HOW NOT TO DIE: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, & Reversing Our Top 15 Killers

HOW NOT TO DIE: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, & Reversing Our Top 15 Killers
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In this “best-of” compilation of his last four year-in-review presentations, Dr. Greger explains what we can do about the #1 cause of death and disability: our diet.

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­Allow me to begin on a personal note. This is a picture of me, right around the time that my grandma was diagnosed with end-stage heart disease and sent home to die. She had already had so many bypass operations, basically ran out of plumbing at some point, confined to a wheelchair, and there was nothing more they could do.  Her life was over at age 65. But then, she heard about this guy, Nathan Pritikin, one of our early lifestyle medicine pioneers.

And what happened next is chronicled in Pritikin’s biography. My grandma was one of the “death’s door” people. Frances Greger arrived in a wheelchair. “Mrs. Greger had heart disease, angina, and claudication; her condition was so bad she could no longer walk without great pain in her chest and legs.  Within three weeks, though she was not only out of her wheelchair but was walking ten miles a day.”

This is my grandma at her grandson’s wedding 15 years after she was given her medical death sentence, and thanks to a healthy diet, she was able to live another 31 years on this earth—until 96—to enjoy her six grandkids, including me.

That is why I went into medicine.

When Dr. Ornish published his Lifestyle Heart Trial years later, proving with quantitative angiography that coronary artery disease could indeed be reversed in the majority of patients without drugs or surgery—just a plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle changes, I assumed that it was going to be a game-changer. My family had seen it with their own eyes, but finally here it was in black and white, published in one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals on the planet. But, nothing happened— leaving me to wonder if, effectively, the cure to our #1 killer could get lost down some rabbit hole and ignored, then, what else might be in the medical literature that can help my patients? I made it my life’s mission to find out. 

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 busy folks like you don’t have to.

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

Everything on the website is free. There are no ads, no corporate sponsorships. It’s strictly noncommercial, not selling anything. I just put it up as a public service, as a labor of love.

New videos and articles every day, on the latest in evidence-based nutrition. What a concept!

Where did Pritikin get his evidence from? A network of missionary hospitals set up by Western doctors throughout sub-Saharan Africa uncovered what may be one of the most important advances in health, according to one of our most famous medical figures of the 20th century, Dr. Denis Burkitt: the fact that many of the most common and major diseases “in modern Western culture are universally rare in third world communities.”

Like, heart disease. This landmark article from the 50s started out with a shocking statement: “In the African population of Uganda, coronary heart disease is almost non-existent.” Wait a second, our #1 cause of death, almost nonexistent? What were they eating?

They were eating a lot of starchy vegetables, starchy grains, and greens, and their protein almost exclusively from plant sources, and they had the cholesterol levels to prove it. Actually, very similar to those eating modern-day, plant-based diets.

Maybe the Africans were just dying early from some other kind of diseases—and so, never lived long enough to have a heart attack? No, here are age-matched heart attack rates in Uganda versus St. Louis. Out of 632 autopsies in Uganda, only one myocardial infarction. Out of 632 age- and gender-matched autopsies in Missouri, 136 myocardial infarctions: more than 100 times the rate of our #1 killer.

In fact, they were so blown away they went back and did another 800 autopsies in Uganda, and still, just that one small healed infarct (meaning it wasn’t even the cause of death) out of 1,427 patients—less than one in a thousand; whereas here, heart disease is an epidemic.

This is a list of diseases commonly found in the U.S. (and in populations that eat and live like the U.S.), but are rare or even nonexistent in populations centering their diets around whole plant foods.

These are among our most common diseases, like obesity, for example, or hiatal hernia, one of the most common stomach problems. Varicose veins and hemorrhoids—two of the most common venous problems; colorectal cancer—a leading cause of cancer-related death; diverticulitis—the #1 disease of the intestines; appendicitis—the #1 cause of emergency abdominal surgery; gallbladder disease—the #1 cause of nonemergency abdominal surgery; as well as ischemic heart disease—the commonest cause of death here, but a rarity among plant-based populations.

This suggests heart disease may be a choice. Like cavities. If you look at the teeth of people who lived over 10,000 years before the invention of the toothbrush, they pretty much had no cavities. Didn’t brush a day in their lives; no flossing; yet, no cavities. That’s because candy bars hadn’t been invented yet.

Why do people continue to get cavities when we know they’re preventable through diet? Simple. Because the pleasure people derive from dessert may outweigh the cost and discomfort of the dentist’s chair for many people. And, that’s fine!

Look, as long as people understand the consequences of their actions, as a physician, what more can I do? If you’re an adult, and decide the benefits outweigh the risks for you and your family, then, go for it—I certainly enjoy the occasional indulgence (I’ve got a good dental plan).

But, what if instead of the plaque on our teeth, we’re talking about the plaque building up inside of our arteries? This is another disease that can be prevented by changing our diet.

Now, what are the consequences for you and your family? Now, we’re not talking about scraping tartar anymore. Now, we’re talking life and death. The most likely reason that most of our loved ones will die is because of heart disease. It’s still up to each of us to make our own decisions as to what to eat and how to live—but we should make these choices consciously, educating ourselves about the predictable consequences of our actions.

Coronary heart disease; atherosclerosis; hardening of the arteries, begins in childhood.

By age 10, the arteries of nearly all kids raised on the standard American diet already have fatty streaks—the first stage of the disease.

Then, these plaques start forming in our 20s, get worse in our 30s, and then, can start killing us off. In our hearts, it’s called a heart attack; in our brains, the same disease is called a stroke.

If there is anyone in this audience older than age 10, then the question isn’t whether or not to eat healthy to prevent heart disease; it’s whether you want to reverse the heart disease that you already have.

Is that even possible? When researchers took people with heart disease and put them on the kind of plant-based diet followed by those populations that didn’t suffer from heart disease, their hope was to slow the disease process down—maybe even stop it. But instead, something miraculous happened.

The disease started to reverse, to get better. As soon as patients stopped eating an artery-clogging diet, their arteries started opening up.  Their bodies were able to start dissolving some of the plaque away. Even in some cases of severe triple vessel heart disease, arteries opened up without drugs, without surgery—suggesting their bodies wanted to heal all along, but were just never given the chance. This improvement in blood flow to the heart is after 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 sometimes, given the right conditions, our body can heal itself.

If you whack your shin really hard on a coffee table, it can get all red, hot, swollen, and inflamed, but will heal naturally if we just stand back and let our body work its magic. But what if we kept whacking it in the same place three times a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) every day? It’d never heal.

You’d go to your doctor and say, “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, but it feels so much better with the pain pills on board. Thank heavens for modern medicine.

It’s like when taking nitroglycerine for crushing chest pain. Tremendous relief, but you’re not actually treating the underlying cause of the disease.

Our body wants to come back to health, if we let it. But if we keep re-injuring 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 about 15 years of stopping smoking, our lung cancer risk approaches that of a lifelong nonsmoker. Isn’t that amazing? Our lungs can clear out all that tar, and eventually, it’s almost as if we never started smoking at all.

Every morning of our smoking life, that healing process started until, wham, our first cigarette of the day, re-injuring our lungs with every puff. Just like we can re-injure our arteries with every bite, when all we had to do all along—the miracle cure, was to just stand back, get out of the way, stop re-damaging ourselves, and let our bodies’ natural healing processes bring us back towards health.

Sure, you could choose moderation, and hit yourself with a smaller hammer. But why beat yourself up at all?

The human body is a self-healing machine.

We’ve known about this for decades. American Heart Journal, 1977: cases like Mr. F.W. here; such severe angina he couldn’t even make it to the mailbox, but then started eating healthier, and a few months later, he was climbing mountains, no pain.

There are some fancy new anti-angina drugs on the market now that cost thousands of dollars a year. But at the highest dose, they can successfully prolong exercise duration, extending the time someone can walk on a treadmill as long as 33 1/2 seconds.

It does not look like those choosing the drug route will be climbing mountains anytime soon.

You see, plant-based diets aren’t just safer and cheaper, but they can work better.

Killer #2 is cancer. What happens if we put cancer on a plant-based diet? Dean Ornish and colleagues found that the progression of prostate cancer could be reversed with a plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle behaviors—and no wonder.

If you drip the blood of those eating the standard American diet onto cancer cells growing in a petri dish, cancer growth is cut down by about 9%. But put people on a plant-based diet for a year, though, and their blood can do this. The blood circulating within the bodies of those eating plant-based diets has nearly eight times the stopping power when it comes to cancer cell growth.

Now, this was for prostate cancer—the leading cancer killer specific to men. In women, it’s breast cancer. So, researchers tried duplicating the study with women, using breast cancer cells instead. They didn’t want to wait a whole year to get the results, though. So, they figured they’d see what a healthy diet could do in just two weeks, against three different types of human breast cancer cells.

This was the before: cancer growth powering away at 100%. And then, after eating a plant-based diet for 14 days.

Here’s the before picture: a layer of breast cancer cells is laid down in a petri dish, and then blood from women eating the standard American diet is dripped on them. And as you can see, even people eating crappy diets have some ability to break down cancer. But after just two weeks eating healthy, blood was drawn from those same women—so, they acted as their own controls—dripped on another carpet of breast cancer cells, and this is what they were left with; just a few individual cancer cells left. Their bodies just cleaned up.

Before, and after; just two weeks eating healthy. Their blood became that much more hostile to cancer.

Slowing down the growth of cancer cells is nice, but getting rid of them is even better. This is what’s called apoptosis, programmed cell death. After eating healthy, their own bodies were able to reprogram the cancer cells, forcing them into early retirement.

This is what’s called TUNEL imaging, measuring DNA fragmentation or cell death. Dying cells show up as white spots. So, again, this is the before—what the blood of the average woman eating a standard American diet can do to breast cancer cells. Her blood may be able to kill off a few. But then, after 14 days of healthy plant-based living, her blood can do this. It’s like she’s an entirely different person inside.

The same blood that was now coursing through these women’s bodies gained the power to significantly slow down and stop breast cancer cell growth, within just two weeks of eating a plant-based diet.

What kind of blood do we want in our body; what kind of immune system? Do we want blood that just kind of rolls over when new cancer cells pop up, or do we want blood circulating to every nook and cranny of our body with the power to slow down and stop them?

Now, this dramatic strengthening of cancer defenses was after 14 days of a plant-based diet and exercise; they had these women out walking 30 to 60 minutes a day. Well, wait a second, if you do two things, how do you know what role the diet played? So, the researchers decided to put it to the test.

This is measuring cancer cell clearance. This is what we saw before; the effect of blood taken from those who ate a plant-based diet—in this case for an average of 14 years—along with mild exercise, like just walking every day. Plant-based diet and walking—that’s the kind of cancer cell clearance you get. Compare that to the cancer-stopping power of your average sedentary meat-eater, which is basically nonexistent.

This middle group is interesting, though. Instead of 14 years on a plant-based diet, ate 14 years of a standard American diet—but, had 14 years of daily, strenuous, hour-long exercise, like calisthenics.

The researchers wanted to know if you exercise long enough, if you exercise hard enough, can you rival some strolling plant-eaters?

And the answer is, exercise helped—no question, but literally 5,000 hours in the gym was no match for a plant-based diet.

Same thing as before. Even if you are a couch potato eating fried potatoes, your body’s not totally defenseless. Your bloodstream can kill off a few cancer cells. But here’s the hard core strenuous exercise group, killing off cancer cells left and right. But nothing appears to kick more cancer tush than a plant-based diet.

We think it’s because of the animal proteins—meat, egg white, and dairy proteins—increasing the level of IGF-1 in our bodies. Insulin-like growth factor-1, a cancer-promoting growth hormone involved in the acquisition and progression of malignant tumors.

But if we lower animal protein intake, if you put people on a plant-based diet, their IGF-1 levels go down, and if you put people on a plant-based diet for years, their levels drop even further.

And their IGF-1 binding protein levels go up. That’s one way our body tries to protect itself from cancer—from excessive growth—by releasing a binding protein into our bloodstream to tie up any excess IGF-1. It’s like our body’s emergency brake. Yes, in as little as two weeks, a plant-based diet can bring down your liver’s production of IGF-1 . But what about all the IGF-1 circulating in your bloodstream from the bacon and eggs you had three weeks before? So, your liver releases a snatch squad of binding proteins to take it out of circulation. And, as you can see, it just gets better and better, the longer you eat healthy.

Here’s the experiment that nailed IGF-1 as the villain; same as last time. Go on a plant-based diet, cancer cell growth drops, and cancer cell death shoots up. But then, here’s the kicker: what if you added back to the cancer the exact same amount of IGF-1 banished from your system just because you were eating healthy for two weeks? It erases the diet and exercise effect. It’s like you never started eating healthy at all.

So, the reason the largest prospective study on diet and cancer ever found that the incidence of all cancers combined was lower among vegetarians than among meat-eaters may be because they eat less animal protein. So, they end up with less IGF-1, which can mean less cancer growth.

How much less cancer are we talking about? Middle-aged men and women with high protein intakes had a 75% increase in total mortality, and a fourfold increase in the risk of dying from cancer. But not all proteins; specifically animal protein, which makes sense, of course, given the higher IGF-1 levels.

The academic institution sent out a press release with a memorable opening line: “That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette,” explaining that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer—”a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.”

What was the response to the revelation that diets high in meat, eggs, and dairy could be as harmful to health as smoking? One nutrition scientist replied that it was potentially dangerous to compare the effects of smoking with the effect of meat and cheese. Why? Because a smoker might think, “Why bother quitting smoking if my ham and cheese sandwich is just as bad for me?” So, better not to tell anyone about the whole meat and dairy thing.

That reminds me of a famous Philip Morris cigarette ad that tried to downplay the risks by saying, “You think secondhand smoke is bad, increasing the risk of lung cancer 19%? Drinking 1 or 2 glasses of milk every day may be three times as bad—62% increased risk of lung cancer.” Or doubling the risk by frequently cooking with oil, or tripling your risk of heart disease by eating non-vegetarian, or multiplying your risk six-fold by eating lots of meat and dairy. So, they conclude,”Let’s keep a sense of perspective here.” The risk of lung cancer from secondhand smoke may be “well below the risk reported for other everyday activities.” So, breathe deep.

That’s like saying: “Don’t worry about getting stabbed, because getting shot is so much worse.”

Uh, how about neither? Two risks don’t make a right.

You’ll note Philip Morris stopped throwing dairy under the bus when they purchased Kraft Foods.

Okay, what about the other 13 leading causes of death?

The top three killers used to be heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Oh, that is so 2007. Now, it’s heart disease, cancer, and COPD—chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, like emphysema. Thankfully, COPD can be prevented with the help of a plant-based diet, and even treated with plants; improving lung function over time.

Of course, the tobacco industry viewed these landmark findings a little differently. Instead of adding plants to one’s diet to help one’s lung function, wouldn’t it be simpler to just add them to the cigarettes? And indeed, the addition of açaí berries to cigarettes evidently has a protective effect against emphysema in smoking mice. Who would have thunk it?

Next, they’re going to be putting berries in meat. And indeed, I couldn’t make this stuff up. The addition of fruit extracts to burgers was not without its glitches, though. The blackberries “literally dyed burger patties with a distinct purplish colour”—though, evidently, infusing lamb carcasses with kiwifruit juice before rigor mortis sets in does evidently improve tenderness. And, it’s even possible to improve the nutritional profile of frankfurters with powdered grape seeds, though, there were complaints that the grape seed particles were visible in the final product. And if there’s one thing we know about hot dog-eaters, it’s that they’re picky about what goes in their food.

Pig anus? Okay, but grape seeds? Eww!

Strokes are killer #4. Preventing strokes may be all about eating potassium-rich foods, yet most Americans don’t even reach the recommended minimum daily intake. And by most, I mean more than 98%. 98% of us eat potassium-deficient diets, because 98% of us don’t eat enough plants.

Potassium comes from the words pot ash. You take any plant, put it in a pot, and reduce it to ash, and you’re left with pot-ash-ium, so-called vegetable alkali. True story, but can anyone name me a plant food particularly high in potassium?

Bananas, right? I don’t know why that’s like the one thing everyone knows about nutrition. Chiquita must have had a great PR firm or something. But it turns out that bananas don’t even make the top 50 sources, coming in at number 86, right behind fast food vanilla milk shakes. It goes fast food vanilla milk shakes, then bananas.

In fact, when I was researching for my new book, I found out that the USDA expanded their list, and now bananas don’t even make the top thousand sources; coming in at number 1,611, right after Reese’s Pieces. I kid you not. The most concentrated whole food sources of potassium in the diet are: beans, and greens, and dates.

Bananas don’t make it to a thousand—in fact, if you look at the next leading cause of death (unintentional injuries), bananas could be downright dangerous.

Alzheimer’s disease is now our sixth leading killer, now striking a staggering four million Americans affected. Twenty years ago, it wasn’t even in the top ten. According to the latest dietary guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer’s, the two most important things we can do: cut down our consumption of meat, dairy, and junk; and replace those with vegetables, beans, fruits, and whole grains.

This is based, in part, on data going back over 20 years now. Those who eat meat—red meat or white meat, it doesn’t matter—appear between two to three times more likely to become demented later in life, compared to those that don’t eat meat. And the longer one eats meat-free, the lower the risk of dementia drops.

Next on the list: type 2 diabetes, which we can prevent, arrest, and reverse with a plant-based diet—something we’ve known since back in the 1930s. Within five years, about a quarter of the diabetics were able to get off insulin.

But plant-based diets are low-calorie diets. Maybe their diabetes just got better because they lost so much weight? To tease that out, what we would need is a study where researchers switch people to a healthy diet, but force them to eat so much food that they wouldn’t lose any weight, despite eating healthier. Then, we could see if plant-based diet had unique benefits beyond all the weight loss. We’d have to wait 44 years, but here it is: subjects were weighed every day, and if they started losing weight, they were made to eat more food. In fact, so much food, some of the participants had problems eating it all—like “not another tostada, not another salad.” But they eventually adapted; so, there was no significant alteration in body weight, despite restricting meat, dairy, eggs, and junk.

So, with zero weight loss, did a plant-based diet still help? Overall, insulin requirements were cut about 60%, and half were able to get off insulin altogether despite no change in weight. How many years did this take? No, 16 days.

So, we’re talking diabetics who’ve had diabetes for as long as 20 years, injecting 20 units of insulin a day. And then, as few as 13 days later, they’re off of all insulin altogether, thanks to less than two weeks on a plant-based diet—even with zero weight loss. Diabetes for 20 years, then off all insulin in two weeks. Diabetes for 20 years, because no one had told them about a plant-based diet. Here’s patient 15; 32 units of insulin on the control diet, and then, 18 days later, on none. Lower blood sugars on 32 units less insulin. That’s the power of plants. This was without weight loss; his body just started working that much better.

And as a bonus, their cholesterol dropped like a rock to under 150, in just 16 days. Just like moderate changes in diet usually result in only modest reductions in cholesterol, how moderate do you want your diabetes?

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

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

Those who chose moderation—eating a moderate amount of animal protein—only had 23 times the risk of death from diabetes.

Killer #8 is kidney failure, which may be both prevented and treated with a plant-based diet. And no surprise; kidneys are highly vascular organs. Harvard researchers found three dietary risk factors for declining kidney function: animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol. Animal fat can alter the actual structure of our kidneys, based on studies like this, showing plugs of fat literally clogging up the works in autopsied kidneys.

And the animal protein can have a profound effect on normal kidney function, inducing what’s called hyperfiltration; increasing the workload on the kidney, but not plant protein. Eat some tuna fish, and you can see increased pressure on the kidneys one, two, and three hours after the meal; shoots right up. If, instead of having a tuna salad sandwich, though, you had a tofu salad sandwich with the same amount of protein, no effect. Kidneys can deal with plant protein without even batting an eyelash.

Why does animal protein cause the overload reaction, but not plant protein? It appears to be due to inflammation triggered by the animal protein. We know this because if you give a powerful anti-inflammatory drug along with the tuna fish, you can actually abolish that hyperfiltration effect, that protein leakage effect in response to meat ingestion.

Then, there’s the acid load. Animal protein induces the formation of acid within the kidney, which may lead to tubular toxicity: damage to the delicate urine-making tubes within the kidney. Animal foods tend to be acid-forming, whereas plant foods tend to either be relatively neutral or actually alkaline, base-forming, to counteract some of that acid. So, the solution to halting the progression of chronic kidney disease might lie in the produce aisle rather than the pharmacy aisle.

No wonder plant-based diets have been used to treat kidney disease for decades. Here’s protein leakage on the low-sodium diet that physicians would conventionally put these patients on; switched to a supplemented vegan diet; conventional; plant-based; conventional; plant-based—turning kidney dysfunction on and off like a light switch, based on what’s going into their mouths.

Killer #9 is respiratory infections. What possible role could diet play? You obviously haven’t seen my video Kale and the Immune System, talking about the immunostimulatory effects of kale. Is there anything kale cannot do?

Boosting antibody production seven-fold; but that’s in a petri dish. What about in people? Older men and women were split into two groups right before they were going to get their Pneumovax vaccination (their pneumonia vaccination). Half continued to eat as they always had. The other half added just a few servings of fruits and vegetables to their daily diet, and after getting their injection, you can see a significant improvement in the protective antibody immune response from that one simple change. That wasn’t cutting out meat; just adding fruits and vegetables can significantly improve immune function.

Killer #10 is suicide. We’ve known those eating healthier have healthier mood states—in fact, only about half the depression, anxiety, and stress scores compared to those that eat meat. Researchers suspect it’s the arachidonic acid, this inflammatory long chain omega-6 fatty acid found predominantly in chicken and eggs. That’s where it’s predominantly found in the American diet. But you can’t tell if it’s cause and effect, until you put it to the test.

They took people eating the standard American diet, and removed meat, fish, poultry, and eggs from their diets, and got a significant improvement in mood scores within just two weeks. Thanks, perhaps, to the removal of arachidonic acid from their bodies, which they thought may be adversely impacting mental health via a cascade of neuroinflammation; brain inflammation, but we could bring that down within a matter of weeks after cutting eggs, chicken, and other meat.

Now, am I just cherry picking, though? What about all the randomized controlled trials like that, showing that other diets have improved mood? There aren’t any. A recent review concluded that only the plant-based study fit the bill. It’s hard to cherry pick when there’s only one cherry.

Works in a workplace setting too: significant increases in physical functioning, general health, vitality, and mental health—not surprisingly, translating into improved work productivity. The biggest such study, across 15 corporate sites at Geico, found that plant-based diets resulted in significant reported improvements in depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue, and emotional well-being. So, lifestyle interventions, such as exercise, can help mental as well as physical health. And among the most effective of these is the use of plant-based diets.

Killer #11 is blood infections. Sure, foodborne bacteria can kind of burrow through the bloodstream and directly invade through the intestinal wall—but in women, may creep up into their bladder.

We’ve known for decades that it’s bacteria creeping up from the rectum that cause bladder infections. But only recently did we figure out where that rectal reservoir of bladder-infecting E. coli was coming from: chicken. We now have DNA fingerprinting proof of a direct link between farm animals, meat, and bladder infections—solid evidence that urinary tract infections can be a zoonosis, bladder infections as an animal-to-human disease.

Wait a second. Can’t I just use a meat thermometer and cook the meat through? No, because of cross-contamination. We’ve known for decades that if you give someone a frozen chicken to prepare and cook in their own kitchen as they normally would, a multitude of antibiotic-resistant E. coli jump from the chicken into the gut of the volunteer —before they even eat it! So, you could incinerate it to ash; you don’t even have to eat any of it. And it still wouldn’t matter, because you already infected yourself just handling it.

Within days, the drug-resistant chicken bacteria had multiplied to the point of becoming a major part of the person’s gut flora. The chicken bacteria were like taking over their intestines.

Even if you follow all the safe handling guidelines, rinsing everything with bleach—even spraying bleach on for good measure, there still may be pathogenic fecal bacteria left behind. No one actually does this, but what if you did this, and then came in later and swabbed kitchen surfaces? Researchers found pathogenic fecal bacteria: salmonella, campylobacter—both serious human pathogens, still left behind in the kitchen. The reason that most people have more bacteria from feces in their kitchen sink than on their toilet seat is because most people rinse chickens in the sink, not the toilet. So, unless our kitchen is like some biohazard lab, the only way to guarantee we’re not going to leave infection around the kitchen is to not bring it into our homes in the first place.

