Slow Your Beating Heart: Beans vs. Exercise

Slow Your Beating Heart: Beans vs. Exercise
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A cup a day of beans, chickpeas, or lentils for three months may slow resting heart rate as much as exercising for 250 hours on a treadmill.

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The accumulated weight of evidence linking elevated resting heart rate to a shortened lifespan—even in apparently healthy individuals—makes a strong case for it to be considered in the assessment of risk. It’s got strong advantages. Taking one’s pulse is cheap, takes little time, it’s understandable to people, and it’s something everyone can do, at home, to measure their progress to become an active participant in their own health management.

Every ten beats per minute increase is associated with a 10 to 20% increase in the risk of premature death. There seems to be a continuous increase in risk with increasing heart rate, at least for values above a beat a second. So, we can just look at our watch, and if our heart is beating faster than the seconds going by—even when we’re sitting quietly, then we have to do something about it, especially when we start getting up to 80 or 90. Men with no apparent evidence of heart disease with a pulse of 90 may have five times higher risk of sudden cardiac death—meaning their first symptom is their last—compared to those down in the safety zone. Living up around 90 increases heart disease risk at a level similar to smoking.

If you ask most doctors, though, 90 is considered normal. The accepted limits of heart rate have long been set at 60 and 100 beats per minute. How did they come up with that? It was adopted as a matter of convenience, just based on the scale of the squares on EKG paper. A historical accident, like the QWERTY keyboard, that just became the norm.

60 to 100 doesn’t even represent the bell curve. These cardiologists measured the heart rate of 500 people, and concluded that 45 to 95 was a better definition of normal, rounding to 50 to 90, which a survey of leading cardiologists concurred with. Now, we know that normal doesn’t necessarily mean optimal, but doctors shouldn’t tell people with heart rates in the 50s that their heart rate is too low. In fact, these people may be right where they should be.

Certainly, a heart rate higher than 80 should ring an alarm bell, but what can we do about it? Exercise is one obvious possibility. Ironically, you make the heart go faster so that the rest of the time your heart beats slower.

The public health benefits of physical exercise, especially for heart protection, are widely accepted, and among the many biological mechanisms proposed to account for this risk-reducing effect is autonomic nervous system regulation of the heart. That’s your brain’s ability to slow down the resting beat of your heart.

If you put people through a 12-week aerobic conditioning program of cycling, StairMaster, and running on a treadmill, you can drop their resting heart rate down from around 69 to about 66; so, a three beat per minute drop. And, of course, you have to keep it up; stop exercising, and your resting heart rate goes right back up.

Exercise is just one way to drop our heart rate, though. The way to our heart may also be through our stomach. What if, instead of three months of exercise, you did three months of beans? A cup a day of beans, chickpeas, or lentils. The first randomized controlled trial of beans for the treatment of diabetes. And indeed, participants successfully improved their blood sugar control, dropping their average A1C level from 7.4 to 6.9, but this was also the first study to ever assess the effect of bean consumption on heart rate, and, indeed, one of the few to determine the effect on heart rate of any dietary intervention. This is particularly important in diabetics, since having a higher resting heart rate not only increases their risk of death just like everybody else, but also appears to predict greater risk of diabetic complications, such as damage to the nerves and eyes.

So, how did beans do? A 3.4 beat drop in heart rate—just as much as the 250 hours on a treadmill. We’re not sure why beans are as powerful as exercise in bringing down one’s resting heart rate. In addition to the potential direct beneficial effects of all the good stuff in legumes, there is also the potential displacement value of reducing some of the animal protein foods. Regardless, we should consider eating pulses for our pulse.

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 Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Rwk / Flickr, Derrick Coetzee / Flickr, samwebster/Flickr, Global Crop Diversity Trust/Flickr, Ellen Reid and Shinya Suzuki / Flickr

The accumulated weight of evidence linking elevated resting heart rate to a shortened lifespan—even in apparently healthy individuals—makes a strong case for it to be considered in the assessment of risk. It’s got strong advantages. Taking one’s pulse is cheap, takes little time, it’s understandable to people, and it’s something everyone can do, at home, to measure their progress to become an active participant in their own health management.

Every ten beats per minute increase is associated with a 10 to 20% increase in the risk of premature death. There seems to be a continuous increase in risk with increasing heart rate, at least for values above a beat a second. So, we can just look at our watch, and if our heart is beating faster than the seconds going by—even when we’re sitting quietly, then we have to do something about it, especially when we start getting up to 80 or 90. Men with no apparent evidence of heart disease with a pulse of 90 may have five times higher risk of sudden cardiac death—meaning their first symptom is their last—compared to those down in the safety zone. Living up around 90 increases heart disease risk at a level similar to smoking.

If you ask most doctors, though, 90 is considered normal. The accepted limits of heart rate have long been set at 60 and 100 beats per minute. How did they come up with that? It was adopted as a matter of convenience, just based on the scale of the squares on EKG paper. A historical accident, like the QWERTY keyboard, that just became the norm.

60 to 100 doesn’t even represent the bell curve. These cardiologists measured the heart rate of 500 people, and concluded that 45 to 95 was a better definition of normal, rounding to 50 to 90, which a survey of leading cardiologists concurred with. Now, we know that normal doesn’t necessarily mean optimal, but doctors shouldn’t tell people with heart rates in the 50s that their heart rate is too low. In fact, these people may be right where they should be.

