Doctor's Note

This is exciting news! That's why I've always encouraged my patients to think of healthy eating as an experiment. I ask them to give me three weeks. The hope is by then not only do they feel so much better (not only physically, but in the knowledge that they don't have to be on medications for chronic diseases the rest of their lives after all!—see Say No to Drugs by Saying Yes to More Plants), but also that their taste sensitivity has been boosted such that whole foods-as-grown regain their natural deliciousness. To see how a healthy diet can make you feel, check out the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine's 21-Day Kickstart program at http://www.21daykickstart.org/.

For more context, check out my associated blog post: Want to Be Healthier? Change Your Taste Buds.

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  • Does not take weeks to change our taste. Takes a day, according to Doug Lisle, the first video on http://treegrower.org/Health/Health%201.html

    My taste changed by coincidence. I started eating whole-food plant-based foods and my taste changed.

    • It can take up to several weeks to months for peoples taste receptors to change to prefer natural, whole plant-based foods. Everyone is a little different in how long it takes.

  • jw

    Several years ago, I started eating sweet corn with no salt or butter. I find it to be much more delicious and fresh-tasting than when I salted-and-buttered it.

    • jazzfeed

      Part of that might be because you couldn’t really taste the corn’s taste as it was being masked by the salt+butter. In a sense, it’s a new taste for you. I feel sad about corn, that I might never have it fresh and organic again living on Maui the GM seed corn production center of the whole world (Maui produces and ships 80% of the GM seed corn for all the GM corn grown worldwide). I’ve painted myself into a similar corner with tea. I add a ridiculous amount of honey, + the juice and chopped zest of a quarter or half lemon + a teaspoon per cup of juiced ginger root. I now realize I’m using the tea to deliver the honey+ginger+lemon I’ve become kind of addicted to. When I wake up I start thinking about it. Is that an addiction sign?

  • mdouble

    I am a living testimonial that this process of changing taste is true. By way of illustration, here’s a quick anecdote.

    In 1979 I was diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia. My condition. was severe enough that under the direction of my nutritionally oriented doctor, I eliminated all concentrated sweeteners from my diet.

    After a month with nothing sweeter than steamed carrots I noted how most vegetables I would previously thought to bland seemed remarkably sweet and had a more intense and delicious taste.

    A week later, while on a business trip with an associate we stopped at a famous Canadian donut shop. As I stepped through the door I was virtually knocked back by the overwhelming sweetness of the air inside.

    Until that moment I was entirely surprised by the sensory overload I got just from being in the same room with dozens and dozens of sugar offered confections. I found the smell to be so powerful I actually had to leave.

    Not only was the sweet smell no longer attractive, but it had actually become repellent.

    • Thea

      mdouble – Thanks for posting this story. I love it.

      • Em Bear

        I totally agree. As like you in the 70’s I was diagnosed with the same condition, and followed the same plan. I find I cannot walk past one of the fast food stores that sells foot long rolls. The overwhelming smell of the bread ingredients bowls me over. And as for sensory overload, I find it difficult to be in a crowd where the people are bathed in perfumes/deoderants/body products. Something that I had never noticed before. I can’t/wont eat processed foods the taste is “off”, everything now is organic, home grown or home made. It was like I have been in a fog for a great part of my life.

    • abstract

      Food odor molecules binds with receptors in the nose, that signal to the brain the type of food ect. In this case, it was overly sugary and not being addicted to this drug, by a proper lifestyle change, the brain found this too overbearing and as a result, one was repelled from the very presence of this substance.

  • Patty Kirby

    This is so true. Happened to me especially with butter and fried foods that i used to pile on my plate. But no more!

  • painterguy

    Okay, cutting out refined sugar, bad fats and too much salt is doable for the health conscious. I’m concerned that some of the GMO’s have so much sugar engineered into them. I can’t eat some oranges because it’s like eating a mouthful of sugar. It didn’t used to be that way.

