Stone Age Doc - Caricature

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Philip J. Goscienski, M.D. is a pediatric infectious diseases specialist with a 45-year career in clinical and academic medicine. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona, Tucson, and his medical degree from the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Goscienski reached the rank of Captain in the United States Navy Medical Corps and closed his military career as Head of the Infectious Diseases Branch, Department of Pediatrics, Naval Regional Medical Center, San Diego, California. He also served as Assistant Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics.

He was Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine until his retirement. His activity at both the Naval Regional Medical Center and the UCSD Medical Center included training and supervision of medical students, interns, residents and fellows.

Dr. Goscienski is the author of several medical journal articles and textbook chapters on various topics in pediatric infectious diseases. He has written for the Saturday Evening Post, Senior Life San Diego, North San Diego County magazine, Currents, the national newsletter of the American Heart Association and writes a weekly newspaper column, The Stone Age Doc.

He has drawn on his interests in biology, anthropology, paleopathology and physical fitness to develop Better Life Seminars, a series of presentations in which he explains how our most distant ancestors lived, and how we can apply this knowledge to extend our healthspan and avoid the major chronic diseases of our age.

His book, Health Secrets of the Stone Age, is based on his seminars and on the most recent findings in medical and anthropological research. The Second Edition, published by Better Life Publishers in 2005, was a semifinalist in the 2005 Independent Book Publisher Awards. Health Secrets of the Stone Age has also been named a semifinalist in the 2006 Writer's Notes Book Awards and Winner of the 2006 San Diego Book Awards, Health/Medicine category. It is available online and at traditional outlets and may also be ordered at 1-800-214-8110.

As medical director of a local program in Public Access Defibrillation, Dr. Goscienski has assembled a team of CPR instructors that has trained more than 300 members of a local church in resuscitation methods and the use of the Automated External Defibrillator (AED). He is certified as a CPR instructor by the American Red Cross.

Radio/TV Talk Topics

Why exercise enhances the quality of life The human body cannot tolerate inactivity without penalty. The value of physical activity goes far beyond preventing heart attacks. More energy, improved mood, better balance and avoidance of diabetes and senile dementia are just a few of the non-cardiac benefits of exercise. Advanced age and chronic disease are not excuses to become inactive. Rather, they are prime reasons not to do so.

Osteoporosis, the Third Epidemic: calcium is not the answer Osteoporosis begins in childhood, but persons of any age can reduce the threat of this disorder. Some nutrients help to build bone, but there are foods that promote bone loss. Contrary to common opinion, a lack of calcium does not make bones brittle. Exercise matters, but some exercises do little to improve bone strength.

Ten myths exposed: what you think you know may hurt you If you believe that sugar causes diabetes, that fats are bad for you, that muscle can turn into fat, or that you should avoid avocados, you have some surprises coming.

Some fats wear white hats Omega-3 fatty acids are in the news. They should be in your diet. It's not your mother's cod liver oil.

The real Mediterranean diet Pasta, pizza and provolone are not exactly health foods, so why is the medical community embracing the Mediterranean diet?

Why our Stone Age ancestors didn't get diabetes It's not because they didn't live long enough. Type 2 diabetes has become a modern epidemic and is the primary reason why the youngest generation will be the sickest in history.

Supermarket suicide and restaurant roulette In spite of modern affluence the dietary habits of Western societies are leading us to debilitating diseases that we have come to accept as part of the aging process. Most of these conditions are avoidable if we learn how to shop carefully and read menus with a little insight. It's even possible to enjoy a party or an ocean cruise without feeling guilty.

Breastfeeding benefits that last a lifetime Cow's milk is perfect for baby cows but not for humans. Mother's milk changes daily as a baby grows but every bottle of baby formula is just like every other. Formula makers strive for a consistency that is just the opposite of what nature intended. Even the flavor of breastmilk varies depending on the mother's diet. That helps the infant to accept new foods more readily. Immune factors in human milk enhance the infant's ability to fight off infection years after weaning. Recent research even shows why breastfeeding lowers the risk of type 1 diabetes in later childhood and coronary artery disease in middle age.

