Saturday, October 27, 2012

How to Almost Run a Marathon

My husband provided the inspiration for this post, after I told him I wanted to get a master's in Kinesiology or Exercise Science. He can't bear the thought of me delaying a real job in order to get yet another degree, and so he suggested I write a book, or an article for Runner's World, and call it "How to Almost Run a Marathon."

You see, I've now trained for and failed to start (nevermind finish) 3 marathons. And how many have I actually run? Zero. Zip. Zilch. 

I never wanted to run a marathon. I didn't even like running. But my little brother had to go and run the Disney Marathon, and if he could do it then so could I. My first failure occurred back in 2007, when I developed a femoral neck stress fracture just weeks before my wedding while training for the Marine Corps Marathon. I had had a great triathlon season and recently completed my first half-ironman. I took a couple weeks of relative rest and then began to build on my huge base to train for my first marathon. It was a fantastic idea in theory, but my bones couldn't keep up with my heart (or my brain or my brain for that matter). It was simply too much too soon. The irony? It was at this time that I fell completely head-over-heels in love with running. 

After 2 weeks on bed rest and 8 weeks on crutches (including a 10-day honeymoon in the south of France), I was ready to get back in the game. The Marine Corps Marathon came and went without me and I began to slowly and methodically rebuild my body. I did a lot of cycling and a fair amount of strength training during this time, but couldn't get motivated to run consistently on the 2 minutes on, 1 minute off plan that my physical therapist had recommended. 

Fast forward to 2011. I was finally running regularly again and had even gotten back into a few sprint distance triathlons. The marathon started calling. At this time I had graduated medical school and relocated to Kalamazoo, Michigan - home of the Kalamazoo Marathon. Perfect! A marathon right in my own back yard would allow me to train right on the course. I signed up on the very day that registration opened. I was diligent in my training. Even on a busy intern's schedule, I missed very few workouts. I ran the 5 miles home from the hospital at night, and sometimes in the morning after being up all night on overnight call. My Saturday morning long runs became my ritual, starting before dawn on a converted rail trail, leaving me alone with my thoughts to await the peaceful sunrise. I was in love with running again.

Then one Saturday morning in early December, I was resting after a gloriously chilly morning run when I felt that all too familiar ache in my hip, that deep discomfort that can't quite be classified as pain, yet never goes away. I wasted little time getting in to see a sports medicine specialist in the area, and even purchased a pair of fancy new crutches in anticipation of another stress fracture. The doc echoed my concern and promptly ordered an MRI and NWB (non-weight bearing). And so I spent my short winter vacation in a somewhat secluded cabin near Lake Michigan reading lots and lots of books, while my husband was out riding his bike through the vineyards and along the shore. 

Lucky for me, the MRI showed no evidence of stress reaction and I was cleared to start training again. The marathon was still months away, but by this time I had lost enough training time to feel that I could not safely train for the entire distance without significant risk for injury. I reluctantly downgraded my registration to the half-marathon, which I'm pleased to say I not only started, but also finished in what was a fantastic confidence-building event!

As soon as I had changed my registration to the half, I started looking for another marathon. It was early in the season and I still had plenty of time to run the full 26.2. I had become fascinated with trail running and ultra marathons, and decided to take my first 26.2 to the trails by registering for a local trail marathon. I thought this was a perfect solution - decrease my risk of injury by training and racing on softer surfaces. My husband and I even spent a long weekend up camping near the trailhead a couple months before the race so I could log a long run on the course. I loved it and couldn't wait to run it again on race day! I had never had so much fun running.

Surprise, surprise. That marathon also came and went, without me. And while it was a physician who told me prior to the race that I would have to stop running, this time it was not due to injury. Instead, it was the two tiny babies inside my belly.

Now sentenced to approximately 3 months of bed rest to allow my babies to grow, I won't be able to run (or bike or do much of anything!) until they come into this world. And while I fear I will soon go crazy with boredom, they are allowing me plenty of time to reflect and dream of what my next marathon attempt will be.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

VeganProteins Product Review and Giveaway!


While it is possible to receive enough protein from whole foods alone on a balanced plant-based diet (for more information, check out RD Matt Ruscigno's fabulous guest post on No Meat Athlete), sometimes it's more convenient to supplement with a high quality protein powder or shake. In addition, some individuals, athletes in particular, may wish to add protein supplements to their diet to enhance performance and recovery. With my busy, on-the-go, active lifestyle, I personally take one to two servings of supplemental protein on most days. 


