Doctor's Note

If you missed my last video about the fruit and vegetable treatment study, you can watch it here: Treating Asthma With Fruits and Vegetables. Prior to that I dealt with preventing asthma in the first place: Preventing Asthma With Fruits and Vegetables. I’ll close out this video series with video about the efficacy of vegetarian and vegan diets for the treatment of allergic diseases in Treating Asthma and Eczema With Plant-Based Diets.

The video I referenced about the cedar allergies in Japan was Alkylphenol Endocrine Disruptors and Allergies.

The theme of whole foods being more efficacious than supplements seems to come up over and over again. See for example:

More on “vitamin P” in How to Slow Brain Aging by Two Years.

The anti-inflammatory effects of nuts may explain the Harvard Nurse's Health Study finding: Fighting Inflammation in a Nut Shell.

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  • Beetsbeansbutts

    You sure are milking out these asthma videos!

    Thanks for all your hard work!

    As a medical student I am trying to wrap my head around what evidence based medicine really means. You hit on the idea in this video that without a double blind placebo controlled study, people are hesitant to trust the power of fruit and veg.

    It seems like this is a pattern in Medicine. Researchers only study what we can study easily, get funding to research, and get published. So our body of evidence doesn’t include the possibly powerful interventions that aren’t easily researched.

    • matt

      You point out a significant issue. T. Colin Campbell discusses this problem in his book Whole.

      While RCTs are considered the “gold standard” of medical research, they really are not appropriate for all medical interventions. Surgery would be a good example. This is why large scale cohort studies, case-control studies and cross sectional studies are important and are often more suitable for studying diet and health.

      I teach a graduate level course in Epidemiology and a large portion of the course is focused on Evidence Based Medicine. I use the following Youtube video to introduce my students to the topic. It’s a bit long (55 min.) but if you’re interested in the subject I recommend watching it. If the link does not work, search Youtube for Teaching Evidence Based Medicine: Should We Be Teaching Information Mastery Instead.

      • DGH

        “large scale cohort studies, case-control studies and cross sectional studies are important and are often more suitable for studying diet and health.”

        Yes but we do have some high quality RCTs with hard endpoints such as PREDIMED and the Lyon Diet Heart Study, the Ornish Lifestyle Heart Trial, etc., so there is really no excuse (except perhaps for fundability). One of the largest nutritional RCTs was the WHI low fat diet trial, with more than 40,000 women followed for a number of years. The problem is that the various levels of evidence are not well understood by the public or even most practitioners, particularly the problem of lack of controls, lack of temporal associations in cross-sectional studies, treatment selection bias and hidden confounding, systematic measurement errors in dietary variables, etc.

        The problem is that very complex interventions are often not even subjected to RCTs, because people do not believe they are fundable or feasible. Large diet trials on record refute this notion.

      • Thea

        matt: That talk is SO powerful and SO well done. Thank you for posting that link!

        As much as I loved the talk and got a lot out of it, I was often nagged/concerned that not once did I hear the speaker mention the importance of the patient in the process–from the perspective of the importance of the patient’s ability to get the various information (in addition to the doctor), the ability for the patient to get into the details when the doctor is too busy/only has a minute, and the importance of the doctor recognizing that he/she is just participating in Team Patient. When desired, the patient must be allowed to be part of the weighing/applying of the information (speaker called it “wisdom”). I’m not wording it very well, but it seems to me that the speaker is missing a giant piece of the issue.

        But I didn’t actually disagree with anything he said. I sure hope that topic gets some more traction. Thanks again for posting the link.

      • Beetsbeansbutts

        Wow thanks for posting this!

        I will have to take a look at that book, and your lecture. I got to ten minutes!

        I am a medical student in Missouri. In Medical School everyone is so focused on getting that “High Yield” information to get a good score on the board examination. Sometimes it is hard to get us to take the time to wrap our heads around untestable concepts.

  • MotionIsHealth

    Understand that you don’t promote or endorse products – but there IS a product that is WHOLE FOOD (Not Extracts) in a capsule or chewable with 31 clinical studies – most double-blind, placebo-controlled – showing that these whole food capsules (I am carefully NOT mentioning the name) absolutely have health-giving effects, showing cellular change. Perhaps Dr. Greger, you could talk about the difference between products that have a NUTRITION label (meaning it is food) and products that have a SUPPLEMENT label – meaning…. who knows what’s in it? – as you recently pointed out.

    I applaud your amazing efforts. I have donated what little I could to support your work. I ask people all the time to sign up for your emails.
    And I help people improve their health by increasing the fruits, veggies, berries and grapes in powder form in a capsule with a NUTRITION label – which is not taxed in my state because it’s food!

    • Steve

      OK. I’ll name it. I also immediately thought of Juice Plus+ when I watched this video. In the past I had been skeptical about Juice Plus+ because it “fortifies” the food powders with antioxidant supplements like vitamins C and E, which I thought might be the “active ingredients”. I now discount that since this research shows these supplemental vitamin antioxidants are unlikely to have any clinical benefit. However, the variety issue, that is, the blend of a variety of fruits and vegetables in Juice Plus+ vs. the single food (tomato) used in this study is something I wish the study had tested.

  • DanielFaster

    I’d be interested in seeing some live cultured whole food probiotics (nondairy yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, natto, kombucha, rejuvalac, etc) versus the probiotic supplements to treat allergies. They have used combinations of probiotic strains in supplements and combinations are fairly regularly seen in live-cultured products, especially wild cultured sauerkraut etc.

  • Borkent

    If you would have to devise a diet especially for asthma patients based on the scientific findings so far, would it be close to Eat to Live or would you make certain modifications? Show us your optimal diet plan for one day or week based on science!

