Health and Wealth: If You're Not Healthy, You're Not Wealthy
Health and Wealth: If You're Not Healthy, You're Not Wealthy
by Mark Skousen, Chairman, Investment U
Monday, June 12, 2006: Issue #544
I seem to be in the habit of offending a lot of people lately, such as Jim Cramer fanatics or die-hard gold bugs.
I suppose today's issue - on how disastrous our Western diet is, including some of the crazy solutions to the overweight crisis like the Atkins Diet - may not endear me to diet fanatics, either.
But the truth must be told There's nothing wrong with a fat wallet, but a fat stomach can cost you everything!
I've been reading a lot lately about the various ways to lose weight and live longer. As readers know, the stock market crisis isn't the only crisis facing America. We also face an obesity epidemic in this nation, leading to the growing threat of heart attacks, strokes, cancer and diabetes. The latest study shows that 60% of Americans are overweight, and I wonder how many of them are investors who sit in front of a Yahoo Finance screen all day.
If you want to enjoy life to the fullest in your golden years, take heed. Being overweight is a killer. You can have all the money and wealth in the world, but if you don't enjoy a high quality of life, it's like being a millionaire on the Titanic. Only your heirs care. And so we're devoting today's Investment U issue to health and wealth
The Mayo Clinic Speaks A Simple Truth about Health... Plus, How Wealth Fits In
I've spent some time over the years helping out elderly people in rest homes, and believe me, there's little in the way of quality life for these people. Most of them regret having not taken care of themselves before they had a stroke, heart attack, diabetes, cancer or some other debilitating disease. Most of the time they are lonely and wish they could escape. But in most cases, they are prisoners of their own designs.
Last summer I was a speaker on a cruise sponsored by the Mayo Clinic, the gold standard in the medical health profession, giving us the latest advances in medicine, diagnostic screening and biotechnology. The Mayo experts confirmed that, despite talk of new breakthroughs in diet plans, there is nothing new under the sun: The key to a long and healthy life is to eat a well-balanced diet, avoid smoking and excessive drinking and exercise 30 minutes a day. Plenty of studies show that low-weight people live longer.
While you're waiting for your investments to make a comeback, I challenge you to
- Eat a well-balanced diet (more on this below)
- Avoid smoking and excessive drinking, and
- Exercise 30 minutes a day out in the sunshine.
I would also add a fourth recommendation: Make a lot of money! Recent studies have shown that if you are wealthy, you have a better chance of living longer. Wealthier people can afford better health care, are better educated about the best ways to stay healthy, eat better and exercise more, and have less stress associated with money matters.
"The China Study"
As many of you know, I just returned from a two-week fact finding tour of China. Recently, Chinese authorities conducted the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition over a 20-year period. "The China Study," as it is called, was led by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, in conjunction with Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine.
What did they conclude?
- Cancer, diabetes and other debilitating diseases are skyrocketing in America because too many Americans are focusing on the symptoms rather than prevention - popping pills and having surgery rather than exercising and dieting. This Western "solution" is a second-best solution. We can do better.
- Low-carb, high-protein diets (which involve eating a lot of meat), like the Atkins Diet, have hidden costs. Dr. Campbell admits that people on the Atkins Diet do usually lose weight, but that's largely because they take in fewer calories. But, according to Dr. Campbell, high-meat consumers often suffer from complications, such as cardiac impairment and kidney damage.
- The healthiest diet, according to Dr. Campbell and "The China Study," is to eat plenty of raw fruits, vegetables and grains in their "unprocessed, unrefined and natural state."
- Avoid too much "highly processed, highly refined carbohydrates, processed snack items, sugar-laden soft drinks, and candy bars." Dr. Campbell especially laments the lack of fresh vegetables in our diets. He found that "potatoes were mostly consumed as fries and chips and tomatoes were mostly canned, which is probably only a reflection of pizza and pasta consumption."
- Eat meat, fish and dairy products sparingly. Dr. Campbell, who appears to be a vegan, argues that cow's milk is not suitable for humans, a controversial stand.
- Exercise regularly. "Exercising a mere 15 to 45 minutes per day, every day, will maintain a body weight that is 11-18 pounds lighter," states Dr. Campbell.
- Sunshine is good for you in moderation, giving you the Vitamin D you need for your immune system.
Dr. Campbell doesn't mention drinking water, but I would add that drinking plenty of water - rather than sodas and coffee - is also a requirement for healthy living.
Healthy Foods Can Lead to Wealthy Living
I passed by these main ideas by John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI), which specializes in nutrition and eating well through organic foods, and he agreed with the above recommendations. He's a vegan, so he doesn't eat any meat, fish, or dairy products. (I've had dinner several times with John at a vegan restaurant - the food, properly prepared, is not bad, though he has not convinced me yet of becoming a vegan.)
Most of us are not medical professionals, and we need to be open to new ideas and studies. I urge you to stop by a Whole Foods Market soon and discover what healthy food is all about. (I should mention that Whole Foods is one my recommended stocks in my newsletter)
Whether you agree with Dr. Campbell or not, I'm sure you will agree that most of us need to eat better, exercise more and lose weight. When you feel better, you think better And being healthy, in return, will make you a better, more wealthy investor.
Good investing, AEIOU,