Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the videos on the medical profession.

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Nutrition Education in Medicine: a Doctor a Day Keeps the Apples Away, Health Food Store Advice: Often Worthless or WorstWatermelon For Erectile Dysfunction,  Is Coconut Oil Bad For You?, and  Treating Breast Pain with Flax Seeds

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the videos on the medical profession, including today’s corresponding blog post Nutrition education in medicine: A doctor a day keeps the apples away.

  • Susan Beterbide

    Outrageous!! But thank God the soda companies are putting calorie counts on their much for nutrition!

  • BPCveg

    This attitude should be expected in a financially-driven system.

    After all, what money can be made if doctors teach there patients how to solve there own problems?

    • Nick VanHorn

      A Bill Maher quote comes to mind:

      “You see, there’s no money in healthy people, and there’s no money in dead people. The money is in the middle: people who are alive, sort of, but with one or more chronic conditions that puts them in need of Celebrex, or Nasinex, or Valtrex, or Lunesta. Fifty years ago, children didn’t even get Type-2 diabetes. Now it’s an emerging epidemic, as are a long list of ailments that used to be rare, and have now been…mainstreamed. Things like asthma, and autism, and acid reflux, and arthritis, allergies, adult acne, attention deficit disorder. And that’s just the A’s. Doesn’t anybody wonder why we live with all this illness?”

      • Marie66

        How I intensely dislike that arrogant man…but he is spot on here!

  • Devin Bousquet

    I love how soda companies are putting calorie counts on their cans. Wait… it’s been that way for years. Maybe they need to put “This drink has no redeeming nutritional qualities what-so-ever. It won’t even truly hydrate you” on the label.

  • Nina Greif

    Who knew that learning how to stay in good health gets in the way of focusing on ones specialty! The public should be outraged at this. These people are signing death sentences for their patients. I’m a doc and I’m angry that I never learned how to heal people With chronic diseases.

    • DrDons

      As a physician who gives educational talks to physicians on prevention and reversal of chronic diseases I find that most physicians welcome the information. It is sad that the important studies in this area are so unknown to physicians. The reality is that most of the information in this area has only started to emerge in the last 15 years or so. It’s hard for the older physicians to keep informed and the younger ones are not being taught in their training. Once the physicians start working in this area I believe they find it rewarding but difficult for many reasons. I’m sure you are familiar with some of these challenges as a physician. I had the privilege of testifying after Dr. McDougall in his support. We are hoping that his bill that was passed in a modified form will make a difference. In the meantime keep informed, talk to your colleagues, work with your patients… let’s make a difference! Best wishes.

  • gfortcher

    I’d like to propose a bill…Lets call the entire medical industry “Sick care” as opposed to health care…That seems to be what it is…health care is obviously left up to the individual to ferret out the correct answers. Thank you Dr G. for giving me some of the valuable resources to help me with that research.

    • BPCveg


      You have made an excellent point, which is overlooked by most. The so-called “health care” is motivated solely by care of the sick with little to no emphasis/resources placed on the most important preventative aspect. Would love to hear more from Dr.G and other readers on this point.

    • Mariel

      I agree, it’s sick care and I resent anyone calling it health care because it’s so far from preventive or integrative, holistic avenues that can reverse many conditions that the pharmaceutical companies work so hard to morph into “diseases.” Dry eye disease, acid reflux disease and so many more are probably just nutritional deficiencies.

  • Mike Quinoa

    Let’s see. The average man on the street knows more about nutrition than the average physician, and yet these associations balk at medical students receiving a mere 7 hours of formal nutrition education. What are they learning in the 4-years plus of med school which is so much more important or relevant? Call me jaded and cynical, but something is rotten in the state of California. The industries that would take a shot to the bottom line if people actually got well have very far-reaching tenacles, and they care more about their profits than your well-being. My sympathies to Dr. John McDougall (and Dr. Forrester and Senator Wright) on losing Round One, but I know he’ll be back.