Stone Age fruits and vegetables Wild fruits and vegetables are nothing like what we find in the supermarket. Modern agricultural wizards have gotten rid of thick rinds and most of the seeds and replaced them with plenty of pulp and sugar. Those same wizards also bred out much of the flavor and nutritional benefits.

Are you an apple or a pear? By the time we reach early middle age our body takes on either an apple or a pear shape as we join the majority of Americans who are overweight or obese. Most men are apples, with big bellies; women tend to be pear-shaped and carry more fat on their thighs. Although women anguish over how hard it is to lose that fat while their spouses' bellies diminish with almost no effort, these are both finely tuned biological survival mechanisms.

Wine: almost a health food Philosophers and poets have gushed over the benefits of wine for centuries and modern science has justified their enthusiasm. Wine, especially the red variety, has hundreds of ingredients that help to us ward off infection and heart disease.

How many kinds of sugar are there in a box of cereal? If you guessed six you're still short of the mark. Food producers are cashing in on our penchant for sweets by adding sugar to almost every kind of processed food from salad dressing to spaghetti sauce. The average American takes in more than ne-third of a pound of sugar every day and doesn't recognize most of it.

Seeing into the future The most serious vision-robbing conditions of old age, cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, are almost 100 percent preventable. Avoiding them is as simple as eating right and getting plenty of exercise, and avoiding some other risk factors.

Why there were no epidemics in the Stone Age. Until humans learned how to farm they couldn't congregate in large groups for very long and had no reason to. It takes a village to support an epidemic. Unlike the horrible plagues of the Middle Ages, the next pandemic will circle the globe in days, not months.

Why there were no famines in the Stone Age More than 75 percent of the world's population survives on only 8 types of grain and in any region, fewer than about 20 or so vegetables. In contrast, Stone Agers could choose from more than 100 plant species even during drought and prolonged winters.

Fishy stories Seafood may be the most important reason why human intellect developed rapidly about 100,000 years ago and lack of it is one of the contributing causes to a wide variety of neuropsychiatric disorders in the past century.

Low-carb diets: the good, the bad and the ugly Give Dr. Atkins some credit. He did show us that we could lose weight by cutting back on carbohydrates. If he had gotten a couple of other things right he could have become a superhero.

Ethnic food — a good idea gone bad Every ethnic restaurant in the United States has to cater to American tastes in order to survive. That's why they don't really serve ethnic food but only a meaty, fatty, salty, overgenerous imitation. Follow a few guidelines and you can transform ethnic food into health food.

What vitamins are — and are not You can run your car on cheap gas and it will get you to where you want to go but it won't run as well or last as long. A diet without supplements is like cheap gasoline. Doctors have finally figured out why and have done an about-face, recommending that everyone should take a multivitamin/multimineral every day.

The sickest generation Children born during the next two decades will be the sickest since the beginning of the 20th century. They will have more heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and dementia than their parents, shorter life spans and more chronic pain. We are letting them down, big time.

The disease that will make the rationing of health care inevitable The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that of infants born in the year 2000, more than one-third will develop type 2 diabetes before they die. Among Hispanic girls that number is an astonishing 53 percent. By the time they reach 30 years of age many will have had amputations and kidney failure and some will be nearly blind. Diabetes is an incredibly expensive disease that lasts for decades and complications develop faster when it begins in childhood.

Olive oil — fat without guilt In some Mediterranean countries fat provides 40 percent of daily calories to most people there. So why do they live so long without heart disease?

Accidental exercise If you can't get to the gym or take the time for a run there are plenty of ways to stay fit and burn off calories.

Picky eater is in the eyes of the beholder Maybe nature has hard-wired him or her, so don't fret. Besides, parents sometimes make a child picky by not offering a variety of foods or by not offering them often enough. And breastfeeding is a factor

How to have a healthy pregnancy A healthy pregnancy doesn't just begin in early childhood, it begins with a healthy grandmother! But if you can't control that there are still lots of other factors that you can change to give your baby the best shot at a higher IQ and a long, healthy life.

