Review: The Spectrum by Dean Ornish, M.D.

I briefly reviewed three books a while back, then said I want to go through them in more detail. I've done so for two of the three and now I'd like to discuss Dean Ornish's fascinating book, The Spectrum. Dr. Ornish is Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC, San Francisco and heads the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute. His five previous books have espoused a comprehensive diet and lifestyle approach toward preventing and, in some cases, reversing some of the major diseases especially afflicting those of us who eat the Western diet. He's been doing research since he was a medical student in the 1970s, conducted multiple demonstration projects in the United States since the early 1990s and finally garnering enough data for Medicare to agree to cover his program for reversing heart disease.

I basically knew this, had read some of his earlier books and had used some of the recipes from two of his publications, Eat More, Weigh Less and Everyday Cooking with Dr. Dean Ornish. One of our all time favorites, as I've previously mentioned, is a recipe called Fruited Grain. We've made this in a variety of ways and, especially when fresh plums are in season, make it frequently.

The Spectrum extends his approach. As the name implies it gives a thorugh spectrum of dietary and lifestyle choices for people who have significant disease and also for those who are healthy. Its DVD of guided meditations was written by Anne Ornish, a yoga and meditation teacher who is Dean Ornish's wife. It also has a hundred recipes, most with optional variants, developed by chef Art Smith, who was the 2007 recipient of the James Beard Humanitarian Award.

Much of this I've said, in briefer form, before. What's most interesting about this book is its blend of plain common sense and ground-breaking collaborative medical research.  I was aware of Dr. Ornish's research on coronary artery disease; I knew nothing of his work, done with UCSF and Sloan-Kettering on prostate cancer. I'll follow his studies and publications with considerable interest and think you should also.

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