In part one of this article, we discussed how research is showing the healing effects of a healthy diet. A healthy diet based on today’s research involved eating more plant based foods, greatly reducing any processed foods and keeping our animal proteins to a minimum. As a result many doctors, in spite of their lack of training in nutrition, are turning to food to cure disease instead of drugs, since drugs usually only manage a condition and doesn’t cure it.
Those of us who live in the western world are often unaware that there are entire cultures and societies on our planet where things we take for granted barely exist. There are places with almost no heart disease and no colon or breast cancer, and where much of the autoimmune diseases we see are practically nonexistent. Why is it that in the west we have become used to illnesses that don’t need to be prevalent but are?
The Anatomy of a Heart Attack
First, a quick reminder of the anatomy of a heart attack. A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), is permanent damage to the heart muscle. As the Cleveland Clinic describes, your heart muscle needs to receive a good supply of blood at all times to function properly. Your heart muscle gets the blood it needs from the coronary arteries. Coronary artery disease is the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries caused by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis (sometimes called “hardening” or “clogging” of the arteries) is the buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits (called plaque) on the inner walls of the arteries that restricts blood flow to the heart.
Without adequate blood, the heart becomes starved of oxygen and the vital nutrients it needs to work properly. This can cause chest pain called angina. When one or more of the coronary arteries are completely blocked, a heart attack (injury to the heart muscle) may occur.
A network of blood vessels known as coronary arteries surround the heart muscle and supply it with blood that is rich in oxygen and nutrients. The heart muscle needs this continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients to function. A heart attack occurs when a coronary artery becomes suddenly blocked, stopping the flow of blood to the heart muscle and damaging it.
Watch how food heals
I want to share a picture with you. You are about to look at two different angiograms. An angiogram is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to take pictures of your blood vessels. The picture on the left is a close up view of a person’s left anterior descending coronary artery (that is in the heart muscle). The picture on the right is the exact same artery after a couple years of plant based eating. No medications and no stents!
In the x-ray on the left the artery is mostly blocked. The amount of blood flow traveling from top to bottom is highly disrupted. But look at the same artery on the right after eating properly. Again, no medications and no angioplasty (stenting). This is a patient in Dr. Esselstyn’s program at the Cleveland Clinic. There are also many patients who got enough of the blockage reversed within 3 WEEKS of changing their eating that they went from not functional to being able to walk for miles and accomplish simple daily tasks that were impossible before the dietary changes.
Dr. Esselstyn and some others are primarily working with healthy eating—mostly plant-based diets-to reverse heart disease, others have been looking at these diets in terms of cancer preventions, and even as part of the curing process. Dr. T. Colin Campbell has been doing research in this area for decades. He is the author of the China Study which indicates a connection between diet and cancer.
You may remember a few weeks ago I wrote about many of the unexpected surprises I have seen in my work with people attaining their goals, but then having additional good outcomes in other areas of health. Every doctor working with good nutrition in the form of whole food plant based eating can tell you stories of patients who have seen skin conditions clear up, diabetes reverses, remissions in people with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, and people with irritable bowel disease feel better. Even people without advanced chronic conditions speak of better energy, weight loss, decreased fatigue and better sleep. When you combine this way of eating together with basic exercise, you have something far more powerful and effective than any medication any doctor can give you for these conditions.
Things are changing rapidly however. Dr. Robert Ostfeld is a cardiologist at Montefiore Hospital in NY. He has opened a division in the cardiology department called the Cardiac Wellness Program. They use plant-based nutrition to cure heart disease and avoid medications and stents. Dr. Esselstyn has his clinic at the Cleveland Clinic using and researching nutrition to halt and reverse heart disease. Dr. Dean Ornish has been collecting data and using randomized trials and studies to prove that plant based eating really works. Clinics and hospitals worldwide are incorporating nutrition as medicine. Many doctors and certainly pharmaceutical companies may be displeased, but it is happening. Dr. Neal Barnard has a support staff of top dieticians in his practice to help patients transition. Many doctors are now incorporating nutritional healing into their clinics.
And what about the education of our physicians going forward? There was good news this past year on that front as well. The Albert Einstein College of Medicine has put more nutrition into their curriculum. Others are sure to follow suit.
With all the problems of the current form of medicine, look at how much we have to be optimistic about.
This is the new medicine—really the old medicine. You don’t have to be perfect to start seeing results. Every change brings more improvement. The more changes you make, the better your health will be. By adding just a few more servings of vegetables and fruits and by eliminating most of the processed foods and some animal proteins you are consuming, you already have done wonders for your health and well-being.
We are still in the initial stages of understanding how far this can go, but we are surely on the way. Ask your doctor about this new and exciting area of medicine and if he want more information, he can look up all the names mentioned of doctors already practicing the new medicine—the kind that heals, cures and will “add hours to your days, days to your years, and years to your life.”
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.