Dr. R. L. Wysong
November 1992


    Childhood is filled with lots of do’s and don’ts, right’s and wrong’s, immediate rewards and punishments.   However, children who are given moment-by-moment commands may be well disciplined but not necessarily self-motivated.
    Tell a child not to tattle and perhaps they won’t – for a while.  Teach them the concepts of confidentiality and loyalty, and tattling is more likely to be removed from the personality.  Discipline a child for throwing apples at cars because he or she followed the local neighborhood ringleader and perhaps, just maybe, they won’t throw apples again.  Give a child self-confidence, then not bending to peer pressure may become a part of their personality.  Tell a child not to eat so many French fries and perhaps they won’t –  until the next chance when you’re not around.  Teach them the logic behind the value of natural foods and the damaging effects of food processing and you have given them a life-long road map to better health.
One of the primary purposes of the Health Letter is to arm readers with logical intuitive concepts, guide posts, road maps, filters to use as a world with many options is faced.  To simply tell you do’s and don’ts and right’s and wrong’s may help with some decision making, but does not make you a more independent thinker, which is the goal of the Health Letter – and its real value to you.
    I hope you see that this is an important feature of the Health Letter and that you will ponder, meditate, and discuss concepts so that they become a part of the intellectual arsenal you have with which to defend yourself against a constantly changing and often dangerous world.
    Unfortunately, as we distance ourselves from the natural world, in our comfortable homes, air conditioned automobiles, and guaranteed benefit work places, we become the opposite of the independence we think we are creating.  Our increasing dependence upon things from others does not create independence, but rather dependency.
    This is a natural course of societies throughout history.  It seems to be an inevitable consequence of man governing man that dependence and oppression eventually result.  As the oppression increases, as those within government try to gain greater and greater power and a greater and greater share of the riches of a society, eventually revolt will occur.  People eventually realize that they have lost their freedom and – often with much blood shed – will battle their way back to a new society which, in the beginning at least, will bring new hope with the promise of a new order of freedom.
    This is the sequence of events that have occurred within societies throughout history.  If you feel that we here in our country are not victims to this because our government tells us we are the land of the free, think again.
    Once a society breaks from bondage such as the Americans did from England in the 18th century, they proclaimed liberty.       Liberty is that delicate area between the force of government and the free will of man.  With liberty comes the freedom of choice –  to work, to profit, to travel – and it eventually can lead to abundance.  Abundance, if made an end in itself, can result in complacency which leads to apathy.  Apathy is the “let the expert do it” philosophy.  This always brings dependency.  For a while, dependents are usually not aware that they are, in fact, dependent, but see their ability to choose experts to do things for them as an expression of freedom.  They delude themselves into thinking that “we never had it so good” – “after all, we still make our own choices and we still vote, don’t we?”
    But eventually abundance diminishes as the experts sap more and more of the resources of the dependents.  Once abundance diminishes, dependency becomes known by its true nature, bondage.  The circle has been completed.
    Don’t be deluded by all the expert politicians and professionals around you telling you about how free you are and how good you have it.  When it gets to that point - others telling you how good you have it - you can almost count on them being the ones who have it good, and it is likely at your expense.
    Take back your freedoms; determine to be increasingly self-determining; continue to seek knowledge which will empower you with control over your own destiny. 
    You are a sovereign.  You must claim your inalienable rights or you have none.   Again, ultimately you are the best steward of your own welfare.  By regaining control, you not only create many more life options, but the sense of exhilaration from having more control over your own destiny can reap large health benefits.
    Here are some ideas that may help:
    1.         Need a repair or home improvement?  Try it yourself.   Buy do-it-yourself books and ask hardware and lumber yard clerks how to do it.
