Specific Receptors for Specific Fruits & Vegetables

Specific Receptors for Specific Fruits & Vegetables
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Dietary diversity is important because each plant family has a unique combination of phytonutrients that may bind to specific proteins within our body.


According to a recent survey, the number of Americans who say they are eating “pretty much whatever they want” is at an all-time high, which unfortunately includes too few fruits and vegetables as well as too little variety. Half of fruit servings are taken up by just six foods: OJ, bananas, apple juice, apples, grapes and watermelons. And half of vegetables are made up of iceberg lettuce, frozen potatoes, fresh potatoes, potato chips, and canned tomatoes. Not only are we not eating enough period and missing out on the healthiest fruits—berries, and the healthiest vegetables—dark green leafies, the fruit and vegetable palette for our palate is sadly lacking.

Why does dietary diversity matter? Because different foods may affect different problems. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are associated with lower risk of colon cancer in the middle and right side of our body, whereas risk of colon cancer further down on the left side of our body appears to be lowered by carrots, pumpkins, and apples. So, different fruits and vegetables may confer different risks for cancer of different parts of even the same organ.

Variety is the spice of life and may prolong it. Independent of quantity, variety in fruit and vegetable consumption may decrease lung cancer risk, meaning if two people eat the same number of fruits and vegetables, the one eating a greater variety of them may be at lower risk.

And it’s not just cancer. In a study of thousands of men and women, a greater quantity of vegetables and a greater variety may independently be beneficial for reducing the risk of type II diabetes. Even after removing the effects of quantity, each additional two items per week increase in variety of fruit and vegetable intake was associated with an 8% reduction in the incidence of diabetes. Why? Well, it may be attributable to individual or combined effects of the many different bioactive compounds contained in fruits and vegetables; thus, consuming a wide variety will increase the likelihood of consuming more of them.

All the vegetables may offer protection against chronic diseases, but each vegetable group contains a unique combination and amount of these phytonutrients, which distinguishes them from other groups and vegetables within their own group. Because each vegetable contains a unique combination, a great diversity of vegetables should be eaten to get all the health benefits.

Does it matter, though, if we get alpha-carotene or beta-carotene—isn’t an antioxidant an antioxidant? No, it’s been shown that phytochemicals bind to specific receptors and proteins in our bodies. For example, there’s a green tea receptor in our body, a receptor for EGCG, a key component of green tea. There are binding proteins for the phytonutrients in grapes, onions, and capers. I’ve talked about the broccoli receptor already. Recently, a cell surface receptor was identified for a nutrient concentrated in apple peels, and importantly these target proteins are considered indispensable for these plants foods to do what they do, but they can only do it if we eat them.

Just like it’s better to eat a whole orange than just take a vitamin C pill, because otherwise, we’d miss out on all the other wonderful things in oranges that aren’t in the pill, by also eating a different fruit, like an apple, we won’t miss out on all the wonderful things in apples that aren’t in the orange. When it comes to the unique phytonutrient profile of each fruit and vegetable, it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to StockSnap via pixabay. Images have been modified.

According to a recent survey, the number of Americans who say they are eating “pretty much whatever they want” is at an all-time high, which unfortunately includes too few fruits and vegetables as well as too little variety. Half of fruit servings are taken up by just six foods: OJ, bananas, apple juice, apples, grapes and watermelons. And half of vegetables are made up of iceberg lettuce, frozen potatoes, fresh potatoes, potato chips, and canned tomatoes. Not only are we not eating enough period and missing out on the healthiest fruits—berries, and the healthiest vegetables—dark green leafies, the fruit and vegetable palette for our palate is sadly lacking.

Why does dietary diversity matter? Because different foods may affect different problems. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are associated with lower risk of colon cancer in the middle and right side of our body, whereas risk of colon cancer further down on the left side of our body appears to be lowered by carrots, pumpkins, and apples. So, different fruits and vegetables may confer different risks for cancer of different parts of even the same organ.

Variety is the spice of life and may prolong it. Independent of quantity, variety in fruit and vegetable consumption may decrease lung cancer risk, meaning if two people eat the same number of fruits and vegetables, the one eating a greater variety of them may be at lower risk.

And it’s not just cancer. In a study of thousands of men and women, a greater quantity of vegetables and a greater variety may independently be beneficial for reducing the risk of type II diabetes. Even after removing the effects of quantity, each additional two items per week increase in variety of fruit and vegetable intake was associated with an 8% reduction in the incidence of diabetes. Why? Well, it may be attributable to individual or combined effects of the many different bioactive compounds contained in fruits and vegetables; thus, consuming a wide variety will increase the likelihood of consuming more of them.

All the vegetables may offer protection against chronic diseases, but each vegetable group contains a unique combination and amount of these phytonutrients, which distinguishes them from other groups and vegetables within their own group. Because each vegetable contains a unique combination, a great diversity of vegetables should be eaten to get all the health benefits.

Does it matter, though, if we get alpha-carotene or beta-carotene—isn’t an antioxidant an antioxidant? No, it’s been shown that phytochemicals bind to specific receptors and proteins in our bodies. For example, there’s a green tea receptor in our body, a receptor for EGCG, a key component of green tea. There are binding proteins for the phytonutrients in grapes, onions, and capers. I’ve talked about the broccoli receptor already. Recently, a cell surface receptor was identified for a nutrient concentrated in apple peels, and importantly these target proteins are considered indispensable for these plants foods to do what they do, but they can only do it if we eat them.

Just like it’s better to eat a whole orange than just take a vitamin C pill, because otherwise, we’d miss out on all the other wonderful things in oranges that aren’t in the pill, by also eating a different fruit, like an apple, we won’t miss out on all the wonderful things in apples that aren’t in the orange. When it comes to the unique phytonutrient profile of each fruit and vegetable, it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to StockSnap via pixabay. Images have been modified.

Doctor's Note

This is one of the reasons I developed my Daily Dozen checklist of foods to incorporate into one’s routine. Download the free iPhone and Android apps, and be sure to watch my video Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen Checklist.

I discuss how produce variety—not just quality and quantity—may be important in Apples and Oranges: Dietary Diversity and Garden Variety Anti-Inflammation, so I hope you’ll check them out. You can also learn more about why combining certain foods together may be more beneficial than eating them separately in Food Synergy.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.


197 responses to “Specific Receptors for Specific Fruits & Vegetables

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  1. After seeing what the average person eats in terms of variety, I may have taken the “eat a wide range of fruit and vegetables” too far

    1. No such a thang. Variety is one of those things you just can’t get too much of. One level of variety is “families,” such as including the allium (onion) family, the cruciferous family and the leafy green family in your diet every day. Then go deeper and get variety within a family, cabbage, broccoli, kale and cauliflower for crucifers; onion, garlic, shallots and leeks in the allium family; spinach, chard, collard, kale (again) in the green leafy family. Same for nuts (not just almonds).

    2. Interesting comments on variety or too little. I’ve often wondered if the small amounts I use in some of my morning smoothies. Can they be helpful in small amounts and not every day or every week. For example, I may add 1/4 tsp of Turmeric, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon,
      1/2 tsp of Maqui Berry. Am I benefiting even if I do not add them every day?

    1. Yes, and I completely agree. Think of your gut microbiome. The more variety there, the more resilient you are to taking in food healthfully. It’s not just what you eat, it’s also what nutrition your gut can absorb into your body. Growing unusual fruits and vegetables at home (even weeds) can greatly diversify your diet. Your gut is healthier and ready to absorb more. For example, horseradish leaves are way easier for me to grow than broccoli. Plus, I can buy broccoli, but not horseradish leaves. They’re perennial and I don’t have to do anything to grow them. I just eat them. Well, I get more cruciferous vegetables that way and almost no effort.

      1. After reading about how nutritious sweet potato leaves are, I looked for them in grocery stores to no avail. So I decided to try to grow my own! Following some instructions I found on the web, I stuck a potato in a jar of water (half submerged) and set it by a window to see what would happen. About a month later, I have some roots and the beginnings of a few branches at the top. Didn’t realize it would take so long to grow! Does anyone know of a better technique?

        1. Did you buy an organic potato? I only ask because some of the non organic ones have growth inhibitors sprayed on them so they don’t start sprouting in the supermarket! You should get a much faster result if you can source one from a back yard grower in your community, try facebook gardening sites perhaps, or find an organic supplier to buy one. Once you get started each time you dig up a sweet potato cut of some chunks that look like they have nobbly bits on and bury them in the garden. I have them growing everywhere. You will get better potatoes if you keep chopping the leaves off (and eating them) because the plants energy will go into the root rather than the big plant. Or just leave one or two to grow crazy so you always have leaves to eat.

