Are Happier People Actually Healthier?

Are Happier People Actually Healthier?
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The burgeoning field of positive psychology is based on the understanding that mental health is not just about the absence of disease.

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More than 60 years ago, the World Health Organization defined health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Just because you’re not depressed doesn’t necessarily mean you’re happy. But if you look in the medical literature, there are 20 times more studies published on health and depression than there are on health and happiness.

 In recent years, though, research on positive psychology has emerged: what we can do to increase our success, functioning, and happiness; all inherently good in themselves, but are happier people, healthier people?

 There is growing evidence that positive psychological well-being is associated with reduced risk of physical illness. But it’s not surprising that healthier people are happier than sick people. The intriguing issue is whether psychological well-being protects against future illness or inhibits the progression of chronic disease. To figure out which came first, you’d have to get more than just a snapshot in time; you’d need prospective studies, meaning studies that go forward over time, to see if people that start out happier live longer.  And indeed, a review of such studies suggests that positive psychological well-being has a favorable effect on survival in both healthy and diseased populations.

But not so fast. Yes, positive states may be associated with less stress, and inflammation, and more resilience to infection, but positive well-being may also be accompanied by a healthy lifestyle that itself reduces the risk of disease. Happy people tend to smoke less, exercise more, drink less, and sleep better. So, maybe happiness leads to health only indirectly. However, the apparent protective effect of positive psychological well-being persists even after controlling for all these healthy behaviors. Meaning effectively, even at the same level of smoking, drinking, exercise, and sleep, happier people seem to live longer.

Ideally, to definitively establish cause-and-effect, we’d do an interventional trial, in which participants are assigned at random to different mood levels and tracked for health outcomes. It’s rarely feasible or ethical to randomly make some people’s lives miserable to see what happens, but if you pay people enough you can do experiments like this.

 It’s been thought that people who typically report experiencing negative emotions are at greater risk for disease, and those who typically report positive emotions are at less risk; so, they decided to test this using the common cold virus. Three hundred thirty-four healthy volunteers were assessed for how happy, pleased, and relaxed they were, or how anxious, hostile, and depressed. Subsequently, they were given nasal drops containing cold rhinoviruses to see who would be more likely to come down with the cold. Who would let someone drip viruses in their nose? Someone paid $800, that’s who.

Now, just because we get exposed to a virus doesn’t mean we automatically get sick, because we have an immune system that can fight it off, even if it’s dripped right into our nose. The question is whose immune system fights better?

 In a third of the bummed out folks, their immune systems failed to fight off the virus and they came down with a cold, but only about one in five got a cold in the happy group. Maybe it’s because those with positive emotions slept better, got more exercise, had lower stress? No, it appears even after controlling for the healthy practices and levels of stress hormones, happier people still appear to have healthier immune systems, a greater resistance to developing the common cold.

Works with the flu too—they repeated the study with the flu virus, and like in their earlier study, increased positive emotions were associated with decreased verified illness rates. These results indicate that feeling vigorous, calm, and happy may play a more important role in health than previously thought.

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 Condesign via Pixabay.

More than 60 years ago, the World Health Organization defined health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Just because you’re not depressed doesn’t necessarily mean you’re happy. But if you look in the medical literature, there are 20 times more studies published on health and depression than there are on health and happiness.

 In recent years, though, research on positive psychology has emerged: what we can do to increase our success, functioning, and happiness; all inherently good in themselves, but are happier people, healthier people?

 There is growing evidence that positive psychological well-being is associated with reduced risk of physical illness. But it’s not surprising that healthier people are happier than sick people. The intriguing issue is whether psychological well-being protects against future illness or inhibits the progression of chronic disease. To figure out which came first, you’d have to get more than just a snapshot in time; you’d need prospective studies, meaning studies that go forward over time, to see if people that start out happier live longer.  And indeed, a review of such studies suggests that positive psychological well-being has a favorable effect on survival in both healthy and diseased populations.

But not so fast. Yes, positive states may be associated with less stress, and inflammation, and more resilience to infection, but positive well-being may also be accompanied by a healthy lifestyle that itself reduces the risk of disease. Happy people tend to smoke less, exercise more, drink less, and sleep better. So, maybe happiness leads to health only indirectly. However, the apparent protective effect of positive psychological well-being persists even after controlling for all these healthy behaviors. Meaning effectively, even at the same level of smoking, drinking, exercise, and sleep, happier people seem to live longer.

Ideally, to definitively establish cause-and-effect, we’d do an interventional trial, in which participants are assigned at random to different mood levels and tracked for health outcomes. It’s rarely feasible or ethical to randomly make some people’s lives miserable to see what happens, but if you pay people enough you can do experiments like this.

 It’s been thought that people who typically report experiencing negative emotions are at greater risk for disease, and those who typically report positive emotions are at less risk; so, they decided to test this using the common cold virus. Three hundred thirty-four healthy volunteers were assessed for how happy, pleased, and relaxed they were, or how anxious, hostile, and depressed. Subsequently, they were given nasal drops containing cold rhinoviruses to see who would be more likely to come down with the cold. Who would let someone drip viruses in their nose? Someone paid $800, that’s who.

