Woodford Files — Everyone needs a little more love

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, author Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of a small town located on a rocky hillside in southern Pennyslvania. The remarkable thing about this town, called Roseto, is that amongst its population no one under 55 has ever died of a heart attack or showed any signs of heart disease. And for men over 65, the death rate from heart disease in Roseto is roughly half that of the U.S. as a whole. When the cause of this exceptionally good health was investigated, it was found that “a whopping 41 percent of their calories came from fat”. Oddly, many of them smoked heavily and some were struggling with obesity. Upon deeper investigation, the biggest difference between Rosetans and the rest of the world turned out to be their tight family ties, their daily home cooking and socializing with one another, their practice of having three generations living under one roof, and their “egalitarian ethos” which discouraged displays of wealth while helping the unsuccessful “obscure their failures.”

This is fascinating as it suggests that good homemade food, loving families, and a supportive community can outweigh all other risk factors for heart disease. Which begs the question – is the current epidemic of heart disease in North America due to our reliance on nutrient-poor convenience food, combined with high stress, hurried lifestyles that leave no time for sharing the love, respect, and intimacy that our hearts desire?  Is this high speed culture driving us to become sick at heart? Perhaps it’s time to slow down and embrace a more compassionate lifestyle.

This month, we’ve pulled together excerpts from favourite past articles on the subject of cardiovascular health, and here we find themes that reinforce the Roseto story. In Helke Ferrie’s feature on “The Role of Stress, Malnutrition, and Environmental Toxins,” we learn that having a bad marriage can bring on high blood pressure and heart attack just as surely as smoking. And Elie Klein’s feature on “Angina and Atherosclerosis” points out that the main dietary causes of heart disease are not salt or saturated fat – but sugar and trans fat.

Also this month, we bring you a report by David Rowland on the campaign by Health Canada to remove many of our favourite products from the health food stores (in the name of public safety). This is of great concern to those of us who have come to rely on herbs, vitamins, and homeopathics to keep ourselves well, which in turn keeps us out of hospitals and doctors’ offices. Indeed, Health Canada’s war on natural health products really makes no sense, considering that our public medicare system is a tremendous burden on taxpayers. In fact, you’d think that the politicians would be rolling out the red carpet at every health food store in Canada, while giving us tax incentives to buy natural health products to keep ourselves healthy. Alas, that is not the case, so it’s time to get involved and let the politicans know how you feel.

This Valentine’s Day, after you’ve stuffed your lover with organic chocolates, think about your parents, grandparents, and elderly neighbours too. Everybody needs a little more love in their lives.

Julia Woodford, Editor ~ Vitality Magazine