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Watch Dr. Oz Explain to Rocco the Cowboy How to Reverse His Heart Disease Through a Vegan Diet
11/6/09 Update: Find Out How Rocco Did After His 28 Day Challenge
"After 28 Days on Dr. Oz's Vegan Challenge, Cowboy Rocco is on His Way to Health--"If I Can Do It, Anyone Can!" Click Here
Rocco is a meat-eating cowboy who has volunteered for Dr. Oz's 28-day Vegan Diet Makeover.
Step 1--Rocco has a CT scan of his coronary arteries. Turns out it is not a pretty picture. His scan puts him in the 97th percentile for plaque in his age group. He has the heart of an 85 year old!
Rocco's Reaction? I could swear he has tears in his eyes. He asks, "Is it reversible?" According to Dr. Oz, "Everything is reversible."
Rocco vows to take it as an opportunity to make the best of a bad situation and says, "No one will try harder than I will." "I can't look back, I've gotta look forward." As for a vegan diet: "...that's not a change of diet--that's a change of venue!"
Dr. Oz's 4 week plan for Rocco
Rocco is going to be followed by a cardiologist--thank goodness--and the plan is to totally reboot his taste buds. No meat, no dairy, no eggs. The emphasis is more on ditching the animal protein--not so much on the importance of adding in high nutrient vegetables, like greens, eating high fiber low-glycemic grains, or eliminating added fats.
Rocco is concerned about how this diet will affect his sugar. Apparently he has type-2 diabetes and is on medication. Dr. Oz says, "Not to worry. I bet when you get rid of your belly, your blood sugar will come down, and you'll probably be able to get off your medications."
Detox week. No meat. No dairy. No eggs. Break fundamental habits. Replace meat protein with nuts, beans, and seeds. Take a B12 or mulitvitamin. Rocco loves the taste of Oz's bean chili.
Go forward. Find alternatives to meat. Emphasis is substituting meat for "fake meat" alternatives, like seitan, fake soy burgers, faux barbequed ribs, or faux hotdogs. Lots of soy protein here.
Learn to avoid the junk food. Be cautious. Just because it's not meat, dairy or eggs doesn't mean it's good for you. Eating French fries & potato chips is not what the diet is about. Oz encourages Rocco to find healthy snacks--fruit, vegetables, whole-grain or soy chips. A little chocolate is OK as long as it has a 75% cacao content.
"Vegan meets reality" Dr. Oz says it's now time to add back a tiny bit of meat--but just as an "accoutrement". In my opinion, this could be the downfall of this LITE version of a "heart-disease-reversal-diet".
What Do I Think of Dr. Oz's 28-Day Challenge?
Oz's heart is in the right place--but I don't think Rocco's heart is going to be in the right place after his 28-day challenge. Yes, Rocco will be better off getting off of meat and dairy. But reliance on fake soy foods? I don't think so. And what about making sure Rocco doesn't gorge himself on carbs? What about instruction on eating high-fiber low glycemic grains, beans, & legumes?
Millions of people potentially will be watching Rocco's challenge. They deserve to be taught more.
Too bad Dr. Oz didn't pass on Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's advice on what Rocco can do to restore his vascular health.
1. Pay attention to the conclusions of Dr. Lewis Kuller's (University of Pittsburgh) decade long cardiovascular health study. You are not immune from heart disease: "All males who are 65 years of age and all females who are 70 years old who have been exposed to the typical Western diet already have cardiovascular disease and should be treated as such."
2. The truth is that cardiovascular disease needn't ever exist. It's absolutely a toothless paper tiger. But if it does exist, it needn't ever progress, as long as you are willing to change completely to an oil-free plant-based diet.
3. The basic understanding we all need to accept is that with every meal of oil, dairy or meat we eat, within minutes there is damage & injury to the "life jackets" of our vascular health--which is the single layer of endothelial cells that line all of our blood vessels. The endothelial cells produce the "magical gas" called nitric oxide which keeps our blood vessels relaxed, prevents our white blood cells & platelets from becoming sticky and prevents the growth of plaque--the dread "hardening of the arteries".
4. And what can you eat to insure that your endothelial cells will have the raw materials to produce this healing nitric oxide? Beans & leafy greens. Load up on kale, collard, chard, bok choy & beans and you will be well on your way to healing the lining of your blood vessels.
5. On the positive side--as soon as we stop eating these damaging foods--the endothelial cells have the capacity for restoration.
6. Switching to a plant-based diet trumps every other lifestyle modification you can make. It trumps exercise and it trumps stress management. Both are important--but diet is the trump card.
7. Switching to a plant-based diet even trumps the genetics card. As Essesylstyn says, "Genetics only loads the gun--it's diet that pulls the trigger."
My advice to Rocco: Read Dr. Esselstyn's book as you go through your 28-day challenge. Stick to real whole foods and don't rely on faux soy foods. Learn to cook. Load up on healthy greens. Get a VitaMix and start making Green Smoothies (low on fruit). You really can change your taste buds! Get inspired by the experience of Michael F., who lost loads of weight, changed his taste buds, and best of all--got healthy!