Now, just because we get exposed to a virus doesn’t mean we automatically get sick, because we have an immune system that can fight it off, even if it’s dripped right into our nose. The question is whose immune system fights better?

 In a third of the bummed out folks, their immune systems failed to fight off the virus and they came down with a cold, but only about one in five got a cold in the happy group. Maybe it’s because those with positive emotions slept better, got more exercise, had lower stress? No, it appears even after controlling for the healthy practices and levels of stress hormones, happier people still appear to have healthier immune systems, a greater resistance to developing the common cold.

Works with the flu too—they repeated the study with the flu virus, and like in their earlier study, increased positive emotions were associated with decreased verified illness rates. These results indicate that feeling vigorous, calm, and happy may play a more important role in health than previously thought.

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 Condesign via Pixabay.

Doctor's Note

OK, so if happiness improves health, how do we improve happiness? That’s the subject of my next video: Which Foods Increase Happiness?

I’m as guilty as the rest of my colleagues for focusing on mental illness rather than mental health (though my video Laughter as Medicine is a rare exception). It’s a consequence of what’s out there in the medical literature, though I’ll make a special effort to highlight new studies in this area as they’re published. But I do have a bunch of videos on preventing and treating negative mood states such as depression and anxiety:

What about psychiatric medications? See my videos Do Antidepressant Drugs Really Work? and Exercise vs. Drugs for Depression.

Other ways to improve our immune system? Check out my recent video Using the Produce Aisle to Boost Immune Function.

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

117 responses to “Are Happier People Actually Healthier?

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  1. A friend of mine once quipped, “do you know why men die before the wives do? Because they want to.”
    Being happy is very important to one’s health, and a positive attitude is key.




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      1. It has been my experience that my mood markedly improved as I shifted to a WFPB diet. One explanation for this is that one’s omega 3 to 6 ratio normalize.

        It is my belief that physical, emotional and mental health are synergistic.




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        1. Joe: re: “synergistic” Yes! It is my strong belief that being happy makes us healthy and being healthy makes us happy. It is a cycle/circle that feeds on itself. It is good to study pieces and try to tease out a bit, but I don’t think it is just a one-way street either way.

          I think to fully understand pathways to mental health, humans will need to accept that the situation is complicated and try to take that into account. Ie, not get too reductionist in our studies of mental health the way that we have gone with nutrition.




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        2. That makes sense to me but I’d still like to see the hard evidence. In practical terms though, it makes no difference to me. I’m still aiming for a healthy diet, regular exercise and a positive emotional outlook even if there’s no conclusive evidence that happy people live longer




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          1. I was surprised there was no mention of the role of exercise in Dr. G’s synopsis. Racing is known to reduce immune system in runners, especially long-distance runners. But is there a level of exercise that stimulates/boosts appropriately the immune system? I would love to know! It may be difficult to study, as what is easy for one person is hard for another, and stresses the body differently.




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        3. Omega threes are healthier for people in temperate climates. All foods grown in temperate climates have Omega threes. One would ask if food from the Southern hemisphere has Omega nines do to the Corriollis effect. Did you have your fast food tested? Did they tell you it is full of Soy? According to pubmed, half of fast food is water, and only 14 percent beef at most. Is the fat in that Omega six? Then it must be from very Northern Argentina masquerading as beef from Brazil. If would be nice if we could get our beef directly from Argentina in exchange for many of the things we Americans store, like toys, instead of watching people cut down the Brazilian rainforest to put the cows someplace as they smuggle in the beef. We could send them clothes, and corn and pigs. I amazed they let people eat fast food do the high Nickel content of soy. Nickel would end this Great Recession. Do people eat out at a fast food restaurant daily? I met a vegetarian. He said he was a vegetarian but ate at McDonalds because it was made of all soy. I think he spoke the truth. Are you saying you know that food has tropical oils in it? Domestic beef is full of Omega threes. Perhaps America should start ranking in some of the many corn fields west of the Mississippi River. We seem to need beef that mixes well with soy. You could find it, it might be the nice tallow beef. Omega sixes are very bad for people in temperate climates. Beef grown here would be full of Omega threes. Beef from McDonald’s, I guess, seems to be tropical. That is not beef. What kind of oil does McDonald use? Is it also tropical? We need better sourcing of food. Both Orthomolecular and Vegan agree, Omega sixes are dangerous for people in temperate climates.




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          1. Everything that I have read states that both omega 6 and omega 3 are essential fatty acids and that the ideal ratio is 1 to 1. I have never seen anything that distinguishes a difference in need for omega 6 FA for those in temperate as opposed to those in tropical climates. Now just because I am unaware of something does not anything in and of itself, but it not for lack of interest on my part.




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          2. Matthew, the data I recently re-checked had the n-3 for whole milk at .053 grams; I’d wanted to check what “50% more omega-3s in organic pastured-cows’ milk” meant.
            USDA data are from cows in mostly temperate climes, and even half again as much doesn’t achieve a tenth of a gram.
            Half a teaspoon of ground flax seed (which has less mass than whole) outdoes that more than fivefold. I tried the figures for some beef steaks, and found them lower than the milk, even with the vanishingly small amounts of EPA and DHA, so “Domestic beef is full of Omega threes” looks false.