Certainly, a heart rate higher than 80 should ring an alarm bell, but what can we do about it? Exercise is one obvious possibility. Ironically, you make the heart go faster so that the rest of the time your heart beats slower.

The public health benefits of physical exercise, especially for heart protection, are widely accepted, and among the many biological mechanisms proposed to account for this risk-reducing effect is autonomic nervous system regulation of the heart. That’s your brain’s ability to slow down the resting beat of your heart.

If you put people through a 12-week aerobic conditioning program of cycling, StairMaster, and running on a treadmill, you can drop their resting heart rate down from around 69 to about 66; so, a three beat per minute drop. And, of course, you have to keep it up; stop exercising, and your resting heart rate goes right back up.

Exercise is just one way to drop our heart rate, though. The way to our heart may also be through our stomach. What if, instead of three months of exercise, you did three months of beans? A cup a day of beans, chickpeas, or lentils. The first randomized controlled trial of beans for the treatment of diabetes. And indeed, participants successfully improved their blood sugar control, dropping their average A1C level from 7.4 to 6.9, but this was also the first study to ever assess the effect of bean consumption on heart rate, and, indeed, one of the few to determine the effect on heart rate of any dietary intervention. This is particularly important in diabetics, since having a higher resting heart rate not only increases their risk of death just like everybody else, but also appears to predict greater risk of diabetic complications, such as damage to the nerves and eyes.

So, how did beans do? A 3.4 beat drop in heart rate—just as much as the 250 hours on a treadmill. We’re not sure why beans are as powerful as exercise in bringing down one’s resting heart rate. In addition to the potential direct beneficial effects of all the good stuff in legumes, there is also the potential displacement value of reducing some of the animal protein foods. Regardless, we should consider eating pulses for our pulse.

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 Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Rwk / Flickr, Derrick Coetzee / Flickr, samwebster/Flickr, Global Crop Diversity Trust/Flickr, Ellen Reid and Shinya Suzuki / Flickr

Doctor's Note

What is that about a shortened lifespan? See my video Finger on the Pulse of Longevity.

Having “normal” risk factor values in a society where it’s normal to drop dead of preventable diseases like heart disease is not necessarily a good thing. Learn more with When Low Risk Means High Risk, Everything in Moderation? Even Heart Disease?, and How Not to Die from Heart Disease.

For more on the musical fruit, see:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

115 responses to “Slow Your Beating Heart: Beans vs. Exercise

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  1. If one’s arteries dilate with healthy vegetable eating, the blood pressure is reduced but what typically happens to the corresponding pulse rate? There is less friction, so perhaps slower pulse? There is more blood volume, so perhaps a faster pulse? Maybe these effects cancel each other out? I am curious if there are any research studies on this topic. http://www.greensmoothieparty.com

    1. Hello GSP. I am a family physician and volunteer website moderator for NutritionFacts. Your questions take me back to my first-year medical physiology class. If you dilate your arteries (which can occur either with regular aerobic exercise, or by eating a whole foods plant based diet) then your blood pressure will drop, over the long term. DURING exercise, your body needs more oxygen so your heart rate will increase, the arteries supplying your muscles will dilate, and blood flow will increase. Your blood volume cannot change over the short term. But, for example, if you get dehydrated during exercise, your blood volume will go down, causing pulse to increase. Hope this helps. (There have been many studies on this general topic of cardiac physiology).

      1. OK, ptt and Ralph, you can now benefit from the wry (nonalcoholic) wisdom of Sam Johnson:
        If i were punish-ed
        for every pun I shed
        I would not have a puny shed
        in which to hide my punished head.

  2. i adopted a paleo diet for 4 years. many good things happened. i lost weight, stopped many deleterious consumption habits, e.g. sugar and processed foods, my hdl’s and triglycerides and crp were great. but some nasty things happened too. my ldl cholesterol went through the roof. my blood pressure also increased significantly, recently. i’m going to greatly reduce my animal consumption and hope to reverse these changes. thanks for sharing the Patrick Babounian info. because those of us who are afraid of losing muscle mass on a vegan diet are, i guess, needlessly concerned about this.

      1. High -intensity training is necessary for substantial muscle growth in adults. Extremely few folks in that category-like professional athletes and those who place well in amateur athletic competitions. Gentle workouts DO NOT QUALIFY. Without that (High intensity training), high protein (of non-WFPB origins) is POISON!!!

        1. Obviously, muscle mass doesn’t increase by simply eating more protein without performing the necessary work at the tissue level.

          Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2016) — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26778925
          “the elevation of protein intake to *over four times* the recommended dietary allowance has shown no harmful effects.”

          Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2015) — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4617900/
          “there is *no evidence* that consuming a high protein diet has *any* deleterious effects.”

          The paleo diet doesn’t seem to be particularly high in protein. Going by standard Paleo Recommendations, a dietary intake of around 80g of protein to 120g would be about normal. Intense workouts are recommended as part of the Paleo lifestyle, while “chronic cardio” is discouraged. Protein intake recommendations for active individuals can range up to 1.6g/kg, while those for sedentary individuals is down at 0.8g. In the middle, we reach 1.2g/kg. For a 150lb+ adult, this falls right into that 80-120g intake range.

          From what I understand, a paleo diet is basically a whole foods vegan diet, where you remove all of the junk food, then trade some of the plant foods which might have some issues for some individuals (eg. nightshades, fodmaps, lectin-rich proteins) with smaller amounts of traditionally consumed animal foods which happen to be rich in the micronutrients that are otherwise low in the exclusively-plant based domain (eg. b12, choline, retinol, epa, dha, k2:mk4, d3, taurine, glycine, proline, zinc, copper, iron, etc.)

