A Man on a Mission

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD, F.A.C.S.Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn is a man on a mission – to end the epidemic of chronic heart disease in the US and other Western countries by promoting a whole food, plant-based (WFPB), oil free diet.

Esselstyn knows how to set a goal and reach it. As part of the US Olympic rowing team in 1956, his team won the gold medal. After attending medical school he served as a physician in Vietnam, then became a surgeon at the Cleveland clinic, where he worked for 40 years. He is a man driven to succeed. Now he is facing the toughest challenge of his life – changing the eating habits of the American public in order to end heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

In his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Dr. Esselstyn shows how changing the diets of his chronically ill patients reversed their heart disease. Although they were all told by their doctors there was nothing else medicine or procedures could do for them, Dr. Esselstyn’s “prescription” kept them free of heart attacks and stroke for over 25 years and gave them back their strength and health.

Prevent and Reverse Heart DiseaseDr. Esselstyn is featured in the movie Forks Over Knives. His book provides additional information about the research behind his WFPB diet, why oils aren’t heart healthy and how the USDA Dietary Recommendations promote increased disease. His scientifically proven, nutrition-based cure is similar to those advocated by others, including Doctors Colin Campbell, Dean Ornish and John McDougall. All of them have shown the power of these diets to change lives.

Couscous and African Stew

Couscous and African Stew

As powerful as Dr. Esselstyn’s message, the other half of the book is a collection of wonderful recipes from his wife, Ann. They include fabulous soups, stews, salads and main course dishes along with breakfast and dessert items. We have discovered a whole new set of favorites: Sloppy Lentil Joes, Black Bean – Oatmeal Burgers, Couscous and African Stew, and Lentil Loaf served with potatoes and mushroom gravy.

For me, this book, along with the Forks Over Knives movie, changed my life. I lost over 20 pounds, got off of my blood pressure medicine and have more energy than before.

My wife and I had the chance to meet Dr. Esselstyn and his wife at a weekend retreat. They are compassionate, warm and giving of their time and expertise. They are lively, energetic and ready for the challenge of getting as many people as possible to follow their truly heart-healthy way of living and ending coronary heart disease – which Dr. Esselstyn insists, need never exist.

Do One Thing

The Unhealthy Truth

I discovered the author of this book today and watched her TED talk (see below) about her transformation from a mother who fed her four children the Standard American Diet (SAD) to an activist for healthy, organic food and against the additives and processes – like growth hormones and GMOs –  that are destroying our health.

Her book is called – The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick – And What We Can Do About It – I can’t wait to read it.

Robyn O'BrienRobyn O’Brien‘s journey started the morning her youngest child had an allergic reaction to part of her breakfast. A former financial and food industry analyst, she researched what was happening to the food system and what had caused her daughter’s allergy.

She discovered the additives and processes that are used in the United States, but are banned in Europe, the UK and other countries. She also discovered the impacts of these unhealthy changes – the US has the highest incidence of cancer in the world and we spend the most money on healthcare – with poorer outcomes. Then looking deeper still, saw how our government is subsidizing the companies making the unhealthy products and making it more costly to grow and market organic food.

Robyn founded a nonprofit organization – The AllergyKids Foundation. It’s mission:

Restore the health of American families by addressing the needs of the 1 in 3 American children that now has allergies, autism, ADHD and asthma and the role that additives in our food supply are having on our health.  The Foundation also works closely with those fighting cancer, particularly those with specific dietary needs.

Robyn is passionate about these issues and on a mission to change the current system for the health of our families, economy and nation. Her TED talk ends with a call to Do One Thing. None of us can do everything, but we all can do one thing to make a difference.

For me, this blog is how I am doing one thing to make more people aware of the problems with the current system; the impact of the Standard American Diet on our health and the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

What is the one thing you can do today to make a difference?

Meat and Potatoes, Hold the Meat

John McDougall

When John McDougall was 18 he had a paralyzing stroke. When he asked the doctors why this had happened to him, they didn’t have an answer. So he went to medical school and became a doctor to see if he could find the answers. Forty years later, we are the recipients of his life-long quest.

In his book The Starch Solution, Dr. McDougall lays out a way of eating to improve health and reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes and stroke while eating foods you love like potatoes and whole grain bread.

His research of the people with the healthiest diets all had one thing in common – starch. Rice in Asian countries, sweet potatoes in South America, corn in Central America and the southwest US.

His recipe for a healthy diet includes vegetables; fruit; beans, legumes and unprocessed soy products (think tofu, not fake chicken nuggets); and starches.

Like many other proponents of a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet, Dr. McDougall’s plan does not include meat, fish, dairy, eggs or added oils. It also avoids white flour and sugar.

The Starch Solution

The book covers why starches help you lose weight and stay healthy and why animal products are unhealthy for you and the planet. There are also chapters that discuss how a WFPB diet provides you with all the calcium and protein you need and why you don’t need supplements (with the exception of B-12).

To help you get started, there is a 7 day meal plan and over 100 recipes to get you started.

Dr. McDougall is passionate about his work – helping people stay healthy and live life to the fullest. Read his book and you’ll become a believer in the Starch Solution.

Targeted Destruction of Double Chins

logo_kythera_250x130Eradicating Double Chins: The Next Half-Billion Dollar Business?

This is a headline from the Wall Street Journal. The article is about a new facial injectable – think Botox – to get rid of submental fat or double chins.

JP Morgan sees this as a $500+ Million opportunity. The company making the product, now called ATX-101, Kythera Biopharmaceuticals is seeing their stock rise in anticipation of FDA approval.