Giacomo Marchese
Proof you can build big muscle on plants!
Recently Giacomo and Dani of veganproteins.com were kind enough to send me some product samples to review.  The samples included Vega Sport Performance Protein, Vega One Nutrition Shake, SunWarrior Raw Brown Rice Protein, and VeganProteins PlantFusion+. All of the products are entirely plant-based, gluten-free, and soy-free. 




I am a huge fan of Vega products and regularly use their Performance Protein to enhance recovery from workouts. The protein is part of Vega's new Prepare-Sustain-Recover line for sport performance. This line of products is the first complete, all natural, plant-based sport performance system - perfect for vegan athletes as well as individuals who can't tolerate milk protein. In line with Vega's philosophy of high nutrient density and high net gain, Vega Sport Performance Protein is advertised as "a complete multi source, alkaline-forming, plant-based protein blend, featuring 5,500 mg of BCAAs [branched chain amino acids] and 5,000 mg of glutamine per serving." Vega claims this product will improve strength and exercise performance, repair and build muscles, and reduce recovery time between training. Vega Sport protein contains a combination of yellow pea protein, SaviSeed sacha inch protein, sprouted whole grain rice protein, hemp protein, and alfalfa protein,  in addition to a digestive enzyme blend, BCAAs, L-glutamine, and tryptophan to stimulate production of serotonin - the "feel good" hormone. I tested the Chocolate and Vanilla flavors. I found the protein easy to mix with water in a shaker bottle, with none of the chalky taste that often comes with protein powders. However, my favorite use is in a large post-workout smoothie with plenty of fruit and some greens (like my Strawberry Mint Chocolate Super Smoothie). It's also delicious in with frozen berries and a touch of water blended in a Vita-mix to make a protein-packed "ice cream." This fabulous protein is also available in berry flavor. 

When I think of this protein, I think clean. This raw brown rice protein is produced by combining the endosperm and bran from raw sprouted whole grain brown rice, to create a completely hypoallergenic protein, containing all essential and non-essential amino acids in a perfectly balanced profile. Sunwarrior Classic Protein claims to have "the highest amount of (non soy) raw, whole-grain sprouted, vegan protein of any product available". Each serving of flavored protein contains 16 g of raw sprouted whole grain rice protein, stevia, xanthan, pectin, and either cocoa or vanilla. The natural protein contains 100% raw sprouted whole grain rice protein. I tasted both the vanilla and chocolate varieties. This protein is also easy to mix, with only a hint of the chalkiness I've found in the natural flavor. Also delicious in smoothies, I prefer to enjoy this protein in raw cereals, or mixed with water and l-glutamine powder just before bed to promote hGH production and muscle growth. Yum!

Vega One is Vega's new all-in-one nutrition shake. It comes to the market as a replacement for their wildly successful Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer (WFHO). I have to admit, I never really cared for WFHO (in any flavor) and I often forced myself to choke down an entire serving for all the health benefits proposed. The product didn't mix well in water and came with an overly-sweet, artificial taste. I'm happy to report that the new Vega One is a huge improvement! Rather than try to mix my chocolate sample in water, I decided to add it to my favorite smoothie in place of my usual protein. Wow! Maybe it was because I ran long that morning, but that was the best smoothie I ever tasted. Bravo Vega, bravo. Vega One is an all-in-one supplement packed with 50% recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals, 15 g protein, 6 g fiber, 1.5 g omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, probiotics, and greens. In addition, Vega One is free from dairy, gluten, and soy and contains no added sugar, artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. Vega One is also available in Berry, Vanilla Chai, and Natural flavors. Luckily Giacomo was kind enough to provide me with a couple more samples to taste and I've found both the Berry and Vanilla Chai flavors enjoyable when mixed in water. 

Vegan Protein's PlantFusion is a protein that is new to me, and I'm very happy to have been given the opportunity to try it! PlantFusion multi source protein provides an allergen-free, easy to digest protein. The proprietary blend is formulated to provide complete protein with an optimized amino acid profile that is infused with BCAAs and L-Glutamine to support muscle strength and connective tissue health. In addition, PlantFusion contains a proprietary enzyme blend which supports easy digestion and maximum absorption. This protein contains a whopping 22 g of plant-based protein from pea, artichoke, amaranth, and quinoa in every 30 g serving. I tasted the chocolate raspberry flavored protein and found mixes easily in water and tastes every bit as good as you would expect from this flavor combination. It's a nice afternoon pick-me-up, and I imagine it would taste even better blended into warm nut milk for a high protein raspberry hot chocolate! Veganproteins.com offers this delicious protein in four flavors: vanilla bean, chocolate, chocolate raspberry, and natural.

