Food as Medicine: Preventing & Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet

Food as Medicine: Preventing & Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet
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Dr. Greger has scoured the world’s scholarly literature on clinical nutrition and developed this new presentation based on the latest in cutting edge research exploring the role diet may play in preventing, arresting, and even reversing some of our most feared causes of death and disability.

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Good evening.

For those of you unfamiliar with my work, every year I read through every issue of every English-language nutrition journal in the world so you don’t have to. Every year, my talks are brand new, because every year the science is brand new.

I then compile all the most interesting, the most groundbreaking, the most practical findings to create new videos and articles, every day, for my nonprofit site, NutritionFacts.org.

Everything on the website is free. There are no ads, no corporate sponsorships; it’s strictly noncommercial, not selling anything. I just put it up as a public service, as a labor of love. There are new videos and articles every day on the latest in evidence-based nutrition.

In my 2012 year-in-review, I explored the role a healthy diet may play in preventing, arresting, and reversing our deadliest diseases. In 2013, I covered our most common conditions. And, in 2014, I went through our leading causes of disability. This year, I thought I’d address some of our most dreaded diseases, and cancer tops the list.

The #1 cancer killer in the United States, of both men and women, is lung cancer. But, if you look at the rates of lung cancer around the world, they vary by a factor of ten. If there were nothing we could do to prevent lung cancer, if it just happened at random, you’d assume that the rates everywhere would be about the same. But, since there’s such a huge variation in rates, you assume there’s some contributing cause. Indeed, we now know smoking is responsible for 90% of lung cancer cases. So, if we don’t want to die of the #1 cancer killer, by just not smoking, we can throw 90% of our risk out the window.

Colorectal cancer is our second leading cause of cancer death, for which there’s an even bigger spread. So, it appears colon cancer doesn’t just happen; something makes it happen. Well, if our lungs can get filled with carcinogens from smoke, maybe our colons are getting filled with carcinogens from food. Why do African Americans get more colon cancer than native Africans? Why study Africans? Because colon cancer is extremely rare in native African populations; like more than 50 times lower rates than Americans, white or black.

We used to think it was all the fiber they were eating, however, the modern African diet is highly processed, low in fiber, and yet there has been no dramatic increase in colon cancer. And we’re not just talking low fiber intake, we’re talking United States of America-low, down around half the recommended daily allowance. Yet colon disease still remains rare in Africa; still 50 times less colon cancer.

Maybe it’s because they’re thinner and exercise more? No, they’re not, and no, they don’t. If anything, their physical activity levels may now be even lower. So if they’re sedentary like us, eating mostly refined carbs, few whole plant foods, little fiber—like us, why do they have 50 times less colon cancer? Well, there is one big difference. The diet of both African-Americans and Caucasian-Americans is rich in meat, whereas the native Africans’ diet is so low in meat and saturated fat they have total cholesterol levels averaging 139, compared to over 200 in the U.S.

So yes, they don’t get a lot of fiber anymore, but they continue to minimize meat and animal fat consumption, supporting evidence that perhaps the most powerful determinants of colon cancer risk are the levels of meat and animal fat intake. So, why do Americans get more colon cancer than Africans? Maybe, the rarity of colon cancer in Africans is associated with low animal product consumption.

But why? Did you ever see that take-off of the industry slogan, “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner” – “Beef, It’s What’s Rotting in Your Colon”? I saw this on a shirt once with some friends, and I was such the party pooper—no pun intended, explaining to everyone that meat is fully digested in the small intestine, and never makes it down into the colon. It’s no fun hanging out with biology geeks —but, it turns out, I was wrong!

It turns out, up to 12 grams of protein a day can escape digestion, and when it reaches the colon, it can be turned into toxic substances, like ammonia. This degradation of undigested protein in the colon is called putrefaction; so, a little meat can actually end up putrefying in our colon. The problem is that some of the by-products of this putrefaction process can be toxic.

The same thing happens with other animal proteins. If you eat egg whites, for example, some of that can putrefy, too. But, there’s protein in plants as well. The difference is that animal proteins tend to have more sulfur-containing amino acids like methionine (which is found most concentrated in fish and chicken, and then eggs, less in beef and dairy, and much less in plant foods), which can be turned into hydrogen sulfide in our colon.  Hydrogen sulfide is the rotten egg gas that, over and above its objectionable odor, can produce changes in the colon that increase cancer risk.

Now, there is a divergence of opinion as to whether it’s the animal fat, cholesterol, or animal protein that is most responsible for the increased cancer risk, as all three have been shown to have carcinogenic properties. But, it may not really matter which component is worse, as a diet rich in one is usually rich in the others.

The protein does more than just putrefy, though. Animal protein consumption causes an increase in blood levels of a cancer-promoting growth hormone called IGF-1. But, remove meat, egg whites, and dairy proteins from our diet, and our bloodstream can suppress cancer cell growth about eight times better. An effect so powerful that Dr. Ornish and colleagues appeared able to reverse the progression of prostate cancer without chemo, surgery, or radiation; just a plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle changes.

The link between animal protein and IGF-1 may help explain why those eating low-carb diets tend to die sooner, but not just any low-carb diet; specifically, those based on animal sources, whereas vegetable-based low-carb diets are associated with a lower risk of death. But low-carb diets are high in animal fat as well as animal protein, so how do we know it wasn’t the saturated fat and cholesterol that were killing people off, and it had nothing to do with the animal protein?

What we would need is a study that just follows a few thousand people and their protein intake for 20 years or so, and sees who lives longest, who gets cancer, and who doesn’t? But, there’s never been a study like that…until now.         

6,000 men and women over age 50, from across the U.S, were followed for 18 years, and those under age 65 with high protein intake had a 75% increase in overall mortality and a fourfold increase in the risk of dying from cancer. But, not all proteins.  Specifically, animal proteins. These associations were either abolished or attenuated if the proteins were plant-derived. This all makes sense, given the higher IGF-1 levels in those eating excess protein. Eating animal protein increases IGF-1 levels, which increases cancer risk.

The sponsoring university sent out a press release with a memorable opening line: “That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette,” explaining that eating a diet rich in animal protein during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet—a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking. And when they say low-protein diet, what they actually mean is just getting the recommended amount of protein.

Almost everyone is going to have a cancer cell or pre-cancerous cell in them at some point. The question is: does it progress? That may depend on what we eat. See, most malignant tumors are covered in IGF-1 receptors, but if there’s less IGF-1 around, they may not be able to progress.

And, it wasn’t just more deaths from cancer. Middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources were found to be more susceptible to early death in general. Crucially, the same did not apply to plant proteins like beans, and it wasn’t the fat, but the animal protein, that appeared to be the culprit. 

What was the response to the revelation that diets high in meat, eggs, and dairy could be as harmful to health as smoking? One nutrition scientist replied that it was wrong, and potentially dangerous. Not the discovery that animal protein might be killing people, but the way they were telling people about it; it could damage the effectiveness of important public health messages. A smoker might think: “Why bother quitting smoking if my cheese and ham sandwich is just as bad for me?”

This reminds me of a famous Philip Morris cigarette ad that tried to downplay the risks by saying, “You think secondhand smoke is bad, increasing the risk of lung cancer 19%. Drinking one to two glasses of milk every day may be three times as bad—62% higher risk of lung cancer. Or, doubling the risk by frequently cooking with oil, or tripling your risk of heart disease by eating non-vegetarian, or multiplying your risk sixfold by eating lots of meat and dairy.” So, they conclude, let’s keep some perspective; the risk of lung cancer from secondhand smoke may be well below the risk reported for other everyday activities.

That’s like saying, “Don’t worry about getting stabbed, because getting shot is much worse.” Uh, how about neither? Two risks don’t make a right.

The heme in the ham may also play a role. Heme iron is the form of iron found in blood and muscle, and may promote cancer by catalyzing the formation of carcinogenic compounds within our bodies. Cancer has been described as a ferrotoxic disease: a disease, in part, of iron toxicity.

Iron is a double-edged sword. Iron deficiency causes anemia; however, excessive iron may increase cancer risk, presumably by acting as a pro-oxidant, generating free radicals that may play a role in a number of dreaded diseases like stroke. But, only the heme iron, the blood and muscle iron, not the nonheme iron that predominates in plants. Same with heart disease—only the heme iron, and same with diabetes—only the heme iron, and same with cancer.

In fact, you can actually tell how much meat someone is eating by looking at their tumors. To characterize the mechanisms underlying meat-related lung cancer development, they asked lung cancer patients how much meat they ate and examined the gene expression patterns in their tumors, and identified a signature pattern of heme-related gene expression. Although they just looked at lung cancer, they expect these meat-related gene expression changes may occur in other cancers as well.

The safest form of iron, then, is non-heme iron, found naturally in abundance in whole grains, beans, split peas, chickpeas, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. How much money can be made on beans, though? So, the food industry came up with a blood-based crispbread made out of rye, and cattle and pig blood, one of the most concentrated sources of heme iron—about two-thirds more than chicken blood. If blood-based crackers don’t sound appetizing, there’s always cow-blood cookies and blood-filled biscuits. The filling “ends up a dark-colored, chocolate flavored paste with a very pleasant taste.” Dark-colored because spray-dried pig blood can have a darkening effect on the food product’s color. But the worry is not the color or taste; it’s the heme iron, which, because of its potential cancer risk, is not considered safe to add to foods intended for the general population.

This reminds me of nitrosamines, a class of potent carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. They are considered so toxic that carcinogens of this strength in any other consumer product designed for human consumption would be banned immediately. If that were the case, they’d have to ban meat.

One hot dog has as many nitrosamines and nitrosamides as five cigarettes. And these carcinogens are also found in fresh, unprocessed meat as well: beef, chicken, and pork. But practice Meatless Mondays and you could wake up Tuesday morning with nearly all of these carcinogens washed out of your system.

So, toxic nitrosamines should be banned immediately, but are still allowed for sale in cigarettes and meat because the carcinogens are found there naturally, just like the heme iron. Not safe enough to expose the general population to, but allowed for sale at the deli counter.

The irony is that the iron and the protein are what the industry boasts about—those are supposed to be the redeeming qualities of meat: protein and iron, but, sourced from animal foods, they may do more harm than good. And that’s not to mention all the other stuff: the saturated fat, industrial pollutants, and hormones, which may play a role in our third leading cancer killer, breast cancer.

Steroid hormones are unavoidable in food of animal origin, but cow milk may be of particular concern. The hormones naturally found in even organic cow’s milk may have played a role in the studies that found a relationship between milk and other dairy products and human illnesses, such as teenagers’ acne; prostate, breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers; many chronic diseases that are common in Western societies; as well as male reproductive disorders.  Other dangers of high hormone levels in food range from increased risk of early puberty to endometrial cancer in older women, but they are particularly dangerous in the case of vulnerable populations, such as young children and pregnant women.  To this critical population, even a small hormonal intake could lead to major changes in the metabolism.

Look, dairy milk evolved to put a few hundred pounds onto a calf within the first few months of life. But the consequences of lifetime human exposure to the growth factors in milk have not been well studied. We know milk consumption increases IGF-1, which is linked to cancer, and we’re milking cows while they’re pregnant, resulting in particularly high levels of hormones.

Although dairy products are an important source of hormones, other products of animal origin must be considered as well. This may help explain why women can cut their breast cancer risk not just by being normal weight and limiting alcohol, but also by eating mostly foods of plant origin. To help differentiate the effects of diet from other lifestyle behaviors—like smoking and drinking—on overall cancer incidence, Adventists were compared to Baptists. Both discourage alcohol and tobacco, but the Adventists go further, encouraging a reduction of meat. In general, the Adventists had less cancer than the Baptists, and within Adventist populations, the vegetarians did even better, and those eating the most plants did the best.

All edible tissues of animal origin contain estrogen. This may explain why women avoiding all animal products have a twinning rate which is one-fifth that of vegetarians and omnivores. It appears that vegan women have five times fewer twins, presumed to be because they’re not exposed to all these hormones. Why is that a good thing? Because twin pregnancies are risky pregnancies, both for the mom and the babies, who may be ten times more likely to die at birth. To avoid these complications, women attempting conception may want to consider avoiding milk and other dairy products.

And this isn’t even talking about the synthetic hormones that are fed, injected, or implanted into farm animals. In 1979, an epidemic of breast enlargement was noted in Italian children. Poultry or veal were suspected, given that estrogens may be fed to farm animals to accelerate their weight gain. After this episode, Europe banned the use of anabolic growth promoters in agriculture and has banned the importation of American meat ever since, because we continue to inject animals with drugs like Zeranol, sold as Ralgro Magnum.

You drip Zeranol-containing blood from implanted cattle onto normal human breast cells in a Petri dish, and you can transform them into breast cancer cells within 21 days. But people are not Petri dishes.

Because these anabolic growth promoters in meat production are by far the most potent hormones found in human food, we should really be testing people, especially children, before and after eating this meat. Until then, we have no idea what kind of threat they may pose, though the fact that Zeranol is as potent as DES should concern us. DES is another synthetic estrogen marketed to pregnant women—until 1971 when it was shown to cause cancer of the vagina in their daughters. But few know it was also used in meat.

In the absence of effective federal regulation, the meat industry uses hundreds of animal feed additives, with little or no concern about the carcinogenic and other toxic effects. Illustratively, after decades of misleading assurances of the safety of DES in the meat supply, the United States finally banned its use some 40 years after it was first shown to be cancer-causing. The meat industry then promptly switched to other potentially carcinogenic additives, such as Ralgro Magnum.

When girls started dying from vaginal cancer, DES-treated meat was subsequently banned in Europe. However, misleading assurances, including the deliberate suppression of residue data, managed to delay a US ban on DES in the meat supply for eight years.

Today, virtually the entire U.S. population consumes—without any warning, labeling, or information—unknown and unpredictable amounts of hormonal residues in meat products over a lifetime. If all hormonal and other carcinogenic feed additives aren’t banned immediately, the least we could do is label them along with hormone residue levels in all meat products, including dairy and eggs.    

Speaking of eggs, the next on the list of dreaded diseases is heart disease. Eggs are the #1 source of choline, which can be converted by gut bacteria into a toxin that increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, and death. Eggs are also the #1 source of cholesterol.

Why does it matter if we have lots of cholesterol circulating in our bloodstream? Cholesterol doesn’t just infiltrate our arteries and help form inflamed pockets of pus in our arterial walls, but may play an active role in the final fatal plaque rupture. Cholesterol crystals may actually pop the plaque. If you look at ruptured plaques from autopsies, they are filled with cholesterol crystals protruding out from the plaque. Cholesterol in the plaque may get so supersaturated that it reaches a point that it crystallizes, like rock candy. The growing crystals may then burst the plaque open.

Here’s a cholesterol crystal shooting out the top of a test tube, and when you look at the tips of the cholesterol crystals under a microscope, they are sharp jagged needles. They placed a thin membrane over the top of the test tube to see if the cholesterol needles would poke through, and indeed, the sharp tips of the cholesterol crystals cut through the membrane. So, they showed that as cholesterol crystallized, the peak volume can increase rapidly within minutes, and sharp-tipped crystals can cut through and tear membranes—suggesting that the crystallization of supersaturated cholesterol in atherosclerotic plaques can induce rupture.

And that’s what you see on autopsy. All patients who died of acute heart attacks had perforating cholesterol crystals, like this, sticking out of their plaques. But no crystals were found perforating the arteries of people who had severe atherosclerosis but died first of other, non-cardiac, causes. This can explain why dramatically lowering cholesterol levels with diet (and drugs if necessary) can reduce the risk of fatal heart attack, by pulling cholesterol out of the artery walls, decreasing the risk of crystallizing these cholesterol needles that may pop the plaques in your arteries.

High cholesterol can also cause what’s called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, our next global chronic disease epidemic. Fatty deposits in the liver can trigger inflammation, and result in liver cancer, failure, and death.

And again, it may be these crystals, cholesterol crystals, triggering the progression of fatty liver into serious hepatitis. We’re talking dietary cholesterol, the cholesterol people eat in eggs and other animal products. A strong association was seen between cholesterol intake and hospitalization and death from cirrhosis and liver cancer. And beyond just the crystals, dietary cholesterol may oxidize and directly cause toxic and carcinogenic effects.

It was not appreciated until recently that the average cholesterol level in the United States, the so-called “normal” level, was actually abnormal, accelerating the blockages in our arteries and putting a large fraction of the normal population at risk. Having a normal cholesterol in a society where it’s normal to die of a heart attack is not necessarily a good thing. Normal cholesterol levels may be fatal cholesterol levels.

In respect to cholesterol lowering, moderation kills. Even if all Americans kept their total cholesterol below the recommended 200, millions would develop coronary artery disease. Strong evidence shows we need to keep our total cholesterol under 150 to stem the epidemic. What kind of evidence? Well, in many cultures, coronary disease is practically unheard of when total serum cholesterol levels are under 150. And here in the U.S., in the famous Framingham Heart Study, few of those with levels below 150 developed heart disease, and none died from it.

We cannot continue to have public and private organizations on the forefront of health leadership recommending to the public a dietary plan that guarantees that millions will perish from the very disease the guidelines are supposed to prevent. The reason given by health authorities to not tell people the truth, for not advocating what the science shows is best, was that it might frustrate the public, who may have difficulty getting their cholesterol levels that low.  But maybe the public’s greatest frustration would come from not being informed of the optimal diet for health. Heart disease can be reversed with a plant-based diet. The evidence justifies igniting a social movement—let the people lead, and eventually the government will follow.

Some criticize plant-based diets as extreme or draconian. You want extreme, though?  Check out the consequences of our present diet. Having a breastbone sawed in half for bypass surgery or a stroke that renders one a mute can be construed as extreme, or having a breast, prostate, colon, or rectum removed to treat cancer—that’s extreme. Eating a bean burrito is easy.

Instead of just bypassing the problem—literally— you can treat the cause, arrest and reverse heart disease, our #1 killer, with a whole food, plant-based diet.

Next on the list is arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic systemic inflammatory disorder that causes progressive destruction of the joints. As many as 80% become disabled, and it may cut up to 18 years off one’s lifespan. There are drugs you can take, but unfortunately they’re often associated with severe side effects including blood loss, bone loss, immune suppression, and toxicity to the liver and eyes. There’s got to be a better way.

Well, populations that eat more meat do seem to have higher rates of rheumatoid arthritis, and there have been some dramatic case reports of rheumatoid arthritis attacks triggered by the consumption of animal foods. These attacks started six to ten hours after ingestion of animal protein and lasted a few days, but they stopped when the patients stopped ingesting animal products. The researchers suggest that immune complexes formed by the body attacking animal proteins may promote autoimmune reactions in the joints themselves. And indeed, those with rheumatoid arthritis have striking elevations in antibodies to foods like fish, pork, egg whites, dairy proteins, and even some cereals. But it could also possibly be a pro-inflammatory property of meat fats or free radicals from the iron accumulating in the joints, or other mechanisms. But case reports and country-by-country analyses can be used only to raise questions. To prove cause-and-effect, you need an interventional study to put it to the test.

And here we go: a 13-month-long randomized controlled trial of plant-based diets for rheumatoid arthritis.  Patients were put on a vegan diet for three and a half months, and then switched to an egg-free vegetarian diet for the remainder of the study. Compared to the control group, who didn’t change their diet, the plant-based group had a significant improvement in morning stiffness within the first month, cutting the number of hours they suffered from joint stiffness in half. A drop in pain. A drop in disability. They reported subjectively feeling better, significant improvement in their grip strength, fewer tender joints, less tenderness per joint, and less swelling. They also had a drop in inflammatory markers in the blood: sed rate, C-reactive protein, and white count; highly significant and clinically relevant findings.

What about osteoarthritis? Osteoarthritis is the most frequent cause of physical disability among older adults, affecting more than 20 million Americans, with 20% of us affected in the coming decades, and becoming more and more widespread among younger people.

Osteoarthritis is characterized by loss of cartilage in the joint. We used to think it was just mechanical wear and tear, but it is now generally accepted as an active joint disease with a prominent inflammatory component. If the loss of cartilage is caused by inflammation, maybe if we put people on an anti-inflammatory diet, it could help; like with rheumatoid arthritis. Using optimal nutrition and exercise as the first-line intervention in the management of chronic osteoarthritis could well constitute the best medical practice.

Where’s the best science on what optimal nutrition might look like? The China Study is a prime example, showing the serious health consequences of high consumption of pro-inflammatory foods—meat, dairy, fat, and junk—and low consumption of anti-inflammatory plant foods—whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils. The unnatural Western diet contributes to low-grade systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, tissue damage, and irritation, placing the immune system in an overactive state, a common denominator of conditions such as arthritis.

Next on the list are stroke and high blood pressure, which go together, since high blood pressure is the #1 risk factor for stroke. The PREDIMED study found that a Mediterranean diet with nuts could cut stroke risk nearly in half, though they were still having strokes. Half as many strokes, but it was still a diet that promoted strokes and heart attacks.

That’s what Dr. Ornish noted when he wrote in: “There was no significant reduction in the rates of heart attack, death from cardiovascular causes, or death from any cause,” just that stroke benefit. But hey, that’s something. A Mediterranean diet is certainly better than what most people are consuming, but even better may be a diet based on whole plant foods, shown to actually reverse heart disease, not contribute to it. That may be true, the authors of the study replied, but the major problem with Ornish’s diet is that it doesn’t taste good, and so, hardly anyone sticks to it.

But it’s not true. Ornish got extraordinary adherence in his studies with no difference in any of the acceptability measures; same enjoyment compared to their regular diet. They even got success in barbecue country, rural North Carolina. See, stricter diets may meet greater acceptance among patients than more modest diets because they may work better. Greater adherence means greater disease reversal.

But you don’t have to be facing certain death. Even those who are young and healthy with no health problems had no problem sticking to a plant-based diet. In fact, it worked a little too well. This was a crossover study where they asked people to eat plant-based for a few months and then switch back to their baseline diet to note the contrast, but people felt so good eating healthy some refused to go back to their regular diet, which kind of messes up the study. They were losing weight with no calorie counting or portion control, they had more energy, their periods got better, better digestion, better sleep—many were like no way, we’re not going back.

But if doctors just presume people won’t eat this way, it may end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just like smoking doctors are less likely to tell their patients to stop smoking, and couch potato docs are less likely to counsel exercise or things like more fruits and vegetables, we need to role model healthy behavior. This greatly enhances our credibility and effectiveness. Gone are the days of traditional authority when the fat physician, dropping cigarette ash down his gravy-stained vest, could credibly prescribe a change in behavior.

One reason why plant-based diets could save so many millions is because the #1 killer risk factor in the world is high blood pressure, laying to waste nine million people every year. And in the United States, killing off more than a thousand people a day; 400,000 Americans dead every year.

High blood pressure affects nearly 78 million Americans—that’s one in three of us, and as we age, our pressures get higher and higher, such that by age 60, it strikes more than half. If it affects most of us when we get older, maybe it’s less a disease and more just a natural, inevitable consequence of aging? No. We’ve known for nearly a century that high blood pressure need not occur. Researchers measured the blood pressure of a thousand people in rural Kenya who ate a diet centered around whole plant foods. Whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, and dark green leafy vegetables. Up until age 40, the blood pressures of rural Africans were about the same as Europeans and Americans, down around 120 over 80, but as Westerners age, their pressures creep up such that by age 60 the average person is hypertensive, exceeding 140 over 90. But what about those eating plant-based? Their pressures improved with age; not only did they not develop hypertension, their blood pressures actually got better.

The whole 140 over 90 cut-off is arbitrary. Just like studies show that the lower the cholesterol the better; there’s really no safe level above about 150. Blood pressure studies also support a “lower the better” approach to blood pressure reduction. Even people starting out with blood pressure under 120 over 80 appear to benefit from blood pressure reduction. So, the ideal blood pressure, the no-benefit-from-reducing-it-further blood pressure, is actually 110 over 70. But is it possible to get blood pressures down to 110 over 70? It’s not just possible; it’s normal for those eating healthy enough diets.

Over two years at a rural Kenyan hospital, 1,800 patients were admitted. How many cases of high blood pressure did they find? Zero. Wow, so they must have had low rates of heart disease. No, they had no rates of heart disease. Not low risk, no risk. Not a single case of arteriosclerosis, our #1 killer, was found.

Rural China too; about 110 over 70 their entire lives. Africa and China have vastly different diets, but they share the common theme that they are plant-based day-to-day, with meat eaten only on special occasions. Why do we think it’s the plant-based nature of their diets that was so protective?

Because in the Western world, as the American Heart Association has pointed out, the only folks really getting down that low are strict vegetarians, coming in at about 110 over 65. So, does the American Heart Association recommend a strict vegetarian diet? No, they recommend the DASH diet.

The DASH diet has been described as a lactovegetarian diet, but it’s not. It emphasizes fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy, but just a reduction in meat. Why not vegetarian? We’ve known for decades that food of animal origin was highly significantly associated with blood pressure. In fact, you can take vegetarians and give them meat and you can watch their blood pressures go up.

So, when the DASH diet was created, were they just not aware of this landmark research, done by Harvard’s Frank Sacks? No, they were aware. The Chair of the Design Committee who came up with the DASH diet was Frank Sacks. In fact, the DASH diet was explicitly designed with the #1 goal of capturing the blood pressure-lowering benefits of a vegetarian diet, yet containing enough animal products to make it palatable to the general public. In fact, Sacks found that the more dairy the lactovegetarians ate, the higher their blood pressures went; but they had to make the diet acceptable.

A recent meta-analysis showed that vegetarian diets were good, but strictly plant-based diets may be better. Vegetarian diets in general confer protection against cardiovascular disease, some cancers and death, but completely plant-based diets seem to offer additional protection for obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease mortality. Based on a study of 89,000 Californians, those eating meat-free diets appeared to cut their risk of high blood pressure in half. But those eating meat-free, egg-free, and dairy-free had 75% lower risk.

If, however, you’re already eating a whole foods plant-based diet, and you’re still not hitting 110 over 70, there are a few plants recently found to offer additional protection. A randomized placebo-controlled trial showing that a cup of hibiscus tea with each meal significantly lowers blood pressure. In fact, tested head-to-head against a leading blood-pressure drug, Captopril, two cups of strong hibiscus tea every morning were as effective as the drug.

Another randomized placebo-controlled trial found that a few tablespoons a day of ground flaxseeds induced one of the most potent antihypertensive effects ever achieved by a dietary intervention—two to three times more powerful than instituting an endurance exercise program (though, of course, there’s no reason you can’t do both).

Red wine may help, but only if the alcohol has been taken out. Raw vegetables or cooked? And the answer is both, though raw may work better. Kiwifruit didn’t seem to work at all, even though the study was funded by a kiwifruit company. Maybe they should have taken direction from the California Raisin Marketing Board, which came out with this study showing that raisins can reduce blood pressure, but only, apparently, compared to fudge cookies, Cheez-Its, and Chips Ahoy! They know the Big Pharma trick of choosing the right control group.

Next on the dreaded list is diabetes and vision loss, which go together, since diabetes is the leading cause of preventable middle-aged blindness. Even with intensive diabetes treatment—at least three insulin injections a day with the best modern technology, like implantable insulin pumps—the best we can offer is usually just a slowing down of the progression of the disease. So, we can slow down your blindness, but a half-century ago, Kempner at Duke proved you could reverse it with an ultra-strict plant-based diet of mostly rice and fruit. 44 consecutive patients with diabetic retinopathy, and in 30% of the cases, their eyes improved. From like this, to this. That’s not supposed to happen. Diabetic retinopathy had been considered a sign of irreversible damage. What does this mean in real life? Going from being unable to even read headlines to normal vision.

How do we treat diabetic retinopathy these days? With steroids and other drugs injected straight into the eyeball. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always pan-retinal laser photocoagulation, in which laser burns are placed over nearly the entire retina. Surgeons literally burn out the back of your eyeball. Why would they do that? The theory is that by killing off most of the retina, the little pieces you leave behind may get more of the remaining blood flow.

When I see this, along with Kempner’s work, I can’t help but feel like history has been reversed. Like, can you believe 50 years ago the best we had was this barbaric burn-out-your-socket surgery, but thank goodness we’ve since learned that through dietary means alone, we can sometimes reverse the blindness. Instead of learning, medicine seems to have forgotten.

The most efficient way to avoid diabetic complications is to eliminate the diabetes in the first place, and this is often feasible with a healthy enough diet.

A plant-based diet beat out the conventional American Diabetes Association diet in a head-to-head randomized controlled clinical trial, without restricting portions; no calorie or carb counting. A review of all such studies found that those following plant-based diets experience better improvements compared to those following diets that include animal products—but this is nothing new.

The successful treatment of type 2 diabetes with a plant-based diet was demonstrated back in the 1930s, showing that a diet centered around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans was more effective in controlling diabetes than any other diet.

Randomized controlled trial: after five years, no big change in the control group, but in the plant-based group, insulin needs were cut in half, and a quarter ended up off of insulin altogether. Now, this was a low-calorie diet, though; maybe their diabetes just got better because they lost weight?

To tease that out, what we would need is a study where they switch people to a healthy diet, but force them to eat so much food that they’d actually maintain their weight. Then, we could see if a plant-based diet had benefits independent of all the weight loss. We’d have to wait 44 years, but here it is. Subjects were weighed every day, and if they started losing weight, they were made to eat more food. In fact, so much food some of the participants had trouble eating it all, but they eventually adapted; so, there were no significant alterations in body weight despite restricting meat, dairy, eggs, and junk.

So, with zero weight loss, did a plant-based diet still help? Here are the before-and-after insulin requirements of the 20 people they put on the diet. This is the number of units of insulin they had to inject themselves with before and after going on the plant-based diet. Overall insulin requirements were cut about 60%, and half were able to get off insulin altogether, despite no change in weight. How many years did this take? Was it five years like the other study? No, 16 days.

So, we’re talking diabetics who’ve had diabetes as long as 20 years, injecting 20 units of insulin a day and then, as few as 13 days later, they’re off insulin altogether, thanks to less than two weeks on a plant-based diet. Diabetes for 20 years, then off all insulin in less than 2 weeks. Here’s patient 15: 32 units of insulin on the control diet and then 18 days later on none. Lower blood sugars on 32 units less insulin; that’s the power of plants.

And as a bonus, their cholesterol dropped like a rock—in 16 days to under 150.  Just like moderate changes in diet usually result in only modest reductions in cholesterol,  asking people with diabetes to make moderate changes often achieves equally moderate results.  Which is one possible reason why most end up on drugs, injections, or both.

Everything in moderation may be a truer statement than people realize. Moderate changes in diet can leave one with moderate blindness, moderate kidney failure, and moderate amputations—maybe just a few toes. Moderation in all things is not necessarily a good thing.

The more we as physicians ask from our patients, the more we are likely to get. The old adage “shoot for the moon” seems to apply. It may be more effective than limiting patients to small steps that may sound more manageable but are not sufficient to actually stop the disease.

The only thing better than reversing diabetes is to not get it in the first place. That study that purported to show that diets high in meat, eggs, and dairy could be as harmful to health as smoking supposedly suggested that people under 65 who eat lots of meat, eggs, and dairy are four times as likely to die from cancer or diabetes. But if you look at the actual study, you’ll see that’s not true. Those eating a lot of animal protein didn’t have just four times more risk of dying from diabetes, they had 73 times higher risk of dying from diabetes.

As one eats more and more plant-based, there appears to be a stepwise drop in the rate of diabetes down to a 78% lower prevalence among those eating strictly plant-based. Protection building incrementally as one moved from eating meat daily, to less than daily, to just fish, to no meat, and then, to no eggs and dairy either. A similar pattern was found for the leading cause of vision loss among the elderly—cataracts. This suggests that it’s not all or nothing; any steps we can make towards eating healthier may accrue benefits.

But why? Why is total meat consumption associated with higher risk for diabetes, and especially processed meat, particularly poultry?

Well, there’s a whole list of potential culprits in meat. Yes, it may be the animal protein, but maybe it’s the animal fat; maybe it’s the cholesterol; maybe it’s the iron leading to free radical formation, which could lead to chronic inflammation. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are another problem. They promote oxidative stress and inflammation, and food analyses show that the highest levels of these so-called glycotoxins are found in meat. Here are the 15 most glycotoxin contaminated food sources: chicken, pork, pork, chicken, chicken, beef, chicken, chicken, beef, chicken, turkey, chicken, fish, beef, and… McNuggets—I don’t know if you can call those chicken.

Though other foods from animal sources can also harbor these pro-oxidant chemicals.  In this study, they fed diabetics foods packed with glycotoxins, like chicken, fish, and eggs, and their inflammatory markers shot up, like tumor necrosis factor and C-reactive protein. Thus, in diabetics, dietary AGEs promote inflammatory mediators, leading to tissue injury. The good news, though, is that restricting these kinds of foods may suppress these inflammatory effects. So these glycotoxins may be a missing link between the increased consumption of animal fat and meats and the subsequent development of type 2 diabetes in the first place, as well as Alzheimer’s disease, the final disease on our dreaded list.

Dietary AGEs appear to be important risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease as well. If you measure the urine levels of glycotoxins flowing through the bodies of older adults, those with the highest levels went on to suffer the greatest cognitive decline over the subsequent nine years, as well as the greatest brain shrinkage (it’s called cerebral atrophy), all helping to explain why those who eat the most meat may have triple the risk of getting dementia compared to long-time vegetarians. The bottom line is that the same diet that may help prevent the other dreaded diseases—cancer, heart attack, arthritis, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and vision loss—may also help prevent brain loss and Alzheimer’s as well.

One disease that’s not on the list is ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a dreaded disease that strikes healthy, middle-aged people seemingly at random, and holds little hope for treatment and survival. Although mental capabilities stay intact, ALS paralyzes people, often from the outside in, and most patients die within three years when they can no longer breathe or swallow. At any given time, an estimated 30,000 Americans are fighting for their lives. We each have about a 1 in 400 chance of developing this dreaded disease. And it appears to be on the rise around the world. What causes it?

Well, there’s a neurotoxin produced by blue-green algae in our rivers, lakes, and oceans that ends up in seafood, which is currently a strong contender as the cause of, or at least a major contributor to, ALS and maybe Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as well. Researchers in Miami found this BMAA neurotoxin in the brains of Floridians who died from sporadic Alzheimer’s disease and ALS; significant levels in 49 out of 50 samples from Alzheimer’s and ALS patients. The same thing was found up in the Pacific Northwest and in the brains of those dying from Parkinson’s disease. You can also apparently pick up more of this neurotoxin in the hair of live ALS patients compared to controls.

