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Gun law highlights differences between Pitkin, Garfield

While it may come as a surprise to no one who lives in the Roaring Fork Valley, Pitkin County and Garfield County have diametrically opposite views of the state’s new red-flag gun law.

“I’m in a minority among our sheriffs, but I happen to think it’s a good thing,” said Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo. “If there’s any sign of violence related to mental illness, then we should protect others.”

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said he lobbied against the law from the beginning and prompted Garfield County commissioners to pass a resolution in April declaring the county a Second Amendment “preservation county.”

“I oppose it,” Vallario said. “I don’t like the fact that … it puts law enforcement in a position to take away someone’s guns without due process.”

The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, allows a law enforcement officer or a family member to petition a judge to take guns away from a person exhibiting troubling or dangerous behavior toward themselves or others. The petitioner must present evidence of the threat, which can lead the judge to take the weapons for 14 days.

After 14 days, the court must schedule a hearing to address continuing the seizure for a year.

The person whose guns were taken can petition the court to return them once during the year-long seizure if it is granted. Noncompliance with the law, named after a Douglas County deputy killed while responding to a domestic dispute, is a misdemeanor crime.

Vallario said his main problem with the law is that a judge is left to decide if a person is competent to possess guns without the involvement of a mental health professional. That is not the case, for example, when a person is deemed incompetent to stand trial in Colorado, which is determined by state psychiatrists, not a judge, he said.

The red-flag law also doesn’t provide money or direction for treatment or crisis intervention and puts law enforcement officers in a dangerous position if someone refuses to relinquish their weapons, Vallario said.

In his opinion, the law violates both the Second Amendment and the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable search and seizure.

“There’s no due process and it can violate someone’s constitutional rights,” Vallario said.

DiSalvo, on the other hand, said he doesn’t think the Second Amendment applies and that the red-flag law is all about community protection.

“I have a hard time (connecting) the red flag law with the Second Amendment,” he said. “I think there should be a firewall like this.

“If someone is clearly demonstrating violent behavior or mental illness, take away their guns until they’re deemed safe. But in the meantime, you have to protect people who might be affected by (the possible gun violence).”

DiSalvo said he thinks that anyone who falls under the red-flag law would likely already be covered by state mental health laws that allow law enforcement to take someone into custody so they can be examined by mental health professionals at a psychiatric hospital. If that happens, it would make it easier to seize guns owned by the person, he said.

While Garfield County commissioners declared their support for the Second Amendment in their April, nonbinding resolution, Pitkin County commissioners have been silent on the subject of the red-flag law.

And while some Colorado sheriffs and counties have refused to enforce the red-flag law and declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuary counties,” Vallario and Garfield County haven’t gone that far.

“I won’t defy the law,” he said. “It’s a lawful law, and I will comply with it.”

How exactly that happens, especially when a person refuses to give up their guns, is another story.

“We’ll comply with it, but how we do that is the interesting thing,” Vallario said. “There are ways we will handle it based on the situation.”

And that, in a nutshell, was essentially the legal advice dispensed by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office last week.

“It’s up to each law enforcement agency to determine how to respond to an individual who refuses to surrender a firearm,” a spokesman for Attorney General Phil Weiser told The Colorado Sun on Tuesday. “It would likely depend on the factors of each case and available resources.”

The advice was in response to a model red-flag law policy issued last week by the Colorado Peace Officer’s Standards and Training Board, which provided no guidance on what to do if someone refuses to give up their guns.

Jeff Cheney, 9th Judicial District Attorney, said that while he understands the impetus for the law, he, like Vallario, is bothered by a perceived lack of due process.

“It’s a concern rooted in trying to protect the community,” Cheney said. “I do believe in a person’s right to bear arms, and when you seek to deprive someone of that, you need due process.”

However, Cheney’s office won’t be charged with enforcing the law because it is civil, not criminal, he said.

Aspen City Attorney Jim True, who would provide legal advice on the law to city officers, said he believes the red-flag law is meant to protect communities and that it is a legal law. It is governed by the same U.S. Supreme Court precedent that allowed the Aspen City Council to recently ban guns in city buildings, he said.

“From a legal process standpoint, (the red flag law) is relatively simple,” True said. “But from an actual execution standpoint, I don’t really have any comment about it.”


Inside the Chamber column: The good guy discount

Local stores are more than just a place to buy stuff. They provide local jobs and contribute to the local economy, but they also offer an experience that simply can’t be found in an online shopping cart.

