Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Who is Dr Caldwell Esselstyn?

Dr Caldwell Esselstyn is a force of nature. At 82, he still directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, and travels around the US regularly (hopefully he’ll come to Australia one day!), spreading his message that coronary artery disease is a reversible condition, even when it’s so advanced that mainstream cardiologists have given up on you and sent you home to die.
I’ve covered the key elements of Dr Esselstyn’s heart disease reversal program in my 2014 International PBNHC Round-up video and discussed some of the myths about heart disease that Essy busts in a previous post.
In brief, he teaches his patients to eat a wholefood, plant-based (i.e. vegan) diet with no added oil; no nuts or seeds except a tablespoon of ground flax/linseed each day; no avocado; and no added salt; and with the addition of green leafy vegetables at every meal and snack. You can find all the details in his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and his wife Ann and daughter Jane have authored several recipe books that teach you how to make this way of eating enjoyable.
But what I really want to discuss in this post is why more people don’t know about his work, and the implications of that ignorance.
Let’s start with a little background. Caldwell Esselstyn has worked at the Cleveland Clinic, one of the most well-known academic hospitals in the US, since 1968. His surgical training was conducted there; he chaired the Clinic’s Breast Cancer Task Force and headed its Section of Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery; he has served as President of the Staff and as a member of the Board of Governors. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Association in 2009.
He has also served as President of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, was cited in The Best Doctors in America 1994-1995 for his surgical expertise in the categories of endocrine and breast disease, and is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. On top of all that, he is the author or co-author of over 150 publications in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals.
I’m telling you all of this to make it clear that Dr Esselstyn is not some underqualified nut-job pushing a half-baked theory of his own creation that has never been tested. (There are plenty of contrasts to him in the ‘alternative medicine’ sphere, such as Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, who makes outrageous claims for her GAPS diet based on either no science at all, or badly outdated science that has since been disproven, and who has never published a single paper in the medical literature to document her approach).
No, Essy is the real deal – a highly-qualified and well-respected doctor with an impeccable academic pedigree. So why is that the vast majority of people who undertake his program find out about him through friends, relatives or internet searches, rather than being referred to him by their doctors, including cardiologists who work at the Cleveland Clinic and have known of him, and his work, for decades?
Well, as I discovered recently, it turns out that the Cleveland Clinic actually has a policy that no doctors employed by it are permitted to refer patients to Esselstyn’s cardiovascular prevention and reversal program, even though it operates inside the Cleveland Clinic! Ummmm, whaaaat?
It’s simple, really. The average cost for heart bypass surgery in US hospitals is US$117 000, and being a top teaching hospital, the Cleveland Clinic probably charges more than that. The failure rate for this procedure is high (see my article What Bill Clinton’s cardiologist didn’t know (and why you need to know it), so a significant proportion of people will end up back under the surgeon’s knife, or undergoing other invasive procedures. Even if they don’t, they’ll have to come back for regular check-ups and to get their prescriptions updated, ensuring that they become cash cows for the hospital.
In contrast, Essy charges next to nothing to participate in his program, has detailed the entire program in a book that you can buy online for around A$20, and explains how the program works in numerous videos that you can watch for free on Youtube. People who stick strictly to the program are virtually heart-attack-proof, as he has documented in the long-term follow-up studies that he has published, so they have no need to come back to the Cleveland Clinic, or to Essy personally, for any more treatment.
Follow the money, folks. Treating people with surgery, stenting and medication keeps them sick patients for the rest of their lives, which is highly lucrative; while teaching them how to take charge of their health gets them off the medical merry-go-round, saving loads of taxpayers dollars as well as their out-of-pocket costs.
from empowertotalhealth.com.au

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mainstream media don't want us to know

