Two years ago, on this date, our family was in a very tough situation. My dad found out that he had severe blockages (over 90%) in two of the three main blood vessels that supply his heart. For most of his life, my dad struggled with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol which is a recipe for heart disease. His cardiologist told him that he needed to have either bypass surgery or stents put in his heart the same week. When he shared the news of his heart vessels being blocked, I felt as though mine had been broken. Heart bypass surgery and stents are pretty invasive procedures that come with risks of infections, bleeding and repeat blockages. My dad was the one who inspired me to become a doctor. It was his dream to make at least one of his children a physician. The voice in my head said “Dad’s heart is in big trouble. What’s the good of me being a doctor if I can not save my own dad?”
I asked my dad, “Instead of having your chest cut open for bypass surgery why don’t you open your mouth and put different plant-based foods in instead?” My dad was not too excited about changing his diet. In fact, he was quite skeptical about going against the recommendation of his cardiologist. Fortunately, I was aware of the healing power of plant-based nutrition for treatment and reversal of heart disease. Dr. Caldwell Esseltyn of the Cleveland Clinic showed that a whole food plant-based lifestyle reverses the heart’s blood vessel blockages without needing stents and bypass surgery. To be honest, I was quite nervous inside about asking him to go against the recommendations of his cardiologist. The voice in my head said, “What if Dad gets a heart attack while trying the diet and needs to have emergency invasive procedures on the heart?” In my clinical practice, I observed several of my patients with gut and stomach problems getting rid of their symptoms and pills when they changed to a plant-based diet under my guidance. However, I did not have any experience in treating heart patients with nutrition. My dad was my first heart patient. I reached out to Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. Shane Williams of Williams Cardiology and Wellness Center. Both of them said that if my dad wants to live longer and healthier, there is no need for stents or bypass surgery if he adopts the plant-based lifestyle. With my renewed confidence after speaking to these two experts, I asked my dad to hold off on surgery and try the plant-based diet for at least three weeks. Dr. Esselstyn’s work shows that we could heart attack proof our heart within three weeks of changing to the plant-based diet.
Finally, my dad decided to give it a try. My mom made sure that she prepared tasty foods that were oil-free and plant-based with no dairy and meat. Everyone at home, my sisters and my brothers were also a bit nervous about dad going against the recommendations of a cardiologist. They all supported my father’s lifestyle change by creating a supportive environment for him. Within 2-3 days of his new diet, his blood sugars started plummeting. In two weeks, his diabetic medication dose was cut in half. He was also able to walk longer distances with no shortness of breath. Three months later he came off of five drugs that he took for more than two decades. He essentially reversed his diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease in three months. His heart continued to get stronger. Six months into the new lifestyle, he was able to finish the heart stress test that he could not finish before. He lost 25 pounds (12 kilos) and his mental clarity also improved.
Today, two years later after adopting the plant-based lifestyle, at the age of 69, he is quite busy doing his volunteer work to help less fortunate elderly people who do not have a place to stay. My entire family is so lucky to have him with his full health.
My dad’s incredible journey to health inspired my wife and me to start this website to raise awareness about the healing power of plant-based foods. Please check out the recipes and resources sections. New recipes are added every week. In the last 12 months, my wife and I conducted four different weekend immersion programs on the plant-based lifestyle in our community to help people reverse their chronic diseases with food. We have been fortunate to guide hundreds of people to get rid of their pills, avoid procedures and reverse their diseases.
The whole food plant-based way of eating creates the perfect conditions for healing in our bodies, for losing weight and reversing chronic diseases. If you would like to learn more or get started then watch the Forks over Knives documentary (available on Netflix).
I am grateful to Dr. Esselstyn for doing the research work in healing heart disease with plant-based nutrition. Another big thanks to our friend Dr. Shane Williams for guiding my dad in the right direction.
I am so thankful to the lifetime works of Dr. John McDougall, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Michael Klaper, Dr. Dennis Burkitt and Nathan Pritikin. Learning about the works of these legends in plant-based nutrition made me a better doctor and helped me save my dad’s life.
Best of Health,
Dr. Arjun Rayapudi, MD.