    • Toxins

      Perhaps the sweetness of the orange itself has over time become too intense for your taste buds? All fruits we eat today have been bred to suit us better. For example, seedless grapes, bananas and others.

      • painterguy

        I have a unique palate maybe. If I get too much sugar in my mouth, it will form into a big sugar luge, which I spit out. I dare not swallow it. I’m guessing other people do not do that. I know that sugar embedded within fruit fiber is okay. I eat lots of seedless grapes, seedless watermelon and bananas by the bunch.

      • Real World Vegan

        we have definitely bred fruits to suit us better, but the idea that cultivated fruit is sweeter or higher in sugar is a myth. most of the changes have to do with the thickness of the skin/rind, the size of the seeds and how long the ripe fruit will keep before rotting. from a caloric perspective, fruit contains the same amount of sugar whether wild or cultivated, and about 50 percent of that is fructose.

        “Both wild and cultivated fruit seem to average around 90% of calories from carbohydrates, and have a sugar composition that yields roughly equal parts glucose and fructose. And both wild and cultivated fruit can be relatively high or low in fiber.”~rawfoodsos, Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar?

        • Toxins

          I never commented on the sweetness of the fruits, I was commenting on the fact that we altered them. Bananas were once more mango shaped and seedless grapes are an altered product as well.

          • Real World Vegan

            “I never commented on the sweetness of the fruits”

            whuh?

            “Perhaps the sweetness of the orange itself has over time become too intense for your taste buds? All fruits we eat today have been bred to suit us better.” toxins, 4 days ago

            how many separate personalities are rattling around in your noggin?

          • Toxins

            Your taking it out of context. I was referring to the desensitization of his taste buds, not the fruit itself being modified.

          • Paleo Huntress

            I like peanut butter, Toxins. Do you ski?

          • Real World Vegan

            ah ha hah! my kid sister used to say that all the time. i think it went over his head tho.

          • Toxins

            I could argue for the multipart personality of you and paleohuntress. I believe you 2 are the same person, why else would “paleo huntress” come to this page only to up-vote your comment and down-vote mine along with your down-vote. Team effort? or just 1 person with 2 users. Fishy indeed.

          • Paleo Huntress

            I follow RWV’s feed, and up/down voting is a simple matter from my iPhone while out or at work. Composing a comment though is better done from home with an actual keyboard. (like now) I often visit the threads of people I follow, and when appropriate I up/down vote comments too. Sometimes they’ve said all there is to say and there’s nothing to add.

            On this page, there are several comments that have been up-voted by others who themselves have not left comments in the thread.

            This is very, very fishy, indeed.

            >.<

          • Toxins

            Is that why you both have the same IP address of 96.233.76.15? Is that why a supposed “vegan male bodybuilder” has the email address of fantsc_girl_2@yahoo.com? drop the act. The IP address alone is hard proof.

          • Paleo Huntress

            I check the feeds of the people I follow when I come to the site to respond to the comments directed at me. It’s not magic, Toxins, it’s a dashboard.

            I don’t know enough about IPs to argue a case, but according to this source,

            “Due to the shortage of available IPv4 addresses and the way that ISPs manage their networks, most IP addresses change often. For residential internet access, this means that the IP address typically changes every few days to few weeks.

            IP addresses may be controlled by 12 different people in one year, or hundreds of different people in one day. This is because the IP isn’t a human, it is simply a routing address, similar in some ways to your phone number. Unlike a phone number, most IPs aren’t assigned to individual humans.”

            It seems to me that since I created this account in Late Spring and RWV joined a few months later, even if both accounts were from the same person, they wouldn’t share the same IP address.

            NutritionFacts’s privacy policy states, we “may disclose your personal information only when: We have your express consent to share the information for a specified purpose”. If you had valid access to his account, you’d have to refrain from publicizing his real email and IP address or risk ejection from the group, so we both know it’s a smokescreen. And if you’re not a mod, hacking someone’s account may be commonplace online, but it’s frowned upon in most civilized communities.

