Heart Disease Reversal

Reverse Heart Disease

The epidemic of cardiovascular disease is nonexistent in cultures which thrive

predominantly on whole foods, plant-based nutrition. Is it logical to assume that patients

with this disease would be willing to transition to plant-based nutrition and might this

transition halt or reverse the disease? The authors have experience beyond 25 years

demonstrating the success of plant-based nutrition in arresting and reversing

cardiovascular disease. Nevertheless, the medical community is still skeptical of

patients’ adherence and efficacy of this method. We, therefore, report three case

histories of carotid, coronary, and peripheral vascular disease. Each case demonstrates

disease progression and the failure of the standard cardiovascular approaches in

contrast to the prompt, powerful and enduring resolution of disease with whole foods,

plant-based nutrition. These outcomes constitute an additional mandate that patients

with cardiovascular disease be offered a plant-based option which is safe, inexpensive,

empowering, and has the potential to end the cardiovascular disease epidemic.

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New Blood Pressure Guidelines

Recently, updated recommendations for the management of hypertension, or high blood pressure, were released by the expert panel appointed to the Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8).1

Pritikin Perspective on New Blood Pressure Guidelines

“Controlling blood pressure with drugs is generally neither as safe nor as effective as doing so with a healthier diet and exercise,” states Dr. Jay Kenney of the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Florida.

Two key recommendations that differ from the previous JNC 7 guidelines, released in 2003, were:

  • Americans aged 60 or older should only take blood pressure drugs if their blood pressure exceeds 150/90. The 2003 panel recommended drugs if blood pressure was higher than 140/90.

  • Diabetes and kidney patients younger than 60 should be prescribed drugs at the same point as everyone else that age, when their blood pressure exceeds 140/90. The prior treatment goal was 130/80.

Why the changes?

Clinical trials had not shown convincing evidence that the lower treatment goals produced more benefits than risks.

Although the blood pressure drugs in the trials pushed blood pressure lower, they often caused harm via adverse side effects, and they sometimes dropped blood pressure too much, which could also negatively impact patients’ overall well being.

“The control of hypertension with drugs always comes at a price. The fact is, all drugs, including those to lower blood pressure, are themselves toxic, too often causing adverse side effects,” points out Dr. Kenney.

Bottom Line: Driving blood pressure lower than 140/90 in people over 60 by using drugs, and down to 130/80 or less in younger people with diabetes and kidney problems, had not been proven to provide better health outcomes than the less ambitious guidelines released this week.

“The control of hypertension with drugs always comes at a price. The fact is, all drugs, including those to lower blood pressure, are themselves toxic, too often causing adverse side effects,” points out Dr. Jay Kenney, Nutrition Research Specialist at the Pritikin Longevity Center.

All over social media last week Americans themselves agreed. Many wrote about their own struggles with blood pressure medications (“The pills I was on made me feel like a big lump… I could barely exercise”) or that of family members (“My mother was turned into a zombie”). Many were searching for alternatives to high blood pressure medication.

“Controlling blood pressure – or cholesterol levels or blood sugar – with drugs is generally neither as safe nor as effective as doing so with a healthier diet and exercise,” asserts Dr. Kenney.

Lifestyle changes

The value of lifestyle change was affirmed by the expert panel who created the new blood pressure guidelines. Led by Paul James, MD, of the University of Iowa and Suzanne Oparil, MD, of the University of Alabama, the panel stressed the need to implement healthy lifestyle interventions as the first line of treatment.

“For all persons with hypertension, the potential benefits of a healthy diet, weight control, and regular exercise cannot be overemphasized,” the scientists wrote. “These lifestyle treatments have the potential to improve blood pressure control and even reduce medication needs.”

The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology have not yet reviewed the new recommendations. But the AHA expressed concerns that the panel’s conclusions to relax the thresholds at which medications are prescribed might mean that more people would have inadequately controlled blood pressure, which could lead to more heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events.