The documentary ‘What the Health’ exposed how big pharma and food industry groups corrupt public health bodies with their generous donations. There was even a scene in which a hospital administrator was up front in making the point that the hospital derived its income from medical procedures not by giving health advice that might avoid the need for procedures. The donations and financial support from these industry groups is often indirect and very difficult to trace. While donations from meat, dairy, egg and pharmaceutical industries have a powerful influence, there are other reasons why your doctor does not recommend a whole foods plant-based diet for heart disease and your heart charity still recommends eggs as a heart healthy food.
Health professionals and health organisation leaders are real people with personal and cultural food habits and they do not want to hear bad news about these habits as this would damage their esteem and require difficult lifestyle changes. When we tried to introduce Cowspiracy concepts to a local environmental group we hit a wall that stopped them going beyond meat and dairy “in moderation”. A cancer organisation spokesperson responded to the 2015 WHO ‘processed meat is a class 1 carcinogen’ report by publicly stating that he would continue to eat bacon. Health organisations and their experts, like the rest of us, are inclined to save face. After years of arguing that eggs are heart healthy after all, it would be difficult for a heart charity to do an about face and tell us that eggs promote heart disease.
The main reason why more Australian health professionals are not prescribing plant-based diets is that they just don’t know. We wish that more would just find the NutritionFacts website or visit the PlantricianProject. However, in our current paradigm of lean protein and good fats, most would be incredulous of this information. Medical education articles now have even less emphasis on nutrition than they did 20 years ago and the medical media frequently ignores or distorts research that suggests that plant-based eating is optimal. For example, a couple of years ago they missed the discovery of a major new cardiac risk factor – TMAO (you can learn about it at NutritionFacts). It often seems that the experts who provide the medical education don’t know either, and are unaware of ground breaking research published in peer reviewed journals – reversing heart disease, stopping prostate cancer growth, and favourable modifying the gut microbiome in 3 days with a plant-based diet.
The stunning findings of the BROAD study - a randomised controlled trial in a community setting, where participants lost 11.5kg in 6 months (and kept it off at 12 months) with a low fat whole food plant-based diet and no portion control or exercise program - have not been reported in any Australian medical media since it was published in a peer reviewed journal two months ago, despite being a local (New Zealand) study. While this freshly published study was being ignored, there were editorials in the medical media suggesting that no diet is any better for weight loss, an industry-friendly view that has become more pervasive in mainstream nutrition.
If our health professionals understood the power of whole foods, plant-based nutrition and had tried it themselves, then no amount of industry funding would stop them from recommending it to their patients.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

No Oil

The facts that you should know about olive oil and other vegetable oils (including coconut oil) are:
  • Vegetable oils have more than twice the calorie density of refined sugar
  • Vegetable oils contain almost no vitamins, minerals or fibre
  • Olive oil is harmful to your arteries 
  • The Mediterranean diet was healthy because it was mainly plant based
  • Whole plant foods contain all of the essential fats that our bodies require

Olive Oil

“Isn’t olive oil good for you”?  Is the surprised reply we get when we say “no oil, not even olive oil”. Doctors, dieticians, nutrition advisory groups and the media all promote olive oil as the good oil, the heart friendly oil, the key ingredient of the Mediterranean Diet. How could they collectively get this so wrong? The following is a summary of some of the evidence that olive oil is not a healthy addition to your diet.
The ultimate junk food?Olive oil is a highly processed food – it is olives stripped of their fibre, minerals and vitamins (with the exception of vitamin E). Oils have the highest energy density of any food, more than twice that of sugar (oils =9 calories/37kJ per gram; sugar =4 calories/16kJ per gram). One Australian tablespoon olive oil =160 calories/680kJ; 100ml =810 calories/3400kJ. Even the addition of small amounts of oil to food promotes weight gain and reduces nutrient intake: e.g. 100g wholemeal pasta (uncooked) = 332 calories; add 1 tablespoon olive oil: 160 + 332 = 492 calories. That’s 50% more calories for little nutritional benefit. You could have added another 48g pasta to the meal for the same number of calories. An extra 50g pasta would give you 4.9g fibre, 2mg iron, 31mg calcium, 0.7mg zinc and 42mg magnesium. The tablespoon of oil gives you none of those nutrients, so it could be said that olive oil “displaces” nutrients. See related pages: Energy Densityand Nutrient Density.
oil tabspNB 1 tablespoon olive oil has the same number of calories as a 375ml can of Coke.