Even better than the delicious, high quality products Vegan Proteins provides is their personalized customer service. Every box comes hand-decorated with stickers and drawings, and each package contains a handwritten note along with free product sample. Wait, it gets better! When you place your order online, there is a field asking which product you'd most like to sample. While the company can't offer any guarantees, Giacomo and Dani will do what they can to fulfill your request. Sure beats buying a big tub of new product only to discover you don't care for it! Be sure to follow @veganproteins on twitter for the latest sales and promotions!


Interested in purchasing product from Vegan Proteins? Check out their website here.


Vegan Proteins has generously offered to give away one tub of PlantFusion protein to one lucky MotionIsLife reader! Click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter!! The winner will be announced Saturday June 23.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


What's your favorite plant-based protein product? How do you prefer to use it? Leave comments below!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

ACSM Annual Meeting in San Francisco





This past week I had the opportunity to present a clinical case at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California. It was an amazing experience and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the conference, as well as the coinciding 3rd Annual World Congress on Exercise is Medicine (for more on EIM, check out this post). I also had a little time to enjoy San Francisco, including a long run along the Embarcadero and through Fisherman's Wharf and along the Golden Gate Promenade to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, a couple of delicious dinners at San Francisco's world-famous vegan restaurant, Millennium, and a CrossFit workout with the king of mobility, Kelly Starrett, at CrossFit San Francisco. Here are a few pictures from my trip:

San Francisco Aquatic Park

Alcatraz

San Francisco Skyline

Golden Gate Bridge,
from the Golden Gate Promenade in Crissy Field

San Francisco Aquatic Park

San Francisco CrossFit

More San Francisco CrossFit

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Race Report: Borgess Run for the Health of It Half-Marathon


On Sunday, May 6 I ran my first stand-alone half-marathon at Kalamazoo's Borgess Run for the Health of It. I had originally planned to run the marathon, but then had a setback back in December that left me unable to run for 3 weeks and downgraded to the half-marathon distance (big thank you to the race director for allowing me to do so!). 
My training leading up to the run went perfectly. I was gradually building distance and strength, and seeing a nice steady improvement in my overall long run pace without even trying. The Lydiard approach really works! Best of all, I was running completely pain-free.
My final long run leading up to the race was a 12 miler along the Charles River on Boston Marathon weekend - a run on which I was not feeling my best, but still getting progressively faster. After a nice ice bath, a couple of days recovering at the AMAA Boston sports medicine symposium, and a ton of inspiration at the Boston finish line, it was taper time. Coach B of CrossFit AZO had me start of with testing during the first week - a 7 minute time trial on the track and a 5K time trial on the roads. I set PRs for both distances, running my fastest mile ever in 6:56 for a 7 minute distance of 1.63 km. I ran the 5K several days later, pushing myself to a 24:33.
Based on these times, race prediction calculators estimate that I should be able to run a 13.1 in 1:52:00. As much as I wanted to run the half in under 2:00 (my previous best for the distance is 2:29 at the end of a half-ironman), I knew that my body wasn't ready to run that pace over that distance. I also know that I have a tendency to go out too hard at the beginning of a race, only to crash and burn in the second half. For this race I wanted to start conservatively, build my pace, and finish strong, with the hopes of instilling confidence in myself for future races and events. 
Coach B delivered what was a nearly perfect plan for the taper. I would add speed work to each run in the form of tempo and cruise intervals at a conservative effort. I completed each type of workout for each of the 2 weeks of my taper, then did a super short run on the day prior to the race with a single cruise interval thrown in. Together we developed a race strategy, which involved starting out in my HR zone 2 and maintaining that pace/effort for the first 2/3 of the race. For the last 1/3, it would be all systems go to the finish, with no limit on HR. There was no time goal, just the goal to finish strong.