The good news is that it’s not like you eat chicken once, and you’re colonized for life. In this study, the chicken bacteria only seemed to last about ten days before our good bacteria were able to muscle them out of the way. The problem is that most families eat chicken more than once every ten days; so, they may be constantly reintroducing these chicken bugs into their systems.

But wait a second. You can’t sell unsafe cars; you can’t sell unsafe toys; how is it legal to sell unsafe meat?

They do it by blaming the consumer. As one USDA poultry microbiologist said: “Raw meats are not idiot-proof. They can be mishandled and when they are, it’s like handling a hand grenade. If you pull the pin, somebody’s going to get hurt.” See, if we get sick, it’s our fault.

While some may question the wisdom of selling hand grenades in supermarkets, the USDA poultry expert disagrees. “I think the consumer has the most responsibility but refuses to accept it.” That’s like a car company saying yeah, we installed faulty brakes, but it’s your fault for not putting your kid in a seatbelt.

The head of the CDC’s food poisoning division responded famously to this kind of blame-the-victim attitude coming from the meat industry. “Is it reasonable that if a consumer undercooks a hamburger, their three-year-old dies?” Is that reasonable?

Not to worry, though: the meat industry is on it. They got the FDA approval for a bacteria-eating virus to spray on the meat. Now, the industry is concerned that consumer acceptance of bacteria-eating viruses may present something of a challenge to the food industry. But if they think that’s going to be a challenge, check out their other bright idea.

The “Effect of Extracted Housefly Pupae Peptide Mixture on Chilled Pork Preservation”—this is a science-y way of saying they want to smear a maggot mixture on meat.

Now wait—it’s a low-cost and simple method. Think about it; maggots thrive on rotting meat. However, there have been no reports that maggots have any serious diseases; so, they must be packed with some sort of antibacterial something. Have you ever seen a maggot sneeze? I didn’t think so.

So, they took maggots at three days old, washed them, toweled them off, a little Vitamix action, and voilà! Safer meat.

We did kidney failure; what about liver failure? We’ve known for decades that a plant-based diet could be used to treat liver failure, significantly reducing the toxins that would otherwise build up eating meat, without a fully functional liver to detoxify your blood.

I do have to admit, though, that some people on plant-based diets have worsening liver function. They’re called alcoholics. Living on potatoes, corn, grapes, and barley—in fact, strictly plant-based, yet still not doing so hot.

High blood pressure is next, affecting nearly 78 million Americans. That’s one in three of us. And as we age, our pressures get higher and higher, such that by age 60, it strikes more than half.

Wait a second. If it affects most of us when we get older, maybe it’s less a disease, and more just an inevitable consequence of aging? No. We’ve known since the 1920s that high blood pressure need not occur.

Researchers measured the blood pressures of a thousand people in rural Kenya who ate a diet centered around whole plant foods. Starchy vegetables, whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, and dark green leafies. Our pressures go up as we age; their pressures actually go down.

And, the lower the better. The whole 140 over 90 cut-off is arbitrary.  Even people who start out with blood pressure under 120 over 80 appear to benefit from blood pressure reduction. So, the ideal blood pressure, the no-benefit-from-reducing-it-further blood pressure, is actually 110 over 70. But is it even possible to get blood pressures down to 110 over 70? It’s not just possible; it’s normal—for those eating healthy enough diets.

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

Rural China too; about 110 over 70 their entire lives. 70-year-olds had the same average blood pressure as 16-year-olds. Now, of course, Africa and China have vastly different diets, but they share this common theme, that they are plant-based day-to-day, with meat only eaten on special occasions.

Why do we think it’s the plant-based nature of their diets that was so protective? Because in the Western world, as the American Heart Association has pointed out, the only folks really getting down that low are those eating strictly plant-based diets, coming in at an average of 110 over 65.

Based on the largest study of those eating plant-based diets to date—89,000 Californians—there appears to be a stepwise drop in blood pressure rates as people eat more and more plant-based.

Same thing with diabetes and obesity. The more and more healthy we eat, the better. Yes, you can wipe out most of your risk eating strictly plant-based, but it’s not black and white, all or nothing. Any movement along the spectrum towards healthier eating can accrue significant benefits.

You can show this experimentally. You take vegetarians and give them meat, pay them enough to eat it, and their blood pressures go up. Or, you remove meat from their diet, and their blood pressures go down—in just seven days! And this is after the vast majority reduced or stopped their blood pressure medications completely. They had to reduce their medications because their pressures were getting so low that if they were on drugs, they could fall over and crack their heads open!  Lower pressures on fewer drugs; that’s the power of plants.

So, does the American Heart Association recommend a no-meat diet? No, they recommend a low-meat diet, the so-called DASH diet. Why not vegetarian? When the DASH diet was created, were they just not aware of this landmark research, done by Harvard’s Frank Sacks? No, they were aware of the landmark research. The Chair of the Design Committee that came up with the DASH diet was Frank Sacks.

See, the DASH diet was explicitly designed with the #1 goal of capturing the blood pressure-lowering benefits of a vegetarian diet, yet contain enough animal products to make it palatable to the general public. They didn’t think the public could handle the truth.

In their defense, you can see what they were thinking. Just like drugs never work unless you actually take them, diets never work unless you actually eat them. So, you can’t tell people to eat plant-based—they won’t do it. So, they figured they might help more on a population scale if they just soft-pedaled the truth to make it more acceptable. Alright, tell that to the thousand families a day that lose a loved one to high blood pressure. Maybe it’s time to tell the American public the truth.

Killer #14 is Parkinson’s disease. Does a plant-based diet reduce risk of Parkinson’s disease? Well, most studies to date do suggest a link between dairy products and Parkinson’s—but why?

Well, there’s evidence that milk is contaminated with neurotoxic chemicals. High levels of pesticide residues are found in the milk supply, and in the brains of people who die from Parkinson’s disease. And there are other pollutants, like tetrahydroisoquiniline, which is actually what scientists use to try to induce Parkinson’s in primates—and which is found mostly in cheese. So, maybe the dairy industry should require toxin screenings of the milk supply. Good luck with that.

You could always just not drink it, but then, what would happen to your bones? That’s a marketing ploy; if you look at the actual science, milk does not appear to protect against hip fracture risk, whether drinking during your adult years, or drinking milk during your teen years. If anything, milk consumption was associated with an increase in fracture risk.  Maybe this is why hip fracture rates are highest in populations with the greatest milk consumption, where they drink the most milk. Swedish researchers decided to put it to the test.

100,000 men and women followed for up to 20 years, and milk-drinking women had higher rates of death, more heart disease, and significantly more cancer, for each daily glass of milk. Three glasses a day was associated with nearly twice the risk of premature death.

And they had significantly more bone and hip fractures, too. More milk, more fractures. Milk-drinking men also had higher rates of death. But for some reason, you never see milk ads like this [image of milk carton among gravestones].

Finally, aspiration pneumonia, which is caused by swallowing problems due to Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s, or a stroke—all of which we’ve already covered.

So, where does this leave us? These are the top fifteen reasons that Americans die, and a plant-based diet can help prevent nearly all of them; can help treat more than half of them; and, even, in some cases, even reverse the progression of disease, including our top three killers.

There are drugs that, in some circumstances, can help, too. You can take one drug to treat cholesterol every day for the rest of your life; another drug for blood sugars; a couple different pills for high blood pressure.

The same diet, though, does it all! It’s not like there’s a liver-healthy diet, and a heart-healthy diet and a different brain-healthy diet. No, a liver-healthy diet is a heart-healthy diet, is a brain-healthy diet. One diet to rule them all.

And what about drug side effects? I’m not talking a little rash or something. Prescription drugs kill more than 100,000 Americans every year.

Wait a second—106,000 deaths a year? That means that the sixth leading cause of death is actually doctors!

The sixth leading cause of death… is me! Thankfully, I can be prevented with a plant-based diet.

Seriously, though, compared to 15,000 American vegetarians, meat-eaters had about twice the odds of being on aspirin, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, antacids, painkillers, blood pressure medications, laxatives (of course), and insulin. So, plant-based diets are great for those that don’t like taking drugs, those that don’t like paying for drugs, and for people that don’t like risking drug side effects.

Want to solve the healthcare crisis? I’ve got a suggestion.

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 one simple question: “Has it been proven to reverse heart disease? You know, the most likely reason you and everyone you love will die?” If the answer is no, why would you even consider it?

If that’s all a plant-based diet could do—reverse our #1 killer, then shouldn’t that be the default diet until proven otherwise? And the fact that it can also be effective in preventing, treating, and reversing other leading killers would seem to make the case for plant-based eating overwhelming.

Most deaths in the United States are preventable, and related to nutrition. According to the most rigorous analysis of risk factors ever published, the #1 cause of death in the United States and the #1 cause of disability is our diet, which has since bumped tobacco smoking to killer #2. Smoking now only kills about a half million Americans every year—whereas our diet now kills hundreds of thousands more.

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

The media was telling you to smoke, and famous athletes agreed. Even Santa Claus. I mean, you want to keep fit and stay slender. So, you make sure to smoke and eat hot dogs to keep trim. And eat lots of sugar to stay slim and trim. Sugar is a lot better than that apple there, right?  I mean, sheesh.

Although apples do “connote goodness and freshness,” reads one internal tobacco industry memo, “which brings up many possibilities for making youth-oriented cigarettes.” They want to make apple-flavored cigarettes for children. Shameless!

“For digestion’s sake, you smoke.” I mean, no curative power is claimed for Philip Morris—but, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, better safe than sorry, and smoke.

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

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

Back then, even the paleo folks were smoking, and so were the doctors.

This is not to say there wasn’t controversy within the medical profession. Yes, some doctors smoked Camels, but other doctors preferred Luckies. So, there was a little conflict there.

The leader of the U.S. Senate agreed. I mean, who wouldn’t want to give their throat a vacation? How could there be a single case of throat irritation, when “cigarettes are just as pure as the water you drink?” (Perhaps in Flint, Michigan!)

And if you do get irritated? No problem; your doctor can always write you a prescription for cigarettes. This is an ad in the Journal of the American Medical Association. So, when mainstream medicine is saying that smoking, on balance, is good for you, when the American Medical Association is saying that, where could you turn back then if you just wanted the facts? What’s the new data advanced by science? She was “too tired for fun…and then she smoked a Camel.”

Babe Ruth spoke of proof positive medical science—that is, when he still could speak, before he died of throat cancer.

Now if, by some miracle, there was a SmokingFacts.org website back then that could deliver the science directly, bypassing commercially corruptible institutional filters, you would have become aware of studies like this. An Adventist study in California published in 1958, that showed that nonsmokers may have at least 90% lower lung cancer risk compared to smokers. But this wasn’t the first.

When famed surgeon Michael DeBakey was asked why his studies published back in the 30s linking smoking and lung cancer were simply ignored, he had to remind people about what it was like back then. We were a smoking society. It was in the movies; it was everywhere. Medical meetings were one heavy haze of smoke. Smoking was, in a word, normal.

So, back to our thought experiment: if you’re a smoker in the 50s in the know, what do you do?  Do you change, or do you wait? With access to the science, you realize that the best available balance of evidence suggests that your smoking habit is probably not good for you. So, do you change your smoking habits, or do you wait? If you wait until your physician tells you, between puffs, to quit, you could have cancer by then. If you wait until the powers that be officially recognize it, like the Surgeon General did in the subsequent decade, you could be dead by then.

It took 25 years for the Surgeon General’s report to come out. It took more than 7,000 studies, and the deaths of countless smokers before the first Surgeon General’s report against smoking was finally released in the 1960s. You’d think, maybe, after the first 6,000 studies, they could have given people a little heads up or something? No, it was a powerful industry.

So, one wonders how many people are currently suffering needlessly from dietary diseases. Maybe we should have stopped smoking after the 700th study like this came out.

As a smoker in the 50s, on one hand, you had all of society, the government, the medical profession itself telling you to smoke. And, on the other hand, all you had was the science—if you were even lucky enough to be aware of studies like this.

Now fast forward, 55 years. There’s a new Adventist study out of California, warning America about the risks of something else they may be putting in their mouths. And it’s not just one study. According to the latest review, the total sum of evidence suggests that mortality from all causes put together, and many of our dreaded diseases—heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes—is significantly lower in those eating plant-based.

So, instead of someone going along with America’s smoking habits in the 50s, imagine you, or someone you know, going along with America’s eating habits today. What do you do? With access to the science, you realize that the best available balance of evidence suggests that your eating habits are probably not so good for you. So, do you change your eating habits, or do you wait? If you wait until your physician tells you, between bites, to change your diet, it may be too late.

In fact, even after the Surgeon General’s report was released, the medical community still dragged their feet. The AMA actually went on record refusing to endorse the Surgeon General’s report. Why? Could that have been because they had just been handed $10 million from the tobacco industry? Maybe not; maybe it’s coincidence.

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

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

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

Consumption of animal products and processed foods causes at least 14 million deaths around the world every year. 14 million people dead every year. Plant-based diets can now be considered the nutritional equivalent of quitting smoking.

How many more people have to die, though, before the CDC encourages people not to wait for open-heart surgery to start eating healthy as well?

Until the system changes, we need to take personal responsibility for our own health, and for our family’s health. We can’t wait until society catches up to the science, because it’s a matter of life and death.

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

Thank you very much.

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

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

I’d like to thank Dr. John McDougall and his team for videotaping this and allowing us to share it with the world!

­Allow me to begin on a personal note. This is a picture of me, right around the time that my grandma was diagnosed with end-stage heart disease and sent home to die. She had already had so many bypass operations, basically ran out of plumbing at some point, confined to a wheelchair, and there was nothing more they could do.  Her life was over at age 65. But then, she heard about this guy, Nathan Pritikin, one of our early lifestyle medicine pioneers.

And what happened next is chronicled in Pritikin’s biography. My grandma was one of the “death’s door” people. Frances Greger arrived in a wheelchair. “Mrs. Greger had heart disease, angina, and claudication; her condition was so bad she could no longer walk without great pain in her chest and legs.  Within three weeks, though she was not only out of her wheelchair but was walking ten miles a day.”

This is my grandma at her grandson’s wedding 15 years after she was given her medical death sentence, and thanks to a healthy diet, she was able to live another 31 years on this earth—until 96—to enjoy her six grandkids, including me.

That is why I went into medicine.

When Dr. Ornish published his Lifestyle Heart Trial years later, proving with quantitative angiography that coronary artery disease could indeed be reversed in the majority of patients without drugs or surgery—just a plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle changes, I assumed that it was going to be a game-changer. My family had seen it with their own eyes, but finally here it was in black and white, published in one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals on the planet. But, nothing happened— leaving me to wonder if, effectively, the cure to our #1 killer could get lost down some rabbit hole and ignored, then, what else might be in the medical literature that can help my patients? I made it my life’s mission to find out. 

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 busy folks like you don’t have to.

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

Everything on the website is free. There are no ads, no corporate sponsorships. It’s strictly noncommercial, not selling anything. I just put it up as a public service, as a labor of love.

New videos and articles every day, on the latest in evidence-based nutrition. What a concept!

Where did Pritikin get his evidence from? A network of missionary hospitals set up by Western doctors throughout sub-Saharan Africa uncovered what may be one of the most important advances in health, according to one of our most famous medical figures of the 20th century, Dr. Denis Burkitt: the fact that many of the most common and major diseases “in modern Western culture are universally rare in third world communities.”

Like, heart disease. This landmark article from the 50s started out with a shocking statement: “In the African population of Uganda, coronary heart disease is almost non-existent.” Wait a second, our #1 cause of death, almost nonexistent? What were they eating?

They were eating a lot of starchy vegetables, starchy grains, and greens, and their protein almost exclusively from plant sources, and they had the cholesterol levels to prove it. Actually, very similar to those eating modern-day, plant-based diets.

Maybe the Africans were just dying early from some other kind of diseases—and so, never lived long enough to have a heart attack? No, here are age-matched heart attack rates in Uganda versus St. Louis. Out of 632 autopsies in Uganda, only one myocardial infarction. Out of 632 age- and gender-matched autopsies in Missouri, 136 myocardial infarctions: more than 100 times the rate of our #1 killer.

In fact, they were so blown away they went back and did another 800 autopsies in Uganda, and still, just that one small healed infarct (meaning it wasn’t even the cause of death) out of 1,427 patients—less than one in a thousand; whereas here, heart disease is an epidemic.

This is a list of diseases commonly found in the U.S. (and in populations that eat and live like the U.S.), but are rare or even nonexistent in populations centering their diets around whole plant foods.

These are among our most common diseases, like obesity, for example, or hiatal hernia, one of the most common stomach problems. Varicose veins and hemorrhoids—two of the most common venous problems; colorectal cancer—a leading cause of cancer-related death; diverticulitis—the #1 disease of the intestines; appendicitis—the #1 cause of emergency abdominal surgery; gallbladder disease—the #1 cause of nonemergency abdominal surgery; as well as ischemic heart disease—the commonest cause of death here, but a rarity among plant-based populations.

This suggests heart disease may be a choice. Like cavities. If you look at the teeth of people who lived over 10,000 years before the invention of the toothbrush, they pretty much had no cavities. Didn’t brush a day in their lives; no flossing; yet, no cavities. That’s because candy bars hadn’t been invented yet.

Why do people continue to get cavities when we know they’re preventable through diet? Simple. Because the pleasure people derive from dessert may outweigh the cost and discomfort of the dentist’s chair for many people. And, that’s fine!

Look, as long as people understand the consequences of their actions, as a physician, what more can I do? If you’re an adult, and decide the benefits outweigh the risks for you and your family, then, go for it—I certainly enjoy the occasional indulgence (I’ve got a good dental plan).

But, what if instead of the plaque on our teeth, we’re talking about the plaque building up inside of our arteries? This is another disease that can be prevented by changing our diet.

Now, what are the consequences for you and your family? Now, we’re not talking about scraping tartar anymore. Now, we’re talking life and death. The most likely reason that most of our loved ones will die is because of heart disease. It’s still up to each of us to make our own decisions as to what to eat and how to live—but we should make these choices consciously, educating ourselves about the predictable consequences of our actions.

Coronary heart disease; atherosclerosis; hardening of the arteries, begins in childhood.

By age 10, the arteries of nearly all kids raised on the standard American diet already have fatty streaks—the first stage of the disease.

Then, these plaques start forming in our 20s, get worse in our 30s, and then, can start killing us off. In our hearts, it’s called a heart attack; in our brains, the same disease is called a stroke.

If there is anyone in this audience older than age 10, then the question isn’t whether or not to eat healthy to prevent heart disease; it’s whether you want to reverse the heart disease that you already have.

Is that even possible? When researchers took people with heart disease and put them on the kind of plant-based diet followed by those populations that didn’t suffer from heart disease, their hope was to slow the disease process down—maybe even stop it. But instead, something miraculous happened.

The disease started to reverse, to get better. As soon as patients stopped eating an artery-clogging diet, their arteries started opening up.  Their bodies were able to start dissolving some of the plaque away. Even in some cases of severe triple vessel heart disease, arteries opened up without drugs, without surgery—suggesting their bodies wanted to heal all along, but were just never given the chance. This improvement in blood flow to the heart is after 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 sometimes, given the right conditions, our body can heal itself.

If you whack your shin really hard on a coffee table, it can get all red, hot, swollen, and inflamed, but will heal naturally if we just stand back and let our body work its magic. But what if we kept whacking it in the same place three times a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) every day? It’d never heal.

You’d go to your doctor and say, “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, but it feels so much better with the pain pills on board. Thank heavens for modern medicine.

It’s like when taking nitroglycerine for crushing chest pain. Tremendous relief, but you’re not actually treating the underlying cause of the disease.

Our body wants to come back to health, if we let it. But if we keep re-injuring 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 about 15 years of stopping smoking, our lung cancer risk approaches that of a lifelong nonsmoker. Isn’t that amazing? Our lungs can clear out all that tar, and eventually, it’s almost as if we never started smoking at all.

Every morning of our smoking life, that healing process started until, wham, our first cigarette of the day, re-injuring our lungs with every puff. Just like we can re-injure our arteries with every bite, when all we had to do all along—the miracle cure, was to just stand back, get out of the way, stop re-damaging ourselves, and let our bodies’ natural healing processes bring us back towards health.

Sure, you could choose moderation, and hit yourself with a smaller hammer. But why beat yourself up at all?

The human body is a self-healing machine.

We’ve known about this for decades. American Heart Journal, 1977: cases like Mr. F.W. here; such severe angina he couldn’t even make it to the mailbox, but then started eating healthier, and a few months later, he was climbing mountains, no pain.

There are some fancy new anti-angina drugs on the market now that cost thousands of dollars a year. But at the highest dose, they can successfully prolong exercise duration, extending the time someone can walk on a treadmill as long as 33 1/2 seconds.

It does not look like those choosing the drug route will be climbing mountains anytime soon.

You see, plant-based diets aren’t just safer and cheaper, but they can work better.

Killer #2 is cancer. What happens if we put cancer on a plant-based diet? Dean Ornish and colleagues found that the progression of prostate cancer could be reversed with a plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle behaviors—and no wonder.

If you drip the blood of those eating the standard American diet onto cancer cells growing in a petri dish, cancer growth is cut down by about 9%. But put people on a plant-based diet for a year, though, and their blood can do this. The blood circulating within the bodies of those eating plant-based diets has nearly eight times the stopping power when it comes to cancer cell growth.

Now, this was for prostate cancer—the leading cancer killer specific to men. In women, it’s breast cancer. So, researchers tried duplicating the study with women, using breast cancer cells instead. They didn’t want to wait a whole year to get the results, though. So, they figured they’d see what a healthy diet could do in just two weeks, against three different types of human breast cancer cells.

This was the before: cancer growth powering away at 100%. And then, after eating a plant-based diet for 14 days.

Here’s the before picture: a layer of breast cancer cells is laid down in a petri dish, and then blood from women eating the standard American diet is dripped on them. And as you can see, even people eating crappy diets have some ability to break down cancer. But after just two weeks eating healthy, blood was drawn from those same women—so, they acted as their own controls—dripped on another carpet of breast cancer cells, and this is what they were left with; just a few individual cancer cells left. Their bodies just cleaned up.

Before, and after; just two weeks eating healthy. Their blood became that much more hostile to cancer.

Slowing down the growth of cancer cells is nice, but getting rid of them is even better. This is what’s called apoptosis, programmed cell death. After eating healthy, their own bodies were able to reprogram the cancer cells, forcing them into early retirement.

This is what’s called TUNEL imaging, measuring DNA fragmentation or cell death. Dying cells show up as white spots. So, again, this is the before—what the blood of the average woman eating a standard American diet can do to breast cancer cells. Her blood may be able to kill off a few. But then, after 14 days of healthy plant-based living, her blood can do this. It’s like she’s an entirely different person inside.

The same blood that was now coursing through these women’s bodies gained the power to significantly slow down and stop breast cancer cell growth, within just two weeks of eating a plant-based diet.

What kind of blood do we want in our body; what kind of immune system? Do we want blood that just kind of rolls over when new cancer cells pop up, or do we want blood circulating to every nook and cranny of our body with the power to slow down and stop them?

Now, this dramatic strengthening of cancer defenses was after 14 days of a plant-based diet and exercise; they had these women out walking 30 to 60 minutes a day. Well, wait a second, if you do two things, how do you know what role the diet played? So, the researchers decided to put it to the test.

This is measuring cancer cell clearance. This is what we saw before; the effect of blood taken from those who ate a plant-based diet—in this case for an average of 14 years—along with mild exercise, like just walking every day. Plant-based diet and walking—that’s the kind of cancer cell clearance you get. Compare that to the cancer-stopping power of your average sedentary meat-eater, which is basically nonexistent.

This middle group is interesting, though. Instead of 14 years on a plant-based diet, ate 14 years of a standard American diet—but, had 14 years of daily, strenuous, hour-long exercise, like calisthenics.

The researchers wanted to know if you exercise long enough, if you exercise hard enough, can you rival some strolling plant-eaters?

And the answer is, exercise helped—no question, but literally 5,000 hours in the gym was no match for a plant-based diet.

Same thing as before. Even if you are a couch potato eating fried potatoes, your body’s not totally defenseless. Your bloodstream can kill off a few cancer cells. But here’s the hard core strenuous exercise group, killing off cancer cells left and right. But nothing appears to kick more cancer tush than a plant-based diet.

We think it’s because of the animal proteins—meat, egg white, and dairy proteins—increasing the level of IGF-1 in our bodies. Insulin-like growth factor-1, a cancer-promoting growth hormone involved in the acquisition and progression of malignant tumors.

