The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight, and Gain Health

Front Cover
Ballantine Books, 2007 - Health & Fitness - 386 pages
InTHE SPECTRUM, Dr. Ornish shows us how to personalize a way of eating and a way of living based on your own health goals, needs, and preferences. Here’s how it works:

SinceTHE SPECTRUMis about freedom of choice, there is no diet to get on and no diet to get off. Nothing is forbidden. No guilt, no shame, no pressure.THE SPECTRUMis based on love– joy of living, not fear of dying. Feeling better, not denying yourself pleasure.

First, determine your health and wellness goals. Do you want to lose weight? Do you have high cholesterol? Is diabetes a problem in your family? Based on your individual needs and goals,THE SPECTRUMhas examples of six individually-tailored lifestyle programs ideally suited for you: lowering cholesterol, losing weight, lowering blood pressure, preventing/reversing diabetes, preventing/reversing certain types of prostate and breast cancer, preventing/reversing heart disease.

Each personalized plan inTHE SPECTRUMhas 3 components: Nutrition, Stress Management, and Exercise.

The Nutrition Spectrum
The Nutrition Spectrum consists of five groups. Group 1 is the healthiest end of the spectrum and Group 5 is the least healthful end. To determine your current place on the Nutrition Spectrum, find the group that contains the foods you tend to eat most of the time. Then, according to your needs, preferences, and goals, decide how far and how quickly you want to move in a more healthful direction. For example, if you typically eat predominantly foods in Group 4 and you want to lower your cholesterol 50 points, begin by incorporating more foods from Groups 2 and 3. If that’s sufficient to achieve your goal, great; if not, you can move more towards the healthier end ofTHE SPECTRUMby consuming more foods from Groups 1 and 2.

In general, the closer you move towards Group 1, the more benefits you’re likely to gain and the more quickly you’ll experience them. If you’re healthy, you many not need or want to make very many changes at all–the “ounce of prevention.” On the other hand, if you are trying to reverse heart disease or diabetes, you’ll probably need to make bigger changes–the “pound of cure.”

The recipes by Art Smith forTHE SPECTRUMare designed so that each base recipe is in Group 1. Depending on your health and wellness goals, each recipe offers healthy variations. For example, the Vegetable Chili recipe is a delicious version of a classic recipe that begins in Group 1 with predominantly plant-based whole foods that are very low in fat, sugar, salt, and calories. Variations listed at the end of the recipe include adding a cup of pitted higher-fat black olives (which moves this recipe to a Group 2 dish) and/or adding one pound of turkey breast sausage to the recipe (which moves this recipe to a Group 4 dish).

The Stress Management Spectrum
Stress can have a negative impact on just about every part of your body. It can suppress your immune function, cause a heart attack or stroke, increase your risk of cancer, delay wound healing, promote inflammation, cause you to gain weight, impair your memory, cause depression, exacerbate diabetes, and worsen sexual function. Just for starters. Stress also makes you age faster even at a genetic and cellular level.

Some people thrive on stress, and it doesn’t cause them to get sick. Studies have found that they can turn it on when needed, but they can also turn it off.

They have appropriately elevated levels of stress hormones at work during the day, but their stress hormones drop sharply at night. In other words, they can turn it off. In contrast, people who feel chronically stressed and anxious have stress hormones that remain elevated, and this predisposes them to a wide variety of illnesses.

Stress-management techniques can help you turn it off. They are not about withdrawing from the world; rather, they enable you to embrace it more fully and effectively. When you're feeling less stressed, you can think more clearly and creatively, making it easier to find constructive solutions. When you’re less stressed, you’re more empowered.

THE SPECTRUMprovides you with the fundamental tools for stress management. These include:

• Breathing• Enhancement of social support
• Yoga & Meditation• Reduction of stimulants (both physical and mental)
• Exercise• Practicing forgiveness, altruism, compassion, service

A DVD of inspiring, beautiful, and peaceful guided meditations by Anne Ornish is included with every copy ofTHE SPECTRUM.Anne is Vice President of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute where she directs all activities related to stress management training and psychosocial support. She has advanced training in yoga and meditation and was featured on the cover of the August 2006 issue ofYoga Journalmagazine.