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            1. Omega sixes are devastating for people who live in the North. The further North you go, the worse they are for you. I am glad you know Omega threes are good for you. Beef is not a good source of Omega threes. I did not know how deeply deficient we are in Omega threes.




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      2. So I take it that you don’t buy that the studies described in the video really tested why they said they were trying to test. I thought there were some pretty clever twists by the researchers, but it’s always hard to test complicated associations like health and happiness (and even figure out exactly what people mean by those terms).




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        1. I take your points and I’d like to believe those studies got it right but will withhold judgment for now. As you say it’s a complex area and depends on self-reported subjective states.
          Not that it makes any difference to me – I always try to be happy and have a positive attitude anyway. After all, choosing unhappiness and negativity guarantees a poor quality of life even without ill health.




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      3. I don’t know about that study, but apparently miserable cranky people can outlive nice people if my circle of friends and family is any indicator! LOL




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      4. I agree with what you are saying Tom about unhealthy people normally die younger that healthy people which i believe helps explain that women usually out live their husbands. I used to own a health food store and women outnumbered my men customers around 8-2. That is a guess, but i believe pretty close. From conversations with them they usually ate a better diet than there husbands and the husbands did not cooperate with there wives very well when trying to get them to eat better, Exercise, take supplements, etc.




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    1. Joe, your statement reminds me of a Cardiologist friend I worked with many years ago. This is what he said, “Jim, you know why divorce is so expensive? . . . . . . . . . . . . Because it’s worth it!” He was quite ‘positive’ about it.




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        1. I agree wholeheartedly with your statement! Divorce can be a pleasant experience for everyone involved or it can be terrible for everyone involved. It takes a very high level of awareness by both parents to experience a pleasant and amicable divorce. Unfortunately, this is not the case I see most often with my patients.




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        1. Have you ever asked your patients about their marriage status? Would you be able to say if even one of them was married? Is it hard to adjust medication dosages without knowing about the severity of the complaint? The mortgage market is terrible. I really wish you would think that a recovery is possible. Your work is bottomless. Did you know that with antipsychotics your patients will never get well? Do you think that they manage their emotional pain out of spite for your profession?




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  2. Was it not here where I read of the gut biome changing in response to laughter? I forgot the details, but physical laughter has a positive affect on our largest organ of digestion/health.




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    1. This is the appropriate place to remind us all of the Vagus Nerve. Happy people no doubt have a relaxed and active Vagus Nerve. It extends from the brain to all major organs vice versa.. If you want to know how to relax and stimulate your Vagus Nerve, google for this term and for the term Heart Rate Variability. Some methods to become more happy are surprisingly simple and practical!




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      1. I’ve have issues with an annoying but innocuous heart rhythm disorder(PVC’s) that have been suggested to involve the Vagus nerve, I’ll check it out!




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        1. PVCs can be associated with inflammation. I discovered that by avoiding all sweets (including dates) and all flours (including multi-grain, gluten free, etc.) my PVCs have diminished to the point where I only notice them when I’m tired, usually late at night. And even then they are very mild compared to how they originally felt before taking out all sweets and all flours.




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          1. I love NDs! Wheat allergy is common and people don’t have much sugar in their diet. Celebrated cancer doctors Dr. Budwig said no to sugar for patients and Dr. Gerson said no to salt for their patients. Ironically, those patients must not have had much. Perhaps those things would be healthy for cancer, based on the effectiveness of placebo. Salt, which contains chlorine, is needed in macro doses by people.




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    2. So, kindness, laughter, understanding and appreciation of spouse leads to a longer life, is happier, healthier and less expensive than divorce, if he/she is willing to cooperate with it. John S




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  3. It was mesure any biomaker ? It was the inmune system of the happy people stronger? They wer happy from befor or just happy for the 800 dolars ?haha excelent info emotions matters




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      1. I’m sure the good doctor will comment on this study

        http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchObject.action?uri=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0088278&representation=PDF
        Nutrition and Health – The Association between Eating Behavior and Various Health Parameters: A Matched Sample Study

        “Our results revealed that a vegetarian diet is related to a lower BMI and less frequent alcohol consumption. Moreover, our results showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health (higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life. Therefore, public health programs are needed in order to reduce the health risk due to nutritional factors.”




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          1. I’m curious to see what cheery picking the good doctor will use for his next video in order not to go against his chosen paradigm.




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            1. Given this study explicitly states it is impossible to determine if the diet caused the poor health or poor health caused the adoption of a vegetarian diet, your accusations of Dr G cherry-picking based on this study are manifestly nonsense. This is something you must have known before posting your obviously cherry-picked quotes from the study.




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            2. “curious to see what cheery picking the good doctor will use ”

              Kind of like we are all curious to see what opinion based cherry picking bias blog or bias pro-meat funded studies you will post in retort? You yourself are guilty of the same bias you accuse others of having. The fact that you are here every day dissing Dr Gregers work seems to show you have an unhealthy desire to be confrontational. Otherwise, plenty of pro-meat sites for you to go to, yet you seem to like to come here and insult Dr Gs work. We get it, you need to tamp down your cognitive dissidence and by posting disparaging things about Dr Gs work every day seems to help with that. So keep insulting Dr G and calling him a cherry picker. the mods don’t seem to care.




