LONGEVITY: Fulfilling Our Biological Potential by Kenneth R. Pelletier

LONGEVITY: Fulfilling Our Biological Potential

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Kenneth Pelletier has several agendas in Longevity. The first is to plump for holistic medicine, with reference to his earlier popularizations and persuasions. Here the medical model (the enemy) is billed as the Pathology-Management Business; and Pelletier argues for Health Promotion Organizations (HPO's) as the logical successors to Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO's). The second agenda is to provide a summary of theories of aging including wear-and-tear, cross-linkages, and old or error-prone DNA. New here are some interesting observations on neuroendocrine changes (not just estrogen loss in relation to menopause and osteoporosis, but also in relation to brain chemistry and changes in neurotransmission). The third agenda is an examination of the by-now-standard variables associated with health or the lack of it: nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, mental attitudes. Finally come the obligatory examinations of the centenarian cultures, the Vilcabamba, Hunza, Abkhazians (of the Caucasus), and the Tarahumara Indians. Pelletier, of course, is all for lowering the risk to health from smoking or obesity and gaining the benefit of exercise, balanced meals, a healthy sex life, and positive mental attitudes. He turns out to be a strong advocate of the Pritikin program, noting that it is not just a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, but also that exercise is integral. Pelletier is aware, too, of the critical and uncritical reports on the longevitous peoples; he points out, reasonably, that while some groups are homogeneous and inbred, others are mixed and he cites current thinking that genetics plays less of a role in longevity than had been thought. On the whole, this is a decent comprehensive survey of current thinking on aging in general--if maybe a little too enthusiastic on what diet can do, especially in relation to the brain. Pelletier writing on a selected topic rather than offering preachments on health care is also more interesting to read: less larded with lengthy references and quotes, though never free of tendentiousness.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Delacorte