What People Are Saying About
Never Be Sick Again . . .
“Raymond Francis will give you the information you require— and if you combine it with inspiration, self-esteem and self-love, you will accomplish wonders. Take your health into your own hands—choose life and Never Be Sick Again!”
—Bernie Siegel, M.D.
author of Love, Medicine & Miracles
and Prescriptions for Living
“The world is a better place for Raymond Francis and his work. He brings hope and inspiration to those who seek the path out of illness to sustained health and well- being. For the many health mysteries caused by nutritional deficits, overload of toxins and neuro-immuno-hormonal dysfunctions, this book is a necessary and joyful treasure.”
—Russ Jaffe, M.D.
fellow, Health Studies Collegium fellow, National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry
“You must read this inspiring story and learn how one man overcame his own illness to become a fine educator in the science of health maintenance. With our current medical system failing miserably to treat or prevent a wide variety of illnesses, this book is a timely contribution.”
—Hyla Cass, M.D.
author of Natural Highs and
St. John’s Wort: Nature’s Blues Buster
Raymond Francis’s brush with death as a patient draws the reader to appreciate the lessons he has learned. Never Be Sick Again paints a clear picture of the choices that you can make to attain a healthier life. With the skill of a master teacher, he places these choices within reach.”
—Richard Kunin, M.D.
president, Society for Orthomolecular Health Medicine author of Mega-Nutrition
“Never Be Sick Again presents a revolutionary new understanding of health and disease. Raymond Francis empowers readers and puts them back in charge of their health. This important book offers keen insights into the shifts in thinking about health; it is a prelude to what medicine in the future must become.”
—Al Lemerande Jr., M.D.
director of medical programs, Advanced Physicians Medical Group
author of Dynamic Health Through Nutrition
“Reading Never Be Sick Again is like learning health in one lesson. This book cuts through the complexity of health and disease with the simple, yet revolutionary, concept of one disease, two causes and six pathways. This is future medicine now!”
—Len Saputo, M.D.
medical director, Health Medicine Institute
NEVER BE SICK AGAIN
ONE DISEASE • TWO CAUSES • SIX PATHWAYS
HEALTH IS A CHOICE
LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE IT
Raymond Francis, M.Sc.
with Kester Cotton
Foreword by Harvey Diamond Coauthor of the #1 NY Times Bestseller Fit for Life
Health Communications, Inc. Deerfield Beach, Florida
Never Be Sick Again and the information contained in this book are not intended as a substitute for the advice and/or medical care of the reader’s physician, nor are they meant to discourage or dissuade the reader from the advice of his or her physician. The reader should regularly consult with a physician in matters relating to his or her health, and especially with regard to symptoms that may require diagnosis. Any eating or lifestyle regimen should be undertaken under the direct supervision of the reader’s physician. Moreover, anyone with chronic or serious ailments should undertake any eating and lifestyle program, and/or changes to his or her personal eating and lifestyle regimen, under the direct supervision of his or her physician. If the reader has any questions concerning the information presented in this book, or its application to his or her particular medical profile, or if the reader has unusual medical or nutritional needs or constraints that may conflict with the advice in this book, he or she should consult his or her physician. If the reader is pregnant or nursing she should consult her physician before embarking on any nutrition or lifestyle program.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Francis, Raymond, 1937–
Never be sick again : Raymond Francis with Kester Cotton ; foreword by Harvey
Diamond. p. cm.
eISBN-13: 978-0-7573-9628-1 eISBN-10: 0-7573-9628-3
1. Health—Miscellanea. 2. Self-care, Health. 3. Healing—Miscellanea.
4. Health—Philosophy. 5. Mind and body. I. Cotton, Kester. II. Title.
RA776.5 .F736 2002
© 2002 Raymond Francis
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.
HCI, its logos and marks are trademarks of Health Communications, Inc. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street
Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
Cover design by Larissa Hise Henoch
Inside design by Lisa Camp and Dawn Von Strolley Grove
Foreword by Harvey Diamond Acknowledgments Introduction
1. I Almost Died
2. Your Potential for Health
3. The New Theory of Health and Disease
4. Choosing Healthy Cells
5. The Nutrition Pathway
6. The Toxin Pathway
7. The Psychological Pathway
8. The Physical Pathway
9. The Genetic Pathway
10. The Medical Pathway
11. A Shift in Perspective
Author’s Note: Going Beyond Health Appendix A: Health Information Appendix B: Vitamin Supplements
Appendix C: Foods and Personal Products
Appendix D: Alternative Cancer Treatments
Appendix E: Improving Vision
Appendix F: Health-E-America Foundation
Never Be Sick Again takes the mystery out of disease. This groundbreaking book
presents a revolutionary theory of health and disease: There are not thousands of different diseases, but only one disease: malfunctioning cells. Put simply, if the cells that make up your body are healthy, then you are healthy. Take care of your cells by providing them with all the nutrients they need, keep them free of injurious toxins, and disease will not happen. That concept is what this book is all about.
Never Be Sick Again is health made simple, written by someone who figured it out the hard way. In 1985, author Raymond Francis (a chemist and a graduate of MIT) suffered a near-fatal health condition. He used his knowledge of biochemistry to save his own life, and during his recovery, Francis asked himself fundamental questions like, “Why do people get sick?” and, “How can disease be prevented or reversed?” The answers to these questions are the essence of Francis’s new theory: One disease, two causes of disease and six pathways between health and disease. Explained in easy-to-understand language, this concept of health and disease is scientifically grounded in cutting-edge cellular biochemistry and molecular biology. Never Be Sick Again is the distilled wisdom of hundreds of books, thousands of scientific journals and over sixteen years of experience and observation. Francis’s book provides a simple and holistic approach that can help to prevent and/or reverse almost any disease—the ultimate triumph over disease.
A book like this is needed now more than ever. Health-care costs continue to rise while the health of the American people continues to decline. The average person is lost in a glut of complex and confusing health information. When we do get sick, though, not understanding why we are sick or how to become well, we feel like powerless victims, subject to seemingly random infections and genetic predispositions. We feel helpless because our understanding of disease remains stuck in the archaic germ theory. We worry too much about our bodies being invaded by microorganisms and not enough about building and maintaining the overall health and function of our cells. Disease is not a random event. We can choose to prevent it, provided that we know how. Health is determined by what we, as individuals, are willing to do for ourselves; it is our responsibility.
Rather than being a game of chance, health is a choice. Whether we realize it or not, the daily choices we make have a direct impact on the health of our cells. When we make the wrong choices, and our health takes a turn for the worse, we blame genes or germs or the aging process rather than the way we live our lives. In truth, the only way to heal any disease is to normalize cellular function by correcting
cellular malfunction, the common denominator of all disease.
Modern medicine has a poor understanding of disease and relies on suppressing the symptoms of disease rather than addressing its true causes. Little wonder most of us die from chronic and degenerative diseases—such as cancer and heart disease— that are “treated” but seldom healed. As a society, our applying the principles of the six pathways outlined in this book is crucial. Doing so will improve the health of our population to where most of existing medical practice can become irrelevant. Even now when we recognize the existence of only one disease, breaking medicine up into medical specialties becomes obsolete and counterproductive.
Raymond Francis provides real answers for real life, regardless of who you are or your state of health. By providing a powerful framework for maintaining optimal health, this book ties all the basics together in a way that anyone can put to immediate and practical use. Francis simplifies the health equation to the lowest common denominator—each individual cell. If you take care of each cell in your body, disease cannot happen.
An island of clarity in a sea of confusion, Never Be Sick Again is a one-stop solution for health professionals and laymen alike. Think of this book as health in one lesson. Everyone, especially our children, should learn about this cutting-edge approach to health and disease. In the past, health and disease have seemed like mysteries over which we have little control, but no longer. Now, we do have control. Knowing of just one disease and only two causes of disease gives us the power to get well and stay well. Francis’s title says it all: Never Be Sick Again.
coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Fit for Life
No one works in isolation; the seventeen-year journey that led up to this book
attests to that. I have many individuals to thank, in addition to my wonderful publisher Health Communications, Inc., for making Never Be Sick Again a reality. I want to express my gratitude to the great thinkers who came before me and upon whose work I have built, pioneers such as Hippocrates, Claude Bernard, Antoine Bechamp, Renè Dubos, Alexis Carrel, Hans Selye, Walter Cannon, Linus Pauling, Roger Williams, Emanuel Cheraskin and many others. I want to thank my professors and colleagues at M.I.T., who helped to sharpen my critical thinking skills. I want to thank Dr. Russell Jaffe, who pointed me in the right direction as I was searching for answers to my questions about health and disease.
Many thanks to my mother and father for their love and for helping me to become who I am. Many thanks to my family and friends for their encouragement and for the many hours they spent reading and commenting on various drafts of chapters. In particular, I would like to gratefully acknowledge Mark Baird, David Buttaro, Joan Carole, Br. Camillus Chavez, Mark Choquet, Kathleen Cotton, Peter DeTomi, Bernard Friesecke, Pascal Girard, Dr. Peter Litchfield, Kathleen Martuza, Robert Menkemeller, Mollie Meyers, Dr. David Rovno, Brandon Soule, Pamela Strong, Nancy Talbot, and Alec Wilson, who helped to make this book more understandable and useful to the reader. Thanks also to my two wonderful editors, Linda Hall and Beatrice Trum Hunter, who contributed so much to making this a better book.
I am also grateful for the hundreds of people I have worked with as a health advisor. Each and every one of them taught me something important about health and helped to cement my understanding of the importance of diet and lifestyle in preventing and reversing disease.
Last, but far from least, I would like to thank my cowriter Kester Cotton. Without your support, there would be no book to read. Thank you for your friendship, encouragement, patience, forbearance and years of hard work. The days we have spent creating Never Be Sick Again will always be cherished memories.
I was too sick to leave my bed. In fact, I was too weak even to lift my head from the
pillow. At age forty-eight, at the peak of an international business career, I found myself on the brink of death. I had lost forty pounds from an already thin frame; I looked skeletal. My vital signs were failing. My doctors expected me to die.
I chose to live. I say “chose” because on my own, relying on my knowledge of biochemistry and my determination not to die, I saved my own life. I took some fairly simple steps, but I also took one profound leap. I made a powerful discovery: Almost all disease can be prevented or reversed. As a result, health is a choice and no one has to be sick.
This book presents an entirely new theory of health and disease that will ultimately change the way medicine is practiced. This book offers a revolutionary way to perceive health, a guidebook for living based on cutting-edge science that is simple to understand. This guide gives you the power to control your own health in a way that you perhaps never imagined possible.
In reality, humans experience only one disease. All disease is the result of malfunctioning cells, no matter if the disease is a “common” cold, a mental illness such as depression or a life-threatening cancer. This theory of malfunctioning cells cuts through the confusion of health and disease and provides a unifying understanding of what keeps people well or makes them sick.
The two causes of disease, the two reasons that cells malfunction, are deficiency (insufficient nutrients) and toxicity (excessive toxins). These two causes work through six areas of daily life: the six pathways each person travels toward health or disease. If you take care of your body’s needs along these six pathways, you give your cells what they need and you avoid what is toxic. You will not become sick.
The theory presented in this book—a unifying theory of disease—is the most important health discovery to emerge in the last few hundred years. No such theory existed during the evolution of what we now call “modern medicine,” which explains why the medical establishment cannot cure nor prevent disease as effectively as it might. My theory of health offers power, simplicity and clarity in place of powerlessness, which is what most people now feel. Most people are overwhelmed and confused by the constant flood of conflicting health information, the thousands of different diseases that physicians “treat” with drugs and surgery. This swirl of specialists, symptoms and side effects leaves people without cures for their disease and, too often, either growing sicker or facing death. We end up powerless because we have no idea why we are sick or how to make ourselves well
My new approach asks you to make profound shifts in what has been conventional thinking about illness and health care. By preventing and reversing disease through the six pathways, you put the power to get better and stay well into your hands. If you are so sick that you have given up hope, this approach is the light of choice. Had I this level of understanding years ago, I would never have become sick in the first place.
I have shared my ideas with thousands of people around the world, including hundreds of medical doctors. I have seen people who have been sick for a decade or more apply this information and quickly become well again. I have seen people who have fruitlessly tried endless doctors, hospitals, clinics, medications and even gimmicks. They become well again by applying logical, sound, scientific approaches to enhancing health at the cellular level.
This book asks you to think outside the box of traditional medicine—a box that may have you stifled by misinformation and cut off from the kind of understanding that will truly make you well. Consider how conventional thinking can trap us: Why do we easily accept that stress can make us sick, but we have difficulty embracing the idea that love, laughter and a balanced life can make us well? Why are we willing to ingest chemicals in the form of prescription drugs that are alien to our body, but we are skeptical that natural substances—primarily the right foods—can heal? Why are we willing to recognize the damage of an obvious poisoning—a major chemical spill, for instance—but we ignore the devastating effects of small amounts of toxic substances, which accumulate in our bodies and make us a little bit sicker every day?
Our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal, but they are more vulnerable than you may realize. This book teaches you how to tap that capacity for healing and how to avoid the toxins and the stresses—in the environment and inside your own body— that make you sick. Many dangers around us go unrecognized, but they take a toll every day.
My theory of wellness takes you to the front lines of the battle between health and disease: the cell. Your body is made up of trillions of cells. Cells have needs, which I identify, that must be met if they are to function well. If your cells are healthy, your body will not become sick. If your cells do not receive what they need or if they are damaged or poisoned, they will stop working right and you will become sick. (You may be surprised to discover what is toxic to your cells.) Cells that receive what they need and avoid harm can function well and provide for healthy life, regardless of your age, the genes you have inherited or the “germs” to which you have been exposed. Healthy cells refuse disease; no one with healthy cells has any reason to become sick, not even to contract a cold. People alive today are far sicker than most of us recognize, and they die decades sooner than their genetic potential.
Healthy life, well past one hundred years old, should be our birthright.
We do not usually think about health in this way. We don’t knowingly choose disease, but we do choose diets and lifestyles that lead to disease. Unable to predict, prevent or conquer disease, most people and most physicians pursue treatment— such as prescription or over-the-counter drugs— once obvious symptoms have presented, after massive cellular malfunction has already occurred. Patients and their physicians treat body parts or body systems as unrelated. The mainstream medical community has no unifying theory of disease, no unifying treatment and no plan for prevention, and therefore true and lasting health is an illusion.
This book describes how to keep your body—all your cells—truly healthy. Understanding the six pathways toward health and following them in the right direction will change your life. You will learn things about nutrition that you have probably never heard before, including how the way you shop, the way you cook or the foods that you combine at a meal spell the difference between health and disease. You will learn to recognize hazards in your home and how to stop toxins from being created within your own body.
