The book " Secrets of people who do not get sick" by the long-time journalist, writer and expert in the field of he althy living Gene Stone, reveals the valuable experience of dozens of individuals who managed to keep your he alth over the years. The book debunks a series of myths, but also does not fail to remind how important garlic, fish, Chinese herbs and a cold shower early in the morning are for the good disposition of the body and spirit. The author allows us to delve into these "secrets" and consider how we might change our lifestyles to enjoy excellent he alth.
For the past two decades, Jean Stone has written primarily on he alth issues – both as a dubious investigative journalist and on behalf of other people. And because he believes that the responsible author practices in the field in which he advises, he experiments with almost every idea, technique and remedy he covers. The present book is the result of his detailed study of the life stories of 25 individuals. Stone boldly demystifies nutrition and he alth regimes, diagnostic tests, diets, therapies and current "he althy" fads.
The rich Venetian nobleman Luigi Cornaro, born somewhere around 1460, was the descendant of a we althy family. Like the rest of the aristocrats in Renaissance Italy, he lived extravagantly, dressed lavishly in imported silks, watched the jousting and parades from the most expensive seats, and ate whatever he could eat when he felt like it. The life of the aristocrat consisted mainly of pleasures: hunting, intellectual pursuits and eating. His usual day began with a hearty breakfast, followed by time for business, the devouring of a second breakfast, and after that some horse-race or discussion of a political matter with the Doge (the Grand Master of Venice). Then another meal, and after the afternoon nap – possibly dancing and an extravagant dinner.
Rich people, including Cornaro, ate heartily four or five times a day. The feasts gave them the opportunity to amaze their guests with the abundance on the tables - numerous dishes prepared mostly with rare ingredients such as sugar (which was expensive) and asparagus (which was brought from distant lands out of season).
Let's look at the menu for a real Venetian banquet held during Cornaro's time.
- Rose water (for washing hands), pine nut sugar sweets, more almond sugar sweets (similar to marzipan)
- Small sausages and meatballs
- Roasted partridge in sauce
- Whole veal heads, gilded and silvered
- Roasted roosters and pigeons topped with sausages, ham and boar meat, plus fine cream soups
- Roasted whole sheep in cherry sauce
- The rich selection of roasted birds – cormorants, quails, pheasants, partridges and warblers – in olive sauce
- Chicken with sugar and rose water
- Whole roasted pig with broth for topping
- Roasted peacock with various side dishes
- Sweetened sage-flavored cream
- Boiled quinces with sugar, cinnamon, pine nuts and artichoke
- Various sweets with sugar and honey
- Ten types of cakes and an abundance of candied spices
Sometime in the 1590s, nearing his fortieth birthday (and the life expectancy of Italian aristocrats in the fifteenth century was about fifty), Cornaro fell ill. (Due to insufficient Renaissance records, all dates related to Cornaro are approximate.) His doctors told him that if he wanted to survive, he needed to change his diet. This recommendation was routinely ignored by patients at the time, but not by Cornaro. He, who lived immoderately in the first part of his life, decided to be quite reasonable in the second.
In those days, the idea of the relationship between diet and he alth was rather vague, so Cornaro decided to try his diet, which required a sharp reduction in the amount of food intake. He limited himself to 12 ounces (340 grams) of solid food and 14 ounces (400 ml) of wine per day (the wine then, which was drunk like water, was much weaker than it is now).
His plan worked almost instantly. His he alth improved so dramatically that Cornaro continued to follow his diet until the age of 68, when doctors became concerned that he was malnourished and insisted that he start eating and drinking more. He listened to them and soon developed a slight fever, which forced him to return to a lighter diet, which he followed until the end of his life, which ended at the age of 102.
Cornaro described his diet in a four-volume treatise en titled Reflections on a Moderate Life, in which he developed the philosophy that as one ages one should eat less and less. He further opines that in times of weakness the body prefers to rest rather than to digest, i.e., that it is he althier not to eat than to cram. "There is no doubt," he wrote, "that if my advice is put into action, one will be able to avoid all diseases in the future, since a properly regulated life removes the causes of illness."
Cornaro not only lived long, but also remained he althy until his very death. As he himself notes, "To live long with sickness and pain is worse than not to be alive at all." Cornaro's treatise was read and discussed over the centuries by many other prominent writers and thinkers, including the essayist Joseph Addison, Sir William Temple (Jonathan Swift's employer), and the philosopher Francis Bacon. But over time, his influence has waned to the point that today few have even heard of Cornaro. But his secret-cutting calories-has been reborn as one of the twenty-first century approaches to he alth and longevity.
