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Diet Profiler: The Pritikin and Ornish Diets


Have you ever tried the “low-fat” diet approach? Perhaps you’ve wanted to shed some extra weight, or you’ve been advised by your doctor to slim down due to health concerns. Whatever your reason, achieving a desirable weight is never easy, and many people turn to popular diets or weight-loss methods to try to reach their goal. But not every diet works for every person. So, which diet is the right one for you? In our second series on Diet Profilers, let’s examine two more possibilities: the Ornish and Pritikin diets.

The History of Pritikin and Ornish
Most medical professionals in the world generally follow the axiom of what you put into your body, in terms of your diet, directly affects the health and fitness of your body.  And, many individuals have created plans or diets they think promote the best health in most people.  Such diets often take on the name of their “inventor” ensuring wide recognition. 

These diets are no exception! The Pritikin Diet or Program was created first by Nathan Pritikin when he was faced with heart disease.  The Ornish Diet or Lifestyle Program was initiated by a heart doctor, Dean Ornish, MD, based on his research in reversing heart disease. 

Pritikin
Nathan Pritikin took a very simple and common sense approach to creating his low fat diet program.  When diagnosed with heart disease, he decided to find places in the world with very low heart problems in the population and evaluate their lifestyles and diets.  He gathered data from these worldly locations and merged the results into his program, which by all accounts was successful in reversing his own heart disease. 

The program regulates fats in the diet by emphasizing whole grains, vegetables, seafood, and very lean meat.  The program of eating is paired with daily exercise requirements.  The exercise is not dramatic or very stressful, but needs to be consistently accomplished.  Robert Pritikin, the son of Nathan, has continued and slightly modified the original plan. 

The Pritikin family has a resort center in Florida promoting weight-loss and health improvements.  The center provides high quality meals and various exercise opportunities.  Other spa functions such a massage are also available. 

Ornish
Ornish was one of the first doctors to consider reversing heart disease without surgery or drug therapies.  His researches led to dietary methods to reverse and repair heart disease in many individuals. 

Ornish realized that diet alone was not enough to make the dramatic changes desired by the patients, so he incorporated several other lifestyle ideas.  The complete program is called the Lifestyle Program and incorporates moderate exercise and relaxation or meditation techniques with the diet aspect.  The diet is essentially vegetarian in its pure form.  Meat and seafood of all types are listed on the “to be avoided” list.  Nuts are also taboo due to the high fat content.  The program lists vegetables, grains and fruits as the primary foods to consume if you wish to follow the plan. 

Weigh Your Options
Both of the diets above have documented success stories, but they have detractors as well.  The diets both aim for about a 10 percent or less intake of fat.  The Pritikin approach works by lowering cholesterol greatly, but some contend that it ignores the difference between “good” cholesterol and “bad.”  The Ornish dietary regime is very strict and eliminates many foods common to western cultures.  Most people may find the Ornish diet hard to follow over the long term.  In addition, Ornish works on eliminating fats of all types and that may be a flaw based on current studies differentiating between beneficial and harmful fats. 



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