Evidence-Based Eating

Evidence-Based Eating
4.85 (97.04%) 27 votes

It took more than 7,000 studies and the deaths of countless smokers before the first Surgeon General report against smoking was finally released. Another mountain of evidence for healthier eating exists today, but much of society has yet to catch up to the science.


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.

In the 1940s and 50s, the American Medical Association was not only saying that “smoking in moderation” was not a problem; on balance, smoking may even be beneficial. After all, most physicians themselves smoked; so, how bad could it be? When the American Medical Association is saying that, where could you turn back then, if you just wanted the facts?

What were the new data advanced by science? Well, she was “too tired for fun… and then she smoked a Camel.” Babe Ruth spoke of “proof-positive” medical science; that is, when he still could speak—before he died of throat cancer.

Now, some of the science did leak out, causing a dip from about 11 cigarettes a day per person, on average, down to 10. But, those that got scared could always choose “the cigarette that takes the FEAR out of smoking”—or, even better, choose the cigarette that “gives you the greatest health protection.”

Now, if by some miracle, there was a SmokingFacts.org website back then, that could deliver the science directly to the people, bypassing commercially corruptible institutional filters, you would have become aware of studies like this—an Adventist study out of California in 1958, that showed that nonsmokers have at least 90% less lung cancer than smokers. Now, with so much money and personal habit at stake, there will always be “dissenters.” But, look, given the seriousness of these diseases, and the sum total of evidence, we shouldn’t wait to put “preventive measures” in place.

So, if you were a smoker back in the 50s in the know, “what do you do?” With access to the science, you realize that the best available balance of evidence suggests your smoking habit is probably not good for you. So, do you change your smoking habits, or do you wait?

If you wait until your physician tells you—between puffs—to quit, you could have cancer by then. If you wait until the powers that be officially recognize it—like the Surgeon General did in the subsequent decade—you could be dead by then.

“[I]t took more than 7,000 studies and the death[s] of countless…smokers” before the first Surgeon General’s report against smoking was released in the 60s. You’d think maybe after the first 6,000 studies, maybe they could have given people a little heads up, or something? One wonders how many people are currently suffering needlessly from dietary diseases. Maybe we should have stopped smoking after the 700th study like this.

Let’s fast forward 55 years. You know, there’s a new Adventist study out of California, warning Americans about something else they may be putting in their mouth. And, it’s not just one study. According to a recent review, the sum total of evidence suggests that “mortality from all cause[s]” put together, and many of our dreaded diseases—”ischemic heart disease, and circulatory and cerebrovascular diseases,” like stroke—were significantly lower in those eating more plant-based diets, in addition to less cancer and diabetes.

So, instead of someone going along with America’s smoking habits in the 1950s, imagine you or someone you know going along with America’s eating habits in the present day. What do you do? With access to the science, you realize the best available balance of evidence suggests your eating habits are probably not so good for you. So, do you change, or do you wait? If you wait until your physician tells you—between bites—to change, it could be too late.

Just like most doctors smoked back then, despite the overwhelming evidence published for decades, most doctors today continue to eat foods that are contributing to our epidemics of dietary disease.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Comfreak via pixabay. Image has been modified.

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.

In the 1940s and 50s, the American Medical Association was not only saying that “smoking in moderation” was not a problem; on balance, smoking may even be beneficial. After all, most physicians themselves smoked; so, how bad could it be? When the American Medical Association is saying that, where could you turn back then, if you just wanted the facts?

What were the new data advanced by science? Well, she was “too tired for fun… and then she smoked a Camel.” Babe Ruth spoke of “proof-positive” medical science; that is, when he still could speak—before he died of throat cancer.

Now, some of the science did leak out, causing a dip from about 11 cigarettes a day per person, on average, down to 10. But, those that got scared could always choose “the cigarette that takes the FEAR out of smoking”—or, even better, choose the cigarette that “gives you the greatest health protection.”

Now, if by some miracle, there was a SmokingFacts.org website back then, that could deliver the science directly to the people, bypassing commercially corruptible institutional filters, you would have become aware of studies like this—an Adventist study out of California in 1958, that showed that nonsmokers have at least 90% less lung cancer than smokers. Now, with so much money and personal habit at stake, there will always be “dissenters.” But, look, given the seriousness of these diseases, and the sum total of evidence, we shouldn’t wait to put “preventive measures” in place.

So, if you were a smoker back in the 50s in the know, “what do you do?” With access to the science, you realize that the best available balance of evidence suggests your smoking habit is probably not good for you. So, do you change your smoking habits, or do you wait?

If you wait until your physician tells you—between puffs—to quit, you could have cancer by then. If you wait until the powers that be officially recognize it—like the Surgeon General did in the subsequent decade—you could be dead by then.

“[I]t took more than 7,000 studies and the death[s] of countless…smokers” before the first Surgeon General’s report against smoking was released in the 60s. You’d think maybe after the first 6,000 studies, maybe they could have given people a little heads up, or something? One wonders how many people are currently suffering needlessly from dietary diseases. Maybe we should have stopped smoking after the 700th study like this.

Let’s fast forward 55 years. You know, there’s a new Adventist study out of California, warning Americans about something else they may be putting in their mouth. And, it’s not just one study. According to a recent review, the sum total of evidence suggests that “mortality from all cause[s]” put together, and many of our dreaded diseases—”ischemic heart disease, and circulatory and cerebrovascular diseases,” like stroke—were significantly lower in those eating more plant-based diets, in addition to less cancer and diabetes.

So, instead of someone going along with America’s smoking habits in the 1950s, imagine you or someone you know going along with America’s eating habits in the present day. What do you do? With access to the science, you realize the best available balance of evidence suggests your eating habits are probably not so good for you. So, do you change, or do you wait? If you wait until your physician tells you—between bites—to change, it could be too late.

Just like most doctors smoked back then, despite the overwhelming evidence published for decades, most doctors today continue to eat foods that are contributing to our epidemics of dietary disease.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Comfreak via pixabay. Image has been modified.

Doctor's Note

This video is part of my series on parallels to smoking and the tobacco industry’s tactics, including:

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

148 responses to “Evidence-Based Eating

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  1. Off topic. Can anyone tell me if there is any reason not to eat raw beans. I regularly soak dried chickpeas and soybeans overnight and then add them to salads uncooked. It seems there are a lot of claims that they contain toxins and must be cooked. Don’t know where else to ask this. Thanks.

      1. hi Alex, thank you for that FDA link! It mentions about possible risks in cooking beans in slow cookers which is something I do often. However, I generally cook soaked kidney beans first, or use canned, simply because it shortens cooking times. Whew! good thing since I didnt know about the toxins.

        1. susan: You may not want to take my word for it, but I thought I would share that when I researched this in the past, I found that they actually know what temperature the beans have to get to in order to destroy the lectins. While older slow cookers may not have gotten to those temperatures, from what I could tell, the modern slow cookers do get to those temperatures (probably to avoid this very problem?). I just thought I would share.

          1. Thanks Thea! I notice that when I cook beans on ‘high’ setting they seem to maintain a good simmer .. my cooker is about 5 yrs old. I really enjoy my soup and bean creations cooked this way, and its sooo nice to come home to a hot and healthy meal.

          2. Hi Thea,
            I buy canned (in glass jar) beans, do you think they boiled them at the right temperature to destroy the lectins? Which temperature is that, do you know?

            1. Hi Bat Marty. Canned beans, in glass or metal, have been pressure cooked to temps considerable above boiling (212F) because beans are a low-acid food and therefore susceptible to botulism toxin. No fear for lectins.

            2. Bat Marty: I don’t know the answer myself, but I’m guessing that you already got a very good reply from Alice. It’s my understanding that canned beans are pressure cooked (means extra high temperatures) and I would expect the glass ones to be as well. So, I think you are good!

                1. Bat Marty: Boiling your beans as your cooking method makes them plenty hot enough and long enough to destroy the (bulk of) the lectins. My understanding is that botulism is generally more an issue of food storage as the initial cooking of beans would get rid of anything that was on the beans. I’m not a food storage expert, though. So, don’t go by what I say. To get started, you might want to check out the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botulism

    1. Blair: What I’ve read is that beans have lectins, which are mildly toxic to humans and therefore frequent exposure may be harmful. Thorough cooking destroys most lectins.

    2. According to Brenda Davis, RD, the only safe beans to eat raw are sprouted mung beans, lentils and peas. Also, sprouting any bean before cooking will increase nutrients and antioxidants, as well as reduce harmful anti-nutrients.