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        1. Cool! Science 2.0 no longer require citation. Random unsubstantiated opinion is all that’s required. Outstanding! Now that’s “evolution” for you.




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          1. Joe, evolution has no direction (as you may know), so with enough oxygen [in water, then air] predators became possible, and both parasites and symbionts make human life what it is. Among the latter are our mitochondria, ancient bacteria.
            I haven’t yet seen a family tree of internet parasites, but someone may soon make one, or cherry-pick it.




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        2. Charles, the problem is vegetarians are still animal-product eaters, perhaps in significant amounts. As you know, this website promotes a whole-foods, plant-based diet, not a vegetarian diet.

          Even so, there was still some good news from that study:

          “Studies have shown a vegetarian diet to be associated with a lower
          incidence of hypertension, cholesterol problems, some chronic
          degenerative diseases, coronary artery disease, type II diabetes,
          gallstones, stroke, and certain cancers [1–7]. A vegetarian diet is
          characterized by a low consumption of saturated fat and
          cholesterol, due to a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and
          whole-grain products [3,4,8]. Overall, vegetarians have a lower
          body mass index [1,4,5,7,9–12], a higher socioeconomic status
          [13], and better health behavior, i.e. they are more physically
          active, drink less alcohol, and smoke less [9,13,14].”




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          1. From the study

            Overall, our findings reveal that vegetarians report poorer health, follow medical treatment more frequently, have worse
            preventive health care practices, and have a lower quality of life.

            Vegetarians in our study suffer significantly more often from anxiety disorder and/or depression. Additionally, they have a poorer quality of life in terms of physical health, social relationships, and environmental factors. Moreover, the use of health care differs significantly between the dietary habit groups in our study. Vegetarians need more medical treatment than subjects following another form of diet. However, this might be due to the number of chronic conditions, which is higher in subjects with a vegetarian diet.




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            1. What quantity are you talking about—5% of daily calories, 10%, 25 grams, 50 grams? North Americans generally eat too much protein ( a good book on this subject is Proteinaholic by Garth Davis, MD). A few vegan docs indicate that a bit of animal product used as a condiment may not be too detrimental, but they are talking a very small amount. Most people don’t have the discipline to eat small amounts of animal products only once in a while, and are better off going straight-edge plant-based.




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            2. Charles have you read The China Study yet? If you had, you would have read what the problem is with animal products. The problem is that these products provide the perfect environment for cancer growth along with all of the other diseases of affluence that develop when eating them in excess. It has nothing to do with the grass fed beef you eat as opposed to the mass produced stuff everyone else eats. These products provide a positive environment for cancer growth even if you eat just a bit.
              But, as Dr. Greger has said on many occasions, you are right to increase what is good for you (WFPB) rather than just decreasing what is not good for you.
              You get to do what you want and what makes you happy, Charles. Just make sure you take care of yourself while interjecting that your diet is the best one you’ve found.
              One other thing. What is wrong with giving up animal products if they provide no positive attributes in your diet? Is taste so important that you need to keep arguing for the killing and use of these creatures when it is just not necessary?




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                1. I believe those “many blogs” are bias and cherry pick only data that promote the meat, eggs and dairy industry agenda while ignoring anything to the contrary. The meat, eggs and dairy industry is the biggest bias, cherry pickers of them all. Funny you never find faults in those studies.




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                2. You have made this statement before and it is not true. Dr. Greger studied at Cornell University because he wanted the opportunity to work with Dr. Campbell. There are courses offered at Cornell by Dr. Campbell since he still works there and he has classes on the internet offered by eCornell on the subject of food as medicine. Dr. Campbell’s work is not flawed. It is complete and well documented.
                  Please do not provide incorrect information as a form of argument since it may confuse others and it is not necessary.

                  Charles, what is wrong with not eating animal products? Who does it harm? Why do you find it necessary to try prove someones life work is not correct? What purpose is served by what you are doing? Where is your service taking you?




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                    1. Actually – She’s NOT!!

                      http://rawfoodsos.com/for-vegans/
                      Despite rumors to the contrary, I’m actually not on a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth, steak-fueled mission to unveganize the world. My own diet is mostly plants, and I benefit in no way—financially or otherwise—if you decide to put an egg in your mouth instead of a lump of texturized vegetable protein. My sole goal with this blog is to squash out bad science and give folks access to accurate information about diet. What you decide to do with the stuff I say here is completely up to you.

                      http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/01/20/my-current-diet/
                      So here’s the gist of my eating plan, which has been pretty similar for the past nine years. You can assume that whatever’s on this page is current, since I update it when anything changes. (Latest edit: February 2015; I eat less liver these days.)

