Do Lutein Supplements Help with Brain Function?

Do Lutein Supplements Help with Brain Function?
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Avocados, greens, and lutein and zeaxanthin supplements are put to the test for improving cognitive function.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Dark green leafy vegetables are packed with a brain antioxidant called lutein. And so, increasing our greens intake could be an “important public health strategy for reducing the risk of visual or cognitive impairment.” Lutein is the dominant dietary pigment in the retina of the eye as well as the brain; and so, “not surprising that macular pigment,” the concentration of lutein in the center of the eye called the macula, “was found to be significantly correlated with levels in” the brain, which may explain the link between how much of these greens nutrients you can see in the back of the eye and cognitive function. The neuroprotection is assumed to be because lutein is such a powerful antioxidant, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties.

“This relationship between lutein and [another greens nutrient called] zeaxanthin and visual and cognitive health throughout the lifespan is compelling.” But that was based on observational studies, where you observe that higher lutein levels and brain function seem to go together, but you don’t know if it’s cause and effect until…you put it to the test. “Could [lutein] and [zeaxanthin] be supplemented as part of a lifestyle intervention to both improve [brain] function and reduce the [probability of slipping into dementia]?” The reason everyone is so excited about the possibility is because of the hopeful data from eye health studies that have convinced many ophthalmologists to start recommending people start increasing their lutein and zeaxanthin intake to prevent and treat macular degeneration, a leading cause of age-related vision loss. You don’t have to take pills, though. Adding as little as 60 grams of spinach a day for a month—that’s like one-fifth of a ten-ounce package of frozen spinach—can significantly boost macular pigment in most people.

And it not just good for treating diseased eyes. A randomized, placebo-controlled study found that these greens goodies can improve visual processing speed in young healthy people—that’s like when you’re trying to hit a fastball and your body has to start reacting before you even consciously register it, with real-world benefits outside the major leagues, improving, for example, visual performance during driving. Okay, but what about cognition?

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of adults, average age 73, given the equivalent of about a half-cup a day’s worth of cooked kale, or a full cup of cooked spinach, and got significant improvements in cognitive function compared to those randomized to the placebo.

It may even work in young adults too; average age 21. Daily supplementation with that same amount of lutein and zeaxanthin not only increased their macular pigment, but resulted in significant improvements in brain function—spatial memory, reasoning ability, and complex attention.

Have they ever tried putting whole foods to the test? Hard to get Americans to eat greens every day, but not so hard to get them to eat guacamole. “This study tested the effects of the intake of avocado on cognition. …[a] six-month, randomized, controlled trial.” What was the control? One avocado a day, or a potato, or a cup of chickpeas, and…those in the avocado group had a significant improvement cognitive function. But, to the Avocado Board’s chagrin…so did the tater and chickpea group. That’s the problem with having healthy placebos; maybe they should have used iceberg lettuce or something.

What about the impact on cognition of those who really need it: Alzheimer’s disease patients? Their vision got better; that’s good, but no significant changes in cognitive function. Now it’s possible that eating whole foods, like dark green leafies, might have worked better than just the pigments in pill form.

Yes, “oxidation and inflammation appear to be key” to both Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration, but “neither [disease] seems particularly amenable to late-stage treatments.” That’s why prevention is the key. Reducing oxidation and inflammation in the earliest stages may be “our most promising approach.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Anna via Adobe Stock Photos. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Dark green leafy vegetables are packed with a brain antioxidant called lutein. And so, increasing our greens intake could be an “important public health strategy for reducing the risk of visual or cognitive impairment.” Lutein is the dominant dietary pigment in the retina of the eye as well as the brain; and so, “not surprising that macular pigment,” the concentration of lutein in the center of the eye called the macula, “was found to be significantly correlated with levels in” the brain, which may explain the link between how much of these greens nutrients you can see in the back of the eye and cognitive function. The neuroprotection is assumed to be because lutein is such a powerful antioxidant, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties.

“This relationship between lutein and [another greens nutrient called] zeaxanthin and visual and cognitive health throughout the lifespan is compelling.” But that was based on observational studies, where you observe that higher lutein levels and brain function seem to go together, but you don’t know if it’s cause and effect until…you put it to the test. “Could [lutein] and [zeaxanthin] be supplemented as part of a lifestyle intervention to both improve [brain] function and reduce the [probability of slipping into dementia]?” The reason everyone is so excited about the possibility is because of the hopeful data from eye health studies that have convinced many ophthalmologists to start recommending people start increasing their lutein and zeaxanthin intake to prevent and treat macular degeneration, a leading cause of age-related vision loss. You don’t have to take pills, though. Adding as little as 60 grams of spinach a day for a month—that’s like one-fifth of a ten-ounce package of frozen spinach—can significantly boost macular pigment in most people.

And it not just good for treating diseased eyes. A randomized, placebo-controlled study found that these greens goodies can improve visual processing speed in young healthy people—that’s like when you’re trying to hit a fastball and your body has to start reacting before you even consciously register it, with real-world benefits outside the major leagues, improving, for example, visual performance during driving. Okay, but what about cognition?

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of adults, average age 73, given the equivalent of about a half-cup a day’s worth of cooked kale, or a full cup of cooked spinach, and got significant improvements in cognitive function compared to those randomized to the placebo.

It may even work in young adults too; average age 21. Daily supplementation with that same amount of lutein and zeaxanthin not only increased their macular pigment, but resulted in significant improvements in brain function—spatial memory, reasoning ability, and complex attention.

Have they ever tried putting whole foods to the test? Hard to get Americans to eat greens every day, but not so hard to get them to eat guacamole. “This study tested the effects of the intake of avocado on cognition. …[a] six-month, randomized, controlled trial.” What was the control? One avocado a day, or a potato, or a cup of chickpeas, and…those in the avocado group had a significant improvement cognitive function. But, to the Avocado Board’s chagrin…so did the tater and chickpea group. That’s the problem with having healthy placebos; maybe they should have used iceberg lettuce or something.

What about the impact on cognition of those who really need it: Alzheimer’s disease patients? Their vision got better; that’s good, but no significant changes in cognitive function. Now it’s possible that eating whole foods, like dark green leafies, might have worked better than just the pigments in pill form.

Yes, “oxidation and inflammation appear to be key” to both Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration, but “neither [disease] seems particularly amenable to late-stage treatments.” That’s why prevention is the key. Reducing oxidation and inflammation in the earliest stages may be “our most promising approach.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Anna via Adobe Stock Photos. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

What is this lutein stuff? If you missed the previous video, check out Brain-Healthy Foods to Fight Aging.

What’s one convenient way to pack in the greens? How about Green Smoothies: What Does the Science Say?

I also make a vegetable-based smoothie in one of my rare cooking show vids: Dr. Greger in the Kitchen: My New Favorite Beverage

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

163 responses to “Do Lutein Supplements Help with Brain Function?

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    1. Dr Greger, We all owe you and your team of volunteers a big “Thank you” for all the valuable information presented on this website! I look forward to your new videos every week.

      1. I along with Hal, Joe and Deb appreciate and look forward to your great work in fun and informative videos and blogs. Happy New Year to Dr. Greger and the Staff.

        1. thanks dr m for your the info and your website, not only did it save my life, your so great i can post question and get answers, your website is the best. thank you & here is another off topic ?

          i have been on 100% PBD & off blood presure pills for a year and half & blood presue checks were good–an average 108/74.( i know blood presure can change easly so i have been takig it a few times a day for a week) but recently i have increased veg and lowered my beans and sweet potatoes to cut calories to 1200/day & i am hiking and going to gym to lift weights & every moring when i way myself i am loosing a pound/day–because i need to drop from 230 to 170 & just not loosig weight on 2000 cals a day & not much excerse ( i never ate bad food) now average 129/83 ?? is it possible When a overweight person starts dieting and exercising and losing weight fast is there is a temporary rise in blood pressure because fats being burned that are circulating in thier blood.

