The Keys to Robust Health!
defeated in life? What are the KEYS to mental health,
emotional stability, and a joyous, productive, abundant
life? Why is acute depression one of the leading health
problems of our age? Let’s examine this question, and discover the true answers!
William F. Dankenbring
William John, 32 years old, was depressed and frustrated. He had been in an auto accident several years before, and suffered from back pains. Bills were piling up and he couldn't pay them. His three children were constantly in trouble.
Overcome with the pressures that assailed him, William wrote a short note to Judy, his wife and put it in his wallet. It read: "Sorry, but this is the best way out. I can't take it any longer. The back pains, and all three kids in trouble all the time makes it impossible for me to stand. Love, Mac."
William John took his six-year-old son, got in the family automobile, and drove out on the highway. When he reached likely spot, he stepped on the gas, and steered right for a parked truck. Both he and his young son were killed in the collision.
Authorities investigating the accident, went to the victims' home. There they found the bodies of two other children who had been strangled with a rope and left in the house with the gas jet turned on.
Robert Evans, an engineering professor at a college university, was also frustrated with life. He found it exceedingly boring and had a low opinion of the merits of this world. He and his attractive wife, in a suicide pact, put themselves to death.
Jennifer Peterson, beautiful, bright, and 15, was depressed about high school studies. Life seemed so meaningless to her, classes, social events, nothing seemed to interest her. One day, while on the way home from school, she shot and killed herself with a .22 caliber target pistol owned by her father. In a notebook found beside her sprawled body, detectives: found this question: "I ask one simple question: What are we here for?" Jennifer never found out.
James Turner, a 13-year-old lad who was fond of science and chemistry, and made high marks in school, also became depressed and bored with life. One day he attached wires to an
electric socket in his lounge and grounded them outside. Then he wrapped the wires around his leg and electrocuted himself. The last thing James wrote was a short suicide note, and a will. In it he stated his reasons for his act: "Life isn't worth living."
These examples, of young people with apparently everything to live for, are real. Although the names have been altered, these few cases are only a handful of the thousands of Americans who commit suicide, every year.
Some 29,000 persons are listed as suicides each year in the
Around the world, people are killing themselves at the rate of about 1,000 each day, according to top experts of the World Health Organization. The experts found that in a single year three million people attempt suicide and 15 million threaten to kill themselves.
But why? Why are young people and old alike committing suicide? A host of reasons could be cited, including economic, social, academic and psychological tensions and pressures. One common factor found in the backgrounds of adolescents and college youths who commit suicide is some kind of social isolation, often a disorganized home, or a breakdown of family structure.
Dr. Abe Mattsson and his colleagues in .the
Department of Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Other factors were grief due to loss of a parent or boyfriend or girlfriend (20 per cent); school problems (14 per cent); sexual conflicts related to masturbation, menstruation, homosexual contact (14 per cent); and pregnancy (10 per cent).
It may seem amazing, but one factor stands out in all suicide cases or attempts: The individual really doesn't want to die! Paradoxical as that may sound, it is true. Most suicides really want to live. But, they are so depressed, so frustrated with life, themselves, or other people, that they simply cannot cope with the pressures around them.
Dr. Abe Mattsson and colleagues found that some children used suicide as a desperate cry for help after experiencing family chaos, physical illness, or material scarcity for a prolonged
period. To others, suicide was a form of "revenge"-- they were, in the words of one, "mad as hell" about something. Common complaints voiced by the children were: "They just don't understand me." "I can't talk to them." "I can't communicate with my parents." "They just won't listen to me."
Suicide, of course, is the ultimate "copout." It really solves nothing in the long run. It is merely an escape hatch for dealing with the problems and pressures of life. Most suicide is tied in with an even greater problem -- universal depression and poor mental health. Our 20th century has been called “The Age of Depression” and the “Age of Anxiety,” for good reason. We live in a world of continual shocks, a rapidly changing environment, a constantly restructuring society; a time of family breakdowns, divorces, broken homes, changing jobs and persistent unemployment.
As a result, an estimated
20,000,000 Americans are mentally ill. Declared Dr. Frank J. Ayd, Jr., chief of psychiatry at the
Whether you call it "the blues," or feeling "down in the
dumps," depression -- depressive illness -- has caused more suffering than
any other disease. Never have so many people been so unhappy. A public poll has
revealed that one out of two people in the
Depression and anxiety disorders are the two most common forms of mental illness, affecting 19 million people annually, about 12 million of these being women. One percent of the population suffers from schizophrenia.
Many seek a cure through drugs.
Millions each year swallow pills for depression, and take tranquilizers
for their agitated emotions. Tranquilizers have become almost as common as
aspirin in the typical medicine cabinet. Anxiety neurosis, related to
depression, affects an estimated ten million people in the
In a study of white adults between the ages of 20 and 59, in a 200 block
area of midtown
What about our children? In another study, Dr. Thomas Langner
and colleagues analyzed over a five year period a random sampling of 1,035
children 6 to 18 years of age who, live in downtown
Factors frequently associated with mental illness are poverty, lack of schooling, and low-income. For families, factors contributing to mental illness include constant tension over lack of money, parent-child interrelationships, parental quarrels, fathers who disliked their work, and unsociable or excitable mothers.
Several years ago, Dr. E. James Lieberman, chief of the Center for Studies of Child and Family Mental Health of the National Institute of Mental Health, said that authorities estimate that roughly seven million American children or ten per cent of the under-18 population is in need of psychiatric or emotional help of some kind. Of these, about 500,000 visit a mental health facility in an average year, 350,000 get treatment, and the other 6.5 million wind up as school failures, dropouts, delinquents, and may have trouble with drugs and alcohol.
When all the figures are reviewed, it becomes apparent that something is seriously wrong with modern society. What went wrong?
