If you have heart disease and are not in need of emergency surgery, such as bypass, angioplasty or stent placement, you can reverse your heart disease by eliminating the behaviors that have contributed to your condition, and picking up healthy new habits. You may need what Dr. Ornish calls a "pound of cure" (as opposed to an "ounce of prevention"). This means making big — and sustainable — changes to your diet, exercise routine and approach to stress management. Start getting better today with Dr. Ornish's 4-step plan to reverse your heart disease in 28 days. Click here to read an excerpt from Dr. Ornish's book, The Spectrum, A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight, and Gain Health, with recipes by chef Art Smith, Oprah Winfrey's one-time personal chef. If followed correctly, you may reduce the plaque clinging to your artery walls and begin undoing decades of damage. For those who don't have heart disease, there is a wide spectrum of preventive choices you can make to live healthily.
1. Get the Plaque Out of Your Arteries
Trim the fat and overhaul your diet. Under the Reversal Diet, only 10% of your diet comes from fat; 15-20% comes from protein; and 70-75% comes from complex carbohydrates. Your body can start to heal once you stop doing what's causing the problem in the first place; if you stop consuming the food that contributed to the blockages in your arteries, your body will have a better chance of rebooting and recovering. Incorporate heart-healthy foods into your diet that contain protective and preventive nutrients. A plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and soy products in their natural, unrefined forms not only helps to reverse heart disease, but also possesses anti-cancer and anti-aging properties.
Life-Saving One-Month Food Plan
- Oatmeal with dried cranberries
- 4oz. of natural vegetable or fruit juice
Eating oatmeal is a great non-fat way to get your complex carbohydrates.
- Non-fat granola bar
- One cup of tea; green tea, without milk or sugar, is ideal
- Stir-fried veggies with low-sodium teriyaki sauce and brown rice
- Green salad with edamame, chickpeas, beans and fat-free raspberry dressing, and one whole wheat roll
A lunch like this provides plenty of protein, from non-animal sources.
- Tacos: black beans, brown rice, fat-free sour cream, fat-free cheese and salsa; corn tortillas
These tacos are low in fat and high in protein.
- Hummus with assorted dipping vegetables
Click here to get Reversal Diet recipes from chef Art Smith.
2. Reduce Inflammation of the Artery Walls
Exercise your arteries. Exercise helps to strip away the irritating materials that contribute to artery ruptures. Start with 30 minutes throughout your day. You don't necessarily have to do all 30 minutes at once with a trip to the gym, though working up a sweat is encouraged. You can exercise by making simple modifications to your daily routine. Walk more. Take the stairs. Park your car further away from the entrance. Play with your kids or grandkids.
3. Stop the Heart from Spasming and Make the Arteries More Elastic
Change your arteries to change your heart. Take up to one hour a day to meditate or to engage in meditative exercises, like yoga. Calming yourself and taking control of your stress will actually serve to relax the arteries and reduce the buildup of blockages in them.
4. Open Your Heart
Involve your family and friends; their support will reinforce your efforts. Love and support are powerful factors in healing heart disease. For his book Love & Survival, Dr. Ornish surveyed hundreds of studies showing that people who feel loved and supported are many times less likely to get sick and die prematurely than those who are lonely and depressed. Open your eyes to a new approach to wellness and open up your arteries.
When you make these lifestyle changes, you're likely to feel so much better so quickly, it reframes the reason for making these changes, as explained in Dr. Ornish's The Spectrum, from the "fear of dying" to the "joy of living." Remember that it's less about sacrifice as it is more about achieving a rewarding and sustainable new healthy lifestyle for the long haul.