My Path to Whole Foods Veganism
- Nicole was an excellent student of mine.
From divanicoleanderson <twinpeaksnikki@...>:
Text of honors speech I gave in Kudsi's Speech 1A [at CCSF] last spring which led to the founding of Overeaters Anonymous Vegan
I first became aware of the "RAVE" diet about a year ago when I watched a video describing its benefits in In Dr. Brook's Political Science class. Later I discovered that what was introduced to me as the RAVE diet (no refined foods, no animal products, no vegetable oils, exercise) was, in truth, similar to the way much of the world's population has been eating for eons and that none other than Plato had recommended a similar regimen. What seemed to be a radical change for many of us is becoming mainstream as the documentary on the plan Forks Over Knives premiered in theaters last week and mainstream media figures like television's Dr. Oz are recommending the diet. The proponents of this "new" way of eating have claimed that a low fat plant based diet can prevent and reverse many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and many cancers but today we will focus on the theory that a RAVE type diet can reverse heart disease. Specifically, we will look at the claim, and the science behind it, and also well counter claims, we will explore the research and then I will briefly comment on my own experience with the plan.
When I first began researching for this speech, I took a very critical look at this theory and searched for studies that would refute it. What I found was just the opposite, the more research I did the more evidence I found that a whole foods vegan dietone which is naturally low in fat and eliminates the consumption of processed foods-- and moderate physical activity can not only prevent but even reverse heart disease. I found so much evidence, in fact, that my hardest task was choosing which sources to use for this speech. So although I would love to talk about nutrition pioneers such Linus Pauling today, we will look at research from Dean Ornish, Dr. C. B. Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic and China study author Dr. Colin T. Campbell.
Of all those, the work of Dean Ornish, MD stands out. According to the authors of Obesity: a reference Handbook, Dean Ornish was named by Life magazine as ``one of the 50 most influential members of his generation'' and that "over the last 30 years, Ornish directed clinical research that demonstrated that comprehensive lifestyle changes may begin to reverse even severe coronary heart disease." Furthermore, the authors Judith Stern and Alexandra Kazaks describe the `Ornish program' as a lifestyle program based on eating foods low in fat, exercising, and reducing stress. Ornish recommends that only 10 percent of calories in one's diet come from fat. In contrast, the average American takes in almost 35percent calories from fat" . According to the Stern text, Ornish made the following comments in 2002 responding to the then popular low card high fat Atkins diet: ``Even a single meal high in saturated fat makes your arteries constrict and... It's not just your heart that gets less blood flow . . . it can also cause sexual dysfunction. . . I have a hard time recommending that people consume meat, bacon, sausage, and [cheese} . . .when thousands of studies have shown that these foods increase your risk of heart disease and cancer. . . .I'd love to be able to tell people that bacon and eggs are health foods, but they're not'' In their 2002 book Vegetarians and Vegans in America Today, authors Iacobbo and Masson detail an Ornish study "In the 1980s Ornish assembled forty-eight volunteers suffering from heart disease.. The patients were divided into two groups: a control group who received conventional care and an experimental group that was put on a 10% fat vegan diet along with a regimen of meditation, yoga, and exercise. Eighteen of the twenty-two patients in the experimental group ended up with unclogged arteries and no chest pain, while the patients in the control group experienced increased blockage and more pain."
The aforementioned Stern book revealed that Cleveland Clinic surgeon Dr. C. B. Esselstyn conducted a twelve year study of a diet and drug combination that saved patients from life threatening heart disease without the use of surgery. Eighteen patients followed the Esselstyn program. The patients were put on the same 10% vegan diet but with no meditation, yoga, or heavy exercise. In all but one case, after five years, all patients were alive and well, and tests showed reversal of heart disease.
In a review of the Colin Campbell Book, The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health Daniel Redwood wrote that Dr. Campbell discovered that he could literally switch on the growth of tumors in lab rats by feeding them animal protein and then, switch off tumor growth by replacing animal protein with vegan protein. In the eighties, the Chinese government realized that some parts of the country suffered an epidemic of disease such as cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease while other regions experienced a much lower level of disease. Campbell was given the opportunity to launch a massive study of populations throughout the country. In short, what he found was a direct relationship between the consumption of animal based foods and disease. If time permitted, I could cite hundreds of studies showing that the regimen we have discussed works but suffice it to say that the evidence is overwhelming that this lifestyle can prevent and reverse heart disease.
So after reading countless testimonials and studies, what is the downside? The one counter argument that I ran across t has any merit is the argument that the program is hard to stick to. Typical of these comments is the following by author Kathleen Berra in her book "Heart attack, advice for patients by patients" She writes that after having been on the Ornish diet one heart patient's "angina disappeared, amazingly, after nineteen years" and that another patient whose coronary arteries were 90 percent closed, became completely open after he too went on the Ornish diet . "Still, the Ornish diet has limitations," Berra claims say that the diet that is hard to stick to, the meals take too much time to prepare and that few of us have the discipline for such "radical lifestyle changes "
In closing, I will admit, as someone who has tried to follow the plan for about a year now that the regimen is difficult to follow. Part of the problem is that the American diet is ingrained in our culture and we are brainwashed with messages such as "where's the beef, beef is real food and that milk does the body good." But as more people become aware of the benefits, the true healthy choices will be easier to make. Years from now, we may walk into a McDonalds, indeed if McDonalds' still exists and be able to purchase a vegan sandwich with a side of organic broccoli and almond milk fruit smoothie instead of a burger fries and shake. I doubt that I will live long enough to see that day ,even if I stick to the diet 100%. But following the regimen as I have five-six days a week I have found my LDL bad cholesterol level drop to below 100 while maintaining High HDL and 90/60 blood pressure. And while I have seen my fellow students constantly saddled with colds and flus, I haven't missed even a day of class due to illness. And at times, I seem to have more energy than some a third my age.
Yes the diet is hard to follow but Dr Colin Campbell reported on the April 28th DR Oz program that 92% of his patients have been able to adhere to the program over a 10 year span. I don't doubt these numbers as, now knowing the benefits, I have been able to stick to the plan close to 100% over the last two weeks. Before I close with two quotes, I want to take a moment to thank my fellow classmates as well as Professor Kudsi for your attention and support. Taking this class has been a real pleasure, now the quotes: First from Dean Ornish, "I don't understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open and put them on cholesterol-lowering drugs for the rest of their lives." Now I will close with this quote from Neal D. Barnard, M.D., President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:
"The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of `real food for real people,' you'd better live real close to a real good hospital."