In 1968, at the second International Health Conference in Copenhagen, Lord Cohen, President of the Royal Society of Health, pointed out that eight out of every 100 children born in England will have a nervous breakdown during their lifetime, three more will spend time in a mental hospital, and that 45 per cent of the hospital beds in England are devote, to the care of the mentally ill.
In view of the staggering problems we face today, in rearing happy, bright, balanced children, and in remaining mentally healthy and happy ourselves, what action should we take to insure that our own families escape the widespread depression and related ills that seem to surround us on every side?
Depression, said Dr. Leonard Cammer, "is a serious fatal illness." He says that it “happens universally to everyone in any age and bracket. It is the most prevalent illness next to the common cold.” Stresses contributing to depression, he relates, are fatigue, a bad marriage, corporate tyranny, and the ordinary stress of living. Symptoms of depression are hopelessness, lack of a drive for pleasure, crying, pessimism, feeling that "nobody loves me," and arising in the morning with the "heebie-jeebies. "
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that "anywhere
from four to eight million Americans may be in need of professional care for
the depressive illnesses alone. A Swiss psychiatrist says she has found that
depression is common among
infants as young as three months old. Dr. Marie Meierhofer,
director of a clinic in
Increasingly, more and more people feel like those little babies – vulnerable, alone, and isolated.
In this age of depression, where fatigue, inability to sleep, inability to eat, restlessness and boredom abound, when crying spells are common, where there is a loss of appetite for food, for sex and for pleasures in life, what can we do about it?
Says Dr. Jan Fawcett, chief of the Depression and Suicide Unit, Illinois State Psychiatric Institute, going out and getting a new hairdo, seeing a cheerful movie, taking a hot bath, listening to lively music, reading self-help books and magazine articles -- in other words, trying to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps -- will not enable a person to overcome persistent depression. What, then, can be done?
Dr. Rene Dubos, in Mirage of Health, states:
"Psychiatric illnesses are not a problem special to the
Some authorities suspect that improper diet and poor nutrition play an important role in mental illness and depression. The mind and body are interrelated and interdependent. Mental disorders, or emotional stress, can induce bodily malfunctions; on the other hand, physical stress can bring about mental disorders or depression.
Dr. George S. Freuenberger, a pediatrician noted for research into mental retardation, points out that food impurities may lead to mental handicaps. He mentions certain foods, additives, insecticides or fertilizers used on growing crops.
Overcrowding is another cause of emotional maladjustment. Experiments with rats and studies of wildlife populations suggest that much neurosis can be due to overpopulation. Rats, apparently like humans, when crowded into small a space, develop violent criminal-like tendencies, become homosexual, bisexual, and sometimes cannibalistic!
Other suspected causes are simply the frustrating tensions of modem life: poor interpersonal relations, improper or lack of discipline (or self-discipline), lack of positive instruction and upbringing in childhood, lack of the basic bodily needs, social and cultural factors, and anxiety-inducing situations on the job.
One of the most insightful psychologists of modern times put his finger on the real underlying problem of mental illness and depression -- and the solution. Dr. Abraham Maslow, founder and architect of humanistic psychology, author of five books and over one hundred reports, essays and articles, developed a comprehensive theory of human motivation which in theory embraces every aspect of human behavior.
At an early stage of his research, Maslow decided to use a different approach toward mental illness than his predecessors. Rather than study the sick, he decided to study the mentally healthy to see what made them “tick,” to see how they were different from the mentally ill. Dr. Maslow came to see that mental health is largely the failure of personal growth and fulfillment.
Neuroses, he suggested, are related to spiritual disorders, to loss of meaning, to doubts about the goals of life, to grief and anger over a lost love, to loss of courage, loss of hope, despair over the future, to dislike of self.
People, Maslow discovered, need to develop and use the talents they have in order to grow and realize their full human potential -- this he defined as mental health. Neurosis may be seen as an unsuccessful attempt to satisfy one's basic needs like safety, love. Gratifying these needs breeds health, but thwarting them causes mental sickness. The deprivation of love and affection in early life, Maslow concluded, can lead to serious problems. In many cases serious neuroses can be traced back to a lack of love in one's early life.
Mankind, Maslow saw, needs guiding values, a sense of' right and wrong. He wrote, "The ultimate disease of our times is valuelessness." He felt that there are basic, underlying standards of right and wrong that apply to all human beings.
This principle is simple enough. But how much progress is being made in prevention of mental illness, today?
Not much. These principles are not being followed. At a Mental Health Conference in Los Angeles, which I attended years ago, two psychologists researching into mental illness discussed the fact that little -- if any -- progress in preventing mental illness has been made in the past 5,000 years. Certainly, said one, there has been no progress in the past 200 years -- in fact, he mused, we may have gone backwards!
The reason psychologists are still groping as if in the Dark Ages, and the solution to mental problems is eluding them, is simple enough – at least, in principle. The missing keys to mental health and well being have been overlooked, ignored, and neglected!
The Missing Keys
Most psychologists have overlooked the importance of discipline, moral standards and spiritual values. The key to mental health lies not only in changing stressful environment, but more importantly, in changing ourselves! In changing our attitude toward life, our approach toward life, and our feelings toward other people. This may necessitate a whole, holistic, comprehensive OVERHAUL of all our basic thinking habits, attitude, as well as eating, drinking, sleeping, working, and activities. In Biblical terms, this complete change in focus and orientation is called “repentance” from sin – lawlessness – and disobeying the “laws of LIFE” given by our Creator, Almighty God, in His divine Word.!
A number of modern psychologists are waking up to the fact that the Bible stresses this important principle and is an excellent textbook on psychology. They are beginning to see that the moral instruction in the Bible is very important to mental health. One such man is Henry C. Link.
After examining 15,321 unemployed men and women in 'New York City, he came to see that the major problems of his patients were lack of values and objectives in life, He found the Bible was helpful in teaching people how to be happier and more successful.
