For many Americans, Lou Gehrig is remembered as the Iron Horse, playing 17 seasons for the New York Yankees, but for many others, he is associated with ALS, or amytophic lateral sclerosis. Between 1925 and 1939 Gehrig didn’t miss a game; his prowess as a hitter won him national acclaim. So when at the age of 35 his batting average slowed, it was clear something was wrong. Doctors did not diagnose Gehrig with ALS at that time, but did identify problems with his gall bladder. Three years later, Gehrig would be dead from the effects of ALS, a rapidly progressive, fatal disease that degenerates the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
Today ALS is commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease and according to the ALS Association more than 30,000 Americans are effected by the disease. From a macrobiotic perspective, ALS is caused by an imbalanced diet and lifestyle. A diet that is rich in heavy animal foods, like meat, poultry, eggs, shellfish, and other fatty animal foods, together with fruits, citrus, chocolate, cold foods, like ice cream, and iced drinks, has an adverse effect on the stomach and pancreas. Medications and chemically altered foods may also play a part.
I became interested in Lou Gehrig’s diagnosis of ALS after seeing a photograph of him with Jimmie Foxx and Babe Ruth. In the image Gehrig’s arms are crossed in front of his stomach, a sharp contrast to Foxx and Ruth, appearing open with arms at their sides; for me it was apparent there was a correlation between his posture and weakness in his central digestive organs, especially his pancreas. According to macrobiotic diagnosis, Gehrig’s posture, arms folded and slightly leaning forward, shows a weakness in the central digestive system, especially the stomach and pancreas.
I began to wonder what Lou Gehrig’s diet might have been like. After searching around the internet, I found a blog post, http://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/als-aka-lou-gehrigs-disease/ that described Gehrig’s diet as being rich in sodium and fats. His favorite foods were fried eel and shrimp, and he loved other fatty foods.
It seems that those involved with sports and entertainment are among the highest percentage of people to develop ALS. Athletes and performers often live chaotic lives. Because the pancreas thrives on order and regularity of meal times and lifestyle practices, it is important to establish consistency.
The foods that harm our central digestive organs also effect our motor neurons. The macrobiotic approach is to replace foods heavy in animal protein and fat with plant based protein and vegetable oil. It is important to have a very wide and varied macrobiotic practice. In addition, we recommend rubbing the body, especially the extremities with a damp, warm cloth morning and night to help circulation. To benefit from macrobiotics practices, an experienced and qualified macrobiotics counselor is needed to complement any medical treatment.