4

votes

What's wrong with the Ornish diet?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 05, 2011 at 11:39 PM

Like most people on here, I am convinced that eating a low fat, vegetarian diet is less than optimal and closer to unhealthy for most. However, I can only find positive results/reviews regarding those who stared eating according to the Ornish plan. I think the only negative aspect was a review that said it's hard to follow and the same has been said about eating Paleo.

Any input as to why so many people are drastically improving their health on his diet? Or are they? Is it just the risk scores that are bettered (aka they have lower LDL so they're at a "lower risk" and that's proof enough) or is there something more?

Thanks.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on February 15, 2012
at 05:20 AM

@Namby - my CRP is 0.2. I was just looking at that test result today

1d9af5db8833413037be3ac48964714f

(3789)

on June 11, 2011
at 09:06 PM

Yes, that's the study I was thinking of. Participants were trained in the dietary principles of their group, but it was "just the book and nothing but the book."

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 07, 2011
at 12:14 PM

That's a fantastic lecture. He gets a litle speculative at the end and loses the thread - probably too much cognitive dissonance for him. But kudos for being man enough to state the results, even if he didn't like it.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5147)

on June 06, 2011
at 08:40 PM

Dr. Quilt, what's CEO? As for CRP being .07, I believe the lowest detectable limit is 0.3. You mean 0.7?

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on June 06, 2011
at 02:47 PM

From the Gardner study, right? Agreed, it gives insight as to how easily a person can buy a book and follow a diet - although Gardner helped the participants follow each diet at first (first 6 weeks I think).

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on June 06, 2011
at 02:43 PM

There's a great video on YouTube where Christopher Gardner lectures on this study. It's really good (kind of long) but he's a great speaker and begrudgingly admits that all dieters on Atkins fared better, despite his being a vegetarian of 25 years. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eREuZEdMAVo

Ee7ee29e000bd4918c06ff75b6b1bb12

(195)

on June 06, 2011
at 02:40 PM

I think, as many have mentioned, just making the change from crappy food to real food can make an impact. Other than that, as much as many people would like to believe that there is only one optimal way to eat, some people do well on diets different from paleo.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 06, 2011
at 01:29 AM

Also btw why I believe like the WAP maintains, that you can survive and THRIVE on a grain-heavy diet - so long as you are not eating the crap that most of us were raised on. Looking around the globe tends to illustrate this as well. Please understand that I am a hardcore paleo eater despite the above. I'm strict, I love it, etc, but I do NOT think it's the key to health. The key I'd say is simply eating whole unprocessed food. That's it. Done.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 06, 2011
at 01:27 AM

Exactly. Fantastic answer. And this answer points out the issue with paleo: everything is anecdotal and/or epidemiological. In other words we all feel healthy and good eating this way but we're not all eating the same thing, but we have all eliminated processed junk food. So, is it that we ARE eating, say, meat and fat in higher degrees than most Americans, or is it that we are NOT eating the deleterious stuff that most americnas are? I tend to believe the second; that is also why I believe things like Ornish's way, vegetarians from the SAD, vegans from the SAD, etc all report improvements

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on June 06, 2011
at 01:01 AM

Great point. If a person's diet causes heart disease, even switching to an Ornish diet is going to be a big improvement from cutting out crap foods.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on June 06, 2011
at 12:22 AM

That's it in a nutshell. In fact, you could copy and paste that answer into 12% of all threads!

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on June 06, 2011
at 12:14 AM

Well, my BIL has a habit of making his own rules, but from my understanding from my sister, Ornish has levels of good/bad, so since my sister and her husband don't ACTUALLY have heart disease, but his family has a history of it, that it allows them more options.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on June 06, 2011
at 12:12 AM

I was guessing a lot of the benefits come from eliminating processed food and sugar, as well as taking someone who doesn't exercise and getting them on a regimen. I had only read about his vegetarian heart disease reversal diet, which only allows egg whites and low fat dairy (I think) from the animal world. The bit I read also said nuts were not allowed.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on June 06, 2011
at 12:11 AM

This kind of touches on my point. If it's vegetarian and unhealthy, then why are there (seemingly) so many people getting healthy eating this way, and even at lease one study showing the same. If it weren't the case, I'd expect to find a lot of posts/articles/comments saying the opposite (like we see with former Vegans) but I'm not able to find any.

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8 Answers

best answer

16
Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on June 06, 2011
at 12:17 AM

The easy answer is that its loads better than the SAD. Optimal? Nope. But when you cut out refined grains, processed foods, excess fructose, excess linoleic acid etc. and you lose weight, I guarantee your health will improve. If you then switched to a paleo diet and added meat and healthy sources of fat, I'd bet it would improve even more.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 06, 2011
at 01:29 AM

Also btw why I believe like the WAP maintains, that you can survive and THRIVE on a grain-heavy diet - so long as you are not eating the crap that most of us were raised on. Looking around the globe tends to illustrate this as well. Please understand that I am a hardcore paleo eater despite the above. I'm strict, I love it, etc, but I do NOT think it's the key to health. The key I'd say is simply eating whole unprocessed food. That's it. Done.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 06, 2011
at 01:27 AM

Exactly. Fantastic answer. And this answer points out the issue with paleo: everything is anecdotal and/or epidemiological. In other words we all feel healthy and good eating this way but we're not all eating the same thing, but we have all eliminated processed junk food. So, is it that we ARE eating, say, meat and fat in higher degrees than most Americans, or is it that we are NOT eating the deleterious stuff that most americnas are? I tend to believe the second; that is also why I believe things like Ornish's way, vegetarians from the SAD, vegans from the SAD, etc all report improvements

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on June 06, 2011
at 12:22 AM

That's it in a nutshell. In fact, you could copy and paste that answer into 12% of all threads!