                      Basically, I eat a sort of raw food, plant-based, paleo-ish, Weston-A-Price style fusion. From largest proportion of my diet to the smallest:

                      Raw fruit and raw vegetables—collectively, these are probably at least 80% of my diet
                      Raw fish and cooked or raw shellfish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, oysters, mussels, clams, roe); usually daily
                      Coconut water; usually daily
                      Cooked organ meats, usually chicken liver or chicken hearts; a few times per month
                      Raw eggs or sunny-side-up eggs, usually from ducks; a few times per week
                      Raw vegetable juice; a few times per week
                      Cooked tubers; once or twice per week
                      Cooked vegetables; once or twice per week
                      Sushi rice
                      Cooked gelatinous animal foods like tendons; a few times per month
                      Home-made bone broth; more frequently in the winter
                      Seaweeds
                      Kimchi and sauerkraut
                      Occasionally: avocados, olives, nuts, seeds

                      I eat red meat once every few years (not a typo!) and don’t typically use isolated animal fats like butter or lard, unless they’re in a dish someone else made and I’ve been cajoled into eating. The only oils I use are a very small amount of olive oil when cooking organ meats or eggs. I don’t eat any dairy due to massive congestion and skin-breaky-outy episodes that ensue.




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                    2. I do not care how much liver this girl eats. She looks like she needs to get her thyroid checked, by the way.

                      She did not produce a peer reviewed paper refuting Dr. Campbell. She looked at his studies and she is selling herself as a nutritionist with a degree in University Studies, or English. You go ahead and keep seeking people to substantiate your beliefs on different blogs.

                      But, please quit saying things about the medical professionals and researchers that are not true unless you can produce a peer reviewed paper from someone who is qualified.

                      Again, why do you need to eat meat when it is not necessary. It helps you, it helps the planet, and it helps the animals not being killed. Win, win, win.




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                    3. I’m replying to your post to add what hasn’t been specified in my reading, that Campbell took the trouble to analyze the deficiencies in her presentations, in the course of which he showed nicely some of the shortcomings of such overconfident, once-over-litely correlation analyses.
                      Ego and prejudice often opacify brainpower.




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            3. Nothing, if you like coronary disease. Humans are herbivores and animal foods cause inflammation and cholesterol deposits in our arteries over time. People like you are trying to ignore our evolutionary digestive system and trying live like an omnivore. You will eventually find out the hard way that the meat, eggs and dairy you like is killing you slowly.




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                1. Charles, I enjoyed the start of your first-cited article till I came to the “purely carnivorous” Neanderthal humans of yore. That’s an old error, and should have been corrected by now. Tooth examination has improved quite a bit, grass genera and species eaten by Neanderthals can be recognized, and articles with such holes aren’t worth reading for some of us, though as with Creationist errors a few keep up the vain effort.
                  That doesn’t mean humans are herbivores, just that cherry-picking is a mirrored activity, and older cherries have worse taste– probably because their antioxidant value is down.




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        3. Charles: As Mike has pointed out, this study has used vegetarians not vegans. Even if it were vegans, there’re two types of vegans: junk-food vegans (beer, soda, chips, doughnuts, Frnch fries, etc.) and whole-food vegans. A valid comparison would be one between whole-food vegans and omnivores.




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          1. A valid comparison would also be between whole food vegans and whole food non-vegans instead of using the SAD as the reference diet.




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        4. The other key issue with this Austrian study is one noted by the researchers:”This might indicate that the vegetarians in our study consume this form of diet as a consequence of their disorders, since a vegetarian diet is often recommended as a method to manage weight [10] and health [46].”
          and
          “no statements can be made whether the poorer health in vegetarians in our study is caused by their dietary habit or if they consume this form of diet due to their poorer health status”.
          That doesn’t stop the anti-vegetarian zealots strongly implying vegetarianism causes poorer health. It’s far more likely that poorer health inclines people to vegetarianism – especially when we consider that long term vegetarians for religious reasons (ie 7th Day Adventists) enjoy better health and lower mortality than meat eaters.




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        5. A vegetarian diet that contains eggs and dairy is very unhealthy, as vegetarians tend to rely a great deal on eggs and cheese for their protein. I’m whole food plant based, but if I were in an extreme (and unlikely) situation where the only food to eat was cheese or steak, I’d eat the steak.




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        6. Charles, so I have to ask. Why do you come here every day to put down Dr. Gregers work? You insult him at every turn, calling him a “cherry picker” and other inflammatory statements. And then you get blow back from everybody as if you seem to bask in your insults to Dr G and staff. I don’t understand why you bother. I have a hunch it’s because you know deep down that animal food products are killing you slowly but you just don’t want to give up the foods you love and by coming here and putting down Dr Gs work it somehow quells your cognitive dissidence with regards to animal foods. That’s you choice but let us plant eaters be. No need to come here and badger us every day. Why do the moderaters let you get away with it. I have no clue.




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          1. Calling Dr Greger a “cherry picker” is not an insult it happens to be the truth. He will only cite studies that back up his paradigm.

            “you know deep down that animal food products are killing you slowly .” I certainly do not know that – in fact I’m healthier now then I’ve ever been.