    2.         Sew and mend your own clothes.
    3.         Plant a garden.
    4.         Cut each others’ hair.
    5.         Clean your own teeth.
    6.         Represent yourself in court.
    7.         Help solve the environmental crises – plant trees, recycle, reduce, reuse.
    8.         Be as healthy, strong, and as smart as you can be.
    9.         Cook your own meals.
    10.         Prepare your pet’s food.
    11.         Study the Constitution (when was the last time you read the contract between your government and you?) and assert your rights.
    12.         Challenge all experts on all questions you have.  If they imply you’re too dumb to understand - fire them.
    13.         Develop your own business.  Full or part-time.   Make it something you enjoy as much as a hobby.  It doesn’t have to be a big moneymaker.  It simply has to be yours.
    14.         Bike or walk to work.  By so doing, you break from the mold of acting like an automobile is as necessary as breath.  The sunshine, fresh air, and exercise pay some health bonuses as well.
    15.         Write a book.  Yes, you.  About anything of interest, or about which you are capable of researching.  How about an autobiography?  You're the best expert on that.  If you can get it published, fine.  If not, do it yourself.  We can help you find printers.  This will yield big bonuses of self-identity.
    16.         Learn a new sport – but don’t take lessons.  Watch, read, buy videos.  Surprise yourself and others with what you can do on your own.
    17.         Stop buying.  Necessities and some treats once in a while, fine.  But 50 pairs of   high heels or 40 neckties?  Say no to the marketeers.  Make a stand with your dollars.  Use your money in some way to improve our world.  You be the benefactor.  You take control.
    Get the idea?
    Granted, you can’t become totally self-sufficient, but every step you make in that direction – the more you can thumb your nose at “experts” – the more life you will have, the longer you will live it and the better the world we pass on to our children.
        The Wysong Resource Directory is available from the Wysong Institute, 1880 N. Eastman Rd., Midland, MI   48642 for $15.00.
    I recently discussed the potential dangers to normal women participating in Tamoxifen testing for the prevention of breast cancer.  (I'm still astonished that thousands of healthy women have volunteered to take an experimental drug every day for five years.)  There's that “trust the experts” thing again. 
    Radiation is another form of therapy widely used in breast cancer treatments.  The question has arisen regarding the danger to the non-cancerous (contralateral) breast when a woman is subjected to radiation therapy.  Some have argued that the danger is minimal, but others argue that this is not true.   Such is the way debate in current scientific literature goes.    One must wonder how it is possible for even the most astute au courant physician to sort through the conflicts to determine what on Earth to do. 
    Any physician who does not see such conflict is not well read or current in the literature.  The danger is that the pressures of daily practice and the incredible demands on a physician’s time, often 24 hours a day, leaves little room for reflection, contemplation, developing philosophic principles, or even being well read.  In lieu of this, most clinicians simply follow the crowd and do what is currently in vogue, popular, and accepted by their peers.  This is not to mention the economic pressures of leaning toward doing that which increases income.
    Regarding dangers to the contralateral breast, investigators argue that although radiation therapy may reduce local recurrence of tumors, there is no improvement in overall survival.  They also note that there is a 3% risk of causing a second cancer as a result of the radiation.  This risk is particularly increased for women who undergo irradiation at ages less than 45 years. 
    Three per cent may not seem like much - unless you are one of the 3%.  Statistics have a way of de-personalizing risk.  Three per cent may be only three out of one hundred, but it is 300 in 100,000.  Hundreds of thousands of women suffer breast cancer and are being irradiated.  Thus, hundreds of people are perhaps having their health needlessly jeopardized.
    The principle “let the buyer beware” applies to health consumers as well as it does to people buying a used car.   Caution, suspicion, and every attempt to be made well aware of the risks and benefits of any therapy, regardless of who is making the recommendation, is the wise course of action for the modern health consumer.
    If you or a loved one has cancer, at least talk to some alternate therapy practitioners.  The Wysong Resource Directory (see Resource 1) is a good source of information, alternate clinics and practitioners.
    Remember that getting a second opinion is important - and not necessarily the opinion of the physician who is next door to your physician (and went to the same medical school, belongs to the same country club...).