      1. Sprouted mung beans are not safe to eat raw, but not because of toxins or anti-nutrients. It is because a few of the beans do not sprout, and they remain glass-hard. I know because I broke a tooth on one and, years later, lost it altogether. That is too high a price to pay for the possible nutritional benefit, so please be warned.

        1. That’s good for all of us to know! I always cook my beans, sprouted or not, as I really dislike the flavor of the raw sprouted ones.

  2. Dear Dr. Greger,

    Thank you for the information that you share. I follow you on instagram. I tend to eat more of a plant-based diet with the occasional fish and eggs. I have been vegan in the past. I just came across this article and was wondering if you’ve come across any other research in regards to this topic. I tend to promote a plant based diet to my patients and believed that an animal based diet was not conducive towards healing due to the inflammatory processes that it causes. I look forward to your response.


    Dr. Sandra Pascal

    Does a vegan diet affect your ability to heal? – CNN

    1. I suggest that it may be related to increased bodily demands for cholesterol in cases of severe injury, burns, heart attacks etc, when the body is trying to rebuild and repair itself. Vegans generally have lower cholesterol than omnivores and this may affect healing times in cases such as these.

      1. I find I have to eat an egg sometimes to get a wound to finally heal up. I thought it was the arachidonic acid (not something you want much of most of the time). I have a wound healing ointment (CeraVe) that has cholesterol as an ingredient and it seems to help.

        1. Odd, I find that wounds and cuts heal so much faster now than ever. If I get a cut while shaving it heals almost instantly, like Wolverine. No not like Wolverine, I’m definitely Wolverine without the claws… yet.

          1. People can produce both their own arachidonic acid and their own cholesterol – I’m guessing it is one of the two that is the issue here. Some people are probably better at producing either (or both) those substances than others. George Church, for example, eats a vegan diet and has to take statins to keep his cholesterol levels in check.

          2. If I remember the story correctly, Wolverine’s wound healing ability was innate and the claws were added later by an evil government / military scientist. So you might actually be just like Wolverine, you just haven’t met up with any evil MIC types. Let’s hope you don’t.

            Overall, I feel much better now that most of my days are vegan days and take a nutritarian approach overall. My varicose veins are gone, for example, and I rarely get migraines. But I noticed that there are a few issues that can be fixed by eating animal products on occasion. If there are supplements that are out there that can sub for the animal products, then I will (and do) try them.

          3. For what it’s worth, I, too, find that cuts and wounds heal very fast since I’ve switched to a WFPB diet. I end up with a lot of paper cuts in my line of work, and because I’m a little clumsy, I suppose, but they’re gone almost before I’ve noticed them. Not that paper cuts are really Wolverine’s problem.

        2. Hi Lemonhead – I am not picking at your decision to eat an occasional egg. But I thought this might be a good time to let others know that if they feel they need a more concentrated form of protein for something such as wound healing that seitan is a very, very concentrated plant source. It contains all essential proteins of course. Thanks.

        3. Thanks Lemonhead.

          The original report referred to by Dr Sandra concerned a burns victim. Burns are known to affect cholesterol levels -perhaps partly because, as I suggested, “Cholesterol is an essential part of every cell in the body. It is necessary for new cells to form and for older cells to repair themselves after injury.”

          Therefore it is not surprising that
          “In conclusion, this study show the occurrence of changes in serum lipids of burned patients namely decrease in serum cholesterol level, increase in serum TG level and decrease in serum HDL level
          compared to normal subjects; and that targeting of these changes is important contributor for improving burn outcome”

          Diet is pf course one obvious way of targeting these changes.

          So, I imagine that extra cholesterol is also required in wound healing generally.

      2. I have personally experienced (over the years) an accelerated rate of healing via fasting. Particularly if I can find the time to extend the fast beyond 7 days.

        1. That’s interesting.

          The physiological effects of fasting are complex and effects may vary depending upon whether the individual concerned is lean or obese. In this study, foor example, LDL cholesterol increased by 35% in the first couple of days of fasting.

          Incidentally, all of the advice I have seen recommends medical supervision for fasting especially extended periods like yours.

      1. I thought the exact same thing Angie. How does one go against the ethical and moral decision to no longer be compliant in the exploitation, abuse and murder of innocent sentient beings? My guess is Sandra was merely eating a vegan diet.

        The smell of raw and cooked flesh repulses me now, so there’s no way I could ever eat an animal or is secretions again.

    2. Hello Dr. Pascal,
      Thank you for your question. I looked at the link to the CNN story you give. I like that the author presents arguments from both sides, and that she quotes Dr. Neal Barnard, who points out that, of course, burn patients have a higher need for protein than most of us. However, when I saw that they quoted a study saying that “foods rich in carbohydrates contribute more strongly” to inflammation than do “animal products,” I looked up the study: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnme/2012/238056/.

      In Table 2 of the study, it turns out that their “high carbohydrate” diet consists mostly of “tinned spagetti”, “wholemeal bread”, and “Weetbix cereal” (Australian brand, which is mostly Whole Wheat — IF it’s the “Original” brand); it also contained margarine, skim milk, and orange juice; the only whole plant food it contained was a banana. The “high fat” diet actually included MORE whole plant foods: tomato, strawberries, and almonds; plus cheese, eggs, “oil”, and cream. The study was funded by two large Australian groups: the Garvan Institute or Medical Research, and the Rebecca L. Cooper Foundation, both of which get much of their funding from pharmaceutical companies.

      I think this press release is misleading, and not helpful.

      1. Wow, no agenda there huh? Its no wonder it is so hard to get people to believe nutrition facts when there is so much deceit, opposition, and corruption circulating even in the supposed science and studies! What would we do without the likes of Dr Greger and team?

      2. Let me echo, also, Vege-taters comments and thank you Dr. Jon for looking into the research referenced. I tried to do likewise but could not access the actual research paper. So thank you for doing that. And, as usual, the devil is in the details of the “research”.
        Thank you!! for bringing out these details and help to stop some of the confusion in its tracks.

      3. It seemed painfully obvious to me reading the CNN article that it only gives the illusion of being balanced when I read the part about carbohydrates — a clear misunderstanding of the science. Yet there’s an even more glaring problem with the argument that a healthy vegan diet can impair healing: a WFPB diet is the only diet that can and does reverse heart disease — ie. it heals the body that was once stricken with disease. Part of the straw-man argument naysayers like to set up is they keep the medical arguments about vegan vs. non-vegan. It’s important to distinguish between vegan and wfpb, as Neal Barnard, Dr. G. and most of the plant based docs go out of their way to do.

  3. Hmmm, So much credible information from all the different schools of thought like Paleo, Dash, Mediterranean… Just like some of the biased scientific studies don’t show the potential harm we see the same for the different styles of eating. Books published have a big propaganda aspect to them but Americans are even more confused than ever… Too much plant food can cause estrogenic activity in both males and females, lower sex drive and inability to absorb nutrients because of phytic acid, and other blockers of nutrient absorption. Too few carbs can lead to insommnia because you need carbs to make Serotonin. If you don’t have enough carbs your body will increase cortisol which will raise blood sugar and can actually lead to Diabetes. I am a Nurse and Diabetes educator currently attending INN and I can tell you there is not size fits all.

    1. Hi Lisa
      So as an educator you should know to make the above statements you should post a research article or two that demonstrates it has been studied and researched. For example “too many carbs …estrogenic Activity.”

      1. I am just stating my opinion as a lay person to get people to think so if you want the specifics you can look that information up on line as I work and am not responsible for citing research as I am not the creator of this blog:)

        1. Hi Lisa, – As a scientist, the whole point of this site is the fact that we deal in factual research to the best of our ability. The point of this site is to separate the wheat from the chaff – science from myth, innuendo, opinion and ignorance. You imply that as a “Nurse and Diabetes educator currently attending INN and I can tell you there is not size fits all.” you are dealing in research and facts. So it is now clear to me that you were discussing your opinion despite your “professional” statements.
          Clear as mud.

          1. A lot of people have opinions based on their professional experience of seeing patients and healing them with different protocols. As Dr. G has said many, many times, double blind placebo controlled studies are not the only evidence that can show something.
            John S

            1. hi John,
              We can’t do that anymore in healthcare. Professional practice has to be evidence based. So yes clinical experience is valuable but must be backed by good data.

