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Your diet is the key to your health. Diet is an important factor in the cause and cure of many ills. The wrong foods can cause allergic reactions ranging from the well-known straw-berry rash to death from allergic asphyxiation. The right foods can help you clear up such allergic reactions. The wrong foods can bring on overweight, sap your energy, rob you of zest and well-being. And in the degenerative diseases of the heart and blood vessels, diet is the key; it is the difference between active good health and dangerous illness.
Not all doctors are agreed as to the exact role of the high-fat diet in the development of those circulatory disorders that account for more than one-half of the total deaths in this nation each year. But a careful and continuing study of the subject for more than 15 years, both in the laboratory and in my private practice, has left no doubt in my mind. It is diet that cocks the trigger of the deadly weapon now aimed at the hearts and brains of millions of Americans. Whether that trigger is ever pulled will depend, admittedly, on a number of other things: heredity, occurrence of other diseases in the victim, certain hormones, stresses, biochemical factors, and so on. But why play Russian roulette with your heart?
By eliminating certain foods from your diet, by including others in the right amounts, and by the use of nutritional sup-plements, you can achieve at least a 50 per cent protection against heart attack. We shall consider dietary supplements in Chapter 5. Now let's see what foods are good for your health and which foods are not.
Unfortunately, as simple as proper dieting is, doctors have found it to be one of the most difficult measures to prescribe for their patients, and one of the most difficult to get them to follow consistently. Proper diet is the easiest and safest thing a physician can prescribe. But because eating habits are so firmly established with most patients, and because dietary therapy takes time, many follow a stop-and-go routine that offers little long-range benefit.
A healthy diet does not mean starvation or tasteless foods. Yet a corrective diet does not mean either starvation or the grim necessity of eating unpalatable foods. Moreover, a little experimenting in the kitchen will soon produce meals that, from the standpoint of taste and esthetic appeal, will be equal if not superior to, the high-fat dishes to which you are accustomed.
In the following pages you will find ways and means of satisfying your appetite and of stimulating it in such a way that it can be constantly surprised and pleased. This is done by a little originality on your part plus a break with old cooking and eating habits that have grown into fixed, and often monot¬onous, dining patterns. Your palate will be grateful for the change. And you will experience on the low-fat diet a startling increase in vigor and vitality, a new sense of well-being.
You do not have to lose energy—good diet increases vigor. Neither does it mean a loss of energy or a sharp reduction in poundage, unless you are overweight, in which case the excess fat is melted off. In fact, if you adhere to the low-fat, low-cholesterol diet recommended in these pages, you will feel better, have more vigor, and firmer muscles than before. If you have a faulty fat metabolism, the diet may substantially prolong your life. You will find more energy. You will be able to accomplish more and enjoy better what you do accomplish.