COVID-19, co-morbidities and saving your own life

by Elise Rivers, Esq., Dipl.Ac.
Posted 3/4/21

Resilience and wellness is on peoples’ minds right now, and for good reason.  The COVID-19 pandemic makes it clear that those with co-morbidities are at more risk of becoming very ill if …

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COVID-19, co-morbidities and saving your own life


Resilience and wellness is on peoples’ minds right now, and for good reason.  The COVID-19 pandemic makes it clear that those with co-morbidities are at more risk of becoming very ill if they contract the virus.  Specifically, those with hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and compromised lung function were listed as significantly more vulnerable to having a severe case resulting in death.  We now have a non-drug answer to preventing and reversing these chronic conditions that is not being discussed widely.  It is not popular and it not necessarily easy to implement, but not choosing to do so at this time could mean death.  AND, it is a very learnable skill.

One of our current cultural norms is the widespread message to eat meat and dairy, marketed as a harmless (and healthful) dietary choice.  Yet heart disease, caused in part by the excessive consumption of animal foods (a cornerstone of the American diet) is the number one killer in this nation.  We’ve known for decades that heart disease is preventable and reversible in the majority of cases with a whole foods plant-based diet.  Not far behind heart disease for death and disability is the exponentially increasing Type 2 Diabetes.  We now understand it is the promotion and “unquestionability” of an animal-based diet that is largely the reason for the huge rise in both of these chronic illnesses in our nation.  Where is the information about the consequences to our personal health, our loved ones, and the future of the planet about this choice?  Why is the problem and its established solution not in the headlines?

Extremely rarely do I see it mentioned in any articles on heart health that the conclusions of thousands of peer-reviewed studies, both large and small, in respected medical journals, that a heart healthy diet is comprised of whole grains, legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas & lentils), vegetables, dark leafy greens, fruit, nuts and seeds with as few animal products as possible.  The public should at least know that’s what’s true, so they can choose to modify their diet to add in more of these foods--or not. 

Medical doctors who are experts in plant-based nutrition now believe that anyone eating the Standard American Diet (dominated by meat and dairy) has some evidence of heart disease in their arteries, with early signs as soon as age 10.  This silent killer is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups.  One person dies every 37 seconds in the United States from heart disease; that’s about 647,000 Americans dying from this disease each year — 1 in every 4 deaths.  Given that heart disease is largely preventable and reversible, isn’t it finally time to embrace what we know is true based on the best available evidence?  How many of us would choose to RE-educate ourselves to save our own life?

It’s a fact:  There is only one diet that has been proven to reverse heart disease in the majority of patients.  This same diet has also reversed pre-diabetes, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.  If we’re talking about how to prevent heart disease and be truly “heart healthy” shouldn’t that be the default diet? 

The time has come (and long overdue), for people to reduce their consumption of animal products — and stop talking about consuming them as if they are harmless. ANY movement in that direction will tend to help.  This choice is a “vote” not only for our collective health and longevity, but for the health of all children, since this decision also directly influences their personal health as well as climate change, and therefore their very foreseeable future.

You can find a medical doctor who counsels their patients in accordance with the current science by visiting or  You can visit, which sites all the studies utilized for the information put forth here today.  Many informative documentaries can be found at  Help and guidance is available locally at the Northwest Center for Food As Medicine, a division of Community Acupuncture of Mt. Airy at 

Elise C. Rivers is an acupuncturist and “nutritarian” who has personally studied for the last nine years with progressive medical doctors Michael Greger, Michael Klaper and Neal Barnard.  These medical doctors promote the benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet based on scientific evidence, and after healing thousands of their own patients’ metabolic diseases with food.  Elise is also a graduate of the Moving Medicine Forward Initiative and Cornell University’s Center for Nutrition Studies in plant-based nutrition, where she learned from T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, the largest study on nutrition in the world.