            If you continue to slander my ID here, I’ll lodge a complaint directly with Disqus and Dr. Greger. No matter how potentially fond he might be of you, showing members that his privacy policy is meaningless, or leading them to believe you’d hack accounts, isn’t likely to be something he’d approve of. They can’t keep you from coming back under a new ID, but you’ll lose access to everything you’ve plagiarized into comment windows for the last 3 years.

          • Toxins

            Not buying that your not RWV, and I have no intention of “hacking” anyone’s account. I was simply showing the evidence which is available to anyone with a disqus

          • VegAtHeart

            Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

          • Toxins

            By the way, good job in changing your email address from fantasc_XXXX_X@yahoo.com to realworldXXXXX@yahoo.com. You need to cover your trails better next time you choose to act like a child and fake 2 accounts.

          • Real World Vegan

            holy transexualism batman! a dude spends one weekend away and comes back a
            dude-ette! [my wifes brushin my inner girls hair right now]. if i kept gettin failed for plagiarism and craptastic arguments, id want to draw attention from it hella bad too.

            you got me. im totally paleo huntress and im gabriel cousens and denise minger and robb wolf too and lets see who else…….. oh yeah dude im also ginny messina and matt frazier and chris masterjohn, im even t colin campbell. we are rockin a party. come join us here where we know the diff between correlation and causation and where observation never = controlled trials.

            no really— come on.

            rwv a/k/a the paleo huntress et al

          • Toxins

            Good cover paleo huntress but not buying, the IP’s do match, which means the same computer is being used. Enough of your absurd game.

          • Liz

            why cant I see the IPs? I dont know where to look.

          • Liz

            you said anyone with a disqus could see. Is there a special page? could you post the address for it?

          • VegAtHeart

            Toxins is a NutritionFacts volunteer, which is why he has the “NF Team” symbol in the gray box next to his alias. This means that he has been given moderation privileges allowing him to see every user’s email and IP address. All of the NF team members can easily confirm the validity of what he is claiming.

          • Liz

            Im taking an internet safety/privacy course in school right now and what he’s doing isn’t ethical and may even be criminal. As a website owner, a moderator that abuses his power and publishes personal information about members isn’t someone Id want representing me. Nutrition Facts may even be held responsible because they’re supposed to vet anyone acting on their behalf. A reactive moderator who is willing to ignore the policies of the forum he or she is supposed to be maintaining could be dangerous. I can see from his activity that this moderator went outside this thread to post the information in other threads too which adds to the severity of the violation. And because people get email notifications, even when a comment is edited, the notifications will still contain the original information. Using XXX to change the last several letters doesnt protect the member’s privacy when the email address matches the member’s user ID. The moderator may as well have spelled it out completely and if I understand the comments, it looks like he shared an email address in its entirety once before, before editing it. I’ve been coming here on and off since I went vegan a little over two years ago and have commented several times in many of the same threads as Toxins, I’ve voted up him comments and have occasionally replied or commented to him. We’re becoming a digital world and now that I’m learning about internet privacy, Im concerned about this kind of moderator behavior. Knowing that a moderator ignores Dr. Greger’s owns policies makes me feel unsafe commenting here. I expect a moderator to be above this, they have to be or they shouldnt moderate. I hope others are willing to speak up about it too, just because you agree with the way someone thinks, doesnt mean you should accept unethical behavior. Having two accounts isn’t illegal and doesn’t seem to be against the rules here, but what this moderator has done is probably both illegal and against the rules. Id hope that the person he violated doesnt pursue any legal action because it’ll probably be the doctor that it ends up costing. At the very least this site’s reputation may suffer. I’m gonna share this site with my TA this afternoon and see if he thinks it’s a good example to analyze with the class and maybe itll turn into this semester’s project. I’m also juiced at the thought that the information here might help a few of my classmates still trying to take off the freshman 15! I don’t think they’ll risk becoming members but they can still read. We’re supposed to start our own blogs, which is what brought me here to poke around the other day. I wanted to pay closer attention to how the different blogging sites work before I chose one.