                1. Tom Goff: I read the chapter provided and put the book on my ‘to get’ list. Because of conversations you have and I have had in the past, I just had to share the following. You just had to know that I would focus right in on the part near the end that starts with:
                  “Even the “do’s” require value judgments, and it is important to be clear about what evidence-based practice guidelines can and cannot do, regardless of the strength of their scientific evidence. Guidelines are not rigid mandates or “cookie-cutter” recommendations that tell physicians what to do. They are intended to be flexible tools to help physicians and their patients make informed decisions about their care.”
                  Yes! That’s what I’m talking about! ;-)

                  1. I don’t disagree with the principle but it’s worth stressing the “informed decisions” aspect. The evidence is important.

                    You will probably recall the recent poster who is on a totally vegetarian diet and wants to get off statins. He reported consulting Dr Robert Ostfeld and sounded disappointed that this prominent plant-based diet advocating physician did not stop his statin drugs. Dr Ostfeld obviously judged that a WFPB diet and statins were both needed for best results.

                    There may even be benefits to reducing cholesterol to levels below those commonly achievable on a WFPB diet (and not everybody can achieve even those levels on a WFPB diet)……

                    “patients reached very low cholesterol — lower than 50mg/dL. This is comparable to the levels we are born with, but is only achievable in adulthood through medication — lifestyle and exercise alone would not drop levels so low.

                    The researchers found lowering levels of cholesterol reduced the risk of heart attack, stroke, angina or death from heart disease, and that for every 39mg/dL reduction in LDL, the risk reduced by 24 per cent.

                    Professor Ray added: “This study not only confirms that LDL can trigger heart problems, but also suggests reducing it in adults to very low levels — to those of a new-born baby — is both safe and beneficial.”

                    1. Tom Goff: I agree that it is very important to make informed decisions. But part of that informed decision making is applying values to good information. What people don’t understand is how little information there often is and that applying values is the second part of making informed decisions even when there is information available.
                      I know you think that statins are perfectly safe, but NutritionFacts has some videos saying otherwise. The following information would be important information that someone would need to include in their informed and values-based decision making. Part of making an informed decision is understanding the information you presented AND understanding the following information.

                    2. Thea – no, I don’t think statins are perfectly safe. I was put on statins 20 years ago but had to discontinue them because of liver damage (niacin also caused me liver problems). However, all drugs have side effects – even aspirin – but that does not mean that they cannot deliver a net benefit.

                      However, the question is do they deliver net benefits for most people? The evidence shows that they do. And that they are safe for most people.

                    3. Tom Goff: All I was saying was that one of the points of the chapter you linked to is that guidelines are not prescriptions. Guidelines are just part of the decision making process. Those guidelines can’t know what is right for each person. Only the patient, with good information from her/his doctor, can know what is right for her/himself. It is never a doctor’s role to tell a patient that he/she must keep taking a medication. It is the doctor’s role to provide whatever valid information is available and make a recommendation. It is then the patient’s job to apply her values to the information and make a decision. At that point, it is the doctor’s role to help the patient implement her decision.
                      As for statins and them being safe for most people: I found the muscle toxicity problem from statins to be compelling. As you saw, statins affect the muscles of everyone who take statins. What the expert panels define as “safe” and what I define as “safe” may be completely different things. This is where the values bit comes into play and is a good example of why guidelines are just the first part of the decision making process.
                      Here is another good example: I’m sorry to hear about your liver damage. Liver damage is an example of the more serious side effects of statins. Patients must be told about these possibilities too. Statistics/numbers-wise, it may be that more people benefit in serious ways from statins than are harmed. However, that’s only the starting point in a decision. Each person will have to decide if the risks of serious harm is a bigger concern to them than possible benefits. The numbers/guidelines simply can not make this decision for each person because each person has a different set of values.

                    4. Most physicians practice in a virtually data-free environment, devoid of feedback on the correctness of their practice. They know very little about the quality and outcomes of their diagnosis and treatment decisions. And without data indicating that they should change what they’re doing, physicians continue doing what they’ve been doing all along.

                    5. WFPBRunner: Yeah. What’s more, most people don’t understand this. In a way, believing a doctor knows more than he/she really does could be a good thing. The placebo effect is a powerful thing. If you think that your doctor really knows something, then whatever the doctor recommends could help if you believe it too. Some might argue that the most important role of the doctor is to play “medicine man”. But I disagree. I think the best role for a doctor is to be aware of the data, be honest and complete in sharing that data with the patient, and then to respect the patient’s decision.

                    6. This is a great video by Dr. G. and as usual brought about lots of good discussion. I came across this policy brief from WHO which outlines the research evidence that indicates how to engage patients in decision making through these three strategies;

                      • health literacy

                      • treatment decision-making

                      • self-management of chronic conditions.
                      I understand the more the patient is able or willing to learn about his or her condition, the better decision the patient can make. However, sometimes the patients such as elderly patients don’t want to take that responsibility and want to just rely on their doctors decision.
                      Where are the patients in decision-making about their own care?

              1. I say clinical experience is important and you say we can’t do that anymore. Then you agree with me.

                Much of the data is skewed. That’s my point. They are both important and you can’t just throw one out, even though there is a lot of biased garbage out there.
                John S

                    1. Our challenge as humans is to make decisions in the face of imperfect evidence. We weigh the risks of choosing one pathway or another– the likelihood of the risk as well as the gravity of the consequences. In the courtroom, the

                    2. Harriet ,

                      First let me applaud you for your insightful assessment. Love that you’re taking individual responsibility and your results speak loudly. One of the issues faced by most dietary aware clinicians is the conflicting amount of information and the excellent branding by the established industries. With the consistency of reality in that field screaming WFPBD’s it’s being overshadowed by the larger well funded screams of the dairy/beef industry. (see my Jan.1 reply)

                      I would contend that you and the many readers of this blog are indeed making public policy by both voting with your dollars and having discourse with others.

                      Keep up the great work and keep writing ! Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

        2. You know what they say about opinions… everybody has one. Stating your opinion as fact and backing it up with credentials is exactly the kind of manipulation that makes all the above diets you mentioned seem like they are credible. So far only ONE diet has been proven to reverse disease, and if you have something new we’d LOVE to share the science.

        3. Lisa,
          You wrote at the end of your statement : ” I am a Nurse and Diabetes educator currently attending INN and I can tell you there is not size fits all.”
          And now you say : ” I am just stating my opinion as a lay person “.
          It’s misleading!

    2. Some plant foods may increase certain types of estrogenic activity and decrease others (binding to different receptors, competing with endogenous estrogens and other xenoestrogens). Some plant foods may increase levels of sex hormone binding globulin. Some plant foods can increase androgen levels. The devil’s in the details.

      On balance, phytic acid from whole foods seems to be a good thing.

      To me the big issues / questions are:
      – macronutrient ratios: are they important in the long run for overall health (in particular, how they relate to the generation of oxidative stress, inflammation and glycation)?
      – controlled environment (metabolic ward) vs. the real world (ad libitum feeding): is there a difference in which diet works best for most people (sustainable and leading to better health outcomes)?
      – is it what you add in or leave out that’s more important (for example, is a paleo diet very high in vegetables (green leafies and the like) better/worse than a WFPB diet that’s mostly just complex carbs (e.g., whole grains and potatoes)?
      – should we cycle micronutrients, phytonutrients, macronutrients and if so, which ones and how often?
      – how important is fasting and feeling / being hungry (my guess is that it is actually important, unfortunately)?
      – how important are sex differences and genetic differences in reference to all of the above questions, but especially with respect to macronutrient ratios?

    3. The science is abundant and clear that a diet is healthy to the degree that it gets its calories from unprocessed whole plant foods and is unhealthy to the degree it gets its calories from animal protein, fat, and refined carbohydrates. From this perspective there can be no worse diet than the standard American diet except one that went the last small step and completely eliminated unprocessed whole plant foods. Thus the Paleo, Dash, and Mediterranean diets can’t help but to improve health because they all increase the amount of unprocessed whole plant foods and decrease/eliminate the amount of meat, dairy, eggs, and refined grains, sugars and oils. A pure vegetarian diet consisting of nothing but whole unprocessed plant foods represents the natural conclusion to this trend. Further a pure whole-food/plant-based diet is the only diet that has been shown to not just prevent or slow the progression most of the major chronic diseases including diabetes but also reverse them in a majority of patients.

      As such I would think as a nurse and educator this would be the only diet that you recommend. The other diets, especially the DASH diet, could be held in reserve for patients who simply will not eat a diet without some animal products in it. But there should be no illusions, the DASH diet is still a step down in disease reversing power from a WFPB diet with a much lower percentage of people being able to reverse their disease.