Race morning was a perfectly beautiful day, with temps starting in the mid-50s and overcast skies - great weather for running! I stuck my tried-and-true pre-run routine - a serving of Vega Sport Pre-Workout Optimizer followed by body looseners, skipping drills, and galloping drills. On my way to the start I ran into a group of friends and colleagues who were running in the 5K and paused for good luck wishes and a photo op (congrats on your PRs guys!!).
I seeded myself behind the 12 minute/mile pace group as I had been running slightly faster than this on my zone 2 long runs. I did my best to stay loose in the crowd and finally we were off! The course starts out on a long flat for the first 1.5 miles and I took the opportunity to warm-up and settle into a rhythm. Coach B had advised me to [mostly] ignore my HR for the first mile or two, as he expected it to elevated secondary to the excitement of the day. It was hovering in the 150s (zone 3), and that's where it stayed. Going into downtown Kalamazoo there is a nice long downhill. I allowed myself to float down the hill and attempted to adjust my HR down once I hit the flats again. I felt like I was going so slowly, and my HR was still in the 150s - but I was feeling great and decided to go with it (sorry Coach B!). I ran along with a fellow AZO athlete for a bit, then spotted another cheering and taking pictures. I wound through downtown feeling so strong, but still so slow. At mile 5 the course turned onto the Mayor Riverfront Path and we were running along the Kalamazoo River. I tend to draw a lot of energy from the water and started passing a few other runners. 


At the halfway mark there was a huge timing clock next to the path. I had purposely avoided looking at my run time until that point, and when I saw the time on the clock read 1:16, my first thought was that that was the time for the marathoners, who had started 20 minutes ahead of the half... meaning I was on my way to a sub-2:00 finish! Then I was passed by the 2:30 pace group and was brought back to reality. The clock was in fact the half-time, and I was looking at a 2:30 finish. There was no way I was going to run a stand-alone 13.1 in a slower time than a 13.1 after a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike. No way. I latched on the 2:30 pace group and vowed to stay with them through Kindleberger Park and the first big hill at mile 9. I stayed with the group on a long gradual upslope and passed them shortly before entering the park. The group overtook me again on the big hill and I pushed to stay with them. Once we crested the hill and were back on the flats, I was past the 2/3 mark - time to let loose! I cruised past the group with ease and kept right on going. Occasionally I glanced down to look at my HR, but I allowed myself to run by feel. I found a great tempo and started passing more runners. With each person I passed, a huge grin spread over my face - I never pass others this late in a race! My right glute was starting to give me a bit of trouble by mile 10, but I pushed it aside and kept on going, drawing energy from the other runners and the Red Sox fan playing a tambourine at the end of his driveway (Go Sox!). Adam passed by on his bike and I flashed him a big smile and a thumbs up - I felt amazing!
A few minutes later I turned onto a steep downhill into Spring Valley Park. At this point in the course the race directors had put in a little hairpin turn before turning you onto a path around the lake. I hate hairpin turns. I started to suffer a bit mentally over the next bit through the park, but continued to feel fine physically. Only one more big hill to go and then a flat run to the finish. From about mile 9.5 to mile 12.5 not one single runner passed me - a huge confidence boost after being passed by an endless stream of runners in the early miles. I hiked the last hill and found my rhythm again at the top. By this point I had one mile left to go and was starting to struggle a bit. I pushed with everything I had and crossed the line in 2:26:06. 


It's certainly not the finish time I dreamed of, but I ran EXACTLY the race I needed to run. I started off conservatively, I built my effort, and I finished strong. In the end, I left nearly everything I had on the course. Thank you Coach B and thank you CrossFit AZO for everything you did to help get me to this point! I'm already looking forward to the next one!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Be a Miler


Want to be a miler? Tomorrow kicks off NATIONAL RUN A MILE DAYS, the American Running Association (ARA)'s public outreach campaign. The campaign's "BE A MILER" focus is intended to get more children excited about running, fitness, and health. Events kick off throughout the week of May 6-12, 2012.

May 6th signifies the 58th anniversary of the world’s first sub-4 minute mile. Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute barrier in 1954 and to this day, the sub-4 minute mile is a cherished achievement by male runners worldwide. The ARA celebrates Sir Roger Bannister’s achievement with the RUN A MILE DAYS kickoff. His perseverance and commitment to challenge a perceived impenetrable barrier are a lesson for anyone facing a seemingly out of reach goal.
The American Running Association (ARA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1968 to promote healthy living and active lifestyles among all Americans. It is dedicated to supporting runners through education and specialized programs; as well as, it is committed to increasing the physical activity levels of America’s youth through walking and running. In addition, ARA is promoting efforts to make the “MILE” the standard mid-distance race in high school and college track and field, replacing the 1600m (high school) and 1500m (college).

