From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food

From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food
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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 leading causes of death and disability.

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

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’s no ads, no corporate sponsorship. It’s strictly noncommercial; I’m not selling anything. I just put it up as a public service.

It exists because thousands of people donate to support the 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that keeps it alive. And, thanks to your support, in less than three years NutritionFacts.org has ramped up to a total of 25 million pageviews—now with more than a million new hits a month. People are hungry for evidence-based nutrition.

In my 2012 year-in-review, I explored the role a healthy diet may play in preventing, treating, and reversing our deadliest diseases. In 2013, I covered our most common conditions. This year, I’d like to address some of our leading causes of disability. We want to live a long healthy life, not a long miserable one.

Heart disease is not only our leading cause of death, but also our leading cause of death, and disability.

Dr. Dean Ornish proved, with his plant-based diet and lifestyle program, that cardiac patients had “91% reduction in…angina” attacks (that’s the crushing chest pain that some people with advanced heart disease can get). In contrast, control group patients, who were instead told to listen to the advice of their doctors, had “a 186% increase” in attacks.

This “marked reduction” in chest pain “was sustained” five years later—a “long-term reduction in [pain] comparable [to that of] bypass surgery”—but without the knife, or the saw, used to cut our chest in half. Forks over knives; soup over saws.

But this was back in the 90s, when Ornish was only studying a few dozen patients at a time. How about a thousand patients on a whole food, plant-based diet? Within three months, nearly three-quarters of angina patients became “angina-free.” 74% cured without a single scalpel or side effect. 

Now, Ornish didn’t just put people on a plant-based diet. He also advised moderate exercise, like walking. So, how do we know what role the diet played?

Well, if you go back to Ornish’s first publication, he put cardiac patients on a quasi-vegan diet, with no added exercise—just diet and stress management—and got a 91% reduction in attacks in less than a month. And Dr. Esselstyn was able to improve angina using a plant-based diet as the only lifestyle intervention. So, we know diet is the active ingredient.

But you know, they weren’t the first. There are case series going back to the 1970s. We’ve known about this for decades. “Angina and [the] Vegan Diet.” Like Mr. “F.W.” here. Chest pain so severe he “had to stop every nine or ten [steps].” “Started [on a] vegan diet”—not even a low-fat vegan diet—and months later: “Climbed mountains, no…pain.”

Now, this may be because vegetarian arteries dilate four times better than arteries of omnivores. Put people on a plant-based diet for a year, and their clogged arteries literally get cleaned out—20% less plaque in their arteries at the end of the year than at the beginning. Put people on a low-carb diet—a meat-heavy, Atkins-like diet, though—and their condition worsens. 40 to 50% more artery-blocking at the end of the year.

Here’s some representative heart scans. The yellow, and particularly red, represents blood flow to the actual heart muscle through the coronary arteries. This patient went on a plant-based diet, and their arteries opened right up, increasing blood flow. This person, however, started out with pretty good flow, but after a year on a meat-based diet, their blood flow significantly clogged down.

This isn’t measuring risk factors, but actual blood flow to the heart muscle—plant-based versus meat-based diets. No wonder a recent meta-analysis found that low-carb diets “associated with…significantly higher risk of [death] all-cause mortality in the long run,” meaning those on low-carb diets live, on average, significantly shorter lives.

Now, there is a new category of anti-angina drugs, but “[b]efore committing billions of dollars” to dishing them out, maybe “we should take a more serious…look at dietary strategies.” “To date, these strategies have been marginalized by the ‘drug pusher’ mentality of orthodox medical practice; presumably, doctors feel…most patients will be unwilling or unable to make the substantial dietary changes required.”

Now, “[w]hile this may be true of many patients, [it’s] certainly…not true for all. And, in any case, angina patients deserve to be offered the [plant-based] diet alternative before being shunted to expensive surgery or drug therapies that can have a range of side effects and never really get to the [heart] of the problem.”

Now, in response to this paper, a drug company executive wrote a letter to the medical journal: “Although diet and lifestyle modifications should be a part of disease management,” he said, “many patients may not be able to comply with the substantial dietary changes required to achieve a vegan diet.” So, of course, everyone should go on their fancy new drug, called ranolazine, sold as Ranexa. Costs about $2,000 a year to take it, but the side effects aren’t horrible, and the drug works. Collectively, the studies show that at the highest dose, the drug may prolong exercise duration in angina patients as long as “33.5 seconds.”

It does not look like those choosing the drug route will be climbing mountains anytime soon. Plant-based diets aren’t just safer and cheaper, but can work better.

I’ve talked about COPD as a leading killer. What about low back pain, like sciatica?

Now, “[l]ow back pain became one of the biggest problems for public health systems in the western world [just in] the second half of the 20th century.” Chronic low back pain affects about one in five, disabling 30 million Americans; it’s an epidemic. Are people just lifting more heavy stuff? No. “Mechanical factors, such as lifting and carrying, probably do not have a major…role” in the disease. Well, then, what causes it?

I’ve touched on it before. “Atherosclerosis can obstruct [the] arteries [that] feed the spine,” and this restriction in blood flow can cause “back problems.” This can be seen on angiography—showing normal spinal arteries on the left; clogged on the right—or on autopsy, where you can see how the openings to the spinal arteries can get squeezed shut by these cholesterol-filled plaques, on the right.

Autopsy, because back pain can predict fatal heart disease, just like clogs in the penile arteries—erectile dysfunction—can precede heart attacks, because it’s the same disease: inflamed, crippled, clogged arteries throughout our body.

Now, we have MRI imaging, which can show the narrowing of spinal arteries in people with back pain, and the degeneration of the discs—all linked to high cholesterol. Those with narrowed arteries appeared about eight-and-a-half times “more likely to [suffer] from chronic…low back pain.” This makes sense. You know, the discs in our low back are “the largest avascular tissue in the body”—meaning they have no blood vessels. So, nutrition just kind of has to diffuse in from the edges, so they’re particularly vulnerable to deprivation. Using MRIs, you can measure the effects of this impaired blood flow on the diffusion, and you can see how this can turn into that. By age 49, “97% of [the] discs” of those eating a Standard American Diet “show… at least” stage 2 degradation. Starting in our teens! Our discs are already starting to degenerate by age 11. As I’ve talked about, nearly all kids eating the Standard American Diet have the beginnings of atherosclerosis “by age 10.”

And, sadly, low back pain is now “common [among] children and adolescents,” and it’s getting worse. Just like children getting adult-onset diabetes; teenagers starting out their life with a chronic disease. That’s why it’s never too early to start eating healthy. To get you back into circulation, you need to get circulation, to your back.

Skipping down a few in the interest of time, having a stroke can be severely disabling. Thankfully, a “high dietary fiber intake,” which is to say whole plant foods, may help “prevent…stroke[s]” as well. This “belief that dietary fiber intake” is protectively associated with some chronic diseases was “postulated” 40 years ago, and since has been “enormously fuelled and kept alive by a great” body of science since. Today, we therefore believe that eating lots of fiber—eating a lot of whole, unprocessed plant foods—helps “prevent….obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases,” such as stroke.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide; a “leading cause of disability.” And so, preventing strokes in the first place—what’s called “primary prevention”—”should…be a key public health priority.” Based on all the best studies to date, different strokes for different folks—depending, evidently, on how much fiber they’ve been eating. Notably, increasing fiber just seven grams a day may decrease stroke risk 7%. And seven grams is easy—like a small serving of whole-grain pasta with tomato sauce, and an apple. Easy.

But, if you really don’t want a stroke, we should all try to get 25 grams a day of soluble fiber, which is found in beans, oats, nuts, and berries, and 47 grams a day of insoluble fiber, found primarily in whole grains. One would have to eat an extraordinarily healthy diet to get 72 grams a day—huge amounts of plants. Yet, “[t]hese cut-off values could…be considered the [minimum recommended] daily intake of…fiber…to prevent stroke[s].” Now, they admit these minimums are “higher than [is] commonly and arbitrarily proposed as adequate.” But do we want to be patronized to, as to what authorities think is practical? Or, do we just want to have them tell us what the science says, as they did here, so we can make up our own minds?

Now, someone funded by Kellogg’s wrote in to complain that, in practice, such fiber intakes are unachievable. “Rather the message [should just] be the more, the better.” You know, have a bowl of cereal or something!

The real Dr. Kellogg—who was actually one of our most famous physicians, credited for being one of the first to sound the alarm about smoking—may have been “the first American physician to have recognized the field of nutrition as a science,” would today be rolling in his grave, if he knew what his company has become.

Diabetes, our seventh leading cause of loss of life, is also our eighth leading cause of loss of health. “[U]p to 50% of diabetics…eventually develop neuropathy’—damage to the nerves. It can be “very painful, and the pain is frequently resistant to conventional treatments.” In fact, supposedly, “no effective treatment [exists] for diabetic neuropathy.” Us doctors are just left with steroids and opiates and antidepressants—anything to try to mediate the suffering.

But, 20 years ago, a remarkable study was published on the “regression [the reversal] of diabetic neuropathy with a [plant-based] diet.” Twenty-one diabetics suffering with moderate or worse painful neuropathy for up to ten years were placed on a whole food, plant-based diet. Years and years of suffering, and then, “[c]omplete relief of the…pain in 17 [out] of the 21 patients,” within days. “[N]umbness…noticeably improved,” too. And the side effects were all good. They lost ten pounds; blood sugars got better; “insulin needs…dropped in half,” and in five of the patients, not only did their painful diabetic neuropathy was cured, so apparently, was their diabetes. Normal blood sugars; off of all medications. Diabetics for up to 20 years, and then, off all their drugs, in a matter of weeks.

And, their triglycerides and cholesterol improved, too. High blood pressures got better. In fact, gone in about half the hypertensives—an 80% drop overall in the need for high blood pressure medications within three weeks.

Now, we’ve known plant-based diets can reverse (cure) type 2 diabetes and hypertension, but this was new. Years of painful suffering, then complete relief of pain in 80% within days.

Now, this was a live-in program, where, you know, patients were actually given meals. You know, what happened when they were sent home, and kind of had to go back to the real world? Well, the 17 folks were followed for years, and in all except one, the relief of painful neuropathy continued, or improved even further. How’d they get that kind of compliance with a strict plant-based diet? Because it works.

One of the most painful and frustrating conditions to treat in all of medicine, and three-quarters cured in a couple days with a natural, nontoxicin fact, beneficialtreatment, a diet composed of whole plant foods. Should have been front page headline news.

So, how could nerve damage be reversed so suddenly? Well, it didn’t appear to be the improvement in blood sugars, because it took about ten days for the diet to control the diabetes, whereas the pain was gone in as few as four. “There are several mechanisms by which a [total vegetarian diet] can alleviate the problem of diabetic neuropathy as well as [diabetes] itself.”

Now, their most interesting speculation was that they thought it could be the trans fats naturally found in meat and dairy that could be causing an inflammatory response. They found a significant percentage of the fat under the skin of those who eat meat, or even just dairy and eggs, was trans fats. Trans fats stuck inside their bodies, under their skin, whereas those who had been on a strictly plant-based diet, whole food plant-based diet, “had no detectable trans fats” within their body.

The researchers stuck needles in the buttocks of people eating different diets, and nine months or more on a strict plant-based diet appeared to remove all trans fat from their bodies, or at least their butts. But their pain didn’t take nine months to get better; more like nine days, right?

So, more likely, the amazing reversal was due to an improvement in blood flow. “[N]erve biopsies [taken from] diabetics with severe progressive neuropathy,…shown [to have arterial] disease within the nerve.” There are blood vessels within our nerves that can get clogged up too, depriving the nerves of oxygen, presumably leading them to cry out in pain.

Within months, though, improvements in “blood rheology,” meaning the ease at which blood flows, on a plant-based diet may play “a prominent role” in the reversal of diabetic neuropathy.

Plant-based diets may also lower the level of IGF-1 within the eyeballs of diabetics, and decrease the risk of retinopathy—diabetic vision loss—as well. But, what about treating retinopathy?

Kempner at Duke used a plant-based diet composed mostly of rice and fruit, to document, for the first time, the reversal of diabetic retinopathy in a quarter of his patients—something never even thought possible. For example, 60-year-old diabetic woman, already blind in one eye, can only see “contours of large objects” with the other; effectively blind. Five years later, on the diet, instead of it getting worse, it got better. She “could [then] make out faces[, see] signs,” start to “read large newspaper print”—in addition to being off all insulin, normal blood sugars, and a 100-point drop in her cholesterol.

“[T]he most [effective] way to avoid diabetic complications is to eliminate the diabetes [in the first place], and this is often feasible for those type 2 [diabetics] who [can] make an abiding commitment to daily exercise and a [healthy-enough] diet.” Type 2 diabetes can be reversed, can be cured, eliminated with diet, and so can some of its complications. Since the initial report of neuropathy reversal was published twenty years ago, it’s been replicated by other researchers. So, why didn’t we learn about this in medical school? “[T]he neglect of this important work by the broader medical community is little short of unconscionable.”

Alzheimer’s disease perhaps best captures the difference between lifespan and healthspan. Who cares if you live to be 100 if, in the final years, you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror?

In 1901, Auguste was taken to an insane asylum by her husband. She was described as a “delusional, forgetful, disoriented…woman” who, tragically, “could not carry out her homemaking duties” anymore. She was seen by a Dr. Alzheimer, and was to become the case that made his a household name.

On autopsy, he described the plaques and tangles that would go on to characterize the disease. But, lost in the excitement of discovering a new condition, a clue may have been overlooked. He described “atherosclerotic change[s]”—hardening of the arteries—within her brain.

We typically think of artery clogging in the heart, but as we saw with the spine and the nerves, “[a]therosclerosis involves virtually the entire human organism”—our whole vascular tree, from top to bottom, including our brain. “One of the most poignant examples of [the] systemic nature of [clogged arteries] is the link between coronary heart disease…, degenerative brain disease…, and [Alzheimer’s—] dementia.

“Just as a heart attack or brain attack (stroke) can be significantly prevented,” one can think of Alzheimer’s as a ‘‘mind attack.” “Mind attack, like heart attacks and strokes, need[s] to be prevented by…[controlling] vascular risk factors,” like high blood pressure and cholesterol, controlling chronic blood hypoperfusion, the lack of adequate blood flow to the brain in the years before the onset of Alzheimer’s.

