Don't Let Tension Defeat You
( Originally Published 1956 )
DURING OUR talk John's tense body had relaxed slightly, and now hope was struggling with the despair in his eyes.
"I'm willing," he said, "to do anything that's humanly possible to get back my health and peace of mind. Just tell me what I should do."
"You know, John, the Greeks did have a word for it! Over two thousand years ago the Greek physician Hippocrates said: `Your food should be your medicine.' That's true in any case, but particularly so in yours. You'll have to revise your way of eating. Get the habit of eating properly and regularly. Cut out your unbalanced, high-carbohydrate meals. They don't give you enough strength and energy to combat your difficulties."
"But I eat a lot," said John.
"No doubt you do. But you don't eat enough of the right food. Malnutrition is a major disease. You can literally starve your body while eating plenty—of the wrong food. Eighteen per cent of your total body weight is pure protein. The chief building material of your body is protein. It takes protein to make protein, and protein to repair protein."
A protein deficiency is a contributor to edema or water-logging, since the extremely delicate balance of water in blood and tissues is chiefly dependent on the blood proteins.
The duty of the blood proteins is to maintain sufficient pressure on the inside of the blood-vessel walls to counteract the pressure from the tissue outside the walls. If the blood protein is up to normal, the water in the blood cannot escape into the surrounding tissues and cause the body to become water-logged. Just a few years ago such a water-logged condition was called "dropsy." Nutritional science has discovered that high-protein diets both prevent and help clear up this potentially serious ailment.
I looked at John's bulging waistline. "You wouldn't have those spare tires around your middle if you'd been eating a high-protein diet and exercising."
"But I don't have time to exercise," he protested.
"That's no excuse," I told him. "You can certainly get in some walking, if only to and from work. You'll have to do a little moderate exercise and cut out the fats and starches if you really want to get rid of your high blood pressure. Nobody else can do it for you. It's entirely up to you."
Do you want to prolong your life? Your mental and physical vigor, your virility, your zest for living and sense of adventure? You can do it! Why should you have to grow old prematurely, become broken-down, sick, and defeated? That isn't the life you visualized for yourself. What can you do about it?
Why not start a planned diet?
"A planned diet!" you may protest. "What do I know about planning a diet?" You don't have to plan. It's all been done for you. In a nutshell your planned diet should keep these points uppermost:
1. High-grade proteins in abundance. You'll never have to worry about getting hungry if you eat plenty of foods rich in high-grade proteins.
2. Minerals without fail. Get them from the foods you eat, of course, but don't count on that 100 per cent. Get extra amounts of minerals from supplementary sources as a sort of mineral insurance.
3. Vitamins in their rightful place. Again, as in the case of minerals, try to get your vitamins from foods as much as possible. But don't kid yourself too much about that, or you'll be shortchanging your body. And we don't want that. There-fore, find a good well-balanced vitamin formula and use it. Often such a formula will also furnish all the supplementary minerals you need—sort of killing two birds with one stone! A combination vitamin-mineral formula that I personally find thoroughly satisfactory is called Nutri-Time. You might look into it for your own use.
4. Lecithin every day. And, man—I mean every day! No excuses, no stalls, no maybes. It is a new wonder food that no man should be without. We'll see why as we go along.
Just what, exactly, do you suppose is meant by No. 1 on our list, "high-grade proteins in abundance"? I certainly don't want to leave you high-and-dry on that one!
You like meat, don't you? Then listen to what Dr. H. L. Marriott says in the British Medical Journal: "If you eat as much as you like of lean meat, poultry, game, liver, kidney, heart, sweetbreads and fresh fish (boiled, baked or broiled), poached or boiled eggs, vegetables (without salt or fatty seasonings), salads (without fatty salad dressings), and fresh or frozen fruits, you are never hungry." Dr. Marriott recommends, for your liquids, clear soups—broth or bouillon—and plenty of skim milk—either fresh or reconstituted from the powdered variety that is so readily available.
"What about counting calories?" 'asked John.