He was a trained and talented pianist, but he had no business playing guitar. The young teen didn’t have the first clue what he was doing with the new instrument, but when he stepped into the local music store, the owner enthusiastically encouraged him try out the various guitars and amplifiers. Though he didn’t buy anything, he became a regular visitor to the store. The owner patiently taught him how to tune a guitar and gave him mini guitar lessons right in the shop.

After weeks of playing nearly every guitar in the store, he finally landed on his favorite. He’d stop by the store nearly every day to play the instrument as he saved money to buy it. When the day finally came that he had saved up enough to purchase the prized guitar, the store owner gave the aspiring musician the “good guy discount.” This was in addition to all the free lessons he had already received.

The pianist turned guitar player is my husband, Scott. He still has that guitar from Glenwood Music. Though the store has moved to a new location and has new owners, 20 some years later Scott is still giddy like a kid in a candy store when he walks through the door. He could spend hours and hours browsing, testing instruments and talking about anything related to music with the people working in the store.

Recently our 5-year-old daughter, Paige, expressed interest in learning how to play piano, so Scott proudly took her into Glenwood Music to pick out her first lesson book. He could have ordered the same book online, and with the click of a button it would have arrived at our doorstep in just two days, but he wanted to create an experience. They looked through all the books, and she picked the one that coincidently had the same cover as his very first piano book. The two of them sat at the piano when they arrived home for the first of many lessons together.

I’m not sure if our daughter will remember the day when she picked out her first lesson book or how interested she’ll be in learning piano, guitar or any other instrument in the future. However, I know Scott will always remember the day, just like he fondly remembers the many days spent in the store with the “good guy discount” where he essentially learned how to play guitar, his lifelong passion.

Life is busy, and there is no question that shopping online is quick and easy. However, purchasing anything from a book to a car in the community supports local business owners, helps create jobs and pays for essential community services. Local shops aren’t just a place to buy stuff. They provide an unmatched experience.

The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association is a champion for a thriving community. By supporting local businesses, we can all contribute to the success of the community. Our team has been featuring local shops with our 24 days of holiday shopping videos on our Facebook @gwschamber and Instagram @glenwood_chamber pages. Throughout this holiday season, we invite residents and visitors to share their local shopping stories and photos using hashtag shopglenwood (#shopglenwood) on social media. One lucky participant will win two, one-day passes to Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

Angie Anderson is president and CEO of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

Libby Thurman (January 23, 1962 — November 30, 2019)

Gwen “Libby” Elizabeth Thurman was born in Bozeman, Montana, to Margaret Nancy Babcock and Jack Franklin Thurman on 01/23/1962. She is survived by her daughter Ashley Anderson, her four brothers Andy, Coble, Pirk and Shawn, as well as her daughter-in-law Jill Anderson and her grandchildren Jacklyn and Julia Anderson. She passed after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer and left us surrounded by her loved ones at Valley View Hospital on November 30th at 1:15 PM. At this time no memorial has been planned.

Roaring Fork Schools putting new volunteer vetting policy into practice

A new Roaring Fork School District policy for vetting in-school volunteers could be open to some building-level interpretation, depending on the situation, the district’s superintendent acknowledged.

But the revised policy is intended to be far more clear as to the extra level of protection that’s necessary whenever a volunteer would be alone with a student or students without a teacher or other district employee present, Superintendent Rob Stein said of the new rules now in effect.

“There could be some after-the-fact room for interpretation,” Stein said of cases where a full background check may or may not be necessary.

“But the policy is pretty clear that if you’re in an unsupervised capacity, you do need to have a background check.”

The Roaring Fork school board last month formally approved the revised volunteer policy after concerns were raised that fingerprint-based background check requirements under the old policy discouraged some immigrant parents from volunteering in their child’s classroom.

That’s because some of the online vendors now used for background checks ask a U.S. citizenship question on their form before an applicant can proceed.

The new policy allows in-classroom, supervised volunteers to simply complete a volunteer agreement form that’s available at each district school in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt and at the District Office in Carbondale.

Beyond that, however, it does require any volunteer who would be unsupervised or present on overnight trips with students to complete a full criminal background check.

That can be done either through fingerprints or a name-based check via an approved vendor.

If a volunteer has already completed a comparable background check through another entity that the school district routinely works with, that would be acceptable, according to the policy provisions.

“There are a handful of organizations that we partner with that require their own vetting, and we don’t want to have to duplicate that,” Stein said. “But we do want the discretion to make sure their check is comparable.”

