ike most physicians, I was trained in
medical school to view heart disease,
diabetes, prostate cancer, depression,
dementia, obesity and other chronic
illnesses as being fundamentally di;erent
from each other. Di;erent diagnoses,
di;erent diseases, di;erent treatments.
But the results of my peer-reviewed
research on the e;cacy of what’s now
known as “lifestyle medicine” ;y in the
face of that medical philosophy.
Understanding that seemingly diverse
conditions share many common biological
root causes—in;ammation, overstimulation
of the sympathetic nervous system and
microbiome disruption among them—
inspired me to look for the common
solutions. At last, I have them.
This might sound radical—and radically
simple—but my research has proven again
and again that making changes in four areas
a;ects health across the board. In other
words, what you do to reduce your risk or
turn back the clock for one chronic disease
will also reduce your risk for many others.
What are those categories?
Nutrition. Eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet naturally low in fat and sugar
and high in ;avor.
Exercise. You don’t have to go to
the gym every day or set your sights on a
marathon. Moderate exercise, such as
walking, is the key ingredient in undoing
your risk for disease.
Relaxation. Stress management
techniques, such as meditation and gentle
yoga, improve health in many ways, while
sustained emotional stress increases the risk
of numerous chronic diseases.
Love. Feeling loved and supported, and
having intimacy in your life, helps keep you
healthy. People who are lonely and depressed
are three to ;; times more likely to get sick
and die prematurely from virtually all causes.
Making improvements in these four
areas is good for your overall health at
any age, and doing so has profound and
dynamic e;ects on all of the shared
biological mechanisms that cause you to
get sick and enable you to heal.
Because of these ;ndings and this new
understanding, I have seen countless
patients begin to undo what has been a
lifetime of damage relatively quickly.
The guiding principle of my work has
always been addressing the underlying causes
of illnesses on many levels simultaneously.
By analogy, if you have a rock in your shoe,
don’t blame the stone, use painkillers or
surgery to cut the a;ected nerves or wear
thicker socks. Instead, deal with the root
cause: Just take out the rock. Where your
health is concerned, it’s just as simple: Eat
well, move more, stress less and love more.
How simple changes
in your lifestyle may
lead to radical results
by DR. DEAN ORNISH
is the founder and
president of the
Institute in Sausalito,
California. His book
UnDo It! How Simple
Can Reverse Most
(Item #1296272; 1/8)
is available in most