So, is BMAA present in Florida seafood? Yes, in both freshwater fish and shellfish, like oysters and bass, and out in the bay. And not just in Florida – on up the Eastern seaboard, and out into the Midwest. This could explain ALS clusters around lakes in New Hampshire, or fish in Wisconsin, or blue crabs from the Chesapeake, or seafood eaters in France, or in Finland’s Lakeland district, or around the Baltic Sea, building up particularly in fish, mussels, and oysters.

There is a general consensus that these harmful algal blooms are increasing worldwide thanks in part to industrialized agriculture, which may increase exposure to this neurotoxin, leading to a possible increased incidence of these horrible neurodegenerative diseases. With substantial and ever growing evidence that BMAA does play a role in the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases, the most important question is “What mode of activity does BMAA exert?” What? No, it’s not! The most important question is “How do we reduce our exposure?”

We know that the presence of BMAA in aquatic food chains could be a significant human health hazard. So, until more is known, it may be prudent to limit exposure of BMAA in the human diet.

There are neurotoxins in the dairy supply too, which may explain the link between milk consumption and Parkinson’s. High levels of organochlorine pesticide residues are found in milk and in the brains of Parkinson’s patients, and other pollutants, like tetrahydroisoquinoline, which is what scientists actually use to try to induce the disease in primates found in the milk supply, particularly cheese.  So, maybe the dairy industry should require toxin screenings of milk.

You could always just not drink it, but then what would happen to your bones? That’s a marketing ploy; if you look at the science, milk does not protect against hip fracture risk, whether drinking milk during your adult years, or drinking milk during your teen years. If anything, milk consumption was associated with a borderline increase in fracture risk in men. This suggests a partial explanation for the longstanding enigma that hip fracture rates are highest in populations with the greatest milk consumption.

This enigma irked a Swedish research team, puzzled because studies again and again had shown a tendency for higher risk of fracture with higher milk consumption. Well, there is a rare birth defect called galactosemia, where babies are born without the enzymes needed to detoxify the galactose found in milk. So they end up with higher levels of galactose in their blood, which can cause bone loss. So maybe, the Swedish researchers figured, even in normal people who can detoxify the stuff, it might not be good for the bones to be drinking it every day. And galactose doesn’t just hurt the bones; that’s what scientists use to cause premature aging in lab animals. They slip them a little galactose, and can shorten their lifespan, cause oxidative stress, inflammation, and brain degeneration—just with the equivalent of like one to two glasses of milk’s worth of galactose a day. We’re not rats, though—but given the high amount of galactose in milk, recommendations to increase milk intake for prevention of fractures could be a conceivable contradiction; so, they decided to put it to the test, looking at milk intake and mortality, as well as fracture risk, to test their theory.

A hundred thousand men and women followed for up to 20 years, and milk-drinking women had higher rates of death, more heart disease, and significantly more cancer for each daily glass of milk. Three glasses a day was associated with nearly twice the risk of death. And they had significantly more bone and hip fractures too. More milk, more fractures.

Milk-drinking men also had a higher rate of death, but for some reason you never see any of this in any of the milk ads.

OK, so where does that leave us? What are the common threads? If you look at four of the major dietary quality scoring systems, which have all been associated with extending lifespan and lowering heart disease and cancer mortality, they all share only four things in common: more fruit, more vegetables, more whole grains, and more nuts and beans. They are all built on a common core of diets rich in plant foods, whereas opposite food patterns, rich in animal foods and poor in plant-based foods (in other words, the Western diet), are associated with higher risks. So, we need to optimize the food environment to support whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and plant-based sources of protein.

Taking the diet quality indexes to their logical conclusion, the most plant-based diet would be the most healthy diet. But again, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We now have evidence that simple advice to increase the consumption of plant-derived foods with reductions in the consumption of foods from animal sources confers a survival advantage.

And boy do we need it. In terms of life expectancy, the U.S. is down around 27th or 28th out of the 34 leading free-market democracies. The people of Slovenia live a year longer than citizens of the United States. Why? Most deaths in the United States are preventable and related to nutrition. According to the most rigorous analysis of risk factors ever published, the #1 cause of death in the U.S., and the #1 cause of disability, is our diet, which has bumped tobacco smoking to #2. Smoking now kills only about a half a million Americans every year, but diet now kills hundreds of thousands more.

Let me end with a thought experiment. Imagine yourself a smoker in the 1950s. The average per capita cigarette consumption was about 4,000 cigarettes a year. Think about that. In the 1950s, the average American smoked a half a pack a day.

The media was telling you to smoke and famous athletes agreed. Even Santa Claus cared enough about your throat to want you to smoke. I mean, you want “to keep fit”, and “stay slender”, so you make sure to smoke and eat hot dogs to keep trim, and lots of sugar to stay slim and trim, a lot less fattening than that apple, I mean sheesh. “Though apples do connote goodness and freshness”, reads one internal tobacco industry memo, which brings up many possibilities for making youth-oriented cigarettes. Shameless!

In addition to staying fit and slender and soothing your throat, “for digestion’s sake”, you smoke. I mean, “No curative power is claimed for Phillip Morris— but, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So, better safe than sorry, and smoke.

Like eating, smoking was a family affair. “Gee, Mommy, you sure enjoy your Marlboro.” “You’re darn tootin’.”  “Just one question, Mom, can you afford not to smoke Marlboros?” Your kids were giving you cigarettes in the 50s; even your dog was giving you cigarettes.

“Blow in her face, and she’ll follow you anywhere.” “No woman ever says no.” After all, they’re “so round, so firm, so fully packed!”

After all, popular, handsome John Wayne smoked them—until he got lung cancer and died.

Even the paleo folks were smoking, and so were the doctors.

This is not to say there wasn’t controversy within the medical profession. Yes, some doctors smoked Camels, but other physicians preferred Luckies; so, there was some disagreement. Eminent doctors, on high and impartial medical authority, call for Phillip Morris. Even the specialists could not agree which cigarette was better for your throat; so, best to stick to the science, and more scientists smoke this brand.

This should not be rocket science—but even the rocket scientists had their favorite: “For the man who thinks for himself.”

What was the government saying? Smoke Luckies. I mean who wouldn’t want to give their throat a vacation. Not a single case of throat irritation. How could your nose and throat be adversely affected— when cigarettes are “just as pure as the water you drink.”

And if you do get irritated, no problem; your doctor can write you a prescription for cigarettes. This is an ad from the Journal of the American Medical Association. After all, “Don’t smoke is advice hard for patients” to swallow. Reminds me of the recent survey of doctors that found the #1 reason doctors don’t prescribe heart-healthy diets today was their perception that patients fear being deprived of all the junk they’re eating. After all, Philip Morris reminded us, we want to keep our patients happy, and “to make a radical change in habit…may do harm.” You’re a doctor; you don’t want to harm your patients.

The tobacco industry gave medical journals big money to run ads like these. Not a problem, though, Phillip Morris claims come from “completely reliable sources” based on studies conducted by recognized authorities published in leading medical journals. Even kindly offering to send free packs of cigarettes to doctors so they can test them out themselves. So, join us at the next AMA convention.

What did the American Medical Association have to say for itself? Like most other medical journals, they accepted tobacco ads. They have yet to see an autopsy with a single lesion that had a Marlboro label on it. So, when mainstream medicine is saying that smoking may on balance be beneficial, when the American Medical Association is saying that, where could you turn back then if you just wanted the facts? What’s the new data advanced by science? 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 down to 10, but those who 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 were 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 in California in 1958 that showed that nonsmokers may have at least 90% less lung cancer. But this wasn’t the first.

When famed surgeon Michael DeBakey was asked why his studies published back in the 30s linking smoking and lung cancer were ignored, he had to remind people about what it was like back then. We were a smoking society; it was in the movies; medical meetings were one “heavy haze of smoke.”  It’s like the debates over cigarettes and lung cancer in Congress taking place in smoke-filled rooms. Makes me wonder what’s served at the Dietary Guidelines Committee meeting breakfast buffets to this day.

A famous statistician by the name of Ronald Fisher railed against what he called propaganda to convince the public that cigarette smoking was dangerous.

Fisher made invaluable contributions to the field of statistics, but his analysis of lung cancer and smoking was flawed by an unwillingness to examine the entire body of data available. His smokescreen may have been because he was a paid consultant to the tobacco industry, but also because he was himself a smoker. Part of his resistance to seeing the association may have been rooted in his own fondness for smoking, which makes me wonder about some of the foods nutrition researchers may be fond of to this day.

It always strikes me as ironic when vegetarian researchers come forward and list their diet as a potential conflict of interest, whereas not once in the 70,000 articles on meat in the medical literature have I ever seen a researcher disclose their non-vegetarian habits, because it’s normal. Just like smoking was normal.

So, back to our thought experiment. If you’re a smoker in the 50’s in the know, what do you do? With access to the science, you realize that the best available balance of evidence suggests that 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.

It took 25 years for the Surgeon General’s report to come out. It took more than 7,000 studies and the deaths of countless smokers before the first Surgeon General’s report against smoking was finally released in the 1960’s. You’d think maybe after the first 6,000 studies, maybe they could have given people a little heads up or something? It was a powerful industry. One wonders how many people are currently suffering needlessly from dietary diseases. Maybe we should have stopped smoking after the 700th study like this.

With so much money and personal habit at stake, there will always be dissenters. But given the seriousness of these diseases and the sum total of evidence, we shouldn’t wait to put preventive measures in place.

As a smoker in the 50s, on one hand, you had all of society, the government, and the medical profession itself telling you to smoke. And, on the other hand, the science (if you were lucky enough to know about studies like this).

Now, fast forward 55 years. There’s a new Adventist study out of California, the Adventist Health Study 2, warning America about the risks of something else they may be putting in their mouth. And it’s not just one study; according to the latest review, the total sum of evidence suggests that mortality from all causes put together, and many of our dreaded diseases—ischemic heart disease, and circulatory and cerebrovascular diseases like stroke—were significantly lower in those eating meat-free diets, in addition to less cancer and diabetes.

So, instead of going along with America’s smoking habits in the 50s, imagine you or someone you know going along with America’s eating habits today. What do you do? With access to the science, you realize that the best available balance of evidence suggests that your eating habits are probably not good for you. So, do you change your eating habits or do you wait? If you wait until your physician tells you, between bites, to change your diet, it may be too late. In fact, even after the Surgeon General’s report, the medical community still dragged their feet. The AMA actually went on record withholding endorsement of the Surgeon General’s report. Could that have been because they had just been handed ten million dollars from the tobacco industry?

We know why the AMA may have been sucking up to the tobacco industry, but why weren’t individual doctors speaking out? There were a few gallant souls ahead of their time writing in, as there are today, standing up against industries killing millions; but why not more? Maybe it’s because the majority of physicians themselves smoked cigarettes, just like the majority of physicians today eat foods that contribute to our epidemic of dietary disease. What was the AMA’s rallying cry back then? “Everything in moderation.” Sound familiar? “Extensive scientific studies have proved that smoking in moderation is OK.”

Today, the food industry uses the same tobacco industry tactics: supplying misinformation and twisting the science.

The same scientists-for-hire paid to downplay the risks of secondhand smoke and toxic chemicals are the same hired by the National Confectioners Association to downplay the risks of candy, and the same hired by the meat industry to downplay the risks of meat.

Consumption of animal products and processed foods cause at least 14 million deaths around the world each year. 14 million deaths. 14 million people dead every year. This is not a failure of individual willpower, says the Director-General of the World Health Organization. This is a failure of political will to take on big business, which is a formidable opposition. Few governments are willing to prioritize health over big business. As we learned from experience with the tobacco industry, a powerful corporation can sell the public just about anything.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the tobacco experience, wrote one district judge, it’s how powerful profits can be a motivator, even at the cost of millions of lives and unspeakable suffering.

It may have taken 25 years for the Surgeon General’s report to come out, and longer still for mainstream medicine to get on board, but now there are no longer ads encouraging people to “inhale to your heart’s content!” Now, there are ads from the CDC fighting back.

Food-wise, there was “meat…for health defense,” or “nourishing bacon,” or “doctors prescribe… meat”, or soda for that matter. “Trix are habit-forming, thank heavens!”

Now, just like there were those in the 30s, 40s, and 50s on the vanguard trying to save lives, today there are those turning ads about what you can do with pork butt to what the pork can do to your butt:  The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s “Meat is the new tobacco” campaign. As Dr. Barnard tried to get across in an editorial published in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, plant-based diets can now be considered the nutritional equivalent of quitting smoking.

How many more people have to die, though, before the CDC encourages people not to wait for open heart surgery to eat healthy, as well? How long’s that going to take, though?

Just like we don’t have to wait until our doctor stops smoking to quit ourselves, we don’t have to wait until our doctor takes a nutrition class or cleans up their own diet before choosing to eat healthier. It’s not your doctor’s fault, writes a group of prominent physicians. There is a severe deficiency of nutrition education at all levels of medical training. We were just never taught it.

We know a whole food plant-based diet has been proven to reverse our #1 killer, and protect against type 2 diabetes and cancer. So how has this knowledge affected medical education? It hasn’t. Despite the neglect of nutrition in medical education, the public considers physicians to be among the most trusted sources, but if doctors don’t know what they’re talking about, they could actually be contributing to diet-related diseases. To stem the surging tide of chronic illness in the United States, physicians need to become part of the solution. But we don’t have to wait for that to happen. No longer do patients have to be patient.

Doctors no longer hold a professional monopoly on health information. There’s been a democratization of knowledge, and so until the system changes, we have to take personal responsibility for our own health and for our family’s health. We can’t wait until society catches up with the science, because it’s a matter of life and death.

In 2015, Dr. Kim Allan Williams became President of the American College of Cardiology. He was asked why he follows his own advice to eat a plant-based diet. “I don’t mind dying,” Dr. Williams replied. “I just don’t want it to be my fault.”

Thank you.

If you missed last year’s talk, I have it on DVD. And the year before that and the year before that, as well as 25 other DVDs. All proceeds from the sale of all of my books, DVDs, and speaking engagements all go to charity, and speaking of which: mark your calendars, December 8th of this year, my new book is coming out: How Not to Die.

December 8th—I’m so excited about it. It’s not only a compilation of my life’s work, with all the science and thousands of citations putting it all together, but a practical guide. I go through my daily dozen checklist of all the things I try to fit in my own daily diet. How many greens we should eat, how many beans we should eat, how much sleep, how much exercise. I’ve been working on it for over a year, and can’t wait for everyone read it.

And in the meanwhile, all my work is available free, on NutritionFacts.org.

Thanks again.

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.

Recorded live at the University of Pittsburgh on July 11, 2015 thanks to NAVS and Aaron Wissner. Images thanks to Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Steven Jackson, Leon Keller, and DES Daughter via Flickr; 18percentgrey, Rostislav Sedláček, and Anna Liebiedieva via 123rf; Nmajik, Gajda-13, and Brian Arthur via Wikimedia Commons; and OpenPics and Bambo via Pixabay.

Good evening.

For those of you unfamiliar with my work, every year I read through every issue of every English-language nutrition journal in the world so you don’t have to. Every year, my talks are brand new, because every year the science is brand new.

I then compile all the most interesting, the most groundbreaking, the most practical findings to create new videos and articles, every day, for my nonprofit site, NutritionFacts.org.

Everything on the website is free. There are no ads, no corporate sponsorships; it’s strictly noncommercial, not selling anything. I just put it up as a public service, as a labor of love. There are new videos and articles every day on the latest in evidence-based nutrition.

In my 2012 year-in-review, I explored the role a healthy diet may play in preventing, arresting, and reversing our deadliest diseases. In 2013, I covered our most common conditions. And, in 2014, I went through our leading causes of disability. This year, I thought I’d address some of our most dreaded diseases, and cancer tops the list.

The #1 cancer killer in the United States, of both men and women, is lung cancer. But, if you look at the rates of lung cancer around the world, they vary by a factor of ten. If there were nothing we could do to prevent lung cancer, if it just happened at random, you’d assume that the rates everywhere would be about the same. But, since there’s such a huge variation in rates, you assume there’s some contributing cause. Indeed, we now know smoking is responsible for 90% of lung cancer cases. So, if we don’t want to die of the #1 cancer killer, by just not smoking, we can throw 90% of our risk out the window.

Colorectal cancer is our second leading cause of cancer death, for which there’s an even bigger spread. So, it appears colon cancer doesn’t just happen; something makes it happen. Well, if our lungs can get filled with carcinogens from smoke, maybe our colons are getting filled with carcinogens from food. Why do African Americans get more colon cancer than native Africans? Why study Africans? Because colon cancer is extremely rare in native African populations; like more than 50 times lower rates than Americans, white or black.

We used to think it was all the fiber they were eating, however, the modern African diet is highly processed, low in fiber, and yet there has been no dramatic increase in colon cancer. And we’re not just talking low fiber intake, we’re talking United States of America-low, down around half the recommended daily allowance. Yet colon disease still remains rare in Africa; still 50 times less colon cancer.

Maybe it’s because they’re thinner and exercise more? No, they’re not, and no, they don’t. If anything, their physical activity levels may now be even lower. So if they’re sedentary like us, eating mostly refined carbs, few whole plant foods, little fiber—like us, why do they have 50 times less colon cancer? Well, there is one big difference. The diet of both African-Americans and Caucasian-Americans is rich in meat, whereas the native Africans’ diet is so low in meat and saturated fat they have total cholesterol levels averaging 139, compared to over 200 in the U.S.

So yes, they don’t get a lot of fiber anymore, but they continue to minimize meat and animal fat consumption, supporting evidence that perhaps the most powerful determinants of colon cancer risk are the levels of meat and animal fat intake. So, why do Americans get more colon cancer than Africans? Maybe, the rarity of colon cancer in Africans is associated with low animal product consumption.

But why? Did you ever see that take-off of the industry slogan, “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner” – “Beef, It’s What’s Rotting in Your Colon”? I saw this on a shirt once with some friends, and I was such the party pooper—no pun intended, explaining to everyone that meat is fully digested in the small intestine, and never makes it down into the colon. It’s no fun hanging out with biology geeks —but, it turns out, I was wrong!

It turns out, up to 12 grams of protein a day can escape digestion, and when it reaches the colon, it can be turned into toxic substances, like ammonia. This degradation of undigested protein in the colon is called putrefaction; so, a little meat can actually end up putrefying in our colon. The problem is that some of the by-products of this putrefaction process can be toxic.

The same thing happens with other animal proteins. If you eat egg whites, for example, some of that can putrefy, too. But, there’s protein in plants as well. The difference is that animal proteins tend to have more sulfur-containing amino acids like methionine (which is found most concentrated in fish and chicken, and then eggs, less in beef and dairy, and much less in plant foods), which can be turned into hydrogen sulfide in our colon.  Hydrogen sulfide is the rotten egg gas that, over and above its objectionable odor, can produce changes in the colon that increase cancer risk.

Now, there is a divergence of opinion as to whether it’s the animal fat, cholesterol, or animal protein that is most responsible for the increased cancer risk, as all three have been shown to have carcinogenic properties. But, it may not really matter which component is worse, as a diet rich in one is usually rich in the others.

The protein does more than just putrefy, though. Animal protein consumption causes an increase in blood levels of a cancer-promoting growth hormone called IGF-1. But, remove meat, egg whites, and dairy proteins from our diet, and our bloodstream can suppress cancer cell growth about eight times better. An effect so powerful that Dr. Ornish and colleagues appeared able to reverse the progression of prostate cancer without chemo, surgery, or radiation; just a plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle changes.

The link between animal protein and IGF-1 may help explain why those eating low-carb diets tend to die sooner, but not just any low-carb diet; specifically, those based on animal sources, whereas vegetable-based low-carb diets are associated with a lower risk of death. But low-carb diets are high in animal fat as well as animal protein, so how do we know it wasn’t the saturated fat and cholesterol that were killing people off, and it had nothing to do with the animal protein?

What we would need is a study that just follows a few thousand people and their protein intake for 20 years or so, and sees who lives longest, who gets cancer, and who doesn’t? But, there’s never been a study like that…until now.         

6,000 men and women over age 50, from across the U.S, were followed for 18 years, and those under age 65 with high protein intake had a 75% increase in overall mortality and a fourfold increase in the risk of dying from cancer. But, not all proteins.  Specifically, animal proteins. These associations were either abolished or attenuated if the proteins were plant-derived. This all makes sense, given the higher IGF-1 levels in those eating excess protein. Eating animal protein increases IGF-1 levels, which increases cancer risk.

The sponsoring university sent out a press release with a memorable opening line: “That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette,” explaining that eating a diet rich in animal protein during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet—a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking. And when they say low-protein diet, what they actually mean is just getting the recommended amount of protein.

Almost everyone is going to have a cancer cell or pre-cancerous cell in them at some point. The question is: does it progress? That may depend on what we eat. See, most malignant tumors are covered in IGF-1 receptors, but if there’s less IGF-1 around, they may not be able to progress.

And, it wasn’t just more deaths from cancer. Middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources were found to be more susceptible to early death in general. Crucially, the same did not apply to plant proteins like beans, and it wasn’t the fat, but the animal protein, that appeared to be the culprit. 

What was the response to the revelation that diets high in meat, eggs, and dairy could be as harmful to health as smoking? One nutrition scientist replied that it was wrong, and potentially dangerous. Not the discovery that animal protein might be killing people, but the way they were telling people about it; it could damage the effectiveness of important public health messages. A smoker might think: “Why bother quitting smoking if my cheese and ham sandwich is just as bad for me?”

This reminds me of a famous Philip Morris cigarette ad that tried to downplay the risks by saying, “You think secondhand smoke is bad, increasing the risk of lung cancer 19%. Drinking one to two glasses of milk every day may be three times as bad—62% higher risk of lung cancer. Or, doubling the risk by frequently cooking with oil, or tripling your risk of heart disease by eating non-vegetarian, or multiplying your risk sixfold by eating lots of meat and dairy.” So, they conclude, let’s keep some perspective; the risk of lung cancer from secondhand smoke may be well below the risk reported for other everyday activities.

That’s like saying, “Don’t worry about getting stabbed, because getting shot is much worse.” Uh, how about neither? Two risks don’t make a right.

The heme in the ham may also play a role. Heme iron is the form of iron found in blood and muscle, and may promote cancer by catalyzing the formation of carcinogenic compounds within our bodies. Cancer has been described as a ferrotoxic disease: a disease, in part, of iron toxicity.

Iron is a double-edged sword. Iron deficiency causes anemia; however, excessive iron may increase cancer risk, presumably by acting as a pro-oxidant, generating free radicals that may play a role in a number of dreaded diseases like stroke. But, only the heme iron, the blood and muscle iron, not the nonheme iron that predominates in plants. Same with heart disease—only the heme iron, and same with diabetes—only the heme iron, and same with cancer.

In fact, you can actually tell how much meat someone is eating by looking at their tumors. To characterize the mechanisms underlying meat-related lung cancer development, they asked lung cancer patients how much meat they ate and examined the gene expression patterns in their tumors, and identified a signature pattern of heme-related gene expression. Although they just looked at lung cancer, they expect these meat-related gene expression changes may occur in other cancers as well.

The safest form of iron, then, is non-heme iron, found naturally in abundance in whole grains, beans, split peas, chickpeas, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. How much money can be made on beans, though? So, the food industry came up with a blood-based crispbread made out of rye, and cattle and pig blood, one of the most concentrated sources of heme iron—about two-thirds more than chicken blood. If blood-based crackers don’t sound appetizing, there’s always cow-blood cookies and blood-filled biscuits. The filling “ends up a dark-colored, chocolate flavored paste with a very pleasant taste.” Dark-colored because spray-dried pig blood can have a darkening effect on the food product’s color. But the worry is not the color or taste; it’s the heme iron, which, because of its potential cancer risk, is not considered safe to add to foods intended for the general population.

This reminds me of nitrosamines, a class of potent carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. They are considered so toxic that carcinogens of this strength in any other consumer product designed for human consumption would be banned immediately. If that were the case, they’d have to ban meat.

One hot dog has as many nitrosamines and nitrosamides as five cigarettes. And these carcinogens are also found in fresh, unprocessed meat as well: beef, chicken, and pork. But practice Meatless Mondays and you could wake up Tuesday morning with nearly all of these carcinogens washed out of your system.

So, toxic nitrosamines should be banned immediately, but are still allowed for sale in cigarettes and meat because the carcinogens are found there naturally, just like the heme iron. Not safe enough to expose the general population to, but allowed for sale at the deli counter.

The irony is that the iron and the protein are what the industry boasts about—those are supposed to be the redeeming qualities of meat: protein and iron, but, sourced from animal foods, they may do more harm than good. And that’s not to mention all the other stuff: the saturated fat, industrial pollutants, and hormones, which may play a role in our third leading cancer killer, breast cancer.

Steroid hormones are unavoidable in food of animal origin, but cow milk may be of particular concern. The hormones naturally found in even organic cow’s milk may have played a role in the studies that found a relationship between milk and other dairy products and human illnesses, such as teenagers’ acne; prostate, breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers; many chronic diseases that are common in Western societies; as well as male reproductive disorders.  Other dangers of high hormone levels in food range from increased risk of early puberty to endometrial cancer in older women, but they are particularly dangerous in the case of vulnerable populations, such as young children and pregnant women.  To this critical population, even a small hormonal intake could lead to major changes in the metabolism.

Look, dairy milk evolved to put a few hundred pounds onto a calf within the first few months of life. But the consequences of lifetime human exposure to the growth factors in milk have not been well studied. We know milk consumption increases IGF-1, which is linked to cancer, and we’re milking cows while they’re pregnant, resulting in particularly high levels of hormones.

Although dairy products are an important source of hormones, other products of animal origin must be considered as well. This may help explain why women can cut their breast cancer risk not just by being normal weight and limiting alcohol, but also by eating mostly foods of plant origin. To help differentiate the effects of diet from other lifestyle behaviors—like smoking and drinking—on overall cancer incidence, Adventists were compared to Baptists. Both discourage alcohol and tobacco, but the Adventists go further, encouraging a reduction of meat. In general, the Adventists had less cancer than the Baptists, and within Adventist populations, the vegetarians did even better, and those eating the most plants did the best.

All edible tissues of animal origin contain estrogen. This may explain why women avoiding all animal products have a twinning rate which is one-fifth that of vegetarians and omnivores. It appears that vegan women have five times fewer twins, presumed to be because they’re not exposed to all these hormones. Why is that a good thing? Because twin pregnancies are risky pregnancies, both for the mom and the babies, who may be ten times more likely to die at birth. To avoid these complications, women attempting conception may want to consider avoiding milk and other dairy products.

And this isn’t even talking about the synthetic hormones that are fed, injected, or implanted into farm animals. In 1979, an epidemic of breast enlargement was noted in Italian children. Poultry or veal were suspected, given that estrogens may be fed to farm animals to accelerate their weight gain. After this episode, Europe banned the use of anabolic growth promoters in agriculture and has banned the importation of American meat ever since, because we continue to inject animals with drugs like Zeranol, sold as Ralgro Magnum.

You drip Zeranol-containing blood from implanted cattle onto normal human breast cells in a Petri dish, and you can transform them into breast cancer cells within 21 days. But people are not Petri dishes.

Because these anabolic growth promoters in meat production are by far the most potent hormones found in human food, we should really be testing people, especially children, before and after eating this meat. Until then, we have no idea what kind of threat they may pose, though the fact that Zeranol is as potent as DES should concern us. DES is another synthetic estrogen marketed to pregnant women—until 1971 when it was shown to cause cancer of the vagina in their daughters. But few know it was also used in meat.

In the absence of effective federal regulation, the meat industry uses hundreds of animal feed additives, with little or no concern about the carcinogenic and other toxic effects. Illustratively, after decades of misleading assurances of the safety of DES in the meat supply, the United States finally banned its use some 40 years after it was first shown to be cancer-causing. The meat industry then promptly switched to other potentially carcinogenic additives, such as Ralgro Magnum.

When girls started dying from vaginal cancer, DES-treated meat was subsequently banned in Europe. However, misleading assurances, including the deliberate suppression of residue data, managed to delay a US ban on DES in the meat supply for eight years.

Today, virtually the entire U.S. population consumes—without any warning, labeling, or information—unknown and unpredictable amounts of hormonal residues in meat products over a lifetime. If all hormonal and other carcinogenic feed additives aren’t banned immediately, the least we could do is label them along with hormone residue levels in all meat products, including dairy and eggs.    

Speaking of eggs, the next on the list of dreaded diseases is heart disease. Eggs are the #1 source of choline, which can be converted by gut bacteria into a toxin that increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, and death. Eggs are also the #1 source of cholesterol.

Why does it matter if we have lots of cholesterol circulating in our bloodstream? Cholesterol doesn’t just infiltrate our arteries and help form inflamed pockets of pus in our arterial walls, but may play an active role in the final fatal plaque rupture. Cholesterol crystals may actually pop the plaque. If you look at ruptured plaques from autopsies, they are filled with cholesterol crystals protruding out from the plaque. Cholesterol in the plaque may get so supersaturated that it reaches a point that it crystallizes, like rock candy. The growing crystals may then burst the plaque open.

Here’s a cholesterol crystal shooting out the top of a test tube, and when you look at the tips of the cholesterol crystals under a microscope, they are sharp jagged needles. They placed a thin membrane over the top of the test tube to see if the cholesterol needles would poke through, and indeed, the sharp tips of the cholesterol crystals cut through the membrane. So, they showed that as cholesterol crystallized, the peak volume can increase rapidly within minutes, and sharp-tipped crystals can cut through and tear membranes—suggesting that the crystallization of supersaturated cholesterol in atherosclerotic plaques can induce rupture.

And that’s what you see on autopsy. All patients who died of acute heart attacks had perforating cholesterol crystals, like this, sticking out of their plaques. But no crystals were found perforating the arteries of people who had severe atherosclerosis but died first of other, non-cardiac, causes. This can explain why dramatically lowering cholesterol levels with diet (and drugs if necessary) can reduce the risk of fatal heart attack, by pulling cholesterol out of the artery walls, decreasing the risk of crystallizing these cholesterol needles that may pop the plaques in your arteries.

High cholesterol can also cause what’s called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, our next global chronic disease epidemic. Fatty deposits in the liver can trigger inflammation, and result in liver cancer, failure, and death.

And again, it may be these crystals, cholesterol crystals, triggering the progression of fatty liver into serious hepatitis. We’re talking dietary cholesterol, the cholesterol people eat in eggs and other animal products. A strong association was seen between cholesterol intake and hospitalization and death from cirrhosis and liver cancer. And beyond just the crystals, dietary cholesterol may oxidize and directly cause toxic and carcinogenic effects.

It was not appreciated until recently that the average cholesterol level in the United States, the so-called “normal” level, was actually abnormal, accelerating the blockages in our arteries and putting a large fraction of the normal population at risk. Having a normal cholesterol in a society where it’s normal to die of a heart attack is not necessarily a good thing. Normal cholesterol levels may be fatal cholesterol levels.

In respect to cholesterol lowering, moderation kills. Even if all Americans kept their total cholesterol below the recommended 200, millions would develop coronary artery disease. Strong evidence shows we need to keep our total cholesterol under 150 to stem the epidemic. What kind of evidence? Well, in many cultures, coronary disease is practically unheard of when total serum cholesterol levels are under 150. And here in the U.S., in the famous Framingham Heart Study, few of those with levels below 150 developed heart disease, and none died from it.

We cannot continue to have public and private organizations on the forefront of health leadership recommending to the public a dietary plan that guarantees that millions will perish from the very disease the guidelines are supposed to prevent. The reason given by health authorities to not tell people the truth, for not advocating what the science shows is best, was that it might frustrate the public, who may have difficulty getting their cholesterol levels that low.  But maybe the public’s greatest frustration would come from not being informed of the optimal diet for health. Heart disease can be reversed with a plant-based diet. The evidence justifies igniting a social movement—let the people lead, and eventually the government will follow.

Some criticize plant-based diets as extreme or draconian. You want extreme, though?  Check out the consequences of our present diet. Having a breastbone sawed in half for bypass surgery or a stroke that renders one a mute can be construed as extreme, or having a breast, prostate, colon, or rectum removed to treat cancer—that’s extreme. Eating a bean burrito is easy.

Instead of just bypassing the problem—literally— you can treat the cause, arrest and reverse heart disease, our #1 killer, with a whole food, plant-based diet.

Next on the list is arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic systemic inflammatory disorder that causes progressive destruction of the joints. As many as 80% become disabled, and it may cut up to 18 years off one’s lifespan. There are drugs you can take, but unfortunately they’re often associated with severe side effects including blood loss, bone loss, immune suppression, and toxicity to the liver and eyes. There’s got to be a better way.

Well, populations that eat more meat do seem to have higher rates of rheumatoid arthritis, and there have been some dramatic case reports of rheumatoid arthritis attacks triggered by the consumption of animal foods. These attacks started six to ten hours after ingestion of animal protein and lasted a few days, but they stopped when the patients stopped ingesting animal products. The researchers suggest that immune complexes formed by the body attacking animal proteins may promote autoimmune reactions in the joints themselves. And indeed, those with rheumatoid arthritis have striking elevations in antibodies to foods like fish, pork, egg whites, dairy proteins, and even some cereals. But it could also possibly be a pro-inflammatory property of meat fats or free radicals from the iron accumulating in the joints, or other mechanisms. But case reports and country-by-country analyses can be used only to raise questions. To prove cause-and-effect, you need an interventional study to put it to the test.

And here we go: a 13-month-long randomized controlled trial of plant-based diets for rheumatoid arthritis.  Patients were put on a vegan diet for three and a half months, and then switched to an egg-free vegetarian diet for the remainder of the study. Compared to the control group, who didn’t change their diet, the plant-based group had a significant improvement in morning stiffness within the first month, cutting the number of hours they suffered from joint stiffness in half. A drop in pain. A drop in disability. They reported subjectively feeling better, significant improvement in their grip strength, fewer tender joints, less tenderness per joint, and less swelling. They also had a drop in inflammatory markers in the blood: sed rate, C-reactive protein, and white count; highly significant and clinically relevant findings.

What about osteoarthritis? Osteoarthritis is the most frequent cause of physical disability among older adults, affecting more than 20 million Americans, with 20% of us affected in the coming decades, and becoming more and more widespread among younger people.

