Did you hear? Davy Jones was a Vegetarian

So Davy Jones of The Monkeys died this past week of a heart attack.  He was 66 years old.  The autopsy stated the cause of death as:   ventricular fibrillation resulting from severe coronary atherosclerosis.   Now Dana Carpender weighs in on her blog with Another "Health Nut" Dies Young.  That title rubs me the wrong way ... it's just that smugness doesn't go over well when one is not in stellar health themselves.  
As everyone who doesn't live in a cave (and we assume that, having internet access, you do not live in a cave) now knows, Davy died two days ago of a heart attack at the age of 66. What has received less attention has been the mentions I have seen from those who knew him that Davy was a strict vegetarian, a devoted runner and "didn't have an ounce of fat on him." They're shocked that someone with such healthy habits could have died this way.
I've seen various explanations invoked: Davy may have been a vegetarian and a runner, one person said, but he also drank heavily. That explains it. Davy was a bitter man, his attitude caused sufficient stress to kill him, said another. Others simply point out that genes make a difference, too, and perhaps Davy had less-than-optimal gene structure. All of this is entirely possible. Heavy drinking is bad for you, stress is a killer, and we are all subject to our heredity.
Notably absent from the discussions I've seen, however, is another, very simple possibility: Neither vegetarianism nor running is particularly healthful.
Now this may well be true, and surely Carpender remembers Jim Fixx as well.  Only for him the red meat was blamed.  Very heavy drinking is likely to turn anyone, regardless of diet, into a the human equivalent of the LIRKO mouse pretty  handily.  Indeed, rather than look to other facets of his lifestyle at all, I'd say that heavy drinking was likely the sole reason for his fate and a cautionary tale for all of us.   Look  ... I'm no big fan of vegetarianism, it's not my cuppa tea although I've been toying with the idea of doing it for a month sometime just to see how my body will respond.  I just think it's kind of ridiculous to look at the diet of any celeb and draw conclusions.  Jack Lalanne lived to be 96 and likely lived a far cleaner life than Jones.  As for running, I hope Dana will take Kent Altena aside on the LC Cruise and avail him of her cautionary wisdom.
But it may shock you to learn that serious running is bad for the heart. Marathoners have a higher rate of heart attack than the general population, not a lower one. Endurance running sets off a cascade of inflammatory substances in the body. There is also some evidence that endurance running can cause stiffness in the aorta, and increased blood pressure in the major arteries of the heart. As a massage therapist, I have known for a couple of decades that serious running is hard on the body -- of all the non-contact sports, it has the highest injury rate. Still, the information about heart damage surprised me.
Indeed, serious "cardio" -- the elevating of heart rate for long periods of time -- is drawing more and more fire. I know that my trainer friend Fred Hahn considers it a stress, rather than of any benefit, as do Dr. Mary Vernon and Dr. Michael Fox, both of whom have spoken on the Low Carb Cruise. Primal Fitness guru, Mark Sisson, a former competitive runner, now refers scornfully to "chronic cardio," blaming it for years of struggling with his health, despite (or, it appears, because) of being a professional athlete.*
After listening to all these paleo experts talk about exercising for the past several days, I'm a bit fed up with the "chronic cardio" bashing.  Most of what people think qualifies these days is otherwise known as a minimal amount of human activity.  But don't worry all ye low carb couch fauxtatoes, 
* Please note that these various professionals are speaking of serious cardio -- distance running, elliptical, stair-climber machines, anything designed to get your heart rate up into your "aerobic zone" and keep it there for concerted periods of time. They are not against going for a walk, or a hike, or an evening of dancing, things that fit Sisson's primal exercise directive to move around slowly a great deal. A walk is still better than sitting on the couch staring at the tube.
Taking a walk is OK.  Thanks for reminding me!


When I was young and my knees weren't crap, I loved going out to dance. I danced for hours with little respite. Sweating and just getting high on it. That's serious cardio. You're breathing hard, sweating, jumping and swirling around (I liked Latin dancing or disco dancing best). So, um, does she think dancing is just, what, a stroll?

