Thursday, January 11, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 11, 2001

Former pilot writes guide to health

A few of Claude Rothe's '100 Steps'
Review of '100 Steps to Better Health'

By Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Staff Writer

When you’re lying in intensive care straddling a fine line between life and death, says Claude Rothe, "a lot of thoughts come through your head. I tried to think of all the things I had done that got me to that heart attack. And that became quite involved ... That’s when my book was born."

This book will be in Borders stores here soon and is available now on A book signing is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Borders on Kaua'i.
Seven years after the heart attack, Rothe, a former airline pilot and a Honolulu resident, has published a book he hopes will save the lives of others, by showing how to keep from getting to that dangerous point in the first place.

Called "100 Steps To Better Health" (Vantage Press, paper, $11.95), it covers his three years of research into everything from the basics of nutrition, exercise and fitness, to why you might want to curtail meat-eating (listen to his vivid description of the waste product ammonia in the digestive tract) and maybe even begin baking bread, as he does.

"If lately we have not been faced with death at close range," writes Rothe, "we have to make ourselves realize that life is very much as precious as it is fragile.

"We should realize that it is easy to actually kill ourselves, a little bit at a time, every day, simply by neglect and lack of good sense."

As he started his exploration into how he should live differently, Rothe was astounded by what he found. But he also came to realize that taking good care of his health was not as difficult as he thought.

"Basically, the North American diet is murderous," he says. "That’s the first shock. And we lead a very static life and don’t put in the exercise we should. But we don’t need to do much to keep our heart in good shape. The proper exercise doesn’t take very much effort: just a brisk walk three times a week for 20 minutes. But there are other kinds of exercise that are important, too. I do yoga now and some weight-bearing exercises which are very necessary at every age . . . They’re even getting old people to do a little work with weights and it’s very necessary for bone density, posture and your physical being."

By "old," Rothe means older than his own 66 years.

His cardiologist, Straub Clinic & Hospital’s Dr. Roger L. White, pronounces him in better shape today than he was 20 years ago. And since he has made vast numbers of changes in his own life, he has regained the pilot’s license that had been revoked after his heart attack.

But Rothe has reached retirement age and will do his flying for fun these days, not work. Rather, he’s planning a second book, though he’s mum about its subject.

His early years as a bush pilot, then adventures as a seaplane pilot with the famous diving Cousteau family and later flying air-tankers dousing forest fires, offer him much to choose from.

"People who have heart attacks think it’s the end of their active life and that’s a big, big mistake," said Rothe. "It’s not the end of the world. Forty percent of us will die of heart attacks or strokes or cardiovascular problems, but this book is a message of hope for people who are in bad health.

"I decided if I survived this heart attack, I never wanted to deal with this again, so I did everything I could. The more I did, the more I got involved and it became kind of a passion."

He certainly writes passionately: "We were entrusted with this marvelous machine, a human body. It always tells us what it needs and when it needs it. It functions magnificently in spite of most hardships. If not too greatly overburdened, it will actually repair itself when hurt. And, when cared for properly, it is supremely beautiful and elegant."

A few of Claude Rothe’s 100 Steps’

Break your dependence on factory-made orange juice and juice a couple of oranges of your own in the morning.

Consider vegetarianism, along with giving up coffee. Cut down slowly, he says, switching to a good decaf and then weaning yourself from that.

If you need a snack, have fruit, nuts, yogurt. But also consider having more nutritious meals which would do away with need for snacks. If daily intake is 500 more calories than we expend, we will gain one pound per week.

Even 30 minutes of brisk walking three times a week will keep your heart muscle exercised.

The recommended maximum daily dose of sodium is 2,200 mg, but most of us consume much more because of our dependence on prepared foods. To help cut down buy a better quality of vegetables that have a much enhanced flavor so you won’t be tempted to add salt.

Abstain from butter and use less fatty milks to decrease the fat from dairy products.

Avoid animal fats and instead use "cold-pressed" olive oils.

Avoid deep-frying.

Drink quality natural spring water and plenty of it. Avoid sodas and artificial juices, especially since you don’t know the origin of the water they use.

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