My parents and younger brother died from heart disease, brought on by Type II diabetes, at an early age. My other siblings also suffer from Type II diabetes. I am the only one of my immediate family who has avoided diabetes- probably because of regular intense cycling.
I have been a competitive cyclist for the past 40 years, since I was 19 years old. My early commitment to cycling and competitive cycling afforded me advantages. First, I have always tried to figure out how to go faster on the bike, and that mindset gave me an interest in diet. Second, the exercise itself helped inoculate me from diabetes. I was not, however, able to avoid heart disease.
That is what has brought me to this mission.
My early interest in diet and nutrition drove me to read dozens of books on the subject. After being perpetually confused, I decided to enroll in a nutrition doctoral program at the University of Massachusetts. I was 45 years old. I finished my program and published in major scientific journals by the time I was 49 years old. At that time I did not fully understand how diet influenced heart disease and diabetes, nor did I know about the low- fat whole food diet that I am now on.
After graduation, I used my doctorate to find a job in the pharmaceutical industry. It offered good money and security. But my interests changed soon after.
As a competitive cyclist, I am very conscious of my body and my capacity for power and endurance. When I turned 55, I noticed I was not producing as much power on the bicycle as the prior year. I had a drop of about 10% in my power output. Three years later, after trying and failing to get to my previous level of performance, I was diagnosed with multiple lesions in my coronary arteries.
I followed the usual path that my doctor prescribed. I had an angiogram, went on a regimen of statin drugs and baby aspirin. A stent was placed in one artery during the angiogram. I thought those changes would help. They didn’t. Surprised and somewhat desperate, I began researching full time for solutions. My Ph.D. allowed me access to, and the ability to understand and weigh, the many journal articles that cover heart disease and alternative treatments. After a few months, I concluded that the evidence for reversing my heart disease pointed to a low-fat vegan diet and a short list of cholesterol-lowering drugs.
My total cholesterol dropped immediately from 190mg/dL to under 100mg/dL. And my LDL cholesterol went from 130mg/dL to 40mg/dL. As time went on my exercising ability increased and after three years I was able to increase my power output to beyond the point it was before my diagnosis. In the past few years, I’ve won three consecutive regional championships and earned a 2nd and 8th place at the national level.
I attribute my success to my lifestyle and diet changes. I am strictly following a low-fat whole food plant-based diet. I meditate and exercise daily. I continue to take cholesterol-lowering drugs but not a statin. I take Repatha and plain niacin (instant release form).
For the past three years, I’ve had a singular focus on reversing my heart disease. I’ve spent that time researching and studying all of the current information in the medical and research communities. And I’ve had success. Reversing my Heart Disease is designed to bring my story and knowledge to the public, to help anyone who is trying to decide what to do about their health care. We each have to make our own choices. To do that, we need to be informed.
J Diabetes. 2010 Mar;2(1):28-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-0407.2009.00051.x. Epub 2009 Sep 28.
Facile fingerstick insulin analysis: Application to monitoring postprandial insulin responses to snack foods.
Megdal PA1, Siemsen D, Sands D, Dratz EA, Handelman GJ.
Lipids. 2009 Jun;44(6):569-76. doi: 10.1007/s11745-009-3294-6. Epub 2009 May 19.
A simplified method to distinguish farmed (Salmo salar) from wild salmon: fatty acid ratios versus astaxanthin chiral isomers.
Megdal PA1, Craft NA, Handelman GJ.
Molecular Strategies for Human Nutrition -Paperback – 11 Sep 2011
by Peter a Megdal