          There are interesting exceptions to the rules — eg. Ron Rosedale’s take on a paleo diet, where protein is restricted to a point that might bring serum insulin down under 1 mIU/L, while a low intake of carbohydrates can push serum TGs down under 40 mg/dL. While eating a paleo-esque diet, my BP measures around 90/50 mmHg. Ymmv.

          Perhaps some individuals fare better with different foods / ratios than others depending on lifestyle + genetics and there is no one-size-fits-all optimized diet. It’s interesting that these diets are generally based on which food groups are to be *completely excluded* from the diet, rather than using a framework that emphasizes greater diversity and thoughtful exceptions to the rules.

          1. My body prefers plant protein, but is capable of processing animal protein when I allow it. I don’t really chase the particulars any more. Thanks for your detailed reply though.

          2. Although I eat and advocate for a plant based no oil diet, once upon a time I went on a diet. I ate mostly protein foods such as hamburger, peanut butter, etc. (Very high calorie) I weighed myself every day as I feared gaining weight on this diet. Every day it was the same. My friend began telling me I was losing weight and I insisted I was not. Eventually she demanded I try on my old skinny clothes and sure enough I fit them. I went from size 16 to 10 without losing any weight. I could think of only one reason why this could be – that my body composition had lost fat and water and replaced it with muscle. This is what started me thinking that all calories are not the same and really calories don’t count. Calories may be the same in test tubes but not in the human body. I have replaced all that protein with starches such as potatoes and rice and other whole grains (not cookies and white bread) and am now a size 4 (they changed sizing in all that time it would have been about a 6 back then)

    1. Craig, keep educating yourself through experts who develop insights and advice from careful review of the scientific literature and cite their sources (like Dr. Michael Greger here, Joel Fuhrman, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, and others). Fuhrman offers advice on building and maintaining muscle here:
      https://www.drfuhrman.com/learn/library/articles/7/get-pumped-safely-with-plant-protein
      In case you are not already aware there are world class vegan athletes in every sport http://www.greatveganathletes.com/content/2015-review-year
      Finally, you can get all the protein you decide you need from plants. http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html
      Best wishes for your return to a fully healthy state.

  3. Beans, greens and exercise. Perhaps, it is the soluble fiber in the beans opening the aperture of one’s vascular system that explains the BP lowering effect of beans.

        1. Nobody’s suggesting being a couch potato is a good thing. If you drive your car 100 ,000 miles a year and I drive mine 10000 did you want to guess whos car lasts the longest? Ok so we are not cars, we can regenerate , that’s why couch potatoes don.t do to well, it’s use it or lose it type of thing. So there.s a very fine line here , use your body too much and you will suffer. Don’t use it at all and you will suffer.
          It’s much easier to see this in animals. Horses are used to work the fields in these parts (Amish), depending on the type of work, it very easy to estimate how long they live , the harder they work the shorter the life span , compared to grandmas horse which she uses every Sunday to go to church and one trip into town during the week , well that horse lives healthy and still going at 24 years old. The horses used for heavier work daily are lucky to make it to 12 . I might also add that these horses have a very natural whole foods diet.
          The horse is an ideal animal to study as there are only two mammals on earth that sweat ,humans and horses.
          Also see Joe Caner response below.

          1. I get what you are saying.Too much mileage on the body is bad. butbut too little is also bad. I was just commenting since you said anything beyond walking.

            With that said, I for one cannot get my hr high enough just walking unless i walk up a mountain.

            Also, mosts sports are interval, sprint then slow down.

            I agree with long distance running where your at a consistent high hr for long periods. And this has been proven and studied showing arterial damage in studies.

            I just mistakened when you said anything beyond walking. my bad

      1. There have been a number of articles in the health section of Google News site this month on how interval exercise two times a week is as effective as jogging almost daily for the standard period of time. (The interval exercise I use–when I’m following it–is 20 to 30 seconds of high intensity exercise three times within a 20 minute span). Perhaps this is the answer for optimization.

        Also, I seem to recall a few years back a presentation of findings that running more than 3 miles regularly starts to confer negative benefits. Not just injuries, but bodies created in the body. Is that what you were thinking of in the second half of your post

      2. Walking is exercise. Between completely sedentary and habitual ultra marathoner, there is some optimal level of exercise. Neither extreme will yield optimal longevity. There is some intensity and duration in between that will. From studies I have seen, endurance athletes do better than team sports athletes which do better than strength trainers which do better than couch potatoes.

        1. I like to picture life as a primitive before transportation, electronics, gyms, or grocery stores… we would be on the move foraging and occasionally running from dangers or chasing something in the daytime, and hanging out around the hearth at night socializing and whatever. We are made to move naturally, and a desk job kind of eliminates that. (Most moms and laborers would probably make the cut still!) I think probably any kind of sustained motion for a period of time is sufficient, so find something you enjoy, get up and do it, and forget about the gym unless you are into body building. Good habits beat good intentions!