    • Wilma Laura Wiggins

      I could be wrong but I think the bill was not addressing medical school but continuing education after doctors start “practicing”.

  • gfortcher

    I really don’t think the average person knows more about nutrition than the average Dr. But, the person interested in good nutrition certainly does. I don’t believe the industry whould suffer from giving good advice. There would be plenty of non-listeners. And those that accepted good advice would eventually get old and natural system breakdowns would keep the industry busy. It would be a shift as to when sick care would be more necessary. It will probably take 20 yrs of education in our elementary schools and support of parents at home to grow a new generation of Healthy young people – lets call them generation “FV” for fruits and vegetables. I’d like to call them Gen Vegan…but I think that would be a stretch. The bottom line is that without a Dr. to ask our basic nutritional questions to, we are forced to take it upon ourselves. We turn to unknown sources for this info. We sift and dig. Hopefully we are right. Hopefully we stumble upon valid advice sites…like Dr. G.

    • Mike Quinoa

      Hi gfortcher,

      Dr. Greger has a video re: the comparative nutritional savvy of John Q. versus our esteemed doctors, and I believe in fact, the great unwashed came out on top. Can’t remember which vid, or I would post a link.

      • gfortcher

        Hello Mike Q. – I looked for the video you mentioned but I couldn’t find it either. Thanks for the info.

    • Teena Tibbetts Simon

      Perfectly said!

  • Mike Quinoa

    Thanks for the link, BPCveg! I agree with you, gfortcher—it beggars belief.

  • Gala Christen

    If the medical schools and associations cannot see the wisdom in this, it makes me doubt all their decisions and choices, as perhaps the best interests of the patients are left out of the decision-making process.

    “Let food be your medicine.” -Hippocrates

    • DrDons

      Creating change in organizations is challenging. Most layered bureaucracies are designed to maintain status quo and are led by individuals who have no training in collaboration, leadership(as opposed to politics), and improvement techniques… that goes for front line physicians as well. Keeping up with latest in science is challenging. So I would keep tuned to and when interacting with health care professionals realize they probably don’t know much about nutrition and its use in preventing and stabilizing chronic diseases.

  • wickedchicken

    How could we POSSIBLY ask these people to spend ONE HOUR AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES PER YEAR learning about nutrition?? Oh wait not even per year, after 4 years they would never have to learn about it ever again. But no, STILL, we are asking too much of these poor guys.

    • DrDons

      Hi Wickedchicken, I give educational talks to physicians on the value of plant based diets. Most physicians are very receptive. Organizations as a whole are opposed to regulations of any type. The CMA represents less than 50% of physicians. Most upsetting to me was the opposition by the Family Medicine group. I am a Family Medicine physician although not a member of any FM organization, the CMA or the AMA for that matter. This type of reflex opposition to an excellent bill as drafted by Dr. McDougall is one of many reasons I’m not a member. The intent of the bill is still alive although it has been delegated to the Medical Board of California to decide whether information on nutrition should be included in medical education. Dr. McDougall and others(including myself) will be working next year to see what we can do. Wish us good luck.

      • Wilma Laura Wiggins

        I think people should keep in mind that with a bill such as this, you can’t guarantee the quality of the nutrition education. You could wind up with doctors learning about the benefits of the Paleo diet and such. Look at what the nutritionists are spouting.

    • Marie66

      7 credit hours….not 7 hours….big difference.

  • Rebecca Corby

    I love how she tries to imply that nutrition is such a special interest field not related to health ‘this kind of thing should be left up to individual physicians to decide if they want to learn about….this could start us on a slippery slope’ the redumblicans and lobbysists love that phrase I’ve noticed ‘slippery slope’ any kind of regulation to make business practices more ethical and provide the public with more honest information is labeled ‘ooooh a scary slipper slope, this will lead us down the wrong path’ AAHHH I’m sharing this on my facebook in hopes that ppl will wake up and see who really runs our country and makes laws and why they aren’t getting accurate advice from many doctors, thank you Dr. Greger you’re a hero for truth seekers

