Julieanna Hever, MS, RD

Julieanna Hever, MS, RD

Posted March 9, 2010

Published in Health

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The Tipping Point

Read More: disease, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, dr. t colin campbell, forks over knives, Hippocrates, osteoporosis, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, The China Study, the veggie grill, tipping point

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Have we reached the tipping point in the grassroots effort of conveying the medical miracles of plant-based nutrition to the world? I spent two and a half days with Dr. T. Colin Campbell (here I am with him and his beautiful and inspiring wife, Karen), my Guru whom I lovingly and with conviction have named "The Father of Modern Nutrition". He is, indeed, a pioneer who is changing the landscape of health as we have known it for the past century and taking it in a one hundred and eighty degree turn back to Hippocrates original wisdom. "Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food" was the dictum he proposed during his lifetime(460-377 B.C.). And yet we have strayed eons from this brilliant thesis in the past millennium. From food to pills and potions...from a holistic perspective to a specified point of reference, focusing on a specific vitamin or hormone responsible for a whole health issue. When will it be that physicians and researchers conclude that our body is infinitely wiser than we give it credit for?

An article came out in the paper today regarding the most popular and utilized osteoporosis medication, Fosamax. It implicated the drug in causing fractures after long-term use even though its specific indication is for (potential) osteoporotic patients. Last week, the National Institutes of Health (the largest biomedical research organization) released a report of their concern for Americans' misunderstanding of lactose intolerance. They pretty much stated that we must do anything it takes to get the dairy into our bodies, ignoring any discomfort, illness or dis-ease it may cause in order to prevent osteoporosis. Ironically, studies clearly state that the countries around the world who consume the most dairy have the highest incidence of bone fractures! Further, we are more obese as a nation than ever before in history. This newest generation is hypothesized to be the first to live a shorter lifespan than its parents. Rates of type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and heart disease are above and beyond the rates corresponding to historical potential. And the age of onset of these diseases is younger than ever before. The statistics are frightening.

And yet, the supplement and pharmaceutical industries are thriving. Restaurants serve larger and more deadly portions of fat, sugar and salt at rates that will scare you back to dead. They have huge panels of scientific experts dedicated to figure out which perfect combinations of fat, sugar and salt will have you coming back for more as much as possible. We have to face talks and we are walking to our graves painstakingly yet surely.

On an optimistic note, however, The Veggie Grill is a restaurant that is only about three years old and has already served nearly one million plant-based meals. This picture is of me with Kevin Boylan, the co-owner of The Veggie Grill. He and his business partner, T.K. Pillan, read The China Study in one weekend and went 100% plant-based immediately following its completion. It was then that they knew what type of restaurant they needed to open. 


                                            The trailer for a film that is not even in distribution yet, entitled Forks Over Knives, has had almost 21,000 views on You-Tube posted less than a month ago. Here I am with Dr. Campbell, his lovely wife, Karen and Brian Wendel, Executive Producer of Forks Over Knives, after we screened the film yesterday. This film is the documentary that has the potential to change the landscape of medicine as we now know it, thanks to the brilliant pioneering work of Dr. Campbell and his colleague, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, whom are highlighted in the film. Ultimately, if we take a step back and observe the changes that are inarguable and omnipresent, it is undeniable that we are reaching a significant fork in the road. Our health is at the nadir of potential. We have no choice but to choose differently. My Father always told me that the definition of "crazy" is someone who keeps beating their head against the wall and expecting a different result. As Dr. Campbell brilliantly pointed out yesterday...we have finally "reached the tipping point"...people are starting to notice and it is a very exciting time!