We now have a substantial body of evidence strongly associating atherosclerotic vascular disease with Alzheimer’s. Autopsy studies, for example, have shown that individuals with Alzheimer’s have significantly more atherosclerotic narrowing of arteries within their brain. This is what cerebral arteries should look like: open, clean, allowing blood to flow. This is what atherosclerosis in our brain arteries looks like: clogged with fat and cholesterol, closing off the artery, restricting blood flow within our brain. What kind of arteries do you want in your brain?

This reduction in blood flow can starve the brain of oxygen, causing silent little mini-strokes, brain atrophy, shrinkage. “The cumulative effects” appear to play “a pivotal role in” the development of Alzheimer’s.

But what about the role of metals in Alzheimer’s? Well, the metals appear to just “aggravate the detrimental effects of [the] high intake of [saturated fat and] cholesterol.”

What about the so-called Alzheimer’s gene—ApoE4? Diet trumps genes. The highest frequency of Alzheimer’s gene in the world is Nigeria, but they also have some of the lowest Alzheimer’s rates. To understand why, one has to understand the role of ApoE. What does the gene do?

The Alzheimer’s gene makes “the principal cholesterol carrier…in the brain.” But if your cholesterol is low enough, because your diet is low enough in animal fat, if you center your diet around grains and vegetables, then changes in cholesterol can lead to changes in gene expression.

Just because we’ve been dealt some bad genetic cards doesn’t mean we can’t reshuffle the deck with diet.

According to the latest “guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer’s,” the two most important things we can do is cut down our consumption of meat, dairy, and junk, and replace them with “vegetables, [beans,] fruits, and whole grains.” That’s the best science we have for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Wait, grains protective of the brain?

I had the distinction this year of serving on a panel with Grain Brain author Dr. Perlmutter, who sold lots of books claiming carbs are destroying our brain. But what does the science show?

Take Japan, for example, where the prevalence of dementia has shot up over the last few decades. And the blame for this increase in Alzheimer’s? “[I]ncreases in animal products.” Traditional diets “weighted toward vegetable products,” like grains; “away from animal products.” But “[s]ince 1960, the diet in Japan has changed from [a more] traditional [rice-based] diet…to one with a preponderance of meat.” So, less grain equalled more Alzheimer’s. The dietary factor most strongly associated with Alzheimer’s was the consumption of animal fat. So, the link between diet and dementia can be characterized less as grain brain, and more as meathead.

A similar analysis in China arrived at the same conclusion. “On the basis of [these] findings…, the rate[s of Alzheimer’s disease] and dementia will continue to [increase] unless dietary patterns change to those with less reliance on animal products.” This is consistent with data showing that those who eat vegetarian are two to three times less likely to develop dementia. And, the longer one eats meat-free, the lower one’s risk falls.

In fact, where are the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s in the world? Rural India. It may be no coincidence that the country with the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s has among the lowest rates of meat consumption. About 40% eat meat-free and egg-free diets that are high-grain, high-bean, high-carb diets. Population studies have found a protective,  strongly protective, role of grains in relation to Alzheimer’s disease, and, including gluten-containing grains, not just rice. The science shows the exact opposite of what one might read in the popular press. In other words, don’t pass on the grain; “[p]ass the grain [to] spare the brain.”

The link between arterial blockage and Alzheimer’s is good news, because atherosclerosis can be prevented and treated. So, maybe Alzheimer’s can be prevented and treated, as well.

Well, let’s put it to the test. If you follow people who are just starting to lose their mental faculties, the cognition of those with the least artery clogging in their brain remains pretty stable over the years. But, those with more cholesterol buildup got worse, and those with the most blockage rapidly declined. And, the same with the ability to carry out activities of daily living, like dressing oneself. And, arterial disease doubled the progression to Alzheimer’s. In summary: “An inefficient blood supply to the brain [can have] very grave consequences on brain function.”

But, does treatment of vascular risk factors, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, make a difference? We didn’t know, until now. 300 patients with Alzheimers, and those with their vascular risk factors treated showed significantly less decline; slowed progression of their disease. It is often said that “[T]he goal of medicine is to provide patients with hope, and when there is no hope to offer understanding.” Well, “[f]or the first time in the history of this disorder, we have the chance to provide Alzheimer patients with hope…”

Let me close with cancer, a leading cause of death and disability. How many years of life are lost to potentially preventable cancers? Every year, more than five million expected years of life, in the United States, are lost to those three disabling cancers alone: lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer. “Therefore, identifying and improving strategies for prevention of cancer remains a priority,” especially since “no…more than 2% of all human cancer is attributable to purely genetic…factors.” So, 2% may be in our genes, but the rest may involve external factors, particularly our diet.

You know, our skin is about 20 square feet. Our lungs, if you actually flatten them out, are like a thousand square feet of surface area. But our intestines? Three thousand feet if you include all the little folds; three thousand square feet.  So, what we eat is our primary interface with the outside world, with our external environment.

The most comprehensive study, summary of evidence, on diet and cancer ever compiled recommends we “[e]at foods of plant origin” to help prevent cancer. This means centering our diet around whole plant foods. Not just whole grains and beans every day, but “every meal.”

And, when it came to foods that increase cancer risk, they were similarly straightforward. Unlike some other dietary changes that kind of wimp out and just advise people to moderate their intake of bad foods (like “Eat less…candy”), the cancer guidelines didn’t mince words when it came to the worst of the worst. For example, don’t just minimize soda intake; “avoid” it. Don’t just cut back on bacon and hot dogs, and ham, and sausage, lunch meat. “Avoid processed meat[s],” period, because “data do not show any level of intake that can confidently be shown not to be associated with risk.” Even small amounts may be risky.

Processed meat cannot only be thought of as “a powerful multiorgan carcinogen,” but may increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Red meat was bad, but processed meat was worse, and that included white meat, like chicken, and turkey slices. So, with more heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, it’s no surprise “[p]rocessed meat consumption [is] associated with increased risk of death”—even at small amounts.

In Europe, they calculated that “reduction of processed meat consumption to less than [a half a hot dog’s worth a day] would prevent more than 3% of all deaths.”

This was the second largest prospective study on diet and cancer ever, a study of 400,000 people. Well, the largest ever—600,000—was done right here in the U.S.: the AARP study. They found “the preventable fraction…to be [even] higher,” suggesting that 20% of heart disease deaths among women, for example, could be averted if the highest consumers cut down to less than like a quarter strip of bacon’s-worth a day. That’s a lot of death.

So, what does the industry think about all this? In the journal Meat Science, the industry acknowledged that the cancer prevention guidelines now urge people to “avoid processed meat”—a statement that “represents ‘a clear and present danger’ [for] the meat industry.” Processed meat, they say, is “a social necessity.” How could anyone live without bologna, right? The challenge for the meat industry is to find a way to maintain the consumption of these products while somehow not “damaging public health.”

30:22 Well, they’ve considered removing the nitrites for decades, because of the long-known toxic effects (the industry adds them to keep the meat pink). There are, evidently, other coloring additives available. Nevertheless, it’s going to be hard for the industry to change. You have to balance all the cancer with the positive effects of these substances as preservatives, “and desirable flavour and red colour-developing ingredients.” No one wants green eggs and ham.

It’s like salt reduction in meat products. They’d like to, but one of the biggest barriers to salt replacement within the meat industry is cost, as salt is one of the cheapest food ingredients available. Now, there a number of taste enhancers you can inject into the meat to help compensate for the salt reduction, but some of the compounds leave a bitter aftertaste. So, they can also inject a patented bitter-blocking chemical that can prevent taste nerve stimulation at the same time—the first of what may become a stream of products that are produced due to the convergence of food technology and biotech.

Or, they can always start adding non-meat materials to the meat. You could add fiber, or resistant starch from beans, that have protective effects against cancer. After all, in the United States, dietary fiber is under-consumed. This is Meat Science, saying under-consumed, fiber, indicating that fiber fortification in meat products could have health benefits—failing to note, of course, that their products are one of the reasons the American diet is so deficient in fiber in the first place.

The industry is all in favor of causing less cancer, but obviously, such optimization has to achieve a healthier product without affecting the hedonic aspects. It’s important to realize that nutritional and technological quality in the meat industry are inversely related. An improvement in one leads to a deterioration of the other. So, you got to balance it out, right?

They know that consumption of lard is not the best thing in the world, heart disease being our #1 killer. However, those downsides are in sharp contrast to lard’s technological qualities, which makes saturated fats indispensable in the manufacture of meat products. Otherwise, you just don’t get the same lard consistency. See, the pig fat doesn’t get hard enough, and as a result, a fatty smear upon cutting or slicing can be observed on the cutting surface of the knife, right? So, look, you got to get your priorities straight, right?

Although the evidence for the relationship between colorectal cancer (at least!) and processed meats cannot be denied, the meat industry suggests further research. For example, compare the risk of eating meat to other risky practices—alcohol, inactivity, obesity, smoking. Compared to lung cancer and smoking, maybe meat wouldn’t look so bad.

But, don’t worry, consumers probably won’t even hear about the latest cancer prevention guidelines. Consumers today are overloaded with information. Thus, the industry can hope that the dissemination of the update on meat and cancer drowns out in this information cloud. And, even if the sconsumers do see it, the industry doesn’t think they’ll much care. For many consumers in the Western world, the role of healthfulness, although important, is not close to taste satisfaction in shaping their final choice of meat products. It is hence questionable whether the revised recommendations, based on the carcinogenic effects of meat consumption, will yield substantial changes in consumer behavior.

You know, doctors and nutrition professionals feed into this patronizing attitude that people just don’t care enough about their own health to change. This paper, from a leading nutrition journal, scoffed at the idea that people would ever switch to a “prudent diet,” reducing their intakes of animal protein and fat, no matter how much cancer was prevented. The chances of reducing consumption to avoid colon cancer? Virtually nil. Consider heart disease. We know we can prevent and treat heart disease with the same kind of diet, but the public won’t do it. “The diet,” they say, “would lose too much of its palatability.”

In other words, the great palatability of ham largely outweighs other considerations, although health and wellbeing are increasingly important factors in consumer decisions. This 1998 industry article feared that unless meat eating becomes compatible with eating that is healthy and wholesome, it could be consigned to a minor role in the diet in the coming decade. Their prediction didn’t quite pan out. Here’s meat consumption per person over the last 30 years. Rising, rising. Now, 1998 was when the Meat Science article was published, worrying about the next decade of meat consumption, which continued to rise even further, but then did kind of, did sort of flatten out, before it fell off a cliff. Per-capita meat consumption down about 10%. Millions of Americans are reducing their consumption of meat.

So, don’t tell me people aren’t willing to change their diets. Yet, we continue to get diluted dietary guidelines, because authorities are asking themselves: what dietary changes could be acceptable to the public, rather than just telling us what the science says, and letting us make up our own minds as to whether, you know, pig fat-smearing on knives should trump our families’ health.

What we eat doesn’t just affect cancer risk in the colon. Why do constipated women appear to be at higher risk for breast cancer, whereas women who have three or more bowel movements a day—superpoopers I call them (sounds like an ABBA song, doesn’t it?)—appeared to cut their risk of breast cancer in half? This could be because constipation means a greater contact time between your waste and the intestinal wall, which can increase the formation and absorption of fecal mutagens, these compounds that can cause DNA mutations and cancer, into the circulation, and then into the breast.

We know that breasts actively take up chemicals from the bloodstream, so researchers are concerned that substances originating in the colon might enter the bloodstream and reach the breast. Specifically bile acids, which are formed as a way of getting rid of excess cholesterol. Our liver dumps bile acids into the intestines for disposal, assuming our intestines will be packed with fiber to trap it and flush it out of the body. But, if we haven’t been eating whole plant foods all day, it can get reabsorbed back into the body, and build up in the breast.

Carcinogenic bile acids are found concentrated in the breast at up to a hundred times the level found in the bloodstream; they just concentrate it, pull it out of the system. By radioactively tagging bile acids, they were able to show that intestinal bile acids rapidly gain access to the breast, where they can exert an estrogen-like cancer-promoting effect on breast tumor cells.

This could explain why we see 50% higher bile acid levels in the bloodstream of newly diagnosed breast cancer victims. So, how can we facilitate the removal of bile acids from our body? Well, we could speed up the so-called oral-anal transit time, the speed at which food goes from mouth to toilet, because slowed colon transit can lead to increased absorption of bile acids. But we can speed things up by eating lots of fiber, right? A diet packed with plants greatly increases bile acid excretion.

Fiber can bind up and remove toxic elements like lead and mercury, as well as cholesterol and bile acids. But plants can even bind bile acids independent of fiber. Vegan diets had significantly more bile acid bind up, significantly more bile acid, than lacto-ovo or nonvegetarian diets, even at the same fiber intake—which could explain why it appears that individuals eating vegetarian might excrete less mutagenic (less mutation-causing) feces in the first place.

Now, you’ll notice that the same type of diet used to help lower cancer risk is the same type of diet used to help lower Alzheimer’s risk, and diabetes, and diabetic complications, and high blood pressure, and stroke, and back pain, and heart disease, right? A diet centered around whole plant foods—the type of diet eaten by populations that are largely free of our deadliest and most disabling diseases.

Heart disease was so rare among those eating these traditional plant-based diets, there were papers published like this: “A Case of Coronary Artery Disease in an African.” After 26 years of medical practice, they finally recorded their first case of coronary heart disease among a population of 15 million—a judge, who had started consuming a partially Westernized diet. Now, some thought it was the preponderance of plant foods that was protecting these populations. Others thought it was the avoidance of animal foods. But either way, we couldn’t prove it was the diet, until it was put to the test. Pritikin, Ornish, Esselstyn, and others took people with heart disease, and put them on the kind of plant-based diet followed by populations that had no, that didn’t suffer from heart disease, hoping it would stop the disease process, keep it from progressing further.

But, instead, something miraculous happened. Their disease started to reverse, to get better. As soon as they stopped eating an artery-clogging diet, their bodies started, were able to start dissolving away some of that plaque. Even in some cases of severe triple-vessel disease, arteries opening up without drugs, without surgery—suggesting their bodies wanted to heal all along, but were just never given the chance.

