George’s Journal

Hi, thanks for checking in. I’m feeling better, stronger, though still a skinny 190 pounds.  Physical therapy has been very stimulating, as I gradually regain range of motion and strength in my legs, shoulders and arms.  My PT sessions are skillfully directed by Roger Rommelfanger, PT, and Marcos Sanchez, CMT, of Irvine Start. I love the physical exertion in the various 2-minute exercises.  Though, I’ve only been to 3 sessions, it feels great to have a hint of strength again, even if it’s just from the lifting of a 2-3 pound dumbbell or ankle weight a number of times a certain way for a couple minutes. My plan is to go to PT 3 times a week through August. By Labor Day, I should be in much better shape; particularly my right leg and foot, which are improving, but are still a bit swollen, numb and stiff (ankle). I’ll keep you posted.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVA!

Tuesday the 20th, we celebrated Eva’s 9th birthday. It was a lot of fun, and Eva’s unbridled excitement was truly an example of the joys of parenthood. During my hospital stays and throughout the “difficult days,” I would often think of these milestones and envision myself being there. Eva has been busy this summer with both her swim and soccer teams, along with play dates and sleepovers.  We had a little party for her and 8 girlfriends at a “hip” local bowling alley. Thanks to my wonderful wife, Cheryl, for a “good time had by all.”

Life is good!  We’ll get some new photos up on the site soon. I’m very blessed and thankful, that the good Lord is enabling me to enjoy family and friends, improved health and all the possibilities that come with each day.

TRIPS TO MEXICO AND CHINA….

In this post, I’d like to take you to Mexico and China.  No, not a sight-seeing or travelogue tour; but, rather, an insightful look at why people in China have a much lower incidence of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other potentially deadly chronic diseases, and how the diet advised by Dr. George Barossa of Oasis of Hope (OOH) has modified my eating habits.  Back in April, just before leaving for Tijuana, our good friend, Susan Doden, gave me a brilliant book, The China Study by T. Colin Campbell PhD (http://www.tcolincampbell.org) and his son, Thomas Campbell II.  The timing was opportune, since the patient menu for all meals at Oasis was 100% vegan. For me, a relatively healthy eater, i.e., mostly refrained from eating red meat and foods laden with butter, creams and sugar, as well as processed foods, for the last 20 years, the vegan diet was a challenging adjustment during my 12 days there. No poultry, seafood and cheese.  Sorry, not on the menu!  I ate a lot of oatmeal (with soy milk), whole grain toast, rice and beans, and fruit.

What’s a vegan? And what do they eat? According to About.com, “Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines. Vegan refers to either a person who follows this way of eating, or the diet itself.”

Pretty hard core….but, as I’ve learned, optimally healthy!  I have great respect for the eating discipline of vegans, but I know many of us are thinking, “What about taste?”  I’ll circle back to this.

BEWARE….THE “WESTERN DIET”

I gleaned a number of important lessons from The China Study that I’d like to share. Do you know that what you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner has even more of an impact on your overall health than the genes you inherited when you were born?  From a global perspective, the large majority of Americans eat what is referred to as the “western diet.”  Check out The China Study, and you’ll learn that the western diet, of which animal-based foods (meat, eggs, milk, cheese) and processed foods are staples, is not good…at all.

Certainly, we agree that one of the most important influencers of personal health is diet/nutrition. How many diets/diet fades have we been exposed to, or for that matter, tried?  Take your pick of the “Atkins Diet,” “South Beach Diet,” “Jenny Craig Diet,” “NutriSystem Diet,” “New Beverly Hills Diet,” “Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Loss Solution,” and on and on. A huge problem with the western diet is that the mega-food/nutrition/diet industries have a mostly unfavorable persuasion on each American’s health.  The combination of business and political interest fuels this reality. The inescapable fact is that certain people are making a ton of money today selling foods that are unhealthy. Per Dr. Campbell, “They want you to keep eating foods they sell, even though doing so makes you fat, depletes your vitality and shortens and degrades your life.” Moreover, many who sell diet plans (books and meals) distort facts, arrive at unscientific conclusions, and provide a disservice to well-intentioned dieters.

By any number of measures, America’s health is failing. For example, 1 out of 13 Americans now has diabetes.  Heart disease will kill 1 out of every 3 Americans. The American Cancer Society says that males in this country have a 47% chance of getting cancer!  Women fare a little better, but you still have a whopping 38% lifetime chance of getting cancer.

