Dr. Dean Ornish is originally from Texas. He got his medical degree from Baylor College and was was a Clinic Fellow at Harvard Medical School. He is a long-time advocate of making changes to diet and lifestyle to prevent and treat heart disease based on Eastern philosophy and principles, including things like meditation and yoga. Ornish is the founder and chair of the not-for-profit Preventative Medical Research Institute and a professor at the University of California in San Francisco. He was also a staff physician for President Bill Clinton. Ornish has published several best-selling books on the subject, including Eat More, Weigh Less.
DEAN ORNISH’s Diet
Ornish’s diet is essentially vegetarian. On his plan, you are allowed to eat as much fruit, veggies, grains, legumes and beans as you want to feel full. You can also have a moderate amount of nonfat or low-fat dairy products. Fat intake should not exceed 10% of total calories. Meat, fish, poultry and full-fat dairy should be avoided, and so should other foods containing oils, including avocados, olives, nuts and seeds. Sugar is also on the list of foods to avoid. Ornish says a plant-based diet along with moderate exercise can reverse the symptoms of heart disease and help people lose weight. While it can be tough to stick to for some, his diet has been well-researched and proven to provide lasting weight loss.
- Low Protein 20% 20%
- Low Fat 10% 10%
- High carb 80% 80%
Ornish’s diet plan includes primarily fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes. You can eat as much as you want of these to feel satisfied
Go Low On Fat
All forms of fat and cholesterol from both plant and animal sources are not part of Ornish’s diet.
Easy On Dairy
Low-fat or nonfat dairy is allowed, but fat should not make up more than 10% of your total caloric intake
Petite But Proportionate
Ornish advocates eating smaller, more frequent meals, but he says to take care not to overeat since you’re eating more often
What to Eat
What to Avoid
Ornish on Health
Poor health is not caused by something you don’t have; it’s caused by disturbing something that you already have.’
Ornish on Handing Out Rules
‘I’ve found that if I tell somebody, “Eat this and don’t do that,” it’s not only not helpful, it’s counterproductive because…we want to feel free and in control, and as soon as somebody tells us to do something, there’s a tendency to do just the opposite.’
Ornish on Diet
I don’t understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic.’
Ornish on Choices
‘What we eat, how we respond to stress…how much exercise we get…can be as powerful as drugs and surgery. And they often are.’
DEAN ORNISH’s Fitness Routine
FITT stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type. Ornish says the most benefits are derived from regular aerobic exercise, but it does not have to be intense.
Easy Does It
Ornish’s exercise plan is moderate and he only advocates a few hours of light to medium exercise per week, either by doing 5 30-minute sessions or 3 60-minute sessions
Don’t Go It Alone
Ornish says that a group support system in which people learn better communication skills is critical to lowering stress levels and improving health.
Manage Your Stress
Ornish advocates spending an hour each day meditating, stretching, and doing breathing exercises to reduce your stress levels. He also recommends spending time with loved ones.
Ornish advocates working at 45%-80% of maximal functional capacity, which is determined by a treadmill test.
Make the Time
Regular exercise is key, but Ornish doesn’t expect you to hit the gym for hours on end. He says three to five hours of aerobic exercise per week is plenty.
Heart Pumping Get Your
Aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, dance, bicycling, swimming, rowing, cross-country skiing and the like. In activities like golf, baseball or bowling, you only move intermittently and therefore these do not provide the same aerobic benefits
Ornish encourages those who are healthy enough to handle strength training to do so 2-3 times per week.
3-5 times per week
5-10 minutes of a variety of range-of-motion exercises and gentle aerobic activity. This will prepare the muscular and cardiovascular systems for exercise. Launching straight into exercise too quickly will put you at risk for angina (chest pain) and muscle cramps.
30-60 minutes of continuous, rhythmic exercise performed at your target heart rate as prescribed by your doctor
8-10 minutes of slower aerobic activity and stretching. This will help reduce the amount of lactic acid build-up and post-exercise soreness, as well as increase flexibility
2-3 times per week & based on your doctor’s recommendation.
Ornish’s tips for successful weight training
Exhale during exertion
Maintain proper speed: use slow, controlled movements.
Lift on a count of 2; lower on a count of 4.
Exercise through the full range of motion, but within your comfort level. Emphasize complete extension.
Pause at the end of a movement to avoid using momentum.
Never sacrifice form for resistance. Know your limits.
Use a partner when necessary.
Use an appropriate amount of weight for each exercise.
Do exercises for both the upper and lower body.
Use a loose hand grip when possible. A tight grip can elevate blood pressure excessively.
Stop exercising if you experience any warning signs such as dizziness, chest pain or shortness of breath.
If you get injured, wait to heal before continuing your strength training routine.
Ornish on Meditation
Over time, years of meditation gave me glimpses of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all life.’
Ornish on ‘Conservative’ Health Treatments
Eating a vegetarian diet, walking every day and meditating is considered radical. Allowing someone to slice your chest open and graft your leg veins into your heart is considered normal and conservative.’
Ornish on Making Changes:
People don’t dislike change, they dislike being changed
Ornish on Educating People About Health & Fitness
An educated patient is empowered; thus, more likely to become healthy
DEAN ORNISH’s Supplements
Ornish recommends his patients take awithout iron, except for women of childbearing age, to cover any gaps in nutrition.
Fish oil contains essential fatty acids which are necessary for a healthy brain and eyes. It also reduces depression and inflammation.
Vitamin B-12 performs many important processes in the body, and is needed for healthy bones, nerves, brain function and energy production. Vitamin B-12 is not readily available from plant-only sources.
Ornish says some people may require a calcium supplement. Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth, but it also supports nerve function and a healthy heart. Consult with your physician to see if you would benefit from a calcium supplement.
DEAN ORNISH’s Lifestyle
Ornish says there is a correlation between depression and lack of sleep, and that many Americans do not get enough. He recommends regular exercise, daily relaxation practices, such as visualization and taking a hot bath before bed to help the body relax.
In addition to being a medical doctor, Ornish is an accomplished photographer and had a budding career as a photojournalist while in college.
Ornish has struggled with bouts of severe depression throughout his life. He dropped out of college and even considered suicide. But he got treatment and went back to school, graduating first in his class
While Ornish did get psychotherapy to help treat his depression, he credits his mentor Swami Satchidananda for really helping him to improve his outlook.
Ornish on Stress
Stress is not so much what you do, but how you react to what you do.’
Ornish on The Dual Importance of The Heart
The heart is a metaphor and a symbol as well as an anatomical organ. Interventions are most effective when they address both aspects.’
Ornish on Love’s Effect on Health
I am not aware of any other factor in medicine—not diet, not smoking, not exercise—that has a greater impact.’
Ornish on his Yoga Practice
What brings me happiness is already inside me if I’d just stop disturbing it.’
Program for Reversing Heart Disease