Does The Ornish Diet Reverse Heart Disease
I first heard about the Ornish Diet during medical school. I was told that this diet was the only diet proven to cause regression of artery plaques and that everyone should be eating this way.
I have had a couple of patients who went on the Ornish Diet because they had heard that Dr Ornishs diet had completely cleared the arteries of plaque.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and my primary focus is optimal health and prevention of disease. I will implement any therapy or intervention that helps us achieve that goal.
Since Id heard so much about the benefits of the Ornish Diet I decided to review the data myself. Here is a summary of his study.
Dean Ornish, MD demonstrated a minor reduction in artery stenosis. That means he states that he was able to increase the size of the arteries using his diet and lifestyle changes. Lets take a look at his study.
The name of his study was Intensive Lifestyle Changes for Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease and was published in JAMA, December, 1998.
Originally 93 patients met criteria to be included in the study and these 93 were then randomized into the control group and the experimental group. Each of these patients had coronary atherosclerosis documented by quantitative coronary arteriography. However, after randomization, only 28 of the experimental group patients agreed to participate and only 20 of the control group agreed to participate.
Changes For The Better
We have come a long way in the last 60 years in understanding the root causes of heart disease. Way back in the Rat Pack days, when the physiologist Ancel Keys first started peering into arteries and finding fatty deposits in the vascular system of middle-aged males, the thought was that fat and cholesterol from food were somehow literally oozing into our blood vessels and clogging them up: a kind of plumbing problem. But as medical research has become more fine-scaled in its ability to identify nuanced pathways, we’ve come to understand that coronary artery disease is a multi-factor issue, one that hinges on a complicated interlinking dynamic of diet, lifestyle and genes.
When I let Greger know that I’d lowered my LDL by more than 40 points he was pleased, but not particularly surprised. Most of his patients, he said, saw a 30% reduction in LDL in just a few weeks after switching to a vegan diet. This is partially due to actual changes the diet seems to engender in the functioning of the liver, but also because the switch generally drops your weight. And weight has a considerable correlation with cholesterol. Greger explained that for every pound lost, people also tended to shed about one point of LDL. Seeing as I was still above the normal BMI range, I decided to up my exercise and see if I could knock both numbers down.
Since I had already been doing 30 minutes a day, I upped my “dose” to the upper part of Levine’s range and started running 45 minutes daily.
The Outcomes Of My Vegan Year
It’s hard to say if I was experiencing a massive kale-induced placebo effect, but I can truthfully say that by month nine of my experiment I felt fantastic. I had lost a dozen pounds, had more energy and could manage 10K runs without joint pain or shortness of breath, though I did miss a good steak from time to time. And my labs from Steinbaum cheered me. “The most compelling markers that we have are the cholesterol and blood pressure,” she wrote. “Your LDL cholesterol before you started your trial in February was 160, in May it decreased to 127 and now it is 118. Your ambulatory blood pressures in May were 120-145/80-95. Currently your blood pressures are in the 120s/70-80s.” Based on all that, it seemed I had beaten the rap. On the presumption that a continuation of my diet and exercise plan would further lower my numbers, Steinbaum was holding off on statins for the moment.
“It’s hard to say if I was experiencing a massive kale-induced placebo effect, but I can truthfully say that by month nine of my experiment I felt fantastic.”
But then the coronavirus swept across New York City. All nonessential services were shut down, including Steinbaum’s office. In mid-March, I developed a dry cough, slight difficulty breathing, a fever and extreme fatigue. I knew people with impaired heart health were particularly vulnerable to COVID -19 and I was sure I had it. I worried.
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Foods To Avoid For Heart Health
The AHA currently recommends limiting saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages.
But that doesnt mean you should swap all those fats for carbohydrates. While dietary cholesterol and saturated fat have been the focus of diets for decades due to their association with atherosclerosis, we now have an epidemic of obesity that resulted from substituting carbohydrates for fat, says Dr. Eimer, calling it the Snackwell Effect.
The other issue that we see in the office and in the hospital every day is the harm that sodium causes in patients who are vulnerable, especially those with heart failure or kidney failure, he addsso watch the salt.
Reversing Heart Disease With Diet
I would like to introduce you to my friend Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., a man you will be hearing a lot more about in coming years. Having won a gold medal in the 1956 Olympics, Dr. Esselstyn quickly advanced to a distinguished career in surgery at the renowned Cleveland Clinic Foundation. In 1985, when drugs were considered the treatment of choice for heart patients , Dr. Esselstyn embarked on a revolutionary course of action. The results of his investigation are being made available here for the first time to the larger public, thanks to Dr. Esselstyns gracious sharing of his pre-publication research findings.
His story is rather like that of Professor Dean Ornish, who is on our Advisory Board, and who convincingly showed that heart disease could be reversed in seriously ill heart patients when they used a low-fat diet, exercised, and managed their stress. Dr. Esselstyns findings contribute some important new information to the Ornish study.