          1. regular potatoes are treated with sprout inhibitors. I do not believe sweet potatoes are treated with sprout inhibitors.

            1. The standard sprout inhibitor for potatoes is chloropropham, which is also happens to be a grass weed herbicide.

          2. Penelope: Yes, this one is organic. Got it at a supermarket. I live in Maryland and our “outside” growing season is just now starting, so I tried starting the sweet potato inside in the jar at room temperature. Should I try planting it “as is” outside in a garden when the weather gets warm? This is my first try at this. I’ll try your suggestions using some “chunks” next year.

            Thanks to all who responded for your comments and suggestions.

          3. This time of year garden centers sell sweet potato vines, which are lovely in hanging baskets.Some come with purple leaves, some bright chartreuse. You can pick the leaves all summer and in the fall, dig up the little root from the basket and eat it. I didn’t expect them to make a sweet potato because our climate isn’t the hot ones sweet potatoes love, so you can imagine my delight when I found actual sweet potatoes in my basket the first year I looked.

        2. If you find someone who has them growing just cut off some runners and plant them. They will root and you will have copious leaves in no time.

        3. On YouTube I saw a suggestion to first do what you’ve done with the water, but then take a cutting of the leaves and transplant that to get the sweet potatos. I’m sorry, I don’t remember the name of the video. Good Luck

          1. Rae, Thanks for your suggestion. The potato is now starting to sprout stems with tiny leaves under the water line! I think I’ll try cutting the potato into chunks and planting them outside. It’s warm enough now so I think they might grow well. I’ll report back here on how they do :-)

      2. I was just out in the yard and noticed the fresh new horseradish leaves, and thought “hmmm, I should throw a few of these into my salad.” After your comment I will.

  2. There’s another advantage of eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. since you can eat only so much, when you eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, you don’t eat a lot of one thing, which lowers the chances of any potentially toxic substance in any fruit or vegetable reaching harmful levels in the body.

    1. Well, nah. I don’t think that is a problem if you are not eating animal products.
      Here is a quote from Dr. Campbell’s book: “We now had impressive evidence that low protein intake could markedly decrease enzyme activity and prevent dangerous carcinogen binding to DNA.” **

      Toxic substances are indeed still toxic, but without the animal products in your system, they have a bit more difficult time locking into our systems to cause cancer. Also the toxic substances probably aren’t varying much from one plant to another.

      The best way to keep the toxicity down in your body is to keep the use of animal products to a minimum.

      **Campbell, T. Colin; Thomas M. Campbell II (2006-06-01). The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health (p. 52). BenBella Books, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

      1. 2tsaybow: Thank you for responding to my post. The founding principle of toxicology is “the dose makes the poison”, hence the metric LD50. Consumed in large enough an amount, anything can be poisonous. People have died of drinking too much water. Dr. Greger in a video mentions that sulforaphane in large amounts, from whole foods (I think it’s broccoli) can destroy DNA. He mentions the story of bok choy lady in another video. He has warned about eating too many brazil nuts. Eat a lot of fresh, raw black elderberry and you could die. A personal experience: I can’t eat tomatoes at all but can eat other nightshades as long as I don’t eat a lot of it.

        1. Oh so true, I found out that you can form a bolus in your gut if you eat too many persimmons. It sometimes requires surgery to remove it. Another fruit that you can hurt yourself with if you pig out.
          I promise I will never eat more than …say 6 persimmons at a time. That day I ate fifteen was excessive. But the are soooo yummy!

  3. “Berries are the healthiest fruits” Oh no :( o have been contemplating on moving back to my motherland india after almost two decades of living in the states. Berries are so abundant here all year long n more or less affordable…but back in India maybe once or twice a year I would see strawberries in a store and extremely expensive at that…it’s just too hot for them to grow never grew up eating blueberries etc. Having said that I grew up eating a ton of fruits that I could never find here. What would be a decent substitute for berries in tropical countries where they are not grown as abundantly??

    1. Oh I wish I could grow some of the fruits here that you can find in India! First, I would love to grow Amla! That way I could make sure that what I was eating was clean and not prepared for cosmetic purposes. (Some of the amla I’ve purchased online has been kinda yucky tasting.)
      Then there is the persimmon, and fresh turmeric, and what about Durian and Tamarind and Young Coconut…
      I would miss blueberries, but I bet I could find a lot of fruits I’ve never even tried before.

      1. I think you’re right. There are so many tropical fruits that it is astounding. As Dr. Greger says, I’m sure each one has different healthful properties. You could be leaving one good thing and heading for another.

      2. And of course there is the king of antioxidant fruits, amla.

        Previous videos here gave me the impression that the simple quantity of antioxidants in foods was all that mattered. Based on this, I started eating amla every day. I thought I had the antioxidant thing covered! I will have to revise this position, since variety apparently trumps quantity.

    2. noni, mangosten, mango, durian, amla, woodapple, hibiscus, cloves. black rice, brinjals, guava, papaya, All these are full of antioxidants.

    3. India has a berry that blows away all American berries: Amla. But I know, they are bitter when eaten alone which is why I put them in smoothies with dates to sweeten them up. They are pleasant tasting when sweetened up with dates.

  4. Makes you worry about the rapid rates of species extinction over the past 50 years, and sure to accelerate over the next 50 years as we humans ravage our planet: we are decreasing genetic diversity of plants. The SAD (standard American diet) is based on so few crops: wheat, corn, soy, potatoes, tomatoes, and of course chicken, beef, pork, and fish. Who knows what miraculous benefits these extinct plant species could have provided?

    1. There’s still the upward trending “old garden” movement that preserves a wide diversity of plants and seeds among private growers and average hometown gardeners. Anybody want to swap some seeds? I’ve got Premier (aka Early Hanover) kale, Red Giant Mustard Greens and New Zealand spinach, in some abundance.

    2. There are some incredible seed banks sprouting up (ha! unplanned pun) all over and their chief aim is to preserve plant diversity. But it would be so terrific for a broader range of fruits and veggies to be planted and consumed by us all. You’ve pretty much got to go to farmers’ markets to get the widest range of plants.

      1. Completely agree! It would be awesome to just have to sneak down to the grocery store and be able find 3 varieties of kale, or 3 varieties of any type of vegetable or fruit!

        1. I was in a Trader Joe’s recently and realized their fruit and veg selection is likely the extent of what most Americans eat. TJ’s model is to just carry the quickly moving varieties of things. So limited . . . sigh . . .

        1. Aw, thanks, Thea. Hope you’re eating some colorful foods today and enjoying life wherever you hang out. I live in Capitola, California; we’re having an ~83F heatwave. Just finished munching a crimson coleslaw salad from my local organic deli.

          1. I live bit north of you, but still having a beautiful day!
            Well, I think need to go out and get some more colorful nourishment. I had an apple and a banana today so far for my fruit. :-O Unless red bell peppers and cherry tomatoes count as fruit? They definitely count as some real color I think…

            1. I do believe tomatoes are fruits . . . I’ve moved on from beet/cabbage/onion coleslaw to red grapefruit which I am craving lately. So sour and refreshing!

      2. Asian markets offer some new seeds to try. Once in San Francisco I bought a packet of seeds in a Chinese seed store. The name on the packet was a Chinese character, so I didn’t have a clue. The people in the store couldn’t interpret it. It turned out to be some kind of mustard or other cruciferous greens which we enjoyed that summer and fall.

    3. One definition of desertification is the loss of biodiversity. Though loss of water resource can cause this, it is generally balanced with increased diversity elsewhere with more water in those places. Our desertification, whether on land with monoculture or in the sea with climate change and strip harvesting of sea life, is I think rather more serious with no compensating balance elsewhere.

  5. I wonder about those of us with Hashimotos or other autoimmune diseases(I’m Type 1 on insulin pump and also have Lyme) concerning veggies such as cauliflower, broccoli, all Cruciferous veggies. Since I’ve been told not to eat them raw because they block iodine, etc, I haven’t but it saddens me as they are so important and I hear so much about their healing properties. Rarely does anyone address those of us with Hashi’s on plant based diets. Dr Greger, I’d love for you to address this in one of your videos, esp since we are told to avoid legumes, grains, etc because of gut repair(it’s maddening). It’s all so confusing at times. By the way, I adore your site and have learned so much from it!