For more information or to find an event near you, visit http://www.runamile.org or www.americanrunning.org. And if there isn't an event near you, then just go out and run (or walk)!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

AMAA Review: Exercise IS Medicine

As promised, more highlights from this past weekend's American Medical Athletic Association Boston Marathon Symposium!


Dr. Pamela Peeke,  National Spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine's Exercise is Medicine initiative, spoke on Sunday morning on the exercise portion of the health equation. Her talk, entitled "A Call to Arms... and Legs: A Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation," was the highlight of the weekend. 


Dr. Peeke's resume is quite impressive, including founder of the Peeke Performance Center for Healthy Living; Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, Pew Foundation Scholar in Nutrition and Metabolism, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; Chief Lifestyle Expert for WebMD’s 90 million members; Chief Medical Correspondent, Discovery Health TV; Host, Discovery’s Could You Survive? and National Body Challenge series; New York Times bestselling author including Fit to Live, Body for Life for Women; Contributing editor and columnist; Science and Medical Commentator CNN, Fox, and NPR; and member of Maryland Governor’s Council on Fitness. Wow!

Known as the "doc who walks the talk," Dr. Peeke is a marathoner herself and was preparing to run Monday's Boston Marathon in the heat. In fact, shortly after her talk she changed out of her suit and into her running clothes!


Dr. Peeke opened with a discussion of "sitting disease." Our nation is largely a sedentary nation, and recent research in the field has shown that the negative health implications of sitting for extended periods are not affected by a daily exercise session. What are the negative effects of sitting?
  • Fat burning enzymes shut down
  • Cholesterol metabolism decreases, leading to increased heart disease
  • For every 2 hours spent sitting, risk of diabetes increases by 7%
  • Lower blood flow to the brain, leading to higher risk for depression
  • Hip flexors & hamstrings tighten and supporting back muscles weaken, leading to increased back pain
  • 4 hours of sitting doubles the risk of heart attack
The Solution? Get off your butt for 10 minutes every hour. Adult recess! Getting up from a sitting position for 10 minutes per hour will stretch out your hips and legs, clear your mind, and double your metabolic rate. Here's an excerpt from the Mayo Clinic:


Question

Is sitting really bad for my health?

Can too much sitting hurt my health?

Answer

from James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D.
Researchers have linked sitting for prolonged periods with a number of health problems and premature death from cardiovascular disease. In one study, adults who spent more than four hours a day sitting in front of the television had an 80 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared with adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV. This risk was independent of other risk factors such as smoking or diet.
And it's not just TV watching. Any extended sitting — whether that's at a desk or behind the wheel — increases your risk. What's more, a few hours a week at the gym doesn't seem to significantly offset the risk.
Rather, the solution seems to be less sitting and more moving. Simply by standing, you burn three times as many calories as you do sitting. Muscle contractions, including the ones required for standing, seem to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars. When you sit down, muscle contractions cease and these processes stall.
Okay, we all need to move more and more often to be healthy. But perhaps you're resigned to the thought that no matter what you do, your bad genes will always win. Dr. Peeke next addressed the exciting new field of science responsible for gene expression, epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code but still get passed down to at least one successive generation. These changes, which include DNA methylation, allow genes to be turned on or off, or allow the volume of expression to be high or low. What we're learning from epigenetics is "DNA is NOT destiny." To paraphrase Dr. Peeke, born with crappy genes, you can make huge changes, and you can pass these changes on to your children. How do you make these changes? By proper diet and exercise. Leafy green vegetables cause the methylation which influences gene expression, thereby turning on "healthy" genes and turning off "unhealthy" genes.


Need proof? When researchers breed fat yellow mice, known as agouti mice, they give birth to offspring similar to themselves, ravenous fat yellow mice prone to cancer and diabetes. By feeding the female mice diets rich in methyl donors (onions, garlic, beets, leafy greens) prior to conception, they were able to turn off the agouti gene, resulting in thin brown offspring.  These positive changes were then passed on to future generations. Amazing. The full article is available here.

Imagine, by taking control of your own health, you can positively influence the health of your future children! And if you already have children, why not serve as a positive role model to improve the healthy of your future grandchildren?