Catch 22

Yes, it’s a Catch 22. People don’t take medications because they often cause nasty side effects. But what they’re left with – if they don’t change their lifestyle – is blood pressure readings that are scary.

Very scary.

The risk of death from cardiovascular events begins to rise as blood pressure increases above the optimal range of 110 to 115/70 to 75. It roughly doubles for each 20/10 increase in blood pressure.2

Calculates Dr. Kenney: “The risk of dying from a cardiovascular event for someone with a blood pressure of 150/90 is about four times greater than it is for someone the same age who is maintaining a blood pressure of 110/70 with a healthy lifestyle like the Pritikin Program.

Hypertension FAQs

Can you cure high blood pressure? Get Answers To Hypertension Questions

Reduce Medications

Get better results. Discover Alternatives To High Blood Pressure Medication

“Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day increases the risk of dying from a cardiovascular event by about 2.3 times. So yes, having a blood pressure of 150/90, whether it’s medically controlled or not, is likely more dangerous for promoting cardiovascular events than smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.”

So here’s where we come to the dilemma that the expert committee of the new blood pressure guidelines had to wrestle with: How high must blood pressure be before the benefits of drugs are more likely to outweigh the harm?

“The sad fact is that the risk of having or dying from a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke must increase about 4-fold before the benefits of reducing high blood pressure with drugs has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease and total mortality,” says Dr. Kenney.

The solution

Optimal blood pressure achieved by healthy diet and exercise, not drugs, is likely no more than 110 to 115/70 to 75. It’s at this level, research has found, that people have the lowest risk of strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, and dying.

What they’re doing is living a lifestyle that naturally helps maintain blood pressure at healthier lower levels throughout life – a lifestyle that involves daily physical activity and a diet rich in whole unprocessed foods that are naturally low in salt, sugar, and fat.

The Pritikin Program of diet and exercise mimics this lifestyle, and studies on people taking hypertension drugs who came to the Pritikin Longevity Center have confirmed its benefits. Within two to three weeks, the Pritikin Program often eliminated or dramatically reduced the need for blood pressure medications.3

Simple Meal Plan For Blood Pressure

Get healthy. Get thin. Take good care of your blood pressure. And get out of the kitchen in no time. Meal Plan for Lowering Blood Pressure

So if lifestyle changes like the Pritikin Program are so effective for blood pressure control, and devoid of the risks caused by drugs, why do most doctors prescribe drugs?

“Probably because it’s quicker than detailing how to eat and exercise to better control blood pressure, and it’s certainly easier to take a few pills than make changes to your diet and lifestyle,” surmises Dr. Kenney.

“But these drugs, while they lower blood pressure to less dangerous levels, often cause negative side effects. That’s why experts are left trying to figure out how high a patient’s blood pressure must be before the benefits are more likely to outweigh the harms.”

Summing Up…

It’s good that the expert panel’s recommendations for the new blood pressure guidelines recognize the problems and impotence of pharmacological treatments for hypertension, particularly among older patients and those with diabetes and kidney problems.

It’s also good that the panel states that diet and lifestyle changes should be a priority.

“It would be much better if medical organizations admitted that drugs are not nearly as safe or as effective as healthy lifestyles like the Pritikin Diet and Exercise Program for dealing with not only hypertension but many other metabolic issues like high blood sugar, insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, obesity, and chronic inflammation,” notes Dr. Kenney.

“What we need more than anything else is medical and governmental leadership that recognizes that the best way to deal with our epidemic health problems isn’t with drugs or surgery. The real solution to diet- and inactivity-promoted ills is in fact a healthy lifestyle that prevents these problems from ever happening in the first place.”

Key guidelines of the Pritikin Program for preventing and controlling hypertension include:

  • Providing at least 5 servings of vegetables and 4 servings of fruits daily, which help ensure that you eat plenty of foods that are full of stomach-filling volume yet are low in calories, enhancing your weight-loss efforts. Losing excess weight is one of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure in the short term. Eating plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables also means you’ll be eating rich sources of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Many studies have found that foods rich in these minerals help blunt some of the toxic effects of sodium.

