Doctor's Note

This is the third in a video series on understanding the autoimmune theory of cancer, outlined in Cancer as an Autoimmune Disease, and continued in Clonal Selection Theory of Immunity. To learn how dietary manipulation of IGF-1 may affect cancer risk, see The Answer to the Pritikin Puzzle and How Plant-Based to Lower IGF-1? IGF-1 also appears to affect prostate gland growth. See Some Prostates Are Larger than OthersProstate vs. Plants; and Prostate vs. a Plant-Based Diet. Next, we’ll finally get to the star of this video series: The Inflammatory Meat Molecule Neu5Gc. Be sure not to miss it.

For more context, check out my associated blog post: Plant-Based Diets for Multiple Sclerosis.

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  • Thea

    re: “…we start out able to fend off basically every cellular structure in the known universe…” (hey, LOVE the new transcript feature)
    …. This quote says to me that I did not fully understand yesterday’s video as I raised a question like, “Well what happens when we encounter something that is not covered by those billion cells?” But in listening to this video (and maybe I should re-listen to yesterday’s video), it sounds like it is impossible (almost impossible?) for humans (or aliens?/space bio) to come up with something that our immune system can’t technically fight.

    Even if I’m still not fully getting it, I love the ending of this video. That’s clear enough for anyone! Theories aside, it is the human data like the Bantu info presented here that I find the most compelling. Thanks!

  • WholeFoodChomper

    Utterly fascinating! I wonder if a plant-based diet could treat or even reverse an autoimmune condition, e.g. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Lupus, Grave’s Disease, MS, etc.?

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Yes it can reverse Autoimmune diseases! I have a 10 yo boy with Crohns–in complete remission with Plant and Starch (Vegan) Lifestyle. (PSL)
      I have multiple Lupus patients in remission on PSL.
      I have multiple Rheumatoid Arthritis patients in remission PSL.
      I have multiple Ulcerative Colitis patients in remission PSL.
      I have a couple of Hashimoto’ patients better on a PSL (Not complete remission)
      I have no patients with Graves disease.
      I have multiple patients with Diabetes reversed and controlled on PSL
      I have multiple patients with Fibromyalgia reversed on PSL.
      I have multiple patients with Carotid disease and Coronary disease reversing their disease on a PSL.
      It works!

      • @HemoDynamic:disqus , This is fantastic news to hear! I am specifically interested in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Could you tell me what remission from Hashi’s would look like? (TSH, T4 and T3 in normal range w/o hormone replacement meds?) Any ideas or suggestions where I can get some more info on how to reverse Hashi’s, or how to determine that it is remission?

        • HemoDynamic, M.D.


          What would remission look like? No more detectable Anti TPO (Thyroid Peroxidase) antibodies and normal TSH, T4 and T3 Uptake.

          And of course feelings of normalcy.

          The only way I know to possibly reverse Hashi’s is a Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle with no excessive iodine added.

          Taking in too much iodine may pose a problem (at least in the Chinese)

          So if you are sure you aren’t taking in too much iodine then (As Dr. Greger recommends) 150 mcg per day is more than adequate.
          No definite answers on this one but I hope it helps.

          • @HemoDynamic:disqus thanks so much for your insight on this topic! Yes, it is very helpful. I don’t believe that I am taking in too much iodine. The study you cited is interesting. I suppose I will continue to eat a PBD, exercise, and monitor my thyroid hormone levels. I suppose I could also ask my doc if I could have my Anti TOP checked again (last time was about 3 years ago) to see where those numbers stand.

      • Thea

        HemoDynamic: Once again, YOU ROCK!

        Thanks for taking the time to share this information. I find it so uplifting.

      • Graham

        What definition are you using for remission in Rheumatoid Arthritis? DAS28? ACR 2011 criteria? And is this remission while on treatment or off biologics/dmards?

