An interview with Dr. Alan Goldhamer by James Michael Lennon
How did you first get interested in Natural Hygiene?
When I was 16 years old I was exposed to the philosophy of Natural Hygiene through the writings of Herbert Shelton. I was also influenced through my interaction with Dr. Gerald Benesh, of San Diego. I was fascinated by the concept that health and disease were understandable and predictable phenomena.
You are a licensed doctor. Where did you do your training in Natural Hygiene?
After I graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in Oregon, I had the privilege of completing a residency program at the Arcadia Health Centre in Australia under the instruction of Dr. Alec Burton.
When did you open the Center for Conservative Therapy?
After returning from Australia in 1984, my wife, Dr. Jennifer Marano, and I opened the Center. During the past 10 years we have supervised the care and fasting of thousands of patients from around the world. Operating a residential health care program is an intense and demanding experience, but an extremely rewarding one.
Including you and Dr. Marano, there are now nine doctors associated with the Center For Conservative Therapy, all certified by the International Association of Professional Natural Hygienists for fasting supervision. That is quite an accomplishment.
The Center set out to attract doctors with specific skills that complement each other. No one individual can have all the skills necessary to provide optimum care. In addition to his broad hygienic knowledge, Dr. Sultana is a board certified family physician, and an expert in helping patients evaluate and, when possible, eliminate unnecessary medication and medical treatment. Dr. Isabeau is trained in sports medicine and fitness. Dr. Kim, Linzner and Dina supervise the day-to-day activities
Having so many hygienic physicians in one place brings benefits to patients and doctors alike. Because the doctors can easily consult with one another, they can make their combined experience and expertise available to patients.
People have raved about some of your recent talks, where you have emphasized the importance of understanding the genetic influences that affect our behavior.
I think it helps people better understand some of their eating tendencies and cravings, especially with their desire to eat concentrated foods-such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, oils and processed refined foods.
We are made up of trillions of electrochemically interrelated cells. Each of our cells contains 46 chromosomes which are in turn made up of millions of genes. The gene is the basic unit of heredity and determines much of who we are. For example, the genes contain the information that determines the color of our eyes and skin, how tall we can grow, even how intelligent we can become. Genes are responsible for our strengths and weaknesses and influence virtually every part of our lives, including our behavior tendencies.
Genes affect our behavior?
Our genes determine which of our cells become muscle, bone, nerves, organs, etc. They control the growth and replacement of cells. The gene represents accumulated adaptive information that has been selected over biological time. Genes that promote behavior and characteristics that favor survival are passed on from generation to generation.
Genes survive by promoting behavior that favors survival and reproduction of the individual. To the individual, survival means getting enough to eat and not getting eaten.
In addition to passing the adaptive traits through our genes, human beings have developed another powerful means of passing on accumulated knowledge-language.
Not getting eaten implies not only avoiding being eaten by other animals trying to survive, but also avoiding bacteria, viruses and other entities that would be more than happy to try to make you their supper. Not getting eaten, in the broadest sense of the term, also means avoiding cars that might try to run you over and other dangers of modern life.
How does this tie in with human eating behavior?
Most animals spend virtually all of their time trying to get enough to eat and avoid being eaten. Human beings, owing to our sophisticated mastery of language, have been able to gain control over our environment such that, at least in the developed countries, we have been able to get enough to eat and still have some time left over. But we still have a natural craving for concentrated foods, foods that have high amounts of fuel or calories. We crave the tastes of sugar, salt and fat.
In a natural setting this desire to eat as much concentrated food as we can get serves us well. Animals whose genes promote feeding behavior live to reproduce. In a natural setting, there are no chocolate chip cookie trees or candy bushes. There are no heated, beaten, treated, refined foods. But in many countries today, these processed foods are everywhere, and they are designed to appeal to our genetically driven instincts. They fool our natural senses.
Some of my patients tell me that some junk foods have even learned to speak. In fact, I've had many reports that some flavors of ice cream (the ultimate combination of sugar, fat and salt, all in one) will actually learn to speak their name. At night the ice cream will call out to them begging to be eaten. Sometimes they have to eat it just to shut it up.
I know you are just kidding about the talking ice cream. But it sounds like since we can't change our genes, we'll have to change our environment?
If we wish to survive and live happy, meaningful lives, we must adopt a strategy for achieving happiness that compensates for the changes we have created in our environment.
People often confuse happiness with pleasure. Pleasure is a response of our nervous system to specific stimulation. Food, sexual activity and even drugs can stimulate our nervous system in such a way that we experience pleasure.
Happiness is a word we use to describe a mood that occurs spontaneously when we perceive the balance of our experiences as highly positive.
Many people mistakenly assume that if they are not happy, they must lack pleasure in their lives. They assume they have a pleasure deficiency and go about trying to stimulate their nervous system.
Cocaine addicts are an excellent example. They will flush their entire lives down the drain to induce the pleasurable response associated with the use of cocaine. Some crack addicts have reportedly sold their infant children for a few rocks of cocaine. But no matter how much cocaine the addicts use, they will never be happy.
To achieve happiness requires a happiness strategy. It means being able to delay gratification and not being driven solely by short term, instant gratification, pleasure seeking behavior. We need to understand the difference between happiness and pleasure.