Terry Shintani, M.D., M.P.H., J.D. here discusses ways to prevent and reverse heart disease in this presentation. He is is the author of the Eat More, Weigh Less Diet, The Hawaii Diet, and The Good Carbohydrate Revolution.
I want to thank you for coming this evening. It’s a very nice crowd this evening. The topic tonight is How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Well, it’s February, so because of Valentine’s Day I guess they call this heart month. And so all the health organizations try to deal with heart disease this month. And to me every month is heart month, because heart disease as you all know is the number one killer of all Americans. Today roughly 30% of us die of coronary heart disease.
If you look at other countries, some places heart disease is almost non-existent. For example, in parts of China – in rural China where their diet is nearly all plant based, heart disease rates are, believe it or not, 1%. In parts of Africa in the rural areas, heart disease rates are about 1%. And it should let people realize that coronary heart disease is well 90% preventable. I’m here to talk to you about ways that you can prevent and even reverse heart disease even if you’ve got it.
How many of you are interested in learning how to control cholesterol with your diet? Well, that’s about everybody. How many of you interested in controlling blood pressure with diet? How about dealing with blood sugar and diet? And why do I say blood sugar? Well, it’s because diabetes is actually a risk factor for heart disease as well. How many just want to learn how to eat twice as much food and still lose weight? Isn’t that funny? It’s funny. I say that at many of my lectures and I get the same reaction.
People are interested in their health but when it comes to losing weight and looking good, they’re even more interested in that. Everybody has the same interest. And you’ll see that in some of my statistics that in this way in terms of heart disease, people all around the world are actually more similar than they are different. The reason we talk about prevention of heart disease is that of all of the diseases that plague America today, the most common ones heart disease which is the number-one cause of death in America, some cancers, diabetes which is actually rising to epidemic levels, and strokes. These are actually very preventable diseases. And so it’s really important to deal with the now rather than later.
One of the great frustrations I have is that people often come to me when it’s too late. But actually with heart disease what’s really interesting is that it’s not necessarily too late. Much of what I do is through the Hawaii Health Foundation, which is a non-profit. I donate all my royalties from the books. How many of you tried Shintani Cuisine at Zippy’s? I donate all the royalties into the non-profit so we can promote health in Hawaii of that and off the proceeds from the book the Hawaii Diet and actually all of my other books. And we’ve conducted over 700 community programs and presentation of some sort over the many years. So we’ve really tried to reach every level of Hawaii society. I’ve done lectures from elementary school to senior housing to university. Of course, I’m a professor, I am associate chair of complementary medicine at the school of medicine. So I lecture at the medical school. I’ve lectured at conferences, [molly lifest] and all the way up to the NIH trying to get people to improve their diet and help to reverse heart disease. And this is one of the books the Hawaii Diet.
Prevalence of obesity in the U.S.
I’m going to start by talking about the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. and looking at it from an epidemiological perspective. Heart disease, of course, starts in the arteries in your heart. But I want everybody to take a holistic perspective looking at the whole country. Look at what’s happening in terms of obesity in this country, because obesity is one of the more important risk factors for coronary heart disease. And this is 1985 – this is from the Center for Disease Control, which means this is the best data in the world for this kind of information. That blue represents obesity rates and the darker the blue the more obesity.
Now this is about 20 years ago. Watch what happens in 20 years. There is an epidemic happening right before eyes. They ran out of blue you can see. And now they ran out of red. And today we have 6 million kids who are overweight. Now these are 6 million kids who are in the pipeline to get heart disease when they become adults. And if you look up here, it says July 2000. I just read the statistics for this year. It’s actually 9 million now. It’s increased 50% in five years; those are statistics for 2005.
Imagine what tsunami of health problems we are in for as these kids become adults. Some people are saying that because of the high rate of obesity among the kids, they’re getting onset diabetes when they’re children. So they no longer really want to call it adult onset anymore. Not only that their diets are getting worse and worse and they’re saying that nowadays some of the parents are going to outlive the kids because of this wave of obesity that’s taking over this country. And the interesting thing is if you look down here you know what I found interesting since I mentioned tsunami, you know when I saw the tsunami refugees, they are all slim people. Did you ever notice refugees from hurricane Katrina? You know that’s this area down here, right? That’s where the rates of obesity are highest. And you know they didn’t look like refugees. They looked like they could survive quite a while without food and not have much problem. And I say that and it is funny but in the long run it’s not funny at all, because these are the people who are going to fill our hospitals with coronary heart disease, diabetes. I’m sure many of them already have diabetes and the early signs of heart disease.
But here you see that heart disease kills about a third of Americans. Cancer kills about a quarter of us. Stroke kills about 7%. Diabetes has actually risen; it’s about 3.5% now. And I mark the red bars to indicate those diseases that are diet related. And clearly heart disease and cancer and stroke and diabetes are certainly diet related diseases. And remember I said that heart disease in some parts of the world is only like 1%. So again most of these diseases are indeed preventable.