I Didn’t Want to Die

Saturday Feb 28 | BY |
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Last month I was on the island of Maui for a vacation.

I took the obligatory snorkeling tour trip, and on the boat met an interesting character: Captain John.

Late sixties to early seventies, Captain John is the archetypal image of the Hawaii retiree: laid back, funny, and openly grateful for living “in Paradise.”

He is working three days a week, taking tourists to various snorkeling spot onboard his boat. This adventure started out years ago when he moved to Maui and started this business. He now calls himself “semi-retired” and enjoys the fact that his family also followed him to Hawaii.

I asked him a question he probably gets a lot “why did you move to Maui?”

When I asked this question to a haole (white person who moved to Hawaii), usually the answer comes in the form of a joke about the weather, Paradise, or happy hours.

The answer Captain John gave me got my attention:

“I didn’t want to die,” he said sternly.

He then went on to tell his story.

He had a big job in Finances, and as he was hitting middle-age, many of his colleagues started to die. “Heart attacks, cancer…they were dropping like flies. I didn’t want to be next. I didn’t want to die.”

So he gave up the big salary and the prestige of his old job and traded that for a simpler life in Hawaii.

It wasn’t an easy decision. He had to convince his family to do it. He had to figure out how to make it work, give up a big career and start something else.

But from the happy look on his face, it looked like this decision worked for him.

And what if it even saved him from an early death?

We never know how the future will turn out, but sometimes we have to trust our instinct and make a radical change. This doesn’t necessarily means moving to Hawaii or giving up all of your Earthly possessions to go live in a Buddhist temple in the Himalayan mountains.

Two More Stories of Radical Changes

discorsi-della-vita-sobria-luigi-cornaro-quali-acd2af9e-3e34-4b2f-b1b5-b082fdd71c08My next story is not one I witnessed because I wouldn’t be born for several centuries when it happened.

Luigi Cornaro lived in the 15th Century and wrote an interesting book called “Discourses on the Sober Life.” He wrote it at the age of 102 (he died two years later).

Cornaro also didn’t want to die.

He was sentenced to death by his doctor at the age of 40 and was told to get his affairs in order.

But sometimes when confronting a misfortune, we can be guided or inspired by a mysterious intuition. That’s how he got the idea to try eating differently.

He did something radical.

He got the strange idea to limit his food intake to a maximum of 600 grams a day (22 ounces), without changing his diet.

He outlived all the physicians who sentenced him to death. His mind was so sharp, bright and clear that he wrote many philosophy books.

On his hundredth birthday, he claimed to have danced all night long without getting tired with a young lady.

Captain Diamond

captaindiamondCaptain Diamond is a man who lived in San Francisco in the last 19th and early 20th century. He lived more than 112 years (I couldn’t find his exact year of death).

He also wrote a little book called “How to Live to Be 100.”

The story is that at the age of 79, Captain Diamond suffered from serious osteoporosis and atherosclerosis. And he had been a vegetarian for 30 years!

He was given up to die by his doctors. He then switched to a fruitarian diet and lived past the age of 112!

Some say he lived to 120 years. I couldn’t find proof of that, but I discovered an old Berkeley newspaper where it was mentioned that he visited a children’s picnic at the age of 111!

I think with a name like Captain Fred, I too could live to 112 years!

What’s Your Radical Change?

We never know how the changes we make right now will affect our destiny.

But I feel certain that the knowledge I have about natural health, and the way I’m applying it in my life, will change my life and save me from numerous health problems.

I have made some changes that many people would consider radical: no caffeine, eating a high-fruit diet, regularly fasting, etc.

But yet, they are part of my life.

My biggest health mentor has been an Egyptian-born, French writer named Albert Mosseri. Many of my “radical changes” come from reading his books.

Without him, I wouldn’t have written my own health books!

For years, the books were not available in English. But before his death, he gave me the publishing rights, and I spent the last years translating his best work.

I just put them together in a new program called The Mosseri Archives. Make sure to check it out here!

Question of the Day: What’s Your Own “Radical Change?”

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


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  1. Deane Alban says:

    So the moral of Captain Diamond’s story is that vegetables will kill you? 🙂

    My radical changes were to move from a big east coast city to a small town in southern Arizona and switching careers so that I can work at home. I now get outdoor exercise and sunshine almost every day of the year.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    It is my limited understanding that too much fruit in the diet can cause diabetes, pancreatic cancer (like Steve Jobs), etc……..how is a fruitarian diet healthy?

    • Good point! A fruitarian diet doesn’t cause diabetes. Nor cancer. There’s absolutely no proof of that. Some people have speculated that Steve Jobs got his cancer from his high-fruit diet, but in reality he was only a fruitarian for very short periods in his youth. It’s mostly likely that he developed his cancer by being exposed to toxic chemicals used in computer equipment in his early days. Check out Dr. Mc Dougally’s video on that (available on YouTube).

      I don’t recommend a 100% fruit diet, as I think green vegetables are very important for health. But I know several people who have lived on a fruitarian diet for years on end. I also know many more people who live on a fruit + vegetable diet (all raw). I’ve never heard of a case of diabetes in those people, but I know several people who have overcome type2 diabetes and improved type1 diabetes while following a fruit-based diet. The key is to limit fat in those diets, as large quantities of carbohydrates don’t mix well with fat (I have expanded on that in my books).

      In the story of Captain Diamond, it happened so long ago that we don’t really know what he ate for sure.

  3. karl Losken says:

    CBC Radio “Ideas” program aired the following 53 minute program this weekend The second of three inspirational stories is about a New Zealand woman who was given notice that she had cancer and had 6 months to live Hear what she did and survived her gigantic adventure
    —“Extending Ourselves ”


    Moses Znaimer’s ideacity Conference – Extending Ourselves
    ideacity is a three-day gathering of minds held each June in Toronto, produced and presented by Moses Znaimer. IDEAS features highlights from the conference. In this episode: Higher, faster, stronger, and more daring. Speakers wonder just what are our physical limits.

  4. Sonia Levy says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I had a book called “How to live to 100” and I live in Berkeley, so maybe the latter fellow you mentioned from our more recent days was the author of mine. I can look for it now again, so thanks!
    I have discovered organic juices in San Francisco. Juice Shop! Delicious and help heal.

  5. Miracle Slim says:

    I love what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to blogroll.

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