        2. Have you seen the ted talk, Run for Your Life…But at a Comfortable Pace and Not Too Far? It’s very good and I highly recommend it. Because of it I try to keep my running approximately in the range he suggests gives the optimal benefit, 10-15 miles a week around a 10min per mile pace. Very doable

      3. That is a bold statement indeed, and bad advice in my opinion. Since the majority of people do not get enough exercise, I think it is wise to advise people to simply find a physical activity they enjoy, then do it regularly. That might be walking, running, cycling, soccer, jiujitsu, rock climbing, weight training, hockey – whatever. If you like it and can make a habit of it, do it. There are many other benefits to exercise beyond potential longevity – a routine, fun social interaction, a sense of accomplishment, all of which promote mental health. As to the topic of this video, a brisk walking isn’t gonna do much for your resting heart rate beyond halting its rise . Why not eat beans AND do some form of cardio training?

        1. there was a kid in town who did a high school project on people over 90, she interviewed them and while I can,t recall the whole thing, one of the questions was about exercise. Did they exercise or did they ever exercise , everyone of them said no. but apparently they didn’t consider going for a walk exercise which most did at least once a week.Wish I could find that little local study, there were 15, 90 year olds or older. It was also interesting what they had done for a living , not one had been in a hard physical type job most had been housewives, teachers, or worked in offices, one had been a nurse.
          Your max aerobic heart rate is 180 minus your age, so if you were 90, your max aerobic is 90, I could see going for a walk would take some of those people to max aerobic exercise , so I guess that is exercise. For me my max is 115, all I need is a brisk walk to hit that.My dog makes sure I stay on that program…lol
          I’ve seen so many people in this retirement community fail in the last 3 years, trying to get healthy thru exercise , most try jogging, it just will not happen. Diet first.

  4. Is anyone else having trouble getting this page to work? The other video pages work, but I’m just seeing a black rectangle where I should be seeing the video.

  5. These comparisons are among people who start out with rates in the 70 – 60 bpm range, which is not all that high, relatively speaking. My rate, back when I was fat and ugly, was more like high 90’s. I know that the benefits of diet and exercise are proportionately much better at least for me. My rate is typically less than 55 now that i’m no longer fat…although as you can see, it didn’t do anything for my looks.

    1. Wow, that’s quite an improvement going from high 90s to 55. Well done. At 40 years of age, mine has been creeping up over the last decade and is now nearing 70bpm. From mid teens to mid twenties, mine was consistently low 40s. And while I don’t have the time or inclination to train nearly as hard as I did then, I am aiming to halt its rise and see it come down again.

      1. Thanks Roger, I was amazed at how quickly I responded to exercise. The measurables but also my mental attitude…that black depression just vaporised. I wish I could go back in time and get some dear ones who suffered so with it…I’d set them on fire and then tie them up and make them eat fruit for tea. Or my wife….darn she can get anybody moving. I know diet is probly no 1 but I really think we need to get the exercise thing out there. Trick is to go deep and find the single little activity that you actually like. Not so easy to do when you’re sick, tired and depressed. Remember jack la’lane? of course you don’t…now that guy could get you moving. I still take those 3 deep breaths every morning. You better get moving or my wife might set you on fire.

  6. I need to know what I can do to lose some weight. I have had 3 major back surgeries and because I cannot do like I use to do I have gained around 55lbs. Therefore I take blood pressure meds 3 X daily. I desperately need to get off this medication. Any input you have would be appreciated.

    1. Just eat a whole foods plant based diet: vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes. Add 1/4 cup of nuts and perhaps 2 Tablespoons of flax seeds when your weight normalizes. Eat no animal products or oils or any “food” that had anything added or removed. Eat to satisfy your hunger but don’t binge. The weight will come off over the course of a few months and stabilize as you continue to eat this way. Cravings will cease within the first month. You’ll feel more energetic too.

    2. SJC: Yikes, 3 back surgeries. That’s tough!

      I think you have gotten some great replies so far. To provide you with further details, I will give you my standard answer to this type of question. See if this helps:
      ——————————-
      Going vegan helps most people to lose weight, but the devil is in the details. What is needed is not just a vegan diet, but a whole plant food based diet that has low calorie density. The key is understanding the concept of calorie density and how to apply it to weight loss so that you don’t get hungry and you still get all the nutrients you need.
      .
      Dr. Greger covers calorie density, but not in enough detail in my opinion for someone who wants to apply it for the first time. I believe that Doug Lisle is one of the experts in the Forks Over Knives documentary, and he gives a great ‘calorie density 101’ talk officially called: How To Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind. I have watched the following talk from Doug Lisle several times and think very highly of it. And it’s free!!! And it’s entertaining! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAdqLB6bTuQ
      .
      As good as Doug Lisle’s talk is, it pretty much just gives you a solid understanding of the concept, but not enough practical information in my opinion. For starting to get the practical information, I recommend a talk from Jeff Novick,Calorie Density: “How to Eat More, Weigh Less, and Live Longer,” which is no longer for sale. Argh! (I mention it just in case you can get your hands on a copy. Happily, there is a very good second best source for that information: an article that Jeff wrote that you can get here:
      http://www.forksoverknives.com/the-calorie-density-approach-to-nutrition-and-lifelong-weight-management/
      Be sure to pay attention to the charts.
      .
      Chef AJ tells people who want to lose weight to eat “left of the red line”, where I believe the red line is on a diagram of hers representing is 600 calories per pound. And “left of the red line” is all the whole plant foods which are below 600 calories per pound. The above article from Jeff Novick gives you a good sense of which foods are “left of the red line” by food category. But if you want to look up the calorie density of specific foods, you can find many foods on the following site: http://nutritiondata.self.com/ Most foods on that site have the option of choose an ‘ounce’ as a size. Then you can multiply by 16 to get the calories per pound.
      .
      It would be perfectly respectable if you are one of those people who are just not interested in the theory. You just want to dive right in and want straight how-to information. If you would rather not think about any of that (or start with the theory and then move onto this step), I have one more suggestion that Dr. Greger also recommends in his book, How Not To Die. Consider going through the free program from PCRM (Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine) called 21 Day Kickstart. The program will “hold your hand” for 21 days, including meal plans, recipes, videos, inspirational messages, and a forum (moderated by a very respected RD) where you can ask questions.
      http://www.pcrm.org/kickstartHome/
      (Click the green “Register Now” button.)
      At the end of the program, you will have a very good practical knowledge about how to eat with healthy and “low” (normal for most people) calorie density.
      .
      Another recommendation that Dr. Greger and I share is to get Jeff Novick’s Fast Food videos for tasty, affordable, fast and healthy calorie density recipes. Also, on-line and free is a YouTube series of recipes/cooking shows called something like Chef AJ and The Dietician. I know that Chef AJ will not steer you wrong in terms of weight loss and providing accurate nutrition information.
      .
      How’s that for some tips? If you give these ideas a try, please report back and let us know how it went.