This DVD has guided meditations of different lengths depending on where you are on the Stress Management Spectrum. Even one minute a day has value; those who would benefit from doing more are given the tools and resources enabling them to do so.

The Exercise Spectrum
You already know that exercise is good for you and that regular, moderate exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being. What you may not know is that new research is showing that exercise beneficially affects your genes, helps reverse the aging process at a cellular level, gives you more energy, makes you smarter, and may even help you grow so many new brain cells (a process called neurogenesis) that your brain actually gets bigger. Really.

Here again is another demonstration of the theme ofTHE SPECTRUM:your genes are not your fate. The choices you make each day in your diet and lifestyle have a direct influence on how your genetic predisposition is expressed–for better and for worse. You’re only as old as your genes, but how your genes are expressed may be modified by exercise, diet and lifestyle choices much more than had previously been believed–and more quickly.

To gain all the health benefits of regular exercise, you don’t have to join a gym, hire a personal trainer, or organize your life around 10K’s. For example, in the Women’s Health Study, a major ongoing research project involving tens of thousands of women, those who walked briskly for just 60 to 90 minutes a week–just 15 minutes a day–cut their risk of death from heart attack and stroke in half.

Do what you enjoy, make it fun, and do it regularly. That’s it.THE SPECTRUMshows you how.


Here is a basic breakdown of the foods in each group of the Nutrition Spectrum:

Group 1
These are the most healthful foods, predominantly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nonfat dairy, and egg whites in their natural forms, as well as some good fats that contain omega‑3 fatty acids. These are foods that are rich in good carbs, good fats, good proteins and other protective substances. There are at least 100,000 substances in these foods that have powerful anti‑cancer, anti-heart-disease and anti-aging properties.

Group 2
These are also predominantly plant-based but somewhat higher in fat (predominantly monosaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat) such as avocadoes, seeds, nuts. Oils are included but in small amounts, since they are so dense in calories. Group 2 also includes foods canned in water (rather than sugary syrup or oil), canned vegetables (if sodium is not too high), low-fat dairy products (1%), decaffeinated beverages, low-sodium soy sauce, and so on.

Group 3:
These foods include some seafood, some refined carbohydrates and concentrated sweeteners (in moderation), some oils that are higher in saturated fat, some reduced fat (2%) dairy products, margarines free of trans fatty acids, sweeteners containing high fructose corn syrup, and higher sodium.

Group 4
In this group foods contain additional fat, higher animal protein and fewer protective nutrients. These include poultry, fish that are higher in mercury, whole milk/dairy products, margarine, mayonnaise, pastries, cakes, cookies, and pies.

Group 5
In general, these foods are considered the least healthful. They are the lowest in protective substances and are highest in “bad fats.” Some food included in this group are red meat, egg yolks, fried poultry, fried fish, hot dogs, organ meats, butter, cream, and tropical oils.

We all need to find our place on the Nutrition Spectrum that’s comfortable and congruent with our own personal values as well as with our health needs. And it may evolve over time. The point ofTHE SPECTRUMis to provide you information that you can use to make informed and intelligent choices. Only you can decide what’s right for you, for only then is it sustainable.


1)You have a full spectrum of nutrition and lifestyle choices.
2)Even more than feeling healthy, most people want to feel free and in control.
3)Eating bad food does not make you a bad person.
4)Howyou eat is as important aswhatyou eat.
5)Joy of living is a much better motivator than fear of dying.
6)It's important to address the deeper issues that underlie our behaviors.
7)There’s no point in giving up something you enjoy unless you get something back that’s even better–and quickly.
8)Make small gradual changes or big rapid changes to create sustainable transformations in your diet and lifestyle.
9)How we approach food is how we approach life.
10)The most powerful motivating force in the universe is love.


