home teachers with heart disease

In the LDS (Mormon) church, we have this program called home teaching. The church doesn’t like anyone to be without a support system. So two assigned “home teachers” come once a month, with a message, support, and sometimes treats that usually their wives made.

(A similar program, visiting teaching, assigns you two women who also visit once a month – treats are even more common in that program! Mormons are well known for being skilled with all iterations of sugar! Without booze and tobacco, it’s our only remaining vice.)

Both my home teachers (Steve and Terry) have heart disease, stents, high heart attack risk or history, and high blood pressure. Terry recently had a very serious cardiovascular surgery and is still in denial, as he’s 69 but very active. Steve was told by his doctor, “Don’t eat anything with a mother!” (I don’t think he’s taking this advice, but I’m impressed that he was given it!) A famous golf colleague of Terry’s told him to read Caldwell Esselstyn’s book. Terry thinks he eats just fine and his approach is to just lay off some of the cheeseburgers and fried foods for a while.

Plant foods heal. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Neal Barnard,and Dr. John McDougall are some of the most prominent M.D.s who promote the research on how well heart disease reverses itself when a plant-based diet is adopted.

I don’t usually give advice when I’m not asked for it, especially with old-school guys already rolling their eyes about the possibility that diet is part of the problem/solution. But, well, with those guys sitting in my living room for an hour, I did go out on a limb a little bit. I suggested they go to thechinastudy.com and told them I am here and willing to help should they want it.

My extended family (on my mother’s side) was recruited to be in a huge study of families with LOTS of heart disease and families with NONE. My family is in the NONE category. They bribed us and flew across the country to take our blood. (I did not participate or put my children in the study, but some of my sibs and parents did.)

I don’t know why my blood pressure is 96/58, my resting heart rate is in the 50’s,  and my cholesterol is at 100, but I assume my plant-based, whole-foods diet has a lot to do with it. (Exercise clearly plays a big role.) I assume that at least part of the reason my extended family has no known heart disease is that for generations, they ran a produce dealership and ate  almost exclusively  whole plant foods.

Too bad Romney Produce Co. is now defunct and the Romney family is now left to fend for itself against the Standard American Diet.