          1. Hey Dale- You’re doing the right things and getting steady, great results. With ongoing weight loss, your blood pressure will stabilize in the normal range of 100s-110/70s or so. No need to check your BP several times daily. I’d suggest check it once a day, same time each day, before breakfast is a good time. Additional BP recording advice: have both feet resting on floor, BP arm resting on an arm chair or table, take after you’ve been sitting for 3-5 minutes, use same arm each time, and check BP not through any shirt but on a bare arm. Also, some folks need a larger cuff if their arms are larger: the cuff shouldn’t feel tight before it inflates. Some patients are salt sensitive, and BP can raise after a salty meal. My patients who include alcohol in their diet tend to have higher BPs than lower when they eliminate alcohol. Neither of these factors may apply to you. It’s the trend and long term average BP that matter. You’re making great strides and I wouldn’t worry about it for now.

            On calorie intake, 2000 calories/days is too high for the majority of people to lose weight. Everyone’s metabolic rate differs, and this rate changes without each person. While there are those who can take in 4000 calories daily and maintain a stable weight, most people need far fewer calories. It looks to me that you’ve done a great job finding your intake for weight loss and I agree with you sticking with that amount to reach your goals.

            Best luck and WAY TO GO! Dr Anderson, Cardiologist and Health Support Volunteer

            1. unrelated. Im trying to find a way to find out what Dr. Gregor takes or recommends to supplement in his diet he said he takes a couple of capsules of caps of dried amla a day, does he have or recommend a short list of these anywhere? like cinnamon, tumeric, etc. thanks.

                1. Don’t know if you’ll receive this email but I would also like to find out if dr. Greger knows of an alternative to taking aspirin. I had a t i a a couple years ago and my neurologist wants me to be on aspirin 81 mg daily I’ve heard of adverse reactions to taking aspirin. I heard him speak of amla capsules. Is there any chance you could find out if they would be a safe alternative two aspirin to achieve the same results

                  1. an alternative to taking aspirin. I had a t i a a couple years ago and my neurologist wants me to be on aspirin 81 mg daily I’ve heard of adverse reactions to taking aspirin.
                    ————————————————————————-
                    Dan, I have very good news for you… that is, there is a plant based alternative to asprin called White Willow Bark. This is where the idea of aspirin actually came from as it is the synthesized version of the plant product. I take a 500 mg vegi-cap 2, sometimes 3 times a day… especially one at night before retiring.

                    Reason is, it is very good at managing your platelets (at least in my case.) Since many if not most heart attacks occur at night and are usually caused by some insult to your arteries causing platelets to rush to the internal injury and try to heal it by heaping a bunch of spackle (read: platelets) on the insult.

                    My personal experience is that my platelets show to be in range according to my labs (and cuts do stop bleeding quickly) so I’m not concerned with having too few and being unable to stop bleeding.

                    As for your neurological concerns, I personally take a plant based supplement called Naringinen. It comes from citrus and is helpful in clearing out the trash in the brain according to a study done in Japan. (Sorry, I don’t have a link as a computer crash caused me to lose my links library.)

                    1. How does this compare to aspirin 81 are there any potential side effects like the possibility of macular degeneration or bleeding in the stomach like aspirin. With regular aspirin I get large bruises on my arms if I bump them I thought I had heard dr. Greger talking about amla and also how it can work like aspirin. Just because of the amazing nutrients health benefits of amla I would be interested in going that direction but again I’d like to somehow get his opinion on what would work best and if there are any potential side effects of any alternative. Heard it’s not recommend not taking aspirin more than once a day. Thank you if there’s any way you can reach him

                    2. I thought I had heard dr. Greger talking about amla and also how it can work like aspirin… Is there any chance you could find out if they would be a safe alternative two aspirin to achieve the same results
                      ——————————————————————————————
                      Haven’t heard the Amla mimicking aspirin news. And I’ve pretty much emptied knowledge tank in my post above. Maybe a moderator can help you.

                    3. So are you saying you can’t contact dr. Gregor? I’m not familiar with using a moderator what does that mean

                    4. So are you saying you can’t contact dr. Gregor? I’m not familiar with using a moderator what does that mean
                      —————————————————————————————————————————————
                      Yes, I’m sayin’ I can’t contact Dr. Greger.

                      Many have asked for a response (akin to a private consultation) on the boards and eventually a moderator may see the request and answer for him. He’s a busy man and a world traveler giving talks and there’s probably just no time to do Internet “house calls”… so to speak.

                      Maybe try to find one of his Internet chat dates and go on there and ask your question.

                2. Hello,
                  Lutein (in supplement form) has me confused now. I thought lutein supplements were actually bad for you; in fact, they increased the risk of cancer. But this video seemed to put lutein supplements in a more positive light.
                  Please advise. And thank you!
                  Tony

                  1. Tony,

                    Not sure where your hearing the cancer/lutein connection information. To the contrary it’s the opposite.

                    From a VERY conventional point of view see this article for more info: https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/lutein#targetText=Current%20evidence%20is%20not%20sufficient,the%20risk%20of%20some%20cancers.&targetText=Because%20it%20is%20an%20antioxidant,no%20studies%20have%20proved%20this.

                    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.Centerofhealth.com

                    1. Hello, Sir, and thank you for responding.
                      Just prior to me asking about lutein, I watched a short video on the nutritionfacts.org site that compared three “common” supplements, and Dr. Greger said that of the three, lutein was not only not efficacious, but he also displayed some evidence that lutein supplements increased the risk of cancer.

                      Thank you for providing the link.  I will most certainly read that article.

    2. I love frozen spinach and was eating spinach and corn every day for three months per an earlier video for my eyes. However, toward the end of the three months, I had to go to the emergency room for kidney stones – had two very small stones that were sharp and very painful. I stopped doing the spinach and have not had any problems since then. It seems like the spinach may create oxalic acid that could have caused the stone formation. Do you know of any of these brain and vision studies using spinach consumption that also reported on kidney stone formation. I have never had kidney stones in my life before – I am 69, and haven’t had them since I stopped the daily spinach consumption.

      1. It could be coincidence as 3 months is a very a short term to develop a kidney stone. Although I’m no expert on kidney stones.
        That said, you could try a vegetable lower in oxalic acid. As lutein is found in green leafy vegetables, not just spinach.

        Note: Vitamin C Supplements and several other foods are linked to kidney stones too.

        1. I agree with others, 3 months seems like a short time to have developed the kidney stones. I doubt the spinach was actually the cause. I eat an incredible amount of oxalic acid-containing foods everyday and have consecutively for years while also consuming a lot of turmeric and other spices high in it, I’ve never had a problem. I am vegan and therefore 100% plant based… I wonder if those eating a more acidic diet consisting of animal products might be more sensitive to oxalic acid.

          1. Oxalate binds with calcium to form an insoluble salt. The crystals can grow larger and become a problem. Ingesting insoluble oxalate is less of a problem because it’s already bound to something and so it will just end up in your stool. Soluble oxalate is the one that can bind to available calcium and cause problems in your kidneys or other tissues. If the crystals form in your gut and your gut is not compromised, the crystals will just exit with your stool.

            You can use citric acid (citrus fruit) to bind with calcium instead. The calcium citrate formed is soluble so will pass through the kidneys OK. You don’t want oxalates to bind in the kidneys because that’s where calcium-oxalate type kidney stones can form. It’s just that so many foods have oxalate in them.

            Grains, beans, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, tubers (potatoes and sweet potatoes, yams). Chocolate, tea, many leafy greens, berries, many fruits.
            Kiwifruit is interesting because it produces raphides, needle like calcium oxalate crystals that can act as an irritant while it passes down your oesophagus. Plants make these to discourage animals from eating them.

