WYSONG HEALTH LETTER
Dr. R. L. Wysong
July 1990


EARTH DAY EVERY DAY

*
    If we’re going to get anywhere fast, ecologically speaking, we have to see many changes happening faster than they have in the last twenty years, since the first Earth Day in 1970. Environmentalism has not significantly redirected the nation’s political or economic or spiritual life.  The current debate in Congress over the Clean Air Act proves that the political process is firmly in the grip of corporate power. A compromise is being made balancing the interests of the coal, automotive and utility industries and p mg their welfare far ahead of ecological concerns.  During this, the president’s chief of Staff John Sununu has stifled the development of any major new policies by dismissing environmentalists as special interests and characterizing atmospheric scientists as zealots.
    Peter Borrelli, of the National Resources Defense Council, together with Herman Daly who is senior economist in the environmental department of the World Bank, and John B Cobb, a professor of philosophy and theology and co-author of For The Common Good, all maintain that the Gross National Product and its strictly mainline economic emphasis has to be rejected as a true measure of economic welfare in the broader, more responsible sense. Could they be right that the well-being of a nation is something more than just Kenyenesian money? Instead, they propose an Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, which includes income distribution, the value of unpaid household labor. pollution, loss of farmland, and the external costs of development.  Equating public good with the country’s wealth is invalid.   It is suggested that the GNP should be changed to indicate true economic welfare, such as the Physical Quality of Life Index, which takes into consideration such things as literacy levels, infant mortality, and life expectancy. Incidentally, as early as 1827, the great Swiss economist Jean Charles Sismondi warned against conventional economics being truly able to equate the public good with simply the wealth of a nation.
    How then can Earth Day be every day? One of the first things that has to happen is that the technological and economic pillars of the twentieth century have to go Additionally, an ethic has to be adopted which is oriented toward ecologic and economic sustainability --and a sustainable society.   Lester Brown of Worldwatch proposes an ethic that shapes its economic and social systems so that natural resources and life-support systems are maintained. We will also do well to remember the words of ecologist Aldo Leopold when he defined a good land ethic in 1949: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
    Reference:
        (The Amicus Journal, Spring 1990)
 
DEFORESTING EDITORIAL
*
    It is one thing to be critical of the rain forest destruction, it is another, evidently, for us here in America to deforest. We do it with impunity.
    Our offices set down the road from a beautiful forest and wetland that has recently – in a matter of days—been   destroyed.     Every time we pass this bleak ruined area which is being prepared for a mall, we get lumps in our throats.
    The following is an editorial we sent to the local newspaper.  It won’t win us popularity contests, but at least the forest and its millions of decimated inhabitants will receive an epitaph.
    It is difficult to watch the destruction of the beautiful forest at the intersection of Eastman and US-10. This is progress from the standpoint that it will result in construction of a new convenient shopping area for Midland residents; it is anti-progress in the context of what we have come to know in the last several years about the fragility of our environment. The following thoughts are not just to single out this new development. The Eastman project is simply a glaring egregious example of what many of us are perhaps guilty of.
    Forgetting the destruction of wildlife and natural habitat taking place with the destruction of the forest on Eastman, and considering just the trees, who would not be moved by their lost beauty? Standing next to and touching a 100-or 200-year-old tree con give a wonderful sense of history. A tree is a medium, a vicarious bridge to the past. That we can still enjoy a tree which was also living when wilderness was king, before there were cars, airplanes, freeways, industry, and malls, next to which a native American family may have camped, is on incredible treasure. That such trees and natural forests still exist in our own community (recognizing true virgin forests have by and large long since been destroyed) is a reminder of our link to the wild, and reassures us that we may still be okay because our heritage still is. Trees give us continuity with our own past and that of the Earth itself.
    Put in purely economic value, a tree living fifty years has a value of almost $200,000 considering its contribution of oxygen (trees produce 50% of Earth's oxygen - at least they did a few minutes ago, it's less now), its air pollution and temperature control, its removal of carbon dioxide, its contribution to soil fertility and erosion control. This does not include its value in wood or fruit.
    The rate of rainforest destruction in developing countries is appalling and creates fear of the possible impact on the climate of the entire Earth. In the time it takes to read this article, 60,000 trees will fall in the rainforest. The rainforest has stood since the very dawn of life. We are cutting it down at the rate of 55 square feet per cheap American hamburger which it can produce. This is a tragedy beyond description. So we lament rainforest destruction in another country, fearing the consequences of global warming and wishing they could be made to stop, but continue to deforest here without apparent concern. 95% of U. S. forests have been humanly altered or destroyed.
    Unfortunately. we here in the land of plenty bulldoze forests and sprawl our developments with impunity and apparent total disregard for the finiteness of Earth's remaining natural places. The forest on Eastman will have been leveled with little said in its defense or praise and apparently with most of us oblivious to the fact that we have stolen it from our children and theirs. Are Midland's natural forests not of at least the value of other historical sites preserved and treasured in our community?
