Untitled Document
Letter to a friend who is suffering from heart disease

Dear Friend,

It has been a long time since our high school days of playing basketball every afternoon during lunchtime and our involvement at the Boys and Girls club after school. We were pretty active back then, played the sports we enjoyed most, and kept ourselves healthy and fit. Of course, that was then, and as our lives got busier, we changed in a number of ways. In some ways these changes have been positive for you, such as the opportunity for feeling settled, with a house, family, job and all that comes with those important areas of life. But these changes to your life situation also led to a less physically active life, and one of frequent consumption of unhealthy foods.

This brings us to the present. As you’ve told me, your weight has ballooned to over 300 pounds and you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes in your early 30s. You don’t feel as well as you used to and you have numerous aches and pains, especially on-going issues with your lower back. You have early stages of heart disease, which is the most dangerous disease we face and is our nation’s leading cause of death. Your doctor has been honest with you saying you’ve got some serious health issues that need to be addressed immediately. Enter Robert Cheeke, the Best Man in your wedding. You came to me not just because I was the best man in your wedding or that we’ve been best buddies since our high school days, but because I live and work in the field of health and wellness. Though our lifestyles are vastly different, you’ve been one of the biggest supporters of my vegan bodybuilding and fitness lifestyle. Given my occupation in the health field, I have had the unique privilege to spend time with some of the world’s leading doctors, scientists and authorities on health and wellness.

One of those authorities happens to be a friend of mine, Dr. Esselstyn, who specializes in preventing and reversing diseases, such as the ones you face today. He has had incredibly high success rates with patients who have reversed their heart disease. Nearly everyone who follows his unique (but should someday be standard) approach to halting disease, does indeed halt the progression of the disease. Furthermore, he has many cases of disease regression (reversal of disease) as well. What is his unique approach? It is simply one in which he requires his patients to stop the behaviors that cause and perpetuate their diseases. Namely, when patients reject animal-based and processed foods (including oil), and adapt a complete plant-based whole foods (unrefined – unprocessed) diet, they strengthen the body’s capability to fight off disease, while not consuming the foods that foster and grow disease.

Simply, what we decide to eat, and more importantly, what we decide not to eat, can and will make the difference between having a serious life-threatening condition such as heart disease, and not having one at all. I can meet with you soon to discuss more thoroughly how this works, as it is something I’ve been studying over the years. I’ve spent time not only with Dr. Esselstyn but other leaders in the health movement. In a nut-shell, here is what happens in the body: when we consume animal-based and processed foods, we damage the cells that protect us and that allow blood to flow smoothly in the body. The consumption of these acid-forming animal foods creates plaque within the arteries and that naturally slows blood flow, like when you step on a hose when watering the garden. The component within the body to keep blood flowing smoothly is nitric oxide which is a gas and dilates the blood vessels, such as, when you step off the garden hose and let the water flow again. Nitric oxide is found in abundance in green leafy vegetables. When we fail to consume the foods that are comprised of nitric oxide, and we eat the foods that create the most plaque (and damage the endothelial cells which

protect us), what we have is a situation where the blood cannot flow smoothly and it begins to clot. This cuts off blood flow to major areas of the body such as the heart or brain and we can have a heart attack or stroke as a result.

Your doctor has suggested various medications you can take, but I want you to know that research by Dr. Esselstyn shows medications only treat the diseases on a superficial level and do not address the underlying causes. With my brief description of how heart disease is produced in the body, you can see how important it is to address the causes, not just the symptoms. A change in lifestyle is not an easy one. Sometimes we’re tempted to ease into it, taking slow steps in our effort for change. Think of this as you would think about someone who is smoking or drinking. If they were to take steps, slowly cutting back, we can easily see they are still damaging their lungs or their liver with even moderate consumption. This is also true for those who continue to consume foods that cause heart disease, even at a moderate pace. A simple approach to positive change is to begin adding more plant-based whole foods into your diet. This will naturally fill the stomach and provide required nutrients and as a result there won’t be as much room for animal-based and processed foods. The diet doesn’t have to be bland or boring, and I can give you a variety of tips and resources to get you started. It can seem a bit overwhelming, but if you can start with one change, which is to eliminate the consumption of animal products, you will be inspired by your health improvements and may be inspired to also add exercise back into your life, like the old days. Since nutrition is the greatest factor in determining levels of health, that is where we will start.

You have a wife and three young children and I would love to see you grow old with them. Heart disease and some of the other health issues you’re facing are controllable and reversible. Let’s tackle this like we used to tackle our opponents on the basketball court and on the playing field. Let’s give it everything we’ve got. As a championship coach, I know you’re in it to win it. Let’s get out there and win this battle. Not for our school, or city or for our coach, but let’s win this for your family, your friends, all those who care about you, and for you and your bright future. You can beat this, and as your best friend, I’ll be the biggest cheerleader in your quest to win in the game of health. It’s go time.


For more information about the T. Colin Campbell Plant-Based Nutrition Certification Course, please visit www.ecornell.com/robertcheeke