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The Spectrum By Dean Ornish: How To Reverse Heart Disease

Feb 19, 2008
Can chronic disease be reversed?


Today, I'm going to introduce you to my friend and colleague, Dr. Dean Ornish. Thirty years ago, he bravely made the radical suggestion that heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses can be reversed with diet and lifestyle changes.

That's reversed -- not just prevented or treated.

In his breakthrough book, Reversing Heart Disease, Dr. Ornish explained just how this is possible: Eat a high-quality diet, get regular exercise, manage stress, and connect to a community -- and you can actually unclog your arteries.

In fact, he proved that his program works better than conventional approaches like drugs or surgery -- and without dangerous side effects.

Now Dr. Ornish has published a new, even more compelling book, The Spectrum -- and it's filled with scientific details about why the program works and how to make it your own.

What's the secret?


That's the name for the way that food talks to your genes and controls your health. When your genes are expressed well, you're healthy. Disease occurs when your genes are expressed poorly.

And the quality of the food you eat has huge effects on your health.

It matters whether you eat whole, real food, or processed, high-sugar, and high-fat food, for example.

In The Spectrum, Dr. Ornish tells you how and why choices like these can make a difference in whether we're healthy or sick.

But it isn't a one-size-fits-all approach.

Dr. Ornish believes -- as I do -- that the future of medicine is personalized medicine. And in The Spectrum, he explains how to match your genes and your health needs by customizing your diet and lifestyle.

If you were a 25-year-old athlete with no family history of heart disease, your approach would be different from a 65-year-old man who has type-2 diabetes and has had two heart attacks.

He also shows us that there's a spectrum of choices for being healthy and feeling great. There are no "good" or "bad" foods -- it's the overall way that we eat and live that matters.

Dr. Ornish gets past all of the nutrition confusion out there and tells you the truth: that our genes were meant to be fed a diet of whole, unprocessed foods.

A Groundbreaking Pioneer

He didn't know it, but Dr. Ornish was the first researcher and practitioner of functional medicine, more than 30 years ago.

He was the first person to suggest that addressing the roots of illness not only helps prevent disease, but reverses it -- and more effectively than conventional treatment.

That's just what functional medicine is. It's a system that addresses the underlying causes of illness by understanding the interaction between your genes and your environment.

And it's what Dr. Ornish talks about in The Spectrum.

His roadmap for good health shows us how to increase energy, lose weight, improve mood, feel more connected to your own life's purpose and meaning, and even have better sex.

It's a recipe for feeling your best.

I have a lot of respect for Dr. Ornish. He wanted to make his program accessible for everyone, but for that to happen, it has to be reimbursed by insurance.

So he asked Medicare to fund a demonstration project based on the research in major medical he'd already published in major medical journals.

But it wasn't so easy.

They told him that, before they'd find the project, he needed approval that it was safe.

Of course, Dr. Ornish's lifestyle plan is much safer than heart surgery or angioplasty or medications with severe, damaging side effects -- and much less expensive.

Still, he needed a letter from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute saying it was safe to eat fruits and vegetables, walk, meditate, and quit smoking!

But he persevered and his program is now approved. Dr. Ornish is also creating an international research collaboration to grain even more understanding about why food is the best medicine.

And his book isn't just helpful, it's enjoyable.

He shares his story with wit and humor, keen intelligence, and lots of tools for successfully implementing his ideas.

These tools include clear nutrition guidance, guided meditations by his wife Anne (with an additional DVD included), an exercise prescription, and more than 100 wonderful, delicious life-giving recipes by a master chef.

So I urge you to get your hands on The Spectrum now and see what you think. It truly is life-changing.
About the Author
Mark Hyman, MD is a pioneer in functional medicine, practicing physician and best-selling author. A sneak preview of his book "The UltraSimple Diet" is available. See The UltraWellness Blog for more on Heart Disease.
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