Looks like Dean Ornish has taken time out from pimping for McDonald’s (and KFC and Pepsi Co.) to write a new book out titled The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight and Gain Health.
ornish.jpgI haven’t read the book, but I assume it’s a recycling of all the Dean Ornish stuff we’ve seen before. Although, he does have a photo of a piece of salmon on the cover, so maybe he’s graduated from vegan to beady-eyed vegitarianism.
It’s been awhile since ol’ Dean has hit the hustings with a new book, so I figured he would be coming out with one soon. So, I’m not surprised. What I am surprised about is the very first testimonial on the Amazon.com link to his book.
It’s true that Hillary asked Ornish to consult with the White House chefs. I know because my sister-in-law met Ornish there and was told by Bill that Hillary had invited him for that purpose.
What I find interesting is that Ornish would use as a testimonial to his healthful advice someone who had left office overweight, unhealthy and soon thereafter underwent multiple bypass surgery due to an incipient heart attack. I’m not sure I would want that kind of testimonial.


  1. Clinton famously went on the South Beach Diet sometime in 2004, but apparently not soon enough to save him from heart surgery. He lost a lot of weight though, and contributed it according to AP to the diet change and “working out 4-5 times a week with a German”!

  2. And on the cover of the book it says “A scientifically proven program…” Can’t wait to read those ‘scientific’ papers!

  3. Doesn’t seem like the kind of endorsement you would want. If that’s what Ornish eating did to Bill, I’ll pass.
    That also makes me think of Mehmet Oz, whose claim to fame is being Oprah’s diet doctor. Oprah is the most famous yo-yo dieter around. What does that say about Dr. Oz? 🙂

  4. I agree with you about the testimonial. Doesn’t speak well of his dietary plan. Wonder how much he had to pay “Slick Willy” for those words.
    I don’t plan on buying his book. Figure it is the same dribble he always spouts.
    I suspect there was a healthy contribution to Hillary somewhere along the way.

  5. And equally puzzling is that Clinton says his genes improved. I appreciate that a change in diet can improve gene expression (though perhaps not from the changes Ornish would recommend) but I don’t see how one could enjoy a wholesale improvement of the genes themselves(!). If so, I’ll take the Jack Lalane special with a little Schwartzenneger sprinkled on top.
    A strange statement indeed.

  6. Ahh, yes! an insightful observation. I’m reminded of the quote…
    “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” I don’t remember the source.
    I’m not familiar with the quote or quoter, but it’s a good one.

