I adopted a whole foods plant based diet in the fall of 2010 after reading “The China Study” co-authored by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. A few months later I participated in my first 5K road race and have been a runner ever since.

Here are my personal records in road races at various distances.

5k: 24:31; 10k: 52:49; 15k: 1:21:39; Half Marathon: 2:02:36

5 thoughts on “About

  1. Spiral, I got linked to indyspiral via your posts on the McDougall website.

    Like you, I eat a plant positive diet and have for 8 years. However initially I was only down to about 15% of calories as fat. I was a avid runner and cyclist and thought I was in prime fitness.
    But after a lay off of a couple years from cycling and running, even though I was still eating a 15% diet, I got some angina in the early minutes of my cycling.
    Then it would clear up and I felt great.

    Long story short, via CT angiograph I was diagnosed with a heart blockage of about 70%.
    That is about the earliest it lets you know something is wrong. At 60% you feel nothing.

    So now for about 6 months I have cut my diet down to the full 10% plan and have been given some statins. I am doing all I can to “reverse” my blockage so I won’t feel any angina during my cycling and running. Progress is slow, but I seem to be getting some results.

    As you can imagine, my interest in “reversal” is very keen. Thus when the new Esselstyn study came out under the name of “A Way to Reverse CAD”, I was very excited. Thank you for the link.

    I read every word, looking for the results regarding “reversal” but sadly I find virtually nothing to indicate what “reversal” means. We are told there was a “reversal” in 22% of the participants.
    But we are given no data regarding what that means or what the average reversal was.

    ColonyofCells asked at one point in her post the following
    “. 22% had reversal of heart disease (whatever that means) and 10% got worse so the results are pretty good.”

    No one followed up to answer “whatever that means”.

    I would ask that question myself, as it seems so basic. However due to a post I made long ago, I lost my account.
    The similar question was fully explained in all of the earlier landmark studies conducted by Dean Ornish. Lancet in 1990, JAMA in 1998.

    So many of us have been brought to this way of eating with the hope of “reversal”.
    That is even in the name of this study “A way to REVERSE CAD”

    I can’t understand why a explanation of the definition of “reversal” cannot be given and why we aren’t given any numbers about the 22% (39 participants) results… as a group.

    Can no one ask that simple question. Yes, the other results about cardiac incidents are important, but many of us looking out 20 years want to know about “reversal”.

    Since I can’t post, can you please bring up the subject so that many of us can see some discussion and possibly get the attention of Esselstyn so he might provide the much needed answer?

    Seems a fair topic and not out of line to be asked.

    What did “reversal” for the 22% mean? A definition please. Possible some data so we can understand what our hopes are hinged on?

    Thank you for reading this. I hope some discussion can take place.
    I am 64 and trying to live into my 80’s. We need the full information for motivation.


    • I think you should go to Dr. Esselstyn’s contact page on his web site and just email him or telephone him and ask him the question directly. It’s a very interesting question. What was so controversial about your post? “However due to a post I made long ago, I lost my account.” Why did you get your account removed? I might bring this subject up in the Lounge at the McDougall forum. But unless you ask Dr. Esselstyn directly, the only result will be 100 different opinions among people who have no particular expertise. You could also email Dr. McDougall if you want to. Both McDougall and Esselstyn respond to their email questions fairly quickly.

      • Yes, I can go through the process of asking Dr. Esselstyn, but I imagine that right now, with the journal article only being published yesterday, that he is quite inundated with questions.

        I just can’t understand all the overwhelming comments on the topic in the Lounge when the article is almost devoid of actual facts regarding “reversal”
        Only ColonyofCells asked the most basic question that everyone looking for “reversal” would want to know.

        ““. 22% had reversal of heart disease (whatever that means)”

        I hate to repeat myself, but the article title is about “reversal”..
        Aren’t you the least bit curious what data is behind the “22% has reversal” mention in the article? I mean, if we don’t know the meaning of that basic scientific term in regards to this study, then what do we know?
        At least for the huge number of followers who are doing this for “reversal”
        That is the prime motivating factor for so many, yet the most basic substantiation of that claim is totally omitted from the study results.

