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Paleo: how NOT to age as a Nursing Home Frankenstein

Updated: Aug 8, 2018

Sometimes it's not just about the journey. We need to keep the destination in mind.

And that includes UNDESIRABLE destinations.

Paleo or Ancestral living gives most of us a strong chance at what Mark Sisson calls a "live long, drop dead" old age. We can compress any period of morbidity (disabling illness) at life's end--maybe even to zero days.

The alternative is increasingly grim.

Few of us want to spend months or years in a nursing home—especially now, when we could become experimental test subjects.

Nursing homes: not exactly Paleo

In 23 years of long-term care planning, I have toured, consulted in, and spoken at many care facilities. I’ve visited rural, rundown converted homes, and 5-star top of the line resort-style communities.

Owners and staff, mostly, do the best they can for residents--

but even a great nursing home (or SNF, for Skilled Nursing Facility) is a ship on stormy seas.

SNFs are now among the most heavily regulated businesses, in part due to longstanding, pervasive care quality issues.

Federal compliance & reporting costs (tech, infrastructure, specialists), staffing costs (including huge turnover at the hands-on care level), liability and insurance costs have all soared in recent years…while revenue stagnates and beds remain empty.

Most SNFs strike a VERY precarious balance between giving decent care and paying their bills.

Residents (patients, actually) bear the brunt of any shortfall…and on top of all this we now have the "Right To Try Act of 2017."

Helpless patients as bio-tech pawns

The new law permits “unapproved, investigational drugs” for terminally ill patients who have “exhausted approved treatment options” and can’t participate in clinical trials of those same drugs.

The act specifically exempts these experimental drugs from FDA “requirements and restrictions,” and limits manufacturer (or prescriber) liability.

Advocates state (publically, at least) that terminally ill patients have nothing to lose and should be able to try new drugs that might ease suffering.

Opponents argue that charlatans will appear, peddling ineffective or harmful remedies to profit under the liability protections.

I have to add: loosening FDA restrictions for EXPERIMENTAL DRUGS will likely benefit pharmaceutical companies far more than any patient population. Note that DRUGS, not other treatments or modalities, are specifically worded into the act.

So who really benefits here?

Always look behind the wizard's curtain

As a “55” reader, you may be of similar skeptical mind.

We Paleoids have learned, often the hard way, that bland or cozy public policy and medical reassurances mostly perpetuate the status quo—at the expense of our health and well-being.

Warmly and fuzzily packaged by its authors, the new law nevertheless appears to create a potential windfall of extra-vulnerable test subjects for the drug industry’s R&D dollars.

Human clinical trials for new drugs are expensive, and invite scrutiny. A handful of early test cases for an “exciting new drug” culled from helpless, terminally ill nursing home residents could dramatically speed up “time to market.”

Don’t put yourself at risk

What does this have to do with Paleo, again?

Paleo can actually reduce the likelihood that you will ever see the inside of a nursing home. Maybe to zero.

Adopting a Paleo, Primal or Keto lifestyle typically means LEARNING A LOT, since we all need to know how the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) has failed us. Knowledge is, in this instance, real power.

This empowerment is a huge but unsung Paleo/Primal/Keto benefit.

Yes, occasionally eyes glaze over at dinner parties when we try to spread the word.

Small price to pay.

I’d much rather write about how great Paleo is, or how I’m making even more progress in the “Keto zone” somewhere south of Primal and north of full-on Keto--but let’s remember some of the darker reasons Paleo is a good idea BESIDES losing weight...

The simplest risk management system in the world: eating clean

According to the CDC:

“The Leading Causes of Death and Disability in the United States: Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.”

A separate study of NURSING HOME DEATHS reveals Alzheimer’s as the top killer in that setting, followed by our old friends heart attack and stroke.

Paleo pushes back on the all these big offenders:

Alzheimer’s: awareness is growing that diet and lifestyle directly affect our odds for this dread disease. If you haven’t researched “type 3 diabetes” (a new name for Alzheimer’s) recently, do so now. Scientific studies and mainstream media references are creeping into public awareness, showing how “sugary Western diets” could be prime dementia contributors.