    • Thea

      Borkent: I can’t personally answer your question about tweaking a diet for asthma, but I thought you might be interested in Dr. Greger’s “Optimal Nutrition Recommendations” based on his understanding of the science:

      The NutritionFacts diet is similar to Eat To Live, but I believe has some differences. For example, you will notice that Dr. Greger’s optimal recommendations do not include any animal products. Dr. Fuhrman allows as much as 10% of calories from animal products in his long term optimal diet. Also, Dr. Fuhrman has some issues with “starchy” vegetables and whole grains where as Dr. Greger does not as far as I know.

      Hope that helps.

      • Borkent

        I am certainly interested in this. I follow a combination of The Starch Solution + Eat to Live, which is a vegan nutritarian (G-BOMBS) approach supplemented with starches other than beans such as whole grains and potatoes, according to my appetite and activities. Fuhrman has lowered his upper limit of animal products to 5% in his new book The End of Dieting, btw, but I eat 0%. Fuhrman doesn’t say 5 or 10% is optimal. Lower is optimal. I do still have asthma complaints almost 3 years on this diet, it’s the reason why I asked. Thanks.

        • Thea

          Borkent: Best of luck with your asthma issues. One thing I have noticed on NutritionFacts is that while diet does a WHOLE lot to help a whole bunch of people with a wide range of problems, it definitely is not a magic pill. Personally, while I’m committed to a whole plant food based diet free of all animal products and limiting processed food, I too have found that some of my health problems remain. But I’m convinced enough by the evidence to know that I would be in worse shape if I did anything else.

          It seems to me that you are doing really great with your diet. I’m a big fan of Dr. McDougall too and love the Start Solution. Hopefully someone else can jump in with ideas about tweaking a diet specifically for asthma issues.

          Good luck!

  • DieselPower

    PolyPhenols are also closely related to salicylates in fruits and vegetables. It is well known that salicylates can play a role in ADHD symptoms and athsma/allergies as not everyone can tolerate these foods. Tomatoes are one of the big culprits… I have found through my own self study that eliminating grains during allergy season reduce my symptoms more than adding vegetables ever did… and I was eating 7+ servings a day. Seems to make sense as I’m allergic to grass/trees/weeds and grains seem to be closely related… Are there any studies that look at grain intake and allergies?

    • Coacervate

      Right on. A nice lady in my house suffers from salicylate sensitivity. (took many years to find a good Dr. to figure out). I really struggle to cook up meals that don’t cause her reaction, as in patiently suffocating until the trachea decides to relax again. We found some partial lists of salicylate content. Grains always seem to be high.

      for most people salicylates are probably a good thing because they bring the anti-inflam properties of aspirin. But for a small segment they are misery. Of course our individual problems don’t mean others should stay away from polyphenolics…but if you are bewildered at your reactions to fruits/veg/grains/spices…consider DieselPower’s words.

  • Julot Julott

    Even better definitely cure asthma and similar with Gesret method and eat vegtan with a lot of whole fruits and vegetables for overall health~

  • Louis

    Whole foods are the way to go, no discussion about that. But scientifically, this comparison of a supplement with a whole food is quite ridiculous. Lycomato is mainly lycopene, that’s it. A tomato is more than that. So, if lycopene is not the active substance in this study, the results just say nothing at all. If you would want to compare a whole food with an extract, you would basically first work out which compound(s) are responsible for the effect on astma, then put these chemicals (extracts or synthetics) into a capsule and do the study.

  • Misterimpatient

    Whole food vs. supplement. Many vegans, myself included, take a vitamin B12 supplement. Given how many studies show that supplements don’t do the job that whole foods do, should I be eating dirt (reportedly an excellent source of B-12)? How effective is our B-12 supplementation? Can we conclude it works simply by blood level and lack of symptoms indicating insufficiency?

    • jonas

      b-12 is more easily absorbed as a synthetic due to not needing intrinsic factor. a general claim of whole foods being better than supplements is not scientifically supported.

  • Broccoli

    The truth and science are obvious… whole, fresh, organic, high-grade, new, and alive…….again alive foods are most healthy.

    Inside those pills are dead…DEAD and not fresh and not alive.

  • Em Crone

    As someone who has asthma, thank you for these videos!!!! I have heard before that apples specifically are good for lung function! So awesome! “An apple a day”………………….. ;)

  • Michel Voss

    Since 1993 severe hazel pollen asthma – up to 150 ! mg oral prednisolone, than 0.2 budesonide b.i.d., vegan since 2007. 2012 I switched to polyphenol rich diet (dark colored fruits & vegetables, herbal teas). From 2013 to today all symptoms are completely gone, although I stopped budesonide in 2012.

  • Jacinto

    Wow! I am so happy that some one actually is speaking up. This video is very informative. Sadly we live in a word on wish pharmaceuticals companies think they know everything. Don’t get me wrong, Pharmaceuticals do help, but they should stick to what they do best.

  • lovestobevegan

    Salsa two ways:

    Dance the Night Away

    -3-4 ripe tomatoes, diced
    -5 cloves garlic, minced
    -½ onion, diced
    -1 tbsp Holy basil
    -black pepper

    Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Let sit for 20-30 minutes in the
    refrigerator to let flavours blend.

    May I Have This Dance

    -5-6 ripe tomatoes, diced
    -½ lime, juice and pulp
    -1 small red onion, minced
    -1 clove garlic, minced
    -1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    -½ tsp cumin
    -1 tsp cilantro
    -black pepper

    Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Let sit for 20-30 minutes in the
    refrigerator to let flavours blend.

    ~complements of plant-based emporium