(BlackDoctor.org) — The number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease. Typically, heart disease deaths are due to plaque clogging the arteries of the heart so that not enough blood reaches the heart.
Medical research is now clear – heart attacks are nearly 100% preventable through dietary and lifestyle changes alone.
Few doctors dicuss this with their patients and it is rare that you will hear it addressed in this manner by mainstream media or governmental agencies. Nevertheless, the tremendous benefits of lifestyle changes are very much true, and there is much research to prove it.
In 1985, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn began a study in which he got the best results ever recorded in the treatment of heart disease using a very low fat, plant based diet and only a minimal amount of cholesterol lowering medication. The result of the study was a 50% reduction in cholesterol levels.
Modern World = Deadly Health Problems?
The average American has a total cholesterol of just under 200. Yet, many so called underdeveloped regions of the world, where people eat mostlty plant based foods and fish have much lower total cholesterol numbers – and less heart attacks.
About 1/3 of heart attacks in Americans actually occur in people with a total cholesterol between 150 and 200. People with total cholesterol under 150 mg/dL do not get heart attacks as a general rule. Has your doctor told you this?
How Can Lifestyle Changes Make A Difference?
The effect of healthy lifestyle changes, such as being more active, stressing less and eating more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and less fatty meats, is not only to halt further clogging of your heart blood vessels, but also to reverse the clogging that is there now. This process of healing begins within weeks and it is not unusual for patients to see dramatic improvements to their heart health within weeks! Patients who are loaded up with medications and unable to walk a block due to chest pain are often able to walk for a mile or more without heart medication following comprehensive lifestyle changes.
Essential lifestyle changes for improved heart health include:
1) Eat many fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as some fish and chicken (grilled or baked, not fried). Reduce red meat consumtion, and limit foods high in sugar, salt and fat (with the exception of foods such as nuts, which have many positive health benefits, despite being a little higher in fat). In addition, try to avoid processed foods.
2) Do aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes daily, 5-6 days a week (this includes walking). Regular strength training, at least twice a week for 15-30 minutes, is also generally recomended for lean muscle tone and bone strength.
3) Engage regularly in activities to reduce stress such as yoga, meditation and/or prayer.
4) Cherish your relationships with family and friends. Humans are not wired to live in solitude. Surround yourself with people who are committed to healthy lifestyle changes. Support one another and share what you know.
Many people, including myself, have discovered that healthy lifestyle changes are the very best medicine in preventing, reversing and curing not just heart disease, but many other diseases and conditions as well.
Avoid the prospect of clutching your chest and succumbing to the “big one” someday!
By Dr. Ed James, BDO Healthy Lifestyle Expert
Compelled by his personal experiences in overcoming health challenges through lifestyle changes, Dr. Edward J.James currently inspires individuals and organizations to develop and implement action plans for healthy lifestyles.
Dr. James co-founded the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity Healthy Lifestyle Group, in order to promote healthier lifestyles among Fraternity Members and their families. Dr. James has also given many lectures on this topic, including his presentations at the 2010 Grand Boule’ and at the 2011 National Medical Association Colloquium. In addition, he has hosted healthy lifestyle events and regularly contributes preventive health related articles to various publications.
Dr. James received his B.S. in Biology from Bucknell University. He earned his MD and MBA from the University of Pennsylvania as a participant in the Penn Med Scholars combined degree program. During his years as a student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, he served as President of their Student National Medical Association.