Defiance and Dietary
Know-How: The Keys to
Holding Back Aging
The first words I wrote for this book were its title. Thesubject was a foregone conclusion; now that I'm approachingseventy, it's difficult to focus on any subject otherthan making sure that I stay eternally young. That focus hasled to enough productive experience that I'm sure I can pass onsome pretty exciting information to you.
Whenever I reflect on what I must teach you to age-proofyourself, as much as can be, the word "defiance" always jumpsinto my consciousness. This relates less to defying the agingprocess, as the title of this book would lead you to believe, thanto defying the prevailing beliefs. The more I learn about how tolive more and more years without feeling their effects, the moreI realize that most of the information we are fed by the powersthat be in the medical establishment is horribly misleading. Ibelieve it is so misleading as to be responsible for most of theavoidable physical and mental decline that we interpret as aging.
So lesson number one will be: To defy aging, you must firstlearn to defy what the authorities are trying to teach you. Don'tthink I won't elaborate on this point; I absolutely must do so.Too many of you are diligently following roles of good healththat seem so well accepted that you assume they are establishedfacts, such as eating a low-fat diet and eating lots of grains andfruits. Unfortunately, the dishonest side of the dogma presentedto you may be the very obstacle thatis holding you back fromachieving your goal of a long and healthy life.
The title's fourth word, "diet," is a bit of poetic license. I'vedeveloped a reputation for providing rather effective diets, andthis may cause some people to lose sight of the value of all ofthe nutritional approaches we use. This book will not focuson showing you how to lose weight the luxurious Atkins way,although it will certainly help you do so if you need to. So,hereinafter, let's understand that "Age-Defying Diet" refers toan overall age-defying nutritional plan.
The title's fifth word, "revolution," is one I'm sure you'llrecognize and associate with my approach to nutrition andhealth. It defines what I've been trying to accomplish with mylife's workto make the populace so aware of the economicself-interest behind the medical establishment, and its effortsto get us to succumb to its profit-based dogma, that we silentlyrevolt against it.
The twentieth century's impact on health can be definedas the conflict between scientists who make discoveries andscientists who make policy. The result is that much more ofwhat you need to defy aging is known than you are being told.The current of scientific discovery provides the information weneed to achieve our goals, but the current of economic self-interestpreserves the status quo and prevents those breakthroughsfrom getting the widespread use and acceptance theydeserve.
All of us will be better served if this new millennium beginswith the rejection of those whose interests are not consonantwith those of the general public and the acceptance of thosewho are determined to lead us out of the morass the medicalmainstream has created.
The many favorable experiences achieved by Atkins Centerpatients have helped me determine how to present you withthe best techniques for reversing the aging process. I will teachyou all the basic programs we have developed to get our patientshealthier.
You'll learn why we age and how we can slow the process.You'll learn specific ways to optimize your nutrition, idealizeyour hormone levels, rejuvenate aging organs, remove accumulationsof toxins, restore healthy bacteria to your digestivetract, avoid adverse environmental elements, optimize yourbrain nutrition, and much more.
Throughout, I'll emphasize that most of what we call agingis simply the presence of diseasechronic, seemingly ubiquitousdisease that makes us age with such apparent time-dependentconsistency that we accept it universally as "simplygetting older." Nothing could be farther from the truth. Manyof the common ailments of aging can be prevented or reducedthrough proper diet and supplemental vitanutrientsmy overallterm for vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other supplements.
No one yet seems to have noticed that getting old todayis quite different from a hundred years ago. The irony is thatcoronary heart disease, the major illness associated with age,was virtually unheard of a century ago. If we could eradicateatherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, the major disease of thetwentiethand now the twenty-firstcentury, we would extendour life span by easily four to six years or even a dozenyears. They would be healthy years, unmarred by chronic illnessand disability. Heart disease can be eradicated, and therefore,that's where I'd like to begin defying aging.
Learn to Separate Fact from Fiction
It should take very little convincing for you to accept the ideathat eliminating cardiovascular disease would be a very effectivefirst step in extending our collective life spans. You knowfull well that heart disease kills more of us than any other condition,and that narrowed, poorly functioning blood vesselscause even more of us to show signs of aging and limit ourability to enjoy our lives. Every organ, every part of your body,from your brain to the bottoms of your feet, ages when it nolonger gets a good supply of blood.
But I'll wager it will take some major convincing to bringyou to the same conclusion reached decades ago, which hasallowed me to reverse the time clock on thousands of my patients.That simple conclusion is that people have been lied toabout heart disease with such an intense barrage of misinformationfor so long that even honest scholarly researchers arerepeating these whoppers without a smidgen of suspicion thatthey could be untrue.
It is clear, then, that even before we learn how heart diseasecan be slowed down and actually reversed, we must learnthe truth about what seems to be the conventional wisdom.
I'm sure we're all familiar with "the Gospel According tothe American Heart Association." It's the same advice adoptedby the American Medical Association, American Dietetic Association,the U.S. government, and the National CholesterolEducation Program (NCEP). All of them seem to agree unquestioninglythat:
· All dietary fats must be restricted, especially saturated ones.
