These 4 lifestyle changes can 'undo' damage to your body, according to new book

PHOTO: An undated stock photo depicts a young woman meditating at home.PlaySTOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
WATCH New book claims these 4 lifestyle changes can transform your health

Welcome to GMA’s New Year, Best You. As we ring in 2019, we are sharing everything you need to start the new year strong. From keeping your New Year’s resolutions going to Instagram-worthy meal prep to workout programs to eating plans to taking time for yourself, we have it all covered.

At a time of year when many are filled with fresh resolutions, a new book from a noted medical pioneer says you can reverse the damage you've done to your body -- having a positive impact on heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers by simply implementing small lifestyle changes.

Dr. Dean Ornish and his wife Anne are out with a new book on health, and after years of research and peer-reviewed studies, they say their approach to health can be summed up in a simple mantra: "Eat well, move more, stress less, love more -- boom that's it!"

Anne Ornish added that the first few tips sound straightforward, but the most important part of the mantra lies in the the "love more" part of the health program.

"I understand eat well, I understand move more, yeah stress, but this love more thing I‘m not sure," Anne Ornish said of most people's perception of the program. "But it actually turns out to be the most meaningful part of the program."

Together, the Ornishes have created an institute and program for people who want to reverse heart disease, fight prostate cancer and undo the effects of diabetes.

"When people start with our program it’s because some sort of catastrophic thing has happened or a lot of fear," Anne Ornish said.

(MORE: How to use 21 minutes each day to transform your happiness)

The couple says patients often embrace clean eating, and jump into exercise.

"Eat well means eat whole foods, plant based foods low in fat low in sugar as they come in nature," Dean Ornish said.

Anne Ornish added, "Whatever activity you love just do that and do a little bit more of it," when it comes to fitness.

PHOTO: An undated stock photo depicts a young woman meditating at home. STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
An undated stock photo depicts a young woman meditating at home.

(MORE: How to meal prep like a boss in 2019)

And while fear often initially drives many of people's behavior changes, the Ornishes say you need a positive motivator to sustain the healthy habits you pick up.

"Study after study show that people who are lonely and isolated are 3 to 10 times more likely to get sick and die prematurely from pretty much anything, compared to those who are connected with love and community and I don’t know anything in medicine that has that much of an impact," Dean Ornish said.

Anne Ornish added that they take this approach to health and promote scheduling family time, prioritizing date nights, seeking mental health support and making meditation a part of every day.

"To the extent that we schedule in our loved ones the way we do our other appointments we’ll have a richer healthier lifestyle," Anne Ornish said.

Dean Ornish emphasized that it is important, even when you don't feel like you have time to meditate, to still try and find time.

"I get up 10 to 15 minutes earlier and I feel more rested than if I’d slept that extra time," he said. "When you meditate things don’t bother you as much, your fuse gets longer ... same kids same job same stresses but you are buffered against it."

PHOTO: Undo It!: How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases by Dean Ornish and Anne Ornish Ballantine Books
"Undo It!: How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases" by Dean Ornish and Anne Ornish

Excerpt from "UNDO IT! How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases" by Dean Ornish, M.D., and Anne Ornish.

Our favorite key on the computer is the undo button. Click!—a fresh start.

We’ve often thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an undo button for our health as well?”

Well, now there is!

This is the era of lifestyle medicine: that is, using simple yet pow-erful lifestyle changes to reverse—undo! —the progression of the most common chronic diseases as well as to help prevent them.

For more than four decades, one of us (Dean) has directed a series of randomized controlled trials and demonstration projects proving, for the first time, that the radically simple lifestyle medicine program described in this book can often reverse the progression of many of the most common chronic diseases. It can be undertaken in combi-nation with drugs and surgery, or sometimes as an alternative to them.

We continue to be amazed and inspired that the more diseases we study, and the more underlying biological mechanisms we research, the more new reasons and scientific evidence we have to explain why these simple lifestyle changes are so powerful, how transformative and far-­ranging their effects can be, and how quickly people can show significant and measurable improvements—often in just a few weeks or even less.

We are excited that our research and the studies of other investi-gators are proving that many of the most common and debilitating chronic diseases and even much of the damage of aging at a cellular level can often be slowed, stopped, or even reversed by this lifestyle medicine program. These include:

• Reversing even severe coronary heart disease
• Reversing type 2 diabetes
• Reversing, slowing, or stopping the progression of early-stage non-aggressive prostate cancer
• Reversing high blood pressure
• Reversing elevated cholesterol levels
• Reversing obesity
• Reversing some types of early-stage dementia
• Reversing some autoimmune conditions
• Reversing emotional depression and anxiety

Our studies have been published in the leading peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals and presented at the most well­respected physician conferences. No other lifestyle program has this level of scientific evidence on reversing these chronic diseases. This is one reason why a panel of independent experts from U.S. News & World Report rated “The Ornish Diet” as “#1 for Heart Health” in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Awareness is the first step in healing, and science is a powerful tool for raising awareness. Our peer-reviewed research findings pro-vide the credibility to help overcome what is often the biggest obsta-cle: skepticism that such simple lifestyle changes can have such powerful, far-­reaching measurable improvements—and how fast you can feel better. In that spirit, we are including this information not to boast but (hopefully) to inspire and empower, to rise above the noise and misinformation that are so prevalent.

We’ve used high-tech, state­of­the­art scientific measures to prove the power of this low­tech lifestyle medicine intervention. The sci-ence may motivate you to get started; the extraordinary benefits you are likely to quickly experience are what make it sustainable.

Here It Is, Why It Works, and How You Can Do It:

Our program has four major components, each a healing modality on its own and synergistic when done together:

• A whole­foods plant­based diet, naturally low in animal protein, fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates and high in flavor—primarily fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and soy products in their natural, unprocessed forms. The principles of eating this way are simple and clear. We outline these in Chapter 4 and offer amazingly delicious recipes in Chapter 8.

• Moderate exercise, such as walking and strength training. Do what you enjoy—if you like it, you’ll do it. Chapter 5 shows why and how a little exercise goes a very long way.

• Stress management. Chapter 6 introduces you to techniques (in-cluding meditation and gentle yoga) that can enable you to do more and stress less.

• Love, social support, and intimacy. People who feel lonely, de-pressed, and isolated are three to ten times more likely to get sick and die prematurely from virtually all causes when compared to those who have strong feelings of love, connection and commu-nity. Chapter 7 describes how we can transform isolation into healing.

In short: eat well, move more, stress less, love more. That’s it. Boom!

From UNDO IT! by Dean Ornish, M.D., and Anne Ornish, published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2019 by Dean Ornish, M.D., LLC.

You can find UNDO IT! at bookstores nationwide today.