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Ingrid Naiman Ingrid Naiman
Medical Philosopher


Awakening to the Need to Grow Old Gracefully

Years ago, I went into cultural shock after a seminar in Chicago where I had been put up in a once fashionable hotel that had become a retirement home. This was in the 70s and I was, believe it or not, young then. What upset me was that people, evidently unaware of their real relationships, felt I had come to visit them. Most residents were watching mindless television or gawking into space.

At the time, I lived on the Big Island of Hawaii which was then predominately Oriental. I have great respect for the manner in which people in some cultures age (and almost none for our own culture aside from someone like Joseph Campbell and a rare and inspiring person here and there.) Our aging is freaky, but from my observations of people in India and Japan and Hawaii, I thought we might have a choice about how to age.

By the 80s, I had friends my age whose parents had Alzheimer's and most of my peers did not want to end up in the same condition. I brooded on sociological and medical reasons for the loss of quality of life among the elderly and, in 1986, coined the term "kitchen doctor" because I had come to understand the relationship between diet, life style, and health choices to complications that rob many creative people of the opportunity to express their wisdom in their retirement years.

Early reports on Alzheimer's tended to link the disease to aluminum or mercury poisoning, risks that are accelerated by use of processed foods, unsafe dental materials, vaccines, and perhaps even cooking utensils.


Tune Up

As my observations mounted and I began connecting the dots, I came to realize that in our society, we often take better care of our cars than our bodies—not to mention our emotions and wits. With a car, we change the oil, filters, spark plugs; rotate the tires; tune up the carburetor, etc. However, very few people do the same for themselves as for their possessions. So, I developed a concept of periodic maintenance that would depend on individual motivation but require very little more than can be concocted by a good cook. I coined the term "kitchen doctor" and developed a tune up program that could be performed at regular intervals or as needed.

As fate would have it, a man from Colombia asked me to consult at retirement home. The first months that I went to his residence for the elderly, people were superficially eager to connect; but they obviously had no idea who I was nor whether or not we had any relationship. Though I accept that synaptic responses and other neurological impediments may cause this kind of incoherence, my psyche headed another direction.

I believe that everything is contextual and a lot that we do on a daily basis is phony, including some of our so-called relating, much of which is merely an effort to impose certain behaviors on others or obtain something for our own benefit, anything as simple as acceptance to as complex as advantages. It is no wonder that when the external mechanisms deteriorate that utterly different behaviors manifest.

Alzheimer's, Senility, and other Problems of Aging

The two main behaviors that I observed at the retirement home were the (1) desire to connect meaningfully, and (2) sexual inappropriateness.

(1) Most of the people I saw had extremely poor communication skills. Faced with the termination of life, they were spiritually bankrupt and emotionally impoverished. By this, I mean that people in their primes often claim that they are working in order to support someone else, not because their egos require them to exert themselves in some particular fashion. Then, after sacrificing themselves for family and careers, they are abandoned and isolated from everything they worked to create. The values that guided them in earlier years fail them completely as they age and old age can then be miserable and lonely.

(2) Where sexuality was concerned, I saw blatant lasciviousness that I was convinced was utterly divorced from any physical capacity to act on the fantasies that crowded the sphere of behavior. In a sailor on leave, one might expect such behavior; but in an elderly person, the obsessions were simply odd. However, they suggested to me a serious depletion of nerve force; and I was grateful to my Ayurvedic studies for the concept of ojas.


The Colombian man was not authorized to administer supplements much less medications, but he had a free hand in the kitchen. I suggested that he add seaweed to whatever he could. He said that most of the residents did not know what they were eating and that they would eat whatever was put in front of them.

After 3-4 months, several people said, "Oh, Dr. Naiman, you've come to visit us again. Won't you sit down." Many people had begun to engage in normal conversation—and I was, of course, encouraged.

This simple dietary adjustment had become the basis for a lot of hope, but periodic preventative maintenance as well as profound practice of the art of the living are the longer term solutions to the depressing state of affairs among the aging in our society.

Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of the hype around modern medicine is the well-implanted notion that there is a vaccine or pill for everything. If one watched the Millennium prophecies, one saw scientists predicting a 208-year life expectancy through genetically modified everything. One program on Discovery Channel stated that over half—yes folks, despite our efforts, the figure was over 50%—of all foods consumed on the planet today have some genetic component; i.e., the tomato flavoring in soup or ketchup or whatever would be from a bioengineered tomato, this regardless of the rest of the ingredients.

So, unless we trust the people who are meddling with the food supply and environment, survival of the fittest depends on wise choices in the area of food and medicine.

Many people are born with great potential, but this potential is obstructed through undermining dietary regimes and physical practices that compromise our capacity to carry out what we were born to do. As a word of warning to everyone, before proper treatment can be determined, there usually has to be some understanding of the causes. Using Alzheimer's again as an example, we have to know whether there is lack of oxygen flow to the brain, toxicity, or damage to the brain. If the causes of the apparent debility are different, the treatments should also be different. 

It is likely that some ischemia is diagnosed as Alzheimer's. If the problem is simply oxygen deprivation, we have to find out whether the deprivation is due to blockage or impaired red blood cell function or perhaps even poor breathing habits. Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulations could probably relieve certain physical obstructions to circulation; but if the problem is due to anemia or defective transport of oxygen by red blood cells, the treatment has to reflect the difference in causes. There are tonics that build red blood cells and improve oxygenation. For example, beverages that are high in chlorophyll may improve mental acuity quickly; but if infection, chronic or acute, or toxicity are impairing red blood cell function, the cure has to be in supplements and changes in diet that address the actual condition. Likewise, if toxic metal deposits are the culprit, then we have a right to expect improvements after chelating the metals out of the body, this whether by intravenous or oral methods. However, if the brain is dying cell by cell, we might suspect some other pathology and develop an entirely different strategy to arrest degeneration.

This is how the thinking behind this site evolved: by looking at the issues that are depriving us of the enjoyment we all seek in our mature years.

Welcome to kitchendoctor.com and may I offer each of you my personal blessings for the upcoming Age of Curiosity and Questioning!

The Mid-life Tune Up Program

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*The material provided on this site is for informational purposes only. The author is not a medical doctor. The statements made represent the author's personal opinions and are not intended to replace the services of health care professionals. The content and products discussed have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information on this page and the products available on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.