Doctor's Note

More on the inflammatory omega-6 arachidonic acid in chicken and eggs that may impact mental health via a cascade of brain inflammation in:

For other natural treatments for mental illness, check out:

I got some feedback from those that previewed this video on DVD that my explanation of MAO inhibition was a bit much (too complicated). I think there are different camps of viewers. Some that just want to know the bottom-line, and others that are fascinated by the underlying mechanisms and are eager to learn the underlying biology (the "why" not just the "what" and "how"). I'd be interested in everyone's feedback. Do these more in depth explanations add or detract from the educational value?

For more context, check out my associated blog post: Can We Fight the Blues with Greens?

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  • mike

    i personally like the detail explanations you give. Your illustrations and analogies are excellent and the fact that you discuss the process or mechanisms helps to educate us. Three things are important:

    1. Length of the video, for me 2 – 4 minutes is ideal.
    2. Summarize early and at the end the meaning so the reader knows what action they might want to take.
    3. Humor – I always enjoy this.

    I’ve sent countless number of people to your website as the best way to stay up to date on nutrition. It is much better than Coursera courses I’ve taken on nutrition and the shortness of the daily message is an excellent way to parse out the information. I must remember to update my donations, my credit card expired and I just noticed that donations had stopped. You are providing a fantastic service to all of us…. thank you!

    • Thank you for your feedback (and renewed monthly support!). I was afraid this one was a bit too long–I think I got carried away! For the first year of I aimed for 2 minutes each, and for this second year shot for 3 or 4. I’d be interested in what others have to say. I think your 2-4 is probably right in the sweet spot.

      • Dr. D

        I thought the length of this video was fine because it involved unpacking complex biochemical processes which require a more nuanced presentation. There’s obviously a point of diminishing returns in terms of both time and explication of content. 2 to 6 minutes is probably an optimal range to thoughtfully – and succinctly – convey the research. Thank you for all that you do, Dr. Greger.

      • ShaneJax

        One of the many great things about this site is if you don’t have the time or care to watch the video you can still read the transcript for it.

      • Thea

        Anything under 10 minutes is good for me! I prefer a longer video if it means that you have time to better explain a point or bring up important history and background. I think the quality of your videos have improved greatly this year because you haven’t tried to limit to the 2 minutes.

        Of course, what’s best is to make each video as long as it needs to be in order to do the job. Short is fine when that’s all that’s needed. Longer is better if it is needed.

        Thanks mike for bringing up the question! Thanks Dr. Greger for asking for people’s input!

      • chaupumo

        I would say that anything below 10 minutes is perfectly fine. On that matter, you may be interested in checking this research Coursera are using for their course design:

        On a personal note, I don’t think this video was too long at all. Your explanations of complex biological processes, coupled with references to the relevant medical literature, were the main reason I was so drawn to your work in the first place (well, and you’re the Carl Sagan of nutrition as I read someone else saying a couple of weeks ago!).

        The world is full of doctors saying “Do this [because I say so, I’m an expert!]”. Am I supposed to trust them just because they call themselves doctors or show us a picture of themselves in a white coat and a stethoscope? That doesn’t work for me.

        Trust is something you build up for every single person you interact with. I implicitly trust you now because when I first learnt about you I could listen to your thought process and read enough of the literature you quote to know you’re not spinning it/making stuff up. But I can’t make someone else trust you… unless you are objectively a credible person all the time. So yes, keep providing us with all the detailed explanations (and respective sources wherever appropriate) =)

        Once again, thank you for all the amazing work!

        • Sagan was actually my next door neighbor at Cornell! He was an advisor for one of the student groups I ran and so I had an excuse to go over and knock on his door a few times a year :)

          • chaupumo

            Wow! What a coincidence!

          • Tan

            Wow, supernova of scientific minds!

      • HemoDynamic, M.D.

        You see, I’m not the only one who is completely blown away at how valuable your website is. Daily in my office I mention at least 10 times.
        “Hey did you guys see todays Video? Todays Blog?”
        No Yokin’ either!

        Please don’t ever stop creating, your work (and all the people behind the scenes) is just too valuable and critical to our nations health! Yes it is that important!

  • lovestobevegan

    Make Your Rabbit Jealous

    – 1-2 bunches favorite greens (beet greens, carrot tops, radish greens, etc.)
    – 2 handfuls of raisins
    – 2 organic* apples, diced
    – 3 garlic scapes, diced
    – 3 green onions, chopped
    – handful pumpkin seeds
    – sea salt
    – black pepper

    Cook raisins and apple in a covered skillet with a splash water for 2-3 minutes. Add greens and continue cooking until greens bright green. Place garlic scapes, onions, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl and top with cooked fruit and vegetables. Season to taste with black
    pepper and sea salt.