Exercise can be a pain Actually, exercise can lead to three kinds of pain. One is a sign of success, the second is a sign of poor planning and the third is a sign of poor execution. If you know what they are you can enjoy the first and avoid the last two.

Thomas Edison was a spoilsport For a couple of million years humans went to sleep when the sun went down and awoke at daybreak. Our body rhythms adjusted to that daily and seasonal cycle and artificial lighting has fouled it up. That's why shift workers have more cancer and heart disease.

Water, the forgotten beverage Until a few thousand years ago, humans had nothing to drink except water. We only started to drink milk when we learned how to farm. Fruit juice is a recent invention and modern juice drinks and sodas have brought us problems that no one could have imagined.

Could chocolate be good for you? The science of chocolate is picking up steam since some investigators conceded that dark chocolate (the emphasis is on dark) contains substances that help us to fight stress and may lead to lower blood pressure. There are sound biological reasons for the connection between chocolate cravings and PMS.

Story prep information

Philip J. Goscienski, M.D. (phonetic: Go-shen-ski)

Experienced speaker with concise answers to questions about nutrition, fitness, exercise and aging.

Web site: - Describes book, seminars, biography.

Phone 760-732-1414
Fax: 760-732-1499

Suggested questions

Q.: In the Stone Age, people didn't live very long. How do we know that they wouldn't have developed diabetes and coronary artery disease and cancer if they just lived long enough?
A.: Present-day hunter-gatherers live as Stone-Agers did. About 20 percent live beyond the age of 60 and do not have high blood pressure, coronary artery disease or diabetes.

Q.: In the Stone Age they ate lots of meat, just like us. Why didn't they have the same diseases we do?
A.: Wild game has almost no saturated fat and moderately high amounts of beneficial fats, the omega-3 fatty acids.

Q.: Aren't obesity and diabetes inherited?
A.: The tendency toward these diseases is inherited, but it is impossible to become obese unless energy intake exceeds energy output. Diabetes was unknown among Native Americans until they adopted a Western lifestyle. The rate of type 2 diabetes among them is now the highest in the world, although their genes have not changed.

Q.: Do you recommend an extremely low-fat diet?
A.: Not all fats are harmful. Some are not only beneficial, but we could not live without them.

Q.: What do you think of the Atkins Diet?
A.: People lose weight on Atkins-type diets because they restrict calories. Some features of the diet are known to be harmful on a long-term basis.

Q.: Is walking as good an exercise as weight lifting?
A.: That's the wrong question. Both are important for different reasons. Walking conditions the heart and lungs. Weight lifting maintains strength and balance, protects against osteoporosis and has numerous other benefits.

Q.: Why do I need vitamins if I eat a normal diet?
A.: There is no longer such a thing as a normal diet for humans. It disappeared with the Agricultural Revolution.

Q. Agricultural yields are greater than in any time in history. Isn't our food better and safer?
A.: Soil depletion, loss of plant diversity, modern food processing and additives are but a few of the factors that have reduced the nutritional value of foods. During the Stone Age, a batch of contaminated food might poison a dozen members of a band; it now can affect thousands.

Q.: How can I maintain my weight without counting calories?
A.: Eat only calorie-sparse foods and avoid calorie-dense foods. A diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, small amounts of lean meat and occasional non-fat dairy products is so filling that it's almost impossible to become obese.

Q.: Does exercise cause heart attacks?
A.: Yes, but not exercising causes thousands of times as many heart attacks.

Q.: Why don't you recommend running as exercise?
A.: Running is not exercise, it's a sport. Walking is a great deal safer and anyone can do it. The conditioning and fat-burning benefits of running are minuscule, compared to the disadvantages.

Q.: When is a person too old to exercise?
A. No one is ever too old to exercise, but the kind of exercise people do at different ages varies with their needs and their abilities.


Book Health Secrets of the Stone Age, Better Life Publishers, Oceanside CA 2005
Magazines Saturday Evening Post, Catholic Forester, North San Diego Magazine, Currents, the Quarterly Newsletter of the American Heart Association
Medical Four textbook chapters
Nine original medical journal articles
Two presentations, Audio-digest Foundation