        The New England Journal of Medicine, March 19, 1992: 781-
        The New England Journal of Medicine, August 6, 1992: 430-
    When we feed commercial products on an exclusive or long-term basis to humans or animals, we really don’t know what we are doing because we don’t know what we are undoing.  Infant formula is the granddaddy of junk foods.  We have reported many reasons for making this claim over the past several years in the Health Letter.
    It has been recently found that the lipids (fats and oils) in the brains of infants are quite dramatically altered by feeding infant formulas.  The brain is comprised of high levels of lipids which are both structurally and functionally important to the developing child’s neurological and mental abilities.
    Infant formulas are primarily comprised of grains and legumes which are high in the omega 6 class of fatty acids.  The brain, however, also needs high levels of omega 3 fatty acids, the same fatty acids that have recently been found to be valuable for adults with heart disease and immune disorders as well as a variety of other health problems.  Changing the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids in the diet of infants alters important biochemical balances the infant needs for proper development.  Could it be that the decreased intellect of bottle-fed babies compared to breast-fed babies as reported previously in the Health Letter is a result, in part, of these lipid alterations?  You can be sure that meddling with an infant's food source is doing something, and that something is not likely to be good.
    It is also alarming that there has been a dramatic increase in the level of omega 6 fatty acids in the adult diet.  Thus mothers may also be changing the balance of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids in their children even if they breast feed.  When adults consume junk food, they excrete junk food in their milk.
    What to do?  Breast feeding is still the best alternative.  For mothers who are breast feeding, they should be sure that they consume a wide variety of foods and seek foods that are relatively high in the omega 3 fatty acids.  These foods would include soy beans, flax seeds, fresh vegetables, wild animal meat, and fish. 
    Also remember, as we pointed out recently, that folic acid has been shown to be preventive for neural tube and other birth defects.  Thus a broad spectrum, naturally-based, vitamin-mineral supplement would also be advisable for would-be mothers, pregnant mothers, nursing moms, and just plain mothering mothers.
        The Lancet, October 31, 1992:1093
    If you were to strap your arm to your side for weeks, or months, or years, would you expect that arm to have the same agility, strength and flexibility as an arm that was vigorously exercised?  You know you must “Use It or Lose it.”  The inactive arm would suffer muscle atrophy, tendons and ligaments would lose flexibility, circulation would decrease, and bone density and strength would suffer.
    Fitness clubs are filling up with people who now understand this principle.  Exercises, both aerobic and weight-bearing, are used to keep the body in good physical condition for as long as possible in life.
    Could the same principle apply to eye sight?  Let's see (sorry).   The eyes are seen (sorry again) primarily as a passive organ.      You either have good eyesight, or you don't... or so it is thought.  This is a misconception since the eye is by no means static, but rather an extremely dynamic organ.  Fluids are moved and pumped through the various eye chambers.  The lens, which is designed to focus images on the retina, is lengthened and shortened constantly in adjustment to focal length.  Several rectus and oblique muscles permit the eye to move in virtually any direction within the glove, the iris contracts and expands  (creating a large or small pupil), and the canal of Sclemm helps circulate fluid within the eye, thus preventing improper fluid pressures which could result in glaucoma.  This doesn't even speak to the incredible complexity of the cornea, the eye's circulatory system, the retina with its rods and cones, the fovea which receives the sharpened image, the optic nerve, and so on.  The complexity is absolutely bewildering.
    But think of how we use the eye in our modern setting.  We often spend hours in front of a television with our eyes more-or-less fixed at a set distance on a given image.  We sit at our desks and read materials with our eyes set on a given image, with little movement and with the same focusing distance.
    Contrast this with the wild setting, where we would be constantly surveying our surroundings.  To be alert of danger, we would focus far off in the distance for early warnings, and we would in turn focus on near items such as foods and crafts.
