All things in moderation, right? Wrong! Who came up with that saying anyway? Do we smoke in moderation, take illicit drugs in moderation, love our families in moderation? No! So why do we think it’s okay to eat foods that poison our bodies in moderation? Is it because they taste so good? Is that a good enough reason to give into heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other big diseases of our day? Not to mention all of the little annoyances we face from our diet like heart burn, constipation, allergies, sickness from weakened immune systems, and many more? Chapter 5 of the book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. is titled “Moderation Kills”. Let’s explore why that is true.
Dr. Esselstyn explains that there have been heart studies done showing that people who reduced their fat intake do not have less cancers, heart attacks, etc. He says the problem with these reports is that even the low-fat eaters are still eating three times the fat of a plant-based diet. He compares this research to cars. If a car hits a stone wall at ninety miles per hour and all occupants die, then you repeat at eighty miles per hour and all occupants die, and then repeat again at seventy miles per hour and all occupants die, can you really say that speed does not matter in a car accident? What about ten miles per hour? Would everyone die then? The same goes for diet. A country full of disease calls for drastic measures. Meatless Mondays are not sufficient to fight disease. We need to slow this ride to ten miles per hour if we want to save our lives.
After eating a fatty meal, the lining of our arteries contracts and takes nearly six hours to get back to it’s normal function. When Americans do this damage to their sixty thousand miles of blood vessels and arteries three times per day for three hundred sixty five days a year, it’s no wonder that one out of two men and one in three women die of heart disease in America. Even on high doses of cholesterol-lowering drugs, with a continued high fat and cholesterol diet, the body can’t manage and caves to heart disease.
When eating plant foods, our blood vessels and arteries perform at optimal levels because of the nitric oxide produced from these foods. This discovery won a Nobel Prize in 1998!
- It relaxes blood vessels, selectively boosting blood flow to the organs that need it.
- It prevents white blood cells and platelets from becoming sticky, and thus starting the buildup of vascular plaque.
- It keeps the smooth muscle cells of arteries from growing into plaques.
- It may even help to diminish vascular plaques once they are in place.
What’s so bad about heart disease? I mean you die, but we are all going to die, right? If you drop dead like 350,000 Americans do each year, it might not be so bad for you (No suffering, right? Maybe you were not ready to die, though.), but what about your family? What if you are driving down the freeway? What about the people in cars around you? What if you don’t drop dead, but die a slow painful death by becoming a “cardiac cripple”? You would be afraid to exert any physical or emotional exertion due to crippling chest pain and fear of death or open heart surgery. That is no way to live.
Lucky for us, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has found that heart disease is a toothless paper tiger IF we eat a low-fat, plant-based diet, not a diet of moderation. Is it worth it? I hope the answer is a resounding “yes”!
–Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., 2007, Chapter 5, p. 35-45.