      And these other diets will actually be harder to stick with actually than a WFPB diet because they are the dietary equivalent of trying to treat an alcoholic by getting them to limit themselves to just a drink or two a day. The might be able to do it for a time, but eventually the constant presence of their drug of choice will prove too tempting and meat once or twice a week becomes once or twice a day, a little cheese on a salad becomes a large cheese pizza, and one hard boiled egg becomes a three egg omelet (with cheese of course) and then they are right back where they started. A WFPB diet is the only diet that completely removes harmful foods and avoids the slippery slope problem.

      1. Re: evidence-based treatment of alcohol addiction

        ” Sinclair has researched alcohol’s effects on the brain since his
        days as an undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati, where he
        experimented with rats that had been given alcohol for an extended
        period. Sinclair expected that after several weeks without booze, the
        rats would lose their desire for it. Instead, when he gave them alcohol
        again, they went on week-long benders, drinking far more than they ever
        had before—more, he says, than any rat had ever been shown to drink.

        Sinclair called this the alcohol-deprivation effect, and his laboratory results,
        which have since been confirmed by many other studies, suggested a
        fundamental flaw in abstinence-based treatment: going cold turkey only
        intensifies cravings. This discovery helped explain why relapses are

        The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous

      1. Hi Scott, My remarks were not stating that I did not agree that a diet high in veggies was bad. All I am saying is that they can be over done and I have worked with clients that have over done the veggies and developed health problems. I have read about 400 books on nutrition usually take the good and the bad from all of them. I have also worked with both males and females that have developed estrogen dominance from too many veggies as well as strictly vegetarian men that have developed Low sex drive. Men can also develop estrogen dominance. There is not one statement that I make disputing that a high plant based diet is bad. It is not all cut and dry and there is no one size fits all. I gather you are not a medical professional make silly statesments I guess makes you feel better. I will not comment again and this is why medical professional don’t usually comment on these forums so I learned my lesson for sure:)

        1. afaik there are numerous medical professionals that contribute to these discussions on this site, so you’re speaking about yourself here.

          I’ve never heard or read about some of the issues you mention wirh regards to “too much” veggie consumption. Are there any studies showing this?

          My brother in law is a medical practitioner (GP) in the UK and I know far more about nutrition than he does; not too mention his smoking, excessive alcohol intake and over consumption of animal flesh and animal secretions! Thus, being a medical professional doesn’t automatically mean you know more. But it does certainly give you experience in whether or not things work.

          Good luck

  4. Hi Dr. Greger! Love your videos! I’m nearly 100% vegan now and feel no need to see more studies to convince me of the value of a plant-based diet. However, I’m wondering if you know how many studies are available now that clearly illustrate the benefits of a WFPB diet? Dozens, hundreds, are we in the thousands yet? It seems that we will need a heaping pile of studies to convince mainstream medicine of the value a WFPB diet possesses (as your video suggests). So, how much further do we have to go?

    1. Congratulations on improving your diet. Studies specifically addressing the value of a plant based diet are expensive and are fraught with reporting issues. The concept of “paradigm” shift was presented by Thomas Kuhn in 1962. Basically the evidence builds up until their is a shift in beliefs. I’m not aware of any study discussing how many or how much evidence is needed. In the early 60’s the amount and sophistication of advertising/marketing, the monetary influence on government coupled with the medical/industrial/pharmaceutical industry make the shift to improved eating both for health, environment and reduced suffering of animals a more difficult proposition. I believe we as individuals need to do what we can in our work and personal lives to improve the situation. Encourage others to follow NF.org and demonstrate to your health care professionals the value of healthy eating. When you see posts that relate a plant based die to “too many carbs … estrogenic activity”… go to NF.org>Health topics and check out the science. In my research clinical studies don’t support increased estrogenic activity in males or females. I have found this consistent with my clinical experience as well.

    2. Chris Rogers: While I don’t know the exact number of studies (I suspect it is easily in the tens of thousands), I have some thoughts for you.
      1) As stated in the video on this page, it wasn’t until we had more than 7,000 studies showing that smoking was bad that the mainstream establishments finally spoke up about it. This mean that you can literally have thousands of studies (where was the mainstream establishments when we had 6,000 studies?) and still you won’t hear about it in the media. Due to our culture and the money involved in the animal industry, I think it could be even harder to get a turn around regarding diet the same way that we got regarding smoking. It can happen. My point is just that it is not about the evidence at this point. It is not about how many studies we have. We have the evidence. At this point, we are dealing with other factors.
      2) Thanks to the junk food industries (animal industries and junk plant foods), we also have lots of misleading studies implying that those foods are good for us. My point is that figuring this out is not about numbers of studies as various people could play “my number is bigger than yours.” Figuring this out is more about *quality* studies and the ability to synthesize all the information. I think we need a focus on the quality of information in studies along with the ability to look at the body of evidence and not just looking at numbers of studies.
      That’s just a different perspective for you. I’m not saying you have a bad question. I’m just dialoging with you on a different perspective.

    3. Hi Chris – I thought I might add just a little bit to Thea and Dr. Forrester’s comments. There is an old saying: “When the people lead, the leaders will follow.” I think that making cultural dietary changes as large as switching to a WFPB diet it will take a tremendous amount of research over many years with the various food – and pharmaceutical – industries fighting every inch of the way using the tobacco industry tactics. So it will take time. There are still people who believe that wearing seatbelts is detrimental to their safety in a car accident. There will always be those outliers.
      So I try to support this new zeigeist by sharing what no research paper can dispute – my own personal story and health improvements. I make it a point to not be ‘in your face’ about WFPB eating, but when someone asks me, I let them know that I lost 30lbs and am now a BMI of 20.6, reversed my gout, reversed my pre-diabetes, lowered my cholesterol and LDL, no longer contribute to the deaths of myriads of animals (whom I love), take no medications at age 63 (any physicians I see are always astounded at that fact) and feel great. And, oh ya, . . I stopped consuming milk in my teens (couldn’t stand the stuff) and the rest of dairy in my 30’s much to the dismay of my physician at the time who was insistant that I needed to consume “lots of milk” for my bones. I always make sure I tell those I am speaking with that I have had bone density scans which show completely normal findings. No osteopenia, no osteoporosis. The beauty of this method is that no one can argue with me about my “research findings” or poke holes in my ‘scientific method’. I follow McDougall and Esselstyne’s plans for the most part and no one can argue with me about my results and whether or not any of this is legitimate. It works for me.
      And, . . oh ya, . . .before I went WFPB I was eating what was basically a paleo diet.

    4. I don’t think the number of studies actually matters…until the paradigm shifts through real life results like yours and mine, and shared until it goes “viral”, nothing will change. Awareness is everything, and the more who know, the more likely it will attract the right attention and be accepted as fact. I find most people could care less about the studies because there is so much conflict, what they pay attention to is real life results they can relate to. So all of us here are the ambassadors of the WFPB message, even though sometimes it feels like the audience is asleep.

      1. Vege-tater, I shared my experience with a friend with Type II diabetes who hated his situation enough to try something new. He read the appropriate books, changed his diet, worked with his doctor and reversed his long-standing diabetes. He, then, shared the books (china study, prevent/reverse diabetes by barnard) with his physician who actually read the books. The Doc’s response?: We weren’t taught any of this in medical school; we were only taught how to prescribe the medications. We were also taught that this was not reversible. The Doc then shared the books and results with his wife, also a Doc. So the word is traveling. But I agree with you that the best way to get the word out is our own good health and sharing our stories. If it weren’t working for me, I wouldn’t be on this site. Plain and simple. You and I see it the same way.
        Cheers! and happy new year.

        1. Encouraging, thanks! Sometimes it is so frustrating trying to convince people how simple it is to turn your health around, but they are so disbelieving and think I am the exception. (Even doctors). They would rather lose limbs, eyesight, organs, etc. take the drugs and submit to extreme surgery than just TRY it and see, like we did. Hope your new year is even better than the rest!

    5. Technically speaking, we are already there.

      The US 2015-20 US Dietary Guidelines recognise the benefits of what they call a healthy “vegetarian” eating pattern -although it includes dairy and eggs which, the last time I checked, aren’t defined as vegetables. Anyway, they also say “This Pattern can be vegan if all dairy choices are comprised of fortified soy beverages (soymilk) or other plant-based dairy substitutes”. By “vegan” I presume that they mean completely vegetarian. They then list the recommended amounts of food to include and it is pretty much WFPB . The only problem is that this recommended pattern includes oil and some refined grains.