Vitamin EOlive oil contains vitamin E. In fact, many vegetable oils are high in vitamin E because it’s a fat soluble vitamin that is retained when the fats are extracted from their whole plant-food source. Vegetable oils appear high in vitamin E because they are a food concentrates – on a per calorie basis, they are no higher than the plants from which they were made. Many whole plant foods, including whole grains, are rich in vitamin E, and our digestive systems evolved the capacity to absorb this fat soluble vitamin long before the invention of salad dressing.
Fatty acid Composition:
The term “good fats” is often applied to Olive oil. This description does not stand up to scrutiny unless you are comparing olive oil to animal fats. Olive oil consists predominantly of omega 9 monounsaturated fats which are not required by humans other than as a concentrated source of calories. It may surprise you that olive oil is moderately high in saturated fats – 15% – and therefore no amount of olive oil added to the diet will bring the proportion of saturated fats down the target of less than 10% of calories.
We need some dietary fats – the omega 6 and the omega 3 essential fatty acids. The omega 6 series are found widely in food and it’s thought that the Australian diet provides far too many omega 6 fats relative to omega 3’s compared to the suggested optimal ratios of 4:1 or less. Olive oil contributes excessive omega 6’s with less than 1% omega 3’s and a ratio of 13:1.
Polyphenols
Polyphenols are anti-oxidant phytochemicals with health supporting effects which include protection against heart disease. strawberries 100gExtra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is promoted as healthy because it contains polyphenols. Most of the olive oil used in cooking is not polyphenol rich EVOO and there are many whole plant foods that have a much higher polyphenol content than EVOO. This table shows the polyphenol content of popular plant foods, and also shows the content per 100 calories. Compare eating 100g strawberries (235mg polyphenols; 26 calories) with a 20ml tablespoon EVOO (12mg polyphenols; 160 calories).


Polyphenol content of food

Source: Perez-Jimenez et. al. (2010)

Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet of Crete:
Observations of the people of Crete post World War II found a low incidence of heart disease. The people there were physically active and their diet consisted of grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes and small amounts of olive oil, wine and fish. Not exactly the Australian version of the Mediterranean diet. Fifty years later a follow up study found that those individuals who consumed the most olive oil had the most heart disease (see Vrentzos et al. 2007). A similar positive association between olive oil and heart disease has been found in Greece.
The Lyon study:
This is the study that really launched “The Mediterranean diet”, and by proxy, olive oil, as heart healthy. The study group were instructed to make healthier food choices, including eating more vegetables. The vegetable oils used were not exclusively olive oil but included omega-3 enriched canola oil.
The PREDIMED study
The study is widely seen as ‘proof’ that a Mediterranean diet with olive oil is more heart healthy than a low fat diet. However the “low fat diet” group were really a control group on a high (37%) fat diet and there was not a statistically significant reduction in heart events – although there was a small reduction in strokes in both the added nuts and added olive oil intervention groups. It cannot be determined whether the olive oil or the nuts produced these health benefits as these groups also received dietary coaching and consumed more legumes, vegetables and fruits – factors which are known to reduce cardiovascular risk. The olive oil group were provided with a weekly supply of polyphenol rich olive oil, not the ordinary stuff that most people buy in the supermarket. The data collected in this study has resulted in over 100 published research articles and whenever we read “Mediterranean diet is better than a low fat diet” it’s usually based on PREDIMED.

Effects of oil on arteries

HDL cholesterol:
Olive oil and polyunsaturated oils raise HDL cholesterol, however changing the value of a biomarker for disease does not always translate into reduced disease risk. Dr Lawrence Rudel (Rudel et al 1995) compared the effects of saturated fat vs olive oil on African Green Monkeys (which have similar fat metabolism to humans). The monkeys eating olive oil had higher HDL and lower LDL than those eating saturated fat. But at the end of five years both groups had exactly the same amount of coronary artery disease. It is interesting to note that drugs that artificially raise HDL have also failed to protect against heart disease.
Endothelial function:
Dr Robert Vogel published a study (Vogel et al 2000) on the effect of vegetable oils on the arterial flow. Olive oil reduced arterial blood flow by 31% and canola oil by 10%. It is thought that olive oil blocks the production of nitric oxide by the endothelium. Nitric oxide dilates arteries. This suggests that olive oil impairs the capacity of endothelial cells to produce the vasodilator, nitric oxide.

