By Dr. Paul Wolfson
The following contains information for Dad’s seeking true health and wellness. It is about keeping Dad’s alive: thriving, not just surviving. I tell the story of my Dad. I have learned from his demise. His sickness and untimely death created the man I am today. Created the healer I am today. Created the teacher I am today. Let’s learn from the death of my Dad and millions of Dad’s like him who died too young.
The people of the world are getting sicker. They are dying way too young. In fact, recent data shows that our life expectancy may be on the decline, after 100 years of a rise in longevity. This was predicted in a prestigious medical journal in 2005. Last year, evidence demonstrated that we are moving in the wrong direction.
I think there are many factors why life expectancy peaked and subsequent generations will not reach the old age of our ancestors. Millions of dads are dying younger and younger. This is not to say that the moms aren’t dying too young as well. All of this illness must stop. Stay tuned…I have a plan.
Here are some of the most common reasons people are dying:
- Heart attack
- Kidney failure
- Lung failure
But in reality, the above diagnoses do not tell us about CAUSE. They are medical labels created by medical doctors. What matters is the CAUSE of the above. Because it is the CAUSE that kills. How the CAUSE kills is different in different people. The same CAUSE can lead one person to a heart attack and the next to cancer. Once we understand the CAUSE, we can prevent illness by removing the CAUSE. Find the CAUSE and you will have the CURE.
My Dad was a great man. A great man who died way too young. I tell his story in my book, The Paleo Cardiologist, The Natural Way to Heart Health. The story is powerful and motivating. I hope you learn from my re-telling it here.
My Dad, Paul Wolfson, was born in Atlantic City, NJ. His father was a butcher and his mother a stay-at-home Mom. From an early age, my Dad displayed high-level intelligence and would eventually graduate at the top of his high school class and Muhlenberg College. My Dad had a few friends who enrolled in osteopathic medical school and he joined them in Des Moines, Iowa. It was in Des Moines where he would meet my mom and eventually finish training in Chicago, graduating again at the top of the class. From there, my Dad became the first DO at the Cleveland Clinic in 1970 and the first DO at the University of Iowa for his cardiology training. He was one of the first DO’s in the American College of Cardiology, the biggest heart doctor society in the world.
My Dad would go on to head the cardiology department at the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. He published many research articles in various medical journals and traveled the world as a highly sought-after speaker. He was a brilliant man with a photographic memory. His colleagues still marvel at his mind years after his passing. He was special and he was loved.
You see, I knew my Dad for all the above. But I really knew him as a loving Dad, loving husband and caring friend. I also knew him based on his personal motto, “Work Hard, Party Hard.” Yes, my Dad liked to party. Happy hour with students, residents, and other doctors was his favorite time. He would take out anyone interested in a beer or two. Our weekends growing up were filled with parties, sports bars, and travel. My Dad was the life of the party. He was an extraordinary story-teller and joke teller. Life was great for all of us around him.
But something changed. In his mid-50’s, my Dad became depressed. He didn’t know why all of his passion for life quickly vanished. No longer did he care about the things he was so passionate about such as cardiology, friends and even family. He abruptly retired from cardiology, something he confided would never happen.
As a family, my mom, my siblings and I were baffled. Why would this man who has everything be depressed? We took him to psychologists and psychiatrists. Therapy did not help. Pharmaceuticals did not help. No one and nothing could break this apathy and ambivalence to life.
Then his mental illness morphed to include physical symptoms as well. He lost his balance easily. Developed a blank stare. Had problems walking and even difficulty with chewing and swallowing. Food and beverages made him cough and choke. He was diagnosed with Parkinson-ism. Not classic Parkinson’s, but something similar. Pharmaceuticals were tried but unsuccessfully.
Eventually, he was labeled with PSP, or Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. Never heard of it? You are not alone. It is a very uncommon diagnosis. The Mayo Clinic said there was no treatment and gave him five years to live. He died within five years, a cruel and tortuous death.
Why did this happen to my Dad? The doctors had no clue. I had no clue. What I did know is that I was becoming the same man as my dad. Same career and same lifestyle.
But a chance meeting with a young holistic doctor would rock my world. I would never be the same after meeting Dr. Heather Reed.
Heather would open my eyes to what happened to my Dad and millions like him. Men who died way to early. You see, Heather is a DC, a doctor of chiropractic. She likes to quip that DC really stands for doctor of cause. A mutual friend introduced Heather and I. The rest as they say, is history, but also full of healing (myself) and helping (a billion Dads).