      However, I think it is fair to say that if it is in the US Dietary Guidelines as a recommended healthy eating pattern, then it is by definition “mainstream”. However, too many people, professionals included, seem to be unaware of this fact. Of course, it is tucked away in Appendix 5 which doesn’t help.

  5. Dr. Greger, thanks for all your work. I think I drove my family crazy this Holiday season bringing up your name, book and web page at many dinners and family gatherings. It was great!
    I am trying to help my sister who had a recent painful incident of diverticulosis, (not litis)
    Her doctors suggested she stay on a white bread and pasta diet, with just small quantities of red meat and chicken.
    no veggies or anything with too much fiber , “as that may over her tax her delicate digestive system at this time”
    This seems counter intuitive to me, veggies and high fibrous foods always!
    Continuing to eat the food that got you sick, to get you better ? I am missing something ? Would it really be detrimental to eat a high fiber diet when dealing with diverticulosis issues ? or a compromised digestive track?
    Happy and Healthy 2017 to you

    1. “Continuing to eat the food that got you sick, to get you better ? I am missing something ?”
      LOL, no, they are, and so typical! The definition of insanity, attributed to Einstein… “is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”

      1. This makes me think of a recent experience with a neighbor who had painful kidney stones (I guess using the word painful is redundant, right?). I took him How Not to Die and marked the chapters on kidney disease and diabetes, since he’s prediabetic. So, after a month or so (apparently he’d forgotten the pain by then) he brought the book back and his only comment was, “I’d have to stop eating all my favorite foods!”

        As Dr Klaper said in a talk on wfpb eating we heard recently, “What do you have to lose? It’s only food!”

    2. Hi, Michael Kelly. I am Christine, a NF volunteer moderator. I agree with you that continuing to eat the food that got a person sick would tend to make her sicker. You might be interested in these resources to share with your sister:
      I hope that helps!

  6. Dr. Greger, sometime soon I hope that you will address the use of added oil to foods. Many prominent vegan doctors oppose it. I’d like to hear more from you. I think it’s an important point and still too overlooked.

    Mark G.

    1. Mark, I think it is very straight forward. Compared to whole plant foods refined oils have very little or no nutritional value beyond being a source of calories. Worse really is that in the context of the entire diet they have negative nutritional value because to make room for the extra calories in the oil you have to remove other foods. Let’s assume you are already eating a WFPB diet. That means that for every calorie of oil you add to your diet you are removing a calorie of whole fruits, vegetables, grains or legumes. The result is the more oil in your diet the lower your total nutrient intake will be.

      For example if you were to eat two romaine salads, each with 150 calories. One salad I use my favorite Esselstyn salad dressing of 2 tablespoons balsamic dressing and 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard blended with a tablespoon of capers to give it a bit of a “Caesar dressing” flavor that has a total of 40 calories and the other I use 2 tablespoons of regular Caesar dressing made with olive oil with 150 calories. Romaine lettuce contains 8 calories per cup when shredded. So for the first salad with a very flavorful but fat free dressing my 200 calorie salad would contain 13 cups of lettuce! The “real” Caesar salad would just be the salad dressing in the bottom of an otherwise empty salad bowl. Which salad do you think would contain more nutrients? True I structured this example to make a point. You could allow the total calories to increase to 200 calories and thus the real Caesar salad would be able to contain a little over 6 cups of lettuce, for a pretty good sized salad. But then again a 200 calorie salad with my dressing on would contain 20 cups of lettuce! So the real salad woulds still contain 60% less nutrients.

      Therefore the most nutritious diet is one entirely composed of high nutrient foods with no low nutrient foods.

      That said, if a person simply will not under any circumstances eat any vegetable without some added oil, then perhaps for that particular person there would be a net increase in nutrients if they did add some oil. But the total nutrient content would still be less than if that person could find other ways to make vegetables palatable without the fat.

      Bottom line, added refined oils represent a negative source of nutrients and so detracts from the healthfulness of any diet.

      1. Thanks, Jim, for your detailed reply. It’s very complete. I’m with you and stopped using oil years ago and will not eat anything others make with it. I was asking for Dr Greger to cover it because it’s an important point. In fact, I lost my gallbladder in an emergency operation to save my life when it was destroyed by a gallstone. Dr McDougall says in a video I watched that it’s oil that causes gallstones.

        Dr Greger has discussed oil before, but usually about which one is best or shelf life. I would like to see him address the health impacts of adding it to out diets.

        Mark G

        1. mbglife: Dr. Greger does talk about oil in his book, How Not To Die. He does the comparison to sugar thing. I know you are asking for a video, and I’m all on board with that. I just thought I would mention the book. I also wanted to mention that videos on this site about olive oil. NutritionFacts does cover the effects of olive oil on the endothelial cells.

          1. Hi Thea

            Yes, I have the book. But as you noted, I am asking for a video. I read the message boards often and there seems to be an belief by people that if it’s veritable oil or even coconut oil that it’s ok or even healthy. I think there needs to be a clear presentation that explains to danger of all oils, both because of what they do to organs but also because they imbalance the omega 3 to 6 ratios. All of which less to inflammation, disease and heart disease. Sorry to go in a soapbox about it, but I just wanted to make clear why I think it’s so important. I think vegans generally use oils liberally thinking that they are safe, and they are not.

        2. To all,

          I am happy for all of you who are enjoying a healthy life. I am one of those who still eats fish but the only other things I eat are copious amounts organic leafy green, organic fruit, organic legumes and organic grains all coupled with plenty of fresh non treated water. I am 66 years old and most think I am in my 40’s or early 50’s. I take no medications, am 6′ 2″ tall, 149 lbs and have body fat around 11%. I do strength training twice a week at a cardio level. My cholesterol is low with high HDL and low LDL.

          All that being said and because good health and nutrition has always been my passion, I would like to make this observation of people with who I have consulted over the years. Most of the meat eaters were almost always low vegetable and fruit eaters and they were the least healthy. The fish eaters like myself who consumed high levels of vegetables and fruits were the most healthy. I found when I worked with Vegetarians there were too many who did not know how to be Vegetarians and they therefor had low energy. Perhaps to support more vegetarians there should be more education about the way to get the most out of being so.

          So I wonder do any of the studies that condemn meat eaters quantify their other health habits that may have added to their less than ideal health?

          Charles Harwood

            1. Hi Susan,

              Thanks! Interesting information, but of no surprise. I have been preaching about health since the 70’s and one of the most interesting things I found was that I could show anyone how to reduce cholesterol, stop their trip towards diabetes and of course loose weight, and all with diet alone, ending their need for all their prescriptions. Problem was, it never took too long for most to return to their old ways and and back to their prescription drugs. Unfortunately some of the biggest organizations have been known to drag their feet much longer than they should have based on the evidence at hand. A good example, I was writing numerous editorials and letters to the AHA in the 80’s about margarine because the trans fats were deadly.. Look how long the AHA and misguided doctors continued to recommend it as a good choice. And then it took until, I believe, last year for the government to call for a mandatory phase out because it was harmful to health.
              I guess what I’m trying to say is complacent people are easily lead down the wrong path. So again, it’s nice to see people who are trying to get the facts and trying to be healthy. But just like those cigarette ads that Dr. Greger alluded to in the video, what about the soda ads and the … ? Certainly, sodas are a pretty serious health risk. But it is usually about money!

              I could go on about so many reasons for the poor health of humans. Like many problems of the world, at least the easy access to information that the internet provides does allow more people to be informed if they want to go to the trouble. Of course it is a double edged sword, I know.

              Again, thanks for the video and by the way, put your beans in a pot of water, bring to a boil and let them simmer for 30-60 ,drain, rinse and then put them in your slow cooker. Just a suggestion!


              1. Thank you Charles for your reply! I hear you on all points Charles.. I was just saying yesterday how odd it was that thw whole topic of margarine and transfats has disappeared from public view.. many of us can still recite the tv commercials for some of the brands. Im sure it has a lot to do with the heart disease of at least one generation.
                As to why people return to their unhealthy ways Charles , I dont know the answer. It defies logic. I am encouraged though by the community on this forum , and the wonderful example they all set for friends , family, physicians too sometimes. And Im thankful for the knowledge they share… thank you for the beans instructions!