There are at least 100,000 substances in these foods that have powerful anti‑cancer, anti-heart-disease and anti-aging properties. These include:

•The National Cancer Institute has identified sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary, fennel, turmeric, caraway, anise, coriander, cumin, and tarragon as having some cancer-preventing activity. Cumin, fennel, tarragon, and caraway contain substances called terpenoids that may help slow or even prevent tumor growth, as well as help reduce blood cholesterol levels.

•Watermelon has even more lycopene than tomatoes. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, which may help reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, breast cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer.

•Canola oil is often a better choice than olive oil, since canola oil contains more of the beneficial omega‑3 fatty acids and a better ratio of omega‑6 fatty acids to omega‑3 fatty acids than olive oil.

•Tea contains polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants, which are found even more in green tea than black tea. The catechins in tea may help prevent cancer throughout your GI tract by helping to prevent DNA damage from carcinogens and by inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels that would feed tumors. Drinking tea has been shown to reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease, many gastrointestinal cancers, and to enhance immune function.

•An apple a day really may keep the doctor away. Pectin in apples may lower your cholesterol levels and help stabilize your blood sugar. They help prevent lung disease, especially in smokers.

•Mangoes are among the best sources of cancer-fighting carotenoids. They are also rich in antioxidant vitamins C and E. One mango contains 7 g of digestion-helping fiber, and much of this is soluble fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol level.

•Chili peppers are rich in capsaicin, which is what makes them taste hot. They may help you lose weight by suppressing appetite so you eat less and also by increasing your metabolism, so you burn more calories. They contain antioxidants such as vitamins A and C.

•Ginger contains a compound called gingerol that may lower blood pressure and increase circulation. Ginger also may help relieve motion sickness, morning sickness, and the nausea caused by anesthesia. Other compounds in ginger may help ward off migraines and arthritis pain by blocking inflammation-causing prostaglandins.

•Oatmeal contains soluble fiber that may help lower your cholesterol level as well as your blood pressure. It fills you up before you get too many calories, helping you lose weight. Find old-fashioned steel-cut oatmeal rather than instant, if possible.

•Whole grain cereals are “good carbs,” because the fiber slows the absorption and keeps your blood sugar levels more even. Also, the fiber fills you up before you get too many calories. The soluble fiber in cereal may reduce your cholesterol level and the insoluble fiber keeps your regular and may decrease your risk of colon cancer.

What people are saying - Write a review


User Review  - wilelliott -

This is a great book because I am learning alot about my health and myself. It does not feel like I am being preached to the book is a good read. Great shipping and I received it in a very timely fashion. I will buy more from Overstock forsure. Read full review

The Spectrum

User Review  - shne55 -

Great and wonderful info from a leading cardiologist in his field. I am the director of a cardiac rehab program and I recommend my patients get Dr. Ornishs book to read. He gives the patients great hope and encouragement in how to take charge of their health. Read full review

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About the author (2007)

About Dean Ornish, M.D.

Dean Ornish, M.D., is the founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, where he holds the Safeway Chair. He is Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Ornish received his medical training in internal medicine from the Baylor College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He received a B.A. in Humanities summa cum laude from the University of Texas in Austin, where he gave the baccalaureate address.

For the past 30 years, Dr. Ornish has directed clinical research demonstrating, for the first time, that comprehensive lifestyle changes may begin to reverse even severe coronary heart disease, without drugs or surgery. Recently, Medicare agreed to provide coverage for this program, the first time that Medicare has covered a program of comprehensive lifestyle changes. He recently directed the first randomized controlled trial demonstrating that comprehensive lifestyle changes may stop or reverse the progression of prostate cancer. His current research is showing that comprehensive lifestyle changes may affect gene expression.

He is the author of five best-selling books, including New York Times bestsellers Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease, Eat More, Weigh Less, and Love & Survival. He writes a monthly column for both Newsweek and Reader’s Digest magazines.

The research that he and his colleagues conducted has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Circulation, The New England Journal of Medicine, the American Journal of Cardiology, and elsewhere. A one-hour documentary of their work was broadcast on NOVA, the PBS science series, and was featured on Bill Moyers' PBS series, Healing & The Mind. Their work has been featured in all major media, including cover stories in Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News & World Report.

