A producer from the Dr. Oz show recently contacted my office. They asked whether we could supply them with a volunteer patient from either my practice or the Track Your Plaque program who would be willing to appear on the show and discuss heart disease prevention. They needed someone to commit within 24 hours.
Despite the short notice, we identified a volunteer. He flew to New York the following week where he was interviewed along with several other men and women, all of whom had heart disease (heart attacks, stents, etc.). However, as this young man is very slender and follows most of the Track Your Plaque principles (e.g., vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation; no wheat, cornstarch, or sugars, no restriction of fat, etc.), he apparently received less attention than the overweight, I-know-nothing-about-diet interviewees.
Then there was an odd turn of events: Dr. Dean Ornish, apparently a friend of Dr. Oz, will be providing the dietary counseling. The producer had made no mention of Dr. Ornish.
Now that’s an odd collision of philosophies: Our Track Your Plaque version of low-carb with the guru of low-fat, Dr. Ornish.
The following week, Dr. Ornish called me and graciously asked whether I was okay with this. I’m not sure just how much he knew about the philosophy I advocate, nor how much I have bashed his program as a destructive approach to diet, nor whether he knew that I gained 30 lbs on the Ornish diet, along with a drop in HDL to 27 mg/dl, increased triglycerides to 350 mg/dl, and type II diabetes that I’ve talked about on this blog and the Track Your Plaque book and website. I suspect he knew little to none of this.
Anyway, I tried to diplomatically explain that my patient’s cause for coronary plaque was small LDL particles that he expressed despite his very slender build, likely from excessive carbohydrates, controlled with carbohydrate restriction. Dr. Ornish maintained his usual arguments: Grains are good, provided they are whole grains, heart disease is “reversed” with his diet program, etc. (I didn’t want to challenge him in a phone call and tell him that he never actually reversed coronary plaque, but just reversed endothelial dysfunction. But, as Dr. Ornish is not a cardiologist, I wasn’t sure how far his understanding of these issues went.)
We agreed to disagree. This leaves my poor patient in an odd position: Being asked by Dr. Ornish and the Dr. Oz show to follow a low-fat program for the sake of entertainment, or adhering to the advice we follow that has so far served him well, given his small LDL particle size tendencies.
We’ll see where this little drama leads.
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