Meet Joe.  Joe was a client of mine over the course of a decade. He first came into my program when he was in his 50’s.  He was already suffering from heart disease and diabetes.  On top of that, he was a cancer survivor and was obese. Joe was on multiple medications and he received our standard care at that time and made progress.  He lost some weight, began exercising more consistently, and made many improvements in his diet.  And yes, he did see some positive results.  Sugar levels and cholesterol did improve somewhat. But he never saw the breakthrough we wanted to enable him to eliminate his medications, lose significant weight and reverse his diabetes and heart disease.  When Joe returned to my program 2 years after he left, the weight he lost had all come back.  He was really doing the best he could but was frustrated. We were doing the best we could based on the science we were working with.  The problem was that what we were doing then, and unfortunately what most are still doing, has its limitations.   But let’s fast forward. 

Joe came back to me after reading  Dr. Joel Fuhman’s book, Eat to Live, and was following a plant based program.  His weight was as low as it had been in 20 years and he was feeling really well. I had explained to him that at my clinic, we had turned in that same direction and that although most of my clients could do 85-90% compliance and get great results, people like himself who are trying to reverse disease really had to be very strict, and he WAS being strict.  I still remember him telling me 3 years earlier that his cardiologist told him that he is now a member of a club—the club that has to take medicines for the rest of their lives.  Well, Joe was once on 14 medications and now, he is down to 2 and those are minimum doses. That’s the background information, now, let’s get to our main storyline.

I thought it was time for our client Joe to get a new blood test primarily to see where his cardiovascular risk was now standing.  Readers may recall that I wrote a column in the pages of The Jerusalem Post only about a month ago about cholesterol and how it is one risk factor for heart disease, but there are many more and how we just don’t test for all the right things. One of the blood tests I mentioned as being important is CRP-C-reactive protein, which gives us a good idea how much inflammation may be in our bodies.  I requested this test from Joe’s doctor but the next time he came back to see me, he told me that his doctor told him CRP is a waste of time and why would he want such a thing?  Joe held his ground however and he was able to have it included in his blood test.

Medical and nutritional research can change the treatments we choose and sometimes, research findings change rapidly.  Take a look at what just happened a few weeks ago at the annual conference of the American College of Cardiology.

As the conference is now both virtual and in person, it was attended by 38,000 doctors.  The ACC is the organization that establishes all cardiovascular protocols used in most of the world.  Whether it’s CPR protocols, medicine and surgical protocols or establishing dietary habits favorable for good heart health, these are the experts.  Like any medical conference, papers on new research are presented as well.  And a new paper on cardiovascular risk showed something very interesting—it isn’t the LDL cholesterol as much as it is the CRP that determines your risk of heart attack and stroke.  Sounds familiar?

According to a large meta-analysis of the PROMINENT, REDUCE-IT, and STRENGTH trials, statin-treated individuals pooled across these studies had 3- to 5-year clinical outcomes tied more strongly to high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) than LDL cholesterol:

  • Major adverse cardiovascular events risk was significantly elevated in the top two quartiles of CRP and had no relationship with LDL cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular mortality risk was higher in the top three quartiles of CRP and the top quartile of LDL cholesterol
  • All-cause mortality was elevated in the top three quartiles of CRP and the top quartile of LDL cholesterol

"In all three trials, individuals with elevated CRP were at high cardiovascular risk irrespective of LDL cholesterol level," reported Paul Ridker, MD, MPH, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

So what I and many others have been preaching for years has now been proven yet again and this study was printed in one of the most prestigious of medical journals, The Lancet. Now, back to Joe and his doctor.  What is all this resistance to doing what is best for patients that will help them have a more accurate assessment of the their health? What is holding doctors back from also prescribing the single most powerful medium for preventing and reversing disease?

For the longest time they hid it from us and made sure it wasn’t a part of main-stream medicine. That research we didn’t know about—but it’s always been there.  A mostly plant based diet, exercise and activity, reducing and managing stress, and finally, having good relationships and social interactions with our fellow human beings all adds up to the prevention and reversal of our common chronic diseases.  And it’s not a couple of studies, it’s thousands of them.  A whole food plant based diet is the ONLY diet that has been shown to reverse cardiovascular disease.  Instead of standing in the way of healing, it’s time to actively  promote those behaviors that heal.  Many medical professionals have gotten on board but most haven’t.  If you are a doctor and you want to do what is absolutely best for your patient, then read the research, become familiar with the material and put it into practice.  Using this together with pharmaceuticals, surgeries and procedures when necessary will be far more effective in healing your patients. It will produce long-lasting results, longer life, and more importantly a better quality of life.

Just yesterday, a client who came to The Wellness Clinic 3 months ago sent in new blood work.  Cholesterol down about 60 points, LDL down about 55 points, Triglycerides down 80 points, sugar down 6 points. And his low iron is now normal—even with cutting down on animal proteins!  This was all with NO medications.  

I recently attended a summit on reversing heart disease.  Among the 20+ speakers at the event was cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish.  He had a quote which I think sums up the current state of treatment in today’s medical practice, he said, “Abraham Maslow once said, if the only tool you have is a hammer, you see everything as a nail. If you’re trained to use drugs and surgery, if you reimburse to use drugs and surgery, then, not surprisingly, people use drugs and surgery…..”. 

This should not be one school of thought against another.  It should be taking the disciplines that that have been scientifically proven to work, such as lifestyle medicine, combined with the expertise of our medical professionals, examination of good research which is coming out all the time, and working for the benefit of humanity.  We also need to stop putting out fires and move much of our focus to preventing disease and illness to begin with. Most of all, it is time to give our physicians ALL the tools they need in order to better the lives of their patients.  It’s a matter of education and it needs to start in the doctor’s office.  Let’s work on updating ourselves on the facts and the truth in order to “add hours to your days, days to your years, and years to your life.”

Alan Freishtat is a HEALTH and WELLNESS COACH and PERSONAL TRAINER with 23 years of professional experience. He is a graduate of the eCornell University Certificate course on Plant Based Nutrition for preventing and reversing illness. Alan is director of The Wellness Clinic.  He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at US Line: 516-568-5027