Heather would teach me that what happened to my Dad was not from bad luck or bad genes. She showed me that poor nutrition and a poor lifestyle is what took his life. Seems like common sense in retrospect, but medicals doctors are not taught common sense. We are taught pills and procedures.
Her message of CAUSE was a kick in the jaw to a young cardiologist. But I listened. Her opinions made perfect sense. My family was reluctant to accept her version of health and wellness. Friends and colleagues of mine were alienated from our lives. As it is said, the truth hurts. But it is the truth that will Save a Billion Dads.
The demise of my Dad and a chance encounter with the woman who is now my wife and mother to my children, created the man I am today. I am here to change the world. I am here to Save A Billion Dads.
Here is my 10-step plan to Save a Billion Dads:
Coming out of Atlantic City and then spending most his adulthood in Chicago, let’s just say my Dad’s diet wasn’t that great. Frankly, it was deplorable. Deep dish pizza, hot dogs, and Italian beef sandwiches were just a few of his favorites. He loved his Chinese, Greek, and other ethnic foods. In retrospect, the MSG and other artificial ingredients were a large part of his downfall.
Food wasn’t my Dad’s only vice. Alcohol was his favorite beverage. When not consuming a beer, you could find my Dad drinking an artificial refreshment such as Crystal Light or Diet Coke. Now he is gone.
So, let’s move on to the food we should eat with responsible, Paleo nutrition:
- Organic food- no matter what you eat, make it organic. This will go a long way to ensure minimal insecticide and herbicide exposure. If you want eat ice cream, make it organic. Coffee, bread, cereal, cookies etc. all come in organic varieties. All the taste you love, none of the chemicals.
- Vegetables- tons of organic veggies with every meal.
- Pasture-raised meats- Our ancestors ate organ meats first and left the muscle meat for the scavengers. Organs such as adrenal, thyroid, thymus, kidney, heart, and liver store more nutrients than muscle. Animals in the wild know this fact. Now, so do you.
- Wild seafood- I prefer the small fish like sardines and anchovy, in addition to wild salmon and shellfish. I skip tuna, halibut, and swordfish.
- Eggs, avocado, coconuts, olives- Separate category because these are easy to find, store, and take on the road.
- Cook with animal fat, ghee, or coconut oil.
- Spice up your life- Rosemary, thyme, oregano, cumin, turmeric, sage, dill and the list goes on. Discover your favorites. These are nature’s farmacy.
- Fermented vegetables- This is a true delicacy and cranks up your probiotic intake. Good gut health is the result which leads to great total body health.
- Occasional potato, rice, beans, quinoa and non-gluten grains.
- Dairy- always organic and usually raw.
- Drink plenty of high quality water. Enjoy sparkling water such as Pellegrino. Herbal tea, green tea and organic coffee. Just be careful with caffeine. It may cause a problem in YOU. Love me some kombucha. Alcohol should be limited to 1-2 drinks per week. I prefer organic wine and organic tequila. Just saying.
Finally, I always follow these three rules: Organic, soy-free, gluten-free. No exceptions.
For a million years, humans went to sleep with the sundown and awoke with the sunrise. Then Edison and Tesla screwed that up by harnessing electricity and lighting up our nights. And we can thank the late Steve Jobs and other modern inventors for putting an electronic device into the hands of billions of people, effectively dooming our health. The average time people go to bed is midnight. Children staying up late is criminal and their health suffers.
My Dad went to bed around 11 pm and awoke around 5 am. He was out the door shortly thereafter. The scientific literature abounds with the negative health effects of 6 hours of sleep or less. Heart attack, hypertension, stroke, cancer and dementia are just several of the diseases a poor sleeper can look forward to.
May I suggest you try to hit the hay a little earlier? If you normally go to sleep at midnight, try moving it to 11. Little by little, get to sundown or shortly thereafter. I am here to give you solutions and Save a Billion Dads. This is how we are going to do it and there is no other way.
After sleeping at sundown and waking at sunrise, our ancestors spent most of the day in and out of the sun. And they were naked. They were always naked. You are never naked. Get the picture? No, it’s not pretty.
How much sun do you think my Dad was exposed to as a cardiologist working five days a week in the city of Chicago? The answer is, not much. Chicago, like so many urban areas, is cold and cloudy so much of the year.
Sunburn is bad. Sunshine is good. Again, thousands of studies demonstrate the benefit of sunshine and the benefit of vitamin D. The only place you get a significant source of natural vitamin D is from the sun. You can expect a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and brain disease. This is good.
