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My Husband Just Had Quadruple Bypass Surgery – NOW Should We Avoid Fat?!

October 23, 2013 · 19 comments

cholesterol clarity

What is *really* the best diet for heart disease?

The other day the following email came to my inbox and I’d love to know what advice and encouragement YOU would share with this reader…

I know what my advice would be, which you could probably guess, but one thing is for sure, I certainly wouldn’t follow the guidelines that they came home with from the hospital!   (See those below…)

***First and foremost, each person has to do their own research and decide for themselves.  Keep that in mind as you read this…

Dear Kelly,

If you have time, I hope you will be able to offer me some encouragement.  

My husband (DH) and I were on our way to an appointment with our insurance agent a year ago.  On the way over there, he remarked, “I want you to put me on a healthy diet.”  Puzzled, I replied, “Ok.  I can do that.”  So then we went to the appointment.  When we came out, he said that he wanted me to take him to the hospital emergency room.  I said, “You do?”  So, we went there and they did tests.  He, unknown to me, had been having some chest pain and strange symptoms.  He thinks it’s been coming on for about 10 years after he got a desk job. He thought he was tired because of his age, but lately it was VERY bad, and so…

Subsequently, he had a stress test on a treadmill.  The doctor there said there were signs of heart blockage.  Next, DH got an appointment with a cardiologist.  He told us that there seemed to be some blockage in the back of his heart.  He prescribed some medications and agreed that DH could try diet and exercise before they would do an angiogram.

As of that day, he began eating differently.  I had been cooking the good healthy things for him, but he also just about lived on M&M’s and other sugary and refined-starch foods like white rice, and he would eat huge piles of mashed potatoes and pasta.

  • Total cholesterol before we changed his diet: 478
  • Total cholesterol 6 weeks after we changed his diet: 196
  • Total triglycerides before: 878
  • Total triglycerides after: 159
  • HDL before: 45
  • HDL after: 58
  • LDL before: (could not test because of extra-high triglycerides)
  • LDL after: 106

That was all after 6 weeks of him eating the following and avoiding all refined carbs, processed foods and only having 1 serving of really high carb food a day like a potato, or piece of homemade whole wheat bread, or a smallish serving of brown rice, or some popcorn. He lost about 12 pounds, maybe a little more.

Here is what he ate:

  • Only whole, natural foods
  • Wild caught salmon, fresh, frozen and canned, and other fresh frozen wild ocean fish and canned tuna, kippered herring or sardines packed in olive oil
  • Grass-fed meat (beef, lamb) and venison
  • Bacon, occasionally
  • Eggs from our chickens
  • Homemade bone broths
  • Vegetables, fresh, frozen and my home canned
  • Fruits, fresh, frozen and my home canned without sugar
  • Tiny amounts of natural sweeteners occasionally… honey, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, sucanat
  • Fresh raw goat milk (I had to sell the goats because of DH’s surgery.  I wasn’t going to be here to take care of them and had no back-up, so NOW, we don’t have that wonderful milk anymore, and I am worried about that.  It’s hard to come by around here.)
  • Cheese that I made from the whole goat milk, and some REAL commercial cheese (not processed)
  • Full-fat cottage cheese
  • Raw butter, kettle rendered lard, virgin coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil
  • Beans – lentils, pinto, navy, etc.
  • Peanut butter that I make in the food processor from dry roasted peanuts
  • Salads with honey-mustard dressing that I make with the olive oil
  • We did have milk kefir that I brewed at home with the goat milk (but no more… )
  • Walnuts, almonds and pecans
  • Unrefined sea salt
  • We ate liver and onions once a week
  • I make our mayo (Have you seen my recipe?)
  • Homemade whole grain bread that is either genuine sourdough, or has a long slow rise.
  • Oatmeal that has soaked overnight a’la Nourishing Traditions recipe with freshly ground flax seed and raisins.  (Check out my popular baked oatmeal recipe!)
  • FB Sarah bookWe have soups, stews, stir-fries, salads, meat and vegetables, fruits, natural very lightly sweetened desserts occasionally, healthy fats, raw butter that I get from a friend who has a cow, fruit smoothies that I fortify with raw eggs, flax seed and virgin coconut oil, a little popcorn once in a while made in coconut oil and then with some melted butter and the unrefined sea salt, homemade breads that are long-slow rise, including sourdough, home canned fruit without sugar, and home canned vegetables… that’s all I can think of right now. Oh, he likes “peanut butter apples” with my homemade peanut butter.

