A Race for Life Book Review

A Race for Life Book by Ruth Heidrich
A Race for Life Book Review – Ruth Heidrich, Ph.D

Dr Ruth Heidrich is a remarkable young lady. While in her mid forties she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was shocked as you might have guessed on hearing the diagnosis, as any cancer sufferer would be, I’m sure. But even more so. She was already living what she thought was a healthy lifestyle. Healthy eating and exercise was a regime that she adhered to before being struck with the disease.

Dr Ruth was lucky enough to find a doctor in Hawaii who put her on the right track to beat cancer. Coincidently this doctor shares the same surname as the the author of Born to Run, where I had first heard of Dr Ruth.

Dr McDougall had been treating the health of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino people who lived and worked in Hawaii. He discovered that the older generations were a lot healthier than their offspring. His conclusion was that the oldies generally stuck to their traditional ‘eastern’ diets. Where the younger generations were eating the Standard American Diet aka SAD as Dr Ruth likes to call it. Young and old both worked on the plantations. It was just their difference in diet that explained why the old school were living longer and healthier than the new school. McDougall claims that by eating less fat and protein we can all live longer and healthier lives. In his experiments he could literally turn cancer on and off in rats. By increasing and decreasing their protein intake their little bodies responded by expanding or shrinking their tumours.

The older patients followed the traditional diets of their ancestors. Their regimens were based primarily on plant foods: grains (like rice), fresh vegetables, beans, and fruit. The younger generation had modern diets based primarily on animal foods. They also ate enormous quantities of processed and refined foods that were loaded with fat, sugar, salt, and artificial ingredients.
~ Dr McDougall

This book is a very inspiring read. Full of helpful tips in eating well as a vegetarian and also shares the blood, sweat and tears of her experiences competing in triathlons and iron man competitions in what other people would call ‘old age’. Now in her late seventies Dr Ruth still pushes her mind and body to the limit in world class Ironman triathlons. A mere 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle ride and 26.2 mile marathon at a point in life where many would think they were doing well if they can put on their slippers.

This triumph of spirit over age is very inspirational. It sheds light on old outmoded adages like: vegetarians can’t be strong or that running is bad for you. In fact I think she proves quite the opposite. Her bone density is that of healthy person a third of her age. Shedding light on the fact that osteoporosis could be kept at bay by running in particular. It also adds weight to the argument that the best thing for heart disease, cancer and other prevalent diseases is to eat a vegetarian diet and enjoy exercise daily.

More than anything though it demonstrates that by giving up a SAD diet you can still lead an active and fulfilling life well into your twilight years. Your retirement need never be dull if you follow Dr Ruth’s lead.

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