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Doctor’s Tip: Your chance to hear a giant in fighting disease

Dr. Greg Feinsinger
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There have been many giants in the field of preventing, treating and reversing disease through nutrition. The thing they all have in common is that, based on science, they advocate a plant-based, no-added-oil, whole (unprocessed) food lifestyle with avoidance of salt and sugar. Here are some of the most notable experts:

• Before the advent of anti-hypertensive medications, malignant (severe) hypertension, had no cure, so it resulted in kidney and heart failure and death. In 1939, Duke University’s Walter Kempner, M.D., tried putting these patients on a diet consisting solely of white rice and fruit. Two-thirds of the patients experienced reversal of their hypertension and kidney and heart damage. As you can imagine, this diet was “monotonous and tasteless” as Dr. Kempner said, but it probably beat dying. This could have saved President FDR, who died from a stroke caused by severe hypertension.

• In the 1970s, an inventor and entrepreneur named Nathan Pritikin was diagnosed in his early 40s with angina, meaning chest pain with exertion, caused by atherosclerotic (hardening of the arteries) blockages in his heart. Pritikin researched the subject and found out that people on plant-based diets don’t get atherosclerosis. He founded an inpatient program that is now called the Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa in California. Medicare is so impressed with the results patients get that it will pay to have patients spend time at the spa, which is much less expensive than bypass surgery and certainly safer.



• Some 25 years ago, Dean Ornish, M.D., proved that you could reverse atherosclerotic heart disease with a combination of plant-based nutrition, exercise and stress reduction through yoga and meditation. Medicare also pays for his program. Dr. Ornish has written several books, the latest being “Spectrum.”

• T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., a nutrition scientist at Cornell, showed in his lab that plant proteins stopped the growth of cancer cells, whereas animal proteins promoted their growth. Later he was the lead scientist in The China Study, the largest epidemiologic study ever done (study of large populations of people, see what they eat and what diseases they get). He co-stars in the documentary “Forks Over Knives” (forks we eat with versus surgical knives), available on You Tube and Netflix, and wrote a book called “The China Study.”



• Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., at the Cleveland Clinic proved once again, in two studies, that you can reverse heart disease with plant-based nutrition. He co-stars in “Forks Over Knives” and wrote the book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.”

• Joel Fuhrman, M.D., promotes the nutritarian diet, meaning that every calorie you put in your mouth should have the most nutrients possible, and that means eating plants. He has written several books, including “Eat to Live,” “The End of Diabetes” and most recently “The End of Heart Disease.” He gives a ski conference in Aspen in early April every year and gives a talk that is open to the public.

• Michael Greger, M.D., is another giant in the field. In case you missed the column I did several months ago about his story, here it is: As a child he had a beloved grandmother who was sent home at age 65 from the hospital in a wheelchair with end-stage atherosclerosis. Due to chest and leg pain from arterial blockages, she could only walk a few feet. Right at that time, “60 Minutes” did a piece on the Pritikin Diet, and the family took her to Pritikin’s program in California. In three weeks she was walking 10 miles a day, because she stopped eating the food that was causing her disease.

This inspired Dr. Greger to go to medical school, where, like most doctors, he learned little about nutrition. But he took it upon himself to become an expert in nutrition, and started a nonprofit called nutritionfacts.org.

He has no ties to the pharmaceutical or food industry. He and his staff review the thousands of English-language scientific papers on nutrition that come out every year and present the studies that are unbiased and well-done to the public, through his evidence-based website nutritionfacts.org. If you subscribe to the website (free, although he’d appreciate a donation), you will get a short blog or video about nutrition every day except Sunday. You can also search various subjects.

Dr. Greger came out with a book about six months ago called “How Not to Die,” which is currently being featured by the Connie Delaney Medical Library at Valley View Hospital. The first half is about how not to die from various common conditions, and the second half is about what we should be eating every day and why (he has his daily dozen). There are 130 pages of references at the back, so the book is also evidence-based, and not as long as it looks.

While Dr. Greger does not do research, he is a nationally and internationally recognized authority on nutrition. He’s funny, and gives an informative talk geared to the lay public, but health-care providers will also learn a lot. VVH is sponsoring his talk at The Orchard in Carbondale at 7 p.m. Feb. 9. To reserve a space, send an email to onebook@vvh.org and include your phone number and email address. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity.

Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, now has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and any other medical concerns. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at gfeinsinger@comcast.net.


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