Gradually increase your sun exposure. The more sun, the longer you will live. Worried about cancer? Don’t, because sunshine lowers cancer risk. Why would the sun cause cancer? It doesn’t. For prolonged exposure, find an organic sunscreen or wear clothing to cover up.
“But Dr. Wolfson, I live in Minnesota/Canada/Oregon. How do I get sun?” My answer….”Move.” If you can’t move, vacation in sunny places often. I am here to give answers. What you do with the answers is up to you.
Let me say it one more time. Get sunshine naked. I don’t care about your neighbors and neither should you. Kids naked in the sun too.
The air, water, and land is polluted. Sad fact, but true. Let’s not add to our toxic exposure. Science gives us proof that pollution is linked to all health ailments. My Dad worked in a toxic hospital full of chemicals to clean and sterilize the building. At home, we used toxic laundry products, household cleaners, and were exposed to paint, carpet, furniture and the mattress.
My Dad used aluminum anti-perspirant, nasty shaving creams and aftershave, cologne, and body soaps. All of these contributed one by one to his disease and death.
In short, think about everything you bring into your house. Is it toxic or not? If it is, don’t bring it in. There are natural solutions to everything.
I have worked with plenty of doctors who get adjusted by a chiropractor. My Dad was not one of them. As a D.O., he was not opposed to physical manipulation medicine. He just never had it done on himself. Years of unhealthy living take a toll on the spine and neurologic system. Then you wake one day with a neurologic disease.
In the simplest explanation, chiropractic uses the spine and bones to influence positive changes into the neurologic system. My personal experience, patient testimonials and the medical literature confirm chiropractic care works for hypertension, heart failure, heart rhythm problems, and just about every other diagnosis with a fancy label.
As the head of the department of cardiology, my Dad was under constant stress. Seeing hundreds of patients per week, managing employees, all the while trying to be a husband and father. In addition, my Dad drove to work one hour each way….in Chicago traffic!
Stress kills. Anger kills. Depression kills. I have all the references in my book if you need more proof. Doctors need to recognize the perils of mental health issues and work to find solutions. Here are some ideas.
- Find happiness on your job or change jobs. Confront situations that are ruining your life or move on if the problem cannot be remedied. It sounds cliché, but we only go around once. Find your happiness.
- Find happiness in your social life. Being in a relationship where you are unhappy is no way to go through life. It is not fair to your partner either. Those feelings are noted by children and others.
- Sunshine and sleep will improve your mood. Maybe it is not OTHER people, maybe your lousy nutrition, lack of sun and lack of sleep are destroying your mental outlook. Get outside. Sleep at sundown. Avoid artificial lights. Eat foods enjoyed by our Paleo ancestors.
- Evidence-based supplements like probiotics, omega-3 and B vitamins often do the trick. Pharmaceuticals are often not effective and ALWAYS a cover-up to the problem. What good is Prozac when you are deficient in omega 3 and folate?
- Get grounded
I feel so much better when I am barefoot. Find your beach or grass and walk/stand attached to the Earth. The electromagnetic energy coming from our planet recharges our batteries. This message was lost on my father, but not on me and my patients.
- Be active
Active is not 45 minutes on the treadmill while watching CNN. I am talking about getting outside whenever possible. Walk, hike, bike, swim, and kayak. Build and maintain a garden. Fresh air and sunshine will cure just about anything. Sitting inside on a stationary bike while listening to your headphone, not so much.
Our ancestors were active working and playing. Finding food and water was a priority. Shelter was of utmost importance. Embrace your inner Cavemen.
- Get tested
Mainstream medicine is out of touch with reality. Most MD’s today have no clue when it comes to the best tests for prevention and devising a plan based on the results. Old colleagues of mine are still stuck in the “pill for every ill” mentality. We can offer so much more.
In my office, we do some of the most advanced blood/urine/saliva/stool testing in the world. I offer my patients knowledge about intracellular vitamins and minerals, heavy metal, markers of inflammation, assessment of leaky gut and food sensitivities. The list goes on and on including genetics, environmental pollutants, advanced lipids, thyroid and hormones to name just a few.
Live the lifestyle AND get tested just to make sure you are on the right path.
- Evidence-based supplements
Even on the best diet and toxin-free lifestyle, we are deficient in vital nutrients. Why would that be? Quite simply, the soil is depleted, the air is polluted, and the water is full of toxins. We need extra support.