This is Esselstyn’s new study, published four days ago. This increase in blood flow to the heart muscle on the left happened within just three weeks of eating healthy.

Let me share with you the best-kept secret in medicine. The best-kept secret in medicine is that, under the right conditions, the body can heal itself.

You know, if you whack your shin really hard on a coffee table, it can get all red, hot, swollen, painful, but it’ll heal naturally if you just stand back and let your body work its magic. But, what if you kept whacking your poor shin against that coffee table in the same place, over and over, three times a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)? It would never heal.

You’d go to your doctor and be like, “Oh, my shin hurts.” And the doctor would be like, “No problem,” whip out their pad, and write you a prescription for painkillers. You’re still whacking your shin three times a day, and it still hurts like heck, but oh, feels so much better with the pain pills. Thank heavens for modern medicine.

It’s like when people take nitroglycerin for chest pain—tremendous relief, but doesn’t do anything to treat the underlying cause.

Our body wants to come back to health, if we let it. But if we keep reinjuring it three times a day, we may never heal.

It’s like smoking. One of the most amazing things I learned in medical school was that within ten years of stopping smoking, your lung cancer risk approaches that of a lifelong nonsmoker. Isn’t that amazing? Your lungs can get rid of all that tar, and eventually, it’s almost like you never started smoking at all.

Our body wants to be healthy. And, every morning of our smoking life, that healing process started until bam, our first cigarette, reinjuring our lungs with every puff, just like we can reinjure our arteries with every bite, when all we had to do all along—the miracle cure—is just stop re-damaging ourselves, get out of the way, and let our bodies’ natural healing process bring us back towards health.

There is only one diet that’s ever been proven to reverse heart disease in the majority of patients: a plant-based diet. Anytime anyone tries to sell you on some new diet, ask them, do me a favor; ask them one simple question: “Has your diet been proven to reverse heart disease (you know, the most likely reason you and everyone you love will die?)? Does it reverse heart disease?” If it doesn’t, why would you even consider it?

And if that’s all a plant-based diet could do—reverse our #1 killer—well, then, shouldn’t that be the default diet until proven otherwise? And, the fact that it can also be effective in preventing, treating, reversing other leading killers, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, would seem to make the case for plant-based eating overwhelming. So, why don’t more doctors prescribe it?

Available time is a reason frequently cited by physicians. But if you probe a little deeper, yes, they complain about not having enough time to give their patients dietary advice. But, the number one reason was their perception that patients fear being deprived of all the junk they’re eating. Can you imagine a doctor saying, “Yeah, I’d like to tell my patients to stop smoking, but I know how much they love it.”

Dr. Neal Barnard wrote a compelling editorial in the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics. When he stopped smoking in the 80s, the lung cancer death rate was peaking in the U.S., but has since dropped, with dropping smoking rates. No longer were doctors telling patients to give their throat a vacation by smoking a fresh cigarette.

Doctors realized that they were more effective at counseling patients to quit smoking if they no longer had tobacco stains on their own fingers. In other words, doctors went from bystanders—or even enablers—to leading the fight against smoking. And today, he says, “Plant-based diets are the nutritional equivalent of quitting smoking.”

This is not vegetarianism. Vegetarians often consume all sorts of junk. Vegans too, for that matter, right? This new paradigm is exclusively plant-based nutrition. Whole plant foods. Why exclusively? Well, as reported in the Cornell-Oxford-China Study, there does not appear to be a threshold beyond which further benefits did not accrue with increasing proportions of plant foods in the diet. It appears the more plant-based foods and less animal-based foods, the better.

It took five decades after the initial studies linking tobacco and cancer for effective public health policies to be put into place, with enormous cost to human health. Must we wait another 50 years to respond to the epidemics of dietary diseases?

They do have money on their sides. The chemical, tobacco and food industries have the luxury to share similar tactics with the drug companies, because they have the resources to do so. In contrast, powerful and cheap health-promoting activities (like eating healthy) are too cheap, can’t be patented, aren’t profitable.

And, they throw that money around.

The American Dietetic Association, for example, promotes a series of Nutrition Fact Sheets. Who writes them? Industry sources pay $20,000 per fact sheet to the ADA, and explicitly take part in writing the documents. So, you can learn about eggs from the egg industry, the benefits of chewing gum from the Wrigley Science Institute. I didn’t know Wrigley’s had a Science Institute.

In 2008, the ADA announced that the Coca-Cola Company had become an official partner to give them prominent access to key influencers and decision makers, and share the Coca-Cola Company’s research findings. For example: did you know that there are no harmful effects of different Coca-Cola beverages on rat testicles? Was that even a concern? Thou doth protest too much, methinks.

When the American Academy of Family Physicians was called out on their proud new corporate relationship with Coke to support patient education on healthy eating, an executive vice-president of the Academy tried to quell the protest by explaining that the alliance was not without precedent. They had relationships with Pepsi and McDonald’s for some time. Reminiscent of similar types of relationships in the past.

This didn’t seem to placate the critics, so the exec assured them that the American Dietetic Association has made a policy statement that “[t]here are no good or bad foods.” A position that the food industry has then exploited. You know, in the early years, the tobacco industry sounded a similar theme: smoking per se wasn’t bad—just “excess” smoking. Sound familiar? Everything, in moderation.

Is this what family docs and dietitians have been reduced to? To justify unholy financial alliances, they deny that there are actually unhealthy foods?

Thankfully, there is a corporate sector that actually benefits from healthy people—the insurance industry.

Last year, a Nutritional Update for Physicians was published in the official journal of Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed-care organization in the country, covering about nine million people, with about 15,000 physicians, who were told that healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet—defined as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods, and discourages meats, dairy, and eggs, as well as all refined and processed junk.

Too often, physicians ignore the potential benefits of good nutrition, and quickly prescribe medications instead of giving their patients a chance to correct their disease through healthy eating and active living. Physicians should therefore consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

The major downside is that it may work a little too well. If people are on medications, their blood pressure or blood sugar could actually drop too low, so physicians may need to adjust medications, or eliminate them altogether. The side effects, ironically, may be not having to take drugs.

Despite the strong body of evidence favoring plant-based diets, many physicians are not stressing the importance of plant-based diets as a first-line treatment for chronic illnesses. (That’s a bit of an understatement.) Now, this could be because of lack of physician awareness, or a lack of patient education materials. So, Kaiser sought to change that.

Want to lose weight, feel better, improve, stabilize, or even reverse chronic disease, get off some of your medications? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a plant-based eating plan may be right for you. Side effects may include lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, reversal or prevention of our #1 killer, a longer life, healthier weight, lower risk of cancer, diabetes, even slow the progression of cancer, improve inflammatory conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis. They offer tips to get started, meal plan ideas, and, I’m honored to say, a good taste in websites.

The paper ends with a familiar refrain: “[f]urther research is needed.” In this case, though, further research is needed—to find ways to make plant-based diets the new normal.

Thank you.

I have both of my last two annual reviews on DVD—all proceeds to charity, and all of my work is available free on NutritionFacts.org.

Thanks again.

For all the individual transcripts, see the daily videos in which each subject is covered. Browse through all the topics at https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Recorded live at the University of Pittsburgh on July 5, 2014 thanks to NAVS and Aaron Wissner. Images thanks to Monica Trzaska.

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

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’s no ads, no corporate sponsorship. It’s strictly noncommercial; I’m not selling anything. I just put it up as a public service.

It exists because thousands of people donate to support the 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that keeps it alive. And, thanks to your support, in less than three years NutritionFacts.org has ramped up to a total of 25 million pageviews—now with more than a million new hits a month. People are hungry for evidence-based nutrition.

In my 2012 year-in-review, I explored the role a healthy diet may play in preventing, treating, and reversing our deadliest diseases. In 2013, I covered our most common conditions. This year, I’d like to address some of our leading causes of disability. We want to live a long healthy life, not a long miserable one.

Heart disease is not only our leading cause of death, but also our leading cause of death, and disability.

Dr. Dean Ornish proved, with his plant-based diet and lifestyle program, that cardiac patients had “91% reduction in…angina” attacks (that’s the crushing chest pain that some people with advanced heart disease can get). In contrast, control group patients, who were instead told to listen to the advice of their doctors, had “a 186% increase” in attacks.

This “marked reduction” in chest pain “was sustained” five years later—a “long-term reduction in [pain] comparable [to that of] bypass surgery”—but without the knife, or the saw, used to cut our chest in half. Forks over knives; soup over saws.

But this was back in the 90s, when Ornish was only studying a few dozen patients at a time. How about a thousand patients on a whole food, plant-based diet? Within three months, nearly three-quarters of angina patients became “angina-free.” 74% cured without a single scalpel or side effect. 

Now, Ornish didn’t just put people on a plant-based diet. He also advised moderate exercise, like walking. So, how do we know what role the diet played?

Well, if you go back to Ornish’s first publication, he put cardiac patients on a quasi-vegan diet, with no added exercise—just diet and stress management—and got a 91% reduction in attacks in less than a month. And Dr. Esselstyn was able to improve angina using a plant-based diet as the only lifestyle intervention. So, we know diet is the active ingredient.

But you know, they weren’t the first. There are case series going back to the 1970s. We’ve known about this for decades. “Angina and [the] Vegan Diet.” Like Mr. “F.W.” here. Chest pain so severe he “had to stop every nine or ten [steps].” “Started [on a] vegan diet”—not even a low-fat vegan diet—and months later: “Climbed mountains, no…pain.”

Now, this may be because vegetarian arteries dilate four times better than arteries of omnivores. Put people on a plant-based diet for a year, and their clogged arteries literally get cleaned out—20% less plaque in their arteries at the end of the year than at the beginning. Put people on a low-carb diet—a meat-heavy, Atkins-like diet, though—and their condition worsens. 40 to 50% more artery-blocking at the end of the year.

Here’s some representative heart scans. The yellow, and particularly red, represents blood flow to the actual heart muscle through the coronary arteries. This patient went on a plant-based diet, and their arteries opened right up, increasing blood flow. This person, however, started out with pretty good flow, but after a year on a meat-based diet, their blood flow significantly clogged down.

This isn’t measuring risk factors, but actual blood flow to the heart muscle—plant-based versus meat-based diets. No wonder a recent meta-analysis found that low-carb diets “associated with…significantly higher risk of [death] all-cause mortality in the long run,” meaning those on low-carb diets live, on average, significantly shorter lives.

Now, there is a new category of anti-angina drugs, but “[b]efore committing billions of dollars” to dishing them out, maybe “we should take a more serious…look at dietary strategies.” “To date, these strategies have been marginalized by the ‘drug pusher’ mentality of orthodox medical practice; presumably, doctors feel…most patients will be unwilling or unable to make the substantial dietary changes required.”

Now, “[w]hile this may be true of many patients, [it’s] certainly…not true for all. And, in any case, angina patients deserve to be offered the [plant-based] diet alternative before being shunted to expensive surgery or drug therapies that can have a range of side effects and never really get to the [heart] of the problem.”

Now, in response to this paper, a drug company executive wrote a letter to the medical journal: “Although diet and lifestyle modifications should be a part of disease management,” he said, “many patients may not be able to comply with the substantial dietary changes required to achieve a vegan diet.” So, of course, everyone should go on their fancy new drug, called ranolazine, sold as Ranexa. Costs about $2,000 a year to take it, but the side effects aren’t horrible, and the drug works. Collectively, the studies show that at the highest dose, the drug may prolong exercise duration in angina patients as long as “33.5 seconds.”

It does not look like those choosing the drug route will be climbing mountains anytime soon. Plant-based diets aren’t just safer and cheaper, but can work better.

I’ve talked about COPD as a leading killer. What about low back pain, like sciatica?

Now, “[l]ow back pain became one of the biggest problems for public health systems in the western world [just in] the second half of the 20th century.” Chronic low back pain affects about one in five, disabling 30 million Americans; it’s an epidemic. Are people just lifting more heavy stuff? No. “Mechanical factors, such as lifting and carrying, probably do not have a major…role” in the disease. Well, then, what causes it?

I’ve touched on it before. “Atherosclerosis can obstruct [the] arteries [that] feed the spine,” and this restriction in blood flow can cause “back problems.” This can be seen on angiography—showing normal spinal arteries on the left; clogged on the right—or on autopsy, where you can see how the openings to the spinal arteries can get squeezed shut by these cholesterol-filled plaques, on the right.

Autopsy, because back pain can predict fatal heart disease, just like clogs in the penile arteries—erectile dysfunction—can precede heart attacks, because it’s the same disease: inflamed, crippled, clogged arteries throughout our body.

Now, we have MRI imaging, which can show the narrowing of spinal arteries in people with back pain, and the degeneration of the discs—all linked to high cholesterol. Those with narrowed arteries appeared about eight-and-a-half times “more likely to [suffer] from chronic…low back pain.” This makes sense. You know, the discs in our low back are “the largest avascular tissue in the body”—meaning they have no blood vessels. So, nutrition just kind of has to diffuse in from the edges, so they’re particularly vulnerable to deprivation. Using MRIs, you can measure the effects of this impaired blood flow on the diffusion, and you can see how this can turn into that. By age 49, “97% of [the] discs” of those eating a Standard American Diet “show… at least” stage 2 degradation. Starting in our teens! Our discs are already starting to degenerate by age 11. As I’ve talked about, nearly all kids eating the Standard American Diet have the beginnings of atherosclerosis “by age 10.”

And, sadly, low back pain is now “common [among] children and adolescents,” and it’s getting worse. Just like children getting adult-onset diabetes; teenagers starting out their life with a chronic disease. That’s why it’s never too early to start eating healthy. To get you back into circulation, you need to get circulation, to your back.

Skipping down a few in the interest of time, having a stroke can be severely disabling. Thankfully, a “high dietary fiber intake,” which is to say whole plant foods, may help “prevent…stroke[s]” as well. This “belief that dietary fiber intake” is protectively associated with some chronic diseases was “postulated” 40 years ago, and since has been “enormously fuelled and kept alive by a great” body of science since. Today, we therefore believe that eating lots of fiber—eating a lot of whole, unprocessed plant foods—helps “prevent….obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases,” such as stroke.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide; a “leading cause of disability.” And so, preventing strokes in the first place—what’s called “primary prevention”—”should…be a key public health priority.” Based on all the best studies to date, different strokes for different folks—depending, evidently, on how much fiber they’ve been eating. Notably, increasing fiber just seven grams a day may decrease stroke risk 7%. And seven grams is easy—like a small serving of whole-grain pasta with tomato sauce, and an apple. Easy.

