Real LIfe Adventures-Gary Wise and Lance Aldrich 2/5/2011
"Folks with high cholesterol often are overweight, and if they deal with their cholesterol through medication only, they leave themselves open to such other chronic health problems as diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis."
"The thought of controlling cholesterol solely through medication is an unfortunate point of view. There are a lot of other factors, especially when it comes to body weight, that the medications won't help.
"The idea that 'I'll just take medications' isn't a very healthy option, especially for the long term."
Dr. Alice Lichtenstein, director and senior scientist at the Cardiovascular Nutrition Lab at Tufts University, December 28, 2010.
If you received this post via email click here to get to the web version with photos & links.
For every 8.8 pound increase in the weight portion of one's BMI--the risk of developing ischemic heart disease increases by more than 50%. Three recent Danish studies, based on 81,000 Danish men & women found a direct cause & effect between elevated BMI (body mass index) and raised heart disease risk--the more weight a person gains, the greater the risk of developing narrowed heart arteries & reduced blood flow to the heart. Dr. Borge Nordestgaard, the University of Copenhagen. Presented at the AmericanHeart Association Meeting, November, 2010.
"Stents & bypasses are just temporary patch jobs. If you have blockages in one place assume you have them everywhere--and unless you radically change your diet, stents, bypasses, and statins are no guarantee that you won't have a future cardiovascular event." from "What I Learned at Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease School"
"Multiple studies show that if you have one ruptured plaque you have many." -Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic-
"We can't cure this disease until we address the fundamentals of lifestyle." -Dr. Eric Topol-
Why not just take a statin instead of following a strict diet?
- Most lipid-lowering studies show a slower progression of cardiovascular disease---slower PROGRESSION is still PROGRESSION
- Most lipid-lowering studies show 30% fewer new heart attacks. What about the other 70%?
- Most lipid-lowering studies show 30% fewer heart attack deaths. What about the other 70%?
- Most lipid-lowering studies show 30% fewer surgical interventions will be needed. What about the other 70%?
- And don't forget that statins increase the risk of developing diabetes by 9%.
- There are documented cognitive problems when statins are used in high-doses.
- As age & dose increases muscle pain & weakness increases in statin users. 70% of statins users who do not have muscle pain are shown to have microscopic inflammation in their muscle cells.
- Read more about the side effects in: What The Experts Say About The Side Effects Of Statins. What Are They? What Causes Them? Who Is Most At Risk? How Are They Treated?
- Statins inhibit the HMG-coA Reductase, the enzyme in our body that makes cholesterol in our liver. Our bodies need a certain amount of cholesterol to properly function--and to inhibit an enzyme can produce serious side effects. Why take a statin, when a plant-based diet can lower cholesterol & inflammation without needing to inhibit HMG-coA reductase?
So What's the Goal? Feeling Great, Getting Healthy and Improving the Numbers? Or Just Lowering the Numbers and Hoping That Works?
Think about this. Have you ever heard anyone who is on statins, high blood pressure meds and diabetes drugs say: "I feel fantastic! I've got tons of energy, I'm losing weight, my skin glows, and my joints no longer ache!"???
Probably not! But I know people who switched to a no-oil plant-based diet, started to exercise--and whose doctors were able to lower or stop their medications, and they say: "I feel amazing! I've had to buy all new clothes because my weight dropped effortlessly, I've got energy that lasts all day long, I'm finally able to exercise without being breathless or my legs aching, and I can even get down on the floor to play with my grandkids."
Hearing Success Stories from Real People Motivates Us! We Just Need to Keep On Hearing Them!
In January 2011 Dr. Thomas Houston of the University of Massachusetts published an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine about African-American patients who were motivated to make their own lifestyle changes to lower their out-of-control blood pressure after hearing others share their own success stories on a DVD. Read the NYT essay "When Patients Share Their Stories Health May Improve"--here.
One big problem: One good story wasn't enough to keep them motivated long-term to continue with the lifestyle changes they needed to make. Why? It turns out that some of us need continual support to stay motivated--we need to keep on hearing the success stories of others--and get support from others to sustain that change. I know I do!
Nothing Beats Hearing Joey Aucoin & San'Dera Nation Tell Their Health Turn-Around Stories
San'Dera and Joey are two of my favorite health make-over stories in Forks Over Knives. This morning a physician friend sent me the link to Oprah's site where some genius film editor put together a two minute clip of these two sharing their "get-pumped" motivational stories : Go San'Dera & Joey! Click here hear them (just 2 minutes)--too bad there's a 30-second ad you have to watch first.