5 Comments | Leave a comment


Perhaps I'm too much of a cynic. I look forward to this movie because it'll have more of Dr's Campbell and Esselstyn.
But I've become to cynical that anyone but the converted will watch the movie - or pay attention to it. In various meetings recently we've run into people who believe that cancer was cured in the 1940's (Gerson Miracle), that animals can transmute elements, that vast quantities of oil are under ground in the western USA and more. As highly trained "professionals" who can shoot this stuff down for breakfast we've found that people are utterly unreceptive for any contrary message. They want unknown/undiscovered mysteries and secrets from the past available.
I don't think that I've managed to get anyone to really consider a veg diet - not even those who were obese and been thru at least one heart attack and bypass operation - not given the data of my own blood lipids response to a near McDougall diet - not even considering a trial diet for a few weeks.
People are strange animals. On one hand they'll readily believe things that been "hidden" (transmutation, oil, cancer "cures") but on the other they'll reject a temporary diet change because there is "no evidence that it's good for you".
I think that maybe we might have one other family considering a vegetarian supper per week - but they're already shoveling cups of milk, eggs for breakfast, meat for lunch and fish for supper into their kids "to be sure that they get enough protein and calcium". They set impossible bars for us to leap over to prove that this isn't necessary and they will not do their own research - in short they're not listening and making sure that they never have a vegetarian dinner. They go on about how they feel so weak if they don't have their eggs or other "high protein" food.

But I'd like to think that we've reached a tipping point! But then I look at the fiasco of health care "reform" in the USA and I've got to wonder about where prevention comes into decreasing profits. Oh yea - that's why it's not mentioned - nobody makes money on prevention.


I need some help. I'm wondering if this is how David felt staring up at Goliath. Five smooth stones would come in real handy about now, but I'm unarmed. That is why I am asking for your assistance. Here's my situation:
My mother is nearing her 85th birthday. For the past 11 years she has lived in various care facilities. When her dementia became pronounced, I became her legal guardian.
Last summer a stranger loaned me a copy of The China Study. I have not eaten beef since. By the time I finished the book, I was a vegetarian. Now I consider myself a casual vegan. I feel great. At age 51 this diet gives me optimism for continued health for years to come.
Meanwhile I was visiting Mom in the nursing home daily and watching her decline. While healing from a broken arm this last year she lost the ability to walk; she is now strapped into a wheelchair. Her ability to communicate has also declined. I have seen many times when she was unable to communicate personal needs. There were times that I left the home blinking back tears.
Thinking we had nothing to lose, I decided to put Mom on a vegan diet--no easy accomplishment in a nursing home. It took about three months to gain the cooperation of the facility in implementing the new diet. Originally I was told that because the nursing home receives federal funding they were required to abide by the federally approved food pyramid. I was also advosed that no changes could be made to Mom's diet without doctor's orders. I tried for time to locate a doctor who shared my interest in nutrition, but was unable to find one. In frustration I finally asked the dietician how I would be treated if, as a vegan, I someday needed care in their facitly. She assured me that personal dietary preferences would be honored. That was the turning point. I exercised my authority as Mom's legal guardian and informed the staff that my mother was a vegan and in her behalf I requested that they honor her dietary preferences.
Mom's new diet began sometime in December. Now the dietary staff serves Mom whater vegetarian foods are on the menu each day and I bring homemade, salt-free whole food plant-based dishes from home to supplement what is served by the facility. I have concerns because the nurses are giving Mom protien and calcium supplements which I suspect are harmful, but I do not yet feel knowledgeable enough confront that issue.
Something interesting has been happening over the three months the new diet has been in effect. Mom's ability to carry on a conversation has increased dramatically. She now expresses her needs to myself and to others. Family members have noticed a difference in speaking with her on the phone. In person she appears more alert. The swelling in her legs has decrerased. Now I leave the home full of joy, optimism, and gratitude.
Today things changed. I participated telephonically in Mom's quarterly care conference. The reports sounded good to me. I was told that Mom's blood work had recently been done and everything was in the normal range. Her weight, too, was right where it belonged. The doctor, however, was concerned because she had lost ten pounds and was eating a smaller percentage of her meals. He ordered that she be returned to a 'normal' diet. This was very upsetting to me. My initial thought was that I cannot fight the doctor, the nursing home, and the FDA all by myself. I told them to go ahead and make the changes thinking that Mom would begin to decline and then I would have proof that the vegan diet was better for her.
After talking to family members and friends I rethought that response. How can I put my mother at risk when I am not convinced the change is in her best interest? Is it responsible to jeopardize her welfare now to prove a point that may benefit her in the future?
This evening I wrote a letter to the home withdrawing my consent to the dietary changes. In my letter I stated that I needed more information before making any decision and requested an opportunity to meet with the doctor. Although I feel better about this decision, I am far from comfortable. As an attorney I know how to make an argument, but I know too little about nutrition to construct a proper argument. I have no credentials in the field of health, nutrition, or geriatrics. I feel greatly outmatched.
I could use all the help I can get right now. What I would like best is an expert to consult, but I don't even know where to look.
Any ideas, informtion, or resources would be appreciated.