  7. The quote is from Winston Churchill.
    Judy Barnes Baker
    Damn! I was thinking of adopting it as my own.

  8. Hi Dr. Mike…here’s the description from Amazon.com. Looks like he just copied something from everyone- you can even see Dr. Phil in this 😉
    oh brother- btw, he advises Safeway supermarkets too.
    CJ Hunt
    Book Description
    In THE SPECTRUM, Dr. Ornish shows us how to personalize a way of eating and a way of living based on your own health goals, needs, and preferences. Here’s how it works:
    Since THE SPECTRUM is about freedom of choice, there is no diet to get on and no diet to get off. Nothing is forbidden. No guilt, no shame, no pressure. THE SPECTRUM is based on love– joy of living, not fear of dying. Feeling better, not denying yourself pleasure.
    First, determine your health and wellness goals. Do you want to lose weight? Do you have high cholesterol? Is diabetes a problem in your family? Based on your individual needs and goals, THE SPECTRUM has examples of six individually-tailored lifestyle programs ideally suited for you: lowering cholesterol, losing weight, lowering blood pressure, preventing/reversing diabetes, preventing/reversing certain types of prostate and breast cancer, preventing/reversing heart disease.
    Each personalized plan in THE SPECTRUM has 3 components: Nutrition, Stress Management, and Exercise.
    The Nutrition Spectrum
    The Nutrition Spectrum consists of five groups. Group 1 is the healthiest end of the spectrum and Group 5 is the least healthful end. To determine your current place on the Nutrition Spectrum, find the group that contains the foods you tend to eat most of the time. Then, according to your needs, preferences, and goals, decide how far and how quickly you want to move in a more healthful direction. For example, if you typically eat predominantly foods in Group 4 and you want to lower your cholesterol 50 points, begin by incorporating more foods from Groups 2 and 3. If that’s sufficient to achieve your goal, great; if not, you can move more towards the healthier end of THE SPECTRUM by consuming more foods from Groups 1 and 2.
    In general, the closer you move towards Group 1, the more benefits you’re likely to gain and the more quickly you’ll experience them. If you’re healthy, you many not need or want to make very many changes at all–the “ounce of prevention.” On the other hand, if you are trying to reverse heart disease or diabetes, you’ll probably need to make bigger changes–the “pound of cure.”
    The recipes by Art Smith for THE SPECTRUM are designed so that each base recipe is in Group 1. Depending on your health and wellness goals, each recipe offers healthy variations. For example, the Vegetable Chili recipe is a delicious version of a classic recipe that begins in Group 1 with predominantly plant-based whole foods that are very low in fat, sugar, salt, and calories. Variations listed at the end of the recipe include adding a cup of pitted higher-fat black olives (which moves this recipe to a Group 2 dish) and/or adding one pound of turkey breast sausage to the recipe (which moves this recipe to a Group 4 dish).
    The Stress Management Spectrum
    Stress can have a negative impact on just about every part of your body. It can suppress your immune function, cause a heart attack or stroke, increase your risk of cancer, delay wound healing, promote inflammation, cause you to gain weight, impair your memory, cause depression, exacerbate diabetes, and worsen sexual function. Just for starters. Stress also makes you age faster even at a genetic and cellular level.
    Some people thrive on stress, and it doesn’t cause them to get sick. Studies have found that they can turn it on when needed, but they can also turn it off.
    They have appropriately elevated levels of stress hormones at work during the day, but their stress hormones drop sharply at night. In other words, they can turn it off. In contrast, people who feel chronically stressed and anxious have stress hormones that remain elevated, and this predisposes them to a wide variety of illnesses.
    Stress-management techniques can help you turn it off. They are not about withdrawing from the world; rather, they enable you to embrace it more fully and effectively. When you’re feeling less stressed, you can think more clearly and creatively, making it easier to find constructive solutions. When you’re less stressed, you’re more empowered.
    THE SPECTRUM provides you with the fundamental tools for stress management. These include:
    • Breathing• Enhancement of social support
    • Yoga & Meditation• Reduction of stimulants (both physical and mental)
    • Exercise• Practicing forgiveness, altruism, compassion, service
    A DVD of inspiring, beautiful, and peaceful guided meditations by Anne Ornish is included with every copy of THE SPECTRUM. Anne is Vice President of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute where she directs all activities related to stress management training and psychosocial support. She has advanced training in yoga and meditation and was featured on the cover of the August 2006 issue of Yoga Journal magazine.
    This DVD has guided meditations of different lengths depending on where you are on the Stress Management Spectrum. Even one minute a day has value; those who would benefit from doing more are given the tools and resources enabling them to do so.
    The Exercise Spectrum
    You already know that exercise is good for you and that regular, moderate exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being. What you may not know is that new research is showing that exercise beneficially affects your genes, helps reverse the aging process at a cellular level, gives you more energy, makes you smarter, and may even help you grow so many new brain cells (a process called neurogenesis) that your brain actually gets bigger. Really.
    Here again is another demonstration of the theme of THE SPECTRUM: your genes are not your fate. The choices you make each day in your diet and lifestyle have a direct influence on how your genetic predisposition is expressed–for better and for worse. You’re only as old as your genes, but how your genes are expressed may be modified by exercise, diet and lifestyle choices much more than had previously been believed–and more quickly.
    To gain all the health benefits of regular exercise, you don’t have to join a gym, hire a personal trainer, or organize your life around 10K’s. For example, in the Women’s Health Study, a major ongoing research project involving tens of thousands of women, those who walked briskly for just 60 to 90 minutes a week–just 15 minutes a day–cut their risk of death from heart attack and stroke in half.
    Do what you enjoy, make it fun, and do it regularly. That’s it. THE SPECTRUM shows you how.
    Here is a basic breakdown of the foods in each group of the Nutrition Spectrum:
    Group 1
    These are the most healthful foods, predominantly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nonfat dairy, and egg whites in their natural forms, as well as some good fats that contain omega‑3 fatty acids. These are foods that are rich in good carbs, good fats, good proteins and other protective substances. There are at least 100,000 substances in these foods that have powerful anti‑cancer, anti-heart-disease and anti-aging properties.
    Group 2
    These are also predominantly plant-based but somewhat higher in fat (predominantly monosaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat) such as avocadoes, seeds, nuts. Oils are included but in small amounts, since they are so dense in calories. Group 2 also includes foods canned in water (rather than sugary syrup or oil), canned vegetables (if sodium is not too high), low-fat dairy products (1%), decaffeinated beverages, low-sodium soy sauce, and so on.
    Group 3:
    These foods include some seafood, some refined carbohydrates and concentrated sweeteners (in moderation), some oils that are higher in saturated fat, some reduced fat (2%) dairy products, margarines free of trans fatty acids, sweeteners containing high fructose corn syrup, and higher sodium.
    Group 4
    In this group foods contain additional fat, higher animal protein and fewer protective nutrients. These include poultry, fish that are higher in mercury, whole milk/dairy products, margarine, mayonnaise, pastries, cakes, cookies, and pies.
    Group 5
    In general, these foods are considered the least healthful. They are the lowest in protective substances and are highest in “bad fats.” Some food included in this group are red meat, egg yolks, fried poultry, fried fish, hot dogs, organ meats, butter, cream, and tropical oils.
    We all need to find our place on the Nutrition Spectrum that’s comfortable and congruent with our own personal values as well as with our health needs. And it may evolve over time. The point of THE SPECTRUM is to provide you information that you can use to make informed and intelligent choices. Only you can decide what’s right for you, for only then is it sustainable.
    1)You have a full spectrum of nutrition and lifestyle choices.
    2)Even more than feeling healthy, most people want to feel free and in control.
    3)Eating bad food does not make you a bad person.
    4)How you eat is as important as what you eat.
    5)Joy of living is a much better motivator than fear of dying.
    6)It’s important to address the deeper issues that underlie our behaviors.
    7)There’s no point in giving up something you enjoy unless you get something back that’s even better–and quickly.
    8)Make small gradual changes or big rapid changes to create sustainable transformations in your diet and lifestyle.
    9)How we approach food is how we approa…
    Hey CJ–
    Good to hear from you.
    I read as much of this as I could stomach on Amazon. Made me want to puke.