          1. Hi Charles,
            I am curious about your background and education. What do you know about a whole food plant based diet? Have you taken any courses about it since you are a “Certified Nutrition Consultant.”? Dr. Campbell offers a very good program.

            Fish is problematic because of contamination. Farmed fish has a high amount of dioxins and wild caught fish has been exposed to many pollutants.

            You’ve made statements about margarine but what you didn’t say was the industry hounded the doctors that said that trans fats were bad and shouldn’t be used. They did so for years so they could keep selling their product. The problem wasn’t ignorance, it was an industry that had no liability for the harm that it was causing. By the way, it was a criminal act and they should have been prosecuted.

            If you think organic is the way to go, good. But what you should consider is, what makes those cancers grow when we’re exposed to them. It’s the meat that helps cancers grow: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-tumors-use-meat-to-grow-xeno-autoantibodies/
            Again, I would recommend Dr. Campbell’s program, or at least his book, “The China Study.”

            Also, Why do you say “do any of the studies that condemn meat eaters” in your final paragraph? I don’t think that saying that the consumption of animal products is unhealthy is a condemnation of the people who eat it. Nutrients are best attained through whole plant foods and the phyto-nutrients that the bacteria produce cannot be attained through the consumption of animal products. It isn’t prejudice against the consumption of meat that drives this site, it’s the desire to provide scientific information about our diet and how we can change it for better health.

            Really, it’s about the biome and what best feeds it. That’s why we want to attain most of our nutrient through a whole food plant based diet. That diet best feeds the bacteria that live in our gut. Those are the most healthy bacteria for us to have in us. Here are some resources since you are a nutrition consultant:
            Forks over Knives: forksoverknives.com
            Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine: pcrm.org
            Kaiser Permenente: https://share.kaiserpermanente.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/The-Plant-Based-Diet-booklet.pdf
            There are a lot of other sites and doctors the recommend a WFPB diet as well.

            It would be great it you could look into this and help spread the word, it’s probably a better gig than selling shaklee stuff.

            You may also want to look into the newest information about the “Second Brain.” That is the relationship with the bacteria and the villi in the small intestine. It’s quite remarkable and may be the reason as you said that people go back to old habits. It’s best to quit eating animal products most of the time because the bacteria that feed off of them diminish and the craving goes away. Those little buggers drive the desire for the stuff.

            My best to you – Tootie

            1. Hi Tootie,

              I no longer consult and do not distribute Shaklee although I do use some of their products. My responses were made the way they were in response to the air of many of the blogs. I only see them as personal opinion, not aimed at anyone and I certainly am not concerned over anyone’s opinion but take them into consideration.

              I was a biology major and additionally studied and lived many types of diets: vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic to mention a few.I finally came to the conclusion that diet, like many things, don’t have a one size fits all. I came to the conclusion for myself that I would do what made me happy and healthy.

              As to the crime of corporate greed and subterfuge I have tried to expose that probably the last 40 years. And I don’t even want to get started on that. So my current route taken is to reach the masses through good advice and a heads up about the corruption combined in a sci-fi fantasy book. To be published in February and it will be on Amazon titled Earthmaster First Sight, first of a trilogy. A good fantasy along with health, positive thinking, self-empowerment and respect for Earth’s future. Although I have reached thousands in my life perhaps this might touch hundreds of thousands. The series teaches 9 lessons and the first 4 are in this book.

              I wish the best for you and sounds like you re firm it what works for you and that is very important.

              Take care,


              1. Look into this Charles, we need help and I think there are several ways of reaching out. I think the biome and the fact that we have two separate bugs in our intestinal tract is important. It is a fact that there is one that feeds on plants (health) and one that feeds on animal products (ill-health) and I believe our current consumption practices are an indicator for the direction species is taking. (You’re a biologist, think about Dr. Lovelock’s Daisy World.)

                You know it’s not about each of us, though being healthy is great; it’s about all of us and what we are doing where we want to go. There are three times more bacteria in our body than there are cells. Maybe as a collective those bacteria have a direction for us. We sure a heck don’t have one right now.

                Actually, the Sci-Fi route sounds good. Worked for Hubbard, but make sure you have a clear sight forward if people do listen to you.

                Didn’t know I was living my own Sci-Fi fantasy did ya!

                1. I looked up Dr. Lovelock (fascinating man whose way of thinking I certainly relate to) and his Gaia Theory. Strangely the main character of my book teaches pretty much that same thing in his lessons. He professes that the Universe and the Earth work like mathematical equation. So Nature is a if this then that place and man’s interference is messing with the math so to speak.

                  Nice thing about those bacteria is that they are expelled and replaced daily (assuming one has healthy eliminations). As a bit of marker for myself is to keep track of my PH and make sure it is staying alkaline.

                  Take care.

      1. Wanna talk about Sodium?
        Nitric Oxide?
        Oxygen Magnesium Phosphorus Iodine Sulfur or Fluorine?
        OMg PISS OFF

    1. This news report (not an original research study or even a proper scientific review) was brought up and discussed earlier within this Comments section. I’ll go ahead and add a few random thoughts here.

      Let’s suppose for argument’s sake that the standard western diet high in protein and fat results in faster healing following traumatic injury. Does it make sense to injure yourself with every meal just so you are better prepared (if that is even possible) for an unlikely debilitating accident? Is it wise to increase your risk for most of the top 15 causes of death just to get a jump start on healing from a major injury that may never happen? We know that the SAD diet promotes cancer. Cancer is unregulated growth, but growth nonetheless. It is possible that a diet high in animal content promotes healing (growth) by elevating growth factors such as IGF-1 and by virtue of the anabolic hormones in the meat and dairy. Do you want that going on in your body if you don’t have an injury that needs healing?

      As far as the news article goes, even the author says at the end:
      “So how can we define the optimal diet for recovery in the face of such conflicting advice? The short answer is: Maybe we can’t, at least not yet.”
      The author also has some bias or knowledge gaps. For example, she writes: “the fact that vegans do have to be more vigilant about getting enough protein …”. Fact? I think not. The article puts the focus on protein. Yet there is also no mention in the article that one can consume a large amount of protein without eating animals. However, beyond protein Tom Goff suggests in this Comments section that available cholesterol may be an important component of healing,

      Another thing is, there are different types of vegan diets ranging from junk food to WFPB. In this article all vegan diets seem to be thrown into the same basket. What kind of a vegan was the obligatory celebrity anecdote masquerading for evidence at the beginning of the news article?

      In conclusion, why get all upset at something that is totally unproven and may be of little importance to the healthy individual. You may want to suggest to the physician’s son that there are more reliable sources of nutritional information than a general news service trying to expand readership (if not their reader’s waistline).

      1. Very true.

        Also, the optimal diet in certain clinical circumstances is not necessarily the optimal diet in all other circumstances.

  7. Event the Tufts Nutrition Letter soft pedals dietary changes refusing to admit all dairy, poultry, eggs, etc are harmful. Ironically, I did my medical residency at Tufts but the cafeteria food was so bad, I brought most of my food from home or ate real traditionally Chinese food as we were situated in “China Town” Boston. I knew less than half about nutrition then as i do now, developing prostate cancer, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension in my 30’s. I recently watched the three part, almost, 5 hour series, the Emperor of Maladies, after reading the book, on youtube but the amount of time spent on preventative medicine( diet, avoidance of known carcinogens, etc., was disappointingly small. Little did I know then that the heavy exposure to asbestos, carbon tetrachloride, and other known carcinogens in my military experience, plus the sun exposure in Australia would lead also to melanoma, a bowel villous adenoma, precancerous, and intestinalization of my stomach lining, also precancerous. I vigorously follow a plant based diet and Dr Greger now but had learned very little in my medical training. My eyes also began to open as I saw the heavy load of diabetes, atherosclerosis with heart disease, stroke, and amputations, cancers, and the many lifestyle diseases in relatively young people in my medical practice. I consulted nutritionists often but even they had been mislead by big food biased research. My mom was exposed to my dad’s heavy smoking(he died of a heart attack at 70, and my step fathers clothes covered in he industrial cleaning agents.). She survived 10 years with esophageal cancer after esophagus resection, bowel transposition, and chemo while my wife and I loved her, fed her vegetables when the tube feeding was weaned. My step father’s previous wife died of pancreatic cancer and he contracted it also. But he survived 25 years, very rare, again with love, dietary changes , a Whipple procedure, and chemo, dying at 87 of sequelae of a head injury. As I have told you in previous comments, I continue to survive malignant orostate cancer and melanoma with the great help of Dr Greger, surgery, Chemo/hormone suppression, retiring early and moving to Costa Rica for a better lifestyle and more healthful food in addition to the love of my wife, family, and friends, much outside the purview of traditional medicine although using both.