All of that was too late, though.  Even with his miraculous blood lipid improvements.  Last Wednesday he underwent quadruple bypass surgery.  An angiogram had revealed 100% blockage in one of his major coronary arteries and 3 more of them were very bad, also.  His heart was too far gone for stents and not a candidate for angioplasty.  He has a family history of this problem and until he improved his diet, his blood lipid levels were horrible, likely for years.  

cholesterol totalsThe advice given as we left the hospital is as follows:  (This is Kelly, see my comments after each one in orange, I can’t help it!)

  • Things you can do:  Following a heart-healthy diet means eating less fat, less salt, and more fresh fruits and vegetables.  (Wow, could we be any more ‘politically correct’?!  This is the same crappy advice that has GOTTEN so many SICK!)
  • Eat fresh or plain frozen vegetables.  These have much less salt than canned vegetables.  If you use canned vegetables, rinse them well.  (Ack, who wants to eat canned vegetables anyway?  Those are disgusting.)
  • Select lean cuts of meat.  Trim off all of the fat you can see.  Remove and discard the skin from chicken and turkey before eating.  (Yeah, no thanks.  Fat = flavor and it also means NUTRITION if it’s from animals raised on nutrient-dense green pasture!)
  • Broil, bake, steam or microwave foods instead of frying them. (Gag me.  I might broil, bake or steam them lightly, but only before loading them up with my beloved butter.  And I’d never microwave my veggies, WHO STILL DOES THAT?!)
  • Season your food with herbs, lemon juice, flavored vinegar, or salt-free spice mixes, instead of using margarine, butter, or salt.  Take the saltshaker off the table.  (They put margarine and butter in the SAME sentence?  How dare they?!  That’s absolutely idiotic.  And remove my saltshaker?  Yeah I don’t THINK so.  I’ll keep my natural sea salt with minerals handy thankyouverymuch.)
  • Avoid cream, cheese or butter sauces, which add fat and cholesterol.   (These are what make life worth living, ha!  And guess what, they’re actually GOOD for us.  Read more here.)
  • If you’re dining out, ask your server for heart-healthy suggestions.  (Now THAT would be scary.  You still can’t even get real butter at most restaurants.)

Now we are home from the surgery.  The operation went perfectly, and his recovery has been nothing short of miraculous.  When leaving the hospital, we were given the above dietary guidelines.  Except for the advice to eat lots of vegetables, everything they told us flies in the face of what I have come to believe.     Nevertheless, and understandably, I am a little frightened and unsure of myself.  I have always been health conscious and tried my best with the information available to me through the years, to craft a healthy diet for us.  So, I have changed my mind several times over the years. I believe now I’ve settled on the “truth,” but I always thought I had found the “truth” with each change.  (Have you seen my post on finding the truth?)

I’m hoping you can reassure me.  Have you ever talked with anyone who has been through this and then reported back good outcomes from the WAPF diet?

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  • { 19 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Victoria Bloch October 24, 2013 at 12:24 am

    First of all, my heart goes out to this reader – what an experience to go through!

    A friend’s father (many years back) had a coronary bypass (needed because of significant blockage discovered following his massive heart attack). He was in his late 50s. Of course, at the time, he was thin and wiry, had total cholesterol in the vicinity of 180 or lower, ran regularly, ate a lowfat diet, and in general was the kind of guy you would traditionally NOT expect to have a heart attack. But he did. He found WAPF after he got out of the hospital and started adding butter, grassfed meats, and all the rest into his diet. He’s still thin, but he has felt good for years and has been healthy ever since despite ignoring his doctor’s dietary advice.

    Another chapter member found WAPF through his wife, who started researching diet and all the rest following his heart attack in his very early 40s. They, too, switched to a whole foods, bone-broth, grass-fed animal foods, butter-rich, etc. diet as he recovered his health. After a year or so he was able to pick up his job in construction again and is hale and hearty. This was close to a decade ago and their two gorgeous children expect to have their father around for quite a while!

