Walt Whitman's Health Tips — Including Eating A Paleo Diet — Discovered

Walt Whitman's Health Tips — Including Eating A Paleo Diet — Discovered Hero Image
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Wake up early. Exercise. Eat lean meat. Take cold baths. Wear comfortable shoes. Go to bed early.

Those are just some precious nuggets of self-help advice from an unexpected source — 19th-century poet, essayist and journalist Walt Whitman.

They come from part of a 13-part, 47,000-word manifesto on how to live a healthy life that he originally published in the New York Atlas in 1858, which is now being republished by the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. It was recently discovered in a digitalized newspaper database by a graduate student last year, according to a report in the New York Times.

But perhaps the most intriguing part is that he was eating a Paleo diet before it was en vogue.

“Let the main part of the diet be meat, to the exclusion of all else,” Whitman, who lived to a ripe 72, writes. Plain and simple—no embellishments. "Butter, pepper, catsup, oil, and most of the 'dressings,' must also be eschewed," he adds.

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He also warns against the danger of desk jobs: "To you, clerk, literary man, sedentary person, man of fortune, idler, the same advice. Up!" He may have been the first to proclaim that sitting is killing us.

Here's the meat (pun intended) of his message:

Early rising, early to bed, exercise, plain food, thorough and persevering continuance in gently-commenced training, the cultivation with resolute will of a cheerful temper, the society of friends and a certain number of hours spent every day in regular employment— these, we say, simple as they are, are enough to revolutionize life, and change it from a scene of gloom, feebleness, and irresolution, into life indeed, as becomes such a universe as this, full of all the essential means of happiness, full of well-intentioned and affectionate men and women, with the beneficent processes of nature always at work, the sun shining, the flowers blooming, the crops growing, the waters running, with all else that is wanted, only that man should be rightly toned to partake of the universal strength and joy.

In other words: eat, move, live, breathe, and love—the very mission statement of this website. Yeah, you could say we're fans.


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