But if we lower animal protein intake, if you put people on a plant-based diet, their IGF-1 levels go down, and if you put people on a plant-based diet for years, their levels drop even further.

And their IGF-1 binding protein levels go up. That’s one way our body tries to protect itself from cancer—from excessive growth—by releasing a binding protein into our bloodstream to tie up any excess IGF-1. It’s like our body’s emergency brake. Yes, in as little as two weeks, a plant-based diet can bring down your liver’s production of IGF-1 . But what about all the IGF-1 circulating in your bloodstream from the bacon and eggs you had three weeks before? So, your liver releases a snatch squad of binding proteins to take it out of circulation. And, as you can see, it just gets better and better, the longer you eat healthy.

Here’s the experiment that nailed IGF-1 as the villain; same as last time. Go on a plant-based diet, cancer cell growth drops, and cancer cell death shoots up. But then, here’s the kicker: what if you added back to the cancer the exact same amount of IGF-1 banished from your system just because you were eating healthy for two weeks? It erases the diet and exercise effect. It’s like you never started eating healthy at all.

So, the reason the largest prospective study on diet and cancer ever found that the incidence of all cancers combined was lower among vegetarians than among meat-eaters may be because they eat less animal protein. So, they end up with less IGF-1, which can mean less cancer growth.

How much less cancer are we talking about? Middle-aged men and women with high protein intakes had a 75% increase in total mortality, and a fourfold increase in the risk of dying from cancer. But not all proteins; specifically animal protein, which makes sense, of course, given the higher IGF-1 levels.

The academic institution sent out a press release with a memorable opening line: “That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette,” explaining that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer—”a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.”

What was the response to the revelation that diets high in meat, eggs, and dairy could be as harmful to health as smoking? One nutrition scientist replied that it was potentially dangerous to compare the effects of smoking with the effect of meat and cheese. Why? Because a smoker might think, “Why bother quitting smoking if my ham and cheese sandwich is just as bad for me?” So, better not to tell anyone about the whole meat and dairy thing.

That reminds me of a famous Philip Morris cigarette ad that tried to downplay the risks by saying, “You think secondhand smoke is bad, increasing the risk of lung cancer 19%? Drinking 1 or 2 glasses of milk every day may be three times as bad—62% increased risk of lung cancer.” Or doubling the risk by frequently cooking with oil, or tripling your risk of heart disease by eating non-vegetarian, or multiplying your risk six-fold by eating lots of meat and dairy. So, they conclude,”Let’s keep a sense of perspective here.” The risk of lung cancer from secondhand smoke may be “well below the risk reported for other everyday activities.” So, breathe deep.

That’s like saying: “Don’t worry about getting stabbed, because getting shot is so much worse.”

Uh, how about neither? Two risks don’t make a right.

You’ll note Philip Morris stopped throwing dairy under the bus when they purchased Kraft Foods.

Okay, what about the other 13 leading causes of death?

The top three killers used to be heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Oh, that is so 2007. Now, it’s heart disease, cancer, and COPD—chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, like emphysema. Thankfully, COPD can be prevented with the help of a plant-based diet, and even treated with plants; improving lung function over time.

Of course, the tobacco industry viewed these landmark findings a little differently. Instead of adding plants to one’s diet to help one’s lung function, wouldn’t it be simpler to just add them to the cigarettes? And indeed, the addition of açaí berries to cigarettes evidently has a protective effect against emphysema in smoking mice. Who would have thunk it?

Next, they’re going to be putting berries in meat. And indeed, I couldn’t make this stuff up. The addition of fruit extracts to burgers was not without its glitches, though. The blackberries “literally dyed burger patties with a distinct purplish colour”—though, evidently, infusing lamb carcasses with kiwifruit juice before rigor mortis sets in does evidently improve tenderness. And, it’s even possible to improve the nutritional profile of frankfurters with powdered grape seeds, though, there were complaints that the grape seed particles were visible in the final product. And if there’s one thing we know about hot dog-eaters, it’s that they’re picky about what goes in their food.

Pig anus? Okay, but grape seeds? Eww!

Strokes are killer #4. Preventing strokes may be all about eating potassium-rich foods, yet most Americans don’t even reach the recommended minimum daily intake. And by most, I mean more than 98%. 98% of us eat potassium-deficient diets, because 98% of us don’t eat enough plants.

Potassium comes from the words pot ash. You take any plant, put it in a pot, and reduce it to ash, and you’re left with pot-ash-ium, so-called vegetable alkali. True story, but can anyone name me a plant food particularly high in potassium?

Bananas, right? I don’t know why that’s like the one thing everyone knows about nutrition. Chiquita must have had a great PR firm or something. But it turns out that bananas don’t even make the top 50 sources, coming in at number 86, right behind fast food vanilla milk shakes. It goes fast food vanilla milk shakes, then bananas.

In fact, when I was researching for my new book, I found out that the USDA expanded their list, and now bananas don’t even make the top thousand sources; coming in at number 1,611, right after Reese’s Pieces. I kid you not. The most concentrated whole food sources of potassium in the diet are: beans, and greens, and dates.

Bananas don’t make it to a thousand—in fact, if you look at the next leading cause of death (unintentional injuries), bananas could be downright dangerous.

Alzheimer’s disease is now our sixth leading killer, now striking a staggering four million Americans affected. Twenty years ago, it wasn’t even in the top ten. According to the latest dietary guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer’s, the two most important things we can do: cut down our consumption of meat, dairy, and junk; and replace those with vegetables, beans, fruits, and whole grains.

This is based, in part, on data going back over 20 years now. Those who eat meat—red meat or white meat, it doesn’t matter—appear between two to three times more likely to become demented later in life, compared to those that don’t eat meat. And the longer one eats meat-free, the lower the risk of dementia drops.

Next on the list: type 2 diabetes, which we can prevent, arrest, and reverse with a plant-based diet—something we’ve known since back in the 1930s. Within five years, about a quarter of the diabetics were able to get off insulin.

But plant-based diets are low-calorie diets. Maybe their diabetes just got better because they lost so much weight? To tease that out, what we would need is a study where researchers switch people to a healthy diet, but force them to eat so much food that they wouldn’t lose any weight, despite eating healthier. Then, we could see if plant-based diet had unique benefits beyond all the weight loss. We’d have to wait 44 years, but here it is: subjects were weighed every day, and if they started losing weight, they were made to eat more food. In fact, so much food, some of the participants had problems eating it all—like “not another tostada, not another salad.” But they eventually adapted; so, there was no significant alteration in body weight, despite restricting meat, dairy, eggs, and junk.

So, with zero weight loss, did a plant-based diet still help? Overall, insulin requirements were cut about 60%, and half were able to get off insulin altogether despite no change in weight. How many years did this take? No, 16 days.

So, we’re talking diabetics who’ve had diabetes for as long as 20 years, injecting 20 units of insulin a day. And then, as few as 13 days later, they’re off of all insulin altogether, thanks to less than two weeks on a plant-based diet—even with zero weight loss. Diabetes for 20 years, then off all insulin in two weeks. Diabetes for 20 years, because no one had told them about a plant-based diet. Here’s patient 15; 32 units of insulin on the control diet, and then, 18 days later, on none. Lower blood sugars on 32 units less insulin. That’s the power of plants. This was without weight loss; his body just started working that much better.

And as a bonus, their cholesterol dropped like a rock to under 150, in just 16 days. Just like moderate changes in diet usually result in only modest reductions in cholesterol, how moderate do you want your diabetes?

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

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

Those who chose moderation—eating a moderate amount of animal protein—only had 23 times the risk of death from diabetes.

Killer #8 is kidney failure, which may be both prevented and treated with a plant-based diet. And no surprise; kidneys are highly vascular organs. Harvard researchers found three dietary risk factors for declining kidney function: animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol. Animal fat can alter the actual structure of our kidneys, based on studies like this, showing plugs of fat literally clogging up the works in autopsied kidneys.

And the animal protein can have a profound effect on normal kidney function, inducing what’s called hyperfiltration; increasing the workload on the kidney, but not plant protein. Eat some tuna fish, and you can see increased pressure on the kidneys one, two, and three hours after the meal; shoots right up. If, instead of having a tuna salad sandwich, though, you had a tofu salad sandwich with the same amount of protein, no effect. Kidneys can deal with plant protein without even batting an eyelash.

Why does animal protein cause the overload reaction, but not plant protein? It appears to be due to inflammation triggered by the animal protein. We know this because if you give a powerful anti-inflammatory drug along with the tuna fish, you can actually abolish that hyperfiltration effect, that protein leakage effect in response to meat ingestion.

Then, there’s the acid load. Animal protein induces the formation of acid within the kidney, which may lead to tubular toxicity: damage to the delicate urine-making tubes within the kidney. Animal foods tend to be acid-forming, whereas plant foods tend to either be relatively neutral or actually alkaline, base-forming, to counteract some of that acid. So, the solution to halting the progression of chronic kidney disease might lie in the produce aisle rather than the pharmacy aisle.

No wonder plant-based diets have been used to treat kidney disease for decades. Here’s protein leakage on the low-sodium diet that physicians would conventionally put these patients on; switched to a supplemented vegan diet; conventional; plant-based; conventional; plant-based—turning kidney dysfunction on and off like a light switch, based on what’s going into their mouths.

Killer #9 is respiratory infections. What possible role could diet play? You obviously haven’t seen my video Kale and the Immune System, talking about the immunostimulatory effects of kale. Is there anything kale cannot do?

Boosting antibody production seven-fold; but that’s in a petri dish. What about in people? Older men and women were split into two groups right before they were going to get their Pneumovax vaccination (their pneumonia vaccination). Half continued to eat as they always had. The other half added just a few servings of fruits and vegetables to their daily diet, and after getting their injection, you can see a significant improvement in the protective antibody immune response from that one simple change. That wasn’t cutting out meat; just adding fruits and vegetables can significantly improve immune function.

Killer #10 is suicide. We’ve known those eating healthier have healthier mood states—in fact, only about half the depression, anxiety, and stress scores compared to those that eat meat. Researchers suspect it’s the arachidonic acid, this inflammatory long chain omega-6 fatty acid found predominantly in chicken and eggs. That’s where it’s predominantly found in the American diet. But you can’t tell if it’s cause and effect, until you put it to the test.

They took people eating the standard American diet, and removed meat, fish, poultry, and eggs from their diets, and got a significant improvement in mood scores within just two weeks. Thanks, perhaps, to the removal of arachidonic acid from their bodies, which they thought may be adversely impacting mental health via a cascade of neuroinflammation; brain inflammation, but we could bring that down within a matter of weeks after cutting eggs, chicken, and other meat.

Now, am I just cherry picking, though? What about all the randomized controlled trials like that, showing that other diets have improved mood? There aren’t any. A recent review concluded that only the plant-based study fit the bill. It’s hard to cherry pick when there’s only one cherry.

Works in a workplace setting too: significant increases in physical functioning, general health, vitality, and mental health—not surprisingly, translating into improved work productivity. The biggest such study, across 15 corporate sites at Geico, found that plant-based diets resulted in significant reported improvements in depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue, and emotional well-being. So, lifestyle interventions, such as exercise, can help mental as well as physical health. And among the most effective of these is the use of plant-based diets.

Killer #11 is blood infections. Sure, foodborne bacteria can kind of burrow through the bloodstream and directly invade through the intestinal wall—but in women, may creep up into their bladder.

We’ve known for decades that it’s bacteria creeping up from the rectum that cause bladder infections. But only recently did we figure out where that rectal reservoir of bladder-infecting E. coli was coming from: chicken. We now have DNA fingerprinting proof of a direct link between farm animals, meat, and bladder infections—solid evidence that urinary tract infections can be a zoonosis, bladder infections as an animal-to-human disease.

Wait a second. Can’t I just use a meat thermometer and cook the meat through? No, because of cross-contamination. We’ve known for decades that if you give someone a frozen chicken to prepare and cook in their own kitchen as they normally would, a multitude of antibiotic-resistant E. coli jump from the chicken into the gut of the volunteer —before they even eat it! So, you could incinerate it to ash; you don’t even have to eat any of it. And it still wouldn’t matter, because you already infected yourself just handling it.

Within days, the drug-resistant chicken bacteria had multiplied to the point of becoming a major part of the person’s gut flora. The chicken bacteria were like taking over their intestines.

Even if you follow all the safe handling guidelines, rinsing everything with bleach—even spraying bleach on for good measure, there still may be pathogenic fecal bacteria left behind. No one actually does this, but what if you did this, and then came in later and swabbed kitchen surfaces? Researchers found pathogenic fecal bacteria: salmonella, campylobacter—both serious human pathogens, still left behind in the kitchen. The reason that most people have more bacteria from feces in their kitchen sink than on their toilet seat is because most people rinse chickens in the sink, not the toilet. So, unless our kitchen is like some biohazard lab, the only way to guarantee we’re not going to leave infection around the kitchen is to not bring it into our homes in the first place.

The good news is that it’s not like you eat chicken once, and you’re colonized for life. In this study, the chicken bacteria only seemed to last about ten days before our good bacteria were able to muscle them out of the way. The problem is that most families eat chicken more than once every ten days; so, they may be constantly reintroducing these chicken bugs into their systems.

But wait a second. You can’t sell unsafe cars; you can’t sell unsafe toys; how is it legal to sell unsafe meat?

They do it by blaming the consumer. As one USDA poultry microbiologist said: “Raw meats are not idiot-proof. They can be mishandled and when they are, it’s like handling a hand grenade. If you pull the pin, somebody’s going to get hurt.” See, if we get sick, it’s our fault.

While some may question the wisdom of selling hand grenades in supermarkets, the USDA poultry expert disagrees. “I think the consumer has the most responsibility but refuses to accept it.” That’s like a car company saying yeah, we installed faulty brakes, but it’s your fault for not putting your kid in a seatbelt.

The head of the CDC’s food poisoning division responded famously to this kind of blame-the-victim attitude coming from the meat industry. “Is it reasonable that if a consumer undercooks a hamburger, their three-year-old dies?” Is that reasonable?

Not to worry, though: the meat industry is on it. They got the FDA approval for a bacteria-eating virus to spray on the meat. Now, the industry is concerned that consumer acceptance of bacteria-eating viruses may present something of a challenge to the food industry. But if they think that’s going to be a challenge, check out their other bright idea.

The “Effect of Extracted Housefly Pupae Peptide Mixture on Chilled Pork Preservation”—this is a science-y way of saying they want to smear a maggot mixture on meat.

Now wait—it’s a low-cost and simple method. Think about it; maggots thrive on rotting meat. However, there have been no reports that maggots have any serious diseases; so, they must be packed with some sort of antibacterial something. Have you ever seen a maggot sneeze? I didn’t think so.

So, they took maggots at three days old, washed them, toweled them off, a little Vitamix action, and voilà! Safer meat.

We did kidney failure; what about liver failure? We’ve known for decades that a plant-based diet could be used to treat liver failure, significantly reducing the toxins that would otherwise build up eating meat, without a fully functional liver to detoxify your blood.

I do have to admit, though, that some people on plant-based diets have worsening liver function. They’re called alcoholics. Living on potatoes, corn, grapes, and barley—in fact, strictly plant-based, yet still not doing so hot.

High blood pressure is next, affecting nearly 78 million Americans. That’s one in three of us. And as we age, our pressures get higher and higher, such that by age 60, it strikes more than half.

Wait a second. If it affects most of us when we get older, maybe it’s less a disease, and more just an inevitable consequence of aging? No. We’ve known since the 1920s that high blood pressure need not occur.

Researchers measured the blood pressures of a thousand people in rural Kenya who ate a diet centered around whole plant foods. Starchy vegetables, whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, and dark green leafies. Our pressures go up as we age; their pressures actually go down.

And, the lower the better. The whole 140 over 90 cut-off is arbitrary.  Even people who start out with blood pressure under 120 over 80 appear to benefit from blood pressure reduction. So, the ideal blood pressure, the no-benefit-from-reducing-it-further blood pressure, is actually 110 over 70. But is it even possible to get blood pressures down to 110 over 70? It’s not just possible; it’s normal—for those eating healthy enough diets.

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

Rural China too; about 110 over 70 their entire lives. 70-year-olds had the same average blood pressure as 16-year-olds. Now, of course, Africa and China have vastly different diets, but they share this common theme, that they are plant-based day-to-day, with meat only eaten on special occasions.

Why do we think it’s the plant-based nature of their diets that was so protective? Because in the Western world, as the American Heart Association has pointed out, the only folks really getting down that low are those eating strictly plant-based diets, coming in at an average of 110 over 65.

Based on the largest study of those eating plant-based diets to date—89,000 Californians—there appears to be a stepwise drop in blood pressure rates as people eat more and more plant-based.

Same thing with diabetes and obesity. The more and more healthy we eat, the better. Yes, you can wipe out most of your risk eating strictly plant-based, but it’s not black and white, all or nothing. Any movement along the spectrum towards healthier eating can accrue significant benefits.

You can show this experimentally. You take vegetarians and give them meat, pay them enough to eat it, and their blood pressures go up. Or, you remove meat from their diet, and their blood pressures go down—in just seven days! And this is after the vast majority reduced or stopped their blood pressure medications completely. They had to reduce their medications because their pressures were getting so low that if they were on drugs, they could fall over and crack their heads open!  Lower pressures on fewer drugs; that’s the power of plants.

So, does the American Heart Association recommend a no-meat diet? No, they recommend a low-meat diet, the so-called DASH diet. Why not vegetarian? When the DASH diet was created, were they just not aware of this landmark research, done by Harvard’s Frank Sacks? No, they were aware of the landmark research. The Chair of the Design Committee that came up with the DASH diet was Frank Sacks.

See, the DASH diet was explicitly designed with the #1 goal of capturing the blood pressure-lowering benefits of a vegetarian diet, yet contain enough animal products to make it palatable to the general public. They didn’t think the public could handle the truth.

In their defense, you can see what they were thinking. Just like drugs never work unless you actually take them, diets never work unless you actually eat them. So, you can’t tell people to eat plant-based—they won’t do it. So, they figured they might help more on a population scale if they just soft-pedaled the truth to make it more acceptable. Alright, tell that to the thousand families a day that lose a loved one to high blood pressure. Maybe it’s time to tell the American public the truth.

Killer #14 is Parkinson’s disease. Does a plant-based diet reduce risk of Parkinson’s disease? Well, most studies to date do suggest a link between dairy products and Parkinson’s—but why?

Well, there’s evidence that milk is contaminated with neurotoxic chemicals. High levels of pesticide residues are found in the milk supply, and in the brains of people who die from Parkinson’s disease. And there are other pollutants, like tetrahydroisoquiniline, which is actually what scientists use to try to induce Parkinson’s in primates—and which is found mostly in cheese. So, maybe the dairy industry should require toxin screenings of the milk supply. Good luck with that.

You could always just not drink it, but then, what would happen to your bones? That’s a marketing ploy; if you look at the actual science, milk does not appear to protect against hip fracture risk, whether drinking during your adult years, or drinking milk during your teen years. If anything, milk consumption was associated with an increase in fracture risk.  Maybe this is why hip fracture rates are highest in populations with the greatest milk consumption, where they drink the most milk. Swedish researchers decided to put it to the test.

100,000 men and women followed for up to 20 years, and milk-drinking women had higher rates of death, more heart disease, and significantly more cancer, for each daily glass of milk. Three glasses a day was associated with nearly twice the risk of premature death.

And they had significantly more bone and hip fractures, too. More milk, more fractures. Milk-drinking men also had higher rates of death. But for some reason, you never see milk ads like this [image of milk carton among gravestones].

Finally, aspiration pneumonia, which is caused by swallowing problems due to Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s, or a stroke—all of which we’ve already covered.

So, where does this leave us? These are the top fifteen reasons that Americans die, and a plant-based diet can help prevent nearly all of them; can help treat more than half of them; and, even, in some cases, even reverse the progression of disease, including our top three killers.

There are drugs that, in some circumstances, can help, too. You can take one drug to treat cholesterol every day for the rest of your life; another drug for blood sugars; a couple different pills for high blood pressure.

The same diet, though, does it all! It’s not like there’s a liver-healthy diet, and a heart-healthy diet and a different brain-healthy diet. No, a liver-healthy diet is a heart-healthy diet, is a brain-healthy diet. One diet to rule them all.

And what about drug side effects? I’m not talking a little rash or something. Prescription drugs kill more than 100,000 Americans every year.

Wait a second—106,000 deaths a year? That means that the sixth leading cause of death is actually doctors!

The sixth leading cause of death… is me! Thankfully, I can be prevented with a plant-based diet.

Seriously, though, compared to 15,000 American vegetarians, meat-eaters had about twice the odds of being on aspirin, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, antacids, painkillers, blood pressure medications, laxatives (of course), and insulin. So, plant-based diets are great for those that don’t like taking drugs, those that don’t like paying for drugs, and for people that don’t like risking drug side effects.

Want to solve the healthcare crisis? I’ve got a suggestion.

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 one simple question: “Has it been proven to reverse heart disease? You know, the most likely reason you and everyone you love will die?” If the answer is no, why would you even consider it?

If that’s all a plant-based diet could do—reverse our #1 killer, then shouldn’t that be the default diet until proven otherwise? And the fact that it can also be effective in preventing, treating, and reversing other leading killers would seem to make the case for plant-based eating overwhelming.

Most deaths in the United States are preventable, and related to nutrition. According to the most rigorous analysis of risk factors ever published, the #1 cause of death in the United States and the #1 cause of disability is our diet, which has since bumped tobacco smoking to killer #2. Smoking now only kills about a half million Americans every year—whereas our diet now kills hundreds of thousands more.

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

The media was telling you to smoke, and famous athletes agreed. Even Santa Claus. I mean, you want to keep fit and stay slender. So, you make sure to smoke and eat hot dogs to keep trim. And eat lots of sugar to stay slim and trim. Sugar is a lot better than that apple there, right?  I mean, sheesh.

Although apples do “connote goodness and freshness,” reads one internal tobacco industry memo, “which brings up many possibilities for making youth-oriented cigarettes.” They want to make apple-flavored cigarettes for children. Shameless!

“For digestion’s sake, you smoke.” I mean, no curative power is claimed for Philip Morris—but, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, better safe than sorry, and smoke.

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

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

Back then, even the paleo folks were smoking, and so were the doctors.

This is not to say there wasn’t controversy within the medical profession. Yes, some doctors smoked Camels, but other doctors preferred Luckies. So, there was a little conflict there.

The leader of the U.S. Senate agreed. I mean, who wouldn’t want to give their throat a vacation? How could there be a single case of throat irritation, when “cigarettes are just as pure as the water you drink?” (Perhaps in Flint, Michigan!)

And if you do get irritated? No problem; your doctor can always write you a prescription for cigarettes. This is an ad in the Journal of the American Medical Association. So, when mainstream medicine is saying that smoking, on balance, is good for you, when the American Medical Association is saying that, where could you turn back then if you just wanted the facts? What’s the new data advanced by science? She was “too tired for fun…and then she smoked a Camel.”

Babe Ruth spoke of proof positive medical science—that is, when he still could speak, before he died of throat cancer.

Now if, by some miracle, there was a SmokingFacts.org website back then that could deliver the science directly, bypassing commercially corruptible institutional filters, you would have become aware of studies like this. An Adventist study in California published in 1958, that showed that nonsmokers may have at least 90% lower lung cancer risk compared to smokers. But this wasn’t the first.

When famed surgeon Michael DeBakey was asked why his studies published back in the 30s linking smoking and lung cancer were simply ignored, he had to remind people about what it was like back then. We were a smoking society. It was in the movies; it was everywhere. Medical meetings were one heavy haze of smoke. Smoking was, in a word, normal.

So, back to our thought experiment: if you’re a smoker in the 50s in the know, what do you do?  Do you change, or do you wait? With access to the science, you realize that the best available balance of evidence suggests that your smoking habit is probably not good for you. So, do you change your smoking habits, or do you wait? If you wait until your physician tells you, between puffs, to quit, you could have cancer by then. If you wait until the powers that be officially recognize it, like the Surgeon General did in the subsequent decade, you could be dead by then.

It took 25 years for the Surgeon General’s report to come out. It took more than 7,000 studies, and the deaths of countless smokers before the first Surgeon General’s report against smoking was finally released in the 1960s. You’d think, maybe, after the first 6,000 studies, they could have given people a little heads up or something? No, it was a powerful industry.

