Local cardiologist travels to China to find the secret to centenarians’ longevity
MURRAY, Utah — Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. John Day, a heart rhythm specialist at Intermountain Medical Center, has been practicing for more than 20 years.
“I lived this crazy, busy life. I was caffeinated through the day, not sleeping at night,” he said.
When he turned 40, his lifestyle caught up with him.
He said, “I couldn’t even play basketball with my kids anymore. My back hurt too much, my back hurt.”
He was overweight and suffered from insomnia, degenerative joint disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He was on six different medications and in constant pain. People would tell him, “And you’re a doctor and you would eat two donuts every day and a bagel?”
Day even considered an early retirement because of his pain. Then, he caught wind of a small Chinese village with the highest percentage of centenarians in the world.
Day described the village as “a place where people don’t get sick, they’re not on medications, they’re not seeing the doctor.”
“They don’t have all these chronic medical conditions that we see today in modern life,” he said.
Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Day decided to start research in the village in a remote mountainous region known as Longevity Village.
“We did genetic studies on all these centenarians. We interviewed everybody in the village trying to deconstruct — what is their secret sauce?” Day said.
The findings surprised Day.
“Their genes are no different than ours. They had genes that predicted cancer, cardiovascular disease, a premature death,” he said.
Day said the difference is the lifestyle.
“It’s just eating real food. It’s getting outside, exercising, being physically active. It’s managing stress or embracing stress, connecting with family, friends. It really just comes down to the basics,” he said.
Day adopted their practices, and six months later had lost 35 pounds, dropped 100 points off his cholesterol and 25 points off his blood pressure and had even cured his acid reflux and insomnia.
“I was able to get off all my medications. I was able to put every medical condition I had in remission,” he said with enthusiasm.
“It doesn’t matter what genes we were born with. We have the power as far as what genes are turned on and what genes are turned off. I’ve really come to believe that our DNA is not our destiny,” he said.
Day recommends the same regimen to his patients.
Clarence Turner, who is 86 years old, drives more than 900 miles to Salt Lake to see Day.
Why? “Because he’s the best,” Turner said.
During his appointment with Turner, Day said, “We want him doing the green drinks every morning.”
Day has plans for his own longevity plan. “I’m going to go skiing on my hundredth birthday!” he exclaimed.
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