    1. Most literature says Goitrogens are fine for thyroid if cooked. But yes, it is a common concerns for us Hashi sufferers on a plantbased diet, as well as the iodine controversy. Have you read Isabella Wentz (The thyroid pharmacist?) I dont share her view on diet at all but the rest of info on Hashimoto’s is super valuable and is helping me. Also follow Vegans with Hashimoto’s online : )

    2. Susanelizabeth Turner – You have got quite a complicated situation going on there. Let me suggest that you contact John McDougall, M.D. He has advocated WFPB diet for decades. He has 3, 5, and 10 day seminars that you can attend if you can afford it and he will personally look into your medical situation and make recommendations. But if not, his website has a plethora of information to help. He will also respond to you personally if you email him and are someone who legitimately needs some help.
      Give it a try and see if Dr. John can’t help you out a little.

    3. Susane, I have long time Hashimoto’s and eat any fruit and veggie I want raw or cooked. And never been told to avoid any foods due to autoimmune system. I haven’t eaten meat in over 40s years since college and even before that mostly fruits and veggies. I truly think there are some myths out there about iodine and then the longer one on soy though I only eat fresh organic tofu and soy beans it certainly doesn’t affect my blood tests. I have hereditary thyroid disease so have some of the symptoms and didn’t eat soy products in the first years but. I eat organic and do not eat soy in all it’s various processed forms except for tofu, lightly processed and use organic, unsweetened soy milk for cooking and oatmeal. I am completely whole foods plant based and have been for 15 years and vegan before that. My only med is low dose for Hashimoto’s. I’ve seen two endocrinologists over the years who haven’t place any restrictions on food or such but to avoid gluten take selinium and vit D 2 supplements. You’re right though, auto-immune diseases are seldom mentioned in all the plant based/vegan material being researched or written about and there are one heck of us out there in what is now being called an epidemic.

      1. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis and Psoriatic Arthritis (auto-immune diseases) about 2 years ago. Which would explain the chronic inflammation since I was 18 (I’m 42 now). When I was diagnosed, I was basically couch-bound; too much pain to walk or move. My shoulder froze and I couldn’t dress myself. I was put on Remicade, a common drug for auto-immune, but I developed an allergic reaction to the infusions. Nevermind the chronic depression and anxiety attacks for 20 years. Anti-depressants, benzos, blah blahbity blah.

        So I decided to take the plunge after my sister gave me Dr. Gregor’s book. I’ve been on a WFPB diet for 8 weeks. I quit every medication (remicade, pain killers, SNRI, benzos, alcohol, etc.). I feel unbelievable, and I’m overdue for my infusion by about 3 months. No pain anywhere. No depression AT ALL. No panic attacks. I have had a couple bouts, but they came and went quickly.

        Honestly, I never ever thought it would work, but I was desperate. Dr. Gregor has inadvertently given me back my life in more ways than one. I don’t need peer-reviewed journals to tell me what my body is yelling loud and clear. I will never change my diet back the “norm”. Never.

        1. Mister Kristian: Wow. That has to be one of the top 3 most dramatic stories we have heard on NutritionFacts. That’s awesome!! Thanks a bunch for sharing.

          1. And both of my previous rheumatologists told me: “There is no evidence that a change in diet can help treat an auto-immune disease. It’s a genetic disease.” Really. Really? The immediate dismissiveness of the doctors with whom I have discussed this dietary change…well, it’s a little sad and frustrating. I think of all the other people in their offices who will not even be told about a very accessible and natural solution to their pain.

            1. Agreed. So, so sad. Sad for the patients. And sad that the doctors have not been educated on how closely entwined diet and gene expression is. If they had that basic education, they might not have been so quick to dismiss you.

            2. My rheumatologist told me after I was cured, no thanks to her, “oh yeah I’m alergic to corn and that can cause me inflammatory problems. Never said why she did not bring up such a possibility with me.

              I told an alergy specialist that I had cured my psoriatic arthritis with a plant based diet and she responded, “oh you mean it is remission”. I said no after 5 years it is gone with no trace.

              The psoriatic nails and plaque psoriasis are still with me but rather than getting worse with age they are getting ever less bad. She at least did not argue when I told her it was diet. Others have looked at me like I was daft.

            3. Hi Mister Kristian,
              First of all, wonderful that you have had such a fantastic outcome. As a doctor I feel sad when people speak about dismissiveness on the part of doctors. Of course, with a scientific training and if this was a first experience for the doctor, it is natural for him/her to be skeptical. I think one way forward would be to actually ask the doctor if they had ever seen such a case before, and if not, maybe they would like to share it in the official medical press. That way other doctors could at least begin to see that something is possible. As a working doctor, I am personally much more excited by interesting case reports than by lab research where you drip extracts of something or other on cells in culture….And I think most working doctors will share my attitude—we are supposed to be wanting to help people after all. For publishing case reports, for example, there is a publication called BMJ (British Medical Journal) Case Reports. I have looked at the criteria and it is not that difficult to write up a case properly for submission, and something like 42% of submissions are published. This is a very high acceptance rate for a rather prestigious journal, and for the doctor it can also be nice to get their name in print. The author of an article for submission has to get a one year subscription in the journal (few hundred dollars, I think). Recently there was a case report about a patient with lymphoma who improved on a plant based whole food diet (True North style). If you have a condition with aspects which can be measured (ESR, CRP, any other markers) and if you have been examined or reviewed over time by the same doctor—as far as symptoms, mobility etc then this could be an excellent case for publication. You may be able to do a little homework and access this journal and the submission criteria yourself (I was able to do with my hospital computer access), then you could present these to your rheumatologists….I look forward to the sequel! PS If they said ‘there is no evidence’, perhaps that was so. But now there is! One case shows something is possible, and particularly a dramatic case like yours. Case reports are definitely a form of evidence, a very important one.

        2. Fantastic! I developed psoriatic arthritis something like 6-8 years ago. My rheumatologist wanted to put me on methotrexate which I thought would reduce my lifespan by 1-2 decades. After deep contemplation and consideration (i.e. for about 2-3 seconds) I decided to try for other solutions. And, Oh yes, I had a client who was a widow because of the methotrexate her husband was taking. So I went to a naturopath who was a quack and another who was actually pretty good. I learned a lot but it was not until I started seeing all the pro inflammatory factors in animal products and its elimination that I was able to entirely eliminated the psoriatic arthritis. I could only dance with pain before and now there is no problem.

          My results have been very dramatic and yours much more so. I would also like to hear from any who have been able to eliminate rheumatoid arthritis. .

          1. It truly is amazing the power or diet. I did not have rheumatoid, but I had very bad excema and that disappeared as well with a plant based diet. It is great to hear so many positive stories with great results…all just from diet!

          2. Hi Stewart, so happy to hear about your success! Maybe you can convince your rheumatolgist to publish a case report? I made the same suggestion to Mister Kristian (above) and why and how it can be done. I truly think this can be beneficial—more doctors need to know about real patients who really get better. Very best of luck and health to you!

        3. Mister Kristian: I felt the same way – arthritis pain throughout my body, couldn’t stand up straight after sitting for only 10 minutes and sore pressure points on tops of shoulders and muscle weakness in both arms, so I couldn’t lift them too high…3 months later, following Dr Greger and Dr McDougall, I was free from pain. I walked normally, felt NO pain anywhere and had a new lease of life. Then I lapsed and OMG the difference. Joint and muscle pain have returned and range of movement diminished. I feel like an old lady. Back on the WFPB diet tomorrow and forever!

        4. You almost brought me to tears. How wonderful that you finally found answers. How tragic that nobody helped you find this years ago.

    4. I thought the legumes & grains leaky gut connection was shown to be wrong and that they are actrually beneficial. Maybe someone will give a citation for that. Isn’t there an NF video on it?
      Mark G

      1. You are right. However,there can still be problems with grains if a specific allergy is involved. A celiac will need to eliminate wheat and some other grains. But celiacs and those with a wheat sensitivity are a tiny minority.

        I would expect that the same could be said for some legume allergies such as peanut and soy allergies.

        The generalizations about “wheatbelly” are balderdash.

      2. There are several videos on leaky gut but more related to intake of animal products.
        Leaky Gut Theory of why animal products cause inflammation
        With regard to grains there are quite a few videos on grains and intolerance:
        How a gluten free diet can be harmful
        Gluten sensitivity put to the test
        With regard to legumes, I didn’t see anything in the NF archives regarding leaky gut or other intolerance to legumes but i did see a commentary that might be worth reading.
        Lectins and leaky gut syndrome

        Hope this helps!!