Osteoarthritis is characterized by loss of cartilage in the joint. We used to think it was just mechanical wear and tear, but it is now generally accepted as an active joint disease with a prominent inflammatory component. If the loss of cartilage is caused by inflammation, maybe if we put people on an anti-inflammatory diet, it could help; like with rheumatoid arthritis. Using optimal nutrition and exercise as the first-line intervention in the management of chronic osteoarthritis could well constitute the best medical practice.

Where’s the best science on what optimal nutrition might look like? The China Study is a prime example, showing the serious health consequences of high consumption of pro-inflammatory foods—meat, dairy, fat, and junk—and low consumption of anti-inflammatory plant foods—whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils. The unnatural Western diet contributes to low-grade systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, tissue damage, and irritation, placing the immune system in an overactive state, a common denominator of conditions such as arthritis.

Next on the list are stroke and high blood pressure, which go together, since high blood pressure is the #1 risk factor for stroke. The PREDIMED study found that a Mediterranean diet with nuts could cut stroke risk nearly in half, though they were still having strokes. Half as many strokes, but it was still a diet that promoted strokes and heart attacks.

That’s what Dr. Ornish noted when he wrote in: “There was no significant reduction in the rates of heart attack, death from cardiovascular causes, or death from any cause,” just that stroke benefit. But hey, that’s something. A Mediterranean diet is certainly better than what most people are consuming, but even better may be a diet based on whole plant foods, shown to actually reverse heart disease, not contribute to it. That may be true, the authors of the study replied, but the major problem with Ornish’s diet is that it doesn’t taste good, and so, hardly anyone sticks to it.

But it’s not true. Ornish got extraordinary adherence in his studies with no difference in any of the acceptability measures; same enjoyment compared to their regular diet. They even got success in barbecue country, rural North Carolina. See, stricter diets may meet greater acceptance among patients than more modest diets because they may work better. Greater adherence means greater disease reversal.

But you don’t have to be facing certain death. Even those who are young and healthy with no health problems had no problem sticking to a plant-based diet. In fact, it worked a little too well. This was a crossover study where they asked people to eat plant-based for a few months and then switch back to their baseline diet to note the contrast, but people felt so good eating healthy some refused to go back to their regular diet, which kind of messes up the study. They were losing weight with no calorie counting or portion control, they had more energy, their periods got better, better digestion, better sleep—many were like no way, we’re not going back.

But if doctors just presume people won’t eat this way, it may end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just like smoking doctors are less likely to tell their patients to stop smoking, and couch potato docs are less likely to counsel exercise or things like more fruits and vegetables, we need to role model healthy behavior. This greatly enhances our credibility and effectiveness. Gone are the days of traditional authority when the fat physician, dropping cigarette ash down his gravy-stained vest, could credibly prescribe a change in behavior.

One reason why plant-based diets could save so many millions is because the #1 killer risk factor in the world is high blood pressure, laying to waste nine million people every year. And in the United States, killing off more than a thousand people a day; 400,000 Americans dead every year.

High blood pressure affects nearly 78 million Americans—that’s one in three of us, and as we age, our pressures get higher and higher, such that by age 60, it strikes more than half. If it affects most of us when we get older, maybe it’s less a disease and more just a natural, inevitable consequence of aging? No. We’ve known for nearly a century that high blood pressure need not occur. Researchers measured the blood pressure of a thousand people in rural Kenya who ate a diet centered around whole plant foods. Whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, and dark green leafy vegetables. Up until age 40, the blood pressures of rural Africans were about the same as Europeans and Americans, down around 120 over 80, but as Westerners age, their pressures creep up such that by age 60 the average person is hypertensive, exceeding 140 over 90. But what about those eating plant-based? Their pressures improved with age; not only did they not develop hypertension, their blood pressures actually got better.

The whole 140 over 90 cut-off is arbitrary. Just like studies show that the lower the cholesterol the better; there’s really no safe level above about 150. Blood pressure studies also support a “lower the better” approach to blood pressure reduction. Even people starting out with blood pressure under 120 over 80 appear to benefit from blood pressure reduction. So, the ideal blood pressure, the no-benefit-from-reducing-it-further blood pressure, is actually 110 over 70. But is it possible to get blood pressures down to 110 over 70? It’s not just possible; it’s normal for those eating healthy enough diets.

Over two years at a rural Kenyan hospital, 1,800 patients were admitted. How many cases of high blood pressure did they find? Zero. Wow, so they must have had low rates of heart disease. No, they had no rates of heart disease. Not low risk, no risk. Not a single case of arteriosclerosis, our #1 killer, was found.

Rural China too; about 110 over 70 their entire lives. Africa and China have vastly different diets, but they share the common theme that they are plant-based day-to-day, with meat eaten only on special occasions. Why do we think it’s the plant-based nature of their diets that was so protective?

Because in the Western world, as the American Heart Association has pointed out, the only folks really getting down that low are strict vegetarians, coming in at about 110 over 65. So, does the American Heart Association recommend a strict vegetarian diet? No, they recommend the DASH diet.

The DASH diet has been described as a lactovegetarian diet, but it’s not. It emphasizes fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy, but just a reduction in meat. Why not vegetarian? We’ve known for decades that food of animal origin was highly significantly associated with blood pressure. In fact, you can take vegetarians and give them meat and you can watch their blood pressures go up.

So, when the DASH diet was created, were they just not aware of this landmark research, done by Harvard’s Frank Sacks? No, they were aware. The Chair of the Design Committee who came up with the DASH diet was Frank Sacks. In fact, the DASH diet was explicitly designed with the #1 goal of capturing the blood pressure-lowering benefits of a vegetarian diet, yet containing enough animal products to make it palatable to the general public. In fact, Sacks found that the more dairy the lactovegetarians ate, the higher their blood pressures went; but they had to make the diet acceptable.

A recent meta-analysis showed that vegetarian diets were good, but strictly plant-based diets may be better. Vegetarian diets in general confer protection against cardiovascular disease, some cancers and death, but completely plant-based diets seem to offer additional protection for obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease mortality. Based on a study of 89,000 Californians, those eating meat-free diets appeared to cut their risk of high blood pressure in half. But those eating meat-free, egg-free, and dairy-free had 75% lower risk.

If, however, you’re already eating a whole foods plant-based diet, and you’re still not hitting 110 over 70, there are a few plants recently found to offer additional protection. A randomized placebo-controlled trial showing that a cup of hibiscus tea with each meal significantly lowers blood pressure. In fact, tested head-to-head against a leading blood-pressure drug, Captopril, two cups of strong hibiscus tea every morning were as effective as the drug.

Another randomized placebo-controlled trial found that a few tablespoons a day of ground flaxseeds induced one of the most potent antihypertensive effects ever achieved by a dietary intervention—two to three times more powerful than instituting an endurance exercise program (though, of course, there’s no reason you can’t do both).

Red wine may help, but only if the alcohol has been taken out. Raw vegetables or cooked? And the answer is both, though raw may work better. Kiwifruit didn’t seem to work at all, even though the study was funded by a kiwifruit company. Maybe they should have taken direction from the California Raisin Marketing Board, which came out with this study showing that raisins can reduce blood pressure, but only, apparently, compared to fudge cookies, Cheez-Its, and Chips Ahoy! They know the Big Pharma trick of choosing the right control group.

Next on the dreaded list is diabetes and vision loss, which go together, since diabetes is the leading cause of preventable middle-aged blindness. Even with intensive diabetes treatment—at least three insulin injections a day with the best modern technology, like implantable insulin pumps—the best we can offer is usually just a slowing down of the progression of the disease. So, we can slow down your blindness, but a half-century ago, Kempner at Duke proved you could reverse it with an ultra-strict plant-based diet of mostly rice and fruit. 44 consecutive patients with diabetic retinopathy, and in 30% of the cases, their eyes improved. From like this, to this. That’s not supposed to happen. Diabetic retinopathy had been considered a sign of irreversible damage. What does this mean in real life? Going from being unable to even read headlines to normal vision.

How do we treat diabetic retinopathy these days? With steroids and other drugs injected straight into the eyeball. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always pan-retinal laser photocoagulation, in which laser burns are placed over nearly the entire retina. Surgeons literally burn out the back of your eyeball. Why would they do that? The theory is that by killing off most of the retina, the little pieces you leave behind may get more of the remaining blood flow.

When I see this, along with Kempner’s work, I can’t help but feel like history has been reversed. Like, can you believe 50 years ago the best we had was this barbaric burn-out-your-socket surgery, but thank goodness we’ve since learned that through dietary means alone, we can sometimes reverse the blindness. Instead of learning, medicine seems to have forgotten.

The most efficient way to avoid diabetic complications is to eliminate the diabetes in the first place, and this is often feasible with a healthy enough diet.

A plant-based diet beat out the conventional American Diabetes Association diet in a head-to-head randomized controlled clinical trial, without restricting portions; no calorie or carb counting. A review of all such studies found that those following plant-based diets experience better improvements compared to those following diets that include animal products—but this is nothing new.

The successful treatment of type 2 diabetes with a plant-based diet was demonstrated back in the 1930s, showing that a diet centered around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans was more effective in controlling diabetes than any other diet.

Randomized controlled trial: after five years, no big change in the control group, but in the plant-based group, insulin needs were cut in half, and a quarter ended up off of insulin altogether. Now, this was a low-calorie diet, though; maybe their diabetes just got better because they lost weight?

To tease that out, what we would need is a study where they switch people to a healthy diet, but force them to eat so much food that they’d actually maintain their weight. Then, we could see if a plant-based diet had benefits independent of all the weight loss. We’d have to wait 44 years, but here it is. Subjects were weighed every day, and if they started losing weight, they were made to eat more food. In fact, so much food some of the participants had trouble eating it all, but they eventually adapted; so, there were no significant alterations in body weight despite restricting meat, dairy, eggs, and junk.

So, with zero weight loss, did a plant-based diet still help? Here are the before-and-after insulin requirements of the 20 people they put on the diet. This is the number of units of insulin they had to inject themselves with before and after going on the plant-based diet. Overall insulin requirements were cut about 60%, and half were able to get off insulin altogether, despite no change in weight. How many years did this take? Was it five years like the other study? No, 16 days.

So, we’re talking diabetics who’ve had diabetes as long as 20 years, injecting 20 units of insulin a day and then, as few as 13 days later, they’re off insulin altogether, thanks to less than two weeks on a plant-based diet. Diabetes for 20 years, then off all insulin in less than 2 weeks. Here’s patient 15: 32 units of insulin on the control diet and then 18 days later on none. Lower blood sugars on 32 units less insulin; that’s the power of plants.

And as a bonus, their cholesterol dropped like a rock—in 16 days to under 150.  Just like moderate changes in diet usually result in only modest reductions in cholesterol,  asking people with diabetes to make moderate changes often achieves equally moderate results.  Which is one possible reason why most end up on drugs, injections, or both.

Everything in moderation may be a truer statement than people realize. Moderate changes in diet can leave one with moderate blindness, moderate kidney failure, and moderate amputations—maybe just a few toes. Moderation in all things is not necessarily a good thing.

The more we as physicians ask from our patients, the more we are likely to get. The old adage “shoot for the moon” seems to apply. It may be more effective than limiting patients to small steps that may sound more manageable but are not sufficient to actually stop the disease.

The only thing better than reversing diabetes is to not get it in the first place. That study that purported to show that diets high in meat, eggs, and dairy could be as harmful to health as smoking supposedly suggested that people under 65 who eat lots of meat, eggs, and dairy are four times as likely to die from cancer or diabetes. But if you look at the actual study, you’ll see that’s not true. Those eating a lot of animal protein didn’t have just four times more risk of dying from diabetes, they had 73 times higher risk of dying from diabetes.

As one eats more and more plant-based, there appears to be a stepwise drop in the rate of diabetes down to a 78% lower prevalence among those eating strictly plant-based. Protection building incrementally as one moved from eating meat daily, to less than daily, to just fish, to no meat, and then, to no eggs and dairy either. A similar pattern was found for the leading cause of vision loss among the elderly—cataracts. This suggests that it’s not all or nothing; any steps we can make towards eating healthier may accrue benefits.

But why? Why is total meat consumption associated with higher risk for diabetes, and especially processed meat, particularly poultry?

Well, there’s a whole list of potential culprits in meat. Yes, it may be the animal protein, but maybe it’s the animal fat; maybe it’s the cholesterol; maybe it’s the iron leading to free radical formation, which could lead to chronic inflammation. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are another problem. They promote oxidative stress and inflammation, and food analyses show that the highest levels of these so-called glycotoxins are found in meat. Here are the 15 most glycotoxin contaminated food sources: chicken, pork, pork, chicken, chicken, beef, chicken, chicken, beef, chicken, turkey, chicken, fish, beef, and… McNuggets—I don’t know if you can call those chicken.

Though other foods from animal sources can also harbor these pro-oxidant chemicals.  In this study, they fed diabetics foods packed with glycotoxins, like chicken, fish, and eggs, and their inflammatory markers shot up, like tumor necrosis factor and C-reactive protein. Thus, in diabetics, dietary AGEs promote inflammatory mediators, leading to tissue injury. The good news, though, is that restricting these kinds of foods may suppress these inflammatory effects. So these glycotoxins may be a missing link between the increased consumption of animal fat and meats and the subsequent development of type 2 diabetes in the first place, as well as Alzheimer’s disease, the final disease on our dreaded list.

Dietary AGEs appear to be important risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease as well. If you measure the urine levels of glycotoxins flowing through the bodies of older adults, those with the highest levels went on to suffer the greatest cognitive decline over the subsequent nine years, as well as the greatest brain shrinkage (it’s called cerebral atrophy), all helping to explain why those who eat the most meat may have triple the risk of getting dementia compared to long-time vegetarians. The bottom line is that the same diet that may help prevent the other dreaded diseases—cancer, heart attack, arthritis, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and vision loss—may also help prevent brain loss and Alzheimer’s as well.

One disease that’s not on the list is ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a dreaded disease that strikes healthy, middle-aged people seemingly at random, and holds little hope for treatment and survival. Although mental capabilities stay intact, ALS paralyzes people, often from the outside in, and most patients die within three years when they can no longer breathe or swallow. At any given time, an estimated 30,000 Americans are fighting for their lives. We each have about a 1 in 400 chance of developing this dreaded disease. And it appears to be on the rise around the world. What causes it?

Well, there’s a neurotoxin produced by blue-green algae in our rivers, lakes, and oceans that ends up in seafood, which is currently a strong contender as the cause of, or at least a major contributor to, ALS and maybe Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as well. Researchers in Miami found this BMAA neurotoxin in the brains of Floridians who died from sporadic Alzheimer’s disease and ALS; significant levels in 49 out of 50 samples from Alzheimer’s and ALS patients. The same thing was found up in the Pacific Northwest and in the brains of those dying from Parkinson’s disease. You can also apparently pick up more of this neurotoxin in the hair of live ALS patients compared to controls.

So, is BMAA present in Florida seafood? Yes, in both freshwater fish and shellfish, like oysters and bass, and out in the bay. And not just in Florida – on up the Eastern seaboard, and out into the Midwest. This could explain ALS clusters around lakes in New Hampshire, or fish in Wisconsin, or blue crabs from the Chesapeake, or seafood eaters in France, or in Finland’s Lakeland district, or around the Baltic Sea, building up particularly in fish, mussels, and oysters.

There is a general consensus that these harmful algal blooms are increasing worldwide thanks in part to industrialized agriculture, which may increase exposure to this neurotoxin, leading to a possible increased incidence of these horrible neurodegenerative diseases. With substantial and ever growing evidence that BMAA does play a role in the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases, the most important question is “What mode of activity does BMAA exert?” What? No, it’s not! The most important question is “How do we reduce our exposure?”

We know that the presence of BMAA in aquatic food chains could be a significant human health hazard. So, until more is known, it may be prudent to limit exposure of BMAA in the human diet.

There are neurotoxins in the dairy supply too, which may explain the link between milk consumption and Parkinson’s. High levels of organochlorine pesticide residues are found in milk and in the brains of Parkinson’s patients, and other pollutants, like tetrahydroisoquinoline, which is what scientists actually use to try to induce the disease in primates found in the milk supply, particularly cheese.  So, maybe the dairy industry should require toxin screenings of milk.

You could always just not drink it, but then what would happen to your bones? That’s a marketing ploy; if you look at the science, milk does not protect against hip fracture risk, whether drinking milk during your adult years, or drinking milk during your teen years. If anything, milk consumption was associated with a borderline increase in fracture risk in men. This suggests a partial explanation for the longstanding enigma that hip fracture rates are highest in populations with the greatest milk consumption.

This enigma irked a Swedish research team, puzzled because studies again and again had shown a tendency for higher risk of fracture with higher milk consumption. Well, there is a rare birth defect called galactosemia, where babies are born without the enzymes needed to detoxify the galactose found in milk. So they end up with higher levels of galactose in their blood, which can cause bone loss. So maybe, the Swedish researchers figured, even in normal people who can detoxify the stuff, it might not be good for the bones to be drinking it every day. And galactose doesn’t just hurt the bones; that’s what scientists use to cause premature aging in lab animals. They slip them a little galactose, and can shorten their lifespan, cause oxidative stress, inflammation, and brain degeneration—just with the equivalent of like one to two glasses of milk’s worth of galactose a day. We’re not rats, though—but given the high amount of galactose in milk, recommendations to increase milk intake for prevention of fractures could be a conceivable contradiction; so, they decided to put it to the test, looking at milk intake and mortality, as well as fracture risk, to test their theory.

A hundred thousand men and women followed for up to 20 years, and milk-drinking women had higher rates of death, more heart disease, and significantly more cancer for each daily glass of milk. Three glasses a day was associated with nearly twice the risk of death. And they had significantly more bone and hip fractures too. More milk, more fractures.

Milk-drinking men also had a higher rate of death, but for some reason you never see any of this in any of the milk ads.

OK, so where does that leave us? What are the common threads? If you look at four of the major dietary quality scoring systems, which have all been associated with extending lifespan and lowering heart disease and cancer mortality, they all share only four things in common: more fruit, more vegetables, more whole grains, and more nuts and beans. They are all built on a common core of diets rich in plant foods, whereas opposite food patterns, rich in animal foods and poor in plant-based foods (in other words, the Western diet), are associated with higher risks. So, we need to optimize the food environment to support whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and plant-based sources of protein.

Taking the diet quality indexes to their logical conclusion, the most plant-based diet would be the most healthy diet. But again, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We now have evidence that simple advice to increase the consumption of plant-derived foods with reductions in the consumption of foods from animal sources confers a survival advantage.

And boy do we need it. In terms of life expectancy, the U.S. is down around 27th or 28th out of the 34 leading free-market democracies. The people of Slovenia live a year longer than citizens of the United States. Why? Most deaths in the United States are preventable and related to nutrition. According to the most rigorous analysis of risk factors ever published, the #1 cause of death in the U.S., and the #1 cause of disability, is our diet, which has bumped tobacco smoking to #2. Smoking now kills only about a half a million Americans every year, but diet now kills hundreds of thousands more.

Let me end with a thought experiment. Imagine yourself a smoker in the 1950s. The average per capita cigarette consumption was about 4,000 cigarettes a year. Think about that. In the 1950s, the average American smoked a half a pack a day.

The media was telling you to smoke and famous athletes agreed. Even Santa Claus cared enough about your throat to want you to smoke. I mean, you want “to keep fit”, and “stay slender”, so you make sure to smoke and eat hot dogs to keep trim, and lots of sugar to stay slim and trim, a lot less fattening than that apple, I mean sheesh. “Though apples do connote goodness and freshness”, reads one internal tobacco industry memo, which brings up many possibilities for making youth-oriented cigarettes. Shameless!

In addition to staying fit and slender and soothing your throat, “for digestion’s sake”, you smoke. I mean, “No curative power is claimed for Phillip Morris— but, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So, better safe than sorry, and smoke.

Like eating, smoking was a family affair. “Gee, Mommy, you sure enjoy your Marlboro.” “You’re darn tootin’.”  “Just one question, Mom, can you afford not to smoke Marlboros?” Your kids were giving you cigarettes in the 50s; even your dog was giving you cigarettes.

“Blow in her face, and she’ll follow you anywhere.” “No woman ever says no.” After all, they’re “so round, so firm, so fully packed!”

After all, popular, handsome John Wayne smoked them—until he got lung cancer and died.

Even the paleo folks were smoking, and so were the doctors.

This is not to say there wasn’t controversy within the medical profession. Yes, some doctors smoked Camels, but other physicians preferred Luckies; so, there was some disagreement. Eminent doctors, on high and impartial medical authority, call for Phillip Morris. Even the specialists could not agree which cigarette was better for your throat; so, best to stick to the science, and more scientists smoke this brand.

This should not be rocket science—but even the rocket scientists had their favorite: “For the man who thinks for himself.”

What was the government saying? Smoke Luckies. I mean who wouldn’t want to give their throat a vacation. Not a single case of throat irritation. How could your nose and throat be adversely affected— when cigarettes are “just as pure as the water you drink.”

And if you do get irritated, no problem; your doctor can write you a prescription for cigarettes. This is an ad from the Journal of the American Medical Association. After all, “Don’t smoke is advice hard for patients” to swallow. Reminds me of the recent survey of doctors that found the #1 reason doctors don’t prescribe heart-healthy diets today was their perception that patients fear being deprived of all the junk they’re eating. After all, Philip Morris reminded us, we want to keep our patients happy, and “to make a radical change in habit…may do harm.” You’re a doctor; you don’t want to harm your patients.

The tobacco industry gave medical journals big money to run ads like these. Not a problem, though, Phillip Morris claims come from “completely reliable sources” based on studies conducted by recognized authorities published in leading medical journals. Even kindly offering to send free packs of cigarettes to doctors so they can test them out themselves. So, join us at the next AMA convention.

What did the American Medical Association have to say for itself? Like most other medical journals, they accepted tobacco ads. They have yet to see an autopsy with a single lesion that had a Marlboro label on it. So, when mainstream medicine is saying that smoking may on balance be beneficial, when the American Medical Association is saying that, where could you turn back then if you just wanted the facts? What’s the new data advanced by science? 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 down to 10, but those who 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 were 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 in California in 1958 that showed that nonsmokers may have at least 90% less lung cancer. But this wasn’t the first.

When famed surgeon Michael DeBakey was asked why his studies published back in the 30s linking smoking and lung cancer were ignored, he had to remind people about what it was like back then. We were a smoking society; it was in the movies; medical meetings were one “heavy haze of smoke.”  It’s like the debates over cigarettes and lung cancer in Congress taking place in smoke-filled rooms. Makes me wonder what’s served at the Dietary Guidelines Committee meeting breakfast buffets to this day.

A famous statistician by the name of Ronald Fisher railed against what he called propaganda to convince the public that cigarette smoking was dangerous.

Fisher made invaluable contributions to the field of statistics, but his analysis of lung cancer and smoking was flawed by an unwillingness to examine the entire body of data available. His smokescreen may have been because he was a paid consultant to the tobacco industry, but also because he was himself a smoker. Part of his resistance to seeing the association may have been rooted in his own fondness for smoking, which makes me wonder about some of the foods nutrition researchers may be fond of to this day.

It always strikes me as ironic when vegetarian researchers come forward and list their diet as a potential conflict of interest, whereas not once in the 70,000 articles on meat in the medical literature have I ever seen a researcher disclose their non-vegetarian habits, because it’s normal. Just like smoking was normal.

So, back to our thought experiment. If you’re a smoker in the 50’s in the know, what do you do? With access to the science, you realize that the best available balance of evidence suggests that 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.

It took 25 years for the Surgeon General’s report to come out. It took more than 7,000 studies and the deaths of countless smokers before the first Surgeon General’s report against smoking was finally released in the 1960’s. You’d think maybe after the first 6,000 studies, maybe they could have given people a little heads up or something? It was a powerful industry. One wonders how many people are currently suffering needlessly from dietary diseases. Maybe we should have stopped smoking after the 700th study like this.

With so much money and personal habit at stake, there will always be dissenters. But given the seriousness of these diseases and the sum total of evidence, we shouldn’t wait to put preventive measures in place.

As a smoker in the 50s, on one hand, you had all of society, the government, and the medical profession itself telling you to smoke. And, on the other hand, the science (if you were lucky enough to know about studies like this).

Now, fast forward 55 years. There’s a new Adventist study out of California, the Adventist Health Study 2, warning America about the risks of something else they may be putting in their mouth. And it’s not just one study; according to the latest review, the total sum of evidence suggests that mortality from all causes put together, and many of our dreaded diseases—ischemic heart disease, and circulatory and cerebrovascular diseases like stroke—were significantly lower in those eating meat-free diets, in addition to less cancer and diabetes.

So, instead of going along with America’s smoking habits in the 50s, imagine you or someone you know going along with America’s eating habits today. What do you do? With access to the science, you realize that the best available balance of evidence suggests that your eating habits are probably not good for you. So, do you change your eating habits or do you wait? If you wait until your physician tells you, between bites, to change your diet, it may be too late. In fact, even after the Surgeon General’s report, the medical community still dragged their feet. The AMA actually went on record withholding endorsement of the Surgeon General’s report. Could that have been because they had just been handed ten million dollars from the tobacco industry?

We know why the AMA may have been sucking up to the tobacco industry, but why weren’t individual doctors speaking out? There were a few gallant souls ahead of their time writing in, as there are today, standing up against industries killing millions; but why not more? Maybe it’s because the majority of physicians themselves smoked cigarettes, just like the majority of physicians today eat foods that contribute to our epidemic of dietary disease. What was the AMA’s rallying cry back then? “Everything in moderation.” Sound familiar? “Extensive scientific studies have proved that smoking in moderation is OK.”

Today, the food industry uses the same tobacco industry tactics: supplying misinformation and twisting the science.

The same scientists-for-hire paid to downplay the risks of secondhand smoke and toxic chemicals are the same hired by the National Confectioners Association to downplay the risks of candy, and the same hired by the meat industry to downplay the risks of meat.

Consumption of animal products and processed foods cause at least 14 million deaths around the world each year. 14 million deaths. 14 million people dead every year. This is not a failure of individual willpower, says the Director-General of the World Health Organization. This is a failure of political will to take on big business, which is a formidable opposition. Few governments are willing to prioritize health over big business. As we learned from experience with the tobacco industry, a powerful corporation can sell the public just about anything.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the tobacco experience, wrote one district judge, it’s how powerful profits can be a motivator, even at the cost of millions of lives and unspeakable suffering.

It may have taken 25 years for the Surgeon General’s report to come out, and longer still for mainstream medicine to get on board, but now there are no longer ads encouraging people to “inhale to your heart’s content!” Now, there are ads from the CDC fighting back.

Food-wise, there was “meat…for health defense,” or “nourishing bacon,” or “doctors prescribe… meat”, or soda for that matter. “Trix are habit-forming, thank heavens!”

Now, just like there were those in the 30s, 40s, and 50s on the vanguard trying to save lives, today there are those turning ads about what you can do with pork butt to what the pork can do to your butt:  The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s “Meat is the new tobacco” campaign. As Dr. Barnard tried to get across in an editorial published in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, plant-based diets can now be considered the nutritional equivalent of quitting smoking.

How many more people have to die, though, before the CDC encourages people not to wait for open heart surgery to eat healthy, as well? How long’s that going to take, though?

Just like we don’t have to wait until our doctor stops smoking to quit ourselves, we don’t have to wait until our doctor takes a nutrition class or cleans up their own diet before choosing to eat healthier. It’s not your doctor’s fault, writes a group of prominent physicians. There is a severe deficiency of nutrition education at all levels of medical training. We were just never taught it.

We know a whole food plant-based diet has been proven to reverse our #1 killer, and protect against type 2 diabetes and cancer. So how has this knowledge affected medical education? It hasn’t. Despite the neglect of nutrition in medical education, the public considers physicians to be among the most trusted sources, but if doctors don’t know what they’re talking about, they could actually be contributing to diet-related diseases. To stem the surging tide of chronic illness in the United States, physicians need to become part of the solution. But we don’t have to wait for that to happen. No longer do patients have to be patient.

Doctors no longer hold a professional monopoly on health information. There’s been a democratization of knowledge, and so until the system changes, we have to take personal responsibility for our own health and for our family’s health. We can’t wait until society catches up with the science, because it’s a matter of life and death.

In 2015, Dr. Kim Allan Williams became President of the American College of Cardiology. He was asked why he follows his own advice to eat a plant-based diet. “I don’t mind dying,” Dr. Williams replied. “I just don’t want it to be my fault.”

Thank you.

If you missed last year’s talk, I have it on DVD. And the year before that and the year before that, as well as 25 other DVDs. All proceeds from the sale of all of my books, DVDs, and speaking engagements all go to charity, and speaking of which: mark your calendars, December 8th of this year, my new book is coming out: How Not to Die.

December 8th—I’m so excited about it. It’s not only a compilation of my life’s work, with all the science and thousands of citations putting it all together, but a practical guide. I go through my daily dozen checklist of all the things I try to fit in my own daily diet. How many greens we should eat, how many beans we should eat, how much sleep, how much exercise. I’ve been working on it for over a year, and can’t wait for everyone read it.

And in the meanwhile, all my work is available free, on NutritionFacts.org.

Thanks again.

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.

Recorded live at the University of Pittsburgh on July 11, 2015 thanks to NAVS and Aaron Wissner. Images thanks to Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Steven Jackson, Leon Keller, and DES Daughter via Flickr; 18percentgrey, Rostislav Sedláček, and Anna Liebiedieva via 123rf; Nmajik, Gajda-13, and Brian Arthur via Wikimedia Commons; and OpenPics and Bambo via Pixabay.

Doctor's Note

Every year I scour the world’s scholarly literature on clinical nutrition, pulling together what I find to be the most interesting, practical, and groundbreaking science on how to best feed ourselves and our families. I start with the thousands of papers published annually on nutrition (27,000 this year–a new record!) and, thanks to a crack team of volunteers (and now staff!), I’m able to whittle those down (to a mere 8,000 this year). They are then downloaded, categorized, read, analyzed, and churned into the few hundred short videos. This allows me to post new videos and articles every day, year-round, to NutritionFacts.org. This certainly makes the site unique. There’s no other science-based source for free daily updates on the latest discoveries in evidence-based nutrition. The problem is that the amount of information can be overwhelming.

Currently I have more than a thousand videos covering 1,931 nutrition topics. Where do you even begin? Many have expressed their appreciation for the breadth of material, but asked that I try to distill it into a coherent summary of how best to use diet to prevent and treat chronic disease. I took this feedback to heart and in 2012 developed Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, which explored the role diet may play in preventing, arresting, and even reversing our top 15 killers. Not only did it rise to become one of the Top 10 Most Popular Videos of 2012, it remains my single most viewed video to date, watched over a million times (NutritionFacts.org is now up to more than 1.5 million hits a month!).

In 2013 I developed the sequel, More Than an Apple a Day, in which I explored the role diet could play in treating some of our most common conditions. I presented it around the country and it ended up #1 on our Top 10 Most Popular Videos of 2013. Then in 2014 I premiered the sequel-sequel, From Table to Able, in which I explored the role diet could play in treating some of our most disabling diseases, landing #1 on our Top 10 Most Popular Videos of 2014.

Every year I wonder how I’m going to top the year before. Knowing how popular these live presentations can be and hearing all the stories from folks about what a powerful impact they can have on people’s lives, I put my all into this new 2015 one. I spent more time putting together this presentation than any other in my life.  It took me an entire month, and when you see it I think you’ll appreciate why.

This year, I’m honored to bring you Food as Medicine, in which I go through our most dreaded diseases–but that’s not even the best part! I’m really proud of what I put together for the ending. I spend the last 20 minutes or so (starting at 56:22) going through a thought experiment that I’m hoping everyone will find compelling. I think it may be my best presentation ever. You be the judge.

After you’ve watched the new presentation, make sure you’re subscribed to get my video updates daily, weekly, or monthly to stay on top of all the latest.

383 responses to “Food as Medicine: Preventing & Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet

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  1. I want to thank you for all the support and much needed information you provide. Almost daily the public is treated to a dose of the “echo chamber,” iconoclasts pushing the latest fad in eating, presenting it as “health.” It can be confusing, scary and downright dangerous, especially given that there are very few “on the ground” primary practitioners one can see for prevention and support in plant based, it is a problem. Just today I received from Dr. Mercola’s site, another article with his usual artful language built to terrify, on the perils of plant based eating-

    This Common Deficiency Can Trigger Psychiatric Disorders, Alzheimer’s, Heart Disease, and More

    Dr Mercola to the rescue, and of course he is now selling a special Vegan protein powder, and I am sure I will be receiving an email promoting that product by the end of the week.

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/08/03/vegetarian-vegan-nutrient-deficiencies.aspx?e_cid=20150803Z1_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20150803Z1&et_cid=DM81282&et_rid=1061839954




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        1. Well actually Dr Greger doesn’t advocate oil of any kind. You take a perfectly good food like olives and squeeze out all the oil and throw out the healthy meat. He prefers the whole food.




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          1. In the video I am referring to, those are the recommendations he made in the video ’40 Year Vegan Dies of a Heart Attack! Why? The Omega-3 and B12 Myth with Dr. Michael Greger’




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            1. Right. I see where you might think that from old videos he has made. But he doesn’t advocate oil. I went to one of his lectures and he was pretty clear about that.