Australian Dietary Guidelines

The Australian Dietary Guidelines do not support the high intake of olive oil that many of our health professionals are advocating. The guidelines recommend that we choose foods from the five food groups, none of which include olive oil. Vegetable oils are listed outside of the core food groups with a note to “use in small amounts”.
The guidelines recommend that Australians “limit” their consumption of high saturated fat foods rather than just replace them with other fats. Tips to eat less saturated fat include “don’t deep fry foods” and “use small amounts of unsaturated oils if needed”.
The guidelines recognise the role of energy dense foods in promoting weight gain: “Foods with a higher energy density encourage energy intake above requirements” – and recommend that Australians limit the consumption of “energy-dense, nutrient-poor discretionary foods”. Oils are the most energy dense foods, they contain minimal nutrients and are discretionary in that they do not belong to any of the five food groups.

Related pages:

Resources

Olive oil:

Coconut oil:

Peer-reviewed studies:

The Mediterranean diet:


How to cook without oil

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Vegetarians are bullied and hated in Australia

Vegetarians are bullied and hated in Australia and our culture is caught in a cycle of overreliance on meat, self-confessed meat-lover and writer Richard Cornish says.

Cornish conducted a year-long social experiment in vegetarianism after recognising he had a bit of a problem.

When driving home with a shoulder of lamb for his family one day, he was overcome with the smell of the meat and decided to pull over and eat it on the side of the road.

"I found myself face-planted in a shoulder of lamb on the bonnet of my car," he told ABC News Breakfast.

"A busload of children drove past, faces pressed up against the window, and it was like them looking at a lion in a zoo.

"So I had a problem with meat, put it that way."

Cornish decided it was time to try a change. Apart from the physical changes he experienced — weight loss, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol — the most surprising things were the social reactions.

"I learnt what it's like to be a vegetarian. Most people hate vegetarians and they loathe vegans," he said.

"People are absolutely dreadful.

"It's that people who choose to put themselves on the outer are ripe for bullies and people say the most horrible things, and they try to trick you."

He said people would give him food with meat in it just to get a reaction. Or he would bring lentil burgers to a barbecue and see them treated as a foreign object.

"You'll ask for a vegetarian pasty and bite into it and go, 'there's meat', and they say, 'yeah, but there's vegetables, too'.

"There's a lot of disrespect for people who choose not to eat meat." 'We're not equipped to be vegetarian'

Cornish said he wasn't spreading a message that everyone must be vegetarian, but he did challenge the classic meat-centric Australian diet.

According to a 2010 Newspoll survey, 5 per cent of Australians identified as vegetarian and 2 per cent adhered to a strict vegetarian diet.

"Meat is the default position. You go into a cafe and it's burger or fish," he said.

"It's assumed everyone eats meat. And because everyone assumes it, everyone does it, so it's this circle."

He said other cultures had been built around a more vegetable-based diet and Australians could benefit from learning to cook with pulses and grains more.

"If you go to India, for example, you know that most of the diet is going to be rice and pulses," he said.

"Go to Mexico and it is beans and corn, and meat is more or less a garnish."

Cornish said Australians could make the transition to a similar diet and that the change could happen very quickly.

"I think what's going to happen is one night we're going to wake up and go, 'Oh, OK, it's cool, you don't have to eat meat'."

Cornish has written a book about his experience, My Year Without Meat, which was published this month.

