the diabetic in utilizing sugars more effectively. Since high-fiber foods allow for slower sugar absorption, a diet of such foods will spare the diabetic the fast-absorption shock that low-fiber foods can bring.
Secondly, people with diabetes should be very selective about what kinds of carbohydrates they eat. They should avoid the simple, quickly-absorbed carbohydrates, such as sucrose and lactose monosaccharides. In fact, many diabetics who have gone on a sugar-free diet have found that they could substantially reduce their daily insulin requirement. Diabetics should emphasize the complex carbohydrates, such as the starches found in whole-grain breads, squash, whole potatoes, and so on. For both high-fiber and complex carbohydrates, natural foods are the best prescription.
Diabetics should be sure to get plenty of chromium in their diets, because the mineral is important in the metabolization of sugar. Brewer's yeast, whole wheat and chicken are good sources of chromium. Zinc and potassium, two minerals that are frequently lost in food processing, are also important for diabetics.
Many people who suffer from diabetes are put on high-protein diets. Doctors reason that, because protein is digested more slowly than the simple carbohydrates, that protein is therefore more easily handled by the diabetic. And it's true that protein is used gradually by the body, although not as gradually as are the complex carbohydrates. The difficulty is that, for Americans, protein means meat, and meat has a very high fat content. As a result, most diabetics end up on a high-fat diet, and not surprisingly, they also end up with heart disease. Diabetics should recognize that they need no more protein than other people. Instead, they need the complex carbohydrates and high fiber found in vegetables and fruits. It is important to eat small meals of whole, unrefined foods so the system is not overloaded. Five or six small meals are much easier on the body than three large meals daily.
One of the most psychological problems that besets diabetics is that their diet is always thought of in terms of restrictions. "No more candy," they are told, "no more soda, no more sweet desserts, no more sugar in your coffee." They begin to feel persecuted, penned in, and usually end up "cheating." What these individuals need to learn is that there are many, many foods they can eat, foods that are delicious and satisfying, foods that will help them back to wellness. The fact is that the dietary suggestions I have for diabetics are ones from which everyone can benefit.
Heart disease is one malady for which I strongly recommend a doctor's regular advice. An important point here is that, while there are many things an individual with heart trouble should be doing, it is important that he do them gradually, so as to avoid putting too much stress on his system. A good doctor can let you know when you're going too fast or, importantly, when you're going too slow.
But here, as always, it is crucial to find a doctor with nutrition consciousness. Your doctor should realize that a good nutritional program, stressing whole fruits, vegetables, seeds and whole grains can do wonders for the heart-disease patient. Secondly, you should avoid doctors who rely on nutritional absolutes. If he tells you that eating eggs caused your problem and forbids you to eat another one, write him off. If he says that you absolutely cannot ever have another gram of salt in your diet, find another doctor. Such dietary extremes are not necessary for recovery, and have never been shown to help heart patients. Count grams of fat and keep the total to no more than 15-20% of your diet — or about 40-50 grams of fat daily. Eat no fried foods and let your fat be from natural sources such as seeds, nuts in the shell, virgin olive oil and an occasional avocado.
Don't be afraid to "shop around" for the right heart specialist. Check out his bedside manner; is he calm, relaxed and efficient? Or is he anxious, rushed, and always late? If he has a helter-skelter way about him, you know he's probably a prime candidate for a heart attack himself! Talk to the patients he's treated. How many have survived and have gotten better? How many grew worse? How many are dead? Checking a doctor's success rate is one of the best ways to discover whether his advice will help you.
Find a heart specialist who stresses 7-8 glasses of pure water daily and exercise — one who, in fact, insists on it. No heart patient can possibly recover unless he begins to rebuild his cardiovascular system through moderate, careful exercise. Any doctor who lets his patients off easy when it comes to exercise is doing them no favor.
There are many vitamins and minerals that help the body cope effectively with stress and also aid in fat metabolism, and these will be of great help to the heart patient who is trying to clear his circulatory system of cholesterol build up. Among them are Omega-3, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, lecithin, and the B vitamins. The best way to get all of these is —you guessed it—to eat a balanced diet of whole, natural foods, with supplementation, if necessary.
Cancer is a very controversial disease. No one is sure of its cause, and there is no cure that has been shown to be 100% effective. Nor is a special diet always a cure. But it's clear that many cancer patients have been helped by a wholefoods diet. Some have actually gone into remission. Quite a few such cases have been seen among those on the "Laetrile diet," and most doctors believe the diet is more effective than the laetrile itself. People on the diet eat everything raw—raw fruits, raw vegetables, sprouts, etc. Thus they are assured of getting the fullest possible supply of nutrients to help their bodies fight the disease. Even when they are not cured, cancer patients who have gone on a raw-foods diet have at least been more comfortable and functional and have lived longer than those who remained on junk foods. The real answer is to consume whole foods (as nature grows them) to help prevent the tumors from developing in the first place. Prevention is much more practical than trying to cure full blown cancer. Megavitamin treatment often has helped in cancer cases. Dr. Linus Pauling has been especially successful in treating patients with massive doses of vitamin C, which have been very helpful in prolonging the lives of cancer victims. And scientists believe that the mineral selenium, found in whole wheat, can actually inhibit the action of carcinogens in the bloodstream.
