HOME HYGIENELIBRARY CATALOG CHAPTER 4
Nathan Pritikin and a successful case
Nathan Pritikin, founder-director of theLongevity Center, talks with departingpatient George Perry. Faced with anangiogram and possible surgery after aheart attack, Perry arrived at the Centerin a wheelchair. In a month he was walking7 miles a day.
"Somebody said that it couldn't be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That 'maybe it couldn't,' but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it. "
Edgar A. Guest
By his spectacular success in the rehabilitation of thousandsof people suffering from degenerative diseases, Nathan Pritikin in the last eightyears has dramatically influenced the entire USA towards awareness of lifestyle andits relationship to health.
The success of this book is largely due to the help and advicehe has freely given me, advice that has profoundly improved my life and the livesof my family and many others, and for which I am very grateful.
The Pritikin Research Foundation in California is a professional,dynamic, successful organization.
The 11 original members of the foundation, formed at Long Beach,California in 1972 were professional men who between them represented the sciencesof biology, mathematics, electrical engineering, biochemistry, nutrition, organicchemistry, psychology, law, business science, medicine, cosmetic surgery and physics.
The Advisory Board of the present Pritikin Research Foundationcomprises fourteen MD's, six PhD's, a dentist, an attorney and the President to theGlenn Foundation for Medical Research, New York. It includes representatives fromEngland, New Zealand and Finland.
Mr Pritikin, the Founder and Director, was born in Chicago,August 29, 1915. Since childhood the fascination and study of the complexities ofthe human body has been his continued interest. His father wanted him to be a lawyerbut he was forced to discontinue his law studies due to the depression. He was interestedin electronics and went into business for himself and has ever since been self-employed.
During World War II he was engaged in secret work for the USGovernment and had access to secret information coming from the European war zone.This information included reports on health status of populations and the effectof continued bombardment and war stress on people. In those days, stress was consideredthe prime cause of heart disease and Pritikin was astounded to learn that despitethe dreadful stress of continued bombing etc., the death rate from heart attacksand other diseases was significantly lower than before.
That the death rate was lowering because of the stringent wartimediet of these people did not fully register with him and he continued his busy life--work,wrong food and no exercise. His interest in medical research continued too and hesubscribed to medical papers and journals from all sources. Reading them was hisonly relaxation, and to find time to study them all and to remain successful in businessposed a problem.
This problem he resolved by approaching big corporations asa troubleshooter, and by inventing and patenting equipment for them he was able torely on royalties as a main source of income. Many of his 43 patents are held bycorporations such as General Electric, Honeywell, Corning Glass, Bendix Aviationand General Precision.
In 1957 Pritikin discovered he had a serious heart condition,so bad that he was advised to rest completely. Wherever he went he was to walk nomore than a few feet and his wife would, when necessary, drive with him in orderto park the car wherever he was going and save him the walk from the parking lot.Realizing that in this situation he had but a short pathetic life expectancy, hisinventor's mind looked for an alternative.
Encouraged by the health and diet books by Paul Bragg, he delvedinto medical research papers on the effects of diet and exercise on laboratory animals,and epidemiological data on human populations.
His blood cholesterol level was tested at 280 mg% (7.7 mm/L),in the "upper normal" range on the accepted standards of the time, so hedecided his first step would be to reduce this figure.
There was much speculation and confusion and no proven knowledgeor techniques to go on, so Pritikin based his plan on three main facts. Firstly,that heart disease was unknown among native people living on primitive natural dietsand that the restricted diets of wartime Europe appeared* effective in reducing cardiovasculardisease. Secondly, that in laboratory tests on dogs where arteries were deliberatelyblocked, exercise had been shown to create new collateral circulation in the formof new tiny blood vessels. And thirdly, that tests on monkeys demonstrated that cardiovasculardisease could be induced, and then reversed, by diet manipulation.
*See reference to Austrian autopsies, Chapters 14 and 15.