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              1. Hello Veganrunner. I would like to introduce myself. I am Matthew, a botanist, and I am in the process of turning Vegan because I am milk intolerant and feel much better as a vegetarian. I also used to be a amateur weightlifter, and am trying to convert.. I also recently saw that video which is much older. In it, Dr. Greger lays out that deficiencies are killing Vegetarians and Vegans. He said in that video that Vegetarians are 6 times more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease that a regular diet. Why not go all the way and say that Vegetarian diets cause Alzheimer’s? Apparently that is not the research. Could Alzheimer’s somehow be uniquely a vegetarian disease? An iron or protein deficiency? He expressly states in another video that B12 could prevent brain shrinkage. At the end of that video he holds a handout which says “Common deficiencies among Vegans” and starts to read it, starting with Zinc. Zinc is a very common deficiency among meat eaters as well and can cause some mood and health disorders. A copper overload. Zinc deficiency is associated with milk intolerance and poor adsorption of Zinc. I wish I had that handout. Is that the list of vitamins we should be taking? I think B12 and D3 is perhaps a bare minimum. The late Drs. Hoffer and Linus Pauling believed good medicine could involve treating disease with nutrients, and they called this new field “Orthomolecular medicine.” Have you ever had a doctor ask you, “what is the vitamin associated with this disease?” Well, you could turn that into a practice. They did. I am sorry that this is an alternative kind of medicine many people have not heard of, Iodine for goiter was the start of it all. The idea is large doses should be safe as you correct an imbalance, because it is easier to handle an overload than a deficiency. The food additives, D3, Iodine, Niacin, and B12 are all based around an older diet with most people being deficient and the only winner being the corrupt corporations. All doctors should start there when they treat people. Perhaps having a doctor handle vitamins is too demeaning. Sometimes it’s really strange hearing that you have to take more than the vitamin bottle says is recommended or can take that much. In that video, he says that Vegans don’t live as long as regular people. I thought research suggests that Vegetarians and Vegans are more youthful longer and do indeed live longer. What is our deficiency? The recommendations page was really helpful to me. Selenium and Iron. Are there similarities between vitamins and food? Garlic is rich in Selenium and areas with soils rich in Selenium are associated with lower cancer. Garlic is a number one anti-cancer vegetable. I wish I could extend the olive branch from orthomolecular medicine to Whole Foods Plant Based nutrition because you are saying the almost exact same thing. Some vitamins can extend life, others are harmless.




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                1. Hi Mathew,

                  I love your posts and feel as though I already know you so no introductions needed.
                  Good for you on going vegan and giving up animal stuff. I have been enjoying this site since the onset and everyone moves through the process at their own pace. When I first started I was non-dairy and eating very little animal protein and Dr. Hemo said “why not just stop the bit you are eating?” Well I thought, why not!
                  If you look into what Dr. Greger is currently recommending you are right. Vitamin B12, maybe a bit of D depending on where you live. He (science) is really into the whole food concept for our nutrients.

                  You shouldn’t have any issues with continuing with your weight lifting. I am sure you are eating ridiculously healthy so no worries. It is more about how much you are lifting.

                  To good health,
                  Gale




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                  1. I have a member of my family who is the oldest living Olmypian from 1936 in Germany. He was with Jesse Owens on the ship. John has raised his vegetables for years. He eats some meat, venison and fresh salmon. Makes chicken soup often. Does not drink milk but has cheese.L Likes to have something sweet with dinner. Uses honey every day. Drinks coffee in morning. Eats bread Has not had a cold in 7 years.Takes no medicine,has not had a heart attack or cancer. Sits in the sun all year for part of a day. He has always done physical work and says to Keep Moving.He weighs the same as in College. Walks with a cane. Cut his fire wood until a few years ago.His mind i fine. Does have macular degeneration. JOHN WAS 102 YRS. OLD IN AUGUST. 2016. He is very strong minded and believes Doctors don’t know everything. He went to a physical education college where Coaches study. He was a Marine in WW11. I tell him he is from another planet Nobody here mentions grass fed beef natural chicken or fresh eggs and milk. I think these foods are better for us.
                    Lucille.




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                    1. lucille greenlee: People mention grass fed this, fresh eggs that all the time. The answer is that this is a science-based site. In order for us to believe that those foods are good for us, we need some evidence beyond an anecdote of someone in your family.
                      .
                      Before we get to the science, b00mer, a well respected poster on this site, once wrote the following words which helps put the issue into perspective:
                      .
                      “……A grass fed cow will consume even more food than a grain fed cow due to the lower caloric density. Their food may not be genetically modified, but they are still part of the food chain, their food still contains environmental pollutants, and they are still concentrating them in their tissues.
                      ……How people can think that the nutritional profile of an animal completely changes with its diet is beyond me. If I eat mostly kale, or mostly corn, sure an analysis of my tissues may lead to some detectable differences, but it’s still going to be human flesh. I still produce hormones, I still have dioxin, pcbs, flame retardants in my tissues, I still have saturated fat in my tissues, arachidonic acid, etc.”
                      .
                      For a smidgen of science on the issue of say grass fed beef, check out the following:
                      >>> Tom Goff notes that In Uruguay for example where all beef comes from grass fed animals, the more beef eaten, the higher the rates of cancer. http://nutritionfacts.org/2016/09/08/eat-protect-kidney-cancer/#comment-2884319823
                      >>> The difference in palmitic acid concentrations between grass fed and grain fed beef is not significant Table (SFA): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2846864/table/T1/
                      >>> Healthy Longevity pointed out some information from Plant Postive who noted that the nomadic Sinkiang in northern China who consumed diets rich in organic grass-fed animal foods experienced a 7 fold greater incidence of coronary artery disease than the Chinese living in Zhoushan Archipelago who consumed a diet much richer in plant based foods. These findings resemble even earlier observations from the 1920’s of the nomadic plainsmen in Dzungaria in northwest China and across the border in Kyrgyzstan who consumed enormous amounts of organic grass-fed animal foods and experienced severe vascular disease at young ages. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioadYLEho8M
                      >>>Darryl once wrote: “any of the constituents of animal foods of most concern are also present in organic, grass-fed, free-range, lovingly stroked animals too. Organic dairy milk will have high levels of leucine and microRNA-21 (http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1475-2891-12-103.pdf ), for example. Its intrinsic to milk’s biological purpose.
                      .
                      What it comes down to is that “grass fed”/natural/fresh might be marginally (and I mean marginally) better, but that doesn’t make it healthy! It’s marginally better in the sense that a Snickers candy bar with peanuts is marginally better than a Milky Way candy bar that doesn’t have peanuts. Neither is really healthy for you.
                      .
                      To learn more about the health consequences of beef and eggs, you can check out the following topic pages from NutritionFacts: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/beef/ and http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/eggs .
                      .
                      You mentioned a person that made it 102. I don’t get excited about people who play “Russian Roulette” and come out being the 1 in a billion person who wins. I do get excited about *populations* who routinely make it over 100. The traditional Okinawans are an example of such a population. You can learn more about their diet from the following NutritionFacts page: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-okinawa-diet-living-to-100/. Note that about 4% of their calories was animal products. That’s a very tiny amount.
                      .
                      Glad your family member did/(is doing?) so well. Hope this information puts things into perspective for you.




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                2. Hi Matthew, please clarity your message here. You are stating how great your WFPB diet is, yet making point after point (about the videos) why not to be vegan or vegetarian (I don’t personally ever use the “V” words). I’m a bit confused by your comment. Are you saying that Dr. Gregor made those point in older videos and has since changed his POV. Thank you for the clarification.




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                  1. Hello. I am happy to answer your question to the best of my ability. I am almost entirely Vegan now, as I have a milk allergy (I think 90 percent of people do) and truly do not like meat. I think it has no taste. Eating meat on some level makes me feel guilty. It took me a long time to go Vegan, like six months, I didn’t go cold turkey, but I might be Vegan for a longer part of my life now. I am sorry for my follow posters to not have gone cold turkey. I think being a vegetarian or vegan could add 10 years to your life, and as Dr. Greger points out, being a Vegetarian or Vegan could treat almost any disease. I am eager to eat more plants. The American diet is utterly deficient in Fiber. I love Dr. Greger, I used to want to be a pharmaceutical botanist, to scout new plants for drugs, but that does not seem to be my destiny. I really think Dr. Greger and staff want that to. To find the best bio-active compounds. What plants might have drugs in them? Is there a little bit of this precious drug in any plant? Whole foods are better for us than foods in part. However, Dr. Greger says that Vitamin D3 and B12 are the only requirements on a Vegan diet. If your diet is well planned this is probably true. I personally have not always been a Vegan and I feel I have a lot of deficiencies. You could see a Zinc deficiency in my nails. My triglycerides were too high from a Niacin deficiency. Dr. Linus Pauling said that “optimal” doses of Vitamin C could add 25 or more years to your life, and he lays out his case in “Live Longer, Feel Better.” These optimal doses might be three grams or for some people, 10 grams. He certainly talked a lot of people into liking vitamin C and maybe those people do live longer. Niacin in high doses added two years to heart patient’s life after a heart attack ten years after a one year intervention. Who knows how long it could add to someones life who takes it for longer. I am not arguing for meat consumption. I am arguing that we should figure out what about the plants makes them so healthy. Take Garlic. The number one most anti-cancerous vegetable. It has a lot of Selenium. It also has a lot of Sulfur. It might have Germanium in it. There probably are a lot of other compounds, not atoms in it that add to long life. Would taking Germanium, Sulfur, and Selenium pills have a similar benefit to Garlic? Possibly. Probably Garlic is still better. What is the missing vitamin that plants have that everyone is lacking? Is it fiber in part? How do we get the benefit of a Vegan diet to everyone? I read someone post that to be a vegan you can take more vitamins than B12 and D3. Particularly when deficiencies among vegans are common and not just B12, since deficiencies are in everyone. What is the max beneficial vitamin for longevity in plants. If turmeric is the best plant for longevity, what about it is so good? Will we ever know? The only vitamin that is that yellow color is riboflavin, vitamin B2. Does that increase lifespan? Is turmeric mimicing B2? It has some of it in there. What about Garlic is so healthy? Is it the Selenium? Is it an element from the soil? We could someday find out. Not the whole world can be on Vitamins but the parts of plants in some form is still good for you. You could design a better diet with this in mind.




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                    1. Mathew: re: “It took me a long time to go Vegan, like six months…I am
                      sorry for my follow posters to not have gone cold turkey.”
                      You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself! So many people take a lot longer than that!! You have made a change to improve your health that many people struggle with. I think that’s great and hope that you are proud of yourself.




                      1
                    2. No…suppliments don’t have the same effect as whole foods….the b12 suppliment is because generally meat is one of the only places you can get enough b12 ….the drawbacks to eating meat are numerous…one good source to find good info and a great explanation on the b12 issue and vitamin d is ” The China Study” read the book and more things will make sense and you will get better info to make a more informed choice that is right for you…




                      1
                    3. I read the book. It says Chinese eat less meat and are healthier than Americans. That was it. I personally do not think you can ever say the poorer are healthier than the rich because they are not. Jim Felder said the Chinese are getting sicker as they have 500 million heads of pig. I don’t really see how they have so much pork when that was a main crop of America. Before learning of vitamins to treat mental illness, I had a lot of deficiencies. My body is a store house of nutrition. I don’t personally think you can find the best way to get access to the most nutrition. To me, there has never been a way to get too much vitamins. Always, always a path to too little.




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                3. All our foods are deficient in vites and minerals today and now throw on GMO’s. No matter if you are Vegan, Keto or whatever this a common denominator. If you are into bodybuilding I promise you that Keto is the way to go. I know I come from the “Evil” side dispelling Greger but there are rules to any road. If you don’t abide by them you will not do yourself any good and can cause health problems. 24 years Keto, strength the same as in my 20’s have the body of a 30 year old at 60, 9% bodyyfat offseason (Natural Bodybuilding). No issues with my health. Testosterone over 1000. B/P 110/60, HDL and Triglycerides Double the good number. Cholesterol is high but risk is low because of the latter.




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                  1. Lowcarb: You seem unaware of the very successful vegan bodybuilders out there, some of whom are breaking world records after going vegan. Check out some of these stories:

                    There was that other guy who just did a world record in weight lifting. “Congratulations to Strongman Patrik Baboumian who yesterday took a ten metre walk carrying more than half a tonne on his shoulders, more than anyone has ever done before. After smashing the world record the Strongman let out a roar of ‘Vegan Power’…” For more info:
                    http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/vegan-strongman-patrik-babaoumain-breaks-world-record/
                    another article on the same guy:
                    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/09/08/vegan_strongman_shoulders_550_kg_a_record_perhaps_at_vegetarian_food_fest.html
                    —————–

                    (article from meatout mondays)
                    Vegan Bodybuilders Dominate Texas Competition

                    The Plant Built (PlantBuilt.com) team rolled into this year’s drug-free, steroid-free Naturally Fit Super Show competition in Austin, TX, and walked away with more trophies than even they could carry.

                    The Plant Built team of 15 vegan bodybuilders competed in seven divisions, taking first place in all but two. They also took several 2nd and 3rd place wins.

                    For More Info:
                    http://www.plantbuilt.com/

                    ———————
                    When Robert Cheeke started VeganBodybuilding.com in 2002, being the only vegan athlete he knew of, he may not have imagined that the website would quickly grow to have thousands of members. Robert says, “We’re discovering new vegan athletes all the time, from professional and elite levels… to weekend warriors and everyone in between.”

                    For More Info:
                    http://www.veganbodybuilding.com/

                    —————–
                    Here’s a story about a bodybuilder who doesn’t use any supplements. Just eats whole plant foods:
                    http://www.forksoverknives.com/vegan-bodybuilder-plant-based-diet/?mc_cid=b8b1865825&mc_eid=09aaf03269

                    —————–
                    Mr Universe – “Since going vegan, he has actually gained even more mass, now at 107 Kilos…”
                    http://www.thediscerningbrute.com/2015/07/14/mr-universe-goes-vegan/

                    —————–
                    Bite Size Vegan has a youtube channel
                    “In this video series, you’ll hear from various vegan athletes from all walks of life and athletic abilities speaking to such topics as vegan athletic performance, building muscle on a vegan diet, vegan endurance running, bodybuilding, body image, and more!”
                    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmIqdlomtuSv9FQJgdj3Bwg9Nh9MNjKg4

                    —————–
                    Here’s another site that I like:
                    http://www.greatveganathletes.com/

                    I found this story on the above site: “Pat Reeves has set a new world powerlifting record at the WDFPA World Single Lift Championships. The 66 year old lifter, who has been vegan for 46 years, lifted 94 kg to set a record for the under 50.5kg weight class while competing in France in June 2012. The lift was more than 1.85 times her bodyweight, which is exceptional for her division. Pat is now officially the oldest competing weightlifter in Europe.”

                    Hope everyone finds this helpful.

                    ————————-
                    Story of Mac Denzig, winner of season six of The Ultimate Fighter
                    http://www.ufc.com/news/Mac-Danzig-Diet-The-Truth-About-Vegan

                    That’s enough to get you started.




                    1
                  2. My psychiatrist (Japanese) told me to not eat any grain and drink lots of milk. I began eating a great deal of chicken. If this is what mental health doctors say, I glean that they are trying to cause suffering in others. I believe the paleo atkins diet is very unhealthy and brought from psychiatrist who use altered states of consciousness to tell people to not eat fortified foods. People with schizophrenia have superior genes. They are artists, scientists, poets, and philosophers. They almost never get cancer. They are shock resistant. They have youthful hair. Schizophrenia is often a milk allergy or a niacin deficiency or an omega three fatty acid deficiency. Several Nobel Prize winners have schizophrenia. High triglycerides are a sign of a niacin deficiency. Dr. Hoffer invented using vitamins to treat disease. He would put people on every vitamin, at the highest logical amounts of every vitamin (A,B3, B complex, C, D, E, and Omega threes). Perhaps he would put people on every mineral, Zinc, Selenium, Phosphorus, Sulfur, Potassium, as well since they are very good at treating diseases. I like to body build, but am in a rest phase. I love to lift with rice protein. Have you considered Vitamin C or Iron from hibiscus tea for body building?




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        2. Did you know canola oil is banned in China and much of Europe and made from the rapeseed. A big bribe was paid to the FDA to get it approved in this country . The FDA is largely controlled by big agriculture and is not about safety but profit in many cases.




          1
      1. DHA “Omega 3” is found in plants. If you are not adding free oils to your food, The ratios between the fatty acids in plants are about right on. However if you do add oils to your food or eat in restaurants, you may want to supplement to make sure that the minimum 4 to 1 omega 6, omega 3 ratio stays in range. On the other hand omega 3 thins the blood and can cause bleeding problems if too much is in the system. It is best to eat plants as nature intended with no added chemical oils to muck up the natural balance.

        B12 is missing from the diet because of modern sanitation. There has been research “The Framingham Offspring Study” which found that 40% of americans have suboptimal levels of B12. They also found no relationship between B12 levels and meat consumption, suggesting that B12 is not bioavailable from meat. Everyone should be taking a B12 supplement.

        D3 is produced by our bodies in response to exposure to sunlight. During the winter months in northern climates there is not enough sunlight to generate D3 production In which case a supplement may be necessary. Having said that the sun is the best place to get D3 and every effort should be made to take advantage of any sunny days you have.

        Dr Greger has more to say about D3, B12, and Nutrition in this video; http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/




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        1. DHA is not found in plants, only in some algae. Conversion rate from ALA to DHA is low (though ALA to EPA is enough) even with 1:1 Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio. Supplementing may be beneficial.




          0
            1. That’s fantastic! And I’m already doing it. I’m looking into making flax bread (with turmeric, it seems), but all recipes I’ve found aren’t WFPB. I’d like to add more flax in my diet, and it would be more pleasant in the form of bread. Can anyone tell, would just ground flax, water and soda work?




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              1. No, soda needs an acid to activate it. But I use flax in quick breads, which is just flour, flax, baking soda and water with salt and molasses, honey etc optional. Use any flour or combinations of flour you want.




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        2. Amazing all this stuff on B12. According to one source “Our need for this vitamin is so minute that it is measured in micrograms.
          One milligram of B12 will last over two years, healthy individuals carry a five year supply.
          Stomach putrefaction hampers and retards production of B12, flesh eaters are more apt to develop B12 deficiency unless observing food combining.”




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      2. I have blood work every two months and I have no vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Meanwhile, my omnivore mother is Vitamin D deficient. Read the article about “Cancer Concerns? What the Science Says” by Dakota Decker in the current issue of Vegan Health & Fitness (August 2015). It addresses the use of supplements including B12. Unlike your “probably” assumption, this article includes a half page of research references from respected medical journals.




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    1. I clicked on the link and what I found saddens me, So much misinformation. Mercola is all about selling his supplements and He will use any means to do it. The truly sad part is that he has deceived so many people. Just for the record people eating a plant based diet do not have Creatine, Carnosine, Animal-Based Omega-3, Heme-Iron, Taurine or Sulfur deficiencies.




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      1. Mercola’s marketing strategy:

        http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/February-2012/Dr-Joseph-Mercola-Visionary-or-Quack/index.php?cparticle=3&siarticle=2

        “This skill is no accident. Around the time Mercola began to sell
        products on his site, he also began to study marketing. “I read a lot of
        books, took a lot of courses, and started understanding the process of
        how to communicate information effectively.”

        Among the tricks he learned was how to grab readers’ attention—the
        notion, for example, that “80 percent of the effectiveness of an article
        is based on the headline.” He also learned the power of provocation. “I
        would find articles that supported one position and [say] why I
        disagreed. I didn’t hold back, and people seemed to like that. I didn’t
        realize at the time that was a useful marketing principle.”

        In the opinion of David Gorski, a doctor who runs a site similar to
        Barrett’s (ScienceBasedMedicine.org), the problem is that Mercola either
        vastly exaggerates preliminary research or cherry-picks studies that
        bolster his point of view. Gorski believes that Mercola also ignores
        data that prove him wrong or pushes far beyond what is scientifically
        sound, using scare tactics to make his point.

        Some of the articles on Mercola’s site, Barrett and others say, seem to
        be as much about selling the wide array of products offered there—from
        Melatonin Sleep Support Spray ($21.94 for three 0.85-ounce bottles) to
        Organic Sea Buckthorn Anti-Aging Serum ($22 for one ounce)—as about
        trying to inform. (Your tampon “may be a ticking time bomb,” he tells
        site visitors—but you can buy his “worry-free” organic cotton tampons
        for the discounted price of $7.99 for 16.) Steven Salzberg, a prominent
        biologist, professor, and researcher at the Johns Hopkins University
        School of Medicine, calls Mercola “the 21st-century equivalent of a
        snake-oil salesman.”




        1
      2. I totally agree. The “information” he provides on that page is ridiculous. It’s really sad that people read this stuff and are convinced that it’s healthier to keep eating animal products. Plus I cannot believe he advocates krill oil! Just one more way to destroy nature by triggering a chain reaction (less to no food for whales, etc.)




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        1. It just seems to me people will really grasp onto any and all information that allows them to basically continue on the path they are on with maybe only *minor* adjustments like “take this supplement” or “eat this oil”. And it really seems especially true when there is some kind of product that can be purchased, like if all we have to do is just buy this ONE thing and be absolved of all responsibility for our health/environment etc, the someone is going to make millions! The simple fact that if we know eating more plant foods is good, then eating all plant foods must be better just seems to totally elude people.




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    2. Dr. Mercola follows meat eating physician to present his case. I ignore these newsletters because the dioxin contaminated herbicide, 2,4-D (which is contaminated with 2,3,7,8 tetrachlorinated dibenzo p dioxin), is the most toxic form of dioxin is registered to be used with glyphosate (active ingredient in Roundup and this is genetically engineered into seeds of feed for livestock, and other animals. The health damaging results will be horrendous based on scientific studies around the world. The glyphopate modified organisms are modified with different herbicides to be herbicide resistant and thus sell more herbicides, making Dow Chemical and Monsanto more money. But the truth is hidden in trade secret sealed files from the public. If there was ever a time to avoid eating animal foods, it is now!!!!

      Glyphosate is not only an endocrine disruptor, a teratogen, a probable carcinogen, but it is said to be a genotoxin, as well. Ir has been identified as causing breast cancer, kidney and liver cancers, and more, lots more. It also is patented as an antibiotic. But scientists independent of Monsanto have discovered glyphosate kills all the beneficial bacteria in the gut of livestock and humans, thus leaving the bad bacteria to multiply and fill the void. That may be the reason so many people are taking probiotics, protein pump inhibitors (which themselves are genetically engineered with one the long term side effects of cancer.)

      There is lots of good information from good scientists turned whistleblowers online. And with regards to the bad bacteria in the gut, the hospitals full of people with SuperBugs, most studies cite: The Effect of Glyphosate on Potential Pathogens and Beneficial Members of Poultry Microbiota In Vitro, by Awad A. Shehata, Monika Kruger, et al, 2012.




      0
      1. BTW, At less than one tenth of a part per million per deciliter, glyphosate is toxic to the good bacteria in the gut of livestock, animals, and humans. Different amounts of glyphosate seem to contribute to different devastating health damage with numbers as low as .1 parts per million. Read the full study at: http://www.netwerkvlv.nl/downloads/2012-Krueger,%20M-glyphosate%20effects.pdf

        The genetically engineered gene can be passed on from the plant to animals and people by eating the plant, using animals as food, or the blood, bone (meal) for gardening and especially growing food. The GE seed often contains Glyphosate whether it is GM to be a pesticide in the gut on insects feeding on corn, potatoes, cotton. And the herbicides go into our bodies when we eat any part of that plant. Livestock are fed more than GM alfalfa, soy and corn. They are also fed other crops sprayed with glyphosate that are located at:

        http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-05-01/pdf/2013-10316.pdf

        Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 84 / Wednesday, May 1, 2013 / Rules and
        Regulations 25397

        https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/40/180.364




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    3. I can’t believe how many websites “report” like the National Enquirer, from a kernel of truth to conspiracy theories that are illogical and based in fear.




      0
    4. My question is not quite related. I just clicked on a random libk. Can we classify complex carbs and high glycemic foods as the same items as far as pros and cons? And what would be the proper high to low glycemic food ratio? Should we compare it to the 80-10-10 baseline?




      0
      1. Hey Jim, thanks for writing. Complex carbs are starchy, often fibrous, whereas high GI foods can be table sugar or honey, more often refined carbs. The former have the pros of slower digestion, less insulin response, and vitamin, mineral, and phytochemical content, whereas the latter are the opposite (although honey DOES have phytochemicals). There is no ‘proper’ ratio of the two, only guidelines that recommend 3 servings of whole grains per day. Many studies back up these recs though, indicating a significantly lower disease risk in persons who eat 3-a-day compared to those who eat less. My personal recommendation is to eat nearly all your starches from whole grains, tubers and legumes, and only eat refined carbs on special occasions.




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  2. I follow carefully a whole food plant based diet but still have dry mouth syndrome and pain in my legs. Both which appear at night when I am in bed but not during the day. This is very disturbing to me. I don’t know what else I can do with my diet. The leg pain has been present for about 5 years and the dry mouth syndrome for about 6 months. Both happen every night but not during the day. I am 75 years old. Maybe I have Sjogrens syndrome. Dr. Greger has no videos on dry mouth, pain in legs or sjogrens. I hope he will in the future!




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    1. I tend to have the same thing if I don’t drink enough water. I’ve found that drinking a couple of cups of water first thing in the morning, and then more water at noon or early afternoon helps considerably. I also fast a couple of times a year and get leg cramps when I break the fast too quickly.




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    2. Hopefully in the future we can tackle these topics in depth. However, I do have a bit of information. Since Sjogren’s syndrome often accompanies other immune system disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, perhaps a diet for RA could be helpful? Research suggests nutrient intake is altered in Sjögren’s syndrome. Omega-3 fats may play a role, helping to reduce dry eyes. Here is one case study on a women who reduced inflammation and began normal menses with an elimination diet. She eliminated gluten, beef, eggs, dairy products, nightshade vegetables, refined sugars, and citrus fruit for 4 months. Authors conclude “restoration of normal menses was caused by reduced inflammation in the ovarian tissue and supports the hypothesis that the gut immune system can influence autoimmune disease and inflammation.” I would consider avoiding cow’s milk, as there has been a link to milk sensitivity in those with the syndrome and maybe even gluten. Here is more information on diet and RA. Obviously I am not jumping to the conclusion you have this syndrome I am simply sharing some of my notes. I have no idea if there’s a connection and you should see your doctor for these important questions.

      Lastly, research suggests acupuncture can significantly help treat xerostomia (dry mouth). One clinical trial I know of had to stop the study because patients with xerostomia felt so much better after acupuncture that it would have been unethical to continue. Hope this helps a bit and you find some relief. Make sure you’re hydrated in the evening and throughout day :)

      Best,
      Joseph




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      1. Thanks so much, Joseph. I do already follow a diet pretty much like you describe. That is why I feel disappointed that I have these night time problems. I take 2T of ground flax every day for the Omega 3s. Maybe it is possible that some things can’t be cured with diet alone. But, doctors mostly offer only pills and I don’t want that either, so I just have to put up with my symptoms and hope one day they might go away. I do look forward to a video on these topics by Dr. Gregor. We love his work




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      2. Dear Dr Forrester,

        Thank you so much for taking the time to send me this great response. i will certainly check out all the websites that you suggest. I can’t believe how good I eat and I seem to be in good health, except my nights are a nightmare.

        All the best…Nancy Nowak




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    3. First congratulations on following a WFPD. You can be happy in the knowledge that you are taking steps to avoid many of the common chronic diseases. Second when you have symptoms it is best to be checked out by a knowledgeable health care professional. If the symptoms aren’t progressive and not causing too much difficulty I would offer some information for your consideration. The autoimmune disorders, of which there are over 100 ones recognized, include disorders like Sjogren’s. Dr. Greger has a large number of video’s on autoimmune disorders you might start with http://nutritionfacts.org/video/why-do-plant-based-diets-help-rheumatoid-arthritis/. As the video points out for Rheumatoid Arthritis it is possible that your condition would be alot worse on a more conventional diet. As you can see from the video’s autoimmune disorders can have a range of causes.
      Dr. McDougall who has years of experience with patients going on a starch centered plant based diet recommends a “Diet for the Desperate” for those with continuing symptoms as some plants can cause flares in some folks with an autoimmune disorder. You can read about this approach and the rationale in Dr. McDougall’s newsletter article in his December 2002 newsletter. The link is http://www.nealhendrickson.com/mcdougall/021200pudiet.htm.
      If you have kept up on NutritionFacts.org you should be taking steps to maintain adequate Vitamin B12 intake.. see Dr. Greger’s February 2012 series.
      Finally, everyone is a bit different and it helps to work with a knowledgeable health care professional to craft a program that works for you. The number of diagnostic tests have improved so it is easier to place patients with autoimmune disorders in the appropriate diagnostic category. Unfortunately there is a overlap between many of them. It is important to have an accurate diagnosis before rendering a treatment plan. I hope this information is helpful to you as work with your health care professionals to figure out your best program.
      Keep tuned to NutritionFacts.org as you never know when Dr. Greger will post a new video on autoimmune disorders.




      0
    4. A brewers yeast full of B vitamins , in particular the B1 component may help with this, it did for me, but everyone is different.




      0
      1. Hi Wanda…Could you tell me what exactly you are taking to help with these problems that I have. I would really appreciate it. Thank you!




        0
    5. There is still raw food diet and also fasting. Look into it. (eg. ‘fullyrawkristina’ on youtube, http://juicefast.com/fat-sick-and-nearly-dead/) Try to eliminate all stress factors and start improving your lifestyle (people, chemicals, polluted air, bad habits, work, hobies, sleep, …). If you feel overstressed help yourself with adaptogens (eg. schisandra, eleuthero, …). There are also other herbs which can be useful for all sorts of problems. Belive me, there IS a way to your health.




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    6. Hi Nancy, I am by no means a doctor nor a health specialist but like zm4jk0 replied I would also suggest shifting towards a more raw food diet (if you don’t already do so).
      I find it better for my skin and overall appearance and feeling when I eat more fresh, raw fruits and veggies during the day (think bananas, mangos, watermelon, figs, berries, etc.) and dinner is usually a cooked meal for me (potatoes, rice, quinoa with veggies and a big salad). I also love oats for breakfast (not cooked, just soaked overnight but my skin tends to react more). Also when I eat tomatoes I feel like my skin doesn’t like it too much either (plus I get acid reflux almost every time). So I hope this will help you, best of luck to you :)




      0
      1. I forgot: Water is also very important, I drink at least 2 liters (top 3 liters) a day. First thing I do in the morning is oil pulling (coconut oil) and then I drink about half a liter. Oh and I don’t know how active you are but try at least walking slowly whenever you’re not in pain.




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    7. Hello
      I also have leg pain and dry mouth at night. The problem with the dryness is that sometimes if I drink water on its own I get painful heart palpitations. This is especially so if I drink just before bed. I am trying to drink more during the day but find it difficult as usually I am not thirsty so forget to do so and then sometimes get the painful palpitations so it is a devil and the deep blue sea situation.




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    8. I find that Quinine (tonic water) helps leg pain to go away. I have neuropathy in my feet and this shows up the most at night when I go to bed (why is that?). I have been taking a combo of B2, B12 and R-alpha lipoic acid See http://www.NerveRenew.com for about a month now and that has helped tremendously. I have no monetary interest in this product.




      0
  3. I’ll buy Dr. Greger’s book when it comes out, or look at it seriously. As it claims to do what I’ve been asking for the past four years or so — assemble what he sees as the fine points of WFPB lifestyle for long-term vegans + health/ecology supporters. All the best.




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  4. Amazing!!! Hit it out of the park again Dr G! Standing ovation well deserved. Nutritionfacts will be responsible for saving millions of lives I have no doubt. Can they give a nobel prize for health? Dr G certainly deserves it…




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  5. I just want to let you know that I love you and what you are trying to do for us the public, thank you for your caring of us the public




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  6. Dr. Greger,

    I posted this on the Monsanto/glyphosate discussions a few weeks ago, but received no response due to the discussion to which I posted it being for a video posted 9 months ago. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-monsantos-roundup-pesticide-glyphosate-safe/
    So I thought I would copy and paste it here.

    You’ve probably read about the most recent lawsuit against Monsanto?
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsanto-sued-for-deliberate-falsification-to-conceal-that-glyphosate-roundup-is-harmful-to-humans-and-animals/5450548

    The suit claims that glyphosate IS toxic to humans, specifically to our gut flora.The suit seems to be based on information discussed in this article by
    Stephanie Seneff–perhaps the suit was even spurred by this article:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm

    The gist of the suit, and article, is that glyphosate robs us of critical gut
    bacteria and the nutrients they create. This is from the article:
    “Glyphosate suppresses 5-enolpyruvylshikimic acid-3-phosphate synthase (EPSP synthase), the rate-limiting
    step in the synthesis of the aromatic amino acids, tryptophan, tyrosine, and
    phenylalanine, in the shikimate pathway of bacteria, archaea and plants (de
    María et al., 1996). In plants, aromatic amino acids collectively represent up
    to 35% of the plant dry mass (Franz, 1997). This mode of action is unique to
    glyphosate among all emergent herbicides. Humans do not possess this pathway,
    and therefore we depend upon our ingested food and our gut microbes to provide
    these essential nutrients. Glyphosate, patented as an antimicrobial (Monsanto
    Technology LLC, 2010), has been shown to disrupt gut bacteria in animals,
    preferentially killing beneficial forms and causing an overgrowth of pathogens.”
    She cites an article showing celiac-like symptoms in fish exposed to glyphosate:
    “Thus, the evidence from this effect on fish suggests that glyphosate may interfere with
    the breakdown of complex proteins in the human stomach, leaving larger
    fragments of wheat in the human gut that will then trigger an autoimmune
    response, leading to the defects in the lining of the small intestine that are
    characteristic of these fish exposed to glyphosate and of celiac patients.“

    Your videos, as far as I know, do not discuss this possible impact of glyphosate. In fact, your glyphosate video indicates that
    glyphosate is not toxic to human tissue; it is the cocktail of chemicals in RoundUp that is toxic. Perhaps a video on this gut flora angle is warranted?

    Also, I discovered via the article in question that glyphosate is used pre-harvest to dessicate, i.e., dry out, soybeans, corn, all types of grains, sunflower seeds, etc. This apparently increases yields by reducing moisture that causes rot, fungus, and sprouting. Here is an article by Monsanto
    on it. See page 22: http://www.monsanto.com/products/documents/glyphosate-background-materials/agronomic%20benefits%20of%20glyphosate%20in%20europe.pdf

    See also:
    http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/28429.pdf
    file:///C:/Users/review/Downloads/GRDC_FS_Pre-harvest%20herbicide%20pdf.pdf

    Snopes.com doubts some of the claims made by Seneff in her article, specifically how often glyphosate is used to desiccate: http://www.snopes.com/food/tainted/roundupwheat.asp

    So glyphosate is sprayed on living, Roundup-ready crops to kill surrounding weeds. Because it is a systemic chemical, it is absorbed by the RoundUp-ready plants, and accumulates in their tissue. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphotech.pdf

    Then, once these Roundup-ready crops are done growing, the glyphosate is sprayed on the “dead” seeds to reduce moisture content. We’re getting a double dosing it seems. We eat these plants directly, or indirectly by way of processed oils, sugars (cane and corn syrup); processed foods in general; and by eating animal products from livestock and fish fed these grains and legumes.