  • Cutting back on calorie-dense foods loaded with fat, sugar, and/or refined grains to enhance weight-loss efforts.

  • Limiting the consumption of sodium to a healthy level – less than 1,500 mg daily for people under 50 years, less than 1,300 mg daily for those 50 to 69 years, and no more than 1,200 mg daily for people 70 years and older.

  • Exercising daily.

  • Discouraging excess alcohol drinking (which has been shown to increase hypertension when consumed in excess of 3 drinks daily).

  • Getting an adequate intake of calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D by consuming moderate amounts of nonfat dairy milk or soymilk, fish, and a little sunshine.

5 Scientific Benefits of Beets!

5 Scientific Benefits of Beets!

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Scientific Benefits of Beets

  1. Improve athletic performance. Pre-exercise consumption of nitrate rich beetroot juice (200gm) improved and enhanced running performance inthis study.  In another study, six days of 140ml of concentrated beetroot juice (loaded with nitrates) reduced pulmonary oxygen usage (VO₂) during cycling and improved performance in professional cyclists.  And yet another study showed enhancement of muscle contraction after consumption of  beetroot juice.
  2. Decrease oxidative stress.  Beets contain a new class of antioxidants called Betalains, which decrease oxidative stress and aid in detoxification.  Regular consumption of 300ML daily of red beet in this study showed decrease in oxidative stress markers and may prevent chronic degenerative diseases.  Red Betalain pigment are not very heat stable so best if eaten raw or juiced.   If you choose to cook your beets, steam them for less than 15minutes or roast them for less than 45minutes.
  3. Increase nitric oxide. Beets contain nitrates which are a precursor of nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide helps our blood vessels dilate appropriately, improving vascular function in conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and erectile dysfunction.  In this study, overweight men who drank beet juice had increases in nitric oxide levels after consumption.
  4. Prevent Cancer.  Betalains, the antioxidant in beets, has been shown to have anti-cancer effects!  This study showed the antioxidant from beets caused death of leukemia cells.  Andanother study suggested beet juice consumption may prevent lung and skin cancers.
  5. Improve detoxification. Regular consumption of beets which contain betaine and polyphenols in this study enhanced the liver’s ability to product glutathione and superoxide dismutase, both key factors in daily detoxification.  Because of their powerful ability to enhance detoxification this study showed a protective benefit against toxic chemicals, like carcinogens.

Don’t forget the greens!

The leafy greens attached to the beet roots are delicious and can be prepared like spinach. They are incredibly rich in vitamins and minerals as well as  beta-carotene and lutein/zeaxanthin.

Tips for storing and preparing

To clean, rinse gently under cool water and avoid tearing the skin  which helps keep the health-promoting pigments inside.

Cut beets into quarters leaving 1-2 inches of root and a small bit of stem.

I like to throw them raw into green juices or smoothies for most nutritional benefit.  However, if you cook them, I recommend lightly steaming or baking on low heat to maximize nutritional benefit.  Steam for no more than 10-15min or until you can easily insert tip of fork into beet.

  • Grate raw beets into salads or as garnish on main dish
  • Marinate steamed beets with olive oil or ghee, sea salt and fresh basil and thyme
  • Sauté beet greens like you would spinach or swiss chard or mix them all together for a fresh take on salad

Recipe from the Institute for Functional Medicine:

DETOX BORSCHT

2 cups finely shredded cabbage                                    2 cups boiling water

½ cup chopped onion                                                       2 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp caraway seed                                                              1 tsp honey, if desired

3 Tbsp lemon juice                                                              Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound cooked small beets, peeled, chopped (save the cooking water)                   

1 quart chicken or vegetable stock (gluten-free)

Cook the cabbage for ten minutes in boiling, salted water. Cook the onion in the oil for a few minutes, without browning. Drain the beets, saving the cooking liquid, and finely chop. Add the chicken or vegetable stock to the onions. Upon boiling, add the cabbage and its cooking liquid back in. Add the beets, one cup of beet cooking liquid, caraway seeds, honey, and salt and pepper. Simmer for ten minutes, skimming carefully. Remove the soup from the heat. Add lemon juice and heat just to the boiling point. Serve with dill weed garnish. Eat soup hot or cold.

