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August 28, 2012


mistah charley, ph.d.

You cite Joel Fuhrman above - over at McDougall's discussion board both T. Colin Campbell and Essie have just joined up to personally post their opinions about him - here's Dr. Esselstyn's comment:

The present Fuhrman flap is an embarrassing and distasteful chapter in the journey to healthy plant based nutrition brought on entirely by Dr. Fuhrman himself who has a compulsion to denigrate his colleagues and or their science. The repetitious nature of his attacks indicates he is insensitive to his own behavior and unaware of what the is doing to hurt himself in the eyes of his colleagues or the public.

By way of contrast, when the chairman of a leading corporation was questioned on how he had become so successful and the recipient of so many awards, he replied, "There are no limits to how far and how high you can go, if you are willing to give credits to others."

Caldwell B. Essesltyn, Jr., M.D.

Healthy Librarian

@Mistah Charley, PhD: Thanks for the update about Dr. E's & Dr. C's post on the McDougall board. Didn't know about it. Re my citing of Fuhrman--the original CALERIE posts was written before this flap got started--I certainly wasn't going to leave out what I had written. The principles of his diet are similar to that of Esselstyn's & McDougal's & Engine 2. Honestly, I really don't know the details of the Fuhrman flap or what his denigrating comments were. Dr. Esselstyn is the essence of professionalism, integrity, & generosity. I applaud his courage in writing that post. Now, I'm off to read it.

mistah charley, ph.d.

The McDougall discussion board is apparently the place to go for more detail about the "flap". I'd just like to mention that the methodology of Fuhrman's ANDI scoring of "Aggregate Nutrient Density Index" is also highly questionable in terms of its validity and utility.


Really interesting discussion board - thanks for the link, Mistah Charley, PhD ...

Kate Scott

You should also look at Joel Furhman's reply in the thread above. The tone of these recent McDougall discussion board threads, one out to 'debunk' Michael Greger (who does such great work in vegan nutrition) and now this one about Dr Furhman, is unpleasantly derogatory. Mark Simon instigated both, I notice. I don't know what his motives are, but the threads do nothing but harm to the plant-based eating cause.

mistah charley, ph.d.

With regard to Kate Scott's comment that the Fuhrman flap threads at the McDougall discussion board "do nothing but harm to the plant-based eating cause" - while I too regret the unpleasant personal tone this dispute has taken, my own viewpoint is different. Feelings are hurt, clearly, but some good may result as well. As visionary poet William Blake said, "Opposition is true friendship" - in this case, a full and frank exchange of views [is that diplomatic jargon for "yelling"?] makes clear that there are differences of opinion, which may perhaps be resolved by further inquiry.

In this spirit, I repost here something Dr. Esselstyn has put on his own website:

A Clarification

Just recently a story has resurfaced on the internet that one of my original patients died because he was not offered nuts in my nutrition program. Dr. Furhman was the first to incorrectly make this assumption several years ago which he presented at a meeting without full knowledge of the facts. I immediately called him when I learned of this, to correct his misrepresentation. I am unaware that he has publicly retracted his mistaken belief.

Here are the facts. When I was accepting patients for my original study, I received a call from a cardiologist who was eager for me to accept one of his patients. The patient was a 67 year old male pediatrician who had recently sustained a massive heart attack during an angioplasty for diffuse coronary artery disease.

He had lost so much heart muscle he was in congestive heart failure, his left ventricular ejection fraction was less than 20% and his life expectancy was less than 6 - 12 months.

I momentarily hesitated. I was reluctant to accept anyone with such an extremely poor prognosis into what I hoped would be a long term study of coronary disease patents. As he could be offered nothing else, I gladly accepted him. He turned out to be a wonderful man and a magnificent patient.

He did not die at 6 or 12 months. He far outlived his original prognosis and after 5 years on our program had a repeat angiogram which confirmed disease reversal. Nevertheless, 6 months following his follow up angiogram he succumbed to a cardiac arrhythmia which had been predicted as his ultimate fate at the time he joined the program. At his autopsy there was no evidence of a new heart attack.

My memory of this special man is one of his hope, support, loyalty and belief in our program which extended his life more than 5 years beyond what the experts had predicted.

A lack of nuts was not a part of this story.

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D


What do you think of the results of the long-term calorie restriction study at the National Institute of Aging? It sounds like experts were expecting to find that the monkeys who had been fed less over 30 years would have a longer lifespan, but instead they didn't live any longer:

This write-up of the results suggests that eating even non-restricted amounts of higher quality foods increased the "healthspan" (length of healthy life)of the monkeys:

The Healthy Librarian

@Jenny--I posted this on Facebook yesterday. It includes my "correction" of the misnomer "calorie restriction" in regards to the Esselstyn diet.

The excerpt from "Wired" I think sheds a light on the differences between the NIA & Wisconsin studies. It comes from Dr. Luigi Fontana--a long-time researcher in the field, at Washington University.

The quality of the diet matters!" says Dr. Luigi Fontana. A diet too high in protein is problematic. I'm setting the record straight--eating a nutrient-dense, plant-based diet without added oil is not "caloric-restriction" and in no way resembles the National Institutes of Aging study.

It's a way to feel satiated, avoid junk, stay healthy, maintain a healthy weight, eat the most nutritious food & have plenty of energy, while not "over-eating" or eating "too many calories". Dr. Luigi Fontana, a researcher at Washington University offers insight into what probably went wrong with the monkey experiments & their high-protein diet is part of it. Here's what he says:

"According to Luigi Fontana, a gerontologist at Washington University, who studies CR in people who are experimenting with the diet, neither of the monkey studies [ NIA or Wisconsin] is entirely reliable.

One potentially confounding effect is stress. To ensure regular, closely monitored feeding, monkeys in both studies were kept in isolated cages. (The photograph above was taken for illustrative purposes, and doesn’t represent day-to-day conditions.) For monkeys, that’s hardly a salutary environment.

“If you’re in a single cage for your whole life, and are a highly intelligent animal like a primate, deprived of contact with other peers, and on top of that you’re calorically restricted — can you imagine the psychological depression issues that will ensue?” said Fontana. “And we know the hypothalamus in the brain is a major regulator of many downstream metabolic factors.”

Fontana pointed out that key hormonal changes found in both calorie-restricted mice and humans were not detected in either group of monkeys, an absence that he blames on their relatively high-protein diets.

In humans, those hormones decrease only when protein intake is dramatically reduced. It’s not enough to cut calories alone. “It’s possible that we don’t see some of the beneficial effects of longevity in these monkeys because they were on a high-protein diet,” Fontana said.

“The old idea is that a calorie is a calorie. When you restrict it, you have a beneficial effect. Our data and other data suggests this isn’t the case. The quality of the diet matters,” Fontana continued.

Shelley Charlesworth

LOVE your blog - but your first chart leaves out STARCH - !!!

The center of our plates is always a starch : oatmeal, potatoes, rice, corn or pasta.
We eat the Dr John Mc Dougall STARCH/plant based vegan diet.


Would love to try the El-Burger, could you share the recipe?

Healthy Librarian

@Elzabeth: On Tuesday (Sept. 11), for sure!!

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