You’ll learn specifics, down to the kind of vitamin supplements you should take, the toothpaste you should use and the olive oil you should buy. I name names and identify brands based on how the products affect cells, because buying the wrong products does nothing to keep you healthy. Certain products, in fact, make you unhealthy.
Consider your own life: Do you suffer from a health condition that you have given up trying to cure and now accept as fate? Do you bounce from one medical specialist to another, dizzy with conflicting diagnoses and different ideas about which treatments are best? Is your cabinet full of medications that you take regularly without any sense that you are healing? Are you tired most of the time? Do you expect to live past your eighties?
This book guides you out of the maze of medical specialists and on a path toward wellness. This book teaches you how to question your doctors’ advice and how to evaluate, on your own, the medicines you should take, if any. You can regain the kind of energy for living that you may have thought was lost forever. With this book you can learn how to live beyond one hundred years of age.
By looking at health and disease in entirely new ways, and understanding how to choose health, you can reevaluate illnesses that you may have come to accept as unavoidable. You may be shocked to discover how often you choose not to be healthy. My code for living shows you, in big ways and in small ways, how to stop making yourself sick. I describe a potential for human health—and long life—that you never thought possible. Horizons will open up as you consider the possibility that you can live, fully and vigorously, decades beyond what you now consider old age.
Many people know more about how their automobiles work than about what their bodies need in order to function, and people often pay more attention to maintaining their cars than themselves. People feel they just don’t have the knowledge or medical training to figure out what is wrong with their own bodies or how to heal. The truth is that knowledge and power are within one’s reach.
No theory about health is so simple yet so powerful. This approach clears up the confusion surrounding thousands of so-called “diseases,” and eliminates most modern medical treatments—drugs and surgery—as toxic, invasive and rarely necessary. The focus, instead, is on the common problems of disease and how to solve them. This book bypasses the complex and confusing world of illness and remedies and simplifies our understanding of health and disease, enabling people to prevent and reverse disease by addressing its causes. From the tangle of all the complexity emerges a straightforward approach to becoming well and staying well
—an island of clarity in a sea of confusion.
In its simplest terms, how health is determined can be expressed as an equation:
Health = positive things minus negative things
The quality of your health is determined by the positive things you do for your body minus the negative things you do t o your body. This concept is not complicated, sexy or original; it is simply the truth. The problem is that accurate information about the factors that affect this equation is hard to obtain. Accurate information about what is positive and good for you and what is not does not come easily. Contradictory information and myths circulate, and people disseminate opinions as if they were facts. Many health writers, untrained in science, misinterpret scientific information or parrot each other. The blind are often leading the blind. To choose health, you must know how to distinguish between good choices and bad choices regarding diet, toxic exposure, exercise, prescription and recreational drug use, stress and other factors. This book shows you how to make these distinctions.
You may already read the labels on the foods you buy, the warnings on the prescriptions you take and the coverage limits of your health plan, but if you are to achieve health and stay healthy, you must first understand what your body needs. Many health books provide recipes, diet lists, exercise regimens and the like— routines to be blindly followed with no real understanding of the rationale behind them. This book is different. This book provides a powerful and logical conception of health, a framework that assists you in coming to your own conclusions and making your own choices. With this framework, you will have a basis for understanding which choices need to be made, when you should make them and why.
Your body is made of cells. When a large number of your cells malfunction, body systems become disrupted, leading to the one disease: cellular malfunction. Cellular malfunction has only two causes: deficiency, cells not getting what they need, and
toxicity, cells poisoned by something they do not need. Finally, six pathways exist between health and disease through which the health of our cells can change for better or worse. We can become healthy or sick (i.e., deficient and/or toxic) through the following pathways:
• Pathway 1—Nutrition You are what you eat. Learn how to select and prepare the types of foods that will enable your cells to function at their best.
• Pathway 2—Toxin A toxin is a substance that interferes with normal cellular function, thereby causing malfunction, which is disease. Learn where toxins are found and how you can avoid them.
• Pathway 3—Psychological The body and mind are inseparably connected; they are one and the same thing. The way we react to life events and respond to our thoughts and emotions directly affect our cells.
• Pathway 4—Physical Our cells and bodies need physical maintenance, like an automobile. Do you have enough exercise, rest, sunlight and fresh air?
• Pathway 5—Genetic Genes affect our cells, but not nearly as much as modern medicine would have us believe. Learn how to optimize your genetic potential and avoid genetic damage.
• Pathway 6—Medical Modern medicine kills and injures millions of people every year. Learn how medicine affects your cells, and make educated decisions about which treatments you need and which you do not.
All you need to know at any point in time is in which direction you are going along each of the pathways—toward health or disease—and to make corrections. You cannot make good choices along only one or two of the pathways and expect to achieve optimal health; this approach limits many health plans and books, useful though they may be. Many approaches are on the right track, but they do not look at the whole picture. Making healthy choices with respect to all six pathways is what empowers the body to regulate and repair itself.
That said, each choice you make in a positive direction, toward health, on any pathway at any time will improve your life. Each step toward health puts you closer to your true potential and further away from the risk of disease or illness. Each contribution, no matter how small, is still significant.
I ALMOST DIED
“The next major advance in the health of the American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself.”
John Knowles former president, The Rockefeller Foundation
Not too many years ago, no one would have been able to convince me that I would be writing a definitive book about human health and performance. I was no health expert; in fact, I gave little thought to the subject. I assumed I was healthy and that I could do little to improve upon it. Yet, here I am today, devoting my life to researching and improving health.
Concern for our health is something we all have in common. We all would like to live a high-quality, disease-free life, no matter how long that life may be. But most of us have no idea that a disease-free life is possible, so our priorities become out of whack, and we form habits that jeopardize our health. Then we ignore the early signs of ill health and, without knowing it, we lay the groundwork for disaster. That is exactly what I did.
At the height of my former career, I was president of an international management consulting firm specializing in international competitiveness, industrial quality and productivity. I was a consultant to Fortune 500 companies, the State Department, the United Nations and to the prime ministers of several foreign governments. Life had been good to me.
Then the early warning signs that things were changing came in 1983. I began to slow down, requiring more sleep and tiring more easily. I began to experience frequent allergic reactions, including runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, heart palpitations and skin rashes. I suffered muscle aches and joint pain. I felt as though I was losing my edge, losing some of the mental and physical capacity that had allowed me to operate at the highest levels of international business and government. Life was becoming less fun and more like a chore.
I brought these complaints to the attention of my physician, a man who the medical community rated as “one of the best.” He examined me, did many tests and pronounced me in “excellent health.” When I protested, saying I did not feel like I was in excellent health, he replied, “You are just getting older.” I protested again, saying that in my whole life I had never felt this way before. He continued, “Well, you have never been this old before.” I was forty-six years old.
I would later discover that physicians have no protocols or established procedures for measuring early decline in health. Instead they blame “getting older” for so many feelings of ill health, even at ages when human beings have the potential to be in their prime (remember, I was only forty-six when I began suffering from
problems attributed to my age). Physicians consistently assume that the patient is “well” until his or her condition deteriorates into symptoms that the doctor recognizes as a diagnosable disease.
Over the next year and a half, my symptoms worsened. My fatigue became more pronounced; I required ever-increasing amounts of sleep, and even then I felt tired. The fatigue made it increasingly difficult to travel, as my job required. My allergic reactions were becoming more severe. I would experience sneezing fits so dramatic that I would have to rest after them. My heart palpitations were more frequent and pronounced. I would see colored rings around lights and my vision would blur.
I finally decided to seek the assistance of an allergy specialist. Little did I realize, as I entered the doctor’s office that fateful morning, that it would be the last day of life as I had known it. The allergist administered a diagnostic test called an intradermal test, whereby an allergen is injected into the skin with a hypodermic needle. The procedure is much more provocative and sensitive than the typical scratch tests familiar to most people. Intradermal tests may identify allergies that might otherwise be missed. However, if someone is especially sensitive to an allergen, this type of test can provoke a serious reaction. My doctor neglected to tell me that the FDA regularly receives reports of injuries and deaths from these tests. My condition and the fact that I was experiencing significant allergic reactions at the time should have prompted this physician to be more cautious and anticipate that an intradermal test might provoke a serious reaction.
The reaction was catastrophic, causing my immune system to spin out of control. During the next week I slept almost constantly and appeared to have aged about ten years. I suffered fatigue and disability unlike anything I had ever experienced. Prior to the test, although I had some serious allergy problems, I was still able to function relatively normally; afterward, I was seriously ill and almost completely dysfunctional.
Years later, another physician—one considerably better informed—gave me a meaningful description of what had happened to me. He described my state of compromised health as rather like standing on the edge of a precipice. My allergist did not recognize my vulnerability and the need to work initially with nutritional support and conservative treatments to back me away from that edge. The allergist’s decision to administer a provocative test pushed me off the precipice and into an abyss of catastrophic health decline.
Ten months later, I was still in that abyss of illness and anxiety, with my health in a downward spiral. In the past, whenever I had been sick, I had always recovered in a matter of days or weeks. This time was different indeed. I experienced chronic fatigue, multiple chemical sensitivities and allergic reactions to almost everything. I also developed several autoimmune syndromes, including Sjogren’s syndrome,
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and lupus. In these syndromes, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, causing a cascade of serious problems. In my case, my immune system was attacking my salivary glands, lachrymal glands, thyroid gland, kidneys and connective tissue. I had an extensive list of debilitating symptoms including dizziness, impaired memory, depression, heart palpitations, blurred vision, muscle and joint pain, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, numbness and even seizures. I was unable to perform any meaningful activity. My health was gone, and life, as I had known it, was over.
During those ten nightmarish months, I visited thirty-six medical doctors. I had so many different symptoms that I was referred to specialists for each one, including ophthalmologists, gastroenterologists, neurologists, endocrinologists, cardiologists, allergists, rheumatologists, psychiatrists, internists and immunologists. Being bounced from one specialist to another, sometimes seeing two or even three in a day, was very frustrating. I certainly heard plenty of second, third and fourth opinions, often conflicting, but none particularly helpful. My multitude of symptoms totally baffled those learned specialists. (How much easier it would have been had they known what I know now: that there is only one disease and that symptoms are not important.) They performed many expensive diagnostic tests, which served little purpose other than to give fancy names to my symptoms, such as neuropathy, colitis, arrhythmia, arthralgia, keratitis sicca, thyroiditis and others.
They were merely describing my symptoms with a technical name, the usual diagnosing, and then sending a bill. A few suggested that I was a hypochondriac, imagining ill health. Many physicians assume that if they do not understand what is wrong, the patient must be imagining his illness. At the time, I thought all of my doctors were baffled because my case was so complex. In the end, however, the answers proved to be simple. The answers had been there all along. One just needed to know where to look.
From Bad to Worse
As sick as I was after ten months of illness, things were about to become much worse. One of the last physicians I went to see made a decision that nearly killed me. He prescribed an antiparasitic drug, metronidazole, which turned out to be heptatoxic (poisonous to the liver). I suffered a severe reaction to the drug. In my weakened and chemically sensitive condition I should never have been given this drug, as I would later learn from the medical literature. Perhaps I should have known better, given my prior experiences with medical doctors, but trusting the doctor and knowing of no other options, I took the drug. Metronidazole is known to be stressful to the liver, and my liver was already under a lot of stress. I could not handle the additional toxic load. My liver failed, and I was at death’s door.
As I lay in bed, deathly ill with chemical hepatitis, my weight dropped from an already trim 160 pounds (at 6-foot-2) to a positively skeletal 120. I was too weak even to lift my head. My vital signs were failing, and my physicians doubted that I would survive. Death appeared certain.
Had I continued to rely on conventional medicine, I would not be here today, and you would not be reading my story. As weak as I was, something inside of me was not ready to let go—not without a fight. But I did not know where to turn for help. As I look back, I am amazed at the chain of events that saved my life and allowed me to regain control of my health.
My brother, bless his heart, started the process. During my illness, he had flown across the country to be with me. He gave me a book that proved instrumental in saving my life: Norman Cousins’s bestseller, Anatomy of an Illness. In 1964, Norman Cousins, a layman with no medical or scientific training, was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a connective tissue disease that deteriorates collagen (the “glue” that holds our cells together). Cousins’s disease was literally causing his body to fall apart. His illness, like mine, was deemed by his physicians to be incurable and fatal. Unwilling to accept such a prognosis, Cousins sought whatever knowledge he could to help himself. He succeeded. Not only did he find ways to save his own life; he later became a professor of medicine at UCLA.
Cousins took action in four areas. First, like myself, Cousins recognized that he was being harmed by his medical treatment. He concluded that the drugs his physicians were prescribing were so toxic that they were accelerating his decline. He stopped taking the drugs. Second, he discovered the enormous power of the mind over the body. The excruciating pain he was experiencing was affected by his attitude toward the pain. By learning to change his attitude, he could reduce his pain. Third, he found laughter to be helpful; ten minutes of genuine, hearty laughter would cause his pain to go away for hours. He started watching funny movies, and when the effect would wear off, he would switch on the projector and laugh some more. The laughter had profound and beneficial effects on his body chemistry and contributed to his recovery. Fourth, he discovered the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin C. He decided to take twenty-five grams a day administered by intravenous drip. This action had a profoundly beneficial effect on his highly inflammatory condition. By avoiding toxic prescription drugs, changing his attitude, laughing and administering plenty of vitamin C, Cousins made a miraculous recovery.
Lying on what had been pronounced my deathbed, I thought about Cousins’s book in relation to my graduate school days doing scientific research at MIT. I wondered how Cousins managed to find the pertinent information he needed to save himself. If Cousins, a dying man with no scientific training, could obtain such critical, life- saving knowledge, why couldn’t his physicians? After all, these professionals had devoted their entire careers to medicine. Knowing that Cousins had found a way to
save his own life encouraged me; I hoped that my scientific training as a chemist might enable me to do the same.
As I lay there with a poisoned liver, dying from chemical hepatitis, I realized that if I wanted to live I must act quickly. Not much time was left. Thinking about how instrumental vitamin C was in Cousins’s recovery, I remembered from my study of biochemistry that vitamin C plays an essential role in liver detoxification. Because my liver had been poisoned by a toxic drug, perhaps some vitamin C would help it detoxify. It seemed like an experiment worth doing, and besides, I knew of no other options.
Twenty-four hours after starting oral doses of vitamin C (about four grams a day), my vital signs began to stabilize. In forty-eight hours I was able to sit up in bed. A few days before, death had been a certainty. Now, I could sit up, which was the first time I had experienced a measurable improvement in all those months. Progress, even in the form of something as simple as sitting up in bed, can be incredibly inspiring. At that point, I knew I could take action that would make a difference. Meanwhile, my physicians could not understand why I not only survived but actually improved.
