Addiction Sameness

Alcohol, Opiates, Fat and Sugar are all Addictive Substances: this blog is about that "addiction sameness".

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Medicare covers lifestyle approach to healthcare - Heber Springs, AR - The Sun-Times

Medicare covers lifestyle approach to healthcare - Heber Springs, AR - The Sun-Times:

"When we think of advances in medicine, we usually have in mind something high-tech; It may be a new drug, a new laser, or a surgical intervention. We have a hard time believing that what Dr. Dean Ornish advocates can have a powerful effect. Simple choices we make each day—what we eat, how we respond to stress, whether or not we smoke, how much we exercise and the quality of our relationships can make a powerful difference in our health, our well-being, and our survival, according to Ornish."

It was in 1977, in his first year of medical school, when Ornish wanted to launch a study looking at the effects of yoga and a vegetarian diet on patients with heart disease. The supervising physician made fun of him. Sixteen years later, he met with a director of Medicare, a chain-smoking, 280-pound man to see whether his approach to treating heart disease could be covered under the program. He was told, “If we do this, anyone with a crystal and a pyramid will want us to pay for what they do.”

Finally, on January 1, 2011, Ornish’s Medical Research Institute in Sausalito, CA, along with the similar Pritikin program, are being covered by Medicare part B. It has taken 34 years for medicine to accept the simple fact that what we do, our diet, exercise, management of stress—how we live is the major factor affecting health; and that changing it is much less expensive than the high tech methods which have held their attention for so long.

Ornish, in conjunction with insurance companies, proved that by directing patients in lifestyle changes instead of heart surgery, they could save $30,000 per patient, not to mention the miseries associated with surgeries.

In a talk he gave at the Mayo Clinic, Center for Innovation entitled “Thinking Differently about Healthcare”, Ornish said by teaching and encouraging heart patients to eat a healthy diet, exercise, learn to manage stress, and have healthy relationships, patients would not have to take drugs for life—saving 20 billion dollars on Lipitor alone. He said heart disease is 90 percent preventable. He said our genes can predispose us to a disease but our genes are not our fate. You may listen to Dean Ornish’s entire message delivered at Mayo at I encourage you to do so.

Admittedly, Ornish’s vegetarian, high complex carbohydrate, very low fat diet is controversial. There are others who advocate lifestyle changes that include animal protein and healthy fats. A one-diet-fits-all may not be the best approach. What they all have in common is they eliminate the processed junk food that is what most Americans eat. You can do that yourself without the help of Medicare.

Included in the Ornish program, and sometimes neglected in others, is attention to meditation, relaxation, and developing close and satisfying relationships. Ornish has written several books, including Reversing Heart Disease and Love and Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy. They are all available at discounts on

One of the many websites about Preventive Medicine Research Institute, discusses what motivates people to change their lifestyle. Talking about “prevention” or “risk-factor reduction” or living longer is either scary or boring to most people. It doesn’t work well. Ornish writes, “Sometimes, people say, ‘I don’t care if I die early – I want to enjoy my life.’ Well, so do I. That’s the false choice – is it fun for me or is it good for me? Why not both? It’s fun for you and good for you to look good, feel good, have more energy, think more clearly, need less sleep, taste better, smell better, and perform better athletically–and sexually.”

He says, “When you eat a healthy diet, quit smoking, exercise, meditate (they use yoga), and have more love in your life, then your brain receives more blood and oxygen, so you think more clearly, have more energy, need less sleep. Your brain can grow so many new brain neurons in only three months that your brain can get measurably bigger! Your face gets more blood flow, so your skin glows more and wrinkles less. Your heart gets more blood flow, so you have more stamina and can even begin to reverse heart disease.”

How often do I hear someone say, “I have been bad” when they have eaten unhealthy food. Eating bad food does not make you a bad person. Ornish says, “The language of behavioral modification often has a moralistic quality to it that turns off a lot of people (like ‘cheating’ on a diet). It’s a small step from thinking of some foods as ‘bad’ to seeing yourself as a ‘bad person;’ at that point, might as well finish the pint of ice cream.”

Have you heard about Medicare coverage of Ornish’s clinic on television? I have not and we may not. Its goal is actual healing, instead of patching up with surgery and a lifetime of drugs. Considering who supports TV with ads, I doubt it will be widely publicized. However, as a friend once said, “You can’t hide the truth forever.”

Copyright 2011 The Sun-Times. Some rights reserved

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