Another psychiatrist who has turned away from the older orthodox theories is Dr. William Glasser. Toward the end of his psychiatric training, he found himself doubting much of what he had been taught. Glasser came to see that people who need psychiatric treatment have never learned the difference between right and wrong behavior. He found that the basic problem of patients was their inability to understand or apply moral principles to their daily lives.
Dr. Lawrence DeShan,
former chief of psychology at the
Applying this “new” concept in practical
situations, psychiatrists have been astonished at the results! Less than 10
percent of inmates of the
Psychologists working with criminals in
Results of the program were impressive. Careful psychological testing showed that about 80 percent of the participants benefited significantly from the training program! The re-arrest of probationers dropped from 22.5 percent to 9 percent for the year involved. This program was based on the belief that there are moral laws that govern human behavior, just as there are physical laws pertaining to the material Universe. Understanding and obeying these laws leads to mental health and sound behavior.
Thus contrary to Freudian, gestalt or behavioral psychology and their strong opposition to fixed moral values, some psychologists today are beginning to discern that spiritual and moral values are vital in the establishment of mental health. More and more, many psychologists are beginning to see that it is the attitude of the individual which determines his behavior and his mental health, and not his environment directly.
Outgoing Love – the Vital Element
Today, leading psychologists are beginning to see that love -- concern for others -- is not only a basic human need, but it is a fundamental spiritual law which holds the key to mental health.
Psychologist Erich Fromm writes: "in the most general way, the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving, not receiving" (The Art of Loving, p. 22). Says he: "Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much. The hoarder who is anxiously worried about losing something is, psychologically speaking, the poor, impoverished man, regardless of how much he has" (p. 24). The opposite of the giving, loving person is the selfish person. Says Fromm: “The selfish person is interested only in himself, wants everything for himself, feels no pleasure in giving, but only in taking. The world outside is looked at only from the standpoint of what he can get out of it” (p. 60). But what the selfish person does not realize is that his own selfishness is the root of his troubles. It "leaves him empty and frustrated. He is necessarily unhappy and anxiously concerned to snatch from life the satisfactions which he blocks himself from attaining" (pp. 60-61).
Nineteen hundred years ago Jesus Christ put the truth very succinctly when He said: "Just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke ). Or, as Matthew puts it, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matt.7:12). Jesus Christ also pointed out a KEY to the sound mental approach toward life when He declared, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts ). He taught a way of life that is concerned with giving, sharing; helping others. He taught a way which leads to true mental health and real happiness!
Most people today are IGNORANT of those fundamental truths He taught. Many moderns have rejected the way of life taught in the Holy Scriptures. As a sad result, their lives are torn with doubt and clouded by depression. They are confused, life is boring to them, has no meaning, seems empty and futile, and they anguish, “What went wrong?” “Why is life so miserable?” “What is the matter with me?” “Why is it so difficult to cope?”
Thousands live without moral guidelines or spiritual values, give in to the stresses and pressures of life and attempt suicide.
Of course, I do not mean it is wrong to be concerned about yourself, but that you should not be overly concerned about yourself. We should love others as we love ourselves -- we should do to others as we would have them do to us (see Matt.7:12; 22:39). If you put this rule of conduct to work in your life, then you will truly enjoy peace of mind and mental stability – you will enjoy true mental health!
If you have troubles with your emotions -- fears, phobias, anxieties, neuroses, depression, lack of confidence, hostility, anger, what can you do about it? How can you build a positive, optimistic, outgoing concern for others so you can cope with the tensions, stresses, and obstacles that arise in life? How can you achieve a sound mind?
What Is Real Maturity?
When we boil it down, most mental illness is symptomatic of immaturity. People with mental illness do not react properly to life and its challenges. They have grown within themselves. To put it plainly, they have never fully grown up!
Virtually everybody grows up physically, but very few ever mature completely spiritually and emotionally!
To cultivate mental health and well-being, it is vital to cultivate positive and wholesome, good emotions in your life, and in the lives of your children. The way to get rid of negative, detrimenta1, harmful emotions is to replace them with positive, up-building emotions, such as enthusiasm, cheerfulness, confidence, faith, peace of mind, and love.
What is real maturity? Dr. John A. Schindler puts it this way: "Maturity means a giving, rather than a receiving, attitude. A characteristically childhood attitude is to want to receive, to be given desired things. In this immaturity, the person does things with the attitude, 'What is this going to get me?' This is a springboard into mean, crabby emotions. As they get older they no longer receive as they did when they were children, although they still think in terms of what they can get. They are in a dead-end alley that leads to intense desire, and finally to intense frustration."
The basic problem with most unhappy, depressed people is simply that they are too preoccupied with themselves. Self is still #1 in their mind’s eye. They have not yet yielded themselves to the service of God, and repented of selfishness and worship of themselves. They have not yet given their lives to Christ, to use as HE sees fit, and to serve Him in faith and trust,, knowing that HE knows best for each one of us, and He loves us with a love that surpasses human understanding. Most people have simply not yet come to this point in their lives. They don’t really KNOW God, or have FAITH in His love and concern for them. As a result, they are therefore unhappy and depressed, not knowing what their own life is really all about. They are self-centered, self-seeking, self-conscious. When they don't get what they want, they begin to retreat into their own dream world where they are the center of attention. When things seem to go wrong, they become frustrated, miserable, hopeless, and depressed. As the old saying goes: “Cheer Up! Things could be worse! So I cheered up, and sure enough – things got worse!”
To overcome depression, and a negative attitude, the individual must develop an outgoing, giving attitude instead of a getting, grasping, receiving attitude! To do this is not easy. But the solution is found in coming to KNOW the true God, our Father in heaven! Coming to know God is true maturity!
Says Dr. Schindler: "Maturity brings with it a rich concern: how to make the living of others more enjoyable. With this concern, horizons, vision, and sympathy broaden. The person with such maturity is not living in a little closet, grasping and pulling everything possible into its dark con- fines. He is roaming the sunshine and the great wide world, finding other people interesting and worth the effort of knowing and giving.