    Because we will not feel immediate ill consequences from the loss of yet another forest, many will argue that no harm has been done. But as we learn more about environmental balance we discover that everything is intertwined. When the forests ore destroyed, we are destroying a part of ourselves; when we pollute the air, we are jeopardizing our health; when we decimate the habitat of another species thus driving it to extinction. we bring ourselves closer to our own extinction. Trees and the forests containing them are a part of Earth's lungs, and as such are an integral part of the health of all life on the planet.
    Laws are in place to prevent the upstream owner of land bordering a river from diverting it for private purposes resulting in loss or harm to those downstream. But each time a forest is destroyed, we are putting another brick in a dam curtailing a resource critical to the rest of the world's population. Because someone owns land, however, they have a right to lop off part of the lung that breathes for us all.
    Earth Day brought many of us close to these ideas and there is a groundswell of sensitivity resulting from the realization that we live on a fragile planet. This is all there is. We cannot simply exploit. maraud and otherwise spoil the planet for personal gain without potentially bringing ruin to ourselves. Our children stand to lose the most as we rape the land that is simply on loan to us from them.
    These are big, even gigantic, problems facing our world. There is no reason that we should do nothing because we may seem to be able to do so little.
    Here in our community, we could curtail deforestation. City planners elsewhere, such as in Atlanta, have learned that standing forests can have a direct effect upon urban air quality and temperatures. We could encourage building developments that went up or down, rather than sprawled at one story level endlessly to the sides. We could make natural forest areas protected and force development into already spoiled vacated urban areas or into barren already deforested land such as the thousands of acres of farm land that has already been deforested and lies barren--often being subsidized to do so. When such areas are developed, there could be regulation to require reforestation of the land. We should build in deforested areas and require tree planting rather than deforest natural treasures to place buildings which could set on already ruined land.
    Such regulation and planning must come from government. It does little good for someone who is environmentally sensitive not to build on forested land if someone else who is unconcerned can do it anyway.
    Why not save natural forest areas while they still exist? If we do it now. we can still have these wonderful areas to enjoy and pass on to our children. If we don't do it now, we will be forced to later--when we learn that the roofs of buildings and asphalt parking lots create air that chokes us and a climate which cannot sustain us.
    The decision to no longer cut forests will one day be forced upon us. Why wait for the crisis? Why not take rational actions now with prevention in mind? If we wait until all natural areas are ruined before we decide that we want them back, we will have waited too long.
 
VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTATION
*
    The controversy continues as to whether vitamin mineral supplements are useful or simply produce expensive urine.   Although I can say that I have ever experienced any change I have noticed from taking any nutritional supplement, I can also not deny that they may produce remarkable changes remarkable changes in some people and may indeed produce expensive urine in others.  I do periodically take supplements because reflection on the literature and reason suggests that I do so.  Intensive exercise, stress, disease, and just about any variable that can take a person out of the homeostatic norm can be an indication for vitamin and/or mineral supplementation.
    By and large the traditional medical community suggests supplements are not necessary and that if a person eats from the four food groups regularly, they are receiving all the nutrients they need,  the government is also very conservative in terms of the possible health benefits that vitamin and minerals may afford the population but remain liberal on taxes.  As we have mentioned before, in spite of the nay saying, the medica lcommunity takes supplements about as much as the general population and several studies demonstrate that 35% or more of people 18 to 74 years old are taking supplements in one form or another.  The USDA performed a food consumption survey of 20,000 people and found that none of them were receiving 100% of the RDA of 10 nutrients.
    There is valid concern any time isolated chemical compounds are put in tablets and mass marketed.  The medical community is well trained in pharmacologic contraindications, and seeing tablets and capsules being gobbled up by the ton makes them nervous.  There is an inordinate emphasis on possible harm from taking vitamin and minerals yet it seems the medical community more or less winks at the very real dangers that have been documented from the use of modern medical procedures and drugs. (See chart for summary for comparisons of dangers.)  The medical person would argue that modern medical procedures are not useful and necessary whereas vitamin and mineral supplementation is not.
    Approaching nutrition on a tablet basis is however likely not the best approach.  It missed the mark of attempting to convert the diet to its more natural wholesome form.  Although vitamin and mineral supplementation may be very helpful for certain classes of individuals under certain circumstances, such supplementation should be considered a transition to a more healthy whole raw fresh diet which, if properly selected and prepared, will provide the nutrients required.  Even then there remains questions such as whether produce or animal foods grown on lands that have been nutrient depleted over the decades can ever really produce the quality of nutriture certain individuals may need.  Fortunately, this is being reversed with the organic agriculture movement, but until crops are grown to increase nutrient concentration rather than simply yield, important questions must be asked about the sufficiency of our basic food supply. Needless to say, this is an area of active debate.
