Haims column: Cure for heart disease, Alzheimer’s and high cholesterol found | PostIndependent.com

Haims column: Cure for heart disease, Alzheimer’s and high cholesterol found

Judson Haims

February was Heart Health month. I hope everyone made the time to read Dr. Feinsinger’s articles all month about this subject. If you missed one, please go online to the Post Independent website and read them, they were quite informative.

To what extent would you go to prevent yourself from becoming afflicted by a heart attack, Alzheimer’s, or cancer? Sadly, most people take little action. When you get home tonight, look around at your family and consider this:

• 1 in 3 people will die from heart disease. (American Heart Association)

• 1 in 9 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease. (Alzheimer’s Association)

• 2 in 5 people will be diagnosed with cancer (National Cancer Institute)

Unfortunately, the awareness that today’s life choices will drastically harm us in the future isn’t enough to make us change our ways. While we may want to make better health choices, change is difficult. Regrettably, it takes more than a wake-up call, even a life-threatening one, to get people to change their unhealthful lifestyles.

Let’s not wait to be afflicted with life altering ailments. You don’t wake-up in your 50s, 60s and 70s with the sudden onset of a heart disease, Alzheimer’s or cancer. These diseases had an onset 20 or more years earlier. That’s now for many people. Make a proactive choice to live a better quality of life.

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease

A couple of weeks ago I attended a very thought-provoking meeting at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek. A local nonprofit called Starting Hearts hosted Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. For over 35 years, Dr. Esselstyn has been a surgeon and researcher at the Cleveland Clinic. He spoke about his research and book titled “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.” “Prevent?” “Reverse?” Those are big claims. Could the food we put in our bodies really succeed in prevention and reversing damage already done?

Further supporting Dr. Esselstyn and his book, as stated by Dr. Feinsinger in his Feb. 14, article in this paper, is the book “How Not to Die,” by Dr. Michael Greger. These books provide evidence-based strategies that will assist people to live healthier lives.

If you are not already aware, or are not searching for a way to live healthfully, you’re on a very bad path.

While many people in the medical field have different viewpoints about heart health, few can dispute Dr. Esselstyn’s and Dr. Greger’s results.

Dr. Esselstyn’s book details a program whereby 23 men and one woman who suffered from advanced coronary disease, overcame the disease. Hope of life for these people was dismal. Many had been forever disfigured from invasive surgeries and had been told by their cardiologists that nothing more could be done. End of story? Not so much.

Via a plant-based diet, Dr. Esselstyn has given his patients an opportunity to continue living. The regimen he has his patients follow has proven to assist in the treatment and prevention of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Further, it has the ability to help mitigate a number of cancers.

The book is a quick read and contains many tasty recipes.

Conforming does not have to be difficult

Yes, Dr. Esselstyn has proven that a strict plant-based diet can remedy many ailments that afflict us. However, committing to a stringent long-term modification in one’s eating habits is often a failing proposition. Most people cannot even commit to a short-term diet, let alone change one’s entire life.

Learning how to eat healthy does not have to be one of the most difficult things you ever do. So how can we succeed in changing from our SAD (Standard American Diet) diet to a better lifestyle? The answer is by implementing a lifestyle change. Dieting is short-term. Conversely, lifestyle changes are long-term, transformative and evolutionary.

Any progress we can make to move from a SAD is substantial. It’s hard, though. When people consider steering away from a daily intake of meat, dairy, fat, sugar and processed foods, many wonder what options are left.

Could you integrate the following meals into your daily diet?

Breakfast: banana French toast, blueberry muffins, buckwheat blueberry pancakes, zucchini or banana bread, Grape Nuts or Shredded Wheat cereal

Lunch: watermelon and cherry tomato salad, brown rice and corn salad, wheat pasta salad with veggies and mustard relish salad, black bean or miso barley soup

Dinner: pineapple stir-fry, wild rice and mushroom pilaf, vegetable and chicken burrito, noodles with stir-fried asparagus and cashews, black bean tacos with avocado, roasted cauliflower or cauliflower prepared like mashed potatoes (less of a starch-bomb)

Other simple changes like roasting instead of frying, swapping junk food snacking for picking at nuts, seeds, legumes, berries and fresh fruits have proven beneficial. Keep a bowl of walnuts, almonds, raisins and cranberries at your desk while working. Pick at edamame and sugar snap peas.

I know firsthand how difficult it can be commit to and eat a healthier lifestyle. I sit at a desk much of the day and know I am not burning more calories than I take in. However, I try to refrain from snacking on junk food and have chosen to pick at snap peas, carrots, pickles (high in sodium, though), nuts and seeds. I often bring to work a salad for lunch, and I try to not snack after dinner.

Any effort you can make to eat more cruciferous vegetables, berries, good fats (olives, avocado, nuts, coconut oil, Omega-3) and exercise, will make a huge difference in your health and may reduce your risk of many ailments.

By the time your doctor tells you have artery blockages, high cholesterol, diabetes or cognitive impairment, the damage is done. You have the power to change such outcomes — change your diet and increase our exercise. It matters.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Garfield and Pitkin counties. His contact information is, http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526


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