Many of the other modern he alth secrets also have long-standing origins, but have since fallen out of fashion or had their effectiveness questioned by scientists looking for hard evidence. But like Cornaro's secret, they too have proved unexpectedly vibrant. If you're prone to seizures, say, someone may have already told you to be careful during a full moon-a warning that medicine didn't take seriously until the 1990s, when scientists at the University of Patras' Faculty of Medicine, in Greece reviewed the records of 859 patients admitted for seizures and found a "significant clustering of cases" around full moon days.
You may have taken it for granted that eating fish is good for the mind, but many modern studies suggest that certain fats found in oilier fish (such as mackerel and anchovies) play a role significant role in the development and functioning of the brain. Fish consumption is also associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline in older patients, as well as many other benefits.
For centuries, people have believed that cranberry juice cures bladder infections. The Harvard Medical Institute recently confirmed that cranberry juice does destroy bacteria on the walls of the bladder. And just look, the saying that one who eats an apple a day does not need to go to the doctor also turned out to be true: data from the University of Ulster in Ireland indicates that the high content of certain chemical compounds in apples helps to destroy cells of colon cancer. Meanwhile, scientists from Cornell University have found that apples prevent the appearance of cancer in the mammary glands of animals. When it comes to animals, we often hear that having a pet is good for human he alth and well-being. This thought is also confirmed by the latest research: dog owners, for example, are less prone to diseases than their peers who do not have a dog. As Dr. Alan Beck, director of the Center for the Study of the Human-Animal Relationship at Purdue University's Institute of Veterinary Medicine, notes, "Just petting an animal helps lower blood pressure because it induces an immediate relaxation response."
For thousands of years, until the end of the nineteenth century, doctors used leeches for bloodletting. However, the latest research indicates that leeches can also treat a number of diseases, including osteoarthritis. And bee stings have recently made a comeback as a treatment for multiple sclerosis symptoms. And against body aches from bed rest, one of the most effective remedies could have been prescribed to you as early as 1250: maggots that eat the dead tissue around open wounds and secrete an ammonia-like liquid that destroys bacteria.
In the Middle Ages, we althy patients often drank suspensions of finely ground "potable" gold - aurum potabile - which alleviated their suffering. Then, for hundreds of years, the practice disappeared, and only at the end of the last century were studies done that indicated that small doses of liquid gold strengthen the immune system and are especially useful for patients suffering from rheumatic arthritis. According to scientists from the Canadian Center for Arthritis Research, "Gold therapy reduces the severity of arthritis in patients who have shown a weak response to methotrexate, the standard agent used to treat the disease."
The popular remedies listed above should not in the least be taken as proof that the ideas of some mothers, grandmothers, and even scientists are always accurate and even useful. Many of them have their flaws and some are downright stupid. For example, trepanation - the drilling of holes in the skull to reduce internal pressure, which was believed to be the cause of a number of diseases - has been practiced worldwide for more than five millennia. But to no avail. For centuries, people believed that coffee inhibited growth; and it is not so. Copper bracelets that supposedly relieve arthritic pain seem to be useless as well. The idea that standing outside in the cold will make you cold has also been proven wrong; the risk actually comes from sitting indoors, among other people breathing their germs at you. The hemlock supposedly eased the pain – but it also turned out to be a deadly poison. Cocaine was considered a good teeth whitening agent and also a cure for morphine addiction: Sigmund Freud himself described it as a wonderful stimulant without any side effects and completely ruled out the possibility of abusing it.
At one time, doctors most regularly bled their patients; bloodletting was thought to restore the balance of body fluids. While he was ill, George Washington had eighty ounces (over two liters) of blood drained and thus probably hastened his death.
In 1899, the Merck Manual recommended arsenic as an anti-baldness remedy. In our time, the US Environmental Protection Agency includes this carcinogenic metal in the list of poisonous substances. The same manual also mentions coffee as a remedy for insomnia. Other drinks, most notably liqueurs (originally created to treat everything from parasites to impotence), were mistaken for medicinals. The herbal liqueur "Benedictine DOM" (Deo optimo maximo - "To the best, greatest God") was created in 1950 from twenty-seven herbs and spices to treat malaria in the area of the Benedictine abbey of Fecan, on the northern French coast. Other purportedly healing liqueurs included the Belgian Anvers elixir (against stomachaches), Greek mastic (against gastritis pains), and French "vervain liqueur" (to boost libido).
