In a past article, I asked how you would explain the scenario of a person that consistently follows an unhealthy lifestyle, but still avoids the consequences of those choices, living to an old age, and relatively free of disease. What if we consider the opposite?
What would you say about the individual who abides by the most current health guidelines, eats a balanced diet, exercises, takes health supplements, receives chiropractic care, has a perfect BMI, does not drink alcohol (except a very occasional shot of Jack Daniels), does not smoke (except a very occasional cigar while gardening), gets regular health check ups, was given a complete bill of health by his doctors, and dies at age 50? That was my father, Dr. George Brittain, Jr. We buried him on Labor Day in the year 1975.
As the story goes, his team of doctors could not explain or give a reason why, at the early age of 44, he suffered his first heart attack in 1969. You see, just within a few days prior to this event, his blood work, EKG, and every other diagnostic marker utilized at that time, all showed perfect results. He did everything right. Consistent lifestyle choices to prevent illness, promote health, and diligently followed his doctors orders. What the h---?
I remember watching him consume a terrible tasting, freshly made juice, with all types of healthy ingredients. I asked him how can you drink that? He said he would do anything to be healthy. What a powerful declaration. Are you that committed to your health? After his near death event, he continued to do all those health building measures, and with even more diligence than before, up until heart attack number two in ‘75.
I often wonder what his lab-work would have truly revealed, if viewed with a functional medicine perspective. I often wonder if by using the metabolic testing, and the nutritional and chiropractic model I use today, would have keep him alive longer than my eighteen years of age. Honestly...I no longer “wonder” if the outcome would have been better, I am absolutely positive it would have been profoundly better.
Considering what I experienced from observing my father’s path, one might expect me to have become cynical about taking the road less traveled, showing restraint regarding the choices we make to be healthier.
Here is an interesting lifestyle dichotomy; which would you choose?
A) I make lifestyle choices with the intent to optimize my health, cultivate an ongoing sense of wellness, and prolong life all the way up until I die at the young age of 50.
B) I am going to party like a rock star, without regard to the damage it may cause my body, and live free of major disease until….whenever?, probably a long time.
Which would you choose? Which did I choose? Both. Up until my teens, it was not a matter of choice; a structured and healthy lifestyle was presented by my parents and I accepted, period. Later, with freedom, I did not make dangerous choices, but I certainly did not consider the long term implications of fast food, indulgence of party enhancements, etc. I suppose many of you did the same things in your youth, when we are bulletproof.
But many people do unhealthy things and do not know about the consequences. Especially in the early 1970’s. But I knew from an early age the health destroying properties of candy, a coke, or a french fry. My father was an optometrist with a strong background in anatomy and physiology, and read many books by Adelle Davis, Bernard Jensen, Royal Lee, and others. So he knew what made a healthy diet and made sure everyone in our family was aware of how unhealthy certain foods were.
The concepts promoted by these pioneers in nutrition are common place now, but heresy in their day. Their information was not readily available, unless you actively seeked it out. And that meant buying these controversial natural health books at what we referred to as the “health food” store.
I remember as a kid frequently walking around in one those small obscure stores, immersed in the smell of a mixture of herbs and wheat grass, wanting to get a chocolate treat, but only to receive something made out of carob. I still have some of those old books lying around. Many of them I read in my 20’s, before entering chiropractic college. I have to credit that exposure and the desire to learn more about health to my father’s influence.
So did my father make the wrong choice? If he knew he was going to die at 50, no matter how healthy his lifestyle choices, would he have made all the sacrifice? Who knows? But I believe that all the effort my father invested in his health, did not go to waste. His influence formed a bedrock made of healthy concepts, still influencing our whole family. At gatherings, discussions on the topic of healthy foods, diet, and nutrition, are common place. And we are all better off for it.
In a bigger sense, the investment my father made in his health is paying out dividends way beyond the reach of my family. And I have gratitude for the opportunity to share that accumulated wealth of health. Thank you for trusting me with your health care.
Have a blessed Labor Day