Monday, June 04, 2012

The results are in...

It's now more than a year and a half after I decided to follow Dr. Esselstyn's diet. The change has been dramatic - I have shed 35 lbs., my sugar level has gone down from A1c value of 8.3 to 5.1 and I have discontinued drugs to control my sugar level. My total cholesterol has gone down from 200 to 103 and my bad cholesterol LDL has come down from 130 to 50 without any help from drugs. The diet if it had been a drug would have been hailed as a miracle drug! My Oncologist does not see any trace of my cancer and has advised me to continue doing whatever I am doing.

 Functionally I feel fit as a fiddle, walk 5 miles a day at a brisk pace and feel as energetic and healthy as when I was twenty five years old. However due to the late treatment of my heart attack, my heart is only half as capable as a normal heart. It does not crimp my lifestyle and enjoyment of life.  The only drawback of this condition is that there is a ten percent chance that I may suddenly keel over and give up my ghost (sudden cardiac death). That only makes me enjoy the life a little bit more!

There are three types of people, the dumb, the smart, and the wise. The dumb people keep repeating the pattern that got them in trouble. The smart people analyze, evaluate and implement the best solution to their problem. The wise people anticipate the problem and take preventive measure. With this diet I feel I acted smartly. I wish I had been wise.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to make yourself heart attack proof

Dr. Esselstyn is an ivy league (Yale) graduate, Olympic gold medal winner, surgeon, clinician and a researcher at Cleveland clinic. He is tall, thin and gives presentation standing ram rod straight. He looks young and healthy at 77 years of age. He and his family follow the same diet for the past 25 years that he prescribes his patients. He claims it makes any one who follows it heart attack proof.

Esselstyn goes a step further than Colin Campbell in proscribing the food that you can eat. His list of don't is:
-No animal product (meat, fish, poultry)
-No dairy product (cheese, butter, milk-even no fat milk)
-No eggs (even egg white)
-Any thing that has mother or face :)
-No added salt
-No refined sugar, honey, or modified sugar forms
-No nuts (almond, walnut...even soy)
-No oil (even olive oil, canola oil)
What that list leaves are:
-Whole grains (rice, wheat, quinoa, oats etc.)
-Greens (spinach, swiss chard, collard green, kale, lettuce etc)
-Vegetables
-Fruits
-Beans (pinto, black eyed, chick peas, kidney beans etc)
-Lentils
Beans and lentils provide all the protein you need and the greens provide all the calcium. The only supplement recommended is vitamin B12.

Esselstyn was referred to for 24 patients by Cleveland clinic cardiologists who believed that the patients had very little chance of treatment and survival during 1985. Esselstyn put every one on the diet listed above. Six of them could not handle the dietary restriction. The rest eighteen of them had no cardiac related incidence in the next 5 year period. He still follows them up and after twenty years except for a very few every one is hale and hearty. When they checked after five years he found not only the diet had arrested the heart disease but has reversed it!

It is an amazing story and a documentary has recently been release about it. His son, Rip Esselstyn who is an athlete and a fireman is a strong believer and he has written a book about this diet.

I will try to summarize my personal experience and the results of following the plant based diet in a latter post.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

China Study or why the Cancer grows

T. Colin Campbell, a Penn state graduate and a Cornell PhD., already famous for the study of dioxin, was asked to examine the cancer link of aflatoxin, a toxic fungal product that is found mixed in peanuts. Peanut was freely distributed as cakes in third world countries to alleviate protein malnourishment.
What he found was that even though the aflatoxin amount ingested was the same, people who were wealthy and ate a lot of animal protein were significantly more susceptible for the liver cancer than the poor who scraped their daily ration only on plant based food. He then came across an animal study done in India that showed that the cancer rate increases significantly when the protein intake goes up.
Campbell did his own animal study and showed that the cancer growth rate increases with the animal protein ingestion and plant based protein does not affect the cancer growth rate. The cancer foci, the number of spots where the cancer cells take root and grow, is significantly high with the animal protein intake. He could switch the cancer growth rate on or off based on the animal protein dosage.
Campbell then did a population study and saw that the people who live on plant based diet avoid a whole slew of diseases that he calls as "diseases of affluence" such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. When the same people moved to western countries (like rural Japanese moving to Hawaii) and followed the standard American diet they ended up having all the diseases that they had avoided before. He has done the same study in China with the collaboration of a Chinese scientist and a British scientist and comes to the same conclusion.
Campbell has published the summary of his finding in "The China Study, startling implications for Diet and Weight Loss and Long-term Health".The book is available at $10.23 and is worth every cent of the price.
The summary of his study is that the animal protein not only kills you through cancer but also through myriads of other diseases. That finding particularly appealed to me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Enlightenment

