Is Ending Heart Disease Worth Giving Up Oil? Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in Calgary, Alberta

Is Ending Heart Disease Worth Giving Up Oil? Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in Calgary, Alberta


Hey there modern vegans and vegan curious. It’s Margaret. And welcome back to ModVegan. If you’re new to this channel, be sure and give this video a like if you
enjoy it, and also subscribe so you can see more great
videos like this one. Today I want to share with you my experience attending Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s discussion of how to prevent and reverse heart disease here in Calgary, Alberta. He was here last Friday, and I had just an amazing time at his talk. It was put on by Fork Smart, which is run
by my friend Kate McGoey-Smith, and she was able
to get Dr. Esselstyn here to Calgary, and that was
just an amazing thing. He and his wife both spoke at the event, and it was a great experience and really nice
to get the chance to see him in person, even though I’ve seen plenty of his videos
online, and of course watched “Forks Over Knives”
and things like that. But a very different experience to see him
in person. I attended the event with my husband, and we were both very interested in the event, mostly because, although we’re already vegan, we’ve been interested in the benefits of eating
less oil, eating more plant-based foods that are whole. We try to eat as healthfully as we can, we try to eat whole foods, but we of course are not perfect. As Dr. Esselstyn would say, we were most definitely not “plant perfect” and we do eat things with oil in them, and
we do eat, of course, processed foods as well. And I know that they’re not as healthy, but it was really beneficial to go to the
event and hear Dr. Esselstyn talk about why it’s
so important to actually eat whole foods. I first heard about Dr. Esselstyn before I
went vegan, when he started – I think he was treating
Bill Clinton for a short period of time, and we did hear some
really great things about Dr. Esselstyn from former
President of the United States, Bill Clinton. And that’s where I first heard about Dr. Esselstyn. And I also watched “Forks Over Knives” and
that was also before I became vegan. I was just very interested in the information, and although I enjoyed the film, I must say
that seeing Dr. Esselstyn in person had more of an impact
on me, and it was really neat to get to hear him
speak – primarily because it really drove home to
me how much this man cared about his patients. I think that was what was most immediately
evident when you’re listening to him speak. You realize the kind of personal relationship
that he’s tried to build with his patients, and how much he
really cares about the health of human beings. And that was very refreshing, it was so nice
to see a doctor that cared that much about people. Even with most of the studies that he’s done, he’s tried to do them in a way that he’s been
able to have a personal connection with each and every
patient. So that he can get compliance from them. Because of course, if you’re trying to introduce
people to a whole foods, plant-based diet, with no
oil, that’s not an easy thing to do. God knows that it would be hard for me to
follow that diet, let alone for someone whose brand new to this
kind of thing. And so having that personal relationship with
their doctor makes them much more likely to comply with
the diet. And that was very evident hearing him speak. And it was also very impressive to hear about the proportion of his patients that actually
did manage to stay compliant with the diet. Now Kate McGoey-Smith, the woman that organized this event, I met her at one of the meet-ups
that we had here in Calgary a few months ago – gosh, nearly
a year ago now – and that was when she was just beginning to plan this event. And she told me about her own story, in her
own words, and it was really nice to get to hear her
telling me about it, and of course great to hear it again the night
of the event. But Kate has a very rare disease, called pulmonary
hypertension. And it’s an idiopathic, chronic, deadly disease. And it’s very rare. Only 3 or four out of a million people will get it. It’s very unusual. And it is a disease that is helped by a whole foods, plant based diet. And when she was diagnosed, she was told she
only had a few years to live. She was diagnosed as stage three, she needed oxygen all the time, she was also
on insulin, she was overweight, she could only walk a
few steps, she was nearly blind. She said that at one point she couldn’t even
brush her teeth in the morning and see her teeth. So that kind of tells you how bad it was. And if you were to meet her now, it’s hard
to even believe that. I know the first time that I met her, I was
really taken aback to hear her say that she had ever been that
ill, because when you meet her, she just seems
like a normal mom – you would never have any idea that she’d
ever been that ill. And of course, she still has this condition,
but for all intents and purposes, she’s able to live a normal