"If you eat the foods we've been discussing—the high protein diet—you won't have to worry about calories. Your body will be forced to use up the stored deposits of cholesterol and fat in the arteries and tissues."
Dr. Tom D. Spies, who has done much valuable research on nutrition and metabolism, writes in the Journal of the American Medical Association: "The use of nutrients to replenish tissues and to prevent disease is the physician's primary problem." According to Dr. Spies, the physician knows that the nutrients for the body must be supplied from the outside. No statistics can determine the loss, and no words can describe the waste, that occurs when physicians do not meet this challenge.
If you are under a type of stress resulting from metabolic disturbances this may result in a loss from your store of body protein. Sometimes the loss is as high as forty-four to sixty-two grams of protein daily. This must be restored to the body. How? By an adequate diet. High-protein, naturally.
If the excitement, anger, frustration, sudden danger, or prolonged anxiety have put your body under stress, you need to replenish the body protein that these emotions use up.
Do you need food for heat and energy? Protein supplies it. It acts as a complete source for meeting body metabolic needs. Fats and carbohydrates cannot be converted into amino acids —the building blocks for tissue repair. Protein can be converted into glycogen or glucose, as well as into fat substances, to meet any sudden need for body-energy material. Protein can pinch-hit for starches and sugars, but starches and sugars can't substitute for protein!
The action of protein is specific and dynamic. It stimulates tissue activity and makes possible the superhuman efforts of athletes. Protein was what Dr. Roger Bannister and John Michael Landy had to have to run their four-minute miles.
Let's detour a bit and jump to No. 4 on our list, "lecithin every day." I want to edge in a little ahead of vitamins and minerals, because you already know at least something about them—whereas lecithin may be quite new and strange to you. But it shouldn't be!
I said in a preceding chapter, the importance of lecithin in the diet of every man will bear repeating again and again! And, where lecithin is concerned that really goes, brother!
Are you interested in sex? Don't bother to answer!
Just remember that your sexual organs demand liberal supplies of lecithin to manufacture normal quantities of youth-preserving hormones.
Your nervous system needs lecithin to aid in generating nerve electricity.
Your brain needs lecithin since this organ is approximately 28 per cent lecithin—if you are sane. When mental illness strikes, the lecithin content of the brain drops to less than half this amount.
Edward R. Hewitt, in an unsolicited and freely donated testimonial, exhaustively discusses his own personal experiences with lecithin as far back as his student days in Berlin in 1891, and the early and later developments in medical research, especially in the prevention or alleviation of atherosclerosis, coronary thrombosis, etc.
At the ripe old age of eighty, Hewitt was something of a phenomenon with his doctors, since his blood pressure "is from 125 to 130 over 85, with my arteries showing no signs of hardening." He continues, in part:
"It must be well understood that lecithin is not a drug, but a food product which has no curative effects in itself. It simply furnishes some of those materials which the body needs for the growth and renewal of its cells. Lecithin has been found to be missing in the usual diets of many persons because it does not exist in our regular foods in sufficient quantities for the best function of the body. It is often for this reason that lecithin shows tremendous effects in so many different bodily ailments."
No. 2 on our list of essentials for a planned diet was "minerals without fail." Minerals help protein accomplish its task of repairing and replacing your body cells. Minerals regulate everything in your body, from eyesight to sex. Yet, they are perhaps the most neglected, haphazardly obtained nutrients in our American diet.
Approximately thirty different minerals have been identified as components of the human body. A few of them may be familiar to you: the big two—calcium and phosphorus; also iron, copper, iodine, and sodium, of course. But what about potassium, chlorine, manganese, silicon, sulfur, magnesium, zinc, cobalt, boron, bromine, and all the others? What do you know about these and the foods that contain them?
A research team of the National Academy of Sciences, headed by Dr. Walter B. Cannon, has emphasized that the minerals potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium are essential in the diet to enable the body to make proper use of body-building protein food. This team discovered that by omitting potassium from the diet, you can invite congestive heart failure. They found in their experiments that dead tissue developed within the heart muscles six days after the omission of potassium from the diet.
