Dean Ornish


Dean Ornish developed a double blind randomized control trial in order to provide verifiable and accurate evidence to scientists, doctors, and medical researchers that lifestyle medicine is a viable option in the treatment of coronary artery disease. In 1990 Dean Ornish published “Can Lifestyle Changes Reverse Coronary Heart Disease?”[uid]. His research showed for the first time that making changes to diet and lifestyle can reverse coronary artery disease. A low-fat vegetarian diet along with stress management, stopping smoking, and moderate exercise reversed the progression of the disease in 82% of the patients within 1 year without drugs, surgery or side effects. This study proved what other doctors were trying to show, that a diet low in or devoid of animal products and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol is beneficial to human health. He showed that our bodies have the ability to heal if we stop injuring them by consuming high fat, cholesterol-rich foods. His results provided patients with new hope that the chronic cardiovascular disease that affected their life could be reversed by making diet and lifestyle changes that were cost effective and relatively free of side effects.

In fact, according to Horrigan (2010), the evidence for this data is so strong that in 2010, Medicare took notice of the effectiveness of the Pritikin program as well as the Ornish Program for reversing heart disease and after carefully reviewing the published data, found both programs to be effective at slowing or reversing the progression of heart disease and announced they would pay for the intensive diet and exercise program which is now covered under Part B of Medicare (p. 346).

Ornish, D., Weidner, G., Fair, W. R., Marlin, R., and Petterngill, E.B., (2005) conducted a study in which they placed men on a low fat vegetarian diet for 12 months. The study study showed significant signs of the reversal of prostate cancer. This research can be found here: Surprisingly, the same diet used to reverse heart disease also showed promise in slowing or reversing the progression of prostate cancer in men. Though they concluded that more follow up is necessary, the fact remains that dietary modifications have shown to have a greater impact on our health than previously realized.

Dean Ornish quotes:

“Because the biological mechanisms that affect our health and well-being are so dynamic, when people change their diet and lifestyle, they usually feel so much better, so quickly; it reframes the reason for changing from fear of dying to joy of living. Also, the support that patients give each other is a powerful motivator.”

“I grew up in Texas, eating meat five times a day, and I liked meat. But I began being a vegetarian when I was 19 because I found that I felt better.”

“So the best combination for reversing heart disease is to exercise, stop smoking, eat a vegetarian diet, and practice stress management techniques—in other words, to follow the program.”

Dean Ornish – Ornish lifestyle medicine website can be viewed here –

Videos on heart and prostate cancer reversal                                                        

Dean Ornish: Healing through diet

Dean Ornish, M.D. at TEDxSF (7Billion Well)

Books by Dean Ornish:

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