We physicians with all our training, knowledge and
authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it
difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to
being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having
performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right
the wrong with medical and scientific fact.
I trained for many years with other prominent
physicians labeled “opinion makers.” Bombarded with scientific
literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion
makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of
elevated blood cholesterol.
The only accepted therapy was prescribing
medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted
fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower
cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these
recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly
result in malpractice.
It Is Not Working!
These recommendations are no longer
scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years
ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart
disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease
and other chronic ailments will be treated.
The long-established dietary recommendations have
created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which
dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering
and dire economic consequences.
Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes
expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced
the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of
heart disease than ever before.
Statistics from the American Heart Association
show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease,
20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These
disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater
numbers every year.
Simply stated, without inflammation being present
in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in
the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes.
Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the
body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol
to become trapped.
Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite
simply your body’s natural defense to a foreign invader such as a
bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in
how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders.
However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or
foods the human body was never designed to process, a condition
occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as
harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.
What thoughtful person would willfully expose
himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to
cause injury to the body? Well, smokers perhaps, but at least they
made that choice willfully.
The rest of us have simply followed the
recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in
polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing
repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates
chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and
obesity. Let me repeat that. The
injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low
fat diet that has been recommended for years by mainstream medicine.
What are the biggest culprits of chronic
inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly
processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from
them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like
soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.
In Part 2 of this two-part article, I’ll discuss
which foods cause inflammation, how those foods trigger the
inflammatory process, and the foods to eat that will cure
Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush
repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly
bleeding. Let’s say you kept this up several times a day, every day
for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you
would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with
each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the
inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.
Regardless of where the inflammatory process
occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered
inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks
as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall.
Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small
injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond
continuously and appropriately with inflammation.
While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet
roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived
declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or
processed with omega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the
mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been
slowly poisoning everyone.
How does eating a simple sweet roll create a
cascade of inflammation to make you sick?
Imagine spilling syrup on your keyboard and you
have a visual of what occurs inside the cell. When we consume simple
carbohydrates such as sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response,
your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive
sugar into each cell where it is stored for energy. If the cell is
full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid extra sugar
gumming up the works.
When your full cells reject the extra glucose,
blood sugar rises producing more insulin and the glucose converts to
What does all this have to do with inflammation?
Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar
molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the
blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall
sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several
times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the
inside of your delicate blood vessels.
While you may not be able to see it, rest assured
it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25
years who all shared one common denominator — inflammation in their
Let’s get back to the sweet roll. That innocent
looking goody not only contains sugars, it is baked in one of many
omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are soaked in soybean
oil; processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer
shelf life. While omega-6’s are essential –they are part of every
cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell — they
must be in the correct balance with omega-3’s.
If the balance shifts by consuming excessive
omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that
directly cause inflammation. Today’s mainstream American diet has
produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of
imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6.
That’s a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In
today’s food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.
To make matters worse, the excess weight you are
carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that
pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to
the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began
with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates
heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and finally,
Alzheimer’s disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.
There is no escaping the fact that the more we
consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the
inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot
process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars
and soaked in omega-6 oils.
There is but one answer to quieting inflammation,
and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. To
build muscle, eat more protein. Choose carbohydrates that are very
complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or
eliminate inflammation-causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean
oil and the processed foods that are made from them. One tablespoon
of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg.
Instead, use olive oil or butter from grass-fed beef.
Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are
much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy
oils labeled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been
drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat
alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that
saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we
now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the
concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.
The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat
recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an
epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible
mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of
foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial
inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.
What you can do is choose whole foods your
grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store
aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory
foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food,
you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout
your body from consuming the typical American diet
[Ed. Note: Dr. Dwight Lundell is
the past Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart
Hospital, Mesa, AZ. His private practice, Cardiac Care Center was
in Mesa, AZ. Recently Dr. Lundell left surgery to focus on the
nutritional treatment of heart disease. He is the founder of
Healthy Humans Foundation that promotes human health with a focus on
helping large corporations promote wellness. He is the author of
The Cure For Heart Disease and The Great Cholesterol Lie.
Click here now to learn more.]
This article appears courtesy of Early to Rise’s
Total Health Breakthroughs which offers
health solutions for mind, body and soul.