Ms. De La Mora,
Several years ago, my father was diagnosed with heart disease. I am very close to my father and it has been a long, turbulent and terrifying road for everyone who loves him. Doctors have inserted multiple stents, have given him numerous drugs, and he has had frequent medical tests. Now they are considering bypass surgery. I remembered that you are knowledgeable about nutrition and disease prevention, and I wondered about your thoughts. I am really worried that this is the beginning of the end and I am equally concerned that I am watching my own destiny unfold. I am his daughter! Am I, too, going to succumb to this dreadful disease?!
I have a strong dis-ease about this disease!
Troubled in Toledo
I am sorry to hear about your plight and the recent diagnosis of your loved one. I understand that this is a very difficult and stressful time. There is exciting news, however: There is an incredible amount of evidence to support the idea that plant-based diets have the ability not only to prevent heart disease, but also to reverse years of damage that has been done. There have been many studies that show that plant-based diets continually improve health over time, bathing endothelial cells (which line the blood vessels) in antioxidants, nitric oxide, and other substances that allow the vessels to dilate, repair damage, and increase blood flow. Conversely, unhealthy foods, such as animal products, caffeine, oils, etc., damage endothelial cells, even within minutes of the consumption of harmful foods. This knowledge is powerful, as even patients with significant blockages and shortened projected lifespans have turned their health around and have lived decades longer because of the power of plants.
The current methods of Cardiology treat the symptoms of heart disease and not the cause, so it stands to reason that this branch of medicine will never eliminate the disease. Most health care professionals have little-to-no formal education when it comes to nutrition. Even if doctors had a better understanding about good nutrition, they have very busy practices and likely are to assume that most people would like to manage their disease while maintaining their current dietary habits. This is unfortunate because plant-based diets have been shown to possess the power of healing at virtually any stage of disease. Unfortunately, on a traditional western diet, comprised of animal products, processed foods, and the inclusion of added oils, sugar, and salt, it is not a matter of if disease will occur, but when disease will occur. On a western diet, disease is almost certain to reach every single one of us. According to Dr. Lou Color, Professor of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, “All males who are 65 and older, and all females who are 70 and older, who have been exposed to the traditional western diet, have cardiovascular disease and should be treated as such.”1 But the good news is that this whole disease is not necessary!
You will find great relief in the fact that, in most cases, genes merely act as suggestions. Diseases often tend to run in families because families adopt similar dietary and lifestyle tendencies. Nutrition has been shown to determine the outcome of those genes. This means that your genes are not a death sentence! Fortunately, you now have some insight regarding what your genes likely are suggesting and you have the power to determine whether those outcomes will occur. Even at this advanced stage of disease, your loved one still has the power to regain his health. I will send to you a list of recommended books penned by doctors who have spent their entire careers preventing and reversing disease through plant-based diets. You then can determine whether this is something you wish to pursue. Perhaps you would like to buy an extra copy for your doctor!
In 1999, economists Topel and Murphy estimated that, with Cardiology comprising 45 percent of Medicare, eliminating the heart disease epidemic would save the U.S. $40 trillion.2 That is significant! As you can see, a plant-based diet is not only important for optimal health, and the wellbeing of those who care for us, but it is beneficial for the economic wellbeing of the nation as well!
The future is bright! Please keep me posted.
Danica De La Mora
1. Esselstyn, Caldwell B., Cornell University and The Center for Nutrition Studies, Diseases of Affluence, Who Gets Heart Disease?
2. Esselstyn, Caldwell B., Cornell University and The Center for Nutrition Studies, Diseases of Affluence, Maintaining the Covenant of Trust.