 

Get Omega-3s with Ease

May 12, 2014Health and Nutrition, Plant-Based,

 

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While many people believe that eating fish is necessary to get omega-3 fatty acids and maintain heart and brain health, there is absolutely nothing healthful about fish.

Recent research has even debunked the age-old myth that Eskimos, who ate diets heavy in fish, had a lower risk for heart disease. Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based sources of omega-3s.

So what do we know about omega-3s?

Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary nutrients that cannot be synthesized by the body, so we need to get them from our food. Since omega-3s do help with cell function, a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids can result in negative health consequences such as liver and kidney abnormalities, decreased immune function, or dry skin.

While some studies show that omega-3s might help with aging or brain health, omega-3s from fish or other animal products come with some unwanted side effects.

Fish contains toxic contaminants, and all animal products contain cholesterol and saturated fat—and have no fiber, an essential nutrient for digestion, cancer prevention, and weight loss. In my piece for the Huffington Post, I summarize some of the researchdebunking the health halo of fish oil supplements.  Fast food companies have also jumped in on the popularity of fish during Lent, but don’t take the bait—fish is not a health food.

Even if omega-3s are not the fountain of youth, plant sources of omega-3s are full of fiber and rich in other nutrients. Edamame and walnuts contain omega-3s and also contain protein. Winter squash is packed with omega-3s and is also a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C.

Flaxseeds are easy to incorporate into baked goods, smoothies, and a whole variety of recipes. Research has even shown that women who follow vegan diets have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood than those who consume diets rich in fish, meat, and dairy.

Friends or family have questions about omega-3s? Just share the infographic below!

omega-3-infographic

 

TMAO: A Toxic Substance Formed When You Eat Meat Can Make You … Dead Meat

POSTED ON MARCH 17, 2014 IN WELLNESS

 

When we eat red meat, its carnitine interacts with our gut bacteria, forming trimethylamine, which is then metabolized by the liver into TMAO. And it appears that TMAO is not our friend.1,2

TMAO promotes the formation of cholesterol plaques in our blood vessels, which make them less healthy and may lead to heart attack, stroke, and death. TMAO reduces our body’s ability to excrete cholesterol.1,2 And, if that is not bad enough, TMAO may be linked to death from prostate cancer.3

The good news is that people who eat an exclusively plant-based diet appear to form little TMAO. In fact, when researchers fed steak to a vegan, virtually no TMAO was made.Why is that? Vegans, it seems, do not select for the specific gut bacteria that lead to the formation of TMAO, whereas meat eaters do. Hence, it’s as if plants create a coat of armor in our stomachs, protecting us when they are not even there.

So if we’re protected by plants, is it okay for us to eat steak for just a few days? Are we protected from TMAO? It appears that we may not be. The trillions of bacteria in our gut change very quickly. In fact, they may meaningfully shift even within one to two days!4 So aside from the many other deleterious effects of meat, even one day of steak could cut a chink in the natural armor afforded us by eating plants.

Notably, red meat is not the only source of TMAO. Choline, which is found in chicken, fish, dairy ― and even plants ― is another. Choline is structurally similar to the carnitine in red meat, and with the help of the same gut bacteria, also forms TMAO. Accordingly, when investigators fed omnivores an egg, they made TMAO.1

Although we have no dietary need for carnitine, we do require dietary choline. So how can we get the choline we require without the unwanted company of toxic TMAO? The answer appears to be in the armor. Eating a plant-based diet selects for gut bacteria that do not lead to the formation of TMAO.2 So even though we are eating choline in plants, our stomach’s plant-derived protection is in place, practically freeing us from concern about TMAO.