  9. recall what i told yee about Ornish being a minibar fiend and also a devotee of Swami Satchidananda when in med school ?
    Anyways sunbeam what about yr opus on Vitamin D pleasum and sun beds and all things D Vitaminy ?
    I recall. Haven’t had the time for the post yet. Here is the mini post, however, for your perusal.

    Take vitamin D3 supplements if you don’t get a lot of sunlight.


  10. As if I needed another reason not to vote for Mrs. Clinton, if, God forbid, I am given that choice.
    Indeed. The whole country could be Ornishiated into the vegan lifestyle. He could become the Surgeon General. Wouldn’t that be grand!

  11. Reminds me of another quote: “If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made prolonging the problem”
    According to Ornish, I’m a solid “group 5” eater. I may already be dead.
    Thanks for the laugh.

  12. In general, Americans have a short attention span and only listen to whatever our wannabe puppet masters tell us to listen to. I don’t want to turn this political, so I won’t provide and example. However, that’s the best explanation for how some some of the thoughts and beliefs can oscillate over a short period of time. So few are going to remember those facts about First President Clinton.
    I didn’t read the entire description of the book, but I’m betting the phrase “balanced diet” is in there somewhere. Every time there’s a diet that will turn you sick and fat, it’s accompanied by those words of doom. I’ll stick to my meat and fat heavy diet, and keep losing weight, getting less and less acne, and looking younger. I can’t believe that I’m looking younger after about 6 months eating very low carb!
    Hi Kate–
    I never thought of it that way. ‘Balanced diet’ is the code word for a diet that will make you fat and sick.
    Thank God I pretty much stick to a low-carb diet or I would look even older than I already do. A difficult thought to contemplate.