So, one wonders how many people are currently suffering needlessly from dietary diseases. Maybe we should have stopped smoking after the 700th study like this came out.

As a smoker in the 50s, on one hand, you had all of society, the government, the medical profession itself telling you to smoke. And, on the other hand, all you had was the science—if you were even lucky enough to be aware of studies like this.

Now fast forward, 55 years. There’s a new Adventist study out of California, warning America about the risks of something else they may be putting in their mouths. And it’s not just one study. According to the latest review, the total sum of evidence suggests that mortality from all causes put together, and many of our dreaded diseases—heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes—is significantly lower in those eating plant-based.

So, instead of someone going along with America’s smoking habits in the 50s, imagine you, or someone you know, going along with America’s eating habits today. What do you do? With access to the science, you realize that the best available balance of evidence suggests that your eating habits are probably not so good for you. So, do you change your eating habits, or do you wait? If you wait until your physician tells you, between bites, to change your diet, it may be too late.

In fact, even after the Surgeon General’s report was released, the medical community still dragged their feet. The AMA actually went on record refusing to endorse the Surgeon General’s report. Why? Could that have been because they had just been handed $10 million from the tobacco industry? Maybe not; maybe it’s coincidence.

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

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

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

Consumption of animal products and processed foods causes at least 14 million deaths around the world every year. 14 million people dead every year. Plant-based diets can now be considered the nutritional equivalent of quitting smoking.

How many more people have to die, though, before the CDC encourages people not to wait for open-heart surgery to start eating healthy as well?

Until the system changes, we need to take personal responsibility for our own health, and for our family’s health. We can’t wait until society catches up to the science, because it’s a matter of life and death.

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

Thank you very much.

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

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I’d like to thank Dr. John McDougall and his team for videotaping this and allowing us to share it with the world!

Doctor's Note

I’d like to thank Dr. John McDougall and his team for videotaping this and allowing us to share it with the world!

If the 82 minute video duration is intimidating, I also have a 17 minute version of this presentation.

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244 responses to “HOW NOT TO DIE: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, & Reversing Our Top 15 Killers

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    1. I look forward to every weekday video. “Sadly” Dr Greger takes a break on weekend :)

      And I owe my current health to Dr Greger. While I don’t follow 100% of his advices and I do read the opinions of other “Nutrition doctors”, I follow Dr Greger advices the most in particular to eating a lot of plant foods and the Daily Dozen.




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  1. They just don’t come any more knowledgeable or giving of time than Dr. Michael Greger!! He is a rock star for a reason. THANK YOU Michael!!!!!!




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    1. I think Dr. McDougall sells Advanced Study Weekend DVDs on his website. Dynamite combination of Drs. Greger and McDougall. I love their websites—both true trailblazers.




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    2. Robert Crum: Here is the reply that I got in response to your question: “The annual review dvd will be ready when Vol. 33 is released.” So, keep an eye on that I site I linked to in my previous post and eventually this talk will be for sale on DVD. Note: Previous annual summary videos have sold for $10. So, it is quite affordable relative to talks I’ve seen from other people. And as usual, all proceeds go to charity.




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  2. Just what I needed, some diet and lifestyle reinforcement!

    Now why was there no mention on the list of the 3rd leading cause of death, medical treatment and error? 251,000 lives per yr.




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  3. Yet another splendid presentation by Dr. Greger, yet sort of a waste of my time since I watch all his videos and have read his book! Now on to something that irks and confuses me…

    The phrases “plant-based” and “whole-food-plant-based” are sort of nebulous, yet they are used by the online vegan and vegetarian population ad infinitum. What exactly do these phrases mean? Do they simply encourage people to eat more whole plant foods and moderate their intake of animal-derived foods, or is it stricter than that?

    An analogy I can make is to the phrase “black lives matter”. A non-bigot who hears this phrase and is unfamiliar with the racism issue in America and the context of this slogan would probably respond with either, “well duh!” or “no, all lives matter”. To understand what phrases like “plant based diet” or “black lives matter” truly entail, I think the listener needs to be familiar with more than what can be conveyed by just three words.

    Below is an example meal plan for a full day of eating that derives more than 50% of its calories from whole plant foods including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. By comparison, the animal products account for less than 50% of the total calories and include foods that are generally recognized by the American public as healthy, including milk (it does a body good!), eggs (nature’s perfect food!), poultry (low fat and high in protein!) and beef (it’s what’s for dinner!). I think this is a good representation of what a health-conscious American who eats “healthfully and in moderation” would eat in a typical day. And it is technically whole-food-plant-based. Although I consider this meal plan far from optimal, it’s far better than what the average American actually eats.

    <<>>
    Breakfast: 1 cup dry rolled oats with banana, 3 hard-boiled eggs, 1 cup milk.
    Lunch: Turkey sandwich with cheese, lettuce, and tomato on whole wheat bread, 1 apple, 1 cup milk.
    Snack: 1 cup plain yogurt with 1/2 cup blueberries and 1 ounce nuts.
    Dinner: 6 oz steak, 1 cup chopped broccoli, 1 large baked potato, 1 pat butter.
    <<>>

    According to http://www.nationalgeographic.com/what-the-world-eats/, it appears that Americans get 27% of their calories from animal products (or a little more if the Sugar & Fat category includes butter and lard), which means that Americans are technically eating a plant-based diet. However, Produce + Grain + Pulses accounts for only 31% of American calorie consumption, so we are certainly not eating a whole-food-plant-based diet.

    My intention in writing this is to illustrate my discontentment with the phrases “plant-based” and “whole-food-plant-based”. Although the meal plan above is technically whole-food-plant-based, I’m certain this isn’t what people like Dr. Greger (my most revered dietary advisor) have in mind when they use these two phrases. So a question I have is this: what % of a person’s caloric intake needs to be derived plant foods or whole plant foods to qualify for being a plant-based or whole-food-plant-based diet? Does the typical American, who as mentioned above derives 27% of their calories from animal products, qualify as abiding by a plant-based diet (I certainly doubt it)? Do the long-lived Okinawans from 1949 (as referenced in the book Blue Zones by Dan Buettner) who derived only about 2-3% of their food (by weight in g) from animal products qualify as abiding by a whole-food-plant-based diet? Do people abiding by Dr. Ornish’s heart disease reversal program (as I do, albeit with Alaskan salmon or sardines 1-2 times per week), which mandates 3g of fish oil and allows egg whites and up to 2 cups of nonfat dairy qualify? Or do only strict vegans qualify?
    I would actually like a new vocabulary word to be invented with the following definition:

    (new word): a dietary regime in which at least X% of calories are derived from whole, unprocessed organisms from the kindgoms plantae and fungi, which is also the threshold at which epidemiological evidence indicates maximal benefit to human longevity, cognitive functioning, or athletic performance.




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    1. I understand your frustration though I’d like to clarify a small point. Veganism is not about diet though vegans might call the dietary aspect of veganism as wfpb or plant based.

      I think that’s the problem with the nebulous term as you put it. If one is not vegan, then perhaps calling it a strict vegetarian diet might be more useful? That is basically the vegan diet sans the other vegan lifestyle aspects of veganism.

      http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/strict+vegetarian

      That’s my suggestion.




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      1. V.Gunn: The system automatically marked your post as SPAM. I retrieved/restored your post, but BenzoSt may not be notified of your reply because of this little wrinkle. I’m posting this explanation so that BenzoSt can see that you replied and look it up.




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        1. This vegan is all about diet, due to heart/vascular disease. Vegan just means ‘no animal products’, nothing about what motives.




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          1. Yes and no. You may be all about diet but vegans are, as you say, about no animal products – no leather shoes or belts, no woolen clothes etc. I eat a strict vegetarian diet and I become irked when people call it a “vegan” diet. All vegans may eat a strict vegetarian diet but not everybody who eats a strict vegetarian diet is a vegan.




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            1. Just sayin’ where I’m at. I’ll wear secondhand leather and use other animal nonfoods but I’ll never let a nickel go to the animal-using industries, whether they kill ’em or not. Yep, I have a dog. But heart disease is the driver. It came close to finishing me about four years ago like it has all my beloved ones, but I’m not letting it. Thanks to Fuhrman, Greger, Lisle, McDougall et al.




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              1. “and use other animal nonfoods but I’ll never let a nickel go to the animal-using industries” I might not be understanding what you say, but it sounds to me a bit contradictory.




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            2. I always thought that the difference between vegan and vegetarian is that vegetarians will eat eggs and dairy products. I describe myself as a vegan, which I started for health reasons but have since also been glad includes animal compassion and a lower carbon footprint. I have learned that even honey is NOT considered vegan because it’s taking food from the bees. I’m not that I would agree with that when it’s done sustainably for the bees. But on that point I don’t know about how harvesting honey impacts bees.

              Mark G




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              1. Many “vegans” actually include ethically collected and environmentally enriching honey in their fare, they simply speak little about this inclusion; because they fear or want to avoid the wreath and argumentativeness of the people who think they have a patent on the word “vegan”…




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                1. Well, you see, the word “vegan” was actually coined by someone, so it is somehow “patented”. Veganism is a lifestyle where one tries to cause the less possible harm to living creatures. End of the story. I can call myself an engineer for building a bird house, that doesn’t make me one. My point is, you might disagree with the official definition of what a vegan is, but that’s that.

                  You can have a vegan diet, only, without caring for the suffering of other creatures, although that is confusing for “real” vegans who embrace the vegan lifestyle instead of just eating plants for whatever reason. And, in fact, confusing for everybody, it seems. That’s why we have people shocked to see “vegans” wearing leather, for example, and spreading the belief that veganism is a bit of a joke. So I rather go for the term “plant-based diet”, or something similar, when it comes to diet alone.

                  By the way, I’d like very much to see how is possible to get honey in an “ethical” manner from the bee’s perspective. Sounds a bit like “humane meat”…




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              2. Thanks Mark. I have always believed that that, like fruitarians only eat fruit, vegetarians only eat vegetables. A vegetable here basically means any edible plant or part of a plant so fruit, nuts, seeds etc are all vegetables.
                http://www.dictionary.com/browse/vegetable

                I do not really believe that anybody who eats fish/dairy/eggs etc is really a vegetarian. In the media and popular speech, though, it is clear that, because vegetarians do not eat meat, it is thought that anybody who does not eat meat must be a vegetarian. Even the IVU defines vegetarianism as eating plants with or without eggs/dairy/honey.

                However defining vegetarianism as including eggs or dairy or honey seems like an obvious oxymoron to me. And the IVU appears to recognise that the original concept of vegetarianism was in fact a 100% plant diet:
                http://www.ivu.org/history/vegetarian.html

                I have never considered myself a vegan because I still have leather shoes and belts etc,woolen clothes and so on. However, I now share vegans’ ethical and environmental concerns although I came to this position, like you, primarily because of the health benefits of a vegetarian diet..
                .




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                1. I think vegetarian is a very misunderstood word. Some of my friends thought it mean it was a person who did not eat beef and lots of people would ask if I ate chicken or fish. Although meant people would go through the list of all animal products when I would say, I don’t eat any animal products. Even when I would say if it has s face or a mother I won’t eat it. Some would continue on, add if it were a word game, “do you eat _____?” Filling in blank with an animal product.

                  Anyway, good to hear from you.




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                2. That’s interesting. For what I have gathered, the term “vegetarian” used to be a definition for people who didn’t have any animal foods. Furthermore, it seems that, at points, it was even considered for people who opposed animal abuse, vegetarians from ethical reasons, making them more of what we now know as “vegans” (regardless the personal -and incorrect- definition some people want to give to this term).

                  However, it seems that certain “vegetarians” decided to add eggs, dairy, or even fish to their diets. Thus, creating confusion and the spawning of new terms (ovo-lacto-vegetarian, pescetarian, etc.). So, unfortunately, nowadays, many so-called vegetarians are basically flexitarians of sorts.

                  It is exactly what is happening to veganism, unfortunately. People who don’t seem to be aware of the real definition of the term are calling themselves “vegans”, which is simply confusing and, well, wrong. This is why concepts end up twisted and even mocked. Pity. If people considered objectivity a bit more instead of wanting to be mostly “me, me, me”, perhaps we could still use the term “vegetarian” as it was first intended, and a new word (“vegan”) didn’t have to be created, which it’ll have to also be replaced, eventually, or so it seems, because so many people call themselves vegans without actually knowing what the term really means.

                  What a world.




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              3. The reason why honey is not vegan is not because you take food from the bees, but because of the amount of bees killed in the process, when it’s not necessary for humans to consume honey. There’s not such thing as profiting from a living creature in a sustainable way for the party being used.




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    2. A quick reply for whole food is that some people may drink orange or apple juice thinking that they have consumed fruits when they need to eat the whole orange or apple (with skin and everything when possible). Now for the details of your diet, I will look at it later and offer my 2 cents, because I just read meat and milk and a lot of people here will frown at it :) I am not advocating any lifestyles because it’s your choice but I only discuss from a scientific point of view.




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      1. I consume juice without its fiber very, very rarely. But if anyone tells me I can’t have a cup of hot spiced cider during my traditional annual trip to the apple orchard with my friends, heads will roll!




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        1. Consuming anything occasionally for social life is OK. People often miss this and think you have to have an austere life in order to be healthy and it is completely wrong. It’s quite the opposite though as your mental health is more important than anything.

          I was only talking about people who drink fruit juice every day.




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          1. I was just joking about the decapitation thing. My inner aggression is only unleashed upon barbells in the weight room. Regarding mental health, I am susceptible to depression and have found exercise to be the best medicine for it thus far. Nutritional deficiencies are also implicated in depression. For example, chromium deficiency. Broccoli is a super duper source of chromium. Unlike George Bush senior, I will eat broccoli, and lots of it!




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            1. Cure for depression includes:

              Supplements:

              – (Fish) Omega-3 oil
              – CoQ10
              – Magnesium
              – Melatonin

              Foods:

              – Celery and parsley

              Exercise




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              1. Hahaha. Jimmy, it seems that you are my nemesis of sorts here =P

                Firstly, can you provide sources for your claims? Scientific studies. Randomized double blind at least would be best.

                Secondly, fish oil?? Really??? Did you actually watch the videos on this website regarding what studies found on the high toxicity of fish products??

                Omega 3 can be better obtained from plant sources (such as Flax seeds), and converted to long chains by the body. Even long chains can be obtained from plants! Micro-algae ;) No crazy contaminants there. No animal suffering and death ;)))

                It’s all on this website, man.




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    3. Whole food plant based-
      In my understanding refers to only fruits, vegetables, intact wholegrains (brown rice, quinoa) or those with minimal processing (such as steel cut oats), legumes, nuts and seeds. It is generally inferred this is 100% of the diet.

      Plant-based-
      I believe extends to a more McDougall approach, with some refining (wholegrain bread and pasta) and some additives such as salt, sugar (as condiments) allowed.
      I believe the terms are used to distinguish from a ‘vegan’ diet that incorporates all kinds of refined oils/sugars/processed food that is devoid of animal products (such as say oreos). I also feel that one who say eats turkey only on christmas, and wears leather/wool, can use this definition.

      I believe the terms are used as an optimal approach (minimal to no animal foods, no oil, minimal salt/sugar/refined foods), however everyone is encouraged to just eat more plants, regardless of where they currently are on the spectrum from SAD to WFPB/SOS-free. As evidenced in the Adventist Health studies, almost every condition of health improves step-wise as the amount of animal products reduces, and as this website aims to present what’s optimal- that’s currently pushing for more legumes, wholegrain, fruits and vegetables- then one can extrapolate that it seems 100% WFPB is ‘optimal’, but as evidenced by Okinawa and other Blue-Zone studies, minimal (but not zero) consumption works significantly better than the general population too. The issue? Not many long term studies on 100% WFPB, so for a website that presents only science-based peer-reviewed literature… the answer is not yet available…

      I totally appreciate where you are coming from though!




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        1. That is a dangerously erroneous opinion; I have been consuming unrefined salt for many years. And I have participated in several studies; and my biological data is superb, superseding 20 year old athletes in experimental comparisons. My skin and AGE product levels were at the range of those who are 16-17, while I was 30. The researchers were practically astonished. If you think because I include miso and other unrefined salt products in my diet that I am not getting significant benefits from my fruits, herb and vegtable based diet; than you are severely misinformed…




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      1. To my knowledge, there are no longitudinal studies pitting a whole-food-plant-EXCLUSIVE diet against a whole-food-plant-BASED diet that derives 5% of calories from animal products. As I continue reading the new Blue Zones book, it seems that in the world’s longest lived populations, about 5% of calories are derived from animal products. Whether those people live longer because of this 5% or despite this 5% remains a mystery.

        Perhaps whole-food-plant-exclusive would be a good phrase to separate the dietary aspect of veganism from the non-dietary aspects of veganism. It’s my opinion that it is indeed appropriate to claim to adhere to a whole-food-plant-based diet if one limits their animal product consumption to 5% of caloric intake. The words “based” and “exclusive” have different definitions.




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      2. Love your response NFmoderatorRenae! As a dietitian, I know plenty of “vegans” who have terrible, unhealthy diets. French fries and salad, popcorn, vegan “cheeze”, and vegan junk food. Yuck. I have sadly met many malnourished vegans who have not eaten the right combination of all WHOLE unprocessed forms of foods, of course excluding animal products. Whole foods are as close to the food form as possible – with minimal processing. Brown Rice (is processed) but considered a whole food, as is quinoa, as is tofu and tempeh. So I agree, moving away from SAD and moving strongly (or even gently) to a plant based diet which does not rely on processed plant based foods (here’s another example: vegetable tempura- although I love that!) is aligned with research demonstrating health benefits.




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        1. Thanks Lisa! I agree! When I was younger as a vegan it was pretty much grains, veggies and fruit! Now there is a million cafes and processed ‘vegan’ junk!




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        2. I agree. Veganism could be much more respected if vegans took better care of themselves.

          I do know that many vegans have more respect and interest in the well-being of non-humans than themselves, so there are some who will not support certain things just for their own sake. I used to be like that a lot. I am, still, in many ways. Although I learned that showing how fit and healthy you are is a great way of promoting veganism. Sick people don’t really attract positive attention, regardless how their intentions and actions help non-human animals.




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    4. Hi BenzoSt.

      I feel obligated to weigh in seeing my post name. Originally I was Veganrunner. But then I bought a magazine from Wholefoods called Vegan. After read through I decided I needed to make a change. Because…..I wear leather. And the people involved in that magazine had a much different motivation.They had articles on horseback riding and if that was ethical etc. Contributors had given away leather jackets for example. I absolutely appreciate where they were coming from but I felt I wasn’t using the word as ethical vegans intended. Thus–WFPBRunner.

      I eat no animal and no processed foods. So WFPB is the correct term as people who use the word intend it. (Us crazies)




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      1. Even if I try another 3 or 4 month strict vegetarian diet, I couldn’t declare myself vegan for a different reason:

        Scientific research and preclinical trials for drugs and biologics (like vaccines) legally mandate animal testing. Much of what we know about biology and psychology were learned by experimenting upon, dissecting, and vivisecting animals. Just as the vast consensus among scientists is that climate change is real and exacerbated profoundly by human activity, there is vast consensus among scientists that animal experimentation is absolutely essential for biomedical research and drug development, and that a human life is inherently more valuable than the lives of lab animals. I predict this will cease to be the case in a few decades when biology and biochemistry can accurately be simulated via computers, but until then we need to use animals as a resource – not for acquiring calories, but for acquiring knowledge.




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        1. BenzoSt: The legal mandates for animal testing are starting to change – and rightly so as they cause more harm than good. Computer models have come so far that they already do a better job than animal testing. Below is the information that I typically share with people when this topic comes up.
          .

          As for: “A human life is inherently more valuable than the lives of lab animals.” That is highly debatable and a personal opinion.
          .

          ********************************
          I used to think that animal testing in medical research was a sad necessity if we wanted to continue making progress in human medicine. Thanks to the Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM), I have since learned that this is far from the truth. Guess how many drugs/studies show promise in animal testing, but fail for humans? The majority! Which leads to the obvious reverse question: How many drugs/medical fixes do we miss because we only test them on non-human animals? Are there other methods that are more effective? Is this blurb over-stating the flaws of non-human animal testing? You be the judge. Check out some of the latest information:
          .
          **********************
          Modern Methods Should Replace Animal Experiments for Medical Progress
          .
          …..In addition to the obvious arguments about ethics, a new commentary published by NPR details some of the less well known ethical problems with animal experimentation, such as poor translation between animal data and the human experience.
          …..Garner S. The ‘necessity’ of animal research does not mean it’s ethical. NPR. February 14, 2016. http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2016/02/14/464265210/the-necessity-of-animal-research-does-not-mean-it-s-ethical.
          .
          **********************
          Congress Passes Law To Reduce Animal Testing And Improve Chemical Safety
          .
          Read comments from the Physicians Committee’s Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., in The Washington Post: ““We lack information on many chemicals and how they affect a diverse human population, because we rely too heavily on slow, unreliable, and expensive animal tests,” Kristie Sullivan, a toxicity expert at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said in a statement. The legislation “will ensure strong protection of human health and the environment by modernizing toxicity test methods, allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to collect better information more quickly.”
          https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/sweeping-overhaul-of-nations-chemical-safety-laws-clears-final-legislative-hurdle/2016/06/07/85df0654-2cc2-11e6-9de3-6e6e7a14000c_story.html
          .
          **********************
          Tox21 Tests 10,000 Chemicals without Animals
          .
          The U.S. government’s Tox21 program, which uses robotics for large-scale in vitro toxicity screening of chemicals, recently tested 10,000 chemicals and concluded that in vitro test data performed better than animal tests in predicting human toxicity, according to a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications. The authors say that toxicity testing conducted using animal models is expensive and that it is often difficult to extrapolate the test results to human health effect because of species differences.
          .
          Huang R, Xia M, Sakamuru S, et al. Modelling the Tox21 10 K chemical profiles for in vivo toxicity prediction and mechanism characterization. Nat Commun. Published online January 26, 2016.
          .
          **********************
          Innovative Technology Identifies Heart Toxicity Without Using Animals
          .
          University of Toronto engineers developed laboratory-grown heart tissues that mimic actual human heart tissues. TARA Biosystems now offers the innovative technology known as Biowire, to test heart toxicity for pharmaceutical companies. Engineers microfabricated the Biowire platform by creating innovative scaffolds for the cells to grow on, seeding the cells, and using electrical currents to stimulate the heartbeat, in order to train the cells to behave as they would in a human. This existing human biology-based technology seeks to identify negative human effects early in development and eliminate animal testing for heart toxicity.
          .
          Irving T. Lab-grown heart cells to improve drug safety. U of T Engineering News. http://news.engineering.utoronto.ca/lab-grown-heart-cells-to-improve-drug-safety/. Accessed February 22, 2016.
          .
          **********************
          Also from PCRM:
          .
          Preclinical experiments on chimpanzees and other animals failed to predict a death and injuries in a recent drug trial. Physicians Committee experts explain in Independent Science News and The Hill why animal experiments don’t work and why the FDA should accept human-focused tests.
          .
          …..——-
          Animal Test Details Emerge in French Drug Trial Death
          .
          …..A new report details how preclinical drug experiments on animals failed to predict the death of one man and the hospitalizations of others in a Phase 1 clinical trial in France in January.
          .
          …..Rats, mice, dogs, and monkeys were all used in the preclinical toxicity tests, but “no ill-effects were noted in the animals, despite doses 400 times stronger than those given to the human volunteers,” according to the Agence France-Presse. In the affected human patients, the drug had “astonishing and unprecedented” reaction in the brain that was “unlike anything seen before.”
          .
          …..Learn more about the issue in “FDA: Accept human-focused preclinical tests to improve drug safety,” a new blog by Elizabeth Baker, Esq., the Physicians Committee’s senior science policy specialist for toxicology and regulatory testing.
          .
          AFP. ‘Unprecedented’ brain reaction caused French drug trial death: experts. http://news.yahoo.com/unprecedented-brain-reaction-caused-french-drug-trial-death-203314931.html?nf=1http://news.yahoo.com/unprecedented-brain-reaction-caused-french-drug-trial-death-203314931.html?nf=1.
          .
          **********************
          To learn more about the dangers of relying on animals for human drug testing and how modern technologies can stop the next pharmaceutical catastrophe, read Averting Drug Disasters (http://www.pcrm.org/media/good-medicine) in the latest issue of Good Medicine magazine.
          .
          Bisserbe N. Drug’s toxicity caused clinical-trial death, panel says. http://www.wsj.com/articles/drugs-toxicity-caused-clinical-trial-death-p…. Accessed April 25, 2016.