    As you say, what she chooses to do is completely up to her and her husband – they have to feel good about the choices they make. What I see in the current diet plan, in which so much is good, are the following:

    – I don’t see any ferments. Not that they’re immediately related to heart disease, but they would be a strong addition to the overall diet. Kraut, kefir (even if made from organic pasteurized – not ultra – milk), kimchi, kombucha, beet kvass…so many yummy foods and beverages.

    – I’d probably relegate the peanut butter to occasional use, only because it’s so high in omega-6 fats, which tend to be the more inflammatory ones (the last thing he needs now).

    But mainly, I’d encourage her and her husband to remember that he may well have incurred the damage to his blood vessels prior to changing up his diet so successfully. The inflammation resulting from years of high-sugar and processed food consumption, particularly if he’s more genetically susceptible to that damage in his circulatory system, may not get resolved in a year. It may take longer. The positive effects were seen with the lipid panels – why stop now?

    She may also want to look into including traditional herbs and plants with a history of use supporting the circulatory system; hawthorn comes to mind, as well as dandelion (the root has been used to balance blood pressure, the flower – fresh, made into tea – has a history as a cardiotonic), seaweed (especially kelp) for abundant minerals as well as a history of strengthening the heart and blood vessels (Susun Weed is a good resource for traditional uses of herbs; these are drawn from Healing Wise).

    Reply

    2 KitchenKop October 24, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Great advice, @Victoria!!! xoxo,

    Kel

    Reply

    3 Kimberly October 24, 2013 at 12:24 am

    My heart goes out to you! What an ordeal! My only advice woud have to be, don’t doubt in the dark what you have known in the light.

    Reply

    4 Terri October 24, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Your WAPF (truly) heart healthy diet worked miracles on his blood work in 6 weeks before surgery, it will do wonders again post-op. The damage was already too far done pre-op, but now you have the time to truly make a difference for the rest of his life. Re-read Dr. Price’s findings. You are doing great! Keep it up!

    Reply

    5 Maria October 24, 2013 at 12:50 am

    The only thing I would add is before anyone considers open heart or stent placement procedures or just has poor circulation, do some research into Plaquex, chelation and intravenous therapies. Vessels don’t just block off in your heart, but circulation is compromised all over the body. I would think most naturopathic doctors could point you in the right direction, but sometimes you have to get creative. We have a nurse practitioner that does IV therapy here.

    Reply

    6 George Henderson October 24, 2013 at 3:06 am

    I think that you should stop frying food, at least deep-frying, and keep pan-frying to low temps.
    And you should restrict cholesterol if you can do this without compromising the nutrition, or adding extra omega 6 from oils (nuts are fine), or adding more starch than you already have.

    Just because SFA and cholesterol don’t cause heart disease, it doesn’t follow that they will be safe once you get it. SFA probably is, but dietary cholesterol in excess (whatever that is) may be problematic. At least, I find this plausible.

    Protein doesn’t cause kidney disease, in fact it’s protective, but if you get kidney disease you might need to restrict protein.
    Carbohydrate alone probably doesn’t cause obesity (in most cases) but if you are obese you should probably restrict carbohydrate.
    And so it goes.

    Reply

    7 Yolanda October 24, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Many thanks to all who replied and to those who still might. I am also very grateful to Kelly for posting this question. It means a lot and will be very helpful to us.

    Reply

    8 Dorsey October 24, 2013 at 9:19 am

    My husband had triple by-pass. I have him on the WAPF diet and it is perfect. His numbers are all good and he feels much better eating this way. I don’t think the key is in limiting or eliminating “good” fats but by eliminating the bad ones like the fake fats, cooked egg yolks (cook whites and leave yolks runny) etc, you would be “safe”. Also a good addition is getting plenty of organic coconut oil in the diet. :-)
    Best wishes…… I am familiar with your challenges. :-)

    Reply

    9 Yolanda October 24, 2013 at 9:58 am

    I have never heard that cooked egg yolks are bad for us? Could you please elaborate?