In order to get there, you may need to redefine normal, and perhaps you need a little motivation. How about Betty Lou Sweeney? In 2009, Betty Lou was severely overweight and nearly died from complications from a bloodstream infection that nearly shut down her kidneys. She pledged to make a major life change, get off her medications and start enjoying life - and she did just that. She joined her neighborhood gym and began working out six days a week with a personal trainer. Within 2 years, she lost 100 lbs and set the Guiness world record for the abdominal plank at 36 minutes 58 seconds... at the age of 71.





Exercise IS medicine. The Surgeon General and Exercise is Medicine initiative are currently working to make physical activity the 6th vital sign, right up there with blood pressure and heart rate. If your doctor is not already asking about physical exercise, he or she will be soon! For more information, visit: exerciseismedicine.org

Thursday, April 19, 2012

AMAA Boston Review: Decrease Cholesterol and Reverse Heart Disease

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the American Medical Athletic Association's Sports Medicine Symposium at the Boston Marathon. It was my second year in attendance, and while much of this year's talk centered around the anticipated near-record high temperatures, there was still a great representation of different areas of interest in endurance sports, for everyone from the beginning exerciser to the diehard athlete.

The opening talk was delivered by former Olympic rowing gold medalist and Cleveland Clinic general surgeon and scientist Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., on the topic "A Plant-Based Diet to Reverse Heart Disease." He was an energetic and captivating speaker, and he left quite an impression on the crowd of medical professional/marathoners - many of whom were snacking on conventional baked goods laden with butter and highly refined flour. His message is similar to my own: "unleash the capacity of your body to heal" through plant-based nutrition.

"Most coronary disease need never exist, and where it does exist, it need not progress."
- Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD

Dr. Esselstyn describes coronary artery disease as a "food-borne illness." The food culprit is the animal-based standard Western diet. Yes, the very same diet the audience was eating for breakfast. Dr. Esselstyn recommend avoidance of oil, fish, fowl, meat, dairy, and caffeinated coffee, all of which have been shown to injure the lining of your blood vessels (the endothelium), each and every time you ingest them. The injury allows plaque to form in your blood vessels, followed by plaque rupture and formation of thrombus, and eventually complete obstruction of the vessel causing heart attack or stroke. Powerful words! Dr. Esselstyn's recommendations are to include a variety of plant foods, including grains, legumes, lentils, vegetables, and fruit. These foods all contain little to no cholesterol and all produce nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator, meaning it causes blood vessels to relax and widen, thereby increasing blood flow.

Many people are opposed to giving up their favorite foods. However, as argued by Dr. Esselstyn, dietary intervention is the only way to REVERSE coronary artery disease. The advantages of a plant-based diet are zero mortality, zero morbidity, and the benefits continue to improve with time. This is in sharp contrast to the current standard of care, which includes antihypertensive medications to lower blood pressure, statins to lower cholesterol, and stenting and coronary artery bypass to open/circumvent blocked arteries. These current therapies are wonderful temperizing measures, which treat the symptoms of coronary artery disease and decrease the immediate risk of heart attack, but do nothing to cure or prevent the disease process. Not to mention stents and coronary artery bypass surgery carry mortality rates of 1% and 2.5%, respectively, as well as significant morbidity due to ensuing strokes and heart attacks.

In 1985, Dr. Esselstyn initiated a study that treated seriously ill patients with coronary artery disease with plant-based nutrition and succeeded in the arrest and reversal of their disease, without medications or surgical intervention. He followed these patients for 20 years, publishing his results in his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. His findings include weight loss, normalization of blood pressure, and improvement or resolution of type 2 diabetes, angina, erectile dysfunction, and peripheral vascular and carotid disease. Remarkably, patient adherence lasted decades and the patients involved reported a sense of control in containing and reversing their disease.

If you have elevated cholesterol (defined as total cholesterol > 200), what can this approach do for you? In one case study presented by Dr. Esselstyn, a patient decreased his total cholesterol from 261 to 126 in only 10 days by adopting a plant-based diet. You have the power to make a change. What do you have to lose?

For more information, check out these sources:
Esselstyn CB. "Is the Present Therapy for Coronary Artery Disease the Radical Mastectomy of the Twenty-First Century?" American Journal or Cardiology. September 15, 2010.


I'm a firm believer in the power of diet AND exercise for optimal health. Stay tuned for highlights from Pamela Peeke's "Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation!"