            For many plants, researchers can’t get a handle on how much oxalates they have because it depends on the soils they grow in and the organic matter they feed on. Spinach, rhubarb, chard and beets are the worst vegetables.
            How much oxalate can your body cope with? That may vary with people.

            1. Mine and many others’ diets consist primarily of the foods and drink Arthur mentions, in abundance. If we were that sensitive to a WFPB diet, there’d be an epidemic going on and the science and these comments boards would read very differently. Maybe just take Kate’s advice and don’t load up on cups of spinach everyday.

                1. Or maybe it was the corn?
                  ——————————————–
                  Speaking of corn, where does hominy fit in, in re: the lutein content?

                  Seems I remember reading some years ago that Niacin remains bound in corn but in hominy it is released. Would like to know if the reverse is true of lutein.

        2. If my memory is correct, I think I remember reading years ago in the book “The China Study” that it only takes slightly less than one ounce of animal protein to raise all the risk factors in the blood for kidney stones. I think it was mentioned that the information came from a researcher in the UK or Great Britain?

      2. Dianne, I like to eat a variety of veggies a day — all the colors of the rainbow, different parts of the plant (roots, tubers, stems, leaves, buds, fruits, seeds, etc). It makes my diet more interesting, and I figure I’m eating most to all of what I should be.

        I’m 68 (almost), and have never had a kidney or any other kind of stone. My husband, before he met me, had bladder stones every 2-3 years, but not one in the 11 years we’ve been together. I was vegetarian, to which he switched (as a widower, he was happy to eat my cooking!), but we’ve both transitioned to plant based whole foods over the past several years.

        And many, many veggies — green, yellow, orange — contain plant pigments which include lutein. A reader posted a link with a very useful list.

        We do love kale and collards, which I prepare very simply (raw in salads (kale) or cooked (both), such as steamed or added to soups and stews). And I’m learning to eat turnip greens — are they better than the turnips? — as well as other greens I grow in the backyard garden. It’s fun to experiment.

        1. Perfect answer. We are not suppose to eat the same food everyday in super large quantities. Spinach everyday is probably like broccoli everyday, I did this until I couldn’t. I stopped broccoli, and cabbage and switched to collards and beets. The to mustard greens, them back to kale. I think our body will give us signs we it’s ready for a switch. Or just switch randomly and avoid the warnings

      3. Make sure to look at all aspects of your diet.

        The spinach may have been the cause or if your diet is pushing you towards kidney stones, the spinach might have been what pushed you over the edge making the spinach only a contributor and not the actual cause.

        Look at your entire diet including how you eat your foods (raw, cooked, both), the beverages you are drinking and how much of them as well as the amount of movement or exercise that you are getting and your overall micro-nutrient intake.

        There are multiple factors that can give you stones so just make sure that you are not cutting out a healthy food because you though that was the cause rather than the spinach having enough oxalates to push you over the edge and thus, the spinach was more of an indicator of some other part of your diet or lifestyle that was a much larger component of the issue.

      4. Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this.

        Dr. Then don’t do that.
        ——————————————————
        Thankfully the natural world accepts that we are all individuals who need our own specific foods for surviving. That is, nature gives us alternatives that address the same individual needs.

      5. By the way, boiling and to a lesser extent, steaming reduces oxalate content.

        https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf048128d?src=recsys&journalCode=jafcau

        ” Boiling markedly reduced soluble oxalate content by 30−87% and was more effective than steaming (5−53%) and baking (used only for potatoes, no oxalate loss). An assessment of the oxalate content of cooking water used for boiling and steaming revealed an approximately 100% recovery of oxalate losses. The losses of insoluble oxalate during cooking varied greatly, ranging from 0 to 74%. Because soluble sources of oxalate appear to be better absorbed than insoluble sources, employing cooking methods that significantly reduce soluble oxalate may be an effective strategy for decreasing oxaluria in individuals predisposed to the development of kidney stone”

      6. if you have stopped all processed foods including oils, tofu &vegan junk and even almond milk, all supplements except b12, no medication, no white flour or sugar, kept sodium under 2000mg/ day, no coffee, no fake sugar or soda, no beer or wine, and of course no meat dairy or eggs. if all that was done -then maybe you could blame spinach.. I would try again 3 months is short period of time, and if all else was eliminated, and it happened again then through deductible reasoning, you could blame spinach. some people can eat nuts some can’t.

      7. Dianne,

        Two things which can help is drinking enough water and consuming calcium with oxalate-rich foods may reduce the risk of stones by binding the chemicals before they reach the kidneys. That and preparing the spinach differently, as Dr. J. suggested are the things I have read.

      8. Dianne, from what I understand, high sodium intake and low water intake is implicated in the formation of kidney stones. Some attribute them to a diet rich in animal protein as well. Adding lemon to drinking water is supposed to be a deterrent. By the way, kale is not high in oxalic acid and is higher in lutein than spinach.

      9. HI Dianne, while we can’t be sure whether the spinach was the cause for you, Dr. Greger did actually put out a note on oxalates in an email blast a few months ago: “I have become concerned enough about kidney stone risk that anyone who eats cups a day (as they should!) of dark green leafy vegetables should probably stick to low-oxalate greens (i.e. basically any greens other than spinach, swiss chard, and beet greens). Video forthcoming, but just wanted to give everyone a heads up.” So it’s definitely something to be aware of.

  1. I sent a link to this video to my two sisters, for whom 23-and-me genetic testing revealed an 8-fold increased risk of macular generation. This polymorphism is present in about 1% of the Northern European population group. All four of us siblings are also at an additional 3-fold risk, as are about 54% of our population group. This is a very common disease.

    As with so many of the scary age-related diseases we are at risk for, macular degeneration is apparently quite preventable.

    Eat your greens!!!

    1. Paul: I have the same question. The title of the video is “Do Lutein Supplements Help with Brain Function?” I watched the video twice but Dr. Greger doesn’t clearly answer it. From the abstract of the paper though, it seems to be the case.

      1. George, I went ploughing through the given sources from friday’s video re blueberries effect on cognition, and was about to come to the same conclusion as you but I read through this one
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4863274/?report=classic If you scroll down to the end and read the conclusion you will see the researchers remark that there was little effect on well-nourished elderly subjects. I am taking a new view to the videos at NF these days, and keeping expectations very low. If a person has been eating a good quality wfpb diet for some time, I think it unlikely that they would garner the same results we see in some of these videos. ie, we already are reaping the benefit.

          1. Since the switch from Disqus, there seems to be no way to do that. So it’s either subscribe and get blasted with every tons of comments you don’t care about or periodically search for your comment and take a look. A very unfortunate loss of function..

        1. Barb:
          Thank you for the link and the comments. I eat a lot of green leafy vegetables, but, given that most green leafy vegetables are highly perishable, it’s impossible for me to make sure that I eat them everyday. so, as insurance I take supplemental L/Z and was curious to know if it was effective. I still don’t know if this video answered the question. Lutein is not water soluble, so there is the question of the effect of excess lutein if it’s taken as a supplement.

    2. I just watched it once, quickly, but from what I gathered, they didn’t look into it enough to know if greens would have worked better. In any case, I wouldn’t consider lutein a safe option considering lutein supplements have been found to actually increase cancer risk: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/lutein-lycopene-and-selenium-pills/

      I was surprised that wasn’t mentioned here as a warning considering I could see people adding lutein pills to their shopping list over this information and Dr. Greger put the red light on lutein supplements back in 2009 as seen in the video above.

  2. How well is lutein absorbed from greens? Fat does help absorption, since lutein is fat solutble, but I still have the impression that most of the lutein we consume is not absorbed into our bodies.

