Neurologists speak of "plasticity"; they're describing keeping mentally fit. Dr. D'Adamo treats of this in his book on aging and elsewhere: Ways for midlifers and seniors to keep their neurons firing. Everyone recommends "mixing it up", doing things differently from time to time. Some rut-bound types have to force themselves to follow that advice. I seem naturally to be of the intellectual-calisthenics persuasion.
Recently, I began plotting the genealogy of a friend whose pedigree is particularly illustrious. Talk about mental gymnastics! There's a lot of detangling to do. It's challenging and interesting. I recommend it highly. It also helps one develop computer skills, both web-surfing and all sorts of downloading, scanning, and editing.
Here are ideas for keeping those brain cells limber and lithe:
Plot a complex genealogical map.
Learn a new language and speak it frequently (go to the appropriate foreign country or neighborhood).
Learn to READ in a new (or dead) language. Read a new sentence, then paragraph, then page, each week, then each day.
Teach yourself a new alphabet: Cyrillic, sanskrit, greek, arabic, hebrew...
Dr. D. recommends crossword puzzles. If you're a whiz at these, start timing yourself. Write starting and finishing times. Then set goals, such as "weekday NY Times: 20 mins.", "Sunday Times: 45 mins." Even if you don't finish, your speed will increase naturally, and you've put a new spin on the whole activity. Also: If you've always done crosswords, switch to acrostics, or London Times, or a foreign language.
Do brain twisters. Mensa puts out books of these. You can even take a Mensa-proctored and -graded IQ test, available in many cities. It's actually fun!
Study something new, in depth. Choose a historic era, location, subject -- The reign of Amenhotep, the NASA Apollo program, diamond mining in South Africa, national healthcare programs around the world - whatever matters to or intrigues you. Go to a library or bookstore and browse for a few HOURS. See what develops. (My brother made it a point to study one course, from his kids' high school programs, right along with them, each semester.)
Take up a new hobby: Scrapbooking. Rock-collecting/gemology/jewelry-making. Photography (the real kind: with film). Drawing. Gardening. Crocheting. Needlepointing. Home decor and/or crafts projects. Carpentry. Furniture salvaging/refinishing. Ceramics. Weaving. Cookery in a new style. Wine-tasting. Start small; collect ideas first. Be on the lookout.
Take up a new sport: Go to a putting green or a driving range. Smack some tennis balls from a Ball Boy. Start swimming. Learn archery. Play ping-pong or pool. Take dance lessons, T'ai chi, yoga. Ride a bike. Pump iron. Go sailing. Row a boat. Go fishing.
Listen to all different styles of music: Classical, Gregorian chant, gospel, country, bossa nova, raga, rai, celtic, swing, motown: Dance to all of them.
Educate your ear: Take an audio course in music history/appreciation. Subscribe to an orchestral season. Take up an instrument, perhaps one that you dropped in grade school. If you're talented, start a chamber group in your town. Join a chorus: Most cities have at least one of these...or start one!
Help someone. Identify a neighbor or acquaintance who might benefit from a skill or from time of yours. Make a commitment.
Enroll your dog in an obedience, agility, herding or coursing program.
Play scrabble or Boggle or Trivial Pursuit.
Learn bridge, mah-jongg, or canasta.
Go on an adventure trip: Cruise Antarctica, Galapagos, Alaska. Ride a camel in Jordan. Go to a dude ranch. Participate in an archeological dig.
Go on a mercy trip: Build a house in New Orleans. Bring medicine to Gaza.
Diversify your investment portfolio and educate yourself about a particular market or sector. Track it. Subscribe to a relevant journal. Attend a conference on it.
Get involved with a new charitable organization. Sit on the board of one that matters particularly to you.
Befriend younger people. Get to know them. Find out what interests them, how they view the world. Invite them over for coffee.
Read the encyclopedia (I kid you not) and talk about what you discover therein (I had a fascinating cousin whose conversational topics started with the same letter for months at a time; she had a complete set of Britannica in her bathroom).
Read the Bible, cover to cover, according to a feasible plan: Plot it out.
A chapter (or so) a day? Uplifting!
Study an atlas. Teach yourself state/country capitals, names of shires, states, provinces départements/cantons of favorite countries. Play Geography with friends and family.
Participate in an online forum about something new to you.
And, of course, "Come up with stuff to blog about!"