Dr. C. Ward Crampton, of New York City, noted authority on the diseases of older people, made this report to the New York State Legislative Committee on Nutrition: "The fore-most nutritional defects in the mature and aging are calcium, iron and protein. Seventy-five per cent of the men suffer a lack of one or more."
Dr. Crampton pointed out that the American diet is more deficient in calcium than any other food element. Yet this mineral, so important to your blood, can be obtained in abundance in nonfattening powdered skim milk.
"Don't make the mistake of rushing out and buying calcium tablets," I warned John. "Calcium taken alone may accumulate in the joints instead of being properly distributed throughout the body. If you're to derive all the benefits from it, it should be taken in combination with other nutriments. The best thing to do is to buy a mineral supplement that contains all the minerals needed by the cells of your body."
" `Minerals without fail,' " said John. "I won't forget that after all you've told me."
"Now we come to No. 3: `vitamins in their rightful place.' Dr. William P. Emerson considers the role of vitamins so important in the treatment of hypertension that he says simply, `omit all nonvitamin food.' That, in effect, is just what I've been telling you, John."
"Is there anything special about vitamins that I should know?" asked John.
"Yes, John," I said. "You should certainly know about vitamin E, since it's especially important in the prevention and control of high blood pressure."
"Vitamin E," said John, "is a fairly new one to me. And I didn't know it had anything to do with my case. Maybe you'd better tell me about it."
Vitamin E is a dilator of blood vessels. It opens up new pathways in the damaged circulation and by-passes blocks produced by clot and hardened arteries. Vitamin E, formerly known as a powerful stimulant to tired or diseased muscles, has been found in recent experiments to be amazingly beneficial to the heart as well as the blood vessels.
The reason? The heart, of course, is a muscle, frequently tired and often overworked. Vitamin E feeds the muscle tissues, and is an excellent heart stimulant.
The usefulness of vitamin E is not confined to any one type of heart disease. Heart-tissue starvation caused by hardening of the arteries, coronary occlusion, angina pectoris, hypertensive heart disease—all these have been treated with vitamin E, the therapeutic results ranging from "some relief" to "remarkable improvement."
Vitamin E is found in wheat germ, which unfortunately is milled out of flour, in the skin of root vegetables, which is lost in peeling, and in the outer leaves of leafy vegetables, which are seldom eaten. For treatment of the heart, it should be taken in capsules containing not less than 100 International Units of vitamin E, in addition to whatever other vitamins may be used.
Vitamin C governs the rate at which cholesterol forms in the arteries, and is an important agent in the reduction of high blood pressure. Wrote Dr. J. C. Paterson in an article on coronary thrombosis in the Canadian Medical Association Journal: "Evidence shows a Vitamin C deficiency makes the capillary walls fragile and more easily subject to rupture, hemorrhage and occurrence of blood clots. Smoking destroys this valuable vitamin as well as constricting the arteries."
Vitamins assist proteins in turning your food into body-building materials. But they cannot do their work alone. Vitamins, proteins, and minerals combine to form an invincible team against illness and infection.
The subject of vitamins, minerals, and protein could easily fill this book. It has, in fact, filled many of them. I have treated the subject extensively in Eat Your Troubles Away and other books.
All right. The case rests. Can you doubt any longer the importance of a high-protein diet, ample vitamins and minerals . . . and lecithin?
Now, let's look into the stress theory.
"John," I said, "did you ever see a show called Finian's Rainbow?"
"No," said John, looking startled at my seemingly irrelevant remark. "Why?"
"There's a song in it that says something to this effect: 'If I can't fondle the hand I'm fond of, I'll fondle the hand at hand.' "
John grinned a little. "Surely you're not suggesting that I hold hands with my customers?"
"Hardly that," I said. "I am suggesting this: If you don't like your job, you must, for the sake of your health, either learn to like it or else quit and get another job. Your nervous tension, anxiety, and worry tend to increase your blood pressure."
"I can't quit the job," said John. "It's my father-in-law's business."
"Is that what causes your feeling of insecurity?" I asked. "Trying to do things the way you think he would do them?"