          • Nice post. The following the threads has been an education.

          • VegAtHeart

            The straightforward application of Occam’s razor suggests that the internet personas identified as ‘Paleo Huntress’, ‘Real World Vegan’ and ‘Liz’ are all the product of the same mind.

          • Toxins

            Correct, the IP’s do match

          • VegAtHeart

            I recommend that we all use sincere communication, rather than deception, to deal with disagreements on nutrition. A litigious person can only get so far, as illustrated by the Rocky Balboa response.

          • Toxins

            Nice try Paleo Huntress

          • Guest

            She does this all the time on Youtube. She’s fanatical.

          • Tan

            She trolls all the time on Youtube. She’s fanatical.

          • She trolls everywhere… she is an equal opportunity troller.

          • As a person she has fixated on, I’m riveted and just shaking my head about this. It explains SO much! Thank you!

          • jazzfeed

            But not by “genetic modification”, as in “transgenic” , correct?

      • jazzfeed

        Kind of a version of the ratcheting method. In optometry you always need a new eye exam and a new prescription if you need glasses. They get stronger every time, the wearer gets more and more dependent. So a lot of us are used to continual high amounts of (_____)

        • VegEater

          You must spend a lot of money on glasses. My prescription doesn’t change very often at all.

  • omnimatty

    I would like this to happen with mushrooms for me.

    • Thea

      amnimatty: While I happen to love mushrooms, I totally understand your sentiment. There are foods that I really *want* to like, but just don’t. Yet. I tell myself, ‘yet’ to make sure that possible future preference changes are not blocked by a closed mind.

      I have some ideas for you that may or may not help with your mushroom problem :-) : The first thing is to try to figure out if your dislike is texture or taste based. Or both.

      For example, I have a friend who told me for *years* that she didn’t like broccoli. So, one day I brought her a sample of the ‘broccoli slaw’ you can get in stores that is made up mostly of slaw-shaped broccoli stems. She liked it. Turns out she had a problem with the texture of the florets, not the taste of broccoli. Now she has something to work with to get broccoli into her diet.

      If it turns out you have a texture problem with mushrooms, you might try playing around with different forms and amount of cooking them. Or hiding them in other foods. (Say putting small pieces in sauces). Or marinating them. Etc.

      If it turns out you have a taste problem, you might try some of the less common mushroom types. I understand that taste varies quite a bit between varieties. Or do the hiding in other foods trick.

      You might also try to think if your dislike of mushrooms relates to an unfortunate negative childhood association. For example, I used to think that I didn’t like red cabbage because my mom always served it in a dish that I didn’t like. And for years, I avoided it if at all possible. But when I tried red cabbage by itself as an adult, I realized that it wasn’t too terrible. I didn’t really like it at that point, though, because I had too strong of a negative association with it. So, then I worked to put red cabbage in some dishes that I really liked and was able to slowly change my association to the food. Now I like it.

      Just some ideas for you. Good luck.

      • Seri

        Great ideas Thea. I used to “hate” kale until I learned to mix it with other foods I liked (hiding it, as you said) and also chopped it finely so I wasn’t put off by the texture.

        • Thea

          Seri: Yes! Texture is so huge. I didn’t realize how important a factor it was until I started trying to eat healthy.

          • While I do not hate the taste or texture of kale, I did start putting it in my slosh (think fruit smoothie… but not very smooth) and I was really expecting it to be bitter or something. I put a BUNCH in there and don;t even notice it. Thought about making the chips, but I am so not a kitchen person… maybe one day I’ll try that.

  • Mike Quinoa

    Guess I was bored last night, so I decided to try a hot beverage consisting of unsulphured blackstrap molasses and cocoa powder. Just spooned the two ingredients into a mug, added a couple of ounces of boiling water, and stirred the mixture. Then I added the balance of the boiling water and stirred again. Super-intense chocolate flavour without any bitterness. This can’t be legal.