    Is there a connection with the widespread use of glyphosate/RoundUp and the explosion of some illnesses within the last few decades? Monanto patented glyphosate in 1970, and began marketing RoundUp around 1974. Asthma, autism, celiac disease, gluten intolerance, etc., have soared. Stephanie Seneff believes so, as do others. There does seem to be some correlation with the use of glyphosate and recent illnesses.
    http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/13070
    http://people.csail.mit.edu/se

    In sum, perhaps you can do another video or blog post, and address the claims made in the suit and the Seneff article regarding glyphosate?

    Best,

    Neil




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    1. Hi Neil. Forgive me I must have overlooked your question I am still catching up with everyone’s questions/comments so thanks for your patience. I’ll look into this, ask Dr. Greger for some support, and reply soon! Thanks for your questions.




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    2. Thank you Neil for pointing out the elephant in the room. I try to eat as many fruits and veggies as I can….ORGANIC ones because of the serious health threat posed by GMO’s and pesticides. This website never (as far as I have seen) seems to address this. Many vegans eat conventional produce, squash, corn, soy, sugar etc and it makes me cringe. I am curious to hear the reply.




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      1. Thanks, Freya. I share your concern! I do, however, think that I remember Dr. Greger mentioning, perhaps in passing, in a video, that if one only has the option between eating “conventionally-grown”, non-organic veggies, and not eating veggies at all (or fewer veggies), then one should do the former. (Some people don’t have access to organics some or all of the time, or they cannot afford to pay for organics some or all of the time.) The reasoning being that, for the most part, the benefits of eating a non-organic plant outweighs the harm of the chemicals that one may consume when eating it, assuming one washes the plants before consuming. In addition, people who are looking to make their food dollars stretch, can follow the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean Fifteen” and “Dirty Dozen” lists. The Dirty Dozen are fruits and veggies that are the most sprayed and chemical-laden, even after washing. The Clean Fifteen are relatively safe due to a shell, skin that is peeled, or minimal spraying.

        http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean_fifteen_list.php

        http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php




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        1. Hi Neil, I’m very familiar with the dirty dozen/clean 15. I do buy some things on the clean 15 except for squash and papaya as they are going the GMO route. Many supermarkets carry organic for only 20% more and most people could afford this with small changes in their budget. (who needs a Latte every day from Starbucks? 393 channels? really?) We are conditioned that food should be cheap and balk and slightly more expensive, healthier options. That is sad IMO.

          A conventional potato has high levels of pesticides right in the middle of the potato…same with apples. Washing with soap and water just doesn’t cut it and you can’t wash away GMO’s which is a huge problem. There is a great video on youtube about GMO’s with many researchers/phds etc “Seeds of death-uncovering GMO’s lies” or something like that. A must see because you need to hear the opinions of many who research this and not just a vegan doctor.




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          1. Interesting about the papaya and squash/zucchini having GMO varieties. I did not know that. I’ll check out that video you mentioned. Also, can you provide cites to the studies that show that potatoes and apples contain high levels of pesticides in the center of them? I’m interested in reading that. Thanks!

            Re: Cost of Organics
            I am going by Consumer Reports, which states that organics cost, according to their study, 47% more, on average. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/03/cost-of-organic-food/index.htm

            You probably know most of what I am about to write, but one must also consider the fact that many urban families live in “food deserts” where there may not even be a supermarket in the vicinity, much less one that carries organics. In addition, there may be no market for organics due to the higher cost, and consumers not being educated/informed on the issue. I know, coming from Southeastern Ohio–a very rural, impoverished area–that it is hard to find organics. There just is not a market for it. And when supermarkets throw away 10% or more of produce normally (http://www.nrdc.org/food/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf), they certainly don’t want to stock higher-priced organic produce, and throw it in the dumpster. On a side note, maybe one day the US will pass a law like this one passed in France, making it ILLEGAL for supermarkets to dump food in the trash: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/05/22/france-is-making-it-illegal-for-supermarkets-to-throw-away-edible-food/

            And you are right. People should make cuts elsewhere, and try to buy organic. New iPhone every year!!?? Drinking sodas instead of tap water? What is more important than the fuel that keeps our minds and bodies healthy? Nothing. But, that said, for parents with a couple kids, living on minimum wage, paying 50% more for organics adds up. In addition, these people are rarely informed, or have rarely informed themselves, as to what organic means. So they don’t understand why they should pay more for what they see as “the same thing.” In addition, people are conditioned to think that every piece of fruit and veggie must be blemish-free, which is harder to achieve with organics.

            Also, the choice is made “easy” for consumers because our tax dollars are subsidizing corn, soy, wheat, and dairy, which makes junk food, and animal products (fed on corn and soy) ridiculously cheap in comparison to “real” food. Not only do these conventional farmers get subsidies for certain crops, they do not have to file paperwork and pay fees for certification or inspections to do so. Farmers that want the organic designation, however, must file paperwork and pay a myriad of fees, all of which add to the costs of organics. http://www.ccof.org/certification/fees




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              1. Admiration on making all those sacrifices to eat healthy. Very strong-willed.

                I saw that web article re potato pesticides, but it mentions nothing about the pesticides being within the potato. I knew that the skin was toxic, as stated in the article: “The chemical that is found on 76% of all conventional potatoes is chlorpropham, an herbicide that is used to stop the growth of weeds and to inhibit potato sprouting.” Peeling, I thought, eliminated that issue. There are no links at the end that i could find. Only hyperlinks within the article. Perhaps some of these chemicals are systemic?




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            1. If everyone would just grow some of their own food we could all make a difference! If you aren’t into gardening or have no yard, some salad ingredients in pots or even a jar of sprouts will help keep the money out of Monsanto pockets and force industry to pay attention that the sheeple have begun to wake the flock up!




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    3. It makes sense what she says. Unfortunately she is a Weston Pricer which reduces her credibility to me. It would be nice to test some of these non-GMO grains and seeds to see if there is glyphosate.




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    4. This makes a lot of sense in light of all the recent “gluten sensitivity” issues seeming to be so widespread… after a long historical association with gluten grains and no issues besides the minority of those with celiac.




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  7. I bot this as well as volume 26 last week, enjoyed them thoroughly even if I am not 100% vegan as of yet. This may be a bit off topic but when we look at reducing hypertension, I know that we look to decrease sodium and increase potassium but why was the rice diet so effective in reducing BP levels? Rice doesn’t have very high potassium levels……..is the decrease in sodium more relevant than the increase in potassium? Thx.




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    1. Dr. Greger has a video showing that even if your blood pressure is normal, salt is not safe. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/salt-ok-if-blood-pressure-is-ok/ That said, the link between salt and high blood pressure is poor, and the total elimination of Iodine from many American diets (from Iodized table salt) is very troubling. Low levels of Calcium and Magnesium may be at play in hypertension. The rice diet was just rice and fruit. Dr. Greger said of all dietary groups, only vegans meet targets for blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels, A vegan diet can very quickly lower blood pressure. There is controversy over all the fortifications (D3 in milk, Niacin in grains, B12 in cereal, Iodine in salt) with many Americans probably deficient in these key nutrients. MSM, found in fresh garlic and vegetables, can very quickly lower blood pressure. Are you interested in going on the rice diet? The Sodium-Potassium (nerve responses) pathway may be blocked and modulated by Iodine! However, this pathway is not clearly the signal system involved in blood pressure.




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      1. Yeah, that video tells me nothing of how/why NaCl is or could be a problem. I posted more extensively over there about my “take” on it. I haven’t tried to measure my intake, but I’m not shy with the shaker and sweat ran into my eyes a few minutes ago…didn’t feel a thing-I’m pretty sure that’s a sign that i’m not over doing it.




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    2. Good question. Maybe it was partially due to the lack other foods in the diet that promote high blood pressure? I suggest reading into Kempner’s research and the articles Dr. Greger cites (click on “sources cited”) for more information on putative mechanisms.




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    3. If I remember correctly, the rice diet involves washing the rice before cooking in order to remove any salt residue that may be on the rice when you buy it.




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  8. Dr. Greger any chance you can upload the power point file you were flicking through on this talk? it would be awesome to read some of those passages in more detail.




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    1. It’s an old keynote presentation. What else did you want from the passages that require more detail? I am happy to dig-up some studies or resources. You may already know this, but the transcripts from the videos are always available as well as the citation used (just click on “sources cited”). His new book will give much detail also, so stay tuned for the release in December!




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  9. Thank you so much for uploading this! I wonder why there’s still people doubting that a plant-based diet is better for you than an omnivourus diet. I mean.. the proof is there! You can look at it by yourself! :D

    Guys like “Authority Nutrition” are just idiots who don’t know anything about health at all. But yet he is the most quoted person when it comes to topics like veganism and so on. Promoting high-fat diets is just nonsense.




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  10. Dr. Gregor, this seems like an appropriate time to say thank you. This site is my number 1 site for nutritional advise. You can’t trust the Government to give sound nutritional advise but you can trust this site and YOU. Thank you so much!




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  11. Another great video in your continuing line of yearly summary talks! And thanks for providing us with weekly practical interpretations of all the research papers you’ve read. There’s a jungle of information on the Internet these days so it’s nice to see an objective viewpoint of all the research.




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  12. I just sent the msg below out to more than 30+ people… Thx to Dr. Greger!

    As some of you may know, my father contracted intestinal cancer 2x
    [1977 and 18 yrs later] during his 80+ yrs. As has happened so many
    significant times in my life, I happened to receive some guidance years
    ago on what I might do to minimize risk. As I browsed a bookstore in the
    late 70’s, the Univ of Alabama Medical School bookstore, I found a book
    with many thousands of references titled: Diet and Disease, authored by
    ?Emanuel Cheraskin?. It’s now out of print, but in that book I found the scientific basic of a whole plant food based diet. I gave up meat and chemicals, as best I could at the time.

    Now, at NutritionFacts.org
    led by Dr. Michael Greger, I believe I have found the SINGLE BEST
    RESOURCE FOR SCIENTIFIC FACT-BASED INFORMATION about diet/nutrition and
    disease. Greger does a 1+hr video annually summarizing the research on
    diet and disease, plus delivers an almost daily summary of current
    research to your inbox, should you choose to sign up for his free
    newsletter.

    This year’s video is on how to mitigate the risk of
    our country’s most deadly diseases. It is 70+ minutes long. I submit for
    your consideration this could the single most important time investment
    you can ever make for your own health and wellness. He shows the
    references and text selections in his video as he delivers an
    entertaining and engaging presentation. I watched it in one sitting, but
    you may want to do it in smaller segments.

    I strongly recommend this for your viewing, and your longevity and better health. With lovingkindness and hope for a Better Future for us individually and collectively,
    Irv




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    1. Thanks for sharing it! Our team is always thrilled to hear when these videos are being shared. The more people we can reach the better! Let me know if anyone comes back with any questions we’ll try our best to tackle.




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      1. Yes this video is such a treasure trove that I have shared it with over a 100 people. People need to know this stuff. Thank you for all that you do.




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    2. I share them all the time but everyone simply ignores them completely! So discouraging and frustrating, makes me want to scream! I wish I could collect the awareness that is evident here and dole it out to the ones who desperately need it! It would be helpful to know just what the AHA moment was for you all to realize (as I did) that a WFPB diet is the only way to go! Sadly for me, the ultimate motivation was disease, but so many others who could benefit choose to remain oblivious!




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  13. Hi Dr. Greger, Thanks for your great work. You’ve spent a lot of time discussing the presence of naturally-occurring estrogen in meat and dairy. How does that estrogen compare with the phyto-estrogens found in soy and flax? Is there more or less estrogen in meat and dairy? Is it more potent or less potent in meat and dairy? Soy gets criticized for having phytoestrogen content, but it seems like meat and dairy might be just as guilty. Thanks.




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    1. imwonderingsomething: Dr. Greger has some videos which address the topic of phytoestrogens, including the relationship to flax and soy. My understanding of the gist of the information is that phytoestrogens are just that: phyto/plant chemicals, not real estrogens like you get from meat and dairy. And the result of these chemicals that are sort of like estrogens (the plant based version), but not really estrogens (like you find in meat and dairy) is that the plant-based versions are protective against diseases, including breast cancer. On the other hand, meat and dairy are associated with increased risks of various cancers.

      So, the bottom line is that comparing amounts of phytoestrogens in plants to real/mammalian estrogens in meat and dairy is not relevant. These substances which have a similar-sounding name and are somewhat similar in make-up, are not actually the same and have different effects on the human body.

      I haven’t checked the following list, but it might include some of the videos I am talking about. I did a search on the term “phytoestrogen”. You might also want to see the videos that come up when you do a search on “flax” and “soy”. I think all of that information backs up what I am saying in this post.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/?s=phytoestrogen




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      1. I should add that having too much say soy can potentially be a problem. But too much is generally waaaay more than the vast majority of people are going to eat. (Dr. Greger has videos on this topic as well.)




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    2. To second Thea…

      Here is a great explanation about phytoestrogens. Whole soy foods are a-okay! Check out our information on soy. I wrote a post about soy Should I stay away from soy if I have breast cancer? Phytoestrogens are extremely weak and although they bind to estrogen receptors in the body it’s actually a good thing because they can block the ability of stronger forms of estrogen (estradiol) from attaching. Dr. Barnard likes to gives the analogy regarding soy that phytoestrogens are like small Cessna airplanes that can occupy the jetway (think of an estrogen receptor) blocking larger planes (think estrogen) from attaching. Once the small plane has attached to the jetway there is no room for the large large jumbo jet (estradiol – female sex hormone) to attach. Perhaps overly simplified but I still like the analogy.




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      1. What about if the soy is not organic? On balance does it still add value? One has heard otherwise very level headed supporters of WFPB food like John Robbins say that non organic soy is not worth having and I wondered




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        1. Shoot for organic soy or non-gmo soy. In my experience it’s hard to find one that is not organic these days. Tofu, tempeh, soymilk, etc., all major brands seem to carry organic options.




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  14. Dr Greger, Thank you for a highly informative, data backed presentation that was entertaining and easy to follow. Once again, stellar job in making us more aware of the advantages and disadvantages of certain food types and their impact on diseases. I cannot agree more that it is our lifestyle, what we choose to eat, how much activity we choose to partake in and how much stress we take on that dictates our health. I am not sure why folks grumble when they hear this message, because it is an immense relief to me that my health is in my hands, in the choices I make every day. This means I may have more power than I think to create my own health, and to make sure I stay out of hospitals not just today but as I age as well. Isn’t that empowering? Thanks again Dr Greger. More power to you.




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    1. Extremely empowering! Thanks for the kind message. I know he appreciates the feedback, as well as the entire NF team :-)




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  15. Wonderful presentation. While watching, I was thinking of the people I know who would be shocked to see how misled we were by the tobacco industry. The comparison of marketing tactics by the tobacco industry and the meat and dairy industry is a highly effective eye-opener. It is brave presentations such as this that ignite the critical thinking required to unlearn what we have been told and open up to the true science. Thanks so much Dr. Greger. Looking forward to seeing you speak in November at the Food=Medicine conference in Atlanta!




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  16. How common is it for middle aged persons who have been on a whole plant diet for a few years to still have total cholesterol over 150? Should such a person even be concerned about their cholesterol level if they’ve made the necessary dietary changes?




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    1. I have been on a WFPB diet for a long time and have cholesterol tests that come in over 150 and even over 200. I view high cholesterol as a symptom of some underlying condition that I need to figure out, understand and fix. My current thinking is that stress and toxin loads are prime suspects and I’ve found Thomas Levy’s book “Stop America’s #1 Killer” to be helpful. I got a 20% drop in cholesterol shortly after trying one suggestion from that book.




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      1. How long have you actually been on WFP? I recall John McDougall’s interview with the heroic Nathan Pritikin (what an amazing story of his life!) and he seemed to suggest that we have stores of bad cholesterol and over time they diminish. Is that true? If so, how long until one hits the endpoint? How long to wait until one is concerned.




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        1. I’ve been at least 99% WFPB for over 9 years and almost perfect for 2-3 years. My cholesterol levels have fluctuated by 40 points during the past few years and so it is not a “diminish over time” situation. Something else is going on. I have become increasingly concerned over the last few years and so I try various things, testing my cholesterol before and after. I reached the point where I have tested all the foods mentioned on nutritionfacts.org as lowering cholesterol and concluded that adjusting my diet has reached diminishing returns. I decided I need to keep the WFPB and add another strategy. Initial experiments with that book I mentioned have produced positive results, including macro symptoms in how I feel, so I will continue to pursue this new angle.

          The book I mentioned says two things (at least) that pertain to your questions. One is that blood cholesterol levels under 200 tend to pull cholesterol out of the blood vessel walls. That would be a good thing. I have not checked his source on that claim. The second is that the body produces cholesterol for use as an antioxidant when antioxidant levels are not adequate. I think the author of that book would agree with my statement that high cholesterol levels are a symptom of low antioxidant intake or high antioxidant burn rate (from toxins and other stresses) or both.




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          1. Holy cow. It shouldn’t have to be this hard. Let’s us know what you learn here. Thanks. (I’m personally not concerned that my cholesterol last checked was 170 total. That’s down from 245 2-3 years ago. That’s massive progress so I figure that I simply need to allow my body time to adjust. I recognize that while my weight is normal, I’m on the very edge of overweight, so I’ll continue searching in a leisurely way to figure out how to shed the stubborn 15-20 pounds (which would bring me to the middle point of my normal BMI level). That’s my main challenge. Beyond this, my diet is already better than I figure 99% of Americans, plus I exercise rigorously. I tell myself that I’m doing all that I can do so I simply need to let nature work out the rest. (I also seek to resolve stress issues. This could be a problem.)




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          2. The fact that some people can eat WFPB and not get low cholesterol levels tells me that WFPB is not the whole story. There is at least one other piece. Some researcher who can integrate the various pieces can create a grand unified theory of cardiovascular health (to steal a phrase from particle physics) and bask in eternal fame and glory. In his interviews on McDougall’s site, Dr. Essylstyn emphasises the need for high antioxidant intake (to neutralize toxins produced by infections) which he does with 6 fist-sized servings of green vegetables per day. And if you read Levy’s book and pay attention to his list of sources of toxins, you will realize that a WFPB diet reduces some of that toxin load considerably. So we have two groups of people examining parts of an elephant with magnifying glasses. Some day, someone will get a picture of the whole elephant.




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    2. Perhaps. It depends on many factors, but if cholesterol is high it does present a concern. For those who have tried everything and cholesterol is still too high check out my comment based on Dr. Greger’s advice. Let me know if anything helps?




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    3. Many people are deficient in iodine. It can affect the thyroid and cause cholesterol to go up. iodineresearch.com has some information




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      1. Yes! Thank you. I would also ask if you aren’t getting enough Niacin. It can raise your HDL 25 percent, lower your LDL 25 percent, and reduce your Triglycerides by half. Niacin is stripped from grain and, baring the burning or flush sensation, you can take as much as you want safely until you get nausea. (Three grams a day or more).




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  17. Did he say that some cereals (grains?) can induce arthritic effects similar to eating meat? At about 25:00.

    What if someone does a whole plant diet yet still have joint pain?

    Is there a way to reverse join damage from this disease?




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    1. Hi Tobias. Indeed he did say that about cereals. I all but eliminated psoriatic arthritis by eliminating gluten. But,,, when I moved to a whole food plant based diet the gluten sensitivity declined to the point that I am better now than when I was gluten free. . Turns out this is common. However not everyone is so lucky. I would suggest that if there is a persistent food allergy or sensitivity that the wfpbd would at the very least improve things. So yeah, we still gotta look at everything.




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    2. The first step is to figure out which foods induce the joint pain and stop eating them. This is possible to do, but not easy. Take a look at McDougall’s elimination diet.




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    3. Someone else caught this, too, and I replied above. Other foods that may cause pain or a flare for those with RA include dairy, citrus, soy, wheat, gluten, potatoes, and nightshade veggies. So yes some grains may induce an inflammatory response, but from clinical experience I can tell you dairy is the #1 culprit. Whole grains are still healthful and recommended.




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  18. Dr. G, Thanks so much for such a succinct yet comprehensive overview of the major nutrition-based diseases and prevention strategies. I’m sure it took a lot of work to condense your year’s worth of videos/blogs and that effort shows. (My only critique is that I think you could have reduced the amount of time spent demonstrating the parallels between the corporate smoking propaganda and the current meat/dairy/egg industries’ deceptions; the many tobacco ads were a bit of overkill–pun intended). I’ll be forwarding your presentation far and wide and hoping my friends/family members will be motivated to improve their diets. You consistently inspire ME to improve mine!




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  19. This video was outstanding! At one point, Dr. Greger mentioned “some cereals are inflammatory.” Does anyone know which ones? I am wondering especially about oatmeal….that’s the only one I eat……and am having arthritis flare up and cannot figure out why because I am WFPB. Thank you, Dr. Greger, for all you do.




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    1. Oatmeal may help prevent heart and fatty liver disease. I think oatmeal is superb! I do see it here in the transcripts, but I don’t think it means cereals are necessarily inflammatory. Whole grains offer invaluable nutrition!

      From the transcript, “And indeed, those with rheumatoid arthritis have striking elevations in antibodies to foods like fish, pork, egg whites, dairy proteins, and even some cereals. But it could also possibly be a pro-inflammatory property of meat fats or free radicals from the iron accumulating in the joints or other mechanisms, but case reports and country-by-country comparisons can only be used to raise questions.”




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  20. Great one doc, I got a little confused on als being initiated by some form of food source for fish, ie algae.. as a vegan I supplement my dha and epa with algae based omega 3.. Any taughts?




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    1. Do you think D3 supplementation would help people with ALS?

      “Dietary vitamin D3 supplementation at 10× the adequate intake improves functional capacity in the G93A transgenic mouse model of ALS, a pilot study.”

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22591278

      “Vitamin D as a potential therapy in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.”

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24428861

      The Guam bat hunters must have only gone out at night, and maybe only rarely saw the sun.

      I am grateful to hear that if I don’t eat seafood I might be immune to this disorder. Is that the conclusion?

      Nutritionist Gonzales addresses the safety of algal EPA/DHA in his blog.

      http://nutritionfacts.org/rdquestions/do-algae-based-omega-3-supplements-contain-beta-n-methylamino-l-alanine-bmaa-that-has-been-found-in-blue-green-algae/




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  21. Dr. Greger: In the video you mention that meat contains N-nitrosoamines. The example you give, I think, is hotdogs. Purely from a chemistry point of view, N-nitrosoamines form in the tummy when people eat meat preserved with sodium or potassium nitrite. The nitrite reacts with hydrochloric acid in the tummy to give nitrous acid, which breaks down to the nitrosyl cation, which reacts with amine groups in the amino acid molecules and other molecules in meat to give N-nitrosamines. Is there evidence that N-nitrosoamines can form without the involvement of nitrites and hydrochloric acid? In practical terms, can fresh meat contain N-nitrosoamines? Thank you.




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    1. Hey George. Are you referring to this video? I am pretty sure Dr. Greger explains this in detail. From his transcript “So nitrosamines preform in the meat before it even make it into our mouths. It’s not so much that we’re eating the nitrites added to the meat, but the nitrosamines formed in the meat when they added the nitrites in the first place. Nitrites in the absence of plants turn into carcinogenic nitrosamines.”




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      1. Hi Joseph: Thank you for responding to my message. Yeah, that was my question: how do nitrosamines form in meat before the meat is eaten? What’s the mechanism? Some sort of an oxidation? in which case, are nitrites necessary for the nitrosoamine formation? If neither nitrites nor a strong acid is required for nitrosoamine formation, then it;s logical to surmise that even fresh (meaning unprocessed) meat could contain nitrosoamines.




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  22. As a Cancer researcher, I just wanted to thank the doctor for his lectures, his information and all of his efforts for all of us !




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  23. Yay! Happy Monday! These year in review videos are the best. A true public good. When people catch on they should easily surpass a million views on YouTube.




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    1. Dr. Greger mentions epigenetics in a few videos. Let me know what specific studies you’ve found and if you have more specific questions? It’s a large area full of fascinating findings. To think what my grandfather and grandmother ate could make a difference in MY genes is remarkable. It seems like if anyone plans to have children then what they eat does matter for their offspring, and their offering’s offspring. Folks cannot simply (and irresponsibly) say “It’s my choice I’ll eat what I want and die how I want.” It’s more like if you have kids, please do not set them up for failure later in life. Forgive my rant that is just what I think about when I hear the word epigenetics. Happy to discuss more!




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  24. Thanks for sharing the scientific information. People see so many conflicting articles on this subject that it’s hard to determine what’s fact and what’s “paid for fiction”!




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    1. Agreed! Huge thanks for Katie, Tommasina, and the rest of our amazing staff who work tirelessly behind the scenes assuring all of this free information is formatted and working properly. I am so thankful to be part of this great team!




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  25. My mother was a vegetarian since birth (for ethical reasons ) as are her siblings but all of them are diabetic with my mother and her brother being insulin defendant. My mother also happens to be a cancer survivor – so while she dodged death, she did not dodge that bullet. She has been practicing yoga for 15 years and my uncle walked 6 miles daily – yet both are insulin dependant. My mother is a little overweight (BMI of 26.5) but by no means obese. She also had to be operated for cataract before her 60th birthday. I do not advocate eating meat based on these examples but would like to caution that the notion that vegetarianism gives these big benefits has at least not played out in our family. A couple of years back my mother read Dr. Barnard’s book and became vegan. Her insulin levels halved and her A1C improved ftom 8.1 to 6.2 on the lower dose. She has been unable to avoid insulin altogether though even after 2 years of going vegan. So I feel that to get true benefit one must become vegan – half measures in terms of just bring vegetarian do not help. If they did then in India where 30% of population is vegetarian and even most of those that eat meat do not necessarily eat it daily but consider it as a rare treat would not have the diabetic that it does.

    So again veganism is the way to go.




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    1. Well stated, gp65! I worked with Dr. Barnard on some of his diabetes studies and saw firsthand how dramatically our study participants improved their blood sugars and A1c. The diet was strictly plant-based and low in fat while participants were encouraged to focus on foods lower in the glycemic index. For others who may not be familiar with Dr. Barnard’s research, study participants received either a low-fat vegan diet or a typical diet for diabetes and found significant changes in weight loss and insulin levels. Dr. Greger presents the study in this video. Our study at GEICO showed significant findings as well. Here is a link to the study. A multicenter randomized controlled trial of a plant-based nutrition program to reduce body weight and cardiovascular risk in the corporate setting: the GEICO study. And featured in this video on workplace interventions.

      Thanks for your kind note and important reminder about “vegetarian” diets,

      Joseph




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    2. On the exercise issue it’s clear that moderate exercise is helpful in preventing the disease, but exercise alone cannot prevent it with certainty. There are numerous examples among athletes, but here’s a recent one from the US: http://www.azcardinals.com/news-and-events/article-2/Patrick-Peterson-Says-Hes-Diabetes-Free/ddecc2dd-5d57-42ed-9c2d-92ddbee5360e

      Is your family from India, by any chance? If so, it may help to mention that Asians, and south Asians in particular, are known for higher rates of diabetes at lower BMIs when compared with Europeans and white or black Americans. In India the cutoffs for overweight and obesity are presently defined at 23 and 27, respectively, so by those standards your mother would be more than a little overweight and nearly obese: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/ethnic-differences-in-bmi-and-disease-risk/




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    3. I totally agree. Although I tended to be “mostly vegetarian” since I can remember (never could stomach meat and dairy, but seafood, eggs and poultry were occasionally consumed) I still accumulated a lot of health issues including diabetes, that switching to a whole foods vegan diet eliminated. We may have all evolved different tolerances depending on our ancestry, but it is blatantly obvious from all evidence that we are primarily herbivores, biologically. We may have the survival ability to utilize other foods in desperate times, but certainly do not get the benefits of food that grows in the earth!




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  26. One more question for Dr. Greger
    I just saw this video by another Doctor http://youtu.be/da1vvigy5tQ who cites ‘scientific evidence’ to call diabetes as a disease of carb toxicity just as Dr. Greger has called it a disease of lipotoxicity. My instinct tells me Dr. Greger is right. But still, I need to understand the flaw in her logic. After all if I want to convince those I love to give up foods they love, I should be able to point out the flaws in studies they quote.

    Thanks for the help,




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      1. Thanks for replying but I do not think that her argument is the same one the paleo enthusiasts make. She is coming at it from the glycemic index end and saying that glycemic index of carbs is high unlike fats and thus carbs promote insulin secretion which in turn leads to weight gain and diabetes.




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        1. That is what NFc was saying, isn’t it? Glycemic index is a measure of how rapidly blood sugar rises in response to a given carbohydrate-containing food. Dietary fat and protein aren’t released into the bloodstream as sugar, so things like beef don’t really even have a GI. You say she thinks high-GI foods lead to insulin secretion lead to weight gain and diabetes, and identifies carbs as high-GI foods, so you agree that she is saying that “carbs increase insulin”, which is a pretty tired line of low-carbers.

          I find no compelling reason to watch the video at present, but if she is indeed pursuing this line of argumentation as you describe, then there are some very standard criticisms which likely apply because this sort of argument has been trotted out before. If, as you claim, she thinks that insulin is so bad, why does she use the glycemic index, which attends to blood sugar response and not insulin? Why doesn’t she use something like the insulin index, the sort of measure where beef steak has a higher index than white pasta?

          This line of criticism was focal in the video that NFc linked, right?




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          1. Thanks for the detailed response. I do not necessarily believe what she says and for the last 3 months I have moved to a mostly vegan whe food based diet. Already my BP is below 110/70 and am weighting in anticipation to see my A1C and cholesterol numbers in September.

            Your post though is significantly different from the other post in that you have actually addressed the flaw in logic (what I was looking for) by
            A) sharing that glycemic index is the wrong metric to look at for fats and proteins

            B) by sharing that insulin index is the one we should be looking at.

            So thanks for your detailed response. Much appreciated.




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            1. gp65 I do have some rather significant experience in this area. I have had type 1 diabetes for over 40 years and have more observations than most would want to listen to. I was one of the first (in the 70s) to wear an insulin pump. When that was introduced home blood testing was also introduced. I use lotsa test strips so I am paying close attention to what is going on with blood sugars. So here is my experience; yes my blood sugar will go up when I consume carbohydrates and of course that is a necessary macro nutrient so I would not have it any other way. The question then is how much insulin do I have to use to control that increase whether as a spike or gradual increase? In other words, to Largelytrue’s point put a little differently, what is the degree of insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance.

              I have generally always been a low animal eater and my total daily insulin intake was 45- 50 units. Insurance companies like this as long as the A1C is at a reasonable level. When I changed my diet to WFBD my average daily insulin intake dropped to 35-40 units on average with a the A1C remaining about the same . And at that same time I have probably increased the amount of carbs I consume but certainly I have not decreased them. I HAVE eliminated all animal fat and protein. I also have a pretty low veggie fat diet at well.

              Now it turns out that there have been consistent reports of type 1 diabetics reducing insulin needs by 25% on a high carb diet by eliminating animal products. There is evidence that it is the saturated fats and there is evidence that it is the animal protein. I suspect it is both. Oh and as Dr Greger and others have reported, there are numerous examples of complete elimination of type 2 diabetes on a whole food plant based diet. I would love to see just what percentage of type 2 diabetics cannot cure the condition with WFPBD. It seems most can and those that can’t probably have already damaged their beta cells by prolonged consumption of animal fat.

              As for the arguments about carb toxicity, that is nothing but a paleo fantasy. In general the paleo peddlers have only the most remote and accidental interface with science. If you look at the “scientific evidence” cited by paleo peddlers, their evidence almost always says something very different than what the peddlers are claiming. When that is not the case it turns out that the studies are deeply flawed or more rarely an outlier that proves nothing.

              If you are really interested and want to study the paleo world intensively, I would suggest you check out http://plantpositive.com/. I find his analyses of the paleo arguments to be fascinating and very much in depth. He is a little harder to get into that Dr Greger but he is good and I would suggest he definitively debunks their nonsense.

              Wow from the responses I’ve seen you have posed a pretty provocative question. Thanks and good luck.




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            2. Well, it’s more that the insulin index is the sort of index that people worried about the insulin response in itself should probably attend to most, if their views are to be consistent. Because I don’t share their viewpoint on insulin as the root of all evil (it’s malfunctioning of the insulin signaling system itself that is the problem rather than insulin levels per se), it isn’t actually my view that the insulin index is the only index to consider. Both indices are probably of use to the type 2 diabetic who is willing to go WFPB, along with a constellation of other ideas such as calorie density and soluble fiber. There are some reasons to be cautious about higher fat diets for DMT2 (Greger’s take: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/what-causes-insulin-resistance/). Also, there is the possibility that restricting protein a bit could help, based on the disproportionate rise in insulin when consuming protein-rich foods. However, I’m not sure that this hypothesis has any scientific support, since I haven’t looked into it myself.




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    1. All I know is this: it doesn’t matter who you talk to–Dr. Greger, Atkins, Paleo people, McDougall, etc. Nobody, but nobody, disagrees with the fact that vegetables are healthy and necessary for your diet. So it would seem to me that the safe money is on increasing vegetables at the expense of other things.

      As for those that you love, I guess it depends on what your main concern is. If it’s weight, for example, focus more on the low calorie density approach, since the most important thing is calories (oh right, vegetables again).




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      1. YES! I agree. When I focus on optimizing the diet for those a bit reluctant to change I don’t focus on foods to take away, but rather foods to add. I play the add-fiber-and-antioxidants card, or as you say “add veggies!” Both angles seem appropriate and most health professionals (gosh I sure hope so) agree that veggies should be included in a healthful diet.




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    2. Gosh I am not sure. Does she cite any studies? I can tell you our research at PCRM fed diabetics LOTS of carbohydrate and A1c numbers plummeted. I just posted a few links below. Let me know if you find any flaws in our studies ;-) or if you come across opposing research just post it here we can discuss. Note that many diets can help diabetes. Even the standard ADA diet works, but just not as well as a strict plant-based diet, according to NIH-funded research by PCRM.




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      1. Thank you for taking the time to respond. No she has not cited studies. What she claims is that carbs have high glycemic index and fats have really low glycemic index and that she has as an obesity Doctor helped hundreds of patients lose weight and reverse their diabetes by reducing carbs and improving amount of good fats they eat.