With great caution and thoroughness inspired by dire warningsfrom the "experts" he embarked on a diet to reduce the cholesterol. Everytwo weeks he had a blood test checking on 85 different blood constituents, and ashis plan progressed he found that all the animal tests were exactly predictive ofhis own results. No deficiencies occurred and he spent one-and-a-half years to reducehis cholesterol to 160. Cutting out all cholesterol food, in another year, he reducedit to 100 (2.5 mm/L).
Then he commenced the exercise program. He arranged to be checkedout to do exercise stress ECG's on himself and used them regularly to monitor hisprogress. At first at low exertion his E.C.G.* showed an "ST" segment depressionof 2 mm which was very bad. Even at high exertion it would have been very bad, sohe started with very short walks, half a block out and back again, four times a day.
*Electro-cardiogram--sometimes referred to as EKG, described in Chapter 12.
As he gradually proceeded, by the time he was covering two milesa day the ECG started showing improvement. At four miles the ECG showed no depressionat a heart rate of 120. Finally, he was running 6-7 miles and arranged for a treadmillstress test to get an ECG at the highest heart rate.
Treadmills were rare items of equipment in 1966, but he locatedone at the UCSB* which had been used for testing military personnel. The test wasconducted by a cardiologist, a 20 minute test set for a 7 minute mile speed. Everyheartbeat was checked for the entire test, his heart rate levelled at 177 beats aminute, and there was no sign of abnormality! Few men of any age can achieve thatstandard.
*University of California, Santa Barbara.
And when his eyes began to bother him when reading, he had themchecked in order to get new reading glasses. The tests showed his eyes were perfectand that he did not need glasses.
You would have thought that this breakthrough against heartdisease would have been world shattering, but to gain acceptance, Pritikin had topersevere against the usual apathy and inertia with unbelievable patience, usinghis entire resources on a "shoestring" financed venture. The frustrationof watching Government research ventures costing billions and achieving nothing,when at one stage he couldn't even raise the last desperate $10,000 he needed mustalmost have driven him to distraction.
It was in 1969 that he began to treat Mrs Weaver of Los Angeles,and after other spectacular results with patients from the V. A. Hospital in LosAngeles, was eventually invited to submit a paper at the 52nd Annual Session of theCongress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the 37th Annual Assembly of the AmericanAcademy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Atlanta, Georgia, referred toin the last chapter.
The paper received worldwide publicity and it was the reportin the Sydney Sun newspaper that I saw that enabled me later to contact MrPritikin and save my wife's life.
The interest generated throughout the USA caused Pritikin topostpone a well-earned break and he established the Longevity Center in January 1976.
Prior to opening the Center he was Scientific Advisor for NutritionalResearch for the Ampex Bio-Research Institute, California College of Podiatric Medicine,and co-author of the bestseller Live Longer Now published by Grosset &Dunlap in 1974. He was also Chairman of the Board of Renco, Inc. and Chairman ofthe Board of Photronics Inc. He was an Honorary Fellow of the International Academyof Preventive Medicine. His wife, Ilene, supervises diet research and food preparationand demonstrations at the Center and lectures on nutrition.
I first visited Mr Pritikin in August 1976 when, as a QantasCaptain, I flew down as a passenger from San Francisco to Santa Barbara for the dayto pay my respects. On that occasion there happened to be seven "grounded"airline captains there as heart patients, having been referred there by the HarveyWatt Insurance Company. They all anticipated regaining flying status and they alldid in a short time.
The Center's program consists of a 26-day medically supervisedseries of examinations, lectures and discussions to provide patients with--
Some patients had been prospective candidates for by-pass surgeryand some already had by-passes which were blocking up. Some were only in their thirties.
The patients are encouraged to walk as much as possible. Theatmosphere of the Center is bustling and happy, and even though a lot of the patientsfind the food not exactly to their taste at first, they appreciate the fact theyhave a new vigorous future free of drugs and hospitals. Not only can they expectmore years of life, but they find they have one or two more hours a day because theyneed less sleep.
