How to reverse heart disease. Is it possible? It sounds a little like a dream…
But one of the most amazing things that I have learned on my weight loss journey is that it is possible to learn how to reverse heart disease. It sounds amazing…almost impossible, too good to be true. Especially if you consider that what we are talking about is reversing heart disease without surgery or even medication. I am just talking about someone making the correct lifestyle changes.
But it’s true. It’s been a scientific fact for about 25 years, and is finally getting mainstream approval in the medical community.
First of all, let me go over what the threat is, and then we will talk about the solution.
What is heart disease?
Whether you call it heart disease or coronary artery disease, it is caused by the buildup of fatty deposits along the insides of your arteries. These deposits start to grow, slowing the process of blood passing through your arteries. What happens next is that your blood pressure increases and you have a greater likelihood of heart attack or stroke as a result.
A high fat high cholesterol diet, lack of exercise and subjecting yourself to stress starts to impede the flow of blood throughout your body. It is especially dangerous when your brain or heart are near the blockages. Ultimately, the buildup leads to high blood pressure and if not treated, a heart attack.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 630,000 people in the United States alone die from heart disease each year. And this is just the toll in human loss of life.
The financial toll on our economy is staggering. It has been estimated between the cost of treatment plus the loss of economic productivity that in the United States alone, the cost of treating heart disease is $675,000,000,000.
Let’s put that currently into perspective. When we see what $675,000,000,000 buy us we begin to understand just how important it is to learn how to reverse heart disease ourselves.
- In 2011, the current US federal deficit is $1.4 TRILLION. We could wipe out ½ of our budget deficit with the money that is spent on heart disease.
- The US could almost fund the Defense Department at $701,000,000,000 or Social Security expenditures of $714,000,000,000 with the costs of heart disease on the economy.
- Ranked against a sampling of countries listed by their Gross Domestic Product (the total amount of goods and services they produce as a nation in a given year), US spending on heart disease would rank as the 19 largest economy in the WORLD! We would beat out the economic output of entire nations such as Switzerland, Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Norway, Argentina, etc…
That’s a pretty sobering assessment, especially when you weigh these massive costs against the lifestyle changes that are necessary to learn how to reverse heart disease, which we are going to talk about right…
What are the steps to learning how to reverse heart disease?
I am going to relate this to my own personal story. But when I was 36, I was at my worst physically, 252 pounds, never exercising and eating awfully.
And then I had my first health scare. I started getting stabbing pains in my chest, and I knew this wasn’t normal. I was in trouble and needed to change what I was doing quickly before I became one of those statistics I mentioned above.
I knew I needed to eat better and exercise, and set about trying to educate myself on all of the best nutritional ideas I could find.
And then I came across a book that truly changed my life.
It was “Eat More, Weigh Less” by Dr. Dean Ornish. I strolled past it on the shelf at the library and thought the title was interesting. Little did I know how this book would change my life, forever, and for the better.
Not only did it talk about how to eat more and weigh less, it chronicled Dr. Ornish’s 20-year journey to get the medical community to understand the body’s power to heal itself but also how to reverse heart disease.
After all, a typical doctor will either recommend a statin drug like Lipitor to lower cholesterol, an angioplasty (inserting a balloon into the diseased artery to open the path for blood) or a bypass operation to a heart disease patient. But take the time to learn how to reverse heart disease? Come on…
Instead, Dr. Ornish tapped the body’s ability to heal itself, if we will only allow it to. In the book, you will see pictures of his patient’s hearts and arteries where you can see the blockages. Then anywhere from 6-12 months later, you can see that the blockages DISAPPEAR on their own, proof that the body can heal itself, if we allow it to.
Dr. Ornish has a three step process to learning how to reverse heart disease, but before I go into this, please remember that if you are currently suffering from coronary artery disease that you should be under a doctor’s care and supervision. Take any medications your doctor recommends and follow any restrictions in terms of diet and exercise that your doctor may place on you:
- Follow an EXTREMELY low fat diet.While there are no calorie restrictions in his program, you are limited to eating foods that contain no more than 2g of fat per serving and 2 g of sugar per serving. Granted, this eliminates about 95% of the foods out there, but remember, we are talking about how to reverse heart disease.If you are just looking to lose 10-20 pounds you don’t necessarily have to follow this to the letter. You can sneak in the occasional cheat meal on the weekends. But if you have blockages in your arteries and may be facing a bypass operation, then it would make sense to follow the program the letter. After all, what is the better option?
a) Understand how to reverse heart disease and change your diet to allow your body to heal itself, or…b) A bypass operation, which is a surgery where the doctor cuts open your chest cavity and inserts a vein or an artery from your leg into your heart muscle to bypass the blockage that coronary artery disease has caused.