"I guess maybe it is," said John. "He has some pretty definite ideas about how he wants things."
"Aren't you running the business now?" I asked. "And don't you have any new ideas of your own you'd like to inaugurate?"
"Yes," said John. "I sure do. Only I've been afraid to try them."
Fear, anger, and anxiety are some of the emotions that stimulate high blood pressure and disturb the sympathetic nervous system.
Harboring resentment or frustration can be equally harmful. The stress caused by pent-up resentment and unresolved frustration is dangerous—a veritable emotional time bomb.
What can be done about it? You can't go through life telling everybody off unless you want to lose friends and alienate people. Yet you need to get rid of those old hates and fears, the stored-up resentments and bottled-up emotions.
The African natives use magic. They stick pins in the effigy of the enemy, with serene faith in their strategy. They are confident that before sunset, sunrise, or whenever, the hated one will get his comeuppance. They've done all they can. It's in the laps of the gods. With this simple, though unscientific, solution the natives remain a relaxed, happy-go-lucky people.
A famous psychiatrist cured a union boss of his emotional frustration and high blood pressure. How? It was easy. By letting him throw darts at a certain target—the company president's picture.
But you're not an African native. Nor yet a union boss. You can't go around sticking pins in people—or effigies. You can't even throw a decent dart. You might miss the target and add a sense of inadequacy to your other emotions. What can you do?
When Charles Dickens was a lad he was forced to work in a warehouse. The conditions under which he labored made him so angry that he later wrote novels which stirred the English to reform.
The trick is to put your emotions to work. Harness them and wear them out with physical activity. Find a better way of doing your job. Talk things out with your wife or an understanding friend. Look up some odd jobs around the house that require hammering. That's as good as dart throwing, besides being useful.
Read a mystery at bedtime for diversion and relaxation. But first, take a walk, breathing in the fresh air deeply and rhythmically. You'll feel your tensions silently stealing away.
Dr. Paul Dudley White, the heart specialist, recommends walking, golfing, and other moderate exercise. He says that the circulation of the blood is definitely improved by exercise, no matter how mild.
What about drugs for high blood pressure? Dr. Robert Sterling Palmer, assistant clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, calls the use of drugs a shame. He agrees with my teachings when he says that the best treatment consists of diet.
Here are the drugs that are causing fifteen Americans to abandon common sense: reser pine meprobamate. Remember the names so that you will never take them.
Reserpine has unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous, side effects, and is a drug used to quiet noisy, un-co-operative mental patients to make them more adaptable to psychiatric treatment. It has largely replaced electroconvulsive shock therapy. Vitamin E has been found to have the same tranquilizing effect as this drug.
Equanil is claimed to do for the merely neurotic what other drugs do for the psychotic. Be safe instead of sorry; take lecithin with vitamins and minerals, instead.
Meprobamate is the latest don't-give-a-damn medicine. Under the trade name Equanil it has become the fastest-selling pacifier in America for the frustrated and frenetic. This drug is used for treating walk-in neurotics rather than locked-in psychotics. The demand is so great that the supply cannot keep up with it. In Los Angeles alone, druggists turn away more orders than they can fill, and the arrival of a new shipment is an event—huge banners are hung in the store windows proclaiming that prescriptions can now be filled.
The professional huckstering of these drugs is unsafe. The hypertensive may be lulled into drugging his tensions, when he should be taking steps to eliminate the causes.
The consensus of many doctors is that diet is highly effective, even in malignant hypertension, which is the most dangerous.
"You know, John," I said, "that this is a lifetime battle you're fighting. What are you going to do to win it?"
"Just what you've told me," said John with determination. "A high-protein diet, minerals and vitamins, lecithin, mild exercise, and a new outlook on life."
"What about your father-in-law's business?" I asked.
"I'm running the business now," said John. "I'll meet its
problems with ideas of my own, and have some fun doing it.
And do you know something else I've learned from you?" "No . . . what?"
"Somehow along the way I'd almost forgotten it," John continued, "but—life really is for living—isn't it?"