Heart disease is the number one killer in the world. I am sure this is not news to you. We hear it way too often. What may be totally new to you though, is the fact that heart disease can be reversed.
Yes, you read right. A diagnosis of heart disease is no longer a death sentence or a heart attack waiting to strike. It is in your power to halt the progress and reverse this disease.
It is a very sad day for the person who has been diagnosed with heart problems. If you should get that news you are likely to just resign yourself to taking medication every day for the rest of your life just to stay alive. The doctor will probable tell you that there is nothing more that can be done for your condition. You will just have to suffer the side effects of the medication and they will probably give you even more medication to counteract the side effects. Definitely not something to look forward to.
Well here is some exciting news for you and all others who been given this diagnosis.
Heart disease is preventable and reversible.
Anatomy of Heat Disease.
Let’s look a little bit more closely at what really causes heart disease.
Have you ever heard of nitric oxide?
Some of you might be saying “Yeah, yeah, that’s laughing gas” Ha ha ha……. No it isn’t. Laughing gas is actually nitrous oxide. Don’t worry that you got it wrong. You were sooo close.
Nitric oxide is a molecule that is produced naturally by your body and it is very important for many aspects of your health and it is an integral part of heart health.
Nitric oxide is made by the endothelium. That’s just a big word for the lining of the blood vessels. Nitric oxide expands blood vessels, increasing blood flow and decreasing plaque growth and blood clotting. You have heard about plaque, haven’t you? Yes, that sticky thing that clogs up blood vessels. Nitric oxide allows nutrients and oxygen to travel to every part of the body effectively and efficiently.
When the endothelium senses heart healthy conditions such as healthy diet, physical activity, low cholesterol and normal blood pressure, it releases more nitric oxide. Conversely, when it senses less-than-ideal conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking etc., it’s releases less nitric oxide and we now know that we need the nitric oxide if we want smooth, dilated blood vessels. We definitely don’t want plaque constricting blood flow.
Heart disease begins when we progressively injure the endothelium (the innermost lining of the artery).
It doesn’t happen overnight. There are some foods that can be considered enemies to the endothelium and they gradually and painlessly cause damage that ultimately result in serious health challenges.
It’s not all gloom
Let’s get on to the good news. Maybe you or a family member have been told that you have heart disease and there’s nothing further that can be done. Guess what? You can reverse that heart disease. How? By adopting a whole food plant based diet. Yes, over time your endothelium has been damaged by the many inflammation producing foods you have been consuming and it is not able to produce the amount of nitric oxide that is needed to keep those blood vessels smooth and clear of plaque. But all of this can change for the better.
The change that you will need to make in order to reverse you heart disease is to commit to a whole food, plant based diet. You might be thinking, “Hey, that’s not bad. 70% of my diet is whole food plant based”. I am afraid that will not work. You need to commit to 100% if you want to reverse heart disease. 70% and 80% will work for the person who does not have heart disease and just want to eat healthy but not for you who already have the disease.
Just think about it. You have heart disease. Your endothelium is damaged and you want to reverse the damage. Can you reverse the damage by eating 30% of foods that you know will cause damage to the endothelium? That doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? If you want to reverse the damage, you will have to commit to 100% whole food plant based diet.
This is the recommendation of world renown Physician and Nutritional Research Scientist Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Dr. Esselstyn is an authority in the field of nutrition and author of the book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” which is a review of his years of research of arresting and reversing coronary artery disease in severely ill patients.
What are the foods that damage the endothelium?
I am going to be honest with you. You might not be happy to hear this. But hey, we are talking health here. You should be willing to make some sacrifices, right?
These are the damaging foods which you should remove from your diet. Every time you eat them you damage the endothelial cells.
- Oils; e.g. olive oils, coconut oil, palm oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, oils in your spreads, oils on your salads in the form of dressing….you get the picture.
- All dairy such as cheese, butter, milk, yogurt, ice cream etc.
- All meats, chicken, fish, pork, eggs etc.
- All excess of sugar; sodas, sugary drinks, cakes, pies, cookies etc.
All these foods are damaging to the endothelium.
If you stop eating these foods that injure the capacity of the endothelial cells to make nitric oxide, then the endothelium will recover, begin to make the required nitric oxide and halt the disease process. Continuation of this lifestyle change will result in disease reversal.
Many scientific researches have been done and doctors like Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Dean Ornish and many others, endorse the fact (without any doubt), that 100% reversal of heart disease is possible.
What can you eat on a whole food plant-based diet?
What then can you eat if you go on this whole food plant-based diet. You might be thinking that there’s nothing left for you to eat. But don’t despair. Yes, you exclude refined foods, like added sugars, white flour and processed oils but you still have lots and lots of options.
Just think whole grains for your cereal, bread, pasta, bagels, and rolls. There are the other whole grains such as millet, brown rice quinoa, bulgur etc.
Let’s not forget the numerous types of legumes such as split peas, kidney beans, chickpeas, navy beans, lima beans, pigeon peas, broad beans and lentils.
Consider all those marvelous red, yellow, and green leafy vegetables, potatoes especially sweet potatoes and other root vegetables.
Do you now realize that there is absolutely no shortage of food on this diet?
Boost up your antioxidant intake
To help in the healing, you also need to eat foods high in antioxidants. If you add raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries on your morning oats cereal, that is terrific. However, you will get your greatest source of antioxidants from green leafy vegetables.
According to Dr. Esselstyn, you should aim to chew a leafy vegetable 6 times per day. You may boil it for about 5 minutes first to make it nice and tender. Then you should add several drops of balsamic vinegar. This is because the acetic acid in the vinegar has been shown to restore the nitric oxide synthase enzyme contained within the endothelial cell that is responsible for making nitric oxide.
How can you eat vegetable so many times in one day? Dr. Esselstyn suggestion is to do so once with your breakfast, once as your mid-morning snack, one with your lunch, one as an afternoon snack, one with dinner, and one as a late evening snack. And that way you are just flooding your system with beautiful, healthy antioxidant to help heal the endothelium and reduce inflammation.
What are these vegetables that you can eat?
Some examples are bok choy, swiss chard, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, napa cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro, parsley, spinach. The top 6 according to Dr Esselstyn are kale, swiss chard, spinach, arugula, beet greens, and beets.
Are you worried about your protein intake? No need to be. Just about all types of food have some protein in it. There is protein in grains, protein in vegetables, protein in potatoes…there might not be a lot in some of the foods. But then there are many different types of peas and beans that you can choose from and they are packed with proteins. You will never be short on that. No need to worry.
Are you ready to reverse your heart disease?
Start thinking whole food plant-based diet. This means that you’re going to stay away from all refined and highly processed foods and all the others we mentioned above… just adopt a whole food plant based diet 100% of the time and that’s how you will reverse heart disease.
There’s no need to worry. It may sound overwhelming but it is not. Plant based foods are quite delicious. Lots of recipes are available that you can use to make all sorts of delicious dishes. Your taste buds will get used to the new food and you will not miss your old diet. What you would be enjoying instead is great health.
Is giving up the Western diet too great a sacrifice for you to make? Ask those who have adopted this whole food plant based diet. They will tell you they feel so much better there is no turning back for them. This can be your experience as well.
Don’t forget that maintaining good health is wholistic. The diet plays a most important role. But don’t forget the other laws of good health such as exercise, water, fresh air and sunshine. See 8 Steps to Good Health.
Finally, don’t forget to consult your doctor before you make any changes to your ongoing treatments.