Science’s understanding of the interaction of our diet and gut bacteria and their influence on our health is at an early stage. However, evidence is mounting that a plant-based diet may be beneficial for this interaction in many ways. Yet another reason to go (or stay) plant based!

1 N Engl J Med 2013; 368:1575-1584 April 25, 2013 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1109400
2 Nat Med. 2013 May;19(5):576-85. doi: 10.1038/nm.3145. Epub 2013 Apr 7
3 Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Oct;96(4):855-63. Epub 2012 Sep 5
4 Nature 505, 559–563 (23 January 2014) doi:10.1038/nature12820

The White Potato and the Law

 

Three years ago I discussed the issues of the US government banning one of the healthiest foods for humans, the white potato, in my book, The Starch Solution. You know, the book with a white potato on the cover.

This article from the WSJ explains how after all these years some action is being taken to correct health damaging information on potatoes.

(Please note I am not defending greasy French fries.)

This conflict over the potato shows how backwards ideas can become when money is at stake: the animal foods industries want all of the space they can buy inside of your stomach – the potato is a serious competitor with tri-tip for that real estate.

When it comes to profits there are no limits placed on lying (all is fair in love, war, and food).

Consider how industry can successfully teach doctors, dietitians, scientists, and laymen that:

1) People must eat meat and other animal foods for protein — but there has never been a case of protein deficiency reported on any natural diet (even those with no animal foods) in all of history.

2) People must consume dairy for calcium — but no cases have ever been reported of calcium deficiency on any natural diet – and most people who have lived on planet Earth have never tasted milk after weaning.

3) People must eat fish to get omega-3 fats – but only plants can make omega-3 fats, no fish or other animal can make these kinds of essential fats. Plants are loaded with omega-3 fats and they are safe to eat; whereas, fish are unhealthy to eat for many reasons, including their environmental pollution levels.

4) People should avoid white potatoes because they are fattening and empty calories — but the potato has served as the pillars of nutrition for billions of powerful, handsome people throughout history.

Therefore, it is important for consumers to understand that money is the biggest card in play even in matters of life and death for your loved ones. (This is not a conspiracy – just business at its worst.)

John McDougall, MD

My Journey from Doctor to MS Patient

Saray Stancic, MD

Saray Stancic, MD, is the founder of Stancic Health & Wellness in Ridgewood, NJ, an innovative medical practice whose mission is to educate and empower patients to achieve optimal health via lifestyle modification. Her focus is shedding light on the building body of scientific data supporting the importance of optimal nutrition in disease prevention. The concept for this practice came in response to her experiences as a physician for nearly 20 years and as a patient with multiple sclerosis.

 

Life can change in a moment. It did for me.

October 11, 1995 started out like any other grueling 24-hour shift at the hospital. I was a young, energetic physician living what I considered to be an extraordinary life. But this night was more exhausting than any I could remember. Deeply fatigued, I finally made it to bed around 3 am. Within the hour, I was awakened by a call from the emergency room. As I leapt out of bed, I experienced something so foreign that it simply took my breath away.

During this brief nap I had lost feeling in my lower extremities. Something was terribly wrong. I was emergently rushed off to an MRI that revealed multiple plaques in my brain and spinal cord, confirming a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

I was no longer Dr. Stancic, making early morning rounds on her patients. I was now the newly admitted MS patient, lying in a bed as a flock of medical students and doctors took turns assessing my deteriorating neurological status. Soon thereafter came a parade of drugs with their numerous side effects, all intended to mitigate the frightening progression and symptoms of MS. I had become a drug-dependent, sick young woman struggling to accept her fate. MS had swiftly swept away my dreams and aspirations, and left behind a shadow of my former self.

