Flashback Friday: Does Meditation Affect Cellular Aging? & Telomeres – Cap It All off with Diet

Flashback Friday: Does Meditation Affect Cellular Aging? & Telomeres – Cap It All off with Diet
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Is the reversal of cellular aging Dr. Dean Ornish demonstrated with lifestyle changes due to the plant-based diet, the exercise, the stress management, or just to the associated weight loss?

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In my Research Into Reversing Aging, I highlighted Dean Ornish’s landmark study showing that a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, along with walking, stress management, and support could not only reverse heart disease, open up arteries without drugs and surgery, and potentially reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer, but was the first intervention ever shown to increase telomerase activity, the enzyme that builds and maintains these caps at the tips of our chromosomes called telomeres which appear to slow the aging of our cells. Yes, this new finding was exciting and should encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid or combat cancer and age-related diseases, but was it the diet, the exercise, or the stress management? That’s what researchers have been trying to tease out in the six years since this study was published.

Let’s look at stress first. In the film The Holiday, Cameron Diaz, exclaimed “Severe stress … causes the DNA in our cells to shrink until they can no longer replicate.” Did Hollywood get the science right? Do people who are stressed have shorter telomeres? To answer that question, researchers measured the telomere lengths in mothers of chronically ill children—what could be more stressful than that? The longer a woman had spent being the main carer of her ill child, the shorter were her telomeres. The extra telomere shortening in the most stressed mothers was equivalent to that caused by at least a decade of aging.

We see the same thing in caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, and those suffering severe work related exhaustion. Even those abused as children may grow up with shorter telomeres. Not much we can do about our past, but if we manage our stress can we grow some of telomeres back?

Well if you go off to on a meditation retreat and meditate for 500 hours you can indeed boost your telomerase activity. 600 hours of meditation may be beneficial as well, but come on, there’s got to be a quicker fix, and this exciting new study delivers.

Caregivers of family members with dementia randomized to just 12 minutes of daily meditation for 8 weeks, just about 10 hours in total experienced significant benefit. Better mental and psychological function accompanied by an increase in telomerase activity suggesting improvement in stress-induced cellular aging.

What about exercise for slowing cellular aging? Stress management helps, but we can’t always change our station in life, but we can always go out for a walk. Researchers studied 2400 twins, and those that exercised more pumped up their telomeres along with their muscles.

These were mostly folks in their 40s, does it still work in your 50s? Yes. These “habitual” exercisers were working out three hours a week, better than the younger group. The “heavy” exercise group was only averaging about a half-hour a day. What happens if you study hard-core athletes?

Here’s the telomere lengths of young healthy regular folks at around age 20, and then age 50, which is what we’d expect, our telomeres get eaten away as we age.

But what about the athletes? They start out in the same boat, nice long young healthy telomeres capping all their chromosomes. And then at age 50? They appear to still have the chromosomes of a 20 year old. But these were marathon runners, triathletes running 50 miles a week for, oh, 35 years. That’s worse than the meditation retreat study!

That doesn’t help us with the original question, What was it about the Ornish intervention that so powerfully protected telomeres after just three months? We saw that just stress management seems to help, but what about the diet versus exercise. Was it the plant-based diet, was it the walking 30 minutes a day—or, was it just because of the weight loss? In those three months, participants lost about 20 pounds. Maybe your telomeres are happy if you lose 20 pounds using any method, you know, starting a cocaine habit, getting tuberculosis, whatever.

To answer this critical question—was it the plant-based diet specifically, the exercise, or the weight loss—ideally you’d do a study where you randomized people into at least three groups, a control group that did nothing, sedentary with a typical diet, a group that just exercised, and a group that lost weight eating pretty much the same lousy diet, but just in smaller portions. And I’m happy to report in 2013 just such a study was published.

They took about 400 women and randomized them up into four groups: a portion-controlled diet group, and exercise group, and a portion controlled diet and exercise group for a full year.

And here they are. This is how long their telomeres were at baseline. After a year of doing nothing, there was essentially no change in the control group, which is what we’d expect.

The exercise group was no whimpy Ornish 30 minute stroll, but 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise like jogging. After a year of that, how did they do? They did no better. What about just weight loss? Nothin’. And exercise and weight loss? No significant change either.

So as long as you’re eating the same diet, it doesn’t appear to matter how small your portions are, or how much weight you lose, or how hard you exercise, after a year, they saw no benefit. Whereas the Ornish group on the plant-based diet, lost the same amount of weight after just three months, exercising less than half as hard and saw significant telomere protection.

So it wasn’t the weight loss, wasn’t the exercise, it was the food.

What about a plant-based diet is so protective? Higher consumption of vegetables, less butter, and more fruit. From the latest review, foods high in fiber and vitamins, but the key may be avoiding saturated fat. Swapping just 1% of saturated fat calories in our diet for anything else can add nearly a whole year of aging’s worth of length onto our telomeres. Researchers have calculated how much of our telomeres we may shave off per serving of foods like ham or hot dogs, bologna, salami, or other lunch meats. Fish consumption was also significantly associated with shortened telomeres.

Saturated fats like palmitic acid, the primary saturated fat in salmon, and found in meat, eggs, and dairy in general can actually be toxic to cells. This has been demonstrated in heart cells, bone marrow cells, pancreatic cells and brain cells. And the toxic effects on cell death rates happen right around what you’d see in the blood stream of people who eat a lot of animal products. It may not be the saturated fat itself, though saturated fat may just be a marker for the increased oxidative stress and inflammation associated with those foods.

With this link to saturated fat, no wonder lifelong low cholesterol levels have been related to longer telomeres and a smaller proportion of short telomeres—in other words markers of slower biological aging with lower cholesterol.

In fact there’s a rare congenital birth defect called progeria syndrome, where children essentially age 8-10 times faster than normal. It seems associated with a particular inability to handle animal fats. In this case, they started trying lower her cholesterol levels starting at age 2, but sadly, she died shortly after this picture was taken at age 10.

The good news is that even if you’ve been beating up on your telomeres, despite past accumulated injury leading to shorter telomere lengths, current healthy behaviors might help to decrease a person’s risk of some of the potential consequences, like heart disease. Eating more fruit and vegetables and less meat, and having more support from friends and family to attenuate the association between shorter telomeres and the ravages of aging.

To summarize, here’s a schematic of this constant battle. Inflammation, oxidation, damage and dysfunction are constantly hacking away at our telomeres, at the same time our antioxidant defenses, a healthy diet and exercise, stress reduction are constantly rebuilding them.

Telomere length shortens with age. Progressive shortening of our telomeres leads to cell death or transformation into cancer, affecting the health and lifespan of an individual. But the rate of telomere shortening can be either increased or decreased by specific lifestyle factors. Better choice of diet and activities has great potential to reduce the rate of telomere shortening or at least prevent excessive telomere shrinkage, leading to delayed onset of age-associated diseases and increased lifespan.

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

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to © Alex Kock via Adobe Stock. 

In my Research Into Reversing Aging, I highlighted Dean Ornish’s landmark study showing that a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, along with walking, stress management, and support could not only reverse heart disease, open up arteries without drugs and surgery, and potentially reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer, but was the first intervention ever shown to increase telomerase activity, the enzyme that builds and maintains these caps at the tips of our chromosomes called telomeres which appear to slow the aging of our cells. Yes, this new finding was exciting and should encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid or combat cancer and age-related diseases, but was it the diet, the exercise, or the stress management? That’s what researchers have been trying to tease out in the six years since this study was published.

Let’s look at stress first. In the film The Holiday, Cameron Diaz, exclaimed “Severe stress … causes the DNA in our cells to shrink until they can no longer replicate.” Did Hollywood get the science right? Do people who are stressed have shorter telomeres? To answer that question, researchers measured the telomere lengths in mothers of chronically ill children—what could be more stressful than that? The longer a woman had spent being the main carer of her ill child, the shorter were her telomeres. The extra telomere shortening in the most stressed mothers was equivalent to that caused by at least a decade of aging.