  • Jean Maclay

    Unfortunately, all my autoimmune problems began well before I became vegan. Are there any studies showing reversal of autoimmune disorders with a vegan diet or am I stuck with them ?

    • Have you looked into Dr. McDougall?

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Yes it can reverse Autoimmune diseases! I have a 10 yo boy with Crohns–in complete remission with Plant and Starch (Vegan) Lifestyle. (PSL)

      I have multiple Lupus patients in remission on PSL.

      I have multiple Rheumatoid Arthritis patients in remission PSL.

      I have multiple Ulcerative Colitis patients in remission PSL.

      I have a couple of Hashimoto’ patients better on a PSL (Not complete remission)

      I have no patients with Graves disease.

      I have multiple patients with Diabetes reversed and controlled on PSL

      I have multiple patients with Fibromyalgia reversed on PSL.

      I have multiple patients with Carotid disease and Coronary disease reversing their disease on a PSL.

      It works!

      Learn more at John McDougall, MD
      Physicians committee for Responsible Medicine Neal Barnard, MD et al
      This website (THANK YOU DR. GREGER!!!!!!)
      Watch the documentary Forks Over Knives Stream it over Netflix or Amazon Prime.

      The only way you will really know is to start now! What have you got to lose?!

    • I agree with HemoDynamic MD who has had more clinical experience with this than myself. I know of a dermatologist in Southern California who is having success with patients with Lupus, Psoriasis and other autoimmune disorders. I would add two thoughts. First prevention is always better than shooting for reversal and cure (e.g. not feeding folks dairy to decrease incidence of type 1 diabetes, not eating sausages or hot dogs to avoid autoimmune thyroid disease) as once the damage is done it may not be reversible. However once you have an autoimmune disorder the first step is to go on a whole food plant based diet with Vit B12 supplementation. Two caveats…. I have come across many folks who have successfully cured their disorders but have certain plant triggers such as wheat, tomatoes, egg plant… very individual. Dr. McDougall’s newletter article Diet for the Desperate

      • So, well said, Doc.

        Ah, so it was the sausages and hot dog’s I ate in the past years that lead to the Hashi’s? Is it b/c of the nitrates? Iodine in the salt? Something else? I’m curious about Dr. McDougall’s “Diet for the Desperate” article (which I linked here) for ease of reference. Should be some interesting reading.

        Again, thanks as always for your helpful opinion.

        • I give credit to Dr. McDougall for the “hypothesis” on hot dogs/sausages causing autoimmune thyroid disease. Since animal thyroids are included in the manufacture of some processed meats like hot dogs it makes sense that possible exposure via consumption might cause our bodies to cross react and attack our own thyroids. I haven’t seen studies yet but as Dr. Greger’s recent videos on 5NeuGc have shown it is a complex and complicated issue. It would be interesting to see some epidemiological studies on the prevalence of thyroid disease in individuals following a plant based diet. Of course there is also the issue of needing to maintain adequate iodine intake which Dr. Greger has covered in videos under the topics thyroid health and disease. Unfortunately many of us have consumed many hot dogs and sausages in the past so we will have to stay the course and keep our fingers crossed.

          • Very interesting hypothesis; I’d be interested in seeing the studies you mentioned, too. I have definitely eaten my share of sausages and hot dogs back in the day.

            BTW- I just linked to your web-site and can’t wait to look over it and read it more thoroughly when I have more time.

          • Veganrunner

            Dr Forrester do you know of a good GP in the Los Angeles area? I have been trying to find a like minded doctor and they sure are hard to come by. I have gone on the integrative doctor website but picking someone that way is a bit hit and miss. It would be really nice to have a doctor who doesn’t think you are nuts for being vegan.


  • nelson

    Dr G. What do you think about Dr. Oz’s last show that talks about cholesterol not being the root cause of heart disease. They do mention inflammation as the main cause that leads to heart failure. These two Dr’s. on the show are seen eating beef burgers etc. Not sure what to make of this particular show.