I'm Healthy, I Exercise, I Eat Right - I'm Heart-Attack Proof. Maybe Not.
I received this story 2 weeks ago from a professor who is the director of quantitative/psychometric methods at a major university. It certainly motivates me--and he gave me permission to share this with you.
Dear Healthy Librarian,I just wanted to give you a "heartfelt" thank you for your time and effort in putting together my favorite blog.Approximately 2 1/2 years ago I had a very unexpected heart attack.Although I am in my early fifties, I am slim, I bike to work (or walk when its snowing -- which is often in my neighborhood) -- i.e., I am not your typical poster boy for stents.Nevertheless, one evening after enjoying a plate of chicken wings (from Trader Joes) I collapsed to the ground.An hour of so later I had two stents in my heart (the so-called "widow maker" was blocked) and was told that I would be swallowing 8 pills a day for the rest of my life.My first thought was "NO WAY am I listening to this overweight and puffy-looking doc."The day after returning home I went to Barnes and Nobles and LUCKILY found Esselstyn's (the senior) book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (I am sooo jealous that you actually know the Esselstyn's -- he is my number 1 hero).I truly believe that this book saved my life. My wife and 6 year old son (yeah, I was a very late starter) have been tremendously supportive of my new eating habits (jumping on the bandwagon) and we are now an oil free, vegan household (actually, my son, who was 4 at the time of my heart attack -- cried a very sympathetic wail when he heard that daddy was no longer going to eat ice cream).Soon afterwards I found your blog and I have been a regular reader ever since. In fact, I send your url to all of my middle-aged, paunchy friends (we are a bunch of Type I professors who find it amazing that we are no longer the young slim profs in the dept).So THANK YOU very much for your wonderful blog. I have learned a great deal from your writing. I am also eating gourmet meals each night thanks to your recent cookbook tip.And I am no longer on _any_ meds (although I do take vitamin D and Co-Q 10 each day). My blood work looks great and I thank you and Esselstyn for that!
Thanks again for your long distance support, encouragement, and teachings.BTW - if you and your husband are ever in this part of the country, and long for a yummy vegan pizza, our freezer is stocked with Sami's whole grain pizza crusts. We would love to make one (or two, or three) for you.Best,The Healthy ProfessorI'm Young, I'm Veganish, Heart Disease Isn't Anything I Need to Think About!
Five days after I heard from the professor, I received this email with a similar story--but with a twist.
Jeff had been a vegan for 13 years before he got the surprise of his life. Hey, we all know that not all vegan diets are the same. You can eat a heart-attack proof high-nutrient no-oil plant-based diet. Or you can load your shopping cart with Daiya (vegan) cheese, Earth Balance margarine, Amy's Frozen Dinners, Veganaise (vegan mayo), French fries, and faux fatty vegan "meats".
If any of you caught Kathy Freston on Oprah's "Let's Get Healthy & Go Vegan" show that aired on February 7, 2011.... you'll know why that show was so frustrating for me. If the point of her vegan challenge is to promote a vegan diet for ethical reasons, OK, eat fake or fatty foods---but don't go on national television & let people think that Kathy Freston's version of vegan is the way to superior health. It's not! Check out Kathy's "Helpful" Shopping List here and you'll see what I mean. This is how I used to eat--and I never lost a pound, & my lipids didn't improve. Then reads this!