        Believe me, I am looking for hope, I’m not trying to demean the study at all.
        I just hang on the actual details and definitions to stay motivated.
        But when even the definition for the claim is not provided, one has to wonder why.
        I would think even if you aren’t in the category of needing reversal, that you would be interested in the information, if only to help to convince the millions out there that they can reverse their conditions.

        As to why I am unable to post. If you stay around the site long enough, you will see that any excess questioning of aspects of studies or the program is not welcomed. Once “anyone” begins complaining about controversial questions being asked, you get warned. Then if you speak about science that may call into question anything you will eventually be told to leave.
        If you are a 100% cheerleader, and accept everything without question, such as this recent Esselstyn study, then you can stay.

        Look at the comments on this study. Do you see any real questioning of it?
        Not really. Only criticism is that you have to dig deep to realize that many of the participants were on meds, including statins.
        But even there, we are not given the numbers or stats.

        Don’t you think that is crucial, that those of us who are seeking reversal and are told 22% got reversal….. that we know how many of those 39 individuals were also on statins?
        Isn’t that a most basic fact for our understanding, For us to know how to save our lives? Is that controversial, or is that simple information that any doctor or patient would dearly want to know.

        So, Yes, at some point I will attempt to extract those answers, but my question for you and others on the board, is WHY is no one even asking such questions?

        If you watch many of Esselstyns videos as I have, you can see one of the main selling points is “reversal”… In marketing and motivation, you’d call that perhaps the key emotional driver. Saving your life.

        That is why I am so frustrated. It seems almost no one on the board even cares about this crucial point. They gladly accept all the facts as given, even when they have no definition of reversal or data to support it.

        Makes me want to pull my hair out,, what little I have left.
        Yes, I will continue to follow this way of eating, but for now, I must rely totally on the 15 year old limited Ornish data, because Esselstyn has chosen to not give us any of the data to explain his claim of 22% reversal. BTW, Ornish participants did not use statins.

        Don’t all McDougall followers want that simple explanation? Or do they just want to be part of a cheerleading squad, and if told there is 22% reversal, to just take it as gospel. Never asking questions regarding the science.

        Thanks for listening.


  2. Just a follow up regarding what you wrote–

    “I think you should go to Dr. Esselstyn’s contact page on his web site and just email him or telephone him and ask him the question directly”.

    You know, from time to time Esselstyn does read and even post on the McDougall board

    If he saw a discussion of such, he might give us a place to see the needed information to make sense of the “22% reversal”

    You’ve said the following about my question—
    ” It’s a very interesting question.”
    Then you said the following
    “But unless you ask Dr. Esselstyn directly, the only result will be 100 different opinions among people who have no particular expertise.”

    But isn’t that what we are all trying to do here, understand the meaning of the science?
    I mean if simply putting the question out there is no good, then are we all supposed to just stay dumb? Leaving out any major questioning of what we are handed.
    Or is everyone afraid that if we ask serious questions it will show we aren’t part of the team.
    One gets the real impression that its all about them vs us, and any questioning of what is handed down from on high shows disloyalty.

    You said what I was asking was as serious and legitimate question. For me it’s a matter of life or death. I sure wish you could find it in your ability and concern to ask the simple questions I’ve put forth. I cannot do so.

    Phrase them anyway you see fit so as to not disturb the board by “questioning” the study.
    If such questions can’t be asked in a open fashion, then something is seriously wrong.
    No matter how convinced we are about eating this way, we all want the truth, good or bad, about the actual facts found in the study.

    Right now, as I indicated to you, we have next to nothing regarding the folks who we’re told got a 22% reversal.
    Esselstyn’s most famous book is called Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.
    Now we have his study saying 22% reversed heart disease and we have NO facts, and NO definition. Its crazy, yet 95% of the posts to the lounge act like the study has answered all the questions that need be asked. We don’t even know how many of the 22% were on statins.