    *Apples rank 1st (most contaminated) for yet another year and spinach ranks #6 (up two from last year’s 8th) in the “dirty dozen: 12 foods to eat organic” so choose organic.

    ~Complements of lovestobevegan

  • Juliet Gellatley

    I definitely like the fact that you give detailed explanations. It makes your site unique and brilliant (along with your films)! So long as you do a brief, simplified explanation first and then Read More for those that like more detail – you’ve pleased everyone!

  • Martha

    I appreciate the detailed explanations; it helps to know how the body responds to good nutrition.

  • just me

    This was great! Many people in my family suffer from depression and will benefit from this information. Thank you.

  • Merio

    I think that medicine’s students got really to follow this site… difficult theories explained in few minutes and great stuff post nearly all the week long… great job as usual…

  • INTP

    I am a how and why person. I have rarely felt, that the videos been too complicated. You are doing a great job at simplifying and summarize some pretty heavy stuff out there, and for that I am grateful.
    If you feel that you need to explain something in 2,4,6 or even 8 minutes, then that’s what you should do.
    Keep up the good work!

  • Astrofyziky

    My vote is to have you continue with your current in-depth explanations. As a scientist I’m very interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms and I think diverging from your current methods will be disadvantageous to your overall message. I think the majority of the populous has the mentality of, ‘sure eating plants is beneficial, but why should I stop eating meat?’ For me, understanding how the body functions and exactly how eating plant foods will affect particular enzymatic processes, as well as the deleterious effects of meat consumption, delivers a stronger message as to why I should make better dietary choices.

  • Chicov

    Ah, now I finally get MAO inhibitors. For me, this was an excellent clip.

  • Frank

    One of your best “because” of the detailed explanation. Excellent graphics and , as always, just the right amount of humor.

  • b00mer

    Please do not stop giving the detailed explanations on the underlying mechanisms.

    There are a million blogs out there, often run by people with limited or no scientific background, that say whatever fancies them without any justification. “This cures this”. “That causes that”. This site is SO unique in

    1) its use of peer reviewed lit,

    2) its use of *the latest* peer-reviewed lit, and

    3) actual explanations as to the context of the findings.

    If people want the bottom line, I think they could get that just by reading the caption in many cases. For those who want an explanation, they can take the time to watch the video. I never find the length to be a deterrent. Some topics take more time to explain, some take less. It’s all good.

  • Pamela Joy

    This was fascinating! I must be in the second camp. The only part I didn’t understand was why Effexor is “the opposite.” What action does it do?

    • Darryl

      Effexor is “the opposite” of drugs that block uptake of a single neurotransmitter, as it inhibits uptake of serotonin, norepinephrine, and (weakly) dopamine as well.

      You can judge for yourself whether that means three times the potential for side effects.

      • Pamela Joy

        Thank you for the explanation Darryl. I thought that what’s Effexor does, but didn’t see how that was “opposite” of the SSRIs. I guess you could consider “multiple” to be “opposite” to “single.”

  • Mike Tate

    Thanks Dr. Greger – a great video. I have to say that my move to a plant-based diet has certainly contributed to being able to come off my anti-depressant medication after 4 years.

    Keep up the great work!

  • mcooks

    I LOVE the detailed explanations! Those who don’t just don’t need to listen as closely, but I forwarded this to several in my family, because the science behind the condition can really help to combat depression practically, and inexpensively, while benefiting the rest of the body. Thanks again for such great info!

  • Nancy

    I find the length of your videos perfect for someone without a medical or scientific background, like me. You make otherwise complicated information easy to understand and utilize. I look forward to your videos and articles as they teach me enough in one sitting to absorb the information without overloading my brain. Actually, I liked the 6 minute video better than the 2-3 minute videos- those leave me wanting more info. Thank you for all the information that you share. It is meaningful and important!

  • Thinkabouddit

    I would love to eat tons of phytonutrients in grapes, etc., but is it safe to eat the grapes and broccoli, etc. from California due to the Fukushima fallout? I don’t know if this is the page to bring it up but it is a major worry of mine.

    • Darryl

      Fukushima emissions had neglible impact on already present long-lived radionuclides in U.S. soils.

