You're as Young as Your Arteries
( Originally Published 1956 )
"KEEP talking," said Bill. "Your explanation makes the best sense I've heard yet."
"There are two divisions of one of the theories advanced by scientists to explain why human beings develop atherosclerosis:
"1. A high-cholesterol diet is consumed year after year, which piles up lesions in the arteries.
"2. It is the result of a metabolic fault, an inability of the body to handle the normal cholesterol and fat intake properly. This metabolic fault is especially aggravated in the presence of high-starch foods. In other words, starches and fats.
And what is the biggest contributing factor in the failure of the body to complete the breakdown of the giant cholesterol molecules?
"The wrong diet!"
"It all adds up to something," said Bill, "that I wish I'd known about a lot earlier. Now, here's what I want to know: Can it still help me? or is it too late?"
"Of course it isn't too late," I said. "The ultimate results depend largely on you. How's your survival quotient, Bill." "What do you mean?" he asked.
"Just this: How much do you really want to live, to regain your health? Do you have the stamina of spirit, the will power, to give up your old way of eating? Are you going to feel sorry for yourself every time you pass up fried foods and rich desserts? Or will it be a challenge to you to acquire new tastes, new interests in life, and, most of all, new energy and vigor?"
"You're holding out a new lease on life to me," said Bill. "I'd be a fool not to do everything possible."
Just a modest reduction in eating fats apparently prevented one out of five potential coronaries in Sweden. Americans eat much more fat per person per day than the people of any other nation. And the mortality rate among our men and women over forty is higher than the death rate of corresponding age groups in many European countries.
We have the highest standard of living in the world. Yet as to life expectancy after forty, we rank seventeenth—the very bottom of the list—among the seventeen countries that keep such records. Not included in this ranking are statistics reflected daily in our newspapers: the shocking number of men in their thirties and early forties who drop dead from coronaries!
Doctors used to believe in putting patients on a rice and fruit diet to cut down the amount of cholesterol in the blood. But they did not find this too satisfactory. For the body must have protein, vitamins, and minerals to function properly. Any diet which leaves out these essentials is starvation fare. We cannot live without adequate nutrition. Eliminate, instead, the troublemakers—white sugar, starches, and fats.
Dr. Ancel Keys, of the University of Minnesota, a noted nutrition authority says: "There is overwhelming evidence that the customary United States diet is the major factor in heart disease, the No. 1 cause of death in this country. This high incidence of heart disease is relatively new and represents the rise of a great, new menace to our nation's health. The higher the consumption of fat, the higher the concentration of cholesterol or beta-lipoproteins, and the greater the tendency to atherosclerosis. What affects cholesterol metabolism is the diet itself. Any dietary change which alters the amount of fat to be transported produces changes in the lipoprotein fraction."
Today the average American secures nearly 50 per cent of his calories from the fats in his diet. Forty years ago his grand-father got only go per cent of his calories in fats.
When cholesterol was first discovered to be the cause of atherosclerosis and gall bladder trouble, many patients were asked to forego completely such wholesome and necessary foods as eggs, cheese, meats, milk, and cream. However, a diet of rice and fruit, or any other inadequate diet, can only result eventually in weakening the patient.
I quote from my book Eat and Grow Younger: "It is only when fats are eaten to excess, or when they are combined with high carbohydrate meals, that they pile up in all those unwanted and dangerous places-around the waist, in the liver, around the heart and on the inner walls of arteries. . . . By eliminating all high-starch foods (which, incidentally, supply very little, if any, of the essential minerals and vitamins), you can force your body to call upon its liberal deposits of fat for needed heat and energy. This is the same principle that under-lies a reducing diet—make the body burn its fat deposits instead of keeping it refueled each day with over-supplies of energy-producing carbohydrates. . . .
"Isn't it more logical to eliminate the artificial, high-starch foods in the diet—foods that we can live very nicely without and be far healthier for the omitting—than to take away certain valuable foods like eggs, cheese, butter, liver and gland meats . . . which are rich sources of urgently needed vitamins and minerals?"
Dr. Keys verifies this: "The pre-formed cholesterol, such as you find in eggs and cream, is not the trouble-maker. Troublemaking cholesterol, as described by Gofman and his associates, are the giant molecules of cholesterol—the type which can cause gallstones or atherosclerosis. The body manufactures this type of cholesterol from improperly digested fats."
Atherosclerosis and high blood pressure are almost unknown among the Eskimos. Yet they eat large amounts of blubber, or whale fat. How do they escape disastrous consequences? Isn't it because of their high-protein, low-starch diet?
Dr. George R. Herrman, of Galveston, Texas, reports: "Choline, methionine and inositol administered to patients with hypercholesteremia resulted in the lowering of the blood cholesterol levels."
Choline, inositol, and methionine are needed in the diet to help prevent cholesterol from becoming lazy and settling down in the arteries. We find an abundance of choline and inositol in lecithin. The protein foods give us methionine. The high-protein diet of the Eskimos is rich in all three of these lipotropic agents!
Choline, a fat-distributing agent, is a wonderful aid in promoting normal distribution of food fat throughout the body and thereby preventing the stockpiling of fat in undesirable places, notably in hardening arteries and in a fat-clogged liver. The human requirement for choline is assumed to be about half a gram, or 50o milligrams, daily.
Choline and inositol are found in whole grains and in most high-protein foods: lean beef and lamb, organ meats—liver, kidneys, heart, brains, sweetbreads—eggs, nonfat milk, cheese, and seed cereal. Why, then, do we eat so much refined and processed food from which most of these substances have disappeared?