    1. VegGuy, what on earth would give you that impression? Purely anecdotal but my experience in switching to a WFPB diet has been incredible in many regard and my vision is no exception! It’s amazing actually… I was sure I was going to need glasses which sucked because I knew then I’d want contacts and I wasn’t looking forward to jabbing things in my eyes which sucked even more because I knew then I’d eventually want laser eye surgery and I heard how creepy and painful it was… pain aside, the creepiness factor alone! I have a high tolerance for pain, but they eyes… echk. Anyways, I couldn’t see things from far away without them being blurry and it was pretty bad, I couldn’t read road signs properly, scroll through my tv, look at a digital clock from 6 feet away without it being blurry, and so on. Actually in general, faces and everything weren’t as clear as they should have been and as they were when I was little. I had hoped it would get better as my diet improved but was pretty sure I’d need laser. But as the months went by it just got better and better and before even fully realizing what was happening, it wasn’t an issue anymore and now I can honestly say that my vision is perfect or at least seems to be. I fully attribute it to diet and in particular (naturally) zeaxanthin and lutein which I didn’t even know about back then. And as you may have gathered, I’ve never supplemented with them.

    2. Hello VegGuy,
      Dr. Greger recommends eating greens with some sources of fat, such as avocado for that very specific reason. It does have a significant impact on how much nutrition we absorb. You’re correct in stating that we do not absorb 100% of the nutrients in our food; however, in the video I’ve linked below, increases in the retina’s lutein levels were seen after people were eating more lutein rich foods. This goes to show that enough is absorbed to make an impact on health.

      I hope this answers your question,

      Matt, Health Support Volunteer

      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/brain-healthy-foods-to-fight-aging/

    1. Dommy, someone from NF will probably be able to answer your question, but in the meantime allow me to share a link. https://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000138000000000000000-1w.html? Even for spunach and kale haters, there is a world of lutein-rich foods out there that even you may like! Get beyond page 1 and 2 and see what I’m talking about… chili peppers, air popped popcorn, corn meal (think cornbread) , peas and carrots, arugula and other lettuces, and the list goes on…. You may now be getting a lot more lutein than you thought.

      1. Thanks, Barb!
        Tonite we had steamed spinach with purple potatoes (plus EVOO and spices).
        Hey, not bad!
        Also ordered a bottle of L/Z/M capsules. Figured it can’t hurt.

        1. Great Dommy! Your dinner sounds yummy! And you’re right.. from what I have read so far, It can’t hurt – specially for those times like George describes when greens or your fav sources are in short supply. Best in health to you and yours!

      1. S, thanks for that heads up! This needs to be explored further, though after a brief search I’ve not been able to find ‘recent’ (under 10 years) confirmation of a causitive connection between lutein and lung CA.
        The supplement I ordered contains *20mg* lutein, so right away that’s giving me pause.

      2. Dommy, actually lutein supplements may be very dangerous–Dr. Greger put a warning out on them a few years ago: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/lutein-lycopene-and-selenium-pills/
        —————————————————————————–
        In a court of law, that would be objected to as hearsay evidence.

        But anyway, since that type of evidence has been entered into the record, I’ll offer some more.

        That is, my last eye check-up is improved. One thing I’ve done since my last one is start taking either lutein or lutein esters. When I take an astaxanthin + zeaxanthin pill I take the lutein esters. When I don’t take the astaxanthin/zeaxanthin I take the lutein + zeaxanthin.

        Not sayin’ definitively this is the reason for my improved eye health, but it certainly could be.

    2. Hello Dommy,

      The video above absolutely shows that supplements do provide a benefit; however, with whole foods there is often synergy within the plants that provide greater benefits. That is why we at Nutritionfacts.org promote a whole foods, plant based diet and generally avoid supplements (with a few exceptions). While spinach and kale are definitely powerhouses for L+Z, there are many other foods that contain plenty. Barb left a great link below (which I have also attached) that covers all the other great options you have if you don’t enjoy kale or spinach.

      Matt, Health Support Volunteer

      L+Z Foods: https://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000138000000000000000-1w.html

  3. Great info, and I love your sense of humor, Dr. Greger. I am a teacher and I often mention your site to students to help them understand how to discern whether a study is really looking carefully and fairly at the data.

    1. caff1945 This came up on a supplement for sale site. I’m assuming they have some basis for making these claims so I do not dismiss them out of hand.
      ——————————————————————–
      Tired Eyes? Astaxanthin — Knight in Shinning Armour
      If you’re one of the more than 72 million people in America who use a computer daily at work, you’re probably familiar with eye fatigue (8). Staring at a fixed distance object such as a computer screen for a long period of time can cause the muscles that focus your eyes (called the ciliary body) to tire or go into spasm. This can result in physical symptoms such as head discomfort, sensitivity to glare, tiredness, soreness, dryness, and blurry vision.

      Studies show that taking astaxanthin with other carotenoids protects against free-radical induced DNA damage, repairs UVA-irradiated cells, and inhibits inflammatory cell infiltration (9-12). Astaxanthin also helps support vascular health within the eye and improves visual acuity (11). Its fat-soluble nature offers protection to sensitive cells inside the eye (13)…

      The macular region of the human retina is yellow in color due to the presence of the macular pigment, composed of two dietary xanthophylls, lutein and zeaxanthin, and another xanthophyll, meso-zeaxanthin. The latter is formed from lutein in the retina (1).

      Scientists long ago discovered that the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin help protect the macula and photoreceptor outer segments throughout the retina from photo-initiated oxidative damage. New research has discovered that a third carotenoid, meso-zeaxanthin, is required by the aging macula to maintain its structural density…

      Patients with macular degeneration have been shown to have 30% less meso-zeaxanthin in their macula compared to healthy eyes (2). One reason for this deficiency of meso-zeaxanthin is lack of ingested lutein.

      Another explanation for the missing meso-zeaxanthin observed in macular degeneration may be the inability to adequately convert lutein to meso-zeaxanthin in the retina. Eating lots of lutein and zeaxanthin containing vegetables can help maintain the structural integrity of the macula (3,4). Unlike lutein and zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin is not found in the diet, but is converted in the retina from ingested lutein.1 If taken as a supplement, meso-zeaxanthin is absorbed into the blood stream and effectively increases macular pigment levels (5).
      ———————————————————————————————–
      I also take astaxanthin with zeaxanthin daily. Once tried liquid lutein drops that are very oily and terrible tasting, not to mention expensive. I’ve recently ordered some powdered Kale in hopes that will provide enough lutein to protect my vision. But now I’m curious about the meso-zeaxanthin as the seller probably has that in their formula and may be stressing the importance of the meso-zeax to help the sales of their product.

      1. Thanks for replying. Just FYI, the reason I use Astaxanthin was a show I saw on the Japanese network, NHK, in which they found that it helps reduce the size of enlarged hearts. Don’t know if research has been confirmed or is being studied in the US. But decided I’d try. I needed heart valve surgery, which means my heart was working hard for the years before it.

        1. Thanks for the FYI. I was curious about that but forgot to ask. Reducing the size of an enlarged heart is pretty special. I once saw a news item where in a South American country, Brazil I think, a doctor was experimenting with going in and actually cutting away a part of the heart to reduce the enlargement, so this is a much safer approach I think.

        1. Tom, they also do not show that Moringa Oleifera is a magic bullet but another poster has suggested it is higher in lutein than even kale. While I’ve asked him to post his proof of that, I do not neccesarily accept his premise but if that be true, then that means that the nih isn’t on top of what is best.

          All I’m saying is that just because they aren’t perceived to be a magic bullet, they may just be magic knife or arrow that helps. ‘-)

          And Pub Med does sing the praises of Moringa Oleifera as what sounds like THE Superfood. Astaxanthin & Zeaxanthin data is pretty well documented as containing many anti-oxidants so I think it is safe to put that information out in the public to let people decide for themselves if including it is warranted.