"Actually, in his mean position, the constant receiver never learns what great enjoyment giving can bring; he does learn how his cramped, grasping, tight emotions produce almost constant ill health."
Are you preoccupied with yourself? Do you often feel forlorn, neglected, resentful, envious, jealous, bitter, frustrated, alienated, suspicious toward others? If so, then you are a candidate for mental illness!
What kind of person are you? What kind of emotions and attitude are you building up in your life? What kind of atmosphere exists in your home?
It requires work, effort, constant diligence, because all around us in this society are negative influences, attitudes, and the competitive spirit. A positive, cheerful attitude must be cultivated like a garden, and the weeds of negativism must be diligently pulled up. To build real maturity and strong mental health is a life-long process! Have you begun that road that leads to happy, joyful, right living – that leads to the truly abundant life?
A Multi-pronged Effort
True mental health is a multi-pronged effort. It requires work on a broad front of activities. It requires proper, balanced nutrition, adequate sleep at night, positive-reinforced thinking, obedience to the laws of God, study of the Word of God on a daily basis, fervent and unceasing
prayer, and meditation daily upon the laws of God and things of real value. It is a “work in progress.” True mental health is not built in a day. It is a life-long effort.
As the apostle Paul declared, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS” (Phil.4:8).
To achieve true mental health and vibrant well being, will take effort. It may take turning your life around, your aims, goals, and desires. The apostle Paul discussed the problem of wrestling with negative emotions and wrong thoughts. He declared, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor.10:4-5).
Effort is indeed required. But the results are sheer joy, happiness overflowing, and the truly abundant life, that Jesus Christ said He came to give to us. He said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it MORE ABUNDANTLY” (John 10:10).
Are you going to give yourself to Him, keep His commandments, and learn the WAY to a truly joyous, balanced, effective, positive life?
Moses said to the children of Israel 3,500 years ago: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE LIFE, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may LOVE the LORD your God, that you may OBEY His voice, and that you may CLING to Him, for He is your LIFE and the length of your days . . .” (Deut.30:19-20).
Mental health is entirely up to you! You CAN defeat discouragement and depression!
Why is there so much sickness in the world, today – both
mental and physical? What is the WAY to radiant health
and robust living? Why is our modern age so full of disease,
poor health, degenerative conditions, in spite of amazing
technological advances in the sciences? Could it be that
the modern world has overlooked and ignored the KEYS
to scintillating health known in ancient times?
William F. Dankenbing
The keys to radiant health, tragically, have been lost. They has been completely overlooked and forgotten. They has been shoved under the rug for generations. What are they?
Before I explain in detail what the overlooked, forgotten keys are, let's examine a few remote peoples of the world, today, who -- as surprising as it. may seem -- are in excellent health and who put our degenerative, “civilized” western nations to shame!
Back in the 1930s a researcher by the name of Dr. Weston A. Price traveled around the world, studying peoples who had been untouched by our western civilization. He examined groups of people in isolated parts of the Swiss Alps, northern Italy, the Isle of Man, the New Hebrides, Australia, New Zealand, central Africa, the South American jungles, northern Canada and Alaska, and on the islands of the Pacific.
Price found that although the foods of many of these peoples were limited -- in some cases their diets were largely meat or fish without any vegetables or grains, or vice versa -- still these peoples all had two things in common. First, their diets met their bodily requirements. Second, they were not acquainted with refined foods.
These peoples, Price found, had erect posture, unbelievable endurance, cheerful dispositions, excellent bone structure, uncrowded, healthy teeth, and sound minds. Furthermore. he found no cancer, no ulcers, no high blood pressure, no tuberculosis, no heart and kidney diseases, no polio, no diabetes, and no mental illness among them. Nor did Dr. Price find any physicians or psychiatrists among them! They didn’t need any such practitioners! They had no prisons, no juvenile delinquency, no homosexuality. In these faraway places he found amazing physical, mental, and emotional health and well being!
Since the time Dr. Price made his travels, about seventy years ago, many of those peoples have been touched by our technological civilization -- for the worse. As some of them have adopted western man's ways of eating, including refined foods, candies, starches, sugars, and the like, their health and morale have deteriorated substantially. Seeing the trend, natives in Polynesia have attempted to get back to the diet and way of living of their forefathers, and those who have done so have largely restored their once vibrant and vigorous health!
Dr. Price was a pioneer in nutritional anthropological research. Another such pioneer was Sir Robert McCarrison, an English physician, who investigated the health of the Hunzas, a mountain people in the interior of Pakistan, high up in the Himalayas. The Hunzakuts often reach the age of one hundred. The secret of their longevity has been studied by many avid researchers. McCarrison found their foods were limited, but he found no ulcers, cancers, heart or kidney disease, polio, or the diseases often attributed to "old age."
Dr. Alexander Leaf of Harvard visited the Hunzakuts in 1971. His own credentials as a medical investigator are impeccable. He was Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Chief of Medical Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He found that the people of Hunza grow vegetables, grains, fruits and nuts, but barely subsist through the winter months. Their mountainside existence causes them to maintain a high level of physical activity and fitness, and Dr. Leaf thinks this may largely explain their exceptional longevity. He also noted strong taboos against sex outside of marriage, and strong traditions of the sanctity of family life. The Hunzakuts eat sparingly. They farm organically and have done so for 2000 years. Terraces are built in the rocky, mountainous slopes of the territory of Hunza in Pakistan, giving the Hunzas daily exercise opportunities which contribute to their marvelous health.
The Hunza diet includes grains, various vegetables, often consumed raw, and figs, apples, plums, peaches, grapes, and apricots. The apricot, a staple in their diet as wheat or rice is elsewhere in the world, is eaten fresh in the summer and dried for eating in the winter. The seeds are ground fine and squeezed for oil for frying and lighting. Meat is consumed rarely, mainly at festivals.