The Longevity Center moved from Santa Barbara to Santa Monicain May 1978. Full records are kept at the Center and are available for inspectionat any time. The Loma Linda University's Department of Biostatistics in 1978 presentedtheir evaluation of 893 patients of the Longevity Center up to October 1977. Briefly,they reported these results obtained by the four-week program:
Cholesterol--drugs were eliminated and levels dropped to a meanof 175 mg%. Triglycerides--108 patients in the 200-249 mg% group with a mean of 225dropped to a new mean of 155. Forty-eight patients with levels of 300-500 with amean of 373 dropped to a mean of 166. They mean serum triglyceride level in patientsabove 150 mg% fell by an average of 35%.
Of the 218 confirmed hypertensives on drug medication, 186 leftnormotensive and drug free. Blood glucose levels fell consistently--diabetic levelsfrom an average of 100.4 93.6mg %. Half of the confirmed non-insulin-using maturityonset diabetic patients left insulin-free with controlled glucose levels. Weightloss of obese patients averaged 13 lbs and of overweight patients (110-119% of idealweight) averaged 10 lbs. Many other improvements of eyesight, hearing, arthritis,claudication etc. are on record. The President of American Airlines who had alreadylost a leg because of claudication was one of the patients and was spared the amputationof his other leg.
These results are achieved in only four weeks and the improvementscontinue when the patients maintain the regimen.
I have visited the Center on a number of occasions, a coupleof times to have the original manuscript of this book checked by Mr Pritikin. I attendedthe Longevity Center's Educational Conference in January, 1978. Over 600 people,mostly doctors, attended and among the speakers were
Senator George McGovern--US Senate.
James Binkenship--Professor of Nutrition, Loma Linda University.
Denis Burkitt MD--St Thomas' Hospital Medical School, London.
James Anderson--Associate Professor, University of KentuckyMedical Center.
Rachmiel Levine MD--Executive Medical Director, City of HopeMedical Center, Duarte, California.
Benjamin Rosen MD--Director Cardiology Dept., Torrance MemorialHospital Rehabilitation Program, San Pedro, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine,University of Southern California.
Bruno Balke MD--Emeritus Professor, University of Wisconsin,presently Director of Preventive and Rehabilitation Unit, Aspen Clinic, Colorado.
Hugh Trowell MD--Formerly Consultant Physician, Dept. of Medicineand Paediatrics, Makere University and Uganda Government.
David Abbey PhD--Associate Director, Survey Research Science,Loma Linda University.
Dr Abbey reviewed the analysis of the Longevity Center's 893patients up to October 1977.
The Conference was held in a theater at Santa Barbara and whatimpressed me as much as anything else was that Pritikin was the only person on stagewho could hear the questions asked from the rear of the theater and how he actedas a relay to the speakers on stage.
The achievements of the Center have been publicized widely inthe USA and twice on the CBS nationwide television program, 'Sixty Minutes'. At theend of the CBS review, Dr David Lehr of the Miami Heart Institute, summing up, saidthat if the Pritikin Program was universally adopted "heart disease would disappearfrom the face of the Earth".
In January 1977, Dr Robert Wissler of Chicago Medical Schooladdressing the American Heart Association of Modern Concepts of Cardiovascular Therapy,stated that with a cholesterol level of 150 or less, plaque reversal in two yearsis possible. Since then the American Heart Association on the basis of the LongevityCenter's evidence, has modified its dietary recommendations.*
*The AHA, the National Cancer Institute and the Diabetic Association currently recommend a reduction of dietary fat to 30% of total calories. This is a pussyfooting move because it has been abundantly clear for years that a far more drastic reduction is required.
In Circulation, the official journal of the AmericanHeart Association, September 1977, Dr Nash said--"There is little question anymorethat artery plaque reversal can for the first time be considered possible".
Dr James Anderson, University of Kentucky Medical Center hasbeen using the Pritikin diet for six years successfully in the treatment of diabetes.He states: "With this kind of approach, 80% of all diabetics in this countrycould be normal within 30 to 90 days".
Dr Floyd Loop, Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery at the ClevelandClinic, the leading by-pass center in the world, now follows the Pritikin diet himselfand refers patients to the Longevity Center.