    5. I have heard Dr Gregor say that if you are not deficient in iodine goitrogens are not a problem. He also has a video that shows vegans are often iodine deficient. I have read that selenium is important to take for 2 or 3 weeks before starting iodine supplementation. Brazil nuts and sea vegetables could fit the bill.
      There is some info and precautions here tha you could take with a grain of salt.

    6. Susanelizabeth, this is a great question. I cannot address the question of hypothyroidism, but a wfpbd does help 95% of those with an auto immune disease. (cured my psoriatic arthritis) I too have T1 diabetes and wear a pump. That will not be changed but the amount of insulin I use has certainly dropped. Anyway, there might be other dietary factors which could be responsible and an elimination diet might well be appropriate, if the auto immune factors have not disappeared. If there is residual damage to your thyroid that would be a different matter. Following on GEBrand’s comment, Northstar clinic has a program of guided elimination diet for autoimmune disease if it is not cured by the WFPBD.

  6. Variety takes more effort. The effort required is steep enough. I’ve decided to try to find 12-15 foods that I eat repeatedly. This way it’s much easier to continue in this extremely radical approach to diet, which is radical because almost no one does it. Variety is extreme radical. Fine if you have the energy and time.

    1. Tobias, we all need to look at where we are and start with steps that we think are doable. Your goal to find a limited number of healthy foods you eat repeatedly sounds like an excellent step! Once you’re comfortable with that, you can look at how to add variety later when it will look easier. Much better to do something that feels realistic to you and stick with it than to shoot for something right away that feels difficult and just give up on everything. Best wishes to you.

      1. I did that approach for a couple of years and now I’m going backwards to a more doable approach. I’m already eating more healthy than 99.9% of the population. Adding 5-10 more foods really may help my physical health. It won’t improve the whole picture at all though I suppose. My main point is: Where do it end? Can we be confident in total health if we eat plants only and keep it to a limited variety?

        1. I have read “How Not to Die”, and “The Starch Solution” by Dr. John McDougall. Both (and all other science based nutrition books that I know of) advocate a WFPB diet. The biggest distinction that I could see between what the two recommend is that Gregor emphasizes variety much more than McDougall. I’m not going to argue one way or the other. Dr. McDougall does have a remarkable record of healing his patients even with less emphasis on variety though. He also really emphasizes eliminating all high fat foods such as nuts. Gregor on the other hand recommends them. At least that’s my observation.

          1. If this is true, Gregor is like Dr Furhman… or whatever his name is. He’s the central “nutritarian” guy. I believe that a carefully selected group of foods that is small in variety would bring us to 98% health. Eating scrupulously, as nutritarians suggest, might provide us with 1% extra good health. It can make a difference but is it worth the effort. I’d guess it’s not. Cost benefit always comes into play. Effort is the other factor here. Sure, if someone wants to feed me variety and pays for it, I’ll certainly prefer this over potatoes all the time.

            1. I started with Furhman type diet. but found it difficult to stay on it. some health benefits for sure. lower blood pressure, less arthritic pain in shoulders and knees, Wasn,t sure about mainly potatoe diet as I had read potatoes was not good for arthritis, So anyways after 2 months on potato and rice and of course some vegetables, eveything has improved . I noticed I would lose little to no weight if the vegetables were high , so I increased the potato,both sweet and white to 2 meals a day and that seemed to work for weight loss. Now heres the interesting part, my dog gets left overs and dog food, and on a standard diet he was losing hair for the last 5 years about a pan full swept up daily, tried all sorts of things, bought him salmon, liver, meat, better dog food nothing ever worked. So now I,m eating potatoes, well he gets potatoes too, about as much as he can eat , I make sure he gets no vegetables as he seems to vomit, but green peas, rice and potatoes no problem, We have had visitors remark what happened to your dog, he doesn,t shed anymore? I wasn,t even the first to notice but now say after three days I swept the whole house and maybe 10 hairs. Now that boogles my mind, hope it works on people too, as I,m getting pretty thin on top……..

            2. I like your honesty! My guess, is that there are many people who embark on healthier eating and struggle to get variety. As Cgins pointed out, that the best place to start is with what is doable. Some people have no trouble getting a lot of variety into their diet, but others do struggle. Sounds as if you have found a starting point. Build in the variety along the way. When I first adopted a plant based diet, I spent ALOT of money and time trying to figure out what to eat and there were SO MANY new foods that I had never really tried and I wanted to try them all at once. I threw out foods that I never got to before they went bad and it felt extreme to me as well. Then I started with a more conservative approach. Like you, I went back to what was doable and affordable. Each week or so, I would try something new…a new grain, recipe, veggie burgers etc. Just 1 or 2 new ingredients.. and just kept building from there. I often have batch cooked things like soup, veggie burgers, vegan meatballs, egg plant cutlets…what ever and stock in the freezer so each week, there is more variety to choose from. I still have a lot of foods I want to try and incorporate, and I will in time. Hopefully you also can find a pace that is comfortable and reasonable for you!! Good Luck!

              1. It’s not only what’s doable but also what’s actually desirable. I would expect to find that after a certain amount of variety the benefit is extremely marginal. And all of these benefits studies… are these on people on SAD or very healthy diets?

                1. One of the sources cited in this video was based on the properties of the food itself. There are likely still many more photochemicals and antioxidants and other beneficial aspects of these foods that haven’t yet been discovered. It would be hard to speculate if more variety would lead to more benefit or just marginal benefit. Hopefully, the science will continue to investigate that. But, that aside, variety could also simply add to the diet in a way that keeps it fresh and exciting so your taste buds don’t get tired. You have the right idea, start with what is doable, but as you are able, change it up once in a while. Dr Greger said it perfectly in his book, How Not to Die….”the problem with all or nothing thinking is that it keeps people from even taking the first step.. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”. Hope this helps!!

                  1. Thanks but I’m already 4 years into this. I find that I don’t get bored of the same foods if I happen to eat them over and over. I expect that a good mix 12-15 great foods would give us 99.9% of any benefit we might recognize. Eating only 3-5 might do it. Eating only potatoes might do it. A lot of Irish people lived to be very old eating only potatoes. I expect that the benefits of variety are exaggerated.

        2. I say that often too, “I eat healthier than X% of the population.” But given how most of the population eat, I think that’s like saying, I drink less than 99% of alcoholics. True, but still could be too much. At the same time, there are no guarantees. Even if we eat as healthy as possible, we’ve got cumulative damage from years of eating otherwise. Genetics, environmental factors and weird things can all come into play. So I think we’re all making our own choices of where to play on the risk-return scale with food. We need to take responsibility for our choices and also realize that sometimes bad things may happen anyway.

      1. Baby steps back to more simple eating. Mid-1800s, the Irish ate all three daily meals as potatoes. They were the healthiest population around europe at the time. (Maybe that was because of the die off in their earlier 1740 famine, before the famous one mid-1800, which maybe killed weaker genetic lines.) Do we know how much variety tribal people eat today? Of course, nomadic people can eat more variety as they’re moving around constantly.

    2. Hi Tobias, good to hear from you! I find that I allow the seasons, and my eyes, to help me with shopping. I go to the produce aisle and buy a variety of in season, brightly colored fruits and vegetables. The seasonal shifts help with variety – and colors. Then, I eat big salads and fruit salad with a vide variety of brightly colored yummy things. Super easy – super fun – super pleasing!!

      1. I like this: letting the eyes guide. I have a tendency to want to come up with a formula that I can robotically adhere to, instead of listening to my body. Pleasure=sustainability in any dietary regimen!

      2. Yay Lisa, in season….it’s how we evolved to eat in nature! I wish more people would garden a bit again to get back in touch with our nature and take back our food sovereignty, seed, variety, options, health, and on and on! :) Think of what it could mean cumulatively if we all grew just one thing, even in a pot! It’s fun, satisfying and we all benefit!

      3. This requires a lot of effort. I just eat a couple of types of vegetables whole. Lately, it’s cucumbers. I’ll eat some frozen chopped spinach. Apples, oranges, maybe some frozen berries. Rice. Maybe green peas. Tea. That’s it. Salads are the most difficult way to eat. The require a lot of procurement and preparation. Cucumbers, just buy and eat.

          1. I live next to a public market with a boulangerie so I do go through periods of eating whole baguettes. But I’ve shifted to rice as my main starch these days, in place of gluten and white potatoes. White rice. (I’m impressed by Kempners rice diet work.)

            1. Yes, white rice. I’d stick to that, as I think the arsenic in brown rice, even organic, is a way bigger issue,
              and of concern, than is being reported. White rice has lower levels, but is also a bit concerning.

              1. Things like pre-made salsa, oil-less tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes… sauces can make things easier and tastier. Canned mushrooms.