          Maybe the NIH is right in their studies that whatever they tested supplements aren’t helpful. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to all supplements anymore than saying that all Redheads are headstrong.

          1. Lonie- The research that we DO have on supplements isn’t just neutral, it’s usually negative once research has been conducted on the supplement for a long enough time. Time and again we’ve seen that supplements previously considered positive or harmless are found to have negative consequences later. Folic acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, B Vitamins, and multivitamin supplements have been shown to increase lung cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, and colon cancer. These were all considered panaceas and had lots of positive research findings when they first became popular.

            I would highly suggest you get your nutrients from your food instead of a pill and only supplement in cases of diagnosed deficiency, for your own health.

            1. Folic acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, B Vitamins, and multivitamin supplements have been shown to increase lung cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, and colon cancer.
              ——————————————————————————————————–
              The Dr. Yourself newsletter editor… can’t remember his name off hand, says there is nowhere in the CDC data showing anyone dying from taking vitamins. (Pharmaceuticals are another matter completely.)

              But that doesn’t concern me. To quote Strother Martin’s character in Cool Hand Luke movie “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” That is, I don’t think of the vitamins you mentioned as supplements. To me a supplement is something a little more exotic like turmeric, resveratrol, ashwagandha, etc. etc.

              I daresay you could find many examples among the billions of us on the planet who do everything right but still get cancer of this or that. My personal opinion is that the workings of the body is so complex that we don’t know the half of it yet. Years ago I touted to my oldest brother the benefits of the French Paradox. His reply was “If they don’t die of heart disease, what do they die of?”

              If WFPB only practitioners don’t die of the same things regular-eating (supplementing) healthy people die of, what do they die of?

              (OBTW, two of my most high-expectation supplements were 7 units of young persons’ plasma and later, 2 CCs of cord blood stem cells ‘-)

              1. Lonie- can you share what OBTW is short for? I love learning good shorthands

                It definitely helps to know that we were using different definitions for the word supplements haha. Personally I don’t even count some of your supplements as supplements. Turmeric? A spice I throw on my foods. Ashwagandha, rhodiola, astragalus? All whole plant foods that I sometimes throw in my smoothies. I get them in leaf form/root form only though. Way, way, way too many many cases of even brand name supplement companies adulterating pills with things like grass clippings or even going as far as not including the stated active ingredient at all.

                I would still stay away from supplements that consist of isolated phytochemicals/antioxidants though.

                We both feel the same way about youthful plasma! The research on it is so exciting and promising! I plan on utilizing it myself when I hit my 60’s. I’m lucky that I can wait until my 60’s and that will still allow 30 years for research to find any unforeseen negatives to the procedure. Can you tell me a little more about what you’ve seen on the cord blood stem cells? I haven’t seen or heard anything on that.

                1. Just what is this “promising research”? A cursory search popped up this

                  “Several scientists and clinicians say Karmazin’s trial is so poorly designed it cannot hope to provide evidence about the effects of the transfusions. And some say the pay-to-participate study, with the potential to collect up to $4.8 million from as many as 600 participants, amounts to a scam.” ( https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603242/questionable-young-blood-transfusions-offered-in-us-as-anti-aging-remedy/ )

                  I am NOT asserting Lonie’s or your view is wrong, I am just puzzled.

                  1. “Several scientists and clinicians say Karmazin’s trial is so poorly designed it cannot hope to provide evidence about the effects of the transfusions. And some say the pay-to-participate study, with the potential to collect up to $4.8 million from as many as 600 participants, amounts to a scam.”
                    —————————————————————————————————-
                    Yes, I read some of the same stuff before springing for the transfusion and recognized it as a money play. Didn’t matter. I had seen some other stuff from Stanford University and decided it was worth the investment. I’ll do it again as soon as my coffers are back up to a level to afford.

                    https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/11/blood-plasma-infusions-from-young-donors-improves-functional-ability-for-alzheimers.html

                2. Lonie- can you share what OBTW is short for? I love learning good shorthands
                  —————————————————————————–
                  Sorry for that but I’ve started using the acronyms because if I don’t I’ll lose my train of thought because I pay too much attention otherwise trying to get my syntax right. OBTW is Oh By The Way.
                  _____________________________________________________________________
                  I get them in leaf form/root form only though. Way, way, way too many many cases of even brand name supplement companies adulterating pills with things like grass clippings or even going as far as not including the stated active ingredient at all.
                  ——————————————————————————————-
                  Well, even grass clippings have nutrients. ‘-)

                  In my case utilizing the pill form of things is convenient, time saving, and actually cost-effective. I do choose trusted suppliers and feel I am at the very least doing no harm.

                  I still complement with actual food when I have it and have the time to fix it. For instance I’ve recently (after finishing my 5 day fast on New Year’s day) decided to make MWFs my oatmeal/quinoa/frozen blueberry big bowl my fare (plus some snacks throughout the day) and then make T&Ts my kippered herring w/balsamic vinegar/Lewis Labs Brewer’s Yeast/turmeric (either liquid drops or powder)/chlorella powder sprinkled on top, plus avocado salsa and about a dozen kalamata olives… days.
                  _______________________________________________________
                  I plan on utilizing it myself when I hit my 60’s. I’m lucky that I can wait until my 60’s and that will still allow 30 years for research to find any unforeseen negatives to the procedure. Can you tell me a little more about what you’ve seen on the cord blood stem cells? I haven’t seen or heard anything on that.
                  ————————————————————————————————————–
                  You’re 30? Where I come from we refer to anyone in that age range “Pup.” ‘-) But I’m 69 and 59 months and still consider myself in the “pup” range, although I’ve got a few things to recover to be actually able to attest to that… working on it.

                  I also think you are very fortunate in that you actually are aware of things like the Plasma treatment. Wish I had been so informed in my 30s. However, I think you are missing some important information about the Plasma transfusion.

                  That is, we have proteins in our blood that instruct our ever present stem cells how to go about repairing our declining organs. These proteins generally are inactive around our age 35. By getting the Plasma from a 16 to 25 YO we renew our blood with the younger proteins that restore the all important instructions. After getting the treatment in March of 2017, I believe my mental acumen became greater and maybe a little more spring in my step. I’ll put a link below that you should find very interesting in this regard, from the blog of the head of the NIH, I believe it was.

                  As far as the cord blood, I became interested in that after reading that Willie Nelson, due to his emphysema cancelled a concert tour. Then he had a stem cell treatment, but of his own stem cells (Induced Pluripotent Stem cells) put in through his pulmonary vein going to his lungs (where the stem cells were trapped by the lungs) and just a few weeks later he was back on tour singing and doing VW (Volkswagen’-) commercials.

                  I went the cord blood route because they are non differentiated and could therefore become whatever organ they encountered, plus required no procedure or waiting time for something like fat or skin cells to become IPS cells.

                  For the present I have noticed no positive or negative benefits from the stem cells which purportedly double in numbers every 8 days for a period of at least 8 weeks before no longer multiplying exponentially, probably to counteract the potential of being cancerous. I took that treatment in July of 2018.

                  One follow up on the Plasma treatment. There is a protein (I think)… anyway, a molecule of some sort called TIMP that has been discovered that could be either protective or even a treatment for Alzheimer’s. Imagine if this could be defeated by taking a supplement pill. ‘-)

                  EDIT: Just re-read the Director’s Blog of the NIH linked below and they in fact used cord blood plasma… but other researchers used young persons plasma.

                  https://directorsblog.nih.gov/2017/04/25/aging-research-plasma-protein-revitalizes-the-brain/#more-8243

      1. S, that is data from 2008 and without doing a deep dive I don’t see anything in the 1:11 second video that backs up the claim. No offense to Dr. Greger but I a bit of an agnostic and prefer proof of such claims. Besides, the topic was cancer and had nothing to do with Macular Degeneration.