Senator Charles Percy of Illinois also visited the Hunzas as a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. He noted that melting snow from the higher altitudes is channeled to the Hunza fields for irrigation and is rich in minerals. Senator Percy concluded that their organic farming methods, whole grains, vitamins, and the mineral-rich glacier waters, combined with physical exercise, all contribute to the longevity so prevalent among them. He added: "Contentment with a way of life that is free of greed or hatred, and a respect for old age probably contribute to the mental as well as physical well-being of the oldsters" (Parade, Feb. 17, 1974).
The Hunzas are a people who have learned the key to longevity. We of this modern world could learn a lot from their example!
The Hunzas are not the only remote tribe of people that live until they are "full of days." The 1971 census in the tiny, isolated village of Vilcabamba, in the rugged Andean mountains of Ecuador, reported nine centenarians among a total population of 819. Says Dr. Leaf in his book Hospital Practice (October 1973), while extrapolation on the basis of this tiny village is not justified, the figures represent a rate of 1,100 centenarians per 100,000 population. The U.S. has only three centenarians among each 100,000 inhabitants.
The people of Vilcabamba are primarily of European stock, not native Indian stock. The community is totally agricultural and raises its own vegetables and grain. Their diet, says Leaf, is almost exclusively vegetarian. The average daily caloric intake, according to Dr. Guillermo Vela of Quito, is about 1,200.
Like the people of Hunza, the inhabitants of Vilcabamba live high up in rugged mountainous terrain. A prodigious amount of physical exertion and activity is required in order to survive. Dr. Alexander Leaf suggests that their expenditure of physical energy probably is a better explanation of exceptional longevity than any other influence. But psychological factors, he says, are also very significant. There is no "retirement" of elderly people in the community. Old people continue to work and participate in the economy and social life, and have a sense of usefulness and purpose.
A third region visited by Dr. Alexander Leaf was the district known as Abkhazia in the Caucasus mountains of Russia. The centenarian rate in the Caucasus is reported by Soviet authorities at 35 to 65 per 100,000. Dr. Leaf at first wondered if the longevity of these peoples longevity could attributable to heredity, but his observations in the Caucasus dispelled that theory. The 1970 census in the Caucasus estimated 4,500 to 4,000 centenarians, of whom 1,844 were in Georgia. The same census listed 10 different ethnic groups including centenarians among the Russians, Georgians, Armenians, Turks and others.
Studying the people of Hunza and Vilcabamba, Dr. Lea might have concluded that a highly vegetarian diet was a key to longevity, but the peoples of the Caucasus blew that theory sky high! Their diet consists of both agricultural and dairy products and they consume animal products almost daily. In the Caucasus, Dr. Leaf even saw one fat person over 100! The caloric intake of the people over 50 in the Caucasus has been reported at about 1,800 calories and 60 grams of fat per day, some 600 calories less than that recommended the National Research Council. The average fat intake of Americans is about double that of the Caucasus figure.
The dietary story of the peoples of Hunza, Vilcabamba and the Caucasus indicates that for long life we should maintain a moderate caloric intake, low in animal and saturated fats, and not eat too much.
The peoples of the Caucasus also lead a rugged, strenuous, highly active existence. It appears that these peoples avoid cardiovascular accidents by keeping their cardiovascular systems in good condition through regular and constant exercise.
Dr. David Kakiashvili, a Georgian cardiologist who has studied the elderly people of the Caucasus for the past 12 years, found that they have the usual range of cardiovascular diseases. Says Dr. Leaf, "But he believes continuous physical activity develops and maintains an extensive collateral blood supply to the heart, and that if one artery gets pinched off because of localized
arteriosclerosis, the collateral circulation is sufficient to prevent atrophy of the affected heart muscles" (Hospital Practice).
Another factor in longevity, according to Professor G. Pitzkhelauri, director of the Gerontology Center of Tbilisi, Georgia, is a happy marriage and a prolonged, active sex life. He has studied 15,000 men and women in the Caucasus over the age of 80. Among them unmarried people were the exception. Also, women who had many children tended to live longer than those who had none, he found.
After completing his own observations, Dr. Alexander Leaf concluded that arteriosclerosis and vascular degeneration do not necessarily go hand in hand with aging. "I now know," he wrote, "that one can view the disease process as separate and apart from the aging process, that disease is not an essential part of the aging process itself."
How, then, do these people avoid diseases that plague our world? Why do so many of these people live so long?
Vigorous, 110 year old Kristina Azuba told Dr. Leaf, "I can't explain in scientific terms, but there just seems to be something special in the life here." What did she mean?
Another scientist who has studied the Abkhazians in the Caucasus is Sula Benet, Professor of Anthropology at Hunter College, City University of New York. She visited them twice, and on her second visit marveled at seeing a great-grandfather, more than one hundred years old joyfully toss a smiling youngster high in the air and catch him.
In Family Health (December 1972) Sula Benet observed: "From the time he is born until he dies generations later, the Abkhazian lives an orderly, structured life. He rarely changes his occupation, diet, place of residence, or even daily habits in his entire life span. He avoids stress; he accommodates himself to life's challenges and problems. He works hard in the tobacco and tea fields (but rarely uses either personally) even into centenarian years, if he wishes. He eats and drinks with the gusto of a celebration, and plays as vigorously as he labors -- dancing breathtakingly and riding horseback Cossack-style."
Benet studied the Abkhazians from their infancy. Abkhazians, she found, are enveloped by the family, whether one day old or 100 years. The family, maybe fifty persons on one homestead, provides security and support, and a deep-seated sense of belonging and identity. Nor did she ever hear a parent raise his voice or threaten to spank a child, yet the children grew up to be remarkably obedient. Physical punishment was unnecessary, as the children were swaddled in love and the whole family looked after them. One father told Ms. Benet: "Respect is better for discipline. A child imitates his elders, so if he never sees his parents or relatives break rules, he will not break rules. We teach our children by example."