    We have today, in effect, wrapped our eyes up in an immobile position much like an arm could be wrapped up in a sling.  It is little wonder, therefore, that we lose our visual capabilities.
    There are many things that can be done to maintain, and even improve, our eyesight.  The following is a set of exercises which can be used to help improve vision.  They exercise not only the global eye muscles, but the interior mechanisms which permit focusing.
    On the following page you will find a drawing of an exercise aid.  To set-up for the exercise, rest your elbows on a table as you hold the exercise aid.  Hold the page approximately 8 inches from your face and be sure that it is level with your face.  If possible, remove your glasses before starting.  You should be able to read the numbers well, but if not, keep your glasses on.      There should be normal lighting, and preferably you should use natural backlight by a window.
    Exercise 1: Move your eyes in clockwise position, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.  Then reverse the procedure counterclockwise.  Repeat 10 times in each direction.
    Exercise 2:  Move your eyes in a line from left to right between 3 and 7, and repeat 20 times.
    Exercise 3:  Move your eyes up and down between 1 and 5, and repeat 20 times.
    Exercise 4: Move your eyes diagonally between 8 and 4, and repeat 30 times.
    Exercise 5:  Move your eyes diagonally between 2 and 6, and repeat 30 times.
    Exercise 6:  Write the letter E on the end of a strip of paper the size of a popsicle stick.  Hold the stick with the E on it 8 inches in front of your eyes, focus on it, then on a small object (say, letters on a book cover) about 10 feet away, and then back to E.  Repeat this 20 times.
    It is recommended by the Institute for Vision Improvement in South Africa that these exercises be done once a day for ten days.  Then after ten days, move the aids closer to your face, approximately 5 inches.  Do the exercises twice a day, morning and evening, for the next ten days.  If you needed glasses when doing the exercises the first time, remove them or try to remove them for this second ten-day period.
    After the 20-day exercise period, exercising the eyes once or twice a week is sufficient to keep the eyes toned.  Try this.  Several have reported quite remarkable results.  Some have even discontinued use of their glasses.
    If you are caught without the exercise aid, do the exercise by looking at a pretend aid in your imagination.  You can still rotate your eyes through the exercises.  Don't let anyone see you doing it though - they may call 911.
    Let me tell you about a lot of fun that you have been missing that can also pay big health dividends.
    As children, my brother and I used to set up a badminton net in our side yard and play what we understood badminton to be.   We spent many hours at it and had a lot of fun competing.  But we didn't take it as a serious sport like we did basketball, football, and baseball.
    A few years ago, I looked over the itinerary at the local Community Center to see what sports I might be able to participate in.  The schedule listed open badminton on Sundays.  So I went.  The gym was filled primarily with Asians and Indians engaged in a very fast-paced, highly skilled game that didn't even look like what my brother and I had played as kids in the yard.  I was introduced to a whole new world of an exhilarating, challenging sport I did not even know existed.
    I recalled that I had been pretty good against my brother, so I thought that I'd challenge one of the players to a game of singles.   He appeared to be about ten years my senior and about half my size.  I'd make short work of him.  I'd been in a weight-lifting/running program for some time and had been playing volleyball, basketball, and football.  I was in pretty good shape.  At the least, I would out-muscle him.       
    Fifteen points later he had all the points.  I had no muscle, just sweat.  We shook hands and he said, “You play very hard.”  I gasped, “Where's the shower?”
    It took me three days to recover.
    I am convinced that this is the most misunderstood sport and fitness activity in this country.  Competitive badminton, as it is played in gymnasiums by official badminton rules, is extremely challenging from a skill, coordination, strategy, and fitness standpoint.  Most importantly, it is incredible fun.
    After learning the sport by going to the community center, I decided to set up a court in the warehouse for employees to learn it as well.  Everyone who tried it fell in love with it.  It has become a great break in the day's activities.  What is so unique about this sport is that anyone can pick up a badminton racquet and begin to play and have fun immediately.  That means anyone - from a child who is just able to lift a racquet, to elderly people in their 80's and 90's.
