An outstanding editorial by Dr. Aseem Malhotra, cardiologist, has happily blown me away. It really is worth a read of the full text (linked below), but I thought I’d break down the best parts for you to get an idea of his viewpoint and recommendations. I have a deep respect for the expertise and work ethic of medical doctors – and it is even more wonderful when they are strong promoters of the power of nutrition.
As many of you are aware, I largely refrain from weighing and calorie counting in my clinic. In fact, I may be developing an allergic reaction to the latter. If I have to see one more patient tormenting themselves over the calories in a healthy food I may have to take some nutrition labels and burn them in an act of defiance. Grrrr.
Meanwhile, as the bonfire rages, Dr. Malhotra’s article offers me much comfort.
Some key points:
- Simple dietary changes can significantly reverse cardiovascular disease and mortality within months. Even if a person has had a poor, disease promoting diet for all of their life. It really is never too late to change. Examples include the introduction of fatty fish, extra virgin olive oil, omega 3 fatty acids, flaxseed and raw nuts to the diet. Our bodies are so very forgiving of us.
- These positive impacts on the disease process of these major killers are much more significant than the modest help offered by aspirin, statins, coronary stents or the American Heart Association’s low fat diet recommendations.
- These positive life preserving (not to mention yummy) interventions improve health outcomes irrespective of whether weight was lost or not. This emphasises the importance of not making weight loss the primary goal – weight loss will happen organically if optimal health is the focus of an intervention. A properly nourished person will not become overweight.
- The weight loss industry has made billions through its messages of calorie restriction over good nutrition. Emphasis must be placed on counting nutrients, not calories. Just do this and watch the magic happen. Think what could be done with the money saved and the happiness and vitality created.
- The emphasis placed on prescribing pharmaceuticals for heart disease is likely distracting health professionals, and patients, from implementing these important changes which have a far more effective impact. Heart disease and type 2 diabetes do not occur because humans have suddenly developed a deficiency in metformin, statins, insulin or blood pressure medication! It is time for doctors, and dietitians, to read the actual research and wake up and smell the oily fish.
Here’s a link to this wonderful article. I may hug it for quite a while.
It is time to stop counting calories, and time instead to promote dietary changes that substantially and rapidly reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality