Before we talk about health and nutrition, we will take a slight detour with an unusual question. What do you want to die from? This is not something people really think about. The goals you want to accomplish, the places you want to visit, the people you want to spend time with, these are the type of things people ponder. Well, not this time. Assuming you don't die from some injury or accident, what do you want, specifically, to be the cause of your death? Cancer? Heart Attack? Brain aneurysm? How about no, none of the above? For elderly people that die not having a disease, the cause of death is listed as old age. Their body had aged for so long that it could no longer function. If you have to die, seems like the best way is the way that maximizes your life while also minimizing the pain from death. So is there a way to actually make that happen, to not have some fatal disease end our life early but instead live a long full life and then pass on when it is our time?
In the 1950s a Dr. Stewart Wolf, professor at the University of Oklahoma school of medicine, spent his summers on his farm in the Poconos area of Pennsylvania. One summer Dr. Wolf was asked to give a talk at the local medical society. After his talk a local doctor offered to get a beer with Dr. Wolf. That evening, while chatting, this doctor told Dr. Wolf that rarely does anyone from the local town of Roseto under the age of 65 get heart disease. This was shocking to Dr. Wolf. In the 1950s heart attacks were the leading cause of death for men under sixty-five in the United States. It was an epidemic and yet the men in Roseto, somehow, were not having heart attacks.
Dr. Wolf was intrigued and wanted to figure out why. He along with some of his students starting researching deaths of the people of Roseto and confirmed that not only was their death rate from heart attacks low, they learned that Rosetans death rate from all causes was 35% lower than the national average. Roseto had some mysterious fountain of health, it seemed. So they dug even deeper. Dr Wolf called in more help, even hired people to interview every adult in the town. What they found was even more amazing. Rosetans had no suicide, alcoholism or depression. No one was on welfare. There was zero crime. Yes, none. Not a single crime was reported. The neighboring towns were investigated, and this utopian effect was not present there.
The researchers took a closer look at the people of Roseto. Their diet consisted of meats high in animal fat. They cooked in lard. Ate sweet pastries year round. Drank wine like it was water. And many struggled with obesity. The men worked in the nearby shale mine in toxic conditions. Exercise was not a regular practice and they were heavy smokers. Stumped, Dr. Wolf thought maybe exceptional genetics were at play. So he looked at close relatives of Rosetans that lived elsewhere in the US. Did they also have amazing worry-free lives? No.
Dr. Wolf eventually realized that what set Rosetans apart was the way they lived their lives. Families stayed together, with many homes having three generations under one roof. They would stop and chat with their neighbors. Shop at local stores. The rich didn't flaunt their wealth and were quick to give assistance to those in need. The people in Roseto cared about one another. They helped one another. Nourished one another.
People nourish other people.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints' Book of Mormon there is the phrase, "and we lived after the manner of happiness." Nothing else is said about this and nothing else is needed because it would be different for each person, family and community. The take away is that there is a way for you to live to be happy. Rosetans lived after the manner of happiness and by doing so, counteracted their other unhealthy habits. This happiness living effect is so strong that the people of Roseto were only, in the words of John Bruhn, a colleague of Dr. Wolf, "dying of old age. That's it.”
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