    Adding to the list of indications for foods rich in certain vitamins, or the use of supplements, is evidence indicating that elderly people in nursing homes are not receiving adequate levels of vitamin D. vitamin D is responsible for preventing rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. But before overt symptoms of vitamin D deficiency occur, there can be an increased risk of fracture by as much as 30-40%. This is particularly important for older people who are already suffering the inevitable loss in bone mass attendant with the passing of years.
    In a study out if Boston University, it was shown that elderly people in nursing homes with limited exposure to sunlight had lower serum levels of the active form of vitamin D, which is 25-hydroxyvitamin D, than are indicated as appropriate amounts for skeletal health.
    The elderly population might get adequate levels of vitamin D from milk in the form of ergocalciferol or from fish, cod liver oil, and eggs.  But this population tends to move away from the consumption of milk because of lactose intolerance and just simply the dislike for the taste of the product, and do not consume much fish or cod liver oil or eggs due to the current negative press about cholesterol.  They are then quite dependant upon solar generation of vitamin D by the conversion of 7-D hydrocholesterol to pre-cholecalciferol which is the isomerized to cholecalciferol.  Unfortunately, many elderly, particularly in nursing homes, rarely are exposed to sunlight.
    There are perhaps several solutions to this problem.  Certainly allowing elderly people to get out in the fresh air and sunshine would be a step in the right direction.  Regular exercise and the consumption of fresh, whole, natural foods would also help the general physiological health of bones.  Supplementation may indeed be appropriate as an interim measure to raise plasma levels of vitamin D until sunlight and quality nutrition take over.
    Reference:
        Webb, Ann R., “An evaluation of the relative contributions of exposure to sunlight and of diet to the circulation concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in an elderly nursing home in Boston,” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 51, No. 6, June 1990, pg. 1075.
 
TRANSFUSION DANGERS
    A recent study out of Harvard has shown widespread variability in the use of transfusions among physicians, as well as deficiencies in physician’s knowledge about the risks and indications for the procedure.  Transfusion risk was estimated correctly by fewer than half of the physicians surveyed and only 31% responded correctly to a set of four questions regarding transfusion indications.  It is also interesting that attending physicians had lower knowledge than did residents, but exhibited more confidence in the knowledge that they had.  On the other hand, residents allowed their decisions to be strongly influenced by the desires of attending physicians.  Sixty one percent of the residents surveyed showed that they ordered transfusions even though they felt that they were unnecessary and did so at least once a month because a senior physician had suggested that they do it.
    Evidence continues to mount demonstrating the widening scope of danger with transfusions.  At the same time, more radical blood intensive procedures are on the upsurge increasing the supposed need for transfusions.
    Sometimes the obvious is not necessarily correct.  The logic of “if blood is lost, blood should be replaced” is perhaps true if the exact blood that is lost could be replaced.  However, the blood that is received out of blood banks is not the same blood that was lost and amounts to the most intimate relationship a person could have with another.  Many of those contributing to blood banks are people you might not desire to drink from the same cup with, let alone consume their blood into your circulatory system.  Some critics of transfusions argue that it is nothing more than a modern form of cannibalism.  This may be hyperbole, but does give attention to the procedure for what it in fact is.
    Although increasing tests are used to screen donor blood, these tests are not perfect and are by no means comprehensive and able to remove all possible risks.  For a patient who is perhaps already weakened and immunologically compromised, to have to deal with the antigenic load presented by a bolus of foreign blood may do more harm than good.  Unknowns always lurk in the shadows as dangers.  People who now have AIDS as a result of transfusions are sad reminders of this.
    Often alternate, more safe methods are available.  Blood loss often does not so much require the replacement of red blood cells as it does replacement of intravascular fluid volume.  thus various parental solutions containing electrolytes, glucose, amino acids and so forth are available which serve to replace volume loss yet do not create either the short-term potential risk or long-term hazards.  The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported that a patient with leukemia who was treated with ablative chemotherapy survived with no transfusions at all given.  This particular procedure pretty much universally is believed to require blood transfusions.
    Couple these considerations with the information revealed at Harvard that most physicians do not even properly understand the indications for transfusions or the risks, and it becomes clear that this is a procedure that should not be viewed lightly nor received without careful discrimination.
    Reference:
        JAMA, July 25, 1990:476.
        The New England Journal of Medicine, 322-11:777.
 
ATHEROSCLEROSIS REGRESSION
*
    Although it is argued and increasingly assumed that lifestyle changes such as cessation of smoking, increased exercise, decreased stress, and improved diet can prevent cardiovascular disease, hard evidence for regression has been by and large lacking.  Some controlled data has shown that there can be regression of atherosclerosis renal and femoral arteries, but little other than anecdotal evidence is available for coronary atherosclerosis regression.