Why don’t we hear this from more doctors?

Your new Paleo diet (yes, start today and don’t forget to exercise!) directly combats the food-pyramid-sanctioned carbohydrate overload that burns out your hormones, dysregulates your blood chemistry, and finally sabotages your brain.

Heart attack & stroke: after 30+ years on S.A.D. high-fiber, lowfat diets and millions of tons of anti-cholesterol drugs, more of us die each year from these terrifying events. This includes many S.A.D.-gobbling, gym-rat victims (me too—and no, I didn’t die.)

Diets (like Paleo) that eliminate grains, legumes, sugars, refined carbohydrates, and industrial seed oils are so strongly linked to lower risk for all cardiac and cerebrovascular conditions…it’s not funny.

Ditto, diets (like Paleo) that include sustainably-sourced protein, healthy portions of healthy fat, pesticide-free non-GMO green fibrous vegetables...and plenty of exercise.

Name your “modern Western disease,” including cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, or any condition that makes us permanent patients

…and Paleo gives you the tools to fight back. All you have to do is pick them up.

What could motivate YOU to reclaim your health and longevity?

For me, information was enough.

I read a single book in 2015, read it again, and stepped fully into Paleo/Primal living. No hesitation. Cold turkey. Pounds melted away and my health soared.

I’ve read a dozen more Paleo, Primal and Keto books along the way, with no stopping (currently into Primal Fat Burner by Nora Gedgaudas, thanks to a subscriber suggestion—truly awesome material.)

I am not looking back. Paleo makes too much sense.

Living well and longer is my “best revenge” on the medical-public policy-corporate-educational S.A.D. axis.

But revenge (and information) may not be enough for you.

How about this--good odds you’ll become that experimental test subject, when you can no longer speak for yourself?

Does that make it easier to dump the soda, spaghetti and candy bars?

Are you stuck in carefully orchestrated pop-culture inertia?

Only 6 percent of adult Americans engage in top health behaviors—even though 100 percent of us “know better,” or have access to all the information…what is needed?

Why do 94% of us surrender to the status quo?

Does the well-maintained public cognitive dissonance—hearing it both ways (in popular media) paralyze you? Do you feel like you can’t even try “because no one really knows?”

Are you physically addicted to refined carbs, sweets, and openly flavor-engineered processed foods? Did you know that the physiology of addiction to sugary foods is

NO different from addiction to heroin or cocaine?

Are you hesitant, even afraid to admit things to yourself like:

“Wow, the food companies are making money for the drug companies?”

“Geez, the government seems to be helping (the food guys make money for) the drug companies?”

…and all at the expense of your personal health and longevity?

This is a tough rabbit hole to fall into, folks. No easy exit. You can only dig your way out.

You don’t have to go it alone

In some circles, “health coaches” get a lot of press.

Since I didn’t need one, I can’t give personal testimony. I should probably BE one, but I’m not really a people-person. (There are witnesses.)

BUT --if you think you need support giving Paleo or Primal or even Keto a try, this is one way to do it. Especially if your spouse/significant other/best friend/s won’t back you up.

Some top Paleo names sponsor these coaching programs, including Mark Sisson, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, Melissa Hartwig and Chris Kresser.

We’ll examine health coaching and other motivational factors in an upcoming post.

For now, readers new to these ideas need to remember…

  • You can dig yourself out.

  • You have to want to.

  • Your body definitely "wants you to want to."

  • Once you make up your mind, it’s not as hard as it seems.

Let's just "say no" to Dr. Frankenstein.

And don't forget:

DAVID WHITESIDE IS NOT A DOCTOR and does not give medical advice or treatment. He offers information and personal experience only. Nothing you read on this website or blog should be construed as medical advice or as intended to supersede information you get from your medical professional. Following the advice given here or on any recommended resource site does not create a doctor-patient relationship or create liability for David or anyone else. David is not liable for any loss or complication you experience from following any diet or taking any action. You should check with your properly accredited medical professional if you think you are injured or ill.

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