        1. Tobias, I myself, no master chef, made an amazing salad this AM in about 15 minutes. It’s sitting in the fridge – 1/2 for lunch, 1/2 for snack! My time is totally worth it, since its my health we are talking about! Oh, and limited boredom, the killer of all healthy eating!

    3. Tobias, before the advent of mass transit and grocery stores, that’s pretty much how we evolved…we ate what was local and available. I love variety myself, but even if I could afford it, I refuse to contribute to the resources wasted in transporting all this stuff from around the world when I can grow something as good, or get it from the farm without making some rich morons richer!

    4. You could try what my wife and I do to add variety to our diet while working long hours. Over the last 5 years plant based we have built up a set of favorite meals that we will rotate through. As a set those meals represent a pretty good variety of different foods. To make it easy to mix things up so that we don’t have to spend a lot of time contemplating what to fix we put each meal on a 3×5 index card and pull cards at random from the deck of meal cards when we put together the menu for the coming week. Since we cook for leftovers we usually plan three different meals a week. Some weeks we just pull three cards from the deck and we are good to go. But do try to work up the creative energy to try one new meal that isn’t already on the list. If it is a winner, it goes in the deck of meal cards. If not, then a note gets put in the cookbook so we don’t make that same mistake twice.

      BTW, on the back of each card is the grocery list for that meal, so the grocery list goes together pretty fast as well.

      1. Wow, truly impressive! Being organized like this makes all the difference in eating well and just grabbing something that might be pricey or less healthy.

    5. I find that a premade blend of greens and berries is convenient. It allows for a quick and easy smoothie. I have a lemon, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, red chard, green chard, spinach, kale, flax seed, and oatmeal smoothie every day!

      1. I find it easier to the foods whole. I rarely make smoothies. I do things as close as to they likely were done by primitive man. Mashing their food would have been difficult. Chewing serves a purpose.

  7. I eat everything I want… and it’s all whole fruits and vegetables + whole grains & legumes with some nuts and seeds. ;)

    1. Slim, I’m right on with you and yes, I was slim gone to super slim but feel great. Have you noticed how super slim the Doctors Campbells, Bill Clinton, Neal Barnard and others are? I no longer am concerned about being thin and healthy with lots of energy. I’ve also noticed Novak Djovack, who is a vegan, just seems to be getting slimmer and slimmer as he wins tournament after tournament staying at worlds’s number one.

      1. There is such a thing as “too thin”. As we age, as early as our 30’s, you begin to loss muscle and bone mass. That can lead to osteoporosis, sarcopenia, bone fractures, etc. We need to do some form of resistance training/ exercise life long, and keep a normal weight.

  8. Long time reader/viewer, first time poster. Before I ask for help, I need to say thanks to Dr. G and the whole NF community. Thanks guys and gals, your hard work does not go under appreciated from me!

    That said, I need help. Sorry for the long post in advance!

    31 year old ovo-lacto vegetarian (19 years and counting), WFPB for the last 2-3 years. Went to hospital with severe chest pains and extreme difficulty breathing after a cheat meal (2.5 pound pizza and several beers) the night before. Chest x-ray, blood work, and ecg/ekg were fine according to the doctor. He ruled out lungs, heart, and liver as source of problem. Given carafate, mylanta, Pepcid, and xylocaine at hospital and a prescription for carafate to take home. Instructed to follow liquid/bland diet for 2 days. A few hours after leaving hospital, chest pains came back. Next morning there was a lot of bright red color in the stool, nothing red was consumed (possibly the antacids from hospital?). A few hours later, pain diminishes greatly. But I was starving, so I ate some real food (homemade gnocchi and homemade marinara sauce). I went to bed feeling better than I had since the pizza binge. Woke up 5-6 hours later to pee and my severe chest pains and difficulty breathing were back.

    I don’t believe the diagnosis of GERD. My stomach does not hurt. I don’t taste acid when I burp. I’ve always had a cast iron stomach. I’ll eat raw habaneros whole and it’s never hurt my stomach (sometimes I feel the burn on the backend the next day, but it makes me feel alive).

    When I say chest pains, it is behind the sternum, centrally located. When I tried to go back to sleep after urinating last night, I was struggling to breathe while standing but I could get enough air. When I sat up on the edge of the bed I could not get enough air, but I could take very shallow breaths. When I tried to lay down on my back, I physically could not breathe. At all. I tried for 30 seconds and it felt like my chest cavity was full of something and there was no room for air in my lungs. I stood up and was able to breathe again.

    I tried a heating pad on my chest and upper back while physically squeezing my rib cage and in just a few minutes I was able to breathe while laying down about as easily as when I was standing up. But since the heating pad, I have a throbbing headache in the back of my neck, occipital area.

    The doctor just rules out heart, lungs, and liver as the source of the problem. I’m wondering if I damaged the cartilage between my sternum and rib cage, but my experience with the heating pad this morning has me questioning that self diagnosis.

    Anyhoo, any ideas what could cause this sort of thing?

    1. Many years ago I had a silicon breast implant (it’s now removed) and one of the odd conditions from that surgery is that I become vaklempt(spelling ?). This almost always only happens in the evening or if I”m wearing a sports bra that is too tight (is this too much information?) If I eat something fatty, my stomach muscle tightens up and I can’t breath or swallow. It happens if I drink anything, even water. I can’t even regurgitate what I’ve swallowed and I have to stretch and relax to get it down or up. It can hurt, too.
      It is remarkable the pain the muscle at the top of your stomach can cause.

      Since this is the best case scenario from what you’ve described, I hope it’s just a grouchy tummy telling you to Not Eat Animal Products.

      The blood if bright red would be an anal fissure probably from straining too get that cheesy thing out of ya.

      I hope you are well and that you figure out what happened. Now go stuff yourself from stem to stern with apples and strawberries!

        1. Well, I was just saying you could hurt pretty bad if your stomach rebels. Think hiatal hernia. And, no you wouldn’t rest up with an implant cuz it forms a capsular scar around the foreign body inside you and squeezes your insides in ways you cannot believe. It’s like having a rock on top of your gut.
          I would never have had the thing put in me, but my momma insisted I get one because my boobs were uneven and she had real problems with a thing called boundaries.

          1. That was a poor attempt at humor from myself… My apologies!

            Hiatal hernia does make a lot of sense, I’m trying to take the advice of others and just relax (at least until I have more test results, no sense in dwelling on unknowns).

            Thank you for your replies, and I hope your momma was just trying to do what she thought was breast for you.

    2. Dogman, read “The Starch Solution” by Dr. John McDougall. Then contact him and attend one of his ten day programs. It’s about five thousand dollars but a lot cheaper than surgery. He is a very smart man and has helped many people. https://www.drmcdougall.com/

      1. Or check the library (or buy) the book or Dr Dean Ornish’s heart attack reversal diet book (can’t recall the name). You can also find Dr. McDouball talks on The Starch Solution Diet on youtube.

    3. Wow, what a scary experience! I do not diagnose (as I am a dietitian and diagnosing is out of scope) however, I am relieved that you appear to have nothing wrong with the major organ systems that were reviewed by the hospital. The two things that I find interesting are the strong symptoms following overeating and over drinking (clearly connected to that episode) and the episodic pain again following the gnocchi and marinara sauce. The second item of interest is relief from the pain with heating pad and physical contraction (forced with your hands) of the rib cage. Muscular tension? Do you have an active stress management (relaxation) practice? Do you meditate or practice yoga regularly? Were you subject to any unusual stressors that contributed to your pizza and beer binge? My suggestion would be to follow an elimination type diet for the next week, drink plenty of H20, take it easy, avoid any difficult to digest foods, and follow up with a Gastroenterologist. Hope this helps.

      1. Great reply Lisa!

        Muscular tension is a problem. I’ve spent the last 6 years in high stress work environments, was just fired, and I’m tryin to start my own business from home with my last paycheck and some savings. I know I don’t handle stress well (that’s why 1 or 2 beers and my medicinal herbs at night are important to me). I do not meditate or yoga, but I do stretch.

        What I find interesting is every 24 hours my own opinion of this matter changes. Yesterday no solid foods at all, but around 2pm I began to have difficulty swallowing liquids. I could feel liquids going down my esophagus just fine and then reaching a spot in my chest where it slowed down and I’d struggle to get the liquid down. A few times I felt like I needed to hiccup or burp and I could not do it.

        I made a pillow fort to sleep in so I’m basically sitting up right, but my neck/occipital headache was awful. I took a flexeril that I had and voila, headache completely gone.