    A recent study out of the University of California, however, has shown that lifestyle modification of one year duration can significantly regress atherosclerosis.  A heterogenous group of 28 patients were assigned to a test group using a low fat vegetarian diet, no smoking, stress management training, and moderate exercise.  A control group of 20 were followed using similar coronary angiography parameters.
    The average stenosis in the vessels regressed by almost 17% in the experimental group undergoing the lifestyle changes, whereas those in the control group progressed between 15 and 18-1/2%.   Overall, 82% of the lifestyle change group had an average change toward regression.
    Note that this regression occurred outside of a hospital environment and that serum lipid levels improved similar to patients who undergo pharmacologic treatment for adverse lipid profiles.  When you consider that atherosclerosis is a disease that progresses over a period of many decades, improvement of this magnitude is highly significant.  Additionally, the perfusion of the myocardium through its coronary vessels is a fourth power function of the diameter of these vessels.  Therefore, even a small increase in the diameter is dramatically magnified in the perfusion of heart muscle.  So in the patients who had experienced regression with only one year of lifestyle modification, the effects on their heart muscle would have been dramatic.
    The study also showed that those experiencing the most advanced atherosclerosis are the ones who benefited the most from the lifestyle modification.  It is also interesting that the average guidelines for our populations such as maintaining fat to 30% or less as occurred on the control group are not sufficient since in this controlled group atherosclerosis progressed.
    What a powerful piece of evidence this is to support the value of lifestyle modification in not only preventing disease, but working toward its cure. 
    Reference:
        JAMA, July 25, 1990:476.
        The New England Journal of Medicine, 322-11:777.
        The New England Journal of Medicine, March 15, 1990;322-11:777.
        JAMA, July 25, 1990;264:476.
        Lancet, 336:8708; 129
 
THE QUESTIONABLE VALUE OF ADVERTISING
    It is commonly assumed that the more a company advertises, the more successful it is. It is indeed true that usually the more successful companies advertise the heaviest... usually. But is such advertising the cause or the result of success? In other words, which came first? A successful company with healthy profits may find it easy to advertise. Thus the illusion can be created that advertising is the cause of, rather than the result of the company's success.
    The most avid promoters of the value of advertising are found in the advertising departments of media which profits from the sale of advertising space. Skeptics of the value of advertising are usually those who carefully measure the return from the cost of advertising. Many small companies running campaigns on radio and in the local newspaper, for example, find that they are usually fortunate to retrieve the cost of the advertising from the sales created by the advertising.
    On the other hand, it is true that sufficient exposure of a product will indeed create sales. Whether these sales offset the cost of the advertising is the issue of debate.
    The are many companies which have achieved notable, if not extraordinary, success with essentially no advertising at all. A recent example is the Newman’s Own food line. This is a company begun by Paul Newman which markets salad dressings, lemonade, pop corn, and other new products. In 1990 they will have achieved 50 million dollars in sales. Another example is Fabrege, which once led the cosmetics industry but had used no advertising to do so.
    Sometimes advertising programs become  battles of cleverness, cuteness, or elaborateness. The most interested audience  becomes the respective advertising departments in the vying companies rather than the public.
    Nevertheless, when people embark upon business, they almost universally assume that there is some special magic to advertising and that although they themselves may not respond to the idiotic ploys used in some advertising messages, the public will respond to theirs. Who, for example, really decides to switch from Coke to Pepsi or vice versa based on whether Elton John or Michael Jackson does the advertisement? And why should an intelligent person be moved by the Beef Industry Council advertising campaign "Real Food for Real People" using as their star James Garner, who is recovering from bypass surgery?
    There is the belief that the "masses" are evidently responding to some subtle psychological pressure... surely this must be true or the companies would not spend the dollars they do on advertising. The trick is to simply figure out, with the help of MBA's and advertising agencies, what the tricks are.
    Modern advertising can, in many instances, reflect the down side of what has happened in American industry. True quality, true product merit has been replaced with flash and glitter.  Emphasis has been placed on creating public perceptions, titillating emotions, and tricking – rather than building product substance and educating the consumer about it.
    But the public is not easily duped. Recent polls show that a large percentage of the public wish to choose products based on their wholesomeness, their safety, and their environmental responsibility, and will even pay additionally to obtain them. Thus companies and businesses which are sensitive to these issues will emerge in the coming decades as the  leaders in a new, more responsible and quality oriented American marketplace.