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          1. My introduction to the necessity of animal experimentation was first made while reading of my Neuroanatomy college textbook, Neuroanatomy Exploring the Brain 3rd edition by Mark Bear. Chapter 1 included a brief summary of the use of animals in neuroscientific research and differentiated between animal welfare and animal rights.

            This was reinforced when I took graduate level classes in FDA Regulatory Affairs and Drug Development. In vivo toxicity testing as a part of pre-clinical research in at least 2 mammalian species is mandated by the FDA prior to moving a prospective drug to phase 1 clinical trials. By this point it is usually demonstrated that a prospective drug will bind its target in vitro. But will it cause overt, unforeseen problems or death in vivo? Better to test in animals prior to testing in humans, at least according to what I have been told is the general consensus in the scientific community.

            After graduating with a degree in biomedical sciences from Salem State University (summa cum laude, yay for me), a recruiter from Charles River Labs came to my university looking for new prospective employees. This company performs pre-clinical work for potential drugs with experimental animals, and they also genetically engineer animals to manifest the equivalent of human diseases so they will have appropriate fodder for such experiments. He proclaimed that animal experimentation will ALWAYS be necessary. I think people equate the word “always” to “within my expected lifespan”, and right now I think a point in time will come when animal experimentation is not as accurate as computer-simulated human biology, and therefore animal experimentation will no longer be necessary or economically feasible. Given Thea’s response, this time is looks to be far more eminent than I had expected, which is great! This recruiter also claimed with tremendous confidence to be capable of beating in debate any vegan who questions the applicability or necessity of animal testing. That’s a debate I would like to see! I would do my best to observe with an open mind.

            Animals and humans are quite similar anatomically and physiologically. As far back as the ancient Roman empire, Galen made profound discoveries of anatomy and physiology through dissection and vivisection of animals. Much of what he learned was applicable to human anatomy and physiology.

            However, humans and animals are not identical, and what is accepted even in the scientific community, a community that supposedly values skepticism, can persist despite being untrue. Dr. Greger makes the analogy to how doctors used to regard smoking as harmless or even healthy. Similarly, it wasn’t until the Enlightenment period when Andreas Vesalius discovered that some of Galen’s proclamations, which were until then blindly accepted as true, were in fact false. This is because Galen drew his conclusions by slicing and dicing animals, and humans don’t slice and dice exactly the same way. Similarly, drugs often affect animals differently than humans.

            A modern example of interest to me was a monoclonal antibody (forgot its name) that was developed that broke up amyloid plaques in demented lab mice. In these mice, dementia was reversed. But when the antibody was tried in people, it caused meningitis – in some cases fatal – so the clinical trial was halted. But this still served as proof of principle that an antibody could be crafted to attack beta amyloid plaques and thereby treat Alzheimer’s disease. I think that a recent antibody called solanezumab did better than prior treatments in treating Alzheimer’s. But unfortunately, much like existing treatments, it just delays the inevitable. But at least progress is being made, and that progress was started with lab animals.

            Also, I was introduced to the websites Quackwatch.org and ncahf.org by my college professor for A&P, Basic Nutrition, Pathology, and Neuroanatomy (he was such a challenging but fair teacher that I deliberately took as many courses as I could under him). On Quackwatch, I found two articles talking smack about PCRM: http://www.ncahf.org/articles/o-r/pcrm.html and http://www.ncahf.org/articles/o-r/pcrm.html . Although I think the diet recommended by Neal Barnard of PCRM is a profound step up from the SAD diet or the diet recommended by the 2015 USDA dietary guidelines, I am still dubious of Neal Barnard and PCRM. Intuitively, I am most swayed by nutritional advice that is unbiased by concern for animal welfare or the supposed deliciousness of foods like bacon. Whereas Neal Barnard might have his views distorted by concern for animals, the aforementioned recruiter from Charles River Labs might have his views distorted by his involvement in a company based upon animal research.

            In any scientific endeavor, we must ideally be able to rid ourselves of our emotional baggage and personal ambitions that can distort our rational thinking. That’s hard to do! As many videos on this website have shown, conflict of interest frequently sways the design and conclusions drawn from experiments. I came to the epiphany that money doesn’t merely make the world go round… it dictates the natural laws of the physical universe!




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            1. BenzoSt: It isn’t about PCRM in any way. If you look at my post above, you will see that congress passed a law saying that in at least one area, we can’t use animals to experiment on. They didn’t do that for the animals. They did that because the computer models give us better results. And that’s the point. That’s where we are quickly going.




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              1. The article that details this recent legal decision was the Washington Post article titled “Sweeping overhaul of nation’s chemical-safety laws clears final legislative hurdle”. It states that this new law will “severely limit the testing of chemicals on animals”. This particular article didn’t elaborate upon what sorts of tests will replace animal testing.

                The next bit of information about the GOVERNMENT’s Tox21 program is probably the sort of testing that wasn’t elaborated upon by the Washington Post article.

                It makes intuitive sense to me that it’s more accurate to test chemicals on human tissue in-vitro than it is to test them in animals in-vivo. But what if it’s not the chemical in question that is toxic, but rather metabolites of that chemical? In this case, we would probably need a way to determine and isolate those metabolites as well so they can likewise be tested in-vitro. Since most of metabolism occurs in the liver, growing human liver cells in-vitro to manufacture metabolites of chemicals and drugs seems like an important step in truly eliminating the need for animal experimentation.

                I like the idea that we are going away from experimenting on animals. I hope to pursure research in cell biology professionally, and prefer working with reliable computers to working with finicky organisms.




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            2. “In any scientific endeavor, we must ideally be able to rid ourselves of
              our emotional baggage and personal ambitions that can distort our
              rational thinking.” – That way of thinking could excuse any atrocity =) It could also avoid many others.

              It is interesting to see the successful ratio of animal testing compared to human trial. We can see the amount of lawsuits served to big pharma for the disabilities and deaths caused by drugs tested on non-humans and considered “safe”.

              It seems to me that animal testing is more about legal liability than anything else

              Furthermore, we could also argue why, if indeed, the life of a human is in any way more valuable than the life of a non-human. In fact, we could argue if life itself can be given such a value at all, objectively.

              Moreover, as humans, we inevitable seem to fall under “humanistic” views, while disregarding the constant negative impact of humanity upon this planet; it is enlightening to think about what would happen to Earth’s ecosystem if the human species disappeared, opposing to what would happen if any other number of non-human species disappeared.




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    5. Hi BenzoSt, I agree with you that we need to define “plant food” a little bit better. I think it should be called “excessive and a variety of plant foods, and I may add also “international plant foods”. Why?

      Because the typical American will eat a salad dish composed of lettuce, a few slices of tomato, cucumber, some spinach, broccoli, carrot, etc. Unfortunately it’s not enough and a lot nutrients from these vegetables are no absorbable when you don’t cook or blend raw or simply eat a lot.
      People who eat like this will live to let say 70, 80 year of age and will be sick of heart disease, or cancer, Alzheimer, etc. in the last few years of their life. Sure they will live to 70, 80 somewhat healthy for most of their life.

      Now to extend life to 90 and beyond and disease free, you have to eat at the minimum the Daily Dozen as prescribed by Dr Greger. Which means eating a lot of plant foods that are composed of a more variety of foods not eaten normally by the typical American as described in the following article:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3470450/Foods-eat-day-Dr-Michael-Greger-s-Daily-Dozen.html

      What we do is to eat the most healthy foods that the world eat. I even go beyond the daily dozen and eat foods such as mushroom, seaweed, miso, tropical fruits and vegetables, variety of herbs, etc.

      And last but not least, the emphasis is too much on what we should not eat or avoid, than what we should eat. What I mean is what we didn’t eat kills us more than what we should not eat in the first place. For instance a lot of population in the world lives in areas that are more polluted than us, or they eat meat and seafoods, drink, but they eat a lot of other foods that American don’t normally eat such as mushroom, fermented foods, herbs, beans, root vegetables, etc. and they have long and healthy life. Because those are the foods that prevent diseases.

      But we seem to be more obsessed with what we should avoid because they are poison and forget what we should eat.




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      1. Actually it seems that people who make it to age 90 or 100 don’t deliberately practice optimal nutrition. They are just fortunate enough to have enough gene alleles that favor longevity. Since I don’t have knowledge of my own genetic code, what am I to do? Obey the daily dozen (or more honestly, the annual 4,380 because although I may not eat a serving of berries every day, I occasionally splurge on 1-1.5 pounds of frozen berries in a single meal). And what if I pay for a full genome sequencing a few years from now? Irrespective of the results, continue to obey the daily dozen unless I have some deviant gene(s) that dictate that a specific food(s) that is healthy for most people is unhealthy for me. For now, I eat beyond the daily dozen as you do, although I really don’t enjoy seaweed.




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        1. It’s not so much genetic though.

          http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2011/11/17/142457598/90-is-the-new-85-oldest-old-population-is-expanding-rapidly

          We applied “eating a lot of plant foods” to my Dad who is 95 year old now 5 years ago when he was 90 and he is still going strong, so diet works at any age.

          And last, one thing about all the health doctors, is that there is so much emphasis about avoiding this and that rather than not eating beneficial foods which is the main reason behind a lot of diseases. A lot of people eat a meager dish of salad and thinking that they are vegan and eat a WFPF diet and so it must be OK when it is not. I see so many people at my workplace who seemingly eat healthy but they come down with cancer and heart diseases.




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          1. According to a book I read recently titled Spring Chicken by Bill Gifford, it seems that whether or not a person lives to be a centenarian is statistically more dependent on that person’s genes than to their lifestyle. Most centenarians are not health nuts, they’re just fortunate, content, and well educated. I have come across the same information in many science magazine articles and video documentaries. Nevertheless, it would be foolish for anyone to not emphasize eating very large amounts of whole fruits and vegetables, plus nuts, beans, and whole grains, while drastically reducing refined flour, sugar, oils, and meats (especially feedlot variety). Although the SAD is catastrophic for health, cancer and heart disease may also be made more prevalent by improvements against infectious disease. This is empowering because it means our health is more so our own responsibility. But most of the American populace is unenlightened as to what is actually healthy, and even worse, it’s so much cheaper and more convenient to get a day’s worth of calories from pizza, cola, and chips than it is to buy fresh produce and beans and prepare salads and soups and stews at home.




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            1. Well if you go by a few individuals then yes luck and gene can play a role in longevity. But if you go by statistics then Okinawan, people living in certain region of Italy, Seventh Day Adventist, etc. seems to have a long life. So because there are a lot of people, you cannot say that it is luck or gene.

              Logically, I think there are only 3 reasons why people die:

              – Get a fatal disease such as heart or cancer disease
              – DNA damage or cells stop reproducing
              – Accident

              If you eliminate the 3rd cause which you cannot completely control then the other 2 remaining causes can be controlled.

              Without making a very long post and lecture, there are foods and supplements that can prevent all diseases and DNA damage, prolong telomeres, keep cells alive so that they will continue to reproduce.

              So if there is no reason to die then you cannot die :) But eventually human cells will stop reproducing someday and a human has to die. But you can delay this process.




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    6. Hi. I went into a book store recently and all the whole food books weren’t plant based……..ouch…. i felt that the term had been hijacked. However, i can’t think of anything better. i work as an intuitive healer and i work with food precisely because of the amount of people affected by food related disease. what is the point of working with energy if we are not concerned with the types of energy we take in every day and the type of energy that effects the planet, not to mention how we treat the animals. However i also work in a world of freewill and attachment to high calorie foods including meats. i have clients ranging from raw food vegans to butchers and 80 year olds that wonder how they are going to negotiate christmas. Some of my clients transition to vegan and others are cheating vegans. I usually try and clear energy around addictions, binge eating and other things that might interfere with healthy choices. it is a complex world and people are complex in their behaviours. Even though i would describe myself as vegan, I can’t instantly change my clients or even have expectations that they will change. Sometimes this isn’t popular. For instance i was working with a young women with problems talking and I’m saying 80% of the issue is diet. Unfortunately she would have preferred to have emotional problems than become vegan.

      Even though the China study isn’t 100% plant based, Colin Campbell would acknowledge that it is difficult for people to not have too many animal products if you include any in the diet. Anything that plays with peoples minds and creates cravings for unhealthy foods are best to not have or at least to not have in the house. I feel so much happier when people chose to be 100% plant based because it is such a clear line in the sand. i think that most people hear would define WFPB as being 100% and not including unhealthy food while allowing for the movement towards more plant based




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      1. What do you mean by energy? Can it be quantified, or is it something that is nebulous and subjective? In physics class, we learned about potential energy, kinetic energy, heat energy, and measured energy in units such as joules, watts, etc. To be honest, my academic background is biology, and Newtonian physics didn’t interest me nearly as much as such classes as cell biology, anatomy and physiology, or neurobiology.

        Regarding habits, it seems that most of human behavior is dictated by automatic, subconscious decisions and habits. Forming habits, especially good ones, is challenging for typically the first 3-6 weeks, but thereafter become easy and automatic. For me personally, choosing to consume fish twice a week is due to the advice of such organizations as Harvard Medical School and Tufts School of Nutrition. Fish tastes alright, by I’m not addicted to it at all. Plain yogurt, on the other hand, is mildly addictive so I buy it in small containers and deliberately limit myself. According to a relatively recent meta analysis by the BMJ, it seems that fermented dairy products are healthy, but plain milk is not.




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        1. Nebulous sounds stellar and parti f the mystery of life which is just difficult to quantify while subjective can take into consideration individuality. For some it means attachment to particular ideas and for other a closer connection to the divine and one’s own truth Glad you’re not finding fish addictive but healthy is another question especially since we want to use the ocean as a dump. the energy of a fish sure isn’t happy about being caught in nets, swimming in shit ponds or swinging from a hook. Eating fish doesn’t seem all that good for the intelligence of the human race either……Perhaps have a look at Dr Gregers videos on the subject. The deforestation of the ocean is mind boggling.




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    7. Oh no, not nomenclature wars! ;-) But oh well, I’m game.

      When I hear the words Whole-food/Plant-based or WFPB for short, I think of an eating pattern that is strongly centered around whole (or at most very minimally processed) plant foods and that minimizes animal food and highly refined plant foods to at most occasional feature of the diet constituting a few percent (10% at most, IMHO) of calories. A pure WFPB diet would not have any animal foods or highly refined plant foods (as opposed to a pure vegetarian which makes no distinction between whole and highly processed plant foods). I would guess that very few here actually achieve following a pure WFPB diet, though there are likely more than a few pure vegetarians. The key to me is where is the focus. As such a WFPB diet is a target with pure WFPB at the center and rings of declining compliance around it. So all of the groups you listed in my opinion follow a WFPB diet since strongly centered on a diet of whole plant foods with animal and refined plant foods as at most an occasional aspect of the diet representing a very small percent of calories. It does get tough to draw a bright line to distinguish those following a WFPB diet and those who just eat a lot of whole plant foods along with especially regular animal derived foods.

      One additional bit of nomeclature is that a person following even a pure WFPB diet is not identical to being a vegan. Veganism is an entire lifestyle and extends past diet to include all aspects of a persons life that causes harm and suffering to non-human sentient animals. For this reason vegans don’t wear leather, fur or wool. Some don’t go to zoos or animal parks like Sea World due to the fact they keep sentient animals in captivity, often in deplorable conditions. And other vegans don’t purchase plant products like palm kernel oil that causes directly or indirectly causes suffering and death of many animals not to mention entire ecosystems.

      It is for this reason that I feel there needs to be a term that clearly identifies someone who follows a dietary practice of eating whole plant foods and greatly minimizing/eliminating all others foods to the greatest extent possible.




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    8. What about these?… simple and clear…. Smealthy (smart and healthy), Smerbal (smart and herbal), Hutrient (human and nutrient), Vitrition (vitality and nutrition), Librant (life and vibrant), Complition (complete and nutrition)….




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  4. I just want to say again that my grandfather, Nathan Pritikin, would be so proud of your work. Thank you for your clarion service to humanity.




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    1. Wow… Just wanted to say your grandfather was an amazing man and one of the few who changed my parents (and hence my) life. We owe him our good health!




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    2. As a research engineer I am committed to following the data regardless of where it leads on all aspects, not just in my field of research. As an practical engineer, your grandfather showed sometimes a fierce intellect and a dogged pursuit of the truth can take a person as far or even further in an unrelated field than even those with all the right degrees. That gives me confidence that even though my degrees aren’t in biochemistry or human nutrition I can use the same approach to distinguish and keep the grains of truth and discard chaff of confusion that swirls around the topic of nutrition. Not that advanced degrees in human health sciences aren’t important, but they aren’t guarantors of a commitment to follow the data regardless of where it leads. So hats off to your Granddad!




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    1. That was from the early 2000s. His current daily recommendation is 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds and 250 mg algae based DHA/EPA. Avoid oils.




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    2. Dr Greger has an upcoming video on DHA and brain health and I am looking to see it.

      For Omega3 to 6 ratio, it is suggested to be 4 to 1. Note that some plant foods such as peanut are full of Omega 6 and none Omega-3 so it is not just processed foods that have Omega-6.




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  5. Love your work Dr. Greger but I feel like these year in review talks are all the same. How about something more obscure next year? An entire talk on environmental toxins would be neat.




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    1. Dr Greger seems to stay away from things that are not conclusive such as saying that GMO food is definitively bad although he suggested that foods should be labeled as GMO so that people can have a choice. So in a sense, when Dr Greger says that something is good then it’s definitively good in his opinion, or definitively bad in his opinion. But there are other nutritionists who throw the wrench at everything including vaccines, cell phone, etc.It’s good to read all sides but you need to weed out what is and what is not.




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  6. For many years I have searched the internet for nutrition info….. there is an extremely large amount of BS, but very little NON BIASED
    SCIENCE BASED info that can be TRUSTED for INTEGRITY/HONESTY.

    Dr. Michael Greger should win a Nobel prize for presenting Nutrition info in an understandable way, that will ultimately change how the world consumes food.




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  7. Dr. Greger: Wonderful presentation. I have been fortunate to hear you speak live twice and will again at the Remedy Conference this fall in Atlanta. You present the research with an uncompromising and entertaining approach that makes us want to learn more! I agree with Dr. McDougall. I could listen to you and learn from you for hours.




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  8. Lets do that study proving that you can or cannot reverse cancer / disease with a plant based diet that is talked about at the end of the video. Then lets do a forks over knives sequel in a concise and irrefutable manner to distribute the new information to be visually digestible for the public.
    Let’s get it done! How can we make it happen? What is the number needed to achieve it? And where do we donate?
    The people must become “big broccoli”.




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    1. I don’t expect to see that nutrition can cure 100% of cancer for instance but there are some health doctors who strongly advocate absolutely no chemo when one has cancer because it can be cured with detox and nutrition alone, but there is no statistics to prove it. So let say I got cancer someday, should I have chemo or should I rely on nutrition alone? I don’t expect 100% success for any method but some health doctors are suggesting that chemo is harmful (we already know this) and should be avoided 100%. Is this a prudent thing to do? Knowing that Dr Greger only says good when it’s absolutely good, I like to hear his opinion on chemo.




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      1. Chemotherapy is also evidence based medicine. It would fall out of favor if there weren’t survival benefits (however small, in some cases).

        Oasis of Hope is a integrative cancer clinic in Mexico that puts all patients on whole plant based diets. Its telling that most patients opt to combine this with conventional chemotherapy. The rationale for their treatment protocols is presented in this book.




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        1. I have heard about this clinic and also watch the videos of the guys at Truth About Cancer. Again, there are a lot of claims but no statistics to prove anything. And the Truth About Cancer videos have both quack doctors and more reasonable ones who only talked about nutrition. I know that chemo is not good but how about the alternatives, are there some statistics to prove they are better? Right now, we only talk about lifestyles to prevent cancer but once one gets it then what is the methods to cure it?




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          1. Judging by the Oasis of Hope’s survival statistics, many of their patients are on their last ropes with stage IV malignancies. They’re not getting the wait and watch prostate cancers. The pity is that we don’t have studies on Stage I and II patients and post surgical whole plant based diets.




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            1. Personally, I will combine conventional chemotherapy and nutrition myself and this is true for any disease. It’s perfectly logical to do so and there is nothing to lose and no side effect. I am just questioning about the claims when they said it’s almost 100% successful or even 50% successful. Where are the statistics to back this up? I would say that a lot of people will speak up and attest to the the success of natural therapy but all I hear is like that boy Chris has cancer who seems like a charlatan who only interested to make speeches and seminars for money. I doubt that he has cancer in the first place.




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              1. I recently attended a talk given by T. Colin Campbell and afterwards asked him about John Kelly’s book “Don’t Feed Your Cancer”. In it Dr. Kelly had some anecdotal stories of his patients (he’s a GP) who overcame their cancer by eating 100% whole food plant based diets. He related that as soon as they went back to their standard diets, the cancer returned. If they resumed eating wfpb 100%, the cancer regressed and they were healthy. Dr. Campbell admitted that this wasn’t true evidence but he said that studies were being undertaken on eating wfpb in humans. I am hoping these studies will show how most cancers can be beaten with a change in diet. I don’t know if it all cancers can be helped – Dr. Kelly claims that pancreatic and stomach cancers are resistant to wfpb diets – but it would be hugely important research and would address your concerns of whether or not there are any statistics/research regarding cancer and wfpb diet.




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              2. I recently attended a talk given by T. Colin Campbell and afterwards asked him about John Kelly’s book “Don’t Feed Your Cancer”. In it Dr. Kelly had some anecdotal stories of his patients (he’s a GP) who overcame their cancer by eating 100% whole food plant based diets. He related that as soon as they went back to their standard diets, the cancer returned. If they resumed eating wfpb 100%, the cancer regressed and they were healthy. Dr. Campbell admitted that this wasn’t true evidence but he said that studies were being undertaken on the effect of eating wfpb in humans with cancer. I am hoping these studies will show how most cancers can be beaten with a change in diet. I don’t know if it all cancers can be helped – Dr. Kelly claims that pancreatic and stomach cancers are resistant to wfpb diets – but it would be hugely important research and would address your concerns of whether or not there are any statistics/research regarding cancer and wfpb diet.




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                1. I am convinced that a whole food plant based diet to the point of being excessive (I don’t think that many of our ancestors eat this much :)) is what it takes to combat cancer. In fact this should be maintained even while we are still healthy let alone while one had cancer. It’s not like a drug when one takes it while being sick and stops when it’s cured.

                  I made a long post in another thread that in order to fight diseases or cancer, one has to eat an excessive amount of a variety of plant foods. Why? Because for instance the Daily Dozen list of foods that Dr Greger created is based on evidence that certain types of food prevent and fight certain diseases and you have to eat enough of it to make it effective. Dr Greger created this list as the minimum for the common good of everyone because not everyone is willing to eat this much and with a variety of plant foods. But just like the RDA from the FDA, you want to go beyond this. So I read Dr Greger and read other health doctors as well and pick up which food is beneficial for what disease and eat beyond the Daily Dozen. For instance I eat regularly a lot of mushrooms, I eat a lot of probiotics and fermented foods, sprout, herbs, etc. these are not spelled out clearly in the Daily Dozen although Dr Greger did talk about their benefits in numerous videos. But like I said above, the Daily Dozen was created for the common good of people and you cannot make it too complicated and not too many people can follow.

                  We have the luxury today that nutrition science has advanced enough plus the world has come together through the Internet that we know what certain culture eat which foods that are beneficial to health, and if you can afford then we should eat them. But just simply say that you eat a WFPB diet may not be enough. Take for instance, if someone eats a dish of vegetables per day composed of lettuce, few slices of tomato, cucumber, is that enough? Sure it is WFPB too by definition but we know that it is clearly inadequate.

                  Back to the subject of numerous doctors / nutritionist / web sites that rule out conventional treatment for some serious diseases such as cancer then I think it is irresponsible unless they have clear scientific evidence and statistics to back it up. My take is that one should have conventional medical treatment and at the same time follow a WFPB diet, and I mean excessive WFPB diet. But doing one without the other is not OK.




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  9. lets start with the Kick start idea! is just GREAT. and the first of many other research that can be found with a genuine interest to know the truth and improve life.




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        1. You are cracking me up tonight!
          .
          But in all seriousness ;-) , I hear there are 3 hidden messages in the talk. You have found one. The first person to find all three gets a gold plated Daily Dozen plaque.




