Does Pritikin Work?
Yes, and unequivocally so. Scientists worldwide have lauded the Pritikin Program’s effectiveness to help prevent and reverse the progression of coronary heart disease and other health concerns. So highly regarded is Pritikin and the research documenting its results that dozens of hospitals are now modeling their cardiac rehab programs around the retreat developed and offered at the Pritikin Center.
Proven Health Benefits of the Pritikin Program Include:
Reduce LDL Cholesterol 23% and Non-HDL Cholesterol 24%
Reduce Triglycerides 33%
Analyses of 4,587 guests at Pritikin for three weeks showed an average 33% reduction in triglyceride levels.2
Reduce Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation of the arteries is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Within two to three weeks at Pritikin, markers of chronic inflammation, including high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, dropped dramatically. C-reactive protein decreased 45% among women,3 39% among men,4 and 41% among children.5
Lower Insulin Levels 46%
In three weeks, insulin levels fell 46% in men at Pritikin, indicating a significant drop in insulin resistance.6
Alleviate the Metabolic Syndrome In Adults
Having the Metabolic Syndrome, a condition now epidemic in the U.S., puts one at major risk for diabetes and heart disease. Among men studied, 60% no longer tested positive for the syndrome after three weeks at the Pritikin Center.7
Alleviate the Metabolic Syndrome In Children
Among children with the Metabolic Syndrome, 100% no longer had the clinical diagnosis of the syndrome within two weeks of starting the Pritikin Program.8
Lower Heart Disease Risk Factors In Children
In two weeks, overweight children in the Pritikin Family Program decreased LDL bad cholesterol on average 25%, shed nine pounds, lowered triglyceride fats 39%, reduced key markers for inflammation, and increased the body’s production of nitric oxide, a beneficial chemical that squelches plaque growth.9
Lower Blood Pressure To Normal, Medication-Free Levels
Among 216 adults who entered the Pritikin Center taking pills for hypertension, 83% left Pritikin free of these pills, and with significant reductions in blood pressure. Most of the remaining 17% had their pill dosages substantially reduced.10
In a meta-analysis of 1,117 hypertensives at the Pritikin Center for three weeks, systolic blood pressure fell on average 9%. Diastolic blood pressure fell 9%. Of those taking pills for hypertension, 55% left Pritikin pill-free, and the majority of the others had their dosages reduced.11
Enhance Effectiveness of Statin Therapy
Prior to attending Pritikin, 93 people had reduced their cholesterol about 20% on statins. After two weeks at Pritikin, they demonstrated an additional 19% decrease in cholesterol.12
Control Diabetes and, For Many, Reduce the Need For Drugs
A meta-analysis of 864 type 2 diabetics found that fasting glucose fell on average 19% within three weeks. Of those on oral drugs, 74% left Pritikin free of these drugs, and the majority of the others had their dosages reduced.13
A two- to three-year follow-up of another group of diabetics who attended the Pritikin Center documented long-term control of diabetes through the Pritikin Program.14
Promote Healthy, Long-Term Weight Loss
Among 4,587 adults, men lost on average 11 pounds and women lost 7 pounds within three weeks of starting the Pritikin Program.15
In a study of 64 people with heart disease, their weight was reduced from 174 to 163 pounds in 26 days at Pritikin. At follow-up five years later, average weight had remained at 163 pounds.16
In another study of 69 people with type 2 diabetes, average weight loss was 10 pounds in 26 days at Pritikin. At follow-up two to three years later, they had not only maintained their weight loss but also lost on average four more pounds, shedding 14 pounds in total (from 172 to 158 pounds).17
The most comprehensive study of long-term weight loss ever conducted, the National Weight Control Registry, found that the vast majority of its nearly 4,500 successful people followed a program, like Pritikin, that involved daily exercise and an eating plan low in fat and very high in fiber-rich carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables. The members lost, on average, 66 pounds and, at six-year follow-up, had kept it off. Less than 1% followed a high-protein, high-fat diet.18
Eliminate the Need For Coronary Bypass Surgery
A five-year follow-up of 64 people who had gone to Pritikin instead of having coronary bypass surgery found that 80% had remained free of the need for bypass surgery.19
Relieve Angina Pain
Before coming to Pritikin, 80% of 64 high-risk heart patients experienced angina (chest) pain. At follow-up five years later, only 32% had angina.20
Reduce Key Risk Factors For Breast and Prostate Cancer
Several studies have found that adopting the Pritikin Program reduced key risk factors for breast and prostate cancer.21
Retard the Growth of Prostate Cancer Cells
In in vitro testing, the serum of men following the Pritikin Program was found to retard the growth of prostate cancer cells and induce cancer cell death (apoptosis). In pre-Pritikin serum, fewer than 3% of prostate cancer cells showed apoptosis. In post-Pritikin serum (after 11 days at the Pritikin Center), almost 40% of cancer cells were on their way to death. In the serum of men following the Pritikin Program for an average 14 years, more than 50% of the cancer cells were in apoptosis.22
Retard the Growth of Breast Cancer Cells
In laboratory testing, and using women’s pre- and post-Pritikin serum, the Pritikin Program significantly reduced breast tumor cell growth in three different cell lines (reductions of 7%, 10%, and 19%) and increased death (apoptosis) of cancer cells by 20%, 23%, and 30%.23
Prevent/Control Benign Prostate Hyperplasis (Enlarged Prostate)
Within 2 weeks of adopting the Pritikin Program, growth of prostate epithelial cells was reduced by 13%, and fasting insulin fell 30%, which could significantly reduce risk of Benign Prostate Hyperplasis.24
Lifestyle and Longevity
Over the past three decades, many excellent reports have been published on the longest-living populations in the world. They include the people of Okinawa, Japan;25 the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California;26 and the people of Ikaria, Greece.27
One commonality among these long-living populations is their diet. It is essentially the Pritikin Eating Plan. It is a diet that is predominately plant-based and focused on whole, naturally fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), and whole grains, with prudent servings of lean meat.