We see the same thing in caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, and those suffering severe work related exhaustion. Even those abused as children may grow up with shorter telomeres. Not much we can do about our past, but if we manage our stress can we grow some of telomeres back?

Well if you go off to on a meditation retreat and meditate for 500 hours you can indeed boost your telomerase activity. 600 hours of meditation may be beneficial as well, but come on, there’s got to be a quicker fix, and this exciting new study delivers.

Caregivers of family members with dementia randomized to just 12 minutes of daily meditation for 8 weeks, just about 10 hours in total experienced significant benefit. Better mental and psychological function accompanied by an increase in telomerase activity suggesting improvement in stress-induced cellular aging.

What about exercise for slowing cellular aging? Stress management helps, but we can’t always change our station in life, but we can always go out for a walk. Researchers studied 2400 twins, and those that exercised more pumped up their telomeres along with their muscles.

These were mostly folks in their 40s, does it still work in your 50s? Yes. These “habitual” exercisers were working out three hours a week, better than the younger group. The “heavy” exercise group was only averaging about a half-hour a day. What happens if you study hard-core athletes?

Here’s the telomere lengths of young healthy regular folks at around age 20, and then age 50, which is what we’d expect, our telomeres get eaten away as we age.

But what about the athletes? They start out in the same boat, nice long young healthy telomeres capping all their chromosomes. And then at age 50? They appear to still have the chromosomes of a 20 year old. But these were marathon runners, triathletes running 50 miles a week for, oh, 35 years. That’s worse than the meditation retreat study!

That doesn’t help us with the original question, What was it about the Ornish intervention that so powerfully protected telomeres after just three months? We saw that just stress management seems to help, but what about the diet versus exercise. Was it the plant-based diet, was it the walking 30 minutes a day—or, was it just because of the weight loss? In those three months, participants lost about 20 pounds. Maybe your telomeres are happy if you lose 20 pounds using any method, you know, starting a cocaine habit, getting tuberculosis, whatever.

To answer this critical question—was it the plant-based diet specifically, the exercise, or the weight loss—ideally you’d do a study where you randomized people into at least three groups, a control group that did nothing, sedentary with a typical diet, a group that just exercised, and a group that lost weight eating pretty much the same lousy diet, but just in smaller portions. And I’m happy to report in 2013 just such a study was published.

They took about 400 women and randomized them up into four groups: a portion-controlled diet group, and exercise group, and a portion controlled diet and exercise group for a full year.

And here they are. This is how long their telomeres were at baseline. After a year of doing nothing, there was essentially no change in the control group, which is what we’d expect.

The exercise group was no whimpy Ornish 30 minute stroll, but 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise like jogging. After a year of that, how did they do? They did no better. What about just weight loss? Nothin’. And exercise and weight loss? No significant change either.

So as long as you’re eating the same diet, it doesn’t appear to matter how small your portions are, or how much weight you lose, or how hard you exercise, after a year, they saw no benefit. Whereas the Ornish group on the plant-based diet, lost the same amount of weight after just three months, exercising less than half as hard and saw significant telomere protection.

So it wasn’t the weight loss, wasn’t the exercise, it was the food.

What about a plant-based diet is so protective? Higher consumption of vegetables, less butter, and more fruit. From the latest review, foods high in fiber and vitamins, but the key may be avoiding saturated fat. Swapping just 1% of saturated fat calories in our diet for anything else can add nearly a whole year of aging’s worth of length onto our telomeres. Researchers have calculated how much of our telomeres we may shave off per serving of foods like ham or hot dogs, bologna, salami, or other lunch meats. Fish consumption was also significantly associated with shortened telomeres.

Saturated fats like palmitic acid, the primary saturated fat in salmon, and found in meat, eggs, and dairy in general can actually be toxic to cells. This has been demonstrated in heart cells, bone marrow cells, pancreatic cells and brain cells. And the toxic effects on cell death rates happen right around what you’d see in the blood stream of people who eat a lot of animal products. It may not be the saturated fat itself, though saturated fat may just be a marker for the increased oxidative stress and inflammation associated with those foods.

With this link to saturated fat, no wonder lifelong low cholesterol levels have been related to longer telomeres and a smaller proportion of short telomeres—in other words markers of slower biological aging with lower cholesterol.

In fact there’s a rare congenital birth defect called progeria syndrome, where children essentially age 8-10 times faster than normal. It seems associated with a particular inability to handle animal fats. In this case, they started trying lower her cholesterol levels starting at age 2, but sadly, she died shortly after this picture was taken at age 10.

The good news is that even if you’ve been beating up on your telomeres, despite past accumulated injury leading to shorter telomere lengths, current healthy behaviors might help to decrease a person’s risk of some of the potential consequences, like heart disease. Eating more fruit and vegetables and less meat, and having more support from friends and family to attenuate the association between shorter telomeres and the ravages of aging.

To summarize, here’s a schematic of this constant battle. Inflammation, oxidation, damage and dysfunction are constantly hacking away at our telomeres, at the same time our antioxidant defenses, a healthy diet and exercise, stress reduction are constantly rebuilding them.

Telomere length shortens with age. Progressive shortening of our telomeres leads to cell death or transformation into cancer, affecting the health and lifespan of an individual. But the rate of telomere shortening can be either increased or decreased by specific lifestyle factors. Better choice of diet and activities has great potential to reduce the rate of telomere shortening or at least prevent excessive telomere shrinkage, leading to delayed onset of age-associated diseases and increased lifespan.

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

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to © Alex Kock via Adobe Stock. 

Doctor's Note

Whoa, what did you think of that? We are experimenting with combining multiple videos in a series into one video for Flashback Fridays. These end up being pretty long, so maybe we shouldn’t? Let us know what you think!

For life extension in general, see:

For more on meditation, check out my video How to Strengthen the Mind-Body Connection.

I’ve asked this diet versus exercise question in a few other contexts. See:

Though dietary change appears more impactful, I’m a big fan of walking. See Longer Life Within Walking Distance and for my personal favorite exercise, Standing Up for Your Health.

For more on the role saturated fat may play in disease, see, for example:

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

154 responses to “Flashback Friday: Does Meditation Affect Cellular Aging? & Telomeres – Cap It All off with Diet

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  1. Good stuff!
    When are the videos dealing with intermittent fasting coming?
    There are lots of bro-science videos being published on IF and Autophagy, and I would love to get you and your researchers take on it.
    Thank you.

    1. Joe, I’m waiting for the videos on IF as well. I think a lot of us are.

      BTW, yesterday I completed 2 full weeks of the DailyDozen! Two full weeks & counting! My downfall is flax seeds. I don’t always get enough of those on a daily basis but have made an effort these past few weeks.

      1. Congratulations Nancy! What a coincidence. I’ve just completed 2 full weeks of IF while following the spirit of the daily dozen as closely as possible. I was motivated to do it again because I was finding that I was not feel hungry during regular feeding times during business trips, and when I got home from one, I waited to eat until I was which wasn’t until 8:30pm the following day, and I’ve just kept it up since.

        I got interested in Autophagy around the same time so I’ve been investigating that as well. Unfortunately, most of the studies have be on mice and round worms, and as Dr Greger is found of pointing out, we are not mice or nematodes.

        BTW, the science is not universally positive for Autophagy. Autophagy does indeed strengthen tissues by eliminating fats, misfolded proteins, weak organelles and cells, but I’ve seen studies that suggest that it can do the same for tumors under certain circumstances so there’s that.