But, if you really don’t want a stroke, we should all try to get 25 grams a day of soluble fiber, which is found in beans, oats, nuts, and berries, and 47 grams a day of insoluble fiber, found primarily in whole grains. One would have to eat an extraordinarily healthy diet to get 72 grams a day—huge amounts of plants. Yet, “[t]hese cut-off values could…be considered the [minimum recommended] daily intake of…fiber…to prevent stroke[s].” Now, they admit these minimums are “higher than [is] commonly and arbitrarily proposed as adequate.” But do we want to be patronized to, as to what authorities think is practical? Or, do we just want to have them tell us what the science says, as they did here, so we can make up our own minds?

Now, someone funded by Kellogg’s wrote in to complain that, in practice, such fiber intakes are unachievable. “Rather the message [should just] be the more, the better.” You know, have a bowl of cereal or something!

The real Dr. Kellogg—who was actually one of our most famous physicians, credited for being one of the first to sound the alarm about smoking—may have been “the first American physician to have recognized the field of nutrition as a science,” would today be rolling in his grave, if he knew what his company has become.

Diabetes, our seventh leading cause of loss of life, is also our eighth leading cause of loss of health. “[U]p to 50% of diabetics…eventually develop neuropathy’—damage to the nerves. It can be “very painful, and the pain is frequently resistant to conventional treatments.” In fact, supposedly, “no effective treatment [exists] for diabetic neuropathy.” Us doctors are just left with steroids and opiates and antidepressants—anything to try to mediate the suffering.

But, 20 years ago, a remarkable study was published on the “regression [the reversal] of diabetic neuropathy with a [plant-based] diet.” Twenty-one diabetics suffering with moderate or worse painful neuropathy for up to ten years were placed on a whole food, plant-based diet. Years and years of suffering, and then, “[c]omplete relief of the…pain in 17 [out] of the 21 patients,” within days. “[N]umbness…noticeably improved,” too. And the side effects were all good. They lost ten pounds; blood sugars got better; “insulin needs…dropped in half,” and in five of the patients, not only did their painful diabetic neuropathy was cured, so apparently, was their diabetes. Normal blood sugars; off of all medications. Diabetics for up to 20 years, and then, off all their drugs, in a matter of weeks.

And, their triglycerides and cholesterol improved, too. High blood pressures got better. In fact, gone in about half the hypertensives—an 80% drop overall in the need for high blood pressure medications within three weeks.

Now, we’ve known plant-based diets can reverse (cure) type 2 diabetes and hypertension, but this was new. Years of painful suffering, then complete relief of pain in 80% within days.

Now, this was a live-in program, where, you know, patients were actually given meals. You know, what happened when they were sent home, and kind of had to go back to the real world? Well, the 17 folks were followed for years, and in all except one, the relief of painful neuropathy continued, or improved even further. How’d they get that kind of compliance with a strict plant-based diet? Because it works.

One of the most painful and frustrating conditions to treat in all of medicine, and three-quarters cured in a couple days with a natural, nontoxicin fact, beneficialtreatment, a diet composed of whole plant foods. Should have been front page headline news.

So, how could nerve damage be reversed so suddenly? Well, it didn’t appear to be the improvement in blood sugars, because it took about ten days for the diet to control the diabetes, whereas the pain was gone in as few as four. “There are several mechanisms by which a [total vegetarian diet] can alleviate the problem of diabetic neuropathy as well as [diabetes] itself.”

Now, their most interesting speculation was that they thought it could be the trans fats naturally found in meat and dairy that could be causing an inflammatory response. They found a significant percentage of the fat under the skin of those who eat meat, or even just dairy and eggs, was trans fats. Trans fats stuck inside their bodies, under their skin, whereas those who had been on a strictly plant-based diet, whole food plant-based diet, “had no detectable trans fats” within their body.

The researchers stuck needles in the buttocks of people eating different diets, and nine months or more on a strict plant-based diet appeared to remove all trans fat from their bodies, or at least their butts. But their pain didn’t take nine months to get better; more like nine days, right?

So, more likely, the amazing reversal was due to an improvement in blood flow. “[N]erve biopsies [taken from] diabetics with severe progressive neuropathy,…shown [to have arterial] disease within the nerve.” There are blood vessels within our nerves that can get clogged up too, depriving the nerves of oxygen, presumably leading them to cry out in pain.

Within months, though, improvements in “blood rheology,” meaning the ease at which blood flows, on a plant-based diet may play “a prominent role” in the reversal of diabetic neuropathy.

Plant-based diets may also lower the level of IGF-1 within the eyeballs of diabetics, and decrease the risk of retinopathy—diabetic vision loss—as well. But, what about treating retinopathy?

Kempner at Duke used a plant-based diet composed mostly of rice and fruit, to document, for the first time, the reversal of diabetic retinopathy in a quarter of his patients—something never even thought possible. For example, 60-year-old diabetic woman, already blind in one eye, can only see “contours of large objects” with the other; effectively blind. Five years later, on the diet, instead of it getting worse, it got better. She “could [then] make out faces[, see] signs,” start to “read large newspaper print”—in addition to being off all insulin, normal blood sugars, and a 100-point drop in her cholesterol.

“[T]he most [effective] way to avoid diabetic complications is to eliminate the diabetes [in the first place], and this is often feasible for those type 2 [diabetics] who [can] make an abiding commitment to daily exercise and a [healthy-enough] diet.” Type 2 diabetes can be reversed, can be cured, eliminated with diet, and so can some of its complications. Since the initial report of neuropathy reversal was published twenty years ago, it’s been replicated by other researchers. So, why didn’t we learn about this in medical school? “[T]he neglect of this important work by the broader medical community is little short of unconscionable.”

Alzheimer’s disease perhaps best captures the difference between lifespan and healthspan. Who cares if you live to be 100 if, in the final years, you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror?

In 1901, Auguste was taken to an insane asylum by her husband. She was described as a “delusional, forgetful, disoriented…woman” who, tragically, “could not carry out her homemaking duties” anymore. She was seen by a Dr. Alzheimer, and was to become the case that made his a household name.

On autopsy, he described the plaques and tangles that would go on to characterize the disease. But, lost in the excitement of discovering a new condition, a clue may have been overlooked. He described “atherosclerotic change[s]”—hardening of the arteries—within her brain.

We typically think of artery clogging in the heart, but as we saw with the spine and the nerves, “[a]therosclerosis involves virtually the entire human organism”—our whole vascular tree, from top to bottom, including our brain. “One of the most poignant examples of [the] systemic nature of [clogged arteries] is the link between coronary heart disease…, degenerative brain disease…, and [Alzheimer’s—] dementia.

“Just as a heart attack or brain attack (stroke) can be significantly prevented,” one can think of Alzheimer’s as a ‘‘mind attack.” “Mind attack, like heart attacks and strokes, need[s] to be prevented by…[controlling] vascular risk factors,” like high blood pressure and cholesterol, controlling chronic blood hypoperfusion, the lack of adequate blood flow to the brain in the years before the onset of Alzheimer’s.

We now have a substantial body of evidence strongly associating atherosclerotic vascular disease with Alzheimer’s. Autopsy studies, for example, have shown that individuals with Alzheimer’s have significantly more atherosclerotic narrowing of arteries within their brain. This is what cerebral arteries should look like: open, clean, allowing blood to flow. This is what atherosclerosis in our brain arteries looks like: clogged with fat and cholesterol, closing off the artery, restricting blood flow within our brain. What kind of arteries do you want in your brain?

This reduction in blood flow can starve the brain of oxygen, causing silent little mini-strokes, brain atrophy, shrinkage. “The cumulative effects” appear to play “a pivotal role in” the development of Alzheimer’s.

But what about the role of metals in Alzheimer’s? Well, the metals appear to just “aggravate the detrimental effects of [the] high intake of [saturated fat and] cholesterol.”

What about the so-called Alzheimer’s gene—ApoE4? Diet trumps genes. The highest frequency of Alzheimer’s gene in the world is Nigeria, but they also have some of the lowest Alzheimer’s rates. To understand why, one has to understand the role of ApoE. What does the gene do?

The Alzheimer’s gene makes “the principal cholesterol carrier…in the brain.” But if your cholesterol is low enough, because your diet is low enough in animal fat, if you center your diet around grains and vegetables, then changes in cholesterol can lead to changes in gene expression.

Just because we’ve been dealt some bad genetic cards doesn’t mean we can’t reshuffle the deck with diet.

According to the latest “guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer’s,” the two most important things we can do is cut down our consumption of meat, dairy, and junk, and replace them with “vegetables, [beans,] fruits, and whole grains.” That’s the best science we have for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Wait, grains protective of the brain?

I had the distinction this year of serving on a panel with Grain Brain author Dr. Perlmutter, who sold lots of books claiming carbs are destroying our brain. But what does the science show?

Take Japan, for example, where the prevalence of dementia has shot up over the last few decades. And the blame for this increase in Alzheimer’s? “[I]ncreases in animal products.” Traditional diets “weighted toward vegetable products,” like grains; “away from animal products.” But “[s]ince 1960, the diet in Japan has changed from [a more] traditional [rice-based] diet…to one with a preponderance of meat.” So, less grain equalled more Alzheimer’s. The dietary factor most strongly associated with Alzheimer’s was the consumption of animal fat. So, the link between diet and dementia can be characterized less as grain brain, and more as meathead.

A similar analysis in China arrived at the same conclusion. “On the basis of [these] findings…, the rate[s of Alzheimer’s disease] and dementia will continue to [increase] unless dietary patterns change to those with less reliance on animal products.” This is consistent with data showing that those who eat vegetarian are two to three times less likely to develop dementia. And, the longer one eats meat-free, the lower one’s risk falls.

In fact, where are the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s in the world? Rural India. It may be no coincidence that the country with the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s has among the lowest rates of meat consumption. About 40% eat meat-free and egg-free diets that are high-grain, high-bean, high-carb diets. Population studies have found a protective,  strongly protective, role of grains in relation to Alzheimer’s disease, and, including gluten-containing grains, not just rice. The science shows the exact opposite of what one might read in the popular press. In other words, don’t pass on the grain; “[p]ass the grain [to] spare the brain.”

The link between arterial blockage and Alzheimer’s is good news, because atherosclerosis can be prevented and treated. So, maybe Alzheimer’s can be prevented and treated, as well.

Well, let’s put it to the test. If you follow people who are just starting to lose their mental faculties, the cognition of those with the least artery clogging in their brain remains pretty stable over the years. But, those with more cholesterol buildup got worse, and those with the most blockage rapidly declined. And, the same with the ability to carry out activities of daily living, like dressing oneself. And, arterial disease doubled the progression to Alzheimer’s. In summary: “An inefficient blood supply to the brain [can have] very grave consequences on brain function.”

But, does treatment of vascular risk factors, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, make a difference? We didn’t know, until now. 300 patients with Alzheimers, and those with their vascular risk factors treated showed significantly less decline; slowed progression of their disease. It is often said that “[T]he goal of medicine is to provide patients with hope, and when there is no hope to offer understanding.” Well, “[f]or the first time in the history of this disorder, we have the chance to provide Alzheimer patients with hope…”

Let me close with cancer, a leading cause of death and disability. How many years of life are lost to potentially preventable cancers? Every year, more than five million expected years of life, in the United States, are lost to those three disabling cancers alone: lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer. “Therefore, identifying and improving strategies for prevention of cancer remains a priority,” especially since “no…more than 2% of all human cancer is attributable to purely genetic…factors.” So, 2% may be in our genes, but the rest may involve external factors, particularly our diet.

You know, our skin is about 20 square feet. Our lungs, if you actually flatten them out, are like a thousand square feet of surface area. But our intestines? Three thousand feet if you include all the little folds; three thousand square feet.  So, what we eat is our primary interface with the outside world, with our external environment.

The most comprehensive study, summary of evidence, on diet and cancer ever compiled recommends we “[e]at foods of plant origin” to help prevent cancer. This means centering our diet around whole plant foods. Not just whole grains and beans every day, but “every meal.”

And, when it came to foods that increase cancer risk, they were similarly straightforward. Unlike some other dietary changes that kind of wimp out and just advise people to moderate their intake of bad foods (like “Eat less…candy”), the cancer guidelines didn’t mince words when it came to the worst of the worst. For example, don’t just minimize soda intake; “avoid” it. Don’t just cut back on bacon and hot dogs, and ham, and sausage, lunch meat. “Avoid processed meat[s],” period, because “data do not show any level of intake that can confidently be shown not to be associated with risk.” Even small amounts may be risky.

Processed meat cannot only be thought of as “a powerful multiorgan carcinogen,” but may increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Red meat was bad, but processed meat was worse, and that included white meat, like chicken, and turkey slices. So, with more heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, it’s no surprise “[p]rocessed meat consumption [is] associated with increased risk of death”—even at small amounts.

In Europe, they calculated that “reduction of processed meat consumption to less than [a half a hot dog’s worth a day] would prevent more than 3% of all deaths.”

This was the second largest prospective study on diet and cancer ever, a study of 400,000 people. Well, the largest ever—600,000—was done right here in the U.S.: the AARP study. They found “the preventable fraction…to be [even] higher,” suggesting that 20% of heart disease deaths among women, for example, could be averted if the highest consumers cut down to less than like a quarter strip of bacon’s-worth a day. That’s a lot of death.

So, what does the industry think about all this? In the journal Meat Science, the industry acknowledged that the cancer prevention guidelines now urge people to “avoid processed meat”—a statement that “represents ‘a clear and present danger’ [for] the meat industry.” Processed meat, they say, is “a social necessity.” How could anyone live without bologna, right? The challenge for the meat industry is to find a way to maintain the consumption of these products while somehow not “damaging public health.”

30:22 Well, they’ve considered removing the nitrites for decades, because of the long-known toxic effects (the industry adds them to keep the meat pink). There are, evidently, other coloring additives available. Nevertheless, it’s going to be hard for the industry to change. You have to balance all the cancer with the positive effects of these substances as preservatives, “and desirable flavour and red colour-developing ingredients.” No one wants green eggs and ham.

