FOOD AS MEDICINE FOR HEART DISEASE?

Whenever I think about heart disease and nutrition I remember Joy. Joy was brought into my office by her very concerned daughter. She was in her late 60’s and had accumulated a long list of medical diagnoses including serious heart disease. Joy had already suffered 2 heart attacks and her doctor had warned her of an impending third attack which would probably be fatal. She was taking many medications including Lovastatin for cholesterol, Omeprazole for acid reflux, Amitriptyline for depression and pain and two types of inhalers. Her family history included heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke. Her husband was a smoker which was not good for her asthma and caused great stress in their relationship.

There seemed to be so many strikes against Joy that I was concerned we would not be able to turn her situation around before her next heart attack. So, as kindly as I could, I declined to take her case, professing my doubts that nutritional intervention would be sufficient to help her at this point.   I compared my arsenal of whole food supplements to mere BB guns stacked up against her medications which were more like canons in their respective effects on the body. But when she began to cry, and her daughter politely refused to leave my office, begging me to change my mind, what could I do?

Joy assured me of her unwavering commitment to follow my recommendations to the letter. It would not be easy, I told her. She would be required to change her long standing eating habits and lifestyle. She would need to check in with her MD regularly and work with him to reduce any unnecessary medications. She would also need to be very strong in her convictions for her own better health in spite of well meaning friends or family who may inadvertently tempt her astray.

Joy was determined, and just like her name, she was truly a joy to work with. Her husband was skeptical and did not wish to become involved, so her daughter drove her to my office for every visit. Joy paid for her care in cash that she had secretly saved in a drawer so there would be no arguments with her husband over the money spent on her health. I started her on a program of nutritional supplementation and we monitored her diet weekly. We gradually reduced processed products and increased nutrient rich foods. To my delight she began to lose weight and notice improvement in her energy very early on. She decided to plant a garden so that she could eat organic vegetables without extra expense. Gardening and healthy food preparation soon became her most passionate source of joy.

Both Joy and her daughter became avid readers and zealots of sound nutritional information. One day, Joy announced that she was off the Lovastatin. Eventually, she came off her other medications and all but one of her nebulizers. In 6 months Joy lost 48 lbs. She looked great, slept better, and had more energy and stamina. Her pain was significantly decreased and she was able to exercise by walking further each day. Even her voice became stronger.

Wisely, Joy did not ask her husband to change any of his health habits. She just quietly went about her own transformation and incredibly, as her health began to improve, so did their relationship. He even began to drive her to our appointments.

I can only imagine how different Joy’s life might have been had she not been so persistent and determined to turn things around. She is an inspiration not only to me, and her family, but to anyone with similar conditions.

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