I had my second heart attack in August 2010. I have 2 stents and additional plaque buildup in my arteries that are around 50% blockages. I recently read Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease and am trying to adopt his vegetarian low fat diet but have questions about its conflicts with current heart healthy diet recommendations. Please advise on the value of moderate amounts of walnuts, pistachios, extra virgin olive oil, coffee and fish/fish oil in a heart-healthy diet. I have lost 15 pounds following his diet and cutting my alcohol intake to 2 drinks per day (I am 55 years old, 6' tall and now 175 pounds). I am following his advise on adopting yoga for exercise instead of weight lifting and meditation for stress reduction. I feel fortunate to have survived 2 strikes and don't want the third to take me out.
I walk for 45 minutes and then follow up with 30 minutes of cardiovascular work out. I still eat what I want, just in moderation now. I have cut out most of the fat. Make gravy and sauces now with water instead of milk. Those type of changes. Eating oatmeal instead of bacon eggs for breakfast. Not familiar with the diet you speak of.
I don't believe that any diet will reverse CAD. There is nothing in the body which will remove plaque, so how diet can help is beyond me. The only hope of actually removing CAD is if they develop some kind of chemical which can safely be injected and breaks down the molecular bonds of raw fat and calcified plaque. A bit like having a kettle and pan cleaner in your blood.
Diet certainly can help to prevent further disease, but ensuring your arteries have the correct levels of nutrients etc to keep them strong and supple. There are also foods which can reduce oxidizing agents in the body, which is a major starter of atherosclerosis. It still isn't understood how the oxidation takes place or why, but it's definitely the starter according to studies in mice.
Speaking of oxidation, I also drink an herbal green tea daily that promotes stomach health and is an antioxidant. I certainly don't think this can hurt. I read and then try. Sometimes I think it is all I can do.
Dr. Dean Ornish developed a program in the 90s that includes vegetarian diet along with talk therapy, yoga and meditation to control stress factors. The program was proven to reverse CAD in clinical studies. The diet is pretty restrictive and includes eliminating stimulants such as caffeine from your diet. My confusion is over the diet's elimination of all nuts, all oils (including extra virgin olive oil), chicken and fish from your diet. Since his program was developed in the 90s I thought that new information and studies may have shed a new light on these dietary elements.
Does he explain by what mechanism the calcified plaque is actually removed? What about the macrophages bloated with fat that have become foam cells? They are damaged through oxidation and nothing will ever remove the fat. I'm sure certain diets, such as high fruit/veg, can stop progression, but I'm very doubtful on reversal. If this was a decade ago, I'm sure there would be medication to reverse it by now based on his information.
I remember a trial in the uk a couple of years ago, where 7 people were put into an empty gorilla enclosure in a zoo. They were there for two weeks, living in tents. Scientists fed them lots of uncooked fruit/veg and nuts every day. Before the trial, nearly all had high blood pressure, some had high cholesterol. At the end of the two weeks, all blood pressure was normal, all cholesterol was normal and they all commented on how good they felt. They were offered a bacon sandwich or fruit at the end, only one took the bacon.
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