This does not mean that permissiveness is the way of life of the Abkhazians, Children are subject to stern, rigorous parental demands that shape their stoic, respectful attitudes; and boys and girls learn they have definite male and female roles in life. They learn the chores expected of them.
Courtship among the Abkhazians is modest and circumspect. There is no premarital sex. A girl's hopes for marriage are lost if she loses her virginity, except possibly many years later to a lesser suitor. Fornication is so frowned upon that it can lead to a bloody vendetta against the fellow who would dare to ravish a girl. Interestingly, couples marry before age 30 and the courtship is usually prolonged.
Also it is interesting to note that the opinion of most Abkhazians is that sexual relations should start late in life as sexual potency will then be prolonged and well being promoted. They may be right. Remarkably enough, a medical team discovered that the Abkhazian men remain potent beyond age 70 and 13.6 per .cent of the women menstruate after the age of 55.
At least one Abkhazian has fathered a child at age 100, and Soviet scientists obtained sperm from him when he was 119 years old! Sounds almost like Abraham, doesn’t it? Think of that!
What about the diet of this fascinating people? Their caloric intake is 23 per cent lower than that of industrial workers in the area, and their vitamin C intake is twice the amount of the others. They look upon wine as "life giving." But they drink in sips. Abkhazian wine is dry, red and not fortified. Drunkenness, very rare among the Abkhazians, is scorned.
Abkhazians eat meat, freshly slaughtered and broiled or boiled, only two or three times a week. They generally don't eat pork, finding its fattiness distasteful. Animal fat is not eaten, and butter is used rarely. Whatever can be eaten raw is served raw. Fermented cheese is eaten daily, and about two glasses of buttermilk are consumed each day.
Nuts, large amounts of fruits and vegetables, are all consumed in season, including grapes, green onions, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cabbage.
Sugar is not consumed by the Abkhazians, or sweet rolls or pastries. However, old people enjoy a glass of water before retiring to bed and put a little honey in it. Young people dip nuts in honey for their "sweet tooth."
The Abkhazian diet is clearly a good one -- nutritious, balanced, and not too rich. But, as Dr. Leaf observed, their vigorous activity also plays a role in their longevity. Sula Benet noticed that a favorite saying among them is: "It is better to move without purpose than to sit still." The people labor in the fields from dawn to dusk. To the Abkhazians, the sedentary life is utterly unknown and unthinkable! The term “couch potato” would completely mystify them!
All in all, who can deny that the Abkhazians have found some of the basic secrets of radiant health? Sula Benet, after living among the Abkhazians, concluded, "Heredity, climate, diet, vigorous living, a way of life whose values are never questioned – they all contribute to long life."
The Abkhazian philosophy which highly values stoicism, generosity, and courage, adds to the picture of their health. The old people were almost always slim, soldierly, erect, and proud,
says Sula Benet. She watched as a 104 year old man plunged into the icy cold runoff of the snowy Caucasus without hesitation.
This is more than just a fascinating and enjoyable story. The life-style of the Abkhazians provides a vital message to all of us in the modern world who are concerned about our health and vitality. It contains priceless keys to health which have been all but forgotten by the Western world.
Other Healthful Primitive Peoples
There are other isolated peoples who have no knowledge of modern surgery, medicine, drugs, or hospitals. Consider the Xinguano Indians of the Mato Grosso of central Brazil who live in dense jungle, yet lead tranquil lives, hunting, fishing, farming, and gathering food. Though they are very primitive, they possess exuberant health, are strong and fit, and have balanced diets. Malaria and respiratory ailments are rarely fatal, and minor ills and infections seldom bother them.
Another remote tribe that enjoys vigorous good health are the Mabaans of the Sudan. This African tribe has exceptionally good hearing -- 80 year-old women have better hearing and vision than most American teenagers! They have sound teeth and strong hearts. "The Mabaans enjoy longevity that would be remarkable in the most medically pampered society. Furthermore, their declining years are almost free of the usual degenerative diseases of old age. Scientists are still puzzled by the Mabaans' extraordinary health, but their stable, tranquil environment is almost certainly an important factor" (Health and Disease, p. 160).
The Mabaans almost never come down with such diseases as high blood pressure, ulcers, appendicitis, or heart disease. Yet, when a Mabaan moves from his tribal area to a modern city, he is suddenly victimized by a host of ills he never knew before.
Take a brief glimpse of the Australian aborigines. Living in comparative isolation, many have been astoundingly free of disease. "The Western Australian aborigines, for example, are as close to nature as any group on earth. They have no medical knowledge. . . .Their foods are simple. But these very facts appear to protect them from disease” (ibid., p. 18).
Why are these tribes so healthy? What is their secret? What can we learn from them? We must begin to change our way of living if we want to prolong our lives and make them more vigorous and healthy! Indeed, we must examine carefully our entire lives, from the cradle to the grave. We must take stock of ourselves, and begin living in accord with the principles of health-the common sense rules that militate against disease. These, basically followed by many remote societies, are given in principle in the Bible.
The TWELVE KEYS to Robust Health
Let's take a good look the lessons we can learn from these wise peoples, and from the precepts of God’s Word, to see how we can enjoy vigorous and excellent health! I have found twelve “rules” which we should study and put into practice in our lives. Here they are:
1. Be sure to obtain plenty of sleep at night. Most people need about eight hours of sleep each night. Some may be able to do all right on four hours a night, but others require ten. Whatever your needs, don't cut yourself short, thinking you can miss adequate sleep for several nights and then make up for it on the weekends. Your body cannot store sleep.
