Author’s unconventional formula for stress reduction, extending life
By Lou Fancher
Author Ori Hofmekler’s prescription for prolonging life and preserving vitality boils down to a simple formula. Based on scientific research, the proponent of stress activated food (SAF) said intentional fasting, low level and intermittent exposure to nutritional stress, moderate exercise and consumption of “wild foods” are key to extending life.
“It is very tragic to believe that virtually all of us are trained to expect that eventually we have to degrade, lose our physical, sexual and mental health,” Hofmekler said.
This giving up on the chance to peak in life, giving in to be ‘normal,’ he argued, flies in the face of counter evidence. “The paradox is that a small exposure to toxins, a little stress applied, can lead to longevity, long-term survival. It strengthens the machinery.”
The native of Israel — who earned a degree in human sciences from Bezalel Academy of Art and Hebrew University — led a Jan. 25 Science Cafe presentation at the Lafayette Library.
His somewhat radical survival ideas about diet and muscle building are detailed in “The Warrior Diet,” first published in 2002, and his new book, “The 7 Principles of Stress,” which pushes against conventional thinking and trends.
“Free radical theory that we die of oxidative stress is wrong. We’re aging because we lost the ability to resist,” he said. “If you exercise, you create oxidative stress on the muscle. The trigger response is why it’s so healthy. Activated, stress causes the body to destroy weak elements.”
While underscoring in his book studies that support “hormesis,” the adaptive response of the body’s cells and organisms to moderate stress, Hofmekler is not a doctor and is quick to provide context and caution.
Chronic stress is a “no-win” because it leads to elevated stress hormones that activate dysfunctional behaviors, like binge eating, anorexia, gambling, depression and other addictions and disorders.
Instead, Hofmekler recommended a one-meal a day regime, emphasizing a primarily vegetarian diet with fasting according to each person’s tolerance.
“I can fast for 16 hours, maybe you do only eight,” he suggested. Nutritional principles follow good/bad guidelines — eat “wild” berries, green vegetables and especially sprouts, legumes/beans, bark of trees, grass-fed meat and dairy in moderation, and avoid all sugars, protein drinks and bars, MSG, GMOs, synthetic additives.
Practices to follow included micro-dose exposures to toxins that occur in foods low on the food chain (heirloom fruits and vegetables are two examples) and avoiding endurance- or body building-based exercise.
Lisa Ross, of Walnut Creek said she felt relief — and yes, less stress — after listening to Hofmekler.
“I didn’t know much about his theories before I came tonight, but we just ate at Sideboard and had beans and a vegetarian dinner, so I guess we ate the right things,” she said.
Having found that eating three meals a day leaves her feeling unwell, Ross was interested in learning more about the science behind Hofmekler’s one-meal a day habit.
Lynne McBride, Ross’ friend from Lafayette, said, “I came to the event because as I age, I’m more interested in maintaining a good diet to retain my intellect.”
Programs director Sarah Blumenfeld said Science Cafés, like libraries, attract people with active minds.
“No matter the subject, there’s always something surprising to learn, something to enjoy,” she said.