[posted by Dr. D'Adamo for Sante J]
Posted by Peter D'Adamo for Sante_J.
I won't mince words: I'm on a junk jag. I'm feeling lazy and choose to order in or go for quick meals. I'll touch upon four "avoid" foods I've tasted -- truly tasted -- recently.
The first is popcorn. I've gone many years in a row with no popcorn. I don't miss it. But now that I've had some, I've discovered that it has a powerful taste with which I'm no longer familiar: It's CORNY! There's just no other way to describe it. The interesting thing about popcorn is: It's easy to eat without tasting it. You can focus on your movie or TV show. You can perceive it mostly texturally (a sensual marvel in itself). You can enjoy the butter or the salt or the herb-sprinkle. You can mindlessly scarf it down by the handful. But if you stop and focus, there's just no way around its sheer corniness. It's quite miraculous, really, that corn, burst from its kernel, tastes the way corn on the cob tastes, the way ground corn in chips tastes: Corny. And nothing else in the world does, or comes close.
The second is root beer. This is a subject worthy of its very own blog. I "discovered" root beer this spring. I'm sipping one right now. It's rather a delicacy for me, as an "avoid", and I relish it. A good root beer (this one is "Barq's Famous Olde Tyme...Since 1898")(it also contains corn syrup - I know - and it doesn't taste corny) brings out my inner perfumer. It has a dark, musty patchouli-like base, the requisite hint of birch, a vanilla roundness, and a spiking of clove. A sophisticated cordial, if well blended and properly appreciated. A top-notch root beer syrup could be a cocktail ingredient, extended, perhaps, with rum or certain whiskies.
Third is arabbiata or "fra diavolo" tomato sauce. The "diavolo" is in the peppers, and they're essential to complexifying a good marinara base, especially if undergirded by such suitable foils as crustaceans or a beneficial ocean fish such as halibut. Linguine marinara is fine, but just as easy is a jar of Rao's Arabbiata or Classico Spicy Pepper tomato sauce. Another way to add interest is to do as my Nana so masterfully did: Go Garlicky.
Fourth is vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. No: I don't like them lately. Haagen-Dasz vanilla frozen yogurt, Breyer's vanilla ice cream. Taste: Sugar, sugar, sugar (and probably corn syrup too, again!). A single note with no complexity. These might silkily enrich a fine root beer (as a "float") or take a brandy- or rum-based saucing, but alone they are no longer (Hooray!) a temptation. They'd do well to take on a textural garnish component, such as particularly raspy walnuts, with that rum sauce, or to be founded upon a spiced cake. Of the four recent avoids, solitary vanilla ice cream is the low scorer, by a wide margin (Then again, I'm not exactly advocating solitary tomato sauce!).
I could easily have hidden from you my little vices. But what I wanted to share was the art of fully experiencing one's food. Avoids are foods we may be better qualified to truly taste, for their being relative rarities in our long-term programs. And if you're going to "cheat", make it good!
Dr. D'Adamo says he waits all year for his wife Martha's stuffed cabbage, an avoid for him. I'll bet he really tastes it, too.
I decided to run an experiment last week, after a single blood pressure reading was high and got me concerned. I wondered about the circumstances, the machine itself, and, of course, my actual cardiovascular state of health. And I thought, "If I can get a NORMAL reading out of that same gizmo, under any or some circumstances, then I'll have a better idea of what that high reading meant."
So my neighbor let me borrow the sphygmomanometer, to take it through a 24-hour period, beginning with after-dinner reclining, through later evening, pre-rising in the morning, while getting ready for work, at work, arriving home, while making dinner, after-dinner reclining while opening mail, etc.
The most important information I gleaned was that blood pressure -- mine, anyway --really does vary, even quite widely, in the same subject under different conditions, such as:
Arm used (maybe)
Time of day
Proximity to meal-, wine-, and supplement/medication-consumption
Degree of environmental/mental stress
Type of environmental/mental stress
There were a few stressful moments during this day, so it was informative to take readings while reacting to them. And there are surprises, such as there being no significant variation in my blood pressure readings when listening to soothing classical strings music as opposed to listening to Rush Limbaugh's talk show!
Note: This particular model also records pulse, which might or might not relate to (a) systolic and/or (b) diastolic values.