life, thanks to whole foods, plant-based nutrition. And she really credits that with her ability
to lead a normal life, to be able to enjoy her life with her husband
and her children. And it’s just a really great story, extremely
impactful, and it certainly made me interested in hearing
more from Dr. Esselstyn. Because it’s one thing to hear a story from
someone in a film, like “Forks Over Knives,” but it is very different
if you have that person sitting right in front of you
telling you about the kind of impact that it’s made on
their life. And so, I was extremely impacted by just her
story, and I knew I had to attend this event, and
I was very excited. I told everybody I could in the area that
they had to attend this event. And I was very excited to go and see it. And Dr. Esselstyn gave his presentation – he
talked about heart disease – particularly about the endothelial
cells – and why oil is such a difficult thing – why
plant based foods are so good for the endothelial cells – and
the endothelial cells are just these tiny little cells that are
kind of like the defenders of your hearts’ arteries. And that’s basically what they do, is they really protect your heart, they help
to move things like cholesterol along, let them not stay
there too long. They don’t let anything build up inside the
walls of those arteries. But when they become damaged – then you start to get plaque build up, you can end up with
heart disease – all sorts of problems. And the things that are hardest on them are
animal products, especially anything containing cholesterol,
of course, but oil is especially difficult because it
causes inflammation on those arterial walls. And unfortunately, it’s not just animal fats
hat you need to be avoiding, if you’re someone with this kind of a chronic
illness, if you’re developing heart disease or anything
like that, if you’re going to want to improve and reverse
your condition, then you are going to need to pretty much
eat no oil at all. And Dr. Esselstyn does a great job of explaining
this, he’s very emphatic about it and very passionate
about it. And I think that one of the challenges – if you’re just an average person, and you
hear that you shouldn’t eat oil, because someone says so, it’s not that impactful. It’s very easy to make up excuses and reasons why you think that it might actually
be good to eat oils – especially those heart healthy
oils, like olive oil, like coconut oil – and I’m going to include a clip here, where
Dr. Esselstyn talks about why those kinds of oils really do cause damage and are worth avoiding. Let’s just take a moment here, because some people still are not clear about
the fact that “no oil!” Alright, why? Because, the data. Olive oil is terribly seductive. Scott Grundy did some studies that are very
short term, that showed that it increases your good cholesterol, lowers your bad cholesterol, improves your
ratio. It got a huge amount of press, doctors heard
about it, therefore it must be wonderful. Right? Wrong. Because you look at longer term studies, Blankenhorn, right in California. Two groups of patients. One saturated fat, the other one monounsaturated fat like olive oil, baseline
angiogram at the end of the year – the angiogram disease
of coronary disease had progressed just as much in each
group. Lawrence Rudel, and the research triangle took the African Green Monkey, similar lipid
metabolism to man, saturated, unsaturated – five years. In the monounsaturated olive oil group, higher
HDL, lower LDL, better ratio. Autopsy: just as much coronary disease. The oil companies didn’t like that, so Lawrence
Rudel repeated the study with rodents. And the result? The same. Dr. Vogel has gone on and shown us indeed, that olive oil activates clotting factor seven
just as much as butter. And Vogel, in a separate study, and Ong, in
a separate study, have shown how it impairs flow mediated dilatation that I just talked to you about, the brachial
artery tourniquet test. And last month, in the Journal of the National
Cancer Institute, olive oil, along with meat, and dairy, is
implicated in a risk factor for breast cancer. While olive oil may seem beneficial in the
short term, long-term, if you were to take someone with
heart disease, and expose them to olive oil for a year, say, if they were eating olive oil in their food
for a year, it really doesn’t have much of a different
impact on them than butter. And that’s really important, because I see
that it’s easy, as a vegan, to feel like you’re already doing
all that you could do. And I don’t want to be too dogmatic, about
this, because I realize that many of us are lucky enough to be in
extremely good health. And I appreciate that his wife, did mention that for people who are healthy, eating nuts,
eating avocados are probably fine. And you’ll find if you’re someone in that
camp, someone like me, probably, who is trying to
be as athletic as possible, leading a healthy
life, has no chronic health conditions – something
like Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet, which I will also be leaving