    Reply

    10 charles grashow October 24, 2013 at 11:52 am

    cooking the egg yolk can oxidize the cholesterol

    Reply

    11 charles grashow October 24, 2013 at 10:26 am

    1) Why is coconut oil considered a healthy fat if the omega6/3 ration is 4000:1?

    2) Has the husband had any tests for inflammatory markers such as hs-CRP?

    3) Has he had a test to determine his apoB/apoA-I ratio?

    4) Has he had a NMR Test to show his LDL-P count?

    5) He should also test for his Adiponectin level.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662557/
    “After adjustment for age, BMI, smoking status, systolic blood pressure, treatment for hypertension, diabetes, use of cholesterol-lowering medication, total cholesterol level, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, and C-reactive protein levels, a higher plasma adiponectin level was a significant predictor of lower risk of future CHD events (n=117) in men (HR 0.49, p<0.0022)."

    5) He might also consider a Lp-PLA2 (PLAC®) test.

    Reply

    12 George Henderson October 24, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    “) Why is coconut oil considered a healthy fat if the omega6/3 ration is 4000:1? – ”

    Because the PUFA content of coconut oil is microscopic – 1/3 that of olive oil, also considered a healthy fat, with 2-3x the omega 6 of coconut oil.
    And are people only getting fat from coconut oil and eating no meat or fish or greens? Where does this happen.
    This fallacious coconut example really betrayed Aragon’s lack of thought about the question.

    Reply

    13 Judy @Savoring Today October 24, 2013 at 10:49 am

    I understand exactly how you feel, my husband went to the hospital with chest pain three years ago and came out with two stents. You are affraid of losing him and you realize you almost did. In a sense, you’re reeling because you thought you were on the right track and this has happened. It shakes your resolve. I can offer lots of advice on diet, reducing stress, and exercise (diet alone is not the answer), but I would like to encourage you to let him own it. I could be wrong, but “I want you to put me on a healthy diet.” infers you carry a load that is not yours to carry alone. What I mean by that is, it has to be a way of life he embraces, not a diet someone has saddled him with.
    I still remember talking to the doctor in the waiting room and being told he would be on 5 medications the rest of his life. In my mind I was saying, “no way!” but then I realized that was not my call, it was his. I felt so overwhelmed. As I drove to the hospital the next morning, it hit me like a ton of bricks — I cannot be responsible for whether my husband lives or dies. (This was extremely helpful revelation because I’m a take-charge kind of gal.)
    When I got to the hospital, I sat on the end of his bed and said, “I love you. Where you go from here is completely up to you. I can help you, encourage you, and cook for you, but I cannot hand you supplements and watch everything you eat. I want to be your wife, your lover, your best friend, just like I’ve always been. I don’t want to turn into your caregiver, your mom, or a nag out of fear, so you have to own this. All of it. I will help you do research, prepare proper meals, go on walks, exercise with you, but I won’t keep track of whether you took your meds, supplements, or your exercise schedule. If or when you get off the meds is up to you and I’ll help you any way I can. I love you.”
    This might sound like a tough conversation to have at the hospital, but it had to start there. There is immense pressure from every single health practitioner to stay on meds, adapt an unhealthy low-fat, low-salt, soy-infused diet and I wasn’t going to be the one applying pressure from the other side.
    We also realized his heart experienced trauma, which meant we needed to address physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of what had happened–assessing/grieving losses, dealing with mortality, rejoicing in life-spared, adjusting to a new normal.
    Long story short (ha!), one year later, after adopting a lifestyle of consistent exercise, reducing stress at work, and more consistent healthy food choices (non of which were recommended by the docs), the cardiologist agreed that he did not need to stay on the meds (he only takes asprin because of the stents). THAT was a fun appointment. ;)
    Of course, I helped by cooking and with the diet aspect, but HE did it and I am so proud of him for taking charge of his health. If you are interested, here’s a little more about our story, along with a good list of resources. http://myowntwocents.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/feel-healthy-have-a-heart-attack-anyway/
    I hope this helps. Peace to you.