I was still far from well, though. I was a frail skeleton. I had difficulty performing the simplest tasks, such as dressing, or tying my shoelaces. I had no energy and became fatigued from the slightest exertion. My hands and feet were numb; I had difficulty walking and moved slowly. I was lightheaded and tended to fall over easily. Worse, my brain had trouble functioning; I felt like I was in a mental fog. I had difficulty with short-term memory and simple calculations. Even as I improved enough to venture out again, I could not make correct change at the grocery store and easily forgot what I intended to do.
Perhaps worst of all was the horrific chemical sensitivity that I continued to suffer, causing me to become weak, disoriented and debilitated. The toxic assault on my body by the metronidazole had left me with acute chemical sensitivities. For instance, when I turned on a water faucet the subtle chlorine fumes coming out with the water were enough to cause me to become weak, lightheaded and disoriented. I could not read or be near printed materials because of the chemical fumes coming from the ink and paper. I used only a speakerphone because I would react to the fumes off-gassing from the plastic telephone receiver. My gas water heater had to be replaced with an electric unit because I reacted to the combustion fumes diffusing into the surrounding living space. I had to wear clothes made only from natural fibers, to avoid the toxic fumes from synthetics. I had to purchase special water and air filters. But even with these many precautions, I was debilitated by my relentless reactions to a myriad of environmental chemicals.
Someone who has not personally experienced chemical sensitivity has a hard time
understanding how just a whiff of certain chemicals can create total havoc in a matter of seconds. I remember once taking a piece of Scotch tape off a roll and being devastated for the rest of the day by the seemingly inconsequential chemical odor from the tape! With chemical sensitivity, the nervous system develops a “memory” of past reactions. This effect is called classical conditioning (i.e., biological learning) and upon detecting these reactive agents again, even in infinitesimal quantities, a full-scale response is produced. Our modern world is permeated with chemicals that can produce such reactions in susceptible people.
In this hideous state of health, I fell into a deep depression. I thought about taking my life. Although I had made some progress, I was allergic to almost everything, and I was in a constant state of debilitating reactions. My life was ruined. No doctor could help me. I was unable to do any meaningful activity and had nothing to look forward to. I could not even watch television because of the chemical fumes off- gassing from the TV set as it heated up.
Choosing to Live
One beautiful afternoon, I was sitting out in the sun and contemplating the meaning of life. Illness has a powerful way of providing perspective and time to think about the really important things. I asked myself whether or not I wanted to continue living. I decided that I did not want to die—I wanted to live. However, life was not worth living in such a debilitated state. My only option was to find a way to become healthy again.
How could I do this? The doctors could not help. In large measure, doctors had brought me to my failing condition. I recall thinking about the explosion of knowledge in the world—about all the new scientific data being published every day. Surely somewhere, some key bit of information would help me. I became determined to find out whatever I could, but it was not easy. My vision was blurred and my eyes hurt. Given that I was unable to be near printed materials because of the ink fumes, how could I study? My mind didn’t work right, either: Contemporary literature about chemically sensitive people describes this debilitating type of “brain fog.” In my early quests to research my health condition, I would find myself lost in a mental fog, spending hours reading the same material repeatedly without realizing it. Ironically, I was reacting to the very materials I was using to learn how to restore my health.
Still, I remained determined. I purchased a respirator mask to protect me from the chemicals coming from the ink in my study materials. Unfortunately, the rubber part of the mask gave off toxic fumes. I took the mask apart, boiled the rubber pieces in water for two days and then reassembled it, which made the mask tolerable so I could wear it while I did the necessary work.
Next, I purchased a portable electric oven and one hundred feet of outdoor extension cord. I placed the oven downwind from my house and baked all of my reading materials in order to drive off the ink chemicals. Bizarre, but it worked. Now at least I could handle and read my rapidly accumulating piles of medical and scientific literature. I began to educate myself, looking for clues that might help to restore and improve my health.
Thus began a new phase of my life, which continues to this day.
I came across fascinating information as I searched for the answers to my questions. I read technical papers written by a biochemist who, like myself, had become chemically hypersensitive. No physician had been able to help him either, and his sensitivity was so great that he was forced to move to a distant location that harbored no man-made chemicals. He moved into a small wooden shack on a remote beach. Eventually, through his understanding of biochemistry, he was able to take steps to restore his health.
Knowing that someone else had been able to heal himself of this horrendous condition gave me the hope I needed so much. His example convinced me that I, too, would be able to help myself to understand the biochemistry of my illness and apply sound scientific principles to solve my problems. It took me two years of learning and experimenting to raise myself from the depths of liver failure, chronic fatigue, autoimmune diseases and chemical hypersensitivity. Recovery took a great deal of persistence, willingness to try new things and acceptance of many setbacks.
In particular at the height of my chemical sensitivities, I had to be extremely careful about the products I selected. Even minute amounts of toxins were enough to make me ill. I ended up with a kitchen full of vitamin supplements that I could not take because of toxic impurities and my level of susceptibility. Even healthy people are harmed by these impurities, though it may not be as evident to them.
I learned the hard way how suffering can come when health is failing, and when you try remedies that do more harm than good. Even with my scientific training, finding the answers was difficult. Particularly with vitamin supplements and personal care products, a great deal of conflicting information abounds, and consumers remain confused about how to make the best choices. Accurate health information is in great demand, and that is precisely what this book provides. I want to share what I have learned about getting well and staying well.
In 1991, I resigned from all my business and community activities and devoted myself to teaching others how to be healthy. I started by speaking to groups—at first, the same support groups to which I had belonged during the depths of my illness. Then I branched out with a wider audience, which evolved into a regular evening workshop series that continued for years. Later, a publisher became aware of my work and invited me to write a column for his newspaper. After that, I started a radio show called An Ounce of Prevention and began publishing my own
newsletter, Beyond Health News. This book is the next step.
Reaching Our Potential
One of the most profound conclusions I have reached is that health is a choice; virtually no one ever has to be sick. The potential for human health and longevity is far greater than we are now achieving. Scientific studies describe populations who lived longer and healthier lives than we do, simply because their societies made dietary and lifestyle choices that supported human health. With just a little knowledge and effort, we can do the same. We can choose health, but first we must educate ourselves.
My own quest for an understanding of how the body maintains and heals itself continues to this day. Throughout my research, I continue to ask myself basic questions, such as:
• What is health?
• What is disease?
• Why do people get sick?
• How can disease be prevented or reversed?
• How long can people live in good health, and what does it take to achieve this?
• What is the potential for human health and longevity?
Please allow me to pass on to you a truly revolutionary theory of health and disease, one that is so simple and powerful that it gives you the choice to never be sick again.
YOUR POTENTIAL FOR HEALTH
“There is no reason in the world why over 75 percent of the American people should be suffering from degenerative and deficiency diseases. Disease never comes without a cause. If a person is sick and ailing it is because he has been doing something wrong. He needs an education in how to live a healthy life.”
Jay M. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Most people expect to be sick at least one or more times each year, to cope with at least one serious illness by midlife, and in all likelihood, to die of one or several diseases by their eighties, if not sooner. Most people also think poor health is mainly the result of bad luck and that their longevity is a matter of good fortune.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Poor health is not a matter of luck; poor health is a matter of choice. We do not “get” sick. We make ourselves sick by making bad choices and, conversely, we get healthy and stay healthy by making good ones. Most people feel that they are “healthy” as long as they have no symptoms of disease. Few people realize what optimal health really feels like—and even fewer accept the notion that a vigorous and healthy life beyond 100 years old is within reach. In reality, that kind of long life is what we should all routinely expect.
Meet the face of optimal health. His name is Jose Maria Roa, and he is 131 years old. Jose lives with his family in a small village, high in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. While his face is weatherworn, his mind is keen, his heart is healthy, his teeth are strong and the lines around his face are born of smiles and the joy of a loving wife and family. Still working on his small farm every day and enjoying an active sex life, Jose fathered his last child at the age of 107. When asked if he’d ever been sick, he replied, “Yes, I have been.” Jose had a few colds—that’s it—in 131 years! Until his death at 137, Jose remained in perfect health.
Surely this is not normal. Isn’t Jose a medical miracle, an aberration of nature? Not so. In his remote village, Jose’s health and longevity are far from unusual explains Morton Walker, D.P.M., whose 1985 book Secrets of Long Life is based on his study of these hardy people native to the Vilcabamba Valley. For instance, in his queries to the Vilcabambans about the mental health of their society, Walker asked if the older people suffered memory loss due to dementia. These long-lived people had never experienced anything like dementia. They didn’t understand the question and, in fact, did not even have words in their language to describe such a condition. Meanwhile, we are told that dementia is a disease of aging and the price we must pay for our so-called “longevity.” As I studied Jose—and people like him—I began to understand the potential that all humans have to be healthy.
In America today, we are usually told—and believe—that illnesses like cancer, arthritis, dementia, osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease are “diseases of aging,” but these chronic conditions are not the inevitable result of growing older. Rather, they are the inevitable result of living lifestyles that cannot support human health. In America today, these conditions are epidemic. Having achieved enormous advances in science and medicine, why are we experiencing the largest epidemic of chronic disease in human history?
As I studied patterns of health and disease, I made a profound discovery. I learned that disease does not just randomly happen; it occurs for specific reasons. We are not typically perfectly healthy until we “get” sick, nor does perfect health return once disease has run its course. Although we tend to perceive life this way, the distinctions between health and disease are far less black and white. Remember your cells. Only after massive numbers of cells malfunction or die do you begin to notice symptoms of disease. In other words, you are already sick before you “get sick.” People who are truly healthy do not “get sick.”
If you stop to consider what it might be like to live in good health to a ripe old age, everything begins to seem different. This potential for health can be described as optimal health, where your cells are functioning as well as they possibly can. This level of health is almost guaranteed to keep disease at bay.
A Poor Record
Very few Americans grow old in good health and die naturally from the aging process. Instead, we get sick and die from entirely preventable diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Preventing these health problems is simple, and I will teach you how to do it, but first realize how dire our health problems really are.
The United States spends far more on health, in total and per capita, than any other nation in the world, but our overall health still ranks quite poorly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States ranks thirty-seventh in overall health quality. It should serve as a wake-up call for all Americans when a third-world country like Oman spends only $334 per person per year on health and ranks eighth in the world, while the United States spends more than ten times that much and we are thirty-seventh. Considering what we spend on health care, shouldn’t we be the healthiest nation on Earth? We are not.
People in their teens or early twenties should be at peak levels of health, right? Not in our society. Autopsies performed on accident victims of this age group in Los Angeles revealed that nearly 80 percent had early stages of heart disease; 15 percent had arteries that were more than half blocked. Had these young people survived, they would likely have been victims of a stroke or heart attack. They may have appeared
healthy and lived normal lives, but they were definitely not healthy.
It’s a matter of perspective. Our own ill health does not stand out when compared to our unhealthy friends and neighbors. The allergies, the colds, the flu, the arthritis, the premature aging—all of these seem perfectly normal. Because it is so common in our society, we have come to believe that disease is an inevitable, natural, “normal” part of the aging process.
We mistake being able to function for being healthy. We perceive “sick” as being bedridden or housebound, and “healthy” as being able to go about our normal activities. Healthy does not merely mean being ambulatory and free of obvious disease symptoms. Healthy means functioning at the highest level that genetic capacity allows. As in other areas of life, recognizing and admitting the problem is half the battle. Unfortunately, we are a sick population, growing sicker by the day and, worse yet, blind to our sickness.
According to recent estimates in medical journals, including the April 1999
Effective Clinical Practice, three-fourths of the American population has a diagnosable chronic disease. We suffer from many health problems, and most of us take medications to deal with these problems. A 1997 national survey sponsored by Parade magazine found that about two-thirds of us regularly take prescription or over-the-counter drugs. This survey also reported that about two-thirds of Americans believe themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” health. My question to you is this: How is it possible to be in good health if you are taking medications and experiencing symptoms of sickness?
Even when statistical evidence is presented, many people fail to recognize their own sickness on a personal level. For example, most people with allergies don’t think of themselves as having a chronic disease. Did you know that chronic allergic reactions tax the body and the immune system, making one much more susceptible to infections and other diseases? Allergies are a serious immune dysfunction disease, not just a benign inconvenience. Every allergic reaction does long-term damage to the body; allergies reduce overall quality of life and ultimately reduce longevity. Healthy people do not have allergies.
We think we’re healthy, but we’re not. At a seminar I was leading, a man stood up and talked about how he jogged every day and how healthy he was. A few pointed questions later, it was revealed that this man had diabetes—the seventh-leading cause of death in America! Some groups assert that we are now healthier and living longer, but that claim seems like propaganda to me. The incidence of virtually every chronic disease continues to increase, and the health of the American people is in a long-term downtrend. In 1996, the Journal of the American Medical Association documented that 25 percent of Americans under age eighteen had at least one chronic disease. The disease rate increases to 45 percent between ages forty-five and sixty-five, and to 88 percent over age sixty-five.
Take diabetes, for example. In August 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced its most recent statistics on the increases in rates of diabetes. In 1980, 2 percent of newly diagnosed cases of adult-onset diabetes were in people under age nineteen. In 2000, that number was approaching a staggering 50 percent. Separately, in just eight years from 1990 to 1998, diabetes jumped 33 percent nationally and went up a whopping 70 percent among people ages thirty to thirty-nine. According to Dr. Frank Vinicor, the director of the CDC, “This kind of an increase in just eight years is almost unheard of.” The experts at the CDC cautioned that even these numbers understate the problem, because about one-third of American diabetics do not realize they have the disease.
Asthma is another example of how fast we are becoming sicker. The CDC reports that the number of Americans with asthma increased 61 percent between 1982 and
1994. Mortality from asthma increased 45 percent between 1985 and 1995. Asthma is now the leading cause of school absenteeism, and the death rate from asthma is increasing at a rate of 6 percent per year.
Obesity is another increasing problem that we must face. Childhood obesity doubled from 1980 to 2000, and most children do not outgrow this problem. Childhood and teenage obesity affects lifelong health with a risk seven times higher for developing clogged arteries later in life. Did you know that more than one in five teenagers are overweight and that almost two of three adults are overweight or obese? Other diseases are increasing, too, including allergies, autoimmune disease, attention deficit disorders, birth defects and chronic fatigue. Cancer is now, after accidents, the leading cause of death for children, and cancer used to be rare in young people!
Would you believe that we have come to expect disease? That we believe in the certainty of sickness more than we believe in the certainty of wellness? That people expect to get sick to such a degree that they hold on to jobs they dislike, just to keep their health benefits? Talk about mixed-up priorities! We are accustomed to disease, and we expect it to occur. When we do get sick, we often feel victimized or helpless, as if struck by a bolt of lightning. We never think that we have done it to ourselves or that we might choose to do otherwise.
