When men choose to eat for optimal health, they protect their prostate, heart, brain, and entire body. A high-nutrient (Nutritarian) diet floods the body with protective nutrients, and has you achieve a healthy weight. It not only normalizes risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, but also offers a substantial level of protection against common cancers.
The Connection Between Heart Disease and Erectile Dysfunction
Cardiovascular disease remains our nation’s biggest killer, responsible for about one-third of deaths in the U.S.;1 in men, erectile dysfunction (ED) is typically the first clinical manifestation of cardiovascular disease, making it a helpful early marker of men who are likely to die of heart attacks. There is a strong relationship between erectile dysfunction and high blood pressure, high cholesterol, angina, stroke, heart attack and a premature death.2,3
Erectile dysfunction affects around half of all men over the age of forty, but the patient often does not request treatment.4,5 The recent surge in Viagra and other medications to deal with erectile dysfunction is indicative of the rapid deterioration of the circulatory system in most men in this country.
This subject is fascinating because the science links an abnormality in the pro-erectile nitric oxide production system in the penis with oxidative stress that creates heart disease and risk of heart attacks.5 Erectile dysfunction is an accurate predictor of ischemic vascular events down the road, meaning heart attacks and strokes in the future. Surely, psychogenic components play a role in erectile dysfunction, but the most common and primary cause in most men is organic vascular insufficiency.
Erectile dysfunction usually occurs 1 to 5 years before a male manifests overt signs of cardiovascular disease. The first sign may be death.
Remember, you do not have to die of a heart attack, and you do not have to have erectile dysfunction. Both are the result of dietary choices, and you can make a choice right now to protect your life. So I ask, "Do you want to die of a heart attack or don’t you?" If you don’t, then are you willing to do what it takes to reduce your risk 100 percent? I don’t know about you, but for me, just dropping my risk 20 to 40 percent with medical care is not enough. I want total protection.
You can choose erectile dysfunction as you age, which will be followed by your share of heart problems, angioplasties, bypass and a premature cardiac death, or you can avoid cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, thoracic surgeons, emergency rooms and operating rooms. I made my choice and thousands of other men have, too.
Today, when Americans concern themselves with external threats to our safety and security, which are at their highest levels, there is a surprising lack of concern about the very real dangers posed by homegrown threats to our well-being. Each day, the media presents horrific news of death and destruction caused by war, terrorism and other violence. It virtually ignores a silent and more deadly enemy that is causing untold suffering to families and undermining the health and economic well-being of our country. I am talking about the many deadly diseases, especially heart disease, that we bring upon ourselves through our unhealthful diet.
Heart disease is a much bigger problem than most people think. Consider a study on firefighters who died in the line of duty. We think of firefighters as courageous, highly trained men and women who risk their lives to save others. We imagine that they are at greatest risk when rushing into emergency situations and natural disasters where they are surrounded by dangerous conditions. Recent findings suggest otherwise. The US Fire Administration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency investigates on-duty firefighters’ deaths. During the decade between 1990 and 2000, forty-four percent of all on-duty deaths were due to cardiovascular disease. Among firefighters aged fifty-five to sixty, seventy-six percent of all on-duty deaths were due to heart attacks.6 I believe that firefighters, like all other Americans, could stop dying needlessly if accurate diet and health information were readily available to them from respected sources.
Dangerous foods take away the lives of brave men and women every day. Are people adequately informed that donuts, bagels, cheese, hot dogs, luncheon meats and other snack foods are weapons of mass destruction that cause an untimely death? Would all these individuals still have committed suicide with food if they knew they had a choice? I think not.
Lifesaving Information to Reverse Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Disease
I have been in practice for more than 20 years. I have cared for hundreds of men with erectile dysfunction that have reversed their condition with nutritional excellence. I have cared for hundreds of heart patients with angina and advanced heart disease, who have turned their backs on invasive cardiac procedures, recovered from angina and opened up the closed blood vessels in their diseased hearts. Out of thousands of men with advanced heart and erectile problems who have followed my nutritional advice, I have never had a patient suffer a heart attack or cardiac related death.
Both these conditions are predictably reversible with nutritional excellence and the judicious use of dietary supplements. This same program will just as effectively lower your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol and protect you against prostate cancer.
Superior nutrition lowers cholesterol levels more powerfully than drugs, without the risks and side effects. In fact, my nutritional program, when analyzed in a scientific study, was shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels by 33% after only six weeks. This is an even greater reduction than that typically observed with statin drugs in clinical practice.7,8 Another study showed a forty percent increase of blood flow to the heart within one year of starting a dietary program, designed similar to the one described in my books, Eat To Live or Eat For Health. Of pertinent note is that, in the same study, the patients following a high protein Atkins’ diet decreased blood flow to the heart by forty percent in one year.9 These dangerous high protein diets are a certain path to erectile impotence and a premature cardiac death.