    • Thea

      Mike Quinoa: You idea so intrigued me that I kept your post around until I could try it. My conclusion: You are a taste sensation genius. I was really surprise how good it tasted.

      I ended up doing a ration of about 2 to 1, molasses to cocoa. I appreciated your idea of mixing with a little water first and then adding the rest. I did it all in the microwave and that worked fine too.

      Anyway, wanted to say, “Thanks!” for taking the time to share your inspired idea. I appreciate it.

      • Mike Quinoa

        Hi Thea,
        Sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier. Glad you enjoy it. Apparently that cocoa is just loaded with good stuff :)

  • lilyroza

    From personal experience, I found this to be exactly true. In my 20’s, having been plagued with flu and colds, I decided to throw out everything that isn’t healthy in my kitchen, including the white bread, white rice and white sugar that I greatly preferred. I replaced them with the brown rice and bread, and honey, and forced myself to eat them, since that was all there was in my kitchen. In exactly 2 weeks i was completely surprised to find I preferred the less refined pasta, whole grain breads, etc. Also, every once in a while I stop all added sugar, and any and all sweetened foods, and a month or so later, a quarter of a teaspoon of honey sweetens my tea, where before i required a teaspoon or two. Slowly my “tolerance” builds until it’s time to cut it out again.

  • Southlander

    “OUTSTANDING” video filled with intelligent information for all. I’ve not used – except for occasional french fries and am slowing going to “nutritional years” and/or garlic – in over fifteen (15) years. Do not miss it. Don and I CAN! :-))

  • Joe

    Ok – so how long will it take for me to love broccoli and broccoli sprouts as much as blueberries?! I’ve noticed my taste change alot – but I just haven’t found a way to prepare broccoli yet which makes me really look forward to it. Any tips?

    • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

      Light steamed broccoli with some spicy salsa on top.

    • Darryl

      I prefer brocolli florets raw, in salads, and there its really all about learning to make your own dressings. The vinaigrettes I make for my own salads are so piquant with pressed garlic, mustard powder, black pepper and powdered herbs (rosemary, oregano, thyme etc), that I mix up blander concoctions for family & guests. Do look into fruit vinegars, as they can really change up a balsamic heavy routine.

      As for steamed broccoli, I’ve come to like it with prepared dijon mustard. If you prepare your own mustard (without cooking the myrosinase out), there’s evidence mustard can improve sulforaphane production in cooked broccoli.

    • HereHere

      I love it in soup made with yellow split peas. I just recently discovered that split peas make the soup somewhat creamy. Delightful for those of us who like a somewhat thick texture.

    • Joe

      Thanks for your replies! How about a recipe for a garlic vinaigrette Darryl? The split pea soup is a nice idea. I sometimes make lentil dahl and I’m going to try that with broccoli.

    • Stephanie Pyers

      Char grilled broccoli will change your life! Seriously it makes it taste completely different.

  • Will

    This is exactly what I experienced – being much more sensitive to salts, sugars, “fats”, etc., and find it almost impossible to eat many processed foods. I noticed it about 30 days after beginning to eat “clean”, but after about 3 months, I was very salt intolerant, fats intolerant, and super-sweet intolerant.

  • Logan810

    This is a subject, with regard to specific neurology and physiology, where I would like more specifics. I found this far, far too basis. There was no topical reference to neurology, orthonasal, and retronasal impressions. How cellular turnover on the tongue and of the nerve cells in the nose effect the olfactory bulb stem cells. These specifics are literally how taste and thereby preference for particular tastes change and develope. Does this particular video deal exclusively with the “experience inducible mechanism” in the taste buds themselves? And is the reason for taste change occurring in a 2-3 week period because that is also the lifespan of cells on the tongue?

