People invited to breakfast at The Depot last Friday morning expected sausage and biscuits, but ended up with belly laughs and a head full of knowledge. The McDuffie County Health Coalition, Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce, and the American Cancer Society sponsored a "Healthy Choices for a Healthy Lifestyle" breakfast and lecture to educate those in healthcare about the importance of proper nutrition choices.
"I'm sure you're wondering why I would get up at 4:30 a.m. to come to Thomson so early," Dr. Warren B. Karp said to the crowd. "It's because my mother-in-law is visiting at my house. So, honestly I want to come every day this week."
Dr. Jacqueline Fincher listens to Dr. Warren B. Karp's presentation.
Dr. Karp, who described himself as "Richard Simmons without any hair," is Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oral Biology and Oral Diagnosis at the Medical College of Georgia. He has his doctorate in nutritional biochemistry and dental medicine, and is a member of the American Institute of Nutrition, the Georgia Public Health Association, and the National Associations of Boards of Health.
Over a breakfast of whole wheat pancakes, bran cereal and fresh fruits, the audience of approximately 50 listened to Dr. Karp stress the importance of eating nine to 11 servings each day of fruits or vegetables; exercise; eliminating fats, salt, and red meats; and the dangers of vitamin supplements.
Dr. Karp said there is "a lot of quackery in diets and cancer." He said the public should feel confused because one year the emphasis is on one type of foods (such as fiber), and the next year it's on another (such as protein).
"You probably say é─˛there goes those damned nutritionists again'," he said. "Oh, can we say é─˛damn' in Thomson? We may as well, we're not eating butter."
Not the typical lecturer, Dr. Karp walked among the audience, looking them in the eye and asking questions, putting hands on their shoulder, and encouraging people to interrupt him with questions.
"He's excellent. He makes it more fun," said Jacquelyn Fincher, doctor of internal medicine, and a cancer survivor. "People think eating properly is rocket science. But it isn't hard. He was able to get across that message in a fun way."
To show he practices what he preaches, Dr. Karp shared the ways his family eats healthy. Dr. Karp said they always keep a head of cabbage in the refrigerator, and add slices of it to pasta dishes and salads. Their cereal bowls are first filled two-thirds with fruit, then cereal, and sandwiches always are made with fresh meat (not luncheon meats) and sliced raw vegetables.
When someone in the audience asked how he cooks cabbage without fatback, Dr. Karp suggested using liquid smoke. He said his family only keeps whole wheat flour in their pantry. They try using it in place of white flour. "If something tastes nasty, then we know never to make it again," he said.
Dr. Karp also encouraged exercise for one hour every day. "You'll only feel miserable the first ten years," he quipped. He also explained how excessive vitamin supplements and deep fried foods increase cancer risks because they cause production of excessive free radicals, which disrupt living cells.
Mary Ann Kotras, of the health coalition and Partners for Success, said the lecture was the first in a program of lectures and billboards provided by a grant from the American Cancer Society to provide education about the prevention of cancer.
"It was definitely worth getting up early for," said Virginia Bradshaw of the McDuffie County Health Department.
Dr. Karp encourages people to ask him questions regarding nutrition and disease prevention. Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.