  • Joel

    My observation after living 68 years in the U.S: Aside from lip service, the medical industry has nothing to do with health, just as the music industry has nothing to do with creativity and the food industry has nothing to do with nutrition. There is no industry that is primarily structured for the benefit of the individual. Knowing this CLEARLY, whatever the field, is the first step. The second is taking control of your health or whatever it is you are now dependent on an industry for. The real answers (some of which are thankfully on this site) are everywhere except in the doctor’s office, the office of a record label CEO or the offices and pronouncements of the FDA, USDA, CDC, etc. Expecting nutritional or preventive advice from a traditionally trained MD is like taking your car to a wrecking yard for an oil change. This is dangerous conceptual confusion!

    • DrDons

      Hi Joel, I was fortunate enough to be involved with Dr. McDougall in testifying on behalf of this bill which was eventually passed in a modified form. The modified form requires the Medical Board in California to address the issue. Stay tuned for how that turns out. I give talks to physicians on the application of lifestyle changes(i.e. mainly nutrition) to prevent, stabilize and reverse chronic disease. Most of the physicians are receptive but taking the information back to the office or incorporating it into their own personal lives requires a real shift in beliefs and behaviors. It is a certainly a challenge. In my opinion the solution is for the physicians to get exposed to the basic concepts and then have a way to keep up with the best current scientific information. I agree that individuals need to get the information and not rely on the medical profession. Nutritionfacts is a great resource for both healthcare professionals and individuals. Combining the information provided by Dr. Greger with information from other sources such as provided by John McDougall’s website provides current accurate science based information. Individuals can then help educate their doctors by setting good examples.

    • Wilma Laura Wiggins

      You are so right Joel. I have seldom, or never, seen a problem solved by government intervention that did not include unintended consequences that were worse than the original problem. Let freedom ring, even for doctors.

  • rjpeers

    I am totally disgusted. Medical tradespeople untrained in nutrition have no idea what causes the common diseases of Western society. I once saw an inspiring article in the Australian Medical Journal–in 1955!!–titled Every Doctor A Dietitian. The author was a Sydney doctor who had charge of an orphanage, where he got the kids to eat whole-grain bread and to grow their own fruits and vegetables. He later found that these kids had the best teeth in the state. In 1990, I studied nutrition to find the cause of Alzheimer’s, and soon linked the disease with refined seed oils, which few people know are partly depleted in vitamin E. I went on to also connect these oils with ADHD, following seed oil consumption by the mother during pregnancy. But the really common diseases–diabetes, heart disease, tumours, arthritis, Parkinson’s etc–can be accurately traced to fatty diet (dairy, bakery and meat fats, and chocolate), which lowers cell membrane polyunsaturate levels, causing insulin resistance and oxidation. In addition, fatty maternal diet causes 1 in 4 Americans to be born anxious, and that leads to comfort-eating, alcohol and drug abuse, hypertension and depression, while also making a huge contribution to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A low-fat diet rich in grains and legumes will prevent and correct most such diseases, and the seed sugar Inositol–also found in citrus–actually has anti-ageing properties (see my video on YouTube–PEERS ANTI-AGING. Doctors with no nutrition are a public health hazard, and get few results with their drugs.

  • Valnaples

    Cannot BELIEVE the CMA stood UP for Coca-cola! Now THAT, that, my friends, is really a crime.

    • Wilma Laura Wiggins

      Good point.

  • Tom Kouroukis

    Wow, educating physicians what a novel concept. In Ontario we as specialists are mandated to be able to document 400 hours of CME credits over each 5 year period.  I agree that nutritional training in medical school is nonexistent.  It is a shame that the majority of docs don’t know anything about nutrition and prevention other than what they read in the common media. Hopefully all those years of medical school training would help you to realize that a can of soda is bad irrespective of what they’ve put on the label.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my associated blog post Nutrition Education in Medicine: a Doctor a Day Keeps the Apples Away!

