by Down to Earth

Down to Earth has begun adding the ‘Ekahi Ornish logo on selected items that meet stringent Ornish requirements for a healthy diet. 

“We made this decision as part of Down to Earth’s partnership with the ‘Ekahi Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program,says Sisi Kong, Down to Earth’s Community Outreach Team Leader.

The ‘Ekahi Health System provides coordinated, community-based care from its facility at Restaurant Row in Kaka’ako, Honolulu.  Sisi explains that the Ornish program s is a nationally recognized, comprehensive lifestyle management program.  It addresses four important elements of a person’s life: Nutrition, Exercise, Stress Management, and Group Support.

“As part of our partnership, we have added the ‘Ekahi Ornish logo to shelf tags for 100+ items, and more will be added in time. Some of you may have started seeing them”:

Ekahi Ornish Label

Sisi explains that the ‘Ekahi Ornish logo shows on shelf tags for DTE products that meet their requirements for foods that are:

  • Plant-based
  • Low-fat
  • Moderate to low sodium
  • Minimally processed, and
  • Low in refined carbohydrates.

“The Nutrition element of the program provides guidelines to help participants achieve optimal results from their diet by being selective about their food choices and eating habits,” says Tandis Bishop, Senior Registered Dietitian. Tandis leads the Nutrition element at ‘Ekahi Ornish.  Tandis notes that the ‘Ekahi Ornish Nutrition Guidelines recommend that participants:

  • Choose whole foods (food in its most natural form)
  • Choose plant-based (no meat, poultry, fish or seafood, egg yolk)
  • Choose foods naturally low in fat and refined carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and soy products
  • Limited amounts of nuts, seeds, avocados, and unsaturated oils
  • Limited amounts of processed food and sweets

“However,” she explains, “the program itself is more than a diet as it encourages sustainable lifestyle modifications.”

The training consists of 18, four-hour sessions held over a period of nine weeks. Participants are placed in small groups where members have the common goal of treating chronic disease and improving their well-being. ‘Ekahi provides participants with support from a certified healthcare team to guide participants through training that focuses on four elements of life:

  • Nutrition: a plant-based, whole foods approach to eating
  • Exercise: individualized exercise plans
  • Stress management: learning healthy ways to respond to stress
  • Group support: connecting with others through empathy and compassion

Tandis says this program has been so effective in undoing years of damage to the heart that Medicare and other insurers like HMSA have made the decision to cover it under intensive cardiac rehabilitation.  Here in Hawaii, HMSA has extended the eligibility to people with risk factors that can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high BMI, family history, and age among others. It is the first integrative medicine of its kind to receive this level of support.  Recently, ‘Ekahi has expanded their offerings to include a program focused on diabetes self-management.

More information on the Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease is available at www.ekahihealth.com/ornish

“Going forward, Down to Earth and Ekahi will collaborate on a wide variety of events and initiatives that we’ll tell you about as they unfold,” says Sisi.