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the particularly infamous category of cers (penquilers) – patented syrups with dubious and sometimes downright harmful effects – reached its peak. Gaining popularity across Europe and the United States, these over-the-counter products promised miraculous relief from all manner of ailments, from tuberculosis and venereal diseases to colic and cancer, including the advertising industry's all-time favorite "female complaints."
Many of these patent cers were actually benign alcohol-based solutions, although some also contained dangerous opiates and stimulants such as morphine, opium, and cocaine. The opium-containing oil tincture (laudanum), for example, touted by the medical community as an effective pain reliever, was the scourge of the lower classes in Victorian England. And Bayer markets heroin as a cough suppressant. One of the more harmless
creations is "snake fat" - a term coined most innocently by a certain Clark Stanley to describe his benign muscle pain salve, but which has subsequently come to encompass all bogus remedies.(Stanley famously killed live rattlesnakes while demonstrating his charm at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.) Although Stanley's Snake Oil is no longer available, other drinks sold at beginning as patent medicines, are still on the market (with no medicinal properties attributed to them): Coke, Dr. Pepper, Seven-Up, Angostura Bitters, and tonics.
There are also quite a few more recent cases where recommended remedies have not lived up to expectations. Until a few decades ago, for example, getting a tanning bed in winter was thought to keep vitamin D levels high and prevent spring fatigue-until the medical journal Lancet Oncology published research showing that the likelihood of cancer increased by 75 percent in people who used tanning beds before the age of thirty. After the appearance of other similar publications, the International Agency for Research on Cancer added tanning beds to the list of "categorical carcinogens", which already includes tobacco, arsenic and mustard gas.
Which he alth secrets are reasonable and which are not? Who would they be most useful to? How can we ensure that we live a long and he althy life? How can we not go out on sick days, but go to work? And how can we avoid getting sick?
The aim of this book is to answer all these questions and to give us the opportunity to learn from the experience of those who are always he althy so that we too can be in good he alth. At least I think my he alth can be improved. For the past two decades, I have written primarily on he alth issues, both as a journalist and on behalf of others. And because I believe that the author responsible should also practice what he writes about, I have experimented with almost every idea, technique and remedy I have covered (except for electroconvulsive therapy - the doctors offered me a free session, but I turned them down). Because of this engagement with the subject, I have probably been subjected to more research than any other relatively sane person. I have had body scans, EEG's, EKG's, bone density dexa scans, fat distribution dexa scans, food antibody IgG tests and two dimensional and doppler echocardiograms. My blood has been tested for C-reactive protein, homocysteine, fibrinogen, insulin, lipoprotein A, and glucose load. I've had urinary tract profiles and serum and amino acid nutritional profiles done, plus a bunch of lipid profiles; my cholesterol levels have been graphed so many times they look like the dow jones stock index chart. I have been tested for all kinds of allergies (I am slightly allergic to cats, some types of pollen and mold). My muscles and organs were studied, my cerebral hemispheres were synchronized using a device strapped to my head (but instead of generating alpha waves, my brain tuned to the frequency of a local radio station).
I've also tried countless spa treatments, from Bindi Shirodara to Ayurvedic Herbal Rejuvenation, and have undergone dozens of "new age" treatments, including ear candling, rebirthing, crystal therapy, past life regression, and polarity therapy. I've had feng shui specialists rearrange my home to improve energy flows and seasonal affective disorder specialists install lighting to improve my mood. I have undergone acupuncture, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, biogenetics, the Alexander technique, rolfing, reiki and reflexology. And because I'm relatively docile, I've tried pretty much everything the experts recommend, from 1980s-style exercise (cardio and strength training) to twenty-first century interval training. I've had doctors stick electrodes on my head in sleep study labs and professionals in consciousness research labs to poke around inside my brain. I have experimented with Freudian therapy, Jungian therapy, primal therapy, cognitive therapy, aromatherapy and EMDR. I have discussed my he alth with psychics, and my pets' he alth with animal contact psychics (one of whom stated that my cat whimpered at night to warn me that the stairs in our apartment were dangerous). And despite everything, I was sick at least twice a year. Every winter there would come a point where my throat would start to itch violently, which would eventually turn into a lingering cold. Then, either in the late spring or early fall, I would get another cold, which would start with a slight tickle in the throat, move down the chest, and finally settle in my nose and stay there, like some lazy guest who didn't will vacate my sofa, lazily resting on it for so many days.
At one time the thought occurred to me that I was taking the wrong medicines that I should. And instead of relying solely on the specialists, I decided to reach out to those who are not close to the professional medical profession - or to any specialists at all - but are nevertheless in flourishing he alth.