 
MORE ON THE LOGIC OF VEGETATION-BASED DIETS
*
    George Bernard Shaw said, “The average age (longevity) of a meat eater is 63.  I am on the verge of 85 and still work as hard as ever.  I have lived quite long enough and I am trying to die; but I simply cannot do it.  A single beef steak would finish me; but I cannot bring myself to swallow it.  I am oppressed with the dread of living forever.  This is the only disadvantage of vegetarianism.”  His sentiments reflect those we have discussed before about the emotional difficulty of living too long.  He also is arguing that a vegetation-based diet somehow adds years to life.  We have discussed before the logic of a more vegetation-based diet and I want to continue on with this topic and expand upon it here.
    Perhaps one of the reasons that animal-based products have become such a mainstay is that two of the four food groups promoted as necessary for proper nutrition are based on animal products, namely diary and meats.  It is an interesting study to determine how the four food groups were derived, but we can guess and guess correctly, that behind it are strong financial forces.   In 1930, there were 12 food groups which seemed too difficult for the public to remember and this was changed to the 7 food groups in 1944.  This was subsequently changed to the basic 4 with strong input from meat and dairy organizations.  From 1950 on, also the extravagant American farm became possible.  By extravagant here I mean financially profitable to convert vegetation crops into meat products which is highly inefficient.
    The 4 food groups became entrenched as sound nutrition in spite of early evidence of decreased life span in meat eaters as opposed to vegetation eaters.  When you thing about it, almost all of the current information regarding the hazards of diet can be linked directly to animal products.  The solution advocated is vegetation products.  Obesity is practically impossible on a fresh, whole, predominantly raw vegetation diet.  Fiber is plentiful in whole vegetable foods, but practically non-existent in muscle fiber.   So the modern advise to maintain proper body weight, consume less fats, increase fiber fit perfectly with a vegetation-based diet, but not with an animal-based diet.   In spite of this, the traditional medical and nutritional communities by and large poo poo vegetation-based diets as faddish and even dangerous citing potential vitamin deficiencies such as B12 and protein inadequacy.  This is done in spite of the evidence that millions of people survive and survive well on pure vegetation-based diets around the world.
    Dr. Klaper, in his book Vegan Nutrition, which we will be carrying in the Wysong Library, states that according to the four food group diet plan a good nutritious day of eating could be a breakfast of bacon and eggs and a glass of milk, a lunch of a cheeseburger, french fries and a milkshake, and a dinner featuring beefsteak or fried chicken or fish with baked potatoes and sour cream.  Ice cream is often eaten for desert and chocolate candy, potato chips or bacon rinds for snacks and treats.  He says, and I quote, “Consider all the animal fat that lies in ambush within these meals.  The egg yolks, bacon and cheese are heavy with triglycerides and cholesterol.  Even more fats lurk in the flesh of the beef, burger and dinner steak or chicken breast or fish fillet, as well as in the butter fat in the sour cream, milkshake and chocolate.  These foods contain a total of 287 grams of fat - that is 65 teaspoons - exceeding the RDA by 441%.  These meals also pack 1127 milligrams of cholesterol, smothering the RDA of 250 milligrams by 451%.  This eating style creates a flood of animal fat coursing through the blood stream every 3-4 hours.  After eating a cheeseburger and milkshake or other fatty meal, the blood actually becomes greasy with animal fat - and stays that way for up to 4 hours.”
    As we have learned in previous reviews, this lipemia which follows high fat meals is not only wrong in quantity, but wrong in nature.  The fats which are processed are usually oxidized and it is this oxidized form of cholesterol as well as other oxidized unsaturated fats which may be directly linked to atherosclerotic lesions as well as a wide range of other degenerative conditions.
    In coursing through the literature, it is rare that we happen upon articles describing disease as a result of vegetation-based diets other than that which occurs in impoverished nations receiving things like processed cassava, white rice and milled flour.       These diseases of deficiency which do not speak against the whole, raw natural diet that we advocate in the Review, are paled in the shadow of the diseases of excess which are prevalent in meat eating societies who overconsume fats and protein. 
    But perhaps more timely and convincing arguments than even the nutritional merits of a vegetation-based diet lie in those which speak to the environmental danger we are subject to as a result of animal-based foods.  To convert the protein in corn and soybeans, for example, into a pound of beefsteak requires about a 16 to 1 ratio.  That is it takes 16 pounds of these vegetation foods to yield the 1 pound of steak.  But that is only the beginning of the problem.  The inefficiency goes far deeper and broader.  Think of the fuel necessary to run the tractors to create the 16 fold excess grains and to fuel the trucks to ship the grains to the animals, to run the power refrigeration units to keep the meats fresh and to pump the billions of gallons of water to irrigate the fields and run the slaughter house operations and to create the pesticides and herbicides to generate the 16 fold increase in crop yields.  In summary it requires 60 calories of petroleum energy to harvest 1 food calorie from animal flesh.  In contrast, vegetation products yield 20 calories for each 1 calorie of fuel energy invested.  One acre of land can produce either 165 pounds of beef or 20,000 pounds of potatoes.