Stein added in a prepared statement when the policy was approved, “We are grateful to the hard work and leadership of parent volunteers and partner organizations who helped us find a better way to encourage parent engagement while keeping our schools safe.”

The Valley Settlement Project, which run the Parent Mentor Program in area schools, was appreciative of the school district’s quick response to the concern about some parent volunteers being intimidated by the fingerprint-based checks.

“This is going to be an opportunity for more and more parents and families to continue to contribute and continue to donate their talents and time,” Valley Settlement Executive Director Alex Sánchez said.

“This is how school districts should work; it should be the public and community and parents working in collaboration with the school district and school board to make sure that we’re governing and creating the type of culture we all want for our children.”


Glenwood Escape Room unleashes new rooms in new location

The Glenwood Escape Room has a new location and brand-new rooms for players to navigate and attempt to escape from before their time runs out.

According to Glenwood Escape Room Co-owner Ken Murphy, a few misconceptions about the growing industry continue to persist.

“Escape rooms aren’t claustrophobic,” Murphy said. “We’re not trying to scare you. …It’s not a haunted house.”

Instead, teams of between two and generally six players work together to solve puzzles and decipher clues, hopefully, before their 60-minute time limit expires.

Previously, the Glenwood Escape Room was situated in the 900 block of Grand Avenue but has since relocated to 923 Cooper Ave.

“[In] our old facility, our lobby wasn’t very interactive. It was, sit there and wait.” Murphy said. “One of the highlights of this new lobby is, we’ve made it very interactive.”

In addition to Egyptian relics, the Glenwood Escape Room’s lobby features key mazes and puzzles that players can practice on before their actual countdown clock begins.

The three new escape rooms include one with a Christmas theme, another Murphy described as “PG-13,” and an elevator.

Taking place on Dec. 24, at first glance, nothing about the holiday-themed room’s stockings, cozy fireplace and Christmas tree appear out of the ordinary.

However, once the timer starts, the unsuspecting holiday room quickly turns into “Christmas Chaos.”

“It’s called Christmas Chaos, which we all have in our family,” Murphy said. “Standing in here you wouldn’t realize all that’s going on.”

While Christmas Chaos certainly caters to the holiday season, things get a little darker, literally, in the escape room’s Serial Doctor room.

Geared more toward teenagers and adults, players must escape from a deranged “doctor’s” lair by using a variety of senses.

“We want to get all of your different senses working together,” Murphy said. “Or, working against each other.”

The final room, which Murphy hopes to open by Christmas, includes the Elevator.

In the elevator, players take on the role of Fortune 500 Company executives trapped with a ticking time bomb.

According to Murphy, thus far roughly 40-percent of players have successfully completed Christmas Chaos whereas just 27-percent have finished the Serial Doctor escape room.

Co-owner and game master Logan Bartek, who gives clues to stumped players along the way, said he tries to make each team’s experience as unique as possible.

Especially, when teams range from corporate parties to bachelor and bachelorette parties.

“We want to make it fun, not frustrating,” Bartek said.


Suspected drug dealers released for unfiled paperwork arrested on federal charges

Suspected drug dealers released from jail due to unfiled paperwork were picked up days later on federal charges for the same alleged crime, according to court records.

The three men suspected of transporting 29 pounds of methamphetamine to Glenwood Springs have been in federal custody since getting arrested by U.S. Marshalls on Nov. 22, several days after a Garfield County judge granted them personal recognizance bonds because they had been held more than 48 hours before probable cause documents were filed.

Francisco Alejandro-Escobar, 21, Christopher Paredes-Moreno, 21, and Jose Santos Trochez-Sanchez, 27, have all been charged in federal court with possessing dangerous drugs with intent to distribute.

The three were arrested by local law enforcement agencies on Nov. 15, and held over the weekend in Garfield County Jail. They were released Nov. 18, and were out of custody for several days before arrest on the federal charges.

The probable cause document, also known as an affidavit for warrantless arrest, was not filed due to a miscommunication, according to law enforcement officials.

“The warrant was done the day of the arrest, it was just human (error) because one person thought the other person was filing the warrant,” said Steven Knight, the agent in charge at Grand Junction’s DEA office.

The paperwork was “filed on Monday morning [Nov. 18] when the error was discovered,” Knight said.

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said that in his entire career, he has never seen a case where probable cause paperwork wasn’t filed with the court in time.

“This was an error, and it was discussed and corrected. I’m sure it won’t happen again,” Vallario said.

