Vail Daily letter: A lifestyle change
It was 13 years ago at this time of year that I was diagnosed with coronary artery disease and had quadruple bypass surgery. After my surgery, I became aware of a program developed by a U.S. physician named Dr. Dean Ornish entitled The “Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heat Disease.” I was fortunate in being accepted for the 13-week program consisting of exercise, stress management, group support and a very low fat vegetarian diet.
When I started the program Medicare was seeking several thousand volunteers willing to undergo extensive additional study to see if the Ornish program might be covered by Medicare in the future. I volunteered and I understand Medicare has approved the program, the first ever for a preventive medicine.
Prior to writing a letter which this paper published on Dec. 31, I read the excellent Vail Daily article by Kim Fuller entitled “Diet or Diagnosis,” Nov. 11, 2013, in which T. Colin Campbell’s book “The China Study” and Caldwell Esselstyn’s book “Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease” were discussed as were the positive experiences of Vail physician Dr. Dennis Lipton and Bob Moroney, both of whom embraced the low-fat vegetarian diet suggested by T. Colin Campbell sharing their experiences.
Several years after my surgery, when the book was published, I too read “The China Study” and found its nutritional guidelines almost identical to that prescribed by Dr. Ornish with Dr. Campbell describing his diet as “a whole foods, plant based diet-with no added oils.”
I’ve attended many Vail seminars dealing with nutrition with many others eager to learn the facts only to be confused by conflicting information. Without the training I’ve received and continue to abide by I too would be as confused as others seeking help in knowing what to do to possibly protect themselves against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and autoimmune diseases, many of which can possibly be prevented, arrested and even reversed by following the guidelines of these experts
Now to the point of this letter, as earlier this year I read several of Ryan Richards’ articles on “Diet trends,” “The big picture when examining health” and “The factors on obesity,” in which he nicely outlined many of the controversies concerning what is or is not a healthy diet.
Unfortunately, however he reported comments from two doctors who stated “the dangers of cholesterol are a myth” and one professor saying that Dr. Campbell’s findings are “inconsistent with the evolution of our species.” Those of us who are informed recognize this as nonsense but to those not so aware and are seeking help, such information is not helpful.
Dr. Campbell’s findings are almost identical to those of the many doctors whose works were published years before Campbell’s “China Study” as accurately noted in the Vail Daily article of November 2013..
Let me address Mr. Richards’ reference to Arthur Saxon’s 1906 comment that “Milk is a perfect food.” Much has changed since 1906, and during the last four decades research has been conducted and described in the above books indicating that casein, the protein in the fat in milk, and very high levels of estrogen in today’s cows’ milk are related to certain cancers, specifically but not limited to prostate in men and breast cancer in women.
Information supplied by the dairy industry tell us that “we need milk for strong bones,” yet science shows that the highest incidence of osteoporosis and hip fractures are in parts of the world that consume the most milk, and the least for countries that don’t consume cow’s milk.
Richards states that “we need to eat real whole foods but less food in general to lose weight.” He is close to Dr. Campbell’s definition with the “whole foods part” but fails to stress that it’s not how much we eat, but what we eat that makes us fat!
Reading Dr. Ornish’s book “Eat More, Weigh Less” or Dr. McDougal’s book “The Starch Solution” best explains this rationale, but briefly, one can eat twice the weight of complex carbohydrate food compared to an equal weight of animal fat and still consume fewer calories.
Richards also quotes Mr. Saxon’s “avoid sugar, pastries and starchy foods” statement.
Good idea, limiting or avoiding the first two simple carbohydrates, but by eliminating starchy foods he’s eliminating all complex carbohydrates like whole grains, all legumes (beans, lentils, peas) and other starchy vegetables like carrots, artichokes potatoes and yams that the experts recommend for a healthy diet.
Richards correctly mentioned the tremendous increase in vegetable oil consumption after we were advised to eat less saturated fat and switch to vegetable oils “for heart health” in the early 1960s, and I suspect we’ve all heard how good olive oil is for us.
The doctors mentioned in the November 2013 Vail Daily are proving that all oils are fats, and studies now show that all three types of fat, saturated (animal), monounsaturated (not limited to olive oil) and polyunsaturated oils cause problems.
Recently, Drs. Ornish, Hyman and Roizen produced a research paper entitled “Lifestyle medicine: Treating the causes of disease” in which a study of 23,000 found that 93 percent of heart attacks, 50 percent of strokes, and 36 percent of all cancers were prevented for those following this program.
Recognizing all the above data, some people have asked if they could follow the Western diet, or the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) until they have “just a little bit of diabetes, or cancer” before changing their eating habits.
This was actually asked by one of Caldwell Esselystyn Jr.’s heart patients. The doctor said he didn’t recommend it since “in one out of four heart patients the first symptom is sudden death.”