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Lifestyle Changes You Need To Follow For Better Heart Health.

Leading a healthy lifestyle is the most cost-effective and all-encompassing approach to maintaining one's health in the long term. This practice is advocated by Dr. Dean Michael Ornish, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco. Thanks to Dr. Ornish, Medicare covers the cost of 18 sessions of four hours each, coaching people to make better choices. 

It was an uphill battle for 16 years to get insurance companies onboard, until Sharecare agreed in 2010. After which, the official program was called the "Dr. Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease." It includes 72 hours of foundational courses that make the patient aware of healthy practices to prevent cardiovascular conditions from escalating.

The extended program offers guided exercise, stress management techniques, meditation exercise and a support group for moral support. About 85 to 90 percent of people undergoing the program continue to follow it one year later and also have reduced health-related costs by half in many cases.  

"We found that these same lifestyle changes actually change your genes, turning on the good genes and turning off the bad genes, specifically the genes that promote heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer," ( Ornish said.

The four major changes driven by the program are improvements in eating habits, exercising more, stressing less and being more open to love. It is encapsulated in Ornish's new book titled "Undo It!: How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases," where he delves into why he believes that these four aforementioned factors are important to change our attitude towards health. 


With the breakdown of the extended familial structure and technology taking over our lives, more people are lacking support systems. The concept of the support group is to connect with people who can offer feedback and psychosocial support. The program's foundation is to essentially reach a place of love for oneself in order to implement rigorous self-care. 

Meditation and Stress Management

Ornish recommends meditation for people to reflect on what's really the underlying reason that's making them sick and to address whatever is holding them back. The purpose of meditating a few minutes a day is to find clarity and mental peace, and build awareness around your shortcomings. Consistency is key. Either at the beginning or end of the day, or both times are recommended. 

Intermittent Fasting

Fasting for 12 to 14 hours helps prevent inflammation. Keeping a five to six hour eating window also gives the body rest at night, instead of working on digesting the food, therefore promoting better sleep. Having full meals during breakfast and lunch while keeping dinner light is the best way to practice intermittent fasting, according to Ornish. 

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Author:Seema Prasad
Publication:Medical Daily
Date:Jan 28, 2020
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