Monday, December 02, 2002

Dead diet doyens

I'm a pathological pack rat. Mere pack rats just keep worthless stuff - I pick up others' worthless stuff. So that's how I came upon a hardcover edition of Euell Gibbons' "Stalking the Wild Asparagus".

You don't remember Euell Gibbons? Here's a taste: "Without going more than a half mile from the house, I saw, identified and recorded more than sixty species of plants good for human food and several of these had more than one edible part".

He's dead.

Alright, I'm insensitive, and in fact he was 64 or so when he died. But he's not the only one whose credibility would have been enhanced by greater longevity.

Then there's the late Nathan Pritikin:
In 1957, when he was 40, Pritikin was diagnosed as having heart disease. Faced with a lifetime on drugs and ever-increasing restrictions on his movements, he exhausted the scientific literature and formulated a diet and exercise program to treat his disease. After nine years of trial and error he had cured himself.

Long before most doctors and scientists were willing to acknowledge that something as simple as diet might be causing serious illnesses, Pritikin had, on his own, created a scientifically sound program to treat them, using food and exercise as medicine. It was a revolutionary departure from current medical thinking.
The final proof that his program works was his own autopsy which showed his arteries were akin to those of a young man and totally clear of any signs of heart disease.
Wouldn't everyone like to leave such a healthy corpse? He was 68.

Remember Herman Tarnower? His thing was the Scarsdale Diet. We don't know how long Mr. Tarnower might have lived, because he was murdered at 69 years of age by a jealous woman.

Meanwhile Dr. Robert Atkins is still kicking in his seventies. I understand he has had some health problems lately, but he's at least up there closer to his life expectancy.

Yes, this has been a strange post. Isn't free association wonderful?

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