The most important way to protect your heart is to eat a Nutritarian diet and that also means eating your G-BOMBS: greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds. Natural plant foods have numerous cardioprotective effects. For example, greens activate the Nrf2 system, which turns on natural detoxification mechanisms and protects blood vessels against inflammatory processes that lead to atherosclerotic plaque buildup.10 Higher consumption of fiber-rich vegetables, fruits and beans helps to keep blood pressure in the favorable range.11 Beans, nuts and seeds have unique cholesterol-lowering capabilities.12-14 Berries and the flavonoids they contain have a blood pressure-lowering effect, plus berries and pomegranate have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that protect against the development of heart disease.15-19 Getting frequent exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are of course also important. Plus, avoiding or minimizing risky dietary factors such as salt, alcohol, caffeine, and too much animal products is crucial. Animal protein elevates insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the blood, a growth-promoting hormone that is associated with increased risk of several cancers and cardiovascular disease.20,21
This approach is simply the ideal way to live and eat if you want to maintain your youthfulness and health into your later years. It is not for everybody, and I do not expect the masses to embrace a dietary approach this healthful. Nevertheless, many thousands of people have chosen and will choose to enjoy fantastic tasting food that can also be nutrient-dense and offer dramatic protection against disease.
Do it now. Do not wait until you have advanced disease. Forty percent of all cardiac deaths occur in people who had no warning, no pain and no symptoms. Their first symptom of heart disease was their deadly first heart attack. Let’s have this not be you.
When it comes to combating heart disease, most information sources promote drugs and surgery as the only viable options, with lip service to dietary advice that simply does not work. As a result, the demand for high-tech, expensive, but largely ineffective medical care is soaring, 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 a temporary benefit. The patients treated with angioplasty and bypass will continue to experience progressive disability and most often die a premature death as a result of their heart disease.
The average person is not aware that there are safer, more effective options available. Unfortunately, government agencies often are slow to respond to new scientific information and economic and political forces make it difficult for our population to receive clear information informing them that heart disease is nutritionally induced and totally avoidable with dietary excellence. Sadly, even the American Heart Association advocates a diet that has been shown to actually increase heart disease
Protection Against Prostate Cancer – plus heart disease and other cancers
Prostate cancer is very common, especially as men age; about one-third of men in their forties have prostate cancer, and by age 85, that figure increases to as high as 75%.22,23 Maintaining prostate health is a major concern for most men.
Routine PSA screening is still widely used and promoted; however, it is notoriously ineffective: about 70% of men with elevated PSA do not actually have cancer, and PSA screening is not thought by scientists to reduce prostate cancer-related deaths.24-26 For these reasons, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the American Cancer Society do not recommend routine PSA screening.
Instead of relying on unreliable methods of “early detection,” men can simply avoid the causes of prostate cancer. Diets high in vegetables (especially cruciferous vegetables and tomato products) and fruit, and low in dairy products, meat, and processed foods, are known to be protective.27-29 For those who already have prostate cancer, a healthful diet focused on whole plant foods is effective at halting progression of the disease.30-33
It is also important to note that most men who have prostate cancer do not die from it. Men in the U.S. have a 16% lifetime chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, but only a 3% chance of dying from it.34 The primary causes of death of men with prostate cancer are cardiovascular disease and other cancers.35 Living and eating healthfully protects against prostate cancer, as well as the other chronic diseases common to Americans (such as heart disease, strokes, and colon cancer) – the same diseases that kill most men with prostate cancer.
Make a choice today to protect yourself with a Nutritarian eating style. To learn more about my comprehensive approach to health, read my books Eat for Health or Eat to Live. In addition to reading the books, many find it beneficial to add the extra supportive tools available in the DrFuhrman.com Member Center.
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3. Billups KL: Erectile dysfunction as an early sign of cardiovascular disease. Int J Impot Res 2005;17 Suppl 1:S19-24.
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21. van Bunderen CC, van Nieuwpoort IC, van Schoor NM, et al: The Association of Serum Insulin-Like Growth Factor-I with Mortality, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer in the Elderly: A Population-Based Study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2010.
22. Sakr WA, Haas GP, Cassin BF, et al: The frequency of carcinoma and intraepithelial neoplasia of the prostate in young male patients. J Urol 1993;150:379-385.
23. Screening for Prostate Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement DRAFT. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force; 2011.
24. Esserman L, Shieh Y, Thompson I: Rethinking Screening for Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 2009;302:1685-1692.
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27. Steinbrecher A, Nimptsch K, Husing A, et al: Dietary glucosinolate intake and risk of prostate cancer in the EPIC-Heidelberg cohort study. Int J Cancer 2009;125:2179-2186.
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29. Ma RW, Chapman K: A systematic review of the effect of diet in prostate cancer prevention and treatment. J Hum Nutr Diet 2009;22:187-199; quiz 200-182.
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31. Ornish D, Magbanua MJ, Weidner G, et al: Changes in prostate gene expression in men undergoing an intensive nutrition and lifestyle intervention. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2008;105:8369-8374.
32. Ornish D, Weidner G, Fair WR, et al: Intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer. J Urol 2005;174:1065-1069; discussion 1069-1070.
33. Fuhrman J: Dr. Joel Fuhrman Case Study Series: Prostate Cancer.
34. Ablin RJ: The Great Prostate Mistake. In New York Times, New York edition. pp. 27; 2010:27.
35. Ketchandji M, Kuo YF, Shahinian VB, et al: Cause of death in older men after the diagnosis of prostate cancer. J Am Geriatr Soc 2009;57:24-30.