When animals are deprived of choline in their diets, they develop atherosclerosis, hypertension, cancer, fatty livers, or edema, or show retarded growth.
In a Los Angeles study Dr. Lester M. Morrison and Dr. Guillermo F. Gonzalez gave choline therapy to 230 patients with hardening of the arteries. They found that the mortality rate among the choline-treated patients was only 12 per cent compared to the 30 per cent death toll in a control group, not treated with choline.
Lecithin is the richest known source of both choline and inositol. Every man should use lecithin daily for as long as he lives! The importance of this will bear repeating again and again. I feel it is so vital to all mankind that I cannot pass lightly over the matter. I shall discuss it at length in another chapter.
Methionine, valuable as a fat-dissolver in its own right, seems to act as a catalyst for choline and inositol—speeding up their function. In other words, a little methionine makes choline and inositol go a lot farther in doing tremendous good! Methionine is one of the ten essential amino acids—the building blocks of the human body. Where do you suppose we find it? The complete proteins, of course: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, and nonfat milk.
Are you beginning to realize the value of a high-protein diet?
Inositol is related in its functions to choline. Where do we find it? In lecithin, raw sugar, and whole grains. But our re-fining and milling processes give us white sugar and white flour, and the two important sources of inositol that our grandfathers knew are lost to us.
In animal experiments inositol was removed from the diet. The result: Hamsters experienced reproductive disorders, chickens developed softening of the brain, and mice became completely hairless over various parts of their bodies.
Now, I'm not suggesting to you bald-headed men that inositol will grow hair. Instead, let me stress the fact that the lack of inositol can cause irreparable damage. I merely give you the facts. Let them speak for themselves.
Nutritionists have also concluded that inositol is the substance which assists the heart muscles secure a constant supply of energy.
Beef heart contains more inositol in an average serving than any other meat. There are 25o milligrams in one slice. But how often do you eat beef heart? If you're the average American male, never. Or hardly ever.
Do you drink a lot of tea or coffee? "Not much," you say. "About two cups for breakfast—maybe three. I guess the same for lunch and dinner."
What about the inevitable coffee breaks, midmorning and midafternoon? Did you forget about those? What does it all add up to? Six . . . eight . . . ten cups a day?
Then listen to what Dr. Walter H. Eddy of Providence, Rhode Island, says: "The large amounts of caffeine which Americans consume in their tea and coffee may create an inositol deficiency." In noteworthy experiments he discovered that dogs consuming commercial coffee acquired a paralysis that could be cured only with inositol treatments.
"If you're willing to work for that new lease on life," I told Bill, "you can have it. Begin now, with your very next meal, by putting yourself on a high-protein, low-starch, low-sugar diet for the rest of your life."
"What about this stuff lecithin? Do I still need to take it if I stick to a high-protein diet?" he asked.
"Yes, you do, Bill," I said. "You must have the amounts of choline and inositol it contains. You should take, without fail, a teaspoon of lecithin three times a day. Or if it's more convenient, one tablespoonful once a day. It's simple to take: It can be stirred into your tomato juice, milk, or even water. If you prefer eating it to drinking it, just sprinkle it on your solid foods."
What about your new lease on life? Are you interested in doing something about it—or just in reading about it? Unfortunately, you can read all the good advice in the world, and it won't help you.
Unless you do something about it!
When will you start? Now? . . . today? . . . tomorrow? Why not make it today?
All right, so you start on your high-protein, low-fat, low-sugar diet today. You take your lecithin and your vitamins and minerals faithfully. You begin to feel better almost immediately.
There's no denying it, you'll have temptations. Your progress will depend on how well you can resist them. What about the times you'll be invited out to dinner? What can you do about all your well-meaning friends who stuff themselves with fats, starches, and sugar—and want you to keep them company in the misery of their overweight and indigestion?
Avoid eating with them, if possible. Elude them, if necessary. If you find yourself trapped, there are ways and means. Some drastic. But the end justifies the means.
Take this situation for instance: You're asked to a friend's house for dinner and the hostess loads your plate with fried food. Run, don't walk, from the dining room. If you can't get away without tripping over somebody, remain quietly but refuse to eat. When the lady who asked you to dinner demands an explanation, give it to her:
"Look, honey, why didn't you serve me a baked Idaho instead of eight greasy French fries? Don't you know that's sixty-five fat calories more, which both of us could do without? And look at this table, groaning—and I do mean literally—with hot biscuits, jelly, fried eggplant, and fried chicken floating in gravy Is this ever a real grease-trap meal!"
"At one time," your hostess may say haughtily, "this was exactly what you liked best to eat."
"But not any more," you assure her. "Why don't you learn to cook for health? Cut out all the fried foods and rich gravies. Why don't you broil, bake, or roast, instead of frying?"
If the lady has a temper she'll probably shout at you: "Why don't you drop dead!"
"That's just what I would do," you tell her, "if I ate this fatty, greasy dinner."
With that remark you'd better exit. Hurriedly. Before she throws the bowl of gravy at you.
Of course, that's an extreme case. It would show, however, that you were a reformed character, taking the business of your health seriously and not to be dissuaded easily.
There are less belligerent ways of asserting yourself. If you're the type to combine finesse with firmness, that approach is recommended. But the idea is this: Take a staunch, unswerving stand.
The reputation you gain for stubbornness may be your own —but so will the life you save!