Doctor's Note

We see this same step-wise progression towards lower disease risk the more plant-based one's diet gets with high blood pressure, cataracts, diabetes, and obesity. So it's not all or nothing-- just adding more healthy plant foods to crowd out some of the animal and junk foods in the diet can offer significant protection. It does appear, though, that to maximize one's benefits one has to move towards maximizing the proportion of plants in the diet.

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts:  Plant-Based Diets for Metabolic SyndromePlant-Based Diets for Fibromyalgia, and The Science of Acai Berries

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  • iainwetherell

    Hi Michael – hope you are well.

    I wondered – since I have Prostate Cancer, am I best avoiding the Erythritol?

    Have a great Xmas!


    All vegetables are not equal.

    Livers of rats on a high fructose diet look much like the livers of alcoholics suggesting that fructose (fruit sugar) can overwhelm the normal metabolic machinery of this organ. It has been suggested that it is the lack of control (by insulin) of the movement of fructose into the liver cells that is a major factor in the development of the medical condition called Metabolic Syndrome. For an athlete, using fructose to supply energy during exercise (which will avoid its accumulation in the liver) is a positive, but the use of fructose as an alternative sugar in everyday living (it is fructose corn syrup that sweetens colas, for example) appears to have some health risks.

    • WholeFoodChomper

      Sure, sugar is bad and best to be either avoided or severely limited (watch Dr. G’s videos on sugar and artificial sweeteners). However, I don’t think it’s the fruit sugar (found in fruit) that is the main cause of Syndrome X in a quarter of the American population.

      • Gar Zuzik

        Well stated.
        I feel that, simply stated, the absence of fiber is a general indicator of a worse food compared to another, because it represents processing. People are willing to point to fruit, but overlook the”similar blood raising effect of animal proteins because it seems cheaper, is more satisfying and fits into the norm of society.

  • Rph1978

    One thing good about plant based diets is that they are low glycemic, anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. On a typical western diet,
    weight gain and accumulation of fat results in obesity and obese individuals
    tend to have low grade chronic inflammation. A diet high in saturated fat increases inflammation in the body whereas consumption of monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids improves the inflammatory profile in obese individuals.
    For obese and diabetic individuals, Barry Sears, PhD proposes an anti-inflammatory diet consisting of 150 grams of low glycemic carbohydrates daily achieved through a Mediterranean Diet, 100 grams protein daily from low fat chicken, fish or vegetarian diet(soybeans), and 50 grams of fats from monounsaturated and omega-3 sources. This diet provides 1450 calories daily which may be difficult for most to achieve without getting hungry therefore the higher protein content in the diet is necessary to stimulate the release of the satiety hormone from the gut.
    It’s important to choose foods according to the glycemic index even on a vegetarian diet as even fruits and vegetables can increase glycemic load which in turn increases production of inflammatory

    1.Ros ´arioMonteiro and Isabel Azevedo, Chronic Inflammation in Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome, Mediators of Inflammation 2010
    2. Barry Sears, PhD, Anti-Inflammatory Diets for Obesity and Diabetes, J Am Coll Nutr August 2009 vol. 28 no. 4 Supplement 1 482S-491S
    3. Christian K. Roberts, Ph.D.,1,2,3 and Simin Liu, M.D., Sc.D, Effects of Glycemic Load on Metabolic Health and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology Volume 3, Issue 4, July 2009

  • blaine

    The elephant in the room is that 100 million people in the US already have diabetes or pre-diabetes and are already insulin resistant which means that a high carb, plant based diet will spike their blood sugar and exacerbate their conditions.

    Dr. Christopher Gardner (a committed vegetarian) conducted the Stanford A to Z diet comparison study and found that the best diet for insulin resistant people was an Atkins type, low carb, higher protein diet and that people who were insulin resistant could not stick with the Ornish vegetarian diet.

    I don’t doubt that a vegetarian diet will reduce the chances of developing insulin resistance but how about not advocating a high carb plant based diet that will harm the people who are already insulin resistant?

    1,500+ videos on this site and while I have not seen them all, it does seem this is and issue that should be addressed.

    PS: A vegan diet that eliminates all grains and legumes might work for someone who is insulin resistant but it is almost impossible to stick with it given the extremely limited options that are left.

