By Uma Sivanathan

Uma Sivanathan

I am reaching out to your hearts with my message about the prevention of and the reversal of high blood pressure and how it is associated with heart disease and stroke.

Here is the story of Dr. John McDougal, when he was a young rural physician in Hawai‘i in the 1970s.

Dr. McDougal worked mostly with the Native Hawaiian population. He observed his older patients were comparatively healthier than his younger patients. He became aware of the significant difference in the diets of the older generation and the diets of younger generations. The younger ones were drawn to the modern American diet of high fat, high sugar, high salt, processed foods, whereas the older folks held onto their more traditional diet, comprised mainly of fish, island-grown taro, sweet potatoes and fruits.

This led Dr. McDougal to do a thorough study of the scientific evidence that linked dietary patterns to disease. He became convinced that excesses of animal fat and animal protein, combined with excesses of refined carbohydrates and recreational drugs, such as tobacco and alcohol, were at the root cause of the increasing health challenges in Hawai‘i.

Over the past several years, many extensive research projects on heart disease have been conducted throughout the world. More and more respected medical organizations have come to the same conclusion: diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol contribute to high blood pressure, raise the cholesterol in our blood, produce plaque in our arteries and lead directly to heart disease and stroke.

Animal protein and animal fat, dairy products, and eggs are the chief source of dietary saturated fat and cholesterol. Saturated fat causes the platelets in the blood to stick together, forming clumps, which slow down the flow of blood. This can cause blood pressure to elevate sharply within hours of a meal high in saturated fat. Many heart attacks occur within hours of these “rich” meals.

John Robbins, in his book, Diet For A New America, states, “When the blood pressure is high, this is like a fire alarm, calling for immediate attention. Oftentimes, the medical response is to prescribe drugs to silence the alarm. Lowering blood pressure without doing something to improve the health of the cardiovascular system is like turning off the fire alarm and going back to sleep without fixing what set it off in the first place.”

Although blood pressure lowering drugs can be life-saving, they can have unhealthy long-term side effects. It would be wise to use these drugs only if necessary, in the transition period, as a temporary bridge to wellness.

Let’s consider our heart and the work it does to keep us alive every minute of every day. In an average lifetime, the heart will beat about three billion times.

Our heart is a muscle, about the size of a fist, and it requires a continuous flow of blood from the coronary arteries that lead to it. Normally, the blood flows easily through these arteries and their branches, but if a blockage occurs and the blood cannot get to the heart, the part of the heart that depends on the blocked artery will die, and a heart attack occurs.

Oftentimes, there is no warning. A heart attack is the final step of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a greasy accumulation of plaque made up of fats, proteins and waxy deposits, on the inner walls of the arteries, impeding the natural flow of the blood. It is now known that even a small to medium accumulation of plaque can rupture and form clots, leading to a heart attack. Atherosclerosis can also occur in the arteries to the brain and can cause a stroke.

In his book, The China Study, T. Colin Campbell, PhD gives an optimistic viewpoint: “The future is filled with hope. We now know enough to nearly eliminate heart disease. “

The evidence is in: High blood pressure and atherosclerosis, which often lead to heart disease and strokes, can be prevented and reversed, with a diet abundant in organically grown fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

The choice is up to us.

For further information, please research the giants of heart health: Dr. William Castelli and the Framingham Heart Study; Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. of the Cleveland Clinic and author of the book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,; Dr. Ornish, who conducted the Lifestyle Heart Trial, website,; Dr. John McDougal,; Dr. Michael Gregor,; and The Pleasure Trap book by Douglas J. Lisle, Ph.D. & Alan Goldhamer, D.C.

  • Uma Sivanathan is the founder and president of Mana‘olana Center for Health and Healing. She can be contacted at