        I also hold the belief that you cannot take results in isolation. That is, many people who may take supplements could easily be taking a supplement that ameliorated any side effects of another supplement. Someday we will have studies that are geared toward testing multiple foods or supplements together. That’s when we will actually be getting useful data.

        Or better yet, science will be able to quickly test individuals to see which foods or supplements are compatible with that individual. Treating each of us as “one size fits all” will be when disease is reduced.

          1. No I did not Barb, I just watched it a few years ago and had remembered it. I never took or considered taking lutein supplements, so Dr. Greger’s word on that was good enough for me. I wonder why he suggested in the video that lutein supplements may be a cause for cancer, then. The information was presented as causation in the video and the supplement was “red-lighted.” Thanks for sharing a link to the details of the study… Why do you think it was presented in such a way in the video?

            Lonie, I knew it had nothing to do with macular degeneration, my point was that even if something did help with one problem but caused or may cause another life threatening problem then it wouldn’t be a safe option. Of course this was going by the message in the video posted, not the study the video was based off of.

            1. What mystifies me is why someone would choose to rely on a supplement for something so easy to get in large amounts (likely exceeding what the body can use) from ordinary foods like kale, spinach, etc., which should be eaten for many reasons.

              1. What mystifies me is why someone would choose to rely on a supplement for something so easy to get in large amounts (likely exceeding what the body can use) from ordinary foods like kale, spinach, etc., which should be eaten for many reasons.
                ——————————————————–
                Taste.

                  1. Yes, eating a healthful diet is inconvenient. Don’t buy the price argument – food rich in lutein and other carotenoids, of which there are many, are not expensive, and have benefits far beyond a single ingredient. Quite a silly argument, really.

                    1. Quite a silly argument, really.
                      —————————————
                      Heh, reminds me of the old saw “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

                      I see my comments as the treasure. ‘-)

                    2. “Yes, eating a healthful diet is inconvenient.”

                      Only if you think in terms of the convenience of buying refined, pre-made foods, fast food, and going to any restaurant you want and eating whatever you want. Yeah that’s convenient, at a great cost. But if you actually think about which is more convent in regards to preparing your own homemade meals, I think it’s far more convenient to eat plants for at least a few reasons… 1) You don’t have to disinfect your kitchen and hands and so on when handling vegetables. 2) It doesn’t take hours to cook. 3) You don’t have to worry about getting food poisoning if something sits out too long or is a day past being fresh enough.

                    3. But if you actually think about which is more convent in regards to preparing your own homemade meals,
                      —————————————————————————————————————————————
                      S, I’m not Catholic… and I think you should have capitalized Convent? (Just joking… just joking. ‘-)
                      ______________________________________________
                      But really, Lonie… price? Supplements are SO much more expensive than leafy greens which you can grow yourself if you really want to or even buy frozen to potentially get them even cheaper. Price is not a good argument when it comes to the cheapest foods available.

                      I don’t understand the convenience argument, either. It’s just building your diet around foods which truly nourish you which is why we’re supposed to be eating in the first place. You have to eat either way, it’s super easy to spring on some micro greens, sprouts, or chopped green leafies on just about anything savory.
                      ——————————————————————————
                      I’ll grant you that many supplements are getting VERY expensive. But I THINK I may be getting more value than I would by buying an equivalency in produce… especially considering the waste factor. Sure there’s the argument that the fresh produce has other nutrients and for that reason I buy a lot of “supplements” that are just dried plants.

                      In re: convenience. during a cold spell (like we just had here) during the winter months I try to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible.

                      If I spent more time in there I would have to prop open my refrigerator door to warm up the kitchen. And for instance when I do a few days extra of oatmeal and quinoa, my Tuesday and Thursday meal (with frozen blueberries and almond milk) I leave the extra out on the table with no worry of growing fungus or exposing me to food poisoning due to natural refrigeration.

                      On Monday, Wednesday and Fridays I simply open a tin of kippered herring and pour a portion of Avocado salsa on a saucer and get back to my (slightly) warmer computer room to eat. Easy peasy.

                      Weekends are for football watching food.

              2. I completely agree, gengogakusha. You get the full package, you know what you’re getting, and it’s how nature intended it. I don’t see what taste has to do with it. Greens taste good, but probably not as much to those who don’t regularly eat them. Our taste buds change all the time and it’s certainly worth finding a way to enjoy the taste of these incredible foods.

                But really, Lonie… price? Supplements are SO much more expensive than leafy greens which you can grow yourself if you really want to or even buy frozen to potentially get them even cheaper. Price is not a good argument when it comes to the cheapest foods available.

                I don’t understand the convenience argument, either. It’s just building your diet around foods which truly nourish you which is why we’re supposed to be eating in the first place. You have to eat either way, it’s super easy to spring on some micro greens, sprouts, or chopped green leafies on just about anything savory.

            2. Also, I’m not sure what data being from 2008 would have anything to do with anything. So long as a study is thorough, good evidence is good evidence and doesn’t degrade with time unless new information is discovered that challenges it.

  4. Dr.Gregor, thank you for all that you do, you’ve turned me into a confirmed vegan.
    One thing that is confusing me is about Lutein, in another video you showed that Lutein supplements could be cancer causing, but they’re is no mention of that here.

    1. Hello Angela,
      I’m happy to hear you’ve made some significant lifestyle changes and I hope you’re enjoying the benefits.
      I believe I know the video you’re mentioning about the link between lutein supplements and cancer (linked below). The studies discussed in this video are looking at short term boosts in cognition after taking lutein (foods or supplements), so they would not find the long term potential adverse effects to supplementation, such as cancer. This is why Dr. Greger recommends focusing on whole foods, such as dark greens and avocados. That way you get all the benefits without any of the drawbacks.

      I hope this clears it up for you,
      Matt

      Lutein and cancer: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/lutein-lycopene-and-selenium-pills/

  5. Because of Dr. Greger & Dr. Rhonda Patrick I’ve been growing & eating broccoli sprouts for almost 6 months now & I can’t help wondering if sprouting KALE would increase benefits just as sprouting BROCCOLI greatly does. It’s easier for me to eat sprouts mixed in my salads & meals than going out in finding kale.

      1. Deb – 29 Weeks, I mean kale sprouts ONLY as far as luteins. Is kale sprout lutein content HIGHER than micro green or fully grown kale?

    1. Ra’anan, I have no idea about kale sprouting but have you ever tried kale micro greens? You can buy or grown them and they’re very mild in flavor, actually more so than sprouts.

  6. Thank you dr. Greger for the fabulous work you are doing. I have been following you for the last six years and your videos, blogs and books have been of great help to me in pursuing a healthy whole food plant based eating style.
    In 2012 I have been diagnosed with heart disease. Following dr. Esselstyn, dr. McDougall and you I could wean myself of all the drugs they wanted me to take for the rest of my life in merely six months.
    Thank you, a happy 2019 and I hope we will have a year in review speech next year.

  7. Cargo Cult Science and the pill solutions

    (00:08:57)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1xOTbgaLDs

    “In the South Seas there is a Cargo Cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas—he’s the controller—and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things Cargo Cult Science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.”

    Richard Feynman

    1. Nice story but science based medicines – pills and potions – do save lives in appropriate circumstances. Especially of people who won’t or can’t changes their lifestyle/diet.

  8. Nutritionfacts.org is very good at promoting vegan diets. There are many advantages to the diet. I hope more people discover its benefits. However as with anything there are caveats. I hope that in the new year the negatives get more attention. Intuitively, humans have been eating an omnivorous diet for much of their evolution. There has to be some advantage. Perhaps the body can gain benefits from periodic switching between long vegetarian fasts and short carnivorous feasts so that the body can detox from both states. Oxalates in particular are not researched very well(?) and micro-crystals might accumulate in tissues. I’m concerned about the thyroid gland accumulating micro-crystals. I don’t know it just seems too one-sided on this website and I would find the content more believable if there were some negatives too. Despite the criticism this website is invaluable and thank you so much for the work you all do. God bless.