        I travel so much that flaxseeds are tough one for me as well. I would have to actually grind them ahead of time, and carry them along with me which is definitely doable, but I rarely do. My customers and co-workers already think that I’m strange because I don’t eat meat, eggs or dairy; looks at the ingredients on the menu, and creates my order based on what they have. Now I’m the strange co-worker who sits through lunch sipping on ice tea, and not eating. I’ve stopped short of bringing out a jar of ground flaxseed and sprinkling it on my food, but I suppose that’s a pretty short walk from where I am now…

        1. I know what you mean, Joe. I used to make fun of people who were so fussy about their food. Especially in restaurants when people wanted this without that & can you add extra thingamagigs & have that on the side. Now I’m one of them! :-)

          BTW, as of yesterday I made it 18 days straight doIn’ the DD! (pats self on back)

      2. I’m really looking forward to his fasting videos as well. I would also like to know if consuming tea and herbal tea and virtually calorie free things like that while fasting, constitutes as fasting. I would imagine it does and hope it does.

  2. Great video! One of my favorites. For anyone interested in learning more, I highly recommend “The Telomere Effect” by Nobel Laureate Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn. Dr. Dean Ornish gave it a glowing review on the back cover. It is a deeply compelling argument for the importance of stress management with many practical techniques.

    Appearance is not what matters about a person, and I think society cares about it way too much. That said, I do look much younger than my siblings, even though I am the oldest by 5 to 7 years. They have pointed out that my hands aren’t wrinkled like theirs and wondered why. Strangers regularly think I am youngest. When I was growing up, I was always assumed to be older than my actual age, now it’s the opposite. The power of a decade of a vegan diet, meditation, and exercise. Honestly, I would much rather give up looking younger to have my siblings become vegan, though, for health, ethics, and the environment.

    1. Melody,

      I couldn’t get the video to play, but I wanted to say not to give up on your siblings.

      Yesterday, my sister-in-law said that my brother is adapting to a mostly plant-based diet. Then, she added that she is adapting, too.

      That is pretty amazing with a month of people swapping out meals. They still eat animal products now and then, but the bean and lentil dishes are growing.

      Yesterday, I made a Pasta E Fagioli non-soup. My own concoction, but it started with my sister-in-law saying that he liked Pasta E Fagioli and I made it and tasted it and ended with me thinking I would like it better if it was less soupy. I doubled the beans and added things like organic edamame and so much Nutritoonal yeast that it became closer to a vegan chili Mac by the end. I am clearly into sloops and glops. I like comfort food.

      1. If you like tasty glops like I do you might enjoy what I found. Ethiopian ‘fasting’ cuisine, is WFPB and hits the daily dozen quite well. The country is traditionally a old school type of Christianity and when they fast they do not eat any animal products but still eat meals. Some American woman wrote a cookbook called Teff Love that out of the ‘authentic’ ones I also have, find hers easier to work with.

        Today the menu is: 100% teff grain ‘injera’ flat bread, stewed seasoned cabbage with carrots and garlic ginger sauce, creamy garlicky white beans in an onion turmeric sauce, roasted butternut squash in a spicy ‘berbere’ sauce, and a simple tomato salad with citrus vinaigrette that even traditionally has ground flax seeds in it.

        One does not have to give up flavor to eat WFPB.

    2. Being older, yet looking younger than any of your siblings, will probably resonate with a lot of people. It could be a great motto for your health and wellness company (should you start, or if you have, one)!

      I’ve also tried many times (so far unsuccessfully) to change my relatives’ eating habits…
      Motivating someone who isn’t willing to be motivated is not an easy task at all…

      1. Shilajit Secret, thanks for your comment. Yes, behavioral change starts when the person is in the stage that is willing to make a change based on The Transtheoretical Model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1983; Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross, 1992).
        If your relatives are open to learning about scientifically based information about nutrition and health they can sign on for getting free video and blog from Dr Greger.

        1. Thank you Spring03, but it seems that for most people, merely the concept of learning itself is what makes them stop in their tracks.
          For now, I will try my best to me a source of information for my relatives.

      2. There are at least two major mindset roadblocks that are rapidly changing.
        1. Is the negative stereotyping of the word “vegan”. As more and more people move into a plant based type diet, everyone finds it easier to eat that way. It’s exceedingly rare for anyone to openly go against the crowd, i.e. 20 people order meat, and then one order’s vegan. It’s a lot easier being the 2nd, and then more so being the 3rd.

        2. It’s simply a new way to cook, and understanding you don’t have to give up taste when eating WF PBD. The number of plant based options continues to grow every year.

        1. I’m totally with you on the vegan perception! Just a couple years ago, I could still see quite a bit of that “frown-upon” reaction when someone was saying they are vegan.

          Now though, even a food court in a local mall just opened a vegan-friendly place. Can’t stop progress.

          Dmitriy P,
          Shilajit Secret

        2. Michael,

          I think you are right. The movement has some particularly nice doctors.

          It used to be more represented judgmentally and now the emphasis is more holistic versus “You animal murderer.”

          I watched comedians talking about vegan and non-vegans feel judged.

          Whole Food Plant Based is more these smiling, happy, healthy, friendly doctors welcoming them and what is being offered is disease reversal.

          It sounds too good to be true and competes with Keto are the next two obstacles.

          Kudos to Dr Greger for doing his part.

          Keto is the hard one, because they have their own studies and their own logic and that logic often wars against WFPB.

      3. I hear you Shilajit. My parents made the switch to WFPB eating, but my siblings, not so much, and some of them are really sick, on multiple medications, and would really benefit from a dietary intervention.

        The best one can do is to lead by example. I have friends and co-workers who have gone vegan or have consciously restricted the amount of meat. They stop and tell me that I’d be proud of them because they ate a vegan meal at this time or other, and so I praise them and tell them to keep up the good work.

        Perhaps all one can do cast the seeds and hope that it falls on fertile ground which unfortunately is not always the people which we care about most.

    3. “Honestly, I would much rather give up looking younger to have my siblings become vegan, though, for health, ethics, and the environment.” <3

      Melody, what type of meditation do you do if you don't mind me asking? I want to start meditating daily but I actually find it stressful and unfulfilling to meditate in the popular way of trying to empty your head of all thoughts and simply not think. Just looking for other ideas of how to meditate.

  3. The pasta was a higher fiber pasta, but I stuck with regular pasta this time, and it didn’t pass the fiber rule, but edamame turns out to have a lot of fiber and beans help prevent blood sugar spikes. I might be rationalizing, but I want him to like the food.

    1. Hey Deb. I wonder if you have heard about resistant starches. When you let the carb-food cool (best if overnight refrigerated), then there is no sugar spike because the structure changes. So don’t eat it right after cooking it to make it healthier.

      1. Panchito,

        Yes, thanks, I am cooking and cooling, but I watched a video where someone looked at their blood sugar eating a sweet potato regular and one cooled over night and there was a drop but only a modest drop. I also add beans and vegetables, both which help and I am looking about how to add in nuts and I told my sister-in-law about raspberries lowering the enzyme which digests starch. I am pushing berries as a concept, but I am not providing the berries because I feel like that is an easy one for them to start taking responsibility for.

        My brother who I am cooking for is not my Diabetic brother, he is my brother with Cancer, but I still see the logic for lowering blood sugar for Cancer.

        1. With cancer, the thing to watch is insulin. Insulin is the most anabolic hormone. Insulin allows this:

          adipose cell + glucose = fat
          muscle cell + glucose = protein
          cancer cell + glucose = reproduction

          But some organs are not dependent on insulin (brain, heart, kidney, and liver) to get insulin inside because they are high energy and the glucose on the blood is low energy (the fasting glucose). Also muscle during exercise does not need insulin. Fructose does not trigger insulin (the anabolic hormone) and the liver stores it as glycogen up to ~ 80 grams then liver fat. The liver is the energy tank during fasting state (when not eating) and keeps glucose steady. Some protein foods also trigger insulin.

