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  • This session is on natural wonders,

  • and the bigger conference is on the pursuit of happiness.

  • I want to try to combine them all,

  • because to me, healing is really the ultimate natural wonder.

  • Your body has a remarkable capacity to begin healing itself,

  • and much more quickly than people had once realized,

  • if you simply stop doing what's causing the problem.

  • And so, really, so much of what we do in medicine and life in general

  • is focused on mopping up the floor without also turning off the faucet.

  • I love doing this work, because it really gives many people

  • new hope and new choices that they didn't have before,

  • and it allows us to talk about things that -- not just diet,

  • but that happiness is not --

  • we're talking about the pursuit of happiness,

  • but when you really look at all the spiritual traditions,

  • what Aldous Huxley called the "perennial wisdom,"

  • when you get past the named and forms and rituals that really divide people,

  • it's really about -- our nature is to be happy;

  • our nature is to be peaceful, our nature is to be healthy.

  • And so it's not something -- happiness is not something you get,

  • health is generally not something that you get.

  • But rather all of these different practices --

  • you know, the ancient swamis and rabbis and priests and monks and nuns

  • didn't develop these techniques to just manage stress

  • or lower your blood pressure, unclog your arteries,

  • even though it can do all those things.

  • They're powerful tools for transformation,

  • for quieting down our mind and bodies

  • to allow us to experience what it feels like to be happy,

  • to be peaceful, to be joyful

  • and to realize that it's not something that you pursue and get,

  • but rather it's something that you have already until you disturb it.

  • I studied yoga for many years with a teacher named Swami Satchidananda

  • and people would say, "What are you, a Hindu?" He'd say, "No, I'm an undo."

  • And it's really about identifying what's causing us

  • to disturb our innate health and happiness,

  • and then to allow that natural healing to occur.

  • To me, that's the real natural wonder.

  • So, within that larger context,

  • we can talk about diet, stress management --

  • which are really these spiritual practices --

  • moderate exercise, smoking cessation, support groups and community --

  • which I'll talk more about -- and some vitamins and supplements.

  • And it's not a diet.

  • You know, when most people think about the diet I recommend,

  • they think it's a really strict diet.

  • For reversing disease, that's what it takes,

  • but if you're just trying to be healthy, you have a spectrum of choices.

  • And to the degree that you can move in a healthy direction,

  • you're going to live longer, you're going to feel better,

  • you're going to lose weight, and so on.

  • And in our studies, what we've been able to do

  • is to use very expensive, high-tech, state-of-the-art measures

  • to prove how powerful these very simple and low-tech and low-cost --

  • and in many ways, ancient -- interventions, can be.

  • We first began by looking at heart disease,

  • and when I began doing this work 26 or 27 years ago,

  • it was thought that once you have heart disease it can only get worse.

  • And what we found was that, instead of getting worse and worse,

  • in many cases it could get better and better,

  • and much more quickly than people had once realized.

  • This is a representative patient who at the time was 73 --

  • totally needed to have a bypass, decided to do this instead.

  • We used quantitative arteriography, showing the narrowing.

  • This is one of the arteries that feed the heart, one of the main arteries,

  • and you can see the narrowing here.

  • A year later, it's not as clogged; normally, it goes the other direction.

  • These minor changes in blockages

  • caused a 300 percent improvement in blood flow,

  • and using cardiac positron emission tomography, or "PET," scans,

  • blue and black is no blood flow, orange and white is maximal.

  • Huge differences can occur without drugs, without surgery.

  • Clinically, he literally couldn't walk across the street without getting severe chest pain;

  • within a month, like most people, was pain-free, and within a year,

  • climbing more than 100 floors a day on a Stairmaster.

  • This is not unusual, and it's part of what enables people

  • to maintain these kinds of changes,

  • because it makes such a big difference in their quality of life.

  • Overall, if you looked at all the arteries in all the patients,

  • they got worse and worse, from one year to five years, in the comparison group.

