It’s no secret that diet and lifestyle play an important role in health, but what exactly can you do to help protect your body from disease? Dr. Dean Ornish, one of the pioneers of functional and integrative medicine for physicians, founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, discovered in a randomized clinical trial that the combination of a diet , exercise, social support and stress reduction could help reverse coronary heart disease… and he thinks these same lifestyle factors and following the Ornish diet could also play a role. role in the prevention and/or reversal of other chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“What’s good for your heart is good for your brain and vice versa,” Ornish said. Previous studies have shown that moderate lifestyle changes can slow the rate of progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. So my hypothesis is that more intense changes in lifestyle might halt or even reverse the decline. »

The Ornish diet and lifestyle changes

Through his research over the years, including the Coronary Heart Disease Reversal Study, Ornish has seen the dramatic effects of healthy lifestyle changes to prevent chronic disease. Here are the four main factors of the Ornish Diet and Lifestyle Protocol:

1. Diet

In the Ornish diet, specifically in the heart disease study, people eat a mostly plant-based diet that is low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables. Here are the principles of the Ornish Diet:

Eat mostly plants in their natural form
Limit bad carb foods
Consume only four grams of healthy fats per day.
Prioritize plant-based proteins
Moderate sodium intake
Limit caffeine intake, especially from tea.
Supplement with multivitamins, B12, fish oil and possibly calcium.
The main foods to eat for this diet are fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, some nuts and seeds, and a very limited amount of egg white and milk or skimmed yogurt, as well as green tea.

Foods to avoid are anything high in fat, especially unhealthy fats, as well as excessive caffeine and refined oils and carbs.

2. Physical exercise

The interventions implemented in this plan include several forms of exercise, including the following:

strength training
Walking and other aerobic exercise at least 30 minutes a day (three to five hours a week).

Ornish recommends following what he calls the FITT principle of exercise:

F – Frequency (how often to exercise)
I – Intensity (exercise intensity)
T – Time (exercise duration)
T – Type (the exercise type)

For aerobic training, the Ornish Diet and Protocol recommends the following

Frequency: Several times a day, three to six times a week.
Intensity: Determined by treadmill test, 45% to 80% of maximum capacity.
Duration: 30 to 60 minutes at a time, three to five hours per week.
Type of activity: Walking, jogging, dancing, cycling, swimming, rowing, cross-country skiing, etc.

For strength training:

Frequency: Two to three times a week with a rest day in between.
Intensity: A weight you can comfortably do 12-15 reps with, with fairly light to fairly intense effort during the lift.
Duration: One set of each exercise to start with, with 30-90 seconds rest between sets, then build to 10-15 reps of eight to ten resistance exercises focusing on large muscle groups.
Type of exercise: Free weights, dumbbells, ankle weights, heavy hands, weight machines, resistance bands, bodyweight exercises, etc.

3. Stress Management

Daily stress management is an important part of this protocol. To keep your mind intact and help your body, use common stress relievers for at least an hour a day, including:

breathing exercises
Relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation

4. Love and social support

This is an underestimated aspect of health, but one that the Ornish diet and protocol emphasizes.

Love and intimacy, our ability to connect with ourselves and with others, are the source of what makes us sick and what heals us, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, of what makes us suffer and what leads to healing. If a new drug had the same impact, virtually every doctor in the country would recommend it to their patients. It would be professional misconduct not to prescribe it.

Awareness is the first step to healing, both individually and socially. Part of the value of science is to raise the level of awareness of the importance of those choices we make every day. Not just a little, but a lot, and not just for the quality of life, but also for the quantity of life – for our survival. When we understand the importance of these issues, we can take action. These include in particular:

spend more time with our friends and family
communication techniques
group support
confession, forgiveness and redemption
compassion, selflessness and service
to touch
When we increase love and intimacy in our lives, we also increase health, joy, and meaning in our lives.

One of the keys to success is communication. To be a good communicator and listener, Ornish says you must:

Identify their feelings
Express one’s feelings
show empathy rather than sympathy
Acknowledge the feelings of others and practice fluent listening.


What are the benefits of the Ornish Diet and Protocol? Here are some major effects on chronic disease, backed by research:

Positive effects on blood sugar
Reduced risk of heart disease for people with diabetes
Slowing the growth of prostate cancer cells
Improved depression markers
Decreased cholesterol level
Positive changes in gene expression
lengthening of telomeres to promote longevity.


Dr. Dean Ornish is at the forefront of functional and integrative medicine. Through his Ornish diet and protocol, he found ways to reverse and prevent many chronic diseases. By focusing on a healthy, mostly plant-based diet, daily aerobic and strength training, managing stress, and having a positive circle of social support, people can limit their risk of disease and even reverse certain conditions. Research shows the Ornish Protocol may have positive effects on blood sugar, heart disease risk, prostate cancer cells, markers of depression, cholesterol levels, gene expression, telomeres, and longevity , etc.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.