Leaving the Good Life
Our lifestyles have changed along with the evolution of what is broadly called “modern civilization.” Since the Industrial Revolution, changes have occurred in how we grow our foods, what kinds of food we consume, what we take into our bodies, the lifestyles we live and what we put into the environment. Many of these changes rob us of the nutrients our cells need in order to be healthy and expose us to toxins that interfere with normal cell function. An editorial by Joseph Scherger,
M.D., in the January 2000 Hippocrates said that “lifestyle factors now loom as the leading cause of premature death.”
As I began to discover the incredible health and longevity of certain healthy populations around the world and to look at how these people lived their lives, I began to understand the potential for health. In contrast to the historically healthy populations I will tell you about (such as the Hunzas in northeastern Pakistan and other groups, such as the Vilcabambans and Cuenca Indians in Ecuador), the average American is not doing well at all. We significantly compromise our health with nutritionally deficient diets, environmental toxins, sedentary lifestyles, chronic stress, bad habits such as smoking and drug use, and lack of positive emotions and meaningful relationships, not to mention the damaging outcomes of symptom management by modern medicine. In terms of deficiency and toxicity (the two causes of disease), here are examples of how lifestyle factors make us sick:
• Fruit and vegetable plants are now grown with artificial fertilizers that produce more food per acre, but these foods are not nearly as rich in nutritional content. Use of artificial fertilizers has led to depletion of minerals in the soil because they do not add minerals to replace those being lost with each new crop. Soil depletion leads to nutritional deficiency in all of us.
• Since foods are not eaten fresh off of the plant, many must be harvested before they are ripe in order to prevent spoilage during transportation and distribution. This premature harvesting does not allow food to reach its full nutritional maturity, thereby contributing to nutritional deficiency.
• The nutritional content of the food then further deteriorates as the food ages during storage, transportation and distribution.
• Food is often processed, further depleting its nutritional content, in order to make it easier to store and consume. Among these foods are flour, pasta, bread, sugar, and canned and packaged foods.
• Cooked foods are also nutritionally inferior to raw ones, and most of the
American diet consists of both processed and cooked foods.
• The farming of large single crops has created new and serious problems of insect infestations, necessitating the use of insecticides. These insecticides, along with the use of herbicides and fungicides, have made food production methods a significant contributor to our toxic environment and food supply.
• The modern processed-food industry adds man-made preservatives, flavors, colors and other toxic chemicals to our foods. No one knows what the
combination of all these chemicals is doing to our bodies.
• Energy demands, first for coal and now for gas and oil, are constantly polluting our environment.
• Virtually all of our industrial processes—from printing our daily newspapers to painting our homes and building cars and computers—have led to the introduction of tens of thousands of man-made chemicals into our environment, all of which put toxic loads into our bodies.
Over the past century or so, dramatic changes in diet and environment have created a society of nutritionally deficient and chemically toxic Americans. Virtually all of the food we can buy in a modern supermarket is nutritionally inferior to the foods our ancestors consumed. The purity of the air and water our ancestors enjoyed no longer exists. But all is not lost. Sources do exist today where we can find quality foods with high nutritional content. We can lower our daily toxic exposure, but first we need to learn where to look and how to take charge. What I found helpful was to study those people who have already shown us the way.
Small populations of people in remote areas around the world have shown us how simply meeting the body’s needs along each of the six pathways can result in tremendous energy, stamina and lack of disease until age 120, 130 or even older. I will tell you more about these remarkable people, and I will also tell how the intrusions of “modern civilization” into those populations since the 1970s have robbed them of their stunning health and longevity.
Recognizing Our Potential
While 75 is considered a ripe old age in our modern society, traditionally healthy societies considered 75 more “middle age.” People in these societies rarely died before their 90s and commonly lived well into their 100s, reaching 120, 130 and older—free of disease. In March 1961, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported on evidence that men in Hunza lived to be 120 and even 140 years old. Hunza men and women over 100 exhibited robust energy, in striking contrast to the epidemic of fatigue in our society. These people lived simply and without doctors or hospitals, without nursing homes. In America today we spend
$1.5 trillion a year on health care and tens of billions of dollars studying disease.
What is it buying us? Certainly not a long, disease-free life. Here’s an idea: Study health instead of disease!
So what is our potential for health? In his 1968 book Hunza, J. M. Hoffman, Ph.D., who had spent years studying the people of the remote Hunza Valley in the Himalayas, quoted prominent physicians and scientists, including the presidents of the American Medical Association and the International Association of Gerontology, as saying that humans should live to be 120 to 150 years old. Recent estimates in
biology journals project human life expectancy to exceed 135 years. Even the Bible itself prophesizes a long life span: “[Man’s] days shall be a hundred and twenty years” (Gen. 6:3). Long life is our birthright. We should live to be at least 120, in vigorous health, maintaining physical and mental acuity.
In the state of California, actuarial calculations show that average life expectancy for females would be 100 if only one certain disease were eliminated—heart disease, which is entirely preventable through diet and lifestyle. Consider how much longer we might live by eliminating two or more diseases. Perhaps we have forgotten that health is our natural state. We blindly accept our average life span of seventy-six years; we accept that we will succumb to chronic and degenerative diseases.
Imagining entire populations who have lived far longer and healthier lives than we do seems inconceivable. People who rarely, if ever, suffered from any disease, including colds, allergies, flu or even fatigue. How were these people able to do that? Their nutrition was of high quality, their toxic exposure was minimal, they enjoyed psychological well-being and they were quite physically active. Their everyday lifestyles, to a large degree, met all the factors necessary to support the six pathways toward health.
Let us learn from these people.
The Remarkable Hunzas
In a remote valley of the Himalayas, in what is now northeastern Pakistan, live the people of Hunza, who were renowned for their near-perfect health, robust energy and extraordinary longevity. Though they lived under what we would consider primitive conditions, they regularly lived into their hundreds, and often lived to be 120 to 140 years old. Their culture was not plagued with cancer, heart disease, ulcers, diabetes, allergies, kidney and liver disease, arthritis, asthma, hypoglycemia, mental disorders, colds, flu, tooth decay or any of the other diseases so common in our society. Nor did they suffer from depression; several researchers described them as, “the happiest people in the world.” The Hunzas had clear minds, high intelligence, excellent memories, and enormous physical strength and stamina.
Many researchers went to Hunza in the early twentieth century—long before many of the advances of modern medicine— to study and write about these phenomenally healthy people. Sir Robert McCarrison, M.D., a prominent British physician, spent seven years living and doing research among the Hunzas, and he first brought the health of the Hunza people to world attention. In November 1921, Dr. McCarrison presented the results of his research at a meeting of the Society for Biological Research held at the University of Pittsburgh. He described the Hunzas as, “a race unsurpassed in perfection of physique and in freedom from diseases in general . . .” He found that chronic diseases, including cancer, were totally unknown.
(Cancer was unknown among these extraordinarily long-lived people, yet we are told that cancer is a disease of aging.)
Another researcher, J. I. Rodale, in his book, The Healthy Hunzas, reported that, “Colds are non-existent in Hunza.” He said it was not unusual to see men walking through snowdrifts in the coldest weather, barechested and barefoot. He observed one Hunza man travel sixty miles in a single day, by foot in mountainous terrain, arriving back as if he had returned from a casual walk. Hunza women did not suffer menstrual pain or any of the other female complaints of our society. In Hunza, people typically died of old age in their sleep, without experiencing the chronic suffering that usually precedes death in our own society. The story of the Hunzas shows the potential for human health—how healthy human beings can perform.
As part of their leisure activities, the men of Hunza (from teenage to 120 years old) performed vigorous, physically demanding folk dances. In his book Hunza, Hoffman described men in their seventies and eighties gliding through the air with the same grace and ease as those in their teens and twenties. Hoffman wrote: “The stamina of the people is beyond words. In fact men over a hundred years of age were observed going up these mountainsides just as though they were men of fifty. It is my belief that many American men of fifty years of age could not keep up with these Hunza men.”
What was it that allowed the Hunzas to achieve this amazing level of health? You probably already know the answer: a combination of a nutritious diet, toxin-free environment, exercise, sleep, sunshine, fresh air and low-stress lifestyle. Given only two causes of disease—deficiency and toxicity—let us examine how the Hunzas kept their cells adequately supplied with nutrients and free of toxins, thus realizing optimal health and longevity. While we cannot replicate their lifestyle, we can see how far our own lifestyles fall short of these goals, and we can begin to understand how to make the kinds of changes that will bring us closer to our potential.
An Optimal Diet and Lifestyle
The Hunza diet was highly nutritious, consisting mainly of vegetarian foods grown in nutrient-rich soil. They irrigated their fields with mineral-rich water and composted all of their organic matter (leaves, straw, manure, etc.), to produce soils of the highest quality. Contrast their mineral-rich soils to U.S. soils which are depleted due to modern chemical farming. It doesn’t take a degree in agricultural science to know that if minerals are not in the soil, they do not get into the plant, and then they don’t get into you. In addition to fresh vegetables and fruits, the Hunzas ate whole grains that were exceptionally high in nutrients as opposed to the refined sugars and nutrient-depleted white flour that’s so prevalent in our diet. Only about
10 percent of the Hunza’s calories came from fat, as opposed to about 37 percent in the American diet. Eighty percent of their foods were eaten fresh and raw. In
addition to being high in nutrition, their diet was low in toxins, meaning that their foods didn’t contain any cancer-causing compounds that come from exposures to pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other agricultural chemicals. Along with getting plenty of exercise by working the land and walking everywhere, the Hunzas also got adequate sleep. Since there was no artificial lighting in their village, they went to bed when it got dark and they woke up at daybreak, regardless of the time of the year.
So what are we to take from the Hunza’s habits? Should we quit our sedentary jobs and take up organic farming? Should we shun all supermarket foods and hide our head under the covers at sunset? While these options are surely not realistic, you can make some practical and positive changes in your lifestyle and this book will show you how. While you don’t have to avoid supermarkets altogether, you can learn how to avoid filling your cart with the most toxic foods in the grocery aisles (some of which you might wrongly assume are “healthy” for you!) and paying good money for food that is actually killing you. You can learn how to prepare your foods in ways that don’t rob them of their nutrients and how to avoid cooking your foods by methods that compromise your health. You can become aware of what toxic chemicals are lurking in your environment in everyday products and choose healthy alternatives instead. You can see how making a few simple changes in your sleeping habits will restore your body’s natural rhythms and allow your body ample time to rejuvenate. You can make informed decisions about which medical treatments you need, and which are actually hurting your health. So, you see, you don’t have to move to the Andes Mountains to find health; you can live a long and healthy life in your own town.
And what, you may wonder, would happen to these mighty Hunzas if they lived in your town—with a fast food restaurant on every corner? The results shouldn’t surprise you. The Hunzas were geographically isolated from the outside world. The one treacherous road into the Hunza Valley was closed nine months of the year because of the weather, and the road was not all that inviting during the remaining three months. This isolation allowed the Hunzas to live in their traditional, customary, and close-knit familial and social groups, almost up until the present day. Had the Hunza Valley been more accessible, modern culture would have intruded and damaged the health of this population sooner than it did, and we would have lost our opportunity to learn from them. Eventually, modern foods were introduced into the Hunzas’ lives when the first all-weather road was built through the mountain passes and into their valley in the 1970s, making this area more accessible to “civilization.” “Civilized foods,” such as white sugar, white flour, white rice, cola drinks, coffee, processed oils and alcohol were introduced. Fresh, homegrown, whole foods were replaced with the processed and toxic foods that make up much of the diet we eat today. This exposure to modern culture had
tremendously detrimental health effects on the Hunza population.
What is especially notable is how rapidly a modern diet will cause health to decline. Researchers have noted that health begins to deteriorate within six months of introducing modern diets into populations previously eating only their traditional foods. The Hunzas were an incredibly healthy population just a few decades ago. Today, they face increasing levels of chronic disease—just like the rest of the “civilized” world. However, because of their prior isolation, the Hunzas provided a perfect control group—an ideal people for the study and measurement of the potential for human health.
If the Hunzas had been the only extraordinarily healthy people in the world, we might dismiss their health as an aberration. However, numerous other examples of long-lived and healthy populations are available, including people living in mountainous areas of Bulgaria and Hungary, the island of Crete, the lake district of Titicaca in Peru, the Vilcabamba Valley in Ecuador, and the Caucasus region of Russia. They all have a similar story. They eat high-quality, nutritious foods. They get a lot of exercise and plenty of fresh air, sleep and sunshine. They live a life of low stress in communities that emphasize family and human relationships. As a result, they enjoy a level of health and quality of life that we can barely imagine.
Unsanitary Conditions, but Healthy People
In another region of Ecuador, we find another story of superior resiliency and longevity: the Indians of the mountainous region of Cuenca. In his book, How to Survive Modern Technology, Charles McGee, M.D., reports experiences he had as a Project Hope physician in this region, starting in 1965. McGee had awesome tales to tell about the resilience of these people, who ate excellent diets and lived low-stress lifestyles. Otherwise, however, their living conditions were what we would consider primitive. These Indians usually walked around barefoot and lived in one-room, dirt- floored houses that had no glass in the windows. They had extremely poor sanitary conditions, no running water, no toilet facilities, and their animals wandered haphazardly in and out of their living spaces. As a result of these filthy conditions and a contaminated water supply, infant mortality was very high from bacterial and parasitic infections. (Infants are more susceptible to infections because their immune systems are not yet fully developed.) Examinations of the local children showed that 95 percent had intestinal parasites.
Given the above, one would certainly expect these Indians to be sickly and weak. To the contrary, McGee found them to have perfect teeth, extremely high resistance to infections and amazing resistance to physical trauma resulting from accidents. He described incidents where he treated a man with a ruptured bladder (from a bus accident) and a woman with a ruptured uterus (from childbirth). McGee said that, considering the severity of the damage and the quality of the medical facilities,
neither of these people “should have” survived. These people not only survived, they walked home to their mountain villages after treatment at McGee’s hospital. Yes, by our standards, they should not have survived; however, our standards are substandard.
Our assumptions about the capabilities of the human body are significantly underestimated. The good nutrition of these people contributed to their cellular health, which allowed them to recover from severe injuries that would have probably killed the typical American. Likewise, absent in these Indians were the typical American diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, allergies, asthma, senility and mental illness. Also compelling is that in one year of doing surgery, under very basic and unsanitary conditions, McGee observed only one postoperative infection; in modern, technologically advanced hospitals, infections are bewilderingly rampant. In fact, many people in our society are afraid of hospitals for this exact reason. The resistance to disease of these Indians, under exceptionally challenging conditions, was truly amazing.