It’s like salt reduction in meat products. They’d like to, but one of the biggest barriers to salt replacement within the meat industry is cost, as salt is one of the cheapest food ingredients available. Now, there a number of taste enhancers you can inject into the meat to help compensate for the salt reduction, but some of the compounds leave a bitter aftertaste. So, they can also inject a patented bitter-blocking chemical that can prevent taste nerve stimulation at the same time—the first of what may become a stream of products that are produced due to the convergence of food technology and biotech.

Or, they can always start adding non-meat materials to the meat. You could add fiber, or resistant starch from beans, that have protective effects against cancer. After all, in the United States, dietary fiber is under-consumed. This is Meat Science, saying under-consumed, fiber, indicating that fiber fortification in meat products could have health benefits—failing to note, of course, that their products are one of the reasons the American diet is so deficient in fiber in the first place.

The industry is all in favor of causing less cancer, but obviously, such optimization has to achieve a healthier product without affecting the hedonic aspects. It’s important to realize that nutritional and technological quality in the meat industry are inversely related. An improvement in one leads to a deterioration of the other. So, you got to balance it out, right?

They know that consumption of lard is not the best thing in the world, heart disease being our #1 killer. However, those downsides are in sharp contrast to lard’s technological qualities, which makes saturated fats indispensable in the manufacture of meat products. Otherwise, you just don’t get the same lard consistency. See, the pig fat doesn’t get hard enough, and as a result, a fatty smear upon cutting or slicing can be observed on the cutting surface of the knife, right? So, look, you got to get your priorities straight, right?

Although the evidence for the relationship between colorectal cancer (at least!) and processed meats cannot be denied, the meat industry suggests further research. For example, compare the risk of eating meat to other risky practices—alcohol, inactivity, obesity, smoking. Compared to lung cancer and smoking, maybe meat wouldn’t look so bad.

But, don’t worry, consumers probably won’t even hear about the latest cancer prevention guidelines. Consumers today are overloaded with information. Thus, the industry can hope that the dissemination of the update on meat and cancer drowns out in this information cloud. And, even if the sconsumers do see it, the industry doesn’t think they’ll much care. For many consumers in the Western world, the role of healthfulness, although important, is not close to taste satisfaction in shaping their final choice of meat products. It is hence questionable whether the revised recommendations, based on the carcinogenic effects of meat consumption, will yield substantial changes in consumer behavior.

You know, doctors and nutrition professionals feed into this patronizing attitude that people just don’t care enough about their own health to change. This paper, from a leading nutrition journal, scoffed at the idea that people would ever switch to a “prudent diet,” reducing their intakes of animal protein and fat, no matter how much cancer was prevented. The chances of reducing consumption to avoid colon cancer? Virtually nil. Consider heart disease. We know we can prevent and treat heart disease with the same kind of diet, but the public won’t do it. “The diet,” they say, “would lose too much of its palatability.”

In other words, the great palatability of ham largely outweighs other considerations, although health and wellbeing are increasingly important factors in consumer decisions. This 1998 industry article feared that unless meat eating becomes compatible with eating that is healthy and wholesome, it could be consigned to a minor role in the diet in the coming decade. Their prediction didn’t quite pan out. Here’s meat consumption per person over the last 30 years. Rising, rising. Now, 1998 was when the Meat Science article was published, worrying about the next decade of meat consumption, which continued to rise even further, but then did kind of, did sort of flatten out, before it fell off a cliff. Per-capita meat consumption down about 10%. Millions of Americans are reducing their consumption of meat.

So, don’t tell me people aren’t willing to change their diets. Yet, we continue to get diluted dietary guidelines, because authorities are asking themselves: what dietary changes could be acceptable to the public, rather than just telling us what the science says, and letting us make up our own minds as to whether, you know, pig fat-smearing on knives should trump our families’ health.

What we eat doesn’t just affect cancer risk in the colon. Why do constipated women appear to be at higher risk for breast cancer, whereas women who have three or more bowel movements a day—superpoopers I call them (sounds like an ABBA song, doesn’t it?)—appeared to cut their risk of breast cancer in half? This could be because constipation means a greater contact time between your waste and the intestinal wall, which can increase the formation and absorption of fecal mutagens, these compounds that can cause DNA mutations and cancer, into the circulation, and then into the breast.

We know that breasts actively take up chemicals from the bloodstream, so researchers are concerned that substances originating in the colon might enter the bloodstream and reach the breast. Specifically bile acids, which are formed as a way of getting rid of excess cholesterol. Our liver dumps bile acids into the intestines for disposal, assuming our intestines will be packed with fiber to trap it and flush it out of the body. But, if we haven’t been eating whole plant foods all day, it can get reabsorbed back into the body, and build up in the breast.

Carcinogenic bile acids are found concentrated in the breast at up to a hundred times the level found in the bloodstream; they just concentrate it, pull it out of the system. By radioactively tagging bile acids, they were able to show that intestinal bile acids rapidly gain access to the breast, where they can exert an estrogen-like cancer-promoting effect on breast tumor cells.

This could explain why we see 50% higher bile acid levels in the bloodstream of newly diagnosed breast cancer victims. So, how can we facilitate the removal of bile acids from our body? Well, we could speed up the so-called oral-anal transit time, the speed at which food goes from mouth to toilet, because slowed colon transit can lead to increased absorption of bile acids. But we can speed things up by eating lots of fiber, right? A diet packed with plants greatly increases bile acid excretion.

Fiber can bind up and remove toxic elements like lead and mercury, as well as cholesterol and bile acids. But plants can even bind bile acids independent of fiber. Vegan diets had significantly more bile acid bind up, significantly more bile acid, than lacto-ovo or nonvegetarian diets, even at the same fiber intake—which could explain why it appears that individuals eating vegetarian might excrete less mutagenic (less mutation-causing) feces in the first place.

Now, you’ll notice that the same type of diet used to help lower cancer risk is the same type of diet used to help lower Alzheimer’s risk, and diabetes, and diabetic complications, and high blood pressure, and stroke, and back pain, and heart disease, right? A diet centered around whole plant foods—the type of diet eaten by populations that are largely free of our deadliest and most disabling diseases.

Heart disease was so rare among those eating these traditional plant-based diets, there were papers published like this: “A Case of Coronary Artery Disease in an African.” After 26 years of medical practice, they finally recorded their first case of coronary heart disease among a population of 15 million—a judge, who had started consuming a partially Westernized diet. Now, some thought it was the preponderance of plant foods that was protecting these populations. Others thought it was the avoidance of animal foods. But either way, we couldn’t prove it was the diet, until it was put to the test. Pritikin, Ornish, Esselstyn, and others took people with heart disease, and put them on the kind of plant-based diet followed by populations that had no, that didn’t suffer from heart disease, hoping it would stop the disease process, keep it from progressing further.

But, instead, something miraculous happened. Their disease started to reverse, to get better. As soon as they stopped eating an artery-clogging diet, their bodies started, were able to start dissolving away some of that plaque. Even in some cases of severe triple-vessel disease, arteries opening up without drugs, without surgery—suggesting their bodies wanted to heal all along, but were just never given the chance.

This is Esselstyn’s new study, published four days ago. This increase in blood flow to the heart muscle on the left happened within just three weeks of eating healthy.

Let me share with you the best-kept secret in medicine. The best-kept secret in medicine is that, under the right conditions, the body can heal itself.

You know, if you whack your shin really hard on a coffee table, it can get all red, hot, swollen, painful, but it’ll heal naturally if you just stand back and let your body work its magic. But, what if you kept whacking your poor shin against that coffee table in the same place, over and over, three times a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)? It would never heal.

You’d go to your doctor and be like, “Oh, my shin hurts.” And the doctor would be like, “No problem,” whip out their pad, and write you a prescription for painkillers. You’re still whacking your shin three times a day, and it still hurts like heck, but oh, feels so much better with the pain pills. Thank heavens for modern medicine.

It’s like when people take nitroglycerin for chest pain—tremendous relief, but doesn’t do anything to treat the underlying cause.

Our body wants to come back to health, if we let it. But if we keep reinjuring it three times a day, we may never heal.

It’s like smoking. One of the most amazing things I learned in medical school was that within ten years of stopping smoking, your lung cancer risk approaches that of a lifelong nonsmoker. Isn’t that amazing? Your lungs can get rid of all that tar, and eventually, it’s almost like you never started smoking at all.

Our body wants to be healthy. And, every morning of our smoking life, that healing process started until bam, our first cigarette, reinjuring our lungs with every puff, just like we can reinjure our arteries with every bite, when all we had to do all along—the miracle cure—is just stop re-damaging ourselves, get out of the way, and let our bodies’ natural healing process bring us back towards health.

There is only one diet that’s ever been proven to reverse heart disease in the majority of patients: a plant-based diet. Anytime anyone tries to sell you on some new diet, ask them, do me a favor; ask them one simple question: “Has your diet been proven to reverse heart disease (you know, the most likely reason you and everyone you love will die?)? Does it reverse heart disease?” If it doesn’t, why would you even consider it?

And if that’s all a plant-based diet could do—reverse our #1 killer—well, then, shouldn’t that be the default diet until proven otherwise? And, the fact that it can also be effective in preventing, treating, reversing other leading killers, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, would seem to make the case for plant-based eating overwhelming. So, why don’t more doctors prescribe it?

Available time is a reason frequently cited by physicians. But if you probe a little deeper, yes, they complain about not having enough time to give their patients dietary advice. But, the number one reason was their perception that patients fear being deprived of all the junk they’re eating. Can you imagine a doctor saying, “Yeah, I’d like to tell my patients to stop smoking, but I know how much they love it.”

Dr. Neal Barnard wrote a compelling editorial in the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics. When he stopped smoking in the 80s, the lung cancer death rate was peaking in the U.S., but has since dropped, with dropping smoking rates. No longer were doctors telling patients to give their throat a vacation by smoking a fresh cigarette.

Doctors realized that they were more effective at counseling patients to quit smoking if they no longer had tobacco stains on their own fingers. In other words, doctors went from bystanders—or even enablers—to leading the fight against smoking. And today, he says, “Plant-based diets are the nutritional equivalent of quitting smoking.”

This is not vegetarianism. Vegetarians often consume all sorts of junk. Vegans too, for that matter, right? This new paradigm is exclusively plant-based nutrition. Whole plant foods. Why exclusively? Well, as reported in the Cornell-Oxford-China Study, there does not appear to be a threshold beyond which further benefits did not accrue with increasing proportions of plant foods in the diet. It appears the more plant-based foods and less animal-based foods, the better.

It took five decades after the initial studies linking tobacco and cancer for effective public health policies to be put into place, with enormous cost to human health. Must we wait another 50 years to respond to the epidemics of dietary diseases?

They do have money on their sides. The chemical, tobacco and food industries have the luxury to share similar tactics with the drug companies, because they have the resources to do so. In contrast, powerful and cheap health-promoting activities (like eating healthy) are too cheap, can’t be patented, aren’t profitable.

And, they throw that money around.

The American Dietetic Association, for example, promotes a series of Nutrition Fact Sheets. Who writes them? Industry sources pay $20,000 per fact sheet to the ADA, and explicitly take part in writing the documents. So, you can learn about eggs from the egg industry, the benefits of chewing gum from the Wrigley Science Institute. I didn’t know Wrigley’s had a Science Institute.

In 2008, the ADA announced that the Coca-Cola Company had become an official partner to give them prominent access to key influencers and decision makers, and share the Coca-Cola Company’s research findings. For example: did you know that there are no harmful effects of different Coca-Cola beverages on rat testicles? Was that even a concern? Thou doth protest too much, methinks.

When the American Academy of Family Physicians was called out on their proud new corporate relationship with Coke to support patient education on healthy eating, an executive vice-president of the Academy tried to quell the protest by explaining that the alliance was not without precedent. They had relationships with Pepsi and McDonald’s for some time. Reminiscent of similar types of relationships in the past.

This didn’t seem to placate the critics, so the exec assured them that the American Dietetic Association has made a policy statement that “[t]here are no good or bad foods.” A position that the food industry has then exploited. You know, in the early years, the tobacco industry sounded a similar theme: smoking per se wasn’t bad—just “excess” smoking. Sound familiar? Everything, in moderation.

Is this what family docs and dietitians have been reduced to? To justify unholy financial alliances, they deny that there are actually unhealthy foods?

Thankfully, there is a corporate sector that actually benefits from healthy people—the insurance industry.

Last year, a Nutritional Update for Physicians was published in the official journal of Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed-care organization in the country, covering about nine million people, with about 15,000 physicians, who were told that healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet—defined as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods, and discourages meats, dairy, and eggs, as well as all refined and processed junk.

Too often, physicians ignore the potential benefits of good nutrition, and quickly prescribe medications instead of giving their patients a chance to correct their disease through healthy eating and active living. Physicians should therefore consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

The major downside is that it may work a little too well. If people are on medications, their blood pressure or blood sugar could actually drop too low, so physicians may need to adjust medications, or eliminate them altogether. The side effects, ironically, may be not having to take drugs.

Despite the strong body of evidence favoring plant-based diets, many physicians are not stressing the importance of plant-based diets as a first-line treatment for chronic illnesses. (That’s a bit of an understatement.) Now, this could be because of lack of physician awareness, or a lack of patient education materials. So, Kaiser sought to change that.

Want to lose weight, feel better, improve, stabilize, or even reverse chronic disease, get off some of your medications? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a plant-based eating plan may be right for you. Side effects may include lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, reversal or prevention of our #1 killer, a longer life, healthier weight, lower risk of cancer, diabetes, even slow the progression of cancer, improve inflammatory conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis. They offer tips to get started, meal plan ideas, and, I’m honored to say, a good taste in websites.

The paper ends with a familiar refrain: “[f]urther research is needed.” In this case, though, further research is needed—to find ways to make plant-based diets the new normal.

Thank you.

I have both of my last two annual reviews on DVD—all proceeds to charity, and all of my work is available free on NutritionFacts.org.

Thanks again.

For all the individual transcripts, see the daily videos in which each subject is covered. Browse through all the topics at https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Recorded live at the University of Pittsburgh on July 5, 2014 thanks to NAVS and Aaron Wissner. Images thanks to Monica Trzaska.