The search for truth
starts out differently for different people. Buddha tried to find his under a tree, Jesus in the wilderness, and Muhammad in a cave. Mine started out in the internet. The question that was constantly troubling me was why two calamitous diseases (cancer and heart attack) struck me so close in time when I thought I was leading a reasonably healthy life.
The best and the most satisfactory answer I got was from a book by T. Colin Campbell. He terms these diseases, "diseases of affluence" and directly correlates them to dairy products and animal protein.
The best way to treat these diseases and to develop a sustainable lifestyle is to follow the plan outlined by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn in his book.
I will give a synopsis of these two books and my personal results in following the plan in the posts to follow.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Walking through the valley of shadow of death - II

It was late August 2010. I was driving through New York city on Cross Bronx Highway. It was Friday 5:00 PM. The commuter rush was at its peak by the daily commuting crowd and the weekenders fleeing New York City. Frenetic drivers weaved in and out of the lane in front of me using up the large spaces I like to leave ahead of me as a sedate Ohio driver.
After a rather stressful drive I was just in time for the start of a wedding rehearsal dinner that was taking place near the NY-Ct border. The dinner was wonderful but was heavy. By the time I went to bed I was tired and a little worn off. It didn't help that I re-enacted Linda Blair's Exorcist act of projectile vomiting. I attributed it to the food not agreeing with me and tried to sleep.
Next day I was very weak and had to excuse off from the reception. Next two days were spent in trying to enjoy New York City life that I usually love but was feeling unusually fatigued at this time. By the time I drove back and saw my doctor it was almost a week after and he promptly put me in the hospital under observation suspecting pneumonia.
It was mid night when two residents appeared next to me
and asked excitedly how I was feeling. I was not feeling any thing special except general weakness and told them, "sleepy". They told me that the blood test and the EKG showed that I was having a heart attack.
That started a whirlwind of activity and I ended up with a stent in my heart artery LAD also known as the "widow maker". The cardiologist told me that I had the heart attack a week back and a part of my heart is permanently dead. I was one of the "walking dead" during the time I was in NY! My groin became a public place where doctors and nurses roamed freely with their fingers to check for swelling and infection. After four weeks I ended up with three more stents to open up partially blocked arteries.
The first crisis made me enjoy life more but this crisis sent me on a hunt for the causes and the possible cures for these conditions. In the next few posts I'll try to report my findings.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Walking through the valley of shadow of death
I opened my eyes refreshed and happy. I saw the surgeon standing next to the bed telling me that the initial biopsy showed that I have non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The message however did not penetrate through as I was feeling full of life and vigor.
It was the end of 2008, just before Thanksgiving, and I started looking around for an Oncologist. Further checks followed and it was determined that I had stage IV cancer. The treatment originally proposed was CHOP-R protocol. The CHOP stands for a jack hammer that destroys all fast growing cells in your body; since cancer is fast growing it destroys the cancer cells but
also unfortunately takes out all the good white cells while it is doing so. R (Rituxan) is a genetic wonder drug that kills the cancer cells selectively. The oncologist agreed to treat me exclusively with Rituxan.
That started my treatment regime that lasted seven months and thanks to the wonder drug the side effects were minimal and I was pronounced to be in remission; all the visible and palpable signs of cancer were gone.
That experience led me to put my life in order such as writing a will and the health power of attorney. It also made me realize how sweet the life is and savor every day to its fullest and move playing golf a notch higher in the order of things.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Church Evolving

I am an Episcopalian. It is an American off shoot of a worldwide Anglican Communion. Catholics would like to say it is “Catholic Lite”. However I believe it is more of a progressive form of Catholicism with its grand Liturgy that also accommodates marriage of priests, divorce, birth control and women at all positions of worship such as deacons priests and bishops. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church now is a woman and is of great accomplishments that includes being an oceanographer.

Currently there is a great storm raging across the Episcopal Church for consecrating a gay person who was selected by a Diocese to be its Bishop. It is threatening to cleave the whole world wide Anglican Communion in two parts, one believing that Bible does not permit homosexuality and the other believing that the ultimate message of Bible is love. When the Biblical literalists challenge me I answer like this:

“Bible is an inspired book. Biblical inspiration is like a musical note. Even though you play the same note in different instruments such as piano, flute or violin, they all sound different because of the overtones. People are the media that the Holy Spirit uses to convey God’s message. The basic message is amazingly clear and unified throughout the Bible that God loves you and expects you to love others to show your love for the God. Of course this message comes through people who add their overtones such as the culture, understanding and the historical time frame. A mind tuned to the Holy Spirit allows you to extract the underlying message of love and discard the overtones.”

Some agree, others don’t. To me it is as silly as discriminating left handers vs. right handers. Episcopal Church slowly came around on the slavery issue even though Bible explicitly permits it. It will finally come around on this too.