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Dean Ornish, MD – Keynote: Reviewing the Science of Integrative Medicine
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I’m a 65 retired nurse anesthetist and have been on Esselstyn’s program for 13 months and have also attended one of his Cleveland seminars. My angina symptoms have gotten worse, yet he keeps telling me to eat more green leafy vegetables. I eat several handfuls of spinach every day, along with a large salad of various vegetables. Very good, however; un-fulfilling and leaves me hungry within an hour or less and eating more veggies at that point will make me gag. Although my cholesterol has dropped to 121 and LDL is 39, my triglycerides continue to rise because I’m eating too many whole grains, just to get some feeling of satisfaction. In addition, I look anorexic and gaunt and people ask me if I’m well. I’m 6’2″ and weigh 152# and I”m not happy looking that way. I would like to add 10# and granted, you can bulk up the muscle mass, you can’t add muscle mass to your face. I find his diet to be highly restrictive, black and white so to speak, and very inconvenient while being socially compromising. Had it worked, I’d be singing praises, but it hasn’t. Since I haven’t discovered any physical improvement, he feels there is some other underlying problem, as he’s said this is “highly unusual”. Neither the arthritic pain nor the ED has improved either. I don’t believe diet alone is the answer, consequently, I’ve been drawn to Ornish’s program. I’ve at least found some comfort in the 5 food spectrum groups in the Ornish diet. I eat mostly from the group 1, but now feel I can try some of the group 2 and very rarely the group 3, at least at a restaurant with our friends. Even group 1 has egg whites, which in and of itself, is exciting news. It gives me some choices and has made my food consumption more fulfilling. I can go through life not having any of the group 4′s or 5′s. This, to me, seems reasonable. If I can’t reverse things, perhaps I can slow things down. My cardiologist has attempted to change my scripts and now has me on calcium channels blockers, but there hasn’t been any change other that I’m getting some ankle edema. Next is nitrates, but the nitro in the past had no effect, so they’re not promising. I may then have to undergo a stent placement or CABG. I’d prefer not having either procedure, but the alternatives seem to have dwindled in light of my unsuccessful attempt to reverse this disease. What are your thoughts on this? Can you help?
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Pete, Since you posted almost a year ago and got no substantive help, I’m feeling very sad for you and the Spectrum Online Community doesn’t seem to be working. My husband and I have been using a lot of the Esselstyne program and recipes but also use the broader diet offered by Ornish. It used to be that folks thought Ornish was too strict, but compared to McDougal, Esselstyne et al, he isn’t.
I hope you were able to get into the other aspects of the Ornish program, since diet alone isn’t helping you. My husband also had a heart attack after being on the diet for about two years, and with very good cholesterol etc numbers, so as you say, there is more going on. Exercising has been a our downfall. Having a support group, stress reduction system might be helpful too. The Ornish program provides those in theory but there actually seem to be very few up and running except online.