    1. If your symptomatic then yes. Usually due to sinus node dysfunction or medications. If not then you have an effecient heart, higher stroke volume

  7. I have low blood pressure, follow a completely plant based wholefood diet, don’t smoke, rarely drink& exercise regularly but I have a very high heartrate due to the fact that I take imipramine medication for depression, anyone know how high the risk is or should I stop taking them?

    1. You might want to check out Dr. Greger’s videos on depression and make the decision from there. It is a little shocking

    2. Hi randomrider, I don’t know your particular history, but if you have been prescribed them and decided to take them, it is not necessarily a prescription for life. If a single episode, with outpatient treatment, and on the medication for a year it is reasonable to discuss coming off the medication, with your primary care doctor. If the decision is to try to stop, it should be done ONLY with medical supervision and it would be a gradual process. Dr Greger has several videos on nutrition and exercise in relation to depression, but if you are doing all the healthy things and still don’t feel right some form of talking therapy could probably be helpful, if you can find the right person. Personally I believe that one of the problems with chemical treatment of depression is that it reduces depression to a merely chemical issue (it is cheaper and less time consuming to just give a pill) but we are not just chemical beings. We all have life stories, emotions, trauma etc and places where things may be stuck. FOr what it may be worth. I hope this is helpful.

    3. First, you should always talk to your prescribing physician who knows you more than anyone commenting, such as myself. Have you asked about SAD(Seasonal Affective disorder) when people become depressed with the decreased sun of winter? Either way early morning sun, especially combined with exercise, reduces depression along with a mostly vegetable diet. The exercise should be something you like as simple as walking or as complicated as tennis but outside. If you live in the dark cold north there are light lamps especially made for SAD which you can place in front of you eating breakfast. Cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation may help. Imipramine is an old drug that has more side effects than some more recent drugs but for some people it could be the right drug. All antidepressants must be weaned slowly as depression may take months to reappear after drug cessation and both your treating MD and family should know as they may recognize depressive symptoms first. Some older MD’s are unaware of recent changes in depression treatment, although there are many who keep up to date, and a second opinion is always worthwhile but never in the same practice as the prescribing physician. I am a 67 year old MD who was treated with drugs for depression and SAD for many years. I was able to wean from antidepressants by cognitive behavioral therapy, becoming vegan, meditating for years, getting exercise in early morning sun, as well as a SAD lamp, and changing jobs with markedly reduced work hours. I made all the lifestyle changes first and weaned slowly. I was taking a drug Cymbalta which has been shown in recent years to have marked withdrawal side effects but I weathered these and am feeling much more myself drug free. Again, weaning Imipramine is serious and should be done with medical supervision.

    4. Many have commented that these drugs must be tapered slowly. The reason is they have a rebound effect meaning they actually cause depression when you reduce them, sometimes so much worse than when you started. Most doctors will try to taper you off too quickly. I was in an online group for getting off these and tapered off Prosac myself. It took me 18 months but I had no recurring depression. A psychiatrist I consulted to get off before that said she had never seen anyone do it without a recurring depression. The rule of thumb in the group was to cut only one drug at a time at the rate of 10% of the current dose (ex: from 100 to 90, from 90 to 81) with no set time between – the next cut to be made only when you were back to feeling 100% normal. (Each small cut makes you feel slightly abnormal so you must wait til normal to cut again) Good luck. Going too fast can cause damage, often permanent damage. It can be devastating.

  8. Once again it has been demonstrated that the right food choices beat exercise. You cant eat poorly and exercise and live long and free of disease (of course I recommend both).
    Beans vs. betablockers!
    Michael – your book is great!

      1. Well, I eat a lot of beans and exercise and my resting heart rate is 55.
        Veganrunner can probably beat that!

  9. Hello! Love your book! Thank you for making it.
    What program do you use to make your videos? I like the style of presentation and quote clipping.
    Thanks!!!