I see three possibilities:
a) she doesn’t like the food as much, so she’s eating less. Can you supplement it with snacks you know she likes? Some older people use meal replacements (Ensure); I don’t know if any are vegan.
b) in the smaller portions older people eat, the food doesn’t have enough calories to keep her weight up. Can you ask the facility to enrich it (more margarine for the bread, desserts)? Can you supply cheese substitutes, nut butter (if she can digest it), etc? The doctor is right, it’s important for her to get enough calories.
c) At the age of 85, losing weight could be a sign of her declining, and it has nothing to do with the diet. Try to figure out where she is about this anyway.


takingcareofmomma - the weight loss could at least partly be explained by the fluid loss from her legs. Does she look worse than she did 3 months ago? Does her face look too thin? Is she more lethargic?
It looks like you have stumbled upon an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease, something that has not previously been reported. Do not stop the vegan diet. Do not use margarine, since it contains trans fats and is possibly even more unhealthy than butter. Also, I believe that Ensure is made from cow milk, which is about as safe as tobacco.
Write Dr. John McDougall at for advice on how to deal with your mom's doctor. One would think that your doctor would like to study her improvement with a vegan diet and to see how much she could ultimately improve. It could be argued that he is economically threatened by the possibility of Alzheimers disease being controlled without doctors, and that he is trying to remove this threat. This reprehensible type of coverup is already being done with multiple sclerosis, which will also respond to a low-fat vegan diet.


Another interesting day at the nursing home--scary, but intersting. Early this morning the dietician mentioned that a no-salt/no-dairy diet would be nearly impossible to implement. I had realized no-dairy might pose difficulties because our culture is so accustomed to cooking with dairy products, but I was shocked to hear that a no-salt diet posed a problem in a nursing home, a facility designed to care for elderly and ailing people, many of whom have heart conditions that call for no-sodium or reduced-sodium diets

This evening I learned something even scarier: The palliative care philosophy of the home extends to dietary considerations! I was fully in agreement with the concept of palliative care--care which promotes comfort but offers no medical interventions designed to prolong life--until I discovered that healthy eating, which prolongs life, is not favored. A nurse explained this to me. Dietary considerations are governed, not by nutrition, but by what the residents like to eat. That explains the bacon! Deserts are made with Splenda so that diebetic residents can enjoy sweets with every meal.

There's one problem with palliative nutrition: It doesn't work. If the forget-about-healthy-foods-and-just-eat-whatever-makes-you-happy approach worked, the nursing home residents where my mom lives should be the happiest people on earth. They're not. Many of the residents complain daily of aches, pains, and illness; others stoically avoid complaining by saying 'I'm doing a little better today.' The residents suffer from lack of mobility, amputations, mental disorders, failing eyesight and hearing, declining communication skills, confusion, and boredom. When these elderly people decline to the point that they can no longer feed themselves, their 'happy meals' are put through a blender and spoon-fed by an attendant.

I also learned that the diet served by the nursing home is not really prepared by the kitchen staff. The meals are bought as a package from a distributor. Meal content is governed by the FDA.

Right now I'm wishing for some palliative care FOR ME because I'm getting real uncomfortable. . . .

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