  4. I am confused.
    Statement #1 //The exercise group was no whimpy Ornish 30 minute stroll, but 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise like jogging. After a year of that, how did they do? They did no better. What about just weight loss? Nothin’. And exercise and weight loss? No significant change either.//
    Statement #2//To summarize, here’s a schematic of this constant battle. Inflammation, oxidation, damage and dysfunction are constantly hacking away at our telomeres, at the same time our antioxidant defenses, a healthy diet and exercise, stress reduction are constantly rebuilding them.//
    Either exercise and weight loss is helpful, or it isn’t. I am not trying to be a troll, I exercise a lot, am probably in the upper 5% tile, have a 16% body fat, but IMHO those two above statements are contradictory.

    1. Bill,
      I noticed that contradiction too so I’m also wondering whether exercise does affect them in a positive way. I’ve been reading elsewhere that it does, and that in particular high intensity interval aerobic exercise is most effective. I don’t recall the source though.

    2. Yes, bill, I read it through a few times and it is oddly put together. The key to understanding what Dr Greger is saying (to me) is the first sentence of the 10th paragraph. In prior paragraphs he did demonstrate how stress reduction , losing weight, exercise, etc can lengthen telomeres. Then, in that 10th paragraph he is asking what it was that they found in the Ornish study to be so protective within a 3 month time frame. The other elements (losing weight, meditation, exercise ) take longer to affect telomeres. The food was it. In a very short time space the food impacted telomeres and offered protection. It all works synergetically though from my modest experience.
      If I have totally missed the mark on the point here, please feel free to correct me.

      1. Weight loss does not imply a healthy diet. As he said, there are many ways to lose weight including developing a drug habit or disease. And exercise is not going to make up for a crappy, destructive diet.

      2. Great answer, because everything I’ve read and people I know who are avid cyclist /runners live longer healthier lives with less complications. So that makes sense that it might be a more cumulative overtime. But certainly can see if we are poisoning ourselves with a bad diet and then switch that would be an impact. Thanks for your answer.

        End

    3. Hi Bill, thanks for your question. I think the point that Dr Greger is making in this video is a plant based whole food diet can be protective of telomere and protects us from inflammation, oxidation. Exercise and weight loss and stress management work when it is accompanied by plant based whole food to protect body from oxidative damage. So as long as one is eating the same diet, it doesn’t appear to matter how small your portions are, or how much weight you lose, or how hard you exercise, after a year, they saw no benefit. Whereas the Ornish group on the plant-based diet, lost the same amount of weight after just three months, exercising less than half as hard and saw significant telomere protection.I hope that is useful.

      1. I don’t think it is just protection with Ornish. He reversed the damage and exercise just stopped them from getting shorter.

        1. Thanks Barb. Sometimes this site can be a bit of information overload. It takes time to watch all these videos and then when someone shares another video to watch to get your answer it requires more time. I find myself going back to previous emails for video links to find the answer. It gets to be a bit much. Thank you for your consideration though. I was just hoping someone had the answer at hand.

    4. bill, I see what you mean. I don’t think it explicitly said that it isn’t helpful but it seemed that exercise while maintaining a poor diet doesn’t seem to be enough to have a positive impact on telomeres. However, it did show athletes had greater telomere length later on in life, though they probably ate a bit healthier than the average person. In any case, I would find it impossible to believe that exercise IN ADDITION to a healthy plant based diet wouldn’t offer greater protection of telemeters and assist in regrowing them and here’s why…

      Exercise has been shown to help our bodies utilize antioxidants better.
      Exercise helps our bodies react to stress in a healthier way.
      Exercise helps regulate hormones and in fact, working out to the point of exhaustion boosts serotonin or so I’ve read.
      Exercise helps to maintain overall health in too many ways to list.

      And I’d have to watch the video again, but the plant based group was also exercising 6 days a week at moderate levels. Had they only been eating healthier, maybe there wouldn’t have been as dramatic of an effect on the telomeres as there was. I would make a confident guess that diet, physical activity, and state of mind all play essential roles in the length of our telomeres and work hand in hand. Diet seems to be the most important factor though.

      1. I said diet seems to be the most important factor, but then at the same time, as Elizabeth Blackburn explained for one example, mothers taking care of children with autism had much shorter telomeres but the telomeres of the mothers taking care of their child with autism who looked at it as a challenge and thought positively about it were protected. So state of mind and stress management seems to play a profound role.
        Personally, I’ve got the diet and physical activity down, I need to work on the stress.

  5. Okay, I get it. I’m going to put my exercise clothes on. I’m doing all the other stuff, I guess I should get serious about the exetcise, too, just to cover all the bases. lol

  6. Great video, as always!

    I wonder if by “increase in telomerase activity” Dr.G meant actually reversing, as opposed to just slowing down, the shortening of telomeres. Basically having them grow back up a bit? Beating aging process, at least in part?

    Also, it’s interesting that the exercise group in 2013 study had no significant improvement. Perhaps any improvements due to exercising were completely offset by the not-so-healthy diet? I still believe in exercising!

  7. Telomeres and fasting… who knew?!
    ————————————————–
    Conclusion

    Fasting provides multiple benefits for longevity and the placement of fasting firmly in the cultures that make up the Blue Zones indicates that it’s likely a beneficial strategy to promote longevity and healthspan. Of course, it’s important to not randomly pick and choose which aspects of Blue Zone lifestyles are important to longevity without scientific data to back them up. Fortunately there is a virtual treasure trove of different mechanisms through which fasting can positively influence health and promote longevity and these pathways appear to be conserved in all animals including humans.

    One of these mechanisms, re-population of the hematopoietic system to a more youthful type, likely has a positive impact on telomere length through increased stem cell renewal and differentiation. While it would be an overstatement that telomere shortening is the cause of aging, it’s certainly one of the issues that needs to be addressed for increased healthspan and longevity.

    In this way, fasting is a viable option to overcome the erosion of telomere length that comes with age. For people who find going without food for 3-5 days is too overhwhelming, the fasting mimicking diet from Prolon may be a viable alternative. Personally, I choose the former over the latter.

    https://hackyourgut.com/2018/03/13/fasting-longevity-and-telomeres-the-regenerating-effects-of-prolonged-fasting/

      1. Deb, do you do this. I’m too scared to try it, and don’t know how I would work it in to a heavy training load. I keep thinking it would be beneficial but I don’t have a plan yet.

        End

        1. DArmstrong,

          Don’t try it if it scares you and if you would be doing it while training.

          There are benefits to fasting, but the research is so new and we don’t know the down side yet.

          We know that you get a new immune system pretty quickly. Dr Longo mentioned 48 hours and 72 hours. Dr Fung says 7 days to be safe because of how long it takes to digest food, but most say up to 5 days.

          I have done water fasting but it was more related to being a Christian.

          It wasn’t that hard, except that I was running around trying to accomplish things and that part really was hard.

          If you are WFPB and exercising, you might not need it.

  8. It is interesting that the Biblical account reveals that the original diet for man was fruits, nuts and seeds (Gen 1:29) After sin entered, herbs of the field were added to the diet (Gen 3:18). Then after the flood, meat from ‘clean” animals was permissible. (Gen 9:3-4)

    Longevity of men and woman took a drastic hit after the introduction of animal flesh into the diet. lNoah lived over 900 years, His children lived 600 years. Moses lived 120 years and King David lived 70 years. Interesting to note, that God gave two restrictions on the preparation of clean flesh foods. The israelites were not to eat the fat or the blood.(Lev 3:17 and 7:23).

    As noted in this video, saturated fat seems to affect telomere length. God’s restrictions were neither arbitrary or capricious, but rather health promoting to all who obeyed them. now we have science coming on board 4000 years later.