    Also, the SAD diet should be called the cake diet. I think it’s a better description of what its problem is. It’s high in fat and high in refined carbs.

    1. Arthur

      Greger doesn’t promote vegan diets. He thinks most vegan diets are unhealthy.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyR9T_86pxg

      He advocates that people eat a whole food plant based (WFPB) diet. That is, a diet centred around whole plant foods, that minimises animal foods. He doesn’t state that the science shows that 100% plant WFPB diet is the healthiest.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Olll-NpBBI

      This diet can include a small amount of animal foods but he personally seems to favour a 100% plant WFPB diet.

      1. And here’s a quote from his book How Not to Die where he is very clear:

        “That one unifying diet found to best prevent and treat many of these chronic diseases is a whole-food, plant-based diet, defined as an eating pattern that encourages the consumption of unrefined plant foods and discourages meats, dairy products, eggs, and processed foods. 92 In this book, I don’t advocate for a vegetarian diet or a vegan diet. I advocate for an evidence-based diet, and the best available balance of science suggests that the more whole plant foods we eat, the better—both to reap their nutritional benefits and to displace less healthful options.”

        1. Yes, Gengo. That is the same thing.

          “discourages meats, dairy products, eggs, and processed foods”

          Neither ‘minimises’ nor ‘discourages’ mean the same thing as ‘eliminates’ or ‘excludes’

          He doesn’t write ‘wholly plant’, he writes ‘plant-based’ or ‘plant-centred’. It’s there in black-and-white.

          1. You’re right that the website emphasizes minimizing animal foods. The literature shown on the site suggests that the more you reduce animal foods the better it is for reducing the common chronic diseases. This is important for those who want to reverse or delay the onset of these chronic diseases. After following the website videos for the last year or two, the site suggests that the safe level of animal consumption is one or two servings every two weeks or thereabouts. This is so that you will never have enough gut flora to turn choline and carnitine into TMAO. By the way there are foods that can inhibit TMAO. Yet there are people on the planet who live to 80 or 90 reasonably healthy that would eat animal foods more often than that.

            Meanwhile my impression is that the negative effects of plants, however small, are marginalized. Plants don’t want to be eaten (save for some fruits) so they have plant defenses. Some low grade, others deadly. At what point do we go from hormesis to being poisoned? All I’m saying is that fear-mongering of animal consumption and a rosy picture of the power of plants might be distorting the picture of what healthy nutrition is.

            I’m concerned that shifting the scales the other way will induce other diseases in people who follow this advice. Just getting the calories, vitamins and minerals intake right seems like an insoluble problem.
            Especially if you’re not the right height, weight, age, exercise level.
            Even a small portion of animal can help meet your needs. WFPB is way better than the cake diet, but something seems to me a little off. I just want sustainable long term health. Set and forget and focus on other areas in my life. It hasn’t happened for me as yet following as much of the advice as i can here. Just recently I passed my first kidney stone. It hurt like hell.

    2. Perhaps the body can gain benefits from periodic switching between long vegetarian fasts and short carnivorous feasts…
      ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
      Interesting that you mention this. I am just coming to the end of 5 day fast.

      I’ve given thought to extending it to 6 or 7 days as I am at the stage where hunger and food being constantly on my mind has passed. But I’ve decided to break it at five days since when I look in the mirror I wonder if I will soon look like a holocaust survivor.

      After a few days I decided to begin taking a swig of MCT oil in order for my ketosis state to have something to digest. I would also take a krill oil supplement to help protect my arteries at the same time after reading that something like fish oil would help do this.

      I drank an occasional cup of tea of different assortments but tried to drink more water than tea after noticing my infrequent urination produced a dark color. Went through a period of having this awful taste in my mouth after about a day and a half and tried to get rid of it by swilling and swallowing a dropper of raspberry ketones. Didn’t do away with the awful taste entirely but helped.

      Also drank a mouthful of kombucha with chia seeds every couple of days in hopes of preventing constipation at the end of the fast. Awaiting my break-fast in a few hours is a bowl of blueberries layered with quinoa and oats drenched in almond milk. I did take a swig of beet juice this morning to ensure my blood vessels stay open… I had never noticed before how sweet beet juice tasted before. I think I’ve reset my sweet tooth settings.

      My plan is to cook some sauteed in olive oil onions with some canned chicken breast and a can of organic vegetable soup. I feel like I may have lost some muscle during the fast and need some protein and pushups to recover.

      1. It’s just some wild reasoning I came up with after exploring paleo-keto-carnivore side of Youtube. Some things I learned. Thiamin gets used more on a high carb diet for some biochemical reason. Carbs use twice the amount of thiamin for energy production than fats. I don’t know the details. If you’ve got diabetes that increases your risk of b1 deficiency even if you’re hititng your rdis. There might be an underlying b1 deficiency behind Alzheimer’s that’s being undiagnosed. Wish i had a time machine.

        Oxidized cholesterol is responsible for CVD. It can get oxidized by glycation (protein + sugar) or AGEs formed with omega-6 oils (protein + fat). Although i think just having too much circulating cholesterol all the time will mean that cholesterol will oxidize just from hanging around too long in your bloodstream. All that stuff about oxalates i wrote about somewhere in this thread. The more PUFAs you consume, the more vitamin E complex you need.

        The reason why the cake (SAD) diet is so bad is because of the Randle cycle. Carbs and fat compete for getting burned by your cells. Balanced intakes of carbs and fat at calorie excess means the carbs get burned first and the fat gets stored in fat tissue. If you keep doing this, it fills up other organs. It wrecks your liver and your pancreas. Apparently if you go high fat your body adapts and burns fat. I don’t buy that. Plus the insulin resistance you induce in your body when you eat a high fat diet is dangerous. That’s why i figured long term wfpb calorie restricted eating, followed by a short period of carnivorous eating just to give your body a chance to detox from plant antinutrients that may have accumulated. Maybe the Essenes have a better way to detox from plants.

        1. Apparently if you go high fat your body adapts and burns fat. I don’t buy that.
          ——————————————————————————————————
          Most of your post I have no personal knowledge of or experience with… but it is certainly food for thought.

          However I do disagree with the above quoted statement due to personal experience. But I do think our difference of opinion may be due to the term “fat.”

          Back when I was consuming a lot of MCT oil and Walnut Oil on a daily basis, my lab work showed I had elevated ketone bodies which was my desired outcome.

          Valter Longo, PhD at either USC or UCLA… can’t remember for sure but google him if interested and read his research on fasting switching the body over to burning fat through conversion in the liver and shutting off glucose as fuel for the body… starting after about 3 days of fasting. He states that by shutting off the glucose you shut off the food for cancer and also recycle white blood cell trash and reset the immune system.

          Of course the recent fat craze had to do with butter and other (in my opinion) harmful fats. I stopped consuming the MCT oil and Walnut oil after getting a transfusion of 2cc’s of cord blood stem cells as I figured I needed more IGF-1 to feed and grow the stem cells as they exponentially multiplied for a length of time before stopping. Walnut oil is purported to block IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor) activity.

          (OBTW, I can’t in good conscience recommend the stem cell treatment as I’ve observed no particular benefit from the treatment at this time… 5 months on)

          However, and I posted the link under one or another of the videos here, if I hadn’t blown my wad on the cord blood treatment I would certainly be buying a product that purportedly furnishes ketones from a liquid drink. That probably is much different than ketosis, yet provides energy and a sense of calm that is desirable.

          1. Oh i see how it works now. Still though if you eat too many calories the body will probably store the extra dietary fat in cells. Also you don’t want to be in ketosis for very long because you run the risk of developing ketoacidosis.