The judge granted personal recognizance bonds because the paperwork was not filed or reviewed by the court within 48 hours of arrest, which his a legal precedent.

The federal probable cause document did not reveal many new details about the operation, which is now complete.

According to federal and state court records, the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team (TRIDENT), worked with the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Glenwood Springs post and the Gore Range Narcotics Interdiction Team to communicate with the alleged drug dealers.

TRIDENT agents communicated with a man in Mexico and agreed to purchase 2 pounds of methamphetamine, and sent a wire transfer of $1,500.

After further communication, the agents agreed to purchase 30 pounds for a total of $75,000, to be paid on delivery.

When the undercover officers suspected that both cars were connected, they requested the State Patrol to conduct traffic stops on Interstate 70, according to the court records.

In the trunk of one car where the spare tire should have been, a trooper located a black duffle back with 28 plastic bags containing a crystalline substance that later tested positive for methamphetamine, the affidavit said.

A trained drug-sniffing dog detected the presence of narcotics on the other car, but nothing was found in that vehicle.


Rifle congressional candidate aims to be the conservative AOC

Lauren Boebert, owner of Shooters Bar and Grill, is challenging Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) for the GOP nomination next year but her ultimate fight is against someone else.

In the press release announcing her campaign, Boebert called out a group of Democratic representatives known as The Squad, most notably Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), famous for championing the Green New Deal.

“(Ocasio-Cortez) is putting on a progressive, socialist narrative to our people. I’m going to be the one who changes that conversation back to the Constitution, and what this country was founded on,” Boebert said in an interview.

Boebert doesn’t think Republicans, in particular Tipton, are fighting hard enough against the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario gave an early endorsement to Boebert.

 “Lauren Boebert is a true patriot who always stands on the right side of freedom. She is exactly who I want representing us in Congress,” Vallario said in a statement.

Boebert has not shied away from activism in recent years. Her restaurant, Shooters Grill, became famous as a pro-Second Amendment locale. All the servers open carry handguns in the restaurant.

When Beto O’Rourke, then campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president, held a September town hall in Aurora, Boebert confronted him for his statement that “hell yes” he would confiscate semi-automatic rifles.

Boebert’s response was “hell no, you’re not.” In a viral video, she asked O’Rourke how he intended to “legislate the hearts of men” who commit violent acts with guns.

Boebert was also part of the Dismiss Polis campaign, an attempt to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.

Shortly after the viral Beto moment, Boebert attended Aspen City Council meetings to protest a ban on deadly weapons, including open carry firearms, in city buildings. Boebert said open carry is a great crime deterrent. The city council eventually approved the deadly weapons ban.

Boebert is the mother of four boys. Her husband, Jayson, works in the oil and gas industry.

Though a newcomer to electoral politics, Boebert’s pitch is that she will be the most conservative candidate in the race.

“I think that conservative voters and the like can sleep well at night knowing that I will be in office fulfilling every conservative checkmark there is,” Boebert said.

In addition to protecting Second Amendment rights, Boebert wants to be a voice of support for President Donald Trump’s policies.

“I am more than an advocate for the Second Amendment, I am an advocate for freedom,” Boebert said.

Boebert hopes to inspire a conservative movement that she already sees growing on the Western Slope.

“This isn’t about anything other than people, and empowering them, encouraging them, paving the way and giving them permission to step into positions like this and make a difference in their communities,” Boebert said.

Boebert is the first Republican to announce a challenge to Tipton. Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, who lost to Tipton in 2018, is running for the seat again.


Torres column: Get ready for skinny cow season

To the pharaoh the dream was a nightmare. He wanted to know what it meant, and the only person who could understand the dream was Joseph, so he had Joseph brought to him to interpret it.

Once Joseph was in front of him, he started to tell him his dream. It was about seven fat cows, seven skinny and ugly cows, seven healthy heads of grain and seven sprouted heads of grain. The seven skinny cows ended up eating the fat cows and the same happened with the heads of grain.

Joseph told the Pharaoh the meaning: Egypt will endure seven years of abundance and seven years of scarcity. If the people don’t get ready for the times of scarcity, they will suffer, and Egypt may perish.

After having my knee surgery, I had some family problems and some business problems with employees and clients, there were promises I could not keep (opening a Custom Body Fitness branch in Glenwood Springs) because of third parties, my car’s suspension broke and a developed an engine problem we couldn’t figure out, my apartment needed repairs, and I couldn’t focus at work no matter how hard I tried. It sounds very simple, but when there is a string of events that don’t allow me to move forward, it is frustrating.

