Mariana: Tell us something more about yourself?
Walter Last: Already early in my professional life I became dissatisfied with the way that scientific and medical research was conducted, but I did not really know what was wrong. I realized this only after emigrating from Germany to New Zealand, and there learning about natural ways of living and healing. I started experimenting with healing myself to overcome my various inherited and acquired health problems. At that time there was very little information available and I relied mainly on the methods of the Nature Cure movement, which became prominent towards the end of the 19th Century.
Apart from outdoors activity, including gardening, my main healing method for myself, and later for others, was a diet that was mainly fresh and raw. I also begun to experiment with other natural healing methods and gradually developed a system that was effective for self-healing without the need for experts or expensive remedies or procedures. However most people do not trust their own abilities and want an expert to tell them exactly what to do and what to take. I realized that this does not work well or only temporarily because the natural base, the healthy lifestyle, is not developed and cultivated and then the same, or other health problems, will sooner or later come back.
Mariana: So much care and love for people is felt in everything you write, how did you succeed to keep “yourself” in the present commercial world?
Walter Last: I did not succeed “keeping myself” in the present commercial world. When I emigrated to New Zealand I had decided to drop out of the commercial world and not to work anymore for money (to make money) but rather to do what I was most interested in doing. That is basically the way how artists are living. My main interest was in healing myself and others, understanding the purpose of life and what makes the Universe tick, and then sharing my thoughts and findings in writing. In this way I was and still am largely divorced from the commercial world. I was able to do this by living as simply and self-sufficiently as possible.
Mariana: Bulgaria is a former communist country and a lot of information was covered up, not much of a choice was left to us. Today we face the other extreme – so much information that the unprepared consumer is confused and finds it difficult to orientate himself. Added to this are the advertisements with which he is bombarded every day, so the Bulgarian is really very confused. What advice would you give to a person who is not sufficiently informed, but searches for reliable information?
Walter Last: Adopt a lifestyle that is as natural as possible, and in regard to nutrition, comes close to the kind of food that farmers and peasants ate in former centuries. When in doubt, simply ask yourself which of several possibilities is more natural. On the Internet or in books look for information on natural living and healing, on the principles of Nature Cure, rather than on specific advice about supplements, remedies and technical solutions. Ask old people how their mothers and grandmothers used to prepare and conserve food or treat health problems in the family.
Find books and other writings about traditional healing methods, read about the work of Petar Deanov at: http://www.bratstvoto.net/vehadi/index_en.html.
Mariana: Is this a problem for us as Bulgarians only, or is it so on a world scale?
Walter Last: This is a problem all over the world wherever traditional ways of living in harmony with nature have been abandoned.
Mariana: Do you believe that the healthy way of life education should start at school?
Walter Last: No, that would make the situation even worse. In my article Is Most Disease Caused by the Medical System? I show that indeed most of our present diseases are caused by our medical system and by the wrong messages spread by health authorities. These same people would also (and are already) deciding what is being taught in school. Children would only be told the same messages that caused the chronic diseases in our society, and also how good and effective medical drugs are and how ineffective and dangerous natural treatments are. Conventional nutritionists only represent the medical associations and health authorities, not what natural therapists believe in. Health education in schools is only good when the whole system changes in the way Rudolf Steiner started with the Waldorf Schools, and when naturopaths can teach about health. At present it is best if children learn by example from their parents.
Mariana: Your recommendations turn upside down in our brains the thinking laid down over many years, that contemporary medicine is the one that cures our health problems. However, today more and more people are convinced that in fact they are not curing people, but simply keeping patients chronically sick. In your practice you have certainly met the irony of your colleagues and patients. How is a naturopath or a nutritionist supposed to win the battle with conventional medicine and the medications to which all are so accustomed to? What would you say about this issue?
Walter Last: In most westernized countries naturopaths and natural therapists are greatly restricted in what they can say and do. If they step out of line they are being threatened by health authorities and may be dragged before courts and end up in jail. It is similar to how dissenters were treated under communist rule. As soon as an effective natural method becomes widely known it will be banned. Natural therapists try to protect themselves by keeping quiet and not sticking their necks out.