  10. April 2004 I contracted a severe head cold. Afterwards my pulse rate was high and irregular. EKG’s show a relatively rare condition called Atrial Flutter where the Atrium beats about 264 per minute in a characteristic EKG saw tooth pattern. Diagnosis is there’s a damaged spot in the Atrium that fires off these beats constantly. The ventricle watches and picks maybe one in four atrium beats then beats itself, resting rate about 66 per minute which is what it used to be. I go every year to the Massachusetts General cardiologist who looks at the latest EKG, sees the atrial flutter, and prescribes nothing. No effect on my health, and I do fitness exercise 5 days a week. I’m 81. BTW, some doctors would do an ablation to create another damaged spot to maybe stop the atrium pulse. Google search shows ablation damage can lead to more ablations and at a high rate fibrillation. No thank. I feel fine as is, cardio and all.

    1. a lot of people think that but really after a few days/weeks my biome somehow got used to the whole bean thing and now they just sorta breeze out as SBD’s — silent but dainty

  11. My wife’s heart rate is the same as Dawn Fraser who won olympic gold in the 100 meter freestyle in three consecutive Olympics with a rate of 36-40. Mine is 56-60. We are lean, exercise, and do eat beans and peas frequently, but a cup/day? Her doctor already jokes that she has to make two appointments just to check her heart rate.

    1. I take it that a cup a day seems a large volume to you. I think I get a cup a day in without trying. Are you counting tofu and tempeh? They are beans. A lot of folks eat a fairly limited range of legumes- maybe soy beans in some form, kidney and black beans, Puy lentils, and chick peas. I have a large shelf in my pantry dedicated to legumes I use most regularly – 15 of them – and often find I need to make a trip to the store to pick up a kind I don’t stock to make a particular dish. There are dozens of legumes readily available in most cities, all delicious and greatly varied in flavour.

      1. Is that cup dry beans/peas or cooked? We always cook ours buying organic and mix with stir fry, soups/stews, etc.. We are eating beans/peas daily, therefore, with a mixture of vegetables.

  12. Yes vascular dilation and constriction is definitely a blessing coming from the consumption of beans. In my walk of faith some nine years ago when introduced to the 8 laws of health and really not knowing anything I was impressed to compile a recipe in my kitchen now called my “Bean Brew”, this was my saving grace when I removed meat from my diet and continues today unchanged, thank you Father, Gen 1:29 & 3:18

      1. Yes sure Melliforte, I actually take a combination of legumes(kidney, white, black, black eyed, chick peas, bartoli etc) and soak them for 2 – 3 days to release the gas replacing the water(filtered) every 12 hours as I don’t use canned beans unless neccessary. I then bring to boil and simmer for an hour or so till beans are soft but I do add at the beginning depending on the amount up to 4 teaspoons of Fenugreek seeds for non-hemi Iron that exceeds that of meat, I then also add celtic salt, tumeric, garam masala. This recipe is much like a spaghetti dish but with beans. I then in an electric fry pan slow cook onion and garlic, cut up fresh tomatoes for the base, cook seperatley a serving of tofu laced in Tumeric to add, then add the beans once brewed to electric fry pan, add up to 2 large bottles of pasta sauce, then the cooked tumeric enhanced tofu, and then let simmer for up to 20 min. Bon appetite, for the benefits of the ingredients look more into this site, this was a recipe not shown me only inspired :-) All the very best

    1. ” Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power–these are the true remedies. Every person should have a knowledge of nature’s remedial agencies and how to apply them. It is essential both to understand the principles involved in the treatment of the sick and to have a practical training that will enable one rightly to use this knowledge. {MH 127.2}
      The use of natural remedies requires an amount of care and effort that many are not willing to give. Nature’s process of healing and upbuilding is gradual, and to the impatient it seems slow. The surrender of hurtful indulgences requires sacrifice. But in the end it will be found that nature, untrammeled, does her work wisely and well. Those who persevere in obedience to her laws will reap the reward in health of body and health of mind.
      128
      Have a Blessed day Wyman !!!

  13. But what about the gas????? I work up close with people all day (CranioSacral Therapist) and filling the atmosphere with methane isn’t part of what they pay for??!!!

    1. In addition to the references Thea made I would just point out a problem with the image of malodorous farts. A great deal of that comes from the compounds found in animal products. Furthermore, the longer anything is in the gut, the more malodorous it is likely to become. Rememer, methane per se is pretty much neutral in odor. (Gas companies need to add a malodorous compound for safety reasons.) In you gut less time means ther is less absorption of odor causing compounds.

  14. Without having access to a heart rate monitor to monitor heart rate all day, why is it that my heart rate is around 80 whenever it is measured? but slower at morning and night.. maybe too much caffeine in the day? or stressed about being measured? or just unhealthy for most of the day, reducing at night?

    1. Caffeine is not good for your heart or any other part of your body. Also how is your stress level? Stress will cause the heart rate to go up. And is the 80 you measure a resting heart rate which needs to be checked before getting out of bed in the morning or after sitting or lying down for 5-10 minutes if done during the day?

  15. If I ate MORE beans, there’d be no room for rice and potatoes and all the other veggies and fruits and leafies! Beans are BRILLIANT food.

  16. If dried beans are soaked overnight and rinsed daily they start to sprout increasing the nutritional benefit. Cooking time is then very much reduced. we cook beans and vegetables together in an electric pressure cooker,takes ten minutes then swicth off for about another ten minutes for pressure to drop at whihc point the lid can be removed

    1. Actually, I think that every way you can eat any plant food, you should try. Every time you prepare plants in a different way, you get different nutritional benefits. I like to eat sprouted, overnight soaked, and even canned beans.

      1. I think he was expressing his alarm at the procedure becoming sorta officially sucked into the whole Big Diabetes establishment.

