From the November 2003 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:
Today, when Americans’ concerns about external threats to our safety and security are at their highest levels, there is a surprising lack of concern about the very real dangers posed by homegrown threats to our well-being.
Each day, the media presents horrific news of death and destruction caused by war, terrorism, and other violence. It virtually ignores a silent but much more deadly enemy that is causing untold suffering to families and undermining the health and economic well-being of our country. I am talking about the many deadly diseases—especially heart disease—we bring upon ourselves through our unhealthful diet.
When we consider the recent losses of thousands of lives in events here and around the world, we experience a tremendous sorrow. We also experience a desire for steps to be taken that will prevent these tragedies from happening again. What should our response be to the millions of unnecessary deaths caused by preventable illnesses? Let’s look at the most deadly of these diseases—heart disease.
A deadly enemy
More than 1.5 million people will have a heart attack this year, with about 1 million deaths due to heart attacks. That amounts to a death every 30 seconds. (As you read this article, three more people will die.) In 1997, the direct medical costs attributed to heart disease came to $58 billion—more than any other medical condition—and 17 million new cases of heart disease were diagnosed that year.
Are we helpless against this onslaught? The answer is an emphatic “no.” But, if we are to put an end to this health nightmare, people need much better diet and health information than they currently are receiving.
When it comes to combating heart disease, most information sources promote drugs and surgery as the only viable lines of defense. As a result, the demand for high-tech, expensive, but largely ineffective medical care is high, causing medical costs and insurance rates to skyrocket. This chase for “cures” is both financially devastating and futile. Morbidity and premature mortality from heart disease continue to rise, with no sign of abating.
Interventional cardiology offers only partial benefits, since these procedures do not remove the causes of the problem. Attempts to intervene with invasive procedures or surgery after the damage already has been done have not been shown to offer a significant reduction in cardiac deaths. We need to keep in mind that angioplasty and bypass surgery have some significant adverse outcomes, including heart attacks, stroke, and death. These invasive procedures only attempt to treat a small segment of the diseased heart, usually with only temporary benefit. Patients treated with angioplasty and bypass surgery continue to experience progressive disability, and most still die prematurely as a result of their heart disease.
The average person is not aware that there are safer, more effective options available. Unfortunately, government agencies often are slow to respond to new scientific information and continue to advocate outdated recommendations. Economic and political forces also make it difficult for Americans to be clearly informed that heart disease is nutritionally-induced and totally avoidable by eating a nutritionally-excellent diet. For example, six of the eleven members, including the chairman, of the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines Committee in the Year 2000 had financial ties to the meat, dairy, and egg industries. Not surprisingly, the foods these industries produce figure prominently in government dietary recommendations in spite of their documented links to increased health risks. Similar problems exist in recommendations by non-profit health organizations. Sadly, even the American Heart Association advocates a diet that actually has been shown to increase heart disease.1
Fortunately, we can win the war against heart disease by making a few simple, but profound, dietary and lifestyle changes. By following the recommendations in my book Eat to Live
, virtually everyone can improve their heart health. In fact, if you start in time, you actually can make yourself heart-attack proof. I believe all people should be informed they have a choice to protect themselves.
There is no magic to heart health. Educating yourself with the latest scientific findings and eating a diet of delicious, natural, unprocessed food allows you to protect yourself and your family from the heart disease tragedies you see all around you.
Following this approach, you can achieve positive results simply by making the right diet and exercise choices—consistently, without the use of drugs or surgery. Almost everyone can achieve protection against heart disease by reaching the following goals:
- Achieve an LDL cholesterol of 100 or lower.
- Achieve a homocysteine level below 10.
- Achieve healthful weight and blood pressure.
These are realistic goals. All who truly desire to protect themselves can do so, without expensive and risky prescription drugs. Self-care is more effective and overwhelmingly less expensive than conventional care. My high-nutrient, vegetable-based diet has enabled patients to achieve remarkable reductions in these cardiac risk factors. Furthermore, by adding natural side-effect-free nutritional supplements for those who do not reach an LDL under 100 from dietary changes, we can enable almost everyone to achieve this protective level without medications and their risky side effects.
Lifesaving dietary facts
The following dietary facts will give you some idea of the powerful heart-protective qualities of the diet I recommend in Eat to Live
1. A diet that is based on vegetables, beans, nuts, and fruit has been shown in scientific studies to lower cholesterol more powerfully than drugs.2 Firefighters’ heart disease
2. People who adopt this dietary approach—consisting primarily of natural plant-foods do not develop heart disease.
3. Studies have shown that people with advanced heart disease who combine a plant based diet with cholesterol-lowering therapies are able to reverse their heart disease and totally prevent the future occurrence of heart attacks.3
4. When needed, natural (side-effect free) substances are effective at lowering cholesterol further, making an LDL cholesterol below 100 obtainable without (risky) medications for almost all patients.
5. The same diet that helps protect you against heart disease reverses obesity, high blood pressure, and adult diabetes also protects against cancer.
Heart disease is a much bigger problem than most people think. Consider a recent study on firefighters who die in the line of duty.
We think of firefighters as courageous, highly-trained men and women who risk their lives to save others. We imagine that they are at greatest risk when rushing into emergency situations and natural disasters where they are surrounded by dangerous conditions. Recent findings suggest otherwise.
All on-duty firefighters’ deaths are investigated by the US Fire Administration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. During the decade between 1990 and 2000, 44 percent of all on-duty deaths were due to cardiovascular disease. Among firefighters aged fifty-five to sixty, 76 percent of all on-duty deaths were due to heart attacks.4
I believe that firefighters—like all other Americans—could stop dying needlessly if accurate diet and health information from respected sources were readily available to them.
Dangerous eating habits take away the lives of hard-working men and women every day. Americans simply have not been adequately informed about the deadly health risks of donuts, bagels, cheese, hot dogs, luncheon meats, and other “fast” foods. Would people commit what amounts to slow suicide by diet if they knew the importance of making more healthful food choices? I think not.
My Heart Disease Reversal Program
My book Cholesterol Protection for Life
is designed to be distributed quickly, easily, and relatively inexpensively to many people. In about seventy-five pages, it clearly outlines the methods I recommend to people who want risk reduction naturally, without risky medication and surgery. It explains that cholesterol-lowering drugs, angioplasty, and bypass surgery are not the answer and do not offer real protection against future heart attacks.
for Life supplies the plan and the evidence necessary to show how this program can work to prevent heart attacks with 100 percent effectiveness. Accurate dietary and health information can make a huge difference in your health and longevity. Information is the most powerful artillery we have to save lives.