  13. Ornish was having a hard time selling his spartan, monk-like regime any more. The No-Fat, No-Meat, No-Fish, No-Dairy, No-Sugar, No-Nuts, No-Avocados, No-olives message only worked with ascetics. So in his recent sound-bites he started talking about “it’s not all or none, people have a whole spectrum of choices. . . ”
    Same song, different spin. The only foods that go in his Group One are the fatless, tasteless, spiritually pure variety. Note that Group 1 to Group 5, are roughly arranged in increasing flavor.
    “Also notice the odd phrase. . . “egg whites in their natural form.” The only naturally-ocurring egg whites I’ve seen come with a plump and natural egg yolk inside.
    The guy is goofy.
    You really think so? If you have any doubts, just take a look at him.

  14. Thank you for these blog posts. I enjoy reading them.
    Also, how would one go about finding a local doctor who’s not sold-out to the high carb plan? My wife desperately needs to have the tests you describe in the beginning of Protein Power. I believe she’s on the verge of some very serious medical problems if not already there, but I don’t want to have to battle with a doctor who’s not up to speed on the benefits of low-carb.
    I don’t know, Jeff. I don’t know all the docs across the country who are doing low-carb or who have even bought into the concept. If you want to comment again and tell us what area you live in, maybe some of the readers out there will know a doc that toes the low-carb line who practices close to you.

  15. I wonder if Ornish will be the resident “nutritional” police in the “village” it takes to raise my child….
    If so, he will truly be the village idiot.

  16. Dean Ornish is on crack – saying the worst foods are red meat, organ meats, egg yolks, butter, cream, and tropical oils. Those are the best foods. And he says the best foods are egg whites, fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and soy. Those would be the best for most people to avoid, except for the fruits and vegetables. Dean should read Jan Kwasniewski or better yet visit his clinic, and see his results. JK promotes a high-fat, low-carb diet of fatty meats, egg yolks, butter, cheese, organ meats, bone broths, and other nutrient dense foods.
    Ornish ranks refined carbohydrates above red meat, organ meats, egg yolks, and butter. What dastardly and malicious advice. It’s even more disturbing that there are actually people in this world dumb enough to listen to Ornish. He should be sued for malpractice – and malnutrition.
    Tell us how you really feel.

  17. “Group 1 with predominantly plant-based whole foods that are very low in fat, sugar, salt, and calories.”
    Wow….just like Kimkins! (and we all know what a nutritional disaster that is)
    And what “balanced diet” really means is that you balance your health with the ability to pay for expensive prescription drugs designed to keep you sick, but alive long enough to buy more drugs.
    Excellent definition of a balanced diet.

  18. Jimmy Moore has reported a few times that Mike Huckabee lost weight eating low-carb. Maybe we should decide who to vote for based on who follows the most intelligent diet. If it’s a choice between a candidate eating low-fat and a candidate eating low-carb, really, what more do we need to know?

    Hi Ethyl–
    I don’t know if Huckabee followed a low-carb diet or not, but I kind of doubt it. According to the diet book he wrote, I think portion control and exercise are what did it for him. And it looks like he’s starting to put it back on now. When on the campaign trail, it’s hard to follow a portion-control diet. He would be much better off with low-carb.

  19. Art Smith has also cheffed for Oprah and, last I saw him, is overweight. I’ll stay right here in Spectrum 5, thanks!
    Will Ornish ever actually test his dietary plan apart from the rest of his plan (seperate from stress reduction, etc) to see if it actually makes a difference? Doubtful.

  20. I wonder if that is the same Art Smith who authored Kitchen Life: Real Food for Real Families – Even Yours!, one of the cookbooks in my “to donate” pile. This Art Smith in the cover photograph is whale-sized and looks like he would do well on a lower carb diet. He also authored Back to the Table.
    And though the cover photo shows primarily nonstarchy veggies and a roast chicken being prepared (with an entire family involved), many of the recipes (billed as “meals the whole family will love!”) are generally too high in carbs for me to make without modification. And since they are designed to appeal to kids, they are heavy on options like mac & cheese, pasta, potatoes, starchy casseroles, and sweet sauces.
    To be fair, there appear to be some good recipes in here that aren’t high in carbs or could be easily modified to be low carb, and Art doesn’t spare the butter nor is the focus on low fat or preachy about nutrients. And I really like the focus on tips and techniques for more homecooked family meals with real food. But I haven’t used the book enough to justify the shelf space. And I guess I don’t need instructions on how to cook real food or gathering the family for dinner.
    So it’s a shame that Art Smith has teamed up with Ornish. It looks like he has a talent for family cooking, but he could use some de-carbing.
    Hi Anna–
    I think it’s the same Art Smith.

