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Registration continues for Get Healthy Marshall; experts scheduled to speak

By Terri Richardson
Aug. 20, 2011 at 2:34 a.m.

<p>Dr Caldwell Esselstyn</p>

Visits by nationally renowned experts in the field of nutrition and health are less than a week away as Get Healthy Marshall continues its registration.

Among the world-class experts is Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, director of the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and author of "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease."

"I'm pleased and quite proud to be invited to Marshall, Texas, and to try and bring our message," said Dr. Esselstyn. "Our message quite simply is that the leading killer of women and men in western civilization is cardiac heart disease, heart attacks and stroke."

Dr. Esselstyn talked with the News Messenger and is anticipating the immersion weekend.

He called cardiac heart disease "a toothless paper tiger that need never exist."

"If it does exist it need never progress; this is a food born illness," said Esselstyn. "We are beautifully equipped as human beings to resist vascular disease through heritage and tradition."

Esselstyn's "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" is a long-term study of more than 20 yeas on the nutritional research of arresting and reversing coronary artery disease in severely ill patients.

He offers advice for all, however, as the behaviors creating this disease have been proven to affect younger and younger Americans.

"We have fallen into some very challenging habits that pretty much guarantee every American by the time they're 25 to have cardiac disease, though not enough to have a cardiac event," said Esselstyn.

"We first had a great insight into this when battle casualties from Viet Nam and Korea were autopsied," he said. "These young GIs, at the young age of 20, were found to already have gross evidence of coronary you could see without a microscope."

Now, 40 years later, women and men in the 17 to 34 year range who die in accidents, homicides and suicides -- also subjected to autopsy -- have continued to provide this evidence, he said.

"The disease is ubiquitous. Everybody has it in the early stages, not enough to have the cardiac event, but they have established the foundation of this disease in their 20s and continue to eat the same into their 60s when we then begin to see these cardiac events or cardio vascular events," Dr. Esselstyn said.

Among these events are heart attack, stroke, vascular dementia and erectile disfunction to name a few, and "all which are preventable," he added.

"If you were to look at multiple other cultures on the globe that are strictly plant based by culture and heritage, cardio vascular disease is virtually non -existent," said Esselstyn.

Among places where these cultures exist are rural China, the Papoula highlanders, Central Africa and the Tarrah Humara Indians in northern Mexico.

"That brings us back to see what it is that has gone wrong in our culture that we have this as an epidemic, where it is virtually non-existent in cultures surviving on plant based nutrition," said Dr. Esselstyn.

How the disease develops begins with the parts it affects first.

Dr. Esselstyn described the endothelium as the jacket lining our blood vessels. He compared this lining to a "magic carpet" and extremely sensitive.

"Each individual cell is an endothelial cell, what makes that carpet magical is the endothelial cells produce a molecule of gas, nitric oxide, which keeps blood flowing smoothly like Teflon rather than Velcro," he said.

This gas is a vessel dilator and the strongest in the body.

"When you climb stairs the arteries to your heart and legs dilate, that's nitric oxide," said Dr. Esselstyn. "It also inhibits inflammation from developing in the wall and high blood pressure."

He continued by sharing that "nitric oxide will also prevent the formation of arterial plaque and blockages."

With a system as "beautiful" as this the question then becomes "why would anyone develop vascular disease?" he said.

"In our teen years we have already amounted a great toll against our endothelium," said Esselstyn. "Research over the last 15 to 18 years has shown us that certain foods, when they pass, will impair and injure the endothelial cell."

This limits its capability for producing nitric oxide, and as people continue to eat these foods their levels of nitric oxide is so significantly reduced that by their mid-20s early cardiovascular disease is well-established, said Esselstyn.

Foods Esselstyn credits with being the culprits against our endothelium are oils, "like olive oil, corn oil, soybean oil, safflaower oil and palm oil" also "dairy, milk, cream, butter, ice cream and butter."

"Also anything with a mother, anything with a face, meat, fish chicken turkey, and if a patient already has advanced heart disease I do not like for them to have avacado, caffeine and nuts," said Esselstyn.

"Rip's readers have to be plant strong, my patients have to be plant perfect," remarked the doctor as the interview began and referring to his son Rip Esselstyn, whose book "The Engine 2 Diet" has been circulated to many in town.

"When they've started to crumble and started to have heart disease they have to be plant perfect," he said.

A continuation of this interview will be featured in Sunday's edition.

Learn more about Get Healthy Marshall online at with registration for a weekend of healthy eating, lessons and lectures Aug. 26 through 28 at the Marshall Visual Art Center.



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