Doctor's Note

The three most common causes of disability in the United States are arthritis, lower back pain, and heart disease, all of which can be affected by diet. For arthritis, see Diet & Rheumatoid Arthritis and Preventing Arthritis. Also, be sure to check out my many videos on heart disease. Good places to start include the story about my own grandmother’s disability—Resuscitating Medicare—as well as Heart Attacks and Cholesterol: Purely a Question of DietOur Number One Killer Can Be StoppedChina Study On Sudden Cardiac ArrestConvergence of Evidence; and Eliminating the #1 Cause of Death. And for more on the impact of cholesterol on quality of life issues, see Cholesterol and Female Sexual Dysfunction

Also, be sure to check out my associated blog posts for more context:  The Most Anti-Inflammatory Mushroom, and Plant-Based Diets for Psoriasis.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

To post comments or questions into our discussion board, first log into Disqus with your account or with one of the accepted social media logins. Click on Login to choose a login method. Click here for help.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    The three most common causes of disability in the United States are arthritis, lower back pain, and heart disease, all of which can be affected by diet. For arthritis, see Diet & Rheumatoid Arthritis and Preventing Arthritis. There are 89 videos on heart disease. Good places to start include the story about my own grandmother’s disability, Resuscitating Medicare, as well as Heart Attacks and Cholesterol: Purely a Question of Diet, Our Number One Killer Can Be Stopped, China Study On Sudden Cardiac Arrest, Convergence of Evidence and Eliminating the #1 Cause of Death. And for more on the impact of cholesterol on quality of life issues, see yesterday’s video. FYI, there are also hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

  • randy

    Absolutely fascinating Dr Gregor!

    Perhaps this information can truly be extrapolated to a great deal of the chronic pain and dysfunction many Americans suffer daily — which also leads to many surgeries for joint replacement and arthroplasty. Let’s not forget replacement or surgically altered contours are not better than Nature’s original…….let alone the cost and associated surgical complications.

    The health perhaps of our intervertebral discs and the cartilage lining the knees, hip and shoulder joints would all seem to benefit from improved widened and clear arteries. How could they not?

    In short, just another good reason to follow a low-fat vegan diet.
    Thank you!

  • davidfournier

    Thank you for your informative videos. I really enjoy the human body vascular system visual you used in the last few videos in order to show the connection between all these diseases of poor circulation (heart disease, erectile dysfunction, degenerative disk disease). I know your grandmother had intermittent claudication and got better very quickly on the Pritikin diet. Would it be possible for you to do a short 1-2 minute video on intermittent claudication and how quickly it can be reversed on a plant-based diet? I have a few family members who could benefit from such a video. Similarly, the visual concept could be extended to discuss other serious diseases associated with poor circulation like macular degeneration, hearing loss, periodontitis, aortic aneurysm, bowel infarction, kidney failure, and gangrene.

  • RudyS

    Thank you for making all of this information available in such a concise format. I was recently informed about this website and it truly is a gold mine for knowledge. Consider this a blanket appreciation post otherwise you would find similar posts on each video and blog :). Love and respect your way for all the effort you put into this website.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

       You are so sweet, Rudy, to take the time to write such kind words. As you can imagine the site has totally taken over my life yet it’s all worth it when I hear such heartfelt appreciation and see people describing how it’s helped themselves and their families eat healthier–I hope you’re having a great weekend!

    • Michael Greger M.D.

       You were way ahead of the curve Laurie!

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please also check out my blog post, Watermelon for Erectile Dysfunction!

  • Penny hergenrather

    So if a plant based diet will help or “cure” intermittent claudication what will it actually do to help lower back pain? 

  • Debra

    Reading your information here in Phuket Dr Greger. Thanks so much for the hours and hours of reading, deciphering and summarizing!! If your married, your wife must be the patient lady on earth!! I love the way all the information is not only informative but easy to understand. As a non medical person, the sheer volume of complicated terminology and the complicated layout of volumes of medical journals out there would drive anyone crazy. Your passion and the sense of purpose to enable anyone lucky enough to find your website, to become healthier, happier and far more aware of their

    own bodies and how easy it is to healthy. I just keep sending my husband and all my friends your brilliant videos!!!


    • You are so sweet to write Debra. Thank you so much for your kind words. So glad I can help. Eat some yummy Thai food in my honor!