  21. When I saw this book listed on Amazon and read the synopsis, the first thing I thought of was this blog. I was going to mention it but I figured why ruin a pleasant holiday season. When I read the Prez testimonial I thought the same thing. Kinda like Keith Richards promoting AA. I bet items in “group 1” (grains, lf dairy, soy) have caused more death and suffering than “group5”, despite the fried foods. How about HFCS is in group 3 and egg yolks and red meat are in group 5 ..ouch! Now I can see why the only words you respond with at times are “Jesus Wept” . Thanks for enlightenment.

  22. 15 or so years ago I was working in cardiac rehab (as an occupational therapist) and I read all of Ornish’s books I liked his approach that you could avoid surgery through changes in lifestyle.
    In 1997 Ornish wrote a book called Love and Survival, about the importance of love and emotional support in heart health. I saw him on a talk show promoting the book and he was asked why he wrote it. He said, if I remember correctly all these years later, that he’d written it because people thought of him as the diet police, and he actually believed, after doing the research for the book, that the biggest risk factor for heart disease was lonliness, even bigger than diet, or even smoking.
    I had a lot of respect for him, at that point, because he was one of the only western doctors I’d heard of who did more than pay lip service to that.
    Now he seems to have committed himself to defending the low-fat cause and I think it’s a shame because he had so much more in him.
    A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
    Even a mind as closed as his.

  23. Wasn’t Clinton famous for jogging past McDonald’s and stopping for a deep fried apple pie while doing so?
    Yep, but that supposedly changed once he got in the Oval Office and had Ornish as his diet guru.

  24. So Ornish is basically saying that high fructose corn syrup,
    pastries, cakes, cookies, and pies are healthier than red meat, egg yolks, organ meats, butter, cream, and tropical oils. Wow. The vegetarian bias could not be more evident.
    Also, I thought it was funny that he wrote: “egg whites in their natural forms.” Natural forms? Huh? Sorry, Dean, I’ll take my eggs the truly natural way: with their yolks.
    Yeah, old Dean has to be a real contortionist to try to make sense out of these recommendations.

  25. Surprise — Cholesterol May Actually Pose Benefits, Study Shows
    I wonder if Ornish et al will respond to this research with the predictable “Despite the fact that cholesterol lowering drugs have been shown to reduce muscle strength and can cause other serious side effects, patients should not discontinue their use because the benefits outweigh any risks which should be considered minor” statement? Bets down.
    “ScienceDaily (Jan. 10, 2008) — If you’re worried about high cholesterol levels and keeping heart-healthy as you get older, don’t push aside bacon and eggs just yet. A new study says they might actually provide a benefit.
    Researchers at Texas A&M University have discovered that lower cholesterol levels can actually reduce muscle gain with exercising. Lead investigator Steven Riechman, assistant professor of health and kinesiology, and Simon Sheather, head of the Department of Statistics, along with colleagues from The Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, have recently had their findings published in the Journal of Gerontology.
    Hi David–
    A couple of readers have commented on this study already. It would be interesting to see Ornish’s comments. I suspect they would be as you predicted.

  26. The biggest fear is that Bill Clinton will be right…. The world’s in a sad place if 5 to 10 years from now we as a populace are still embracing Ornish.
    At least the social security problem will be solved – people won’t live as long.