  • jmerrikin

    Pathetic, utterly pathetic! I am in the middle of reading “Overdosed Amercia” by Dr. John Abramson and it is not only absolutely shocking, it gives a physician’s insider look at what medicine has become — a sad state of affairs geared toward driving profits into the pockets of pharmaceutical companies, politicians, lobbyists, and the vast majority of practicing physicians. Most people will never understand this. Millions of people will continue to be victimized by it. God forgive these people for what they do. 

  • Jenniferhopewebb

    The general training of doctors in regards to nutrition seems to be as follows: vitamin  deficiencies, anemias, albumin, tube feeding and baby formula requirements–with a few words about cholesterol and statins thrown in.  No offense meant toward the hard working docs of course.  As this video demonstrates, it’s a systems problem!

    • Wilma Laura Wiggins

      You can thank doctors of the past for their large role in encouraging women to use “formula” over breastfeeding. Insisting on exactly 4 hour feedings, showing concern that the baby might not thrive on breast milk, mother might not produce enough, etc. Part of the whole war on natural they have been fighting for decades. What they give babies today is frightful.

  • ahimsa

    follow the money… the food industry gives people junk, the pharmaceutical industry makes billions from people getting sick from that junk and the medical industry can only make more money from people getting sick. want to fix this sick cycle? promote a vegan diet…. get people healthy, the best thing anyone can do for the environment and end the suffering of billions of innocent beings. by the way research who really controls medical schools and their curriculums.

  • CoachCait

    7 hours is A LOT FOR TRAINING?!?!? You preposterous imbecile!!! EDUCATION IS THE BEST INVESTMENT IN ANY AREA, YOU TWIT!!!

  • Deb

    I wonder just how many of these doctors who say it is just too much are willing to go to training for a new procedure??

  • Joe Smith

    Tell me if I am wrong but it says “CREDIT hours” not “hours”. Usually only 3 credit hours is one non lab course in college. So 5-6 months of class. I mean it is still nothing considering they are suppose to understand the human body. But hours and credit hours are different units of measurement.

  • bobluhrs

    My ex-wife almost a year ago told me she had angina, and high BP. She is 70. I immediately got her to get some AAKG (Arginine Alpha Ketoglutarate) powder from Swanson vitamins and to take 2 scoops per day. This is for nitric oxide to relax her arteries. In weeks she was off nitroglycerin and had no more angina. Her BP was still high. So I told her to read a book by Caldwell Esselstyn “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”. She did so, and adopted his dietary recommendations which were quite simple. Over the next few months her BP returned from over 150 down to 108/60, the lowest it has been since she was 18. She told her doctor, but he wasn’t even interested. He sent her for an “Atomic Stress Test” which lasted for many hours. The results were stunning, he said her blood flow could not be better. She took her book, menus, meal plans, everything and the Arginine powder to him. He looked at the book as soon as she mentioned the Cleveland Clinic, where Esselstyn worked. As of now, this doctor is only testing her, not treating her. She is her doctor. He is a guilty bystander.

  • Mariel

    So they don’t want the government to be involved in micromanaging their education, but they don’t mind if the pharmaceutical companies do it!!!!

  • Malia

    Dear Dr. Greger,
    I would like your opinion on GMO. I have MS with ongoing nerve issues and I am willing to make hard choices to get better. Since finding you I have been eating vegan and feel much, much better. I also stay away from all GMO and am gluten free (except beer.. :-)
    I am so happy that I found your information on the web. It has changed my life! I will be forever grateful!

  • Klaus R

    Lucky California, they at least have reached the state of denial, which is an essential step towards progress, which means, well trained doctors in 10 or 15 years, then strongly recommending patiens to go vegan. Here in Germany the entire issue is not even yet on the table and vegans or even vegitarians are mainly considered idiots, freaks at best.

  • Marie66

    I’m sorry, but 7 hours is not the same thing as 7 credit hours….I’m not saying it shouldn’t be mandatory, but please don’t be disingenuous. The first person did actually have a point about one mandate opening the door for many others. Perhaps a carrot approach would be better; some sort of “nutritional excellence” endorsement on their license, etc. When the public starts seeking out physicians who have a nutritional background, the economic incentive factor should kick in.

