Basically, I'm looking to help out my mother.
She had a heart attack 3-4 years ago, eating a standard american diet although she never ate junk food or fast food. I really believe the cause was stress (she is a very high-stress, high-energy person) but it's hard to nail down.
As a result, she's made a key change: converting to the vegan diet high in grains/pulses/legumes. She justifies this because it has lowered her blood pressure and cholestrol, and she believes that meats clog the arteries and that they are now unclogged. Although her blood pressure is sometimes high.
I would have left this be, because it does seem to have helped despite the blatant incorrect assertions.
However, she has acid reflux/GERD. Really bad. And she takes a PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitor) because apparently without it, the pain is so bad she feels like dying. She also takes Slippery Elm Powder that a naturopath gave her in an attempt to get off the PPI.
When I found out about the PPI, I became a little concerned. I'm not interested in pushing her into anything, but the collection of knowledge I've gained from the paleosphere has nailed it into my mind that a vegan diet is worse for heart disease/blood pressure/GERD. So I want to at least give her an alternative.
So with this knowledge I ask: in all seriousness, is the paleo diet right for her, and will it solve her problems? Any important specifics? Further, and the important part, are there any articles or books that will help her get out of the misconception that saturated fat = clogged arteries, high blood pressure and high bad cholestrol?
I had GERD so bad, I would wake up at night choking on acid. Not a pleasant experience. For me completely removimg wheat from my diet "cured" me. I used to take Nexium, but within a week of cutting out wheat I was off of it. It is hard trying to convert a vegan to replace wheat with meat. She had some success lowering cholesterol by following a vegan diet. I can relate as a former vegan myself. It takes a lot of research and determination "to convert" away from veganism. Chris Kresser's website is a good place to start. If in New Zealand check out Jamie Scott-That Paleo Guy. Good luck. Education is the best advice.
The question is how to persuade a person. Not easy. People, regardless of intelligence/education make decisions based on emotion. At least at first. Then, we all choose who we consider to be credible experts based on our initial emotional decisions. Your mom fears meat. She visualizes fat lodging in her heart. What she should visualize is wheat and other birdseed passing through her guts like a runaway car sideswiping everything in its path. And modern foods causing inflammation which lodges in her heart. And that fats go to the liver and benignly burn as fuel. Give her something else to fear and different visualizations.
Chris Kresser specializes in that sort of thing:
Having her book a consultation with him might be a good move. Good luck!
Is she taking any medications for her heart? The GERD may well be a side effect of those. It's easy to suspect the diet, but I'd probably look to any meds first.
It sounds like Mom is pretty stuck in her ways so a full switch is unlikely. Might be better, if you suspect her diet, to suggest eliminating some of the more likely culprits (e.g. gluten grains) and see if that doesn't help her.
For debunking the "saturated fat = clogged arteries," etc, you might try Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease. It's not specifically paleo, but mentions paleo in a good light. Can be a heavy read, but makes the case against carbs much better than his more recent book.
Or, you might just point Mom to this article, "What if bad fat isn't so bad?" on MSNBC. It sums up Taubes' case pretty nicely, at least from the cardio perspective.
she will be given proton pump inhibitors ands then go on to get a bacterial salmonella. pretty standard out come. just tell her how being over weight is the real problem and if she lost weight it always cures GERD.
I got rid of GERD by removing not just grains, but also dairy. Note that the GERD got much worse at first when going paleo, but then disappeared completely as my gut healed. Before paleo I took Zantac every night and had to avoid eating dinner.
If she had her gallbladder removed, using digestive enzymes (i.e. Now superenzymes) would help.
GERD is mostly caused by lack of stomach acid, not too much acid. So getting rid of the PPI and taking a few caps of Betain HCL may help put her on the right track. Also those PPIs will prevent her from absorbing magnesium, potassium, and other minerals, which are required for the proper amount of stomach acid. So she's on a downward spiral already!
Has she had a biopsy to rule out eosinophilic esophagitis? For younger people, this probably isn't worth it, but as you get older the condition is dangerous enough that ruling it out is important. She may see symptom improvements without switching her diet completely, just by eliminating wheat, switching some grains for roots, and judiciously supplementing to overcome the downsides of veganism with D3, retinol, taurine, and carnitine. Maybe iron, but only if her blood levels are low. Then Betaine HCL, vinegar tonics, or kombucha after meals. It's easier to convince people to take supplements than to re-haul their diet, but it's possible that once she feels better she will recognize the merits of animal-based nutrients. My GERD was under control when I was a raw vegan and it didn't come back when I trialed a grain-free version of veganism. When you are older, PPIs become increasingly dangerous since they predispose to weak bones and pneumonia, which are major killers of the elderly and certainly as big of a threat as heart disease!
This answer was originally a follow up of Steve's good response (but I ran out of space for a comment that's why I'm posting this as an answer).
To add to the persuasiveness of your appeal you could help her to
1) envision her current situation,
2) provide her real-life stories she can relate to about similar people who also had GERD (see Mark Sisson's testimonials on marksdailyapple.com). 3) tell her that there are experts on every side (vegan, paleo, SAD) and that you therefore can't make your judgement based on their standpoints and what works for them. It's what works for you personally, not for how it's supposed to be.
3) Let her come to her own conclusion that vegan isn't all that because she has developed GERD and has some other shit going on (this to avoid reactance, see Reactance Theory in social psych.)
4) have her envision how life would be if she was fully healthy. 5) summarize that her current situation sucks, but tell her that she can get rid off GERD within 1 week of eating*
6) offer your help in making paleo meals and such..
*Note: She'll probably still have GERD after 1 week, but she'll most likely has noticed a decrease in her GERD-symptons and thusly she'll come to the conclusion that it's wise to continue eating Paleo. The point here is to make the commitment she has to make to convert to paleo as small as possible. The smaller the commitment, they more likely people will do something.
And if all goes to hell take a week of work and cook every single meal for her.