It seems that research shows that people with double chins have a negative self-image, low self-esteem and dissatisfaction. Thus the perfect “opportunity” to separate overweight people from their money.

According to the company, here is how they describe the product and how it works

ATX-101 is “a proprietary formulation of a purified synthetic version of deoxycholic acid, a naturally occurring molecule in the body that aids in the breakdown of dietary fat.” Treatment with the drug involves injections spaced out over a number of months; the drug dissolves fat cells but leaves other tissue alone. Kythera calls it “targeted destruction.”

What could go wrong?

We’ll see how the marketing department changes ATX-101 to a name designed to get the people already injecting foreign substances into their face and the rest of us to demand this from our doctors. I wonder how they’ll spin “targeted destruction”?

Or, people could go on a whole food, plant-based diet and lose the double chin that way.

Just sayin’

National Cancer Institute Can’t Find the Link Between Diet and Cancer Right Before Their Eyes


Diet quality linked to pancreatic cancer risk

That was the headline that caught my attention. The study done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and AARP found these results

In a large new study of older Americans, researchers find that people with the healthiest eating habits are about 15 percent less likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those with the poorest diets.

In the analysis of data on more than 500,000 Americans over age 50, men in particular, especially those who were overweight or obese, appeared to benefit most from a high quality diet.

It also found

Among men who were overweight or obese, however, those with healthy eating scores in the top-fifth group were 28 percent less likely than their counterparts in the bottom-fifth to develop pancreatic cancer.

Despite these findings, the NIH researchers could not find a definitive link between diet and cancer.

Lead author Hannah Arem of the National Cancer Institute

It is important to note that our findings are based on overall diet and not individual foods. A combination of many foods contributed to the observed association between greater compliance with the Dietary Guidelines and lower risk of pancreatic cancer

Perhaps she should read Colin Campbell’s book Whole – Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. In his book he shows why researchers need to stop looking at individual foods or nutrients and study the whole process of how our bodies use the foods we eat to slow or promote cancer.

Past studies looking at the relationship between diet and risk for pancreatic cancer have tended to focus on individual foods and found few connections, according to her (Arem) team’s report, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

No surprise there.

The researchers did find that people who ate a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet had better results than others. Another said that eating a healthy diet “has not yet translated into noticeable reductions in the incidence of the major cancers with diet-related etiology”

Maybe this researcher should read the literature published by Drs Dean Ornish or Neal Barnard. Their research shows the positive link between eating a WFPB diet and reducing cancer risk.

It is sad when the scientific community can’t make the connection between diet and disease promotion or prevention.

There are doctors and researchers who have found a positive link between a healthy diet and lowering the risk or reversing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and more. As Dr. Campbell points out in his book, the top research agencies and disease advocacy groups have been taken over by people who serve the system, not the public. Until this changes more people will get cancer and other chronic diseases because our SAD (Standard American Diet) provides a fertile breeding ground for their growth.

World Veg Festival – Sept 28-29 – San Francisco


One of the great things about living near San Francisco is being able to attend events like this one. This festival commemorates World Vegetarian Day October 1st and it sounds like it will be great. Speakers, demonstrations and lots of vegan and vegetarian food.

Check out the website and plan on attending.

One Track Heart

Krishna Das

The sun shines, right? Some flowers bloom, others don’t, some bloom faster than others. But it’s not the sun that’s different, right. The sun is shining the same on everybody.

Krishna Das, explaining how his guru Maharaj-ji gave everyone the same unconditional love, but it was up to each person how they would receive it.

Earlier this summer we saw the movie One Track Heart, a documentary about Krishna Das, a devotee of Maharaj-ji and, according to the New York Times, “the chant master of the American yoga scene.” It is a beautiful film with interviews with Ram Dass, Daniel Goleman and others.

The quote above is from an interview with Krishna Das in the latest issue of Common Ground magazine. You can read the entire interview online.

I thought this quote was incredibly perceptive. We all get nourishment from the sun or the supreme being or guru we worship. But we all experience this differently.

The interview and movie highlight the years of anguish and self-destruction that followed Maharij-ji’s leaving his human form and the struggle to get back to his spiritual roots and chanting as a way to reconnect to his guru.

I highly recommend the movie and his music.

The National Heirloom Expo – Sept 10-13 – Santa Rosa, CA

The National Heirloom Exposition is a not-for-profit event centered around the pure food movement, heirloom vegetables, and anti-GMO activism. The second annual event held mid-September 2012 in Santa Rosa, California drew more than 14,000 people from around the country and beyond. With more than 100 speakers and 300 natural food vendors, the event was the largest gathering in pure food history! The Heirloom Expo has gained incredible interest among home growers, farmers, school groups and the general public–so much so that it is being called the “World’s Fair of Pure Food”!

The Heirloom Expo

The Health Care System is Waking Up to WFPB

kaiser-permanente-logoThe objective of this article is to present to physicians an update on plant-based diets. Concerns about the rising cost of health care are being voiced nationwide, even as unhealthy lifestyles are contributing to the spread of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. For these reasons, physicians looking for cost-effective interventions to improve health outcomes are becoming more involved in helping their patients adopt healthier lifestyles. Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.    Spring 2013 Kaiser Permanente Journal

Kaiser Permanente, America’s largest managed care company and hospital system, told their doctors to “consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients…encouraging whole, plant-based foods and discouraging meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.”

This is big news and may be the start of a trend in the health care arena to promote nutrition over drugs and surgery.

Read the entire article here.