Eat Strong Food to Stop Heart Disease
Excerpt from Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue by Rip Esselstyn
What is the number one reason to love our strong plants?
Because it’s the only way to cure our number one cause of death: heart disease.
That’s right—the single biggest reason most Americans are going to die can be cured just by eating the right foods. Back when I was a firefighter in Austin, we had to make sure our equipment was in perfect working order. The first thing we would do at the noon shift change was a complete check of all the equipment on the fire engine, from the axes and Halligan tools we carry on the front bumper to the ventilation fans and the medical equipment we carry in the back compartment.
We have to make sure everything is in perfect working condition. A burst fire hose could mean the difference between saving a house or watching it burn to the ground. If a hose were leaking, we’d never let someone stick his of her finger in the hole or throw some duct tape on it. We’d fix the leak properly and take better care of our hoses so it would never happen again.
The same is true for heart disease. If you’ve got a ticker at risk of conking out for good, you can throw some duct tape on it with statins and hope for the best. Or you can actually fix the problem by cutting out what caused the problem in the first place: meat, eggs, dairy, fish, processed oils, and processed foods.
This isn’t groundbreaking news. We’ve known for decades how to cure heart disease. In fact, one of the earliest people to figure it out wasn’t even a doctor. He was an engineer named Nathan Pritikin.
More than half a century ago he was diagnosed with heart disease at the ripe old age of forty-one. His doctors weren’t much more helpful than they are today. Avoid strenuous activity, take the elevator, nap often. Be sure to get your affairs in order. Gee, thanks doc.
Pritikin had other ideas. He studied the plant-based eating habits of rural Africans and how they had far fewer instances of heart disease. Pritikin figured that if he stopped eating the junk that made his heart sick, he could make it healthy again. It doesn’t take an engineer to put two and two together. (Well, maybe in this case it did.)
Pritikin completely changed his diet, and within two years his cholesterol dropped from more than 300 to 162. His so-called terminal heart disease vanished. He started to run again, which he hadn’t done for years on doctors orders. He ended up living a normal life.
More recently, some of the most scientific proof comes from a study at the Cleveland Clinic conducted by my father, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., who took 18 people who had collectively suffered 49 coronary events over the previous eight years and put them on a plant-based eating plan similar to the Engine 2 Diet.
After a dozen years, all but one of these people were free from any further coronary incidents—and the one who did had strayed from my father’s diet.
In another more recent study, my dad tracked 198 people who followed similarly plant-based eating plans for four years. A full 89.6 percent of them stuck to their diets, and in that group only one person suffered another cardiac event (a small stroke). However, among those who returned to their old eating habits, two-thirds of them had another stroke, heart attack, or died.
The results were published in The Journal of Family Practice in July 2014: “Though current medical and surgical treatments manage coronary artery disease, they do little to prevent or stop it. Nutritional intervention, as shown in our study and others, has halted and even reversed Coronary Artery Disease.”
These days, though, you’d never know that heart disease was a choice. Let’s say you visit your cardiologist, who confirms that you’ve got a 95 percent blockage in one of the major arteries going to your heart. The first thing he will do is scare you. “We’ll need to perform a bypass surgery immediately,” he might say, “or else you’ll have a heart attack.”
You’ll spend the night in the hospital, and you’ll be wheeled into the OR the next morning.
What your doctor didn’t tell you is that your 95 percent blockage is actually stable. It’s not ideal, and it’s not good for your heart in the long term, but it’s not likely to cause a heart attack tomorrow.
Your amazing body has actually built up corollary bypass vessels around the blockage. A surgeon does essentially the same thing by stealing a vein from your leg and grafting it around your blockage to improve blood flow to the heart.
What your surgeon won’t tell you, however, is that your interloping vein will probably shut down within 18 months, and she’ll have to do another procedure. Your doctors also won’t tell you that since you have a major blockage in one place, you probably have blockages in dozens of other places in your body.
My father has counseled patients who’ve had up to 47 stents put in their arteries. Forty-seven!
What if there was a second option? One without all the pills and surgeries and expensive gadgets that need to be replaced all the time. It has a near 100 percent success rate at stopping and reversing heart disease. It’s called changing what you eat. Focusing on strong food will give you the keys to a new health kingdom.
Sounds crazy, but just look around the world. In the famous China Study, for example, researchers led by Dr. T. Colin Campbell followed the mortality rates and eating habits of hundreds of thousands of rural Chinese. In one province with over half a million people, not a single death was blamed on heart disease over a period of three years.
Meanwhile, in the state of Mississippi alone heart disease kills more than 8,000 per year.
But hey, we live in America! We spend more money on medical care than anyone else on the planet. A whopping $3.8 trillion per year! Surely some of that cash must be going to something good. We’ve got all these patented drugs to keep us alive. Why eat healthy when you can just order a Double Quarter Pounder, a shake, and a side of Lipitor? Because we should know better.
Modern medicine is a powerful and appealing distraction that has smart, intelligent people like you falling for it hook line and sinker.
These pills and procedures are like a seductive mistress pulling people in the wrong direction, toward trouble. If you stay true to your food, heart disease doesn’t stand a chance of invading your arteries. That’s something I know you can live with!
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