Why do couch potatoes live longer than athletes?
Have you ever heard about professional athletes dropping dead on the field? According to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, 100,000 youngsters, as well as pros die each year from cardio-vascular disorders as a result of sports -THIS IS TWICE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE THAT DIE ON THE NATIONS HIGHWAYS!
45,000 of the 100,000 play basketball, not boxing or football. In hard exercise, people sweat out many of their vital minerals - not just sodium and potassium. Rigorous exertion without replacing lost minerals can be fatal. There are sports drinks that are supposed to replace nutrients lost during exertion, these would work fine if they had more than sugar, salt and potassium, and food coloring.
Dr. Wallach has a unique hobby, collecting MD obituaries. Here is one case:
A recent favorite of mine, says Dr. Wallach, is Dr. W.T.N., 48, captain of the 'Dream Team' of cardiologists who cared for the late Reggie Lewis, 27, captain of the Boston Celtics. (Reggie Lewis died of a cardio-myopathy heart attack." A simple computer search at the library would have turned up the large-scale study showing the only known reason for cardiomyopathy to be a simple selenium deficiency.) THE TROUBLE WITH MODERN MEDICINE IS THAT THE PROFESSION IS SLOW TO APPLY THEIR OWN RESEARCH. Guess who pays the price of ignorance?
Q: Dr. Wallach, it seems like every week I pick up a newspaper, I see about our young athletes having problems with their bodies falling apart, like cardiomyopathy and challenges like that. What can we give our athletes and our children so that they can be healthy and have long lives that we want as well.
A: That’s a great question because most people believe that exercise is good for you, and that was always a great question, you know… “is exercise good for you, is it necessary for health and longevity?” And when you inspect this question, you have to look at professional athletes who spend most of their teenage years going to university, and the semi-pros and the pros, training and practicing and doing their e vents. And if exercise was the factor in living a long healthy life, athletes should live longer than couch potatoes. But when you look at this critically, couch potatoes in America live to be 75.5 and the average athlete, depending upon the sport and their level of competence, live to be 62 to 68… far short of what a couch potato lives to be.
And of course athletes suffer a great many joint diseases and bone diseases, tendons and ligaments, back, neck, shoulders, ankles, knees and hips, and they have to suffer through an enormous amount of surgeries to deal with this, and athletes develop some 800 different diseases. And why is it that athletes don’t fare as well as the couch potato is simply because athletes sweat more in 5 years than couch potatoes do in 75 years. And when you sweat, you’re not just sweating out Gatorade, you’re sweating out all 60 essential minerals. And they are called essential minerals because if they’re missing for any length of time you get some horrible degenerative disease, many of which are life-threatening.
So, you don’t have to be rocket scientist to figure out who is more likely to be debilitated or even die of these life-threatening diseases, an athlete who sweats out quarts of sweat during an event or training or practice, or a couch potato.
And this is very serious because the Center for Disease Control says that as many as 100,000 athletes under the age of 30, - 100,000 each year die suddenly during an event or training or exercise, or immediately after an event from cardiomyopathy heart disease which you mentioned, and ruptured aneurysm.
The cardiomyopathy heart disease is due to a Selenium deficiency and ruptured aneurysm is due to a Copper deficiency. Begin to put two and two together. Why does a ten year old die of a ruptured aneurysm? Well, he sweats out all of his copper and you can’t get copper from curly French Fries and Pepsis. It just doesn’t work.
Exercise without Supplementation is Suicide
Everyone "knows” the medical dogma that 'exercise is good for you.' Now, as Paul Harvey says, "You're going to hear the rest of the story!" Exercise without complete and optimal supplementation is self destructive and suicidal!
After dropping this heretical bombshell, I will give you enough food for thought to gauge the value and the hazards of exercise for yourself. For over 16 years, I have crisscrossed America lecturing for almost 300 days per year and have taken up the daily task of reading five to ten national and local newspapers and magazines (and international when I can get them). Using these information sources as teaching material, I have been able to "connect the dots" and see a true picture of health (or lack of it) in America without having to do thousands of surveys or studies that would bridge hundreds of years of time and squander billions of taxpayer dollars.
