Just two of the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet
This past weekend, Dr. Dean Ornish, prominent medical school professor and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, published a powerful Op-Ed in the New York Times. It was entitled, Eating for Health, Not Weight, and as we stress in our 4Leaf Program and throughout our book, Dr. Ornish emphasizes that what you DO eat is far more important than what you’re avoiding. Like he says in the article:
In 35 years of medical research, conducted at the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute, which I founded, we have seen that patients who ate mostly plant-based meals, with dishes like black bean vegetarian chili and whole wheat penne pasta with roasted vegetables, achieved reversal of even severe coronary artery disease.
One of the giants in the field of promoting a whole foods, plant-based diet for optimal health, Dr. Ornish is one of my most admired physicians. A few of the highlights of his remarkable career:
- Recognized as the first physician to reverse heart disease by with lifestyle changes only.
- Consulted with the Clinton White House and Air Force One to improve the health-promoting qualities of the foods being served.
- Appeared on cover of Newsweek in 1999; recognized for his work in reversing heart disease.
- His program for reversing heart disease is one of only two lifestyle programs now eligible for Medicare reimbursement.
- Along with T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr.; was one of the three who influenced President Bill Clinton to adopt a near-optimal vegan diet–and reverse his heart disease–in 2010.
So what about those cancer genes? That’s something you don’t see in print very often, yet it something that catches our attention. And while most people like to think that the human genome project is going to lead to the cure for cancer, I prefer to listen to the much better news from people like Dr. Ornish. Here’s what he had to say in his article:
Also, we found that it changed gene expression in over 500 genes in just three months, “turning on” genes that protect against disease and “turning off” genes that promote breast cancer, prostate cancer, inflammation and oxidative stress.
We found that this program may also slow, stop or reverse the progression of early stage prostate cancer, as well as reverse the progression of Type 2 diabetes.
How about that! Turning ON the good genes and turning OFF the bad genes—simply by changing your diet. He goes on to say, “WHAT you eat is as important as what you exclude — your diet needs to be high in healthful carbs like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy products in natural, unrefined forms and some fish, like salmon. There are hundreds of thousands of health-enhancing substances in these foods. And what’s good for you is good for the planet.”
Fish? Yes, Dr. Ornish believes it’s okay to have a little fish in your diet. But overall, his recommendations sound identical to our 4Leaf Program which is: “Derive the vast majority of your calories from whole, plant-based foods—not necessarily becoming a vegetarian or a vegan.” In fact, Dr. Ornish provided part of the foundation of our 4Leaf Program; he is part of the “common ground” of knowledge of five pioneering medical doctors featured in Chapter One of our book.
Eating for Health, Not Weight. Throughout out book and our 4Leaf Program, we stress the goal as the pursuit of vibrant health. By striving for vibrant health, you simply eat all you want of the right foods and the weight will take care of itself. Effortlessly and permanently. Dr. Ornish reinforces this simple logic in his article as he tells the gory truth about the Atkins-type diets that seem to never go away. He writes:
People are drawn to Atkins-type diets in part because, as the study showed, they produce a higher metabolic rate. But a low-carb diet increases metabolic rate because it’s stressful to your body. Just because something increases your metabolic rate doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Amphetamines will also increase your metabolism and burn calories faster, which is why they are used to help people lose weight, at least temporarily. But they stress your body and may mortgage your health in the progress.
A major research article published recently in the British Medical Journal studied 43,396 Swedish women over 16 years. It concluded that “low carbohydrate-high protein diets … are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.” An important article in The New England Journal of Medicine examined data from a study showing that high-protein, low-carb diets promote coronary artery disease even if they don’t increase traditional cardiac risk factors like blood pressure or cholesterol levels. A diet low in fat and high in unrefined carbohydrates caused the least amount of coronary artery blockages, whereas an Atkins-type diet caused the most.
The Bottom Line. Forget dieting to lose weight. People who diet to lose weight regain the weight 97% of the time. Much better to follow the advice of people like Dr. Dean Ornish—eat the right food, turn off cancer genes, reverse heart disease and as a fringe benefit, achieve that trim body that you’ve always wanted.
As he summarizes in his article, ” About 75 percent of the $2.8 trillion in annual health care costs in the United States is from chronic diseases that can often be reversed or prevented altogether by a healthy lifestyle. If we put money and effort into helping people make better food and exercise choices, we could improve our health and reduce the cost of health care.”
Finally, I cannot end this article without sharing the fine endorsement that Dr. Ornish wrote for our book. And since we liked it so much, we decided to include it on the front cover. On Healthy Eating, Healthy World, he writes:
“What’s good for you is also good for our planet. Although heart disease and diabetes kill more people each year worldwide than all other diseases combined, these are completely preventable and even reversible for at least 95% of people today by changing our diet and lifestyle. This book shows you how.”
—DEAN ORNISH, MD, Founder, Preventive Medicine Research Institute; Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; and author of The Spectrum and Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease
You will want to read Dr. Ornish’s complete article below. Also, I have provided links to several of my earlier blogs that have featured this great American:
- Source article, Dr. Ornish (9-23-12). Eating for Health, Not Weight New York Times
- Who is the most famous doctor in America?
- Got Type 2 Diabetes? “Get rid of it,” says Dr. Ornish
- Ornish. “Convergence of evidence” for plant-based eating…
- Dean Ornish and Bill Clinton; from burgers to whole plants
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to email@example.com
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For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.
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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation
At some point during human history, it may have been a negligible health risk for people to eat fish on occasion. But fish now, whether wild-caught or farmed, is so contaminated with pollutants that it’s not worth eating for a little omega 3, which one can easily derive from other sources. The fish that contain the most omega-3s are the fattiest fish, and the fat is where the contaminants and pollutants are stored. And the issue of bycatch is something you rarely see discussed – people are eating SO much fish because of physicians’ recommendations, that we are literally emptying the ocean of those recommended fish and also the innocent fish that are hauled in with them and then tossed, dead, back into the ocean. (Just venting, Jim – I realize I’m preaching to the choir here.)