Germs and parasites are everywhere, and we have been living with them for millennia. Despite the presence of intestinal parasites in most of the Cuenca, few of them ever became sick from them. Only since the germ theory, and the discovery of microscopic organisms, has medicine focused so obsessively on isolating and killing germs. Medicine has developed few or no protocols for promoting basic human health and immunity, yet promoting health is the only thing that consistently works, as we can see from these healthy populations. The Cuenca had virtually none of the diseases that are so common among us. Why? Because they were fundamentally healthy—that is, they had healthy cells.
McGee contrasted their superior health to the poor health of the population of a nearby city, where toxic junk foods like sugar, white flour, soda pop and white rice had been available for several years. In this city, not surprisingly, heart attacks, diabetes and other chronic diseases had begun to appear.
Modern “Progress”— Toward Deterioration
Having seen how healthy people are capable of performing, living long lives free of disease and enjoying boundless energy, why, with all of our technology, are we doing so poorly by comparison? The many changes we have made in modern society have taken us away from the factors that enhance health and created new conditions that damage health. Never before, in all of human history, have so many health- related factors changed so rapidly and so completely. The basic nutritional, environmental and behavioral dimensions of our society have been severely and
rapidly altered. Since the Industrial Revolution, and especially during the past century, humanity has:
• Completely changed its diet.
• Created a new environment.
• Developed new patterns of behavior and lifestyle.
Granted, in this millennium, most of us simply cannot grow our own food and harvest it when ripe, walk to our destinations, or totally avoid the stresses of modern industrial society. However, in recognizing what contributed to the health of traditionally healthy people, combined with an understanding of the significant changes we have made to our own environments and lifestyles, we can begin to see how we must compensate. We need to learn how to create healthy habits for living within our modern ways of life.
Our way of life is completely different from the lives of even a century ago. From a personal standpoint, these changes have been made too slowly for us to notice, but from an evolutionary standpoint, they have come rapidly— much too rapidly for healthy adaptation by our bodies and minds.
The Web of Life
Choosing health would be easy if only one factor were involved. However, no one factor determines our health. Rather, our state of health is the end result of countless biological and behavioral interrelationships called the “web of life.” Unwittingly, we have been busy pulling this web apart, through the fundamental changes we have made in our diet, our environment and our behavior. Everything relates to everything else; making a change in one part of the web affects the rest of it.
We are learning that life support systems are more interdependent and delicately balanced than we ever realized. No one fully understands how it all works. The web is as big and complex as the planet itself, and as some scientists suggest, as big as the universe. But the fact that we do not understand it thoroughly certainly should not prevent us from using what we do know for protecting and supporting our health right now.
Acting on our knowledge of the factors described in the chapters about the six pathways can take us beyond “health” as we have come to accept it. We have seen traditionally healthy people such as the Hunzas achieve a potential for human health that is truly awesome, but to achieve a high level of health in our society requires knowledge, commitment and a willingness to try new things. It can be done. While none of us can or probably want to revert to living a primitive lifestyle, we can, with a few changes in diet and lifestyle, improve our health and quality of life.
THE NEW THEROY
OF HEALTH AND DISEASE
“The most basic weapons in the fight against disease are the most ignored by modern medicine: the numerous nutrients the cells of our bodies need. If our body cells are ailing—as they must be in disease—the chances are excellent that it is because they are being inadequately provisioned.”
Roger J. Williams, Ph.D.
Nutrition Against Disease
Modern medicine believes that thousands of diseases exist, each with different causes and treatments. This belief has led to a system of medicine so complex and baffling that physicians resort to protocols that merely suppress symptoms. By suppressing symptoms rather than addressing causes, diseases remain chronic. In this chapter, you will learn a new approach. This new theory of health and disease is a model that recognizes not thousands of diseases but only one disease, along with only two causes of disease. This simple model of disease is so powerful that it can enable you to go beyond health as you have experienced it and never be sick again.
One Disease—Two Causes— Six Pathways
A real understanding of the relationship between health and disease cannot be achieved through knowledge of germs, inherited genes, medicines, surgery, or any of the many “diseases” that make people sick. Keeping up with these subjects is complex and doesn’t really help people to take care of themselves. What we need right now are solutions for good health. The time is ripe to simplify: Understand what your cells need, how they work and what causes them to malfunction. Your cells are what make your life possible.
There is only one disease: malfunctioning cells.
When cells malfunction, the body is no longer able to maintain homeostasis (balance) by regulating and repairing itself. This is the essence of disease, no matter what you call it or how it happens. Because only one disease exists, all we need to do is prevent the causes of that one disease.
There are only two causes of disease:
deficiency and toxicity.
All you have to do for health is to give your cells what they need and protect them from what they don’t need. Cells malfunction only if they suffer from a lack of nutrients (deficiency), toxic damage (toxicity) or a combination of both. Preventing
these two causes of disease is made possible by our ability to choose how we live our lives. Health depends on the choices we make. These choices fall into six categories, or pathways.
There are six pathways between health and disease: nutrition, toxin, psychological, physical, genetic and medical.
The body knows how to take care of itself, provided it has what it needs to do so. Good choices along the six pathways provide for the needs of your body just as sunshine, water and rich soil provide for the needs of a houseplant. These concepts are not complicated; in fact they are incredibly simple. We just become lost along the way sometimes because we don’t have a sound theory of health and disease. Well, now we do: one disease, two causes, six pathways. Applying this theory can restore balance to your cells and support your cells’ natural ability to self-regulate and repair damage. Along each of the six pathways, I teach you in this book how to prevent the two causes of disease. Using this knowledge, you can restore health and prevent future sickness.
The Need to Simplify
At the time of my illness, despite my scientific education and background, I probably knew as much, or as little, about disease as most people. I thought that disease was something that came from germs and from genetic predisposition. I thought disease was something that happened to the unlucky, the starving, or to those who really abused themselves, such as alcoholics and drug addicts. My physician said that my problems were the result of aging, as opposed to something that I had unknowingly chosen and could choose to reverse.
During my recovery process, I realized that I would have been able to prevent my illness if I had understood the causes of disease. I realized that as long as disease remained something mysterious, complicated and difficult to understand, then only the high priests of medicine—the educated experts we call doctors—would be able to deal with it. What if we could all understand what causes disease? Wouldn’t we be empowered to prevent disease? Can we actually do that? Can we distill simple truth from this complex mystery? Throughout man’s history, great advancements in science have often come from people who were able to take extraordinarily complex subjects and simplify them. In this chapter we are trying to simplify the concepts of health and disease.
Consider this: Rather than thousands of diseases, there is only one disease. Does this sound ridiculous? Probably, but that is because we are conditioned to think of many different diseases, rather than recognizing what is common to all disease. The most difficult aspect of this theory is that it requires you to look at health and disease in a completely different way. Using the concept of one disease dramatically simplifies how we perceive disease in general.
To simplify disease, we must first have an understanding of what disease is. In order to do that, we need a basic understanding of cells. Every plant and animal on earth is made of cells—the smallest unit of life. Fossil records show that the earliest forms of life were single-celled organisms. Likewise, each human being started as one cell—a single cell encoded with all of the information needed to develop into the vastly complex, multitrillion-celled organisms that we are today.
Each of us is made of about seventy-five trillion cells. Not all of these cells are the same. Humans have over 200 different types of cells (nerve cells, blood cells, muscle cells, bone cells, etc.), forming many different types of tissues that enable us to eat, breathe, feel, move, think and reproduce. Together, cells combine to form the building blocks of biological structure and function. All of these cells communicate with each other and rely on these communications in order to keep us alive and well. Healthy cells make healthy tissues, which are highly resistant to disease and physical injury. Unhealthy cells create unhealthy tissues, which are quite susceptible to both disease and injury.
What Is Disease?
Each cell must perform specific tasks in order to collaborate effectively with other cells in the body. If all of your cells are healthy, these tasks are well executed and the body functions at optimal levels. If all of your cells are healthy, you cannot be sick. If, for any reason, a cell starts to malfunction, it is less able to perform its assigned tasks, which is where problems can begin. When such malfunction occurs in a large enough number of cells to impair the body’s ability to self-repair and self- regulate, disease occurs.
The scientific term for a cell that is malfunctioning is cytopathy (cyto referring to cell, and pathy to sickness or disease). As fantastically complex as we humans are, the fundamental concept of disease is simple. Disease is the result of a large number of malfunctioning cells (widespread cytopathy). This definition is not fancy or eloquent; it may even seem absurdly simple. However, it is a profound, precise and irrefutable definition of disease. This definition is so simple that no one—scientist, physician or layperson—can deny it. This definition provides the unifying theory of health and disease that the modern medical establishment lacks, which is the reason
that modern medicine is unable to address the current epidemic of chronic disease.
Perhaps you are thinking, “But wait! Disease is much more complex than that! What about genetic predisposition? What about bacterial and viral infection? What about cancer? What about AIDS? What about . . . ?” True, many factors may conspire in contributing to the malfunction of our cells and the many different ways in which they can malfunction. In the end, though, cellular malfunction creates the measurable abnormalities that we call disease. Therefore, no matter which cells malfunction, or why they malfunction, the malfunction is the one disease.
A person cannot be sick unless a large number of cells are malfunctioning. The first steps on the path to disease are taken when, for whatever reason, a single cell begins to malfunction, and then another cell and another. When the number grows large enough, we may begin to notice. We may “feel sick” along the way, perhaps experiencing a pain here, a discomfort there or a lack of energy. By the time your health has deteriorated into a diagnosable chronic disease, no cell may be left in your body that is still functioning optimally. I am astounded when people describe their health problems and then claim that, “other than this,” they are in excellent health!
Unfortunately, modern medicine finds itself mired in complexity, confronted with numerous diseases, diagnoses and treatments. Lost in the midst of thousands of different diseases (each supposedly with its own unique causes), physicians are unable to effectively diminish disease in our society. A simpler and more effective solution is to focus on the process—the one disease—and to ask what causes it. When you understand disease as a process, rather than a “thing” to be cut out or suppressed, then you see why surgery and drugs, virtually the only tools of the physician, are limited in what they can do.
The Two Causes of Disease
Cellular malfunction is the essence of disease. But why does it happen? Cells can malfunction in a multitude of ways, and the biochemistry of these malfunctions can be exceedingly complex. All malfunctions can be reduced to two causes: deficiency and toxicity. Deficiency means that cells are lacking something that they need in order to function the way they are designed to function. Toxicity means that cells are poisoned by something that inhibits proper function. Either one of these factors— and usually a combination of both—can and will cause disease.
One of the great scientific minds of the twentieth century, biochemist Dr. Roger Williams, wrote, “Body cells in general die for two reasons: First, because they do not get everything they need; second, because they get poisoned by something they decidedly do not need.” Humans can live long and healthy lives if we do two things right: provide our cells with all of the nutrients they need and protect our cells from toxins. To the extent that we can accomplish these tasks well, we can significantly
extend the length and the quality of our lives. In the real world, these two tasks are never accomplished perfectly. As a result, cells suffer, we age, the quality of life is diminished and we die. The variable in this sequence is how fast we allow this to happen.
What about other causes of disease, such as genetic inheritance and infections by microorganisms? Yes, genes and germs trigger cellular malfunction, but they do so by causing deficiencies or toxicities, which are always the common denominators of disease. Eliminate these factors and you eliminate disease. For example, consider diseases with a genetic basis, such as ALD (adrenoleukodystrophy), the genetic disease featured in the movie Lorenzo’s Oil. People with ALD develop abnormally high levels of very long-chain fatty acids, which are molecules that are natural to the body. These fatty acids can build up to levels that are toxic to cells. This toxicity is the result of a genetically caused deficiency of special protein molecules that keep these fatty acid levels within normal limits. Lorenzo’s parents compensated for the genetic deficiency by supplementing their son’s diet with a combination of oils that helped to lower the level of the offending fatty acids, thereby reducing the toxic effect on his body. What caused Lorenzo’s disease? Was it genetics? Yes, but for his disease to manifest, his cells had to be deficient and toxic. Deficiency and toxicity are always the common denominators of all disease. The same is true of infections from microorganisms. Anthrax, for example, makes us sick and kills by producing toxins. Without deficiency and toxicity causing cells to malfunction, there is no disease.
What about stress? Hasn’t that been proven to cause disease? True, stress is a major factor that contributes to disease. Chronic stress results in an excessive buildup of natural chemicals in the body, which at higher levels become toxic. In addition, stress depletes the body of certain nutrients, resulting in deficiency. Stress is a contributor to disease, but only by expressing itself through the common denominators of all disease: deficiency and toxicity.
Deficiency and toxicity, regardless of their cause, increasingly compromise the functioning of cells, making a person steadily more vulnerable to developing a diagnosable disease. By the time you contract a diagnosable disease (whether we’re talking about the common cold, allergies, cancer or heart disease), you have probably been “sick” for a long time. You have suffered enough cellular damage from deficiency and toxicity that cells throughout your body are malfunctioning. You are sick long before you get sick. By the time symptoms are produced, cellular malfunction has become widespread, cell-to-cell communications have been disrupted and the systemic manifestations are the symptoms. Remember that disease does not just randomly happen, like a meteorite falling out of the sky. Health, not disease, is the natural state of human existence, but forgetting this point is easy when we see all the disease around us.
Symptoms Versus the One Disease
Our society’s current understanding of disease is based on the concept of symptomology. Symptomology is about focusing on, identifying and categorizing symptoms—in other words, the effects produced by disease. In this manner, doctors supposedly can differentiate one disease from another. Because the entirety of modern medicine and everything we have ever learned about disease is based on symptomology, the concept of only one disease may seem unacceptably simplistic. Actually the symptomology concept is the flawed one.
Symptomology is based on a fundamental misconception, one held by virtually all medical establishments in Western society. The misconception is that thousands of different diseases exist, each with different symptoms, causes and treatments. This misconception stems from the many different ways that cells can malfunction, and therefore the thousands of different symptoms that can be produced. The modern medical treatment of almost all disease focuses on the management of these symptoms (the effects of disease), rather than eliminating the causes, which are deficiency and toxicity. People are told to take insulin to manage their blood sugar rather than eliminating their diabetes, or to take diuretics to treat their hypertension rather than normalizing their blood pressure. They are told to have a bypass operation rather than reversing their heart disease or to undergo chemotherapy rather than healing their cancer.
Diagnosis by symptoms is the process by which modern medicine gives each collection of symptoms a particular name. Medicine views symptoms as enemies, and physicians are trained to eliminate them, even if that means aggressively assaulting the body with dangerous toxins, radiation or invasive surgery. Symptomology leads the medical profession to look at symptoms individually, organize them into thousands of categories, label them as different diseases and then prescribe a currently accepted protocol to suppress those symptoms. This approach adds needless complexity, creates massive confusion and results in an inability to deal with disease in a meaningful way.