    1. I’m gonna do a big eye roll here. Animal flesh was added to the diet as people migrated outside the tropical area where food doesn’t grow year around. It was also added to the diet because people or monkeys would have had to spend so much time eating there’s not much time for anything else. So they incorporated higher calorie dense meals to allow time to do constructive projects.

      End

    2. Avoidance of meat is found in spiritual literature around the world, it’s not just the bible. It’s also common for someone of genius type intellect to eventually come to the same conclusion in time. Albert Einstein; “I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience,” and soon after became a vegetarian. Enstein’s famous quote, “Nothing will benefit health or increase chances of survival on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

      Kabir was never one to mince words. He probably says it better than anyone:
      http://spiritualdatabase.blogspot.com/2015/07/kabir-veg-quotes.html

  9. way off topic but Friday is the day to get someone to see my question?

    a couple videos ago garlic was ranked the best vegetable to fight all cancers — my ? is do I have to eat it raw???? because raw garlic hurts my stomach.

    1. dale, I believe if you chop the garlic up, then wait 10-15 minutes it develops the allicin. Then you can gently cook it without losing the benefits. Kind of similar to what you do with cruciferous vegetables. But those need to be torn or chopped about 45 min or more before cooking.

      1. Dr. Greger says 40 minutes on the crucifers (but you can check to make sure I’m getting that right) and when asked if longer activates more of the sulforaphane, he said that it peaked at 40 minutes. So that should suffice. But he did say that the smaller you chop it, the more you’ll get.

      1. Totally agree, Gail. That was painful. It’s so sad when people either don’t understand or just don’t want to believe the science. Kudos to Dr. G for his patience.

        1. It is stress-inducing even watching nonsensical debate for debate sake.

          I felt the same thing looking at the Laetrile arguments because people immediately discard the science and just argue to try to influence people away from it by putting down Dr Greger and Mayo Clinic which are both nonprofit.

          If they don’t like the Supreme Court decision aim their anger at that.

          I don’t mind people disagreeing, but they get accusatory and hostile. Defamation of character based on nothing at all.

          I don’t mind it if people find something specific to argue using a PubMed article or something but just being cruel on purpose is harder to listen to at all.

          1. People genuinely believe that the nonprofit Mayo Clinic had a team of researchers so unconscionable that they intentionally let people die to save their chemo money.

            1. I watched the documentary of the Mayo Clinic story and it was so powerful.

              Each Patient has a whole big team working together.

              The concept that they knew the controversy about Sloan Kettering and took the thankless job of doing that study. It would have been a big team of people and, if I am right, they would have already gotten examined about the Oral Vitamin C.

              1. The Krebs being such film flam men is what caused the Supreme Court to step in and that genuinely may have pushed medicine further from natural solutions like nutrition being incorporated in.

                I think the Mayo Clinic being the third top Cancer center in the country may have wanted to know whether it worked.

    1. Well it’s was not a debate, it’s an interview. There is a big difference. The interviewer pressed dr Greger to explain his position. Unlike a vegan died in the wool, the interview is pressing for the questions mainstream people would ask and have been confused by. I am thankful for both parties for allowing this to happen. However, Dr. G is very powerful illuminating his stance and eliciting the positive attributes of the continuum of more plant based diet vs. the sad diet we eat now. What is so sad is our diet is so bad that people going keto with lots of veggies and low carbs appear to be showing signs of less low level problems. Like blood pressure, weight, and, mental clarity and c reactive protein. I personally feel it’s because they cut out a lot of processed food, excess sugars, and refined carbs, and the people that do it right are actually eating more vegetables than they were before. So they attribute that to Keto not Veggies. I’ve not been able to explain the difference and some don’t want to know.

      My brother-I-L- is a part of a ketosis group online. So I joined to see what they are saying. One day in and I’m sad. One of the conversations was rather to eat a red bell pepper or green because of 3 grams more carbs. I explained how the red bell was so much healthier based on nutrient density, and someone got offended and said “ eat the damn pepper won’t get fat eating a pepper. “.

      Many of these are people are like 5’2 with a goal weight of 185. So normal is so far away, the goal is to be morbidly obese, down from, what’s the new over top, Deadly obese?

      End

      1. DArmstrong,

        My friends and relatives are Keto or SAD for the most part.

        You are right, they get off junk food and processed food and eat a lot of vegetables but the don’t ser either of those things as things which other diets also do and they think it is Keto helping them rather than getting rid of sodium and sugar etc.

    1. Lucy, it’s been my observation over the years that whenever you see the word ‘detox’, it’s usually some sort of promotional scam. If there’s no scientific evidence to back it up the claims, that’s more than likely what it is.

      Also, I wouldn’t rely on other people’s opinions about it. I’d rely on the science. I suggest using the search option above.

  10. What to meditate about? Yes the HPA axis is real and your thoughts trigger the release of hormones from that activate the adrenals. It is a feedback loop and it goes the other way around too. Check this out. Your thoughts are hardwired from thinking the same thing many times over everyday (in patters). But you can rewire the brain through effort and persistence. You can remake your brain if you so want. What would you want to be?

    1. Profound as always Panchito.

      The study of people who learned who they were negatively through gene testing and having that information alone negatively affect their hormones tells me that we can’t let other people negatively impact our identities.

      Placebo effect is so positive and gene testing – just knowing the answer is so negative.

      Thoughts are too powerful to play with.

      1. Human life is a work of fiction. In comparison, the life of other animals is functional, like a liver organ is functional to its design. But the human brain has a limited capacity of auto design itself. It can potentially be many things. What function could thoughts have when they are self made like a work of fiction?

        1. “In comparison, the life of other animals is functional, like a liver organ is functional to its design. But the human brain has a limited capacity of auto design itself. It can potentially be many things.”

          I wouldn’t compare the brains of other animals as simply functional things restricted to a design similar to other vital organs, like the liver. I may be completely missing the point you’re trying to make in that particular statement but from my impression, I just want to add that non-human animals are also creative beings with imaginations, playfulness, thoughtfulness, personal expression, and so on. This can easily be seen with “pets” and can also be seen in the wild, without question, but much like humans at one point in time, a lot of their focus has to go on survival and the basics so it may seem like their thinking is more like a basic function if you’re simply noticing them doing what they need to do for survival day after day.

    2. “You can remake your brain if you so want. What would you want to be?”

      I love that… An inspiring reminder that we are who we choose to be and how much control we have over ourselves. A power that is most often squandered due to lack of awareness.

      And so true about our brain chemistry and how we can change it, that’s actually the only way to “cure” obsessive compulsive disorder, changing brain chemistry patterns with exposure and response therapy.

  11. I still can’t post with my computer, so I have been watching the YouTube videos.

    My mind might be playing tricks on me because the flashback Friday from the YouTube site disappeared.

    Are the computer geeks working at 11:30 on a Friday night?

      1. I can’t even thank you enough for doing Apricot seeds and Laetrile and IV Vitamin C and Black Salve and CBD Oil.

        Just a few more biggies.

        It has taken away the confusion.

        Even if my friends want to do Apricot seeds, I will already know that the Internet information may genuinely harm them.

        When I walked through this 2 years ago, it was all so painfully confusing. Now it is just run of the mill mildly confusing. I am so grateful for that!

        I learned today that 20 is when they become toxic according to the European Food Safety 5 for kids. So if people want to try it, they need to stay below that. Probably way, way below it if they have liver problems or things like Alzheimer’s because of the glutamate. That is my current take on it.

        People want other options so desperately that they are going to try it, but at least they don’t have to kill themselves with it.

        I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

  12. “Fish consumption was also significantly associated with shortened telomeres”

    So how do we reconcile that with:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4830058/ (2016)
    “…Multiple linear regression analysis indicated that legumes, nuts, fish and seaweeds were protective factors for LTL shortening”

    https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/715449 (2010)
    “A new study in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) has uncovered an inverse association between baseline blood levels of fish oil and the rate of telomere shortening over five years, suggesting a possible explanation for the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids”

    1. Just realised, the study in the video doesn’t appear to differentiate between types of fish.

      The 1st study I mention also doesn’t talk about types of fish(oil), so there are still conflicting results there.