    I can’t post. I’ve told you that. Don’t you want to know the answers to these most basic questions in order for us to understand the actual scientific results that are claimed.

    Or is it more important to not say or ask anything that might be controversial, by merely asking a most basic question.

    This is all so frustrating. I try to eat perfectly and I exercise daily to attain reversal. Now it seems as though the long awaited study isn’t willing to release the all important details I’ve been waiting for. All I want is the information.
    The question could be asked in the current thread in the lounge.
    Aren’t you curious as I am?

    If you can, ask the questions I am seeking. There may be no answers but the discussion of such is educational in and of itself. I might add, real proof of reversal would do more than anything to bring in new people to this way of eating. Isn’t that a worthwhile goal?


    • Well, now that you mention it, maybe I am a little bit curious about the 22 percent “reversal” issue that you mention. But I think we should focus on what this most recently released study tells us and what it does not tell us.

      It doesn’t tell us how many of the patients were on statins. Thus, it doesn’t tell us how many people were able to discontinue their medications while adhering to Esselstyn’s diet.

      But the value in the study is similar to the value in Esselstyn’s original study, the one that was discussed in Esselstyn’s book, “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.” What do I mean? In Esselstyn’s original study, Esselstyn and his patients showed that even people who are in the advanced stages of heart disease can avoid another heart attack, avoid another stroke, avoid death if they adopt the Esselstyn diet.

      Some people looked at Esselstyn’s original study and criticized the small sample size. So, now, Esselstyn has basically responded by doing a study on a larger population of people with heart disease.

      I don’t think you should spend too much time on what this new Esselstyn study doesn’t tell you. Just focus on what it does tell you and then move on. One single study can only explain so much. If the answers you are looking for don’t appear in the pages of that pdf that is available on Dr. Esselstyn’s web site, than either email/phone Dr. Esselstyn your question or try to find some other researcher who can answer your question.

      Just by looking at what was discussed in Esselstyn’s new study, I find lots of hope for heart disease patients. But it’s really just a repeat of what we learned from reading “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.” Eat the diet that Dr. McDougall, Jeff Novick and Dr. Esselstyn recommend and you have an excellent chance of living a longer life, without another heart attack or stroke or needing to have another bypass surgery or stent. With that, you don’t have to get caught up in a semantic argument about what constitutes reversal. You see the benefits of the Esselstyn diet and then you decide if the Esselstyn diet is worth adhering to.

      I don’t see much to argue over, to be honest with you. Sure, some people wonder if it is really necessary to exclude grass fed beef, locally grown eggs, bacon, butter from Esselstyn’s diet. Isn’t processed food, high fructose corn syrup the real cause of heart disease? Those are legitimate questions. And it’s not like Esselstyn had a control group that ate exactly as Esselstyn’s patients ate, except that they ate grass fed beef and/or eggs, butter, bacon. So, you have to make the call with your own judgment. You have to look at other scientific studies that might shed light on the issue of whether grass fed beef is good, bad or neutral regarding heart health.

      I have relatives that eat lots of grass fed beef, eggs, bacon, butter, full fat cream. They aren’t convinced, by Esselstyn or anyone else, that “natural fats” are bad for you. That’s their judgment. We all have to just read these studies and interpret them how we interpret them. There’s not too much more to it than that.

      However, I do think it would be interesting if you did email Dr. Esselstyn and ask him a question or two, even though, for the most part, that “contact” section on his web page is probably designed to get heart patients to contact him so that Dr. Esselstyn can ask them to participate in his current heart study.

      When I contacted Dr. Esselstyn a few years ago, just to ask a question about some detail in a scientific study I had read about serum cholesterol, he called me back immediately, with the expectation that I was a heart disease patient who would be requesting his assistance in treating my heart disease. I think he was just a little disappointed to find out that I was just curious about something I found on Pub Med.

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