Clinton's sea change sets example to live (longer) by

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Has Bill Clinton gone berserk?

Why would one ask that? It is because he has become a vegan. What on earth is a vegan? That is a person who has decided not to eat meat, milk, eggs, cheese or any other animal-based product. What in the world would cause him to make a decision like that?

A few months back the former president, along with Drs. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dean Ornish, was interviewed about his becoming a vegan by Wolf Blitzer on the CNN program "The Situation Room."

Clinton explained that his becoming a vegan was related to his having had a heart attack a few years back that was caused by calcium deposits in his heart arteries. At the time of his attack a device called a stent was placed in the artery but he realized that it could plug up again unless something was done to prevent that from happening.

He had also learned that Drs. Esselstyn and Ornish had developed very successful programs to prevent hardening of the arteries (calcium build up) so he decided to change his diet to conform to their programs. At the time of the interview Dr. Esselstyn mentioned that he taught his patients not to eat anything that had a mother or a face.

According to the book "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D, and his son Thomas M,Campbell -- which in my opinion is one of the most important books ever written on prevention of disease -- Ornish and Esselstyn are giants in the field of prevention and treatment of heart disease by dietary measures. Esselstyn was president of the medical staff, a member of the Board of Governors, the chairman of the Breast Cancer Task Force, and the head of the Section of Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, which is one of the top-rated medical clinics in the world.

He was also president of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, wrote more than 100 professional scientific articles, and was on the list of the best doctors in America in 1994-95. He has shown the most significant reversal of heart disease in all of medical history and attributes this largely to a whole plant foods, plant based diet.

Ornish' results using essentially the same measures as Esselstyn have also been remarkable. In one of his studies 82 percent of the patients with heart disease showed lessening of the hardening of the arteries.

In "The China Study," there are spectacular before and after pictures showing what happened to a 44-year-old physician who had remarkable changes in his coronary arteries after 33 months on the program like Bill Clinton is on. You don't have to be a rocket scientist, nor have medical training, to be able to recognize those changes in the pictures.

It is known that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. And that American men die from heart disease at a rate almost 17 times greater than rural Chinese. Diet appears to be the major factor for the marked difference in death rates.

An added bonus from Bill Clinton's dietary change was that he had lost 24 pounds getting back to the weight he had when he graduated from high school.

Although I am very enthusiastic about what can be done to prevent and reverse heart disease, I recommend that folks should consult their primary care provider prior to starting this diet.

Dr. Don Casebolt of College Place is a retired physician who is passionate about preventive medicine and who worked on the Navajo Reservation for 22 years.

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