In truth, each collection of symptoms—each specific “disease”—is just a different expression of malfunctioning cells. However, with all of our different types of cells, and all of the different ways in which each cell can malfunction, the number of possible combinations of symptoms becomes vast. In other words, when cells malfunction, we may feel sick in many different ways.
Cells that are malfunctioning because of a vitamin C deficiency exhibit different symptoms than those malfunctioning because of a zinc deficiency. Cells malfunctioning because of lead toxicity exhibit different symptoms from those malfunctioning because of mercury toxicity. Various combinations of deficiencies and toxicities produce a myriad of complex symptoms (thousands of “diseases”), but the symptoms are not relevant. To solve any problem, you have to address the
causes, not the symptoms.
Modern medicine, by placing the focus on symptoms, has yet to develop any theory regarding the relationship between health and disease. Medicine looks at these as if they are two different states, while health and disease are really different sides of the same coin in a constantly shifting continuum. Lacking a practical theory, physicians have no framework in which to understand health or how to help patients achieve it, like being lost in a vast jungle without a map or compass. Narrowly trained, our physicians are taught the art of surgery and the administration of drugs as tools to manage symptoms. If the only tool you have is a hammer, so the saying goes, then every problem looks like a nail. If you go to a conventionally trained physician, then medicine’s “hammers”—surgery and drugs—are what you receive. Unfortunately, these tools are designed to manage and suppress symptoms, not to cure disease.
For a more meaningful understanding of disease (cellular malfunction), we must consider the health of our cells. Remember that noticeable health problems begin when a large number of cells malfunction. As this happens, important cellular chemicals are not produced, cell-to-cell communications become garbled and the body ceases to regulate itself properly. Our tissues suffer and noticeable symptoms appear, e.g., allergies, fatigue, aches and pains, colds, flu, depression, anxiety, cancer or any of thousands of other complaints.
Categorizing and suppressing the symptoms of malfunctioning cells does not fix the problem. This approach cannot explain why the problem occurred in the first place, cannot prevent the problem from happening again and cannot prevent it from appearing elsewhere in the body. The only “cure” is to restore our cells and tissues to health.
What Is Health?
Everybody thinks they know what health is, but people asked to define it give you many different answers. In order to define health, perhaps we first should provide the definition of health used in modern medicine: “Health is the absence of disease.” This medical school lesson is not a very good definition. For medicine to recognize disease, it must be diagnosable. You are not sick until the day the physician can diagnose something. The absence of diagnosable disease is not a good working definition of health. Modern medicine has no way of recognizing or diagnosing disease when your health is in its initial decline. When I was sick and already experiencing disturbing symptoms, my physician pronounced me in excellent health. He had never been taught how to notice and measure my already extensive decline in health. We are considered sick only after the problem has become serious enough to produce symptoms that fit neatly into one of medicine’s disease categories. This way of looking at health is not helpful, productive or self-empowering. Health is
much more than the absence of a diagnosable disease.
When your cells are functioning as they should, you have ample adaptive capacity to thrive in our constantly changing environment without ill effects. With properly functioning cells, you have strong resilience to various kinds of stress— physical, chemical, biological and emotional. You have the ability to make daily repairs to your cells, the ability to build healthy new ones, and the ability to efficiently remove pathogenic microorganisms and toxins from your body. You become an optimally balanced organism, with integrated mental and physical equilibrium. Perhaps most important is that achieving good cellular health gives our society the ability to produce healthy offspring.
While the above descriptions explain the practical effects of health, they still do not offer a single, concrete definition of health. In order to clearly define health, as a concept concrete enough to be understood and discussed, let us work with the following definition:
Health is the state wherein all cells are functioning optimally.
Never are all of our cells functioning perfectly, so the challenge is to keep cellular malfunction to a minimum. Even in healthy people, cells are constantly being damaged, dying and being replaced. Our bodies produce more than 10 million new cells every second, as we constantly rebuild our tissues. How healthy are each of these new cells? If we replace sick cells with sick cells, we will never recover. As cells die off are we replacing them with healthy cells or sick cells?
Who Succumbs to Disease?
Only sick people become sick. Once you start to compromise health, a cascade of events follow. Once a critical number of cells begin to malfunction, internal communications and self-regulation systems become debilitated and destabilized. As the number of compromised cells increases, the effects are compounded. Before anyone can exhibit noticeable signs of disease, normal cell function has to be compromised significantly throughout the body. Vulnerability to infections, for example, is created by widespread cellular malfunction. An infection indicates that cellular malfunction already has weakened the immune system. Having a cold or the flu is an alarm screaming at you that all is not well, because healthy people resist infections in the first place. Few of us pay attention to these alarms. We think that having a cold or the flu is normal, and that once the symptoms are gone we are well again. Not so.
The level of your health and immunity determines whether or not the presence of a microorganism results in an infection. You are already sick before you come down with an infection. Otherwise everybody who is exposed to a given “bug” would
become sick, which is not the case. Contrary to the common notion that we “catch” diseases, people become sick only after their cellular health is already compromised. Disease (cellular malfunction) comes first; active infections and chronic problems follow.
The skeptic says, “But he was born with asthma and suffered from it as an infant.” “She was in the best of health, took great care of herself, and then suddenly got breast cancer.” Although we hear these kinds of statements frequently, the notion is flawed that a person is a powerless victim of disease. This way of looking at events comes from living in a society that does not have an accurate understanding of disease, or of what is required to create and maintain health.
Think of the historically healthy societies, such as the Hunzas. These people implicitly understood what they needed to maintain their health. They lived far longer than we do, without the chronic degenerative diseases from which we suffer. The principles of good health were built into their beliefs and lifestyles. The key lesson to be learned from these people is this:
Healthy people do not get sick.
Most of us have not learned to think this way. We grow up in a society where almost everyone has a chronic disease. We have been taught, through experience, that disease is a “normal” part of the aging process. Diseased people are typically seen as the helpless victims of an inevitable and “natural” process. Especially when the symptoms of disease develop suddenly, people feel surprised and victimized. Yet, the two causes were there all the time, gradually wearing down cellular competence and creating an opportunity for disease to “strike.”
As part of the body’s normal maintenance and repair process, old cells are constantly being replaced with new ones. If new cells are not built with proper raw materials, they will be unhealthy and weak. Such cells are unable to perform their normal tasks, including routine repairs, and will be vulnerable to sickness and injury. Ultimately, the body’s self-regulation systems will break down. Because of the poor diets and the toxic environment in our society, cells are often deficient and toxic when first created, becoming progressively more so over time. This situation is precarious, with a large number of cells either malfunctioning or functioning at a borderline level. Similar to walking a tightrope, falling off is easy. Any number of stressful factors can affect a person adversely who is already deficient and toxic, be it a stressful event, a pathogenic organism, a night out on the town, a physical injury or even a lengthy airplane flight. Almost any challenge to a compromised system can be the straw that breaks the overburdened camel’s back.
Though painful to acknowledge, disease sufferers invariably (if unknowingly) have made poor choices leading to illness. In the case of sick children, the parents have made the poor choices.
We are not taught that we have the ability to and, in fact, need to consistently make meaningful choices about our health. Instead, when we become sick we look to something outside of ourselves to explain our “misfortune.” We look for some obvious circumstance that can explain why we are sick. Do these excuses sound familiar? “I walked outside in the cold air and . . .” or “So and so was coughing and sneezing near me at work and . . .” or “Everybody at little Ricky’s school is sick, it’s no wonder that . . .” or “Obesity runs in my family . . .” We are accustomed to ill health as something that mysteriously lands on us. We fail to see our own role regarding its development. When invited to consider illness as the result of our poor choices, usually we reject such a notion. By placing the blame for sickness on excuses, we relieve ourselves of responsibility.
However, accepting responsibility for our health can be enormously empowering. The overall competence of cells— determined by relative levels of deficiency and toxicity—are the sole determinants of health. Learn how to embrace health and avoid illness by educating yourself in how to make healthful choices that lower your levels of deficiency and toxicity and promote your cellular health.
In Which Direction Is Your Health Moving?
Some of the time we are sick, and most of the time we are well. This variability in our individual health is almost exclusively the result of the choices we make. In this fluctuation, sickness is not the absolute opposite of health. Health and sickness are not fixed concepts and they cannot be defined in black-and-white terms. Instead, consider your health as a constantly changing continuum. Consider the balance between sickness and health as a scale, with optimal health at one end, and death at the other. Somewhere in between is a diagnosable disease. As life progresses, your position on the scale shifts, moving back and forth all the time. At any time, it is worthwhile to ask: Where am I on this scale? In which direction on this scale am I moving?
The Health and Performance Scale shown on the next page is simple but effective, serving to illustrate the relationship between sickness and health. In considering this diagram, remember our definitions of health and disease. Optimal health (on the far right) is that theoretical state in which every cell is functioning optimally and you are absolutely as healthy as your genetic capacity allows. This condition is called homeostasis—when the body is perfectly in balance and continually is fine-tuning itself to maintain that balance. Very few Americans are at this end of the scale, but we should strive toward this goal. Between optimal health and death is diagnosable disease. In this state, cellular malfunction is occurring on such a large scale that the symptoms of a medically defined disease are produced. On the far left of the scale is death—where all cells have ceased to function.
The Health and Performance Scale
©2002 Beyond Health
Tragically, more than three out of four Americans have medically significant cellular malfunction—a diagnosable disease of some kind. The overwhelming majority of us are somewhere between diagnosable disease and death!
Think about your personal health equation, your position on this Health and Performance Scale. Do you have a diagnosable disease? If so, you are located between disease and death. Even without having a diagnosable disease, your health may be far from optimal. Fortunately, your position on this continuum is not static; it can change depending on your choices.
No matter your age or your current state of health, you have the power to change the direction in which you are going and how rapidly you move on the Health and Performance Scale. I learned this firsthand, in making powerful life-saving choices, after it was declared a medical certainty that I would die. I learned it again years later, after witnessing the illness and extraordinary recovery of an elderly woman.
A family called me to ask for help with their bedridden and senile mother. This woman was ninety-four years old and unable to get out of bed; sometimes she recognized her family and knew where she was, at other times she did not. Her children loved her very much and did not want to place her in a nursing home, yet the burden of her care had become too much for them. With nowhere else to turn, they asked if there was anything I could recommend. My reply was, “Probably not.” Given the woman’s debilitated condition, I assumed that her health had deteriorated beyond repair. At a certain point, enough cellular machinery has been damaged that sufficient repairs can no longer be made. Though I was pessimistic about the likelihood of any improvement, the family asked for my advice anyway. In retrospect, I found out that I still had a lot to learn about the capacity of the human body to heal itself.
I started out by recommending some specific vitamin supplements to help supply certain key nutrients to her cells. When I asked what she was eating, the first item they mentioned was milk. After years of study, I had come to realize that cow’s milk is not an appropriate food for any human being. For someone in her condition, cow’s milk was almost certainly putting a toxic load on her already struggling body. I recommended that they stop feeding her milk. As I hung up the phone, I doubted that these suggestions would have much of an impact or that I would ever hear from
them again. Two weeks later the phone rang with gleeful reports of her “miraculous”
improvement. She was getting out of bed, going to the bathroom and getting dressed
—all by herself. She was walking around the house and having rational conversations with her family. A miracle? No, just a movement of her health equation in the right direction. By addressing her cellular deficiency and toxicity, this woman’s body began once again to repair and regulate itself. Indeed, I have learned that almost anyone can alter his or her health equation in a positive direction.
Sickness never happens without a cause. The cause is usually our own ignorance of or disregard for our personal health equations. So how can you avoid getting sick? Simple. Make the kind of health-conscious life choices that optimize your personal health equation. We live in a fast-paced society that has created an environment and adopted diets, lifestyles and behaviors that do not support human health. If we want to be healthy, we have to make choices that significantly deviate from the diet and lifestyle of the average American. Eating a “normal” diet and living a “normal” life are virtually guaranteed to make you sick. To prevent this from happening, you must be proactive. As Joseph D. Beasley, M.D., said in The Kellogg Report, “In the long run, individuals cannot be better than their biology—as affected by their nutrition, ecology, and lifestyle.”
The key to never having to be sick again is the ability to choose between the things that are healthy and the things that are not. This sounds simple, but accurate information about what is healthy is hard to come by. Next, let’s look at a definition and an overview of each of the six pathways between health and disease and explain how knowledge of them can lead to better decisions about health.
The Six Pathways Between
Health and Disease
Having read this far, has your perspective on health and disease changed? Are you becoming accustomed to the theory of one disease and two causes? You have learned that if your cells malfunction to the degree that they interfere with your body’s ability to balance and regulate itself, you are diseased.
Whether you are suffering from the flu, cancer, diabetes, depression or something else, cellular malfunction is always the essence of the problem.
The tool that I developed to help myself make better choices is the six pathways. As demonstrated, your personal health equation is always in flux; depending on the choices you make, you will move either in the direction of optimal health or in the direction of disease and death. This movement occurs along the six pathways. These six pathways are like six different roads; each spans the distance between health and
disease. Depending on the choices made along each pathway, you are moving toward one or the other. The six pathways concept provides a framework through which informed, logical, health-enhancing choices can be made.
The pathways are:
A holistic approach to health requires attention to all of these pathways. Consistent movement in the wrong direction along any of them can lead to cellular malfunction, breakdown of self-regulation and diagnosable disease. Continuous movement in the right direction leads to optimal health and performance.
By learning about the six pathways, you can have a clear understanding of the different ways that health can be influenced. You will be empowered to mitigate the negative effects of modern living, thus taking charge of your personal health.
Pathway Number One: Nutrition
What is America’s leading cause of disease? Malnutrition. We think of ourselves as so well fed that the idea that we are suffering from malnutrition is difficult for most Americans to grasp. When we hear the word “malnourished,” we recall television images of starving children. Although Americans are rarely undernourished to this extent, we are malnourished, and in fact it is our leading cause of disease. The typical diet, what most Americans eat, simply does not supply sufficient nutrients. No wonder that we suffer from the one disease in its various forms.
The nutrition pathway is about the relationship between the nutritional content of your diet and your health. Obtaining proper nutritional intake on a daily basis is important because nutrients act as a team. A shortage of even one nutrient will decrease the effectiveness of all the others. Nutritional status affects our entire being, including moods and emotions, the ability to learn and remember, physical performance and resistance to disease. Cells and tissues thrive when provided with an environment rich in nutrients such as water, oxygen, vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids, while deficiency causes disease and shortens life.
