Reversing Heart Disease
Heart disease is our nation’s number one killer! The gradual clogging, hardening and damage done to the interior walls of our blood vessels are the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes. This process of atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries, results in poor circulation to the extremities, the brain and other organs. Ailments such as senile dementia, leg pain and even erectile impotence have their origin in atherosclerosis. The accumulation of fatty plaque on the inner walls of our blood vessels begins early in childhood and progresses gradually throughout life due to modern day dietary practices.
There is irrefutable scientific evidence that high cholesterol levels are associated with increased risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). It has become increasingly evident that the direct relationship of cholesterol level to risk of heart attack exists at all but the very lowest cholesterol levels. The new recommendations of medical authorities are to maintain your LDL cholesterol below 100. Less than 10% of the adult population in America actually has the cholesterol levels that meet these newest recommendations designed for more significant reduction in cardiac deaths.
More than 1.5 million people will have a heart attack this year, with about 1 million deaths as a direct consequence of heart attacks. That amounts to a death every 30 seconds. In 1997, the direct medical costs attributed to heart disease came to $58 billion, more than any other medical condition, and 17 million new cases of heart disease were diagnosed that year. Are we helpless against this onslaught? The answer is an emphatic “no,” but if we are to put an end to this health nightmare, people need much better diet and health information than they currently are receiving.
You may not have any warning before having a heart attack or stroke. Approximately 50% of men and 64% of women who died suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms of this disease. Even if you have been told you have normal cholesterol don't be misled; you may be at risk. Early detection can be critical for preventing a potentially lethal cardiac event.
When it comes to combating heart disease, most information sources promote drugs and surgery as the only viable lines of defense. As a result, the demand for high-tech, expensive and largely ineffective medical care is overwhelming, causing medical costs and insurance rates to skyrocket. This chase for “cures” is both financially devastating and futile. Morbidity and premature mortality from heart disease continue to rise with no sign of abating. Interventional cardiology offers only partial benefits, since these procedures do not remove the causes of the problem. Attempts to intervene with invasive procedures or surgery after the damage already has been done have not been shown to offer a significant reduction in cardiac deaths.
We need to keep in mind that angioplasty and bypass surgery have some significant adverse outcomes, including heart attacks, stroke and death. These invasive procedures only attempt to treat a small segment of the diseased heart, usually with only temporary benefit. Patients treated with angioplasty and bypass surgery continue to experience progressive disability, and most still die prematurely as a result of their heart disease.
The average person is not aware that there are safer, more effective options available. Unfortunately, government agencies are often slow to respond to new scientific information and continue to advocate outdated recommendations. Economic and political forces also make it difficult for Americans to be clearly informed that heart disease is self-induced and totally avoidable by eating a diet of nutritional excellence.
Making significant dietary changes allows people who suffer with coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, overweight or obesity and/or high blood pressure to reduce and to eliminate their dependence on medications, avoiding major surgeries such as heart bypass and angioplasty.
You cannot expect our government or national health organizations to give effective guidance. They must offer a standard approach designed for political acceptance. For example, six of the eleven members, including the chairman of the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines Committee in the year 2000, had financial ties to the meat, dairy and egg industries. Not surprisingly, the foods these industries produce figures prominently in government dietary recommendations in spite of their documented links to increased health risks. Similar problems exist in recommendations by non-profit health organizations. Sadly, even the American Heart Association (AHA) advocates a diet that actually has been shown to increase heart disease.1
Life Saving Information
Lowering cholesterol with drugs can reduce heart attack deaths by approximately 30 percent. That is a significant number that will add years of life for many. However, I am not satisfied with reducing risk 30 percent. I don’t know about you, but I want to reduce my risk of a heart attack by 100 percent. By learning about and then following this program of nutritional excellence, you will be able to protect your life. If we look at heart disease alone, more than $150 billion a year is spent on expensive medical procedures that attempt to remedy the effects of our rich, disease-causing diets. My work over the last twenty years, which includes reviewing over 30,000 medical studies on nutrition and heart disease prevention and reversal, has convinced me that heart disease, medical interventions and heart attack deaths can be totally prevented. You can make a decision not to die of heart disease. I am hoping I can convince you to make this choice.
Most people are not aware that heart disease can be totally prevented and cholesterol levels drop radically low without drugs with my Eat To Live diet-style; a program for those who want to completely remove their risk of heart disease and not merely lower their risk a little. It is designed for those who are not satisfied with mediocrity and for those who want to know the most effective way to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reverse diabetes and reverse heart disease naturally.
My Eat To Live, vegetable-based approach is the only dietary plan that has ever been shown in medical studies to lower cholesterol more effectively than cholesterol lowering medications. Other dietary programs have been relatively ineffective at lowering cholesterol. Though a low-fat vegetarian diet, similar to the one proposed by Dr. Dean Ornish, has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol 16% and raise triglycerides 18.7%, the LDL/HDL ratio remained unchanged, reflecting minimal overall improvement.2 The Eat to Live approach is significantly different, and the results showed the difference. The LDL cholesterol was more significantly lowered by 33 percent without unfavorable impact on HDL or triglycerides, reflecting sizable improvement in cardiac risk factors.
