Recognizing the power of low-tech, low-cost healing measures, Dr. Ornish says things such as a low-fat, high-fiber diet, exercise and meditation can make a powerful difference in people's lives. "Surgery and drugs can be lifesaving in a crisis but they don't really address the underlying causes of what made the person sick in the first place," he says.
Although he initially focused his research on heart disease, Dr. Ornish says there are a wide range of chronic diseases that are directly influenced by one's diet and lifestyle, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and arthritis. "When you make comprehensive changes in your diet and lifestyle, these can have much bigger improvements than people had once realized and more quickly than people had once thought," he says.
To keep your heart healthy, Dr. Ornish advocates a low-fat, low-meat way of eating with less than 10 percent of calories from fat. The focus is on beans, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with processed foods and non-fat dairy products consumed in moderation. Simple sugars and alcohols, says Dr. Ornish, should be avoided.