      But the 2nd study does specifically mention omega-3-oil fish as being protective.

    2. Taking DHEA?

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16617690

      The author evaluated the effects of DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) on the amount of telomeres of normal cells and cancer cells and found the following: Contrary to the literature, which often recommended 25-50 mg of DHEA daily for the average adult human being, the author found that, depending on the individual, the maximum increase of normal cell telomere was obtained by a single optimal dose of 1.25-12.5 mg.

      Cancer cell telomere reduced from higher than 1100 ng to less than 1 yg (=10(-24) g) with equally significant normalization of abnormal cancer parameters

      On the other hand, if a patient took an excessive dose of DHEA, the amount of normal cell telomere decreased, while there was an increase in cancer cell telomere. It was found that those who took an overdose of 25-50 mg daily for more than 3 months had a high incidence of cancer of the prostate gland, breast, colon, lung, and stomach.

      1. Wow interesting Harold . That’s important info for me. So I guess with one big dose your body uses what it needs and discards the rest. But if you take it all the time it causes major problems.

        End

      2. Good to know .. I used to take quite a bit more than the recommended amount of fish oil pills, but stopped a couple years ago when the new research came out saying fish oil pills weren’t quite the cure-all they were thought to be (re. I think cancer, heart disease etc). But I’m pretty sure the research was about the actual pills (generally of uncertain quality) as opposed to eating the actual ‘whole fish’ itself.

      3. Contrary to the literature, which often recommended 25-50 mg of DHEA daily for the average adult human being, the author found that, depending on the individual, the maximum increase of normal cell telomere was obtained by a single optimal dose of 1.25-12.5 mg.
        ———————————————————————————————-
        Thanks for posting this amazing information!

        1. Life Extension sells a 15 mg DHEA cap. They also have recommended 25-50 mg / day for a good many years.

          The next question would be: How many other “methods” or “supplements” that are supposed to preserve or increase telemeres are causing the same effect for cancer cells? Does this make a real difference?

          * I’ve never seen the actual study mentioned above…nor any analysis of it. Just the abstract.

      4. FYI, I’ve heard that the herb “tongkat ali” raises DHEA levels (and it is not a hormone). Don’t know if there are unwanted effects. This is the first link I just googled out

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3669033/#B29

        “Animal studies have shown that many of the effects of the extract are mediated by its glycoprotein components [14]. The mechanism of action of the bioactive complex polypeptides (“eurypeptides” with 36 amino acids) has been shown to activate the CYP17 enzyme (17 alpha-hydroxylase and 17,20 lyase) to enhance the metabolism of pregnenolone and progesterone to yield more DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) and androstenedione, respectively [29]. This glycoprotein water-soluble extract of Eurycoma longifolia has been shown to deliver anti-aging and anti-stress benefits subsequent to its testosterone-balancing effects [41,42].”

  13. Is this way of eating good for someone with ulcerative colitis? My doctor says not to eat nuts, seeds and any food that leave a residue. Now I am confused.

    1. A whole food plant based diet would probably be a very good way of eating for someone with ulcerative colitis since dietary sulphur seems to be a major cause of flare-ups. Nuts and seeds may be a risk factor on this basis but they aren’t normaly eaten in bulk quantities. Meat, fish, dairy and eggs would seem to be a bigger problem for people eating standard Western diets eg

      ‘The major exogenous sources of sulphur are the sulphur amino acids (found in high protein foods such as red meat, cheese, milk, fish, nuts, and eggs) and inorganic sulphate (in Brassica vegetables and as preservatives in processed foods, particularly commercial breads, beers, sausages, and dried fruit23).’
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1774231/

      Dr Greger has a video or two on this topic: Use the Search box above or see this one here:

      https://nutritionfacts.org/2018/01/16/how-to-treat-ulcerative-colitis-with-diet/

  14. I think these compilation videos are great, especially when relegated to Flashback videos. This saves people time and effort of having to cross reference videos themselves. For those who want shorter videos, they can go track down the individual videos. I think it is offers the best of both worlds. So, I vote to keep them coming.

  15. I am grateful for the work NF.org does. My husband and I are now in our 12th year of eating a WFPB diet, and even at 67 and 70 years old, our lives are better in so many ways. About 6 months ago, however, I suddenly developed Trigger Finger, or Dupuytren’s Contracture, in my right (dominant) hand, and it has become painful enough to disturb sleep and prevent me from chopping vegetables! It doesn’t seem like surgery is reliably successful, and often the nodules just grow back. Any help with how to proceed would be appreciated.

    1. working at it, I got the same thing! Started in December with the left thumb, then progressed to right thumb. I cant bend my left thumb at all any more. This is really annoying – it interferes with e erything I do. I am keeping a food log thinking that I may at some point do another stint of food elimination trial. If I learn of something new, i will be sure to post it. Stay well!

    2. I developed this in my 40s but I also had symptoms of the wider Dupuytren’s syndrom in my late 20s. My understanding is that it is genetic and there is no real treatment.

      I did though have surgery on my two little fingers which had curled right into the palm of my hands. The surgery released them but they are now stiff and not fully functional. However, there is no pain, I can wear gloves and shake hands normally so the surgery has provided a net benefit. The wider syndrome includes similar fibrous nodules on the tendons of the foot and swollen finger joints. It is apparently quite common in older people (according to various podiatrists I have consulted). Surgery is not appropriate in those cases because the nodules tend to grow back larger than before. They are usually managed by shoe orthotics and, in the case of swollen finger joints, carefully avoiding banging them (because they hurt like the devil if you do).

      On the bright side, the progression of both the Dupuytren’s contracture issue with my hands and the similar problem with my feet appears to have completely halted with my adoption of a healthy diet. That may just be a coincidence however.

      AllI can suggest is a healthy diet, hand exercises and having an open mind about surgery if and when it progresses to the stage when a finger has completely cured into the palms of your hands. Also, keep an eye on the balls of your feet for the development of nodules there. They can make walking painful but can be effectively managed by appropriate orthotics.

      https://healthguides.healthgrades.com/article/dupuytrens-contracture-hand-exercises

      1. Tom, Thank you for sharing your experience with Dupuytren’s. Since I have eaten WFPB at a high level for more than a decade, I have little hope that an improved diet will help. I have been noticing some sensitivity in my feet, and you may be right about keeping an eye on them. I just found this 2018 article; do not know if it will lead to anything helpful: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0004-282X2018000100058&script=sci_arttext

        I am considering discussing the issue with Pam Popper in hopes that may lead to options.
        Thanks again for taking time to reply.

        1. working at it

          Thanks for the link to the Brazilian article. Fascinating – I would have thought that the nodules/cords caused the contracture so it’s puzzling as to how a stroke could have precipitated their development in a very short time.

          Anyway, in terms of options other than the standard surgery, there are a couple of new procedures that are apparently now available in some parts of the US. I’m not sure about Canada though. See eg

          https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/dupuytrens-disease/

    3. Working at it,

      Have you considered trying the dry needling techniques also referred to as needle aponeurotomy ? https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/14140-dupuytrens-disease-needle-aponeurotomy Many of us do this procedure and it can be both relatively low pain and it does work, for some patients.

      Keep in mind that the process is an underlying connective tissue issue. Evaluation of your inflammatory pathways (blood tests) would be a helpful way to address the systemic potentials causing the changes.

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

      1. Dr Kadish, Thank you for the link; good to know about needle aponeurotomy; am not to that point now, but as things develop, that may be a path to consider. Thank you.