            1. Also you don’t want to be in ketosis for very long because you run the risk of developing ketoacidosis.
              —————————————————————————————————————————
              Yes, this is the standard warning from every Dr. I’ve seen for the past few years when I was on a loosely based ketogenic diet. And I concur that is something to be aware of for anyone thinking about switching over to a ketogenic diet.

              I felt competent and confident enough in my research to be able to avoid that dangerous condition and believe it has been an important step in getting my health in a better state.

              But, IIRC (@Ryan, If I Remember Correctly ‘-) Valter Longo advised finding a Dr. who was knowledgeable in a ketone diet before doing one.

              Can’t remember where I read this, recently, but they made the comment that ketosis is a different thing from ketoacidosis.

    1. Deb, I am not understanding what is confusing. Most of the trials Dr Greger mentions in this video used supplements. There is the one trial that compares the avocado and chickpeas.. that was a whole foods test, but everything else was to answer the question about supplements. And in most cases they worked. Dr Greger reports the results but also mentions how easy it is to get the whole foods equivalent of the supplements used ie like 1/2 cup kale.

      I remember beta carotein supplements causing cancer, but I don’t recall the lutein one. I’ll have a look and post it here if I find it.

  9. Can somebody help? I’m looking for that web site recommended here about calculating daily energy needs. It’s from a university. I saw it in a video once and i think there was a mention in a live q&a. Thank you.

    1. Many universities do testing to assess the daily energy requirement. There are calculators based on age, weight, gender. Here is one by Baylor College of Medicine: https://www.bcm.edu/cnrc-apps/caloriesneed.cfm

      But, these calculators can overestimate daily energy needs. Using resting metabolic rate may help you. Evaluating inhaled oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide shows how much energy your body is using and can most directly calculate daily energy needs. Many university health systems offer this testing, along with accurate body composition assessment. Google around for RMR assessment through a university near you (eg, “RMR testing university”). It may be done through the medical center or via the athletic program.

      Best luck! Dr Anderson, Health Support Volunteer

    1. Yes, that’s the video I was thinking of. So, now I’m not sure if Lutein supplements are good or bad, and my optometrist recommended them to slow down macular degeneration.

  10. I’m 71, in great health, a whole foods, plant based vegan. But about five years ago I lost my night vision, couldn’t drive at all after dark. It was disappointing but I thought it was an age related loss. Last year, however, I significantly increased my intake of green leafies and in about six months my night vision returned. I now can drive at night just as well as I could in my 20s. Natural foods to the rescue once again!

    1. Shelly,

      That is such a cool testimonial to WFPB!

      I have a similar experience. My problems were more than night vision though and honestly I thought I was going to lose my ability to drive and even when I wasn’t driving, I couldn’t seem to focus my eyes and I would need to close them much of the time. It was even more than that, but I can’t describe what was happening except maybe when they do people on drugs scenes in movies and I am not on any drugs.

      My vision got so much better and the really bad stuff went away and the night vision is better and car lights and sunsets don’t bother me the same way. I can keep my eyes open now.

  11. A vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness. If you get enough retinol a equivalents from plants you can fix that problem or you can get vitamin A from animals. You can get vitamin A toxicity from animals particularly from cod liver oil. There’s a video for that somewhere here. I have a question about calories available in whole plant foods. I remember something about the calories in nuts and seeds passing through you because of the food matrix of the nut. Same thing for beans and grains because of starch reaching the colon to feed the gut microbes instead of you. What would be the calorie deficit? About 30%? Should you eat more than your estimated daily intake? Also, I’ve noticed while working out daily energy needs for my mother, the calories are about 1500kcal. At that level it’s hard to reach rdis for various vitamins and minerals on whole food plants. Eat more? Smaller frame requires less vitamins and minerals? Thanks.

    1. Great questions. There is a good amount of evidence that the calories from nuts don’t seem to lead to weight gain as you’d expect. I’ve not found enough detail on that to say what percentage of calories seems to be used. But, including a small handful of walnuts daily is associated with improved health outcomes and not with weight gain. I don’t think the physiology of that is sorted out fully.

      Yes, RDIs for vitamins are based on a general population, and try to include a range. This is imperfect, but a decent estimate. Trying to include the foods and activities associated with the best health outcome (as in Dr G’s Daily Dozen) while also maintaining a healthy weight through whatever calorie intake is ideal for the specific person will achieve healthy levels of vitamins as well, unless there is an another reason (like a GI illness leading to malabsorption) for low vitamin levels despite adequate intake. And, of course, plant based eaters should take a vitamin B12 supplement 250mcg daily or 2500mcg weekly. So, yes, smaller people generally need less of everything than larger people.

      Here’s a Daily Dozen link: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dr-gregers-daily-dozen-checklist-2/

      Dr Anderson, Health Support Volunteer

  12. Shelly – You give me hope! Would you be willing to [provide more detail? What was your total daily intake of greens? What type? In what form (boiled, smoothies, etc) And did you need to continue that level of greens intake to retain your vision?
    Thank you. So glad to hear life was improved for you!

  13. Hi Dr Gregor & the NutritionFacts team, I’ve recently been diagnosed with macular dystrophy and I’ve been doing a lot of research on how diet may stop the progression. I already follow a WFPB diet & Dr Gregor’s daily dozen, however I’ve found a lot of information regarding the consumption of fish & AMD.

    (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133126/; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4337966/)

    I know there are many issues with fish consumption such as mercury, PCB’s, animal protein & cholesterol etc, but it seems like there’s some strong evidence it might help with my macular health. Do I have to risk other chronic diseases to try and reduce the chance of my disease progressing? Or do we know why fish seem to be protective, and is there a way to cut out the middle fish and get these nutrients from a healthier source? Any help would be much appreciated.

    1. The studies showing an apparent protective effect of fish consumption are all observational so it is possible that they could be confounded by other uncontrolled variables.

      For example the benefit might come not from eating fish as such but from not eating the foods that fish displace from the diet such as meat, dairy, eggs and refined carbohydrates Another potential confounder might be that fish eaters tend to be more health conscious and make healthier lifestyle choices overall.

      As for macular protection have you checked out the results of the US National Eye Institute AREDS trials?
      https://nei.nih.gov/areds2

      You could also watch this video
      https://nutritionfacts.org/2015/01/01/foods-for-macular-degeneration/

    2. Hello Richard,

      Like you stated, there are potential risks to the consumption of fish and we’d like to minimize this risk. I reviewed the studies you mentioned and the benefits were attributed to omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Dr. Greger recommends supplementation with an algae-based omega-3 supplement (250mg DHA/day). For lutein and zeaxanthin, both spinach and kale are absolute powerhouses and if you eat those as well as other high L+Z foods such as goji berries you can hopefully avoid the negative side effects of fish with any benefits that fish may have offered. Dr. Greger also has a great video on diet and AMD that I have linked below for your viewing.

      Hope this helps,

      Matt, Health Support Volunteer

      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dietary-prevention-of-age-related-macular-degeneration/

    1. This is what I have been asking, I’m confused as I thought the Lutein supplements were potentially cancer causing.

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  14. I went to get new glasses. I just wanted to update my frames and get an exam. After the exam the doctor said I didn’t need glasses! I have worn glasses since 5th grade. So that made me happy. I’ve been drinking green smoothies for a couple years or more.

  15. I watch your videos and read your posts. I’ve seen every video you are in. Thanks for all the great, scientific information. You are saving our lives! Please keep up the amazing work that you are doing. Also, you are a very entertaining guy! :)

  16. Your video “Lutein, Lycopene, & Selenium Pills” on 12/21/2009 cites research showing that taking Lutein pills INCREASES cancer risk. This latest Lutein video doesn’t say anything about the increased cancer risk. Are you now implying that Lutein pills are safe?

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