In the fall of 2003, after nearly a decade of a life compromised by chronic illness, a pivotal and enlightening event occurred. I came across an article in a medical journal touting the benefits of blueberries in MS patients. The article summarized findings suggesting that MS patients who ate blueberries had improved symptoms compared with those who did not. The investigators attributed these results to the berries’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The scientist in me was skeptical, but this publication had the effect of igniting my curiosity.Could food play a role in ameliorating or even preventing chronic illness? I was consumed by this idea, and driven to explore existing medical literature in search of answers. What I found was both illuminating and transformative. There was ample evidence in respectable peer-reviewed medical journals that our diets do play a key role in the development of chronic illness!

I wondered how this topic had escaped our medical school curriculum. The power of healing that lies in a whole-food, plant-based diet is incalculable and unquestionable. I was inspired by what I had discovered and felt compelled to personally adopt this lifestyle. I discontinued all my medications and focused on optimizing my diet.

Over the years that followed, I felt stronger and energized. Remarkably, after years of difficulty walking unassisted, my neurological deficits gradually improved. I felt renewed and infused with a great sense of hope. I decided to take up jogging, which evolved to running. In the spring of 2010 I ran a marathon. It was truly an extraordinary experience.

As a physician observing unnecessary suffering and loss, I felt compelled to spread the word of this seemingly untapped therapeutic resource with whomever was willing to listen. Regrettably, in speaking to colleagues, I found many did not share my level of enthusiasm or acceptance that this approach was valid.

My sense of alienation lifted after watching Forks Over Knives. I was reinvigorated by witnessing other like-minded physicians practice medicine with this philosophy. Today, my focus is educating patients on the value of a whole-food, plant-based diet, with an eye toward reducing prescription drug dependence.

Patients need to learn that they do have control of their individual health outcomes. For my patients, watching this film is a mandatory part of their care plan. The film effectively reinforces all that we discuss, and its impactful style is both educational and entertaining.

We can, as a society, shift and make the necessary changes to improve our health and well-being.  Life can change in a moment … and that can be a very wonderful thing.

Lipitor Side Effects

If you have unexplained muscle pain after starting Lipitor, see a doctor.

© iStockphoto.com/kenhurst

 

Lipitor Side Effects

Common side effects of Lipitor include headache, constipation, diarrhea, gas, stomach pains, rash and muscle pain.

In some cases, those muscle pains may indicate a more serious side effect: A small percentage of patients had muscle problems so serious that developed rhabdomyolysis. This condition causes muscles to break down, emitting proteins in the process that lead to kidney failure. The chance of this side effect increases if you’re taking certain other medications in addition to Lipitor, so, as with any prescription drug, you should tell your doctor about other medications you may be taking.

One other serious side effect is liver problems. If you already have liver problems, you shouldn’t take Lipitor, and your doctor may perform blood tests during the time you’re on Lipitor to monitor your liver. Signs of these serious side effects include extreme muscle weakness and tenderness, nausea and vomiting, dark-colored urine, unusual exhaustion, yellow eyes or skin, and stomach pain.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women shouldn’t take Lipitor. However, a 2008 study raises the question of whether Lipitor has any benefit at all for women. The authors of the study, which was published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, claimed that proof that Lipitor reduces the risk of heart attack in women is lacking . Rather, the authors asserted, Pfizer was marketing the drug as beneficial to both genders and not disclosing the portion of the FDA-sanctioned label that admitted the evidence for women was lacking .

The question of whether women should take Lipitor becomes important when you consider the possibility that the drug might result in memory loss in women. In 2008, Dr. Orli Etingin, vice chairman of medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital, said, “This drug makes women stupid” [sources: Cahoon, Beck]. The quote, which was picked up by several media outlets, spurred many doctors to speak in defense of Lipitor. These doctors claimed that any evidence of memory loss linked to Lipitor was purely anecdotal, and that its benefits far outweigh this potential side effect. Because more studies on statins and cognitive effects are needed, it’s worth asking your doctor about the latest research if you’re concerned.

You can avoid some of Lipitor’s more dangerous side effects by staying away from one substance. Find out what it is on the next page.