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Our Number One Killer Can Be Stopped

Dr. Dean Ornish proved decades ago that heart disease could be reversed solely with diet and lifestyle changes.

October 12, 2011 |
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In the end, my grandma’s miraculous recovery from terminal heart disease through diet and exercise alone—remarkable as it was, was just one anecdote among many. Though it inspired me to pursue a career in medicine, I’ve always had a skeptical streak and just wasn’t convinced  until Ornish’s landmark study in 1990 clobbered me over the head with enough science to change my own diet forever. Pritikin had been reversing heart disease with a plant-based diets for years before Ornish came along, but here it was, in black and white, in one of the most prestigious medical journal in the world.

Ornish proved you could not just slow heart disease—our number one killer, not just stop heart disease in its tracks, but  actually reverse heart disease, open up clogged arteries—and without drugs, without surgery. Since then, millions upon millions have died totally unnecessary deaths. If my grandma didn’t have to die like that no one’s grandmother has to die. We have the miracle cure, yet hardly anyone knows about it

Wait second, though. If we can reverse heart disease without drugs, without surgery, then great. doesn’t that mean we can eat whatever the we want and then, as soon as we start feeling some chest pain, we can get with the program, eat as healthy as we need to and open our arteries back up, getting to enjoy not only our grandchildren—but also happy memories of years bacon and eggs, cheese and fried chicken.  Here’s the problem with the plan: sudden cardiac death. Our first symptom may be our last.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

This is a continuation of a theme I started in yesterday's video about my personal journey into medicine. Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out the other videos on heart health and heart disease. Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

For some context, please also check out my associated blog posts: Watermelon for Erectile Dysfunction, Heart Disease: there is a Cure, Magnesium-Rich Foods to Prevent Sudden DeathEating To Extend Our Lifespan,   Cancer-Proofing Your Body, and Is Coconut Oil Bad For You?

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    This is a continuation of a theme I started in yesterday’s video about my personal journey into medicine. Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out the other videos on heart health and heart disease. Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

    I have been preaching this for months now! Cardiologists and doctors don’t seem to know about this, or believe me when i tell them heart disease is reversible.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/louisef/ LouiseF

    These pioneers deserve a Nobel prize in medicine. God only knows the countless people who are alive today because of them.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/pincopallino/ pincopallino

    That a plant-based diet is the best for our health is beyond any possible doubt. That is can even reverse heart disease has been demonstrated by the pioneer studies of Colin Campbell, Caldwell Essenstyn and David Ornish. However, there is point in their recommendations that I find very hard to understand (and thus to accept). They insist on a very low fat diet from which any type of added fat is eliminated, even olive oil (rich in monounsaturated fatty acids: MUFA) and flax oil (rich in omega-3). A diet very low in fats means very high in carbs (sure, unrefined complex carbs). Now, there is plenty of studies in peer-reviewed journals showing unambiguously that a high-carbs diet results in reduction of HDL-cholesterol without significant change in total cholesterol and increase of triglycerides; when you add that the main fate of the excess carbs is stored as palmitic acid, the most atherogenic saturated fatty acid, one must have some doubts about the recommended diet. It seems to me that the type of fats are much more important than the quantity (when the latter is reasonable, of course). A high proportion of MUFA, as provided by olive oil (which contains also squalene, a powerful antioxidant) or canola oil, with a good amount of omega-3 (flax oil, walnut oil; the latter has much less omega-3 however) sounds definitely more reasonable than a diet containing 75% carbs or more. I asked the Campbell foundation, no answer. I asked vegsource after reading an article about Essenstyn’s diet, I got unconvincing answers (no biochemical explanations, just “it works that as they say”).
    I’m vegan, I read the China Study and I’m reading Essenstyn’s book, as well as hundreds of studies and books. I can’t, so far, get any convincing support to the low fat theory.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

      Hello Pinco!

      These are doctors I have great respect for as well! They recommended low fat diets to their sick as can be patients who had already had previous heart attacks and damaged arteries. I don’t worry about low fat too much, because there really isn’t much healthy high fat whole plant foods except for nuts, which are the good kind of fats. (excluding coconuts)

      There are 2 reasons to avoid oil.

      1. Oil is empty calories, being all fat with no real nutritional value. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbALgjmZUek

      2. Oil , even olive oil, was show to cause endotheleum cell wall damage in the brachial artery tourniquet test. That is the test where they cut off circulation to your arm for 5 min. and when they release, the blood should surge back into your arm through inflated blood vessels. If your endothelial cell walls have been damaged prior to a unhealthy meal, they will not inflate http://www.vegsource.com/articles2/esselstyn_collapse_print.htm Olive Oil damaged the blood vessel walls in the test, as they did not inflate. Here is more on oil as well as Dr. Essyslten busting some current claims about olive oil by citing studies http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_o4YBQPKtQ

      Fat though, is necessary for good health. We should just get fat from a healthy source outside of oil. Here is a link by Dr. Greger to why we need fat http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/forego-fat-free-dressings/

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/pincopallino/ pincopallino

    Thank you for your reply, Toxins, but I would like somebody to explain me how a 75% or more carbs diet can be healthier when it increases triglycerides and palmitic acid and lowers HDL cholesterol. Unless you want to trash hundreds of studies showing that these parameters are strongly correlated to CVD. I keep on getting the same arguments, but never an answer to these objections.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please also check out my associated blog post Watermelon for Erectile Dysfunction!

  • Paradigms

    Can be stopped, could be reversed, in yourself perhaps, but in some others their free will and lazy mental attitude got them to where they are. It is so much easier to buy gym equipment to stare at and collect dust while popping pills. Will the human nature of some ever be overcome? I came to this page linking from a page where you speak about the evils of coconut oil. Charging coconut oil advocates with using beef industry tactics by comparing coconut oil to butter, but this is the way some people live, they do eat butter. What would you suggest to get a somewhat demented poorly self managed diabetic under control?

  • Rebecca

    Please explain why caffeine (coffee, chocolate…) should be avoided. I am more interested in specifics rather than generalizations. Thank you.