You may have decided to adopt, with some trepidation, a Whole Foods Plant Based (WFPB) diet in the hope that it will help you deal with (and perhaps, defeat) a disease that you have. We hope that the following information and comments might help you with that decision and with the ultimate eradication of your health problem. But before you read on, I want you to read our disclaimer at the bottom of this page. We are not physicians licensed to practice medicine in any jurisdiction. However, we have been interested and reading in nutrition for a few decades.
Perhaps your health problem, your failure to get relief for it, and your desire to recover from it is related to one of the following:
- cardiovascular disease
There is a lot of information available related to the effectiveness of the WFPB diet in dealing with and even eradicating these diseases.
To perhaps help you in your progress to better health and long life we offer the following information, a mixture of books, videos and some personal observations. We wish you health and long life, without suffering or medications.
Diagnosis: Generally you get a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease (arteriosclerosis) in one of the following ways:
- You have a heart attack or a stroke. About 50% of people who have a heart attack die from it. Strokes can be very debilitating if not treated quickly by knowledgeable medical teams with in just an hour or two. In both of these cases there is significant risk of dead tissue in the heart and/or brain. While such tissue is generally not recoverable, there are hopes that this will change in the not too distant future. You will likely be placed on a series of prescription medications to handle cholesterol levels (statins such as Lipitor or Crestor), hypertension (such as diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, etc.) and blood clotting such as Plavix or Coumadin (warfarin)
- You suffer from angina (chest pains) or a mini-stroke, conditions which cause discomfort and perhaps some short term loss of functionality. A visit to a doctor confirms your condition, perhaps using MRI scans for stroke damage or angiograms (and even stent insertion) to confirm or provide remedial treatment of the symptoms.
- At your annual check up your doctor informs you that your cholesterol levels are too high and you are prescribed medications to lower it.
Prognosis: Excellent. If you have not suffered a heart attack or major stroke that has caused significant damage to tissue, your chances of a full recovery with reversal of damage are excellent if you adopt a WFPB diet. We also strongly recommend that you find a cardiologist who is a vegan.
Recovery Strategy, part 1
Cardiovascular disease affects many people in the developed nations. (Dr. Esselstyn bluntly says all Americans have cardiovascular disease — see the reference to his book just below) It is the leading killer of people in western societies causing about 50% of our populations to die from it. It has various guises. It can be a heart attack. It can be a stroke or continuing series of mini-stokes, or perhaps an aortic annuerism. In many of these guises death is not instantaneous. It is a long, drawn out event (lasting a decade or more) in which you, the patient, are subjected to ever more intrusive treatments (insertion of stents in the heart, by-pass surgeries, treatment with drugs including warfarin and statins) which, while promising life, portend death. If you wish to avoid that future investigate these sources that might help you in your resolve to treat your cardiovascular problem with a WFPB diet.
- Read my blog written after three years on a WFPB diet (I have stents in my heart)
- Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta (a lead medical reporter on CNN) describe “The Last Heart Attack”
- Watch a video by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. author of “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease“. Dr. Esselstyn was kind enough to provide me with guidance in my early days of a WFPB diet (at the same time he was helping former President Bill Clinton)
- Read “The Plant Base Solution” by Dr. Joel Kahn, a cardiologist and vegan for 40+ years.
- Read “How Not to Die” by Dr. Michael Greger, especially chapter 1: How not to die from heart disease.
Recovery Strategy, part 2
Kim Williams M.D., the president of the American College of Cardiology has stated:” There are two kinds of cardiologists: vegans and those who haven’t read the data”. If you have followed the references in part 1 of our strategy you will likely know more about the impact of a WFPB diet than your cardiologist if he is not vegan. You might find it surprising to know that most medical doctors have no more than one semester of training in nutrition! (That’s less training that you will have had if you thoroughly investigated the references I have listed above. So, find a vegan cardiologist! It is your life and your future that you are dealing with here and you need to make every effort to ensure that your medical team is working with you all the way.
And, you ask, how do I find a vegan cardiologist? I can only provide some suggestions.