      It seems advisable to avoid seafood from NE coastal Japan, and fungi and mushrooms (which bioaccumulated radionuclides after Chernobyl) originating from Fukushima, Tochigi, and Gunma provinces in Japan if you’re concerned about dietary radioactivity.

      • Thinkabouddit

        Unfortunately, I don’t think any of us really know at this time just how bad things are from Fukushima. I really don’t know.

      • Michel Voss

        The other study “… investigated by using the micronucleus test for anticlastogenic activity and the thiobarbituric acid assay for antioxidative activity. A single gastric intubation … 2 h prior to γ-ray irradiation …” – in mice, published 1996.

        • Darryl

          I contemplated deleting that last paragraph. I was struggling to find good studies that would support my intended point that the grapes and broccoli Thinkabouddit seemed worried about may offer protection from subsequent radiation exposure. Reservatrol from grapes and sulforophane from broccoli induce Antioxidant Response Element (ARE) promoted gene transcription via the Keap-Nrf2 signalling pathway: hundreds of proteins, many of which participate in DNA repair, recycling endogenous antioxidants, or are themselves antioxidants. The sort of activity one wants upregulated prior to exposure to millions of decay events from ingested/inhaled short-lived radionuclides.

          Demonstrating chemoprotection from UVB induced carcinogenesis has become an oft repeated lab technique, but I couldn’t anything on resveratrol or sulforaphane vs. ionizing radiation (α and β particles and γ-rays) of the sort one is exposed to from I-131, Cs-137 or Sr-90. I suspect fewer labs have the facilities or desire to conduct that sort of experiment. This was fairly close, demonstrating radioprotection from Co-60 by the compounds AITC and PITC found in cruciferous vegetables. If you are curious about the state of research, here are some recent reviews on radioprotective phytochemicals and herbs, the first two offering free access (1, 2, 3, 4)

          • Michel Voss

            1 Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources 07/2011; 2(2):137-150: no conflict of interest statement.

  • Linda

    Have you found any research which links Alzheimer’s Disease with animal protein? Conversely, will a vegetarian/vegan diet give one added protection from Alzheimer’s Disease?

    I enjoy your videos. They are so informative. Thank you.

    • Thea

      Linda: You may be interested in a book by Dr. Barnard called “Power Foods For the Brain”. He tries to make it broader than just “Alzheimer’s”, but that is the main boogey man in the book, I believe.

      I haven’t actually had time to read the book myself, but my understanding is that Dr. Barnard presents the latest in scientific information between food and Alzheimer’s. So, in reading that book, you should get the answer to your question – along with many other similar questions.

      Hope that helps.

  • rcaiken

    Dr. Greger – I follow your work closely – thank you so
    much! See you at lunch this Saturday.

    The monoamine hypothesis never was a cause and effect explanation
    of mood disorder and is recently being supplemented – if not replaced – by a number of other theories. One such theory is depression by inflammation. There are an increasing number of articles even in the mainstream “green journal” (American Journal of Psychiatry) attesting to that. An interesting historical correlate that comes to mind immediately is St John’s Wort (hypericin) thought for years to be an MAOI, then found to inhibit the reuptake of several monoamines, is also an
    anti-inflammatory (also antibacterial AND antiviral) compound.

    It’s difficult to imagine how any plant constituent could
    have any specific activity on a human neurosystem like reuptake inhibition of monoamines in neurons but totally understandable how the advanced anti-inflammatory and antiviral chemical system of plants could help with a similar function in other species.

  • JS Baker

    Dr. Gregor, I’ve been watching your videos for about 8 months now. I have not eaten any animal products for the last 6 full months. I like the “why” explanations you provide and especially appreciate your care in pointing out when you are describing emerging theories vs. well established mechanisms. Video length of 4-7 minutes is just right for me. 2 minutes always feels too short. I also especially like the “sources cited” section, which is what sealed it for me (made me vegan). I read many of the original studies cited in your videos for about 2 months before I was convinced that you knew what you were talking about and were giving subscribers complete and accurate information. You are providing an incredibly valuable service for which I am deeply grateful. I’m going to begin a regular donation to your organization. Thank you!

  • Sheron

    I like the “why” as well as the “what” and “how,” and I enjoy and appreciate the videos and find the information very helpful. Thank you for all the time you spend to give us this information and for sharing it so willingly so that all of us can benefit from it.

  • cobalamin

    I use to have very bad depression and only eating greens never worked.

    I had to raise my Vitamin D levels with Vitashine & Sunshine and eat leafy greens daily for two weeks to experience an effect. They seem to have a synergistic effect.