    As mentioned in a previous Review, it can be argued that most of the world’s woes can in one way or another be either directly or indirectly linked to this extravagant production of animal foods for humans.  For example, it is argued that changing to a vegetation-based diet would essentially eliminate our dependence on imported oil.  If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 25 to even 50%, the energy saved would result in our country meeting its own energy needs.  It is the flow of oil that has and does create world tension and potential military conflict.
    Water is becoming a precious commodity, yet animal food production uses up half of all consumable water in our country.   Not only is it a great user of potable water, but it is one of the most egregious polluters of fresh water in the world.
    There are all kinds of interesting and compelling facts that further impress upon us the logic of a vegetation-based diet.  As we have mentioned, if everyone in America would simply abstain from any animal product one day a week, the food resources preserved could feed 60 million people.  Put another way, the grain and water resources required to create a single beefsteak could feed 16 people directly.  Put another way, if Americans would decrease their meat consumption by only 10%, enough food would be saved to feed every person in the world who would otherwise starve to death this year.
    We have talked before about how much of the clearing of rainforests is to create pasture land for cattle to produce cheap hamburgers for the U.S. market.  We are trading these incredible Earth treasures and perhaps an essential part of the Earth’s lungs for cheeseburgers and hotdogs.   Translated another way, it is argued that every person who changes to a pure vegetation diet saves one acre of trees every year.
    Much more can be found in the book by Dr. Klaper and the one we referred you to previously in the Wysong Library by Robins entitled Diet for a New America.  Klaper, who is an M.D., argues that humans are not adapted for meat eating.  He goes through several argumentations to attempt to prove this, some of which I have included in the chart on the back of the summary for this month.  He makes a couple of interesting points.  One is we should imagine ourselves running up to the nearest cow or bull, jumping on its back, opening our mouths, and trying to sink our teeth into it to bring it down.  He makes the argument that we would have a tough time even penetrating the hide with the teeth and the jaw structure that we have and therefore we are not adapted as carnivores.  He also makes mention of the fact that if we were true carnivores, we would walk into a butcher shop, purchase a large slab of raw cow muscle, leave the store and sit down at the nearest park bench, open the wrapper, and devour the blood flesh with gusto.   Although this is repulsive to most of us, there are few plant-derived foods which would elicit the same sort of revulsion.
    Again, if you find these thoughts compelling, don’t attempt to make a conversion rapidly or radically.   Try to become informed and as we learn more here, we will pass these on to you in the form of topics and resource materials which will give you practical information on how to convert your diet to a more vegetation-based one.
    Reference:
        JAMA, March 9, 1990;263;10.
        Vegan Nutrition, Pure and Simple by   Dr Klaper
        Diet for a New America by Robins
 
RECTANGULARIZING THE LIFE CURVE
*
    We have talked in previous reviews about how that the goal of the health professions as well as that for each of us individually should be to square the vitality curve.  If we plot vitality on a vertical axis and aging years on the horizontal, we would like to be active, alive, and vital right on out until the very end of our genetic life limit and then die rapidly much as a leaf falls from a tree.  The idea is to add life to years and not necessary years to life.
    For those experiencing degenerative or debilitating disease beginning in their 20’s or 30’s or 40’s, the curve begins a downward slope when the individual looses vitality, increases trips to the doctor, stays in the hospital, begins to accumulate a pharmacy in the bathroom cabinet and in effect slowly dies over sometimes a period of decades.
    The style with which we age may indeed be altered, but the average life span is fixed genetically.  The geometry of the shape of the vitality curve has gradually become more rectangular, but will not advance further until the underlying causes of chronic degenerative diseases are addressed.  To review these vitality curves, look to the back of the summary sheet which accompanies this month’s tape.  
    One of the most common misconceptions the public as well as the professions have is that we are actually altering through modern technology someway the potential life span of humans.  In actual fact, we have done nothing to alter the genetic end limit to life or life span.  We have altered life expectancy. The fact that life expectancy was about 47 in 1900 and is about 73 or 74 today confuses interpretations.  The reason expectancy, that is the average length of life of a population, has increased since the early 1900’s is because of a dramatic decrease in infant mortality.  In other words, if a population is two people and one of the people lives to the age of 80  and the other dies at the age of two days, the life expectancy for that population is gong to be 40.  If the youngster lived to be 60, the average would be 70.  Please note however that this has nothing to do with the life span or the ability of an organism to live beyond a certain number of years that seems to be set for each species.
    The contemporary medical paradigm would argue that life span is increasing and thus we should continue to pursue further increases on toward immortality.  Also it argues that death results from disease and that therefore immortality can be achieved via the elimination of disease. Further it suggests that disease is best treated with medication and therefore we should seek more perfect medical and surgical treatments to help achieve immortality.  And finally, it argues that since aging is simply some sort of physical aberration, genetically or physiologically, that our goal should be to control the process to obtain immortality.