a link to down below, something like that might be very beneficial
for you. But again, if you are dying from a serious
chronic health condition, it makes sense why you might want to remove
all oils from your diet. And it also makes sense that you’ll want to
be more attentive to this kind of thing than most people. And I think this is where you do have a bit
of a difference between what it means to be vegan, and what
it means to be whole food plant-based, oil free kind
a thing. Veganism is about ethics. The reason that we avoid consuming animals and things like that is partly for
our health, of course, but mostly it’s about treating other beings
with kindness and compassion. And Dr. Esselstyn’s approach is meant to help human beings to address their health
issues. So that’s why it’s a bit more than just a
vegan diet. It’s not just about the ethics of course,
for other animals and other species, it’s about your own health,
and your own ethics, being kind to yourself. And it’s very clear when you’re looking at people with these chronic illnesses, that
are so dangerous, that it’s important to be compassionate about
your own health, and that’s kind of what you’re doing there. The reason why someone would follow a whole
foods plant-based oil-free diet, is because they want to address their own
health, and they want to be around, to be there for
their children and their grandchildren, to be able to give
back to their communities. And if you’re dying of a health condition,
you can’t really do those things. And Dr. Esselstyn shared a lot of stories
with us about people he’d known in his own life, including
a fellow surgeon, who nearly died from a cardiac event, even
though he didn’t know that he had heart disease. A man that seemed extremely healthful. But he nearly collapsed and died of a heart
attack at 44, working as a cardiologist – because he was
not aware of the kind of impact that eating animal foods
had on his health. He didn’t really recognize it and he didn’t
really address it until it was almost too late. And fortunately in the case of Dr. Esselstyn’s
friend, whose health information he shared with us, this man really was able to turn his condition
around and especially because he was young, he was
able to reverse the symptoms of his heart disease. And seeing the pictures of the changes in
his arterial walls between before he went on a plant-based diet
and afterwards, no comparison whatsoever. It’s just amazing – there’s a vessel that seems like it’s completely closed off,
and then the artery is just clear and beautiful afterwards. It was amazing. But those kinds of changes can’t be accomplished
on a vegan diet alone. You need to be eating whole foods, you need
to be doing things that are really good for your cells and things
like that. And it requires a bit more if you have that
kind of an illness. Dr. Esselstyn also addressed a few things
that we can all do, that are going to improve our health
a lot. Of course, eating whole foods is very important, because those whole foods have all sorts of
amazing nutrients that are really good for your body,
and help you to fight disease, and they also help to make
your heart healthier. And one of the ways that they do that is by
helping your body to produce more nitric oxide. And this is this great gas that basically
gets in there into your arteries in your heart and helps to widen
them a bit, because it’s this gas that kind of puffs it up and lets things flow through. It’s kind of like a little pump thing. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, I’m
going to butcher it here, but it’s basically this great thing that makes your arteries
function much better. And there’s a few ways that you can improve
that and help your arteries to function better. But one of them is eating lots of dark leafy
greens. Six servings a day, if you’re someone who
is suffering from cardiovascular disease. And it’s probably a good idea for anyone. He wants you to eat about a cup of cooked
greens, six times a day, with some kind of acetic acid on it, or vinegar. And I’m not sure if I’d be able to eat six
cups, but still, it’s a great recommendation, and
I think it would be for everyone if you tried to eat
a little bit more. So trying to eat around six servings a day
of dark, leafy greens, amazing for your heart, helps it to be better off. He mentioned things like, in terms of those
dark greens, of course, kale, collards, swiss chard and
other things like that. And just kind of blanching them and serving
them with some vinegar. Which is actually very tasty and it’s a delicious
dish. And it’s also super good for you. So I would say, at least try and do it maybe
once a day, if you can’t do it six times a day. But it’s a great thing that you can do that’s
really good for your heart, and good for your body in general. It was an amazing event, and I’m so glad I
attended, and I learned so much. Again, I will have some links to some more
videos from Dr. Esselstyn down below, and also a link to his book, “How to Prevent
and Reverse Heart Disease” because I think it would be extremely valuable
