This is an interview with the author of a new book that we at PEERtrainer feel that everyone should own. The list of books that we insist everyone have in their house is very short- and this book has joined that list.
The book is called "How To Prevent A Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods and 8 Weeks To Reverse Heart Disease" and is written by Janet Brill. While the book is written for people who have already suffered a heart attack (and lived), in our view the advice is something that literally everybody needs to take a look at.
The reason for this recommendation is that this book is easy to understand and hard to argue with.
Without getting into too much personal detail, a family member of ours recently suffered a moderate heart attack. To make a long story very short, we presented this book to this person not knowing what to expect. As we all know, discussions about food with people you know and love is a minefield, unfortunately.
To our real surprise, this person immediately became a raving fan of this book. In addition, the ideas presented in this book were immediately put into action. This caught our attention in a big way, because getting people to change their eating habits is often absurdly difficult.
It is true that after a heart attack, one is likely to be highly responsive to new ideas. However, when it comes to food, there is often a lot of confusion. Our family member raved about this book and said that it was very clear, easy to understand and well structured.
We were able to interview Dr. Janet Brill, and we structured our questions based on our own recent experience. But our observation is that literally anyone, at any age, can benefit from this book. Please buy a copy and keep it in your house. If there is ever any discussion about food that comes up, you'll have an opportunity to refer to the book. It literally could save someone's life.
Key Point: This book is easy to understand and hard to argue with.
Q: What is the role that genetics plays in heart disease- and how do you prevent people from using "genetics" as an excuse to keep eating the same foods and relying only on drugs to prevent a second heart attack?
A: We are all at risk for heart disease—far and away the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States. ALL of us (those individuals with diagnosed cardiovascular disease, those individuals with a strong family history of heart disease or healthy people who wish to stay that way) should be living the type of lifestyle outlined in my new book. Lifestyle trumps genes any day of the week!
Q: How can you convince people that dietary changes can have a meaningful impact on heart health? Odds are that someone who has had a heart attack (and lived) has been resistant on some level to the idea that diet can affect their heart health? Is the heart attack enough to convince them?
A: As a registered dietitian specializing in cardiovascular disease prevention, I have found that there is a great need among heart attack survivors that is not being met. These are the people who are the most receptive to making lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of a second heart attack. Having a brush with death bestows powerful motivation to do what it takes to live—and to hopefully prevent that second and potentially fatal cardiac event. If heart attack survivors truly want to live, I give them the best tools know to humankind to do just that.
What is the best way to convince people to make difficult dietary changes you ask? According to the most recent “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2011 Update: A Report from the American Heart Association, “Approximately 34% of the people who experience a coronary attack in a given year will die of it.” My father died from his second attack. A major cardiac event, whether it’s your first, second or sixth—is a life-threatening occurrence—therefore everyone diagnosed with the disease should do everything in their power to prevent another cardiac event from occurring.
I give heart attack survivors the best lifestyle strategy—based on mountains of scientific evidence—which combined with the best of modern medicine allows survivors to take action to stop the progression of their disease and even promote reversal and stabilization of dangerous vulnerable plaque. This approach, if followed, is the most advantageous approach for promoting a longer life among heart attack survivors. My Mediterranean-style diet and walking exercise plan have both been clinically shown to be excellent medicine for heart patients in terms of reducing progression and promoting regression of atherosclerosis—the root cause of heart disease.
Q: What are the foods that most contribute to heart disease? What "proof" exists that can be shown to people who are "hard to convince?"
A: On the first page of chapter three, I quote Hippocrates: “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the later ignorance.” I then proceed to outline the myriad science behind dietary contributions to heart disease.
There is clearly a mountain of decades of sound scientific evidence supporting my stance on what foods contribute to plaque buildup and what foods soothe the delicate coronary arteries.
The Prevent a Second Heart Attack plan consists of removing the plaque-building foods (red meat, cream, butter, eggs, and cheese) that cause blood vessel damage and replacing them with delicious anti-inflammatory foods that facilitate the body's natural healing processes to reverse existing heart disease and restore quality of life.
To combat the confusion issue, the Prevent a Second Heart Attack Plan offers powerful lifesaving advice, translating the complex clinical findings into a simple, easy-to-follow set of guidelines, “The Eight Dietary Commandments”: (1) no more butter and cream, to be replaced by extra virgin olive oil; (2) no day without greens and other vegetables; (3) no day without figs or other fruit; (4 & 5) no meat (beef, lamb, pork), and replaced by fish and legumes; (6) no day without walnuts and flaxseeds; (7) no day without whole grains and cereals; (8) and moderate alcohol consumption, mainly in the form of red wine, recommended at dinner. (Plus a bonus food—deep, dark, sinfully rich chocolate!)
Q: Can the right diet actually help to keep the heart and the arteries free from the "junk" that starts to collect that would lead to a second heart attack? Can diet actually help to clear existing plaque?
A: That is the very question this book answers. A tremendous amount of scientific research has investigated the application of various diet and exercise plans in preventing further coronary events. I have found that the bulk of the scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the notion that post–heart attack patients should be advised to eat a Mediterranean-style diet, be physically active at least thirty minutes a day, and not smoke. In fact, the famed Lyon Heart Study that tested a Cretan Mediterranean diet in cardiac patients reported a phenomenal reduction of recurrence rate of 70 percent compared to the control diet (a typical low-fat Western-style diet).
Thus, the bulk of the scientific research is crystal clear: a Mediterranean style of eating combined with physical activity is the optimal lifestyle plan for preventing a second heart attack and is far superior to the low-fat vegetarian diet regimens typically prescribed to heart patients in the fat-phobic ’90s (and that continue to line bookstore shelves today). I propose that a Mediterranean-style diet, as outlined in Prevent a Second Heart Attack and backed by powerful evidence, can be even more effective than the eating plans currently recommended by many cardiologists—simply because it tastes good and makes life more enjoyable. Following vegan-style plans can also reverse heart disease but only if adhered to—an extremely difficult chore for most Americans.
Bottom line: Heart attack survivors can prevent new plaque buildup and even reverse or stabilize dangerous, vulnerable plaque in their coronary arteries with a delightfully palatable lifestyle strategy where they can still enjoy the good things in life.
Q: If someone is successful in making big changes in their diet after a heart attack, how will this affect the myriad of medications that a heart patient is put on?
A: The latest research shows that post–heart attack patients should follow this general lifestyle advice to prevent “secondary” cardiac events: Eat a heart-healthy diet. Practice healthful stress management. Be physically active. Don’t smoke. Achieve a healthy weight. Take medications.
Hence it’s all about living the lifestyle IN COMBINATION with their physician-prescribed medications as the OPTIMAL approach to reversing the disease process. I quote from the final paragraph of my book:
“Know that these multiple lifestyle habits (eating the foods described in these pages and getting in your daily exercise), when practiced together with your prescription medication regimen, will provide you with the most powerful plan of action known to modern medicine to fight, halt, and reverse heart disease, making you, the “vulnerable patient,” clearly much less vulnerable, if not invincible.”
PLEASE get a copy of this book and keep it in your house. It is paperback, very cheap. The link below connects to PEERtrainer's Amazon account, so we will make a tiny amount of money, but more importantly we will know how many copies are purchased by the PEERtrainer community.
We are going to track this, and also track the success that people have getting others to digest the ideas presented in the book. Most of the "PT Lifers" are already well down a path towards nutritional excellence. We make sure that you know the ideas of Dr. Fuhrman.
This book is for everyone else, and those who are just starting down the path of making eating changes. It will help others change their behavior.
Here is the link. Even if you don't use it for a couple years, when the time comes you will have it.