to Forum discussion.
People often ask; how did I come to many of the conclusions, the ideas, in the Undoctored book, as well as the ideas that were developed through the Wheat Belly projects. Well, let me give you some history and how this all happened, but I have to go back about 25 years.
25 years ago I was in a conventional cardiology practice, doing much the same as my colleagues. That is, doing angioplasties, and heart catheterizations, and putting in stents, and doing atherectomies, and stopping heart attacks, and those kinds of procedures. My mother died, very suddenly: a sudden cardiac death, after a successful two vessel coronary angioplasty she had performed in New Jersey.
Well, that drove home to me that taking care of this disease in a procedure in the cath lab when people had problems, was clearly a very very bad way to manage this disease, right? People die before they even get to the hospital, as my mom did, after a “successful” procedure. So I set my sights on (1) trying to identify coronary disease early, before it led those kinds of dangers, and (2) could we do something about it, and maybe not see people die from heart attacks or sudden cardiac death.
Well, the only device that really identified coronary disease, in people without symptoms, and without being invasive, is a CT heart scan. Back then, the device was called an electron beam tomography device. It was a kind of CAT scan device but it was very quick. The heart's a moving organ, and like any moving object, if you want to get a picture of it, you need a very quick camera, right? You get a clear picture. Same thing with the heart. The heart is moving. It has multiple phases of motion. It's got lung motion. There's human motion. The heart's always moving. You need a very rapid acquisition of images to quantify the plaque in the arteries precisely.
That's what this device did. It's very costly, but I helped bring the people together who had the money — I was not an investor. I just kind of oversaw the entire thing — and we started scanning a lot of people in Milwaukee and in Wisconsin. What I learned was there are thousands of people walking around with heart disease, and we didn't know what to do about it. Back then, this is 20-some years ago, I told people to take cholesterol drugs, and cut their fat, and exercise, and all that kind of standard stuff, and it didn't work.
If you do nothing, the heart scan score increases at a rate of 25 to 30% per year, which is horrifying, right? If you give somebody a high dose of a statin drug, cut their fat, do all those kinds of things, aspirin, beta blockers, all the conventional answers for heart disease, you slow it a little bit, maybe to 24%, which still is pretty bad, right? So it became clear that the conventional answers were insufficient, grotesquely insufficient.
Conventional wisdom; my colleagues actually said this “Well just don't scan people again. Ignore it. Wait until they have chest pain, or have a heart attack, and then worry about it.” Well, that to me was ridiculous. It went against everything I believed and what I was trying to get done. So I set myself on a course to identify the factors that would give people better tools. There's a lot of hit and miss, a lot of trying things, but it led to a panel of tools that worked.
For instance when I added vitamin D a number of years ago, about 12-13 years ago, that's when I started seeing heart scan scores not just slowing, but dropping dramatically. A score of 700 could drop to 350, or something like that; dramatic reductions in the scoring of atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries. The number one cause for plaque in the hearts artery is not cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol (that's what I call the kindergarten version — it's the way the drug industry paints that picture). Cholesterol is nothing more than marker. Let's talk about that separately another video.
Cholesterol is nothing more than a marker for the lipoproteins, the fat, and proteins in the bloodstream. You can measure those proteins, the lipoproteins in the bloodstream, with lipoprotein analysis. You'll see, if you do that (not cholesterol testing), if you do advanced lipoprotein analysis, you'll see by far and away the most common abnormality that leads to heart disease is in excess of small LDL particles. That's a whole different conversation, but small LDL particles last a long time the blood stream, don't go away easily; they hang around for extended periods, are very adherent to the components of arteries and plaque. They are highly oxidation prone, very inflammatory. They're perfect for causing heart disease.
What two foods cause this? This is not my data. This came from several universities, that publish these data. What foods cause small LDL? Grains and sugars, not fat, not bacon, not hamburger, not beef, not pork, but grains and sugars. So I took grains and sugars out of the diet of these people, because they all had oodles of small LDL particles. They'd have an advanced lipoprotein analysis. They'd have a number like 2100 nanomoles per liter, or 1973, or something like that, 2400.
