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home teachers with heart disease

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Jan 31, 2010

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.

Posted in: Standard American Diet

4 thoughts on “home teachers with heart disease”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Recently several doctors have been doing work on High Fructose Corn Syrup, HFCS for short as the cause of many of our ills. It is chemically similar to distilled spirits. It is rough on the liver, is hard to assimilate, causes fatty liver and is probably the single biggest cause of what is known as Metabolic Syndrome.

    High blood pressure, diabetes, overweight, coronary heart disease and other related problems are what make up Metabolic Syndrome. People have been eating meat for millions of years yet this is a new disease. What has changed? In the 70’s the beverage companies changed over to HFCS because sugar costs had skyrocketed.

    I am not saying that a vegetarian-like diet won’t help, but if he does not cut out ALL HFCS he will be wasting his time.

    Heart disease is probably NOT caused by eating meat. This is a myth caused by bad science. We are eating 20% less animal fat today per capita than we were in the 80’s yet heart disease has gone off the chart. That simply does not compute.

    If your doing the same thing time after time and expecting a different result you will be disappointed, i.e. low fat has not been working for 30 years. Going lower fat or no animal fat at all is dangerous. We need fat for our brains, connective tissue and organs.

    This is a just brief explanation or overview see http://tinyurl.com/y9oufrn


  2. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

    Yes, what I advocate for is eating whole foods. Mostly plants. Read Ch. 4 of my 12 Steps about what I think of the low-fat movement. We need healthy fats, absolutely. Nuts, seeds, avocado, small amounts of unprocessed nutritious oils like olive and coconut and flax–wonderful sources.

    All of these things contribute to heart disease: too much animal protein (20% is the Standard American Diet) is just part of the nightmare, HFCS being another part.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hello Robyn,

    Thank you for all you doing in assisting and motivating us in our quest for great health.

    I have spent enormous amounts of time reading through your information and suggestions. I have ordered and attempted to order what is recommended. On January 9th I placed an order with Green Smoothie Girl. Today is February 1 and I have yet to hear anything or get what I ordered in the mail.

    On January 7 and 9 I emailed craig@greensmoothiegirl.com for information on ordering a ionic water filter. I have yet to receive an email from him.

    My order was quite large because I ordered a case of the suggested green drink.

    I hope to get a reply from you.

  4. Magnesium is one of the nutrients that so many folks are short on, & plays such a role in heart health!! Getting wildcrafted & OG greens helps insure that we’re getting enough – a nutritionally minded doc in town comments that his patients RARELY have strokes or heart attacks, he’s a strong proponent of getting sufficient, high quality Magnesium.

    Women in the US tend to get ~ 1/2 the RDA (which is low to begin with) & men ~ 2/3 – phosphate fertilizers interfere with the plants’ uptake of Mag, which is one of the reasons to seek out OG greens!

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