by Joel D. Wallach, BS, DVM, ND
Everyone ‘knows’ the medical dogma that “exercise is good for you.” Now as Paul Harvey says, “You are 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 the last four years, I have crisscrossed America lecturing for almost 300 days per year and the 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 materials, I have been able to “connect the dots” and see the true picture of health (or lack of it) in America without having to do thousand of surveys or studies that would bridge hundreds of years of time and squander billions of taxpayers 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 the animal fed 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 and chicken breast fillets would cost $450 per pound.
We also learned that “working and producing” animals (i.e. – dairy cattle, draft horses, racehorses and dogs, breeding animals) need additional nutrients above and beyond the maintenance level to support them during “production time” to maintain and repair their tissues 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 NIH training grant to cross-educate 30 young scientists from different professions to accelerate the conclusion making process from existing research. We were taught the language and tenets of each others 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 a very skilled scientist somewhere before.
We were to be a “strike force” 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 animal 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 refereed papers on nutritional deficiency diseases and pharmacology, contribute papers to eight multi-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 EARTHS: Forbidden Cures).
Unable to convince the academic world of the importance of nutrition in the mid to late 60’s, I became frustrated enough to go back to school for four years and become a primary care physician. I successfully used everything I learned in the 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 questions, “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 it will not 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 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), behavior 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 cardiomyopathy) and sudden death (Cardio-myopathy 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 or professional, are more susceptible to emotional, traumatic and degenerative diseases than 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 twenty four year old cyclist dying of cardio-myopathy 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.
Reggie Lewis, 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 cardio-myopathy, a muscular dystrophy of the heart muscle caused by a selenium deficiency. Twelve world class cardiologists known as the “Dream Team” of cardiologists were hired by the Boston Celtics to save Reggie, a $65 million contract basketball super star. This “Dream Team” of 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.
Hank Gathers, from 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.
Evander Hollyfield, 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 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 a deficiency of selenium produces a variety of diseases ranging from cardiomyopathy (known in animals as “Mulberry heart disease” or white muscle disease) to muscular dystrophy. Additional research proved with 100 percent certainty that cardiomyopathy was preventable and, in the early stages of diagnoses, 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 bi-lipid layer membrane) and replacement of viable muscle tissue by fibrous connective tissue.
A Selenium deficiency is exacerbated by exercise (athletes) and 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 commercially prepared diets of pet, laboratory and farm animals contains optimum 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 the orthodox health profession’s ignorance of and bias against vitamins and mineral supplementation.
Buster Douglas, 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 behaviors, 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, and yet numerous world class runners have lost their lives by not supplementing. Jim Fixx, the runner who started the whole jogging craze in America with his best selling books on jogging and running for fitness, died at age 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 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 “connect 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% 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?
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 the 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 cardiomyopathy.
- If we sweat out all of our chromium and vanadium during exercise and don’t replace them by supplementation, we are at high risk of developing low blood sugar, diabetes, depression or antisocial behavior.
- If we sweat out all of our lithium and don’t replace it by supplementation, we are at high risk of developing depression, manic depression or addiction 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 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 59 years ago that our farm and range soils are depleted. More recently 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 everyone of us as a result of consuming minerally depleted foods – and that hazard is magnified many-fold by exercise.
Article submitted by Dr. Joel D. Wallach
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