To some degree, almost all Americans are overfed but undernourished. Virtually everything that we eat today, unless we make special choices, is nutritionally inferior to the foods that our ancestors were eating as recently as a few generations
ago. Not only have we fundamentally changed what we eat; we have changed how our food is grown, processed, transported, stored, treated and prepared. These changes cause our foods to be nutritionally deficient—the primary cause of our modern epidemic of chronic disease. In addition, our crops usually retain toxic residues from pesticides and other agricultural chemicals, and some are even ripened with artificial chemicals. Both nutritionally deficient and chemically toxic, our modern food supply promotes disease.
Pathway Number Two: Toxin
Toxins interfere with normal cell function, thereby causing malfunctions. Most people know that toxins are dangerous, but what are toxins, and how do toxins damage our cells?
We are exposed to toxins in various ways: in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the clothes we wear and the food we eat. In our modern world, we are exposed to these environmental toxins all day, every day. Toxins in our environment can impose an undue external burden on us, while poor digestion, lack of exercise, and negative thoughts and emotions can increase our toxic loads internally.
Our bodies do have the ability to detoxify, but our detoxification mechanisms require essential nutrients to function properly. Inadequate nutrition deprives the body of the raw materials necessary to detoxify, so toxic levels build and negatively affect cellular health. In our society, toxic overload is having a bigger effect than it should, because our deficient diets do not supply the nutrients necessary to operate and maintain our detoxification mechanisms. Not only is our toxic load the highest in history, but our ability to process and eliminate these toxins is impaired.
Because we know that excessive toxic exposure causes disease, learning about the toxin pathway can teach us which substances are toxic, how toxic they are, where they are, how they get there and how we can minimize our exposures to them. The toxin pathway provides insight into the toxic aspects of our daily lives—in our food supply, water supply, homes and personal products (including many soaps, shampoos and toothpastes). Fortunately, healthful alternatives are available. Toxic exposure is a fact of life, and the body is designed to deal with it. Our problem is toxic overload, i.e., when the toxic input exceeds our ability to process it. Understanding this pathway can help us to reduce toxic exposure to manageable levels by teaching us to recognize and avoid toxins in our daily lives.
Pathway Number Three: Psychological
The psychological pathway may turn out to be the most important pathway of all. Through study of the psychological pathway, we learn about the significance of thoughts, emotions and behavior, and how these affect our health.
Many people believe that the mind has an enormous effect on the body. This idea,
however, is based on the supposition that the mind somehow is separated from the body. In truth, the entire body, including the brain, is the mind. When we understand that the mind and body are one, reports of placebo effects and miraculous healings should not be surprising. In fact, they are part of everyday life.
Our thoughts and emotions trigger a cascade of biochemical reactions that either enhance or damage health. How we react to various life events and how we respond to our thoughts and emotions are choices that can damage or enhance cellular health. What we allow to enter our minds on a daily basis is critical. What we think and feel over a lifetime plays a major role in our health or illness. The significance and impact of the factors associated with this pathway may indeed be more important than all the nutrients and toxins we put into our bodies, perhaps even more important than all the other pathways put together. The psychological pathway explores the subjects relevant to behavioral and psychological factors in health and disease, including meditation, stress, thoughts, emotions and the placebo effect.
Pathway Number Four: Physical
The physical pathway contains recommendations on how to recognize and provide for the body’s physical needs. This pathway can be used to enhance physical potential and to minimize physical damage. Just as nutrition and toxic avoidance are important to health, physical maintenance and care are also essential to the health equation.
Most Americans do not get adequate exercise, sleep or sunlight. An indoor, sedentary lifestyle means little or no exercise nor exposure to natural light. Our mental lifestyle, meanwhile, is excessively fast paced, and this, together with a high incidence of sleep deprivation, means that often we are chronically and seriously stressed. Also we are exposed to subtle physical influences, such as electromagnetic fields caused by the wiring in our homes, hairdryers, heaters, electric razors, cell phones and the X rays we receive as part of medical and dental evaluations.
Pathway Number Five: Genetic
Limit genetic damage. Optimize genetic potential. These are the goals we strive toward on the genetic pathway.
The genetic pathway focuses on optimizing the expression of our genes to promote health and limit any damage to the genes. Each human being is genetically unique; inherent strengths and weaknesses are a part of our basic genetic makeup. Genes are the blueprint of life. Our genes, however, rarely have the final say and they are certainly not the primary cause of disease that modern medicine would have us believe. Genes are a potential for expression, and they express themselves in ways commensurate with life’s circumstances.
The genetic pathway explores topics such as the genetic causes for disease and the
effects of genetically engineered foods. Further, this pathway identifies specific hazards that can potentially cause genetic damage, such as environmental chemicals, prescription drugs and radiation. Most important is the personal resolve of individuals to commit themselves seriously to optimizing health, rather than accepting their so-called genetic predisposition as a fore-doomed fate.
Pathway Number Six: Medical
The medical pathway is perhaps the most surprising and most misunderstood of all the pathways. As we have noted, many people rave about and swear by the near- miraculous feats accomplished by modern medicine. The technology that contemporary medicine has to offer is best used in crisis intervention and trauma care. However, such applications are limited. No doubt that physicians are well- meaning, but a blind trust in them and in the treatments they offer (surgery and drugs) to the exclusion of other considerations can lead to destructive and even lethal consequences.
The medical pathway helps to explain how modern medicine can cause disease. Widespread ignorance and failure to comprehend this fact are reasons that modern medicine harms the health of our population. By studying this pathway we can identify and avoid potentially harmful aspects of medicine, while still reaping the benefits of modern medical technology.
The medical pathway is unique, expressing itself through all of the other pathways and thus, compromising health at many levels. In working to optimize your personal health equation, you need to be aware of the ways in which modern medical “care” actually can damage your health along any of the other pathways. Chapter 10 about the medical pathway describes more specifically medicine’s capabilities and its limitations.
A New Theory for a New Millennium
During the last century, modern industrial society has brought fundamental changes to human existence; we are developing and changing the world much faster than our biology can adapt. Today, nutritional intake, toxic exposures and stress levels bear little resemblance to those of even our most recent biological ancestors. Every cell in our bodies is adversely affected by these profound changes, which is why our society has suffered more and more chronic disease. Disease is the catastrophic result of decades of inadequate nutrition, toxic exposures, sedentary lifestyles, familial and social disruptions and a dependence on drugs (prescription, over-the-counter and recreational).
In this chapter, I have attempted to outline the complexity and confusion that surround disease in our society. I offer a new theory of health and disease, a new
way to look at these concepts: There is only one disease, cellular malfunction, and only two causes of disease, deficiency and toxicity. Six pathways can lead to health or disease. Our confusion arises because cells malfunction in many different ways. Modern medicine categorizes the symptoms created by these various malfunctions as different diseases, even though they have common causes. Achieving victory over disease requires removing the causes. Eliminate deficiency and toxicity, allow the body to self-repair and self-regulate, and disease will go away.
“Cells—in the skin, the muscles, the lungs, the liver, the intestines, the kidneys, the blood vessels, the glands, the heart and, crucially, the nerves and brain—must be well nourished if we are to lead long and healthy lives. Contrarily, if these cells are undernourished, disabilities and diseases of every description will ensue.”
Roger J. Williams, Ph.D.
Nutrition Against Disease
Let us take a trip together to the front lines of the daily battle between health and disease: your cells. Cells are the building blocks of your body. They build your tissues, and these tissues make up your systems. Because malfunctioning cells are the one disease, learning to care for cells is fundamental to healthy living. Come with me on a tour of the systems that keep your body healthy or that make you sick. The struggle for life itself occurs within every cell. The vitality of a person can only be as strong as the cells of which they are made.
The basics of caring for your cells are as follows:
• Supply cells with all the raw materials they need.
• Avoid the damaging effects of toxic chemicals.
• Build healthy cell membranes, the cell’s first line of defense against disease.
• Learn how to prevent and reverse disease by understanding how cells work and how they malfunction.
• Choices, rather than genetic inheritance, are key.
Lost Along the Way
Before we leave our homes to travel—particularly if our destination is unfamiliar
—we usually spend time reading brochures, studying maps, or researching local customs, currency, and, perhaps, health precautions. We rarely give that kind of attention to our own bodies and to our health, yet what could be more important?
Most people expect that their bodies generally take care of themselves, provided they don’t smoke, drink to excess, or fall prey to some unstoppable virus or some predetermined genetic disease. Most people believe that as long as they avoid “fattening” foods, they are eating a healthful diet. On all counts, these people are wrong.
One of the most important things you need in order to fight disease and to encourage your own health is knowledge. This chapter teaches you how to prepare and what to pack for a healthy journey through the rest of your life. The small amount of time you will spend reading this chapter will be an investment worth
making: It may save your life. Knowledge is power, and you are about to plug into a tremendous energy source.
A cabinet stocked with medicines, a list of doctors to call, and a head filled with commercial endorsements, medical studies and drug warning labels does nothing to give you what you really need: a true understanding of what makes you sick or how to get well. Without that understanding, you can be caught up in a whirlwind of medical procedures and pharmaceuticals that suppress or surgically remove the symptoms of what are labeled as thousands of different diseases. In reality, these drugs and surgeries do not cure disease, and they may actually kill you. Despite the confusion out there about how disease occurs and the different health plans that seek to promote health, real success can only come if you keep your cells working right. This chapter teaches you, simply and clearly, how your body works at its most basic level: your cells.
A cell is much more than a combination of molecules and atoms. A cell is a miraculous reality—life itself. A single cell may be a life form, such as a bacterium. A human being, on the other hand, is made of about 75 trillion cells, including about two hundred different kinds of specialized cells with specific functions throughout the body, such as in the brain, the blood, the muscles, the liver and the eyes.
Cells are created and maintained by extremely complex actions and interactions, but nature takes care of that complexity. Your job is rather simple: Make certain that your cells obtain what they need. Choosing health means learning how to supply your cells with what they need while keeping them free of what they don’t need. Cells have great powers to take care of themselves and to repair themselves—to stay healthy—unless they are overwhelmed by poor diets, unhealthy habits or environmental hazards. Your daily choices determine whether your cells stay healthy or get sick.
We are ready to begin our journey through the cells of your body. Picture that we have traveled to the largest industrial park you can imagine. Around the park is a security wall designed to keep out intruders, to prevent the loss of essential materials, and to regulate the passage of materials in and out of the park. Inside the park are powerhouses designed to make the energy necessary to keep the park working. These powerhouses, in turn, require fuel, oxygen and other essentials on a round-the-clock basis in order to do their jobs.
Also inside the park are different factories and manufacturing plants that require a continuous supply of energy and raw materials in order to meet their daily quota of
finished products. Coordinating all these activities are computer and communication systems that regulate the delivery of raw materials and the removal of wastes, as well as the production, storage and distribution of finished products. All of these systems are based upon a set of design blueprints containing all the information necessary to build a new park.
You have just toured the human cell. Each cell has a wall— the membrane— whose purpose is to keep out toxins, bacteria, viruses and other harmful substances, while still allowing nutrients to reach inside where they are needed. The membrane also prevents healthy and necessary substances from leaking out of the cell, while still allowing waste products to be excreted. Powerhouses in the cell create energy and manufacturing plants make the finished products your body needs, such as neurotransmitters, hormones and antibodies. Your cells also have electrical and communication systems that help to keep everything working in balance. Cells have many important jobs to perform during every second of every day; anything that interferes with these tasks is a threat to health.
Every day hundreds of billions of cells need to be replaced. Building a new cell requires a long list of raw materials, similar to building a new car or a computer. If even one part is missing, the product will be defective, and if many parts are missing, malfunction is guaranteed. As each new cell is created, you are choosing either health or disease, depending on whether the new cells you are building are healthy or not.
You make this choice when you order at a fast-food drive-up window, when you stay up too late, when you spray cleaning products around your house, when you take your daily vitamin supplement or when you choose to take no supplements. Making a single bad choice here and there is generally not a problem, but when you consistently make bad choices, daily living can wear down your tissues faster than they can be repaired or replaced.
Building and Operating Healthy Cells
To be healthy, each day old cells must be replaced with new ones and each must perform all of its intended functions. Do you know what raw materials you need to build healthy cells? Are you eating the right foods—foods whose calories are packed with the building blocks required to make healthy new cells? Does anyone really believe it is possible to build healthy cells from coffee, donuts, white bread, pasta, potato chips, french fries and ice cream? How many of the raw materials necessary to build and operate healthy cells do these foods contain? The answer is not many, which is one reason that we have so much disease.
A chronic shortage of vitamins, minerals, water, oxygen or other nutrients causes your cells to malfunction. You may be unaware this malfunction is happening,
particularly at the early stages, but a chronic shortage of even one nutrient eventually makes you sick. When shortages are chronic, the body stops repairing and self-regulating; cells then deteriorate into a diseased state or die.
Building healthy cells starts in a mother’s womb. If an embryo suffers from a shortage of building materials or the presence of toxins, a child born with birth defects may be the result. During pregnancy, certain parts of the fetus are being constructed during specific weeks—such as the brain and nervous system, the circulatory system and the digestive system. If essential raw materials are unavailable at that crucial time or toxins are present, any of these systems can be affected, perhaps manifested as heart defects, digestive problems, lower I.Q., attention deficit disorders and so on. We’re not talking about genetic defects here, but defects that result from building a baby in an unhealthy environment. In extreme situations, the construction process simply shuts down and the fetus is naturally aborted—an ever-increasing occurrence in our society.
A newborn baby’s health is the product of the genetic material from the parents and the supply of building materials and presence of toxins (from the mother) during gestation. People wrongly assume that genetics by itself explains the health or disease of their child. Congenital defects (those present at birth) are not necessarily the result of genetics. For example, the December 2001 issue of Lancet reported a study regarding supplemental vitamins taken during pregnancy. Mothers who had taken both folic acid and iron supplements during pregnancy gave birth to children who were 60 percent less likely to develop the most common form of childhood leukemia. Eating right is especially important for expecting moms. Like any disease, leukemia doesn’t “just happen.” The quality of the cells, tissues and systems a baby is born with has a lifelong effect.
Whether caused by nutritional deficiency or toxic exposure, trouble can begin when your cell factories are supposed to be making something but are not making enough or have shut down. If cell factories are unable to make sufficient antibodies, we become susceptible to infections. When cell factories cannot make sufficient neurotransmitters, mental function suffers. (Neurotransmitters are chemicals generated by nerve cells that send information throughout the nervous system, allowing us to think, learn and remember.) When unable to make sufficient hormones, communications and self-regulation are disrupted.
Hormones are chemicals produced by specialized cells that travel through the blood and lymph systems to bring messages to other parts of the body. Blood sugar level, for instance, is balanced primarily by two hormones, both produced by specialized cells in the pancreas.