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  10. First of all THANK YOU Dr. Greger!

    I have a question about vitamin B12:

    Are we able to absorb B12 by walking bear feet on the grass?

    I’m asking that because as fare as I know the biggest pores in human body are on our feet.




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    1. Nope I don’t think so. First of all, VIT B12 is bacteria based and is created in the intestine and so bacteria cannot crawl from your feet to your stomach. Secondly, bacteria cannot penetrate the skin except bad ones can create some infections on the skin itself, or otherwise our ancestors or people who walk barefeet will get all kind of diseases from bad bacteria. Even if you don’t walk barefeet then you can get through your hands if you work in dirty places or chemicals unprotected.




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      1. I respectfully disagree :)
        Vit B12 is best absorbed, as far as science shows, through the pores(skin) in the mouth, which are a bit smaller from the ones on the feet.
        So the b12 doesn’t have to go to the stomach in order support the bodily functions.
        But my question was more about whether exist a study about that – why the pores on the feet are so big and what they absorb including b12 probably!?!

        P.S. Sorry for my pore English!




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        1. From what I understand, Vit B12 is not like it is ready made but it is created inside the intestine with gut bacteria. Whether it is made inside the mouth also, I don’t know but it is still created by bacteria.

          Anyway back to the simple thing, why not take a little pill and get done with it :) But the consequences of not having enough B12 are dire and will negate a lot of benefits from eating plant foods.




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    1. That result, from this paper, looked at specifically at the outliers from the NHANES III study. In the 930 of 5820 (16%) who consumed high protein (> 20% E) diets, there were 73 times the rate of diabetes mortality as in the 449 (8%) who consumed low protein (< 10% E) diets. However, the 73 value isn't a terribly meaningful number, as there was only one diabetes death in the low protein group. The confidence interval (4.47-1209.7) gives a better idea of the likely (95%) range in which the actual risk would fall in a larger study.

      There are a number of plausible mechanisms by which low-protein diets would reduce metabolic disease, including reduced fat accumulation and oxidative stress, and increased insulin sensitivity, FGF 21 and adiponectin.




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      1. Higher protein also protects against osteoporosis and hemorrhagic stroke – the two Achilles’ heels (one for each leg) of a vegan diet.




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        1. I do not know why you think this is a problem for “vegan” diets. In fact the opposite seems to be the case.

          “The mean of red and animal meats as well as processed meat consumption showed higher level in stroke groups ……. High levels of non-essential amino acid contents of vegetable proteins such as arginine, glycine, alanine, and serine stimulate protein synthesis by increasing the insulin release.[34] While lower amounts of essential amino acids like methionine, lysine, and tryptophan can decrease the insulin release and its anabolic roles. The useful effects of plant protein sources in lowering the risk of stroke can be referred to the high amounts of fiber, magnesium, potassium, calcium and polyphenols on insulin resistance, blood pressure, and BMI. Insulin level associated with a high-risk features of metabolic syndrome and stroke.[35,36] Moreover, arginine contents of herbal protein can stimulate nitric oxide synthesis.[37,38]”
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3743320/

          “Elderly women with a high dietary ratio of animal to vegetable protein intake have more rapid femoral neck bone
          loss and a greater risk of hip fracture than do those with a low ratio. This suggests that an increase in vegetable protein intake and a decrease in animal protein intake may decrease bone loss and the risk of hip fracture.”
          http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/73/1/118.full.pdf




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        2. There aren’t many studies on veganism and osteoporosis. In this one on Taiwanese vegan nuns and omnivores, there was no advantage to protein intake on BMD loss, indeed animal protein intake was linked to increased loss at the femoral neck.

          In the general population, foods that increase risk of atherosclerosis and ischemic stroke (including saturated fat and animal protein) are linked to lower risk of hemorrhagic stroke (about 11% of all strokes, but usually more severe). However, there doesn’t seem to be much of a link (positive or negative) to plant protein intake in women or in men . There haven’t been studies on diet and hemorrhagic stroke risk in vegetarians, other than to indicate they’re at somewhat lower risk of all strokes combined.




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          1. Thanks Darryl – and Tom below – for your replies. To place my comments in context – I am a long time supporter of this site (including through financial contributions) and my partner have followed a WFPB diet for 5 years.

            You are right that any study that looks at all strokes combined is likely to find an advantage for vegetarian and vegan diets because ischemic stroke is more prevalent and saturated fat and animal protein tend to increase risk of ischemic stroke. So it is only hemorraghic stroke I am referring to and in that regard I am influenced by Mark McCarty’s article on this. He presents some persuasive evidence for the detrimental effects of low animal protein and sat fat on hemorraghic stroke independent of blood pressure – and he is vegan as you know. I think vegans have to be mindful of this because although hemorraghic stroke is relatively rare in the West, that is probably at least in part because of the higher consumption of animal protein and sat fat. In populations that have low or no consumption of animal protein and animal fat (ie, vegans) the relative proportion of hemorraghic stroke to ischemic may well be considerably higher. But we are unlikely to have a conclusive study on that any time soon.

            For osteoporosis – I agree that plant protein and plants offer many positive nutrients for bones. But in both the Epic and Adventist II studies vegans had higher fracture rates. Yes I know that in the Epic study it was only in those with low calcium intake, but a WFPB diet does tend to be lower in protein and calcium than the standard western diet. Tom – I know there are studies showing that animal protein appears more detrimental than plant protein for bone density but I suspect that is above a certain threshold of animal protein intake. The Adventist II study, which may be most informative for those following plant based diets because it includes sizeable populations of vegans/vegetarians, found that meat, legumes (but not soy) and meat analogues were all associated with reduced fracture risk (independently of each other). This positive effect of meat was in a population with relatively low meat consumption hence the idea of the threshold effect. I think the consensus now is that protein per se is good for bone.

            I am inevitably influenced by my and my (male) partner’s experience in relation to bone density. Four years into following a WFPB diet we had dexa scans and both of us were on the threshold for osteoporosis in the spine – we had a near identical result and this makes me look to our diet, especially since I had had an ultrasound 2 years prior to our shift to a WFPB diet that indicated I had very high bone density. Throughout our years on a WFPB diet I had been very particular about getting enough plant protein and calcium (and indeed all nutrients including B12) – we had 4-5 serves of legumes per day plus about 3 serves of nuts and lots of veges etc. Our protein intake was over 1g per kg of weight. In addition we have always been very physically active with weight bearing exercise. But we are both lean, and both lost a little weight with the diet change, and that was no doubt not helpful. Anyway this is not an issue for many people, but it would pay to keep an eye on your bone density and not assume that a healthy plant based diet will protect you from bone loss – although it is great for many things.




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        3. The only “Achilles heels” in a 100% plant based diet is the lack of B12. I take a B12 supplement weekly, and no problems. Also, this issue of high protein. Human breast milk is about 6% protein and is the best nourishment for babies in their first 6 months. Protein is present in all plant foods, and as long as we’re eating enough calories we are getting more than enough protein.




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  11. My 2 cents: For those of us who have been following Dr. Greger for a length of time, there is nothing new in this video. (Except maybe one joke?) But I would say that this video truly is a great compilation of the most compelling pieces of the other summary videos. The talk title is a good way to help to continue to sell the book *and* it gives us a great talk to point our less educated family and friends to. I’ve struggled in the past on which summary video to point people to as there are pieces from each of the older ones that really stand out. This video highlights most of my favorite pieces from the other videos. So, I’m really happy with it.
    .
    Plus, there is just so much information on the topic of nutrition, it never hurts to have a review. I enjoyed the video, even when I knew exactly which joke Dr. Greger was about to next. :-) It was a fun game to see if I could say it before him. I haven’t watched it twice yet (WFPBrunner has one up on me), but I do recommend this talk. I’m sure I’ll be seeing this video again when I play it for groups of people that I invite to my house–where we will watch while munching on vegan potluck dishes or popcorn with nutritional yeast and frozen banana soft-serve.
    Thank you Dr. Greger!
    Thank you Dr. Greger!




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    1. My memory bucket has a small hole (not a big one, but still a hole) in it, and so I have to come back from time to time to replenish what has leaked out. Summary videos like this are perfect for refilling what has leaked out.




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    1. Susan: That is correct. Regardless of what the bottle says, that fish oil is likely highly contaminated in ways that are very unhealthy: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/fish-oil/ The good news is that as the page I linked to shows, you have a good alternative to fish oil: algae-based omega 3s (DHA/EPA). The fish get their omega 3s from the algae. You can skip the middle-person and get it directly from sterile factories.
      .
      Dr. Greger recommends algae-based omega 3s, but he recommends it for a healthy brain, not necessarily joints. Has the fish oil really been helping your joints? If so, then the algae DHA/EPA makes a lot of sense in terms of switching. And as shown in a recent video series on this site, it may be a good idea to take anyway.
      .
      One more thought for you: I wonder if you have a specific joint condition or are just trying for overall health? If you are just trying for over all health. If you are just trying for overall health, eating a whole plant food based diet is the way to go and would be a good for your joints as every other part of your body. If you have a specific condition you are dealing with, you might use the search feature at the top of the page. For example, this website has several videos on the topic of arthritis.
      .
      Congratulations on your decision to try a plant based diet. There are many ways to go about it and lots of really great resources out there to help you with the transition. If you can give me an idea of where you are coming from and are interested in some assistance/recommendations for making the transition, just let me know.
      .
      Good luck!




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      1. I cannot speak with high authority but I read that plant food Omega-3 is ALA that is not absorbable. Whether this is true or not, there are both sides of the argument and I cannot prove anything.

        I don’t know if Suzan joint problem is the same as mine which is worn out joint due to playing sports in my younger years. So there are 2 things, reducing the inflammation and then replacing the joint cartilage through foods.




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        1. Jimmy: Please note that in the post above, I discussed algae based omega-3, which is already pre-formed DHA and, depending on the brand, may also include EPA. Hence, no fish oil is needed or recommended.
          .
          FYI: The human body can convert ALA to DHA, but the conversion rate is low. People on a vegan diet are able to convert more ALA than people who eat meat, dairy and/or eggs. But the question still remains about whether that conversion is enough.
          .
          Animal foods are generally pro-inflammatory, as Dr. Greger explained in the latest summary video. If you want an anti-inflammatory diet, that would be a diet of whole plant foods. Given the contamination issues, I can’t think of any reason to take fish oil over algae-based omega 3s (which are DHA/EPA).




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    2. I 100% agree with Thea. If you want pre-formed DHA/EPA, the best place to get it is algae based oils. It is chemically identical, so your body won’t be able to tell that it didn’t come from fish or krill. And it is raised in a vat with very controlled conditions and input, so it has no chance to contain the contaminants and toxins like mercury, PCB, and the like that wild caught fish are contaminated with. Oh, and you don’t have to strip mine the ocean in order to get it. You get the long chain omega 3s that you need, you don’t get the stuff in fish oil you really don’t want, and the oceans get to keep their fish. So a win-win-win in my book.

      Also a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet contains large amounts of anti-inflammatory foods and very little or none of any pro-inflammatory foods, which is the other half of the healthier joints equation.

      Good Luck!




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  12. My husband and I attended a presentation by Dr. Greger in Portland, ME. He was so good, my husband joined me by becoming vegan.




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  13. This website no longer shows the latest videos , there are now two newer vids on you tube that don;t show on here. I guess I’ll just watch on you tube from now on.




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    1. esben andersen: Thank you for your comment. Note that staff are working on this problem. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before it is fixed.




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  14. Awesome video Dr. Greger!! Recently I read that a diagonal ear lobe crease could be a sign of heart disease. I’m 51 years old. I’ve been on a WFPB diet for four years. My total cholesterol is okay at 176. Triglicerides 66, HDL 73, LDL 90. Chol/HDL ratio 2.4. I bike and run a lot. My BMI is 21. My parents both have heart disease, but probably lifestyle related. They do not have the ear lobe crease, but I do. Does anyone think it’s a cause for concern?




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  15. I have purchased a number of copies of Dr, Greger’s book and follow his web site with dedication. As much as I appreciate Dr. Greger’s efforts at educating the world on the results of the cutting edge research I only wish he would be a bit more balanced.

    I have personally read a good deal of scholarly research that suggests fish and some meat is an important part of the diet. Dr. Greger never reports this research. For example:

    http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=205916

    or

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15148063

    These two studies are one of many that conclude that meat can have a beneficial effect and from what I can determine they are what is main stream thought amongst the nutritional community.

    A vegan diet is a very difficult to stay healthy with for a many reasons. It can be done with supplementation and careful controls, but it is challenging.

    There is little evidence that shows dramatic life expectancy improvements be being a Vegan.

    As long as Dr. Greger continues with his cigarette comparisons and black and white singularity he will continue to have a significant segment of his readers not believe him. That is truly unfortunate.




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    1. The “Ornish” diet group in the first paper were not eating an Ornish diet. Those eating a supposedly Ornish style diet were very far from what Dr. Ornish (and Dr. Greger) recommend. Take a look at Table 2. The macro-nutrient breakdown of the Ornish-ish group was on average (for the 6 mo and 12 mo values) about 52.9% carbohydrate, 18.2% protein and 29% fat (10% of which was saturated fat). Does this sound anything like the diet that Dr. Ornish and Dr. Greger recommend? And further these supposedly “Ornish” dieters were definitely not eating the whole plant foods, as evidenced by the 19 paltry grams of fiber they consumed on a daily basis. So they were at best eating a junk food plant based diet.

      So this paper can not say anything about the superiority of the Atkins diet compared to the Ornish diet because it never tested the Ornish diet.

      As for what the mainstream nutritional community says about the health of eating meat, they are only regurgitating what they were taught in school, and what they were taught is what is conventional in thus culture. Adding an abetting this is the fact that the animal food industries, not to mention the processed food and fast food industries pour millions of dollars into providing support for AND and “educational” material to college and university nutritional programs that are nothing but slanted propaganda promoting continued consumption of their products.

      But you are correct, a vegan diet is very difficult to stay on … if it is a diet you don’t want to be on. But that is true for nearly every single diet ever advanced because people hate to change. So if people aren’t making a change because of internal motivations, then they tend to not stick with it. Where the whole food plant based diet (as opposed to a vegan diet which might be a WFPB diet but also might not be) has a huge advantage over every other eating pattern is that it actually makes people healthier and as a result they feel better. This is part of why cross over studies have such a hard time getting the group that starts the study in the WFPB are to switch to the other eating pattern. The WFPB group feel so much better they simply refuse to go back to their old diet or other diet where they diet where the didn’t or might not feel so good.




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      1. Jim your missing the point I was trying to make. I can find hundreds of studies that offer different prospective. Those two were rather at random selections that I offered to demonstrate a diversity of opinion. Dr. Greger seems to present a black and white, good and bad prospective generally that he offers as representative of listing of nutritional research. In essence that is an incorrect presentation. In my view he does a disservice to his followers by recommending one thing that unless it is carefully monitored and balanced can lead to all sorts of maladies.

        The core of what Dr. Greger reports has merit. The American (Western) diet is unhealthy and a mostly plant based diet is natural and healthy. An all plant based diet is generally not healthy and not natural. We as a species have been eating meat long enough to have evolved to appreciate its nutritional input. We mostly likely evolved a big brain because of the high quality nutrition offered by meat. Today however we eat way too much of it at a great and devastating determent.

        Meat however is not cigarettes and that analogy is just silly and brings discredit on everything the good doctor says.




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        1. Bill Werenko: re: “…unless it is carefully monitored and balanced can lead to all sorts of maladies.” That is a common misconception about a diet of whole plant foods. Eating a healthy diet can be as easy as PCRM’s power plate: http://www.pcrm.org/sites/default/files/images/health/pplate/PowerPlategraphichirez.JPG . That’s incredibly easy and offers health benefits – not maladies.

          What’s hard is mixing animal foods into your diet and making sure you don’t end up with problems. As an example, check out this relatively old NutritionFacts video: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/omnivore-vs-vegan-nutrient-deficiencies-2/

          —-
          re: “We mostly likely evolved a big brain because of the high quality nutrition offered by meat.” This idea is in high debate and by no means proven. My favorite theory is that we got our big brains from cooked food. http://www.ted.com/talks/suzana_herculano_houzel_what_is_so_special_about_the_human_brain and http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-fire-makes-us-human-72989884/?no-ist Tom Goff has a *great* post on this topic where he covers several theories: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/whats-the-natural-human-diet/#comment-2821644759

          —-
          re: ” An all plant based diet is generally not healthy and not natural.” This site proves an all plant based diet is generally extremely healthy. Natural is an irrelevant issue for this level of discussion in my opinion.

          —-
          One more thought for you: I find it extremely interesting that you took some studies at random and Jim was able to very easily point out the serious flaws of those random studies. While we may not find *every* pro-meat study to be fatally flawed, it appears that most (most=my opinion) of those studies do not actually show what they purport to show when examined carefully. NutritionFacts has several videos showing the tricks used in pro-animal studies which still get published in peer reviewed, respected journals. I could find some for you if you are interested.

          Did you know that there are over 100 studies showing that cigarettes are neutral or even healthy for you? The point is that the existence of pro-animal studies does not prove as much as you seem to think. Also note that the analogy that Dr. Greger draws between cigarettes and animal foods in this video is about the parallels between what the body of scientific evidence tells us and how society and the medical establishment are ignoring the evidence. They’ve done it before with cigarettes. So, it’s reasonable to believe it could be done again. And with the information we just got in this video, it’s not only reasonable, but ignoring the scientific evidence seems to be exactly what is happening.




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        2. Well there might be hundreds of other studies, but if they are as bad as the two you cited, then they deserve to be ignored. When there are quality studies that where subjects actually eat a whole food plant based diet of roughly 70% – 80% carbohydrates, 10% – 15% fat and 10% – 15% protein along with consumption of at least 40 grams of fiber a day (any less and it would be an indicator that the subjects were eating substantial amounts of highly refined plant foods), and those studies show that diets like Atkins or Paleo or Weston-Price result in better cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar (both fasting and post-prandial) then I will start paying attention to them. Oh, and do so with subjects that aren’t all obese and elderly. Until then I will continue to ignore these low-quality and misleading studies and will not fault Dr. Greger for doing so as well.




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  16. Dear Michael (and NutritionFacts team),

    When I first turned to a plant based diet in 2010, your Maximum Nutrition video was a huge help for someone who started from scratch. It simplified what I thought I ought to be doing. I felt that you were really honest about your findings and found your sense of humour to be refreshing (let’s be honest, that’s a rarity in the health community). That was my first exposure to you. 6 years later, I still watch all your videos and your long lectures, and even some random internet interviews with you. You point me in the direction of many new studies to look at; every discovery helps. I know that there is an army of plant-based diet advocating professionals from different fields all over the world who wield the sword of justice, just as you do. But I feel like I can trust you more than anyone else. Your passion and integrity seeps through your fucking pores. Over time, you’ve become a role model of mine. If I was at a party and saw George Clooney, Mick Jagger, David Blaine, and you, I would completely ignore the other 3 and go straight to you. I mean, I might eventually saunter over to Mick Jagger to ask what his craziest groupie story is, but that’s about it – to me, you would be the real badass in the room.

    I’m leaving this comment only to tell you that what you are doing is actually unbelievable. I know you know this and you don’t need more admiration, but I feel obliged to tell you. Dr Greger, I think you’re a hero of our time. And you shine every day without ego and with a smile on your face, and an awesome sense of humour: “Are canned beans as nutritious as home-cooked? This recent study… spilled the beans.” is the most recent crack I heard, just a few minutes ago. Incidentally, that’s what prompted me to write this email. I initially only wanted to write a comment about how much I’ve always appreciated your subtle humour in your work but, sadly, this novel is the end result.

    At the risk of blunting my fragile masculinity, I feel obliged to say that just knowing that there are people like you out there literally brings tears to my eyes. Tears of happiness and of hope. You are fucking awesome – this extends to your team as well. Please, never stop what you’re doing. The world needs you now more than ever. We are desperate. You are leading the way to a more informed world, a healthier world, a happier world. Indeed, if the health community were the Spartans in the Battle of Thermopylae, you would be King Leonidas in front, effortlessly decapitating any pathetic (misinformation-giving!) Persians who dare cross our path. (Disclaimer: Dr. Greger has not ever said anything unfavourable about Persians; this is strictly an analogy)

    If I could shake your hand or give you a high-five, I would. For now, I’ll have to settle for this email. With all my silliness put aside, this is what I want to say: Rock on, Michael. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    – Corbin




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    1. Corbin: I love, love, LOVE your post. But your two F* bombs are against the rules. I know how you meant it, but I will have to delete your post if you don’t change those words. PLEASE don’t make me delete your post. If you change those two words, I won’t have to… Thanks!

      Your post is so heart-warming. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I know that Dr. Greger will love seeing it.




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      1. Whoops! I signed in as a guest, so I don’t know if I can edit the post to take out the f-bombs. I think it is a bit silly to have to do so but I won’t fight it – I will paste the edited version, and you may delete the initial comment :)




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  17. Dear Michael (and NutritionFacts team),

    When I first turned to a plant based diet in 2010, your Maximum Nutrition video was a huge help for someone who started from scratch. It simplified what I thought I ought to be doing. I felt that you were really honest about your findings and found your sense of humour to be refreshing (let’s be honest, that’s a rarity in the health community). That was my first exposure to you. 6 years later, I still watch all your videos and your long lectures, and even some random internet interviews with you. You point me in the direction of many new studies to look at; every discovery helps. I know that there is an army of plant-based diet advocating professionals from different fields all over the world who wield the sword of justice, just as you do. But I feel like I can trust you more than anyone else. Your passion and integrity seeps through your fucking pores. Over time, you’ve become a role model of mine. If I was at a party and saw George Clooney, Mick Jagger, David Blaine, and you, I would completely ignore the other 3 and go straight to you. I mean, I might eventually saunter over to Mick Jagger to ask what his craziest groupie story is, but that’s about it – to me, you would be the real badass in the room.

    I’m leaving this comment only to tell you that what you are doing is actually unbelievable. I know you know this and you don’t need more admiration, but I feel obliged to tell you. Dr Greger, I think you’re a hero of our time. And you shine every day without ego and with a smile on your face, and an awesome sense of humour: “Are canned beans as nutritious as home-cooked? This recent study… spilled the beans.” is the most recent crack I heard, just a few minutes ago. Incidentally, that’s what prompted me to write this email. I initially only wanted to write a comment about how much I’ve always appreciated your subtle humour in your work but, sadly, this novel is the end result.

    At the risk of blunting my fragile masculinity, I feel obliged to say that just knowing that there are people like you out there literally brings tears to my eyes. Tears of happiness and of hope. You are fucking awesome – this extends to your team as well. Please, never stop what you’re doing. The world needs you now more than ever. We are desperate. You are leading the way to a more informed world, a healthier world, a happier world. Indeed, if the health community were the Spartans in the Battle of Thermopylae, you would be King Leonidas in front, effortlessly decapitating any pathetic (misinformation-giving!) Persians who dare cross our path. (Disclaimer: Dr. Greger has not ever said anything unfavourable about Persians; this is strictly an analogy)

    If I could shake your hand or give you a high-five, I would. For now, I’ll have to settle for this email. With all my silliness put aside, this is what I want to say: Rock on, Michael. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    – Corbin




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  18. Thank you Dr. Greger for all your great work! I wanted to share one specific piece of information in a newsletter I’m preparing. It’s the information in the chart at 54:58, a graphic superimposed over the article “The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary, Lifestyle, and Metabolic Risk
    Factors.” I looked that article up on Google Scholar so I could cite it, and found that the authors’ conclusion is that cigarette smoking causes the most deaths. I couldn’t find the chart in your video at all. Can you explain how you arrived at the conclusion that dietary risks have passed up cigarette smoking as causes of death and disability? Thanks!




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  19. Hi I’m 16 years old new vegan (3 months since I went vegan). since I was little and drinking dairy milk I was lacking some calcium, my nails were always beautiful but my teeth have a little white dots, I used to crack my bones on my arms for a little bit (maybe 3 months?) but what I realised now is that my hands are shaking, maybe they were shaking even before I went vegan I dont know. Is it from lacking calcium? I was concidering to start drinking some goat milk becouse is high in calcium. Can you give me some examples of vegan calcium (100g) and tell me how much do you think I need?
    Also I went high carb low fat at first when I went vegan and I felt a little bit “dumm” and I’m not the only obe my two frends who went fully raw few two years ago had the same feeling is it becouse the low omega-3 and do I need omega 6? Also I’m normal vegan now but I dont use oil and I’m trying to stay SOS free now and dont buy packaged foods.
    Plus I have atopic exema and some kind of exema around my mouth and on my lips, I dont know how to heal it. I know its a lot but I hope someone will help me, thank you for your time.




