Heart disease is a killer and we all know someone who has had a heart attack or died because of a heart attack or stroke. We also know by now that it’s linked to diet and exercise depending on how much or how little you get respectively. I found it interesting to note that none of my doctors or cardiologists ever suggested that it might be reversible until I challenged them on what I had read in several books from Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Hans Diehl. Surprisingly most of them knew of the books I was referring to and spoke highly of their authors and their clinical studies that proved without a doubt that a real lifestyle change in diet and exercise could reverse the restricted flow of clogged arteries and eventually repair themselves over a number of years.

Repeated tests showed that a person with heart disease and a serious commitment to helping themselves could effectively triple their blood flow in their arteries within 2 years of adopting a diet that consisted of high fiber foods eaten as grown, devoid of refined foods such as sugar and flour and calories from fat reduced to 10% of your daily caloric intake.  Along with this diet came a requirement to get out and walk 10,000 steps a day (about 5 miles/8KMs). The results were predictable and reproducible to the point where a number of insurance companies in the United States have actively switched to lifestyle therapy instead of surgery as the cure for lifestyle-related heart disease problems.

As some of you know, I had a life-changing heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery last summer at the tender age of 48. I was shocked and surprised as I was a healthy, skinny guy with no big glaring vices other than eating junk food without too much concern for what was in it and I was proud of the fact that I didn’t a have a sore joint or muscle in my body after years of careful exercise avoidance since I left the dairy farm to make my way in the world. I was voted least likely to suffer from such an affliction by all of my friends until the big event.

This prompted a deep introspective look into what I could have done differently to avoid any further pain or suffering and the result of months of research into cardiovascular-related diseases was an eye-opener, to say the least. The more I read the more I realised that I was the one to blame for most of it and I was the only one who could fix this for the long term. Ignorance is bliss and for most of us, that applies to most of our lives – thankfully. Ignorance is also very dangerous and unfortunately for most of us, it will cost us our lives in an early demise or a pitiful and painful existence for the last part of our lives. What I found shocked me into action to improve my life and sent me on a mission to change as many lives around me as I could.

You may have heard this before and if you haven’t then here is something to think about …. knowledge is power and with power comes responsibility. No one can condemn you for your ignorance but your ignorance can condemn you to slavery to drugs, food, drink and habits that can severely impact your quality of life and ability to enjoy the short time you have here on earth. Once you have learned about what I have to share with you and gained the knowledge that in many cases is a self-apparent truth …. it will become your responsibility to live your life accordingly and to share this truth with others you love or care about because this will change their lives for the better forever.

Here are some facts.

Apparently the human body is designed to live about 140 years in ideal conditions without pollutants, disease or stress. Biologists have proven that the human cell is genetically designed to divide perfectly 20 – 40 times before stopping its regenerative properties. If scientists could figure out this mechanism then we could live forever. Accepting that this isn’t coming any time soon we can look at the factors that affect our ability to reach the ripe old age of 140.

Pollutants exist in everything we eat, drink or breathe because of our increasingly manufactured environment. Everything plastic gives off powerful toxins, especially when put in a microwave or exposed to intense sunlight or heat. Poisons exist in every food we eat because of pesticides used to protect crop yields.

Stress-induced by our culture’s influence to be more, bigger, better and substantiated by everything we see, read and hear pushes us to be a society of consumers who can’t imagine living in a simpler lifestyle. Why do we need 2 incomes? Why do we want a new car when the old one would do for years to come. Why do we need a car? The list of things and questions is quite large in most people’s lives and the result is stress-filled days, failed marriages due to fights over funds and lost dreams or illusions of grandeur as portrayed as normal on TV.

No one is getting enough sleep these days because they stay up too late to watch some mind-numbing shows that don’t really add any value to our life and when they are awake they are driven by monthly bills to work crazy hours, 7 days a week, to support the life that requires the entire family to be slaves to car payments and credit cards for expensive meals and toys that could easily be left out of our lives except that we saw it and want it because an ad somewhere promised us that it would make us happy.

The disease is a terrible thing and the tragic thing about the disease is that in many cases it is the result of the poisons we consume and the stress we put our poor bodies through to get these things to make us happy.

Cancer is the result of mutated cells that grow like crazy because something altered their chemistry, their genes and ultimately their behaviour.

Cardiovascular diseases are a direct result of oxygen-starved organs, heart, brain, kidneys and lungs because the plumbing that delivers the oxygenated blood is plugged by the food choices we make and the stress we put ourselves through on a daily basis.

Many behavioural issues that didn’t exist a few generations ago are the result of chemical changes in our diet as a result of the food choices we make. I read about a study that showed a direct relationship between the Prozac like chemicals found in potato skins and the need for such medicine in populations that eat nothing but fast food where they never see potato skins in their diet.

There are thousands of studies being conducted around the world by all sorts of special interest groups and for the first time in history, a technology exists to bring it all together for the first time and for the first time it is becoming abundantly clear that most of what afflicts us and affects our quality of life is avoidable and reversible if we have the guts to make some simple changes in our life. These changes are earth-shaking at first and self-evident after but usually end up marginalizing us in society because it goes against the grain of common but flawed knowledge.

It has been said before and needs to be said again that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing you always have and expecting different results every time you do it. Just because your parents did it doesn’t make it right. Just because your neighbours do it doesn’t make it right. On the other hand, if your parents are healthy and happy then maybe you should take a serious look at why they are and you aren’t. In many cases, it is because of their choices and yours more than anything else.

I propose that you take a serious look at your life and decide today to make a commitment to yourself and to your family to make a few fundamental changes that will benefit everyone and leave you as a much happier and healthier person. This is not something like a new year’s resolution – this is a lifestyle choice change.

If your life is crazy and you think you can fix your problems by getting more of something to get you over the hump or magically cure something that afflicts you with a pill then you’re really heading down the road to self-destruction. Step back and take a good look around you. Who are you? Who are your friends? Why do you do what you do every day? Why haven’t you taken the time to explore your dreams or reach out to help that neighbour or relative that might be gone tomorrow because they thought no one cared? What’s the meaning of it all? What am I working so darn hard for? Have you ever sat down and really thought these things through? Probably not because you were too busy just trying to meet commitments you already made to things that don’t really matter anymore.

Simplify everything. Get rid of the extra distractions – there is always somebody willing to buy what you have or take over what you’re doing. Recognize that the world will continue just fine without you so stop trying to hold it up on your shoulders. Take a good look in your cupboards and fridges and recognize that almost everything comes in a shiny container promising convenience, taste and pleasure. Take a closer look at those products and realize that most of them have all of those hidden calories and fats that kill us a bit every day we continue to eat them.

In our house, forced by a sudden awareness that I might not be here tomorrow and also recognizing that I definitely wouldn’t be here at age 80 if I continued to live the way I did, we made a commitment to change so that we would all have a better chance at living to a ripe old age with relatively little more pain or suffering. The changes were swift and simple. The results were dramatic and we expect the long term.

As a result of my reading books from well known and authoritative sources, we effectively eliminated all visible fats from our diet and cleaned out our freezer and cupboards of everything with too much sodium, sugar, flour or fat in its ingredients. Our diet now consists of naturally grown foods, fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts with no animal-based foods. Our meal planning was a challenge at first but after thinking about it some more was basically the same except without the meat, butter, cheese that used to dominate our meals. In their place, we found wonderful plant-based substitutes that gave us the same texture, taste and pleasure that we associated with the animal-based foods.

We then ran our typical daily consumption through a diet planning program and were amazed to find that our diet, without trying or design, met the daily ideals of 2000 calories per day with 10% of the calories coming from fat (about 25 grams of fat) and 50 grams of protein that included exactly the right combination of minerals, vitamins and amino acids to ensure a healthy existence.  Any nutritionist would be proud of us.

We then made sure that I walked at least 5 – 10 KMs a day.

The result was an amazing metamorphosis from a skinny guy with stick legs and a few extra pounds with high blood pressure and a high pulse rate and a fluorescent tan – to a skinny guy with an ideal body weight and body mass index that could effortlessly walk the distance every day with a tanned and toned set of legs pumped by a heart with low blood pressure and pulse rate with a chance to make it to 80 or more. All of this in 10 months. It wasn’t overnight but it was sure and steady.

A friend of mine who had tried everything else joined me on my daily walks and changed his diet to see what would happen. It worked wonders for him as he lost a dramatic 50 pounds in 6 months without trying. As his body mass index reached it’s ideal his weight loss stopped as if by magic as his body found itself at its ideal weight that just happened to match his high school weight just as it had for me.

He said it was a miracle – it is.