Stamatis Moraitis

In 1976, Stamatis Moraitis left Florida and returned to his boyhood home on the Greek Island of Ikaria to die.

He had been living in the United States since 1943. America had become his new home and he had lived the Amercian dream. He had found work, got married, bought a house, bought a car and raised a family.

Thirty-three years after arriving in America, Stamatis was diagnosed with lung cancer. He received three second opinions. All three doctors confirmed the diagnosis. Stamatis was in his early sixties at the time of the diagnosis and the doctors estimated he had between six and nine months left to live. Funeral expenses were cheaper on Ikaria so he figured he would die there and leave more money behind for his wife.

He and his wife traveled back to Ikaria and moved in with his elderly parents. He spent his days in bed resting while his wife and mother cared for him. After a few days, his childhood friends started visiting in the afternoon, staying for a couple of hours and a couple bottles of wine. On Sundays he would walk up the hill to church.

Weeks passed, then months, then years. He planted some vegetables.

He added a couple rooms to the house. He got the family vineyard running again. He started producing wine, slowly at first, eventually working up to 400 bottles a year. By the time he reached his seventies the cancer was gone.

Stamatis continued to work in the vineyard until he died in 2013 at the age of 98 (or 102 depending on who you asked). He never found out why the cancer disappeared.

The Mediterranean Diet

I learned about Stamatis from Dan Buettner’s article in the New York Times and his book The Blue Zones. Dan Buettner met Stamatis while he was working on a National Geographic project studying areas of the world with the highest concentrations of 100 year olds (which the researchers had labeled blue zones).

In his book, Dan describes the Ikarian diet as a typical Mediterranean diet, “breakfast of goat’s milk, condensed wine, sage tea or coffee, and honey and bread. Lunch was almost always beans (lentils, garbanzos), potatoes, greens (fennel, dandelion, or a spinach- like green called horta ), and whatever seasonal vegetable their garden produced; dinner was bread and goat’s milk…meat was reserved mostly for festivals or holidays…”

When Dan last talked to Stamatis in 2012, it had been 35 years since Stamatis had gone back to Greece to die. Dan asked Stamatis how he had recovered from cancer:

“It just went away,” he said. “I actually went back to America about ten years after moving here to see if the doctors could explain it to me.”
“What happened?” [Dan] asked.
“My doctors were all dead.”

Next week we’ll visit a village in Norway where there are no fresh vegetables for eight months of the year, meet a man who cut off nine toes with a pocket knife and examine three factors behind the confusion in dietary advice (then we can start building a plan from the foundation of these stories).

Here’s Dan’s article from the New York Times and a picture of Stamatis:
The Island Where People Forget To Die


Dr. Terry Wahls

Dr. Terry Wahls
If you were diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), you would want all the resources Dr. Terry Wahls had at her disposal.

MS is a degenerative neurological autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system literally attacks it’s own nervous system. As the disease progresses, the victim slowly loses the ability to move.

Dr. Wahls is a licensed internal medicine doctor and has access to the top specialists in the country. After her diagnosis in 2000, she traveled to the Cleveland Clinic where she saw the best doctors and took the latest drugs.

None of the drugs worked.

Her condition steadily deteriorated and by 2007 Dr. Wahls required two canes to walk and could no longer support her own weight while sitting in a chair.

Dr. Wahls began to experiment on herself.

She found promising research on mice and, with the help of the doctors she was seeing, she converted the mouse size doses of supplements into human size doses. The deterioration slowed.

Change your food. Change your health.

Dr. Wahls focused her attention on the sub-cellular chemical reactions occurring in the brain and in mitochondria. She came up with a list of vitamins and minerals to fuel those chemical reactions. She did more research and came up with a list of food which provided the nutrients she was after and many more. She ended up with a diet which focused on meat and vegetables and avoided sugar, seed oils, eggs, dairy, beans and grains.

If you watch her TEDx talk, Dr. Wahls is understandably passionate about a hunter-gatherer approach to eating, it literally saved her life. Four months after starting her modified paleo diet to heal her body and electrical muscle stimulation to regrow muscle, Dr. Wahls was walking without a cane again. Nine months after starting her diet she was able to complete an 18 mile bike ride.

Paleo is one approach. “What should I eat?” is such a tough question because we all respond to food differently. I’ll talk more about Dr. Wahls later, but in the next installment I’d like to introduce you to a man who beat cancer eating a diet containing three of the big paleo forbidden foods: beans, grains and dairy.

Dr. Terry Wahls’ TEDx Talk



9 June 2015. Changed “Recovery through food” to “Change your food. Change your health.” based on a reader question on the list of specific nutrients Dr . Wahls developed. Her improvements were due to additions and subtractions to her diet. article – Does diet matter

Welcome. is focused on one question:

“How do I improve health & fitness?”

Website Organization

Email Sign-Up.  I periodically provide email updates on what I’m up to and highlights of information I find particularly interesting.  My goal for my emails is to keep the brain power commitment low enough for people like my wife. My wife is smarter than I am and she is a believer in health and fitness but she does not want to spend limited time and energy reading about the nuances of the Krebs cycle.

Notes. The notes are peeks behind the curtain at the sausage making. I wouldn’t recommend them unless you’re like me and really enjoy geeking out on physiology. The notes are in various stages of development, which means they are not always easy to follow. The notes are posted because I believe there is opportunity in openly sharing information. The notes page also has an archive of the blog posts from the first year of the site (May 2013 – May 2014).

People. While there are still many, many unknowns about health and fitness, there are also a lot of intelligent people working on the same questions. The “people” page has a list of individuals pushing the boundaries and providing me with ideas and inspiration.



Eat To Be Healthy
– Eat real food
– Pay attention to how you feel
– Fix systems, not symptoms
(…more info)

Move To Be Capable
– Mobility before coordination
– Coordination before strength
– Strength before endurance
(…more info)

Think To Be Ready
– Choose your goals
– Identify indicators
– Memorize
(…more info)

Connect To Be Effective
– Connect
– Generate curiosity
– Provide a path
(…more info)

Recover To Be Functional
– Relax
– Sleep
(…more info)


Top 3 Recommendations
The Talent Code
The Art of the Long View
Understanding the Secrets of Human Perception

Understanding the Secrets of Human Perception

Stress and Your Body

Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to Disorders

Biology: The Science of Life

The Paleo Solution
Good Calories, Bad Calories
Nourishing Traditions

The Talent Code
Anatomy Trains
Becoming a Supple Leopard

How Will You Measure Your Life?
The Art of the Long View
Moonwalking with Einstein

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

Chris Kresser – Heart Disease
Chris Kresser – Thyroid
Chris Kresser – Reflux

Breaking Muscle – Mobility Routine
Breaking Muscle – Overtraining
Catalyst Athletics
Eva Twardokens

Seth Godin
Gaping Void

Website Organization

The home page serves as a Table of Contents. It provides an overarching structure for the information in the posts.

I shifted to the table of contents approach in April 2014. Original posts from July 2013 through February 2014 are still available in the monthly archives.

As I fill in more details, I’ll update the home page and link to the new material. My goal is for all supporting information for the health and nutrition focus points to be available from the home page in three clicks or less.