  • This is the natural history of heart disease,

  • but it's really not natural because we found it could get better and better,

  • and much more quickly than people had once thought.

  • We also found that the more people change, the better they got.

  • It wasn't a function of how old or how sick they were --

  • it was mainly how much they changed,

  • and the oldest patients improved as much as the young ones.

  • I got this as a Christmas card a few years ago

  • from two of the patients in one of our programs.

  • The younger brother is 86, the older one's 95;

  • they wanted to show me how much more flexible they were.

  • And the following year they sent me this one, which I thought was kind of funny.

  • (Laughter)

  • You just never know.

  • And what we found was that 99 percent of the patients

  • start to reverse the progression of their heart disease.

  • Now I thought, you know, if we just did good science,

  • that would change medical practice. But, that was a little naive.

  • It's important, but not enough.

  • Because we doctors do what we get paid to do,

  • and we get trained to do what we get paid to do,

  • so if we change insurance, then we change medical practice and medical education.

  • Insurance will cover the bypass, it'll cover the angioplasty;

  • it won't, until recently, cover diet and lifestyle.

  • So, we began through our nonprofit institute's

  • training hospitals around the country,

  • and we found that most people could avoid surgery,

  • and not only was it medically effective, it was also cost effective.

  • And the insurance companies found

  • that they began to save almost 30,000 dollars per patient,

  • and Medicare is now in the middle of doing a demonstration project

  • where they're paying for 1,800 people to go through the program

  • on the sites that we train.

  • The fortuneteller says, "I give smokers a discount

  • because there's not as much to tell." (Laughter)

  • I like this slide, because it's a chance to talk about

  • what really motivates people to change, and what doesn't.

  • And what doesn't work is fear of dying,

  • and that's what's normally used.

  • Everybody who smokes knows it's not good for you,

  • and still 30 percent of Americans smoke --

  • 80 percent in some parts of the world. Why do people do it?

  • Well, because it helps them get through the day.

  • And I'll talk more about this, but the real epidemic

  • isn't just heart disease or obesity or smoking -- it's loneliness and depression.

  • As one woman said, "I've got 20 friends in this package of cigarettes,

  • and they're always there for me and nobody else is.

  • You're going to take away my 20 friends? What are you going to give me?"

  • Or they eat when they get depressed,

  • or they use alcohol to numb the pain,

  • or they work too hard, or watch too much TV.

  • There are lots of ways we have of avoiding and numbing and bypassing pain,

  • but the point of all of this is to deal with the cause of the problem.

  • And the pain is not the problem: it's the symptom.

  • And telling people they're going to die is too scary to think about,

  • or, they're going to get emphysema or heart attack is too scary,

  • and so they don't want to think about it, so they don't.

  • The most effective anti-smoking ad was this one.

  • You'll notice the limp cigarette hanging out of his mouth,

  • and "impotence" -- the headline is, "Impotent" -- it's not emphysema.

  • What was the biggest selling drug of all time

  • when it was introduced a few years ago?

  • Viagra, right? Why? Because a lot of guys need it.

  • It's not like you say, "Hey Joe, I'm having erectile dysfunction, how about you?"

  • And yet, look at the number of prescriptions that are being sold.

  • It's not so much psychological, it's vascular,

  • and nicotine makes your arteries constrict.

  • So does cocaine, so does a high fat diet, so does emotional stress.

  • So the very behaviors that we think of as being so sexy in our culture

  • are the very ones that leave so many people feeling tired,

  • lethargic, depressed and impotent, and that's not much fun.

  • But when you change those behaviors, your brain gets more blood,

  • you think more clearly, you have more energy,

  • your heart gets more blood in ways I've shown you.

  • Your sexual function improves.

  • And these things occur within hours. This is a study: a high fat meal,

  • and within one or two hours blood-flow is measurably less --

  • and you've all experienced this at Thanksgiving.

  • When you eat a big fatty meal, how do you feel?

  • You feel kind of sleepy afterwards.

  • On a low-fat meal, the blood flow doesn't go down -- it even goes up.