How our language makes us feel better about murder

Since we hate cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep, fish, deer, elk, bears and ducks, but can’t deal with the fact that we are murdering them by the billion, we refer to the murders as “culls” or “harvests” to lie to ourselves, and bolster the lies that we’ve been told by our parents, government, religion, schools and the media. 
Since we hate mice, rats, guinea pigs, monkeys and rabbits, but can’t deal with the fact that we are torturing and murdering them by the million in barbaric & unscientific vivisection experiments, we label the murders “sacrifices” to lie to ourselves again, and bolster the lies that we’ve been told by our parents, government, religion, schools and the media. 
Are you ready for the kicker?
In many parts of the world, especially America, we actually LOVE dogs and cats so much that we share our homes with them and refer to them as family members. We become outraged when someone mistreats them and even wish gruesomely awesome retaliatory violence against the perpetrators. Perusing the “comments” section of any Internet story about dog or cat abuse unequivocally proves the aforesaid point. 
Yet, we murder millions of dogs & cats in slaughterhouses that we euphemistically refer to as “shelters” because they are homeless and unwanted. Since we love dogs & cats so much, but can’t deal with the fact that we are murdering them by the million, we instead refer to the murders as “putting them down” or “putting them to sleep”. 
In other words, whether we hate ‘em or love ‘em, we always end up lying about the fact that we are murdering them because lying & murdering are what we do best!
These endless lies are instrumental in keeping animals commodified, victimized, and without the innate rights of bodily integrity that ALL beings deserve, and that ALL human beings demand or take for granted if they’re lucky enough to even have them!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Being overweight, obese cuts lifespan by one to 10 years — study

Being overweight, obese cuts lifespan by one to 10 years — study

Researchers refute earlier claims that a few extra kilos pose no health risks
AFP
13:26 July 14, 2016

Paris: Being overweight shaves about a year off one’s life expectancy, a price which soars to about 10 years for the severely obese, a large-scale study reported Thursday.

It refuted earlier findings that carrying a few extra kilos poses no perils. Instead, the study pointed to evidence that the risk of dying before your 70th birthday grows “steadily and steeply” along with an expanding waistline.

“This study definitely shows that being overweight or obese is associated with a risk of premature death,” lead author Emanuele Di Angelantonio from the University of Cambridge told journalists.
The risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and cancer “are all increased,” he said.
Using data from almost four million adults on four continents, the study in The Lancet medical journal found that overweight people lost about a year of life expectancy on average, and “moderately obese” people about three years. “Severely obese people lose about 10 years of life expectancy,” Di Angelantonio said — which represents a one-in-two chance of dying before 70.

A large international team of researchers sifted through data garnered from more than 10.6 million people in 239 large studies conducted between 1970 and 2015 in 32 countries in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and east and South Asia.  The collating effort was described as the largest-ever pooled data set on being overweight and mortality.

To rule out the impact of other mortality risks, the team excluded current or former smokers, those who had chronic disease at the beginning of the study, and those who died within the first five years — and were left with a sample group of 3.9 million adults.

The team divided these into categories according to their Body Mass Index (BMI), a ratio of weight-to-height squared, and compared the number and causes of death in each group. Under the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard, a BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered normal, 25-29.9 overweight, 30-34.9 moderately obese, 35-39.9 severely obese, and 40 and over morbidly obese.

The researchers found that the risk of dying before age 70 rose from 19 per cent in normal weight men to 29.5 per cent in the moderately obese group, and from 11 per cent to 14.6 per cent for women.
“This corresponds to an absolute increase of 10.5 per cent for men, and 3.6 per cent for women — three times as big,” a statement from The Lancet said.

They also found that the excess mortality risk was three times greater in men as in women.
If all overweight and obese people had normal BMI levels, this would eliminate one in five premature deaths in North America, one in six in Australia and New Zealand, one in seven in Europe and one in 20 in east Asia, concluded the study.

And it warned that with corpulence spreading around the globe, the high mortality rate in North America “might become typical elsewhere”.

The findings contradicted earlier research suggesting that being overweight may not be a mortality risk and may even hold a survival advantage for some groups of people, such as the elderly.
In 2014, according to the WHO, more than 1.9 billion adults globally were overweight.
Of those, more than 600 million were obese.

Carrying excess weight has been linked to heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.
The study also founded an elevated risk for premature mortality among people who were underweight.