Although each cell is a living entity unto itself, bodily systems can only be regulated and controlled when cells are able to communicate effectively with each ot he r. Impaired cellular communications is one of the most basic common
denominators of disease, no matter how the disease happened or what it is called. Cellular communication and feedback systems regulate everything from body temperature to immunity to movement. When these systems break down gradually, as they often do in disease, we may not notice. We are more familiar with sudden and severe breakdowns in bodily communication, such as spinal injuries that cause paralysis. We fail to recognize how subtle communication breakdowns precipitate chronic and terminal health problems.
Each time you order at a restaurant, each time you reach into your cabinet for cooking oils, each time you plan your day’s meals, you are basically deciding whether you will build strong cells or weak ones. It really is that simple. The choice is yours to make. Are you going to maintain your body or let it fall apart?
Toxins Shut Systems Down
A variety of toxic chemicals and metals can damage cells. Like grains of sand, toxins can jam cellular machinery and even cause entire cell factories or powerhouses to shut down.
Many toxins disable enzymes, which are necessary for the chemical reactions that make our lives possible. The number of chemical reactions required to make life possible is astonishing; in a cell, an estimated 6 trillion such reactions take place every second. Enzymes make these reactions possible. About two thousand kinds of enzymes have been identified, and they are manufactured by our cells to accomplish a variety of tasks. Enzymes act as little machines, putting things together or taking them apart at amazingly high speed. Without functioning enzymes, cell factories and assembly lines shut down.
The kind of enzymes a particular cell manufactures distinguishes and determines what kind of cell it is (for example, a nerve cell or a muscle cell). Enzymes serve a variety of purposes and must be constructed with many different nutrients. Enzymes contain essential mineral atoms, such as zinc, magnesium, iron and chromium. If these building materials are not present in sufficient quantity, enzyme function (and therefore cell function) is impaired. Take zinc, for example. The retina contains enzymes constructed with zinc and is a zinc-rich tissue. If you do not have enough zinc in your diet, your retina and other zinc-rich tissues, such as the prostate, will be impaired before obvious effects are noticed elsewhere in the body. Night blindness and malfunctioning prostates are common symptoms of zinc deficiency.
However, even if dietary zinc is adequate, but this nutrient is replaced in the enzyme by a toxic metal—such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium or lead—the presence of this toxin disables the enzyme and causes disease. Toxic heavy metals are a prime example of how toxins can cause cellular malfunction, and our bodies contain hundreds of times more toxic metals than they did in our ancestors a century ago.
Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that we are commonly exposed to from dental work
—amalgam fillings contain mercury. Municipal water supplies contain toxins such as aluminum, fluoride and arsenic. Even in trace amounts, these toxins can deactivate enzymes and impair vital bodily systems. They can cause our systems to shut down. They must be avoided.
Building and using enzymes properly is an essential part of good health, as enzyme dysfunction is a common denominator of disease. Maintaining proper enzyme balance is one reason to eat fresh organic foods. Organic produce is richer in the vitamins and minerals that enable us to build enzymes and coenzymes, and it is less toxic, too. Enzyme function can also be enhanced with high-quality dietary supplements.
The First Line of Defense
A cell’s first line of defense against disease is the cell membrane, the security wall that surrounds the cell and carries out many important functions. Healthy membranes, built from appropriate materials, protect cells from harmful invaders— including viruses. Malfunctioning membranes allow bacteria, viruses, toxins and other harmful substances to damage cells. The presence of poorly constructed cell membranes formed from poor diets is one of the biggest reasons that almost all Americans get sick.
The cell membrane controls everything that goes into and out of a cell. Making certain that only the right things go in and out of the cell is a critical and complex task that only can be accomplished when the cell membrane is constructed correctly. The membranes that surround each of the trillions of cells in your body are made mostly of fats and oils. Membranes constructed out of the wrong fats and oils do not function properly, which is a problem for most Americans. For example, diets with excessive amounts of saturated fats, which are rigid molecules, create rigid cell membranes that lack necessary elasticity. Catastrophic failures, such as ruptured blood vessels and torn muscles and tendons, can occur in tissues made from these rigid cells.
Cell membranes are made primarily of fatty molecules called phospholipids. Special kinds of oils called essential fatty acids (EFAs)—omega-3s and omega-6s— are used to create the phospholipids in cell membranes. These oils are essential because your body is unable to produce them; these oils must be obtained through diet. An overwhelming majority —some estimate as much as 90 percent—of the U.S. population may be deficient in the correct assortment of essential fatty acids. When the correct raw materials are lacking, the body makes cell membranes out of whatever raw materials are available. These materials include the hydrogenated oils found in margarine, vegetable shortening, baked goods and breakfast cereals; the
saturated fats from meat and dairy products; and the trans-fatty acids found in processed salad and cooking oils. Cell membranes built from these inappropriate fats and oils cause the membrane and the entire cell to malfunction.
For example, building a cell membrane from hydrogenated oils impairs the passage of oxygen into the cell, and oxygen-deficient cells become cancerous. None of us would build a house with cardboard walls. Why, then, do we build our cell membranes—our first line of defense against disease—out of junk materials like margarine, vegetable shortening and supermarket oils? Modern diets fail to supply adequate amounts of the correct essential fatty acids. I recommend supplementation with high-quality essential fatty acids and fish oils (see appendix C).
Weak and Rusty
To be healthy, cells must be supplied with adequate amounts of antioxidants. Cell membranes and the factories and powerhouses inside of cells can be damaged from oxidation via free radicals. Picture how oxidative damage (rust) would cause the Golden Gate Bridge to disintegrate were it not painted with a protective coating each year. Currently, our bodies are immersed in a sea of highly reactive chemicals— such as ozone in urban air and chlorine in tap water—that create oxidative damage to our bodies. You likely have heard reports about antioxidants (such as vitamins A, C and E) and how they protect us against free radical damage.
Free radicals damage our cells just like rust corrodes metal. Free radicals have unpaired electrons. Electrons, which travel in pairs, are charged particles orbiting around the nucleus of atoms. An unpaired electron aggressively seeks a mate, trying to “grab” an electron from something else, perhaps a molecule that is performing an important job in one of your cell membranes. Once the electron is grabbed, that molecule can no longer perform its job properly; furthermore, the molecule now becomes a free radical itself, aggressively seeking its own electron mate. The subsequent chain reaction can result in serious cellular damage commonly associated with aging and disease, unless the body’s tissues are rich with antioxidants that can stop hazardous chain reactions as soon as they begin.
Free radicals are naturally produced as we metabolize oxygen. Free-radical chain reactions are constantly being produced and stopped inside your body. Cells were designed to cope with these reactions, but not of the magnitude that is present today. For example, chlorine, a highly oxidizing gas put in municipal tap water, can easily damage our skin and lungs. Taking a shower in chlorinated water is like stepping into a chlorine gas chamber—a health hazard of which most people are totally unaware. We can make choices to protect our cells, but first we need to know the source of the damage.
Today, we expose ourselves to free-radical damage from chemicals to which our biological ancestors were never exposed. Our modern environment is filled with
substances that cause free radicals to form, such as ozone, chlorine, pesticides, tobacco smoke, petroleum byproducts, synthetic perfume and many others. We need more antioxidant protection than ever, because we are exposed to so many more free radicals. The problem is that the need for antioxidant nutrients is up while the supply in our diet is down.
To avoid the weak and rusty body—to slow the aging process and keep disease at bay—the sensible solution is to stop the free-radical damage. The necessities are simple: a diet rich in antioxidant nutrients along with antioxidant supplements, and clean food, water and air. None of these ideas are new, but what people don’t understand is why they are important. If you allow free radicals to damage your cells
—to allow them to become weak and rusty—your body ages faster and becomes vulnerable to disease.
Salt Is Often at Fault
To be healthy, the nutrients in cells must be in proper balance. Upsetting the natural balance of chemicals inside a cell causes the cell to malfunction, which is what is happening to the balance of sodium and potassium in our cells. Over the past one hundred years, our diets have changed dramatically, increasing the amount of sodium and decreasing the amount of potassium in our diet, thus reversing the natural balance. Modern food manufacturers add lots of salt (sodium chloride) to their products, while modern diets do not include enough potassium-rich foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. When our genes were evolving, human diets contained little sodium and a lot of potassium. For example, eating an apple provides only 1 mg of sodium, but 310 mg of potassium. Eating a piece of modern apple pie provides 110 mg of sodium and only 80 mg of potassium, a drastic change.
Salt-rich diets force excess sodium into cells, disturbing the normal and healthy sodium/potassium balance. Among other problems, excess sodium interferes with cellular energy production, causing fatigue. Sodium attaches itself strongly to water molecules, so when more sodium goes into the cells, so does more water. Water retention elevates blood pressure and causes weight gain. Dietary salt contributes to an increased incidence of cancer and metastasis, cardiac disease, stroke, kidney disease, bronchial problems and kidney stones. By avoiding processed and packaged foods, most of our excess dietary sodium can be eliminated.
An Important Litmus Test
Healthy cells must have the correct pH. In addition to the dangerous imbalance of sodium and potassium, our modern lifestyles and diets have detrimental effects on another critical balance: the pH of our cells. Commercials commonly tout “pH balanced” shampoos for our hair, and most of us remember the litmus paper tests
from our chemistry sets or grade-school experiments—those tiny sheets of paper that turn pink or blue based on pH. Cells must maintain proper pH balance, and our food choices affect that balance.
The pH is a measurement of acidity or alkalinity. On the pH scale, 7 is neutral; 0 to 7 is acidic, and 7 to 14 is alkaline. The normal pH inside of a cell is about 7.4, which is slightly alkaline. Maintaining normal pH in the fluid inside the cell as well as in other body fluids is critical for keeping body systems functioning normally. Most of the chemical reactions in the body, including the production of energy, occur most efficiently in an alkaline environment. The enzymes involved in these reactions are pH sensitive and only function within a narrow pH range; pH level affects other vital operations, such as the transport of substances through cell membranes. You can monitor your acid/alkaline levels by using pH paper (see appendix C).
Modern diets often cause cellular pH to drop below 7.0, into the acidic range. (Cells also can become too alkaline, but excessive acidity is most common.) A cell that becomes too acidic is said to have intracellular acidosis. Acidosis, an extremely serious condition, is one of the common factors present in many manifestations of disease. The more acidic a cell becomes, the more impaired its function. At very high acidic levels, the cell will die. Herman Aihara, author of Acid and Alkaline, says that “one of the important causes of cancer— and other degenerative diseases— is the cumulative effect of the acidic condition of body fluid.”
How do cells become too acidic? Different foods have different effects on our pH. Ideally, we should consume only foods that maintain proper cellular pH. Instead, we consume a diet high in foods that have an acidic effect, such as sugar, soft drinks, white flour (pasta and bread), excessive protein and salt. Consumption of these foods, which deplete the body of alkaline materials, has skyrocketed over the past few generations.
Because acidosis is such a threat, the body tries to prevent it by using its own alkaline minerals (such as calcium and magnesium) leached from the bones and teeth, leading to dental problems and osteoporosis. By contrast, fresh and unprocessed foods, rich in alkaline minerals, help keep pH within normal limits. For this reason, among others, most of our calories should come from fresh, unprocessed vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains.
Concerned about your pH? Measure the pH of your first morning urine before eating. This test offers an indicator of your cellular pH and can be used to monitor changes as you work to normalize your pH. First morning urine should be in the range of 6.5 to 7.5. If readings fall below 6.5, you are too acidic. Occasional readings above 7.5 are normal, but consistent readings above 7.5 are an indication of tissue breakdown, and a pH over 8.0 is a serious matter. Fatigue is often reflected in an acidic pH.
Why Am I So Tired?
Fatigue is one of the most common complaints made to physicians today. During the onset of my own illness, the first thing I noticed was fatigue. I simply did not have the energy I had been accustomed to having. So many people—epidemic proportions, actually—are tired and lack energy, but they do not know what to do about it. Indeed, when I told my doctor about my fatigue, he told me it was the result of aging. In truth, the fatigue had nothing to do with growing older and everything to do with becoming sicker.
All cells require energy to function. Your cellular powerhouses use enzymes to turn carbohydrates, fatty acids and amino acids into energy the body is able to use. Fatigue occurs because the body’s energy production systems have been impaired. The powerhouses (called mitochondria) may not be receiving sufficient fuel or oxygen, may have been damaged by free radicals, may have the wrong pH, or may have their enzymes disabled by toxic chemicals. The high-energy compounds made by the powerhouses, such as ATP (adenosine triphosphate), are made in large quantities when we sleep, which is one reason that an under-rested person functions poorly and lacks energy.
Don’t Blame Your Parents
Genes are the blueprints for the structure and function of every cell in our bodies. Although we inherit genes from our parents, how we maintain and care for our genes determines how well our cells work. Over a lifetime, to some degree, genes deteriorate and mutate naturally, but what we must focus on are man-made free radicals that accelerate or distort this natural process. Minimizing the damage is crucial; important steps are to avoid: radiation from medical X rays and other sources, environmental chemicals, prescription and recreational drugs, alcohol, tobacco smoke and even char-broiled meat. Minimizing the damage also means protecting genes with good nutrition—particularly foods containing ample antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E and the mineral selenium.
Many people assume that “bad genes” or a family history of disease predestines them to be sick. In truth, while genetic predispositions do put a person at risk for disease, what a person chooses to do to protect the health of their cells and genes plays a more important role in whether or not disease develops. Choices, rather than genetic inheritance, are the key. We must focus on how we play the game, not the cards we were dealt; what we eat, what we do and what we are exposed to determines how healthy we will be.
Learning a New Way
Unfortunately, a common medical response to a diseased organ is to remove it surgically. Before taking such a drastic action, why not give the cells that make up that organ what they need, keep them free of what they do not need and restore the organ to health?
Modern lifestyles—diets and toxins—create the formulas for cellular malfunction and disease, yet traditional medical practices ignore them. How often have you, a friend or a relative consulted a physician and been given a diagnosis or treatment but were not asked even one question about how you care for or neglect your body? Not asked even one question about what you eat, what harmful substances invade your environment or how you live your life in general? More commonly you are asked about symptoms alone. Traditional medicine does not make us healthy and, worse yet, can make us sick and promote our death. Drugs, surgeries and other medical procedures that disregard the causes of disease—not fixing the problems inside the cells and instead addressing symptoms— can never cure the disease. Disease is not about “diseases,” it is about cells; diagnoses and treatments should always reflect this approach.
The battle between sickness and health takes place within every cell in your body. Choosing healthy cells means following each of the six pathways in a positive direction; let us move on to the first of the six: the nutrition pathway.