Archive | May 7, 2014

The Man Who Forgot to Die and Outlived all his Doctors*

The Man Who Forgot to Die and Outlived all his Doctors*

By Dave Mihalovic

You could say that Stamatis Moraitis forgot to die. The Greek war veteran was diagnosed by 9 different American doctors with lung cancer in 1976. He was given 6 months to live and was encouraged to pursue aggressive cancer treatment. He declined and instead moved back to his native land of Ikaria. Then something incredible happened.

At first, he spent his days in bed, as his mother and wife tended to him. He reconnected with his faith. On Sunday mornings, he hobbled up the hill to a tiny Greek Orthodox chapel where his grandfather once served as a priest. When his childhood friends discovered that he had moved back, they started showing up every afternoon. They’d talk for hours, an activity that invariably involved a bottle or two of locally produced wine. I might as well die happy, he thought.

In the ensuing months, he started to feel stronger. One day, feeling ambitious, he planted some vegetables in the garden. He didn’t expect to live to harvest them, but he enjoyed being in the sunshine, breathing the ocean air. Others could enjoy the fresh vegetables after he was gone.

Six months came and went. Moraitis didn’t die. Instead, he reaped his garden and, feeling emboldened, cleaned up the family vineyard as well. Easing himself into the island routine, he woke up when he felt like it, worked in the vineyards until mid-afternoon, made himself lunch and then took a long nap. In the evenings, he often walked to the local tavern, where he played dominoes past midnight.

The years passed.

His health continued to improve. He added a couple of rooms to his parents’ home so his children could visit. He built up the vineyard until it produced 400 gallons of wine a year. Three and a half decades later, he was 97 years old — according to an official document he disputes; he said he was 102 in 2012– and cancer-free. He never went through chemotherapy, took drugs or sought therapy of any sort. All he did was move home to Ikaria.

“It just went away,” said Moraitis.

“I actually went back to America about 25 years after moving here to see if the doctors could explain it to me.”

“My doctors were all dead.”

Moraitis passed away at 102 years of age.

The Lessons To Learn

Avoid conventional therapy for cancer if you want to live a long life. We don’t have the statstics yet, but it’s unlikely that any person on Earth who has pursued aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment will live to a 100. In most cases they die within 15 years of their treatment. The restoration of health comes from connecting back to our environment and foods that heal us, not medicine.

The Greek Islands are famed for healthy cuisine, so it may come as no surprise that Grecians have fewer cases of heart disease. Staples, including virgin olive oil, greens like arugula and Swiss chard, carbohydrates like chickpeas, lentils and whole-grain bread, and herbs like oregano, parsley and chives, are great for heart health. The traditional diet also minimizes meat consumption with no more than one red meat dish per week.

Although unemployment is high — perhaps as high as 40 percent — most everyone has access to a family garden and livestock. People who work might have several jobs. Someone involved in tourism, for example, might also be a painter or an electrician or have a store.

People are fine here because we are very self-sufficient,” said Thea Parikos who owns a guesthouse in western Ikaria.

“We may not have money for luxuries, but we will have food on the table and still have fun with family and friends. We may not be in a hurry to get work done during the day, so we work into the night. At the end of the day, we don’t go home to sit on the couch.”

In the United States, when it comes to improving health, people tend to focus on exercise and what we put into our mouths — organic foods, omega-3’s, micronutrients. We spend nearly $30 billion a year on vitamins and supplements alone. Yet in Ikaria and the other places like it, diet only partly explained higher life expectancy. Exercise — at least the way we think of it, as willful, dutiful, physical activity — played a small role at best.

Ask the very old on Ikaria how they managed to live past 90, and they’ll usually talk about the clean air and the wine. Or, as one 101-year-old woman put it, “we just forget to die.” The reality is they have no idea how they got to be so old. And neither do we. To answer that question would require carefully tracking the lifestyles of a study group and a control group for an entire human lifetime (and then some). We do know from reliable data that people on Ikaria are outliving those on surrounding islands (a control group, of sorts). Samos, for instance, is just eight miles away. People there with the same genetic background eat yogurt, drink wine, breathe the same air, fish from the same sea as their neighbors on Ikaria. But people on Samos tend to live no longer than average Greeks. This is what makes the Ikarian formula so tantalizing and proven in scientific study.