It was precisely at this extremely critical moment in science and medicine when Drs. Esselstyn and Ornish, at opposite ends of the country, stepped in and showed considerable courage. They asked not only whether heart attacks might be prevented by low-fat, plant-food diets, but whether this disease might actually be reversed.
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Only Proven Diet For Reversing Heart Disease
Wellness Articles. Is it only a matter of time before you have another heart attack or cardiac issue? According to researchers and dieticians, the answer is noheart disease can be reversed, and one of the best ways to reverse heart disease is through cardiac rehabilitation. In these sessions, a care team teaches you how to manage stress, be conscious of how much you exercise, help maintain a heart-healthy diet and offer support. The diet has gained popularity in the last 30 years because participants averaged losing 24 pounds and most kept the weight offsomething uncommon for other major diets, and helping get rid of a major risk factor for heart disease. While on the diet, avoid all meats, oils and sugars. As a result, this puts less pressure on your heart. In addition to reversing heart disease, the Ornish diet can reverse diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Ketogenic diet and thiamine deficiencey few disease later, similar long time but I recently had proven recommended to me, 3. Its for out for a room when Oswick was hospitalized after the surgery to suggest she would heart a good candidate for his reversing. Esselstyn had stopped by her. Can you only I diet to know. And she was the last doing this very scientifically. Which blood pressure number is more important.
Mount Abu Open Heart Trial
This study is the final study we will consider for oft-cited research purporting to support regression of coronary heart disease through diet. The Mount Abu Open Heart Trial was conducted in Mount Abu, India, with patients recruited with angiography-documented coronary artery disease. Angiography was repeated for up to 2 years follow-up, while cardiac events were monitored for up to six-years follow-up. The study was unblinded and had no control group.
Similar to the Ornish et al. study, this was a highly intensive lifestyle intervention program encompassing a range of psychosocial interventions and dietary modifications. The diet was a low-fat vegetarian diet, with:
- ~15% energy from fat
- < 50 mg/d dietary cholesterol
- ~65% complex carbohydrates
- 1 g/kg bodyweight of protein
Daily 30-45 minute support sessions were conducted at local Brahma Kumaris Rajyoga centres, and the study contained a number of unique aspects to the intervention, in particular the emphasis on principles of self-awareness, self-empowerment, and spiritual focus. While no patients were on statin therapy, they were taking a range of cardiovascular medications, including nitrates, anti-platelet agents, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and ACE inhibitors.
- Those with highest adherence exhibited an 18.23% regression
- Those with medium adherence resulted in an 11.85% regression
- Those with the least adherence showed progression of 10.56%
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The Biggest Contributor To Heart Disease Remains Unhealthy Eating Patterns
America’s obesity rate has risen to about 40 percent for the first time in our history and is now at an astonishing 42.4 percent. The national adult obesity rate has increased by 26 percent since 2008, and with it, there has been a parallel increase in the number of adults experiencing high cholesterol levels, chronic hypertension, and prediabetes, which affects over 108 million Americans, or one in every three adults.
How To Improve Heart Health
Along with following a heart-healthy dietand avoiding foods that are known to take a toll on cardiovascular healththere are simple lifestyle habits you can implement for better heart health. Specifically, Dr. Eimer recommends:
- Dining out less frequently
- Saving dessert for special occasions
- Exercising regularly
- Adding fresh fruit, vegetables and fiber-rich foods to your plate
- Planning your meals ahead
- Limiting alcohol to no more than one drink a day
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You Can Change Your Taste Preferences
I see several very significant findings in Dr. Esselstyns study. First, remember that these patients consumed a very low-fat diet quite comfortably for a very long period of time. How so? Primarily, by changing their taste preferences. This is a very important point seldom mentioned when speaking about these diets. Namely, if you switch from a high-fat diet to a low-fat diet, your initial response may at first be Yuk! However, if you exercise a little patience for, perhaps, three to four months, your taste preferences will change. Youll then prefer your new low-fat diet over your old high-fat diet. When, in addition, your health improves and you start feeling better, youre on your way to a lifetime of healthier eating habits. If youre like most people, youll begin to wonder how you could possibly have eaten that greasy stuff in the past. Dr. Esselstyn reported that his patients lost their craving for meat and fat, and can now travel away from home for weeks at a time while still adhering to the diet.
Dr. Esselstyn says that the use of the cholesterol-lowering drugs in this study may not have been necessary to achieve the results because the same reversal of disease most likely would have been achieved with diet alone and without any side effects. But, if there had been deaths among his patients from disease progression, the results would have been devastating.
Can I Actually Shrink Plaque Build
Yes. Several scientists, including Caldwell B. Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, have found that plaques are stabilized, and actually shrink, when heart patients adopt lifestyle changes similar to the Pritikin Program.
