Hello, I'm MegaHeart.com's founder, Donald A. Gazzaniga. I'm also a CHF heart patient who was told he had less than a year to live when first diagnosed. Few options outside of a transplant
were presented to CHF patients at that time.
That could have been a very depressing time, since I was barely able to walk, breathe or do much of anything. Dr. Michael Fowler at Stanford Heart Transplant Clinic encouraged me to try a no salt lifestyle, so I researched into lowered sodium diets. In 1997, when I was diagnosed, I found very little available. Nothing on the Web, a few books titled "Low Salt," which weren't really low sodium and as you can imagine, very few no-salt added products in the stores.
Since I had cooked most of my life either in the kitchen at home or on the road including at times for well-known people, and always without salt (More about this at end), I decided to set down my long-time recipes and many new creations. What I hadn't been doing was cooking with low sodium ingredients, a problem that exists for many to this day. Needless to say, I was amazed when I learned how much sodium I had been consuming – and all without adding my own salt.
I learned from Dr. Michael Fowler at Stanford, that it had always been thought that a very low sodium diet would help, but that few had ever really tried it and stuck with it. That latter piece of news was and remains important. We can't eat 500 mg of sodium on Monday and cap off Tuesday with a few thousand. Our new lifestyle is just that: A New Lifestyle.
After about a year into my collection of recipes, and sticking to a meal-planning guide I had devised for an under 500 mg a day of sodium life, I found myself doing much better. I was walking, working and doing things I wasn't supposed to be able to do. Then, Dr. Fowler challenged me to get my recipes published. At first that wasn't an easy task although I had had books published before. But St. Martin's Press took the plunge into this brand-new field and published what turned out to be and still is, the only book of its kind in the world. I followed up that book with The No Salt, Lowest Sodium Baking Book, and then with my wife's help (she's an outstanding cook), The No Salt, Lowest Sodium Light Meals Book and The No Salt, Lowest Sodium International Recipes Book..
Megaheart.com was founded before these books were published. Megaheart was the first full fledged salt-free recipe site on the Web. Megaheart's first mission was to find out if there was a need in this world for a "no-salt, lowest-sodium" type of cookbook. Quite a few publishers had turned down my effort telling me that, "You can't cook without salt," or "Salt is necessary for us." After just a few months online a few thousand people wrote that they needed just such a book.
So, I sent those notes along with the first manuscript to St. Martin's Press (with the help of an agent) and bingo! The original members of Megaheart had pushed the effort over the top.
Today, Megaheart receives about a million plus "unique" visitors a year. For a niche demographic, that's strong. Unique visitors is a term used in the Web world to mean visitors who come, stay and read or utilize the site. When you hear that a site has millions of hits, that only means that the browsers touched it for a millisecond while searching for keywords, phrases or subjects Web users type in.
Since 1997 I have received and answered no fewer than an average of thirty to fifty E-mails a day asking for assistance with many offering kudos for the site and our books. The big surprise for me was that salt causes a lot of health problems. Not just high blood pressure. And research during the past ten years has proved that there are many more problems, some of which come to light each week of the year. So a site that started out to help heart patients only, has fortunately helped many with Meniere's syndrome, kidney and liver ailments, Lupus, and of course hypertension and a big surprise, cancer.
Megaheart.com has become a 24/7 operation. It is not a part-time site and it's totally free for you to use, ask questions, seek recipe and nutrient advice.
We have received a few thousand letters from book users telling us that the books have "saved my life." We also have letters on file where members have stated that our help has gotten them "off the heart transplant list."
We can't be happier. We had no idea where this would take us when we started Megaheart.com.
As Megaheart's mission states, MegaHeart.com is designed to enhance the quality of life for anyone who has been medically prescribed to "cut out the salt." I hope you find the book(s) and the website useful.
Donald A. Gazzaniga
P.S. Update: January, 2013. — Today my CHF is all but gone with a nearly complete reversal. The size of my heart is back to normal, my blood pressure is at normal and my life is back to "full time straight ahead." No-salt works. And we prove it each and every new day with our efforts. Keep up the good work, it's definitely worth it.
More About Don's Cooking Without Salt