The Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise was created by Nathan Pritikin. The book based on the diet became a best-seller and was entitled "The Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise."
Pritikin was regarded as one of the major diet gurus of the early 1980s, a class which also included Dr. Robert Atkins, Gary Null, and Dr. Tarnower of the Scarsdale Diet.
The Pritikin Program was often described by Nathan Pritikin, its creator, as “mankind’s original meal plan.” That’s because the focus of the Pritikin diet is unprocessed or minimally processed straight-from-nature foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes (such as black beans and pinto beans), whole grains such as brown rice, starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams, lean meat, and seafood.
The Pritikin Program also emphasizes another key characteristic of humankind up until the last century: plenty of daily exercise, including at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise like brisk walking, weight training two to three times weekly, and stretching, optimally every day.
The book based on the diet became a best-seller on the New York Times Bestseller list and was entitled The Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise, and was co-authored by Patrick M. McGrady. The recipes were written by June Roth.
Published by Grosset & Dunlap, the book sold more than 10 million copies in paperback and hardcover, and was on the New York Times Bestseller Top Ten list for more than 54 weeks.
In several studies published since 1975, scientists at UCLA and other research institutions have found the Pritikin Program effective in preventing the major diseases that afflict modern society, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. The Pritikin Program has been documented to improve cholesterol profiles better than cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins, and has also been found to lower blood sugars, normalize blood pressure, and shed excess weight.
- A meta-analysis of 864 type 2 diabetics found that 74% on oral medications left the Pritikin Longevity Center within three weeks free of these drugs, their blood sugars in normal ranges, and 44% on insulin left insulin-free.
- In this same article, another meta-analysis of 1,117 hypertensives found that 55% normalized blood pressure and no longer required anti-hypertensive drugs within three weeks of starting the Pritikin Program. The people in this study were not initially following the diet at home, they were studied before and after several weeks of a residential course where their meals were prepared. However, follow-up revealed that they had continued to follow the diet on returning home. While they had been suggested candidates for bypass surgery before the intervention, five years later the likelihood of them requiring coronary bypass had dramatically decreased.
- In 2005 UCLA researchers studied the health indicators of overweight youngsters, ages 9 to 15, who participated in a two-week family program at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Aventura, Florida. Finding that diet and exercise can improve not only the cholesterol levels of children but also a wide range of other biomarkers linked with heart disease. Researchers found improvements in insulin, triglycerides, blood sugar levels, and inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein and oxidative stress.