· Dietary cholesterol must be nearly eliminated.
· Margarine and other polyunsaturated fats are more healthful than butter and other saturated fats.
· Carbohydrates made with white flour should be the basis of a healthful diet.
· Eating ten teaspoons of sugar a day is perfectly good for you.
New scientific information from even the most prestigiousjournals that points clearly to the deleterious effects of transfats (dangerous fats found in processed fats such as margarine)and refined junk carbohydrates made with sugar and whiteflour is clearly not heeded by the medical establishment. Theeconomic interests of the medical profession and the food-processingindustry are nowhere so well illustrated as in theAmerican Heart Association's "Heart-Check" seal of approvalon high-sugar, empty-calorie foods. You can see the HeartChecksymbol on all sorts of worthless foods, including breakfastcereals such as Count Chocula and Froot Loops and onlow-fat Pop-Tarts. These foods are often nothing but refinedcarbohydrates and may be as much as 50 percent sugarbutthey have less than 3 grams of fat per serving. The AHA's unmistakablemessage: "Avoid fats, and nothing else matters." Inmy opinion, the other message is: "Support us enough and we'llendorse your low-fat food, no matter how fundamentally unhealthfulit is."
Despite the obvious errors of judgment displayed by thespokespeople for the medical establishment, the overwhelmingmajority of nutritionally concerned citizens stand by the low-fatguidelines, secure in the knowledge that forty years of scientificstudies have proved this point beyond any doubt.
But have they? Here's a major take-home message fromthis book: Nothing could be farther from the truth. The billionsof research dollars (much of it from your taxes in the form ofgovernment-sponsored work) spent to support the hypothesisthat dietary fat leads to heart disease have, with remarkableconsistency, proved the strategy to be a failure.
Let's look at the facts and you'll see for yourself. Of the dozensof proven items that call the imaginary diet-heart hypothesisinto question, none is more straightforward than the well-documentedtruth that heart attacks (myocardial infarction)were so rare at the start of the twentieth century that the firstcase was not described until 1912. In 1930, heart attacks causedno more than three thousand deaths in the United States.
Based on this figure, it behooves us to ask what Americanswere consuming in the early part of the century. The amountof fat in the average daily diet then was somewhat greater thanit is today, when we are in the midst of an epidemic of heartattacks. The fat we ate in 1900 was mainly butter, lard, andtallow (beef fat). Don't these facts demand an explanation?You'll never get it from the AHA, so I guess it's up to me toexplain why today's official dietary recommendations are dangerousto your health. Let's start with a closer look at the historyof the diet-heart hypothesis.
Diet and Your Heart: A Brief History
Ancel Keys was the famed nutritional researcher selected todetermine the nutritional needs of GIs and design portablemeals to meet those needs. He's the "K" in K rations. (Whetherhe was also responsible for the decision to include a cigarettewith every K ration pack, I couldn't say.)
With World War II over, however, Keys turned his attentionto a review of diet and health around the world. The results ofhis Seven Countries study, revealed in the early 1950s, supposedlyshowed that people in countries where the typical diet washigh in saturated fat had higher rates of heart disease. Unfortunately,Keys's reputation and standing were so great that themedical establishment immediately embraced his conclusions.
Based on the Keys Seven Countries study and others,equally flawed, the AHA undertook a campaign to replace butter,lard, eggs, and beef with corn oil, margarine, and cereal.By 1956, the campaign was in full swing. "Beware saturatedfats" was the party line, and the medical establishment fell intoplace reciting itwith one notable exception. Dr. Paul DudleyWhite, Harvard's leading cardiologist (and President DwightEisenhower's physician), pointed out that he hadn't seen a singlecoronary at Harvard between 1921 and 1928. On a televisedpanel discussion with other leading physicians he said, "Backin the myocardial-infarction-free days before 1920, the fatswere butter and lard and I think we would all benefit from thatkind of diet." His sensible advice, based on years of clinicalexperience and not epidemiological studies, was ignored.
A decade later, there was still no real proof of the diet-hearthypothesis. That didn't stop the manufacturers of Mazola cornoil and margarine from distributing a book in which Dr. JeremiahStamler, one of the AHA's ringleaders, affirmed that thetheory was "enough to call for altering some habits even beforethe final proof is nailed down." In an effort to find that proof,Dr. Norman Jolliffe developed what he called the Prudent Diet,recruiting a bunch of middle-aged businessmen to try it. Thediet emphasized corn oil, margarine, and cereal. The controlgroup stuck to eggs, butter, and meat. The results? There wereeight deaths from heart disease in the Prudent group versusnone in the meat-and-potatoes group.
Even so, the diet-heart hypothesis was already so firmlyentrenched that it couldn't be uprooted. Agribusiness had fartoo much invested in vegetable oils, corn, wheat, and highlyprofitable processed foods to allow any oppositionand it hadthe money and government clout to bulldoze its opponents.The food industry combined with the medical establishmentin strenuous efforts to suppress dissenting opinions from sucheminent scientists as Dr. Fred Kummerow of the University ofIllinois, nutritional scientist Dr. Mary Enig, and Dr. George V.Mann of Vanderbilt University. Insiders have told me that theunscientific and totally unwarranted attack on my low-carbohydratediet by the American Medical Association in1973 was engineered by the selfsame corn, vegetable oil, andcereal interests.