    Much of the misunderstanding results from results from interchanging terminology.  Maximum Life Potential would be the age at death of the longest lived member of a species.  For humans this is believed to  be about 115 years. On the other hand, Life Span is the age at whichan average individual would die if there were no disease or accidents.  For humans that is about 85 years and as far as we know this has been constant since records have been tabulated.  On the other hand, Life Expectancy is the expected age at death of an average individual in a population allowing all factors for mortality such as disease and accident.      That is approximately 73 to 74 tears and has been rising.  If we can keep these definitions clearly separate and apart, then understanding what the possibilities are in terms of life alterations become more realistic.  We can only hope for expectancy to reach span, not immortality.
    As is true with any popular paradigm, it gains power when the economic forces derive comfort from it.  There are huge medical and nursing industries which survive, grow, and thrive as a result of misconceptions about aging and vitality.  If the basic paradigm would suggest that our hope for a better life would come through technology and medical intervention, then such technology and such medical industry will be relied on heavily and will thrive.   On the other hand, the self-care movement would argue prevention and more holistic and natural approaches to health and disease be undertaken. This movement threatens the paradigm.  It is for this reason more than any other that those who espouse more natural methods of healing come under attack by the reigning medical powers.  The self-care movement indeed encourages more critical consumption of medical services and autonomy from professional dominance with individual free choice replacing it.
    If we are to deal with the reality of the aging process we must understand that the human span is fixed and not simply haplessly wait around without trying to affect our own health and vitality in hope of a magic injection which will turn off the aging process.  The real problem before us and the one most of us fear is the one of infirmity and senescence.  Being dead does not bother me nearly so much as how I am going to get dead.  Dying in the middle of my sleep at a ripe old age having watched my children grow and having come to know my grandchildren is far different than being struck with some sort of debilitating and painful process that lingers over many years wiping out all family resources.   Parenthetically, I might add that 2/3 of all those in nursing homes spend all their assets within 3 months and subject the family to trauma, pain, and tragedy.   Disability is to be feared far more than death.
    It should be mentioned that some would argue that life span in some shangrila type societies is beyond the 115 year maximum.  Most of these societies have been studied carefully such as certain Russian groups, the Hunzas, and the Vilcabamba of Ecuador.  However, in studies of all these societies nothing beyond the age of 115 has been confirmed.  It should be mentioned that in those societies that do seem to have many long lived individuals we do not find increased medical service but rather a high level of physical activity all the way through life such as heavy hand farming into old age, the absence of obesity, moderation, no retirement, a sense of usefulness and purpose, the integrity of family, and a meaningful contributing life to the very end.
    There are certain aging diseases that can greatly accelerate the process although none of them are an exact mimic of aging.      Examples include progeria, Werner’s syndrome, Rothmunds’s syndrome, and Cockayne’s syndrome.
    The mechanism of aging has long been studied and is currently being studied with much intensity.  It appears that debility and death are a result of a linear decrease in organ function.  Each of our organ systems has a reserve capacity in the resting state.       For example, the heart can increase its output by a factor of 6, the kidney can function with over 80% of its nephrons lost, a person can survive with one lung removed, and over of the liver can be lost and a person still survives.   It is the loss of this reserve over time that does us in.  We live because we are in homeostasis with our environment and can endure its threats.  As we lose organ reserve over time, the threats from the environment become more life threatening.  As the linear loss of reserve proceed , organ function will decline below the necessary level to even withstand a minor environmental assault and death will result.  At age 85, over 50% of the original organ reserve has been lost.
    Another way to look at aging and death is that the universe is consistent with the second law of thermodynamics proceeds toward ever increasing entropy, toward ever increasing disorganization and more probable states.  A living organism has low entropy, is highly improbable and very organized.  In other words, the universe will not be one day filled with stars, solar systems, hot and cold, motion and stillness, rather, everything will be ultimately cold , dark, still and random.  This same process that life is subject to. 
    Gerontology, the study of aging, distinct from geriatrics which is the care of the aged, is focused primarily on aging at the cellular level.  It would seem that since certain malignant cells, for example HeLa cells derived from cervical cancer, appear to be immortal.  Eggs and spermatazoa are also immortal with the history of any species being simply the success of the dividing over and over of the original fertilized seed.  Do secrets lie therein that would give us the opportunity for immortality?  Unfortunately malignant cells consume their host and thus eventually die.  Germ cells, on the other hand, carry only of the organism and are highly specialized.  Other considerations that must be given before we take the injection giving us immortality would be the cost to the species.  Life and death permit adaptation of a population to environmental stress and thus help insure survivability of the population. An organism that contained immortal cells but which was tuned to a particular environment would not be able to survive if that environment changed beyond the ability of homeostatic mechanisms to adapt.  There are also considerations we have discussed before in the Review such as the stress, the trauma, the grief, the emotional difficulty of out-living friends, relatives, children and so forth.  Growing old is not for sissies as Betty Davis once said.  The older you get the stronger you must be.