        Score 1 for muscular tension/stress! But I think I’m stuck admitting that the doctor was more on target with stomach/esophagus than I was with my self diagnosis. :(

        1. I agree. I’d suggest a follow up to the gastrointerologist, and have him do an upper and lower GI scope. Sounds scary. Good luck with your own business, I did the same and its awesome. AND please start meditating. Some excellent free resources are
          here and available through UCLA. Just sayin’: free, and no copays! Good luck.

    4. Well first of all I’d give up pizzas and beer and go on a plant based diet and you haven’t mentioned your weight which could be a big factor if you have been belly. Just being realistic here but it’s what I’d tell my best friend if they had this issue. Good luck to you and hope this resolves with your help as obviously the doctors aren’t being helpful.

      1. I appreciate your reply Maggie!

        I’m taking it easy, bland liquids only, and I plan on adding one food back at a time to see what triggers the pain like Lisa suggested. I have another appointment Monday, just trying to get by until then.

        You bring up a great point about weight, but I’m closer to underweight. I’m 6’0, 150 and about 11% body fat. When I’m active (every day, except when I’m in this much pain) I can consume 4000+ calories in a day and still lose weight. This liquid diet is scaring me, I was at 156 and I’m already down to 148. I struggle to keep weight on in general.

        Beer and pizza really help get those calories in! Gonna go cry for a minute, mourning the loss of pizza and beers. Moment of silence here…

        1. You need a good source of calories. My recommendation is to boil some sweet potatoes (eat the skin) pour a whole can of salt free black beans (my whole foods has cans of salt free black beans for 79 cents ea.) then throw in a nice salsa for added flavor. If you can add some cooked mushrooms that will really help as well and some ground flax or chia seeds if you dont want to bother with grinding up flax seeds. Chia seeds can be eaten whole. Are you eating green leafys like kale? Soups are great. Look up Dr. Fuhrman’s Anti-cancer soup on google and the recipe will come up. That is the type of nutritional excellence that you need.

        2. I think just a couple of days ago, was answering to another person here who was saying pretty much what you are saying, goodbye to pizza.

          I said… well why? you can make awesome vegan pizza. (I do)

          Use a whole or semi whole pizza base, if you look around you can find very healthy versions. Other possibility is to make your own… in a bread machine, they have the program for it.

          Then you top it with your favorite tomato sauce, red onions, oregano etc. The whole process with a premade base takes 5 minutes.

    5. Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) has as one of its classic symptoms, burning epigastric pain relieved by eating. If I were you I would ask for H. pylori test with your visit. GERD is also a possibility, one can have both GERD and PUD concurrently. PUD can be asymptomatic until you get clinically significant symptoms. Also if you haven’t had it done, I would get CBC to check for anemia, and mention that you have what you believe to be blood in stool, also describe the color (in this case maroon or red) of blood in stool as this will allow for better assessment of where in the gut/ when (how long) the bleed is. GI tract disorders can mimic certain cardiac disorders, but there are ways to rule them out either way.

    6. Keep your follow-up! Keep in mind the job of the ER doc is to rule-out the “bad stuff”…heart attack, massive pneumonia, pulmonary embolus…the stuff that can take you down, literally. But, there are plenty of other things that could be going on…pericarditis (inflammation of the lining of your heart), pleurisy (inflammation of the lining of your lung), and then the other things you mentioned (GI related or musculoskeletal). Best advice is keep your follow-up with your primary care physician and see what he/she has to say. They’ll be able to refer you for further testing, if needed, and to the appropriate specialist, again, if needed. As always, if you feel it’s getting worse between now and when your appointment is, do not hesitate to go back to the ER. You can never be too safe.

        1. Dear Dogman

          I have had some of these symptoms and was diagnosed with silent reflux. Twice I thought I was having a heart attack and after tests, I was told I’d had an oesophageal spasm. I felt I couldn’t swallow properly, had the feeling of a golf ball sized lump in my throat that wouldn’t go away, couldn’t catch my breath and would wake up every morning at 3am coughing. I never experienced heartburn pain. I was put on Omeprazole for a month “for the oesophagus to heal” and finally the symptoms went away for a couple of years. Recently they came back – well the lump and a fizzy feeling in my throat and sometimes a feeling of food going down, then back up (banana one time, then rice). Last week I endured a gastroscopy. At the time of the scope, I had the golf ball lump feeling. There was nothing there. No scarring, no inflammation, no lump! Nothing. The relief was fantastic, however, i still feel a lump in my throat. Almost daily. I have no idea what it is, but the Dr thinks it may be stress or anxiety.

          Funnily enough, the first time this happened, I was in Italy, had just eaten (very late) an enormous pizza, drunk lots of red wine and then went to bed. Woke up feeling like I was going to die.

          Try propping your bed head up by 4 inches or so. Extra pillows make your neck sore…

          Just my thoughts.

          Wishing you the best of luck!

    7. That reminds me of a time when I was in my mid 20s and watching a play where one character was using fright to induce a heart attack (murder by fright). At the key moment, I got an incredible pain in my chest and had trouble breathing because of the pain. I later realized that I had done some intense swimming earlier that day and some muscles in my ribcage were overworked and decided to cramp up. So you might consider whether you need relaxation or whether your calcium or potassium balances are messed up.

    8. You’re likely in for a few tests before you know. In the meantime, relax, eat smaller lighter bland meals, not too close to bed, and NO CAFFEINE or carbonated beverages. GERD is just one of many possibilities.

    9. I’ve had several episodes over the past 5 years, with symptoms exactly as you describe – pain in mid chest, more or less behind the solar plexus, and in my back at that region, difficultly breathing, rapid easing of pain after some hours, feeling of wanting to burp at times. On the first occasion I had been skydiving less than 24 hours prior, and had quite a hard opening which put a lot of pressure on my strap that goes over the sternum area. I thought the pain might be related to that. Went to hospital, they checked the big stuff, no diagnosis. After a view followups, no diagnosis.

      Subsequent episodes all followed a similar pattern – dehydration, fatty foods, carbonated drinks, sometimes dairy, over the course of a day or so. Over the entire period, I’ve eaten a whole foods plant based diet almost exclusively. The exceptions are rare celebrations with family and friends where I’ve just joined in and ate whatever festive fare was on offer. I don’t do that any more, because 1 out of 2 times it will lead to these symptoms again. I don’t get any noticeable reflux during these episodes or otherwise.

      Cutting down the fat, eliminating dairy, and staying well hydrated seems to do the trick.

  9. The word ‘receptor’ is reminiscent of neurotransmitter physiology. I would like more elucidation of how these receptors function. What effect does triggering the receptor have? I’m puzzling why they would exist evolutionarily. To encourage consumption of that food? Do some of the antioxidant molecules trigger the specific receptor on their way to the bloodstream? Do some molecules pass from gut to bloodstream without interacting with receptors, or is the receptor the gatekeeper for admission into the body?

    1. Well I think I remember Dr.Greger mentioning in a previous video that these Ah receptors are kinda like a way to tell the body that we are about to eat and thus upregulates immune function. He mentions that we need to boost our immune system every time we eat to protect ourselves from the environment.

      I’m not sure what the exact mechanism would be but I think these receptors would trigger a signal cascade which would result in the gene expression of molecules that would then tell the immune system to get into gear.

    2. Hi plant_this_thought, great questions and it would take a whole course to go through the intricacies of these questions, but here is the link to the article that was cited in the video (http://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/172222/1/c2fo10274a.pdf) which is a review article highlighting how phytonutrients may interact in the body with receptors to initiate a pathway. It will be helpful in elucidating some of your questions, but not all. It will also provide you with links to other studies which go into more detail on the exact mechanisms they are discussing. You will find though that there are still a lot of unknowns.

        1. You’re right, the link is dead… every time I post it the link seems to not function. If you go to google scholar you can type in the title of the article, “Target molecules of food phytochemicals: food science bound for the next dimension.” and a link for the full text should come up. Hopefully that works! Sorry about that.

    3. A specific receptor for apple skins? How can this be? Apples were limited to a small section of Central Asia until cultivation spread them around beginning something on the order of 10,000 years ago. Unless receptors develop dynamically during the course of one’s life. It seems unlikely that we are born with such a receptor.

  10. Hello! I am a volunteer moderator with Nutrition Facts – a plant based dietitian located in Scottsdale, Arizona!! We’re looking for 97 degrees today – but its a dry heat :-) Great video today and describes my plate of vegetables that I’m eating right now! Wide variety of many different colors of vegies. Yum.