- Contact the authors of one or more of the books on the WFPB diet. If they are cardiologists perhaps they will help you. If not, they may be able to refer you to someone. This has worked for me in two instances. I do not have a vegan cardiologist, locally but I have a couple I can call on if I want and who have helped me in the past
- Functional medicine is a form of medical practice that focuses on the cause of disease more than on the treatment of symptoms. A WFPB diet is a form of functional medical treatment. There is a Functional Medicine website that provides a search engine to locate functional medicine practitioners in your area. Working through or with one of them might provide the support you need.
Hopefully the above information and suggestions will give you the information to help you pursue a road to healthy recovery from cardiovascular disease.
Diagnosis: Many cancer diagnoses come from a mammogram reading, a blood analysis during a routine annual check-up or from a medical examination started by a perceived problem of pain or unusual swelling.
Prognosis:Your oncologist will not talk to you about a cure. Instead it will be a discussion of five year survival rates. (Interestingly, these are getting better — but you need to understand that diagnoses are occurring earlier which explains some of the improvement). Five year survival rates are close to 100% for prostate and breast cancer, for others, such as pancreatic cancer, rates can be close to 0%. Interestingly a WFPB diet can have a significant impact on preventing a cancer diagnosis as well as in arresting its advance and removing the cancer. The following graph from the Wall Street Journal, 17 April, 2018 illustriates the situation.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a fairly generic term in the sense that, on the one hand, it relates to cells in the body that grow without constraint, and, on the other, is used to such growths in various part of of the body (e.g. prostate, liver, lung, skin . . . cancers). This leads to much confusion as to what is happening when you are diagnosed with cancer. Here are a few things that you might want to reflect on:
- many now believe that the body is continually dealing with cells that can reproduce so as to become cancers. However, the normal immune system of the body will generally deal with these. As the immune system degrades, for various reasons, such cells become established, grow and become a problem
- oncologists come in generally three varieties: surgeons who believe they can cut the cancer out, chemo-therapists who believe they can kill the tumor by poisoning it, and radiologists who believe they can kill it with radiation. Often a treatment process includes two or even all three of these approaches. All of these treatments come at significant cost to the patient — in time, money, and quality of life,
- A fourth type of oncologist is evolving (the first three types have only limited success). This is the specialist who attacks the cancer with a ‘targeted’ immune cell that is derived from you personal immune system and various other complex processes. This is a very expensive process, both in money and in the burden put on the patient. See for example this article.
Where to go from here?
Cancer — the “BIG C” –is one of the most dreaded diagnoses that a person can possibly receive. In the United States about 40% of our population will get cancer in their lifetimes. Yet, sadly, it is a diagnosis that with a WFPB diet might be completely avoided or at least successfully contained. Why are we so special? The lifestyle decisions that we make, especially with respect to diet, have an enormous impact on our likelihood of getting cancer.
- Read “How Not to Die” by Dr. Michael Greger, especially chapters 4, 9, 11 and 13 which address some of the more common types of cancer
- Dr. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University is widely respected for his work in nutrition. He is the author of the widely acclaimed “The China Study” which investigated mortality and morbidity in China and from which he concluded that the WFPB diet is the best possible diet for health. More recently he has written the book “Whole” which contains the story of his wife’s cancer and how they treated it with a WFPB diet. Do read this!
- As the graph above indicates, the five year survival for prostate cancer is very high. You should watch this video for an indication of how that can be achieve through diet rather than the treatments of surgeons, radiologists and chemo-therapists. It is believed by that a WFPB diet can have a similar impact on almost all cancers
- Read “The Plant Base Solution” by Dr. Joel Kahn, a cardiologist and vegan for 40+ years. Dr. Kahn, as he presents the value of a WFPB diet, provides much information on how the diet can prevent, arrest and reverse many kinds of cancers. He also includes a number of case studies of people who have successfully conquered cancer through a WFPB diet
- Fasting can have a curative effect on cancer treatment. Records that go back a hundred years or more record the treatment of cancer through fasting. You may want to read the last part of Doug Lisle’s “The Pleasure Trap” and investigate the work at True North where such treatments are supervised. These take only a few weeks and are relatively inexpensive
- Remember that your oncologists typically have no more than one course in nutrition in their education. Ensure that at least one of your oncologists has adopted a WFPB diet
- If it should happen that there is little likelihood of recovery and that you will probably die it is worth reading the article “Why Doctors Die Differently“. The cost on your lifestyle of prolonging life through intrusive oncology treatment may be far more that the benefit obtained. Many doctors, familiar with these trade-offs choose to not undergo treatment but to live out their remaining time in peace.