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on June 06, 2011
at 01:01 AM

Great point. If a person's diet causes heart disease, even switching to an Ornish diet is going to be a big improvement from cutting out crap foods.

6
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on June 06, 2011
at 12:11 AM

I have one of his old patients in my practice.....I did one test on her.....

Omega six to three ratio came back 27 to 1. Her cardiac CRP on his diet was 2.1 and she had osteopenia on bisphosphonates

She is now a paleo eating CEO. Her last cardiac CRP was .07 after 6 months with my recs.

and she no longer has osteopenia.

Good is not Optimal.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5147)

on June 06, 2011
at 08:40 PM

Dr. Quilt, what's CEO? As for CRP being .07, I believe the lowest detectable limit is 0.3. You mean 0.7?

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on February 15, 2012
at 05:20 AM

@Namby - my CRP is 0.2. I was just looking at that test result today

3
3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on June 05, 2011
at 11:48 PM

Emily Deans might have a good answer for Dr. Ornish.

"Seneff et al continue to stack the evidence in their paper - dietary avoidance of fat (replaced by carbohydrate) and the increasingly zealous prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering medication has coincided with the rise in Alzheimer's Dementia and diabetes and obesity. These are only correlations, but one might consider that to be some evidence in favor of the plausible hypothesis that stripping the brain of cholesterol especially in an oxidative, hyperglycemic environment could lead to very sick neurons."

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 06, 2011
at 03:40 PM

For your amusement, I took the liberty of scanning the pertinent part of page 277 from Deep Nutrition and placing it here -

http://members.cox.net/ecirde/ornish.jpg

Ed

2
7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

on June 06, 2011
at 12:03 AM

Are you talking completely vegetarian Ornish? He has different degrees of recommended foods and stuff. There are some allowances for lean meats, I believe, like chicken breasts. My sister and her husband do a Pescatarian Ornish diet, mostly, due to my BILs family history of heart disease. He's gained weight on the Ornish diet by over-eating nuts and beans, mostly. My sister has done well on it, but she is also mostly gluten free. They have just added back in chicken after probably a year of not having any meat, mostly due to boredom.

I think the benefits of the Ornish diet come from reducing processed foods and eating real food, just like with the Paleo diet.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on June 06, 2011
at 12:12 AM

I was guessing a lot of the benefits come from eliminating processed food and sugar, as well as taking someone who doesn't exercise and getting them on a regimen. I had only read about his vegetarian heart disease reversal diet, which only allows egg whites and low fat dairy (I think) from the animal world. The bit I read also said nuts were not allowed.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on June 06, 2011
at 12:14 AM

Well, my BIL has a habit of making his own rules, but from my understanding from my sister, Ornish has levels of good/bad, so since my sister and her husband don't ACTUALLY have heart disease, but his family has a history of it, that it allows them more options.

1
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 06, 2011
at 12:54 AM

Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets for Change in Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal Women

http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/297/9/969.full

"Conclusions In this study, premenopausal overweight and obese women assigned to follow the Atkins diet, which had the lowest carbohydrate intake, lost more weight and experienced more favorable overall metabolic effects at 12 months than women assigned to follow the Zone, Ornish, or LEARN diets."

(And Paleo is way better than Atkins, health-wise)

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on June 06, 2011
at 02:43 PM

There's a great video on YouTube where Christopher Gardner lectures on this study. It's really good (kind of long) but he's a great speaker and begrudgingly admits that all dieters on Atkins fared better, despite his being a vegetarian of 25 years. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eREuZEdMAVo

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 07, 2011
at 12:14 PM

That's a fantastic lecture. He gets a litle speculative at the end and loses the thread - probably too much cognitive dissonance for him. But kudos for being man enough to state the results, even if he didn't like it.

0
1d9af5db8833413037be3ac48964714f

on June 06, 2011
at 01:17 AM

Since this study was of subjects educated on these diets and then just told to follow them, and compliance was not near 100% for any of the groups, Ornish would say that it was not a real test of his diet. On the other hand, it was a real test of how people would follow the each of these diets from reading the book. And the Ornish group certainly ate a lot lower fat than the Atkins group.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on June 06, 2011
at 02:47 PM

From the Gardner study, right? Agreed, it gives insight as to how easily a person can buy a book and follow a diet - although Gardner helped the participants follow each diet at first (first 6 weeks I think).

1d9af5db8833413037be3ac48964714f

(3789)

on June 11, 2011
at 09:06 PM

Yes, that's the study I was thinking of. Participants were trained in the dietary principles of their group, but it was "just the book and nothing but the book."

0
B3e7d1ab5aeb329fe24cca1de1a0b09c

(5242)

on June 05, 2011
at 11:48 PM

Uhh... that it's vegetarian? When there is so much science proving that for optimum health homo sapiens require protein and fat from animal sources.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on June 06, 2011
at 12:11 AM

This kind of touches on my point. If it's vegetarian and unhealthy, then why are there (seemingly) so many people getting healthy eating this way, and even at lease one study showing the same. If it weren't the case, I'd expect to find a lot of posts/articles/comments saying the opposite (like we see with former Vegans) but I'm not able to find any.

Ee7ee29e000bd4918c06ff75b6b1bb12

(195)

on June 06, 2011
at 02:40 PM

I think, as many have mentioned, just making the change from crappy food to real food can make an impact. Other than that, as much as many people would like to believe that there is only one optimal way to eat, some people do well on diets different from paleo.

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