On March 6, 1978, Mr Pritikin addressed 500 cardiologists atthe American College of Cardiology in Anaheim, California, and was enthusiasticallyreceived. He has since addressed the American Heart Association and the New YorkHeart Association.
On January 18, 1980, the Governor of Louisiana, Edwin Edward,issued an official State Proclamation, January 21, 1980, as PRITIKIN DAY in Louisiana,to celebrate the inauguration of the voluntary community program for better healthin the historic town of Natchitoches.
The University of California now has its own Pritikin-stylecenter which is called CHEER (Center for Health Enhancement, Education and Research).More recently the De La Ronde Hospital in Chalmette, Louisiana, has devoted an entirewing of the hospital for the implementation of the Pritikin Program for treatmentof patients with degenerative diseases.
Nathan Pritikin's contribution to the civilized world is notthat he has discovered anything new. The principles of Natural Health have in thepast been discovered and rediscovered over and over again only to be disregardedby the great majority of people, and suppressed by the vested interests of the foodindustry and the medical and drug industries. Pritikin's vital contribution to theHealth Revolution is to have assembled his information in unassailable scientificform and with it to have forcefully penetrated the conservative worlds of publishing,politics and medicine.
Unknown to the world, Nathan Pritikin suffered from anemia andleukemia, subsequent to radiation treatment in 1957 for a skin complaint. In theyears I had known him I had put his pasty complexion down to constant excessive workindoors, in artificial light.
Late in 1984 his condition, stable for 27 years, began to worsen,and Nathan elected to have experimental medical treatment which led to drastic "complications"including kidney failure and serious liver damage.
To depend on space-age life-support systems for his life wasa situation unacceptable to this fiercely independent man, and on February 21, 1985he decided to take what he considered the correct action under the circumstances,and in the privacy of his hospital room, took his own life by severing veins in hisarms.
An autopsy of Nathan's body revealed complete absence of coronaryor any other artery disease (see New England Journal of Medicine, July 4,1985). And moreover, up to his death at age 69, Nathan had retained his black hairand the eyesight and hearing of a young boy.
"Many of us will not leave as lasting a memory as Nathanhas. The best thing we can do to pay tribute to him is to continue his work."
William P. Castelli
Director, Framingham Heart Study
Santa Barbara News-Press--May 1, 1976
Longevity Center's Job
Editor, News-Press: Since I have been a guest of your beautiful city for nearly a month I have been interested in the comments of readers on the Longevity Rehabilitation Center. As a full paying patient of this center, I with many others am better able to assess the program than are others merely looking in. Other letters have summarized the specifics; I will merely comment on attitudes regarding it which may clarify the thinking of those interested in this vast area of public concern.
The facts demonstrate clearly that few satisfactory answers are in for coping with the curse of degenerative diseases. However, within the last year or two a tremendous stride forward has been made in this direction.
It will be apparent to anyone seeking to avail themselves of the information, that Nathan Pritikin has not conjured this approach to the treatment of degenerative diseases from metaphysical or esoteric sources. Never has the subject been more thoroughly researched. The experimentation and intense scientific scrutiny in the fields of biochemistry, physiology, nutrition, and the areas of rehabilitative, cardiovascular, metabolic, and ischemic phases of medicine have been monumental.
The conclusions are not new; they have been extant in scientific literature, some of it for decades and longer. For reasons which I will not discuss here, the truth has largely been quiescent. It remained for Nathan Pritikin to coalesce this vast amount of material and exercise the remarkable insight, expertise, and patience to "put it all together".
For this many professional as well as many lay people have already expressed their sincere gratitude. I for one, among many others, am deeply appreciative.
To those who have misgivings as to the authority and implementation of the program, I would inquire, how long must we toy with at best only palliative medical and surgical procedures while our disease worsens, our bypasses fail and our mortality rate increases?
If organized medicine has not been able to put together a package that will give us some real answers to the problem of degenerative diseases by this time, with all the resources and information at our disposal, is it unreasonable to look to other scientific sources that show much evidence of promise?
Sherman S. Devine, MD