I hope that, if you have a cancer diagnosis, in addition to whatever treatments you might take under the care of an oncologist, you will also adopt and adhere strictly to a WFPB diet. Hey, if the combination works and you achieve remission and even cure, let the oncologist take the credit — but you will be alive, and do not stray from that incidental diet that just might have made the difference!
Diagnosis: For people who have regular checkups diabetes will be detected by the results of either or both of the following blood tests
- Fasting Glucose. Values of 65 – 99 mg/dl are considered normal. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. If it’s 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, you have diabetes.
- Hemoglobin A1C (HgbA1C) is a blood test that provides information about your average levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, over the past 3 months. An A1C level below 5.7% is considered normal; from 5.7 to 6.4 considered prediabetes. If 6.5 or higher it is considered diabetes.
These tests will be ordered if you experience any of a number of different symptoms including:
- sores that won’t heal (particularly in the extremities)
- kidney problems
Prognosis: A person is cured of diabetes if they no longer need to take insulin and/or other medicines to control sugar levels in their body.
Almost all persons with Type II diabetes (see below) can experience a permanent cure within a very short time — as quickly as a couple of weeks in some cases — by adopting a suitable WFPB diet. If this action is taken early enough after diagnosis damage that has occurred will likely be repaired.
Persons with Type I diabetes are (at least as far as we currently know) going to require insulin and other medications to control their condition. However, recent developments and research are showing that a particular type of WFPB diet can greatly reduce their intake of insulin and other medications.
What is Diabetes
Diabetes is a continual elevated level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Historically, doctors would taste the urine of someone suspected of diabetes. If it was sweet (tasting of sugar) the patient had diabetes.
In today’s medical environment it has usually been measured by looking at the value of ‘fasting glucose sugar’ which is obtained from a urine sample after a period of 9 or so hours of not eating anything. A level in excess of 100 is considered pre-diabetic, with higher levels indicating diabetes.
More recently it has been decided that a measure of the a1c factor in the blood (which reflects a 3 month moving average of glucose) is a better indicator of diabetes with a value . . . .
While the way of determining the incidence of diabetes has changed over time, the reality of the disease remains the same. Unfortunately, the frequency of diabetes has not changed. It has, in fact, increased significantly in the past decades with projections of diabetes occurring in 30% or more of the American population within the next decade or so.
What causes this elevated level of sugar in the blood? Glucose, the product of our digestive systems is the fuel that powers our bodies. Glucose is absorbed by the blood from the digestive system and transported to the cells. It is the glucose that is used by the mitochondria in the cells to power all of the actions of the cells and hence of the body. The transfer of glucose into the cells requires insulin which is produced by the pancreas. In a healthy body this insulin production is done, as needed to transfer increased glucose levels from the blood into the cells that need it. This process can break down if there is not enough insulin produced by the pancreas to cause the necessary transfer of glucose.
There are two known reasons for not enough insulin being available for the task:
- the pancreas produces little or no insulin
- the receptor cells require an inordinate amount of insulin to effect the transfer of glucose into the cells
The first problem of a pancreas not producing enough insulin was historically called juvenile diabetes. Now we call it Type I diabetes. It is generally perceived to be the result of the immune system having destroyed the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. These reasons for this autoimmune disorder are not understood, however the condition usually appears early in life. Due to the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin People with Type I diabetes will require insulin added to their blood streams (e.g. by injection) throughout their lives.
The second problem of the lack of sufficient insulin to transport the glucose into the cells was historically called adult onset diabetes, as it generally only affected older people — my grandfather was so diagnosed in his late 60s and had insulin injections for the rest of his life. We now call it Type II diabetes because it is now affecting people as young as teenagers.