for anyone who’s dealing with a disease like heart disease, and it’s just such good information, and one
of the things that you’re really going to appreciate about Dr. Esselstyn is that he doesn’t – at least that I appreciated
about him – is that he doesn’t oversell anything. He is completely honest about the research
that he’s done, and he doesn’t try to pretend that his research
shows anything that it doesn’t. He’s not going to make claims that are out-stated,
and wrong – it’s really important to him to be honest, and to be a good researcher and to be a reliable
person, and I just found that so refreshing in an
era of snake-oil, when people will tell you that they have the
cure-all for everything. He doesn’t do that. And I really appreciated that, and I can see
why so many really admire him, because he really doesn’t do that. But one of the things that I also thought
was interesting was, that as we were leaving, there were a couple
of women behind us as we were just heading out the doors, and one of them turned to the other one, and
she was saying “oh, this sounded so good!” But her friend responded back to her, “well, it sounds pretty good for heart disease,
but I think that’s all it’s really good for. It’s pretty much only good for heart disease,
you heard what he said.” So, first of all, they discounted any additional
health benefits just from the fact that he didn’t make any extraordinary claims. So – and also, I just thought it was fascinating
that he had told us in one evening, how to make sure that we never had a cardiovascular
health event. If you followed his advice, the number one
killer of people in the global north could be solved. We could completely get rid of heart disease,
and he has the research to show that. That we could completely neutralize our number
one killer. And it was very interesting to me that people
could hear that, and then be disappointed, or just discount the entire thing, because,
well, it only affects our number one killer. It really only prevents that, so why would
you do it? And I just thought that was really fascinating,
that apparently solving the number one health issue for people living in the developed world
– is just not worth it. It’s a little bit too much work. If that’s really all it helps with, what’s
the point? I thought that was really funny, and not just
funny, but kind of sad, because it really says a
lot about the way that people view their health. And it really speaks to what Dr. Esselstyn
was saying as well. That so many people are willing to take drugs
that have horrible side-effects, they’re willing to go through open heart surgery
that may not even be able to deal with their problem – because some of the patients that he had,
in fact a lot of them, were people that were beyond the point where
they could even receive stents, where they could even benefit from bypass
surgery. Because, for example, some of them just had
small arteries that were so clogged that there was nothing that doctors could do, they were
beyond help. And with those people he was able to prevent
them from having additional heart attacks. I think that is absolutely incredible, and
if you really know much at all about cardiovascular disease, you’ll recognize how truly revolutionary that
is, and how helpful it is. Here this is a lifesaving cure that is for
people who are beyond the reach of traditional medicine, who cannot be helped by surgical intervention
– who perhaps might not be able to take statins, simply because of other health problems that
they have. Because there are people who unfortunately
are not even able to take statin drugs. So it really is revolutionary, and can save
so many people’s lives, and I found that so amazing, and so wonderful. It’s such good news to hear. And if you can live simply by removing oil
and animal products from your diet, and eating as many whole foods as possible, isn’t that worth it? I mean, I think it is. I really do enjoy living! And if I can prevent diseases like that by
doing those things, I think it’s really well worth it. And it kind of comes back to, as a society, the mentality that we have. I think it’s far too easy to develop a mentality
where you just – you wait for doctors to come along with a drug. And I’m not against that at all – I really
do believe in medicine and everything like that, but the idea that you just wait for that to
happen, and that you rely on that – if you can do
something so much better – it’s just – if there’s something that is a much better
solution, a more wholistic solution that’s going to
make you feel better, and keep you from dying, I can’t think of
anything much better. And I hope you guys feel the same way too. I strongly encourage you to check out his
information, and I hope this was helpful to you guys. If you do get the chance to see him in person, do go for it, because I would definitely – now
I really want to see his son Rip in person, I think it would be amazing to see him, because I’m interested in that because I’m
more interested in athletics and things like that, so I would love to know about the benefits