    • Toxins

      Do not trust the Dr. Oz show. He flip flops positions based on who is making an appearance. Cholesterol is very much indeed a factor in heart disease as this is the structure of plaque build up.

      • nelson

        You’re right with the wizard of Dr. Oz’s show. He flip flops quite a bit. There’s a lot of pre-packed products he suggests.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Who has more heart attacks, the Chinese eating rice and vegetables or the Americans eating burgers?
      Ask Bill Clinton what reversed his heart disease– rice and Vegetables or Burgers?
      Don’t beleive the Dr. Oz show. It has turned into the Wizard of Oz show. “Take this pill and it will cure all your ill’s.”
      People are starting to see what is really behind the curtain–it’s MONEY!!!

    • Dr. Oz seems like a nice person, but his show (and increasingly he) lacks credibility given all the financial conflicts of interest inherent in its production and the purpose for the show (infotainment). It seems Dr. Oz will direct his viewers toward health information any way the wind (money) blows.

    • BPCveg

      Thanks for the comment, Nelson. Follow the link below to see the Dr. Oz show that you described:

      The show is actually saying that eating more cholesterol is good for you. At one point, guest on the show, Dr. Stephen Sinatra, MD (cardiologist) says:

      ” The higher your cholesterol, according to some studies in Europe, the longer you are going to live.”

      Just to give you an idea of the intellectual level of this speaker, please see Dr. Stephen Sinatra’s wikipedia page:

      Under the section titled “Grounding”, you will see that this same man promotes the idea that free radicals in the body can be neutralized by lying barefoot on the earth because: ” the earth’s surface is negatively charged and contact with the earth transfers allows electrons to neutralize free radicals in the human body.”

      • And to think millions of people are watching Dr. Oz.

    • The Dr Oz show Featured hamburgers from grass fed cattle,not from artificially fattened grain fed factory raised cattle,and worse.
      The fats they spoke of were from grass foraged animals, lean,as are wild game,and rich in nutrients based on their grass fed intake from being pasture raised and exposed to sunlight as well.
      The other fats were of a leaner source,and some plant based,I believe avocado,coconut sources,and so on.
      Although clearly they were not promoting a plant based diet,neither were they eating the typical factory farm raised fatty polluted cattle.

  • Randy

    Terrific work in explaining these important but complex biological fundamentals.

    Thank you!

  • eversor

    I wanted to make a question; is there any limit in the consumption of fruits in order not to cause insuline resistance?

    • eversor, I’m not sure if this helps you, but the other day I cam across this response to a similar question from Dr. Greger: How much fruit is safe to consume?

    • We need more and better studies on this issue. I read the link that WholeFoodChomper cited which I would also recommend that you read. I have drawn a different conclusion than “the current science supports the more fruit the better”. The two main carbohydrates we are exposed to in a plant based diet are mainly glucose and fructose which are similar molecules. However, our bodies handle them differently. Glucose is used as our basic fuel by every cell in our body. This is why starches are so good for us… see Dr. John McDougall’s recent book, The Starch Solution. Sucrose which is table sugar is one molecule of Glucose plus one molecule of Fructose. Fructose is metabolized almost exclusively by the liver. It is changed to uric acid( associated with gout and increased blood pressure due to effect on Nitrous Oxide system), triglyercides and cholesterol, glycogen in the liver and fats &/or scarring in the liver. Everyone hears about high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks and processed food but we get fructose naturally mainly from fruits. Fruits contain glucose, fructose and sucrose which accounts for their sweetness. Not understanding these basic physiologic facts leads to alot of misconceptions but from a practical standpoint how much fruit should we eat. I asked Jeff Novick whose opinion I highly value… How much fructose should we consume daily… He said up to 50 grams per day… which by my calculations is about 4 banana’s. Calculation needs to include the amount of fructose plus half the sucrose. I have seen no studies directly addressing this question or even a trial where patients are fed fruit in increasing amounts and their blood values checked. Based on my clinical experience and mentor-ship by Dr. McDougall there are clearly some patients who benefit from reducing their fruit intake(e.g. high triglycerides). At this point as a general rule I would say avoid consumption of high fructose corn syrup(which is often the 60% fructose/40% glucose variety… not much different from sucrose) and limit fruits to 4-5 per day. Of course fruits do come with alot of good things… fiber, antioxidants and avoids the cholesterol, saturated fats, animal protein, chemicals and risk of food poisoning associated with animal products. The insulin resistance caused by fructose is due to the production of fats. This means the effect is not immediate. Hope this helps… I would stay tuned to as you never know when science and/or Dr. Greger will help clarify this somewhat confusing area.

