Reverse Heart Disease Naturally

 

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Reverse Heart Disease Naturally

On July 21, 1990, the British scientific journal, The Lancet, published results from an extensive one-year study conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish and colleagues. Their intervention, called The Lifestyle Heart Trial, was designed to answer the question: “Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease?”

The study results answered that question with a resounding “yes.” As published in The Lancet, patients with angiogram-documented coronary artery disease randomly assigned to an experimental lifestyle-change group showed the following results after one year:

  • Regression of heart artery blockage (i.e., arteries becoming less blocked with fatty deposits) in more than 80% of the subjects
  • Cholesterol dropping, with the “bad” LDL falling 37%
  • Body weight decreases, averaging more than 10% of initial weight (e.g., the average 200 pounder lost more than 20 pounds)
  • Blood pressure decreases of more than 5%

What lifestyle components were used by Dr. Ornish and his team?

Vegetarian Diet

  • 70–75% complex carbohydrates (whole grains, beans, etc.)
  • 10–15% protein
  • No animal products (with the exception of egg whites and non-fat dairy)
  • Zero cholesterol
  • Unlimited calories (i.e., subjects could eat all they wanted of the specified foods)

Healthy Liquids

  • No caffeine (caffeine elimination helps decrease one’s risk of heart rhythm problems and may also make it easier to make healthful lifestyle changes)
  • Restricted alcohol consumption (LifeStart recommends total alcohol avoidance as research indicates it provides no heart benefits for those already on an excellent lifestyle)

Mental and Emotional Practices

  • Stress management training
  • Social and emotional support

Physical Activity

  • Moderate exercise was advocated in Ornish’s program such as walking three or more hours each week.
  • Note: holistic, moderate exercise appears to be better for one’s health than excessive or overly vigorous activity. This is particularly true in those with heart disease where too much exercise can lead to a heart attack.

No smoking

  • Studies show as soon as you stop smoking your risk of dying from a heart attack drops by 50%. This is likely due to the elimination of nicotine, known to seriously destabilize the heart’s rhythm.
  • Within one to two years, one’s risk of having a heart attack is cut in half. This is likely due to improvements in arterial health. For example, smoking cessation eliminates excessive exposure to carbon monoxide (created by burning tobacco), known to worsen atherosclerosis by damaging blood vessel walls.

After five years following the Ornish program additional results were published. That longer-term data underscored the initial findings. Further reversal of blockages was the rule—provided subjects remained faithful to the lifestyle.

For well over two decades scientists have thus had solid evidence that coronary heart disease is reversible—with lifestyle changes alone.

Would these changes make you miserable for the rest of your life?

Dr. Ornish and his team also measured the quality of life of their study participants. When compared to a control group (who were able to continue their old lifestyle habits), those on the lifestyle regimen demonstrated an improved sense of well-being. The heart-disease-reversing lifestyle was associated with decreases in anxiety, depression, and insomnia—and an increase in pleasure. The compelling evidence was this: healthy lifestyle changes are not merely heart healthy; they also foster higher quality living.

In a 1995 edition of The American Heart Journal, another leader in the cardiology community, Dr. William C. Roberts, took a stand for an Ornish-type diet. He concluded, “Not many persons in the Western world are desirous, however, of becoming vegetarians (either pure [vegans] or ovo-lacto type), but that should be our goal”.1

Dr. Roberts further went on record: “human beings clearly have more characteristics of herbivores than carnivores… Foods intended for homo sapiens [sic] probably are only three: starches (rice, corn, potatoes, beans, and pasta), vegetables, and fruits.” Although those of us at LifeStart would add nuts and seeds to Robert’s list, we’re compelled to agree with his logic that human physiology is best suited to a vegetarian diet.

Problems with animal protein

If you are trying to optimally lower your blood cholesterol level, however, you must do more than avoid the cholesterol and saturated fat associated with animal products. The best research indicates the importance of increasing our intake of dietary fiber (found only in plants) and eliminating animal protein. You see, animal protein, even when devoid of fat and cholesterol, tends to raise blood cholesterol levels.2

Another item to avoid in the diet is something called, “oxidized cholesterol.” This modified cholesterol is especially damaging to blood vessels, contributing to the buildup of atherosclerosis. Of note, cholesterol can be oxidized within the body as well as within foods. Cholesterol-containing products with a long shelf life typically are packed with oxidized cholesterol. Therefore, the best practice is to avoid such items as custards, pancake mixes, and ripened cheeses, all of which can be rich sources of oxidized cholesterol.

Summary

Heart disease is reversible. The evidence suggests that most of us can stop the disease in its tracks and often reverse fatty build up in our arteries by following the LifeStart principles. To learn more about the nine strategies behind the LifeStart program, download our FREE LifeStart eBook. For best results when applying these principles, however, be sure to include your healthcare providers in the dialogue. We also recommend you try to connect with a local support center and surround yourself with a community of supportive peers. You can access such individuals by using our online directory. Our website also features books, DVDs, and other health services that I and other medical professionals have endorsed. They are all designed to aid you on your journey to reversing heart disease naturally.

Endnotes

  1. Roberts, William C. “Preventing and Arresting Coronary Atherosclerosis.” The American Heart Journal, 130 (1995): 580–600.
  2. Basha, MD, Bassem Jamil. Sowers, MD, James R. “High Density Lipoprotein-Binding Proteins in Liver.”
    The American Heart Journal, 131 (1995): 1192–1202.

Take the Next Step...

Join the 30-day LifeStart Online Program and get daily motivation plus personalized support to help you live sharper, leaner, longer, and better—in 30 days or less!

About the Presenter

David DeRose, MD, MPH
Host, LifeStart Seminars

For over 25 years Dr. David DeRose has been helping people improve their health through motivational presentations and natural therapies. He brings solid credentials as a board-certified specialist in both Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine in addition to holding a master’s degree in Public Health with an emphasis on Health Promotion and Health Education. Known for his engaging presentations, Dr. DeRose is an award-winning public speaker, published medical researcher, syndicated talk radio host, and experienced college teacher.

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