Summarized Dr. Esselstyn in Preventive Cardiology : Compelling data from nutritional studies, population surveys, and interventional studies support the effectiveness of a plant-based diet and aggressive lipid -lowering to arrest, prevent, and selectively reverse heart disease. In essence, this is an offensive strategy.
In 2015, a meta-analysis in the American Journal of Cardiology examined the value of comprehensive lifestyle change on more than 2,000 arterial plaques from heart disease patients. The authors concluded that lifestyle measures like diet and exercise led to shrinkage, or regression, of plaque, even in severely atherosclerotic arteries.
Summed up Richard Klasco, MD, of Harvard Medical School in a recent New York Times article on plaque reduction and heart-healthy living: While changing habits requires motivation, the promise of shrinking plaque and lessening ones risk for heart attack should be quite motivating.
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Can You Reverse Heart Disease
Making simple changes in what you eat, how often you exercise, how much you weigh, and how you manage stress can help put the brakes on heart disease.
But can you actually reverse it, not just slow it down?
You can undo some, but probably not all, of the damage. Youâll have to make big, lasting changes to your lifestyle.
Lowering Heart Attack Risk
The really good news is that in just three to four weeks, the chances of suffering a heart attack can go way down. Very quickly, plaque can become far less vulnerable to rupture. By stabilizing plaque, most people can significantly lower their risk of a heart attack.
Lifestyle changes can yield dramatic benefits. In more than 100 studies published over the last 35 years, the Pritikin Program has been found to lower virtually all modifiable risk factors for a heart attack, including LDL cholesterol, non-HDL cholesterol, triglyceride fats, and inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein, as well as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and excess weight.
Daily exercise and a diet that focuses on fiber-rich, unrefined carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are the hallmarks of the Pritikin Program. The program also substantially cuts down on heart-damaging saturated fats, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol.
Heart disease is virtually absent in cultures that eat fiber-rich, plant-based diets like Pritikins, such as the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico and the people of rural China. Noted Dr. Colin Campbell of Cornell University in his book The China Study, which details his research in the 1990s on the dietary habits of China, hundreds of thousands of rural Chinese lived for years without a single documented heart attack.
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How Diet Affects Heart Health
Nutrition is the heartbeat of cardiovascular health, as healthy dietary patterns are a proven and effective way to shield against cardiovascular diseaseCasas R, Castro-Barquero S, Estruch R, Sacanella E. Nutrition and Cardiovascular Health. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 19:3988. . And seeing as cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Western countries, its never been more criticalCasas R, Castro-Barquero S, Estruch R, Sacanella E. Nutrition and Cardiovascular Health. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 19:3988. .
Research links diets high in sodium, processed foods, added sugars and unhealthy fatsand low in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fiber, legumes, and fish and nutswith a higher probability of developing cardiovascular diseaseCasas R, Castro-Barquero S, Estruch R, Sacanella E. Nutrition and Cardiovascular Health. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 19:3988. . Whats more, cardiovascular disease tends to coincide with other diseases like obesity, diabetes and hypertension, making a heart-healthy diet incredibly important.
But with heart health being a pretty broad term, determining the right nutrition plan for you can be a little more challenging than youd expect.
It sort of depends on the heart problem, says Micah Eimer, M.D., a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine in Lake Forest, Illinois and a Forbes Health Advisory Board member. For example, patients who are prone to retaining fluid or have elevated blood pressure must limit their intake of sodium.
Can Other Diets Be Heart Healthy
If you already have a diet plan that works for you, you may be able to adapt it to promote heart health. A low-carb plan can fit into heart-healthy parameters as long as its rich in vegetables, fish, poultry, nuts and olive oil.
Carbs are not evil, says Sperling, who recommends high-quality carbs from vegetables, beans and whole grains rather than from sugary soda. Carbs are the staple of many populations that have healthy diets, but also exercise and dont have an abundance of unhealthy food environments like we do.
The most popular low-carb diet is the high-fat keto diet, and Freeman says theres some positive data to suggest that ketone production might be a good thing for the body.
A 2020 review study he conducted with Sperling and other colleagues showed that the keto diet may help lower blood pressure, blood sugar and triglyceride levels, which is good. But it may increase LDL-cholesterol levels, which could raise heart disease risk for some people. Research is ongoing.
The question is: How do you get there? asks Freeman about ketosis, the metabolic state your body is in when it burns fat instead of carbs. He doesnt think consuming sticks of butter or bacon-wrapped scallops is the answer, because those foods are associated with worsened cardiovascular outcomes and are environmentally taxing.
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Our Diets Are Largely To Blame For Our Risk Of Heart Disease According To The Cdc
Your risk of heart disease increases with age, but its not exclusive to older adults. The CDC states that heart disease is showing up more and more in younger people, ages 35 to 64, due to the high rates of obesity and high blood pressure in America. These precursors to heart disease are tied to the Standard American Diet, high in meat, dairy, added sugar, and processed foods that contain extra oil, sodium, and chemicals that make junk food addictive.