Back to Back Issues Page
There's a hole in the bucket
October 17, 2023

There's a hole in the bucket

There's a hole in the bucket. Is your health draining your finances? Well it is time to mend it, dear Henry.

This site is about your wellness and that of Mother Earth. We call it a Cyan Zone; a combination of blue and green issues.

Green Zone issues of course concern caring for the place we humans call home; increasingly there are signs that in the next hundred years visitors from the galaxy may describe it as the late, once-great Planet Earth.

Blue Zone longevity is hopefully by now something you are aware of; I've written about these inspirational folk many times. There are five places on Mother Earth where ten times as many people live to enjoy happy and zestful old age.

By old age we mean nineties and even one hundred. Is your desire to enjoy watching your great-grandchildren grow up, busy with all your marbles intact? Or is there a hole in your bucket that is draining you and your finances?

These ladies are 75, 97 and 43 years of age.

Clinical practice guidelines advocate lifestyle changes for many of the chronic degenerative diseases as the initial port of call. If you have a painful knee and are obese, first think of losing a considerable amount of weight.

The costs and risk of morbidity of total knee replacement are significant; potentially a very large hole in your bucket.

4% of patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery die before discharge, according to research published in Lancet.

There is heaps of research confirming that many of these chronic diseases, even type-2 diabetes can be completely reversed by lifestyle changes alone.

But it does mean a return to whole grains, fruit and vegetables; and daily exercise, especially after a starchy meal.



National Quality Strategy

However two initiatives have severely undermined both wellness and health care in the USA; and when America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold.

Firstly the McGovern Committee in 1977 made recommendations that had very serious unintended consequences; within ten years the prevalence of diabetes began to soar in America and continues to do so. The whole world has been negatively affected by this well-meaning group of scientists.

And secondly the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in 2022 began to penalize clinicians who recommended lifestyle changes before prescription of medicines[3]; they were downgraded on the CMS 5-Star Rating System.

It doesn't take much imagination to dream up a conspiracy theory suggesting that the CMS is in bed with the pharmaceutical industry. There are glittering profits to be made from America's diabetes epidemic; chronically raised blood glucose affects every organ in the body.

There's a hole in the bucket

Fortune magazine has suggested that a recession is likely in the near future. There are powerful forces at work including dwindling personal savings; is the cost of healthcare draining your bucket?

Surging oil prices and the wars in Eastern Europe and Gaza add to the uncertainty.

Another Great Depression is not out of the question; did that of the last century set a precedent following after a devastating flu pandemic and a World War?

It is better to assume that Fortune may be correct and pull in our horns; and there is no better place to make savings than to look to one's wellness. Being a dollar short and in poor health is not a good spot to be.

Small lifestyle changes can drastically reduce our need for diabetic, statin and blood pressure medication, for example. The bucket is leaking; haemorrhaging would be a better word.

So fix it, dear Henry. And if Fortune magazine is wrong you'll be glad in any case; less pain, medical consultations and drugs.

There's a hole in the bucket with Harry Belafonte

Alas your doctors are unlikely to recommend it; they could potentially lose their Five Star ratings. This Blue Zone journey is something you do on your own; and you will be faced with many Doubting Thomas' who will tell you it cannot be done.

Is a life without medication really a pipe-dream? Remember that the Danish Twins Study shows that wellness is only 20% genetically acquired.

Mostly it's about lifestyle.

Create you own Blue Zone

It's a fascinating thought that we can create a lifestyle where healthy and zestful old age really can be brought within our grasp.

And it's never too late to start. There is strong research proving that raised blood glucose can be brought to heel within just two weeks; but it does mean pulling the sweet tooth for ever.

Pull the sweet tooth

Could you quit sugar completely? Say to less than 6 tsp per day; that is the American Heart Association's recommendation, in order to reach a happy and healthy eighty or even ninety? Sure you could.

There is one little gap you can take. Completely natural raw honey does not give you an insulin rush like sugar does; but it is hard to find. You will not see it in the grocery store; and don't cook with it. Heating completely ruins its low GI qualities.

And eschew artificial sweeteners completely; they will ruin your microbiome, that so-important body of tiny critters that indwell the happy tum.

Raised blood pressure and cholesterol

Raised blood pressure may be more difficult, particularly if you were once a smoker. But did you know that scientists have shown that two very simple isometric exercises done in your home will lower both the diastolic and systolic readings by 8 to 10 points? That's sufficient to get many people off of medication.

Aim at using 80% of the power of your thigh muscles, without movement; hold for 45 seconds.

Don't go too deep on the knee bend, buttocks against a wall; it is quite strenuous.

Add to that daily consumption of dark-green leafy vegetables for the nitrate and it's within your grasp. A walk every day is mandatory; especially after any starchy meal.

Cholesterol is a lot simpler except for a very small group of people who have a missing enzyme. Simply add fibrous food to your meals, make hummus weekly and cut out the refined carbs. The science proves that an apple a day is not an old wives' tale.

It's not rocket science but it does mean that chocolate cake, colas and cookies have to go for ever; except on high and holy days, perhaps three times a year!

Pain we obey

"Illness is the most heeded of doctors. To kindness and wisdom we make promises only; pain we obey."

- Marcel Proust

Proust was in one respect completely wrong. The threat of pain does not move us in the slightest; only other people get sick!

Brother Ass

One of the most revered mystics, St Francis of Assisi described his body as Brother Ass; a most lovable creature that will carry us wherever we will go, but stubborn as all hell. If that was the experience of such a spiritual man, can it be any different for us?

