By Janet Podolak
Drinking milk can cause cancer.
Cheap yellow mustard may prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Heavy cardio workouts can reverse Parkinson’s disease.
These statements by Dr. Michael Roizen caused his audience to sit up and take notice. Folks were attending a Healthy Foods class hosted in Chester Township by Loretta Paganini.
The chief wellness officer at Cleveland Clinic, Roizen believes that diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can reverse health problems, even those inherited as part of family history.
“We’re at our peak around 30, and it’s downhill from there,” he told the 80-person group gathered at the International Culinary Arts & Sciences Institute. He said a Harvard study by doctors confirms the loss of 5 percent of mental and physical function every 10 years after age 30. But that’s not inevitable, he said.
“After 30, it’s choices that make those determinations, and the food you eat can turn on good genes and turn off bad ones,” he said.
A researcher whose work as an author and speaker commands widespread attention, Roizen says he loves what he does — and that loving what you do is one of his secrets to a longer, healthier life.
“Dr. Roizen has changed the character of the Cleveland Clinic and has made believers out of people like me,” said Dr. Emil Paganini, a retired nephrologist at the clinic who has joined his wife’s Chester Township culinary operation along with doing medical consultation work. He gained 80 pounds after adopting a more sedentary lifestyle, but in the past six months has shed 50 pounds and increased his stamina and muscle tone with diet and exercise
“Anyone can do it,” Roizen told the group.
“Your genes make protein, and with healthy eating you can change them,” he said, beginning a slide presentation showing before-and-after photos of a man who followed Roizen’s better health protocol for 28 days. The 50-something diabetic’s health was so bad he was verging on a stroke.
“In just 28 days he lost weight, brought his blood sugar down from 175 to 99, and nearly normalized his blood pressure,” Roizen said. “To do that, he quit smoking, gave up meat and animal products, did 15 minutes of meditation morning and evening, and walked 10,000 steps a day.”
Roizen doesn’t claim the protocol is easy but says it’s life-saving.
Trainer Jaime Brenkus, who is based at Slim & Fit Personal Weight Loss and Fitness in Concord Township, says the resolve for true change is motivated by one of two things.
“Motivation comes from either the desire to change one’s image or a combination of pain and fear,” Brenkus said.
He works with the Paganini family members on their own fitness goals and said he came to Roizen’s presentation in search of information and inspiration.
Roizen, who regularly reviews clinical trials and other professional findings, is perhaps best-known for his “RealAge” books about turning back the biological clock, and the “YOU” series authored with colleague Dr. Mehmet Oz.
He researches in real-life scenarios, such as spending time at a call center where, he said, the daily stress level is 22 times higher than in daily life.
Reducing stress is a key component to any health plan, and exercise and meditation are just part of the answer, he said. He said loving what you do and having supportive friends are just as important.
“The whole obesity epidemic began in the 1980s when we got the idea that it’s OK to eat anything, anytime, anywhere,” he said. “But good health isn’t ‘Let’s Make a Deal.’ There are things we just should not eat.”
The theory that “just a little” of a forbidden food won’t do any harm is a fallacy, he said.
“One ounce of Pepsi is not going to hurt, but who do you know who can stop with one ounce?” he said.
He has a similar reaction to news that wine can be good for you.
“Alcohol can be good for the blood but is bad for the immune system,” he said. “And with 17 percent of drinkers ending up with addiction, it just doesn’t make sense to start drinking if you don’t drink.”
He said sugar, which can be addictive because it releases “feel-good” dopamine into the body just as heroin and cocaine do, is one of those substances best eliminated.
“High levels of blood sugar that result in diabetes cause the same lesions on the brain as Alzheimer’s does. So avoiding added sugars is critical for health.”
The damage caused by saturated and trans fats has been proved, he said.
“That means no french fries,” he said, noting deep fryers have been eliminated at Cleveland Clinic. “We now have 48 of them for sale.”
Walking 10,000 steps a day measured by a pedometer is a behavior to embrace, he said.
“Ten thousand steps is the point at which sugars in the blood are converted,” he said. “Not 7,000, not 12,000, but 10,000 steps every day.”
Hard physical exercise — 21 minutes at least three times a week — has been shown to improve memory function in addition to fitness levels.
A surprise finding came from a bicycle competition in which Parkinson’s patients were on the rear of tandem bikes pedaled by athletes.
“We discovered that 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week led to a remission of Parkinson’s in 70 percent of them,” Roizen said.
And as for his “cheap mustard” statement regarding Alzheimer’s?
“Cheap yellow mustard is loaded with turmeric instead of mustard seed,” he said. “Everything eaten in India is made with turmeric, and there’s a zero rate of Alzheimer’s there.”
Roizen’s tips for improved health
— Added sugar
— Added corn syrup
— Simple carbohydrates found in most flours
— Saturated fats
— Trans fats
— Dairy products including cheese
— 900 milligrams DHA, found in omega 3, preferably from algae
— 1,200 milligrams Vitamin D3
— 600 milligrams calcium with magnesium
— 2 baby aspirin taken with warm water.
Behaviors to embrace:
— Floss teeth
— Sleep 61⁄2 to 8 hours a day
— Know your blood pressure and strive for 115 over 75
— Have a buddy for workouts
— Learn to like black coffee and soy milk
— Find something you love and do it every day.
Excellent advice. It’s no wonder that in 2007, Dr. Roizen was named Chief Wellness Officer at Cleveland Clinic, a world-class leader in medicine, research, education, technology and innovation. It is the first such position in a major healthcare institution in the United States.
For More Information on the Cleveland Clinic Wellness visit:
And be sure to check out all of Dr. Roizen’s amazing books on Amazon at:
- http://www.chieftain.com/life/4651917-120/levels-changes-ldl-blood (April 2016)
- http://www.fredericksburg.com/features/health_living/two-docs-slash-your-risk-for-fatal-prostate-cancer/article_f101c117-6776-5ac6-a904-72235a2b321d.html (April 2016)
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MARIA DORFNER is founder of NewsMD and Healthy Within Network. This is her blog.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: Maria_Dorfner