This article was originally published as an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post (19 March 2023): https://www.jpost.com/health-and-wellness/nutrition/article-734716
Meet Joe. Joe was a client of mine over the course of a decade. He first came into my program when he was in his 50’s. He was already suffering from heart disease and diabetes. In addition, he was a cancer survivor, obese, and on multiple medications. Joe received our standard care at that time and made progress. He lost some weight, began exercising more consistently, and made many dietary improvements.
Joe did see some positive results. His sugar levels and cholesterol did improve somewhat. But Joe never saw the breakthrough necessary to enable him to eliminate medications, lose significant weight, and reverse his diabetes and heart disease.
When Joe returned to my program 2 years after he left, the weight he lost had all come back. He was really doing the best he could. He was frustrated. We were also doing the best we could, based on the science we were working with. The problem was that what we were doing then, and unfortunately what most are still doing, has its limitations.
Joe returned, again, after reading Dr. Joel Fuhman’s book, Eat to Live. He was following a plant-based program. His weight was as low as it had been in 20 years and he was feeling great. I explained to Joe that at my clinic made a similar shift. Most of my clients now get great results with 85-90% compliance. Still, people like Joe seeking to reverse disease, really had to be very strict.
I still remember Joe telling me 3 years prior that his cardiologist told him that he is now a “member of the club”—the club that must take medicines for the rest of their lives.
Well, Joe was once on 14 medications – now, he is down to 2 (and those are minimum doses)!
The main point
Joe’s story is background information. Let’s get to our main storyline.
I thought it was time for Joe to get a new blood test primarily to see where his cardiovascular risk was standing. Readers may recall that I wrote a column in the pages of The Jerusalem Post only about a month ago about cholesterol. The column addresses how cholesterol is one of the risk factor for heart disease. There are many more; we just don’t test for all the right things. One of the blood tests I mentioned as being important is CRP (C-reactive protein), which gives a good idea of how much inflammation may be in our bodies.
I requested this test from Joe’s doctor. The next time he came back to see me, Joe told me that his doctor told him “CRP is a waste of time and why would you want such a thing?” Joe held his ground and he was able to have it included in his blood test.
The annual conference of the American College of Cardiology
Medical and nutritional research can change the treatments we choose and sometimes, research findings change rapidly. Take a look at what happened a few weeks ago at the annual conference of the American College of Cardiology (ACC).
As the conference is now both virtual and in-person, 38,000 doctors attended. The ACC is the organization that establishes all cardiovascular protocols used in most of the world. Whether it’s CPR protocols, medicine and surgical protocols, or establishing dietary habits favorable for good heart health, these are the experts. Like any medical conference, presentations include papers on new research.
A new paper on cardiovascular risk showed something very interesting—it isn’t the LDL cholesterol as much as it is the CRP that determines your risk of heart attack and stroke.
A large meta-analysis of the PROMINENT, REDUCE-IT, and STRENGTH trials, pooled individuals across these studies using statins 3-5 years to lower cholesterol. These individuals had adverse clinical outcomes tied more strongly to high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) than LDL cholesterol:
- Major adverse cardiovascular events risk was significantly elevated in the top two quartiles of CRP and had no relationship with LDL cholesterol
- Cardiovascular mortality risk was higher in the top three quartiles of CRP and the top quartile of LDL cholesterol
- All-cause mortality was elevated in the top three quartiles of CRP and the top quartile of LDL cholesterol
“In all three trials, individuals with elevated CRP were at high cardiovascular risk irrespective of LDL cholesterol level,” reported Paul Ridker, MD, MPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Yes – what I, and many others, have been preaching for years has now been proven yet again! This study was printed in one of the most prestigious of medical journals, The Lancet, too.
Back to Joe and his doctor
Why the resistance in doing what is best for patients to have a more accurate assessment of their health?
What is holding doctors back from prescribing lifestyle changes – the single most powerful medium for preventing and reversing disease?
For the longest time the research was hidden from us and made sure it wasn’t a part of main-stream medicine. That research we didn’t know about—but it’s always been there:
- A mostly plant-based diet,
- exercise and activity,
- reducing and managing stress, and finally,
- having good relationships and social interactions with our fellow human beings
This all adds up to the prevention and reversal of our common chronic diseases!
It’s time to really heal!
It’s not a couple of studies, it’s thousands of them.
A whole-food, plant-based diet is the ONLY diet that has been shown to reverse cardiovascular disease. Instead of standing in the way of healing, it’s time to actively promote behaviors that heal. Many medical professionals have gotten on board but most haven’t. If you are a doctor do what is absolutely best for your patient. Read the research, become familiar with the material, and put it into practice. Using this, together with pharmaceuticals, surgeries and procedures when necessary, will be far more effective in healing your patients. It will produce long-lasting results, longer life, and more importantly a better quality of life.
Just yesterday, a client who came to The Wellness Clinic 3 months ago sent in new blood work. The results: Cholesterol down about 60 points, LDL down about 55 points, Triglycerides down 80 points, sugar down 6 points. His previously low iron is now normal—even with cutting down on animal proteins! This was all with NO medications.
Working to benefit humanity
I recently attended a summit on reversing heart disease. Among the 20+ speakers at the event was cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish. He had a quote which I think sums up the current state of treatment in today’s medical practice, he said, “Abraham Maslow once said, if the only tool you have is a hammer, you see everything as a nail. If you’re trained to use drugs and surgery, if you reimburse to use drugs and surgery, then, not surprisingly, people use drugs and surgery…”
This should not be one school of thought against another. It should be working for the benefit of humanity. By taking the disciplines that are scientifically proven to work, such as lifestyle medicine, combined with the expertise of medical professionals, and examination of good research we can work for the benefit of humanity.
We also need to stop putting out fires. Our focus must be on preventing disease and illness to begin with. Most of all, it is time to give our physicians ALL the tools they need in order to better the lives of their patients. It’s a matter of education and it needs to start in the doctor’s office. Let’s work on updating ourselves on the facts and the truth in order to “add hours to your days, days to your years, and years to your life.”
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