We can win the war against heart disease by making a few simple and profound, dietary and lifestyle changes. By following the recommendations in Eat To Live, virtually everyone can improve their heart health. In fact, if you start in time, you actually can make yourself heart attack proof. I believe all people should be informed that they have a choice to protect themselves. There is no magic to heart health. Educating yourself with the latest scientific findings and eating a diet of delicious, natural, unprocessed food allows you to protect yourself and your family from the heart disease tragedies which you see all around you. Following this approach, you can achieve positive results simply by making the right diet and exercise choices—consistently, without the use of drugs or surgery. Almost everyone can achieve protection against heart disease by reaching the following goals:
- Achieve an LDL cholesterol of 100 or lower.
- Achieve a homocysteine level below 10.
- Achieve healthful weight and blood pressure.
These are realistic goals that can be achieved with accurate nutritional information. All who truly desire to protect themselves can do so, without expensive and risky prescription drugs. Nutritional excellence is overwhelmingly more effective than conventional care. My high-nutrient, vegetable-based diet enables patients to achieve remarkable reductions in these cardiac risk factors. Furthermore, by adding natural side-effect-free nutritional supplements for those who do not reduce their LDL to below 100 by making dietary changes, we can enable almost everyone to achieve truly protective cholesterol levels without medications and their risky side effects.
Eating a low fat diet is not sufficient. So many people think by eating a low fat diet, watching their intake of saturated fat with egg whites, fish and chicken, they are protected. They are not. My recommendations are more complex and involve understanding the concept of nutrient density. We must eat a diet-style rich in nutrients that contain the substances needed by the body for blood vessel and heart health. The diet-style that I recommend in Eat To Live takes into account some basic facts:
- My dietary program that receives most of its calories from vegetables, beans, nuts and fruit has been shown in scientific studies to lower cholesterol more powerfully than drugs.3
- People who adopt this dietary approach consisting primarily of natural plant foods do not develop heart disease.
- Studies have shown that people with advanced heart disease, who combine a plant-based diet with cholesterol lowering therapies, are able to both reverse their heart disease and totally prevent the future occurrence of heart attacks. 4
- Natural (side effect free) substances are effective at lowering cholesterol further, making an LDL cholesterol below 100 obtainable without risky medications for almost all patients.
- The same diet that helps protect you against heart disease reverses obesity, high blood pressure and adult diabetes and also protects against cancer.
Hundreds of people recover with Eat To Live:
John Pawlikoski is a typical patient I see everyday. I am reporting his case here because he has been my patient for 10 years now, so I can report on his long-term results. He first came to see me at the age of 65 with a history of steadily worsening angina. His chest pains interfered with his daily life, so he was unable to perform physical work. He had a stress thallium test which suggested multi-vessel coronary artery disease. He then underwent a cardiac catherization, which revealed a 95 percent stenosis of the left anterior descending artery and had diffuse blockages throughout the left circumflex. He had normal heart function. His cholesterol was 218, with an LDL of 144. He weighed 180 pounds. He was on two medications - one for high blood pressure and nitroglycerin to relieve chest pains.
Within a few weeks of following my dietary recommendations, his chest pains ceased, and he no longer required nitroglycerin. In two months, his weight dropped to 152, a loss of 28 pounds in eight weeks. He remains exactly at 152 pounds today, 10 years later. He has been entirely well these last ten years and is extremely physically active. He takes no medication, and his blood pressure is normal. His LDL cholesterol runs about 80, and his stress test has normalized too. He has no signs or symptoms of heart disease.
Researchers have compared a high vegetable and fruit diet, like the diet recommended in Eat To Live with a grain-based, low-fat diet. Study participants who ate the high vegetable and fruit diet experienced a 33 percent drop in their bad cholesterol (LDL) which is a reduction that is greater than most cholesterol lowering drugs. This reduction is dramatically greater than for subjects eating a grain-rich Mediterranean diet or the modern low-fat diet recommended by the AHA.
The conclusion of the nutrition committee of the AHA is something we all agree on:
“There is overwhelming evidence that reduction in saturated fat, dietary cholesterol and weight offer the most effective dietary strategies for reducing total cholesterol, LDL-C levels and cardiovascular risk. Decreases in saturated fat should come at the expense of total fat because there is no biological requirement for saturated fat.”
The main difference between my recommendations and those of the AHA is that I adhere more rigorously to these conclusions than they do. You must do what is necessary to achieve the results desired. The results I see with my patients are consistently more spectacular than other dietary interventions because my advice is generally more rigorous and takes into account the nutrient-per-calorie density of foods to devise a plant-based diet that is maximally effective.
Two things are necessary to predictably reverse heart disease: one is to become thin and superbly nourished with antioxidants and phytochemicals found in natural plant foods, and the other is to get your LDL below 100. Reversal of heart disease then predictably occurs. By following my Eat To Live diet plan, one can both safely and effectively improve their health, while enjoying the benefits of great tasting food.
- Ramsey LE, Yeo WW, Jackson PR. Dietary reduction of serum cholesterol concentration: time to think again. BMJ 303:953-957.
- Barnard ND, Scialli AR, Bertron P, et al. Effectiveness of a low-fat vegetarian diet in altering serum lipids in healthy premenopausal women. Am J Cardiol. 2000 Apr 15;85(8):969-72.
- Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Popovich DG, et al. Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function. Metabolism 2001;(4):494-503.
- Esselstyn CB Jr. Updating a 12-year experience with arrest and reversal therapy for coronary heart disease (an overdue requiem for palliative cardiology). Am J Cardiol 1999;84:339-341.
A Medical Student Studies A New Type of Medicine I have had the opportunity to intern in Dr. Fuhrman’s office over the past few months shadowing him and observing him with every patient. Read more...