        1. I know, but Dr. G has addressed this issue in his lecture, :”From Table to Able” and in several of other videos. It’s an old evil story, not a new evil story.

          Doctors, generally speaking, do not have a background in nutrition. They don’t promote a WFPB diet and they profit by selling a surgery that has enormous potential for dangerous side effects.

          Even people who know that a WFPB diet can be talked into this surgery by their doctors. My friend saw that I had lost nearly 40 pounds at the time she decided to have her surgery. She had come to this website and reviewed it with her adult son. Still her doctor talked her into the surgery. She has lost weight, but will face the consequences of her surgery for the rest of her life.

      1. I’ve had a friend choose this surgery over changing to a WFPB diet, though. She didn’t think she could make the dietary changes and her doctor sold her on the surgery.
        Crazy, crazy, crazy…

        1. Overeating is in your mind and not in your stomach. Several patients can easily dilate their “new stomach” and as time passes they can eat grotesque amounts of food as previously – and then they get fat and diabetic again. WFPB diet carries no risk – only benefits. This kind of surgery is dangerous and unnecessary. In obese people anesthesia is dangerous, surgery is dangerous, there are risk of bleeding, infection, poor healing, herniation, anastomosis leakage and poor absorption of nutrients for the rest of their lives. I was appalled first time I heard of this kind of crazy surgery. Solution: Eat real food (mostly WFPB) and not foodlike things….

          1. Even when they do lose weight they are doing so on their same SAD diet, just less of it. So the inflammation, the epithelial tissue damage and all the knock on effects remain. The weight loss in/of itself does not equate to good health. When I had my bypass I was just about the only fatty in there…the rest were good keen Kiwi blokes who had clogged arteries just like mine.

  17. What exactly is the definition of ‘resting’ for measuring heat rate? How shall I measure it? Do I wear some wrist device that will count the pulse when I am asleep? Or is it just sitting quietly as the vid mentions? My doctor’s workers measure it almost the minute I land on their table after rushing in from the waiting room, full of tense anticipation. What’s the optimal?

    1. Hi Kim, the real measure is your recovery pulse rate after a 3 minute stress test. Check your resting pulse prior to the 3 minute stress test, at completion check your pulse at 1 minute after the stress test, if it is the same prior to the stress test then your are in great shape, if not keep following this site daily for more information :-)

  18. Whats the definition of resting heart rate? In the morning after waking
    up I had 55bpm and after a stressful working day 90bpm (after resting
    for several minutes)..

  19. Has anyone calculated whether the lower heart rate post-exercise “makes up” for the increased heart rate during and shortly after exercise?
    I’m interested to find out if in terms of “heart beat budget” there would be a lowering of heart beat expenses.

    NB: I am well aware this is a tremendously reductionist question, obviously the benefit of exercise shouldn’t be based on this, here I’m only curious for the fun of it.

  20. Hi! I have always had a higher heart beat. Usually it is about 80 when resting, 70 when I wake up, depending on how I feel. The moment I stress about something or get nervous, it goes up. I have noticed that I can walk for very long periods of time, even for 4 hours with no problem, also I lift weights sometimes and do some yoga. When it comes to walking uphill or running things get bad. My heartbeat gets super fast, I feel lightheaded and very out of breath, sometimes also very sleepy. It makes me hate waking uphill even though I love mountains and would love to go more often. I know sports lowers your resting heart rate but how can I do so much sports when I feel so bad when I work out like that. If I continue with hiking even if I feel bad doing it, do you think it will be beficial for my heart beat? I do think my heartbeat is a bit better then it was some time ago, maby because I eat lots of beans :) Btw, I am a vegan, I eat healthy foods mostly, add B12 and D3. I do however sit most of the day because of my job.

    Thank you so much for your help!

    1. TofuQueen: I forwarded your post onto our medical moderators. (Not all questions get answered, but hopefully one will answer yours with more information than I have.) In the meantime, I thought I would share with you that I have had some great help by getting a standing desk where I work. I noticed that even something as simple as going up stairs got a lot easier just because I stand instead of sit. This may not be a possibility for you, but if you can get a standing desk, maybe that would help???

    2. TofuQueen: To add to Thea’s response, I would also recommend talking to your doctor. It might be helpful to have a few simple tests done (Holter monitor, stress test, etc) to rule out any underlying issues. A higher heartbeat might be normal for you, but I think your complains of lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and fatigue are worth getting a medical workup for.

      1. I noticed that if I feel okay, my heart rate is usually 70 when sitting or something like that, when standing and walking around, it goes up, but nothing crazy. But if I walk up a steep hill for about 40 minutes, my heart rate can go up to 170! It’s weird! I otherwise feel okay, don’t have any medical issues I think.

    1. Hello Christine, I am a family physician in private practice, and also a volunteer moderator for this website. Whether an exercise is vigorous or moderate depends entirely on how hard you do that exercise, and also on your age and physical conditioning. Vigorous exercise, also known as “aerobic” exercise is defined as ANY exercise which raises your pulse to 85% or more of your calculated maximal heart rate. The formula for maximal heart rate is: (220 – age). So if you are 40, then your maximal safe heart rate is 180. Your target pulse, to be doing aerobic exercise is 0.85 x 180 = 153. If your pulse gets over 180, that is not considered safe, except for very short periods of time.