If you pay careful attention to the way Ikarians have lived their lives, it appears that a dozen subtly powerful, mutually enhancing and pervasive factors are at work. It’s easy to get enough rest if no one else wakes up early and the village goes dead during afternoon naptime. It helps that the cheapest, most accessible foods are also the most healthful — and that your ancestors have spent centuries developing ways to make them taste good. It’s hard to get through the day in Ikaria without walking up 20 hills. You’re not likely to ever feel the existential pain of not belonging or even the simple stress of arriving late. Your community makes sure you’ll always have something to eat, but peer pressure will get you to contribute something too. You’re going to grow a garden, because that’s what your parents did, and that’s what your neighbors are doing. At day’s end, you’ll share a cup of the seasonal herbal tea with your neighbor because that’s what he’s serving. Several glasses of wine may follow the tea, but you’ll drink them in the company of good friends.

Every one of these factors can be tied to longevity. That’s what the $70 billion diet industry and $20 billion health-club industry do in their efforts to persuade us that if we eat the right food or do the right workout, we’ll be healthier, lose weight and live longer. But these strategies rarely work. Not because they’re wrong-minded: it’s a good idea for people to do any of these healthful activities. The problem is, it’s difficult to change individual behaviors when community behaviors stay the same. In the United States, you can’t go to a movie, walk through the airport or buy cough medicine without being routed through a gantlet of candy bars, salty snacks and sugar-sweetened beverages. The processed-food industry spends more than $4 billion a year tempting us to eat. How do you combat that? Discipline is a good thing, but discipline is a muscle that fatigues. Sooner or later, most people cave in to relentless temptation.

As our access to calories has increased, we’ve decreased the amount of physical activity in our lives. In 1970, about 40 percent of all children in the U.S. walked to school; now fewer than 12 percent do. Our grandparents, without exercising, burned up about five times as many calories a day in physical activity as we do. At the same time, access to food has exploded.

Ikaria’s lifestyle plays a very important part in their longevity. Ikarians stay active by walking most of the time which lowers depression, weight and mortality. Their diet is high in vegetables, fruits, high-quality olive oil and fish. They eat very little red meat.

Instead of drinking cow’s milk, the people of Ikaria drink organic goat’s milk most of their lives. This organic milk is rich in antibacterial compounds as well as tryptophan. Most of the cow’s milk we drink today is pasteurized and filled with many growth hormones.

Lessons from Ikaria:

  1. Get your antioxidants! Ikarians eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet, which consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a little fish. One key feature of the Ikarian diet are wild greens, many of which have ten times the level of antioxidants in green tea or red wine!
  2. Drink tea! Regular herbal tea consumption is common of Ikarian centenarians. Many of the teas here act as mild diuretics, prescribed by doctors to lower blood pressure.
  3. Take regular naps. People who nap at least five times a week for half an hour have 35% reduced chance of cardiovascular disease. Stress hormones also decrease when you’re napping.
  4. Make walking part of your daily routine. The hilly land lends itself well to burning calories. The Ikarians exercise without thinking about it just by walking to church or work.

For people to adopt a healthful lifestyle, they need to live in an ecosystem, so to speak, that makes it possible. As soon as you take culture, belonging or purpose out of the picture, the foundation for long healthy lives collapses. The power of such an environment lies in the mutually reinforcing relationships among lots of small nudges and default choices. There’s no silver bullet to keep death and the diseases of old age at bay. There are no real secrets either. It’s about living life the fullest, being true to yourself, connecting with others, eating real food and being physically active effortlessly. Everything else just flows after that.


Related Topics:

Scotland’s Eigg Island: Self Sufficient and Owned by its Residents*

Body Atlas of Human Emotions*

When You Stop Wishing Yourself Away…

We are Naturally Masters of Many Trades*

Chilean Women Farmers to Teach the Region Agro-ecology*

Mindfulness Stops Negativity from Taking Over*

When Walking Barefoot is a Part of What Makes You Well*

Organic Food and Meat Shortages Hit a Morally Unstable Drought-Ridden America*

Making Living off the Grid Illegal is about Controlling You and Paying Them

Egypt Signs Contract to Import Palestinian Natural Gas from Israel*

Egypt Signs Contract to Import Palestinian Natural Gas from Israel*

Reminder here, it is called the Palestinian Occupied Territories, so who does the gas really belong to.

The owners of an Israeli offshore gas field said they are in the process of signing a 15-year deal to export 4.5 billion cubic metres of gas to a Spanish-owned liquefaction facility in Egypt.

The company which owns the right of exploration at Israel’s Tamar natural gas field signed a memorandum of understanding to sell natural gas to the Spanish company Unión Fenosa which together with the Italian company INI owns the gas liquefaction plant at Dumyat.