Now, have you ever seen a picture of a heart bypass operation? Just check for an online picture of a bypass operation. See that guy lying there with his chest wide open and his heart stopped by the doctor’s so they can perform the bypass. Now, is it really that tough to make that change and eat the Ornish way?
No, I didn’t think so. Trust me. Making the right changes and studying how to reverse heart disease is the much easier choice. I did it and I will explain how when I finish with Dr. Ornish’s program.
- The second phase of Dr. Ornish’s program is 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. In his book, Dr. Ornish describes this as walking at a quick enough pace where it is tough to carry on a conversation but you are not out of breath. Personally, when I made the commitment to lose weight I put in 45-60 minutes a day, and not only did cardiovascular exercises but also strength training exercises as well.But your goal should be to get that thirty minutes of walking in a day, no matter what. Walk the dog, skip a TV show, walk around the soccer field while the kids are at practice, do laps in the parking lot at work during lunch, park farther away at the shopping mall (3-10 minute power walks is acceptable).
- The final part of Dr Ornish’s plan is stress management, and to combat this he recommends yoga and meditation. Now, I have to admit that the first time I saw this I had the typical ‘guy reaction’ to Yoga, something like…
That’s stuff the chicks do. Guys don’t do that. I’ll just head to gym one more time.
And that is the way I felt until I eventually tried it. After 10 minutes worth of poses, I was done. I couldn’t believe how much of a workout you could get without moving off of a 2’X6’ mat. So after eating a healthy dose of humble pie that first time, I started to look into yoga and what I found was that yoga is probably the best overall exercise on the world for you.
That’s right guys. You heard me right. The women were right on this one (certainly not on EVERYTHING but on this one they are dead on!). Yoga is the only exercise that combines all three aspects of physical fitness at the same time (other than gymnastics): strength training (when you do a Vinyasa correctly you get a major upper body workout), cardiovascular benefits (you can feel your heart pounding when you are holding those poses) AND flexibility.
So by combining all three elements Dr. Ornish was able to demonstrate how to reverse heart disease without pills, medications or surgery. Lifestyle changes were all that was needed in order to learn how to reverse heart disease.
But finally, I want to talk to you about the toughest of the three steps when it comes to learning how to reverse heart disease…Part 1. You remember the part where you were initially excited about no calorie restrictions but then groaned when you saw that you couldn’t eat anything with more than 2g of fat or sugar per serving. How do you pull that off?
Well, as Dr. Ornish says, it is all a matter of degrees. Meaning if you are just looking to lose weight you can have that cheat meal on the weekend. Go ahead and indulge. But…
If you are facing a triple-bypass the time has come to get some discipline in your life. Either that or face life-altering surgery. The choice is yours. So I wanted to talk to you about what I did so that you can see how to reverse heart disease. These are the steps I took:
- Started looking for food swaps. I used to be a big red meat eater. Instead, I ate the same amount and at the time switched to being an all white meat eater. This meant consuming chicken and turkey. Now, I know what you are saying. Dr. Ornish advocates being a vegetarian why eat the chicken and the turkey?Because the chicken and turkey I was eating had less than 10% of the calories from fat, which is one of the benchmarks Dr. Ornish uses when you read was Eat More Weigh Less. These were lean meats and even though I wasn’t following his program to the letter, I was following it enough where I was typically eating a diet of 13%-15% of my calories from fat. This was good enough because within 60 days of eating like this and exercising, the chest pains disappeared and I haven’t had one in almost 4 years!
- Load up on water.I quit the sugary drinks, alcohol and even the diets sodas. I don’t care if they are only 1 calorie and have ‘no sugar’. The manufacturer is putting something in there to make it sweet, and whatever that something is, it isn’t good for you.
- Load up the fruits and veggies. The advantage to doing this is that fruits and vegetables are very nutrient-dense yet calorie-poor foods that are loaded with the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health. And there’s another advantage. You can eat a ton of them and not put on a pound. And that is very important when you are looking to change your lifestyle up.The reason that people fail on any diet, and it is particularly bad when you are learning how to reverse heart disease, is because you feel deprived.Think of it this way. You are used to having a nice 16-ounce steak for dinner. But when you go on your diet, you say that you are only going to eat an 8-ounce steak. You will immediately feel deprived and it isn’t going to take long, just a matter of days in all likelihood, for you to backslide and go off the diet.
Instead, you need to replace that 16-ounce steak with at least 16 ounces worth of nutrient-dense but calorie-poor foods that will fill your stomach so that you don’t feel like you are missing something.
By taking all of these steps, I was able to lose 60 pounds in 6 months and completely regained my health. It’s been four years now and I have never felt better.
About The Author:
Tony Rovere regained his health, strength and vitality by losing 60 pounds and managing to keep it off for over 4 years.
This is why he shares his weight loss tips at health-and-weight-loss-tips.com, where he shares his passion for health and fitness with others so that they can accomplish the same goals that he has achieved.
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