Therefore there is no battle between drug medicine and natural therapy because natural therapy is completely suppressed. There is only an indirect confrontation in that more and more people start believing in natural methods and using them, and health authorities are becoming more alert in suppressing them. Our only opportunity is that we still have some freedom of information and can write books and articles, but in public there is no discussion between drug medicine and natural therapy about which methods are best.
However, this conflict is not between individual practitioners of conventional and natural medicine. Many conventional doctors would like to use more natural methods but are obstructed in this by the treatment guidelines that they must follow to have insurance cover, to remain registered, and to get paid by the government. Instead medical experts with close ties to the drug industry advise the government on health policies, and in this way the drug companies can use government health agencies to suppress natural medicine.
Mariana: More and more people start to use natural treatments, but in Bulgaria there are no specialists or naturopaths who may guide them, and people are afraid to apply natural methods on their own. What would you tell them?
Walter Last: It is unhelpful to believe that an expert knows more about your body then you do. Become your own expert then you can make your own mistakes and learn from them. That is how I learned. The main principles of Nature Cure are cleaning the body with fresh raw food, restoring the natural bacteria in the intestines, eliminating harmful microbes, finding access to fresh water, clean air, sunshine, outdoors activity and a satisfying emotional life.
Everyone needs to become his or her own specialist in self-healing. If there is no natural therapist or nature healer in your area and you need specific advice, then search on the Internet for an answer. I have a large website with information on natural living and self-healing on www.health-science-spirit.com, and some of this information has also been translated into the Bulgarian language and is available at www.nanocom-bg.com. If you read all this and try to understand and apply it, then you will be able to overcome most diseases and health problems without expert advice. Soon you will be able to teach the experts.
Mariana: A lot of people are probably asking themselves why contemporary medicine is not using natural therapies which exist already for centuries and have proven to be harmless and effective.
Walter Last: We live in a capitalist society where more money means more power and greater status. As natural therapies are generally cheap and effective, nobody makes much money from them. The ideal is to create a system where most people buy your expensive products for the rest of their lives. The pharmaceutical industry has accomplished this goal. We now live in a society where most people have one or more chronic diseases and take expensive multiple drugs for life. With all that money from chronically sick populations the drug companies are now so powerful that health authorities have become their police force, and the medical system is mainly a drug distribution network. A patient who is cured is a patient lost to the system and provides no further income. That is why natural therapies are such a mortal threat to the present pharmaceutical-medical complex. The whole system would break down if sufficient numbers of people would start healing themselves with natural methods.
Mariana: The spreading of so many diseases in epidemic proportions means just one thing – something in our contemporary world is wrong. Today there are practically no healthy people, especially among those living in large cities. According to you what are the main reasons for this?
Walter Last: The general reason for the epidemic spread of chronic diseases is that we abandoned living in harmony with nature, and instead lead stressful lives surrounded by a multitude of toxic chemicals. This is especially obvious in our food production and healthcare, and has also polluted our water and air.
However, the explosive increase in modern chronic diseases started 50 to 60 years ago with the widespread use of antibiotics. Because these are commonly prescribed and used without fungicides and probiotics, most people now have the wrong kinds of microbes in their intestinal tract, and have been invaded by Candida and other microbes and parasites. Instead of correcting this problem, sick people are just given more toxic chemicals as drugs and so continue to deteriorate. The other main reason is our capitalist system, which makes it so very profitable for the medical-pharmaceutical system to produce as many chronically sick people as possible, while natural healing methods are discouraged because they are not very profitable.
Mariana: You are also a food consumer just like all of us, and I want to ask you about this. The new technologies do not spare the human body. Our food is extremely deficient in wholesome substances; not everybody can get healthy food, and not everybody can get out of the polluted city he lives in. How will the person forced to live in such conditions save his body?
Walter Last: Increasingly, towns and cities have Saturday markets where local growers of fruits, vegetables, eggs, etc., sell their products, which are usually better than those in shops. Sometimes also organically grown food may be available.
Buy suitable seeds, such as alfalfa, lentils, mungbeans, peas and chickpeas, and instead of cooking you can sprout them, then you always have fresh food. You can also grow wheatgrass in seed boxes behind a window or on a balcony, cut it in salads, or make juice if you have a juicer, or add water and use a blender and then strain it. I have written about these methods in my free Web book Healing Foods.