The good thing is that I have money saved for repairs for my car and my apartment. I don’t need to put anything on a credit card. Also, being in shape helped me recuperate from the surgery faster. Caring about my family also helped me solve my problems with them, and the same is true with my employees and clients.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, which is an unattractive trait. Complaining about my car, my job, my employees, my apartment, my life, my day, my situation, my lack of understanding, my family, the hospital system or my knee won’t make any difference. In fact, putting a negative perspective on those things will take energy from me.

Complaining is for only the weak. Instead I like to give thanks for what I have and how great my life is compared to many others. In reality, my problems are not bigger than those of others. Yes, it’s true that not moving forward and progressing is a sign of getting smaller. But I think about those that need more help than I do. Therefore, I also continue focusing on helping those who are more in need.

What I have as an advantage is that I know times with skinny cows are going to come. Therefore I get ready and prepare to endure those skinny cows.

I save money, I become wiser and stronger, I nurture my relationships, and I take care of my health. Ignoring reality won’t help me to continue moving forward.

As you probably know, if you have been following me, I come from a very poor family. Of course, my dad is as poor as I was. He could not see progress until I started to mentor him on how to take care of his health, spirit and money. When I was going through the skinny cow season, my dad helped me a lot by working on my car. I was stressed because we could not figure out what was wrong with the engine, and I bought a lot of parts to try to fix the problem. I remember my father telling me that it was a good thing I had the money to fix it and to imagine if I did not have the money.

Can you imagine having a broken car and apartment and not having the money to fix them? Or not having the money to pay your employees? Or can you imagine having a heart attack or hemorrhage or complications from a knee surgery because you didn’t take care of your health?

Just like exercising, learning and meditating, being ready for the skinny cow season is a must to ensure a high quality of life rather than just going with the flow.

Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs and author of the books “Lose Weight Permanently” and “Finding Genuine Happiness.” His column appears on the second Monday of the month.

Glenwood Springs law firm part of $500 million Ponzi suit in aftermath of Shapiro, Woodbridge

A Roaring Fork Valley law firm and one of its attorneys are part of the ongoing fallout of convicted Ponzi scheme artist Robert Shapiro and the shuttered real estate investment firm Woodbridge Group.

Balcomb & Green PC, which has offices in Glenwood Springs, Basalt and Aspen, is among the defendants in a civil case alleging they aided Shapiro in his $1.3 billion real estate scam. Also named in the suit is attorney Larry Green, now of counsel with the firm that has used his name since 1998.

Shapiro is a former Carbondale-area resident and the ex-CEO of Woodbridge, which before its collapse had offices in Carbondale; Boca Raton, Florida; Sherman Oaks, California; Tennessee; and Connecticut.

In an email Friday responding to a query from The Aspen Times, Green said he and the firm had no role in the scam that put Shapiro behind bars for 25 years and forced Woodbridge into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“At this time the only information I can share with you is that we have reviewed the complaint and we know that the allegations against me and Balcomb & Green are wholly without merit,” Green said. “We had absolutely no knowledge and no participation in any of the activities of the Woodbridge group of companies that led to the losses suffered by the victims described in the complaint.”

On Dec. 2, Michael Goldberg, who is the trustee in Woodbridge Group’s bankruptcy case, filed a 170-page complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court against nine law firms with presences on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and in the Midwest and Colorado.

“This case arises out of the $1.3 billion Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Robert Shapiro. Shapiro’s criminal enterprise masqueraded as a real estate investment company known as the Woodbridge Group of Companies,” the suit begins.

It goes on to say that the “law firms and attorneys that are Defendants in this Complaint aided and abetted numerous securities violations and fraudulent acts. Some drafted offering documents replete with false statements that they knew were false. Some prepared negligent legal opinion memorandums to be shared with investors. Some assisted Shapiro in concealing his fraud.”

The California-based Woodbridge, which developed high-end properties in the Roaring Fork Valley, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2017. The filing came after the SEC said in October 2017 that it had launched a probe into Shapiro and Woodbridge. Dozens of Woodbridge affiliates, including some in Carbondale, also declared bankruptcy in conjunction with the flagship firm’s filing.

Last week’s lawsuit filing is part Woodbridge’s pending bankruptcy case.

The lawsuit says the Balcomb & Green firm, as well as Green individually, were retained in July 2012 “for the purposes of helping Shapiro acquire real property using Woodbridge investor funds and to put the properties into LLCs, created by Balcomb, that were controlled by and affiliated with Shapiro. Balcomb would name these LLCs with names that were designed to hide their affiliation with Shapiro.”