    It is a sport that can be played at every imaginable intensity.  A pace of slow, easy volleys with children, beginners and elderly people is engaging and fun.  But in addition to that, there is the opportunity to move ahead competitively in the sport to levels requiring skill, strategy, endurance, strength, and speed beyond your imagination.
    Believe it or not, competitive badminton is one of the most popular sports in the world.  In England, Canada, and the Asian countries, it is on a par with football or basketball in this country.
    If you find it hard to believe that badminton can be a demanding competitive sport, let me make a few comparisons for you.
    In a Wimbledon tournament match taking 198 minutes, the ball is in play about 18 minutes (9% of the time).  There are about 1,000 shots and 300 ralleys, making about 3.4 shots per ralley.  The distance traveled by a player is about 2 miles in the over 3 hours that the match is being played.
    Football is also considered a demanding sport.  In a two hour game, the ball is in play only about 14 minutes.
    In competitive badminton, the birdie (shuttlecock) is in play approximately 48% of the time of the match.  Compare this with only 9% for tennis and 12% for football.  In a 76 minute match, there are over 2,000 shots with about 14 shots per ralley, at a pace of a shot per less than one second.  The distance that players move is 4 miles in one hour and 16 minutes.
    In competitive badminton play, the pulse goes from a base of 72 to 125, and the systolic pressure from 120 to 145.
    What is particularly demanding is that during the course of volleys there is no breathing time while a ball is bouncing on the ground.  Instead, the birdie must be kept in flight at all times, and the speed of the shuttlecock in championship play exceeds over 200 miles per hour as it is smashed from the racquet.  Additionally, players must cover a court area of approximately 20 x 22 feet in order to catch the one shot per second ranging from lobs tight to the net, to high looping clears to the back of the court, then to the 200 mile-per-hour smashes.
    During a match, there are over 700 changes in direction required, many of these at angles of 90 degrees or better.  There is running, jumping, twisting, striking, throwing, lunging, one leg extended squatting, and tremendous demands on hand-eye coordination.
    There are more full-arm swings in a badminton match than required by a major league pitcher throwing balls for an entire 9 inning game.
    Now I am not detailing these extremely challenging demands of competitive badminton play to scare the novice.  As I said, this is a sport that can be played at all levels with incredible fun and with the mental challenge of a chess game.  The racquets are light and easily held.  Anyone can participate even if they've never held a racquet before in their life.  The first game can be enjoyed without a great deal of frustration such as that which comes from trying to master beginning skills in other sports such as tennis, golf, and so forth.
    Another bonus of this sport is the lack of public awareness.  You can begin, and in a short period of time, be able to attend tournaments that are held all around the country and play with people at your own level of play.  As your skills increase, you can play against some of the top players in the world.  It's like going to a tennis tournament and getting to play with Jimmy Conners.  The tournaments are low key, locally organized usually, although sanctioned by the national United States Badminton Association, and have classes of play all the way from beginner to world-class to seniors to masters to grand masters, with some individuals competing in their 80's.
    Badminton is now an Olympic sport, although you wouldn't know it by watching TV coverage.  It is now bound to catch on more in this country.
    This is a sport you must explore if you want to have lots of fun, increase your fitness, meet new friends, and be challenged.   You can play singles, doubles and mixed doubles.  The whole family can get involved.
    Contact the United States Badminton Association  (see Resource 5 below) to find out where the nearest badminton club is located.  Then simply get in touch with the club and tell them you are a beginner and would like to play.  If there isn't a club in your area, ask the USBA how you could organize one.  If you have trouble getting started for any reason, let us know and we'll try to help.
    Get involved with this most underrated, life-enhancing, exciting and fun sport.  You'll be glad you did.
    Hope to see you at a tournament one day.
        United States Badminton Association, 1 Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, CO  80909, (800) 621-2473