Dear Healthy Librarian,I just wanted to take a minute and thank you for your blog. It's a great source of information that I found this summer when I was looking for answers.Here's my story: I'm 37 years old, and last July I received a stent at the young age of 36. It was frightening to say the least. I went to the cardiologist because I wasn't able to ride my bicycle with the same power and speed I was used toThey ended up finding a 70% blockage in my LAD. If I would have known everything I know now, I may have probably declined the stent and changed my lifestyle, but there's nothing I can do about it now (except take every step I can to make sure it doesn't happen again).The interesting thing about my story is that I was Vegan for about 13 years. Of course, I was a very unhealthy vegan. I ate a lot of processed vegan food and was a bad overeater.About 1.5 years before I got my stent, I decided I was going to 'downgrade' to being vegetarian. I'm almost positive this move is what led to the blockage.Anyway, I've been on the Esselstyn train since a few days after my stent (side note: in the hospital the morning after my procedure they gave me an omelette covered with cheese - which I couldn't bring myself to eat).To date I've lost about 45 pounds and I feel great. I admit that I've slipped here and there - mostly while out - with things like regular hummus or white pasta (and the gravy that had olive oil in it that my mom bought me for Thanksgiving), but over the last few months I've really come to understand how important it is to be faithful to this way of eating.The nice part is that since I was vegan for so long it doesn't really feel too restrictive to me.They did start me on statins while I was in the hospital, so I'm not sure what my cholesterol was prior to the stent. I did have my cholesterol tested a few weeks after the stent and it looked like this:
Component Your Value Standard Range Units CHOLESTEROL (LAB) 111 < 200 mg/dL TRIGLYCERIDES 82 < 150 mg/dL HDL CHOLESTEROL 29 > 40 mg/dL LDL CHOLESTEROL, CALCULATED 66 < 100 mg/dL VLDL CHOLESTEROL, CALCULATED 16 < 31 mg/dL NON-HDL CHOLESTEROL 82 < 130 mg/dLI had it tested again about a month and a half after the stent and my change to a plant-based no-oil diet and it looked like this:
Component Your Value Standard Range Units CHOLESTEROL (LAB) 70 < 200 mg/dL TRIGLYCERIDES 28 < 150 mg/dL HDL CHOLESTEROL 29 > 40 mg/dL LDL CHOLESTEROL, CALCULATED 35 < 100 mg/dL VLDL CHOLESTEROL, CALCULATED 6 < 31 mg/dL NON-HDL CHOLESTEROL 41 < 130 mg/dLPretty dramatic! My cardiologist was pretty blown away by these numbers. He asked what I did. I said "I've radically changed my diet" and he replied, "You've definitely done something!"He cut my statin in half and I'm about due for another test. It'll be interesting to see if I can quit taking the statin altogether.I have some more weight to lose (about 30 or so pounds - I'm 6'1" - I was about 260 in July and I'm about 210 now) and I'm hoping the extra weight loss will allow me to discontinue that medication as wellIt's been quite a journey. I'm just glad that through this experience I was able to reclaim my health. This is definitely a change for life. Why would I ever want to change when I've seen and felt the results!? It's amazing.Thanks so much and I look forward to reading your blog for years to come!Jeff
After the Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment--What's Next? When Your Doctor Says You Can Just Return to Your "Normal Life"
Dear Healthy Librarian,
I just wanted to let you know, how much I appreciate your generosity. I was a slim, otherwise apparently healthy woman in her early forties (good blood pressure, cholesterol etc.) who got a shock when she was diagnosed with aggressive cancer.
After I completed treatment (surgery, chemo and radiation) my doctors told me to go back to my "normal" life. I did not feel comfortable with that.
I resolved to change my habits but how???--finding reliable information is very difficult. I started reading everything I could get my hands on and a few months after I commenced my search I stumbled on your blog when I read a comment that you made on the New York Times website.
As soon as I started reading your site, I felt as if I had stumbled into a wonderland of useful life changing information. Since I found your blog in Autumn 2009, I have radically changed my diet, exercise etc. and I have also encouraged my father to change as we ll.
People are always asking us now what we are up to. We look so different. I look and feel totally different. I feel much better than I did before the cancer. I have introduced your blog to many people. I want you to know how grateful I feel for your efforts. Truly, you are a force for good in the world. I think of you affectionately every morning when I am making green smoothies with my VitaMix. I hope you can feel the love! Best wishes for your health and happiness, OL
As I finished writing this post yesterday, I heard from my friend Joyce who's been 95% following plant-based no-oil for a few months. She just got her latest lipid panel back--and it was stellar!
I also just heard yesterday from a reader from New Mexico who has made major lifestyle changes over the past year & she, too, just got back her doctor's report. What a success story she has to share! But, I'll have to save that one for another day.
When it comes to our health (and happiness is a part of it), all of us want to be in control--and to know that there's something (in addition to--or instead of only pills & procedures) that we can do for ourselves to get there.
Your thoughts? I'm kind of, sort of, maybe, thinking about taking the plunge & creating a Happy Healthy Long Life Facebook page so I can better share quick links to articles/books I'm reading, news, tips, recipes, quick answers to common questions readers ask me, etc--that I never have a chance to share on the blog. And better yet--you all can more easily share your tips/comments/recipe photos. I'd love your feedback on this. Will it be a huge time abyss??
Recipe Feedback: I've heard "thumbs up" for the Vindaloo Tofu Curry from readers--it is spicy--but just right. And a reader's tip to add kale instead of spinach to the Savory Cheezy Oatmeal. He says the savory keeps him full and feeling better than the fruited sweet variety.