The firm set up at least 100 LLCs that Shapiro secretly controlled, the complaint alleges, as part of a complex scheme to defraud investors.

Both the firm and Green face civil allegations of aiding and abetting Shapiro in such transgressions as fraud, securities fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. Among the other claims are negligent representation and professional negligence.

“We’re trying to pick up the pieces for these people and help them recover their massive — and tragic — losses,” said attorney Skip Miller, of Miller Barondess LLP in Los Angeles, in a news statement. Miller represents Goldberg, the bankruptcy trustee. “We look forward to facing the defendants in a court of law and holding them responsible for the devastating losses they helped cause.”

In October, Shapiro was sentenced in Florida to the maximum 25 years in prison. He had previously pleaded guilty to orchestrating and leading an investment fraud scheme that ultimately swindled his mostly elderly investors out of $470 million. He also admitted to tax evasion for failing to pay more than $6 million in taxes due and owing to the IRS for calendar years 2000 through 2005.


Doctor’s Tip: Lifestyle and blood flows

This is the seventh in a series of columns based on “Undo It, How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases,” the most recent book by Dean Ornish, M.D. These lifestyle changes can be summarized as: Eat healthy (plant-based, unprocessed food); move more; stress less; and love more (learn to forgive; form loving relationships).

Cancer is the one situation where increased blood flow can cause harm. As cancer advances, it eventually outgrows its blood supply. In order to keep enlarging, cancerous tumors secrete substances like VEGF that induce formation of new blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis. Avastin, a drug that prevents angiogenesis, was developed to stop tumor growth. However, it costs over $100,000 a year. Furthermore, Avastin has been shown by Dr. Ornish and others to be less effective at lowering VEGF levels (thereby preventing tumor growth) than Ornish’s lifestyle program. In a famous study, Dr. Ornish proved that his lifestyle program can even resolve early-stage prostate cancer. “The foods that prevent angiogenesis are in the whole-food plant-based category,” particularly “berries, cruciferous vegetables, green tea, and spices,” according to Ornish.

In all other situations more blood flow is better. Factors that cause arteries to constrict, decreasing blood flow to organs and tissues, include animal protein, animal fat, inflammation, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and stress.

Plant-based nutrition, exercise and stress reduction cause the endothelium that lines our arteries to produce nitric oxide, which causes arteries to dilate, bringing more blood to our organs and tissues. According to Dr. Ornish, this results in the following health benefits:

• “When your brain gets more blood flow, you think more clearly and creatively, have more energy, and sleep better.” You can also experience “neurogenesis,” where your brain grows new neurons, which can prevent and reverse early dementia.

• When your skin gets more blood flow, you appear younger and have fewer wrinkles.

• When “your heart and skeletal muscles get more blood flow … you have more stamina and can often reverse even severe coronary heart disease.” ( Dr. Ornish was the first scientist to prove that lifestyle can reverse heart disease, over 25 years ago). He notes that “Roman gladiators were vegetarian because it gave them more strength and endurance…” Watch The Game Changers, a documentary now available on Netflix, about elite athletes who have gone plant-based to enhance their performance.

• “Your eyes get more blood flow, helping to prevent blindness” caused by macular degeneration. Plant-based nutrition can reverse diabetic retinopathy, another common cause of visual impairment and blindness.

• Your ears get more flood flow, reducing hearing loss.

• Increased blood flow to pelvic organs enhances the sex life of both men and women.

• Physical activity increases the flow in your lymphatic system.

• Physical activity decreases your risk of diabetes, moves blood back to your heart through your veins, and decreases risk of blood clots.

Why haven’t doctors told you about this? Because they often aren’t aware of this information. Primary care doctors, oncologists, cardiologists, diabetologists, and other physicians don’t receive training about nutrition or prevention in medical school, residency or continuing medical education conferences (often sponsored by Big Pharma). The same problem exists with other health care providers, including P.A.s, nurse practitioners, dietitians and diabetic educators. Hopefully this unfortunate situation will change in the near future.

Next week’s column will be the 8th and final one in this series. It will summarize the take-home messages in “Undo It.”

Greg Feinsinger, M.D. is a retired family physician who has a nonprofit: Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He gives a free presentation at 7 p.m. the first Monday of the month at the Third Street Center in Carbondale; is available by appointment for free consultations (379-5718); and conducts a shop-with-a-doc session at 10 a.m. the first Saturday of the month at Carbondale City Market.