Dr. Dean Ornish on high-protein diets

Dean Ornish, who is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco was recently interviewed on CBS morning news. Ornish has focused on healthy lifestyle and diets for years. He developed “the first program scientifically proven to “undo” heart disease by making comprehensive lifestyle changes.” (The quote is from his website.) Read more on Dean Ornish at Wikipedia. You can link to the CBS interview, but you will have to endure a commercial first. The interview was prompted by his March 23, 2015 opinion piece in the New York Times, The Myth of High-Protein Diets.

Ornish recommends a diet “heavy on fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and soy products…” His recommendations are very similar to the Mediterranean diet. In the Times article Ornish says: “Research shows that animal protein may significantly increase the risk of premature mortality from all causes, among them cardiovascular disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Heavy consumption of saturated fat and trans fats may double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

As he says in the CBS interview, “it’s important to focus not just on short-term weight loss, but on a diet’s role in long-term health “. Ornish offers a holistic perspective on preventive health and has long promoted a life-style driven approach to prevention of heart disease and other diseases. You can go to http://ornishspectrum.com/ to see for yourself. There is another Ornish website, that is very similar.

Just recently Scientific American published an article “Why Almost Everything Dean Ornish Says about Nutrition Is Wrong“. Their critique is pretty compelling. High fat and high protein are not your enemies. The article does report on research that found that a Mediterranean style diet was more effective in reducing serious heart problems than a rival diet that avoided fat. But bear in mind that the Ornish program is about more than diet and nutrition. Exercise, stress reduction and support from family and friends are equally important.