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 12,000 or so papers published annually on human nutrition, and, thanks to a crack team of volunteers (and now staff!), I’m able to whittle those down to about 3,000 studies, which are downloaded, categorized, read, analyzed, and churned into a 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 nutrition. The problem is that the amount of information can be overwhelming.

Currently, I have videos covering 1,814 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 a million hits a month!).

In 2013, I developed the sequel More than an Apple a Day: Combating Common Diseases, in which I explored the role diet could play in treating some of our most common conditions. I’ve been presenting it around the country over the past year, and it ended up #1 on our Top 10 Most Popular Videos of 2013.

Now, I’m honored to bring you the third of the trilogy, From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food, in which I explore the role of diet in correcting some of our leading causes of disability. To more easily navigate through the menu of diseases, it is also available on DVD through my website or Amazon. If you want to share copies with others, I have a five for $40 special (enter coupon code 5FOR40TTA). All proceeds from the sales of all my books, DVDs, and presentations go to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that keeps NutritionFacts.org free for all, for all time. If you want to support this initiative to educate millions about eradicating dietary diseases, please consider making a donation.

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. For now, though, air pop some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy!

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

187 responses to “From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food

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  1. Excellent summary of the past few months – the Doc’s non-patronising delivery and sense of humor are at their best – don’t ever stop DR G




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    1. If you liked this one, please don’t miss one his best of ALL time…entertaining/as he often is/as he even amuses himself at times/and massively informative, this is “the missing link”/How to Translate all this in to daily reality: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCYQtwIwAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DY9nNa81dSoY&ei=EJPfU92UBcWmyATG1oH4DQ&usg=AFQjCNFpnr1jtps97J3ENYgwhFT0D9S-Ow&sig2=EY_VD2E1eWbaUWLX0z40pw&bvm=bv.72197243,d.aWw




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      1. Hi David – apologies for the late reply – I’m new to the site and just realised that I had comments to reply to – I opened the link in great expectation, became very excited that it was almost 2hrs long, but soon realised I’d already seen it……c’est la vie




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  2. Super! Superlative!!! Supreme!!!!!

    Thanks SO SO much!!!!!

    Love the transcripts et.al. and would love to see the transcript for this (these/summaries) as well. Know it is a good bit of work/am confident your wonderful team that you have built is up to the task.

    We learn X from listening, X+ from listening and visuals, and X+++ from reading too.

    Learning, assimilating and then applying is the essence. I know you have made a substantial difference in my life and I feel wonderful today. You have contributed mightily and I will be forever grateful. Thank you Dr. Greger!




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  3. Greatly anticipating the publishing of your new book! Today IS a GrEaT dAy!!!!/with this video summary. The book, I think, will be magnificent!

    Thank you,

    Book Update

    Good news! When I announced my new book deal for
    How Not to Die with
    Macmillan Publishers, I expressed concern that I’d have to pull back on
    the NutritionFacts.org new video schedule. Thanks to everyone’s support I
    now have a wonderful staff that helps with the logistics of the site (wait
    until you see the new look–coming soon!), but the primary research and writing
    falls to me. I didn’t know how I was going to do the book and keep the site going at
    full tilt, but I am honored to announce that Gene Stone, the
    best-selling author of Forks
    Over Knives (and 35 other books, including his new novel The
    Awareness), has generously agreed to co-author it with me. So now I should be
    able to do it all without any hiccups–full steam ahead!

    Gene wants to intersperse my science with personal narratives of those who were
    able to reap the benefits of a healthier diet. Do you or anyone you know have
    an inspirational story to share? Especially of interest would be those who
    successfully treated any of our leading killers–heart disease, cancer, stroke,
    diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, lung, liver, kidney or brain disease.
    If you’d be willing to share your story, please email a brief rundown to testimonials@NutritionFacts.orgBook Update

    Good news! When I announced my new book deal for
    How Not to Die with
    Macmillan Publishers, I expressed concern that I’d have to pull back on
    the NutritionFacts.org new video schedule. Thanks to everyone’s support I
    now have a wonderful staff that helps with the logistics of the site (wait
    until you see the new look–coming soon!), but the primary research and writing
    falls to me. I didn’t know how I was going to do the book and keep the site going at
    full tilt, but I am honored to announce that Gene Stone, the
    best-selling author of Forks
    Over Knives (and 35 other books, including his new novel The
    Awareness), has generously agreed to co-author it with me. So now I should be
    able to do it all without any hiccups–full steam ahead!

    Gene wants to intersperse my science with personal narratives of those who were
    able to reap the benefits of a healthier diet. Do you or anyone you know have
    an inspirational story to share? Especially of interest would be those who
    successfully treated any of our leading killers–heart disease, cancer, stroke,
    diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, lung, liver, kidney or brain disease.
    If you’d be willing to share your story, please email a brief rundown to testimonials@NutritionFacts.org




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    1. I truly wish I could help as I’ve been trying to persuade my neighbour to switch over to a PBD as he has prostate cancer that has spread to his bones – he’s just had his latest HRT injection to cover him for the next three months, he’s also on statins and other medications – notwithstanding being 5 stone, (20KG) overweight.

      Unfortunately my neighbours oncologist has no knowledge of the effects of a PBD, and my neighbour has himself also obtained a lot of information from the internet that at best can be viewed as misleading – he also had his operation to remove the prostate cancelled twice, on the third occasion (some nine months after diagnosis) the anesthetist refused this operation due to his previous strokes. The strokes were never a factor for rescheduling the first two operations and I can’t help but speculate that the lengthy delay may have contributed to the metastasis – I guess we’ll never know.

      One thing is for certain – I am incredibly grateful to you and your staff for the work that you/they do. I check your site daily and try to educate as many as I can for my part. Had I not been viewing a fitness forum re protein intake, I would never have come across a comment by one of the members referencing The China Study – I searched the internet, leading me to Colin T Campbells video’s, and then onto Dr John McDougall, Dr Esselstyn, Dr Barnard, Dr Klapper, Dr Ornish, and your good self. I only wish more of your profession were as caring and informative as you guys…..I hope that by adopting a vegan diet that you’ve changed my life, time will tell, but the signs are promising thus far…

      Thanks

      Chris




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  4. I watched this video a week or so ago and just loved it. I was wondering what Dr. Greger would come up with for a theme. This is another great one. Thanks Dr. Greger!




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  5. Wonderful presentation. I would love to see Dr. Greger speak live someday. I appreciate your dedication and amazing effort! Looking forward to reading the new book!




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  6. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated researcher who also happens to have great presentation skills!!!! You have come a long way in the past decade!!!!! Amazing how you are able to assemble the information, graphics and timing. Few may know of the effort that it takes and the sacrifices you have made for us. Thank you!!!!




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  7. The GREATEST SECRET IN MEDICINE in the 41st minute is excellent, and all too true; as noted/it has been known by some for well over 100 years/if not centuries; it got hijacked somewhere along the way. Having grown up in a family with knowledge of nutrition of the day as well as exercise, for some reason I was considered a “Health Nut”/not always easy to take along the way. If I was a “Health Nut”/what are “they”? In addition, I was raised in the Christian Science faith, my grandmother a “Practitioner/Healer”, again setting me up as “different”. One of THE founding principles of the Christian Science faith, based on the experiences of the founder, Mary Baker Eddy, around 1890, was that in fact, more often than not, the body does have the GOD given ability to heal itself, being allowed to do so. I am so very thankful that I was so blessed and at 60, have never felt better nor been in better condition/looking forward to and working on becoming 100 or so in good health. One of my relatives lived well to the age of 108!!!




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      1. Vegan, 95% of the time, for health, ethical and environmental reasons. At 60, and as always, health is a big one. Why not be as healthy as I can be while helping to ensure the health of the earth for my children and generations yet to come. To me, our anatomy dictates our predisposition. While I believe we are each an experiment of one, I can for sure say that I have never felt better, run stronger, nor required less sleep or recovery time. Enjoyed a solid 6.5 mile run at swift pace this AM. Greatly enjoyed a nine mile trail run on Saturday AM, with hills, full out. Here is to your best health yet.




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    1. First time on this site. I find this post very interesting. Carry on, David, you’re obviously doing things right.
      I’ve reached my 80th year with no regular aches and pains. I’ve had ‘flu only once as an adult, and no colds for over 10 years. I became a wholefood vegetarian at age 17, having come from an orthodox medical family for two generations, who regarded me as the ‘;black sheep’ of the family.
      I went to one public meeting about Christian Science in my teens, but found that they seemed to exclusively deal with the ‘mind’ and did not seem to follow any sound health or nutrition ideas, unless you can tell me differently.
      My relatives die early, and I decided to aim for 100 a couple of years back!




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  8. I have gotten so burnt out with the daily practice of medicine that I have been losing my passion for spreading the healthy food message.

    Now don’t get me wrong I eat healthy as all can be and I do have a few patients that change, but the patient’s I mostly work with are the, drug addicts, uneducated (some I treat cannot read or write–Really!) and the “Slaves to their tongue” (Pleasure Trap) population (eg. Morbidly Obese, Diabetics, Polyarthralgia, Chronic Pain)–A constantly uphill battle!

    Your presentation reignited the flame within!
    Namaste.




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    1. Dear Beleaguered, Dr. Hemo,
      Have you thought that it may be time to modify your practice? Feelings of burn out are symptoms, not to be ignored. How much of a beating can one take and still thrive? Many dedicated docs take too much punishment. Many practices are too specialized for the doctor’s heath. Could you decrease the number of patients who are caught in the pleasure trap and increase, start a new practice, or?… and treat those who are eager and willing to do their part? New, young, docs still want work with the addicts etc. You don’t owe them all of your professional practice. Good luck to you.




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    2. It’s good to hear a doctor who tries to educate patients.
      Do you use simple strategies, like 5-a-day etc. and give simple leaflets or booklets? Obviously patients will need to read ! Others may be interested in a group meeting, when you promote health. Surely a few will be interested.
      Good luck




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  9. Amazing presentation!!!! LOVED it! Thank you SO much for posting. I can’t wait to share this with friends & family. Please keep doing what you do.




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  10. You are the backbone of our efforts to lead a healthy long life! Thanks for being who you are and the tremendous amount of hard work.




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  11. You are my hero – thank you, thank you, thank you. Do you have thoughts about microwaving – so many of those urban phobias have turned out to be true.




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    1. Ha! Mary J, someone on youtube dubbed Doc the “BADASS” of nutrition! I’d say he’s BOTH! This is a FABULOUS video! Thanks again Dr. Greger!




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  12. When I FINALLY found the right information, I chose to eat plants vs animals. My body is healing itself. Thank you for your daily reminders of why I made this choice. This one is your best video by far. Thanks so much.




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  13. Why is it just Ornish and Esselstyn that keeps popping in these CVD arresting and reversing studies? Hasn’t anyone else been able to replicate their studies?




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    1. Probably because other researchers are not interested. There always have been just a small number of such dedicated doctors.




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    1. I came across a video recently detailing some of the sacrifices Dr. Greger has made in spreading the message and the repercussions. His zeal, and it is interesting to see his more primitive/recorded/graphics from a decade ago, motivated him to travel rather extensively and as I recall, cost him his marriage as well. A true servant of the people, all the money for speaking/books/et.al. goes to the not-for-profit that helps to continue bringing you this information. There are many volunteers and I am hoping even more can be brought to bear the pleasure of contributing to the spread of this so very needed information – “The Dr. Greger Army”/so to speak. You can check out his speaking schedule on his website: veganmd.org, http://www.drgreger.org/speaking-dates
      If you find this information as interesting and as helpful as I do – check it 7:00 AM Chicago time every week day!!!!/please make a financial contribution in any amount that you may wish to do so. The purchase of any of his DVDs also helps the cause/and he often has a deal to buy a package of them he has recorded over the years. They make GREAT PRESENTS for students/schools/and those you care most about.

      To your improved/better/best health yet!!!!
      Note above/he has a new book coming out. I have been mentioning that/and hoping for that/to be able to more fully assimilate this information. Hearing it is one thing/seeing it another/and being able to have it in reference form would be another dimension/component of learning/growing et.al.

      Note the transcripts of most of these presentations/and the references are noted as well for those who want to delve deeper.

      As Chef AJ mentioned/in regards to the great book whole, what you mostly need was summarized/contained on “Page 7”; easy to describe/and Dr. Greger has a summary of the ideal diet I am trying to track down. Not so easy in execution/but/more so if one focuses in on the essence of a Whole Foods/Plant Based Diet. Food as food. Food has no labels per se.




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  14. Fantastic work as always Dr. Greger! I’m almost completely vegan now and
    I can’t thank you enough for pointing me in the right direction!
    However, if people on a WFPBD are far less likely to die from all the
    major causes of death, what do you expect these people will die from? Do
    you expect people on a WFPBD to live much longer?




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    1. Liam314: Congratulations on your progress to healthy eating!!!

      You raise two questions which come up often. Dr. Greger is in the process of writing a book about living longer. In the mean time, check out the information I included below about two studies on this very topic.

      The other topic is different. No one is saying that at WFPBD is going to make someone live forever. So, what do people on a WFPBD die of? It is a legitimate question. I heard Dr. McDougal answer it once, but I can’t remember what video it was in. I’ll paraphrase and hopefully get it right: You don’t actually have to die of a disease. There really is such a thing as dieing of old age. We are such a sick society, we don’t really see much of that any more. But it is a “thing”. Dieing of old age involves losing consciousness, and then your systems shutting down one at a time. According to Dr. McDougall, this is a very peaceful and natural way to die. If no disease is involved and someone is at the end of a long healthy life who dies in the way I just described, then that is dieing of old age. Sign me up.

      ***********************************
      From PCRM Breaking News:
      “Vegetarians Live Longer
      Vegetarian diets can extend life expectancy, according to early findings from the Adventist Health Study-2. Vegetarian men live to an average of 83.3 years, compared with nonvegetarian men who live to an average of 73.8 years. And vegetarian women live to an average of 85.7 years, which is 6.1 years longer than nonvegetarian women. This study is ongoing and includes more than 96,000 participants. The results further indicate vegan diets to be healthful and associated with a lower body weight (on average 30 lbs. lower than that of meat eaters), and lower risk of diabetes, compared with diets that include animal products.”
      Fraser G, Haddad E. Hot Topic: Vegetarianism, Mortality and Metabolic Risk: The New Adventist Health Study. Report presented at: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic (Food and Nutrition Conference) Annual Meeting; October 7, 2012: Philadelphia, PA.