of a whole foods diet for athletes and stuff lie that. But just seeing Dr. Esselstyn speak, it was
so inspiring to see him and his wife speak, to see people in such vibrant health in their
old age, who are out there trying to spread this message
of good health to other people. When it came time to ask a question, I asked
Dr. Esselstyn about what we can do, as people who are aware
of the benefits of whole foods plant-based nutrition – what we can do to influence public policy. And he really responded that the main thing
that we can do is to become involved in whatever capacity
that we can, and I agree with him whole-heartedly about
that. We need to be involved. People who are in the position of being researchers
need to make sure that they’re out there doing their research, trying to get grants so that
they can show the evidence of these things further. There have been plenty of doctors who have
published fairly large studies on some of these things. Including, of course, I know Dean Ornish also
produced a study on the effects of whole foods diets on heart disease as well, but it’s important to have as many of those
kind of studies as we can. It’s important to get these people into positions
where they’re able to tell people things with more authority. Getting people to become more involved in
politics and things like that, there’s so many ways that we can do that,
but it’s really just about taking that first step. And so, I think before you can even take any
other steps, please do learn about this. There’s some very good information out there. I think it’s also important – one woman asked
a question about olive oil, and about whether olive oil is good for your
health, and things like that, because her husband
said it was, I think one of the things that I really appreciated
about Dr. Esselstyn is that he’s very honest and thorough in his research. And the reason that he says not to have oil
is because he’s really examined all of the research. And while in short term studies, it shows
that plant-based oils are healthier than non-plant based oils (and of course, you’ve got the omega 3s are better than the
omega 6s, and things like that) – it really doesn’t compare to the benefits
of oil when it’s involved in a whole food. And it also shows that over time, when you
look at the research over time, those oils really are not as beneficial as
they seem. So it’s not the same to run a study on someone
immediately after drinking olive oil, vs. someone eating olive oil for a year and then
seeing what the effect is on their cardiovascular health. So I appreciate his thoroughness. And I think he really is someone who shows
us how important it is to be thorough, how important it is not to make grand claims
that we can’t support, those kinds of things. And I really see the great value in that,
and I think that’s one of the things that he represents more than anything else. Finally, I found a little clip of Bill Clinton
talking about Dr. Esselstyn. And I thought this was really funny, because
when Dr. Esselstyn talks about what he eats, he does say absolutely no oil ever, and I found this little clip and I thought
it was really funny, because Bill Clinton explains that Dr. Esselstyn
isn’t always perfect. Clinton: You can fudge, just not too much. Even, you know, Dr. Esselstyn, who has the
most, probably, militant position. I mean, he doesn’t even eat things made with
olive oil. And he looks great. He’s about ten years older than we are. But he has a piece of chocolate every New
Years’ Eve. So, he fudges! Okay, so maybe a square of dark chocolate
on New Years’ Eve is less than most of us would be able to get away with in a year, I think I’d have a hard time keeping limited
to that, but I admire Dr. Esselstyn’s discipline. I hope that you guys benefitted this, that
it was a good discussion. I’d like to know what you guys think about
it. Do you think it’s really possible to live
in the modern world without oil? I know for me, personally, I will try and
avoid cooking with oil as much as I can at home. Although, when it comes to eating things like
that, I’m not quite ready to give it up yet. It’s not so much that I want to oil, it’s just that I really enjoy being able to
go and eat and it’s nice. It’s hard enough being vegan, but if I was
going to try and make sure that none of my food was cooked with oil, it might be a little bit too difficult for
me, but if you guys think that I should try and
do it anyway, let me know, I would love to know what you
have to say about it. And if you’ve benefitted from a whole food
plant based diet, and it’s really made a difference in your
life, I’d really love to hear about that as well. It’s very interesting to me as well. I’d just love to hear your story if it’s something
that’s helped you out as well. Thank you so much for joining me here today, and taking some of your time out to watch
this video. If you enjoyed it, please give it a thumbs
up and subscribe if you liked what you saw. And I will see you in my next video. Take care, bye.