Israel’s economic newspaper Calcalist described the deal that was signed on Monday as the first contract to sell Israeli gas to Egypt noting that a similar contract was signed several months ago with the Jordanian Potash company.

The newspaper said the understanding paves the way for an official contract between the two sides within six months, allowing Israel to supply Egypt with 4.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas annually for a period of 15 years. This amounts to nearly one fifth of the Israeli field’s production. It is estimated that the value of the contract is $20 billion; an average of about $1.3 billion per annum.

The American company Noble Energy, which owns 36% of the Israeli field, said that both sides hope to sign a binding deal within six months. Yet, this would require the approval of the relevant authorities in both Egypt and Israel.

A source close to the Israeli partners said that once a final deal is concluded the gas will be transported via a new pipeline that will have to be constructed on the seabed.

Engineer Sherif Ismail, the Egyptian minister of petroleum, said the government has not yet permitted the import of gas from Israel and that it has not granted any local or foreign company operating inside Egypt a licence to import Israeli gas. He stressed that Egypt is a sovereign state and that it will not allow the entry of imported gas to its territories without governmental approval.

Unión Fenosa together with the Italian INI have an 80% shareholding in the Dumyat Gas Liquefaction Plant. The remaining 20% is shared equally by the Egyptian General Petroleum Authority and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS).


Corrupt Egypt gas deals revealed

In Egypt’s Lost Power, Al Jazeera‘s Investigative Unit reveals the hidden story of Egypt’s oil and gas industry. It describes how tycoons cashed in as a nation lost out – and provides compelling new evidence that the Arab world’s most populated country may soon become energy dependent on Israel.

The documentary describes how Egypt – once a major natural gas exporter – made a series of deals from so corrupt that it has devastated the nation’s energy sector. What’s more, the country that it sold gas to from 2008 to 2012 at below market prices – Israel – is now in possession of massive gas reserves that it intends to sell to Egypt.

Sources in Tel Aviv describe how, after the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt made clandestine approaches to the Israeli government in order to “ensure the flow of gas” to Egypt.

Former Israeli Energy Minister Yosef Paritzky told the program: “Egypt needs gas. We can sell it. What else can be better?”

More than a dozen industry specialists, including former and current officials, were interviewed over the course of this five-month investigation.

Investigative reporter Clayton Swisher tracked down and located fugitive billionaire Hussein Salem in Madrid as well as his former business partner (and former Mossad officer) Yossi Maiman outside his offices north of the Israeli capital, Tel Aviv.

The program examines Egyptian government records, court filings, and corporate records and discovered that powerful energy companies are now suing Egypt in numerous international arbitration courts.

The investigation also addresses how deliberately generated gas shortages played a role in the toppling of Egypt’s first democratically elected President, Mohammed Morsi.

Edward Walker, a former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel, tells the show that many in Washington welcomed last year’s coup. “He’s attractive because he’s not Morsi. And the concern has always been to maintain and sustain the relationship between Egypt and Israel. So it was not really in our interest to see them (the Muslim Brotherhood) succeed.”

Admiral William Fallon, a former head of U.S. Central Command rejected the policy of promoting democracy in the Middle East.

“It isn’t just about having elections. That’s wonderful,” he told Egypt’s Lost Power. “But what comes after the election? If there’s not a framework for making government work to accomplish things, then it’s very hollow”.

Former Israeli Ambassador Oded Eran, an advisor to the Knesset, welcomed a new energy relationship with Cairo. “If we can get into an agreement…supplying gas to Egypt, this will also cement the relations, political and economic, between Israel and Egypt.”

Al Jazeera‘s Investigative Unit’s previous scoops include the Palestine Papers, The Bin Laden Files, What Killed Arafat?, and Killing Arafat.

Egypt’s Lost Power broadcasts on Al Jazeera English on Monday, June 9th at 2000 GMT, and 1900 GMT on Al Jazeera Arabic.

Related Topics:

Israel Securing its Energy Supply

New deal to connect Israel to European electric grid

Egypt Hires US Lobbyist with Ties to Israel*

Egypt Consolidates Israeli Relations*

Codifying Israeli Apartheid into U.S. Law!

Jews Protest against the State of Israel

Israel’s Beersheba Plan*

Syrian Carve Up Begins: Israel Grants Oil Rights inside Syria!*

Israeli Barbarism: 8 Things You Can Stop Buying*