“Although the notion that proper nutrition and exercise is good for you is not revolutionary, it’s important that people know that major health benefits can come quickly,” stated lead investigator Dr. Steven Aldana of Brigham Young University in a press statement prepared by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the journal that published the study.
In the study, half of 337 volunteers, all residents of Illinois, participated in a 40-hour educational course over four weeks. Like the Pritikin Program, the course taught the rationale and practical “know how” for adopting a healthy new lifestyle that included daily exercise and a diets emphasizing fiber-rich, unrefined carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. The other half of the volunteers, the control group, did not attend the course.
Several risk factors for both groups were measured at the beginning of the course and six weeks later.
The results: Compared to the control group, the group attending the 40-hour course in diet and exercise education showed dramatic improvements in percent body fat, total steps per week, resting heart rate, total cholesterol, LDL bad cholesterol, and blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic.
“This lifestyle modification program,” concluded Dr. Aldana and his team, “is an efficacious nutrition and physical activity intervention short term and has the potential to dramatically reduce the risks associated with common chronic diseases in the long term.”
Similar research, an exhaustive 27-page review of the effects of diet and exercise on chronic disease, was just published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. As part of the review, UCLA scientists conducted a meta-analysis of 1,117 hypertensive men and women who attended the Pritikin Longevity Center. In four weeks or less, systolic blood pressure fell on average 9%. Diastolic pressure fell 9%. Of those patients on hypertension drugs, 55% returned home free of their drugs. The Pritikin Program had taken their blood pressure down to normal, drug-free levels.
In the same review, Dr. James Barnard and his team at UCLA reported dramatic short-term benefits for diabetics as a result of adopting healthy new diet and exercise habits at the Pritikin Longevity Center. An astonishing 74% of 284 diabetics on medications to control their blood sugar left the Center drug-free, with blood sugars as well or better controlled than when they had been on medication.
“Just imagine the health and economic benefits that diet and exercise programs like Pritikin could have on both the public and private sectors,” observes Dr. Jay Kenney, Nutrition Research Specialist at the Pritikin Longevity Center. “If a large percentage of Americans adopted the Pritikin Program, medical costs for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and numerous other ills would plummet.
“Healthier workers are also more productive workers. Increased productivity and reduced medical expenses could do a lot to stimulate economic growth and alleviate the pending financial problems in Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.”
* Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2005; 3: 371.