20-YEAR COMPREHENSIVE STUDY OF NUTRITION

The authors, through a number of highly respectable animal and human scientific studies in the US, Philippines, and most notably China, convincingly show that the western diet featuring animal-based foods is much more likely to result in a serious/deadly chronic disease than plant-based diets. “The China Study,” is the China Project, a survey of death rates for 12 different kinds of cancer covering 2,400 counties and 880 million (96%) of their citizens, combined with the study of the relationship between various mortality rates and a number of dietary, lifestyle, and environmental characteristics in 65 mostly rural counties in China conducted jointly by Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine over the course of 20 years.  In these 65 counties, questionnaires and blood tests on 6,500 adults were administered. Dr. Campbell and team took urine samples, directly measured everything families ate over a 3-day period and analyzed samples from marketplaces around the country.

In America, 15-16% of our total calories comes from protein and 80% of this amount comes from animal-based foods.  But in China, only 9-10% of total calories come from protein and only 10% comes from animal-based foods.  Yes, there are major nutritional differences in the Chinese and American diets!  At the time of the study, the death rate from coronary heart disease was 17 times higher among American men than Chinese men, and the death rate in America from breast cancer was 5 times higher than in China.

Dr. Campbell was raised on a dairy farm in Virginia where milk was central to his existence. He says, “We were told in school that cow’s milk made strong healthy bones and teeth. It was “Nature’s most perfect food.” Now, he has proven that casein, which makes up 87% of cow’s milk, promotes all stages of the cancer process. What type of protein did not promote cancer, even at high intake levels? Proteins from plants, including wheat and soy. Moreover, individuals can achieve their genetic potential for growth and body size by consuming a plant-based diet. Body growth is linked to protein in general.

PRAISE FOR THE CHINA STUDY

“Everyone in the field of nutrition science stands on the shoulders of Dr. Campbell, who is one of the giants in the field. This is one of the most important books about nutrition ever written – reading it may save your life.”  – Dean Ornish, MD

The China Study is the most important book on nutrition and health to come out in the last 75 years. Everyone should read it, and it should be the model for all nutrition programs taught at universities.  The reading is engrossing if not astounding. The science is conclusive….” – David Klein, Publisher/Editor, Living Nutrition Magazine

For those who are disciplined about healthy eating, whether you’re on a specific diet or not, cheers to you!  The simple message I’d like to convey is, read The China Study.  Not necessarily all 368 pages, but enough of it to embrace the lessons within.

Diet is obviously a very personal choice. Getting back to the topic of “taste” or enjoyment of foods, my preferences are to eat healthy (and live!), and include more tasty items such as fish, chicken, turkey, and, occasionally, cheese and eggs.  One of the highlights of my stay at Oasis of Hope was two presentations by Dr. George Barossa (oncologist) which detailed my treatments, and the recommended diet. Perhaps a bit surprisingly, his take on diet and nutrition dovetails with leading “traditional” US medical institutions.

CONVERGENCE OF TRADITIONAL AND ALTERNATIVE

Dr. Barossa was very practical in his advice to me and the other 20 or so patients attending his sessions.  He urged us, “Choose the diet where you’re going to be happy, eating healthy.”  He points to the people in Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece, as an example of a good diet to adopt.  Here are some key takeaways:

  • Olive oil should be used for cooking (good in heat); Vegetable oils in salads
  • Eat a low quantity of meat, but NO red meat!
  • Pasta with rich tomato sauce is good, every day
  • White pasta is OK, it has a low glycemic index (GI)
  • Eat meals with a low GI (60-70).  GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels.  Carbs that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI. Carbs that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI. Cancer cells need a high concentrate of glucose to thrive.
  • Cheese is OK, but in low quantities
  • Chicken or turkey 2-3 times weekly
  • Organic eggs only 2-3 weekly
  • Eat high quantities of fruits and vegetables
  • Garlic and coffee are good; caffeine is an immune stimulant
  • Cooked peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and carrots are better for you than raw
  • Red wine in moderation is good

The “Mediterranean diet” is also advocated by many major medical organizations. Here’s an excerpt from the Mayo Clinic site (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet/CL00011):

“A recent analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality, a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer mortality, and reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.”

GOOD HEALTH FOR ALL

Hopefully you’ve found some long-term value in today’s message, and it contributes to greater health and happiness.  I’m still going to City of Hope twice a week to meet with Dr. Chen. He’s monitoring my progress closely, tweaking my medication weekly. So far so good! I pray to remain cancer-free, and regain my physical strength. I have one more cancer screening in August. Our hope is that screening will confirm my present diagnosis.

Once again, for those of you who have contributed to my fund, Cheryl and I can never thank you enough.

God bless you and yours,

George

…”With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)


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