Becoming Younger Every Day
My husband and I farmed in Iowa from the 1940’s until retiring in 1980. We raised three sons, worked hard, and ate what was in those times considered to be a healthful diet: fresh and canned vegetables from our abundant garden with plenty of home-grown beef, pork, chicken, eggs, and, of course, milk and cream from our hand-milked cows. It was a small farm style of living that is now rare in this era of corporate and factory farms.
My husband passed away five and a half years ago at the age of 88 from heart failure. I am now approaching 92 years of age and would like to share my story of how it is never too late to change and how anyone, at any age, can benefit from the McDougall Plan. How I wish my husband had known about it.
In the mid 1960’s, I began having angina pain during the nights. The pains became increasingly severe through the years. After the attacks, I would be in a cold sweat, very weak, and not be able to do much for at least a day. Doctors put me on numerous medications but never discussed diet. When I was nearly 90, the pain had become increasingly frequent and was excruciating at times. At age 86 I had a pacemaker implanted and I was treated with four heart and blood pressure medications. I tired easily, but tried nevertheless to maintain an active life style. I was a bit angry. I wondered why this had to be happening to me. I believed that the doctors knew what was best for me. My husband felt the same way. We trusted our doctors.
One of my sons began sharing information from McDougall books and newsletters. He then went on the McDougall Plan at the age of 68, and I soon made the same choice, now nearly two years ago. It all made so much sense that I saw little reason not to try it.
Within a month, the angina attacks were gone. I cannot express the tremendous relief this has given me. I no longer dread falling asleep at night. I have eliminated two of my heart medications and halved the dosage on a third one. My energy level has soared. My blood pressure was quite high, but has now fallen into a very acceptable range. I also lost twenty pounds during the first year. Recently, my son gave me a copy of Dr. McDougall’s book, Digestive Tune-Up. After reading it, I decided to try giving up Prilosec, which I had been taking for many, many years. I found immediately that I no longer needed it. I am stronger and feeling better than I have in years. I always liked to cook, and now I very much enjoy preparing delicious, colorful, and attractive meals of whole plant foods. And yes, Dr. McDougall was correct in predicting that my food bills would fall appreciably.
You may also be interested in hearing about my experience with my cardiologist. When I told him early on that I had adopted this way of eating, he expressed no interest and shrugged it off with barely a comment. During a recent visit to have my pacemaker checked, however, he reviewed my data and said, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” I think he should be telling his patients about the McDougall Plan, don’t you? Now I think all doctors should encourage their patients to try a lifestyle of eating vegetables, fruits, and grains and no animal products. In fact, I think it is an outrage that they don’t.
My son, daughter-in-law, and grandson do most of my shopping and errand running and they help me with some chores. My son stops by every morning, and this is where we do cheat just a little, to have a cup of coffee. That’s all either of us drink, honest. I take care of my home with the help of a cleaning service that comes for a couple of hours once each month. I do my own cooking, baking, laundry, etc. and even do windows occasionally. I am very thankful for my family and that my general health is very good. Other than seeing my cardiologist quarterly to have my pacemaker checked, I see no other doctors.
I find life to be very interesting and with some challenges. I am an avid reader and crossword fan. I am interested in national and international news and watch several news related broadcasts regularly on TV in addition to my reading. I enjoy documentaries and many shows on the History Channel. And I watch CSPAN and follow politics closely by spending considerable time each day reading numerous political bloggers on the internet. Many years ago, I was among those accused of “wallowing in Watergate.”
My friends and family are amazed that I could make such a change in lifestyle at my age. They tell me that I look great, and they are delighted that I am doing so well. I only wish more of them would make the same changes, and I am working on that.
Finally, I want to say to Dr. McDougall, “Thank you so very much,” and I encourage those of you who have not done so to please give the McDougall Plan a try. The benefits are immeasurable.
I wish you all good health.
Dr. McDougall’s Comments
Elderly people are plagued by a plethora of illnesses from worrisome constipation to debilitating arthritis. They find themselves with their medicine cabinet filled with pills, yet, in spite of all of their doctors’ best efforts, they remain sick, and their health steadily deteriorates. To make matters worse, prescriptions are so costly that many on fixed incomes have to cut into their food budget every month in order to pay for their medications. The average cost per prescription for an elderly person in 1999 was $42.30, and the average number of prescriptions, including refills, rose to 28.5 per senior that year.1 None of these medications cure chronic diseases, but they do assure financial security for doctors, and for the employees of pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies. The present-day healthcare system is a form of elder abuse—causing sickness and financial ruin for seniors more than at any other time in their lives.
Mrs. Roseberry decided to use a different approach; taking control of her life through diet and exercise. In a few short weeks she got her health back—even though she did not start down this enlightened path until she was 90. And here you are today, much younger than Mrs. Roseberry, feeling hopeless. Thinking, “Poor me, I can’t lose weight, I can’t get well. I have to take all these pills.” Nonsense! I have had the opportunity to work with many septuagenarians and octogenarians—their recuperative capacities are astounding.
The human body, until it takes its last breath, fights to survive; it possesses innate abilities to recover, even into old age, once the burdens that are causing it to be sick are removed. Within hours of the introduction of fiber-filled foods stubborn bowels come to life. The joints loosen up, mobility is regained, and body aches are relieved after giving up the dairy proteins. The chest pains cease as the circulation to the heart improves on a diet free of added fats and oils.
We realize our years are finite. But, most of us enjoy life so much that we would do almost anything in order to have more time to spend with our friends and family—even one more pleasure-filled hour would be welcome. Additional, productive, fun-filled, active time is gained by making simple cost-free choices at the dinner table. Plus, following a simple diet based on starches (rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, etc.) with fruits and vegetables (in season) lowers the food bills by 40% and more. The same diet and a little exercise—with the cooperation of their doctors—will allow elderly people to stop those medications that are unnecessary (which in my experience is most of them, especially after people change their diet). All of this progressive care will allow seniors who live on a fixed income to rise above a poverty level of existence—and enjoy life to the fullest. Share this hopeful message and you will give someone an honest opportunity to add good years to his or her life.