Dr. Ornish is a member of the boards of directors of the U.S. United Nations High Commission on Refugees, the Quincy Jones Foundation, and the San Francisco Food Bank. He was appointed to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and elected to the California Academy of Medicine. He is Chair of the Google Health Advisory Council, Chair of the PepsiCo Blue Ribbon Advisory Board, and Chair of the Safeway Advisory Council on Health and Nutrition and consults with the CEO of McDonald’s to make more healthful foods and to provide health education to their customers in this country and worldwide.

He has received several awards, including the 1994 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the University of Texas, Austin, the University of California, Berkeley, “National Public Health Hero” award, the Jan J. Kellermann Memorial Award for distinguished contribution in the field of cardiovascular disease prevention from the International Academy of Cardiology, a Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association, the Beckmann Medal from the German Society for Prevention and Rehabilitation of Cardiovascular Diseases, the “Pioneer in Integrative Medicine” award from California Pacific Medical Center, the “Excellence in Integrative Medicine" award from the Heal Breast Cancer Foundation, the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, a U.S. Army Surgeon General Medal, and the Bravewell Collaborative Pioneer of Integrative Medicine award. He is listed in Who’s Who in Healthcare and Medicine, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World.

Dr. Ornish was recognized as “one of the most interesting people of 1996” by People magazine, featured in the “TIME 100” issue on integrative medicine, and chosen by LIFE magazine as “one of the fifty most influential members of his generation.”

About Art Smith

Art Smith, chef, award-winning author and television personality, has brought back meaning and symbolism to the word “table” and has united families and friends through the sharing of a meal.

The 2002 James Beard Award winner for his first cookbook, Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family (Hyperion, 2001), Art is also the recipient of the prestigious 2001 Gourmand World Cookbook Award in the category, “For its Human Values.” Art’s second cookbook, Kitchen Life, was recently awarded the 2004 Gourmand World Cookbook Award in the category of “Best Family and Children's Cookbook.” Art is a National Bestseller and a New York Times Bestseller.

A native of Jasper, Florida, Art began his career with two internships at The Greenbrier Resort. He was then selected to attend the prestigious Walt Disney Magic Kingdom College Program in Florida. Following graduation, Art took a position as executive chef at the Florida Governor's Mansion where he worked for Governor Bob Graham, now a U.S. Senator, and his wife, Adele.

Art has run his own restaurant and has cooked for families all over the globe, including politicians and celebrities. After traveling extensively through Europe and Africa as a family chef, Art took a position as chef on the American European Express Train. Once settled in Chicago, he began a career in teaching and has served as personal chef to Ms. Oprah Winfrey since 1997. He is also a contributing editor to O magazine.

Art's nonprofit organization, Common Threads, is based on his passionate belief that families (whether a family by blood or a family of friends) all share an innate desire to care for each other, regardless of culture, race, or geographic location. Art's mission is to foster a familial environment where children learn through cooking to value each other and discover universal understanding and mutual acceptance (

Art serves on the board of directors of Kid's CafeŽ, a nutrition program for children in Minneapolis. He is currently working on his third book, Our Common Thread: World Families and Food.

About Anne Ornish

Anne Ornish is Vice President of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute where she directs all activities related to stress management training and community. She produced the online presence and resources for Dr. Dean Ornish’s site at WebMD from 1998-2005.

She is a certified Integrative Health & Spirituality practitioner through the California Pacific Medical Center and also received professional training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Mind-Body Medicine with Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn of the University of Massachusetts Stress Reduction Clinic. In addition, she completed the Academy for Interactive Guided Imagery's two-year certification program. She has 14 years of advanced training in yoga and meditation. Anne and her work were featured on the cover of Yoga Journal magazine’s July/August 2006 issue.

At heart, Anne is a guide who is devoted to assisting individuals in the re‑alignment with their natural state of well-being: love, inner peace & wisdom. She is currently developing a multimedia series of wellness tools.

From the Hardcover edition.

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