And I loved me some the Monkees. I'm sad Davy died. But hey, maybe Davy thought the running and vegetarianism was a way to help his health, or maybe he adored animals and had ethical reasons, and I'm not gonna bash it. I've never had stellar health, and like many formerly obese/morbidly obese folks, I did some really stupid eating and non-moving in my time. I don't drink or smoke...but hey, my track record ain't pristine with junk food and couch potatoism. I cannot cast stones at someone else trying to find a path to health...who maybe sabotaged it with booze. I'm sure my worrywart nature is hardly a help...

Maybe if he hadn't run and eaten veggies galore, he'd have been dead in his fifties. Who knows?
CarbSane said…
Your last sentence says it all. Likely true! Personally, I count myself blessed, as despite the abuse I've heaped on my body from time to time, I have few battle scars. I'm annoyed at the moment by Sisson. Because he abused his body to compete at an elite level we're supposed to fear bodily damage from running or powerwalking a few times a week? Sigh :(

Zumba is all the rage with low carbers. I guess that's not cardio ... eh?
Kindke said…
This really does make me wonder if arterial calcification is a side affect of K2 MK-4 deficiency. It may just be coincidence, but my high blood pressure went normal after supplementing butter oil/cod liver oil and eating liver 1x week. All this despite the fact im still 50lbs overweight.

(the implication here is that vegetarianism lacks K2 MK-4)

Actually I recently tried a vegetarianism diet and lasted all of 5 days, ( was high starch/high vegetables ).

Despite only consuming about 1600 calories per day, my weight did not change and after only 2 days I started getting severe mood problems and cravings for meat. It taught me that I have a huge appetite for glutamate/umami.
bentleyj74 said…
Since Dana is very concerned about CV exertion I volunteer to run next to her while she walks briskly on a treadmill and we'll see whose heart rate is higher :)
Anonymous said…
Aw, I hadn't heard that he died! Brings back memories of watching The Monkeys on our basement TV after school. (I wasn't crazy about the show, but there wasn't much else on. I think it was that or Mike Douglas.)

I bet if you looked at all the men who died of heart attacks in their 60s in the last year, a whoppingly huge percent would be avid running vegetarians. HUGE.
Johnny said…
"it's just that smugness doesn't go over well when one is not in stellar health themselves."

What's that burning smell? Is it the irony? Is irony made of kindling, kerosene and the Challenger booster rocket, and a Chinese tire fire?

"After listening to all these paleo experts talk about exercising for the past several days, I'm a bit fed up with the "chronic cardio" bashing. Most of what people think qualifies these days is otherwise known as a minimal amount of human activity."

What does that second sentence mean? Does it mean that what MOST PEOPLE think of as chronic cardio is a minimal amount of human activity? Do you mean most paleo interweb types? Because if not, it's horseshit (and likely not, if so.)

Chronic cardio, as all these horrible assholes are quite clearly are trying to say, is a *mindset*, which is that running more is better, no matter how much. Exercise is only running, or grinding it out on an elliptical machine, if'n you're fancy-pants. No other form of exertion is useful.

I have more than a few relatives who believe that there is literally no upper bound on how far one should run. They are decent marathon runners with diabetes symptoms in the early 30's, and the only cure is more running. If "chronic cardio" has become an epithet, it's cursing a widely-worshipped but failed cure-all.

Is chronic-cardio-zealotry different from your bete-noir, low-carb-zealotry? Yes: the important distinction is that it's orders of magnitude more common.

Fuck. How much exercise do you get grinding axes and gritting teeth all day? Does it contribute to MM in the ELMM paradigm?
Johnny said…
It seems, just the other day, that the goddamned smugness of Mark Sisson gave you a hot case of the IM-SO-ANGREES?! But in this case, it seems to be with stellar health. Did that go over well with ya? Did it? Huh? Did you lie down and take it quietly? Yeah? Huh?

:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) j/k luv u gurl
Lerner said…
If the cause being stated of "severe atherosclerosis" is correct and it's not really severe atherothrombosis, then that would make a big difference on what to think.

Even so, when a macro-obsessed nutrition advocate ignores overeating, then overeating is quite possibly the true underlying cause to be looked at:


That's apparently 3 1/3 years ago. Here's another from only one year ago, where he's truly lost some weight but is not in the category of "not an ounce of fat", viz. abdominal/visceral:

And btw, while excess running is associated with cardiac arrhythmias, whether it's purely associated with atherosclerosis is AFAIK not established. The same goes for alcohol.

Also, it's way easier to build plaque than to regress it.

Anyway, RIP Davy.