Growing up in rural Missouri associated with the agricultural and livestock industries, I observed as a teenager that we very systematically put vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals in animal feeds to prevent and cure disease; not because we were altruistic but primarily because we were market driven and didn't have major medical or hospitalization for calves or chickens; therefore, if we were to use a human health care system for them, your hamburger would cost you $275 per pound.
We also learned that ‘working and producing' animals (i.e.-dairy cattle, draft horses, race horses and dogs, breeding animals) need additional nutrients above and beyond the maintenance levels to support them during ‘production time' to maintain and repair their tissue and organ systems.
As a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems (Washington University) I received the benefit of a $7.5 Million HIH training grant to cross-educate 30 young scientist from different professions to accelerate the conclusion making process from existing research. We were taught the language and tenets of each other's specialties (i.e. math, biology, molecular biology, pathology, medicine, engineering, anthropology, forestry, chemistry, computer science, etc.) at least enough to know where to look for information and how to interpret the studies published in their professional journals.
Invariably, a good scientist will generate as many questions as they answer-this leads to more research which can be exciting and a career track as the person doing the studies learns new skills, buys additional equipment and writes more articles-but in the great scheme of things, this wastes time as the question probably has already been asked, answered and published by very skilled scientists somewhere before.
We were to be a ‘strikeforce of multi-disciplinary scientists employed to quickly identify and solve major regional and world ecological problems with the published information already at hand.
My job as a veterinary pathologist on the project was to become a comparative pathologist by studying human and animal diseases and be able to identify known human health problems in zoo animals-specifically I was to do autopsies on animals dying of natural causes in the large zoos of America and humans looking for pollution-related diseases and find a species that was ultra sensitive to pollution and one that could be used as an early warning biological system.
To make a long story short, after having done some 17,500 autopsies on over 454 species of zoo animals and 3,000 humans, I learned that all of the animals and all of the people who died of ‘natural causes' died of nutritional diseases. As a result of these original studies, I was able to publish more than 70 peer reviewed and referred papers on nutritional author veterinary and medical texts on the subject and write a tome on the comparative pathology of most of the known species of animals and humans (W.B. Saunders, 1983) and most recently, write two self-help texts (Let's Play Doctor and RARE EARTH: Forbidden Cures).
Unable to convince the academic world of the importance of nutrition in the mid to late 60's, I became a primary care physician. I successfully used everything I learned in veterinary nutrition and in my studies as a postdoctoral fellow for my human patients for more than 12 years.
It was necessary to provide you with an understanding of my academic background to answer your logical question, "where does this guy come off"? Everybody knows exercise is the number one health activity!" The picture that unfolds in this article as I ‘connect the dots' for you will now make sense as you now know that I have had some very unique training at a great expenditure of your tax money.
About ten years ago during the early 80's ominous articles began appearing in the news media, medical and veterinary journals as well as pathology journals. These articles brought to light an increase in the frequency and severity of sports injuries (i.e.-sprains, strains, degenerative joint problems, fractures, paralysis), behavioral problems in athletes and coaches (i.e.-sociopathic behavior, fights, uncontrolled rages, drug and alcohol addiction, anorexia, bulimia), degenerative diseases (i.e. arthritis, diabetes, cancer and cardopathy and ruptured aneurysms).
It is not surprising that young athletes develop these diseases even though they are "highly conditioned", have professional trainers, coaches and nutritionists hovering over them at all times. In fact, unsupplemented high-output athletes, amateur and professional, are more susceptible to emotional, traumatic and degenerative diseases than are the classic ‘couch potatoes.'
The rationale for this unbelievable statement can be illustrated by comparing two Mercedes automobiles-one with no oil and no coolant stored in a garage (the couch potato) and one with no oil and no coolant running at 70 mph (the athlete)-which car (the couch potato or the athlete) will last longer?
Even though the Mercedes is engineered to go 300,000 miles before it needs a major overhaul or a new engine, it is obvious that in our scenario, the ‘couch potato' Mercedes will last longer, because the basic needs of the ‘athlete' Mercedes engine running at 70 mph were not met by providing simple oil and coolant.