            “somehow quells your cognitive dissidence with regards to animal foods” a statement not based on fact

            I would say it’s you that has a problem – for one you choose not to use your real name – you also refuse to consider any science which may disprove your chosen way of eating – not unlike a creationist




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            1. Yes, but you ignore the ‘cherry picking and bias’ of the studies that agree with your diet. So you are just as bais and cherry pick yourself. Maybe you should scrap those ‘bias cherry picking’ fingers at the Meat, eggs and dairy industry funded studies that you give a free pass to while ignoring the data that Dr Greger presents. You yourself seem to be the very poster child for ‘cherry picking, bias’. with regards to animal foods.




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          2. Dr. Greger encourages interaction as long as everyone stays civil. Rarely does anyones comments get removed from this site. There is someone who posts kind of nasty comments and then removes them a few days later so that you see only the responses to her comments which I find a bit odd.
            Charles has posted comments for a long time and he is used to us arguing with him.
            He is our omnivore with an attitude. But, I just can’t get him to try Golden Retriever! http://www.carnism.org/




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      2. Oh darn Joe, I was hoping the next video would help illuminate the mysterious, loathsome malady that causes those poor addled, addicted, flesh mongers to compulsively gravitate here, only to forcefully regurgitate their spurious opinions, inane baiting, and fanatical contrary drivel in the face of Dr G’s generous efforts and illuminating contributions to clarity. Sigh, so messy! I know when you eat something bad, it can really disturb the bowels, but that it spews out the wrong end is infinitely more dreadful! Well, the one positive aspect is, since it seems to be transmitted in decomposing carcasses, at least we know we’re immune. :)




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        1. It must be their incredible happiness and excessive tolerance towards people who don’t eat meat that draws them here to point out the short comings of those on a WFPB diet. It’s like they are on




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        2. Although I am currently WFPB with no animal products intake, I have not closed my accounts on the possibility that I and perhaps most of our species would do better with some animal products in their diet. Since my mind is not closed to this possibility, I enjoy Charles Granshow’s comments and references. However, the study cited by Charles to cast doubt on the WFPB no animal products diet, has holes big enough to drive a Mack truck through.




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      1. Beat me to it! I was going to observe to the happy “mat eater” he’s eating far more fiber than this humble WF-PB vegan is. Well done Charles!




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      2. I like it when people can disagree respectfully, and using a sense of humor like nonyabizz did here keeps it positive. There are many people here with different variations of diets. Dr. Greger doesn’t want to tell people exactly what he eats because he wants us to do it our way, not just putting hot sauce on everything. Some like to ferment, others don’t. Some eat small amounts of meat. Some are vegetarians. Some are vegans. Some don’t like raw veggies, others do. Let’s try to work together and learn in a fun way. John S




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  4. So the Founding Fathers were right: we should all pursue happiness – so that we could be healthy? I humbly do the opposite: I pursue health, so that I could be happy.




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    1. Very interesting video … thanks for sharing this here! I do have one question, though. If the placebo effect is this powerful, wouldn’t this put huge doubts in the results of any double-blind study of medicines/nutrients? In other words, the effects on each subject would be highly dependent on whether or not he “believed” he was getting the real thing. If a person were really optimistic and believed he was getting the real thing, he would have positive results independent of whether he was really getting the real thing or not. And vice versa for a pessimistic person. So to get valid results in the study, one would have factor in whether or not each person “thought” he was getting the real thing. Does this question sound valid to anyone else, or am I misunderstanding something here?




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      1. Double blind placebo control and large enough sample are here to lower close to zero the incertainty linked to all those factors. Although IMHO sample are always not large enough and core data never transparently displayed.




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    2. I have always thought the same, and I think we should celebrate the positive attributes of the placebo effect, not grieve it. I think it’s effect is illustrated throughout our history. People recover from insurmountable physical odds and can preform “impossible” feats like lifting a car off a trapped victim, when they are convinced somehow that they can. Conversely, the nocebo effect is equally powerful… if a person was banished from their tribe to die, they would die… even if food was plentiful and conditions were livable. People who lose life-long beloved partners will often perish shortly after, even if they weren’t ill. Taken to the extreme, people with multiple personality disorder can physically demonstrate what appears to be different physiology for each personality! http://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/28/science/probing-the-enigma-of-multiple-personality.html?pagewanted=all Our minds are beyond amazing and mysterious and they most certainly play a big role in our health outcomes! If only we could harness it!




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  5. I am LOVING Dr. Greger’s new book, How Not To Die for several reasons. One thing I noticed, though, was that I wasn’t learning a whole lot new. Most of the information is already covered here on NutritionFacts. I *have* found some nuggets that seemed new to me and wondered if Dr. Greger would be covering the topic here on NutritionFacts. And sure enough, Dr. Greger is doing just that one by one!

    I love how Dr. Greger is making the distinction between mental illness and mental health. So often I hear the term mental health, but people are really talking about mental illness. I had not thought of that before.




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    1. For me its the way the book is organized is sooo useful in conjunction with the website. And it is easier to pull a book out when people are asking questions about WFPB/NF stuff. Usually our conversations are within a context of heart/head/cancer or some specific ailment. The one thing I hope to see develop even more is the “symphony” concept and less emphasis on which variety of Arugula has the most antioxidants type vid.