      • Great explanation and contribution, @DrDons:disqus . I always enjoy reading your posts.

      • elsie blanche

        Don, you mention here “The insulin resistance caused by fructose is due to the production of fats. This means the effect is not immediate. ” What is “producing” “the production of fats?” Are you saying that if we eat lots of fruit and then later eat a high fat meal, then we are creating insulin resistance in the body. I really like your post/comments above on fruits and I’d be grateful for some clarity on my referenced comments of yours.

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    The sister asked her brother after she smashed her toe, “Hey Joey what have I got?”
    Joey replied, “A popped toe sis!” (Apoptosis)

  • Anne

    Doctor Greger, what do you think about treating MS disease with a plant-based diet? Are there any medical tests carried out on MS patients?

    • I have had discussions with MS patients who claim to have halted their disease with diet. You should view Dr. McDougall’s 1 hour presentation on “Diet and Multiple Sclerosis” available for free viewing on his website, the link is Dr. McDougall’s foundation funded a controlled study on diet and MS through the Neurology Department at the Oregon Health and Science Center in Portland. The study is now complete. They are evaluating the results and they should be available soon. If I were to advise an MS patient at this point I would follow Dr. McDougall’s recommendations. I would subscribe to the McDougall newsletter as I’m sure when the results are know he will report on the results. Current testing for the diagnosis of MS patients is best handled by a neurologist familiar with treating MS patients.

      • Anne

        thank you very much for your reply, I’m looking forward to see Dr.McDougall’s results!

  • Andrew

    I have possibly been diagnosed with having some inflammation in the spine. More tests need to be done now to qualify what the inflammation is caused by. The specialist through about some possibilities – one of which was MS – and all of which had treatments.. no cures. I read that a vegan diet can arest or regress such issues. The medical community does not agree with this. I have been vegan for 16 months. What are your views? What vegan foods do you think will give me the best chance? Thanks in Advance. A worried patient, Andrew

    • Thea

      Andrew: I’m sorry to hear about your condition.

      It sounds like you are taking charge of your own health. Good for you!

      I’m not an expert. I hope someone else will chime in to respond to you. However, I can recommend that you use the search bar on this site to search for videos with the subject of ” inflammation”. I think that some of the videos with that topic might be helpful to you. You might also do a search on MS.

      Good luck. I hope you are able to make some progress.

    • Thrivalista

      Andrew, Dr. George Jelinek is an Australian physician and lecturer whose MS has been in remission for 13 years, by following a vegan diet with very low saturated fat (+ fish oil initially, which he now recommends against on his website due to heavy metal contamination), and stress-reduction lifestyle changes.
      My own MS symptoms are best managed by also excluding saturated fats, avoiding/managing stress, and avoiding gluten (a trigger for me, not for everyone). I strongly recommend his book “Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis”, as well as his website.

      • Thrivalista

        Oh, and PUFAs – PolyUnsaturatedFattyAcids – which translates to lots of high-quality flax oil; + vitamin D supplementation. Go check out the book, its the best investment I’ve made in my health in a long time. (That, and coming here, of course!)

    • Veganrunner

      Andrew check out todays blog. May 21, 2013.