Creating your own Blue Zone where you can eagerly look forward to old age will not be easy. Family and friends may mock you. Common sense will tell you that it's impossible. Expect to die in a great deal of pain, the foreshortened life like everyone else, the leaking bucket having drained all your finances. Treat brother Ass kindly

My Blue Zone journey

I will acknowledge that in creating our own unique Blue Zone my wife and I had several lucky breaks.

* Both of our mothers were serious gardeners. Growing much of our own food came naturally to us.

* My grandfather was a vegetarian, kept bees and planted a pecan-nut farm; avocados too. We enjoy fresh fruit from the garden all year round.

* A good friend made whilst studying in the USA fifty years ago milled all his own flour; I thought it bizarre at the time.

* A patient who is a wheat farmer introduced me to whole grains. A nephew brought us a mill from Germany that grinds daily to this day, some thirty years later.

* My elder brother introduced me to hiking in the mountains, a joy that has never left me.

And so it is that in my mid-seventies I still enjoy a life completely without medication; the good wife too.

Whilst I won't pretend that it was easy to completely forego sugar and all refined carbs and grow much of our own food, it was also not that difficult. It's amazing what can be achieved when you really put your mind to something.

What does help is how much better our own food tastes; nothing can compare with sourdough bread made with 100% wholemeal flour, for example.

Whole foods mean I can enjoy butter without fear; my cholesterol is dangerously low! I'm not exaggerating. Margarine is perfectly awful and the trans-fat is toxic.

Adding your own natural honey or jams made from fresh fruit from the garden is without equal.

Now we see through a glass darkly

Much of life and health remains pure mystery. There are no guarantees. But if your bucket is haemorrhaging, starting your own Blue Zone journey will swing the statistics in your favour; and in a very short time.

Where to start is always a difficult question; I would suggest with something that has touched you.

If you want me to make some suggestions, consider these two.

* Start by enjoying at least seven different coloured foods every single day. That alone will reduce the all-risk of death by 33%.

* Take a walk every single day, come rain or shine; especially after a starchy meal.

Netflix series: The Blue Zones

I found this short series of films absolutely inspirational. Much of the material is also available on Ted Talks.

Blue zones Dan Buettner Ted talks


Lying to one's self

Lord Byron once commented that "we lie more to ourselves than to anyone else;" especially in the domains of sickness and health. Most of us truly believe we will never get cancer, lose our marbles or have a stroke.

And in similar vein I have been asking myself whether my belief that a complete change of lifestyle could add decades of good health to our lives is an insane delusion.

Am I lying to myself and to you?

One thing I can promise you is that I do my level best to base everything I say on research from the mainline scientific literature; that does not mean that my thoughts are free from prejudice in favour of natural living.

"The most common sort of lie is the one uttered to one's self."

- Friedrich Nietzsche

A whole food neurosis

So the question arises whether I have been lying to both you and myself? Am I suffering from a "whole food neurosis?" Is there really such virtue in growing your own fruit and vegetables or shopping at the farmers' markets where you can interact with the merchant? Is it really just one great delusion?

Few research articles of late have confirmed to me more forcibly the importance of growing as much of our own food as possible than the list with the most dangerous pesticide residues. The more nutritious the fruit and veg the greater the love of the bugs for it. Strawberries and kale top the score.


Planned obsolescence

On quite another subject one of the great wickednesses, not I suppose quite on the scale of Russia's repeated attacks on her neighbours, is planned obsolescence in the manufacturing world.

The watering-can below on the right outlasted its guarantee of twelve months by one week. The one on the left is at least seventy years old.

Literally speaking there's a hole in my bucket! Would you pay three or even five times as much for an article that would last many years?

To sum up

Healthy old age is attainable for most of us; the chances are made up roughly by 20% from our genes that we have little control over though they are shaped by what we eat, but 80pc by lifestyle.
Take care of yourself; look after the planet. Plan to live to a strong and zestful ninety, and who knows perhaps even one hundred. Look to the examples of the Blue Zone folk for tips on longevity.

Don't feel all alone; no one can escape the difficult decisions that must be made if we want to enjoy long and healthy lives. Brother Ass is indeed very stubborn; but a lovable beast too!

Till next month,


Create a cyan zone at your home

Click here to return to the home page and subscribe to this newsletter, if you have not already done so. Care for the world, look after your family.

It is simple to unsubscribe if you later find it boring or irrelevant.

Don't spam, but please forward to a few selected friends who you think might be interested in sitting under the trees they once planted, sipping tea and watching the great-grandchildren growing up; and still be able to take long walks.

1. Bernard Preston Homepage.

2. Back Issues for Create a Cyan Zone at your home.

3. How PCPs Are Penalized for Positive Outcomes From Lifestyle Change x Everyone is talking about weight loss drugs

x Pull the sweet tooth

x If you suffer from heartburn plant a susu

x Refined maize meal and stunting

x Should agriculture and industry get priority for electricity and water?

x Nature is calling

x Mill your own flour

x Bake your own sourdough bread

x Alternative types of water storage

x Wear your clothes out

x Comfort foods

x Create a bee-friendly environment

x Go to bed slightly hungry

x Keep bees

x Blue zone folk are religious

x Reduce plastic waste

x Family is important

x What can go in compost?

x Grow broad beans for longevity

x Harvest and store sunshine

x Blue zone exercise

x Harvest and store your rainwater

x Create a cyan zone at your home

Back to Back Issues Page