Since the Prudent Diet had not proved so prudent, thepowers that be called upon the ongoing Framingham HeartStudy to do so. According to the early results of the study, thosewith higher total cholesterol levels had slightly more "heartevents." As I'll explain later, the connection between saturatedfat in the diet and high total cholesterol was never really made.In fact, in 1992 the study's original director, Dr. William Castelli,revealed the inside story on Framingham, pointing outthat the people with lowest serum cholesterol were the oneswho ate the most saturated fat and cholesterol and took in themost calories.
With billions of dollars being invested to prove that cereal,corn oil, and margarine were heart-healthy and that most of uswere candidates for cholesterol-lowering drugs, dozens ofmajor international studies were conducted and published, alldesigned to ensure that the diet-heart hypothesis gained acceptance.
And gain acceptance it didso well that it is still widelyaccepted today. The drop in death rates from cardiovasculardisease between 1950 and 2000 is often cited in support of limitingfat in the diet. The overall decrease in the number of coronaryepisodes over the past fifty years is wonderful news, butthere is just one glaring shortcoming from the diet-heart pointof view: Almost all of the decrease can be attributed to the significantdecline in cigarette smoking (42 percent of all adultssmoked in 1970, compared to less that 30 percent in 1996),better control of blood pressure, and improved treatments forheart attack. Putting the nation on a low-fat dietan effort thathas been notably unsuccessfulhas had very little to do withour declining death rate from heart attacks. Heart disease isstill the leading cause of death in the U.S.it killed some727,000 people in 1997. Today you're more likely to survive aheart attack, but your chances of still being alive five years laterhave hardly budged over the past twenty years. Some 24 percentof men and 42 percent of women will die within one yearof having a myocardial infarction; within six years of a firstheart attack, 21 percent of men and 33 percent of women willhave another, 7 percent of men and women will experiencesudden death, and 21 percent of the men and 30 percent of thewomen will be disabled with heart failure. And even with thedeclining death rate from heart attacks, your lifetime risk ofdeveloping heart disease is still one in two for men and one inthree for women.
Now that the death rate from heart attacks is comingdown, we're experiencing an epidemic of heart failure instead,because a myocardial infarction damages and weakens yourheart, causing it gradually to stop working efficiently. Thenumber of heart failure patients nearly doubled in the ten yearsfrom 1989 to 1999. In many cases, heart failure is simply thedelayed result of having a heart attack and being treated byconventional doctors with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.These drugs block your ability to produce coenzyme [Q.sub.10], whichis essential for producing energy in your cells, especially yourheart cells. A shortage of Co[Q.sub.10] is almost certain to make aweakened heart get weaker and fail, as I'll discuss in great detailin Chapter 9.
I've spent a good deal of time and effort to instill in you acritical attitude to the dishonesty behind the prevailing teachingsabout heart disease, because I soon will be telling you howthe doctors and patients at the Atkins Center reverse this mostimportant age-inducing disorder. But before I leave this subject,I feel I must show you how profoundly the prevailingteachings can adversely affect every aspect of your health.
The number-one unifier in the unholy alliance among theAmerican Heart Association, American Medical Association,American Diabetes Association, and U.S. government in itsmany manifestations (FDA, Department of Agriculture, NIH, etal.) is clear: All these organizations have gotten squarely behindthe belief that "one diet fits all."
Now, I appreciate that you are not an academic in healthscience, but I am confident you are a person of extreme commonsense. So let me direct this question to you for your commonsenseanswer. Do you believe that each and every one ofus should be following the selfsame diet? Do you believe thatfat people and thin ones, young and old, diabetics and heartpatients, Jack Sprat and his wife, should all be eating exactlythe same foods? Well, if it's as hard for you to accept as it is forme, then perhaps you are ready to see that the one-diet-fits-allbelief is another fallacy to be rejected.
The second half of that fallacy is a direct cause of more prematureaging than the first: "... and that one-fits-all diet containsall the nutrients anyone needs." Vitanutrients are part ofthe first line of defense against aging and age-mimicking illness.Suppressing them borders on criminal behavior. Throughoutthis book, I will discuss the exciting, well-documented, and easy-to-doaspects of defying aging through nutritional measures. InChapter 22, I will present you with a summary of the AtkinsCenter protocols, with dosage ranges and more. Whether or notspecifically mentioned in connection with each recommendation,please remember that everyone is a littleor maybe a lotdifferentand that you must take into account your full medicalprofile, with the assistance of your physician, before embarkingon your age-defying regime.
I'm here to reawaken the seeds of doubt in your collectiveconsciousness. Maybe now you will see why I say that defyingaging begins with defying the conventional misteachings. Tounderstand how you too can learn to defy aging, you'll firstneed to understand why we age at all. That's what I'll explainin Part II.
Excerpted from Dr. Atkins' Age-Defying Diet Revolution by Robert C. Atkins, M.D. with Sheila Buff. Copyright © 2000 by Robert C. Atkins. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.