Tag Archives: Dr Neal Barnard

Interview with a Cardiologist

Dr. Arun Kalyanasundaram (Dr. K) is an interventional cardiologist with practices at Highline Medical Center and Swedish Medical Center.  He moved to Seattle in 2011. He strongly believes in a holistic approach to cardiology – with a particular emphasis on preventive cardiology primarily through diet and lifestyle. He will be speaking and answering questions at our next Monthly Dining Event on October 17th.  We asked him to tell us more about himself and his approach to cardiology.

Tell us something about yourself. Where are you from originally, how long have you been a doctor, and cardiologist, and what brings you to the Northwest?

I have been a doctor now for about 13 years. I am originally from India. I obtained my MPH at the University of Maryland, and then did my residency and fellowship at Geisinger and Cleveland clinics respectively. I chose to move to the Pacific Northwest because it is unique in terms of scenic beauty, cultural diversity and just an overall great place to raise a family.  
How long have you been a vegetarian? What got you interested in it to begin with?

In India, a significant portion of people are vegetarians. I have been a vegetarian life-long. Over the last 3-4 years, I embraced an all plant-based diet primarily for health reasons.
Have you discovered any other reasons and advantages for being veg along the way?

Absolutely!  Being a vegetarian offers clear health advantages – reducing the chance of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, to name a few. The effects on the human body are almost all positive – truly astounding. There are few things in life that are good for our health, good for the planet and all its beings, with virtually no side effects. 

Do you recommend that your cardiology patients follow a particular diet?

I am convinced that patients with heart disease, especially coronary artery disease, should be on a stringent plant-based diet. I am greatly inspired by the work done by Drs Esselstyn, Ornish, and Barnard to name a few. I have studied their work extensively and my ‘template’ for the diet is based off Dr. Esselstyn’s seminal work.

What reaction do your patients typically have to the suggestion of changing their diet?

Most patients are quite receptive to the idea. Often times, a heart attack serves as a ‘wake-up call’. Several patients of mine have completely transformed their lives. I often use the analogy of a house on fire – opening a clogged vessel in the setting of a heart attack is akin to what the fire brigade does i.e. put out the fire. But then I insist that the onus is on the patient to ensure that the fuel supply feeding the fire is turned off i.e. they make the appropriate lifestyle change.

What advantages to their heart health have you typically observed when a patient switches to a veg diet?
I have some patients who have had decreased angina and improved exercise tolerance. I have also seen significantly improved risk factor profiles i.e. lowered blood pressure, lower cholesterol, better control of diabetes, weight loss and a general sense of well-being.

What other health benefits have your patients experienced as a result of changing their diets?

There have been published studies that have shown that a vegetarian diet can prevent and reverse diabetes, reduce the risk of vascular disease and even some kinds of cancers. Personally, I have had patients with improved glycemic control and some that have been able to get away from their diabetic medications. 
What is it about a veg diet that you wish the public/patients would understand better?
 1) Vegetarian food does not have to be boring or tasteless. 2) It is perfectly possible to have a balanced and nutritious all-plant based diet for any population – specifically it is possible to get enough protein on a plant-based diet.

Are you optimistic for the increasing popularity of veg diets in both the medical and lay community in the future?

Totally. If you look at the vegetarian movement, it has certainly become mainstream – both in terms of the number of people that are vegetarians and the availability of vegetarian food readily. Obesity, rising healthcare costs, and increasing human population make a plant-based diet the way of the future.

Winning the Battle of the Bulge

Besides saving money, winning the battle of the bulge is the other most popular New Year’s resolution. And, there’s little wonder why, with two thirds of all Americans now either overweight or obese.

There are three phases to weight loss: getting your diet started, working the diet to your goal and transitioning to everyday eating for long term results. Every endeavor starts with a single step, and since New Year’s Resolutions are all about beginnings, here’s our our top recommendation for getting started on your journey to victory in the battle of the bulge.

In 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health, PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., shows you how a vegetarian diet will help you drop pounds, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve blood sugar—in just three weeks. He also provides three weeks of recipes, nutrition information, and cooking tips, as well as inspiration from celebrities, including a foreword by Alicia Silverstone, tips from Biggest Loser’s Bob Harper, and advice from NBA champion John Salley.

This book is a powerful tool on its own, but what makes the Kickstart program even more advantageous is the online portion that goes with it. From webcasts and teleclasses to daily messages from famous doctors, and from social media such as Facebook to additional recipes and nutritional advice, this online program is truly special. You can check it out by visiting pcrm.org/kickstarthome/

What’s even more special is the way Dr. Barnard combines sound scientific principles of weight loss with a caring and compassionate attitude. In fact we’re so impressed with this doctor, we’ve invited him to be a speaker at this year’s Vegfest! We invite you to come down hear him speak and meet him in person. And best of all, he’ll answer all your questions.