  11. Hm.. Is it necessary to get all those different nutrients with a single meal? Because i feel better when mono-mealing fruits and have simple salads, but eat a great variety of both throughout the year.

    1. Oh no! The body is amazing; it is designed to get its nutritional needs met through eating a wide variety of foods. Not in one meal – although variety is always useful, for satisfaction, for nutritional purposes. I myself could never mono-meal fruits or simple salads. I love the variety – it is the spice of life!!

  12. For years I ate like an average person – few fruits or vegetables. I found that even small changes have profound effects on my A1C, Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, and weight. Make it easy on yourself and learn to make small changes every day.

  13. Hello everyone! My name is Christina and I will be your moderator this afternoon. I am a pharmacist with an interest in natural products and nutrition. I am very excited to be a part of the team at NutritionFacts.org. I will be looking forward to reading your comments and answering your questions!

    1. Hi Christina,

      My wife and I have been mostly on a plant based whole food diet for the last six months.

      I am a 63 year old male who had a stent in his RCA 13 years ago. I have been on pravachol (40mg) zetia, ramipril (my bp is fine but I asked my cardiologist to prevent me from needing another stent, wellbutrin xl 450mg, baby aspirin every other day and protonix 40 mg each day for Gerd,.and sometimes rantinadine when needed,.I take b12, vitamin D and flax seeds to round out diet.

      I want to stop all these medicines. If I had been on a wfpb, no oil diet from the beginning I would have never needed the stent. We are both feeling quite good on this diet but I’m scared to stop my meds. I want to stop the protonix as you can have bone loss on this drug.

      I have some issues with short term memory loss and recalling words and names but my doctor thought it was normal age related loss. I only mention this as I have read that memory issues can come up from the mixture of these meds.

      I see my cardiologist every 4 months and my bloods have been great. I just fear eliminating the pravachol and zetia with cause the arteriosclerosis to resume. My weight is perfect and I do quite a bit of exercise without any angina. I fear stopping the the Wellbutrin might bring back depression, and I especially fear stoping the PPIs as the Gerd will likely come back.

      Any suggestions about how to slowly wean myself off these meds. I do think if I could stop my meds eventually that I would feel healthier than I feel now. And I do feel great on the wfpb diet, but if I was off these meds I might feel incredible..

      I also take restasis for dry eyes. I appreciate any recommendations.


      1. Hi Ken!

        Congratulations on you and your wife for following a WFPB diet for the last 6 months! I am glad that the diet is helping you feel better and that you have been seeing improvements on your health.

        I would be more than happy to make a few recommendations. Of course, please speak to your doctor before making any these changes.

        Firstly, proton pump inhibitors such as Protonix is over prescribed. And you’re right – you can get rebound acid reflux if you discontinue right away. I would recommend weaning off of Protonix by asking your doctor to prescribe the 20 mg dose and take that daily for 1 week. Then take 20 mg every other day for 1 week. Then take 20 mg every 2 days. Then every 3 days… and keep weaning off slowly until you can discontinue it completely without major discomfort. You might still need to take the ranitidine as needed while you are weaning off and that’s okay. Your body has been taking these medications for a long time, so it will take time and patience to wean off.

        Talk to your cardiologist about eliminating the Pravachol and Zetia. It might be possible. I understand your fear that discontinuing will cause the arteriosclerosis to resume, so that’s a tough one.

        Exercise has been shown to improve symptoms of depression. It may be possible to wean off of Wellbutrin XL as well. You are on a high dose (450 mg). The XL formulation comes in 300 mg and 150 mg. The taper could be very similar to the taper for Protonix. Decrease to 300 mg daily for 1 week, then 150 mg for 1 week. The doctor may need to prescribe the SR version which comes in 100 mg tablets as well to help with the taper. This may take weeks or months depending on how you respond to the taper. And of course, follow up with your doctor if you have any symptoms of depression during or after discontinuing.

        Best of luck to you!

        1. Hi Christina,

          Thanks for the great recommendations. They make a
          lot of sense. I will discuss my options with my doctor next month, prior to
          any adjustments..

          Here is my tentative plan for the timing of these reductions, which I won’t start unless he gives me the okay..

          1. protonix
          2. Wellbutrin
          3. Ramipril
          4. Zetia
          5. Pravachol
          6. Restasis

          Besides adding the Ranitidine do you have any other advice as to what else to
          do if the heart burn returns while lowering the protonix?. A lot of
          people swear by apple cider vinegar. In the past sometimes it helped
          sometimes it made things worse. Any recommendations?

          As far as Zetia and Pravachol I think the options would be limited by the
          blood tests. For example if my LDLS shot up after stopping the Zetia
          there would not be much point in stopping the Pravachol as it would be
          likely I would have to permanently be on these meds. Not the worst thing
          in the world. However, after reading Gregor, Ornish Esselystein,
          McDougal, Bernard, Fuhrman, Ostfeld, etc, it should be doable. I might have to
          consider a visit to Robert Ostfeld, vegan cardiologist in the Bronx.

          Thanks again!

          Best regards,


          1. Hi Ken,

            You’re very welcome! I’m glad my advice makes a lot of sense :)

            As far as other advice for heartburn, I would recommend:
            – eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals
            – limiting highly acidic foods and drinks such as coffee (or other caffeinated beverages) , tomatoes, spicy foods and carbonated beverages
            – avoid wearing tight clothes around the abdomen
            – quit smoking and drinking alcohol (if applicable)
            – avoid lying down right after eating

            Being on a WFPB diet may help tremendously with the acid reflux since you’ve eliminated many foods that trigger it (such as fried, fatty foods). You’re also eating a lot of acid reflux friendly foods which include bananas, melons, apples, beans, peas, lentils, lettuce and so much more.

            I’ve heard that people have luck with apple cider vinegar as well! However, I have heard that it is a trigger for heartburn in some people. Therefore, it could be a hit or miss.

            I hope your doctor visit goes well and I hope that you’ll be able to get off of your medications. Let me know how your visit goes!


  14. When I count my blessings I always include that I’m in northern California with access to a great variety of fruits and veggies, especially organic at good prices. Even so, this is one of the reason that neighborhood inner city organic gardens are so important. They bring neighbors and communities together in socially, environmentally, and physiologically healthy ways.

    Mark G

    1. Hi Mark! It’s fantastic that you have access to fresh organic fruits and veggies! Glad to hear that you live in a community that promotes community gardens – we need more of those! I live near a farm In New Hampshire and they grow and sell their own local produce when possible. Berry season is right around the corner up here and I can’t wait!

    2. Absolutely, but I always wonder about inner city soils and of course the pervasive atmospheric pollution found in inner cities, and the effect these things have on food safety and quality. I suspect that on balance the products of such gardens are beneficial but given my druthers, I would still prefer to eat organic produce from a clean rural area.

      1. I agree. But for those parts of the country or counties that are s food desert, it seems like a better option to eat the organic neighborhood garden that to eat non organic junk food that probably also has crap from all the processing.

  15. Quick question: What time frame should we be considering when we’re thinking about variety? Background: Due to time constraints, I don’t spend a lot of time preparing meals, but I’ve been trying to eat more fruits and vegetables. I calculated that two pounds per day of fruits and veggies typically should give me about the equivalent of ten serving, so two pounds is my target quantity. (I also eat nuts, beans and lots of not-quite-so-nutritious stuff, but I do not include those in the two pound total. I occasionally drink fruit juice, but I do not include those in the two pound total either.) I don’t have much free time, so whatever I eat needs to be pre-prepared, so I rely on pre-cut, pre-washed, over-priced, ready-to-eat veggies. Leftovers don’t get eaten, so, when I open a container, I consume it (so, for example, if I open a one pound bag of ‘spring mix’, I finish it before the end of the day — usually with an hour or two, snacking on it the way some people snack on potato chips). As a result, I don’t get much variety on any given day (which might, like yesterday, include just a one pound bag of carrots and a one pound bag of spinach), but I do get variety over the course of a week (last week: carrots, spinach, broccoli, blackberries, raspberries, apples, celery, tomatoes, ‘spring mix’ and salad lettuce).

    1. Hi Dave! I completely understand your issue with time constraints. My typical work schedule as a retail pharmacist is a 13 hour shift without a break! Even if I find time to eat during work, my breaks are usually interrupted. Therefore, I need quick, easy and healthy meals as well. Like you, I do not get much variety on a daily basis but I make up for it over the course of the week on my days off.

      Ideally, we should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. However, life gets busy in this fast paced world which makes it difficult to do that. What you’re doing (getting a variety over the course of a week) is great! Keep up the great work!