    Reply

    14 Courtney October 24, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I can understand how she feels, but I think she is overlooking her great success. His improvement was miraculous even if it did not prevent surgery. I also think that his recovery went so well due to the improvements made the six weeks prior. Why stop what has obviously worked so well? The advice from the doctor can be followed but I doubt that it really has ever improved anyone. After listening to a recent talk by Jimmy Moore, I wonder if he needs to decrease his carb and healthy sugar intake due to his triglyceride number still being so high or if that is just where it is as it is headed down to where it should be? I pray her husband’s health continues to improve and she regains the confidence to do what she knows is right.

    Reply

    15 Diane Sperber October 24, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Judy is right as far as not letting yourself take on total responsibility for your husband’s health. I learned some things about myself just reading her comments. Yet I want to encourage you and him to keep doing what you have been doing and Kelly’s advice was very good. He should investigate any medications advised as most have side effects and probably aren’t necessary now that he has changed his diet.

    My own husband almost died from congested heart failure when he was only eighteen. He lost both his dad and older brother to heart problems. They each were only 57 years old when they passed away. So my husband has probably inherited some weaknesses. Yet at sixty-seven he is very healthy and on no medications. He gives the way we eat credit for his good health.

    I certainly can relate to second guessing yourself but no matter what happens now or in the future what you both have done has only been good for him. No matter what heart problems he may have inherited his past diet only brought this on. It is so difficult when so called professionals tell you just the opposite. But don’t let them confuse you or throw you off track.

    Its hard work preparing the proper meals. You amazed me that you even had goats. You have done a great job!!! KEEP IT UP!!!

    Reply

    16 Thomas Martin October 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Keep in mind that your husband’s “numbers” were all where the doctor wanted them to be, yet this still happened. I would definitely add pomegranate extract to his nutrients to help clean out the remaining arteries.

    I had heart disease and was told I would need a heart transplant (my only option) and I reversed it through a similar approach you took. I am guessing your husband’s problem already existed BEFORE you made the changes.

    Hang in there. You are doing EVERYTHING correctly. DON’T listen to the doctors.

    I have been in too many heart support groups where people have received stent after stent, followed by a bypass, followed by more drugs, surgery, “health diets” only to come back for yet another bypass. What your doctor is telling you won’t work!! Stick to your guns and the WAPF diet and recommendations.

    All the best to you and your husband.

    Reply

    17 Thomas Martin October 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    One more thing. Here is an article by Life Extension on preventing and reversing arterial calcification:

    http://onepercenthealth.blogspot.com/2013/03/protection-against-arterial.html

    Reply

    18 Andi VanderWoude October 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    So sorry to hear of your experience! I have two pieces of helpful information: 1) Look into the book “Wheat Belly”. It is written by a cardiologist who followed the heart healthy diet and got sick from it, so decided to look into the science, and found the whole thing unfounded. What he DID find was that conventional wheat (white or whole grain, soured) causes heart disease. That was originally hard for me to hear, as a WAPFer whom believes in whole foods and grinds my own grain! (I think Kelly has a link to in interview with the guy somewhere around here). VERY good read! Also (on the same note) the Ramiel Nagel book “cure tooth decay naturally” which is based on a lot of WAPF research talks a little about how the only thing WAP was wrong about was whole grains. 2) The second is to look into Linus Pauling. Linus Pauling found that vitamin C difficiency causes heart disease. (I want to be careful to point out that saying it causes heart disease is not the same as saying it is the only thing that could cause heart disease). He found that heart disease could be reversed using high doses of vitamin C. Hopefully these will help you find some peace of mind in how to continue with your healthy healing lifestyle. Blessings!

    Reply

    19 Linda T. October 26, 2013 at 7:51 am

    I am so encouraged to read these comments. I had a heart attack two years ago and I’ve still be struggling back and forth regarding what/how to eat (what the “experts” say vs. what I read about whole foods, etc.) I really do know the whole foods approach is the correct one, but then the doubts start…”what if I’m wrong”…what if I have another heart attack”…etc. I love the comment “don’t doubt in the dark what you have known in the light.” I know what I need to do…that part is up to me…but I also know that God is sovereign and He knows the number of my days. All the worrying and “what-ifs” will not add a day to my life. It is up to me to live and eat responsibly and trust that I am doing what I can with the knowledge I have. Thanks for all the encouragement!

    Reply

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