You take out grains and sugars; small LDL would typically drop to zero, or another very low number, 180, 200, something like that — virtual obliteration of the small LDL. That led to the dietary strategy, but what I learned from that though, was people come back and their small LDL will be wonderfully much better — everything else would fall into place: Blood pressure would drop. Their blood sugars would drop. The triglycerides would drop dramatically. HDL would go up.
And they'd say “Well I don't understand why I lost 47 pounds. I wasn't trying. I didn't do anything different except take out grains and sugar. Why did my rheumatoid arthritis go away? Why are my hands so much better? I stopped all three drugs. Why am I no longer diabetic? I had to stop the insulin and my oral diabetes drugs. Why is my acid reflux gone? It was gone within five days of changing my diet. Why did my IBS symptoms disappear within a week? Why did my ulcerative colitis get so good I eliminated two of the drugs and I'm working on the third.”
In other words, I started seeing lives transformed by eliminating grains and sugars. It also became clear that if we extend the conversation to all grains, not just wheat (like the first Wheat Belly book) there was even larger benefits. It became clear also that there were nutritional deficiencies that persisted in some people, many people, even after you remove the cause: grains. Grains cause nutritional deficiency. They don't provide nutrients. They actually cause deficiencies, particularly of minerals like magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. When you stop grains, levels of iron, in most, will just go up.
But some nutrients need to be replaced, specifically magnesium, so that was another lesson we learned. Then I also addressed other common deficiencies, mostly iodine and vitamin D. I had people doing this list of strategies and we did indeed see heart scan scores dropping left and right: 800 dropping to 500, 300, routinely, routinely; all those other wonderful health benefits, including dramatic weight loss, and reversal of autoimmune conditions, etc. People were doing this in the thousands, particularly after the Wheat Belly book came out. Wheat Belly Total Health that kind of extended the whole menu of strategies.
Then people started telling me this, over and over and over again, “I told my doctor I was going to do this. My doctor discouraged it, said it was irresponsible, it was ineffective, went against dietary guidelines, it would cause a heart attack, or would make me go on cholesterol drugs, or whatever, but I did it anyway.” and they would have all these spectacular health effects. What I saw also was that people were getting well, on their own, without the doctor, in spite of the doctor.
It became clear what we really had was, we zig-zagged our way here, but we stumbled on a program that restored health, literally reversing or preventing hundreds, hundreds, of health conditions, and caused weight loss. And it didn't require the doctor's input. You could do it on your own — because most people did it on their own, and achieved spectacular success.
It also became clear we're in this age of information and smartphones and smartphone apps and collective collaborative websites, so we're also walking into an incredibly exciting era, where you and I are obtaining or getting tools that allow us take a lot of health responsibilities for ourselves. If you can track your blood sugar, you can become a non-diabetic. If you can track your own vitamin D, you can manage your own vitamin D.
In other words, I really mean you can be Undoctored in so many aspects about … yeah the doctor's there if we have a car accident, or have a pneumonia, or something like that where the healthcare system is necessary. But for so much of the common chronic health conditions, that we're all familiar with, like eczema, seborrhea, joint pains, acid reflux, IBS migraine headaches, all that common stuff we're all familiar with, you have extraordinary control over those conditions, if given a little bit of benign information.
That's what led me to the Undoctored principles. In Undoctored, we also expand it by showing you how to apply all the new information, new health tools, health apps, smart phone apps, tracking devices, so that you, over time, will have this impressive armamentarium of tools to keep you and your family healthy and out of the clutches of the healthcare system.
If you've been following the Undoctored conversations, you now know that the healthcare system is really not your friend much of the time. It's a predatory system, looking for money to build its own revenues. That's the downside. The upside is you have unprecedented power over your own health. That to me is so exciting. That in a nutshell is how I got here. I didn't just think this all stuff up over a few weeks. We got here almost over 25 years of testing, trying, failures, successes, and now successes on an unprecedented scale — at an exciting time where it's become possible to do so much more than we could even just ten years ago. So stick with the Undoctored conversations. I think you will be very impressed at how much you can achieve on your own, and Undoctored.