The people in these “longevity hot spots,” also known as “Blue Zones,”28 are also physically active. Even in their 80s and 90s, they tend vegetable gardens, ride bicycles, walk up and down hills, and dance with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Want to learn how to eat and live like these vibrant, long-living people? You need not travel to the ends of the earth or join a religious group. Their basic lifestyle has been taught since 1975 at the Pritikin Longevity Center.
In addition to population studies, many clinical studies have affirmed the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle to add not only years to life but also life to our years. Here is a sampling of this research:
The Longevity Diet
Analyzing the eating patterns of 2,582 Americans ages 70 to 79 over a period of 10 years, scientists from the University of Maryland found that a Pritikin-style diet (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat/nonfat dairy, poultry, and fish) was the clear winner when it came to increased longevity and better quality of life.29
Moreover, the people living Pritikin-style reported in questionnaires and interviews that they liked their eating plan and preferred it to junk food and other unhealthy choices. Therefore, “such a diet appears a feasible and realistic recommendation for potentially improved survival and quality of life in the growing older adult population,” concluded lead author Dr. Amy Anderson.
Healthier Diet, Longer Life
Over the course of 24 years, researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health kept close tabs on the eating habits of more than 25,000 men and nearly 50,000 women. At the start of the study, they ranged in age from 30 to 75.
The scientists compared the dietary changes the participants had made during the first 12 years of the study with the number of deaths that occurred during the second 12 years. They found that the men and women who improved their diets the most in the first half of the study were significantly less likely to die during the second 12 years of the study compared to those eating unhealthy diets throughout the course of the study.30
Like the Pritikin Eating Plan, a healthy diet was defined as maximizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein like beans, white poultry, and fish; and minimizing sodium, added sugars, red meat, processed foods, and unhealthy fats like saturated fats.
Healthy Lifestyle Cuts Death Risk By 80%
In a study of more than 6,200 Americans, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that four lifestyle behaviors were associated with reduced risk of death from all causes by 80%.31 The four behaviors were:
- Not smoking
- Keeping a normal weight
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a diet high in vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and fish, and low in meat, full-fat dairy, dark poultry, and other saturated-fat-rich foods – once again, a diet very similar to the Pritikin Eating Plan.
Bottom Line | Does Pritikin work?
Absolutely. Healthy living like the Pritikin Program markedly improves virtually all modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Healthy living like Pritikin improves our chances of living longer.
And healthy living like Pritikin improves our chances of living well – of enjoying every day to its fullest.
Nearly four decades ago, Nathan Pritikin, the creator of the Pritikin Program, may have said it best:
“You might be interested in the Pritikin Program if you’d like to go swimming with your great-grandchildren, if you’d like to keep a job you like, if you want to grow old, not tired of existence, but finding pleasure every day in living, loving, working, and playing.”
Give yourself your best chance of living your best life. Book a health vacation at the Pritikin Longevity Center.
- 1 Archives of Internal Medicine, 1991; 151 :1389. See also New England Journal of Medicine, 1990; 323 :1142.
- 2 Archives of Internal Medicine, 1991; 151 :1389. See also New England Journal of Medicine, 1990; 323 :1142.
- 3 Metabolism, 2004 ;53: 377.
- 4 Journal of Applied Physiology, 2006; 100: 1657.
- 5 Atherosclerosis, 2007; 191: 98. See also American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2012; 303(4): E542.
- 6 Circulation, 2002; 106: 2530.
- 7 Journal of Applied Physiology, 2006; 100: 1657.
- 8 Metabolism Clinical and Experimental, 2006; 55: 871.
- 9 Atherosclerosis, 2007; 191: 98. See also American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2013; 305: 5.
- 10 Journal of Cardiac Rehabilitation, 1983; 3: 839. See also Circulation, 2002; 106: 2530.
- 11 Journal of Applied Physiology, 2005; 98: 3.
- 12 American Journal of Cardiology, 1997; 79: 1112.
- 13 Journal of Applied Physiology, 2005; 98: 3. See also Diabetes Care, 1994; 17: 1469.
- 14 Diabetes Care, 1983; 6: 268.
- 15 Archives of Internal Medicine, 1991; 151: 1389.
- 16 Journal of Cardiac Rehabilitation, 1983; 3: 183.
- 17 Diabetes Care, 1983; 6: 268.
- 18 Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 1998: 98: 408. See also American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2005; 82 (1 Suppl): 222S.
- 19 Journal of Cardiac Rehabilitation, 1983; 3: 183.
- 20 Journal of Cardiac Rehabilitation, 1983; 3: 183.
- 21 Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 1994; 86: 1419. Nutrition and Cancer, 2000; 38: 158. The Journal of Urology, 2001; 166: 1185.
- 22 Cancer Causes & Control, 2002; 13: 929. See also The Prostate, 2003; 56: 201.
- 23 Nutrition and Cancer, 2006; 55: 28.
- 24 Prostate Cancer & Prostatic Diseases, 2008; 11: 362.
- 25 Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2007; 1114: 434.
- 26 Fraser GE. Diet, Life Expectancy, and Chronic Disease: Studies of Seventh-Day Adventists and Other Vegetarians. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press; 2003.
- 27 Cardiology Research and Practice, 2011; 2011: Article ID 679187, 7.
- 28 Buettner D. The secrets of long life. (Cover story) National Geographic, 2005; 208: 2.
- 29 Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2011; 111 (1): 84.
- 30 New England Journal of Medicine, 2017; 377: 143.
- 31 American Journal of Epidemiology, 2013; 178 (1): 12.