    I hope you can do a video on how the fat soluble vitamins, A-D-K and their natural metabolites, like retinoic acid, play together to balanced the neurotransmitters and prevent an addictive personality in the first place.

    Here is some interesting research I’ve gathered.

  • Nutrient Obsessed

    The more detail the better! I could listen to Dr. Greger’s wonderful voice and awesome insight for hours on end, and sometimes I do just that. Obviously my issue is OCD, perhaps you’ll do a video on that one of these days. I’ll keep checking daily until you do, LOL!
    -Nutrionally Obsessed

  • Ana Claudia

    I am greatfull for these in depth explanations since I believe only that kind of info provides real significant and valuable knowledge . Thank you very very much for this great work!!!!

  • elizabeth gross

    i thought it was easy to follow. thank you for all your videos/explanations.
    -e :)

  • JE Lipmanson

    Your presentation of details and underlying mechanisms is essential for understanding. I agree with Mike’s comments below. Despite the length of your annual Nutrition and Medicine presentation, I greatly enjoy them.

  • Jeff Gibson

    The more in depth explanations definitely add to the educational value in my view. You have a great way of making complex science concepts understandable, and I’m glad to see that most of the previous commenters seem to agree.

  • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

    Ahh…..thats why I smile when I eat my fruit and veggies….

  • DannyB

    The in-depth explanations explanations add to the educational value of the discussion, in my opinion.

  • Yūgen


    Thank you for this! And I wanted to ask – are you aware of Tony Wrights theory in Left In The Dark, which touches on the evolutionary impact of our ancestral diet (including the MAOI they contain) on the development of the human brain?

  • Raisa Jari

    I love to know how and why and don’t mind a slightly longer video when it is needed for the explanation. It makes me feel smart to know a bit of the details :)

  • sanmcm

    The short videos are the urgent news and what I can absorb immediately by each spoonful. Time and attention span is the commodity when on the net. I do appreciate the detail very much, I need the explanation for my conversations with others. This helps in the holistic approach to mind, body, spirit. Fact gathering is another method I us in healing and making change so the info is crucial in some instances. I love that your info is truly genuine from the research, some even decades ago. Keep up the good work. You and your team are the best with the right intentions. Yaay for us all. Thank you!

    PS. remember males speak in sentences and females speak in paragraphs.

  • Karen

    Please continue to do the detailed explanations, I enjoy the longer videos–I rip them to mp3 and listen to the hour plus ones while I walk. You are right, though, you probably have two audiences, and if you have a topic that really requires more explanation, you might do both a long and a short version.

    I really enjoyed the (audio) of the video about vegetarians and vegans vs meat eaters and heart disease related death. The data driven presentation was exactly what I wanted to hear–material from someone who has done the reading. I like that you cite your sources too. It does save the rest of us the work we don’t really have time to do.

    I’ve been all over the place trying to decide what to eat to lose the fat that just accumulated all over my body, but especially in the middle, after stupidly letting myself get talked into a hysterectomy. (that was only the mildest side effect of that nightmare surgery I experienced)

    I have looked at gluten free (doing it) sugar free (mostly) and back and forth between Paleo, protein with all carbs, low carb, mostly plant based, and while I have not had any luck with anything (hormones are just very messed up) I am glad to find that some of the things the Paleo people had suggested to me are not true (beans are bad, lentils are bad, peanuts are bad)

    They got me eating butter (I do mostly cook with Olive oil) and eating too much meat and dairy, because they were so positive that it was healthier. But I think that diet only works on the young and if you are weight lifting.

    I am now adding much fruit (they scared me off that ) and keeping up adding as many vegetables and greens and spices and herbs as possible, while cutting way back on the meat and using only vegetable broth for cooking.

    Excellent public service you are providing. I am linking my vegetarian friends and a few others.

    I have already added flax seed to my salads thanks to the one long broadcast, and have learned a number of things from the shorter ones.


    • Toxins

      Dr. Greger has dispelled the low carb myth here

    • Thea

      Karen: I just started reading The Starch Solution by Dr. McDouggall. He not only has some great nutritional information in that book, but he has a meal plan and recipes. It would be a healthy way to loose weight.

      Another option is a free on-line program called the 21 Day Kickstart. They have 3 weeks of meal plans and recipes. They also have cooking videos and a moderated forum where you can ask questions. This program would be another healthy, safe way to loose weight. If you are interested, you can register here:

      FYI: I have a relative who is in the same boat – hysterectomy followed by weight gain. Going vegan was all she needed to loose a bunch of weight. She feels so good now too. Her joints stopped aching.