Why would cells that had normally received glucose, with existing levels of insulin, suddenly no longer be able to accept the glucose in the blood stream? It turns out that the cells of these people suffer from lipo-toxicity: they have too much fat stored in their cells and this creates a barrier to the glucose transport. The solutions to this problem can be of the following:
- provide more insulin
- reduce the lipids (fats) in the cells
Providing more insulin is straight forward (as long as other factors do not come into play). Tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans take insulin injections for this purpose.
The other approach is to look at reducing the lipid barrier in the cells — reducing the lipid-toxicity. This, it turns out can be done fairly simply, in a great percentage of cases, by just adopting a WFPB diet.
- Find a physician who is a vegan to guide you in your recovery
- Adopt a WFPB diet in addition to whatever else you are doing. Do this in consultation with your physician. A WFPB could lead to hypeglycemia (low blood sugar) as your natural insulin and your augmented insulin take effect. The correct solution to this problem is to lower added insulin — not add sugar consumption (sugar ills and sodas!)
- Educate yourself. Read the references listed below. The authors have many years experience in dealing with curing diabetes. Let them cure you!
There are many books on coping with diabetes. A lessor number deal with curing diabetes — the ones that you want to read. Here are three that I think are particularly useful.
- Dr. Neal Barnard has been working on curing diabetics for a couple of decades. He is an enthusiastic promoter of the WFPB diet– since it works! He founded the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine which has the PCRM.org website — do go there! But also you will want to read and follow his Program for Reversing Diabetes.
- For an excellent discussion of what diabetes is and how to cure it with a WFPB diet read Dr. Michael Greger’s “How Not To Die”, especially chapter 6, How Not To Die From Diabetes.
- Dr. Joel Kahn, in his book, “The Plant Solution” chapter 3, provides exciting information on the latest WFPB treatments for not only Type II but also Type I diabetes. This is a “must read”, especially for anyone with Type I diabetes.
Diagnosis:There is a lot written in the press and covered in the media about obesity in our society. If you are overweight or obese you might actually at some point acknowledge that it applies to you. Alternatively, your doctor, when you have a check-up might tell you. Most likely your doctor will soft-pedal the information and suggest you need to make ‘life-style’ changes with little specific information on what those changes should be.
Prognosis: The fact is that obesity and being overweight are conditions that can be conquered. That is 100% conquered. To do it permanently the only known method that works is to adopt a WFPB diet. If you do that the weight will come off at an astounding rate. And that weight loss is independent of exercise and many other factors.
Obesity now affects over 30% of the American population. Are you obese? Obesity is usually defined in terms of Body Mass Index (BMI) which is calculated from your height and weight. Here is a handy BMI calculator. You should know and monitor your BMI. Check out whether you are overweight or obese by looking at this table published by the American Cancer Society.
This table shows us that a woman who is 5 ft. 4 in. tall is considered overweight (BMI is 25 to 29) if she weighs between 145 and 169 pounds. She is considered obese (BMI is 30 or more) if she weighs 174 pounds or more.
A man who is 5 ft. 10 in. tall is considered overweight (BMI is 25 to 29) if he weighs between 174 and 202 pounds, and is obese (BMI is 30 or more) if he weighs 209 pounds or more.
And, yes, Obesity adds to your risk of many kinds of disease:
What is the cure for obesity? As my grandmother told me decades ago: “You are what you eat”. The cure for obesity is to change what you eat. This much is obvious, and it has created a multi-billion dollar industry proposing and delivering various kinds of diets to reduce weight.
Dr. Joel Kahn in his book “The Plant Solution” gives a good treatment of the various diets and why, even though they may help you lose weight, they will not get you healthy. He also clearly explains why the WFPB diet will not only get rid of your obesity but it will also improve your health and reduce your risk of all sorts of diseases.
But how do you stay on the diet? You may have read the literature and understand the logic of the WFPB diet. Why is it then that you stray and eat that cheese on a pizza, or that ice cream cone or that steak? The problem is the addiction that you have acquired to certain tastes. (If you think about it all tastes are acquired, except perhaps for that initial taste that you are born with — mother’s milk). What is required to change the tastes that will satisfy you? Do read “The Pleasure Trap” by Doug Lisle and Alan Goldhamer for an excellent exposition of the problem that you have, including why you have it and how to change it. It should provide you with the additional help you need to conquer those cravings and stick to your WFPB diet.