Following the footsteps of popular health and nutrition gurus could be the most unhealthy thing you ever attempted to do.
Do As I Do – Better Not
For all they tell us they know about healthy eating, many diet, nutrition and health gurus have a very bad track record of living to ripe old age.
This afternoon I sat down and checked how some of the more popular ones fared. You would expect them to reach at least 90, given what they promise us.
Not so, unfortunately. Check how they compare to the average US life expectancy for men (77) and women (82).
K. Dun Gifford (-6)
Mr. Gifford was a prominent supporter of the popular Mediterranean Diet, that is supposed to protect you from Alzheimer’s disease, colon cancer and heart disease.
If Gifford faithfully adhered to the olive oil filled advice, it didn’t work for him: he died at 71 from a heart attack.
Dr. Stuart M. Berger (-37)
Berger was behind books like Forever Young — 20 Years Younger in 20 Weeks, whose premise was that supplementing vitamins and minerals are at the heart of live long and prosper.
Maureen Salaman (-12)
For more than 30 years Salaman was a formidable crusader in the name of alternative cancer treatments. Among her many books were Foods That Heal and Nutrition: The Cancer Answer.
She died at age 70 of, well, cancer.
Dr. Roy Walford (+2 or -41)
Walford was a longevity researcher writing books with colorful titles such as The 120 Year Diet: How to Double Your Vital Years. An army of faithful followers emulated Walford’s methods, whose main approach was severe calorie restriction.
He left our world at age 79, 41 years short of the goal. The cause of death was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Instead of following his intuition, and as a proper scientist himself, he should have heeded research showing that caloric restriction hastens death from ALS.
Robert E. Kowalski (-12)
Kowalski was originally a medical journalist, but rose to fame through his best-selling book The New 8-Week Cholesterol Cure. In it, he advocated a heart health program that included megadoses of vitamins.
He died at age 65 from a pulmonary embolism.
“Dr.” Paavo Airola (-14)
“Dr.” (the pedigree of the title is unclear) Airola published many books, but his most popular one was How to Keep Slim, Healthy, and Young with Juice Fasting. Juice fasting, he told readers, cures everything from arthritis, cancer and asthma to obesity, diabetes, and heart illness.
His cause of death was a stroke, which he succumbed to at 63.
Adelle Davis (-12)
During the 1960s and 1970s Adelle Davis was America’s most popular nutritionist, whose main idea of healthy nutrition was a diet consisting of raw foods, vitamin supplementation and drinking plenty of milk. She claimed she had “never seen anyone die of cancer who drank a quart of milk per day,” like she did.
Her death at age 70 came from cancer.
Almon Glenn Braswell (-14)
Braswell was considered the most successful single supplement seller of the US. With his company Gero Vita, Inc. he marketed colorful products such Gerovital H3, supposed to hold “the secret of eternal vigor and youth.” He also published the Journal of Longevity, full of enchanting tips on how to stay on this planet just that bit longer.
But longevity and Gerovital H3 didn’t work for Mr. Braswell. He died at age 63.
Where Are They Now?
Yes, they are dead, but their companies and books keep on selling. One would think that for an audience that believes anecdotal is much more important than scientific evidence, the person behind the theories dying early would be a pretty big turn off.
Picture courtesy of “Fairy Heart“.