      So if you are on your elliptical machine, doing your usual workout, check your pulse after 3-4 minutes, when your pulse should be at a steady rate. (Your machine might measure your pulse, but if not you can hop off and quickly check it yourself by counting heartbeats for 15 seconds and multiply by 4). If it is between 85 and 100% of your maximal heart rate, then you’re doing aerobic exercise. A person right beside you, of the same age, with exactly the same settings on her elliptical machine, might have a pulse that is quite a bit higher — if she is not in good physical condition; or quite a bit lower if she is in great shape.

      “Moderate-intensity activity” is anything that gets your heart rate up to 50-60% higher than your resting heart rate. So if your resting pulse is 72, then moderate exercise would be anything that gets your heart rate up to 108-115.

      I hope this helps.

  21. If heart rate is only associated with CVD risk
    then i think Dr Greger overestimate on the importance of resting heart rate
    when he used the word “Longevity” in his previous video of this series.
    because people can die from cancer , dementia, and many other causes,
    CVD is only part of the equation

  22. Hello from London, UK.

    Is there a premium legume for pulse rate reduction?

    I’m very keen on fresh green beans topped, tailed and steamed. The ones imported to the UK from Kenya are very tasty (although all that plane fuel is not so good for the planet).

    I struggle with dried beans. I bought a pack from the supermarket the other day after reading this site.. The instructions were to soak overnight and then cook for 1 to 1.5 hours. I was sitting out in the back yard wondering whether after all that soaking and cooking there could be any nutritional benefit at all remaining in the beans. I wondered about this so much that I forgot all about the beans on the stove until the scent of burnt legumes reached the garden bench.

    How about frozen peas? Easy to cook and delicious, but are the nutritional benefits still there after freezing?

    Just like a Brazilian friend of a contributor to another section of this site, I find tinned food distinctly unappealing and so my cupboard is bare of cans.

    So, if I stick just to my favourite fresh green beans and handy frozen peas will this still my beating heart? (“Still” in the sense of slow down, not stop). Or are there other must-have beans to eke out some extra time so I might yet see Scotland win the World Cup before I am a has-been?

    All the best

    James

    1. Hi, JamesCarr. While there is nothing wrong with green beans and frozen peas (freezing may help to maintain nutritional value over longer periods of time), I would recommend that you keep trying other legumes. Don’t worry about soaking taking away nutrients. The reason for doing that is to break down phytates so that those nutrients become available to your body. If you don’t want to soak them, you can accomplish the same thing by using a pressure cooker. An electric model can time the cooking for you, and help you to avoid the problem of burned beans. I hope that helps, and that you do get to see Scotland win the World Cup!

      1. Hi Christine

        Many thanks especially for the good wishes for Scotland.

        I tried again with soaked-overnight dried beans the other day, this time staying in the kitchen so the pan did not burn

        I steamed some beetroot above the boiling beans, added mushrooms, onion and garlic & chillie plus some herbs and spices and a dash of mirim and balsamic vinegar with a spoon of Dijon mustard stirred in. This was a rather eclectic food cupboard foray but I ended up with a delicious soup/casserole.

        If I can speed the whole process up with a pressure cooker, that’s even better.

        In the meantime I’ve also tried lentils which I had rather forgotten about until coming across this site. It’s suprisingly easy to make dahl (Jamie Oliver has a good recipe online) and it comes out well, especially if I remember to toast the cumin seeds a little in the pan and to have some fresh coriander in the house to sprinkle over at the end.

        I am going to up my pulses and monitor my pulse to see how it goes.

        All the best

        James

  23. I so agree with this!! I’ve been wearing my Fitbit 24-7 for years now. For the first six months of 2017 my average monthly resting heart rate was 58-60. Beginning in July when I went cold turkey WFPB my monthly average heart rate was 55 for five months in a row – going up to 56 in December. I noticed this change immediately. Just thought it was eating the healthy food and no dairy, meats and oils and NOT eating any processed or refined foods. For the last 3 months it’s been a little higher (56-57) so I guess I’ll start eating more beans and see what happens!

  24. Hi there. I’m a RN health support volunteer. I’m glad I got your question. I am a cardiac electrophysiology nurse and am very familiar with Mobitz and other forms of heart block.

    It really depends on what caused your Mobitz 1 block. Do you have permanent Mobitz block or intermittent? It can be intermittent from things like a vasovagal reaction- like when a person faints or nearly faints under stress or in hot weather or when they have been on their feet for a long time. In that case, you need to avoid the triggers. Or it can be due to medication. In which case if you stop the medication, the block usually resolves. It can also happen after heart surgery or if you’ve had heart disease or a heart attack.
    Unfortunately, if there has been damage to the AV node, it may not be reversible. Quite often, people do fine with a Mobitz 1, unlike a Mobitz 2 which may and third degree or complete heart block which does require a pacemaker. So at the minimum, we want to avoid having your block progress to a Mobitz 2 or complete AV block. If your heart block progresses to complete heart block, you will need a pacemaker for the rest of your life. So lets try to prevent that. You want to take care of your heart. Keep the blood pressure and cholesterol down. Improving your circulation and cardiovascular health can help you tolerate the lower heart rate you can get with a Mobitz 1. If you have heart disease, you want to get this under control.

    So there isn’t a specific diet we would recommend other than a healthy plant based diet, like in Dr. Greger’s daily dozen:
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dr-gregers-daily-dozen-checklist-2/

    I would pay special attention to recommendations regarding heart disease
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die-from-heart-disease/
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/eliminating-90-of-heart-disease-risk/

    All the best to you,
    NurseKelly

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