______by Ivan Berkowitz, International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences HEART HEALTH SCHOLAR, Winnipeg, Canada from CV Network Vol 9 No 2
Don’t worry, my vision of prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) will not use 5-syllable words and explore such topics as the potential of genomics or choice of medical devices. I believe that my personal experience has been successful enough to be worth sharing.
Without having had my DNA analyzed, I know that my genes forecast substantial risk of CVD. My mother was only 56 and my father was 62 when they succumbed to sudden cardiac arrest. Even before her death I realized that my mother had done an awesome job of bringing great joy to our lives, especially with the extraordinary food she loaded us with. Surprise … when I was 17, I realized, on my own, that I needed to lose weight and stopped some things like sugar, cream and then even milk in coffee; butter and, without even starting, smoking. However, the importance of food taught by my mother has never left my being. Unless I had significant control, I have tended to eat too much and weight loss was followed, gradually, by gaining most of it back.
1978 was an important benchmark. My older daughter was planning for her Bat Mitzvah so we agreed to lose weight. More significant was an invitation to a talk by Dr. Kenneth Cooper who ‘invented’ the system of counting aerobic points at his Cooper Clinic in Dallas. His talk was the highlight of the opening of the Reh-Fit Centre in Winnipeg. Also, plans were underway for the first Marathon in Manitoba. All these influences attracted me to join the Reh-Fit, seriously pursue their running program, follow an extreme diet and even try the Manitoba Marathon. At that point, I was only able to walk and run 6 miles but I was smitten. The next year, I had a great base and was able to finish my first of 22 full (26.2 miles) marathons. The training affected my taste for heavy foods and I have not eaten red meat since. The serious lifestyle change really got me into the best shape of my life over the next 20 years; even started training others so over 100 students finished their first of many marathons; and, most importantly, brought into my life the love of my life. The bottom line is that I feel I have enjoyed incredible health, vitality and ever- expanding interest in new ventures including my artistic spirit to create pottery.
Indeed I have followed a direction I read recently for Dr. Andrew Weil who gave 4 disciplines if living a long life is important: “You may want to adopt some of the habits that supercentenarians have in common. Supercentenarians - people who live to be 110 or older - share four lifestyle characteristics that may help explain their longevity. Throughout their lives, they have remained:
- Physically active. Even as you get older, daily physical activity should be a priority. Modify your routine to incorporate small steps, such as daily walks, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking up hobbies that involve exercise, such as gardening, playing tennis or hiking.
- Positive. Maintaining an optimistic outlook is important to managing stress and preventing related health issues such as heart disease. You can easily train yourself to start looking at the glass as half full. Begin with some simple self-reflection and meditation, and use humor for coping with negative thoughts.
- Social. A network of family and close friends is vital to optimum health. You can enjoy the benefits of a well developed social life by spending time with people who make you happy, joining community groups or clubs, volunteering, and participating in support groups.
- Spiritual. Regardless of your religious affiliation (if any), feeling a connection with nature, a higher being or purpose cultivates spirituality, and is an important part of graceful aging.”
Two reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association provide an update to obesity prevalence in the United States. Based on data from 2007-2008, researchers report that 68 percent of U.S. adults and 32 percent of school-aged U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese. On a Blog posted on April 13, 2010, Dr. Regina Benjamin, U.S. Surgeon General reported: “Last week, I participated in a meeting on childhood obesity at the White House to discuss ways to combat the growing health epidemic. I joined the First Lady, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan and experts and practitioners from around the country to discuss the challenges. I have been traveling around the nation, taking the message around the country and talking to people about the challenges they’re facing. I’ve traveled to Florida, where 43 percent of poor children and 45 percent of black children are either overweight or obese. I’ve met with Native American Tribal Councils, who are concerned about populations that have diabetes rates that are twice the national average. I’ve been to Durham, North Carolina, where the entire community is engaging in an effort to target obesity and other childhood health problems with unprecedented collaboration between public and private agencies. The problems are real, and so is the determination to solve them. I want to change the national conversation from a negative one that focuses on disease to a positive conversation about being healthy and being fit. But for people to act on these conversations, Americans need to live and work in environments that support their efforts. We need everyone’s help to support common sense, innovative tools and solutions. The meeting at the White House was an important step in that direction.” First Lady Michelle Obama has led the development of “Let’s Move!” which has an ambitious but important goal: to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation. Let’s Move will give parents the support they need, provide healthier food in schools, help our kids to be more physically active, and make healthy, affordable food available in every part of the United States.
Of great interest to me has been television coverage of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution”, initially successful in the U K and now in the U S A. The difficulty but amazing success is summarized online at: http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.html
To be specific, I have not written a book like the “South Beach Diet” or the “Pritikin Program”. But I am delighted to share a simple one-page which I call the “Trout Lake Diet”, named after possibly the most important influence on my continuing good CVD prevention – since my father’s investigation located Trout Lake, Ontario in 1944, I found the greatest environment including water we can drink right from the lake, physical activity and the extraordinary peace found without electricity, indoor plumbing and such toys as cell phones! On CBC Radio, I recently heard Diana Beresford-Kroeger, author of “The Global Forest”. She is a gardener who likes to combine her medical training with her love of botany. Having studied classical botany, medical biochemistry, organic and radio nuclear chemistry, and experimental surgery, Diana believes that the cures for cancer and other ailments can be found in her garden located in Merrickville, Ontario. She referred to research proving that pine forests (like the woods around Trout Lake): “Trees are a living miracle,” Ms. Beresford-Kroeger said. “Leaves can take in carbon dioxide and create oxygen. And all creatures must have oxygen Trees not only breathe and communicate; they also reproduce, provide shelter, medicine, and food, and connect disparate elements of the natural world.” She also talked about the Hawthorn trees whose berries are widely regarded in Europe to use to promote the health of the circulatory system and have been found useful in treating angina, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia.
At Trout Lake, we have hosted friends from all over the world – will you join us and hear my favourite sound – the call of our loons?
Ivan’s “TROUT LAKE” Diet*
One page is all you get = my simple approach for people on the go.
My friend/doctor Jack Rusen has introduced me to:
2 glasses of ice water before every meal.
Forbidden products: (direct or as ingredients): salt, sugar, desserts, butter, white flour, red meat, cream, white potatoes, white flour pasta, skin, deep-fried food, white rice, soft / high fat cheese, liquor (except the odd glass of red wine), soft drinks other than diet, juice, desserts with sugar
and / or milk products and / or white flour
Encouraged products: fruits, salads, vegetables (especially dark coloured ones), pulse vegetables (garbanzo, chickpeas, lentils), oatmeal, soy products, tofu, fish, white meat of chicken / turkey, salmon, prunes, bran products, vinegars, canola oil, flax oil or crushed, brown/wild rice, buckwheat, walnuts, almonds, skim milk, pepper, herbs, garlic, mushrooms, whole wheat flour products, green tea, chamomile tea (instead of coffee especially for an upset tummy).
Approaches to meals:
Breakfast – soy/skim milk, oatmeal, shredded wheat/bran, egg beaters, fruit
Lunch – salad, fruit
Dinner – veggies / salad, meat or fish (not huge portions), fruit
Exercise is strongly recommended. At least, walk 30 minutes every day. Weight workouts are good. Not necessary to train for and complete 22 full (26.2 miles) Marathons as I have done, but it helps!
and, NEVER, NEVER eat even a mouthful after 8:00 PM
*Based on personal experience over 50 years, losing probably a TON of weight (and recently another 20 pounds in 2 months concentrating on this approach!) but still fighting to lose the fat that creeps back, probably due to metabolism that attracts fat … and an innate LOVE of food!