WYSONG e-HEALTH LETTER
(Dr. W.) Health in youth can be an illusion. Here's why. The young start with clean genetics (usually) and ride high on the river of growth and sex hormones coursing through their vessels. Their digestive capacity rivals a garbage disposal, the immune system is well armed, alert, and has suffered few casualties. Their entire body is incredibly adaptable and vibrant, healing any injury with quite incredible speed. Given this trove of healing riches, there can be a lot of squandering without an apparent dent in the health bank.
The abuse begins with infants suckling a latex nipple on the other end of which is the granddaddy of all junk foods – baby formula. They then wean to a smorgasbord of nutrient-impoverished processed foods, and quickly get hooked on every manner of refined carbohydrate laden with additives (to make food "fun") and greased with hydrogenated oils to create just the right "mouth feel." Kids drink oceans of soda, eat herds of burgers, several Idahos every year in fries and enough pizza dough to stretch to the moon and back several times. They keep ungodly hours once puberty kicks in, may do little exercise other than tapping buttons on a remote control or a keyboard, and in general seem totally oblivious to healthy living.
But they seem healthy. Not just a little, but a lot. They have tons of energy, sleep like logs, can excel in school and win state sport championships. What's the deal? Adults can't live like that. We'd get sick or kill ourselves trying to keep pace with their antics. If I ate in just one day, now, what I used to eat back when I was immortal and had a stomach of cast iron, you'd have to tube both ends to keep me vented and ramrod Tums™ down the top end to try to quell the conflagration that would surely incinerate me from the inside out.
So what youth does is excuse a lot. But this does not mean all is well. I've mentioned in the Health Letter that autopsies of Korean and Vietnam War casualties demonstrated an extremely high incidence of atherosclerosis, the underlying disease of heart attacks. These were young service-aged men. They showed no detectable symptoms of heart disease and in fact were fighting incredibly demanding wars. But this disease was lurking within, growing, and would have eventually manifested itself in middle or later years as heart disease or a heart attack.
A 1999 study of autopsies performed on almost 3000 men and women, white and black, between the ages of 15 and 34, showed the same results (J Am Med Assoc, 1999; 281:727-35). Atherosclerotic lesions in all the aortas and most of the right coronary arteries were seen in the youngest age groups (as young as 15!) and increased in prevalence with age. Men, women, blacks and whites were all affected.
Last week, the American Heart Association released their new recommendation that everyone over the age of 20 should be checked routinely for the signs of potential heart trouble like high cholesterol, blood sugar irregularities and high blood pressure (Circulation, 2002; 106(3):388).
So, all is not well because the kids do just fine on Mountain Dew™, Ding Dongs™ and Cocoa Puffs™. One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is intelligent nutrition. Most have no idea what's going on. Besides, they think food is cotton candy and Kool Aid™. You must take the lead.
Heart disease is a nutritional disease. No, it's not from butter or cholesterol. It's from the dramatic departure we have taken from our genetic roots and the glut of carbohydrates and nutrient-stripped processed foods we feed our kids because it's convenient and they like it (just like an addict likes their fix).
Start today. Learn all you can and implement. Get your kids on the foods they are designed to eat, and save them an adult lifetime crippled with degenerative disease.
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