Excerpt: Dean Ornish's 'The Spectrum'

The recipes and cooking instructions, by the renowned chef Art Smith, are for foods that taste good and also make you look good and feel good. Many of them have several versions, so you can customize them to meet your own needs and preferences.

It seems that many people have misconceptions about what I eat and how I live my own life. For example, a few years ago, the playwright and producer Mike Nichols came up to me at a benefit for a foundation and said, "Hey, Dean, I'm on your diet -- if it tastes good, I can't eat it"-- echoing Mark Twain, "The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not."

This is the most common misunderstanding about my work -- that I recommend one really strict diet and lifestyle program for everyone. "Yes, it works, but it's almost impossible to follow."

It's understandable why so many people believe this. Many of the media stories on the work my colleagues and I have conducted have focused on our research showing that heart disease and other chronic diseases can be reversed--and they often can!--just by making comprehensive lifestyle changes. Reversing a disease does require the stricter version of the diet and lifestyle program--the pound of cure--whereas if you're just trying to feel good and stay healthy you need only the ounce of prevention. However, for people who aren't sick, I recommended a spectrum of choices.

In this book, I'm not trying to get you to do--or not do--anything. Food and lifestyle choices are deeply personal decisions. Having seen what a powerful difference changes in diet and lifestyle can make, I want to share these findings with you so that you can make intelligent choices in what you eat and how you live. How much or little you want to change, if at all, is entirely up to you. More on this later.

Whenever I go out to dinner, people often comment on what I'm eating or apologize for what they're eating--"I have to be careful what I eat around you"--as though I'm going to be the sheriff or the vice principal of the high school waving my finger at them, judging them, and shaming them into eating differently.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. So I usually make a sign of the cross and say, jokingly, "You are forgiven," and we all have a good laugh about it. I then tell them that it doesn't matter to me what they eat or how they live as long as they're happy. When I order dessert, they often feel both surprised and relieved.

PROVEN PROGRAM

What makes this book unique is that it's based on three decades of research proving what works, what doesn't, for whom, and under what circumstances. Most books are written based on anecdotal testimonials (which are often unreliable), or on the experience of others, or on wishful thinking. They may make promises that often remain unfulfilled.

Instead, this program is grounded in science, and it's been proven to work:

My colleagues and I at the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute have proven that this program works to help prevent, and to slow, stop, and even reverse the progression of the most common and most deadly diseases, including coronary heart disease, prostate cancer, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, elevated cholesterol levels, arthritis, and many other chronic diseases.

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