It all started back in 1990 when one Harvard graduate, Dr Dean Ornish, embarked on a study of heart patients that literally brought the world of medicine to its proverbial knees. Up until Dr Ornish published his findings, what he postulated was not considered possible but he systematically set out to prove that heart disease could not only be prevented but it was possible to also reverse it.
And, the amazing part? He could get results without surgery or pharmaceuticals, but solely with adjustments to lifestyle and especially through diet. Dr Ornish proved that you could live a healthy life with heart failure, or more precisely, after heart failure, by making radical changes in your diet. Here is some of what he found so that you can decide for yourself if heart disease is truly reversible.
Patients with Significantly Progressed Heart Disease
The study which was conducted in San Francisco, California, followed 47 patients who had been diagnosed with significantly progressed stages of heart disease. In each case, it was coronary artery disease in which arteries were pinched off in varying degrees, inhibiting the flow of blood and life-giving oxygen to the heart, a condition that typically ends in heart attacks, some of which are fatal.
Approximately half the patients followed a normal regimen of care which included their normally prescribed medications, a diet consisting of lean meats and, of course, the admonition not to smoke. The other half of the study group was ‘prescribed’ an entirely new and revolutionary treatment plan.
Dr Ornish’s Unconventional Treatment of Coronary Heart Disease
What many in the medical community scoffed at initially, became the ‘treatment of choice’ going forward in the United States and elsewhere around the world. Dr Ornish’s simple ‘prescription’ was a four part treatment program that broke from traditional medical practice. It consisted of:
- A vegetarian diet, low in fat.
- Brisk exercise 30 minutes a day or 60 minutes of brisk exercise 3 times weekly.
- A strict focus on stress management with classes.
- A strict adherence to a no-smoking policy.
And, that’s really all there was to it. You will recognize three of the four as typical recommendations for heart patients. All doctors had been advising their patients to exercise more to build a strong heart muscle and to keep the blood flowing and hopefully prevent plaque from clogging the arteries. A reduction in stress and a smoking cessation program are always prescribed as well. So what was different? That’s right! No meat whatsoever, lean or otherwise. Dr Ornish put his patients on a low fat vegetarian diet.
Some Amazing Results
At the end of the study, one year later, it was found that only the vegetarian group saw major improvements. After a concluding angiogram, just like the one that began the study, the medical community couldn’t believe the results Dr Ornish realised. The traditionally treated group really saw no improvement in their stages of heart disease and some even progressed further. Amazingly, the second ‘vegetarian’ group saw marked improvement. Not only was the disease arrested it was reversed in varying degrees amongst the vegetarians.
Many doctors to this day are proponents of a vegetarian or vegan diet for heart health based on Dr Ornish’s study. It made not only American history but has been used as a benchmark around the globe for the better part of three decades now. If you or someone you love is suffering from coronary heart disease, it’s time to say goodbye to meat and hello to fresh fruits and vegetables. Yes, a vegan diet has been proven to reverse heart disease and there is no disputing that.