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        1. Interesting. Perhaps the high amount of fiber consumed on a plant-based diet nullifies the presence of carbohydrates (even high GI foods)? Fiber helps slow the rise in glucose post meal. Also, keep in mind that oatmeal, barley, beans, berries, greens, and sweet potatoes are all foods low in the GI. So eating “carbs” doesn’t necessarily equate to high glycemic load.




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  27. Love your videos. I just bought my first bag off hemp hearts and absolutely love them. They have a nice nutty flavor and you can eat them right out of the bag, not sure this is good. But can’t find anything about them on your website. What is your opinion on hemp seeds/hearts?




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    1. Hi Peter. I only see a handful of studies on hempseed. Dr. Greger also searched the literature on hempseed and you can find his response here.

      The fatty acids in hemp seeds are comparable to flax and chia. Some research suggests hemp seed and evening primrose oils was found to increase PUFAs in MS patients improving their erythrocyte membrane fatty acids composition. This is not surprising, as folks eating more sources of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) should have more stored in the membranes of red blood cells (erythrocytes). If you like them, I see no concern eating hemp seeds, but treat them like flax and chia (a little goes a long way).




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      1. Hi Dr Gonzales, Your last statement above brings up the question: What is the optimum amount of ground flaxseed to eat per day? I have seen 30 g (or 3 tablespoons) used in some of the studies, but what if you ate 50 or 60 g (5 or 6 tablespoons per day. Would that increase the anti-cancer effects or would that be too much. I’m sure there is a point where the usefulness levels off and may even become harmful, but where would that point be? Would like to hear yours and Dr Greger’s “opinion” on the optimal level, if there are no definitive studies available. Thanks in advance.




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        1. Good question. A little goes a long way, as 1-2 Tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily is plenty. Most people obtain other sources of a-linolenic acid from their diet, so really 1 Tablespoon is enough. Here are the RDAs for essential fats from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). For essential fats, the IOM Adequate Intake is 11g/d of linoleic acid (omega-6’s) and 1.1g/d of alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3’s) for adult women, and 17g/d of linoleic acid and 1.6g/d of alpha-linolenic acid for adult men.

          Research suggests the importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. ​Dr. Greger discusses, how to achieve a good omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio, with general information and guidelines about omega-3’s. As a precaution, and especially if following a vegan diet, taking a vegetarian-based DHA/EPA supplement may be a good idea. Also, pregnant women in their last 2 trimesters may want to avoid flax due to risk of preterm birth.




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          1. The really huge caveat that I’ve seen from the IOM RDAs for essential fat is that they are extracted from the observation of no overt deficiency symptoms in the general population of the US. Thus, in the absence of any more specific information on what is actually optimal, they just use the population median intake as the AI, which is part of why the ratio of the two is so skewed toward n-6. There is technically no RDA for ALA or LA in that table, only an AI and AMDR — an observation which I also brought up in the context of another discussion here.

            The IOM AMDR for ALA doesn’t give seem to give much priority to achieving a low n6-n3 ratio, either, another respect in which the reference intakes for these nutrients may be a bit incomplete or out of date.




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  28. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dr. Gregor. You’ve changed (and probably saved or greatly extended) my life. Just pre-ordered your book on Amazon. Hardcover, $27.99, Dec 8th. Paperback is also available for $15.63 but not until Feb 11, 2016. Here’re the links:

    Hardcover: http://www.amazon.com/How-Not-Die-Discover-Scientifically/dp/1250066115/

    Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/How-Not-Die-Discover-Scientifically/dp/1447282442/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438668434&sr=1-9




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  29. Thank you so much Dr. Greger for being a courageous servant to humanity with this much needed truth. In support of your mind set about the power of nutrition to help our bodies heal, most people don’t know that seeds have up to 30% more nutrition in the seed than in the plant or fruit. So I invite you to take a few minutes to research this one seed formula that was about 20 years of research to formulate. Dr Leonard’s main reason for creating this formula was to help children coming from chemo and radiation. Google ( seed nutrition recover health now ) I have taking this formula because 18 months ago I had extreme chronic left shoulder pain, which I no longer have. Thank you so much for your dedication and your passion for empowering people for better health naturally.




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  30. Powerful lecture Dr Greger. Thank you for being a passionate advocate for science based nutrition. You are our hero – my husband & I are looking forward to reading your book.




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  31. “Food as Medicine” – my mantra and mission! Great job on the video and presentation. Thank you for making this publicly available!

    I worry when I see the many affected by disease – who will take care of everyone? Where will the money come from? The projected cost to us, as a nation, is staggering! How to motivate people? You are at the front, thank you for all that you do!

    Chrys Brennan
    321-591-0954




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  32. what can we feed our children to make them grow? my daughter is 9, very “petite”, eats very healthy (never junkfood), 1 glas of raw milk/day and 1 small piece of fish or meat/day…. The other children who eat unhealthy are a lot bigger than she (I am 1m65 – the father 1m86!) so what is your advice??? Ilse from Belgium




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    1. Hi Ilse. Good food, clean water, sun, shelter, love and support are a few things that come to mind. Here is everything we have on kid’s health. I suggest watching the many videos about children’s health and see what sticks out. I’ll attach other links, just let me if any of these resources can help? The Vegetarian Resource Group has great literature on healthful meals for kids. For kid snacks, I love this brochure by PCRM. They also provide thousands of recipes, here. Dr. Greger’s Optimal Nutrition Recommendations may also help. Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility in feeding is a great resource, as well. Check with your daughter’s pediatrician and health care team to assure she is not failing to thrive. Kids can be a bit thinner and weigh less so long as they meet certain standards, which I am sure your health care team is monitoring. Lastly, it’s always a good idea to see a dietitian if that’s an option.

      PS: If she is drinking too much cow’s milk iron deficient anemia may be a concern. 1 glass however may be okay. Raw milk in the U.S. is not very sanitary. I am not sure about Belgium, but I tend to recommend the avoidance of cow’s milk due to ear infections, constipation, apnea and autism, and anemia. Also, milk does not seem to help prevent bone loss and Harvard School of Public Health points out non-dairy sources of calcium are preferred, as milk may not be the best choice for everyone.

      Best to you and your daughter,
      Joseph




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        1. You’re welcome. Try clicking the link above the Vegetarian Resource Group. They have loads of information about feeding toddlers. Also, Dr. Greger lists a few resources for feeding infants (check out the book recommendations) and other videos on children’s health. Lastly, Dr. Spock’s book “Baby and Childcare” – 8th Edition is another excellent resource.




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  33. Hey Doc, great video!

    A couple questions for you. Is there a resource for the most optimal diet?

    Also, despite having changed my diet to plant based, taking iodine supplement (400 mcg / day), b12 and vit d3 if I don’t get enough sunlight and 2 tablespoons of ground flax. I eat lots of organic oatmeal, brown rice and beans everyday and consume a lot of fruit and some vegetables. I have been experiencing fatigue. I can’t figure out what is causing this and I could really use some help because I am very skinny and cannot exercise.

    I have started taking cold showers in the morning (for the past 4 days) and I’m actually finding myself more energetic in the morning, but more tired later in the day, wanting to sleep by 7pm. I have also started to take a run right after my cold shower — while drinking water — before eating.

    Im also curious, are cold showers actually bad?

    I am also 18, have ‘rosacea’ and acne, again, very skinny and weak..

    Thanks in advanced.




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  34. Cyanocobalamin.is said to be genetically engineered by Monsanto. All I know is that it does not work for me any more. I had consumed it with breakfast and I’d immediately fall asleep. I found my memory problems worsened. So, I ordered some vitamin B-12 through MegaFoods, and often their vitamins are certified organic or at least from food sources. But, they are often coupled with folate and I understand there’s an upper limit on how much folate should be eaten through supplementation, hence I’m limited to how much B-12 I can ingest, and what is available by following the directions on the label is INADEQUATE. Please advise.

    I’m experimenting using several MegaFoods products (to Women over 50; super B’s, and B-12 together, which means that I also receive mor folate than recommend for the supplementation, but I feel better because of the additional B-12. If the folate in the supplement is from broccoli, why is it dangerous to take more than 20 mg per day? The vitamin B-12 level is very minute compared with cyanocobalamin, but with multiple amounts seems to work better.




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        1. Hey Wade. Can I make a suggestion? For free CMEs check out NutrtionCME.org. Dr. Greger has a bunch of presentations there! All free. Who knew health care folks (RNs, RDs, MDs, etc) can gain credit watching the good Doctor Greger! There are some other great speakers, as well. Thanks for always sharing and engaging with everyone.

          Cheers,
          Joseph




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  35. The first study cited says that eating meat might be as deadly as smoking cigarettes…but only for people in middle age and not for the ones over 65yrs. Does anyone know (1) why this might be the case? (e.g. growth factor less of an issue for elderly), (2) if there is a study saying similar things but also including over 65? As I know when I send this article to my parents in their 60s, they’ll say ‘ha, see I can still eat it” :)




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  36. Having watched Dr. Greger’s previous annual summaries and many of his videos here on individual topics, I am not surprised that he was able to succinctly cover all his main points–an excellent presentation, as usual, and one I’ll be sharing with my friends.

    That said, for the 95%+ of folks who aren’t already WP vegan, an incremental approach is probably necessary, and I was wondering if Dr. Greger could do a ranking of the least harmful to most harmful of his Bete Noires–‘meat, the new tobacco’–to which I’d add refined sugar and HFCS, since they also seem to be pretty bad, and may cause even greater ill effects on the American population. For most harmful meats, all the studies indicate that processed red meats (hot dogs, ham, etc.) are associated with higher rates of cancer, CHD, and diabetes. But what about the least harmful? If people have Meatless Mondays, what do they choose to eat the other six days? Is fish really all that bad? All varieties? What is the cost-benefit ratio of salmon and sardines relative to other fish or to chicken, meat, dairy, and eggs? I get that Dr. Greger is pretty much opposed to all of these, but I think a gradualist approach demands that we place them in perspective. If Dr. Greger was forced to stray from eating plants and to eat animal products, which would he choose, and why?

    I really enjoyed the final section on tobacco; that was indeed very well done, and amusing in a sick sort of way. Our own addictions blind us to seeing the truth. This works both at the individual and institutional level.




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    1. I think that would be too hard of a task. For example, chicken is the meat associated with the biggest weight gain. Fish and fish oil may have the largest amount of PCBs. Dairy is linked to prostate cancer. Gosh, not even sure where to start! One thing is for certain there is no question that processed meat is super harmful, as there is convincing evidence of its link to colorectal cancer and other cancers. I’ve written about sardines in the past. Sure, they may have lower mercury levels than tuna (most other fish do) since they just eat plankton. It appears contaminates can vary based on location and type of fish. A study from the U.S. shows doses of lead, cadmium and arsenic in canned sardines. This study in Port Moresby tested different levels of fish and found sardines to be the lowest. I am not sure any level of mercury is safe. Some other videos that mention sardines, if interested, can be found here and here. One video is on atrial fibrillation, the other on amnesic seafood poisoning. Not sure that is helpful? My main goal as a dietitian is focusing on increasing the amount of whole plant-based foods in the diet.




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      1. That’s a worthy goal and one we all share; getting Americans to eat more plants and less animal products would do wonders not only for national health, but for the economy (healthcare = nearly 20% of all spending) and for the environment. It is the biggest no-brainer out there…But if fish, chicken, and dairy are more or less equally as bad as red meat (primarily beef, pork, and lamb), then we need a different slogan than ‘Meat is the new tobacco’. Perhaps ‘Flesh is the new tobacco’, or ‘Animal products are the new tobacco’? They don’t quite roll off the tongue like the first slogan, and the graphic comparing frankfurters with cigarettes is very catching. We can all agree that processed meats are the worst. There must be some best. My guess would be sardines, naturally raised birds, and yogurt, but that’s just a wild guess.




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    2. Jason: I *really* liked Joseph’s reply. But I also wanted to put my 2 cents in since I think your post mirrors what many people think/believe.

      re: “…an incremental approach is probably necessary…” I don’t know if I agree with your percentage estimate, but I totally agree with the thought that some people are simply not going to to go cold turkey, but they can take it in stages.

      What I strongly disagree with is that the incremental approach can involve switching from some hypothetical more toxic animal product to one that is less toxic. Party for the reasons that Joseph mentioned. And partly because it just doesn’t work. People start to think, well, animal product X is really OK. And also their taste buds never really adjust to healthy foods if they are still eating one form or another of unhealthy. And their psychology never changes. They never get to the point of seeing, “Hey, I can eat just plants and feel full and satisfied and happy with my food.”

      In my opinion, incremental approaches that work follow more along these lines: 1) eliminate an entire category of food of food at a time. Ex: starting now, I’m no longer going to eat dairy. Then, if I can handle that, I’ll cut out meat. Then eggs. And/or the approach of weaning: 2) I’m going to make a point of having X meals a week without any animal products (or without any meat…). And I’ll increase that number of meals over time. This way, no one is kidding themselves

      That’s just my opinion on the topic. I felt moved to respond because I think you raised such an important issue. We know what to do. Now, what are the most effective ways to get people to do it? Thanks for raising this issue.




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      1. I have to admit that I can barely understand the detailed response ofJoseph (LargelyTrue), but having read many of his earlier responses, and having agreed with them, I think he’s thought out this question more thoroughly than I have. So I think his disciplined approach (‘It’s easy to measure out zero of a restricted food’) is probably warranted–at least for him and dedicated followers of the WF vegan diet.

        Still, there are times when it is inconvenient to restrict whole categories of foods–say when traveling or visiting with people who don’t follow such diets. Then we must choose the lesser evil (bearing in mind that all animal products have more or less harmful effects). In your own recounting of the weaning process of incremental elimination, you first cut out dairy, then meat, then eggs. Of course this was merely hypothetical, and the more common sequence would be: meat, eggs, dairy–or perhaps meat, dairy, eggs (in any event, meat would be first to go). This is borne out by the practice of yogis and various religious sects, who may eat dairy food or eggs, but not meat. It is also supported by the adventist and other studies cited here where there was a progression of lessening of disease rates from omnivore to infrequent meat eater to fish eater (no meat) to lacto-ovo vegetarian to vegan. And Dr. Greger dose have one video (‘Good Grub’) saying that insects may be the most healthful animal products. Of course I’m not quite sure if this was tongue in cheek!

        But I agree with you that a ranking may imply to some that animal product X is “safe”–which defeats the whole exercise.




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      2. What I have found works also is decreasing portion sizes of meat. I currently have a patient who has never had a conversation about portion sizes. He is an older gentleman and has CVD. He needs to lose 40 pounds. I asked him if he would consider giving up meat and dairy. He said absolutely not. So I then talked to him about what was on a plate. He previously ate very little vegetables. So now he is eating way more vegetables and “just a few bites” of meat. In 6 weeks he has lost 25 pounds. (40 more to go) Each time I see him we have a conversation about exercise and food choices. This was a funny one. I ask what he had for lunch. A “great salad with tomatoes, cumcumber, onions and mozzarella cheese.” I ask if there is any chance he could have the salad without he cheese? “What’s wrong with the cheese!”

        You know Thea, what is so sad is that he got to be 79 years old and the best doctors money can buy never told him what was wrong with cheese. So here he is with severe CVD and the cardiologist wants to do a bypass but he refuses. He is just now learning about the role diet and exercise play on his health. Now that is a travesty.




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        1. Veganrunner: You have the *best* stories. And you have real-world experience working to help people change their diet. So, your idea is really something to take note of. It sounds like you are nice and gentle with people and get great results that way.

          Your second paragraph brought a tear to my eye. I don’t know why, but the thought really moved me.

          OK, so that man got to be 79 years old and was kept in ignorance. He has you now. He’s a lucky guy! (And pretty smart in my opinion to not only pick you, but to also refuse the bypass. I can’t say what healing methods are right for anyone else, but changing diet is the approach that makes sense to me.)




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          1. Thank you Thea. When we first started talking about diet he was weighing 248 pounds. His doctor wanted to put him on Metformin and he said he really didn’t want to go on another medication. So I said change your diet. Days after that he started having chest pain when doing the stationary bike and that is when he found out he had severe CVD. He really is motivated now. He is 5’11”. So at first I said lets just get down to 220. Well now that he is so close I said, “How long has it been since you weighed 200?” He doesn’t remember ever being that weight. He really needs to be 180 at least but if I said that today he would freak out. Baby steps! And who knows eventually he may be eating exclusively WFPB!




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    3. Gradualism is to a very important extent already covered by large government institutions which set goals for the general population, often with a subtext of making exchanges that are better than a common alternative. If the population as a whole can actually meet these goals in large numbers then they will likely feel more comfortable in making more ambitious (and hopefully more accurate) recommendations when they update their view of the evidence.

      I think you have an overly optimistic view of the precision of public health and nutritional science. We can in principle build comprehensive models of all health hazards against all personal lifestyle choices, but the data informing them will be based at best on small, often collinear variations within cultures and cross-cultural comparisons where only a few things at a time vary to a large extent. The full landscape of nonlinear effects will probably never be well explored, so cost-benefit analysis will tend to be based on small ceteris parabis changes from average for lifestyle factors in a given reference population. We have a better idea of the region where the healthiest diet lies than exactly how healthy it will be, or how healthy an arbitrary medium-sized change of multiple factors might be.

      Meatless Monday loses a lot of its luster if it doesn’t teach you how to get by with less meat overall on the other days of the week. If it weren’t part of a larger transition that will likely lead to Meatless Tuesday, Essentially Meatless Wednesday, and so forth, then you would be kind of missing the point. I would count myself as a person who has practiced gradualism. I started roughly with the goal of complying with an optimal version of government recommendations and making all the health substitutions for CVD which were commonplace among mainstream sources, while continuing to educate myself. As I became more convinced of particular ideas or the lack of credible evidence for the efficacy of certain stopgap measures (such as fermenting milk) I gave more up, and as I did this my baseline expectations changed so that small allowances became easier to give up too, because they are more of a production than anything else, or simply expensive. It’s relatively unimportant to me what change I made first, when compared with the change that I managed overall at the end. When we’re talking about only a few years to make changes in lifestyle that accrue benefits over an entire lifetime, the optimality of lifestyle during the short transition period is relatively unimportant.

      Therefore I think that most people should concern themselves with a path that will likely give them a large basket of changed habits. Reducing the psychological cost of a target behavior is very important, which is why we change habits in the first place. From the vantage of personal practice, which is probably Greger’s most important concern, gradualism that doesn’t sell itself short is quite compatible with the ideal of a specific goal state to work toward. Gradualism is also compatible with the idea of trying out a big change for a short time, with the understanding that it may take some time and effort to gather the resources, strategies, and support to comply closely over the long term. The ease of understanding what the basic principles of strict WFPB eating call for is part of its charm; it’s easy to measure out zero of a restricted food. Additionally, to the extent that you are committed to eating from the home, you have the control to make pretty much any number of major changes at once.

      I think that maybe the most important way to execute a big change is to adopt a constellation of dietary practices targeting ischemic cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which overlaps with other concerns but is not exactly commensurate. This is because the gravity of the situation is relatively well-understood, and despite much misinformation on the topic, the basic risk factors are relatively well-understood by the public (or at least easy to communicate) and are easily measured. If you make a big change in this area and stick with it for a few weeks, you will hopefully see some objectively positive changes in your basic risk factors, including weight. And if you are willing to stick with this larger change for an important benefit, you will probably find it worth your while to do some additional tweaking for the prevention of other diseases at the same time.




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  37. An aunt of mine has already failed to avoid several of these conditions. I’m working on getting her onto a plant-based diet (which will take some convincing), but I’m wondering if there is a specific sort of plant-based diet she should be on. See, she has type 2 diabetes (she doesn’t take insulin, but I’m not sure about any other drugs), as well as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and occasional gout. She needs a plant-based diet more than anyone, but I’m curious if she should be on a regular, varied vegan diet such as Dr. Greger usually recommends, or if it needs to be modified in some way to account for all those conditions. Mainly it’s the diabetes that concerns me, as I don’t want to tell her to eat lots of rice and beans if the carbohydrate load is going to hurt her. Should she eat smaller amounts of starches and such, and lean more heavily towards veggies like kale and broccoli until her diabetes is better, or just jump straight into a broad, varied whole-food plant-based diet, and hope the blood sugar takes care of itself? How much fat (from nuts and seeds) should she eat? Any help at all would be appreciated. Thanks!




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    1. Al: I highly recommend a book called, “Dr Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes”. That book will give you details, including recipes, for a plant-based diet that is extremely effective at treating and often reversing Type 2 diabetes. Dr. Barnard isn’t just reporting anecdotes. He did clinical, published research that showed his tied is 3 times more effective than the typical diet recommended for t2 diabetics. This diet should work great for treating the high blood pressure too. It has a very good chance of addressing the cholesterol and gout.

      If you are interested:
      http://www.amazon.com/Neal-Barnards-Program-Reversing-Diabetes/dp/1594868107/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1438791257&sr=8-1&keywords=dr+neal+barnard%27s+program+for+reversing+diabetes

      Good luck!




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      1. I should also mention that it is important that your aunt work with a doctor when switching to a diet like this because sometimes the diet works so well and so quickly, the person needs to be taken off medications quickly. It is important to work with someone who knows how to deal with that.




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    2. I highly recommend Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book “The End of Diabetes.” I have been following his high-nutrient WFPB diet for nine months, and after just the first six, totally reversed my pre-diabetes (A1C is now in normal ranges). I have also lost 80 pounds in that time, but I’m completely satisfied with the food (not hungry). Like Dr. Gregor, Dr. Fuhrman bases his nutritional approach on LOADS of scientific research, and the two doctors tend to agree on most things.




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    3. Hi Al. Hopefully you’ve read Thea’s comments. I used to work with Dr. Barnard and research proves his program can be successful. The rice and beans should be fine foods to introduce. Dr. Greger presents the study in this video. Let me know if you have more specific questions about foods for type 2 diabetes.




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  38. I too want to thank you Dr. Greger for this excellent presentation. I hope it connects with the widest possible number of people who can at least begin to turn their lives around. For me the thought of loved ones who have died for lack of this knowledge is heart-wrenching at times. It is strange too that so many of the people I care deeply about don’t even want to watch the videos or read the literature. It’s one reason I find the analogy you made with smoking is so profound.




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  39. You just made my Christmas shopping list so much simpler. Your book needs to go to every person I care about as well as the doctors’ offices I visit each year. Thank you for all you do to get the word out.




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  40. I thought this was a great video! I kept wondering, how could Dr. Greger match the quality and interest of the previous summary videos? But you did it!

    I liked the thought experiment at the end. I feel the segments needs that detail because there are so many people alive now who have no idea what the American society and state of science was like back then when it came to smoking. You would not be able to draw the parallel effectively without having taken the time to carefully draw the smoking picture first.




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      1. Veganrunner: Thank you so much for your kind words. You totally made my day!

        I have not heard from Toxins (he has switched to ‘Rami’ now for his name on the screen) in a while. I believe that personal life took him away, but I remain hopeful that he will be back.




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  41. So for the most part I eat a WFPB diet. I would however like to reintroduce probiotic yoghurt which was a staple back home . If I choose nonfat probiotic dairy yoghurt, what are the potentially adverse impacts do I need to worry about and at what levels of consumption?




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    1. gp65: Dairy yogurt would have animal protein in it, which this video does a good job of covering. You might also want to check out the NutritionFacts topic page for dairy. It looks like it was just updated! (Very cool. I’m really happy to see that the topic pages are being kept up.)
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/

      Suggestion: I don’t know if it is available in your area or not, but you might see if you can find some non-dairy yogurts. That would be a way to get everything – taste and probiotics all while avoiding the pitfalls of dairy.




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      1. Thanks for your response. Coconut yoghurt is available but then Dr. Greger does not recommend coconut either.

        I looked at quite a few of the videos on the link related to dairy that you provided. Most if the concern related to the saturated fat – which would not be a concern for nonfat yoghurt. Some related to dietary cholesterol which certainly is present but in a fairly low quantity in probiotic yoghurt.
        Certainly it does have animal protein so I need to think this over.

        If anyone can tell me very specific problems with nonfat yoghurt besides that it contains animal protein, I would be grateful. We know for example very specific disadvantages of pork for example.

        Thanks again Thea




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        1. gp65: Other problems with dairy that you might want to research include: hormones, contaminants, and lactose. I understand that fat free milk even still has small amounts of cholesterol left, but I don’t know if that is true or not.

          The real reason I came back to this discussion was because I’m in the middle of reading the book Whole by T Colin Campbell and Howard Jacobson. I just came across the following sentence (page 136) and thought I had to share it with you:

          “…based on CBP’s own stated bioassay criteria, cow’s milk protein should be considered a carcinogen: consuming it leads to cancer, and cancer halts or goes into remission once milk protein consumption is stopped.”

          That sentence originally appeared in a paper in 1980. (CBP: United State’s Carcinogen Bioassay Program – the program that helps implement a 1958 amendment to FDA act. The amendment says that you can’t add a chemical to the food supply if the substance is a carcinogen. But then again, how do you determine what is a carcinogen? That’s what the CBP is for.)

          I get that the above quote is talking about protein and you are looking for reasons other than protein to avoid yoghurt. I just couldn’t help sharing that one sentence because it is so specific to dairy and I remembered your post. Just thought you would find it interesting.




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  42. This one brought tears of joy to my eyes. My grandfather Nathan Pritikin would be so proud of you. Thank you so much for your work.




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    1. Buy more TP :-) I’m joking. Thanks so much! I think his audience and helping those in need are part of Dr. Greger’s inspiration, so thank YOU!




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  43. Food as Medicine — Awesome presentation! This one really hits the mark and I am sharing it with my friends and family. Thank you, Dr. Greger, for all you do!




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  44. Truly a masterpiece. History will look back on your work Dr. Greger as being TRULY worthy of changing the world. With leaders like ELON musk pushing for a world powered by renewable energy and yourself pushing for healthier people by way of nutrition (while saving the environment from effects of meat production), the world is moving to a cleaner and better place. If TIME magazine hadn’t put bacon on its cover last year, causing them to lose me forever, I would nominate you for Man of The Year. But TIME doesn’t have the balls to be that ahead of public opinion.




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  45. My girlfriend has sickle cell anemia. She was a vegetarian for a
    few years but than her health got really bad. She fainted often and she
    actually ended up in the hospital once. Her doctors recommended her to
    start eating meat again. So she did. But she started to feel real bad
    about eating meat the last few weeks. She wants to be a vegetarian again
    and if possible even vegan. Is it possible to become vegan when she has
    this disease? What are things she should eat and what not? What
    promotes iron uptake? I really want her to succeed, but i dont want her
    to end up drained of energy or in the hospital again.
    Thanks a lot!




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    1. Hi Joost! Thanks for your question. Sorry to hear your girlfriend’s been suffering with the SCA :( A decade and a half ago, when I was in P.A. school, we thought eating meat was helpful because we thought SCA was a disease of iron deficiency. We know better now. It’s a disease of red blood cells malfunctioning (sickling). A plant-based diet, especially foods such as horseradish, cassava, yams, corn, bamboo shoots, sweet potatoes, and lima beans that contain a “cyanogenic glucosides” = fancy term for plant compounds that can improve cell function and decrease pain. More about why we should treat the cause (sickling cells) and not just the symptoms (iron deficiency) in Dr. G.’s piece about the dangers of heme iron here Hope this helps your girlfriend. Please keep us posted.




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  46. Dr Greger What can vegans do who still have high cholesterol (over 200) while following a vegan diet for years? I have been a vegan for 11 years and have decreased my daily fat to below 20% but still my cholesterol is 240. I have looked through most of your information on your website but cannot find anything that addresses this issue. Thank you for all your great information. I watch all your videos and recommend your website to all my friends, family, and coworkers.




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  47. Although, as has always been the case, I was very impressed by the presentation, there are a few criticisms I have. The frequently used phrase “plant based” is sort of vague. Despite the horrid nutritional practices of Americans, we technically eat “plant based” because about 40% of our collective calories come from animal foods, leaving 60% of our calories from plants. The phrase “whole food plant based” is better because it eliminates vegan junk like refined grains, sugar, corn syrup, vegetable oil, and isolated soy protein, many of which I believe are even less healthy than lean meat, eggs, or milk. I think Dr. Greger should have spent less time talking about the consequences of eating animal foods in order to make more time for talking about the consequences of eating junk food in general. I would rather persuade my friends and family to eliminate or at least drastically cut down on blatant junk food like sweets, soda, chips, fried foods, and pizza before trying to persuade them to do the same with meat, eggs, and dairy. A boiled chicken breast or bowl of yogurt is healthier than a vegan bag of potato chips or pack of vegan Oreos. I can’t help but suspect that Dr. Greger’s advice is biased by perhaps a desire to promote such frivolities as animal welfare and the prevention of the destruction of the planet by the livestock industry. Anyway, I reckon the average American has a diet in which well below 50% of their calories comes from whole plant foods, and that’s simply a catastrophe.

    But even if we achieve a diet that is definitively “whole food plant based” in which 50% or more of our calories comes from whole plants, I reckon that is still far from optimal. At what % of calories does one’s diet would Dr. Greger or fellow nutritional scientists consider the diet no longer “whole food plant based”? Is a vegan “whole food plant exclusive” diet optimal for everyone? Why does the BlueZones survey and American Heart Association recommend moderate consumption of “clean” fish and dairy? Why does Dr. Ornish’s Spectrum diet list egg whites and fish oil as most healthful choices? If strict vegans test so well for specific biomarkers and propensity for diet-influenced diseases, why don’t they have a colossal longevity advantage over omnivores, especially when I suspect the average vegan is far more health-conscious than the average omnivore? Why was my most recent lipid panel and HbA1c (following several months of a low-fat semivegetarian diet), even better than the lipid panel and HbA1c I had after being vegan for 3 months last year? Am I reducing my longevity, cognitive abilities, athleticism, and quality of life by getting 5-10% of my calories from Alaskan salmon, fish oil, and nonfat fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir?

    I am going to share this video with my friends and family. Whereas Dr. Greger was obviously preaching to the choir in this presentation, I don’t suspect many of my friends and family to be as receptive because it may very well throw them into a state of cognitive dissonance. But I recently heard an adage that went something like, “fake friends tell me what I want to hear, but real friends tell me what I need to hear.”

    I likewise advise my family and friends to subscribe to the Nutritionfacts.org newsletter. For a daily investment of like 5 minutes, they can learn much about nutritional science. For people who want to jump right into veganism as an experiment, watch another presentation by on Youtube “40 Year Vegan Dies of a Heart Attack! Why? The Omega-3 and B12 Myth with Dr. Michael Greger”.




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    1. Frivolous criticism: he used the phrase “double-edged sword”, a phrase I think is silly. I wouldn’t want to get whacked by either edge of a sword – both edges of a longsword or claymore are sharp, and even the dull edge of a cutlass or scimitar was cause broken bones and bruises.




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    2. Great thoughts. One comment I just posed helps acknowledge why the term “plant-based” is used a lot.

      I really appreciate the feedback and would agree with many points about the overall quality of diet. Thank you for continuing to promote our information.




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  48. Picture of downtown Los Angeles cica 1910. Guess why I think this pic is so cool! =D (pic didn’t post but it was of a vegetarian cafe in 1910)




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  49. Dear Dr Michael
    I do enjoy your talks but with this one I just wonder if you have missed a crucial fact. Were any questions asked about how the animals are fed.
    In the US I am sure you are aware that much beef is raised on feed lots with a diet largely of the by product of making either corn, soya, rape(canola). and barley corn or wheat. The consequence of this is a dramatic alteration of the fatty acid balance of the meat. You can see a example by looking at corn fed chicken, they are yellow. This, as chicken are killed at such a young age so demonstrates how quickly what you feed an animal comes through in the meat. Do not just consider this aspect, think about the egg, which is new life. It is well known that we need a balance of 1 to 1 omega3 in the sperm.
    I would surmise that this balance will be out by factors of 10/15/20. And here Southampton University looked at the blood of pregnant women and found this imbalance. So, impregnation may well be with imbalanced sperm and women will be building new life also eating food that contributes to the building of cells unable to resit invasion by amongst other things cancer. Something for you to consider if you guys had not killed off the Bison and planted corn and soya and then produced oil and finally the trans fat margarine and convinced your medical profession it was healthier than butter. It is clear to me where the finger needs to be pointed. I think the native Americans did not have to ask are these bison healthy for us because of how they grazed they produced meat just right for us. it is certainly true that we would have found it difficult to survive in a meatless world.
    The most abundant inflammatory foodstuff does come from a plant, that is omega 6 and as this type of oil is so cheap it is used in so much of the food sector and could be seen as the most dangerous food eaten. When this oil is used for high temperature it is damaged so much the human body does not recognise it. I invite you to look more deeply into this aspect before you completely dismiss animals as part of a mixed diet.
    We here in the UK also now have a pasture fed livestock association and quite a bit of research that indicates that you are wrong to say that meat causes so many problems without considering how they eat. We are after all hunter gatherers.




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  50. I have been vegan for the past 3 years. I am familiar with Drs. Esselstyne and Fuhrman, am aware of Dr. Campbell and the China Study, follow Dr. Greger’s daily videos and blogs and understand that eating a plant based, whole food diet reduces ones risk for cancers such as breast cancer which I had 7 years ago and colon cancer which I had 6 years ago. Recently, I saw a TV ad from an organization called Colon Cancer Canada sponsored by the diary industry and found an article at dairynutrition.ca that starts as follows: “Colorectal Cancer Evidence from large prospective cohort studies and meta-analyses suggests a protective role of milk and milk products on colorectal cancer.” I’m interested in what Dr. Greger has to say about the claims being made that milk and milk products are protective for colorectal cancer.




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  51. Dear Dr Michael

    I do enjoy your talks but with this one I just wonder if you
    have missed a crucial fact. Were any questions asked about how the animals are
    fed.

    In the US I am sure you are aware that much beef is raised
    on feed lots with a diet largely the by-product of making either corn, soya,
    rape oil(canola). also barley corn or wheat. The consequence of this is a
    dramatic alteration of the fatty acid balance of the meat. You can see an
    example by looking at corn fed chicken, they are yellow. This, as chicken are
    killed at such a young age so demonstrates how quickly what you feed an animal
    comes through in the meat. Do not just consider this aspect; think about the
    egg, which is new life. It is well known that we need a balance of 1 to 1
    omega3 in the sperm.