  • Frank

    I have been exercising my dietary choices by eliminating all animal products and switching to a mostly raw food menu. Dr. Gregor may have lengthened my life by his videos. My personal physician told me recently that my pre-hypertension was progressing and graduating to hypertension. I’m hoping that by losing 26 lbs I might be able to reverse this degeneration of my body. Tonight I made a Tabbouleh and it was delicious. Thanks Dr. Gregor. You deserve an award.

    • Thea

      Frank: Awesome story. Keep up the good work. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us. I LOVE these stories.

    • Wilma Laura Wiggins

      Frank you might also want to search for The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall. His eating plan is so successful and painless for weight loss, is plant based, whole food and no oil. Please take a look.

  • Aaron Hollander

    Is the plaque build up reversible?

    • Toxins

      Indeed it is, restoring arterial health can clean up the plaque completely.

  • Alfons Grabher

    Looking into nutrition for resolving back pain is like looking into the cavemen diet for resolving the coronary artery disease. If you study the work of Prof. Dr. McGill (e.g. Low Back Disorders, Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation) you will see that nearly ALL cases of back pain are due to mechanical factors. But, of course, at first this might be hard to believe because the industry says otherwise – but once you look at the RESEARCH (where load bearing and injury mechanisms are actually MEASURED and not just totally and 100% ignored) you will understand.

    • Alfons Grabher

      having that statement out of the way, I find a link between diet and atherosclerosis and back pain refreshing and interesting, but as a high-carb vegan and follower of Dr. Greger’s advice not surprising.

  • JoJo

    Dr Gregor!

    I went vegan 6 months ago after being in so much back pain (2 slipped disks), where no physiotherapist that i saw could fix it. It was horrible and debilitating. 2 days after eating so many fruits and vegetables and getting rid of animal products i had no pain.. even to the point where i could swim, cycle and run again at a very fast pace. Since then i got back into exercise and it has been great. Until last week i noticed i was eating less and sleeping less due to exams at university and the pain came back. Then once again i upped my caloric intake of fruits, vegetables and grains and the pain just goes away! I find it so astonishing! The strange thing was that the pain that came back was just as chronic as it was before. Im 27 year old female. Anyway just thought i would share because everyone thinks I’m crazy that i healed my body with a plant based diet and they think it was just the placebo effect!

    Keep doing what your doing Dr Gregor because you are helping make a huge impact on people!! <3

  • Good Morning Mister Gregor and Team,
    I have a generally understanding question. Like we known is the Cholesterol responsible for the Plaque in the Arteries (simple spoken). Here in Germany is the blood test ok, if the Cholesterol is between 150 – 200 mg/dl. Most of physicians and normal people believe than, that they are save for plaque in there Arteries. At China Study of Mister Champbell I read, that the generally measured part of Bloodcholesterol by Chinese has been enormously under them of the western world. And you mention in a video, according to a study, that a lots of young people under 20 already developed arteriosclerosis (at leased has been plaque seen).
    Now my question – is it wrong when I made the conclusion that also a man oder a women can develop low back pain as a early stadium of bad supply of there discs because the start to develop a arteriosclerosis, despite they have a measured cholesterol between 150 to 200 mg/dl bloodcholesterol?
    Or is this thinking totally out of way?

    • Thea

      Steffen, I know that many medical establishments say that a total cholesterol between 150 and 200 is OK. But Dr. Esselstyn (in his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease – as well as some free videos on the web) says that the ideal is to get under 150 total (and under 70 LDL). Dr. Greger also has a videos and articles about the “magic” 150/70 numbers. Here is one such video:
      Bottom line is: a total cholesterol over 150 is still too high.

      So, I’m thinking that yes, someone could have a total cholesterol between 150 and 200 and have lower back pain due to problems with blood circulation/heart disease. But I don’t know if this is true for any particular person/situation. And I’m not an expert. Just giving you my understanding as a lay person.

  • Darryl Robida

    Is there another source of information about lower back pain that is equal to the caliber or Dr. Greger? I’m seeking stretching and exercise instructions.

  • Noor

    Where can one turn if a low fat vegan diet is not lowering cholesterol numbers?

  • Very Veganish

    I knew it!!! My husband’s doctors are completely clueless. When his back pain started to improve some after we went plantbased they had no explanation and were shocked.

    He became disabled at 21 year and old with four herniated discs and degenerative disc disease.

    After going plantbased at 31, his pain has started to improve some and his quality of life is better, although he’s still in pain.

    It make sure perfect sense that the same fat that can clog the heart can also clog the arteries around the spine and cause issues.

    • Thea

      Very Veganish: That’s good news! I hope your husband continues to improve. Good luck.