2. Watch your diet. Be sure to get adequate amounts of the basic food groups in your diet. Avoid excessive saturated fats, excessive starches and refined carbohydrates. Remember the Biblical admonition given 3,500 years ago: "Ye shall not eat the fat thereof." Also avoid all UNCLEAN meats (Lev.11; Deu.14), such as pork, shellfish, lobster, fish without scales, etc. God’s dietary laws are PARAMOUNT for good health! Neglect them to your physical and mental peril! Avoid also excessive sugars in your diet, pop drinks, white bread, too many carbohydrates. Eat plenty of raw vegetables daily – carrots, celery, turnips, green peppers, radishes, and the like. Eat good fish 2-3 times a week, for the omega-three oils, which are vital for good health. I would avoid “farmed” fish, which is shot full of antibiotics, coloring agents, and raised in “pens” like so much beef fattened for the slaughter! Obtain and eat only the ‘wild” caught kinds of fish. Also, be sure to drink plenty of good, fresh water. Drinking water is necessary for helping cleanse the system, and flush out waste products.
3. Exercise regularly. If your employment involves much physical labor, then this exercise is good. But for those of us who have more sedentary occupations, we need to exert ourselves more. Take up walking, bicycling, running, swimming, or some sport such as handball, basketball, racquet ball, volley ball, tennis. My wife and I make it a habit to walk briskly about 3-4 miles daily. It is wonderful exercise, good for the heart, mind, body, cardiovascular system, lungs, digestion, and general well-being. Getting good exercise also helps you in breathing deeply. This also is a vital contribution to good health.
4. Don't smoke. For every minute you smoke, you subtract a minute from your life. Smokers take note: Over 400,000 excess deaths a year are due to smoking. God warns in His Word, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” (I Cor.6:19). Paul says, “For you were bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (verse 20). In no way does smoking glorify God!
5. Avoid stress and tension. Don't be jittery, anxious, fretful or worried all the time. Don't fret and stew over the future, or what might have been. “Do not worry about tomorrow” (Matt.6:34). “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil.4:6-7).
6. Think right, godly, positive thoughts. Learn to maintain a calm, tranquil disposition. Have faith in God to work out difficulties and seemingly insoluble problems. Remember the words of the Messiah: "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? . . . Therefore do not be
anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day" (Matthew 6:25-26, 34).
7. Live wisely. Use a sensible approach to living. Be kind and generous to your fellow man. This, too, is a secret of a long and vigorous life. Solomon wrote, “Happy is the man who finds wisdom . . . Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a TREE OF LIFE to all who take hold of her” (Prov.3:13-18). Practice the golden rule, which says:: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This rule is a forgotten key to health! It is a key to wise living. Cynics and scoffers may call it a stupid rule, and sarcastically joke, “Do to others what you think they plan to do to you, but do them first!” Nevertheless, loving your neighbor is a key to radiant health!
8. Be moderate in all things. Practice self control. One aspect of self control is “fasting.” That is, doing without food for a day or more. Fasting is another key to vigorous health. Fasting gives the body a chance to rest, and rebuild, to expel wastes and poisons. Jesus said that His servants would “fast” (Matt.6:16-18).
In fact, moderation means avoid ALL excess! One of the greatest curses of the western world today is OBESITY. Control your appetite, and guard your mouth. Limit consumption of food, and wine, and all alcoholic drinks. Solomon wrote, “For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty” (Prov.23:21). He wrote, “Put a knife to your throat, if you are one given to appetite” (Prov.23:2). But also remember, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities” (I Tim.5:22). In moderation, wine has been proven to have many health benefits. Moderation, I would suggest, means no more than a glass or two daily, as a rule.
9. Study God’s Word, and study vital health principles. Seek good advice and a “multitude of wise counsel” if or when you become ill. Do not ignore the experience and wisdom of good knowledgeable doctors. “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim.2:15). The more we learn about God’s health principles, including the principles of diet and quarantine, as outlined in the Bible, and study and assimilate good teaching about health and nutrition, the better off we will be in every respect.
10. Pray continually. As the apostle Paul declared, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess.5:17), “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph.6:18). Get your life in accord with the principles of God’s Word. Commune with Him daily, and often throughout the day. This also will help bring your mind to peace, and give you greater faith and a loving, tranquil outlook on life. Prayer works wonders! It produces miracles!
11. Praise God and joyfully give Him thanks regularly. A heart of praise and joyful thanksgiving will do wonders for your own health, peace of mind, tranquility, and energy boost! “In everything give thanks” (I Thess.5:18), “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph.5:20). The Psalms
are filled with praises and thanksgiving to God. Study them, and recite them, and follow David’s example! “It is good the give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High” (Psa.92:1). “O give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name” (Psa.105:1). “Praise the LORD!” (Psa.106:1). Praising God and giving Him thanks will really help set the right tone in your life, and clear out the cobwebs and negative agents in your mind – the spiritual “free radicals” that float around and attempt to unite with our mind. Learn to bless and praise God’s name continually! “Praise the LORD!” (Psa.111:1). “Seven times a day I praise you,” David declared (Psa.119:164), “because of Your righteous judgments.”
12. Keep God’s commandments, which are the WAY to a joyous, vibrant, abundant, energetic life! David declared: “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165). God’s LAW is the WAY to true mental, physical and spiritual health. We should study it, and learn to love it with all our being. It expresses God’s holy and righteous and loving character. Moses declared, “Therefore be careful to observe them; fot THIS IS YOUR WISDOM AND YOUR UNDERSTANDING in the sight of the peoples who will hear of these statures, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’” (Deut.4:6).
Putting It Into Practice
Our competitive, ruthless business world takes its perennial toll in heart attacks, ulcers, colitis, strokes, and mental stress. Our western technological system, built upon the concept of competition, aggression, strife, and out-maneuvering the opposition, is not conducive to good health. It destroys a tranquil, happy state of mind. Aggression and strife rob millions of people of their restorative, restful sleep at night.
Furthermore, our modern marriages, which often resemble battlefields, with the litter and carnage of feuding, arguments, shouting matches, temper tantrums, hostility, and emotional strife, likewise all too often are inimical to radiant health. Marriage should be a good thing. God’s Word says, “A prudent wife is of the Lord” (Prov.19:14). “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” ( Prov.18:22). But God’s Word also warns, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones” (Prov.12:4). Such a companion destroys the spirit, devastate the emotions, and causes ruin.