  16. So it would be safe to say that palm oil in particular, largely contributes to premature aging… Horrible stuff on every level from sustainability to animal rights to human rights to human health. Really hoping for a video on the topic of palm oil consumption as well as additives derived from it such as palmitate.

  17. So wait, then are children with progeria syndrome put on plant based diets? I ask because I’ve heard of this and seen interviews and videos so many times of these poor kids but never once heard any mention of diet. Shouldn’t they all be on WFBP or relatively WFPB diets?

  18. Sorry for 3 posts in a row! How annoying. BUT, I just wanted say that I think it’s pretty exciting to think about what they might discover in the future now that more and more people are adopting a more WFPB lifestyle. They’ve never had very large groups like this, it seems, so the potential has yet to be seen in full. That’s just so exciting to me. I can’t wait till 30 or 60 years from now… Ok, I can… but it’s exciting to think about nonetheless. In pretty large way, I’d say it’s history in the making.

    1. Yeah but haven’t certain populations been eating this way (WFPB) for generations even millennia? Think Okinawa diet, the China study, the Blue Zones and the observations of European doctors in eg Uganda etc. Not to mention the reports of some of the earliest medical ‘explorers’ looking at the links between diet and disease
      https://www.ajconline.org/article/S0002-9149(11)03212-7/fulltext

      Then there was McCarrison who in may ways predated campbell by several generations even to the extent of ctiticising ‘reductionism’ – except he called it fragmentation eg
      https://www.seleneriverpress.com/archivetags/mccarrison-robert-articles-by/

      1. There’s definitely been populations eating this way in the modern day and obviously it’s in our evolution, but more and more people are starting to eat this way. As it starts to shift, I think it will be very exciting to see the long term effects. And I think essentially the truth will reveal itself when we see where keto or paleo groups stand years from now vs. plant based vs. standard westernized diets. Granted, I would say that the info is already available based on the overwhelming evidence and what has already been observed from just some of the groups you’ve mentioned, however, people tend not pay attention to something unless it’s hitting them in the face. I almost consider it like one big observational study in the making. Ideally, everyone would listen to the already available science and make their choice accordingly but we both know some people never will.

  19. I love the video and no question on the importance of diet to our telomeres. This video did gloss over two additional interventions in Ornish’s study, though – mindfulness and social connection, both of which I would expect to impact telomere length as well.

  20. Congradulations with your interview on the “Muscle Expert Podcast” Dr. Greger!

    I must say I really enjoyed the whole thing, refreshing and entertaining.

  21. Are there any studies that show a link between shortening telomeres and alcohol use? If so, would you be so kind as to direct me? Thank you.

    1. Laura,

      The answer is yes and no: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170626105322.htm However the story is muddled by whom and how much and possibly what form: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/374280v1. As an example if you use yeast (similar genetics for the telomeres beer may be helpful potentially….https://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1003721 but see figure 4 as it depends…..If you’re thinking of red wine the resveratrol which has a positive effect is too low an amount to offset the negatives from the alcohol…..http://theconversation.com/compound-found-in-berries-and-red-wine-can-rejuvenate-cells-suggests-new-study-86945 at least according to some.
      Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.Centerofhealth.com

      1. Well in regards to negating the carcinogens that form from alcohol mixing with saliva, there is enough antioxidants in red wine.
        Probably a good idea to make sure consume antioxidants if you’re drinking. What I’ve done actually was mixed red wine with some iced hibiscus tea I made, it was actually really good.

  22. little off topic: my vitamin K came back over 2300 pg/mL. Should I be worried? Vitamin A 38mcg/dL. I am Vegan. With a bad belly: pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting (every 2 months or so, when I get full up :p), constipation (despite H20 and fiber + Movantic and M.O.M. Doctor said nothing. Asked for copy of results. Thank you for any grain of thought.

    I like the longer videos. I listen in car, doing dishes, cleaning, etc. I don’t have to stop and advance constantly.
    Is there anyway to go back to the first video and run through them all? I’d love to do that.
    best always,
    Elle

  23. Ellle,

    I assumed you meant vitamin K1, which is well within the normal range: see https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2088738-overview and your vitamin A is likewise well within the normal range: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003570.htm

    as to your GI symptoms have you considered taking an enzyme with each meal or considered an elimination provocation diet to see if there are specific foods that are causing your symptoms ? Please see a more functionally oriented physician as they can check many of these questions with a stool test.

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

  24. Thank you so much Dr Kadish. I miss my kale, back to it. The lab marked vitamin k (no #) as H and vitamin A 38 as low. I take beano and gas-x now.

  25. Dr Greger, is it possible to have too many dietary anti-oxidants, considering pro-oxidants are apparently also necessary for health? I have blueberries pretty much every day, and pecans and other high foods, and am a bit worried about any ill effects of wiping out most pro-oxidants.

    For the last quite a few months, my memory and concentration can get quite bad- and I’m only 27- so could this be related?

    1. Where are you getting that pro-oxidants are important for health??

      The more antioxidants (from food, not supplements), the better. This has been the general message of Dr. Greger in regards to antioxidants intake.

      1. The more antioxidants (from food, not supplements), the better.
        ————————————————————————————–
        Perhaps, but no reason to fear supplements either… at least according to Andrew Saul:
        _________________________________________________________________________
        FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
        Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, Jan 8, 2019
        So Where Are the Bodies THIS Year?
        Nutritional Supplement Safety Again Confirmed by America’s Largest Database
        by Andrew W. Saul, Editor

        (OMNS Jan 8 2019) The 35th annual report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (1) shows zero deaths from vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, niacin, pyridoxine (B-6), or from any other B-vitamin. There were no deaths from multiple vitamins, adult or pediatric.

        One single allegation of death from chronic vitamin D overdose is listed in Table 21, p 170 and then repeated in Table 22-B, page 203. It is described as “AR-D,” an Adverse Reaction, Drug. The Relative Contribution to Fatality (RCF) is 3 (on a 6-point scale where 1 is highest), which means “contributory.” Although details are not provided, it appears that the individual took vitamin D long-term and died but causality could not be established.

        There were zero deaths from any dietary mineral supplement. This means there were no fatalities from calcium, magnesium, chromium, zinc, colloidal silver, selenium, iron, or multimineral supplements.

        The AAPCC report shows no deaths from amino acids, creatine, blue-green algae, glucosamine, or chondroitin. There were no deaths from herbs. This means no deaths at all from blue cohosh, echinacea, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, kava kava, St. John’s wort, valerian, yohimbe, ma huang/ephedra, guarana, kola nut, or yerba mate. While the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service does not consider a number of these to rightly be dietary supplements, they are included by AAPCC as causing zero fatalities.

        There were no deaths from any homeopathic remedy, Asian medicine, or ayurvedic medicine. None.

        A fatality from some “Unknown Single Ingredient Botanical” and a single death from an “Unknown Energy Drink” are both reported on page 197. The obvious uncertainly of such listings diminishes any claim of validity.

        One unsubstantiated death attributed to melatonin is also reported. Melatonin toxicity is low. For mice, the oral dose that would kill half the animals receiving it (LD 50) is 1,250 milligrams per kilogram body weight. (2) For a human, this would amount to consuming around 10 or more entire bottles of melatonin, all at one time.

        If nutritional supplements are allegedly so “dangerous,” as the FDA, the news media, and even some physicians still claim, then where are all those bodies?

        References:

        1. Gummin DD, Mowry JB, Spyker DA, Brooks DE, Osterthaler KM, Banner W. 2017 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers. National Poison Data System (NPDS): 35th Annual Report. Clinical Toxicology 2018, Dec 21;:1-203. PubMed PMID: 30576252. https://doi.org/10.1080/15563650.2018.1533727

        The complete 203-page article is available for free download at https://piper.filecamp.com/1/piper/binary/3po2-fdldl37j.pdf

        2. Sugden D. Psychopharmacological effects of melatonin in mouse and rat. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1983 Dec;227(3):587-91. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6655558
        ———————————————————————————————————————–
        This article may be reprinted free of charge provided 1) that there is clear attribution to the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, and 2) that both the OMNS free subscription link http://orthomolecular.org/subscribe.html and also the OMNS archive link http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml are included.

