Dr. Dean Ornish is not new to the health & wellness world...but he was new to me! He's been practicing as a researcher and physician for over 30 years. I was lucky enough to see him speak at a primary care conference I attended last weekend in Boston.
The punchline is - Dr. Ornish has published studies in journals, like the New England Journal of Medicine, proving that his lifestyle change plan (The Ornish Spectrum) can REVERSE diseases - think...heart disease, coronary artery plaques, prostate cancer, diabetes and maybe even dementia!
Now you're listening! His philosophy is that we all need to transform our view: "From fear of DYING, to LOVE of living!" No more "stop eating that," "cut back on this," "eliminate that" or else you will have strokes, heart attacks, and cancer. Instead, he says, "try this," "add that," "enjoy your freedom to choose love, support, & pleasure, but not fear!"
In his patient population, they found that ANYONE at ANY AGE who could make changes would begin to reverse their diseases - AND - the more changes they made, the more they improved. Did I say, "at any age?!" As patients made changes, they started feeling BETTER - using words like "clear-headed" and "energetic." And guess what?! That made them want to make MORE changes!
He found in his patients that the simple change toward...
- eating more veggies led to a 38% decrease in cognitive decline
- adding fish oil weekly decreased Alzheimer's Disease by 60%
- moving toward the healthier side of his spectrum actually reversed coronary artery blockages
The gist of the nutrition (see, I didn't say diet!) portion of his spectrum is this - eat plants, whole grains, legumes & soy in their natural forms whenever possible. Add 4g/day of fish oil (supplements and/or food). Organic food is better and tastes better! Lower your sugar & refined carbohydrate intake and lower your saturated fat (mostly animal products). (See his spectrum at http://ornishspectrum.com/proven-program/nutrition/ where he discusses how to move from 4 and 5 foods to 1, 2, and 3 foods on the spectrum toward nutrition!) Making these improvements can make you FEEL better almost instantly, and make your body healthier within weeks!
And remember, he recommends not only a change in your (1) nutrition, but also a focus on (2) fitness, (3) stress management and (4) love and support. If one or more of these pillars is not strong for you, that's where you should focus on making small changes that can lead to big reversals in disease! And, if you're already feeling healthy...I'm sure there's something you can benefit from changing too!
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.