  8. That’s so distressing because all the doctors claim to be using the best information available. What a bunch of highly trained sheep. They are just following blindly the masters somewhere on high whom live behind the black curtain. But in which era wasn’t medicine highly deluded? Looks like it’s no different today. And that’s totally shameful.

    1. Tobias I really think it has a lot to do with how they eat themselves. It is like when they smoked. Guilt I suppose.

      And food, as you know comes with so much psychological baggage. “That’s how I was raised, so I have been doing it wrong my entire life etc.” Cultural. My endocrinologist said, “you are right, I shouldn’t eat meat but I like it too much.” So at least she supports me.

      1. I guess I’m in a minority as I tend to adapt my behavior to what I perceive as the truth and prefer to stop basing my behavior on outdated information. Yeah, I see it’s customs. It’s ignorance. And it’s probably very often a belief that the science may be wrong.

        1. I think the “Science may be wrong” is an excuse for bad habits.

          The Science may be wrong tomorrow but today it’s “the best we have.”

    2. I know that many professional fields have continuing education requirements that must be fulfilled to keep one’s license. Is this not true of Medicine? Is there a “CME” requirement in most states as there are “CLE” requirements in my state? (legal).

      IF SO, JUST HOW are the boys/girls who call themselves doctors remaining so entirely Ignorant about Nutrition?

      Is it because the Rx companies sponsor the seminars and meetings that qualify for “continuing education” credits?

      That’s more like “continuing confusion”!

  9. Great video. I’m amazed at just how “poorly” I was eating before
    I read your books and watched your videos. They’ve been a lifesaver.

    I’ve learned that being “healthy” is not just about weight loss(i.e being the right weight)
    it’s also about knowing the foods that nourish and heal your body…and then creating a plan
    to eat those foods regularly so you can thrive.

    I’m so glad you decided to start this doing this full time!

  10. Thank you Dr. Greger. When you are on message as in this vid you are most compelling. The conflict to win is fact vs. fantasy with respect to healthy eating. Much more so than quibbling about which variety of Rocket has the most nitrate or other diversions. Not that there’s anything wrong with delving deeper into the science. Up to a point.

    Would you consider bringing in a guest specialist, say for example an expert on adventitious (not advantageous) modifications to nutrients caused by various types of processing? I think people would be gobsmacked if they knew just how altered and cross-linked proteins become when milk is fractionated into caseins and other milk powders.

    I can tell that your audience is growing. So some repetition is always going to be called for. As the social engineer Bill Drayton put it “Change begets change as much as repetition reinforces repetition. Besides, I’ve got the attention span of a goldfish so lay it on me Dr. G and then again and …

  11. I wonder how many studies stating evidence of the benefits of a whole foods plant based diet have been published? Surely we are almost at 7000? Haha

  12. Yes AND combine that mountain of science with a bigger mountain of scientific evidence (videos, pictures, etc…) of USA under ground (top secrete) animal concentration torture factories inhumanely butchering billions of the innocent & powerless every year. Profit, culture, tradition and religion all Trump & Twi$t science & logic.

  13. The most frustrating part of trying to spread the gospel of a whole food plant-based diet are the laughs & chuckles you get from MDs and your fellow public health colleagues. Smh.

    1. Here is the thing about that. They look at you and your blood work, your low body fat percentage, BP, etc. and can they argue with that? And there they are with a belly. I don’t see MDs like that anymore. They are like the smoking doctors in the 50’s.

  14. Hello Dr. Greger,

    Hypothetically, if a patient exercises on a regular basis and eats foods ie beans, grains, fruits and vegetables mostly BUT still eats animal meat in small amounts, would that prevent him from developing the most common chronic diseases?

    1. It’s very difficult to say. 100% prevention is tricky because there can always be exceptions to the rule. If one chooses to consume animal meat, I would advise unprocessed products. Organic/free range/grass fed/local etc isn’t a bad idea either if available.

  15. Patient A:
    -eats all whole food plant based diet
    -NO exercise

    Patient B:
    -eats whole food plant based diet
    -regular exercise
    -eats small amounts of animal products

    Would the exercise compensate for eating animal products for patient B? Would they theoretically end up with excellent health? I was just curious, because this might be the case for some patients who still can’t get rid of animal products in their diet.

    1. Ana: I’m not an expert, but I don’t know that we have any great studies that really tests the question you are getting. I suspect it depends on a number of factors: the person’s biology, how healthy the person is (people with health problems may not be able to thrive even with small amounts of animal products), and what you mean by “small amounts”. This last one is where I think most people get into trouble as their idea of small amounts and what the science says is a small (generally safe?) amount may not match.
      What do you think?

    2. I love this question and I’ll tell you why. Often in the plant-based community, exercise gets the short shrift. It’s often written off as a secondary concern. Many people believe that diet is the most important thing that we can do for our health and that, say, walking a little bit each day, is enough. Your question tries to tease this out and I think you are highlighting something very important that needs to be highlighted. As Thea mentioned, there are lots of factors to consider when addressing this question. While you can debate whether exercise or nutrition is more important, I would say that they are equal, perhaps with a little more weight on the nutrition side of the equation. But exercise is NOT something to be ignored because our population-wide lack of regular exercise has consequences that are as dire as our poor nutrition is, particularly as we age.

      I think the first and most important factor to consider is, ultimately what is your goal? What exactly is ‘better health’? And what exactly is being compensated for with exercise? The answer is, it’s impossible to know because this is a broad question, or rather, the answer has many many answers depending upon WHICH of the many aspects of ‘health’ you are talking about.

      I heard a pharmaceutical researcher give a talk once. She had spent the last 10 years trying to develop a drug that would mimic the effects of exercise. The problem, she admitted, is that like nutrition, the effects of exercise (or lack of it) are multi-faceted. She said it would take 1000 pills to replicate the effects of exercise. (And, of course, they would all have adverse side effects even if they could deliver some of what regular exercise does.)

      So, in order to answer your question, you actually have to get more specific about ‘better health’. Are you talking about heart disease? If so, then the question is, would exercising more, and thereby reducing risk of heart disease, compensate for a small amount of animal products consumed that would increase the rate of heart disease? The answer is, probably, yes. But as we have seen, by improving cardiovascular function in some ways from exercise, if you weren’t also improving eating habits, you wouldn’t necessarily be stopping the development of arterial plaque, for example. For example, cardio exercise increases the production of nitric oxide, as do leafy greens. This helps our artery function. But if you are still eating lots of animals products, then you are impairing artery function. Perhaps you might slow down the decline from a bad diet, but you wouldn’t necessarily erase the effects of it. Another example might be smoking while you exercise. You can improve your lung capacity with cardio exercise, but you diminish it by smoking. Until a certain point you might be preventing SOME of the effects of smoking. But then there are others that have nothing to do with lung capacity, such as affecting the carcinogenic effects. Exericse may help a bit, depending on what you do and how much, but it will not erase the effects of the toxins you are taking in.

      Exercise is crucial for health, though. There is no doubt that fit people live longer and healthier and are leaner, as are people with optimal nutrition. No doubt, people who ARE fit and ALSO practice optimal nutrition are the healthiest. But, exercise is as specific as nutrition is.

      The most important thing for plant-based eaters to realize is that nutrition does NOT make up for inactivity. Keep in mind that when we eat a WFPB diet, we are trying to go back to what is ‘natural’ for the human body. Well, when it comes to exercise, we are trying to do that very same thing. We are trying to replicate what, in our ‘natural’ state, the body might do. Because when you don’t use it, you lose it. The body’s physiological systems atrophy very quickly when the body does not move. And, sitting or lying for 24 hours a day, or even 22 or 23 hour a day is absolutely NOT natural. The human body is designed to move and when we look at cultures who have not been industrialized, people are moving at a low intensity for 10 to 12 hours per day! They are not running marathons, but they are moving all day just to perform their normal activities of daily living.

      We are designed to walk and run and jump. Our bone cells need the impact, our heart and lungs need the stimulus from breathing and moving at a vigorous intensity. So we do exercise like running, cardio machines, aerobics, Zumba, cycling..to mimic what we might do if we lived in a non-modern environment where everything is NOT electric and where all the activity has NOT been engineered out of our lives. We are designed to have muscles that keep us strong—we are designed to lift things. So we lift heavy weights (ideally!) to replicate the things we are NOT lifting in daily life since we sit in a car and at a computer all day.

      Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass with age, is perhaps our most debilitating (and under-publicized) health condition in old age. It’s why people fall, and why they fall and can’t get up, and why they are too weak to use a can-opener or carry a grocery bag. And, like heart disease, it’s preventable. All you have to do is exercise—particularly lift weights. I believe there is some evidence that suggests that eating a WFPB may minimize some of the loss of the muscle that occurs But if you ‘ain’t movin’, then you’re not going to prevent the loss from occurring entirely. And bone density is also affected by lack of movement and lack of impact stimulus. Nutrition can ameliorate some decline, but not all of it. We need the calcium, Vitamin K, Vitamin D and other nutrients associated with bone health–but we need the exercise stimulus just as much They all work synergistically to produce strong bones. The bottom line is, we must move and most of us must move MORE.

      Keep in mind that everything is on a spectrum. We see that the fewer animal products someone eats, the better their health seems to be. And same with exercise, the more exercise they do, the better their exercise seems to be. Both things are on a continuum and both are important. – nutrition professor and volunteer moderator, ‪ Martica Heaner PhD

  16. Hi Dr. Greger and Nutritionfacts.org, I’ve recently watched an interview of you at plant based news and have a question: Is there any studies and evidences to the point when you say: “there’s only one diet ever been proven to reverse heart disease”? the reason why I am asking is because I would really like to have these words as an argument to defend veganism but I can’t say it without evidence. Well, I found a lot on nutritionfacts.org, but i haven’t found a study or any evidence-based text specifically on that point yet. Because you also said: “It’s hard to cherrypick, when there’s only one cherry.” So where’s this one cherry, this one study/evidence, or is it just a conclusion of many studies, which will make it a little more complex, I am wondering and would be really thankful for your help?

  17. I’m hoping someone can clear up this one niggling detail. I do not understand how the Seventh Day Adventist study (or any study, for that matter) can conclude that all cause mortality is lower for those on a whole food plant based diet as compared to omnivores. All cause mortality for both groups MUST, by definition, be 100%. After all, valar morghalis (all men must die) and I do not believe any study has concluded that eating a WFPB diet grants virtual immortality. It seems that the more proper conclusion is that all cause EARLY mortality is lower for WFPB diet practitioners, but how is that being defined? Thanks!

    1. The Plant Based Eater: I think you are looking at the phrase in a literal sense, but the phrase is used with a certain understanding by others. I’m not an expert, but I have seen the phrase “all cause mortality went up” (or down) this way: The age in which people die for any reason goes up (or down).
      The phrase is usually used in response to an intervention or measured situation. For example, people who eat twice as much ___ have lower all cause mortality. What they mean is that people who ate twice as much ___ die later than people who do not.
      Or another way of thinking about it is: By age X (say 85 years old), how many people have died vs not died? In that respect mortality truly can do up or down. And this is how the measurement of mortality is used in other phrases, such as infant mortality. Ie, how many infants make it to age X? http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=14274 We all understand that the infants will die eventually. The question is, how many will die by their first birthday?
      I think everyone understand that everyone dies. It’s a matter of using the term higher and lower in the phrase to practically mean earlier or later.
      Does that help?

  18. Red meat consumption and diary products are linked to higher mortality risks. However, it seems that poultry
    and (very) low fat dairy is much less harmful. Or do I miss something?

    See here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22412075
    or here: http://www.fulloflife.ca/uploads/1/0/9/4/10949817/dean_ornishs_commentary.pdf

    “Substitution of red meat with fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains was associated with a significantly lower risk of mortality. We have a spectrum of choices; it’s not all or nothing”

  19. This is an excellent video. Love them all, but this – in 4 minutes or less – encapsulates everything anyone needs to know about our diet and how we need to change. Thank you Dr Greger and team. You are doing GREAT work.

    1. Hi Ellen, my name is Megan and I am a nutrition student and volunteer for NF. As a nutrition student, I am studying a lot about different diets and the benefits/drawbacks of each. While a great many nutrition professionals don’t recommend a plant-based, whole foods diet, I have yet to find a textbook that states that well-balanced, well-planned plant-based diet is harmful. In fact, much of the literature and textbooks I have read through school has emphasized the health benefits of a well-balanced and planned plant-based diet. It is true you can become deficient in some nutrients if you’re eating the same foods over and over again (but that is true of any type of diet) and if you are not getting a variety of foods. If you have no variety, you are obviously going to have a nutrient gap somewhere. Here are some more videos discussing some of the nutrients stated in that response you provided: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/carnitine-choline-cancer-and-cholesterol-the-tmao-connection/, http://nutritionfacts.org/video/safest-source-of-b12/, http://nutritionfacts.org/video/flaxseeds-vs-chia-seeds/, http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/pregnancy/. The overall idea I want to convey is that a well-planned, high-variety plant-based diet should not result in vitamin deficiencies (with the exception of vitamin B12, which requires supplementation on a WFPB diet). I hope some of this helps you!

  20. Slightly unrelated to the topic of the video (which is brilliant, by the way, and I’ve used the link between smoking in the 50’s and diet nowadays as an example many times myself!), but does anyone have any thoughts or actual scientific findings regarding the safety of using colloidal silver for treatment of various ailments? Personally I would stay as far away from it as possible, but with everyone and their mums being “experts” online nowadays it’s hard to filter out facts from fiction and romanticised anecdotes. Is there any scientific evidence that can prove the claimed health benefits, or equally disprove them? I would be more than interested to know as I know some people who are very keen on using silver regularly and claim it is the way forward when antibiotics start failing.

  21. Love this video. Dr Greger, I sincerely thank you for the tireless efforts you put in to actually make people well. The medical profession has lost its way but genuine heroes like yourself and Dr Barnard are actually making a huge difference to people’s life and quality of life.

    May I be so bold to make a suggestion about this video. I love the shock factor but would love to see it backed up with the total number of studies to date that already have concluded that a non vegan diet is so obviously detrimental to human health. I think this could help as a short sharp shock video for social media.

    Keep up the good fight, you are an inspiration.

  22. Hello All,
    Not sure if this is quite the right venue for my comment, but I think so :-) Also, I would love to hear Dr Greger’s thoughts on this, if possible, and everyone else’s too!
    I live in Victoria, Canada and read a very exciting article in our local paper this morning: Doctors Demand Changes To Food Guide (Times Colonist, Aug 18, 2017).
    In a nutshell, the Canada Food Guide is undergoing an overhaul and is due to be released early next year. It would seem that the scientific message is finally starting to get through as this Guide, this time, (they say) is not being influenced by the food industry and “…isn’t using evidence funded by those with vested interests, it is looking to the best scientific evidence available.” When has that ever been the case?! This is truly, to borrow from Neil Armstrong, a giant leap for mankind. I am hoping for great things from this.
    Doctors, including Dr Yoni Freedhoff, an Ottawa based doctor specializing in obesity, have long blasted the “drink 100% fruit juice” component of the current Food Guide (calling it nothing more than vitamin enriched sugar water) as well as many other troubling issues with the current Food Guide, and will be scrutinizing the new Guide.
    Hasan Hutchinson, Director General of Nutritional Policy and Programs at Health Canada, stated that, in relation to repairing the confidence of Canadians in the Department’s ability to provide healthy guidance, “…we controlled very strongly for that. We don’t have any backroom meetings.”
    In talking, those in relevant prominent positions, are firing on all cylinders, and this, boys and girls, is very exciting!
    Terrific article, well worth the read.

  23. This video contains one of the worst manipulation and misrepresentation of data I have found on the internet. It is misleading on so many levels that I simply cannot even begin to write as this post would be tooooo long. The only trough in this video is that smoking kills!!!

    1. Hmm. So a derogatory comment supported by….nothing. Not even the mention of what you take issue with. Why bother? Oh well, nevermind, not really interested in anything you have to say, you’ve already proven your comments’ worth.

      ⁣Sent from Blue ​

  24. Hi, Please can Dr Greger & co explain this?
    Search Results
    Featured snippet from the web
    Pesco-vegetarians in the community, who ate a plant-based diet with up to one serving of fish a day, lived longer than vegan Adventists. Their top foods include avocados, salmon, nuts, beans, oatmeal, whole wheat bread and soy milk.11 Apr 2015
    Eating To Break 100: Longevity Diet Tips From The Blue Zones – NPR

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