Now that so many consumers self-monitor, it's vital that they run a similar experiment; indeed cardiologists recommend that a get-acquainted product orientation be undergone. This practice helps one determine the best time(s) and setting(s) in which to take a reading, when it's likely to come up low, normal, and/or high, and how high. While not making light of high blood pressure, I am suggesting that high readings be factored into a more all-encompassing picture, if, indeed, there is one.
And then, if a medication trial or a lifestyle alteration is undertaken, there'll be a baseline pattern against which to analyze their efficacy.
Last month I turned on the radio and immediately heard a man saying "OK: As for the blood group diets? They're nothing, nonsense, a lot of hooey. Liz Hurley and everything? It's just ridiculous!" He then derided breatharianism, iridology, colonics, anything called "Detox", and ear-candling, ending with "These are the twelve [I'd missed the others] alternative therapies/modalities that are pure hogwash". The speaker? Dean Edell.
Poor guy. Just think how much less trial and error he'd have to resort to if he knew his patients' blood types. Just think of how many lives he's positioned to positively impact and what an opportunity he's throwing away, all because he's ignorant about the inexorable direction medical science has begun to take, not to mention eastern systems of medicine that date back thousands of years and which view Edell's brand of medicine as yet one more flash in the historical pan.
One day, in this world or the next, many Western allopaths are going to discover the truth, the open-minded ones to their awe and wonder, the closed-minded ones to their shame, shame for their sheer arrogance.
I have experimented, throughout my lifetime, with a few systems and modalities of medicine. Many had merit, and a few didn't work for me, though others claimed they did for them. Far more numerous are those I haven't ever personally used. Yet I too have been known to make fun of a few really outrageous-seeming ideas; one of these was...(drumroll)...Peter D'Adamo's Blood Type Diet! I saw his first book on the store shelf when it was released, and I said to the clerk, "Next thing you know, someone will come out with the Zodiac Diet." I was cynical about it, and my guess is that most who swear by it - or aspects of it - today, made fun of it at first. D'Adamo isn't ashamed to reveal these instances amid his anecdotes about some of his most extraordinary successes. I admit that it can sound preposterous until you look more closely, as I did, or need it desperately, as do many of Dr. D'Adamo's patients.
For about thirteen years I've been practicing aromatherapy, but I can remember attending a dinner, a few years before I took it up, at which someone asked if any of us knew anything about this "new" modality. I was actually among those who razzed her. "Gimme a break" might have been uttered by me at that time.
It's because I've looked into and found validity to health practices of which I'd previously been ignorant, such as essential oils, Blood type medicine, Ayurveda and Macrobiotics, that I can be lenient with those who bash them. Knowing what I know, I'm aware that these people simply haven't been presented with either the evidence or the need for it. One brief experience with lavender oil for burns, or tea tree oil for fungi, and a person simply cannot laugh at aromatherapy anymore. Reading the chapter(s) about one's own blood type and/or those of one's family, in Eat Right 4 Your Type, renders one hesitant to discard the work as balderdash. Macrobiotics, which many mistakenly believe to consist of a stark brown rice-only diet, quickly catapulted me from grave illness to robust health in the 1980s. And Ayurveda? I'd looked at those questionnaires many times before actually trying an Ayurvedic diet, beginning 3 months ago. Seventeen pounds lighter, hale and hardy, I can say that weight loss is only one of the benefits accruing from this program. And I still don't understand what all the homeopathic fuss is about (though Bach's Rescue Remedy has amazed me a few times), but some must be benefiting from it, just as they do from chiropractic, rolfing, and shiatsu.
One of the most fortunate formative experiences I had in my youth was to personally know Dr. Robert Atkins in the early 1970s in New York City, when he was dating my (divorced) mother. I rolled my eyes many a time over this medical renegade and his convictions about vitamins and minerals. Today, most know of Dr. Atkins's body of work as respected and well-established medicine. But I remember when he was viewed by the orthodox as a fringe crank with a screw loose. When he'd hold forth on Brewers' Yeast and the B-complex, I'd excuse myself and go watch TV or something. My mother would insist Bob was a maverick genius and that sometime in the future the world would recognize his contribution as seminal.
In the early 1980s, a terrific surgeon, call him Frank, asked me out for lunch (we worked at the same hospital in Manhattan). Over our meal he informed me that he couldn't eat in the Doctors' dining room because he was being "shunned" by attending physicians who'd heretofore blanketed him with referrals. It seems he'd been interacting increasingly personally and informally with his in-patients, referring to them by name, spending "too long a time" with them on rounds, and interacting with them out of a deep, genuine concern for them as whole persons. Word had gotten around, and he'd been taken aside and spoken to about his "making the other doctors look bad".