          1. I’m not saying all supplements are bad, but I’m saying it’s clearly safe and beneficial to get antioxidants from food. I don’t quite agree with all of your supplementation takes but appreciate the links. No reported deaths doesn’t necessarily mean no deaths. Knowing what calcium supplementation can do to arterial function, for example, could have easily caused many a cardiac arrest in people through the years and simply wasn’t linked to them. Then you have issues with Alzheimer’s, so many factors have been looked into and copper is one of them but copper isn’t a problem when taken in plant form however from animals and perhaps supplements it could be, and needless to say, Alzheimer’s turns into death eventually but that wouldn’t necessarily come off as “coper supplementation overdose” in a report. Just saying. However, I’m not demonizing all supplements. I actually really hope that Dr. Greger will come out with videos on adoptogen herb supplementation, MSM, and NAC. So again, while I’m not big on supplements with exceptions such as vitamin D and B12, I only specified “from food” because this is what is known and it actually has been shown that supplementing with antioxidants in (not to sound redundant) supplement form has had some negative effects such as undermining some of the benefits of exercise. Actually NAC was among them that had that impact, and considering there’s a lot of purported benefits to NAC and I know it’s been used in hospitals, I would actually like to know if you could avoid the aforementioned undermining by taking it a certain amount of time away from vigorous exercise not for my sake but for others who might take it or might benefit from it.

            1. I’m not saying all supplements are bad, but I’m saying it’s clearly safe and beneficial to get antioxidants from food.
              ————————————————————————————————————-
              Perfectly understandable position and for all I know, maybe even a better approach to health and longevity.

              And while I do try to get as much nutrition as I can from prepared food (I’m eating a nice bowl of blueberries covered in almond milk as I write this) I feel I can broaden my horizon of food diversity by including dried, powdered or canned food and extracts is well.

              A bit of a cheat but one that I feel works for me.

        1. Yes but Andrew Saul has built his career on promoting supplement use (orthomolecular medicine).

          Also, acute toxicity is not the only way of assessing something’s long term safety. Saul carefully avoids this point. Long term use of some supplements may actually increase mortality eg

          ‘We found no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention. Beta-carotene and vitamin E seem to increase mortality, and so may higher doses of vitamin A.’
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22419320

      2. I’ve seen one study that had to do with hard aerobic activity. They gave them vitamin c probably in pill form and the subjects placebo group that were not given the “c” created more oxidative stress and had a bigger reaction to training stimulus and and appeared to make larger gains than the vitamin c group. So theories were being tossed that maybe antioxidants were bad for athletes. To me it indicates

        End

        1. To me it indicates that if you have plenty of antioxidants you will do less damage so maybe will tolerate larger workload or should recover quicker. It also indicates the pill/supplement form of vitamin c might not be so great.

        2. DArmstrong, Dr. Greger actually explains in a video why taking antioxidants in supplement form might undermine some of the benefits of exercise and it doesn’t have to do with the oxidative stress being good for us per se, but rather how it helps our bodies respond BETTER to antioxidants. Antioxidants from whole plant foods did not undermine the benefits. Here are the videos on the subject of antioxidants + exercise:

          https://nutritionfacts.org/video/enhanced-athletic-recovery-without-undermining-adaptation/

          https://nutritionfacts.org/video/resveratrol-impairs-exercise-benefits/

          https://nutritionfacts.org/video/preventing-exercise-induced-oxidative-stress-with-watercress/

    2. Lrapsody, that study was done on genetically mutated mice. Animal studies can’t be extrapolated to humans and there wasn’t anything natural about this study or moreover, medical torture of the mice subjected to it. I’m not sure how they gave the mice antioxidants… were they injected, given supplements and if so what supplements, and so on… Meanwhile there is overwhelming data on how antioxidants work in our bodies and how vital and beneficial they are. Dr. Greger is one of the most well-researched M.D’s, I would imagine that if there were any risk to overloading on antioxidants from plant foods, he’d be one of the first to report it. I would check out the existing human studies on antioxidants or antioxidant rich foods. I provided some videos below that you might find helpful in answering your questions.

      1. To give a little perspective, according to animal studies, lemon juice is toxic. And if the safely of oranges was determined by rat studies, then oranges would be deadly to males (or was it the other way around) and not females, but this only occurs in rats and maybe other animals.

      2. Yeah, it does get a bit annoying when they do these studies on rats as if they’re even nearly equivalent to humans enough for comparison.

        And so many studies appear to have individual anti-oxidants isolated in pill form, then assuming correlation with dietary intake too. Very strange. Hmm.

        But lots of publications appear to be pushing some sort of need for pro-oxidation/ anti-oxidation balance, inferring a limit on healthy intake.

        Thanks for your help!

        1. I would be weary of those studies. Based on what I’ve learned, it seems like when you’re getting your nutrition from whole plant foods, everything that should be in balance stays in balance.

          No problem! Maybe one of the volunteers on NF.org will weigh in as well.

    3. Please keep enjoying yur blueberries and other high anti-oxidant foods! I took a look at the article you cited and noted the following conclusions:
      “This study also did not investigate the effects of externally ingested antioxidants (for example from fruit and vegetables) on health outcomes.
      With these limitations in mind, it is too soon to conclude that antioxidants are bad for health.” I think that says enough for you not to pay attention to research we know confirms the value of those beneficial anti-oxidants.
      Many things, especially stress, can affect memory and concentration. I’d encourage you to focus on exactly what you are noticing regarding your memory and concentration problems and work with a trusted medical professional if you cannot identify a likely cause and then appropriate action- but that action would NOT be blaming your blueberries.

    4. Lrapsody, I just though of B12. Are you sure you’re getting enough B12? Maybe that is contributing to your memory and concentration issues you’re having.

      Good luck! Hope things get better for you quickly.

  26. Nutritionfacts.org team, can you look at hardness of drinking water and longevity, CVD etc? Typing hard water in this website doesn’t show up anything. The blue zones people mention that the water in some blue zones (NIcoya, Okinawa) is hard not soft. The Ikarians drink herbal tea and might get a similar benefit. Can you get similar benefits from drinking herbal teas? Also, would hesychast meditation methods yield similar benefits to cellular ageing?

      1. Thank you. If a video or blog post doesn’t happen, I’d still like to know whether water hardness matters in health or whether i can get a similar benefit from herbal teas or eating my water in the form of fruits and vegetables. Posting so that i can get email updates on this discussion.

  27. The general public is more open to vegan/vegetarian which is good. Lots of fast food restaurants are starting to offer vegetarian options such as the beyond burger and impossible burger. Though not particularly healthy, these food offerings show that the public is demanding vegetarian options. It would be cool if a famous NFL or NBA athlete were vegan or vegetarian; think that would help the movement.

  28. Hi, Sidney, MD! There are NFL and NBA players going vegan (with varying levels of commitment) to improve performance. Tom Brady is mostly plant-based, and the Tennessee Titans have 11 members following plant-based diets. Perhaps the best-known vegan in the NBA is the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving. For more on this, search the web for Vegan Athletes. You can narrow the search by adding NFL or NBA to your search. More on plant-based foods and athletic performance here: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/athletes/
    I hope that helps!

  29. Thanks for this Flashback Friday video.

    It has reminded me that since there is a holiday coming up this weekend, it’s time to do another fast. The last one I did (ending New Year’s Day) lasted 5 days which was a little too long as I began losing muscle.

    This one will be only 3 days tops… should give me the hemopoietic changes I need without inducing body weakness I encountered after my 5 day one.

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