      I know it is confusing, but as Toxins showed you below, that paleo/low carb stuff is both not backed by science and dangerous. I’m glad you found this site. Good luck to you!

  • gmlandis

    I enjoy and would say, I need, the details to understand why something works or doesn’t work. Your explanations are so understandable for me. I have fought depression for years and am constantly looking for the key to end the duldrums, as I call it. Thank you so much for this video. I had never read or heard that food affected depression.

  • Wil

    I quit smoking about 5 weeks ago. Recently, I’ve noticed that I have difficulty concentrating on tedious tasks. I have read that exercise could help in my situation. Are there any foods that could also help recent ex-smokers to concentrate better?

  • Eddie Sullivan

    This is getting a lot of traction on now- please share with your followers:

    Please sign and share- this is a winnable fight that will have major impacts on the economy, corporate lobbying, the environment, and health care:

  • Hadley V. Baxendale

    More is better — size does matter.

  • Ian

    I like to know the “why”. It gives me a deeper understanding.

  • Di

    I appreciate and enjoy the discussion and the details provided. I like the 3-4 minute videos but when a subject is a bit more detailed (as is this one) I have no problem spending the time. I love the videos and all of the great information that it provides – many thanks.

  • Karla

    I love your in-depth explanations of the mechanisms of action! Thanks, and please keep them coming! :)

  • Mindaugas Raulinaitis

    Why the studies as this one keep appearing? :(

    Conclusions: In Western cultures vegetarian diet is associated with an elevated risk of mental disorders.

    Vegetarian diet and mental disorders: results from a representative community survey

    International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2012, 9:67 doi:10.1186/1479-5868-9-67

  • Dr Dave

    The more details and mechanisms the better! I am a physician

  • Jessica

    @Michael Greger M.D.

    I know I’m a year late. But I have read an article that contradicts your MAOI theory. The paper attempts to find a reason for why there is an increased rate of depression in smokers. They pinned it down to the MAOI released from burning tobacco. The MAOI makes the smoker feel good (as you said), but only very temporarily. Maybe the paper’s a bit dated but here it is: (free version) (full version)

  • Viia

    I think under 8 minutes for videos is perfect. Though to be honest, I usually just read the transcripts while I’m on the bus to work. I like knowing the simplified versions of the how and the why of the processes you discuss; it helps me to remember and incorporate it into my life. Thanks for all the informative videos and the light-hearted approach.

  • mparent

    Excellent video – didn’t mention the king of MAO inhibition… Ayahuasca. I agree, I believe Greger has some mystical connection maybe even he’s not aware of – lol :) I liked background info on neurotransmitters… keep educating us doc!

  • EleaE

    Hi Dr Greger – My family began a plant-based one year ago! We feel we are on the right track and glad of the change. When I first began, there was a honeymoon of feeling great and being told I was “glowing”! (Nice to hear when your 53!) Now, a year into it and getting better at it all the time, meaning learning more about it, reading books, listening to podcasts and attending conferences such as the Food=Medicine in Atlanta AND in addition to getting my certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell: I’ve got the blues and find it difficult to get motivated! Depression is something I’ve long-struggled with. On top of that, I seem to have acquired some sort of chronic skin issues (seborrheic dermititis and eczema) itching to the point of sleep disturbances. Doc tells me it looks like there is inflammation going on in my system. My question is: What questions should I be asking myself to find the most direct way out of these two situations? Help!

    • Thea

      EleaE: What a bummer you are having troubles now. I don’t now if it would help or not, but Dr. Greger has an entire chapter on depression in his new book, How Not To Die. You may already be doing everything in the chapter. I don’t know. But maybe it is worth checking out? (if you haven’t already)

      Best of luck to you. It sucks to try to do all the right things and still have troubles.

  • Frances Willis Goddard

    Dr. Greger, regarding your request for feedback on the technical depth of information presented in your videos: in the case of this video at least, I found it the clearest, most straightforward breakdown of the neurotransmitter basics of depression I’ve yet heard in one go. I’m just your average layman schmo, myself, but I wanna know “what’s up”, and if that means slowing down just a touch and paying attention, I’d consider that to be the (more than worthwhile) cost of the truth, particularly since most of us schmos know that neuroscience is way more complex than you would actually bother to tax us with! Breaking it down is indeed an art form, but I believe this video has struck the balance right on the head..

  • GPlum

    Dr. Thank you for being honest and a defender of the truth.