    Although Carrell experiments originally suggested that fibroblasts in culture could apparently divide forever, subsequent experiments showed that these cultures had been contaminated with fresh chick embryo fibroblasts during the culturing processes.  In 1961, Hayflick and Moorhead published a significant paper showing that there is a life span to fibroblasts and tissue culture which is at a limit of 60 divisions and no more.  This has since become known as the Hayflick Limit.  There is no evidence that the cells stop dividing as a result of toxins or infectious agents or problems within the growth media, but that there is an inherent limit to the doubling period.  If the cultures are frozen and then thawed several years later, the cells simply go on to complete their normal number of doublings up to the limit of 60.  It is interesting that the maximum doubling number is proportional to the maximum life span of the species.  For example, the Galapagos turtle has a maximum life span of 175 years and a maximum doubling of cells of 125.   Mans life span is about 115 with maximum doubling of approximately 60 whereas the mouse has a life span is about 4 years with a  maximum doubling of about 28.
    Form this it would appear that of one could effect the doubling, one could effect life span.  However, ot can be argued that the doublings are a result of an overall aging process and not the cause of it.  Ot appears that although some organ functions may decline linearly with age, it is the end stage exponential decline that robs the organism of organ reserve and results in cessation of life.
    Although cell longevity studies are highly interesting and may provide clues to one day increasing life span, at this point in time the potential problems from attempting to increase cell life span, such as the formation of malignancy, are cause for more concern than hope.
    In previous reviews, we talked about how the dramatically decreased incidence of many diseases in the early 1900’s were the primary factor in an increasing life expectancy.  These diseases would include diptheria, typhoid fever, syphilis, measles, whooping cough, small pox and others.   We have also talked about how that it is more convincing that the decline of these diseases were a result of just better hygiene and better food distribution than intervention or any specific medical measure such as vaccines or chemotherapeutic agents.   So although we may have decreased early mortality which dramatically increases the average life expectancy, there is no evidence that we have done anything to effect life span.  Another way to look at this is that from age 40 life expectancy has increased relatively little since early 1900’s and the increase form age 75 is barely perceptible and the increase beyond the age of 75 cannot be determined at a maximum of 85 years on average.  This is a part of a bell-shaped distribution curve with deaths occurring before and after up to a peak limit of the 115 years as the maximum life potential.
    Thus the focus in aging should not be on the development of new vaccines or gene splicing techniques to create perpetual cells.  Rather it must be on permitting us to attain our natural life span.  To   do that we must overcome the debilitating killers that slope the vitality curve prematurely.  These include atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, emphysema, and cirrhosis which cause almost 90% of all disability and prematurre death.  We come back to the strategies we have discussed again and again in the Review.  Namely, exercise, cessation of cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, moving the diet to more fresh whole natural foods which will automatically take care of obesity, eliminating and avoiding environmental toxins, and striving for psychological health.   For the latter we can develop techniques to suppress the importance of adverse events so that we are not overcome by them such as the use of humor, altruism, mild denial and so forth as well as not putting ourselves into positions of helplessness and chronic frustration.  As we have mentioned before, to be healthy psychologically and thus physically we must feel some what autonomous and in control of our situation and destiny.   We must get ourselves into a position where if problems occur we can do something about it.  And lastly, of course, we should avoid situations which would result in injury.  Appropriate steps in this direction will result in rectangularizing the vitality curve.  This would mean staving off disease conditions that rob our bodies of their organ reserve,  diseases which make us more susceptible to debility and premature death.  We thus would look forward to a full and productive life with a very short compressed period of senescence culminating in rapid death.
    Not everyone ages the same. There is a plasticity in aging that varies with every individual.  Some are youthful and remain youthful in regard to certain attributes in age and age rapidly in others.   There are certain markers of aging such as graying of the hair, loss of skin elasticity, the development of opacity in the lens, the increase in rigidity of the larger arteries as well as loss of capacity of organs such as the ability to detoxify, to excrete waste, to exchange gases.  And so forth.  Some people may rapidly develop aging signs such as the individual in the early 20’s who turns gray.  Certain changes we might have to concede since there appears to be little we can do about them.  The change in skin elasticity, the graying of the hair, the increased rigidity in arteries, and the changes occurring in the lens of the eye are examples.  Bu it is hard to prove we can’t do something about it even these since everyone is individualistic and it would therefore be impossible to prove by controlled study (since you would have to be in each group – control and experimental – at the same time) that hair graying could not be delayed.
    Reference:
        The Journal of the American Medical Association, March 9, 1990;263;10.