As Frank told me of his ordeal (sotto voce, so as not to be overheard at this restaurant so near the hospital), it became clear that he believed his story was unique, that his need to identify with his patients' wholeness and humanness was some one-of-a-kind aberration, and he - so ingenuously and achingly - didn't know what to do. I proceeded to rattle off names of formerly-mainstream MDs and RNs who'd been at the forefront of the then-emerging holistic movement, and I urged him to locate and contact them, as they'd no doubt be thrilled to welcome him among their number, to assist him in finding more congenial hospitals in which to work, and to refer cases to him. I lost touch with Frank, but I imagine that the sneers of his colleagues launched this truly top-flight general surgeon into a far more rewarding career.
Dr. Peter D'Adamo has advantages that neither Bob nor Frank had: He's not an MD under obligation to play by AMA and associated unwritten rules. He's already operating within an established alternative medical community, and with credentials therein. He's doing so decades after naturopathy and nutritional therapy have appeared in the mainstream public square. He is familiar with the history of the career trials of the likes of Bob and Frank before him. He also has sold millions of books and has a very active website, clinical practice, and nutritional supplements line.
Dean Edell has also sold millions of books, and has a national radio program, to boot. Think of how much back-pedaling he'll have to do if and when he discovers that his public errors, born of a snide skepticism, are historically more worthy of scorn than the (brilliant) contribution of Peter D'Adamo.
Once upon a time in Oriental climes, there languished huge populations of exhausted progeny of migrants and nomads. Now largely settled in China, Korea, SE Asia, Siam, and India, they received travelers from the West, hungry for their silks and spices, curious about their ancient and enigmatic ways. The West was in temporary ascendancy, crossing the high seas using largely eastern technologies.
In their lust for routes to the East, Europeans sailed westward to the Americas, bringing to these virgin cultures their bacteria and sugar cane, dogs and horses, trading these for gold, silver, emeralds, cacao, vanilla, potatoes, tomatoes, and hot peppers. Their hosts were decimated.
You see, the Western Hemisphere, certainly South of the Rio Grande, was populated exclusively by those of bloodtype O, with no immunity to the yellow fever and malaria carried relatively easily by their A "discoverers". Surely it baffled the Europeans that these natives were so strangely fragile and short-lived.
Arriving back in Europe, the New World's bounty was appreciated. "Che bello frutta!" exclaimed the Italians over the pomodoro/tomato. "OLaLa! Les pommes--de terre!" marvelled the French over potatoes. Dessert was certainly never the same after chocolate's and vanilla's arrival. But --- What to do with this succulent spicy vegetable? "Too hot!" gasped alarmed Europeans, choking on peppers large and small.
In Europe's fringe areas of North Africa andHungary/Balkans, however, where Oriental/Arab/Black influence was stronger, the flavor was found intriguing, even marvelous. Turks, Persians, all were excited, but the Great Awakening took place in Goa, South India, when the Portuguese for the first time brought the new discovery for trade in the early 16th century. The Indians bought America's hot peppers from these Europeans, and the cuisines of south India, of Siam, Burma and China were forever changed. A fire was lit under an introspective culture in preparation for its re-emergence on the world -- global -- scene.
Peppers. The B bloodgroup, of specifically Asian provenance, though represented moderately in Africa, Western Russia and the Balkans via westward migrations, began to thrive on them, but had lived for thousands of years without them. European A's, finding themselves in possession of a food item so nourishing to the native O population whence it had come, found that they themselves simply could not stomach it! Probably recognizing that the Easterners in their midst seemed to have no problems digesting peppers, these A's cannily carried them to the Asian market as a (hot) novelty item. (And how many Spaniards and Portuguese died of scurvy on their return voyages in the 15th-17th centuries because this amazing vitamin C source burned their throats!)
As a B myself, I'm quite grateful to the O's and A's who gave their lives, whether on their own soil or on the high seas, that I and my outlying people might be delightfully energized.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
You may not (yet) understand the role of the hot pepper in the inevitable Asian/B-allele's ascendancy. That's fine with us. We don't mind a cloak of mystique; we can see over the next dune.