One of the most influential men in the last 100 years that has probably made one of the largest contributions to modern health and wisdom was surprisingly not a doctor, or research scientist. Instead, he was an engineer and inventor. His focus on engineering changed, when in 1955, he was diagnosed with late stage heart disease. His name was Nathan Pritikin.
Many now know of him due to his work and the work of the Pritikin Center in California.
- At age 40, diagnosed with advanced heart disease.
- Cholesterol level exceeded 300.
- Was told by his doctors he would need to live a sedentary lifestyle or risk a heart attack.
- As an engineer, Pritikin did not want to settle for the status quo advice from physicians of the time.
At the time, Pritikin reflected back to some military intelligence information he had learned about Austrians during WWII, around 1944. He had come across some interesting facts that during the most harshest moments of the war in the region, over that same period, heart deaths and diabetes death went down.
The levels just did not decline a little, they declined close to 50%. This was at a time when doctors and the medical profession believed stress played a major role in controlling heart disease and diabetes. Of course, this was also around the same time most doctors preferred Camel Cigarettes for their great taste and calming effects.
As Nathan Pritikin continued to do research on his own, eventually he discovered through trial and error, and perhaps even luck, certain relationships related to other cultures. He discovered that 25 countries with the lowest fat and cholesterol (animal protein/fat) in their diet, rarely if ever had any incidence of heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, hypertension, and arthritis.
These 25 counties included approximately 100 Million people throughout the world. Isolated to certain cultures and correlating to their lack of consumption of animal based foods.
Pritikin at that time decided to change his diet consisting primarily of:
- Whole grains
- Beans & Peas
- Fruits & Vegetables
- He stopped all animal protein and dairy products
His doctors at the time warned against his radical dietary change They told him he risked malnutrition. Therefore, Pritikin took it upon himself to pay out of his own pocket for the most comprehensive blood testing he could get to monitor as much of his health and nutrition throughout his self-directed experiment.
[title type=”special-h4″ color=””]An Engineer’s Approach to Health, Wellness and Longevity! – Take Notes (60 Minutes)[/title]
[video_embed url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOj4rzSkqok” embed_style=”default” border=”yes”]
In three years his cholesterol dropped from over 300 to around 100. His theory of why it took this amount of time is that the body stores excess cholesterol in fat and perhaps plaque. Once he saw his levels were low, and other signs from his blood tested showed him healthy, he began exercising slowly. Walking longer and longer distances, then walking faster, and eventually he took up jogging, running 5-7 miles daily. He did so for many years.
Upon his eventual death, an autopsy was performed. At 66 years of age, no plaque whatsoever was found in his heart or arteries, something unheard of in a man of his age.
There is much more to the Pritikin story, but here are some other interesting factoids he discussed which we should all consider from time to time related to our own diet. They are:
- Dairy products are unnatural to man, that is dairy animals have only been domesticated (farmed) and used as a food source for man over the past 5,000-6,000 years. Before then, it was not considered part of our diet.
- Before domesticated (farmed) dairy, humans never had any form of dairy after being weaned as a child past the age of 4 years of age.
- Even during Pritikin’s life, close to 70% of the population never had milk after weaning.
- 25% of more of whites have some degree of lactose intolerance.
- Up to 70% of blacks have some form of lactose intolerance.
- Milk protein other than mother’s milk can create allergic symptoms in children if they were fed it before 6 months of age.
- Any food other than mother’s milk given to a child prior to 6 months of age, creates a strong likelihood of future allergies related to that food, since Pritikin believed a child’s intestines where not prepared for anything besides mother’s milk until after 6 months of age.
In conclusion, there remains a lot more to the story and there is much controversial debate related to these views. They are not the views of the Anti-Aging and Wellness Clinic as we approach nutritional advice. Nevertheless, Pritikin’s work lives on and is promoted widely through his center and a close long-time friend Dr. McDougall. He too, follows much of the Pritikin phylosophy in much of the work he does in California and his health retreats in Costa Rica.