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    1. I don’t want to be alarming and scare you away from eating plant based (which is really the healthiest way to eat), but the hand shaking is worrying. It can be an indication that you might be B-12 deficient. The mental confusion could be a result of B-12 deficient as well. I would recommend that you get your B-12 status tested. Normal B-12 blood tests aren’t very accurate indicator of B-12 status. I would recommend that you ask your doctor about getting a serum methylmalonic acid and homocysteine levels test, which is a much more definitive test. B-12 stores are usually sufficient for several years on a B-12 deficient diet (which a 100% plant-based diet is). So if you are deficient I would say that you were likely borderline B-12 deficient before going plant based.

      Fortunately it is very easy to get all the B-12 you need in a simple supplement in order to continue to take advantage of a plant based diet. Your doctor might give you a B-12 shot to pull your B-12 level up to normal all in one shot as it were and a supplement will keep it at that adequate level.

      Another factor could be simple lack of calories. Many that are new to plant-based diet don’t realize the volume of food necessary to get the same number of calories and so they don’t get enough energy. This is even more the case when eating a raw food diet.

      There are a lot of foods that contain calcium (after all cows and goats get the calcium they put in their milk from the plants they eat). Here is a link to an article about getting enough calcium on a plant-based diet that includes a list of the best sources of calcium from plants.

      I highly recommend that you keep a food log for a few days that includes everything you eat include the amounts (weighing food first is the most accurate, but measuring or estimating the volume will still give a good estimate). Then create an account at the website http://www.cronometer.com and enter what you ate. Cronometer is free and is the same resource that professional nutritionist use to create diets for their clients. This website will give a complete nutritional breakdown of the macro-nutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate) and micro-nutrient (essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium) with a comparison to the amounts of each that you need given your age, weight, activity level and gender. So you will know just how your current diet stacks up against what you need. You can also click on each individual food to see what the nutritional profile of that food is to see which foods are contributing the most to meeting your daily needs and which are not.

      Good Luck!




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      1. Jim Felder: This is a fantastic reply. I had immediately thought of the calorie issue. I had not thought of B12. All great advice.
        .
        Note: The first link does not appear to be working. I’d love to be able to see that article you were talking about…




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    2. Hentieta: Jim Felder gave a great reply. The main bit I would add is a reference to Vegetarian Resource Group, which includes a page on kids and families and has several articles for teenagers. http://www.vrg.org/family/kidsindex.htm Dr Greger has spoken highly of VRG. The site generally has good, quality information.
      .
      I do not know what the white dots on the teeth are about. It doesn’t seem to me that too little calcium would add white to the teeth? Maybe your dentist could shed some light on that. But I did want to mention that when people start to eat healthy, they tend to eat more acidic foods, like citrus, which can soften tooth enamel. If you brush soon after eating, you can brush away your enamel. NutritionFacts has several videos about tooth health and a great one about a healthy, natural mouthwash that you can make that is great for teeth. Let me know if you need help finding that information.




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      1. Hentieta: My post got cut-off, so I am continuing it here. I also wanted to address the point you made about your friends who went “fully raw.” It can be *very* hard to get enough calories on a raw diet. That can be serious for anyone, but would be especially serious for a teenager/growing person. It is generally easy enough to get proper calories and nutrition on a whole plant food diet like the one recommended by Dr. Greger or PCRM’s power plate. But I think going raw requires a lot of careful consideration and planning. If your friends are still doing fully raw, I hope they will reconsider. Or I hope they will get a book called Becoming Raw by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. This book will provide information needed to get by on a raw diet in as healthy a way as possible.
        .
        From all the information on this website, I fully believe that a healthy diet consists of a combination of cooked and raw food. I can provide some information on some easy references for making sure you get a balanced diet. Would you like me to do that?




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      2. Hentieta: I thought of more to say. :-)
        .
        I wanted to congratulate you on working so hard to eat a healthy diet. You need to fix these problems, but you are likely miles ahead of most of your peers. Staying away from oil and packaged foods and eating plants is just awesome. Good for you!




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    3. Henrietta: It was pointed out to me that the link in my reply to you concerning getting enough calcium didn’t work. I fixed it in my comment, but here it is in plain form. It is also a link to the Vegetarian Resource Group that Thea pointed you to that contains all kinds of helpful information.

      http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/calcium.php




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    4. Hentieta: One more thing, you don’t have to wait until you go to the doctor to get your B-12 checked before you can take action. You could start taking a B-12 supplement immediately. There doesn’t seem to be any ill effects from taking more B-12 than you need, your body simply gets rid of any extra that it doesn’t need. So you could start taking a 1000 mcg B-12 only supplement once a day. Your daily requirement for B-12 is about 4 mcg to maybe as much as 7 mcg a day, so why so much! Well your body can only directly absorb about 1.5 mcg of B-12 at in a 4-6 hour period, but about 1% of the amounts above this are indirectly absorbed. So of the 1000 mcg tablet (1.5 + 0.01*998.5) or about 11.5 mcg of the 1000 mcg in the tablet will actually be absorbed into the blood stream. The rest will keep on going. The extra 4.5 to 7.5 mcg a day above the daily minimum will start rebuilding your B-12 reservoir if it is low. And if it is not and you have a full B-12 tank, any extra that is absorbed is easily removed by the kidneys.

      Long term you can take a 250 mcg tablet once a day to get the 4 mcg minimum. Or you can take a 2500 mcg tablet once a week to get 26.5 mcg, which is pretty close to the 28 mcg minimum needed for a week. If you include them in your diet, B-12 fortified plant foods (cereals, plant milks, veggie burgers, etc.) usually contain one or two mcg of B-12. Since you can absorb 1.5 mcg direct for each meal, fortified foods over the week can add the few extra mcg you might need. Or you can not worry about it and just take a 5000 mcg supplement once a week and call it good!

      There is an excellent five videos series on this site addressing B-12 starting with this one.

      HOWEVER, I would still strongly recommend that you still get a doctor to check you out, since your hands shaking and foggy thinking might have nothing to do with a B-12 deficiency. Better to be safe than sorry!




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  20. Dear Mister Greger, I have a question. Always at academic lectures, like yours, about the healthy benefit of a plant-based diet and it comes to the theme of plaque and heart disease I see the picture of X-ray from this one person of Mister Esselstyn (look minute 12:44). I’m wondering, is it the only one picture credit on the world of science? Or is it only a matter of rights what make it heavy to show other pictures?
    Because, in a discussion I heard “oh goodness not this picture again… it’s the only one…it happened after this not once more…”
    So, can you help me to find other pictures for arguments? Thank you.




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  21. Best video to make the case for a plant-based diet to overcome our horrible health system outlook. I’m sending this out to everyone to watch.




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  22. I love summary videos like this. They are, as Thea says, a great place to point friends and family to get a great distillation of the science on the topic of diet and health that leads inexorably to the conclusion that a WFPB diet is superior to all other eating patterns for maximum long term health. I would dearly love it if somebody could pull together a sources list from each of the videos Dr. Greger covered in this one so F&F could have them all in one place so they could easily prove to themselves that the recommendations given here are indeed based on a LOT of scientific studies, and so this video continues the “full transparency” tradition of all the individual videos with all of the sources fully cited and only a click away.

    A related idea that might stand on its own independent of this video is a list of the twenty papers (or whatever right number is) that makes the strongest most compelling scientific case for a WFPB diet. So imagine if you could hand copies of twenty papers to somebody in order to make a compelling scientific case for going veg, what papers would you choose? Besides something else to point friends and family to it would be a great single link to post in response to a challenge for citations backing up some claim we might make as to the health effects of a WFPB diet. It could be both positive support for eating whole plant foods as well as those showing how animal foods and highly refined plant foods damage human health.

    I know what would be first on my list.

    W. A. Thomas, J. N. P. Davies, R. M. O’Neal, A. A. Dimakulangan. Incidence of myocardial infarction correlated with venous and pulmonary thrombosis and embolism: A geographic study based on autopsies in Uganda, East Africa and St. Louis, USA. Am J Cardiol. 1960. Over 1000 autopsies of people eating just a whole plant centered diet (because the Ugandans were not 100% plant based) and no sign of heart disease save one small healed infarct. In autopsies of age matched people in St. Louis 22% of them had signs of having had a heart attack with many being the cause of death. Heart disease rate of 0.07% in those eating plant based, 22% in those who are not. It really doesn’t get much clearer than this.

    What papers would be on your list?

    And if I am being greedy I could also wish for a list of the papers most often cited by the “other side” as their proof that a low carb/high fat, paleo, mediterranean or other diet is the best diet. Below each paper would be a section with Dr. Greger’s critique highlighting the strengths, weakness, omissions, mistakes and for some possibly outright falsehoods of that study as well as a link or two to stronger, more compelling studies that come to different conclusions.

    Am I asking for too much?




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    1. Jim Felder: I don’t know about providing references for the summary videos. When there is a long list of references for even the daily videos, it can be hard to find the particular study you want to further investigate. A giant list of studies for this one video might not be use-able. Maybe if the references were organized by “chapter” in terms of when Dr. Greger covers each of the 14 areas…? Even then, for some of the topics, the list would be long, so I don’t know. On the other hand, you are not the first person to ask for this. My opinion (that I’m making up now and I have no influence to personally make happen) is that if a volunteer or two made that effort, including organizing/indexing the references so that someone had a chance to find the study they wanted (maybe with quotes from the transcript in front of each reference? or maybe reference numbers put into the actual transcript!), then I would be ALL FOR NutritionFacts adding that information to the website.
      .
      I think your other two ideas are *fabulous*. I’d love to see some NutritionFacts pages with exactly that information. I think it might be awfully hard to whittle down the pro-plant studies as I think that part of the strength of the argument for plant based diets is that it’s not 20 or 200 or even 2000 papers which support eating a plant based diet. It is so much more than that. On the other hand, a page of maybe 100 of ‘people’s choice studies’ might be really fun.
      .
      I like the last idea best. But rather than limit it, I would *love* to see an on-going list that grows over time. People could look up specific studies and find out what is wrong with them. It would be super-super cool.
      .
      You may have already done it, but just in case you did not notice: the bottom of the screen should have a blue band with a link to a NutritionFacts survey. I think you should include all of these ideas.
      .
      Hey everyone else. What do you think?




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      1. Thea, you make a good point about the possible unwieldy length of a single list of sources for this one video since “How Not To Die” covers pretty much the same ground and has 140 pages of citations!!! Maybe they could be organized into groups corresponding to each condition/disease addressed in the presentation. Even then some effort to extract out the key paper or three might be needed. Identifying key papers is way above my skill level and likely something Dr. Greger himself would probably need to do.

        So I’ll let that suggestion lapse. But I still really want to see those two lists of papers!




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      2. ooh, how about instead of listing links to the all individual papers referenced, the sources section for this video contains links to the individual videos elsewhere on the site that were used. This assumes of course that all the information used in this video was also contained in previous videos.

        That might have the added advantage of leading readers to videos that might go into more detail on a given topic than Dr. Greger had time for in this summary video.




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  23. I just read about the gene FADS 2 that would mean that a vegan diet is not suitable for everybody. What is your take on that? I’m vegan but I’m definitely coming from generations of eating meat.




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    1. Quick scan shows that a SNP in the FAD 2 is associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke and heart attack. Not sure why this would mean that a person shouldn’t eat a vegan diet. In fact the effect mentioned was a reduction in HDL levels, so it would likely be that people with this SNP would do well to eat foods that don’t increase total cholesterol level so that the HDL they do have is able to do a complete job of transporting excess cholesterol back to the liver. The best way to lower total cholesterol is to eat a WFPB diet with no added liquid vegetable oils.




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  24. Dear Michael (and NutritionFacts team),

    When I first turned to a plant based diet in 2010, your Maximum Nutrition video was a huge help for someone who started from scratch. It simplified what I thought I ought to be doing. I felt that you were really honest about your findings and found your sense of humour to be refreshing (let’s be honest, that’s a rarity in the health community). That was my first exposure to you. 6 years later, I still watch all your videos and your long lectures, and even some random internet interviews with you. You point me in the direction of many new studies to look at; every discovery helps. I know that there is an army of plant-based diet advocating professionals from different fields all over the world who wield the sword of justice, just as you do. But I feel like I can trust you more than anyone else. Your passion and integrity seeps through your freaking pores. Over time, you’ve become a role model of mine. If I was at a party and saw George Clooney, Mick Jagger, David Blaine, and you, I would completely ignore the other 3 and go straight to you. I mean, I might eventually saunter over to Mick Jagger to ask what his craziest groupie story is, but that’s about it – to me, you would be the real badass in the room.

    I’m leaving this comment only to tell you that what you are doing is actually unbelievable. I know you know this and you don’t need more admiration, but I feel obliged to tell you. Dr Greger, I think you’re a hero of our time. And you shine every day without ego and with a smile on your face, and an awesome sense of humour: “Are canned beans as nutritious as home-cooked? This recent study… spilled the beans.” is the most recent crack I heard, just a few minutes ago. Incidentally, that’s what prompted me to write this email. I initially only wanted to write a comment about how much I’ve always appreciated your subtle humour in your work but, sadly, this novel is the end result.

    At the risk of blunting my fragile masculinity, I feel obliged to say that just knowing that there are people like you out there literally brings tears to my eyes. Tears of happiness and of hope. You are freaking awesome – this extends to your team as well. Please, never stop what you’re doing. The world needs you now more than ever. We are desperate. You are leading the way to a more informed world, a healthier world, a happier world. Indeed, if the health community were the Spartans in the Battle of Thermopylae, you would be King Leonidas in front, effortlessly decapitating any pathetic (misinformation-giving!) Persians who dare cross our path. (Disclaimer: Dr. Greger has not ever said anything unfavourable about Persians; this is strictly an analogy)

    If I could shake your hand or give you a high-five, I would. For now, I’ll have to settle for this email. With all my silliness put aside, this is what I want to say: Rock on, Michael. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    – Corbin




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  25. I’ve been dealing with heart palpitations for around 5 years. First they started as sinus tachycardia, then I started having PACs and PVCs randomly. Most recently though I have had 2 episodes where it feels like my heart has went out of rhythm and then after a few minutes goes back to normal. I would love to be able to find the root cause and therefore find the cure, any help or advice is much appreciated! I’m willing to do whatever it takes as far as diet and or exercise goes. I have had EKGs and echocardiograms done and doctors say it’s just one of those things that happen that they can’t explain. I believe there’s really something to food as medicine and would love to help myself and in turn help others. Thanks!




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    1. Andrea, sounds like the condition my Dad has. He was told by his cardiologist it was because of abnormalities in his pacemaker nerve that sometimes cause his heart beat races to over 200 bpm. His doctor told him to cough really hard when that happens and that somehow causes enough disruption to the vagus nerve or related nerves to cause his heart to “reset”. Plunging his face into ice cold water will also cause a reset, but a hard cough is always available, cold water, not so much.

      As to addressing your condition with diet, well if the problem originated in an organic defect like it does with my Dad, then diet might not have much of an effect on this specific condition. But you never know. It could be that the nerves in my Dad’s heart might be misbehaving because they are abnormal AND because they are being assaulted by stressors resulting from his very standard American diet such as systemic inflammation, calcifications, reduced blood viscosity, reduced nitrous oxide, or any of the other chronic insults to our hearts and vascular system that results when we eat animal proteins, lots of fat, especially saturated fat, and highly processed junk plant foods.

      So you very well could see improvements even if the doctors can’t as of now see any connection between diet and what you have going on with your heart. After all our bodies are really just one big bag of interacting and reacting chemicals where the mix of chemicals and how they react being largely influenced by what we eat. At worst if you switch your diet and it doesn’t do anything for this particular condition, at least the entire rest of your body will be healthier so this isn’t just being one more thing added to the pile of things that makes you feel crappy.




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      1. Thanks Jim! Like Dr Greger keeps saying in his book, “there are no adverse side effects to eating healthy”. So yes, this can only benefit me and I pray God can use it to heal my palpitations. I hope one day to be able to attribute my healing to God and plant based nutrition!




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      2. Thanks Jim. I definitely think this diet helps! Still haven’t been 100% plant based so hard to tell if it cures it but it may, excited to stay on this healthy journey!




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    1. David: kefir is a fermented dairy product and thus, I would guess, not have all or most of the galactose. Diary products which have all their galactose are associated with health problems such as more bone (including hip!) fractures. You can learn more about this on page 215 of the How Not To Die book. Thus, an argument could be made that kefir is a less risky choice than regular diary products.
      .
      However, the absence of the galactose doesn’t mean that there aren’t still a lot of other health concerns with kefir. Here is an overview of the information we have about dairy, only some of which would be related to the galactose in dairy: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy. Also, while not mentioned in the page I just linked to, consider all the known problems with animal proteins, which would still be found in kefir.
      .
      What do you think?




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  26. Ok, devil’s advocate here. So the benefit of organic fruit and veggies is clear over conventional produce, but what about organic animal protein? With regard to disease prevention (specifically IGF production), are there any studies that compare conventional animal protein vs local, organic, grass-fed beef?




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  27. Hi Dr. Greger and Nutrition Facts team,

    Great Presentation! Thank you for providing such practical and credible nutrition information at no cost.

    I was just wondering if you had any suggestions or advice for aspiring doctors that would like to incorporate plant-based nutrition into their practice. Which specialty would be the best fit a primary care doctor, an internist, or osteopathic doctor?

    Thank you!




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

    http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/11/3100.long
    =




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  29. Thank you so much for this wonderful information!! However I am curious to ask if you know or have read about any studies relating diet to Hyperhidrosis (exssesive sweating) which is something I have suffered from since childhood. Thank you again for everything you do!!




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  30. Can you make this video available for caption translation in other languages? This will really help this video go viral and spread the message! I am happy to translate it to Bulgarian and I am sure there will be many other subscribers from other countries that will happily translate into their native languages? Cheers from Europe. Keep up the work and spread the nutrition revolution message! :) Thumbs up!




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  31. I’ve got a question about the daily dozen. Should it be adjusted to various genders, ages, weights? If so, how? I’m a woman and I’m finding it difficult to reach the daily dozen because it’s too much food for me to eat and the calories are way above what I’m supposed to have.

    Thanks!




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    1. Scifigal777: I think you have hit on the main weakness of the Daily Dozen. We all have different calorie needs and while there is some wiggle-room calorie wise in the Daily Dozen, the Daily Dozen plan generally seems to fit only a narrow range of people who have that calorie need.
      .
      I don’t have any inside info on how Dr. Greger would reply, but here is my 2 cents: The Daily Dozen does a great job in several areas: 1) telling us which foods are healthy, 2) giving us good details on those healthy foods (ex: what is a whole grain, etc) than other plans have–all without getting too complicated, 3) showing us the relative ratios of the various recommended foods. (ex: Eat 3 parts whole grains to 3 parts ‘other fruits’ to…)
      .
      In practice, I think you can take that information and scale portion sizes up or down to meet your calorie needs. So, if the Daily Dozen has too many calories for you as currently defined, try to eat the suggested foods and portions/ratios, but just scale back portion size. For you, a serving size of brown rice might be 1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup. Or even less if needed.
      .
      Again, that’s just my opinion, but it makes sense to me. What do you think?




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  32. Concerning fruits vegetables and immune function, Vice has a YouTube video on “Ebola Monkey Meat” which if you watch it you can see that the people eat a “meat and potatoes” type diet not fruits and vegetable. Now it you compare the explosive course of Ebola in Africa to Nurse Pham (Vietnamese-American), Nurse Vincent (Black American), and the British lab tech (white British) who stabbed himself with an Ebola needle you can really see the effect of greens on the immune system. The Liberian diet is deficient in vitamin K and C. Vit. K is necessary for blood clotting. Vit. C is necessary for protein synthesis such as antibodies to fight Ebola. Therefore the Ebola problem is extremely exacerbated by diet not racial genetics.




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  33. hello, I had a question related to plant based diet vs. cancer cells. it’s known now that vegan blood is hostile to cancer cells and reduces their growth and also kills them better than non-vegan blood but doesn’t that mean it also does the same to healthy cells? Also since carbs are the preferred source of energy for the body, isn’t it supposed to be better for cell proliferation? Also doesn’t lower igf1 levels mean shorter/smaller people?

    now, I have no degree in biology or anything, all my knowledge is based of nutritionfacts.org and ncbi so pardon me if my question sounds stupid.




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    1. Vidhan: I’ll take a stab at answering two of your questions.
      .
      1) “…but doesn’t that mean it also does the same to healthy cells?” Not necessarily. And I think the evidence on this site shows that eating a healthy diet (not just vegan, but say the Daily Dozen diet) produces healthy outcomes: not dying early from the common diseases and living long. So, it seems reasonable to assume that the blood of vegans does not hurt healthy cells.
      .
      2) “…doesn’t lower igf1 levels mean shorter/smaller people?” The time to worry about such things is when you are feeding human children. The organization VRG, Vegetarian Resource Group, has a great article on feeding vegan children. Part of that article addresses growth. Here’s a quote:

      “Several studies have been reported showing that the growth of vegan children is slower than that of non-vegans (see 7-9). Studies such as these are often cited as evidence that vegan diets are inherently unhealthy. However, when the studies are examined more closely, we find that they are often based on vegans who have very low calorie or very limited diets (only fruit and nuts for example). In addition, many vegan infants are breastfed. Babies who are breastfed tend to gain weight more slowly before their first birthday than do bottle-fed babies. Up until a few years ago, vegetarians whose babies were breastfed were justly suspicious of growth charts. Before 2006, growth charts for infants were mainly based on the growth of babies fed infant formula. Growth charts based on formula-fed infants may make it seem that breastfed infants are not growing well. In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) released growth charts that were based on the growth of breastfed infants (10). These growth charts, which show what normal growth should look like, are called the WHO growth charts and should be used to assess growth of children less than 2 years of age. Older children are monitored with growth charts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (10).

      An additional question that must be asked is, “What is a normal growth rate?” Growth rate is assessed by comparing changes in a child’s height, weight, and head circumference to rates of growth that have been established by measuring large numbers of apparently healthy children. Once your child’s height and weight are measured, the measurements are compared to growth curves – graphs that show growth patterns of children by age. There is no single perfect growth rate. Instead, growth charts are set up using percentiles. If your child’s height is at the 50th percentile, that means that 50% of children of that age are taller and 50% are shorter. Similarly, a weight at the 25th percentile means 25% of children weigh less and 75% weigh more at the same age.

      While some studies show that vegan children are at a lower percentile of weight and height than are other children of a similar age, a recent study shows that vegan children can have growth rates which do not differ from those of omnivorous children of the same age (11).”

      The above quote is from: http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.php I highly recommend reading the whole article for anyone who is generally interested in the topic.

      —–

      On a general philosophical point: While I think there have been studies that show that taller people have higher incomes, shorter people typically live longer (from what I have heard). Being just a smidge shorter is not necessarily a bad thing… We are not talking about WFPB children only growing up to 3 feet tall. I’ve seen people who have been on WFPB diets since being weaned and they are perfectly normal height.




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  34. Thank you for your book How Not To Die. It is very informative and easy to read. I thought I’d share with you my personal journey, just from a health perspective. I have been vegan now for 1.5yrs

    Health improvements since adopting a plant-based diet:

    A painful 5yr battle with sciatica disappeared

    Vision improved; no longer needing glasses for blurred vision in my left eye

    No longer suffer from constant painful heartburn/indigestion

    Chest pain and heart inflammation condition Pericarditis went away

    IBS virtually disappeared

    Lost 20kg without doing anything else other than cutting animal products from my diet

    Improved energy levels

    Improved sleep

    Rarely get sick anymore, even when being around others who have a cold or flu.

    More mentally alert




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  35. First of all I wanted to say “thank you” for this enlightening talk! It definitely has an impact on how I will choose my meals from now on. :-)

    But now I have a question to get a better feeling for cause/effect of certain dietary products.
    Lets consider the strictest vegan to be 100% healthy and your average meat-eating person (2-3 times meat a day, milk, eggs, you name it) 0% healthy.
    How bad is it if I eat a none-vegan piece of chocolate-bar (or stuff like that) once a week.
    Or maybe a breakfast with a turkey sandwich and cheese once a week.
    Or lunch with chicken like once a week.
    How “bad” is that? Like 90% healthy or like 50% or maybe 10% since it takes forever to clear this stuff out!?