But most importantly, if a high-nutrition diet can be helpful in curing cancer, think how wonderfully effective it must be in preventing cancer. Once cancer is contracted, it is very difficult to reverse. But if you start today to get your body in the best possible condition with a natural-foods diet, cancer may never steal a single year from your life.
It's very important that a pregnant woman give her unborn child the very best nutrition. The supply of nutrients the child receives as its tissues are first forming will affect its physical and mental development throughout its life. Undernourished babies, especially one's that don't get enough Omega-3, often end up with heart trouble later in life. And it is very important that the delicate process not be hampered by poisons. Every year a new processed-food additive is found to be harmful to fetal development. In addition, poisons secreted from decaying compacted fecal matter in the mother's intestine can hurt the child. This is why it's terribly crucial that the mother start from day one to eat high-fiber, organically grown natural foods. Cigarette smoking and alcohol and caffeine consumption should be cut out entirely. The woman should exercise as long as she can — it will ensure a better blood supply to the child, and make the delivery much easier. In fact, it's a good idea for a woman to get herself in good shape as much as a year or two before she plans to become pregnant, so as to give her child the best possible start in life. My recommendation for a natural fresh whole foods diet is doubled for the pregnant lady. The elderly should realize that their ability to absorb all of the nutrients from their food is greatly diminished as they grow older. They simply cannot help the fact that their digestive systems are not as efficient as they once were. You can't turn back the clock, but you can eat foods that are as high in nutrient content as possible. It is especially important not to fill your diet with high-sugar/high-fat food; it will rob your body of the nutrients you're trying so hard to utilize.
As a person grows older, he does less work and is less active, and so his calorie requirement diminishes. Unfortunately, his old eating habits remain and obesity is usually the result. Senior citizens must be careful to limit their calorie intake while ensuring a good supply of nutrients. The answer, of course, is to eat natural foods.
Exercise is also very important for the older person. Nowhere is it written that you must stop being active after you retire, and a moderate exercise program will keep you feeling wonderful and add years to your life. Careful, though; your endurance goals will have to be more modest than those of a younger person (though not too modest), and you'll have to approach them more gradually. But don't let that discourage you. Natural foods and moderate exercise will keep you alert and feeling young for many, many years.
Athletes are prone to many false ideas about diet. They are told to eat plenty of meat for protein, and to eat lots of sugar for "quick energy." In fact, Gatorade, a drink marketed especially for athletes, contains enormous amounts of sucrose and glucose. By now, of course, we've seen how fraudulent such prescriptions are. Meat is an inefficient source of protein, and too much protein can create a buildup of toxins in the bloodstream, and can cause the body to lose calcium in the urine. Sugar can also sap the body's strength and assault the endocrine system.
What athletes need is a sensible, natural foods diet. They should especially emphasize fruits, because fruits supply potassium that they lose when they perspire. Also, fruit can deliver a fine pick-me-up when the body is tired and nutrient-depleted. Whole-grain breads will provide them with all the right kinds of protein and vitamins they need for good muscle maintenance. Remember Jim Fixx, the guru of marathon runners a few years ago, who said runners could eat all the junk food they wanted. Well, he died of a heart attack while running. That should prove that even long-distance runners have to be careful about what they eat. So remember, athletes: Fresh, whole natural foods are the real breakfast—and lunch and dinner — of champions.
After reading a chapter such as this, you may be thinking, "This fellow Stitt sounds like a broken record! Can't he say anything but 'natural foods'?" Actually, no one should be too surprised that I recommend natural foods for so many different types of people. Although we are all biological individuals, our metabolic processes —in fact, the metabolisms of all animals— are almost identical. I suppose the disbelief in the curative power of natural food comes in part from the fact that we're accustomed to miracle drugs and high-technology treatments for our physical problems. We like things to be complex and exotic. We tend to laugh off simple solutions.
Well, natural foods aren't complex or even very exotic, but they are exciting. They are the key to the proper functioning of the human body. Fresh, whole natural foods can help you fight off disease, improve your memory, lose weight, rev up your sex life, and get everything you deserve from life. They're cheaper, more sensible, and even more convenient than the processed, poisoned fabrications you've been getting by on all your life. Yes, I think whole, natural foods, in all their variety, are really something to shout about, and I've dedicated my life to doing just that.
This, then, is my ultimate prescription: I want you to start today to take control of your own life, your own diet. Fight back against the Food Giants. Say "no" to their plan to trap you into physical addiction and economic slavery. Explore all the marvelous food experiences you've never dreamed of, and rediscover the true Joy of eating. I want you to begin, right now, to live.
1. "Average of Annual
Death Rates for Selected Causes," 1980 Information Please Almanac, p. 810
2. Norman Cousins, Anatomy of an Illness (New York: W.W. Norong & Company, 1979).