Josee shared a wonderful story of how she helped her father succeed in following the Wheat Belly lifestyle, important to reduce/eliminate risk for coronary disease:
“I wanted to share my father Andre’s progress so far. He’s lost 36 lbs but he still wants to lose another 10 lbs. The ‘before’ picture was taken in July, 2014, but he started cutting carbs and grains in November, 2014. The ‘after’ picture was taken in July, 2015. He’ll be 76 years old in a couple of months and eating the Wheat Belly way has been rewarding in so many ways. He sleeps better, his mood is so much better (a plus for my mom), his joints are not as stiff and his digestion has improved significantly.
“He had a quintuple coronary bypass in 1999, but continued his carb-addicted bad habits throughout the years. He had his annual checkup with his cardiologist this week and she was very impressed with the changes and has reduced his medication.
“It was not easy convincing him to go against what he had been taught at the hospital and in every article in the ‘health’ section of the newspaper he read following his bypass, i.e. eat whole wheat/grains, low- or no-fat, sugar-free sweetened with aspartame, very low calories, etc. He couldn’t grasp the fact that his doctors could have been wrong, but I just kept bombarding him with your articles and transformations so that he could see for himself.
“Since my parents live nearby, I would cook for him every morning (thank God for the quick muffin recipe!) and made big batches of your English muffins and gingerbread cookies so that he wouldn’t feel like he was missing the ‘sweet’ taste he was accustomed to with processed foods. I made the pizza a few times and that made him very happy. After about a month or so, he just ‘got it’ and it suddenly sinked in and he did the rest on his own.
“Now, everywhere he goes, he’s a walking advertisement for the Wheat Belly way and all we hear is ‘Dr. Davis says that……’ and when he started his golf season, the club manager asked him what items he needed to buy in order for the cook to be able to make him his meals whenever he eats there. Needless to say that my dad is a happy camper.”
Isn’t that great? Although her Dad found dietary enlightenment after having to undergo coronary bypass surgery, you can find it before such revenue prizes for hospitals become necessary. Why would the Wheat Belly lifestyle reduce, even eliminate, many sources of cardiovascular risk? Recall that the Wheat Belly lifestyle got its start in my cardiology practice when I sought ways to deal with cardiovascular risk but became increasingly disenchanted with the notion that heart health should come through drugs or procedures. Over many years of insight and research, combined with the work of others such as Dr. Ronald Krauss of the University of California-San Francisco and Dr. Jeff Volek of the University of Connecticut, it became clear that the menu of strategies that provides a virtual “shutting off” of coronary risk, often sufficient to not just stop, but reverse, the burden of coronary atherosclerotic plaque, was fairly simple:
- Eat no wheat nor grains–as the amylopectin A carbohydrate is a flagrant trigger of the most common abnormality in people with coronary disease, small oxidation-prone LDL particles.
- Manage carbohydrates–since sucrose and fructose can, like grains, trigger formation of extravagant quantities of small LDL particles via liver de novo lipogenesis (that also causes fatty liver), and also glycate the exceptionally glycation-prone small LDL particles–a double whammy.
- Raise 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood levels to 60-70 ng/ml–achievable by most by supplementing 4000-8000 units per day of vitamin D in gelcap form, coupled with whatever sun exposure you can manage and if you maintain some capacity for vitamin D activation i the skin (lost progressively as we age).
- Supplement omega-3 fatty acids–from fish oil, never from krill, flax, or chia. (Flaxseed and chia are wonderful for their own reasons, but not as sources of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.). The ideal dose: 3600 mg EPA + DHA per day, divided in two.
- Normalize thyroid status–meaning ensure adequate iodine intake and keeping TSH at or below 1.5 mIU/L with levels of free T4, free T3, and reverse T3 in optimal range, along with freedom from symptoms of hypothyroidism (since hypothyroidism can also be present with normal thyroid values–uncommon, but it does happen due to endocrine disruption at other steps in thyroid metabolism). Further discussion here. Hypothyroidism is a powerful but underappreciated trigger for atherosclerotic plaque growth (explaining why, in the old days, the principal cause of death in people with untreated hypothyroidism was cardiovascular disease).
- Cultivate healthy bowel flora–This, the most recent addition to my menu of powerful cardiovascular risk-reducing strategies, catapulted metabolic measures, such as LDL values, HDL, triglycerides, blood pressure, serum sitosterol, and others, into spectacularly healthy ranges. I treat bowel flora as a “garden” that needs to be “seeded,” then nourished.
That’s it. (There are some additional but less common genetic variants that can be important, notably lipoprotein(a), apo E4 and sitosterol hyperabsortion, and variants in vitamin D metabolism, many of which are discussed in Wheat Belly Total Health and in my still-under-construction website, Cureality.com.) But notably missing from this simple menu? Statin drugs, fibrate drugs, anti-hypertensive drugs such as beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and ARBs, and aspirin. In fact, the majority of people–even someone like Josee’s Dad with a history of coronary bypass surgery–achieve lipid/lipoprotein/metabolic/inflammatory values that make those achieved with drugs alone look terrible.
While I’d see heart attacks and the need for heart procedures several times per week in my own patients 20 years ago before these insights, for the last 10 years or so such cardiovascular events rarely occurred and, when they did, occurred nearly always in the non-compliant with the above simple menu.