Sunday, May 4, 2014

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Caldwell Esselstyn

This is a terrific book.  It does not reflect generally practiced medical care in the US.  Because, as Dr. Esselstyn says, "I believe that we in the medical profession have taken the wrong course.  It is as if we were simply standing by, watching millions of people march over a cliff, and then intervening in a desperate, last-minute attempt to save them once they have fallen over the edge. Instead, we should be teaching them how to avoid the chasm entirely, how to walk parallel to the precipice so that they will never fall at all."

The precipice that he's talking about is coronary artery disease.  Here's more from Dr. Esselstyn on this:
"The United States spends more than $250 billion a year on heart disease. ... But here is the truly shocking statistic: nearly all of that money is devoted to treating symptoms.  It pays for cardiac drugs, for clot dissolving medications, and for costly mechanical techniques that bypass clogged arteries or widen them with balloons, tiny rotating knives, lasers, and stents. All of these approaches carry significant risk of serious complications, including death.  And even if they are successful, they provide only temporary relief from the symptoms.  They do nothing at all to cure the underlying disease or to prevent its development in other potential victims."
The first part of the book explains the medical research and science behind his reasoning, in a clear and simple fashion that any layperson could follow.  The second part includes recipes and ideas for how to deal with meals.

The only problem is following Dr. Esselstyn's advice, because he strongly asserts that moderation is a killer.  To effectively reverse (or prevent) heart disease, he says you must avoid meat, poultry, fish, dairy products - so far, not that difficult - and also avoid oil, of any kind, as he says, "not a drop." That's tough.  And, generally, you can't eat nuts or avocados.   Oh, and whole grains not processed grains.

There's the rub for me and for many vegans:  the combination of oil and processed grains are the foundation of our ability to eat a (nearly) whole food plant based diet.  According to Dr. Esselstyn's research though, it is really important to cut out those fun, oops, I mean those deadly, items as well.  All of them.  Fortunately, the second part of the book has ample advice to deal with this.

All it takes, according to Dr. Esselstyn, is three months of eating this way to remove the desire for fats (oils) and other delicious (I mean deadly) foods.

Related titles include:  The Starch Solution by John McDougall MD, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, by T. Colin Campbell PhD, and also his book The China StudyThe Spectrum by Dean Ornish MD, and this one from a more popular writer, former professional athlete and fireman, and Dr. Esselstyn's son, Rip: My Beef With Meat.

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure

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