      ——

      From Meetout Monday:

      Living Veg Adds 10 Years

      Loma Linda University School of Public Health released a study based on the eating habits of 73,000 Americans. The results are in—those who follow a meat-free diet have a decreased mortality rate by a staggering 20 percent!

      “Based on this study and other recent research, on average, vegetarians and semi-vegetarians tend to add about 10 years to their lives,” said Sam Soret, co-author of the study.

      It’s so cool knowing that it’s possible make food choices that not only help animals, but that also are good for our health and wellness too!
      Read more about the study at:
      http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=6499&catId=1




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      1. I know a lot of very old people die after a respiratory illness – the flu for example. But the best joke I heard was that people who eat this extremely healthy way and exercise daily will one day find themselves old and in a hospital dying of nothing!




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        1. But they all have tons of extra time they enjoyed before moving on =) And wakefulness / conscious living too… Not disease / Alzheimer / dementia ridden life…




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    2. I heard Michael Klaper and Dr. Fuhrman talk about the potential increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke in vegans and one thing we can do to combat this is be careful not to eat too much sodium.




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  15. DrGreger love your great Talk Table to Able I clappedI Laughed
    I am a Vegan so Happy for you and your wonderful investigating of
    Everything That is Good for all of Us I wish you the Best & thanks for all you Do.
    I’m Jill Sterner My Daughter is JulieMarie Protective Diet .com




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  16. Just thinking of all my loved ones who passed from diet-related illnesses brought me to tears at the end of this video. Thank you Dr. for shaping my vegan diet and for your excellent work. YOU ARE THE GREATEST SECRET IN MEDICINE!




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    1. If you look around, you can find previous ones on the web from years prior to those you mentioned. Interesting to see the progression. One of his best ever, kind of of a how to translate all this in to daily reality is: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCYQtwIwAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DY9nNa81dSoY&ei=EJPfU92UBcWmyATG1oH4DQ&usg=AFQjCNFpnr1jtps97J3ENYgwhFT0D9S-Ow&sig2=EY_VD2E1eWbaUWLX0z40pw&bvm=bv.72197243,d.aWw




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  17. Perfect delivery once again of hugely important information. I’m sure your website is in part responsible for those ‘dive off the cliff’ diminishing meat eating levels! I am sharing this with everyone I know and cannot thank you enough for your invaluable work, Dr Greger.




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  18. A few years ago a rainy day in would be accompanied by large meat feast pizza, coca-cola and some trashy movies. now it’s a big mug of matcha tea and this great video. Thanks Dr. Greger – you’re the inspiration I needed to turn my life around.




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  19. Don’t you think its interesting that the decline in per capita consumption of meat & poultry (35:55min)
    coincides with the economic crash of 2008? Is the decline simply due to
    economic factors or are people starting to get the message? Hopefully
    the latter.




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    1. While we may be seeing the sprouts of a cultural shift to whole plant based diets, I suspect lower disposable income and higher meat costs (due in part to the corn ethanol mandate) are largely responsible. See “retail meat prices, USDA” in this industry report.




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    2. I don’t think people ate less meat because of the economy – did they smoke less cigarettes? Probably did with less “fresh” meat and opted for more processed varieties.




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    1. Can you search the videos effectively? This big presentation is basically a compilation of material from an earlier year of videos.




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        1. What a nonsense, it doesnt even exist in millions of species, starch have no taste(flour is pure starch then eat simple sugar and see the difference).
          And anyways ripe fruits have way more taste and hit our senses than bland starch even cooked and i recall natural is raw~




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            1. I know history of food but like peoples who ate animal product most of their life doesnt make their anatomy carnivore/omnivore this starch history doesnt make our anatomy starchivore even if most humans have significantly more amylase than frugivore monkey~
              And fruits digest much easier and faster than starch especially legumes and has less toxins which show again our anatomy is optimized for simple carbs from them~




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  20. Another ground-breaking presentation! The section on fiber raised questions for us since we see we have been shy of enough insoluble fiber. Oh My!
    Soluble vs insoluble fiber! How much of each and from what? What is the hierarchy of best sources and what are usual serving sizes? We found huhs.harvard.edu/assets/file/ourservices/service_nutrition_fiber.pdf.
    It is pretty good, but a video from Dr. Greger would be much more fun and more inspiring!
    If any of the team experts have suggestions, we would appreciate them. We know Dr. Greger has already done his part and has much more good work to do!
    We are so very grateful to you all who contribute to this site. Thank you all!




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  21. Dr. Kellogg would be proud of you Dr. Greger. My Mother who recently passed at 105 was a student of Dr. Kellogg. She would be proud of you too. Jon Rosenbaum son of Beatrice Rosenbaum RN




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  22. Thanks Dr. Greger—amazing presentation. One day when a Plant-Based Doctors’ Hall of Fame is created, your portrait will be proudly hanging there.




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  23. I always hear that we should eat whole plant based foods. How comes that people in Thailand (for example) eat loads of white rice (refined rice) and they are all slim? How comes? The standard size trousers are 28. I hardly found stuff for me as I have a 34 waist.

    What’s the leading causing death in Thailand? Heart disease as they eat so much refined rice?




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    1. Seems you answered your own question. Plant food stripped of the fiber and many phytonutrients will not likely cause obesity by itself since there is still, from your description, not a huge caloric surplus. Plants stripped of phytonutrients and fiber will also not protect against heart disease. And indeed there is a move to ever more animal foods in all parts of the world if they can get it. So with even small increases in animal products and with the plant nutrition reduced, it seems only logical that the diseases of affluence would be beginning to take hold.




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  24. There is a line from the Persian Book of Kings which we roughly translate as “knowledge is power.” When I first came to this web site citing mostly peer reviewed primary research sources, I felt empowered.

    I have been with the same doctor for 20 years or more and she does have some respect for me as I diagnosed and cured my own psoriatic arthritis with a plant based diet and at age 64 with type I diabetes I am the best controlled diabetic patient, type I or II, she has ever cared for.
    She deals with diabetic side effects routinely. This segment on diabetic neuropathy is more powerful than any of the daily videos. I would like to get her the whole dvd with citations. With a science oriented person, as MDs may be, the citations may lend credibility. So I want to download this to burn and present to my doctor and others. I also would like to get a comprehensive list of the sources cited to go with it. Any chance of that happening?




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    1. Stewart: I don’t think the exact feature you are looking for is available as-is. However, if you were willing to do some work, you could get close.

      To start, you would purchase a DVD of this talk. Unfortunately, that doesn’t come with all of the citations. However, all of the information covered in the summary talk, is also covered in individual daily videos either already or coming up in the next few months or so. And as you (hopefully) know, the daily videos *do* include citations. So, you could put together the citations over time, even connected with the daily video transcripts for categorizing and further helping to assimilate the information.

      That’s all I can think of if you are very interested in spoon feeding the information to people. Another approach would be to give your doctor a link to this free video right here along with links to the daily videos that back up this summary video. Then if your doctor was intrigued she might take the time to look up the citations. That’s just another way to approach the situation.

      Hope you can find something that will work for you.




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  25. It was amazing to me that young kids are now having back problems and that atherosclerosis could cause back problems….and so a plant-based diet could lead to a healthier back! Who but Dr. G would have pointed this out?

    And also interesting that constipation and breast cancer may be linked. (Scary, too, since I’m not part of the 3 a day a club—a Super Pooper as the good doctor calls it, even though I eat a whole-foods plant-based diet.)

    Dr. G never seems to give up hope that people will see the light. I am more cynical about it since I’ve not seen many people make the switch from SAD.




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  26. Inspiring, much needed stuff here Michael. Thank you for your work. Such a noble cause that could change the world if enough of us jump up and help spread the message. Keep going.




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  27. Wonderful presentation once again, but you keep getting better!

    You manage to present a lot of information and insights, while keeping people completely engaged and having a heck of a good time. :)

    And as always learning a lot. THANK YOU.

    We keep owing you.




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  28. 2 years since I went plant based. 10kg lost, breathing better, sport better, focused and generally feeling happy. I live in France and eating large quantities of meat and dairy is quite normal here. In fact, the amount of obese people here is on the rise. The national health care budget in France is just enormous. heart disease , cancer… So don’t believe the hype about the mediterranean diet.




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    1. Gary: It is so interesting when people from other countries give us peaks into the situation where they live. Thanks for your post. (And congrats on your 2 years of healthy eating. That’s great.)




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  29. When it comes to soluble and insoluble fiber, it is difficult to approach 25 g/day without supplementation. Furthermore getting information on the numbers is difficult on the web.




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    1. Hi cyndishisara, are you eating a whole foods plant based diet? I average around 70 g total fiber per day, or about 20-25 g per meal, with no supplementation. Just fruits, vegetables, and lots of whole grains and legumes. A typical meal might be lentil or chickpea stew with rice or whole grain bread and steamed broccoli.

      The only way to get less would be if I consumed more refined flours/sugars, oils, or more of the higher fat whole plant foods e.g. peanut butter.

      You can easily find total fiber values using the USDA database:

      http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/

      Also cronometer.com is helpful for both searching for values and entering them in a journal format so you can track your intake.




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      1. I specifically said soluble fiber! Of course eating whole foods as I do without any extracted oils you get plenty of insoluble fiber. The web site that you referred me to does not distinguish between all forms of fiber. My diet is basically whole grains (hulled barley, oat groats, whole rye seed, soft wheat berries), beans (pinto, black and adzuki). kale and the other vegetables, white sesame seed, flax meal, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, apples, prunes, dates, white tea, coffee, pears, oranges and avocadoes processed by me either raw, pressure cooked or boiled.
        Insoluble fiber does not make up for soluble fiber. I do not supplement with inulin or psyllium. I am looking for real information.




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        1. Hi cyndishisara, reading “When it comes to soluble and insoluble fiber”, made it seem as though you were interested in both.

          Some real information, per your request, via google:

          http://www.globalrph.com/fiber_content_soluble.htm

          http://huhs.harvard.edu/assets/File/OurServices/Service_Nutrition_Fiber.pdf

          https://www.prebiotin.com/resources/fiber-content-of-foods/

          http://www.dietitians.ca/getattachment/3bb6330f-0ab2-48fc-9d24-1303ad70003d/Factsheet-Food-Sources-of-Soluble-Fibre.pdf.aspx

          http://ocw.tufts.edu/data/47/531408.pdf

          Can I ask how many calories you are eating per day? I threw a typical day’s intake into the calculator (a few fruits, oatmeal, 2 pieces bread, rice, 2 cups beans, steamed broccoli, and a salad’s worth of vegetables) and it gave me a result of 24.95 g soluble fiber.




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          1. I eat 4.5 cups (1.5 cups dry) of beans black or pinto and 3 cups (1 cup dry oat, barley, rye, wheat or combo) of grain. I know this because I cook this every day or so in my pressure cooker. I also eat about 5 prunes and 2 dates, 2 apples or pears.
            Generally I eat enough to maintain my weight of 122 pounds at 5′ 7.5″. So I try to eat as much as I can and as off as I can!
            I find these sites to be very annoying including probiotin which I already new about!




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          2. I did learn an interesting point pears contain approximately twice the soluble fiber as apples. I just have trouble trusting all the numbers. I am looking for a workable chart not really for myself but to help others. I just see all these as inadequate. I want something just from tried measurements, basic and inclusive! Words like bread are not scientific!




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          3. Just want to thank you for the response. I now understand how I get my calories and all forms of of fiber, if I can get the 1.5 cups of beans and 1 cup of hulled barley (all raw) with fruits and vegetables and flax meal a sprinkle of sesame and a long mile walk it fits to together for a 122 pound 5′ 7″ person. I normally do not count calories but the big picture helps.




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          4. I just used your calculator bOOmer and got 22g soluble fiber. I think on this WFPB plan none of us has to worry about getting enough. Thanks for the links!




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          5. I just see a pattern the amount of soluble fiber in food is much lower than insoluble. Prunes are my best source of soluble fiber.




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      2. Sorry if I was not clear! I get a load of fiber! I know over 70 grams total. However in studying the subject I notice that it is hard to get enough soluble fiber and to get reliable information on just how much their is in food constituents. I want to be more versatile than consuming psyllium or inulin (sun chokes or chicory). I do know that dried prunes are a good source also.




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        1. It is not that hard if you add a bit of FOS to your yogurt or smoothies (adds a nice sweetness, but use no more than 5-10 g per serving or you better stay close to a toilet ;-) and make a point to eat foods particularly high in soluble fiber (like oat bran and flax seed).




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          1. Tubers as sunchokes are especially high in inulin (FOS) only if picked early (not fully ripened). Inulin or FOS is a powerful soluble fiber.




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  30. Another excellent installment for us to share around and spread the word. :) Relax & Enjoy – Eat & Drink Plants to overcome degenerative disease and recover health.




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  31. This may be hard for some to believe. Today I had a doctors appointment. I found my physician standing at an elevated desk rather than sitting. He stated he had been doing desk work that way for a while due to chronic back pain.

    I mentioned to him what I had just recently learned in Michael’s video.

    Honest to God, his reply was that even if his arteries were partially clogged it was still akin to a freeway which was 50% jammed. That still meant that 50% was moving blood through his body.

    Kinda scary to me….




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  32. Awesome presentation as always. You are among the most eloquent and convincing of voices for the plant based diet. Your website and lectures have been invaluable to me in changing my diet. Thank you so much!




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  33. Hey can anyone suggest some help for chronic pain? Ive been eating a plant-based diet for a couple years but am tying to go vegan now and really ramp it up. I have chronic pain in my arms and shoulders everyday. Any ideas as far as natural foods for a remedy?




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    1. I’m a big believer in anti-inflammatory herbs and spices. I sprinkle Ceylon cinnamon on my baked potato. Turmeric is a good one. I think Dr. Greger has a video of anti-inflammatory foods. I got rid of osteoarthritis in hand and shoulder when I went vegan and also cut all added sugars, baked goods, processed foods, and all oils.