Another possibility is to find several like-minded people and form a Food Co-op (a cooperative). If there are enough members, then you can buy higher quality food items at lower prices, and also buy spirulina powder and other health foods in bulk. In addition, a group of individuals may find some vacant land and establish a communal garden. Sometimes vacant land may be leased for free from the city or town council.
In addition to food it is also important for city living to get enough outdoors activity and sunshine. Find the opportunity to walk barefoot on grass, work in a garden, or walk in a park, and exercise in unpolluted air or where pollution is reasonably low.
Mariana: What is your opinion about the use of vitamins and minerals in the form of supplements? Today is this a necessity or rather a sales trick of the supplement producers? I am asking this question because a lot of people think that these are “garbage” and to some extent they are right because many low-quality products are offered. What is your opinion about this divided view on vitamins?
Walter Last: There is no doubt that many individuals at present develop deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. One important reason is the unnatural and chemicalized nature of our food production which makes food deficient in vitamins and trace minerals. Also to detoxify the many chemicals that we ingest with medical drugs, food, water and air, we need higher amounts of vitamins and minerals than with more natural living conditions. In addition, a stressful lifestyle requires more vitamins and minerals.
Another reason is the overgrowth of the intestinal tracts with unhealthy bacteria and fungi due to the widespread use of antibiotics and other drugs. This causes malabsorption and deficiency of those nutrients that are more difficult to absorb.
The best solution would be if people use intestinal sanitation to repopulate their intestinal tract with healthy lactobacteria, and then use high-quality foods to obtain the needed vitamins and minerals. These may include spirulina powder, kelp powder, lecithin, wheat grass or barley grass as powder or even better as fresh juice.
Concentrated vitamin and mineral supplements as tablets, capsules, powders or solutions can be helpful for those who have not yet achieved good health, and some may take them just as a health insurance. However, there can also be problems with supplements. The main problem with vitamins is that most of them are synthetic and lacking beneficial co-factors while mineral supplements often have an unsuitable composition. Generally vitamin and mineral supplements are best absorbed if used as powders or crushed and mixed with meals to create more natural conditions.
Supplements of B vitamins and vitamin C do not normally cause problems, but the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K can be in two different configurations, and only one is natural and beneficial. With vitamin E if the label does not say what it is, or it is d,l- ,then it is synthetic, while natural vitamin E is d-(alpha tocopherol or mixed tocopherols), natural vitamin D is D3 while D2 is synthetic, and natural vitamin K is K1 or K2 while K3 is synthetic.
Vitamin A is different in that it has naturally a cis-form and a trans-form. Synthetic vitamin A is all in the trans-form, and high-dose supplements of it block the internal use of the cis-form, and this can cause various health problems related to eyesight and malformations in pregnancy. Also increased rates of death occurred in some clinical trials. None of these problems have been shown with natural vitamin A which is best obtained from halibut liver oil capsules. As far as I know all multivitamins have synthetic vitamin A, and many also have synthetic vitamin E, D or K. Therefore I do not normally recommend multivitamin tablets. Instead, I prefer a B-complex, natural vitamin E, and halibut liver oil capsules for vitamins A and D. Spirulina is an excellent supplement for many vitamins and minerals, and especially for vitamin K and carotenes.
The main minerals deficiencies are mainly with selenium, zinc and magnesium. Therefore it is often helpful to add these until health is fully restored. However, most multi-mineral supplements contain too much calcium and iron, and not enough selenium, zinc and magnesium and are not suitable. For men, and for women after menopause, iron supplements are usually harmful. If iron is needed and one does not eat liver or meat, then spirulina is a good source, and vitamin C may be added to meals to improve absorption.
Mariana: I also want to ask you about feeding babies and small children. Most babies are bottle-fed, what diet would you recommend their mothers to give them? And one other much debated question with us – when shall fruit and vegetable juices be added to babies’ feeding? Are the fresh juices from alkalizing grasses recommended by you suitable for babies and from what age?