      Here’s a tip: Perhaps you can try to add more variety by eating fruit salads and garden salads!

  16. I am still getting those sponsored adverts when I click though to “view in discussion” from the “notifications” page. Presumably this is because Disqus is saying you are now on a Disqus page not a NF page?

        1. I’m a veteran IT consultant. No security software is full proof, but McAfee, owned by Intel, historically has been one of the worse. Guarantee you have Malware.

            1. Symantec’s improved quite a bit over the years, but it was never near the top of our list for many reasons. We like & use TrendMicro in all our corporate environments. Even that is not full proof. If you want to purchase something and have support, TrendMicro. If you want a freebee, then Avast Free is the best of that class. In fact, I’d rather have Avast Free than Symantec or McAfee. That’s this year’s recommendations; it changes frequently as development will always be ongoing.

    1. Tom Goff: Thank you for explaining the conditions under which you see the ad. I was able to replicate your experience for myself. I am not seeing ads on the NutritionFacts pages, but if I click a ‘view in discussion’ button from disqus and go to a disqus page, I do indeed see an ad. (Which I hadn’t noticed before now. Serious case of see-only-what-I-want-to-see-itis?) I don’t think NF has any control over what happens on those generic pages. So, I think you are stuck having to ignore them. At least we aren’t seeing them on NF any more!

  17. I’m vegan and have been for nearly a decade. But this particular video for me thinking.

    Are there receptors in the human body for choline and other animal product only ingredients?

  18. A body heals itself through natural hygienism orthopathism life sciences health systems via extended supervised water fasting. No medicine (especially potent “whole” foods).
    When we consume solely fruits, shoots, and tender leafy greens in wild free tropical jungles as whole fresh raw ripe wild local foraged, we thrive! We can consume a new fruit each day until a natural lifespan ends, and not consume each variety of fruit—hundreds of thousands )if million(s), of fruit species! 98% of veggies kill!

  19. Yes it is true. But the whole nutrition daily requirement is a big challenge. If any one want to
    have a complete wellness on a daily basis they can check in trevo.life/drbr/

  20. Yes it is true. But the whole nutrition daily requirement is a big challenge. If any one want have a complete wellness on a daily basis they can check in trevo.life/drbr/

  21. To get my variety, I blend a mix of fruits and veggies, drink a glassful and make juice cubes out of the rest. It’s my alternative to ice cream. My question is, are there studies that tested whether freezing diminishes the healthful benefits–particularly of berries, but other fruits and veggies too?

    1. I know freezing does not affect the anthocyanins in berries and I think freezing veggies actually preserves some nutrition.

  22. And those centenarians who grew up in poverty eating only sweet potatoes or corn ? I wouldn’t fixate on variety. Do the best you can eating plant based which is naturally restrictive in calories.

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      I do understand your point as you can see in this NF video, populations such as the Okinawa had 69% of their diet consisting of sweet potatoes. However, the fact they consumed other fruits and vegetables should not be dismissed. And as Dr Greger explains in this video, a variety in our diet appears to be a the best strategy to get the different health benefits each food provides.

      Hope this answer helps!

  23. It’s interesting the immune system wasn’t mentioned, as to it’s the main system in fighting off disease, and if there were any fruits or vege’s that targeted receptors in this system.

  24. If this week I selected few veggies and fruits and next week, others…would you expect the same result as eating both selections in one week?

    1. Lourdes that’s a great question. And yes you would expect the same result. Everything doesn’t need to be eaten in close proximity to each other. The idea is that each fruit or vegetable would engage with it’s own specific receptor. As long as you are eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies, all the “receptors” would be covered and you would be protected. That’s also the beauty of eating seasonally. In some seasons you would cover some things and in other seasons you would cover others. It’s nature’s way of giving us the variety we need.

  25. Does anyone remember where Dr. G mentioned that cooking onions for too long makes them harmful? Vegetable broth is usually made by cooking onions and other veggies slowly for a long time. I do it in my pressure cooker so it’s faster

  26. One of the largest prospective studies ever just reported, with some beautifully tight confidence intervals:

    Du H et al, 2016. Fresh Fruit Consumption and Major Cardiovascular Disease in China N Engl J Med. 2016 Apr 7;374(14):1332-43

    Between 2004 and 2008, we recruited 512,891 adults, 30 to 79 years of age…18.0% of participants reported consuming fresh fruit daily. As compared with participants who never or rarely consumed fresh fruit, those who ate fresh fruit daily had lower systolic blood pressure (by 4.0 mm Hg) and blood glucose levels (by 0.5 mmol per liter [9.0 mg per deciliter]) . The adjusted hazard ratios for daily consumption versus nonconsumption were 0.60 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.54 to 0.67) for cardiovascular death, and 0.66 (95% CI, 0.58 to 0.75), 0.75 (95% CI, 0.72 to 0.79), and 0.64 (95% CI, 0.56 to 0.74), respectively, for incident major coronary events, ischemic stroke, and hemorrhagic stroke. There was a strong log-linear dose-response relationship between the incidence of each outcome and the amount of fresh fruit consumed.

    Daily fruit consumption reduces risk of major coronary events, hemorrhagic strokes, and CVD deaths by a third, and risk of ischemic strokes by a quarter.

  27. Just sharing on this subject. For most of my life I have been interested in plants including wild foods and foraging, and whenever I take a walk and see the wild edible plants growing, even in very touch conditions (like dandelions pushing up through asphalt!) it always cheers me up. (I don’t necessarily pick and eat things from polluted environments of course). Anyway, recently I have been attending some classes given by a guy who has a PhD in ancient Middle Eastern medicines, and a big interest in local foods, food history etc, the transition from hunter gatherer to agrarian societies. So it seems people who live in agrarian societies often continue to gather wild foods in their locality as well, and it seems that an amateur like me would maybe know 30-50 or up to a hundred wild plants to eat, in past generations traditional people knew several hundred and in the remote past we were told that your average person living a hunter gatherer lifestyle would have know 850 plants! Now that is variety! And achieved with minimal food miles…
    I often see questions on this site as to whether one has to eat something every day to get benefit….I think in nature this pretty much NEVER happened, you would get what was available in season and when that season over, you would get it again the next year. For example in the Galilee, February and March are very good months for greens, wild nettles, ‘fat hen’ wild beet greens etc, but later they become too bitter and even dry up….or different parts of the same plant could be eaten, for example the young leaves of thistles, and then later the juicy stalks, the leaves fo the mustard plant, then later the flowers and still later the seeds.
    One easy way to get extra variety beyond what is in the supermarket, or course , is sprouting. And if you are a gardener (organic of course) then the slogan ‘eat your weedies’ could be helpful (just make sure you know what they are!) Then there are the parts of the plant that in the states we don’t usually eat—for example if you have a grape vine, the vine leaves are edible, many recipes in middle eastern cook books use these.
    Hoping that is helpful!

    1. Interesting read Dr. Mariam. Your “eat your weedies” reminded me of my garden this summer. Really excited to be growing dandelion greens and purslane for the first time! In fact, it will be my first time eating purslane.

  28. I should also start eating more fruits. I do include vegetables in my daily diet but somehow missing out on fruits. this one’s a good eye-opener. Thanks.

    1. I started eating a lot more fruit lately and I feel amazing on it. It also makes me not want desserts with added sweeteners because I’m just so drawn to fruit. I already ate really healthy and all WFPB with lots of greens, a good amount of fruit, beans, and all that, but the addition of extra fruit has actually made me feel significantly better and it makes me look better, too! Fruit is amazing.

  29. Does this hold true for beans, nuts, seeds and grains as well? Would we be better off grabbing cans of mixed beans, bags of mixed nuts instead of just whatever’s our favorite/whatever’s cheapest?

    1. I imagine the same would be true for all plant foods. Though I think eating what you love, so long as it’s a healthy whole plant food, is a good thing too. Maybe just eat what you love and find new favorites to add.

  30. Rural African’s variety might be based on maize and wild spinach alone. Yet no diabetes, heart disease and low cancer risk, osteoporosis, alzhimers, arthritis.

    Not just what we eat, what we don’t eat plays just as a significant role.

  31. Couldn’t these receptors work as a type of proof that we’re not meant to consume meat/eggs/dairy? Taking into account there’s all these specific receptors for all these things coming from plants and assuming there’s not a cow milk receptor, for example (which I think is safe to assume lol).

      1. Totally agreed, Riaan. Sadly, insurmountable evidence doesn’t seem to be enough for the world, though. Big business and addiction are two powerful things.

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