    • Thea

      Logan810:

      FYI: These videos are meant to be executive summaries of one or more scientific studies of interest. Anyone who wants a more in-depth understanding of the science can follow through with the original studies by expanding the “Sources Cited” section.

      Hope that helps.

  • Crazysexyfuntraveler

    Gotta agree. The longer I eat vegetables, the more I enjoy them :)

  • j

    Seek Jesus and HE will solve all of your problems, nothing else will. God Bless.

  • Sebastian Tristan

    Eliminating added sugar, salt, processed foods not only results in the taste buds’ sense of salty, but also of all the other flavours in whole foods. After giving up sugar and salt, bananas, raspberries, strawberries – for instance – tasted not only better but also different. I felt several flavours I could not feel before.

    • Toxins

      I agree, I can eat an entire box of pre washed baby arugula just like that without dressing and I find it sweet and flavorful. Others find it too spicy and bitter. I don’t taste those flavors at all, perhaps very mildly.

  • NormanAllen

    Is there any research done on natural/Greek yogurt? Is it healthy or unhealthy?

    • Thea

      NormanAllen: I don’t know if Dr. Greger has specifically addressed traditional Greek yogurt, but he has definitely addressed dairy in general. And yogurt is just concentrated dairy. There is plenty of research suggesting all dairy, including yogurt is not healthy. This will get you started:

      http://nutritionfacts.org/index.php?s=dairy

      Hope that helps.

  • Wade Patton

    And also, when veggies become your mainstay, you’ll begin to notice subtle differences in varieties and sources and nuances one cannot distinguish as you could when eating the salt/lard/sugar laden diet. Among the first things a vintner learns is how sugar can “hide a multitude of sins” when things don’t come out just right.

  • C B

    Honestly I personally know people in the high carb low fat community who have ben hospitalized for hyponatremia, me included! All because of the lack of sodium in our blood which is vital for basic human function and lacking this mineral leads to death. Dr.Greger are you absolutely sure that we ALL should avoid salt? I mean this is a serious matter… It’s one thing to avoid animal products high in sodium and all processed food but for those of us who already follow a whole food plant based diet, specifically high in carbs and low in fat, are you sure that we should also avoid salt??? I’m no scientist so I trust your advice but I have to say that most of your audience here is already vegan and eating minimally processed food and that a little salt miht probably be just what “the doctor ordered “, in order to avoid the terrible experience that many of us have had. Hyponatremia is serious and can lead to fast death.
    Looking forward for your reply! Please do reply?
    Thank you so very much.
    Joana

    Ps- please take a look at this study if you get a chance: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/expphysiol.2007.039891/full

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Not “avoid” but keep under 1500mg.day based on the latest recommendations by the American Heart Association. I agree that It can be a problem, Dr Greger mentions “drinking too much water without replacing electrolytes on hot days in people unaccustomed to the heat can lead to dangerously low sodium levels, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t in general lower our sodium intake” MG

      Dr. Greger plans to do more on this topic very soon!. In the meantime this paper sums up the need to lower sodium nicely.

      • JV

        Thank you for answering Joseph!

      • JV

        Dear Joseph, I have just one more question regarding salt and sodium:
        I’m getting blood work done, when checking for sodium, even though the recommended dose from Dr.Greger is lower than the FDA recommendations, when looking at a blood analysis, should we still take into account the considered normal values for sodium levels which are 135-145 mEq/L?? Or is a lower than 135 mEq/L considered normal when we take only 1500mg/day?? Are the considered “normal range” values valid?

        Thank you so much in advance for clarification on this!!

        Sincerely,
        JV.

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          Dear JV. Blood sodium levels do not reflect “dietary” sodium intake. The kidneys filter out excess sodium, so a normal level in the blood (135-145) is not indicative of normal sodium intake.

          • dorange

            What is it indicative of, then?

  • AkachiTeam

    I aggree to this. When i went vegetarian, i stopped putting sugar in my tea, first it wasn’t that tasty, after a while tea tasted better.