Food is Medicine. Believe it.


Guest Writer Dan Gaffney Delaware 105.9 FM

I don’t know if it’s proper to say “I had a heart attack” or not. In March of this year when I hit the Bayhealth ER the medical staff used the term, “cardiac event”. After a cardiac catheterization and the installation of one stent I felt better than I had in months, perhaps years.

My energy returned, I started sleeping soundly and much “stress” seemed to vanish.
I was very blessed to have no lasting damage to my heart and great local medical care to assist me.
While it seemed I was fully repaired, I did come to realize one thing; I did not want to go through this again. Ever. It was time to put into practice what I already knew, and what anyone who has read almost anything about health already knows. It’s is time to “eat right and exercise”, but this time really mean it.

I gravitate toward the belief many cardiologists have that a “whole food plant based diet” can prevent or even cure so-called heart disease. For the uninitiated, the documentary film, “Forks Over Knives” might be a good primer.
Based on my years o
f reading, I already knew this was a very great eating lifestyle to follow, but I had a problem. I love pizza, ice cream and potato chips. Bacon, burgers and steaks taste great to me. The pleasure in these foods was more powerful than my willpower to not eat them. It was too easy to eat for pleasure.
The willpower battle to “eat right” went away after the “cardiac event”. Another blessing. Like I said before, “I do not want to go through that again”. You don’t either, trust me.

I started the day out of the hospital to eat a whole-food plant based diet. No animal products and certainly no processed foods. What do I eat? Whole fresh fruits, beans of all types, lentils, fresh vegetables, and whole grains such as brown rice, oat groats, and quinoa. I also eat a bit of raw almonds, walnuts, and pistachios for healthy oils. What do I not eat? Added salt, flour, white rice, dairy, eggs, meat, poultry, sugar, oils, packaged foods, pasta. Where do I occasionally cheat? A rare piece of steamed or baked healthy fish like salmon. A very rare egg, a small amount of cheese once a week or a dab of olive oil. I am cutting down on “cheating” every week however. It’s about progress, not perfection.

In the first 90 days (March 5 to June 5) of this eating I dropped 35 to 40 pounds (I was down to 175 pounds. Today closer to 170) and I am not “dieting”. I am eating large amounts of the plant based food. My total cholesterol went from 202 to 95. My LDL levels were 149, and in 90 days dropped to 53. It’s amazing. I cannot say the cholesterol drops are 100% diet related, because after a “heart thing” docs prescribe a cholesterol lowering statin drug. I CAN say that at my insistence my doc has already lowered the amount of meds I am taking because much of the drops are indeed lifestyle related.
I believe I will not be on these heart meds “for the rest of my life” as was suggested to me. My health and heart are being improved by diet. Food is medicine. Believe it.