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  34. Thank you for adding the subtitles! I can now capture images, complete with YOUR WORDS when I view the video on my iPad or iPhone. This is very useful when sharing specific food facts with others.




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  35. My commentary would be – yes – cook your own food from scratch and eat natural fruits and veggies as much as you can afford-and canned and frozen are good too – as long as you don’t see a great list of added ingredients. My main no-no -and it should be for everybody -is to read labels and shun anything that contains Partially -hydrogenated oils or fats -of any sort. The process of adding the hydrogen extends the shelf life but shortens yours. It does not break down as it should in your body but accumulates as plaque in the arteries . I should know. I had a heart attack a few months ago -with 90 % blockage . I used to use a lot of margarine – straight and in cooking – no more for me thank you. I go easy on the butter but never use the margarine or cooking shortening. any more. There are plenty of healthful oils – just use them in moderation
    You can even make a quick and easy piecrust with oils -that is flaky and tender.NO more partially -hydrogenated anything for me – and if we all demanded that they stop doing it by boycotting those products – they wouldn’t be able to sell them-so they would have to stop doing it.
    .




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    1. crowlady: I highly recommend you read the book: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn. Esselstyn was able to take patients who had many heart attacks and were given up by their doctors and reverse their disease to the point that all the people who stuck with the diet had no more events.

      It’s going to take a few more changes for you, but you seem like the kind of person who values her health enough to make the effort.
      http://www.amazon.com/Prevent-Reverse-Heart-Disease-Nutrition-Based/dp/1583333002/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409240609&sr=8-1&keywords=prevent+and+reverse+heart+disease

      Good luck.




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  36. Great presentations. So encouraging to see science being used for our health rather than financial profits.

    But where does one get some advice on plant-specific diet items?




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  37. Dr. Greger your straightforward remarks is truly informative and it will always be appreciated by anyone seeking the truth about the typical American diet. I have greatly benefited for your research and remarks, Please accept my appreciation for your efforts to open the eye’s of those looking for the truth about our lifestyle and diet in America.




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  38. Hey ya all, I need some help .
    I’m doing a capstone on plant-based nutrition. I need 15 research studies, none older than 5 years. 2009.
    I have them , sorta, but I would like better studies and some of them randomized.
    Need help finding the best ones.




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    1. Riley: The information in this talk is repeated in the topic-focused video-of-the-day pages. You can find the studies referenced in this talk by going to the relevant videos-of-the-day and then clicking the “sources cited” link.




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  39. I have MS and am on a vegan diet. I really believe it helps me. However, my family doctor told me I needed to eat “a lot” of fat for my brain to work. What is that all about? How much fat does a person need or does it depend on the person?




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    1. Carol: I’m not a doctor, but my understanding of the science is that humans probably need about 6% of your calories from fat. I get that number from the traditional Okinawans who are some of the longest and healthiest people around. So, while you may be able to get away with eating more than 6% fat and still be healthy, you probably don’t *need* more than that.

      And that 6% will feel like a very little amount. From the anecdotes and papers from experts like say McDouggall that I have read, most people eating a pretty clean whole foods plant based diet in America, including consuming some nuts and seeds, seem to get around 10 to 15% of calories from fat in their diet. And this is with no oils and minimal nuts and seeds.

      Bottom line: I’m not a doctor, but I think your doctor is very confused.

      I’m sorry to hear about your MS. I hope you are able to stop progression. If you haven’t seen them already, check out the videos on this site regarding MS.




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      1. If it helps, I’ve had MS for about 30 years. I tried several of the drugs but stopped them. I’ve had many relapses but I recover pretty well. I’ve followed a healthy diet and I’m still backpacking, climbing mountains for two-week trips off-trail through wilderness. I exercise on the stairclimber for an hour most days at the gym. I do have a number of neurological problems, but they can be handled. I fall because I don’t pick up my feet as well as normal people do, but my bones are strong, and I’m not about to stop doing what I love. If I were you, I’d stop all sugar and fat except for walnuts. MS patients don’t seem to handle fats normally. Good luck!




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    2. If it helps, I’ve had MS for about 30 years. I tried several of the drugs but stopped them. I’ve had many relapses but I recover pretty well. I’ve followed a healthy diet low in animal foods, vegan now, and I’m still backpacking, climbing mountains for two-week trips off-trail through wilderness. I exercise on the stairclimber for an hour most days at the gym. I do have a number of neurological problems, but they can be handled. I fall because I don’t pick up my feet as well as normal people do, but my bones are strong, and I’m not about to stop doing what I love. If I were you, I’d stop all sugar and fat except for walnuts. MS patients don’t seem to handle fats normally. Good luck!




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    3. If it helps, I’ve had MS for about 30 years. I tried several of the drugs but stopped them. I’ve had many relapses but I recover pretty well. I’ve followed a healthy diet and I’m still backpacking, climbing mountains for two-week trips off-trail through wilderness. I exercise on the stairclimber for an hour most days at the gym. I do have a number of neurological problems, but they can be handled. I fall because I don’t pick up my feet as well as normal people do, but my bones are strong, and I’m not about to stop doing what I love. If I were you, I’d stop all sugar and fat except for walnuts. MS patients don’t seem to handle fats normally. Good luck!




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    4. I’ve had MS for 30 years. I don’t know where your doctor is coming from. A healthy low-fat diet and exercise has kept me in good shape. I still go on two-week off-trail trips climbing mountains and rocks. I’ve had a lot of relapses, but they didn’t leave me with severe damage. I can’t pick up my feet as well as normal people do, so I fall sometimes, but I have strong bones. I’m not about to stop doing what I love. I exercise for over an hour on the stairclimber at the gym most days. I don’t use any of the immune modifying drugs, although I’ve tried several. I agree about the vegan diet. I believe that people with MS have problems handling fat, so I would limit it to an ounce of walnuts, and drop all sugar except fruit. Good luck!




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    5. HI Carol.
      Concerning your MS. I do know that Canola oil is terrible so do NOT eat any of that. And, in the book, “The China Study”… there is information about MS that may be of interest to you. You might find it at your library. Hope that helps.




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  40. Thank you Thea. I appreciate your response to the amount of fat needed. I am a great fan of this site and have had no relapses in the three years I have been diagnosed with MS. My problem is high cholesterol so rather than my doctor’s advice, I have been examining my diet to cut fats and sugars.




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  41. How does one come to work for you?! I am studying to get certified in Holistic Nutrition Consulting. The program I am working through has given all of your videos and I am so grateful for your research! It definitely comes in handy when someone approaches me about why I believe what I do. The main point I get from all of your videos is this: GO VEGAN!




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  42. I am a huge fan of Dr Gregor and have been for some time. His style is engaging, but the facts he is able to turn up are simply astonishing. Dr. Gregor should be appointed as the surgeon general in the US. Of course that could never happen because the meat, egg and dairy industries would never allow it. I guess it’s up to the rest of us to simply get the word out about the wisdom of the advice he offers. Keep doing your work Dr Gregor, here’s wishing you many years of continued health – but being vegan, I’m confident that is almost guaranteed :-)




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  43. Thank You for all you do to keep us informed!! I have been trying to find updated information in regards to flax and DHA supplements. I eat 2 tbsp of ground flax seed a day. Is that enough? Should we be eating more than 2 tbsp or should we also be supplementing with DHA even if we are taking flax daily? Thank You!

    Teena




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    1. Teena: To the best of my knowledge, Dr. Greger recommends about 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed per day per person. There’s no need for more than that.

      Supplementing with DHA is a bit controversial. Based on my research, I think someone eating a perfect or near-perfect diet would not need to supplement with DHA. However, I don’t know about you, but I don’t come anywhere near to eating the type of diet I would need to eat to say think I don’t need the supplement. My opinion is that supplementing with an algae-based DHA (and also EPA?) product might be a very good idea as insurance depending on the type of diet a person eats.

      Here are Dr. Greger’s nutrition recommendations. You can see that he does indeed recommend a DHA supplement:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/#comment-1793210632




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  44. Amazing video! Thank you so much for the work you put into videos and research. The facts are put together in such a way that the average person can understand them. Awesome!




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  45. What can be done for someone who has dementia and is in the hospital for a blockage in the small intestine? The patient keeps pulling out the tubes and we are trying to avoid surgery.




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    1. Hi Robin. The only thing to do for that is sedate the patient so they stop pulling their lines out. This is more of a medical question for your doctor and less about nutrition. I hope the patient recovers.

      Warm wishes,
      Joseph




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  46. I am not sure where to post this comment/question.

    My mother has Lupus for years (discord and systemic)! Her body hasn’t been responding to the drugs she is on and she isn’t doing so well. The doctors are now talking about putting her on Benlysta (Everything you read about it is followed by “can cause death.”)
    My question is: Have you found any research that suggests a plant based diet could help Lupus? She is a stubborn woman and I need leverage to make my case.
    Also, on top of Lupus she has been diagnosed with: Fibromyelgia, Raynauds syndrome, Non alcoholic fatty liver, and IBS.

    Please please please help me!




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    1. HI Andria. We have many videos on those topics. Here is a link to Dr. Forrester’s thoughts on Lupus. Just click the health topics above to find links to IBS, non-alcoholic fatty liver, etc. Let me know if any of these links help and if you have additional questions?

      Sincerely,
      Joseph




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  47. I always said, we will know who is powerful in this country…the HMOs or GMOs when Obamacare begins…I just wish Keiser Permanente would help us end Gmo’s




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  48. I have two questions regarding materials mentioned in this presentation, and whether or not I can get a copy:

    At approximately time code 50:44 – update to physicians
    At approximately time code 52:27 – Kieser (?) brochure

    Are these available to the public?

    And by the way, these presentations rock. Style and content are outstanding!




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    1. Thanks, Chris! Here is a great video explaining the work of Kaiser Permanente – the largest U.S. managed care organization that publishes patient education materials. Kaiser has established a very healthful meal plan/brochure. Lastly, here is a link to a free copy of the paper requested. Thanks for your patience! Let me know if you need anything else?

      Best,
      Joseph




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  49. Dr G, I mean this when I say that you really do God’s work. Your videos are so well done and you really help people understand how simple it is to have great health. I went plant plant based four years ago and have gone through the metamorphis from fat, angry, booze bag, heart attack victim to happy, zen like, ultra endurance athlete. I just went for a 30 mile run to celebrate my 49th birthday. You da bomb.




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  50. Thank you so much Dr. Greger! I havent been more healthy or happy in decades. I check your website atleast four times a week lol.

    Thank you.




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  51. Eureka! The information about bile acids in breast tissue makes sense to me. I had a cholecystectomy in November 2006 and was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2007 (age 42–my third primary cancer). I was on the Standard American Diet during that time. Since my mom died of breast cancer, I had genetic testing done and it was negative for CHK2, BRCA1 and BRCA2. Thank you for helping me to understand yet another possible cause of my breast cancer. I am almost a month into going whole foods plant based and your videos are helping to motivate me in a big way. I feel like this science is being kept from us by powerful corporate interests and a medical establishment that stands to lose a lot of profits, and doctors who think we can’t handle the truth or don’t really want to feel better and be healthier.




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  52. This is fantastic! Thanks so much. I’ve been following Dr. Furhman’s vegan approach and the only difference is, he says grains should be 20% or less of total calories. You say ideally we should have grains and beans with every meal! I’m going to try it and see if my cholesterol comes down from 243 (with LDL of 173). Even having only veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds (and beans), my cholesterol has been sky-high. I did get it down to 200 once but the LDL was still high and I was having only greens for breakfast, which was tough. My weight is 120, my height 5’6.”




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  53. Thank you Dr Greger. was always shy in offering a plant based diet but after this talk I am going to be explicit and I recommend your site of course.Continue your good work you are a living treasure for the world.




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  54. Yes, I have had multiple sclerosis for 30 yrs. now. I am doing pretty well in managing it with the drug tefedera. My question is are there any herbs good for this disease? Thanks




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  55. Dr. I am an agriculturalist along with my associate we evaluated the human body and working with electrolytes we are able to create the highest nutritional food product in the World, patent has been awarded. it has 18 aminos 11 necessary for helping the body correct diabetes , also 23 minerals 14 vitamins and omega 3&6 everything is in a state of homeostasis . I would like to send You information along with a USDA lab report attesting to the efficacy of the product and so much more. Aminos plus .com. or frankfv8@aol




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  56. Does anybody know if Congestive Heart Failure can be reversed ? I was just diagnosed with it. And in the same time frame my A1C (sugar control) went from 5.9 to 7.7 ! That’s a really big jump in such a short time (3 months). I’m a Diabetic. Renal failure killed my husband last year. He was a long term Diabetic. I’m just sorry I didn’t change our diet the year before last. I’m going to be juicing. I’m going on a juice fast, eating no food, only juicing vegetables and fruits, nuts, beans for 30 days. All raw, no cooking and all organic. Jolae




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  57. my family was wanting CT DRS Schedule CT-SI last year and found a document management site that has a searchable database . If others are searching for CT DRS Schedule CT-SI too , here’s a https://goo.gl/mzUMv2




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  58. I’ve been searching for a omega3/dha supplement that has 250 mg in it and all ive been coming across is 200 mg or 300 mg. (particularly the deva brand) I’m not sure which one to pick. and most say they have Carragenaan in them is it safe to consume with that ingredient in it?




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  59. Having studied naturopathy or drugless therapy for over forty years on a vegetarian, now totally vegan, diet and recently having had to deal with medical doctors due to a broken patella, I can attest to the profound ignorance of trained MDs to reduce to the simplest common denominator. Dr. Greger legitimatizes so much of what I’ve been making an effort to get across for decades. Never give up! “The truth will set you free.”




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  60. I love your book and your site but I have a question I can’t seem to find an answer for. How can I speed up my intestinal transit time? I inadvertently did the “beet test” the other day. Where I noticed it took 48-60 hours for them to transit through my system. I understand that is not good. Since becoming WFPB 5 years ago, my digestion notably became regular, however before that I had years of going days without a bowel movement and I ended up losing my gallbladder about 20 years ago – and I think that was related. I’m still concerned about the slow transit time, as I understand 12-24 hours is ideal. I eat a very healthy diet – as I am compliant to UWL with Chef AJ. (Very similar to McDougal plan.) Could I take a certain probiotic? or chia seeds? or something to decrease the time?




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