    I would surmise that this balance will be out by factors of
    10/15/20. And here Southampton University looked at the blood of pregnant women
    and found this imbalance. So, impregnation may well be with imbalanced sperm
    and women will be building new life also eating food that contributes to the
    building of cells unable to resist invasion by amongst other things cancer.
    Something for you to consider if you guys had not killed off the Bison and
    planted corn and soya and then produced oil and finally the trans-fat margarine
    and convinced your medical profession it was healthier than butter. It is clear
    to me where the finger needs to be pointed. I think the Native Americans did
    not have to ask are these bison healthy for us, because of how they grazed they
    produced meat just right for us. It is certainly true that we would have found
    it difficult to survive in a meatless world.

    The most abundant inflammatory foodstuff does come from a plant
    and that is omega 6 this type of oil is
    so cheap it is used in so much of the food sector and could be seen as the most
    dangerous food eaten. When this oil is used for high temperature it is damaged
    so much the human body does not recognise it. I invite you to look more deeply
    into this aspect before you completely dismiss animals as part of a mixed diet.

    We here in the UK also now have a pasture fed livestock
    association and quite a bit of research that indicates that you are wrong to
    say that meat causes so many problems without considering how they eat. We are
    after all hunter gatherers.




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    1. Durwin Banks: re: “quite a bit of research that indicates that you are wrong to say that meat causes so many problems without considering how they eat.”
      You are welcome to post references to the peer-reviewed, published research here. I’m sure people will be interested. But I should also note that I believe that Dr. Greger looks at and considers all of that research when summarizing what the “body of evidence” tells us. Dr. Greger even spends time reading at least one meat journal, (called something like Journal of Meat Science ? — I can’t remember the name)

      re: “We are after all hunter gatherers.” I might agree if you put a whole lot of emphasis on the gatherer rather than the hunter and we are just talking history. But either way, the sentence is irrelevant when the goal is figuring out what diet is the most healthy for humans. To figure that out, you don’t follow a bunch of cavemen around. One way you figure that out is to look at human biology/anatomy. Here is a great article explaining what the human anatomy tells us about humans are designed/optimized to eat:
      http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/natural.html

      I could talk about the rest of your post, but I’m thinking that the best I can do is suggest that you watch many more videos on this site. And the movie Forks Over Knives. If you do that, it becomes evident that the evidence against meat is *overwhelming*. There is no solid body of evidence supporting that the how animals are fed makes any significant difference in human health outcomes. Meaning: You might be able to slightly slow down a disease or two by switching animal products, but you aren’t looking at disease reversal and long term healthy until you get rid of (the vast majority of) of the animal products, and switch to whole plant foods.




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  52. I recently saw an ad on TV from Colon Cancer Canada that was supported by the diary industry. I went online and found an article at http://www.dairynutrition.ca/scientific-evidence/cancer/colorectal-cancer that is titled as follows: “Colorectal Cancer Evidence from large prospective cohort studies and meta-analyses suggests a protective role of milk and milk products on colorectal cancer.” I had breast cancer 7 years ago and colon cancer 6 years ago. Three years ago, at the suggestion of a friend, I read Drs. Esselstyne and Fuhrman and, wanting to reduce my risk of having cancer again, became vegan – I follow Dr. Fuhrman’s nutratarian diet. I receive the daily videos and blog entries from NutritionFacts.org. I am now 70 and as far as I know I am cancer free. I have no cardiovascular disease, take no medications and lost all of the excess weight I had previously thought was the natural result of aging. I nudge my friends about diet, tell them about Dr. Greger and NutritionFacts.org and recently forwarded Dr. Greger’s yearly video to many of my friend’s and acquaintances. So, I am interested in Dr. Greger’s views on the relationship between diary and colon cancer.




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    1. Hi, Sunny. It is true that calcium probably protects against colorectal cancer, and since calcium is found in dairy there is a protective role. I published and article on diet and cancer that details the link between milk, dairy, and calcium on various cancers. Nothing ground breaking, but something that may be of value and can explain the connections. It’s called, Applying the precautionary principle to nutrition and cancer.

      Since dairy products are linked to prostate cancer it seems odd to recommend it for colon cancer prevention. Non-dairy calcium sources are preferred, as they help prevent colon cancer without increasing prostate cancer risk. The American Institute for Cancer Research has some good literature, too. I suggest utilizing their webpage “foods that fight cancer”.

      I am so glad you’ve found such wonderful resources! Let me know if this helps? You can also browse by topic to see everything we have on colon cancer and other diseases. Lastly, if you have not already, please consider keeping up with the new videos posted every weekday and subscribe to the daily video feed. Thank you so much for being part of the NutritionFacts.org community!

      Best wishes,
      Joseph




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  53. Dear Dr. Greger; Are we allowed to add subtitles to your videos? I would like to add Turkish subtitles to some of them, especially this one. But, I don’t know how to do that.




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    1. YES! Thanks so much for asking. Please just shoot us a quick volunteer application so we know what times you have available. We’d love to have subtitles in as many languages as possible. Thanks again for your thoughtful service.




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  54. Great stuff as usual from Dr. Greger. However, It’s clear the Doctor has a problem with the word Vegan. Even when vegan appears in ghe text he uses plant based instead (55:28, 112). Why is this?




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    1. Whole food plant based diet and vegan are different things.
      Vegan does not mean whole food, but just non animal food.
      Whole food plant based diet (WFPB) is just a question of nutrition.
      You may be a Vegan without following a healthy diet.
      And You may follow a healthy WFPB and not share the vegan philosophy.




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    2. A diet without animal products is plant based. Adam, why is it a problem for you when we call “plant based” the vegan diet ? The diet is one thing and the philosophy another, even when diet is part of a philosophy.
      So, for me, when we talk about diet, “plant based ” is the appropriate term.




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    3. Hey Adam. Let me try to help answer. I think it’s because we do not want to represent one particular diet. NutritionFacts does not promote any specific “diet” but rather we like to discuss how to boost the diet, how to improve, and what the latest research says. We encourage more “plant-based” eating and nothing more! If someone chooses to go 100% plant-based (vegan) or 95% plant-based that’s fine! We know folks following a flexible plant-based diet still reap benefits.




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  55. Daily values Standard Diet vs Ideal Diet:

    Percentage of calories from fat 33% vs 10 – 15%

    Percentage of calories from saturated fat 11% vs 1 – 2%

    Daily protein intake, g 90-180 vs 50 – 60

    Daily fiber intake, g 15 vs 50 – 60

    Percentage of sugar 15% vs 4 – 6%

    Daily cholesterol intake, mg 270 vs 0

    Daily sodium intake, g 3.4 vs 0.5 – 1

    Omega-6 / Omega-3 ratio 15 vs 1 – 3

    Potassium / Sodium ratio < 1 vs 3 – 5




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  56. This brings up my BIG question I have been asking myself:

    If we do not die from those diseases because of our whole food plant based nutrition, what do vegans actually die from?




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    1. No one said you won’t die from any of the leading causes of death. I think the only one that should have it’s chance reduced to zero is heart disease. But cancer will never be down to a zero chance.
      So what do we die from as whole food plant based eaters? Unfortunately mostly old age and more specifically accidents. Can’t avoid accidents, though we avoid a lot by being healthy, and disease free. Keeps us out of the hospital where accidents can really shorten a life.
      Eventually though we’ll die but the up side is that by being whole food plant based eaters, we dramatically increase the chance that when we die of old age, we’ll still be walking around and enjoying life free of disability just before we do go.




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  57. Hi, I am an American currently living in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa. Normally I eat a vegan, whole foods, plant based diet, but since I moved to Senegal I have found it prohibitively difficult to eat within the constraints of this diet. The woman who cooks the food for my host family knows that I don’t eat meat, fish (because thats apparently different from meat) and dairy but I have noticed that the “vegetarian” food that people cook here still uses meat in the process for flavor, in the fashion of Senegalese custom, and the outcome is a dish that tastes like meat and contains animal fat and small, barely visible pieces of meat. In addition, the diet here is largely white bread, white rice, white pasta, oil, eggs, mayonnaise, sugary juices, potatoes, and vegetables are used more for flavor and garnish than as actual food. Due to miscommunication and language barriers my host family thinks I eat eggs, has been making them for me, and I have been eating them because I honestly, have been very hungry. The good news is there is fruit, mainly bananas, mangoes, oranges, and coconuts, easily available for purchase by street vendors, so I have been eating quite a bit of that.

    What I want to know is what the short and long term health effects are of eating in this way: high amount of refined carbs, oil, eggs, and foods cooked with meat. Is it worst to eat eggs and mayonnaise than to eat meat or is there no difference?

    I also want to comment on the fact that in this article you refer to “Africa” and “Africans” but the continent of Africa and the people who live there are incredibly varied. Dakar, Senegal is very urban and influenced by western culture. They eat a low fiber diet like other Africans but are more and more adopting the meat-eating habits of the western world. The rate of diabetes and other chronic illness here is high, and on the rise, and it seems there is a lot of misinformation about health here in a way that I would argue is worse than in the US. People here eat meat if they have the means to, and to eat or serve a dish that has no meat in it at all would signify that the person is very poor. It is also customary to insist that people eat a lot, mothers will push food towards their children and guests even when they say they are full. There is no concept of vegetarian or vegan here.

    If the goal of your project is to educate people about nutrition and promote plant-based eating as preventative medicine then I think there is much to be done in Africa, particularly among the rapidly growing urban populations. Because the official language in most of West Africa is French I think having these videos available with French translation and/or French transcripts could be especially useful.




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    1. JBanks: I don’t have an answer for you. I hope someone can chime in. My guess is that it is not such a healthy diet, but you already know this. And you are already probably doing all that you can to “healthify” it as much as possible. All you can do is your best. Whether eggs are better than meat? Who can say. If I *had* to eat one or the other or both, I would personally try to split the difference and switch it up so that I hopefully minimized the badness of each by not eating only one category. Just my own, non-expert thoughts.

      I mostly wanted to reply to your comments because I wanted you to know someone heard you and to express appreciation for your sharing. I am always fascinated when people post glimpses into other parts of the world. (I am from America.) I have a friend who is currently living in Guinea(?) and I cringe every time she describes her meals. But she has easy access to fresh growing mangoes. Yumm!

      Good luck with your situation. I hope you are able to get some food you are comfortable with sooner rather than later.




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  58. I read your newsletter and watch your videos religiously, if I can use that term with respect to scientific knowledge. ;)

    I have a question. I have a tendency to get tachycardia which for those who are not familiar with the term, is a rapid heartbeat. I also have a condition called premature atrial contractions. No fibrillation! Cardiologists are eager for me to take a beta blocker to treat this. I have noticed that when I drink juice, I often get an attack of tachycardia. Have you ever heard of something like this? The doctors look at me like I am some kind of nutcase. I’d love to know if any kind of research has been done on this issue, especially the relationship to glucose in the blood stream.




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  59. I am wondering how to get Dr. Greger’s input on studies referred to by a Tom Brenna phd, nutrition science from Cornell university who sites studies
    that seem to say that egg consumption( 1/day) does not increase risk of
    cardiovascular disease.I found this mr. Tom Brenna in the latest issue dr. Oz’s magazine ‘The Good Life’ . Thank you for your reply




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    1. Take a look at the Dr. Greger’s blog here: http://nutritionfacts.org/2015/08/18/dietary-cholesterol-affects-blood-cholesterol-levels/
      Lots of information that seems to answer your question. Note that the body does have a max for cholesterol which is a dangerous number, but if you are already eating so bad that you are at that max, you wont “increase your risk” be eating an egg as you are already at the top of the risk with everything else you ate. The point being, that eggs are a major source of cholesterol for your body and if you are not at the max, a single egg will get you almost there by itself. There is nothing good enough in an egg to allow you to ignore that problem.




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  60. Apropos of others frustrated with the onslaught of misinformation or unsupported information: I am fed up (figuratively) with people in love with their coconut “oil”.
    They protest:
    “But coconut oil is GOOD for you!!”
    None of them have read a single study — and I have, thanks to Dr. G’s links in “sources cited”.
    Dr. McDougall is sick of it. I’m sick of it. Enough of the onslaught of the fat fad already.




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      1. That’s good! And good links! In the CSPI link, a quote that exactly matches the cherished-myth syndrome I see elsewhere:

        “However, the published paper tagged the
        trivial drop in average waist size (from 39 inches to 38.5 inches) in the coconut oil users as “statistically significant.” It wasn’t.

        Yet that’s all osteopath Joseph Mercola
        needed to shout about “The Amazing Oil That Trims Women’s Waistlines” on [his site] (where he will happily sell you coconut oil).”

        This leap from *tiny, insignificant* differences (if I remember my statistics class, we set the rho ourselves to determine what we considered “statistically significant”) to wonderful benefits:

        I see it in the studies in Dr. G’s sources, this leap from coconut oil damaging women’s cholesterol slightly less than butter and beef tallow, to “Coconut oil is *good* for you!”

        I’m starting to tell people they haven’t read a single study that shows that. And I have. As much as the greedheads will let you read online, anyway.

        But the study doesn’t come to their cherished conclusion.




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        1. Agreed! I had such a hard time finding legit studies on humans. It seems the stuff is promoted for weight loss and better cholesterol levels but that’s insane to me since we know how to efficiently tackle weight loss and high cholesterol with a whole-foods plant-based diet. Anyway, thanks for your input please share the post far and wide :-)




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  61. Are you sick? Have you been battling with strange and funny illnesses? Are you in a situation whereby the doctors have done necessary tests and said there isn’t anything wrong with you? … These were all my stories until I met with a total cure for them all… His name is Dr. Payo Shalo says my mom… I was almost at the point of death. It was that serious that I was just placed on life support even as the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me. My mom just came to my hospital bed one morning and said she had found a solution to all of my sufferings (because that was what I referred to the situation I was in then)… She said she was going through the internet and she came across some testimonies of how some people who had similar cases as mine were all cured off their illnesses through the power of this voodoo man. Without hesitation, I told her to contact the man, Which she did and she went on with the procedures as instructed her by this voodoo man (these procedures, I wasn’t aware of because I was in a really bad shape then, And whenever I asked my mom she would say I shouldn’t bother myself about that…that it was something she could handle). Not to bore you readers with too much of my story, in seven days from that day my mom told me about the voodoo man, I was cured off this killer disease that was at the verge of taking my life. Want to share your testimony like me? Contact the voodoo man on his direct email address… payospiritsshalospells’’AT’’yahoo’’DOT’’com (rewrite the email in its right form)… I AM NOW A HAPPY AND HEALTHY YOUNG MAN ONCE AGAIN…THANKS TO DR. PAYO SHALO




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    1. Francisco: I can understand and sympathize with your confusion. And obviously, I can’t tell you what to believe. Neither do I have the time nor interest in checking out all 153 of the sources Cordain provides. What I can do is point you to some solid evidence that Cordain has been very dishonest in the past with his sources/references. There’s no reason to believe that he is being any more honest now. If you are interested, a website called Plant Positive has taken on Cordain and other cholesterol deniers in a very scholarly way–including looking at their own claims and references. Here’s the home page following by a link to the page you get when you search the Plant Positive videos for references to Cordain:
      http://plantpositive.com/
      http://plantpositive.com/display/Search?moduleId=19496100&searchQuery=Cordain

      Also, one more thought for you: You can find a good 100 studies saying that smoking is neutral or even healthy for you. Those studies are obviously wrong. We know they are wrong due to the many, many more studies, and studies which are more valid, showing that smoking is harmful to our health. Even if all 153 of Cordain’s studies really were valid and really did say what he claims they say (unlikely I think), that doesn’t top the massive, massive body of evidence we have showing that whole plant food based (WPFB) eating is THE healthiest diet for humans in general. Science just isn’t so black and white that all studies will always say the same thing. That’s why you have to look at the entire body of evidence and do so with an educated eye / the ability to understand when studies are faulty.

      Hope that helps.




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    2. #1 a PhD doesn’t ensure you are knowledgeable about nutrition.
      #2 I look more toward the Adventist Health Health study than the study referenced in that article.
      #3 There is a significant difference between vegetarians and those plant based or vegan. Vegetarians eat dairy, eggs, and often sea food. All of which can increase risks of disease and death if in your diet.
      #4 Their really only knock against vegans is the lack of proper nutrition. And that is a real risk if you are not eating a variety of plant foods nor enough plant foods. When on a plant based diet you MUST eat a variety of plants, and ENOUGH plants. And you also must supplement vitamin B12.




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  62. I have found information saying that some plant foods are also dangerous, beans, nuts, legumes, etc. because of lectin and gluten. Is there science to support this or is this myth. Thanks in advance for your support on this. -Thomas Eric Herrington thomasericherrington@gmail.com




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  63. What are your thoughts on thyroid hormones?
    I was given bio-identical thyroid hormones by my doctor because of hypothyroidism. I stopped taking them after a week because of side effects and because I found out that once you are on them, you basically have to stay on them as they make your thyroid not have to do it’s job. I’ve done some research (a lot of which has been on here!) and found that your gut, adrenals, and thyroid rely on each other to function properly. But what if none of them work? I likely have a mitochondrial disease (even though I’m college-aged) from taking Cipro, and since basically nothing is functioning properly I’m worried that I might need some kind of crutch. I just don’t want that to be something that will ultimately be harmful.




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  64. What about thyroid hormones?
    I was given bio-identical thyroid hormones by my doctor because of hypothyroidism. I stopped taking them after a week because of side effects and because I found out that once you are on them, you basically have to stay on them as they make your thyroid not have to do it’s job. I’ve done some research (a lot of which has been on here!) and found that your gut, adrenals, and thyroid rely on each other to function properly. But what if none of them work? I likely have a mitochondrial disease (even though I’m college-aged) from taking Cipro, and since basically nothing is functioning properly I’m worried that I might need some kind of crutch. I just don’t want that to be something that will ultimately be harmful.




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  65. Five and a half years ago I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I had surgery to remove a 6 inch in diameter tumor. I started chemotherapy soon after. After just one dose of chemo, I ended up in a wheel chair with extremely painful neuropathy. Against my doctors advice, I quit taking chemo. Soon after my surgery I heard about a the benefits of a whole foods plant based diet. Within three months of eating this diet, my CA125 went form over 700 to below 30. Within four months it was down below 10 and it has stayed that way to this day. My husband who discovered the diet also started eating only whole food plant based and got off off of is heart medication. We feel like our lives have been given back to us. The neuropathy that put me in a wheel chair is now almost gone and I have no more pain from what remains.




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    1. That is great to hear that you were able to achieve such results. While such a lifestyle shift won’t do that for everyone, in many cases there is nothing to loose by trying and everything to gain. So happy to hear you and your husband are doing well.




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  66. Hi!

    There is so much great info here, and I’m looking for advice on where to start. My fiancé has stage 4 colon cancer. What are 2 or 3 habits I can help him adopt that may help keep him healthy while he is in treatment?
    Thanks!




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  67. Hello Dr. Greger,

    Thank you for your wonderful work. I am in my 30’s and have been a lacto-ovo-vegetarian for over 20yrs. I am prediabetic and had gestational diabetes with my pregnancies. During my pregnancies, my diet consisted primarily of eggs and dairy products because this lowered by blood sugar and allowed me to stay leaner. My blood sugars are always lower with animal products (high dairy and eggs consumption) compared to my regular diet (high carbohydrate with little dairy or eggs). How is it that a plant based diet is supposed to decrease my risk of type 2 diabetes, if this is contrary to my personal experience? What can I do to minimize my risk of DM2?

    Thanks!




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    1. kaudiau: I can’t remember which NutritionFacts video it was, but in one of them, we learned how it is fat that clogs up the cells, preventing the insulin from working right. And then leading to diabetes because the “sugar”/glucose in your blood then has nowhere to go/can’t get into the cells.
      .
      What we know is that it is normal for blood sugar to rise when eating starchy foods and that a person with a healthy system will quickly absorb all that good fuel in to the body. But what if you can’t absorb it? Then if you eat a lot of fatty foods like dairy and eggs, then you can treat the symptoms of t2 diabetes because you aren’t putting that glucose into your body in the first place. This may look it appear that someone does better on a high fat diet. But that person is not making the diabetes go away. Instead, it will just progress because the cause is not being addressed.
      .
      I don’t know so much about gestational diabetes, but I know a fair amount about regular T2 diabetes. I highly recommend reading the following book by Dr. Barnard. That book includes great, super-easy and fast explanations of the science behind nutrition and diabetes as well as a description of a clinical study that showed the whole food plant diet was 3 times more effective at dealing with diabetes than the ADA diet. And the back of the book includes a lot of recipes that will give you a blue print for figuring out which types of food are good for someone with your problem. Reading the testimonials for the book can provide inspiration.

      http://www.amazon.com/Neal-Barnards-Program-Reversing-Diabetes/dp/1594868107/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451854412&sr=8-1&keywords=dr+barnard+prevent+diabetes
      .
      Dr. Greger’s new book How Not To Die also has a chapter on diabetes. I’m half way through it, but I know that the bottom line is that Dr. Greger would agree with the recipes/recommendations in the book above. Also, Dr. Greger’s book contains some additional studies/info you won’t find in Dr. Barnard’s book. So, you might consider getting both.
      http://www.amazon.com/How-Not-Die-Discover-Scientifically/dp/1250066115/ref=sr_1_1_twi_har_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451854535&sr=8-1&keywords=how+not+to+die
      .
      Hope that helps.




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  68. I have a question regarding the stress hormones of animals, some people eat:
    If one eats body parts of murdered animals (or maybe diary products), by that one also consumes the stress hormones of animals – among many other bad stuff like colesterol, antibiotics, growth hormones, etc.
    My question now is: (What stress hormones are that and especially) do the consumed stress hormones of animals practically have the same effect on the human body than the stress hormones humans produce by themselves in dangerous or frustrating situations (or do the consumed stress hormones of animals all get completely destroyed by the human digestion before being able to enter human blood stream) ?




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  69. Your research, your sharing of your research in lay terms, and your overall dedication to health for every single person on this planet is 12 stars out of 10 stars. I find myself re-posting your material several times per day and now I am reading portions of your new book “How Not to Die” to friends and strangers alike. I place the book in plain view of passerby’s and carry it proudly anticipating that a discussion will develop.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. A lifelong student of nutrition and health, Joy of Greenville, California (USA)




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  70. My wife and I have been whole food plant based for 6 months now. We went to this way of living because of studying people like Rich Roll and Scott Jurek, but also because my wife suffers from endometriosis. We read that a WFPB lifestyle could potentially cure endometriosis. But since we’ve been living this way her endometriosis has gotten worse. She had an ovarian cyst grow and rupture, she can’t stand, walk, or run for very long at all, and she has cramps and feels sick pretty often from it all. We’re not sure what else to do. We are by no means going to stop living a whole foods plant based lifestyle. But any help would be so great for her. We don’t want to do any kind of hormonal treatments. We’ve been doing chiropractic care and foot zoning which has helped. Is there anything else that we can do that will help her body heal from this more? Any foods that she should be eating more of daily that would help more? It would be great to see a video done on endometriosis and see some good studies done on it and how it relates to a diet, exercise, etc, and what people can do to help with the pain, infertility, and curing it.




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    1. awguitar86: Your story really touched me. I can just imagine how much you are both struggling.
      .
      I don’t have the help you need, but I hope this helps a little: If you do a search here on NutritionFacts, you can see that there are only two videos that briefly mention endometriosis. One of the videos draws a link between endometriosis and pesticides. It is talking about pesticides in dairy and meat, but I wonder if eating more organic plant foods would help? (It’s a stretch, but it was all I could come up with. For all I know you are already eating mostly organic…)
      .
      The other idea I had was to join up on the free 21 Day Kickstart program from PCRM (a site consistent with the information on NutritionFacts). I know that the PCRM forum is moderated by an RD. NutritionFacts just lost our RD. I have no idea if the PCRM forum moderator will look up studies or not as a response to questions, but I think it I worth a try. The woman who does that work is someone you can trust.
      .
      I hope Dr. Greger will be able to do a video on endometriosis in the not too distant future. Good luck to you both.




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  71. Hi Michael,

    I don’t know where to post this and how I can get your feedback so all may
    benefit. I am hoping you can do some research into this or answer
    this post directly in some way.

    Let me start by saying that I think your information is invaluable and
    collecting all these studies to give us the facts is groundbreaking and helping
    to give people the information they need. Thank you.

    But saying that, I am STILL so confused. Also, let me state that I have no personal ties to any diet or biased. I just want to heal myself from
    brain and nervous system damage due to drugs my doctor prescribed me. For 2
    years now I have followed every diet imaginable including both raw vegan and been
    paleo with no change. I am desperate and am bring told that day will help heal
    my brain and nervous system.

    My question is this: With the release of dr mark haymans book about fat and his fat summit with experts and scientific evidence
    that is polar opposite to what your research shows I am more confused than ever.
    I have 2 babies and have to heal. It is a crime what has been done up me from
    these doctor prescribed meds (poison). I was the picture of health and a new
    mom less than 3 years ago with an amazing life before me. Now I would prefer to
    be dead due to the level of suffering. I will do anything. Anything to heal
    myself except touch another drug as long as God lets me live. I just need the
    truth so I can let food be my medicine. Can you please address the differences
    in the low fat high fat approach for what building blocks the human body needs
    to heal specifically for brain and nervous system.

    Being not biased myself and being willing to do or try ANYTHING, and I mean
    everything. I have done everything from hyberbarics to fecal transplant, walked
    miles every day, and gone to every type of healer under the sun. I would
    literally eat dog shit for the rest of my life for every meal if it meant I
    would heal. I just need the truth and I will do whatever it takes. It seems
    to me that the information on your site is the best information and chance I
    have at healing myself and that would be a plant based low fat diet. But there
    is just ONE thing that I can’t shake in my mind, and since there have been no
    improvements with this diet, I continue to question everything (as I believe I
    should in order to find the truth). The one thing I can’t shake in my mind is
    that something happened around the time of the first homosapiens that changed
    the course of evolution history and we became humans as we know them today,
    whose brains got bigger (not flat like in our history of apes). That thing
    was fire and the ability to cook and consume animals. It changed the sizes of
    our brains forever. Was it the meat itself, the amino acids and nutrition, or
    was it the fat of which our brains our made mostly of? Who knows, but it
    happened because of fire and the ability to eat meat. Another thing I cannot
    shake came from a segment in CJ hunt’s movie, The Perfect Human Diet, where the
    archeologists confirmed through blood analysis of bones from Paleolithic era
    that man ate meat, plain and simple and that there is no vegan ancestors. If
    they didn’t eat animals that the human race as we know it would not exist and we
    sure as heck wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. Period. So even
    if meat is causing us diseased states and shortening lifespan in today’s modern
    world. Is it because OTHER things that people are eating at the same time in
    studies like gluten or grains? Or is it the type of feedlot meat that we
    consume instead of wild organic game. Or is the fish that our brains need, is
    actually too contaminated now from the damage we have done to our oceans, so we
    actually need it but it’s also too toxic for us. So what is a person to do?
    If the recent and best evidence we have to date shows that a plant based diet is
    healthiest with less disease, yet evolution of our entire species came from
    consuming animal products – what do our brains and bodies actually need. I am
    paralyzed with fear over this decision because it is personal to me. I HAVE TO
    HEAL for my family and kids. It’s survival of the species for me, right now, to
    find out the truth at all costs so I can repair my brain and nervous system and
    regain my life. Has your team ever done studies on archeological information
    on what the human body was designed to eat. I can tell that you do your best to
    provide FACTS, not biased view of NUTRITION as it relates to optimal health –
    but I can also tell that you are biased toward no meat (probably based on
    everything you read) yet, perhaps your team is not under covering or digging for
    information on the other side (animal products and fat specifically) as a
    result? Or perhaps the studies are being funded by sources that have their
    own biases. And everyone has money as the bottom line no matter whether
    its pharma or natural products or books or programs or whatever. So maybe the
    truth is still not being gotten to?

    I honor what you do. And have found the best information on your site yet
    it conflicts with other top natural doctors and research being done. Is there a way you
    can do some more research in this area or do a video to talk about this or clear
    some things up in regards to the fat or ketones being optimal and what we were
    actually designed for. If your team can’t clear this up, nobody can. Honestly. It’s
    mass confusion trying to figure this out. I have spent hours, done countless
    research, seen hundreds of doctors and naturopaths and every type of healer out
    there and the little voice inside me tells me that food is my key. I have
    juiced thousands of pounds of vegetables, followed gerson diet. Everything.
    Yet, nothing improves symptoms or my bodies ability to heal itself.

    I just am so desperate and nothing seems to be working. I want to give
    myself the best chance. Please help.

    Grateful for your time, advice and feedback

    Lisa.




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    1. Lisa: I’m sorry are suffering so. I hope you find solutions to your problems.

      I thought I would address a couple points from your post. You claim the use of fire lead to the ability to cook meat and that was the key to promoting human brain development. This is just a theory that has not been proven. I’ve seen other theories (that again are just theories and yet are equally plausible). One theory is that the ability to cook at all, especially plant foods, is what helped our brains to develop. Because what we needed was more calories, and cooking condenses food and makes it more digestible. Think about how this situation would apply to greens vs steak.

      You mention that there were no vegans among human’s earlier ancestors. That doesn’t mean that early humans weren’t eating a largely whole plant diet, supplemented with a tiny amount of animal products for extra calories–when they could get it. I encourage you to check out these pages:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/02/21/the-real-paleo-diet/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/2014/09/23/will-the-real-paleo-diet-please-stand-up/

      But mostly I would encourage you to get away from thinking that understanding human ancestors is the way to finding the one big truth. 1) No one knows exactly what happened during our early development, 2) humans have likely continued to evolve in *some* areas/ways making previous ideal situations not applicable to modern humans, 3) early humans did not eat for optimum health. They ate to survive. They didn’t have the access to information and products that we have today. 4) the period of early humans that many people look at as ‘the one period to look at’ had humans spread out over a large part of the planet and were eating different diets. There is no ‘one true original diet’. 5) the modern world is dramatically different from the world inhabited by our ancestors. It almost isn’t possible to eat like they did. (The foods – plant and animal alike – are generally very different.) So, we have to figure out the healthiest way to eat given the world we live in now.

      That’s my 2 cents. I could see your pain reading your post. I really do hope you find a way to get better. If you purchase Dr. Greger’s new book, How Not To Die, you might find some help from Part 2 of the book, where the nitty gritty practical and day-to-day advice on how to eat can be found. Good luck.




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      1. Thank you and all really good points I have also thought of myself.
        Still what about b12, and fat, and omega’s and other things it seems the human brain and nervous system needs to thrive. I am not trying to be difficult, just wondering if there is more digging and studies to be looked at from all sides. Dr. Mark Hayman has the fat summit right now with so many leading natural experts and doctors who are saying there is much evidence towards needing fat. Have you checked out the information and the same studies. Can you comment? Also, is it possible for Dr. Greger himself to respond to this post, or do a video. I really am just trying to do the right thing here to heal my brain, body, nervous system breakdown and restore the balance of what I need so self healing can take place.
        Thank you.




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        1. Lisa: Please note that I’m not trying to respond in place of Dr. Greger. For all I know, he will jump in next. I just know that for the vast majority of posts, Dr. Greger is not able to reply. He just can’t due to the sheer volume of posts. Your story touched me, though, so I wanted to make sure *someone* replied. That’s all my reply is about. I don’t speak for Dr. Greger, but my guess is that he probably feels that the answers to your questions are already here on this website. So, you could continue to do research to find your answers.

          Also, I don’t think you are trying to be difficult at all. I think that all of your questions are reasonable and shared by a great many people.

          However, I also think that your questions have been answered on this site and in Dr. Greger’s new book. For example, take B12. The need for humans to get dietary B12 is inarguable, but not an argument to eat meat. On the contrary. B12 comes from bacteria. Early humans would/could have gotten their B12 from dirty water (but who needs cholera) and dirty plant foods (who needs all the bad stuff that can come with eating dirt) and small insects (no thank you for me) that got in the plant foods, and yes I would argue probably also from the occasional tiny bit of meat. But there’s no reason to believe that a significant amount of B12 came from meat – especially since early humans would have known how to butcher an animal – not using systems like we do in modern times where the carcasses sit in feces soups and get some B12 that way. For more on B12:
          http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/08/25/vegan-b12-deficiency-putting-it-into-perspective/
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/omnivore-vs-vegan-nutrient-deficiencies-2/
          http://nutritionfacts.org/?s=B12

          What about omega 3s? You can get all the omega 3s you need from eating proper plant foods such as leafy greens and few walnuts or ground flaxseeds. Jeff Novick did a *great* talk on fat, called From Oil To Nuts, The Essential Facts of Fat Oils. (Since the talk is so awesome in explaining the situation with fat in general as well as oils and nuts in particular, I highly recommend it for you. http://www.amazon.com/Oil-Nuts-Essential-Facts-Oils/dp/B003UYAQIY/ref=sr_1_1_twi_dvd_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452282355&sr=8-1&keywords=from+oil+to+nuts) In that video, Jeff discussed a) how much omega 3s we need and b) showed a table of how much you can get from various plants.

          That we modern humans don’t eat enough of the right plant foods and eat too much of other foods that are bad for us and minimize the effectiveness of the omega 3s we do get — does not make an argument for eating meat. As I said, I don’t think we should (or even can) eat like our ancestors, but we can get our daily allowance of omega 3s from a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds. And if there is any concern that the flaxseed is not enough, we can get omega 3s the way the fish do – from plant based algae. (You can buy a DHA/EPA pill that comes from safe algae sources.) Flaxseed combined with an *optional* (as a just-in-case think for people who want to be sure) DHA pill is Dr. Greger’s recommendation both on this site and in his new book.
          http://nutritionfacts.org/?s=omega+3

          Your comment about fat is puzzling. re: “…saying there is much evidence towards needing fat.” I don’t know *anyone* who is recommending a diet with zero fat. It’s almost impossible for one thing. Even broccoli has fat in it. The argument is about *how much* and what kinds of fat a diet should have, not about whether or not we need fat. A low fat, whole plant foods proponent will recommend 8-10% of calories come from fat, with as little saturated fat as possible and from whole plant foods as opposed to oils or animal products. Or sometimes the recommendation is 10-15%. That’s not an argument against fat. That’s just an argument against excessive fat.

          Dr. Greger doesn’t recommend any set percentage of fat. Instead, Dr. Greger just recommends eating whole plant foods, including some nuts. Following that plan gives most people all the fat they need. How many people are diagnosed with a fat deficiency? There’s probably someone out there, but no one that I know. Also note that Dr. Greger has some great videos that explain the flaws in studies which claim that high fat diets or saturated fat or cholesterol are good for us. Those studies are flawed in serious ways and Dr. Greger has addressed it more than once. If you can’t find those specific videos, maybe someone else can help out and supply a link or two.

