Monday, February 25, 2008

Day fiftysix

I missed a couple of days. Sorry about that.

Saturday was a very happy day for me. I spent the bulk of the day with my wife Ruth. Since I had this trip coming up, we drank in each other's presence. We took care of financial matters in the morning, took a yoga class at noon, and then had lunch at Red Lotus. Later, I made us a light dinner and we watched the movie The Green Mile. This movie has been haunting me ever since. It was certainly Oscar-worthy but never got considered. I am not sure for the reasons for this, but the message of the movie is very apt for our current age. I will not belabor this issue, but highly recommend that you consider renting this film.

I also read much of the book In Defense of Food, an Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan. If you have not read this book you should do so. I agree with much of it, disagree with other parts as well, but find that in general it crystallizes many things, notably how we got to the state we are in with our pathetically dysfunctional food culture. The areas that I disagree with are the consumption of animal products (which he allows), and alcohol. Michael Pollan maintains that moderate consumption of alcohol is beneficial to your health. I am no teetotaler, as many of my friends know, but I highly suspect that the studies which correlate alcohol to improved health are subject to many of the defects of things like the Nurses Study, i.e. the sample consumed a standard American diet (or a slightly modified version of it) during the study. It has yet to be proven that consumption of alcohol has benefits in combination with a very healthy diet. I highly doubt that it does.

Otherwise, though, this book is great. It certainly helps to understand the reasons why our food culture is whacked in ways similar to how The Pleasure Trap helps you understand why you desire to eat unhealthy foods. Both books are necessary in order to understand how we got into the state we are now in.

Both of these books, by the way, were recommended by my good friend Jodi. Many thanks to her for these excellent suggestions.

I am now reading another book, The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. This book is not one which recommends the consumption of a whole foods plant based diet. It is very fascinating nonetheless, particularly for someone like me, whose body is eaten up by autoimmune disease.

Here are the numbers: 23.5 million people in America have a serious autoimmune disease. That's one in 12. This is more than double the number of people that have cancer, and more than five time the number of people who have cardiovascular disease.

The budget of the federal government for autoimmune disease for last year was $559 million. That's one tenth the budget for cancer and one twentieth the budget for heart disease.


The question is why? I haven't gotten very far in the book, but I will keep you apprised.

Looking at the WFPBD books, like Dr. Fuhrman's, Dean Ornish, John McDougall, Caldwell B. Esselstyne, and such, it is obvious that these books predominantly concern heart disease. Dr. Fuhrman claims no benefit to his program for cancer. The China Study claims a cancer prevention benefit, but not a treatment. Similarly, The China Study spends a great deal of time covering the issue of heart disease, cholesterol, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis and the like.

Other than Dr. Fuhrman who has a chapter on autoimmune disease in Fasting for Health, there is almost no mention of the issue of autoimmune disease.

It would seem the the bias in favor of heart disease and cancer as the big health issues of our time has leaked into the WFPBD crowd as well.

Reading the autoimmune book (which I will hereafter refer to with the acronym TAE, for The Autoimmune Epidemic), it is very obvious that autoimmune diseases not only destroy the health and quality of life of millions of Americans (myself included), it also kills them in large numbers. Diseases like schleroderma, lupus, and MS are inevitably fatal. In fact, psoriasis alone kills a few thousand people a year, primarily from the side effects of treatment. Those folks die in terrible pain as well.

No wonder I seriously contemplated euthenizing myself when faced with the prospect of dying of this disease. I watched my father fall to pieces. By the time he died, he no longer had fingernails or toenails. They had turned to dust. Huge clouds of psoriasis flew off him whenever I touched him.

I will not do that. It pains me to know that he could have been cured. (Cancer eventually took his life before psoriasis did, mercifully). I will maintain my course. I will beat this thing eventually.

I am now in California. I am eating very well. The flight yesterday was a bit of an issue. I became swollen and inflamed during the second leg of the journey, possibly as a result of consuming wheat. I must stay away from gluten I suppose. I needed to eat and the healthiest thing that I could find in DFW airport was a humus and veggie sandwich at Au bon pain. It was a bad idea. I had very little if any pain on the first leg, but was quite bothered by arthritis pain and swelling in my second leg.

Today, though, I am feeling well. I had oatmeal for breakfast (with berries and a little soymilk). for lunch I had a huge salad and a bowl of vegan split pea soup. I feel quite strong and well rested. My plans are to attend a yoga class later and then a late dinner, possibly back at the hotel.

More later.

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