- Stephanie Holliday
Reversing Chronic Disease
Updated: Oct 4, 2021
“ Being open minded is not a luxury but a necessity”. - Dr. T. Colin Campbell
We are living in an epidemic of chronic disease.
And we consider this state of health as “normal”.
Seven of the ten leading causes of death have hard scientific evidence linking them to diet and lifestyle. These include heart disease, certain cancers, lower respiratory disease, stroke, alzheimer’s, diabetes and kidney disease.
1/2 of men and 1/3 of women, in their lifetime will be diagnosed with cancer.
This is not normal.
This is the paradigm and cultural influences that we have accepted as normal.
Normal is not normal.
Consider the average yearly intake of these foods in the United States in 1900 and a century later in 2000:
5lbs of sugar
4lbs of oil
2lbs of cheese
140lbs of meat
0 gallons of soft drinks
141lbs of sugar
74lbs of oil
30lbs of cheese
210lbs of meat
53 gallons of soft drinks
Consider these statistics from the United States:
In 1900, 63 of 100,000 deaths were from cancer.
In 2016, 185 of 100,000 deaths were from cancer.
That is a 193.6% increase in cancer deaths over one century.
What is considered normal, changes.
The Good News :)
Prevention and disease reversal is possible.
But it takes an open mind, a willingness to examine the science and one’s own life.
And often, it takes big lifestyle changes to live your life in good health.
Studies from the Blue Zones (areas in the world where people routinely live to be a healthy 100 years and over) show that it is possible and normal to live long and healthy lives. The bible states in Genesis 6:3 that a natural lifespan for a human is 120 years.
So what are the factors that support life, free from chronic disease?
An immense body of research points to a whole-food plant based diet.
This means eating an abundance of fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, whole grains, spices and herbs, seeds and a little bit of raw nuts.
Real food from the earth...one ingredient food.
The people within the Blue Zones eat a diet that is 95% whole food plant based, have meaningful relationships with social support and are active.
Food As Medicine
Changing the landscape of medicine, several prominent medical doctors (and many others) have spent their careers reversing chronic diseases through plant based diet interventions. Something that medication cannot do.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. has successfully stopped the progression of and reversed coronary artery disease.
Dr. Dean Ornish has a plant based program which reverses advanced heart disease, and has his diet and lifestyle program covered by Medicare in the United States.
Dr. Ornish also has a clinical trial study showing the reversal of early stage prostate cancer and is currently doing clinical trials with alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Ornish's prostate cancer study, also demonstrated in only three months how diet and lifestyle modifications changed over 500 gene expressions. 48 genes which are protective against cancer up-regulated, while 453 genes which promote cancer, inflammation and oxidative stress were down-regulated. This study shows the potential of food choices to activate and express genes.
Dr. Neal Barnard and the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine conduct clinical research trials using low-fat whole-food plant based diets as the intervention. They have positive results for diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, depression and anxiety, reducing body weight and cardiovascular risk.
This is only a small sampling of the studies and medical professionals that are acting on the results of the scientific literature to change lives and heal bodies.
What Can You Do?
First, do not be overwhelmed. You can start with small daily incremental changes.
replace refined grains with whole grains
eat baked foods instead of fried foods
replace a meat based product with a plant based product
add a large salad to every meal
choose nut milks instead of cow's milk
eat a rainbow of vegetables every day
have a smoothie for a snack instead of something processed/bagged/boxed
add fresh greens to your smoothie
replace sodas and fruit juices for water with lemon
replace bottled salad dressings with flax oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs
Second, at every meal consider if the ingredients are fresh from the earth or have been boxed, bagged, or fried. Packaged foods have lost much of their vital nutrition and have added harmful preservatives, colorings, emulsifiers, oils and excess sugar and salt.
Choose fresh whole foods. These are the foods the body can easily metabolize and use for energy production, and health promotion.
Third, avoid added oils, sugar and salt, boxed, bagged and other processed foods.
Fourth, find ways to reduce stress. This could be a daily walk in nature, sitting a few moments a day in silence, using the exhalation to consciously release body tension, yoga, prayer, meditation.
Why are plant foods so protective?
Plants are healers. Study after study show the incredible benefits of eating plants. This study is even advising medical doctors to recommend plant based diets to their patients.
Nutritional science is continually discovering new protective qualities in plants. The abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and essential fatty acids work together to enhance health. Some of the benefits we currently know about include:
beneficial effect on microbiome
increasing immune function
regulating blood pressure and insulin sensitivity
helping to maintain healthy body weight
prevention of type 2 diabetes and heart disease
lowering cancer risk
lowering risk of all cause mortality
regulating hormonal balance
reversing chronic disease
It's not necessary to memorize and understand all of the individual components of plants, and actually it can be harmful when we separate and isolate nutrients. What is more important is to know that all parts of the whole plant work together to create health in our body.
Eating whole plants in their natural form promotes health and reduces disease potential.
What is harmful about animal food?
Studies show that the proteins, fats and metabolic by-products of animal based foods to be disease causing and to increase all cause mortality.
Some specific harm of animal intake include:
Saturated Fat: This type if fat is found predominantly in animal products, and a couple tropical oils (palm and coconut). High saturated fat intake as been associated with certain cancers and a higher mortality rate with breast cancer.
Cholesterol: Found only in animal products, cholesterol has been shown to increase risk of many cancers and diabetes. Dietary cholesterol is not necessary, as the body produces what it needs.
Animal Protein: The proteins within animal foods including meat, eggs and dairy have been associated with higher risk of all cause mortality (death), higher risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Replacing animal protein with plant protein reduces these risks of disease and early death.
TMAO production: Bacteria in our gut turn the carnitine (red meat) and choline (eggs, lecithin) we eat into trimetheylamine, which the liver oxides into a toxic by-product called Trimethlamin-n-oxide (TMAO). TMAO increases the risk of atherosclerotic plaques, heart attack, stroke and death. There is no dietary requirement for carnitine and vegans how been found to not have the gut bacteria that produce this toxic TMAO.
IGF-1: Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) is a natural human growth hormone in childhood, but elevated levels in adulthood are associated with abnormal tissue growth, cancer proliferation and metastasis. Animal protein (including casein in milk products) promotes IGF-1 proliferation while plant protein reduces it. This study showed that animal proteins which promote IGF-1 increased overall mortality by 75% in middle aged people, with a 4-fold increase in death by cancer and diabetes. The same study showed that plant proteins either abolished or lowered these risks.
Carcinogenic properties: Processed meat is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen and red meat is classified as a Group 2 carcinogen, meaning they are directly associated with cancer. These meats include: hot dogs, bacon, sausage, cold cuts, salted, canned and cured meats, beef, lamb, veal, pork, mutton, horse and goat.
HCA's and PAH's: (Heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are created when meat is cooked at high temperatures, such as grilling, pan frying, baking. They are considered potent carcinogens promoting cancer growth.
An Ounce of Prevention
You have likely heard the saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".
It is far easier to make healthy dietary and lifestyle choices now, then to live and die through chronic disease.
Small daily changes or a total lifestyle re-do?
Both are great, you choose!