The ongoing question “Why we get old and die, and what to do about it?” was answered in part recently by geriatric psychiatrist Henry Olders, P Eng, MD, FRCPC, at a luncheon of The Rotary Club of Westmount.
“More than genetics and environment,” Henry told the attentive members and guests, many of whom are 50 plus, “the real issue is diet… what we fuel our bodies with to either encourage or deter aging.”
The licensed engineer married his understanding of engineering with his expertise in science and medicine, particularly psychiatry, in his lifelong study of why we get old and die, and what we can do about it. Henry’s presentation focused on insulin, a hormone controlled by what we eat, as responsible for growth and reproduction when we’re young, but the trigger for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dementia when we’re older, as programmed by evolution.
But excessive insulin at any age may cause obesity. For weight loss, Henry cited Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, popular in the 70’s. This low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet focuses on reducing insulin producing carbohydrates. However, replacing carbs with protein renders the diet ineffective! And for older people, dietary methionine and protein restriction (that is, eating fruits and vegetables) may be preferable. He told the audience, who had just eaten lunch, that a vegan diet promises to increase healthy longevity. Besides his presentation, which gave Rotary members a lot to chew on, he posted a handout with specific recommendations on his website, henry.olders.ca