  • RD

    This is why healthcare is a TEAM effort with allied professionals. Registered Dietitians play a huge role in helping people prevent and manage disease through nutrition and lifestyle changes and often work alongside physicians. Don’t blame physicians for being too busy to study nutrition, blame them for not working alongside and listening to those who have already extensively studied nutrition: dietitians.

  • Raphael
  • Wilma Laura Wiggins

    I can appreciate where the opposition is coming from and I agree with them. However, I would think the nutrition education should be incorporated into medical school (rather than continuing ed) but for what I see them putting out as nutritionists. If that is the education they are going to get, it might be worse than none.

  • Colin

    It’s worse than you think people. Human health is NOT the most important issue out there. That special spot does not even belong to the environmental destruction we’re causing. No, the WORST problem, which is not coincidentally the one we’re ignoring the most, is this:

    1. Nonhuman animals feel pain, pleasure, fear and other sensations. If they feel these sensations, then they have an interest in not being used merely as a resource for human pleasure, amusement, or convenience.

    2. There is no necessity for human animals to intentionally exploit nonhuman animals and cause them to suffer or die except our own enjoyment of the taste of their flesh/secretions and the convenience that animal exploitation affords us. Humans have no dietary need for flesh, dairy, eggs or honey:

    We have no need to use animals for clothing; we have no need to use them for entertainment; not only is it morally unjustifiable to use animals in bio-medical research, but more humans suffer and/or die when we do so than if we didn’t use animals at all:

    3. When something is unnecessary except for our trivial pleasure or convenience and that thing causes some being (for example, a nonhuman or human animal) to experience pain, fear or other kinds of suffering, then the harm being done to that being’s interest in their continued survival, freedoms, or not suffering is more important than our interest in our own mere pleasure, amusement or convenience.

    4. We claim to believe in “fairness/ethical/moral consistency” as a “moral good”, which means we believe in treating similar cases similarly when it comes to ethics/morality. In other words, if we believe it’s wrong to beat a human child for no good reason because they will suffer from a beating, then we should also believe that it’s wrong to beat a dog, cow, or chicken for no good reason because the nonhuman will also suffer.

    So, if we value moral consistency at all, which means we treat similar cases similarly, the minimum and only criteria needed to include nonhuman animals in our moral sphere (meaning we believe we should not harm them at all for no good reason) is that they feel pain, fear, and other sensations, since that is the minimum criteria we use to include humans in our moral sphere.

    5. Any characteristic that humans claim to have that we claim makes us morally superior to nonhuman animals cannot be factually proven to be a humans-only trait. Unless we can prove that we are morally superior to nonhuman animals, any argument that we claim justifies intentionally harming and exploiting nonhumans can also be used to justify humans intentionally exploiting other humans:

    This means that if we personally are in favor of violating nonhumans’ right to be safe from being enslaved, raped, tortured or killed by humans then we have no claim that we ourselves should be safe from having those same things done to us by other humans. Any argument we try to use to justify harm to nonhumans can also be used successfully by other humans to justify harming us in those same ways.

    6. If we accept premises 1 through 4, our ethical/moral obligation is to either a) cease any actions that intentionally cause unnecessary suffering and death to other beings such as nonhuman and human animals, in which case we can claim that our interests in avoiding the same harms should not be dismissed without due consideration, and we can point to the fact that this is because we are morally consistent, or b) admit that we are not morally consistent and that any human who wishes to dismiss our interests in avoiding the same harms without due consideration is also morally justified in doing so.

    Conclusion: If we don’t stop intentionally exploiting nonhumans to the best of our ability, all the things we consider atrocities and major problems in the world will never end. We also will not be able to consider ourselves truly morally consistent people. To stop intentionally exploiting nonhumans completely means Abolitionist Veganism.

    To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism, go here: