Forms to Forks weekend--Dr. Esselstyn's presentation
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Treating the Cause to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease was the title of this presentation. Dr. Esselstyn used some very scientific-looking charts to portray his message, and it will be difficult for me to do justice to what he said. He, of course, focused mainly on heart disease, which is gaining ground in the US, and how to prevent it. His main point:
Coronary heart disease is a food-borne illness that does not need to exist. It is a pediatric disease because the cause starts when we are children.
Dr. Esselstyn diagrammed for us how we get a heart attack. You rupture your plaque in the artery, a clot forms and blocks your artery. To be heart-attack proof, you do something that will make it impossible for your plaque to rupture. He said that eating plant-strong will make the cop over your plaque stronger. He had pictures and charts on the big screen to show all of this. He said that the western diet makes the endothelial cells (the thin layer of cells that form the first layer on the very inside of your arteries) get "sticky" as well as everything else being sticky (LDL, etc.)
Dr. E. started discussing nitrous oxide, which is made by endothelial cells. A high nitrous oxide level in our body does the following:
1. It's the strongest vaso-dialator in the body.
2. Prevents artery wall from getting stiff and contributing to high blood pressure.
3. Prevents plaque
4. Prevents smooth muscles of the artery from migrating into the plaque
5. Prevents foam cells (which are bad!)
Lots of charts to show all of this.
He discussed the Adkins diet vs. Plant-based diet (and also the South Beach diet) and their ability to create nitrous oxide. Not surprisingly, Adkins was the worst and the plant-based diet was the best for doing this. SB was somewhere in the middle.
Dr. Esselstyn then turned to a discussion of HDL and LDL. He stated that a high HDL level protects against atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). There was a discussion of statin drugs and how just increasing them does not increase the HDL level in patients, although they do decrease LDL. He commented that the typical American diet turns the HDL into doing what LDL is doing, and this is B-A-D!
He added that 45% of Medicare costs today is cardiology and that $48 trillion could be saved through a plant based diet. Discussion of stents and which is more "radical": eating plant-based or having your torso cut open for heart surgery, or having a tube snaked through your groin to implant a stent. His comment: "Follow the money--there are more dollars to be made in stents than in brussels sprouts!"
Avoid oil, fish, fowl, meat, dairy, caffeinated coffee. We decimate and compromise our endothelial cells every time we eat these things, and we need those endo. cells to make nitrous oxide.
Casein injures endo. cells, dairy injures endo cells, and fructose sugar injures endo. cells because it spikes insulin, and that is detrimental to endo. cells.
Eat: grains, legumes, lentils, veggies and fruits. He suggested eating green leafy veggies, amount the size of my fist, cooked, 6X per day. He said that nitrates are good, and to eat these, which are found in kale, swiss chard, spinach, arugula, beet greens and beets, because they make nitrous oxide.
Dr. Esselstyn had a little rap, where he listed all the veggies to eat. I could not get them all because he did it pretty fast, but here's my best:
Bok choy, kale, spinach, asparagus, collards, watercress, broccoli rabe, napa, arugula, brussels sprouts, swiss chard, beet greens.
He concluded by stating that with a plant-based diet, there is
•health improves over time
•it's lifestyle medicine