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Blinded by Science 4 pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

Diagnosis: Gluttony and Sloth

Photo of hamburger
  According to Castelli, Americans have been "brainwashed to eat meat."

"If Americans adopted a vegetarian diet, the whole thing would disappear," Castelli says of the heart disease epidemic.

He has been threatened by McDonald's lawyers and repeatedly slammed by the meat and dairy industries, but Castelli refuses to back down. Americans have been "brainwashed to eat meat," he says, and it's killing us. Not only do half of all Americans die of heart disease, 80% of Americans will die with heart disease in their body. Once again, Castelli looks at the research, studies that go all the way back to 1904.

"Americans are the kings of sloth and gluttony. We engineered all the physical activity right out of our lives."


A German scientist hypothesized that arterial plaques built up when fats collected near damaged places in arterial linings. This has turned out to be almost exactly the case, but in 1904, it was still just a hypothesis. In an attempt to prove it, the scientist tried to provoke artery problems in rabbits by feeding them different diets. Though his attempts failed, the biologist could not help but become attached to the cute lab animals. He fed them his table scraps, which included meat. What happened?

"They all keeled over and died," says Castelli.

It took more years of research to determine it was the cholesterol, not the protein, in meat that damaged arteries- a well-established fact by now. Still, the average Big Mac has 19 grams of fat, more than a third as much as a person needs each day.

Photo of vegetable
  Due to their healthy diets, "people in China and India can't get this disease," says Castelli

Castelli sites a Japanese study in which researchers found artery elasticity decreased immediately in people who ate a fatty meal. Not so for people who ate a low-fat, high-protein meal of salmon.

It's not just the fat in the Big Mac that will get you. Castelli also worries about the calories and salt. The obesity epidemic in the country is responsible for a diabetes epidemic as people literally outgrow the capacity of their pancreas. Salt and hypertension, of course, go hand-in-hand. Part of Castelli's new mission is to change people's habits before it's too late.

He's seen dramatic results. Castelli tells the story of one of his patients, a 47-year old heart attack victim. With his heart disease, obesity and borderline diabetes, the man could hardly walk into Castelli's clinic.

"It only took two months of a healthy lifestyle to reverse the disease," says Castelli. "His cardiologist called me up and said, 'What did you do?'"

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4 pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

Photos: Katsumi Yako/AI Project

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