          I have one more thought for you: Someone who is sick or has a special circumstance may need a different diet than the vast majority of humans. For example, a ketogenic diet is extremely unhealthy. But it can help people with epilepsy. It sounds like you have some serious health problems. So, you may need a special diet. I don’t know. I think you would need a professional to help you figure it out. Given your history, I can understand why you don’t trust doctors. (I share some of that mistrust myself.) But maybe you could find a really good RD who really knows the science and who could work with you to help you figure things out? Also, there are some really, really knowledgeable doctors out there. Ones who keep up with NutrtionFacts and other good sources like this one. Maybe you could look for a doctor who could actually help you?

          Again, I so hope you find your solution. I wish I could send you to Dr. McDougall’s program, because he personally becomes your doctor for that program. Good luck.




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          1. Lisa: I came up with some more resources for you to address your interest in directly addressing studies which seem to promote the opposite of what this site promotes. Here is one article from this site (I know there are more pages, but this is what I could find quickly):
            http://nutritionfacts.org/2015/10/29/why-some-dietary-cholesterol-studies-fail-to-show-harm/

            But if you really want to get into point by point discussions, I highly recommend Plant Positive’s videos.
            http://plantpositive.com/




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            1. Thank you dear Thea for taking the time to reply and help and give me some resources. I appreciate it beyond words. I still cannot believe that after only 3 months of being polydrugged to cover up symptoms of the previous drug they tried and going off everything cold turkey — after a life of never touching anything in my life — I nearly died and the full breakdown of my entire nervous system has not been able to repair itself in two years of doing everything I possibly can. If Dr. Gregor needs any more evidence against prescribed drugs and just how deadly they are, I am living proof. It is sad. My poor family and kids and I cannot seem to do anything to improve my situation. I desperately need to heal myself with food and will look into all you suggest. If you ever think of anything more, please, come back to this post and let me know. with Gratitude,
              Lisa




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      2. Any chance someone could let me know which foods Dr. Greggor has researched as “GOOD FATS”??? I was sad to see that coconut and avocado have studies that are showing problems. Same with olives? I’m still very confused. I know he says low fat, but what healthy fats specifically does he recommend based on his research?? Please advise. Which nuts? Nut butters, seeds? In particular does he have a LIST of healthy fats based on research?
        THANK YOU VERY MUCH.




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  72. I just want to point out that the Hypo. Oath which all doctors are fully aware of was authored by the physician that coined “let food be thy medicine” quite some time ago and that we need not question this much more then to simply accept it again as truth and allow it to override the truth dictated by big pharma. In other words. NBD and no duh doctor. Sorry to be so insensitive to what you made sound like painstaking efforts to write this article. But the real juice will be seen from what are you and all you fancy folks with your degrees and all gonna do about it. Enough blah blah blah and more action from doctors would be appreciated.




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  73. Hi I’m wondering about the dangers of fish I switched to to a primary plant based diet. But I was advised to eat fish as well. In small amounts. I’m also very big into weight lifting so I’m concerned about not getting amino acids. I’m 28 and I’m trying to make healthy choices. Any info is great. I’m kinda sad that most of the food information that I’ve gotten most of life has been totally wrong. Is there any studies to indicate how long it takes to begin to see the benefits of a plant based diet. Weeks months years? Thanks




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    1. You can search this site for information on the dangers of fish. I would also suggest watching the following video to gain some insight into other reasons to avoid animal products outside of simply health reasons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5hGQDLprA8
      Bite Size Vegan has a great Vegan Atheletes series of videos where many of the questions you might have get answered:
      https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmIqdlomtuSv9FQJgdj3Bwg9Nh9MNjKg4
      In particular you may want to watch the video on Derek Treesize, a vegan body builder, and her most recent video on David Carter, an NFL football player who is vegan.
      You could look at http://www.veganbodybuilding.com/ as a free resource for optimizing your plant based food choices as a weight lifter.
      The current fitness and body building communities are full of information that is designed to drive you to buy their magic powders and magic meal plans which have no basis in science or basic nutrition. When you really get down to the reality of things you’ll find you need much less protein than those “in the know” would have you believe. And as long as you eat a good variety of whole plant foods, including leafy greans, beans and legumes you’ll get all you need in your amino acid profile.

      I personally started weight lifting again (after a 20 year break) this past November, and started with a physical trainer this week. We’ll see how it goes for me.




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  74. Why have Japanese cholesterol levels gone up over the last 20 years or so but heart disease rates have fallen ?. Is cholesterol just a possible marker for HD or is it a cause ?.




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    1. Dean: The page you linked to includes a nice detailed rebuttal from Dr. Ornish himself. Did you read that rebuttal? I find the rebuttal strongly compelling. Moyer’s reply to the rebuttal is very weak in my opinion, not generally addressing the points. I’m sure you can find other pages/articles which do not bother to correct the falsehoods, but that doesn’t make those “contradictions” any more accurate.
      .
      My take: I don’t think your link is making your case. That article makes it look like you are arguing for a false equivalency. It is only appropriate to present “balance” when both sides are actually valid. Would you decry the lack of balance for an article that only pointed out the harms of smoking? That would not make sense given the data…
      .
      As I think I suggested before on your previous post, I recommend you take a look at the site Plant Positive for point by point explanations of the flaws behind the cholesterol deniers/animal food proponents. Then you will be able to find the flaws in those types of arguments for yourself. http://www.PlantPositive.com




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    2. I assume, which may be a mistake, that you also read Dean Ornish’s response to that article? The main problem with all similar articles is they associate high carbohydrate with low fat plant based diets as the same as what Americans are doing right now. But that is incorrect to associate. If Americans are eating a high carb, low fat diet, it isn’t based on whole foods. it is based on processed foods including processed carbs. And what fats they are eating are very bad for them, in the form of saturated fats.
      If you are ever thinking that Dr. Greger is talking about processed foods when he talks about high carbs being good for you, please know that isn’t what he is saying.




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    3. So, Dean says he has “ten of thousands of similar contradictions” but cites only one. You have to assume that Dean came out with his best shot. However, that shot was written in a “Reader’s Digest” type of science journal by a journalist, a person trained in writing — not a research scientist or physician or nutritionist. Not only did she misrepresent the science but she apparently didn’t understand it, and neither did Dean.




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  75. The point is this, NOBODY knows for sure. It is Dr. Greger’s blatant screaming confirmation bias that should embarrass anybody taking him serious. He might be correct, but he might not be, if he just made that point more clear he could be taken more seriously. From what I can tell, it’s like story time in second grade, he cherry picks research and reads it to you. I am biased (read that last line, hint, he is being honest), I have had incredible documented results going LCHF, but I am also open minded, and there are plant based diet experts I take seriously. I had hoped Dr. Greger would be one of them, but the blatant conflict of interests and screaming confirmation bias make it hard to take him seriously EVEN IF what he is saying is correct! I work in the hedge find industry where guys who make billions per year for being “right” will be the first to admit “they never really know”, they say things like “maybe so and so” those are the kind of truth tellers to take seriously. I’d like to see the results of Dr. Gregers own research, because I can read others research just as well as he can (maybe better). I can even have a confirmation bias and support the hell out of it, and I don’t need an MD to do it.




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    1. Dr. Greger makes it clear that what he is providing is the best information available based on the most recent studies available. Obviously, if you don’t eat the way the studies he shows recommends you are not going to necessarily die. If that were the case most of the world would be near death right now. Instead, what the studies are showing by far is that a whole food plant based diet from a variety of plants is the best for reversing or avoiding heart disease, and reducing the risk for a number of disabilities and diseases.
      That you simply do not like the message is not indicative of cherry picked data. If you have a preponderance of data that disputes anything that Dr. Greger finds, I’m sure he’d love to see it and feel free to post it here. But simply calling the studies he presents as “cherry picked” results in no confidence in your statements.
      It’s great that you have “incredible” results on your diet plan. But surely you recognize that a single data point is not conclusive by any means.




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    2. Gosh! I thought my post-doc training in cardiovascular physiology, decades of research and teaching at top universities, and many publications in high quality journals prepared me to read, understand, and discriminate between bad (or bought) science and good science. But in one short paragraph, Dean, who works “in the hedge find industry” has convinced me that everything about nutrition and health that I thought was right is wrong!

      Next time I have a health question I am going to Dean or my broker because, as Dean says, he can do it better.

      Oh, and the next time I give a lecture to a large group I’m going to whisper so that I am audible to all.




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  76. Studies based on Adventists are invaluable because of their meat free diet. Dr. Greger even compared the non-smoking and non-drinking Baptists to them because Baptists do eat meat… But what if there was a large population that for religious purposes at strictly vegan exactly 50% of the time… Think of the studies you could do….

    The Eastern Orthodox Christians still maintain the tradition of strict “fasting”. They eliminate all meat, fish, dairy, eggs and oils, they eat vegan during long fasting periods before Christmas and Easter and two other times. In addition they must eat vegan every Wednesday and Friday… It adds up to 50% of the year is vegan..

    In Orthodox monasteries they fast Monday, Wednesday and Friday and when they do eat meat it is only fish, no chicken or red meat. The Monks living on Mt. Athos in Greece ( an isolated cluster of Monasteries with about 2,000 monks in total) are well known to live very long life spans.

    Dan Buhtner of “Blue Zones” studied an isolated population of Orthodox laypeople living on a Greek Island who also had unusually long lives…. I had an opportunity to speak with him after he addressed the Society of Insurance Actuaries a few years ago and mentioned to him Orthodox Fasting.. He said hmmmmm a lot but after the study I noticed their fasting habit did get a mention.




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  77. I am a colorectal cancer survivor. I had chemo and radiation, and had my entire rectum and 12 inches of my colon cut out. I also had a temporary illeostomy. I really want to go all vegan, but my transit time is so much quicker and I have other problems and am on the toilet constantlyI would love suggestions on how to be vegan without the problems of loose stools and diarrhea. Any suggestions would be appreciated.




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    1. how long ago was your surgery. A quick look at others with similar conditions seems that it takes a while for adjustments to your muscles to allow better control of going to the bathroom. I would imagine that a whole food based vegan lifestyle would work very good for you as it reduces strain on your remaining parts. I suggest seeing if you can locate others with similar results and see how they are dealing with it. Remember, plants are what our body was built to eat. Any time we eat plants and not animal product our body is better for it.




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      1. MikeOn Raw, thanks for your response. Straining is not the issue. I was diagnosed in 2006 and finished my surgeries in 2007. I have had plenty of time to heal. I am part of a large colorectal survivors private Facebook group and thousands of us talk every day. A shorter colon and no rectum causes a shorter transit time and a lessened ability for fluid to be taken from the colon to the body. We are left with looser and watery stool and that makes control more difficult. Not to mention what the surgeries and treatments did to our body. I understand many of the benefits physically and for the world to go vegan. It is a real challenge for the many that already have faced GI diseases. Again, any suggestions would help. What vegan foods slow down the transit time and thicken the stool?




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        1. I’m sorry but I don’t have very good ideas. With a high carb low fat vegan like me I’m eating a lot of food. This due to the need to get enough calories for my body but with whole foods. So that ends up being 3 to 4 times in the bathroom with my whole system. With part of it gone I could only see eating more calorie dense foods but less satisfying foods. Not the most ideal situation.
          But consider this. What would you have to loose with just trying? Look for some raw vegan recipes or cooked recipes and try them out to see how your body reacts. You may run into the perfect combination for your body, one that gives you the energy you need, as well as the slow processing. Maybe you can get some of the others you talk to , to join in with the test so you can try a variety of things faster. Call it the great GI diseases test for Veganism?




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    2. Hi Kathleen. I am very sorry to read about your experience. I suggest one way to find the information you seek is to use Google. Put in key words like; natural, foods to cure cancer, etc. Also words that relate to your medical condition with the prefix “cures for”. Full recovery is very posible if you have the faith and strength of positive thinking. You already are a survivor so it’s not much more for you to do.
      God bless and protect you.
      Juan




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  78. I am a veterinarian, and took my first nutrition class in 1966. Since then, I have been studying nutrition, both animal and human. I have been eating a healthy diet, according to the information that has been available every year. It is often hard to know what a healthy diet is, or at least it has been up until now. With T. Colin Campbell’s fantastic China Study, and the wonderful, comprehensive, and very entertaining work of Dr. Michael Gregor, it is now very straightforward to know what a healthy diet is based on a mountain of data. Now, all you have to do is watch Dr. Greger’s videos and do it. Or, to put it more succinctly, “It’s the animal products, stupid!” If you believe in the scientific method, the value of evidence, and enough studies to reach the moon, and if you care about your health and happiness, then eat plants. Thanks.




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  79. I am seeing an ad the site from “Media Bistro”, it is about some celebrity news drivel, but I know that the good Dr. is proud of the Ad free status of the site, but it looks like one sneaked in




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  80. Dr. Greger, I am a veterinarian and have been studying human and animal nutrition since the 60s. (Starting back at Cornell University, same as you.) Now I spend my time studying your vids because you use only evidence-based peer review sources and interpret them with insight, impartiality, and humor. I thank you for your excellent work. Don’t ever quit. Great, great, great resource. Thanks!




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  81. Thank you Dr. Greger for the enlightenment of our understanding of the food industry and the pattern that parts of it are using in the same pattern as the Tobacco industry to keep us from knowing the truth. The Tobacco Industry was not the first. Previous to that was the Lead Industry and the contamination of Lead continues to the present day. I recently heard a presentation on NPR’s Fresh Air on all the things that the Lead Industry did – and continues to do to protect themselves and hide the truth from the public (check this out http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/03/03/469039064/americas-lead-wars-go-beyond-flint-mich-its-now-really-everywhere ) We see it in the Meat Industry and in other industries – genetic engineering of our crops – that is thoroughly disheartening. Tobacco was not the first. And I have no doubt that there was an industry or organisation that did it before the Lead Industry.




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  82. Great talk thanks! I have a question regarding a 70-year- old patient who has been afflicted with diabetes type 2 for 20 years and injects insulin. As a consequence of diabetes, the patient has many variations in blood pressure, heart problems and worst comes to the worse has been recently diagnoses with grade 4 liver cirrhosis. The doctors have advised to remove salt and red meat from the diet and asked not to drink too much water to prevent ascites.
    Insulin intake has been reduced but Metforfim is still recommended. Fefol Iron capsule has cut down (while I believe this was a wrong medicine for such a patient as this can cause liver disorders). some herbal liver detox capsules are being used as well such as Liv 52 capsule, plus Ursodiol capsule to cure the severe pruritus due to the obstruction of bile duct.

    I do believe that healthy nutrition can cure all these problems and the pills we use have many known/unknown side-effects that makes the situation worse. I am desperately looking for a balanced and healthy diet for this patient but the problem is that:
    1. She prefer cooked foods and her mind is pre-occupied with this idea that vegetables/fruits would keep her hungry and are not real foods! maybe cooked veggies recipe help to convince her!
    2. the limitations are double for her. I mean due to diabetes and liver cirrhosis it is pretty tricky to find a balanced diet. For example, I know that turmeric is great for liver recovery but it is risky to use it for someone with this stage of cirrhosis :( she is losing huge amount of weight due to this limitation of food intake unfortunately.

    I would appreciate it if any of you friends can be of help. Cheers!




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    1. I appreciate your question and the interest you’re taking in this particular patient. I too agree that she would greatly benefit from dietary changes (as opposed more meds…not that some aren’t needed). I think a good place for her to start would be the Forks Over Knives Recipe Page. Many good, cooked recipes are found here. In fact, most of what I eat is cooked as opposed to raw. I hope this at least helps a little.




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      1. Thanks DrAlex. the main problem is the coincidence of type 2 diabetes and liver cirrhosis. most diets are designed to cover just one of them. this patient is losing weight unlike most case of fatty liver and cirrhosis! :(




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        1. Have you reviewed the studies discussed in this video?
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/can-oatmeal-help-fatty-liver-disease/
          It touches on cirrhosis of the liver due to fatty liver disease.
          Based on everything I’ve learned on this website, at a minimum your patient should dramatically reduce her fat intake to no more than 15% of their diet. Eat whole grains and whole plant foods primarily.
          As far as her concerns, perhaps the first thing to understand is the volume of food she eats will need to go up. That is the key to whole plant foods, higher volume. The serving size salad you might get at a restaurant is not enough.




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    2. Hi Ali,
      She sounds like a very stuburn patient. I detox my self with a daily raw vegetable smoothy of only green vegis of which brocoli is the biggest percentage. Go to youtube and you will find a lot of videos on detoxing the liver and other vital organs.
      Juan




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  83. I was expecting to get more replies and help from you guys. Just one reply to my last comment and it is not possible to contact dr. Greger :(




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  84. If our government bans meat then they better get rid of GMO plant foods. These are hybrids or artificial foods. They have insecticides built in. Risk? They are not heirloom and are not what is natural for humans to consume. Maybe the combination of these GMO’s and meat is causing the disease bringing on a catalyst action in combination. Sucralose doe this. My niece is a Diabetic type 1 and says that taking in Sucralose and then eating carbs will cause her an increase in her insulin need post. Magnification? Does not happen with without it.

    I have been doing a high fat, low carb diet for 24 years. I am 60 on zero drugs with blood pressure 110/60, testosterone is as high as a young mans without drugs. I am 5’7″ 162lbs, average 9% body fat. I had a colonoscopy done after 8 years and no issues whatsoever after doing this diet for 15 years. My cholesterol does run high by the “healthcare” industry standards. I have no arthritis. My strength is at the same level it was when I was in my 20’s. If you go to low in cholesterol or what happens with vegans, here is the side effect…. I did a very low fat low fat meats 30 grams of fat a day and the rest was complex “healthy” carbs while trying to get lean for Bodybuilding. My Cholesterol was checked at that time at a 144 total. The result? I was weak, lost muscle was not lean enough and I learned I was also impotent. Doing the opposite like I do now I have enjoyed the complete opposite and reversed my impotence without Viagra and Androgel.

    He is pushing the agenda of the “Movie Forks Over Knives”. In it Hitler and Mao experimented with vegan because they wanted to learn how to manipulate their populations not keep them healthy. Take Meat out and lower cholesterol ( Look up Cholesterol on Wiki – Function paragraph -“Precursor to all Sexual hormones”) They were two individuals that killed Millions. Do you believe their motives were to keep their people healthy? The Nazi’s were the inventors of all the Anabolic steroids with the Russians.They were researching how hormones can manipulate and control populations. Make them weak, passive and to control population size. Dr. Greger eluded to the fact that Mothers had more twins with meat diets. So that is bad?? No, manipulating and taking away freedom of choice and controlling populations is. He is in bed with those that are brainwashing you to keep you under their thumbs. By the way a Keto diet recently is now said to get rid of Childhood Leukemia. What a great snake oil salesman!!




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    1. Lowcarb: In your post above, you mention going vegan for a while and feeling week. Sounds like you didn’t know what you were doing. Once again, I offer you this information to get you started:

      There was that guy who did a world record in weight lifting. “Congratulations to Strongman Patrik Baboumian who yesterday took a ten metre walk carrying more than half a tonne on his shoulders, more than anyone has ever done before. After smashing the world record the Strongman let out a roar of ‘Vegan Power’…” For more info:
      http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/vegan-strongman-patrik-babaoumain-breaks-world-record/
      another article on the same guy:
      http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/09/08/vegan_strongman_shoulders_550_kg_a_record_perhaps_at_vegetarian_food_fest.html
      —————–

      (article from meatout mondays)
      Vegan Bodybuilders Dominate Texas Competition

      The Plant Built (PlantBuilt.com) team rolled into this year’s drug-free, steroid-free Naturally Fit Super Show competition in Austin, TX, and walked away with more trophies than even they could carry.

      The Plant Built team of 15 vegan bodybuilders competed in seven divisions, taking first place in all but two. They also took several 2nd and 3rd place wins.

      For More Info:
      http://www.plantbuilt.com/

      ———————
      When Robert Cheeke started VeganBodybuilding.com in 2002, being the only vegan athlete he knew of, he may not have imagined that the website would quickly grow to have thousands of members. Robert says, “We’re discovering new vegan athletes all the time, from professional and elite levels… to weekend warriors and everyone in between.”

      For More Info:
      http://www.veganbodybuilding.com/

      —————–
      Here’s a story about a bodybuilder who doesn’t use any supplements. Just eats whole plant foods:
      http://www.forksoverknives.com/vegan-bodybuilder-plant-based-diet/?mc_cid=b8b1865825&mc_eid=09aaf03269

      —————–
      Mr Universe – “Since going vegan, he has actually gained even more mass, now at 107 Kilos…”
      http://www.thediscerningbrute.com/2015/07/14/mr-universe-goes-vegan/

      —————–
      Bite Size Vegan has a youtube channel
      “In this video series, you’ll hear from various vegan athletes from all walks of life and athletic abilities speaking to such topics as vegan athletic performance, building muscle on a vegan diet, vegan endurance running, bodybuilding, body image, and more!”
      https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmIqdlomtuSv9FQJgdj3Bwg9Nh9MNjKg4

      —————–
      Here’s another site that I like:
      http://www.greatveganathletes.com/

      I found this story on the above site: “Pat Reeves has set a new world powerlifting record at the WDFPA World Single Lift Championships. The 66 year old lifter, who has been vegan for 46 years, lifted 94 kg to set a record for the under 50.5kg weight class while competing in France in June 2012. The lift was more than 1.85 times her bodyweight, which is exceptional for her division. Pat is now officially the oldest competing weightlifter in Europe.”

      ————————-
      Story of Mac Denzig, winner of season six of The Ultimate Fighter
      http://www.ufc.com/news/Mac-Danzig-Diet-The-Truth-About-Vegan

      The point is, the devil is in the details when it comes to diet. And someone who follows Dr. Greger’s diet recommendations is someone who is following the science to maximize their chances of being and staying healthy for many years to come.




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  85. Many thanks Michael for your steady stream of dietary wisdom! I shall be attending a conference tomorrow in London at the Royal Society of Medicine. It will be a large gathering of speakers and many doctors and is entitled ” Food- The Forgotten Medicine” I’m hoping this is a beginning of a new era of medical thinking and practice, let’s hope so!




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  86. Thank you very much for the information. However, I developed a severe fructose malabsorption a couple of years ago and I’m even not able to tolerate 1 Broccoli alone. My question would be how f****d I really am.
    Seriously: Is there any way to adjust to atleast a more healthier life with this condition? I got plenty of nutrition counseling, but most of the time I wasn’t able to tolerate the amount of fruits they had suggest me to try. It’s just quite frustrating to see that I am more or less doomed to life quite unhealthy because of this condition.




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    1. Lori: I haven’t bothered watching it, but I clicked the link and read some of the comments under the video. This was one of my favorites, “Brought to you by the meat and dairy industry. Nice try, but we’re not buying this load of …” :-)




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  87. Thank you yet again, Dr.G, you are one of the few Doctors left that have integrity and are really willing to help people with facts and studies, and not just selling something.. Thank you………. PLease if you could shed any light on Liposarcomas ?sarcomas, as I read (in very few studies, bc there are not many) these are alkaline based tumor cancers.. which is different from most others.. Blessings




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  88. The majority of my family LIVE off eggs (between 2-3 eggs a DAY) every time there is a video on this site concerning eggs i show them, however my family (especially my mum and grandfather) still continue to eat them and encourage the other members of my family to as well. my grandfather has been a doctor for over 40 years and is convinced that eggs are healthy because they contain “good cholesterol” as opposed to “bad cholesterol” found in fatty meats, and in addition to this beleive that cholesterol itself doesn’t contribute to high cholestrol problems and it is in fact saturated fats alone that cause it. Is there any truth or sense to this? could you please make a video on the difference between “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol” and which category eggs fall into? and also talking about whether high cholesterol problems are caused by cholesterol, saturated fats or both?
    sorry for this being a big comment
    help :(




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    1. Hi Dassy,
      If you type in “eggs” (without the quotes) in the upper right corner where it says “Search”, it will link to a number of short videos on various egg-related nutrition topics that Dr. Greger has published over the past several years. I think those videos will answer most, if not all, of your questions!




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    2. The video you are looking for is likely this one:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/does-cholesterol-size-matter/
      Often the good cholesterol and bad cholesterol are discussed as big vs small.
      In this video there is a discussion of how many tests of dietary cholesterol show no impact because the people tested already have high cholesterol.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/optimal-cholesterol-level/
      And in that video text, the Dr. points to another video that it is important that others see regarding how dietary studies can be flawed.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/when-low-risk-means-high-risk/




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  89. Dr. Greger, thank you so much for making this video, as well as all of the other videos on this website. This website is so informative. I’m looking forward to reading your book… and I can’t wait until your cookbook comes out! I’m just hoping that this information gets to as many people as possible, especially those in the medical field.




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  90. I agree we eat way too much meat, we certainly don’t need it in every meal nor do we need to eat it everyday. Maybe not at all…but I don’t think any human being should be eating industrialized meats, these animals are fed unnatural feed to fatten them up and accelerate their growth, they are given antibiotics. The grain they are given is saturated with chemicals that we end up eating as well. Cows naturally eat grass not oats not corn. Cows produce milk for their calves not humans. Our mothers produce milk for us but we don’t drink it for the rest of our lives just as calves don’t drink their mothers milk for a lifetime, they eat grass. Americans eat for the flavor not for our health. Its wrong and its causing an epidemic of health conditions that will break ANY healthcare system we have. I like others didn’t wake up until I became so ill I had to seek out help from MDs who know next to nothing about nutrition, thank goodness for functional medicine docs and the internet or I’d be dead too.




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  91. Just found my cholesterol is 186 and that is since I took myself off a statin I have been taking. My cholesterol was 110 then. Other lipids also higher. I just couldn’t handle side affect of statin. I am eating little other than plant based food but some chicken or turkey. I have a daily morning smoothie, sometimes with coconut milk, mostly almond milk. I am 82 now with heart disease becaue 15 years ago had bypass surgery. Never a heart attack. What would you do?




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    1. If I was you knowing what I know now I would cut out the chicken and Turkey. Reduce oil intake dramatically. increase intake of green leafy vegetables and whole fruits including berries in most meals. Dr. Greger has an app you can get for free for an android or Iphone to track your meals as compared to his recommended daily food intakes. His book How Not To Die also has information on those recommended food intakes.




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  92. The one thing these studies don’t address is societies where meat is a huge part of the aboriginal diet–i.e. hunter/gatherer or hunters. Take the Alaska native tribes, for example. Mostly whale, walrus, seals, etc., until Western “civilization” came along and changed everything. What about the Native American populations that lived on deer, elk, and bison? Did they have high cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s, etc.? I doubt it. So what is the answer?




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    1. partriotsongs: Yes, those populations suffer from cancer and heart disease. Studies show this. Even ancient mummies found of the Alaskan people, long before Western “civilization” invaded, shows heart disease. The point is, there are plenty of studies which address these societies and the answer is consistent with studies addressing our own horrible diets.




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  93. Dr. Greger, Would you please post an article / video about the research about arteriosclerosis and the need of vitamin K2 to direct calcium into the bones and teeth. Vitamin K2 – MK7 is the most potent source of vitamin K2, derived from Japanese natto (fermented soybeans). Without sufficient K2, the calcium stays in the blood and enters soft tissue, where it causes disease. According to this research, osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis is caused by lack of K2 in the body. See the work of Dr. Leon Schurgers, Dr. Dennis Goodman, Dr. Rheaume-Bleue’s book on the calcium paradox, and the work of dentist Dr. Weston A. Price on ‘X Factor deficiency (Vitamin K2). Dr. Schurgers is now working on an experiment with supplementing patients with vitamin K2 (MK7) that are suffering from aortic stenosis to see if they can greatly reduce the calcification of the aortic valve. The evidence of the need of sufficient vitamin K2 in the diet to aid in the cure of arteriosclerosis and other diseases (osteoporosis, and possible kidney stones, diabetes, dental plaque…) is becoming exceedingly compelling. Before refrigeration, man must of had much more fermented vegetables in his diet. Also man’s early diet must of included a fair amount of food that was fermented, and thus very likely increasing the intake of vitamin K2.




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  94. Dr. Greger, Would you please post an article / video about the research about arteriosclerosis and the need of vitamin K2 to direct
    calcium into the bones and teeth. Vitamin K2 – MK7 is the most potent source of vitamin K2, derived from Japanese natto (fermented soybeans). Without
    sufficient K2, the calcium stays in the blood and enters soft tissue, where it causes disease. According to this research, osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis
    is caused by lack of K2 in the body. See the work of Dr. Leon Schurgers, Dr. Dennis Goodman, Dr. Rheaume-Bleue’s book on the calcium paradox, and the work of dentist Dr. Weston A. Price on ‘X Factor deficiency’ (Vitamin K2). Dr. Schurgers is now working on an experiment with supplementing patients with vitamin K2 (MK7) that are suffering from aortic stenosis to see if they can greatly reduce the calcification of the aortic valve. The evidence of the need of sufficient vitamin K2 in the diet to aid in the cure of arteriosclerosis and other diseases (osteoporosis, and possible kidney stones, diabetes, dental
    plaque…) is becoming exceedingly compelling. Before refrigeration, man must have had much more fermented vegetables in his diet. Also man’s early diet must have included a fair amount of food that was fermented, and thus very likely increasing the intake of vitamin K2.




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  95. I have been on a wonderful, very healthy whole plant foods diet for one year now and would never go back to eating cheese, yogurt, chicken, oils, and the processed foods (chips, crackers, muffins, etc.) that I was eating just a year ago. I have an important question for the good doctor. I have not been in to see a doctor for many years. Recently I went to see a doctor and they sent me to a cardiologist, saying that I have a stage 4 aortic stenosis. I have been working – running my landscape company, but no longer do the exercise that I used to do (or am able to do today). I am in nowhere near as bad a condition as your grandmother was when she was wheeled into the hospital, back when you were 7 years old. But, it appears that aortic stenosis is not something that is going to change with lifestyle changes. So they are talking about doing a valve replacement and I am very scared and reluctant. Is it in your opinion that I would necessarily have to go through with heart surgery? Working out in the hot sun in Arizona for years – I may have not have been drinking sufficient water. Could that cause calcification? I would like you to look into the work done by Dr Schurgers on vitamin K2 and calcification. His experiment with elderly people showed a 50% less chance of dying from heart disease when getting K2. They looked into everything that was in their diet as well. Dr Schrurgers is currently doing research on treating patients with aortic stenosis with K2 (MK7). Thank YOU so much for all the good works that you have done for all the people, the animals and for the health of the planet!!! God Bless you, Michael.
    http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/11/3100.long Dietary Intake of Menaquinone Is Associated with a Reduced
    Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The Rotterdam Study1 // http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Schurgers+et+al.+Blood.+2007+K2 Regression of warfarin-induced medial elastocalcinosis by high intake of vitamin K in rats. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7R5S22DEuJg Vitamin K2 Workshop – Part 2 (Schurgers & Maresz)
    ======




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    1. have you ever got an answer to your question? find the moderator thea, she’s incredible and may lead you to an answer if you have not received one yet. good luck.

      donald.

      .




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    2. In addition to AZ Donald’s comments below, another thought would be to get a second opinion from a plant-based cardiologist. Kim Williams, M.D. has been, until recently, the President of the American College of Cardidology and is WFPB. Joel Kahn, M.D. is a WFPB cardiologist in the Detroit area. I’m guessing that you could ask either of them to give you a second opinion via a records review or travel to where they are. If it were me I’d be contacting their offices in a flash.
      My understanding, also, is that Dr. Esselstyne, who is WFPB, answers you and sees patients. Although he is technically not a cardiologist, he sure knows a lot about reversing cardio disease.
      All the best –




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      1. Excellent comment, ‘Guest’.
        Dr Joel Kahn is actually the physician who i directed my mother to see and is very satisfied with him.
        What a coincidence, huh?




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      2. Excellent comment, ‘Guest’.
        Dr Joel Kahn is actually the physician who i directed my mother to see and is very satisfied with him.
        What a coincidence, huh?




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  96. Thank you so much for this presentation. Looking forward to the 2016 one. Especially was the information on the sharp edges of the cholesterol crystals tearing the blisters inside our arteries, veins and capillaries, leading to stroke or heart attack. It seems the body, in its wisdom, tries to surround these crystals with fat, in order to protect our inner pipes and tubes from harm. What powerful support for a completely plant-based diet.




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  97. “So, is BMAA present in Florida seafood? Yes, in both freshwater fish and shellfish, like oysters and bass, and out in the bay”.

    If one eats boiled South Korean Oysters imported to USA every day, any possible harm?

    Asia / South Korea was not mentioned so perhaps it is safe?

    (Baltic Sea is a polluted sea between France, Finland and some other countries with average depth of only about 100 meters).

    (Pacific Northwest is a geographic region in western North America)




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  98. My 10 year old niece was diagnosed with Myastenia Gravis and had to have her thalamus gland removed. At times, she has to have IVG treatments. I know that Myastenia Gravis is an autoimmune neurological disorder. Is it considered an chronic disease and can it be reversed by changing to a plant based diet?




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    1. i’m no expert in the field of MG but yes, a no added oil, whole foods plant based diet (WFPBD) reverses autoimmune diseases.

      you’ve come to the right place.

      if you want a very simple book to read about this type of lifestyle/diet i recommend “Prevent And Reverse Heart Disease” by Dr Esselstyn available at any large bookstore.

      the diet to cure all western disease is a WFPBD with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

      .




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  99. my dear friend has bells palsey, terrified since episode in april 2016. steroids make him behave funny. do you have any nutritional ideas, research, food as medicine and diet info? thanks so much




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  100. Hi Dr. Greger,

    Your video is very interesting. 3 months ago I turned to veganism to try correcting a few health challenges so I’m new to all this but so far so good. I like your video and find your information enlightening. I’ve been trying to watch at least 1 or 2 of them a day to learn more. I’m curious to know your thoughts on man-made fruits & vegetables vs. natural fruits & vegetables. Prior to 3 months ago I rarely ate any fruits or vegetables at all so I really can’t tell the difference but my coworker saw me eating broccoli and he told me that it’s a well known fact that broccoli is man-made vegetable. He also said that carrots, beets and pineapple are as well. Is this true? Perhaps I’m a little naive with this but I figured if it grows out of the ground then it’s natural, right? I’m very confused because I’m just trying to eat healt