Updated: Jan 22
Bruce Lee was among the fittest athletes of all time. He trained for strength and speed and health, not muscular size. He paid particular attention to diet, which is responsible for his remarkable muscular definition. Keep in mind that the much sought-after "six pack" is not result of just hours in the gym but of diet .You can only see muscles with a low BMI.
Bruce Lee eat a very varied diet, with a lot of vegetables, in the Chinese tradition. He avoided white flour, sugar, alcohol and ate red meat sparingly. His fat levels were very, very low.
To get fit, you need to dump the fat -- in your food and your body. You need some fat, of course. But not as much as you think. And you definitely don't need refined carbohydrates. No one can be "fit" without a proper diet -- which means that huge variety of natural foods that Nature intended you to eat. A lean body = a lean immune system, that fights cancer, inflammation, and infections of all kinds.
Survival, as Bruce Lee, knew is not a given. And Lee himself died tragically from a reaction to a prescription painkiller.
COVID is a teacher, too.
Early on, it became alarmingly clear that being overweight--and deficient in nutrients, like vitamin D, zinc and copper, increased a person’s risk factor – regardless of age. Yes, junk food is a WMD.
Suddenly, a lot of people became “nutrition aware”, as Lee had been long before COVID. Sadly, for too many meant just popping a few vitamin pills and wolfing then down with a MacShake and a Big Mac and fries.
(Sorry, Wolves I know you don’t do McDonald’s).
Feeling a little chubby. Just do a little exercise. Now, Lee ate four or five meals a day. But he also exercised intensely at least 8 hours a day -- almost everyday.
Then, Boris Johnson was hospitalized for COVID -- and attributed his infection to his high BMI – aka excess body fat. If you get up close to Boris (ugh!) you will notice that he looks about 10 years older than he really is, despite his hair stylist and maybe a little nip and tuck. He lost weight -- but is still fat.
Brits -- at least --began paying attention to calories: they began eating only half the fries and gave up double cheese.
Of course they also rationalized that age was still the critical risk factor. And soon went back to same old same old.
Life had taught a lesson, which like many lessons in school was paid attention to briefly and forgotten. Boris had been on life support and Prince Charles, two decades older had recovered in a week. The Royals, as we all know, are different. Just ask Oprah. But if you were paying attention you knew that fat kills you, usually softly, a little bit at a time until things suddenly get hard.
Which is why so many young people die of old persons' diseases.
Fitness = Immunosenescence
Lee's low fat levels and dietary pattern indicate natural caloric restriction and high level of immune response, which may, in fact, have contributed to his unusual allergic response to the mixture of aspirin and mepromamate (Miltown) that causes his death.
Caloric restriction is so far the only thing proven to retard, if not reverse ageing.
It was conceptionalized in 1964 in Dr. Roy Walford's “immunological theory of ageing" and popularized in books like “The Longevity Diet” and “Maximum Lifespan”,
Research over the past few decades has repeatedly confirmed the insightful predictions made by Roy Walford regarding the role of the immune system in various pathologies of aging. Indeed, in accord with his original hypothesis on the role of immunosenescence in human ageing, there is accumulating evidence that many of the so-called "diseases of aging" are caused by dysregulated immune function and excessive inflammation
Naturally, there are naysayers, who defend the Great American Diet. Hamburgers, pizza, pop tarts, and Cheetos.Just like there are people who still smoke a pack a day.
The will point out that Walford, who had gotten by on 1600 kcal a day, succumbed to ALS at 79 , rather short of the 120 years his theories promised.
ALS, is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and is a brain disorder accompanied by muscle wasting. Walford’s diet was much lower on protein than it should have been in my opinion, but ALS is a genetic disease. The causative factor are a cluster of 20 or so genes. There is no cure and no real drug therapy. Drugs extend lifespan by just 3 months.
In any case, the Critics, in between bites of Quizo Tuna Melts (no meat! fish!), suggest that his low energy diet contributed to his early demise citing rat studies that suggest that low energy diets hasten progress of the disease while high energy diets are ameliorative.
Although some people develop ALS in their 20s and 30s, the average age of onset is 55.
However, it is probably not as simple as that. Critics of the critics say, "Why not Hamster studies or Bunny studies?" This is the Age of Woke and ya' have to ask why rats get all the glory. Because 90% are white? Hmmmmmm...
Walford survived 12 years on his diet, which in fact was not a "low" energy diet, providing him with sufficient energy for his metabolic needs.
With ALS, average survival is just 5 years--so he survived two and half times longer.
There is increasing evidence that oxidative stress due to poor nutrition is a factor in a range of diseases – including ALS. The Chinese have always known that. And certainly Bruce Lee did. Some foods such as green tea and Chinese mushrooms have neuroprotective effects known for thousands of years. .
And if you don’t have those pesky little ALS genes, you have little to worry about.
The evidence is overwhelming -- people who eat sparingly tend to live longer, barring accidents and infectious diseases.
Taking fewer but nutrient dense calories, doesn’t mean giving up the good things of life, And an low calorie diet comprised a wider variety of foods to cover all your nutrient needs, doesn't leave you hungry -- on the contrary. Less sugar, less hunger. It's that glycemic thing you read about but forget when you see ice cream. Bruce Lee enjoyed eating. And always allowed himself "cheat" dinners when he ate all the bad stuff.
You don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need
Except for the drug given to him by his mistress, Lee would still be alive today, I think. 81 and still kicking ass. Lee was a polymath and clearly neurodivergent, falling in the category of people with the DRD4 7r allele, know variously as the "adventure gene" and also the "longevity" gene since 70% of centenarians have it.
Jennie Stejna is not a martial artists. But she is 103. She celebrated her recovery from COVID with a swig of Bud Light.
Note, however, that’s the “light” version and all she needed was a taste.
Most people who restrict their calories, allow themselves the occasional treat. A glass of wine. Chocolate…
Eunice Modlin is 102 eats two slices of dark chocolate a day – but no more. She has never smoked nor drunk. And maintains community through church activities, and as you can see, a furry friend. For years, she mostly ate vegetables from her garden.
Her motto: “You don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.”
To which I would add, “you get what you need, if you know what that is”.
Furry friends help too.
It is actually pretty easy to restrict your calories, if you avoid sugars and alcohol (also a sugar).
A taste of wine is OK. Wine has lots of good things in it, like resveratrol – but a half glass is better than a bottle, or even half bottle.
Or, of course, you could do as Melita Gordon does and smoke pot. She's a hundred and her doctor encourages her not to quit.
Nutrient dense diets are filling. And you need to the fullest range of nutrients— not just the vitamins you get in a pill-- A, C, E, D, etc.—but all their forms available in natural foods, along with the widest spectrum of phytochemicals, polyphenols, antioxidants, phytonutrients and the like.
Notice something? None of these people are fat.
Know what you need.
Natural--not nurtural . That's a mantra in case you didn't know it.
Good food, not packaged food. Community. Love. Spirituality. A furry friend. All these things make a difference.
Caloric “restriction” is a misnomer. It isn’t limitation: rather it implies a cornucopia. The Modern Western diet relies on "staples", restricting nutritional variety, and focusing on the addictive qualities of refined carbohydrates and steroid-grown meat.
A “low calorie” diet doesn’t mean you are tired all the time, unless you limit to one or two kinds of foods. Quite the opposite. Good and full nutrition and less body weight give your energy levels a boost. Low-calorie is not therefore necessarily low energy: it can be high energy for a higher level of fitness -- and that sexy six pack. Just like Bruce Lee. Below, what Lee advocated.