Walter Last: Every effort should be made to breastfeed babies for as long as possible, preferably to one year of age or even longer. It is especially important for premature babies to get breast milk at least for several weeks, even if the milk is not from the baby’s own mother. If breast milk is not available then next best is fresh non-pasteurized goats’ or sheeps' milk; if that is not possible then try diluted non-pasteurized cows’ milk. Try to avoid A1 milk (from black and white Friesian cows) which is linked to allergies and type-1 diabetes, instead use A2 milk. If you cannot get fresh milk, then use goats’ milk pasteurized or powdered, best with other additions such as wheat grass juice and almond milk. Avoid conventional formula or soy milk.
For bottle-feeding babies, I regard fresh diluted cereal grass juice a much better alternative to soymilk or cows’ milk formula, and a good addition to any other animal milk. If there is not enough breast milk it may also be added very early. Wheat grass juice may be preferred to other grass juices because of its sweetness, but it will also be fine blended with the juice from other grasses.
To match it more closely to mother's milk, it may be diluted with 50-100% water, and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a teaspoon of lecithin per liter mixed with it. After a few weeks I would also start adding drops of cod liver oil and raw egg yolk (organic or free-range). Also almond milk is good for supplementing insufficient breast milk. Juices of vegetables and non-acid fruits may be slowly added after about 3 months. However, these are no fixed rules and you can try to see what suits the baby. I would not add any wheat or other gluten foods during the first year and very little thereafter.
The first milk or colostrum helps to develop the immune system. If this is not available from the mother, try to buy colostrum as a health food.
Early cutting of the umbilical cord as now commonly practiced deprives the baby of much of its normal supply of blood and many babies develop anemia, respiratory distress and learning difficulties. Most at risk are premature babies. The correct way is to wait until the cord has stopped pulsating and hold the baby low until then.
A caesarean section should be considered only as a last resort. Normally the baby is inoculated with the bacteria for a healthy intestinal flora when going through the birth canal and also later with the breast milk. If the mother is suspected to have Candida, or after a caesarean birth, and especially with following bottle-feeding, the baby needs to be given a range of the normal lactobacteria through supplements. Also about twice as many babies die after elective caesareans than after natural births.
Mariana: What is your opinion about soybean food? Today it becomes more and more widespread as dietary food and baby food.
Walter Last: Traditionally in Asian countries soy foods have not been used as they are in the West, instead soy was traditionally fermented, and in this way it is healthy. There are many anti-nutrients in soy products, especially inhibitors of protein-digesting enzymes, phytates that bind minerals and make them unavailable for absorption and substances that interfere with our hormones and agglutinate or clump the blood. Commercial soymilk either has been highly heated to produce soy-protein extract with denatured proteins or it is made of whole soybeans and then is full of these anti-nutrients. Both are not good. Increasingly the beans may also have been genetically changed with unknown consequences. To make soymilk in a healthier way see the Recipe section in Healing Foods. Some recommended traditionally fermented soy products are the various varieties of Miso, some types of Tamari sauce and Natto. Tofu is not normally fermented, but not as harmful as conventional soy products, and occasional use should be harmless.
Mariana: Do your recommendations about cleaning the body with various means include energy massage for example? Energy massage methods for detoxification appeared in Bulgaria. What is your opinion, please? May a person restore health with such intervention only?
Walter Last: Nature Cure or Natural Medicine has a long tradition of detoxifying the body with periods of fasting and cleansing. Fasting is a period of restricted food intake, and cleansing is the removal of waste products from the body as a result of fasting or special procedures. The combination of fasting and cleansing is a very effective healing method. It helps in overcoming chronic diseases and rejuvenating an aging body. It also ensures continued health and minimizes the risk of a disabling disease later in life. For some fasting and cleansing methods see www.health-science-spirit.com/HF1-3.html and www.health-science-spirit.com/basiccleanse.html. Energy massage methods and other detoxification methods will be helpful in addition, but I would not rely on them on their own.
In former centuries cleansing was the most important natural healing method, consisting mainly of the removal of accumulated metabolic waste products from the body. In more recent times this increasingly included removal of ingested chemicals. However, now I regard intestinal sanitation with associated antimicrobial therapy as the most important basic healing method, with removal of wastes and toxins still necessary, but coming in second place.