    • Don Forrester MD

      Patients with prediabetes and diabetes respond best to a low fat whole food plant based diet. The issue is to make sure the carbs are complex and not simple and to avoid fructose. Fructose although low glycemic is metabolized by the liver to fats among other metabolites which makes diabetes worse.. it is the fat in the diet that causes the insulin resistance and turns off the cellular genes that drive the mitochondria to burn the glucose. So diabetes is a “glucose” processing problem caused by “fats.. both animal and plant” in the diet. An example from my clinical experience… last spring I was caring for 6 pre-diabetic patients at the McDougall Whole Foods Program. At the end of the 7 day program 5 had normalized their fasting blood sugar the sixth was well on her way to normal. Of course if type two diabetics have had their disease for a long period of time they may need to use some long acting insulin. Dr. McDougall has written excellent newsletter articles on these subjects… available for free via his website. The science keeps coming but only reinforcing this paradigm. For example Dr. Kempner the founder of the “Rice Diet” was able to treat severe hypertension and type two diabetes with a diet centered around rice. You can follow a plant based diet and be fat and/or sick. The data at this point shows the “Atkins” type diet to be harmful and I can’t think of one type of patient I would recommend it for. When consuming grains and legumes it must be done properly as many products containing them are processed with lots of added ingredients.

      • Stephen

        I completely disagree, doctor. all evidence points AGAINST a high carb, low fat diet. You need to look at the scientific evidence.

      • David Johnson

        I’ve read several scientific publications that state it is “well known” that high carb / low fat diets raise trigylcerides. This was my personal experience too (dramatic rise to above normal levels), lowering the carbs and increasing (good) fats normalized them. I am wondering why this issue is not discussed or even it seems, mentioned by proponents of high carb diets along with an explanation of how to avoid that, if one can. I ‘d appreciate any insight into this issue.

      • fineartmarcella

        Actually this is true, science does not support the Atkins diet, unless you are looking at the science paid for BY Atkins. If you are trying to find ways to support your meat eating it will not be found in legitimate scientific studies. And I know this personally, I was prediabetic, becoming insulin resistant when my now ex-doctor told me the same BS on high protein low carb. After I fired her, I went on a raw vegan diet, I ate 8-10 fruit a day and raw veggies, and low fat, no MEAT. In 4 months my A1C was down to a healthy 5.3, my total chol 131, my triglycerides are now normal, and I lost 40 pounds, I wanted to prove that fruit and veggies as whole foods will cure DM and insulin resistance, a lifestyle disease, and I did.

  • linda wilcox

    Is there a diet that is valuable for the prostate. Very little pee force.

  • David Johnson

    Years ago when I had high cholesterol (on a fish&dairy vegetarian diet), my doctor advised me to cut the cheese (lowered my cholesterol 15%), use only low fat dairy and eat a high carb diet. However my triglycerides shot way up above normal on the high carb diet (and my HDL was still very low). Once I increased the fat (from nuts, olive oil, fish) and the protein (from low fat dairy including whey supplement), my trigylcerides went back to a mid normal range and my cholesterol profile overall improved (total was normal, HDL went up). I have read it is common for high carb diets to raise trigylcerides. I am wondering if this is typically because of some imbalance in the carbs e.g. too many grains (or not whole grains), not enough legumes, etc. This has kept me from adopting a high carb, low fat diet. Anyone have experience with this?

    • fineartmarcella

      You can’t have your feet on both sides of the fence and expect health. When you eat bad carbs or partial foods, such as breads, white rice, etc. you are asking for high triglycerides. It wouldn’t have mattered what you ate afterwards as long as you didn’t eat that. It is much different that when you eat high carb as in WHOLE fruits, then it will have the opposite affect. You can eat a very unhealthy vegetarian / vegan diet, or you can be at the peak of health on them if you choose the right whole foods. If you want to see how you do on a healthy vegan diet, try it for 2 weeks, eat only whole foods, no processed foods, nothing in a box, no breads or anything white, no dairy, no meats, and that also means no oils unless you can show me an ‘oil tree’ it was not meant for you to eat. Expect to bring alot home from the store, but you will spend less. After 2 weeks tell how you feel. Watch your calories, make sure you eat enough, remember 10 oranges only comes to about 900 calories. Eat lots of greens. Keep fruit in your desk at work, pack a big lunch, 2-3 bananas, a mango or two, sliced red sweet potato, a small handful of walnuts only, 4-5 oranges, some kale chips, or raw sliced turnips, then save and eat two apples on the drive home from work. When you get home, fix a one – two pound greens salad, use fresh raw drsg, like raw tahini with chipoli spices and lemon juice, or blend a couple tomatoes with spices and pour over it. Very quick and easy. Make sure every thing you eat is ‘whole’, not fruit juice, not pasta, only whole complete foods, then let us know how you did after 2 weeks, I know what you will say if you followed the instructions :)