This simple Mercedes illustration can then be carried back to the human analogy. As always, there are cases of famous athletes dying or developing some health challenge that grabs the public's attention; however, the cases of the four year old cyclist dying of cardiomyopathy in Jacksonville, Florida, the high school athlete from backwater towns in Missouri or Pennsylvania who goes berserk, develops diabetes or dies suddenly on the field of play; are just as valuable in ‘connecting the dots' to complete our picture of the underlying problem. For each example of famous athletes that I am about to share with you, there are literally hundreds of thousands and, perhaps, millions of amateur athletes of various ages that will fit the profile.
The 27 year old captain of the Boston Celtics, collapsed on the basketball court in April of 1993 during a game against the San Antonio Spurs. He was quite accurately diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a muscular dystrophy of the heart muscle caused by a selenium deficiency. Twelve world class cardiologists considered pacemakers, pharmaceuticals, defibrillators and heart transplants as treatment for Reggie, but not one gave him 20 cents worth of selenium! Reggie Lewis died of his second cardiomyopathy heart attack on July 28, 1993.
Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles, died from a selenium deficiency cardiomyopathy heart attack on the basketball court during the ‘March Madness' playoffs in 1990 at the age of 23.
the 31 year old two time heavy weight boxing champion of the world, suddenly retired from boxing because of the onset of a chronic wasting form of a selenium deficiency cardiomyopathy known as a ‘stiff heart.'
Thirty-seven years ago, in 1957, it was proven in animal studies that the trace mineral selenium was essential to life and that deficiency of selenium produced a variety of diseases ranging from cardiomyopathy (known in animals as ‘Mulberry heart disease') to muscular dystrophy. Additional research proved with 100 percent certainty that cardiomyopathy was preventable and in the early stages of diagnosis, curable with supplementation of selenium.
Historically, selenium deficiencies in humans that result in cardiomyopathy, ‘Mulberry heart disease' or "white muscle disease" are known as Keshan Disease. In Keshan Province, Peoples Republic of China, Keshan Disease (cardiomyopathy) killed 13 out of every 1,000 preschool children, teenagers and pregnant women. The soil in Keshan Province is almost totally devoid of selenium. In the 1930's, Keshan Disease was thought to be caused by a viral infection; later in the sixties, Keshan Disease was thought to be caused by mold contaminants of stored grain. It was not until 1972 when the World Health Organization sent a team of Pathologists to China to study Keshan Disease was the mystery solved.
On the WHO pathology team was a veterinary pathologist who recognized that Keshan Disease in humans was, in fact, identical to ‘Mulberry heart disease' in pigs with a selenium deficiency.
To prove the connection between selenium deficiency and the cardiomyopathy of Keshan Disease, the WHO funded a large double blind study in which 39,000 school children were given selenium as a daily supplement and a control group of 9,000 children were given a placebo. At the end of two years the rate of Keshan Disease in those children receiving the daily selenium supplement dropped to zero, while the rate of Keshan Disease in the control group remained at 13 per 1,000.
Selenium has a wide variety of functions in the human body including protection of the cellular membranes of cardiac and skeletal muscle fibers from peroxidation (free radical damage to the billpid layer membrane) and replacement of viable muscle tissue by fibrous connective tissue.
A selenium deficiency is exacerbated by exercise (athletes) and a high intake of polyunsaturated fats and oils that are found in salad dressings, frying oils, frozen and soft serve desserts or margarine.
It is a sad fact that the commercially prepared diets of pet, laboratory and farm animals contain optimal levels of selenium specifically to prevent cardiomyopathy, while humans and especially athletes at the behest of their trainers, sports medicine doctors and family doctors are led to believe that they can get everything they need from the ‘four food groups' primarily because of the orthodox health profession's ignorance of and bias against vitamin and mineral supplementation.
once the heavyweight boxing champion, suddenly developed diabetes and went into a diabetic coma two years after losing the championship. Adult onset diabetes is known to be caused by chromium and vanadium deficiencies.
Tonya Harding (figure skater) and Jennifer Capriotti (tennis player)
both became sociopathic (i.e.-aggression, drug and alcohol addiction) after years of participating in their respective sports. Deficiencies of chromium, vanadium and/or lithium are associated with volatile behavior, sociopathic behavior, depression and addiction to drugs and alcohol (especially if they consume large quantities of sugar).
Running is often put forth as the universal ‘fitness exercise, yet numerous world class runners have lost their lives by not supplementing. Jim Fix, the runner who started the whole jogging craze in America with his best selling books on jogging and running for fitness, died at the age of 48 following his fifth cardiomyopathy heart attack. He purposely did not supplement because he wanted to prove that running was the pure way to health and longevity.
Dr. George Sheehan, the longtime medical editor for Running World Magazine, died at age 74 from prostate cancer even though he ran for 25 years. Dr Sheehan had no understanding of or interest in supplements, "Nutrition to my mind, occupies an area somewhere between religion and science, and is a confusing amalgam of these great subjects." A National Cancer Institute Study showed that faithful daily use of even the small levels of double the American RDA for beta carotene, vitamin E and selenium together can reduce the rate of cancer by 13 to 21 percent.
There are literally tens of thousands of people in America in all age groups who die each year while running as a result of a ruptured cerebral, coronary or aortic aneurysm. Aneurysms were proven to be the result of a copper deficiency in turkeys in 1957.
Fred LaBeau, 56, founder of the New York Marathon and a world class runner himself and Wilma Rudolph, 54, winner of three Olympic gold medals in track and field, both died of brain cancer which can be produced in laboratory animals placed on a gallium deficient diet.
Then there is the spectacular statistic that connects the dots and completes the picture, the last clue needed to clearly show that exercise without supplementation is self-destructive and is in fact, suicidal-62 percent of women gymnasts at the university level are anorexic and/or bulimic (in fact a zinc deficiency aggravated by malabsorption, i.e. celiac disease). Is it genetic that there is this connection between gymnasts and eating disorders-I believe not.
What is the common denominator that ‘connects the dots' between the 85 pound gymnast, the lithe runner, the 220 pound heavy weight boxing champion and the six foot eleven inch basketball player? Sweat!
When we sweat, we sweat out more than just water for cooling our overheated bodies; we sweat out more than just the electrolytes (potassium, sodium and chloride) we sweat out all 72 of essential minerals; and if we don't consciously replace them by supplementation, the minerals consumed by cellular biochemical reactions and sweated out during exercise, as sure as God made little green apples, we are inviting disaster!
If we sweat out all of our selenium during exercise and don't replace it by supplementation, we are at high risk of developing low blood sugar, diabetes, depression, manic depression, or addictions to alcohol or drugs.
If we sweat out all of our copper and don't replace it by supplementation, we are at high risk of developing joint and/or cartilage problems, varicose veins or a fatal ruptured aneurysm.
If we sweat out all of our gallium and don't replace it by supplementation, we are at high risk of developing a brain tumor.
If we sweat out significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, manganese, sulfur, boron and strontium and we don't replace them by supplementation, we are at high risk of developing joint, cartilage and bone degeneration (arthritis) or injuries (hairline fractures, fractures).
Athletes, especially of the university and professional levels, are supposed to have training tables filled with the very best quality food, yet the only guarantee that they can get from their meals are protein, fats, carbohydrates, and calories.
Depending on our food for vitamins, minerals and trace minerals is, at best, a ‘crap shoot.' Certainly, the average weekend athlete, jogger or aerobics buff with common sense wouldn't throw their life away by not supplementing with the known 103 essential nutrients each day (72 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 essential amino acids and three essential fatty acids). Certainly then, the highly conditioned serious athlete (amateur and professional) who invests considerable time and money in their training and fitness programs would not throw their health or lives away by not supplementing with all 100 plus essential nutrients.
Yet, the majority of people who exercise don't supplement with minerals let alone all 100 plus essential nutrients, because they have bought into the medical dogma that ‘if you eat right, you don't need to supplement-you can get everything you need from the four food groups' ....or ‘if you supplement.... 'it only gives you expensive urine.' Most Americans have not been told the fact that our farm and range soils are depleted as a result of 100 to 200 years of intensive farming without appropriate mineral replacement-or if they have read the information about depleted soils in America, they don't make the connection that the food on their dinner plate is, in fact, anemic.
U.S. Senate Document 264 (1936) stated decades ago that our farm and range soils are depleted. At the Earth Summit in Rio (June 1992) one report pointed out that American farm and range soils were 85% depleted of minerals compared with the soil mineral levels of 100 years ago. There is a clear and present danger and potentially fatal effect to each and every one of us as a result of consuming minerally depleted foods-and that hazard is magnified manyfold by exercise.
- Dr. Joel Wallach