  • Many of you have kids, and you know that's a big change in your lifestyle,

  • and so people are not afraid to make big changes in lifestyle if they're worth it.

  • And the paradox is that when you make big changes, you get big benefits,

  • and you feel so much better so quickly.

  • For many people, those are choices worth making --

  • not to live longer, but to live better.

  • I want to talk a little bit about the obesity epidemic,

  • because it really is a problem.

  • Two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese,

  • and diabetes in kids and 30-year-olds

  • has increased 70 percent in the last 10 years. It's no joke: it's real.

  • And just to show you this, this is from the CDC.

  • These are not election returns; these are the percentage of people who are overweight.

  • And if you see from '85 to '86 to '87, '88, '89, '90, '91 --

  • you get a new category, 15 to 20 percent; '92, '93, '94, '95, '96, '97 --

  • you get a new category; '98, '99, 2000, and 2001.

  • Mississippi, more than 25 percent of people are overweight.

  • Why is this? Well, this is one way to lose weight that works very well ...

  • but it doesn't last, which is the problem.

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, there's no mystery in how you lose weight;

  • you either burn more calories by exercise or you eat fewer calories.

  • Now, one way to eat fewer calories is to eat less food,

  • which is why you can lose weight on any diet if you eat less food,

  • or if you restrict entire categories of foods.

  • But the problem is, you get hungry, so it's hard to keep it off.

  • The other way is to change the type of food.

  • And fat has nine calories per gram,

  • whereas protein and carbs only have four.

  • So, when you eat less fat, you eat fewer calories without having to eat less food.

  • So you can eat the same amount of food, but you'll be getting fewer calories

  • because the food is less dense in calories.

  • And it's the volume of food that affects satiety, rather than the type of food.

  • You know, I don't like talking about the Atkins diet, but I get asked about it every day,

  • and so I just thought I'd spend a few minutes on that.

  • The myth that you hear about is,

  • Americans have been told to eat less fat,

  • the percent of calories from fat is down,

  • Americans are fatter than ever, therefore fat doesn't make you fat.

  • It's a half-truth. Actually, Americans are eating more fat than ever,

  • and even more carbs. And so the percentage is lower,

  • the actual amount is higher, and so the goal is to reduce both.

  • Dr. Atkins and I debated each other many times before he died,

  • and we agreed that Americans eat too many simple carbs,

  • the "bad carbs," and these are things like --

  • (Laughter)

  • -- sugar, white flour, white rice, alcohol. And you get a double whammy:

  • you get all these calories that don't fill you up because you've removed the fiber,

  • and they get absorbed quickly so your blood sugar zooms up.

  • Your pancreas makes insulin to bring it back down, which is good.

  • But insulin accelerates the conversion of calories into fat.

  • So, the goal is not to go to pork rinds and bacon and sausages --

  • these are not health foods --

  • but to go from "bad carbs" to what are called "good carbs."

  • And these are things like whole foods, or unrefined carbs:

  • fruits, vegetables, whole wheat flour, brown rice, in their natural forms, are rich in fiber.

  • And the fiber fills you up before you get too many calories,

  • and it slows the absorption so you don't get that rapid rise in blood sugar.

  • So, and you get all the disease-protective substances.

  • It's not just what you exclude from your diet,

  • but also what you include that's protective.

  • Just as all carbs are not bad for you, all fats are not bad for you. There are good fats.

  • And these are predominantly what are called the Omega-3 fatty acids.

  • You find these, for example, in fish oil.

  • And the bad fats are things like trans-fatty acids and processed food

  • and saturated fats, which we find in meat.

  • If you don't remember anything else from this talk,

  • three grams a day of fish oil can reduce your risk of a heart attack

  • and sudden death by 50 to 80 percent.

  • Three grams a day. They come in one-gram capsules;

  • more than that just gives you extra fat you don't need.

  • It also helps reduce the risk of the most common cancers

  • like breast, prostate and colon cancer.