If we really want to enjoy a long-lasting, healthful life, filled with joy and good will, and happiness bubbling over, then we must change our whole approach toward life. We must begin to ask what we can do for others, and not be concerned with what they can do for us! We must be concerned with what we can put into life, not what can we get out of it! We must learn to love our neighbor as we love our selves!
Physical, Mental and SPIRITUAL Health
There can be no doubt that physical and mental health are directly related, and both of them tie in with SPIRITUAL HEALTH! Many illnesses are psychosomatic in origin. Emotional problems can lower our physical resistance to disease, or even directly trigger certain malfunctions in our body. All three – emotional and physical health, mental health, and spiritual health are the product of living a righteous, godly life style – OBEYING God’s commandments, which are based on OUTGOING LOVE for God and for our fellow man!
The apostle Paul was delivering a vital message on health when he said almost 2,000 years ago: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance (or moderation). The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4-7).
Paul went on, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (verse 8).
A wholesome, positive, uplifting attitude toward life goes a long way toward contributing to radiant health!
Just how important is right living to obtaining and maintaining vigorous health? The book of Proverbs provides several key admonitions that we would all do well to take to heart. Solomon wrote: "My son, never forget the things I've taught you. If you want a long and satisfying life, closely follow my instructions. Never forget to be truthful and kind. Hold these virtues tightly. Write them deep within your heart."
Later, he says: "The man who knows right from wrong and has good judgment and common sense is happier than the man who is immensely rich! For such wisdom is far more valuable than precious jewels. Nothing else compares with it. Wisdom gives: A long, good life, riches, honor, pleasure, peace. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who eat her fruit; happy is the man who keeps on eating it" (Proverbs 3:1-3; 13-18, Living Bible).
God also inspired Solomon to declare: "I would have you learn this great fact: that a life of doing right is the wisest life there is. If you live that kind of life, you'll not limp or stumble as you run. Carry out my instructions; don't forget them, for they will lead you to real living. "
A life of doing right, living right, thinking right, is the forgotten key to radiant health!
Solomon knew this. He declared: "Listen, son of mine, to what I say. Listen carefully. Keep these thought ever in mind; let them penetrate deep within your heart, for they will mean real life for you, and RADIANT HEALTH" (Proverbs 4: 11-13, 20-22).
Consider those forceful words! To live your life according to the precepts of righteousness, to obey the Ten Commandments, is the way to radiant health!
But what can those who break these laws expect? Solomon wrote, “Reverence for God adds hours to each day; so how can, the wicked expect a long, good life?" (Proverbs 10:27).
In chapter 14 of Proverbs, Solomon gives more sound advice to those who desire a long happy life. He tells us: “A wise man controls his temper. He knows that anger causes mistakes. A relaxed attitude lengthens a man's life; jealousy rots it away” (Prov.14:29-30).
Perhaps the most basic truism Solomon wrote about radiant health is also found in the Book of Proverbs. Many have heard it before. But how many put it into daily practice?
Solomon declared: "A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick" (Prov.17:22). “A merry heart does good, like medicine,” says the New King James Bible. The margin says, “makes medicine even better.”
Leading doctors and psychiatrists tell us that perhaps as many as ninety percent of illnesses today are the result of emotional stress, what Solomon referred to as a "broken spirit." A cheerful heart, a positive countenance, can have a very powerful positive effect on our physical and mental health and well being!
There is a direct and definite relationship between one's words and one's health. Solomon said: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words cause quarrels” (Proverbs 15:1). On the other hand, Solomon said, "'Gentle words cause life and health" (verse 4).
“When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong; but when he is cheerful, everything seems right,” Solomon added (Prov.15:15, Living Bible). Cheerfulness and a positive attitude seem to breed like rabbits, and produce a litter of increasing cheerfulness and positive feelings! But a person pregnant with gloom will give birth to more gloom. Gloom begets gloom; but happiness begets more happiness, abundant health, and overflowing joy!
Solomon also said, "Pleasant sights and good
reports give happiness and health" (verse 30). Here again we see health
connected with how we view our environment, and the importance of our words,
messages, a “good report.” It is
inspiring to view a beautiful sunset, or see a sparkling waterfall, to view the
expanse of the
The book of Proverbs is full of excellent health advice and wise counsel. The sum and sunbsance or the matter, however – the REAL FUNDAMENTAL KEY to radiant physical and mental health – is also found in the Word of God. Almighty God says: “Keep the commandments, and keep your life; despising them means death" (Prov.19:16). The key to vigorous health and well being, summed up, is to keep the commandments of God.
And Now – Let’s GO! Let’s DO it!
This may seem like fatuous advice to a cynic who doesn't believe there is a God. A man who believes in the mechanistic evolutionary process accounting for his own existence, and who denies the existence of a Creator God, may laugh at the advice and jeer at the counsel given by Solomon. But he will be the one to suffer for it.
The word of God, the Bible, is an authoritative source of health knowledge written for mankind by servants of that God who designed us and who manufactured our minds and bodies. God knows how we best operate; what is good for us, and what is bad for us. The Bible is his instruction manual which tells us how to live to achieve the best results. He informs us of the basic principles and laws regulating human life and success. His laws are immutable, inexorable.
If we obey His wonderful health precepts, and honor him throughout our lives, we will enjoy much richer, fuller, more abundant lives. If we don't, we will have only ourselves to blame.
One of the world's oldest preachers, William A. Moore, who lived in a hillside cottage overlooking Mount Rainer in the Cascades, in the state of Washington, gives this advice to people: "Follow the Bible. Eat what's right for you. Behave yourself. Develop good habits, not bad ones. Keep busy physically and mentally. Do all these things and you'll lead a long, full life."
Bill Moore should know. He was 104 years old when he made that statement. He gained a peace of mind and serenity and radiant health and longevity through practicing the Golden Rule and living by the principles of the Bible.
What about you?