Mariana: Smoking is a huge problem in our country. People start smoking at a very young age; the number of smokers is enormous. It can be said that every second Bulgarian is a smoker. It is very difficult to quit using willpower, for many people this is simply impossible. What would you recommend?
Walter Last: Smoking, as any other addiction, is linked to the release of the brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine is released when we feel stimulated. This stimulation may be from nicotine or caffeine or alcohol or drugs or loud music or orgasms or dangerous activities. It makes us feel more alive. People who are chronically stressed as from information overload, problems at work, relationship problems, Candida, allergies, poor nutrition, noise and electromagnetic pollution and so forth have weak adrenal glands and need a strong stimulant to get going and feel alive. The body becomes used to a specific stimulant that is frequently used, and when it is not used anymore then we experience a period of feeling lifeless and lethargic. When trying to give up a specific addiction many avoid this feeling by becoming addicted to something else.
The main requirement for giving up smoking is a strong commitment to do so. Depending on the degree of addiction there are several possibilities. Often smoking is done in certain situations, either at work or when drinking alcohol with friends, and these situations need to be avoided for instance by doing the withdrawal at the start of a long holiday, and then going camping or finding other interesting activities.
In addition it helps beforehand to gradually reduce the number of cigarettes by about 10% every 2 weeks or 5% a week. This requires strong discipline by only providing access to a predetermined number of cigarettes per day.
Other helpful measures are taking B-vitamin supplements, specifically niacinamide (formerly nicotinamide, up to 3 x 500 mg), intestinal sanitation, and a high fluid intake, strong emotional support, especially from a relationship partner, long periods of hugging or Karezza, and meditation.
Mariana: Another major problem of our nation is obesity, people growing fat; it is difficult to resist the temptation in the store, it is similar as with smoking, here also the will is not always strong enough to quit. Is there an easier way?
Walter Last: The modern obesity epidemic started in the 1980’s when the US health authorities mounted a campaign to vilify fats and promote grains instead. This led to a high intake of bread, breakfast cereals and sweeteners, which are all easily converted into body fat for storage. This trend has been aided by most people having the wrong microbes in the guts. These tend to promote either underweight or overweight. As a consequence also Type 2 diabetes became an epidemic after 1980.
Grains and sweeteners stimulate the appetite and cause overeating while after eating fatty food one is not hungry for a long time. Also a diet high in protein helps us not to feel hungry. The best breakfast for weightloss is based on legumes, such as lentil soup, or peas or chickpeas. Another strategy is to drink some time before most meals a large glass of water with either a teaspoon of spirulina powder or psyllium hulls mixed into it.
To lose weight, a diet based on vegetables, especially green ones, is better than a diet based on fruits. But very helpful are lemon juice or cider vinegar before or with meals, vitamin and mineral supplements or a diet high in these nutrients, also fish oils and freshly ground linseed, intestinal sanitation and, as for smoking, strong emotional support from a partner.
Mariana: Which precautions would you recommend for those of us who try to keep good health but live in the city and have no access to organic food or food without harmful chemicals? What is good to be done and what should be avoided?
Walter Last: Inform yourself to get a basic understanding of natural ways of living and healing. Make an effort to find like-minded people and share information, books and equipment: start a food co-op, learn and practice natural healing methods with each other (e.g. massage, reflexology), start a communal garden, buy a water ionizer or good water filter together for drinking and cooking water; do yoga or other exercises together.
The main principles to get and stay healthy are:
Intestinal sanitation, antimicrobial therapy, and a cleansing period on raw foods once a year, learn to meditate, practice positive thinking: expect your body to become and remain healthy and fit, find fulfillment and joy in your life.
Use mainly fresh vegetables and fruit, raw fats and proteins such as non-pasteurized cheeses, goat or sheep milk yoghurt, raw butter, raw egg yolk, extra virgin olive oil, fresh ground linseed, fish oils, spirulina, legumes, rye or spelt sourdough bread, sprouted seeds, wheat grass or barley grass juice. Minimize conventional baking products, breakfast cereals, sweeteners, highly processed food and chemical additives as well as drugs of any kind.
Mariana: On behalf of our Bulgarian readers I thank you for your time and for your exceptionally interesting answers. I wish you health and long years of success in finding the truth for human health! Thank you!