By GEORGE MALKMUS
I’m sure many of you have, at one point in time or another, won a heart, broken a heart, or maybe even stolen a heart. But how much do you really know about the heart—which is actually an incredible muscle—and, more importantly, how to take care of it?
First of all, if you’re an adult, your heart is about the size of two fists put together and it is located in the center of your chest, tirelessly slightly toward your left lung. This fantastic muscle works tirelessly, beating about 100,000 times a day. (Over the course of an average lifetime, that’s about 2.5 billion beats.) It is busily pumping about six quarts of blood to every area of your body In just one day. your blood travels a total of 12,000 miles!
That’s four times the distance across the United States, from coast to coast and during the course of an average lifetime, the heart will pump about one million barrels of blood—more than enough to fill three supertankers. Isn’t that amazing?
Yet in this country alone, 34 percent of all men and women die of cardiovascular disease and among African-American men and women, the statistic is even more worrisome—41 percent of all deaths can be attributed to cardiovascular disease.’
These are distressing statistics, yet what is really alarming is our attitude. While many Americans make the connection between diet and heart health, others have come to accept this epidemic as a normal part of life and the aging process; but this is absolutely, without question, simply a case of ignorance and wrong thinking!
The problem, according to Dr. Rowen Pfeifer, is that “We see people all around us —they’re getting to be middle-aged, and we expect them to have a few chronic health problems, such as heart disease. We think this must be normal! But it’s not normal; it’s very common and common is not normal. Being sick is not normal. We’re meant to be healthy into a ripe old age.”
While observing other parts of the world, we find that heart disease is virtually nonexistent, primarily due to the fact that people of other cultures subsist on a plant-based diet. In places like rural China, the Papua Islands, and Central Africa, for instance, coronary artery disease is practically nonexistent.
In an article from The Journal of the Academy of Rher. Diseases, Dr. Gus J. Prosch, M.D., tells a startling story about a rioscierosis: “Before 1900, this disease was hardly known and was extremely rare. In fact, the first ‘heart attack’ was described in the medical literature in 1910. Dr. Paul Dudley White (fli dent Eisenhower’s heart specialist) saw a heart attack for the first time in 1929. The disease began with the advent of hydroj’ oils (margarine) and the processing (refining) of our grain foodssuch as wheat, corn, rye, barley, oats, etc., where all the vital fatty acids are removed from these grains. The food companies must remove these fatty acids so that the grain foods do not turn rancid and spoil, otherwise the foods would not last long on the shelves of our supermarkets. Our great-great-grandparents and their parents had very little arteriosclerosis even though their diets included foods known to be high in cholesterol such as eggs, butter, lard, and ‘sow-bellies,’ etc. However, they did not eat any hydrogenated oils, and their grain foods were home ground and not processed.”
Dr. Prosch continues, “In America, we are developing a arteriosclerosis at earlier ages than ever before even though there is a greater effort on the part of most of us to decrease our cholesterol intake in our diets. Autopsies performed on our soldier killed in the Korean War showed approximately 30percent of these young men suffered from advanced arteriosclerosis about 20 years later, in the Vietnam War, autopsies performed on our soldiers killed showed approximately 60 percent suffered from advanced arteriosclerosis.”
Dr Fuhrman has seen many patients suffering from heart disease. Over the years he has noted higher incidences of coronary disease, not only in different parts of the country but also in different professions:
“Heart attack is the number-one cause of on-the-job deaths of firemen. Seventy-six percent of all firemen over the age of 55 die of heart disease. It’s because of these biological weapons of mass destruction that are flooding the firehouses: doughnuts, cookies, crackers, lunch meats, hot dogs, greasy food, and fast food. And of course, it’s not just firemen; I see people every day, suffering from heart attacks and strokes, and the saddest part is knowing it didn’t have to happen.
“We are literally digging our graves with our knives and forks in this country and we’re spreading this dangerous America style of eating all over the world. In fact, if we wanted to scientifically design a diet to create an epidemic of heart disease, cancer, and obesity we couldn’t do a better job than utilizing the diet style that Americans are eating today. We are loading up on saturated fats, especially from all the cheese we eat in America. Cheese has sometimes five to ten times the amount of saturated fats as other animal foods. Add to that all the trans-fats from the processed foods and the plant foods we process into oils. Instead of eating the corn and the olives, we remove all the nutrients that were in the original food and just eat the oil from them. Any grains we eat are stripped from the fiber and bran parts. We mostly eat the white part—the caloric portion. Then we load everything with salt, raising our blood pressure to dangerous highs. We couldn’t design a diet style to kill off more people if we had planned it from scratch!”
But there is hope, my friends. People like Robert of Northern Virginia are beginning to get the message. And they are learning, like he did, that doing something as simple as changing their diet can actually change their life.
Robert knew that heart disease ran in his family; he had witnessed it many times over the years. So it came as no great surprise when he received the disappointing results of his blood test during his yearly physical. “The test came back with my levels fairly high,” he says. “My cholesterol was 256 and my triglycerides were 266.”
So what does a person do when he finds out he has symptoms of the number-one killer in America? “My physician suggested I change my lifestyle, but he didn’t offer much guidance on how to do it,” Robert remembers. “He just handed me five or six pages of good foods and bad foods and basically made the suggestion that I do something to reduce my cholesterol. No plan, no defined goal.” Without a clear objective, Roberts wasn’t inclined to do much about it.
Fortunately, Robert had chosen to visit another doctor specialized in a healthy diet. “He presented me with a plan that said if I participate in this diet for six weeks I should be able to reduce my cholesterol by as much as 30 percent. It sounded good to me,” says Robert. “It was a defined plan that I could follow. The basic goal of this diet was to stop eating foods that come from something that had a face; this included meat, fish, cheeses, yogurt, and eggs. I increased my amount of vegetables and fruits by over 50 percent. I ate beans, nuts, grains, vegetables and fruits; and I stopped eating so much sugar. 1 didn’t have dsserts which I really loved—I ate fruit instead. I also used flax seed and flax oil on my salads and other foods. Once in a while, l’d have cooked vegetables, but basically I concentrated on raw vegetables.” Robert also began an exercise program, doing 30 to 60, minutes a day of cardiovascular exercise. The results of these simple diet changes were absolutely amazing to Robert and his doctor. Within five weeks, he had another cholesterol test. “My cholesterol had reduced from 256 to 178, which is a 30-percent decrease. My triglycerid dropped from 266 to 156, which was also a 30-percent reduce. Robert’s doctor could hardly believe it.
Another bonus of Robert’s new diet was losing 20 pounds of unwanted weight. “That turned out to be a real plus, except my clothes didn’t fit too well anymore,” he jokes. “But it’s given me the chance to tell others about The Hallelujah Diet. Peop1e ask me quite often how I was able to lose so much short weight in such a short amount of time. Whenever I have the opportunity, I tell that good news about how it worked for me.”
Today, a toxic food environment surrounds Americans and, as Robert found out, it does take a conscious effort to get away from it. Caldwell B. Esseistyn, Jr., M.D. reminds us:
It is delicious, colorful, tasteful, addicting, omnipresent, and highly advertised. It comes in boxes, bags, bottles, cans, or is available in an instant, wrapped as fish, chicken, and meat. At the most caring, memorable, and emotional events—birthdays, weddings, funerals, and holidays—the food business becomes richer and our health poorer. Milk mustaches from Michael Jordan to Larry King to Donna Shalala—what are we telling the American public? Nevertheless, there is good news; lowering cholesterol and maintaining it below 150 mg/dl eliminates progression of coronary artery disease and achieves selective regression.”