      One time my wife was taking care of a friend’s kid. Poor guy had been labeled AHDADSAH syndromes, you name it he had it. She got him calmed down after a wild tantrum and asked him, “You don’t like feeling like this do you?” Ans. “No”
      She said, “I want you to do something for me, breath in through your nose and out through you mouth.” and he got so calmed down the tears cleared and she spent a few minutes explaining to him that he was in control of how he felt and if he didn’t want to feel angry he could remember the breathing exercise and use what he learned to make himself happy.

      I really don’t know what became of him, they moved back to the old country but I learned something that day and I’ve never let the blues win since that day. Although I think sometimes I really like to indulge in some self pity. because, you know, I suffer … from too much happiness! In through the nose…out through the mouth….works everytime.

      “If you love a thing, set it free. If it comes back, you own it. If it doesn’t come back you don’t own it. ”
      -Bubbles




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      1. I get it, though the scientist in me loves the details, the old person in me just wants to simplify with the essential basics and see the big picture without having to keep a tally or tease out the critical stuff. The good doctor’s mission here is analyzing specific topics of studies, and I love that, but often wish there was a website in a similar vein (following the best science) that was more holistic and general. I’m sure that is part of the reason he wrote the book, he certainly has a track record for going above and beyond the call of duty! I think he even offered assist to anyone who wanted to pick up the ball, (or else it’s my senile delusions again. lol) but anyway, it would be nice if someone else with the talents could hop in the game!




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        1. “Modern thinking” trends toward reductionist partial differential equations. Hold all the variables constant except 1 and force it into the form y = mx + b. Its a hold over from the pre-computer days. Now we have brilliant computer models that can embrace many variables. We can model the weather and galaxies. Surely we can come at nutrition the same way. Someone with talent should be listening to the symphony. If a violin is out of tune, throw it out…but let the music play on. Darryl could do it

          Why do we need a model? As Dr G has pointed out many times…you can’t ethically ask people to participate in studies that could harm them. All models are wrong, some models are useful. Once we have that in place we can ask the tough questions…Once we learn it, we learn it forever. We just have to start.

          “~la lee la laa~”
          – Curly Joe




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      2. Rhombopterix: I can’t remember if I already mentioned that I am glad you are back commenting again on NutritionFacts. Your posts can really add to the discussion. The story of your wife and the kid is beautiful. I remember you telling me about your chickens. (I think that was you.) You are great!
        .
        re: book organization. I’m totally in agreement with that! It’s a vast, vast amount of information. And somehow Dr. Greger managed to put it all together and not make it sound like random subjects popping up every other sentence. And I totally agree that the book format can be more accessible than the video. I can quickly look up some information in the book that would take forever to find on the website. But the website has strengths too. The two formats compliment each other nicely.
        .
        Take care.




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  6. Dr. Greger, I know it’s a bit out of the scope of NutritionFacts.org, but do you ever plan on investigating the science of different sunscreens? It would be good to know different effects like problems/cancer risk associated with various chemicals such as oxybenzone etc vs some kind of zinc-oxide-based sunscreen vs not wearing sunscreen at all.

    Thanks for all that you do!




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    1. Brett: Every once in a while, Dr. Greger does venture out of the realm of nutrition to address other health related topics. So, you may get your wish. I hope so since I’m very interested in that topic also!




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      1. me too. I wonder if my turmeric soap confers any first-line protection against uv radiation? I think dietary antioxidants help, what about topical?




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    2. Brett, try Environmental Working Group online. Their coverage of various products needs some careful evaluation, but sunscreens are well thought out, and you can do much worse than staying with their (best) products rated 1 or 0.
      In some cases (conditioner), that’s easy; in others (lipstick), impossible.




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  7. Funny, I was wondering if the reason I haven’t caught colds even after being in the midst of sneezes and coughs has more to do with my immune system or better mental state. Guess you’d have a hard time separating the two, though I love the cold test they did. I could use that $800!




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      1. Yeah Wade, you are observant! Disqus was giving me a hard time logging in so I was trying to change some parameters and ended up using an alternate screen name as a test, and just ended up leaving it that way apparently, because I didn’t even notice it until I posted! It’s so appropriate anyway, I guess I’ll just leave it!




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        1. Yes I don’t get the “log in” stuff. Seems I’m logged in for a week and then not for a day or two, then again for a long time.

          Got other stuff to worry about-not “diss cus” vs. NF.O vs. FB log-in techniques and differences…

          If you’d changed your avatar I might not have been so “observant”.




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  8. Happy egg eaters: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2016/02/10/ajcn.115.122317.abstract

    I had to pipe up on this one. about a quarter of men in the study had heart attacks over 20 years. Say 10 out of a thousand have an infarct each year. And thats a positive result? Their cholesterol load was so high it just doesnt matter how many eggs you slurp down.

    comon darn it people…get up from you chairs right now and go the window and shout out loud ” I’m … oh nevermind.




