Recently a reader sent a me a link to an article and interview done by Wolf Blitzer with Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn about Bill Clinton. It was all about how Dr. Ornish and Dr. Esselstyn have inspired Bill Clinton to go on a plant-based diet where he has lost 24lbs and begun to reverse his heart disease. You can find out more about it right here.
This is Clinton’s back story, so clearly he needed to make some changes -
“In 2004 Clinton underwent quadruple bypass surgery, taking four veins from elsewhere in his body and using them to circumvent the four blocked arteries to his heart. In 2005, Clinton underwent more surgery, for scar tissue damage and fluid which had accumulated as a result of the 2004 surgery.
In February of 2010, Clinton’s bypass failed, with one of the four veins installed in the bypass having become 100% blocked. Surgeons installed two stents inside the clogged vein, in order to prop open the cholesterol-filled passage.”
I think there are a lot of great things said in the interview. They talk about how we need to focus on treating the disease, not treating the symptoms. Changing lifestyle factors and not focusing on drugs are two things they discuss and I agree with wholeheartedly.
Unfortunately there is a lot of false crap as well. Stating that foods like olive oil and meat and dairy (regardless of production methods) damage the body and cause heart disease is most definitely not shown in the literature. How is it that so many cultures and societies consumed large amounts of meat, or dairy or saturated fat and had little to no incidence of heart disease? How did these “damaging foods” not damage these people?
Here are my thoughts. Is it actually the fact that the former President is not eating meat that has reversed his heart disease, or is it that he is eating a ton more produce, has dropped down to a healthy bodyweight (a huge plus), is not consuming any man-made food products or edible food-like substances, and has changed many other lifestyle factors? I know where I stand.
Here is also what we know. There has never been a single documented hunter gatherer society that was vegetarian/vegan. Not one. Even if they ate mostly plants, they would still eat some animal products, because they were recognized as essential. How else would they get iron, zinc, and b-12?
To me the difference they made for Clinton is the removal of crappy man-made industrial food products. When making a drastic overhaul in diets it can be easy to point the finger at one thing for being the savior, but in reality many things have changed, and who really knows what actually produced the benefits. Is it the removal of meat and animal products (doubtful), the increase in produce (possibly) or the removal of edible food-like substances that we as a society consume in vast amounts (likely).
Now I am not saying that what they are doing isn’t working, what I am saying is that they, and the media, are oversimplifying (or purposely misinterpreting) what is actually providing the benefit.
When you improve someone’s diet, help them lose weight, decrease stress, quit smoking and increase exercise, how can you give all of the credit to the improved diet? That is what Dr. Esseltyn and Dr. Ornish do. While their system works, it is most definitely not only because they have put their patients on low-fat plant-based diets, it is because they have drastically improved many of the lifestyle factors that contribute to heart disease, as well as removing the industrial food products that actually are damaging.
I will lastly mention that this interview was posted on vegsource.com, a website solely dedicated to everything vegetarian. I perused it a bit and I am just blown away by the absolutely propaganda and false information on that site. Why is it so hard for people to believe that consuming a diet rich in nutrient-dense plant and animal foods is the ideal diet composition. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is simply because you choose to do so, not because it is inherently healthier.
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