  27. Tracy, you asked whether Ornish will ever actually test his dietary plan. Why should he? Everyone knows it’s true and based on sound medical fact. 😉 😉
    Walt, “eggs in their natural form” is not such a odd statement. The grocery store sells powdered egg white in the bakery aisle, and there’s even “Eggbeaters” of just whites.
    Also, could someone please summarize the thing about Lipitor and the Jarvik ad? The link is to a site where you have to register as a medical professional which I, alas, am not.
    I also wanted to mention that I’ve been on Dr. McCleary’s “cocktails” and Vitamin D3 for about a week now, and things seem to be improving mentally and physically. Of course, I’ve also gone back to solid VLC eating. “Do you choose to simply know the path, or do you choose to walk it?” I choose to walk it.
    Thanks once again for a great blog!
    Hey Kathy–
    Fixed your winks for you.
    Glad you’re doing well on the McCleary cocktail and vit D3. Just keep walkin’ that path.

  28. I’m with Tracy Bradley. I’ll stay in Spectrum Group 5, thanks, Dean. The only foods in Group 5 that are potentially bad are “fried poultry, fried fish, hot dogs.” The rest are great foods IMO. And an occasionaly hot dog won’t kill you, though I’d get the kosher ones. The problems with fried fish and fried poultry are from the breading, batter, carbs, sugar, and hydrogenated or polyunsaturated oils being used. In general, I believe that Ornish’s “spectrum” is upside down and backwards. I suspect that most here would agree.

  29. What a surprise. Years ago, when you wrote the first PP, you displayed the u-shape graph that showed that as cholesterol was lowered past the optimal range (180-200), cancer, depression, accidents, etc, increased. It seems related to me that it would be easier to gain muscle mass in the optimal range, and easier to lose it as cholesterol gets lowered.
    Hi LC–
    It would seem that way to me, too.

  30. I did not believe many things that Bill Clinton said when he was President. So why start now?!
    We saw a TV spot the other day with Huckabee going for a run… my daughter remarked that he sure has tacked a few pounds around the waist. Semi-starvation and yo-yo dieting is what it looks like… not serious low carbing.
    I am an Asian Indian, was proudly a ‘pure’ vegetarian until the age of 30 .. not even eggs. But born with a great love for rice, vegetables, fruits and potatoes.. loved it. The food pyramid in the US reinforced these beliefs in the superiority of the ‘simple’ Indian way of life and the glorious holistic stuff. Bottomline, I am a type2 now at age 51 and my wife will attest that it is all due to the quantity of rice that I ate twice every day.
    Low carb is the only way I want to live now. I honestly have no desire for rice anymore. My BG is normal only with diet and metformin. I lost 40 lbs in 9 months and am at normal BMI for the first time in my life. Finally (and thankfully) I am in control. I travel a lot, but manage on the road quite easily and actually is no hardship.
    So, I do not need Ornish. Been there, done that. Thank you very much.
    Hey Guru–
    Thanks for the med/diet history. I’m glad you found low-carb and are doing so well on it. Maybe with a little time at your normal weight you’ll be able to ditch the metformin as well.

  31. when i was a very fat 17 year old girl (225 pounds on my 5’8″ frame!) i made up my own diet of eggs, meat, poultry, fish and vegetables. i never read a diet book, it just seemed to make sense to give up “fake” foods and only eat foods found in nature. i got down to 145 by the time i was in my early twenties and have stayed there ever since. last year, at the wise old age of 47, i read dean ornish’s books and decided i had done everything wrong…that non fat vegan was the only way to go. i GAINED 30 pounds, lost my sex drive, my energy and developed a crippling sugar addiction within in 6 months! needless to say i have gone back to foods found in nature and my shape is slowly coming back (and i’m chasing the boyfriend around the house again!)
    and thank you sir, your blog is a true delight to read!
    Hi Ida–
    Thanks for the great comment. And thanks for the kind words about the blog.

  32. “CONSULTING: If you’re not a part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.”
    Larry Kersten (American Sociologist and Author. )
    Having consulted in the past, I could take umbrage at Kersten’s quote… but I KNOW the kind of consultants he’s talking about.

  33. after my 3rd heart attack dec 04 I quit the veggie/ornish just plant food eating and now with type 2 this yr am still doing great with no carbs. also off BP drugs and since May have stopped all lipitor and crestor (7 days of crestor was enough) still getting stronger and no more brain fog feeling, wish I knew then what I know now…LOL great blog and hope you keep it going
    I’m glad to hear you’re doing so well. You were the inspiration for my post today.

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