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    1. Yes, experimental studies (which adequately adjust for dietary confounders) have pretty much demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that where baseline cholesterol is low, added dietary cholesterol does adversely affect risk factors in most people. However, observational studies obscure this relationship because people can be eating equally unhealthy foods in place of, in this case, eggs and cholesterol. We see the same thing with saturated fat studies, of course.
      Unfortunately, there’s a substantial amount of “research” money available directly or indirectly from the food industries for this type of “research” hence the flood of studies in recent decades which seems to show that high saturated fat and high cholesterol foods are harmless.
      And the professional journals are not immune just as they weren’t immune to the influence of the tobacco industry back in the day. Note this editorial in “Advances in Nutrition” where the lead author is Executive Director of the Egg Nutrition Center (and yet the authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest!).
      http://advances.nutrition.org/content/3/5/711.full




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      1. agreed…the thing that flips me out about these news stories that get repeated across the unisphere ad nausea is the lack of critical thinking. over 230 people had heart attacks out of 1000. And not one jurinolist thought that was anything but good news? Eat up folks, we be screewed anyway so go suck eggs” should be the title.

        Hey Tom, was your mom bit by a lot of skeeters? just wondering.




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            1. Thanks – that makes sense (I think). But there were no disease carrying mosquitoes where I and my mother grew up. There were some gnats in summer but that’s it. I wonder what his point is?




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  9. I was reading a popular Low-carb blog when I came across this thread. I think it’s important that people considering High Fat / Low-Carb diets see these stories. Dr Greger warns against these ‘ticking time bomb’ diets for good reason.

    From Marks ‘Daily Apple’ blog.

    “Had heart attack on Sunday 22nd

    in the early hours – taken to coronary care unit in Frimley Park
    Hospital, apparently I had a blocked RH coronary artery (?)as well as
    “severe arterial plaque” and narrowing of the artery.

    A catheter was inserted into my right wrist, clot sorted out (how do
    they do that?) and a stent fitted. I am now back home with loads of
    tablets, etc etc (including a statin which I don’t want and will stop
    once I’ve had my various follow up consultancies, cardiac rehab etc
    etc). And of course, dietary advice recommends “vegetable oils”, avoid
    sat fats, eat heart healthy grains, avoid red meat – all the stuff I
    don’t believe in.

    I’ve been ‘paleo” / “primal” for quite a lot of years now – initially
    VLC, then added white potatoes, occasional white rice and occasional
    (well soaked) legumes. I eat fish, organic grass fed beef, lamb and free
    range chicken, loads of organic veg, organic fruit, butter from grass
    fed cows, organic beef fat from grass fed cattle, olive oil, lots of
    herbs, spices, turmeric, organic cocoa powder and chocolate, loads of
    eggs, some cheese from grass fed cattle – all sat fat but not to excess.

    After the stent fitting etc, while in hospital, I was told that my total
    cholesterol level was 5.4 (UK, so no information on LDL /HDL levels)
    which I thought was OK? . I am utterly confused as to why this should
    happen? Any ideas where I have gone wrong?

    I am 63 years old, male, slim (150 lbs) 6 feet tall and, apart from
    sever asthma, I had always thought of myself as pretty fit. Of course,
    friends are already mentioning my sat fat diet! I don’t intend to change
    this – but should I be unlucky enough to ever have another heart attack
    and not survive – I will have been a standing example to the “sceptics”
    that Ancel Keys et al were correct all along!!!”

    Here is the link if anyone cares to help him. Maybe get him a copy of ‘HOW NOT TO DIE”.

    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread117283.html




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    1. guest: Oh wow, oh wow. Talk about a serious disconnect or fuzzy thinking. He can have *ANOTHER* heart attack and only if he dies, ***THEN*** Ancel Keys is right???? Oh dear.
      .
      Of course, I have to be careful in my own thinking. How often have I told people that eating healthy lowers risk, but is not a guarantee of preventing disease? So, maybe his thinking is perfectly legitimate… Sigh. Sometimes it’s no fun being an adult. But I do think that heart attacks are a bit different in that most people have control over their cholesterol levels even after they have messed their bodies up for years. Most can get those levels down to safe numbers with diet alone or with diet and drugs as necessary for special cases. So when it comes to heart attacks, for the vast majority of people I think it really is a matter of choice and not as much a matter of risk reduction. I base this statement on Esselstyn’s and Ornish’s work.
      .
      Great find. Love your last line/paragraph. ;-)




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      1. “when it comes to heart attacks, for the vast majority of people I think
        it really is a matter of choice and not as much a matter of risk
        reduction”
        is unfortunately only true on objective sites like this; people wading, swimming or drowning in popular media will get gee-whiz ‘facts’ chosen for novelty effect, and the resultant doctrine ‘yesterday they said X, now they say Y, tomorrow it’ll be X again’ is held by most.
        Also, many ‘facts’ portrayed online seem immune to correction: a certain doctor, not Voldemort but I won’t name him, keeps insisting that (some?) sea salts are only 84% NaCl, which a few seconds’ thought would find impossible without heavy processing.




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  10. That’s nonsense! – It’s the other way round:
    People who are healthier (better immune functions, etc.) are happier.
    (Besides the question how to measure happiness.)

    There is nothing like a “soul” or even a “mind” – everything is an expression of physical matter.




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