    I know this question is basically dumb because everyone should want to be 100% healthy :-) but I would like to get a better feeling about this stuff.
    Like if I get invited somewhere or another special circumstance comes up … do I need to think this (common) ice-cream my friends made will slowly kill me?

    Thank you!




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    1. Heinz: I just answered this very question for someone else. See reply to “shirley” in this comment here: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-story-of-nutritionfacts-org/#comment-2878348222
      .
      For you, I’ll also add that one of the longest lived and healthy people, traditional Okinawans, ate less than 5% of their diet as animal products. That’s a lot less than you think, because the 5% is looking at percentage of calories, not volume. (NutritionFacts has at least one video on the topic of the Okinawans, so you can verify this statement.) I also recommend taking a look at the comment I linked to above for some other cautions. And for the point of: Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. You are better off not having any animal products or junk food at all. But some dessert now and then or a holiday with family is not a reason to avoid eating health the rest of the time.
      .
      (But as an aside, to your specific example of ice cream – most ice cream places have non-dairy options. Even Ben and Jerry’s offers 4 almond milk ice creams that are pretty good. So, you can eat a yummy treat with your friends and still abstain from dairy which is particularly unhealthy (http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/ ) if you want.)
      .
      Hope this helps.




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  36. You indicate that milk and milk products are problems because of the growth hormones fed to dairy cattle. Here in Canada, adding growth hormones to cattle feed is illegal. I am wondering if that would mean that dairy products are OK in Canada, or if there are other reasons why dairy products are not healthy.




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    1. maryvb47: Some milks may not have *added* hormones, but by the very nature of dairy milk, there will always be some hormones – the entire point of milk is to grow a baby. The purpose of a cow’s milk is to grow her baby several hundred pounds in the first year. What’s more, dairy has a lot of additional problems over just having hormones. Here is an overview of some of the problems with dairy from NutritionFacts’ topic page: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy
      .
      That page does not even cover all the problems with animal protein, which you can start to learn more about by researching IGF-1.
      .
      I can’t think of any reason to believe that Canada’s dairy is healthy.




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  37. Hi Dr Greger,

    I have recently gone vegan for health/acne/sports-performance
    purposes but I have a few concerns I would like to ask you:

    Will going vegan affect my growth?
    (I’m a 16 year old male having not finished my full development).
    Is not having any animal products going to affect my internal processes at my young age?

    Will going vegan affect my sporting performance? (I am competing at national level swimming)
    Of course there are many top athletes that are vegan, but you always know that rice and meat or fish is great the night before a race..

    How do I increase and maintain my muscle mass whilst gaining a little bit of fat? (I am quite skinny with not a lot of muscle but very little fat). In order to perform, I must have a minimal mass of muscle which I have not acquired yet and i’m afraid I won’t be well built.

    Otherwise, as far as supplements like B12 and DHA are concerned, on top of my acne clearing up, I’m feeling great! Thank you for your help and guidance!

    P.S- What is it with Soy? Some people say its great whilst others claim too much of it is terrible- yet I adore this alternative…

    Thanks again,
    Bernie




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    1. Bernie, I hope you didn’t feel ignored. The discussion section of older videos aren’t always checked for new postings. I was back here reviewing some of these videos to answer somebody else’s question and saw your question. So I’ll give you my personal answer. Disclaimer, I am not a health professional, just an interested and widely read lay person.

      Short answer is that it will not effect your growth. You can get all the nutrients you need, especially protein, eating nothing but plants. Protein worries on a plant-based diet are very much overblown. There are not just some foods that have protein, absolutely everything you eat has some protein in it because the cells of every living thing has protein in it. Some foods contain a higher percentage of their calories as protein (legumes, but also leafy green vegetables) and others have a lower percentage of calories from protein (most fruits). Also every single plant food contains every single one of the essential amino acids. The difference is that plant foods have a different ratio of amino acids than animal foods, but you can get all of the essential amino acids and in more than sufficient quantity to support not only growth, but the extra demands placed on the body by exercise. USA Swimming says that you should be OK. The bit at the bottom saying that a vegan diet takes more planning than one with meat, dairy or eggs is not accurate. In order to compete at a high level every athlete has to carefully plan their diet.

      As to athletic performance, switching to a plant based diet should actually increase your performance. The reason I think has much to do with enhanced recovery. Animal foods tend to increase inflammation through out the body. Plant foods tend to do exactly the opposite and actively reduce inflammation. The long and grueling workouts required to reach an elite level as you only too well know tend to cause a lot of inflammation (muscle soreness, swollen and/or stiff joints, etc.). So the very last thing you would want to is foods that add flame to the fires of inflammation already burning after a hard workout. The reason that top athletes don’t all eat plant based is because there is just soooo much misinformation out there that sports nutrition has just accepted as a given without question for decades, especially as it relates to protein. That is beginning to change. So while Michael isn’t vegan, Katie Ziegler is (or at least vegetarian who adds eggs to a good vegan diet). She credits her plant powered diet with helping her recover faster.

      Three time All-American swimmer in college as well as top professional triathlete Rip Esselstyn was powered by plants during his triathlete career, as has Rich Roll, described as perhaps the fittest man on the planet, who completed 5 iron man triathalon in a one week period. That is just insane.

      And speaking of insane, it looks like a lot of the fighters in the UFC are going vegan.

      The ability of top level athletes to not only equal, but to exceed what they did before going plant based isn’t limited to the slim athletes. Here is David Carter the “300 lb Vegan”. He is an NFL defensive lineman and power lifter and one of a number of NFL players that are switching to a plant based diet completely or who reduce the animal foods to a minor portion of their diet for the very simple reason that it works. He credits a plant-based diet to allowing to train harder and longer because natural inflammation caused by hard training is naturally compensated for by the highly anti-inflammatory nature of plant foods while animal foods tend to be pro-inflammatory, which would hamper recovery. And he isn’t the only power lifter. Kendrick Farris was the only American to qualify in the weight lifting events for the 2016 Olympics and he is a vegan.

      For your other questions. to increase muscle mass, the answer is to eat whole foods and avoid protein free foods like sugar and vegetable oils. Every calorie from sugar and oil is a calorie that you can’t get from a whole food that can bring along another calorie or two of protein. But when you eat whole foods, the protein will just take care of itself.

      Always, always, always take a B-12 vitamin. B-12 is only made by bacteria. Plants and animals can’t make it. Animal foods have it only because animals live much dirtier lives than we do and so are getting a constant trickle of B-12 in all the bacteria they eat. Animals like cows also have a lot of bacteria helping them digest their food and get B-12 from those bacteria. So animals only serve as a way to gather bacterial B-12 and pass it along to you. The B-12 in a supplement has been directly extracted from the bacteria and is just as good as the B-12 from animals.

      B-12 absorption is weird. You only need 4-7 mcg a day, but can only completely absorb 2 mcgs per meal. So you can try to get 2 mcg in each meal and thus get 6 mcg a day. Fortified packaged foods like cereal and plant milks like almond and soy have about this amount in each serving. So you could drink a glass of a plant milk at each meal and get what you need. Fortunately there is another way. About 1% of any B-12 you take at one time above 2 mcg is indirectly absorbed. Thus you can all the B-12 you need in a single B-12 tablet, but the amount of B-12 is going to be far higher than the amount you need so that you get enough through the indirect absorption pathway. For example to get enough with a once daily supplement you need to take 500 mcg. This is because the first 2 mcg is directly absorbed and then only 1% of the remaining 498 is absorbed. In equation form the absorbed B-12 = 2 + (0.01 * 498) = 6.98 mcg. Extra B-12 is easily stored for long periods of time, so you could also take a single 5000 mcg tablet once a week and also get all the B-12 you need. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the student to prove that a 5000 mcg tablet will meet the B-12 needs for an entire week in one tablet.

      As for DHA, this is an ongoing topic of research. Plants have the short change omega 3 called ALA. The best source of ALA is flax seeds (always eat ground since whole seeds will pass right through). Plants do not contain the longer chain omega 3s EPA and DHA. But the body has the ability to convert ALA into EPA and DHA. How much of the ALA gets converted is where the controversy is. I have read papers that show that the studies showing very low conversion rates were flawed. Another actually measured the EPA and DHA status of long term vegans (who did not take any DHA or EPA supplements and so if they had any EPA or DHA in their system it came from conversion of ALA). and compared them to people who at fish and found that the levels almost identical in both groups. In fact the male vegans had a higher EPA and female vegans higher DHA than the fish eaters. But the number of vegans was small, so we would need a larger study to know if these results are accurate.

      So it is entirely possible that we can get all the DHA and EPA we need if we eat a diet low in omega 6 (which can crowd out ALA for space on the enzyme that lengthens both the omega 6 LA and the omega 3 ALA) and high in ALA (i.e. low amounts of liquid vegetable oils which are very high in LA and and lots of flax and chia seeds, walnuts and leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale). In the interim Dr. Greger recommends that we take a supplement. But that doesn’t have to be fish oil! Fish actually get most of their DHA and EPA through their diet from marine algae (the one type of plant that actually does directly make DHA and EPA). We can cut out the middle fish and grow the algae ourselves and extract the DHA and EPA just like the DHA and EPA are extracted from fish or krill oil. I personally take the Ovega 3 brand of algae DHA/EPA.

      As for Soy, oy! So many people simply have bad information about the health effects of soy. I suggest doing a search on this site for “soy” and let Dr Greger give you the full 411 on soy.

      One last thing, I would recommend that if you do stick with this diet that you log everything you eat for a month maybe two to make sure that you are a) eating enough calories (the biggest mistake newbies make) and b) that you can prove to yourself, and perhaps more importantly your parents and coaches, that you are getting enough protein. My recommendation is to use a website like cronometer.com. It is very easy to record what you eat. They even have an iPhone and Android apps so you can do it on the fly. I highly recommend that you get a good digital kitchen scale and actually weigh what you eat rather than just record “one serving of beans”. It is a lot more accurate and I think faster. Just put a plate or bowl on the scale, rezero it, add the first food, write down the weight, rezero the scale, add the second food, etc.

      One caution about cronometer. While it has entries in the nutritional database that it uses for a lot of commercial foods, the information available for those foods often isn’t complete. Of specific concern if you are wanting to make sure that you are getting enough of all of the essential amino acids is that for these foods the total amount of protein is given, but the amounts for the individual amino acids is often blank. Thus the daily totals for the amino acids would be less than what you actually consumed. The way to get around that is to only use the generic food items when entering your foods. It is pretty easy on the website or phone apps to see the nutrient breakdown for individual foods. Just look at the protein section to see if the values for the amino acids are given or not.

      Sorry for the long answer, I hope this actually answers your questions. Good luck!




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    2. Hi Bernie
      Just wondered how you’re getting along? I personally like the idea of having a vegetarian diet so I wonder why people would go vegan?
      I would miss having eggs & honey but I too drink soy milk & prefer it to cow, camel or goat’s milk thanks
      All best Lynne in Perth Australia




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  38. I had a question related to plant based diet vs. cancer cells. it’s known now that vegan blood is hostile to cancer cells and reduces their growth and also kills them better than non-vegan blood but doesn’t that mean it also does the same to healthy cells? Also since carbs are the preferred source of energy for the body, isn’t it supposed to be better for cell proliferation?




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    1. In the videos reviewing the research on how the blood of people eating a plant based diet is so hostile to cancer cells Dr. Greger almost always shows what the impact on healthy cells when the blood is dripped on them and that is always nothing. So it is only the cancer cells that are effected.

      As to proliferation, cell proliferation and growth is not stimulated by carbohydrates. This is because carbohydrates provide the fuel to operate existing cells, but do not provide the necessary building blocks to build new cells. Instead it is protein that stimulates cell proliferation. If you are getting adequate amounts of protein to maintain the cells you have, your body produces the amount of the primary growth hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) that you need to just keep up with normal cell death and replacement. But if you eat a lot of protein, then your body suddenly has the raw material it needs to do some extra growth and your body increases its production of IGF-1 considerably. But this doesn’t happen with every protein, but rather preferentially with animal protein. The reason why is because plant proteins don’t have the same ratios of all the amino acids, and so you body tends to use the extra protein as an energy source than as the raw material. However animal protein has a ratio of amino acids almost exactly like our own. So when you eat a big load of animal protein, the liver reacts by sending out the signal to the body to do some extra growth to take advantage of this sudden bounty of protein that it can convert so efficiently into more human protein. The trouble is that in adults we really don’t want to grow too much, so the normal body cells aren’t as sensitive to IGF-1 as they were when we were growing children. But there is still one type of cell that remains very sensitive to IGF-1 and that is cancer cells, which are classed as cancerous for the very reason that they natural controls that limit response to signals to grow and proliferate have been damaged. So when the load of protein with exactly the right ratio of amino acids to build new tissue along with a strong grow signal from IGF-1, cancer cells take off.

      IGF-1 also stimulates other factors important for cancer growth. A key one is vascular epithelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF stimulates the growth of new blood vessels, and without a new supply of blood a cancer tumor can’t grow much larger than a dot the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

      Another key factor for cancer growth is mTOR (target of rapamycin). Here are links to a discussion of IGF-1 and TOR along with a list of videos specifically or at least tangentially related to the impacts of IGF-1 and TOR.

      IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor -1) and TOR (target of rapamycin).

      Does that address your concerns/questions?




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      1. Yes it does but it also gives rise to another question. Since vegans have lower IGF1 levels, does that also mean that vegan kids will be shorter than their non-vegan counter parts?




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        1. Vidhan Matolia: Dr. Greger has referred positively to the site VRG.org before. (Vegetarian Resource Group). The VRG site has an article that talks about raising vegan kids. The article addresses your question. Here is the article: http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.php
          .
          While I recommend reading the whole article, here is part of the article that addresses your question. (There’s more about height in the article.) :
          .
          “While some studies show that vegan children are at a lower percentile of weight and height than are other children of a similar age, a recent study shows that vegan children can have growth rates which do not differ from those of omnivorous children of the same age (11).”




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  39. I’ve been plant based for a month now and I don’t think I’ve ever felt better in my life. This talk was so perfect. I’ve got a hyperlink to send people whenever they question my choices in diet! Thank you!!! :)




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  40. Inspirational. I am further encouraged to share as much as possible of this info with my patients here in NZ. Behaviour change is hard, especially in today’s times of competing interest but we got there with smoking.




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    1. Neither the article you reference nor the paper it references addresses the issue of reverse causation. Was low cholesterol the root cause of the increased mortality or was it that low cholesterol AND increase mortality were both caused by another condition. In order to exclude the possibility that low cholesterol as a symptom rather than a cause, the researchers should have examined the cholesterol history of the subjects. Did they always have “low” cholesterol or was the subject’s cholesterol high until immediately before or after their heart attacks. If researchers can show that people who have had low cholesterol levels for a period of time well in advance of becoming ill then had an increased risk of mortality once they had a heart attack, then perhaps then the association might point to a true causal connection.

      Also good to know would be the subject’s cholesterol level at admission since cholesterol level can fall rapidly during total or partial fasting even without changes in food type. The study says that it was the very sickest patients that had an increased 30-day mortality risk (highest Killip classification). If the cholesterol level used in the study was either at the end of 30-days or at the time of death, then it is possible that those whose health was worse following their heart attacks simply ate a lot less because they were so sick so their cholesterol levels dropped as a result of a reduction in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. If this is the case, then low cholesterol was not likely a cause of the increase in mortality.

      So to show that low cholesterol is potentially a causal factor in the 30-day mortality risk, the researchers should have looked at the medical history of the subjects of their study and see if they have historically had low cholesterol levels or did their cholesterol level fall as a result of reduced food intake due to declining health either immediately before their heart attack or following it in the hospital. As it stands, the study really doesn’t say much other than say there was an association.




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    2. It has been known for a long time that cholesterol appears to be lower in people who have suffered trauma (or experience infections), eg
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC374382/

      I think that a heart attack is a pretty classic example of a trauma. Even minor illnesses can cause mild cholesterol,lowering.
      http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/146/7/558.full.pdf

      Perhaps the more severe the heart attack, the greater the trauma and the greater the cholesterol lowering effect so these associations are not surprising.

      Consequently, as Jim writes, this is most likely a case of reverse of causation.




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    1. Thanks for your comment.

      As per Jack Norris RD:

      “A whole foods vegan diet has been shown to be beneficial for Type 2 diabetes in three studies that have been conducted on people with Type 2. I am actually working on an article combining the results of these studies. A lot of the benefit of such a diet is due to lower caloric intake, which probably won’t help someone with Type 1. However, I could see that the higher fiber content of a whole foods vegan diet could release carbohydrates more slowly into your blood and result in lower insulin needs, even if the carbohydrates are a higher percentage of your diet”

      Hope this answer helps.




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      1. @nfdev-3cdd5d87d8de847170314268ced43126:disqus @darchiterd:disqus Just because Type 1 diabetics don’t make insulin doesn’t mean that they can’t have the same insulin resistance that is the root cause of Type 2 diabetes. So a Type 1 + 2 diabetes is the worst of both worlds. They can’t make insulin so they have to rely on exogenous insulin which is does not control blood sugar with the same fine level of control as endogenous insulin, and then they lay on top of that insulin resistance which makes blood sugar control even harder and more uneven. This would likely mean that a Type 1 + 2 diabetic would have increased risk of complications than if they weren’t insulin resistant.

        So while diet can’t address the insulin dependency part, it can at least remove the insulin resistant part.




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  41. Dear Mr Greger and Moderators Team. Since June 2016 I am on the “plant based diet”. I can experience many positives changes with my wellbeing, but in the meantime I have started rapidly loosing head hair, what might be wrong, any vitamins (nutrients) deficiencies that I shall fix? Thanks. Farkhod




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    1. Farkhod: I have some information that I typically share with people when they ask about hair issues. I hope this helps.
      ***************************
      I had a relative who went vegan and her thinned hair started to grow back! And others on this site have reported similar experiences. From what I have seen, going vegan is not a generally recognized cause of hair loss. But, the devil is in the details:

      Following is a link to an article from Jack Norris who talks about the link between thyroid problems and hair loss–and how a change in diet may bring a thyroid problem to the fore. Other potential issues are also listed. http://jacknorrisrd.com/category/hair-loss/ Specifically note: “Summary: Occasionally, women who become vegetarian or vegan report experiencing hair loss. If there is a dietary cause, the most likely are rapid weight loss, thyroid problems, or iron deficiency. Zinc deficiency and not getting enough of the amino acid lysine could also be culprits.”

      For the full article where Jack goes into lots of detailed information, check out: http://veganhealth.org/articles/hairloss

      My 2 Cents: After looking at this information, I would think that if someone feels that they are really having hair loss, then it is time to see the doctor to figure out what the specific cause is. Once the cause is known, it can be directly addressed in a healthy way. For example, if someone is short on zinc, the ideal would be to address that zinc problem, not to revert back to a diet that is otherwise unhealthy in every other way.




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    1. Hi, I am a volunteer moderator on the site. Regarding your question about Hypothyroidism and diet. A diet that provides whole Plant Based food is beneficial to provide the following nutrients that are particularly important in the health of Thyroid gland.

      Selenium, Iodine, Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin D. Hormonal balance and controlling emotional stress and being active are important in helping the body to heal the Thyroid gland. Gut health is very important and Probiotics are helpful to improve the gut health. Have to watch out for Endocrine disrupters in the environment as well.

      Dietary Sources of Alkylphenol Endocrine Disruptors




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  42. Great presentation! Not only inspired me to continue on the path to strictly vegan diet but also gave me firm arguments to persuade others to do so too.

    I have a question though. Can we consider all plants as healthy having in mind both the plants by themselves and also if they usually have some bad influence from the way they are grown (pesticides etc.)

    Thank you! :)




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  43. I must ask… I’ve been on a mostly plant-based diet for about 6 months. It’s wonderful. My cholesterol cut in half, and my celiac disease is much better. I take vitamin D3 & iron daily, and weekly B12. I’ve noticed over the last 2 weeks that I have more hair loss than usual. I’ve looked up potential causes, and I considered stress and hormone changes. I saw a blog where many vegans reported hair loss. I’m wondering if I should be concerned???? It’s also weird that it just started now since I’ve been on the diet about about 6mo!




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    1. Brittany: Congratulations on the successes you have had so far. I had a relative who went vegan and her thinned hair started to grow back! And others on this site have reported similar experiences. From what I have seen, going vegan is not a generally recognized cause of hair loss. But, the devil is in the details:
      .
      Following is a link to an article from Jack Norris who talks about the link between thyroid problems and hair loss–and how a change in diet may bring a thyroid problem to the fore. Other potential issues are also listed. http://jacknorrisrd.com/category/hair-loss/ Specifically note: “Summary: Occasionally, women who become vegetarian or vegan report experiencing hair loss. If there is a dietary cause, the most likely are rapid weight loss, thyroid problems, or iron deficiency. Zinc deficiency and not getting enough of the amino acid lysine could also be culprits.”
      .
      For the full article where Jack goes into lots of detailed information, check out: http://veganhealth.org/articles/hairloss
      .
      My 2 Cents: After looking at this information, I would think that if someone feels that they are really having hair loss, then it is time to see the doctor to figure out what the specific cause is. Once the cause is known, it can be directly addressed in a healthy way. For example, if someone is short on zinc, the ideal would be to address that zinc problem, not to revert back to a diet that is otherwise unhealthy in every other way.




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  44. Thanks for all the excellent videos!
    A question: of the many plant based diets out there, which one is the “best” plant based diet to follow?
    I’m sure you would not recommend a 100% plant based diet that consists purely of cane sugar and wheat.

    Could you please put a definition of “the most healthy plant based diet” on your website?




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    1. Hi Willem888, I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Yes, a plant-based diet could technically be comprised of oreos, soda, and white bread. Dr. Greger and many others promote what is called a WHOLE FOOD plant-based diet, in which the plants should be consumed in as close of a form to their original structure as possible. White bread, cane sugar, oreos, and even foods like oils and white rice are not whole foods, and therefore do not meet this criteria. I hope this helps!




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      1. Thanks Cody!! Yes, that does help, but even a “whole food plant based diet” is still a very wide field. Are there any of Dr Greger’s videos or articles that are a little more specific or that describe the essence of the diet?




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        1. willem888: Dr. Greger has described the diet he recommends two different ways. For a high level overview, check out this page: http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/
          .
          For more details, check out Dr. Greger’s “Daily Dozen” You can find descriptions of the Daily Dozen on articles on the web. It is described in detail in Part 2 of Dr. Greger’s book How Not To Die. You can also get a brief understanding of the Daily Dozen from a free smart phone app.




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  45. Hi Dr Gregor!
    I purchased your book
    How not to die
    I really like it and want to adapt so many of the suggestions
    Unfortunately it came to me from a British bookseller
    I didn’t realize this
    But the serving sizes are all in grams
    Is there an equivalent that you can send me for all the
    American amounts?
    With pages etc
    I know they are published as this book is first coming out
    In the USA
    I would really appreciate it
    And really thank you for that
    Sincerely
    Suzanne Foley




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    1. Suzanne Foley: The following article includes details for the Daily Dozen using cups and tablespoons for defining serving sizes: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3470450/Foods-eat-day-Dr-Michael-Greger-s-Daily-Dozen.html
      .
      You can also get a free Daily Dozen phone app if you have a smart phone. I haven’t seen that app myself, but my understanding is that the app, it not only lets you track what you have eaten each day, but it gives some definitions of what each category is. (If I’m wrong about that, please someone let me know.)
      .
      Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.nutritionfacts.dailydozen
      Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr.-gregers-daily-dozen/id1060700802?mt=8




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  47. I am so glad to have come across this site..it is amazing and so incredibly helpful! As someone diagnosed with Hashimotos, I was wondering if Dr. Greger could provide any insight as to the effects of a plant-based diet on thyroid issues. Specifically, I’d like to know what to do about gluten/wheat. Most information seems to indicate that those with thyroid issues should avoid gluten, but based on some of the information on this site, it sounds like it might not be necessary after all. I couldn’t find any videos or articles specific to that issue though, and I’d love to know what his recommendation is. I’m just not sure whether it is advisable for me to incorporate whole grains, only gluten-free whole grains, or to avoid any wheat. It would be great to finally understand what is really best. Thank you so much!




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  48. Absolutely loved this lecture. will share with friends and family. Dr. Greger makes something so complex simple to all who watch this. This is lifesaving information I will share with all. Thanks Dr. Greger for all you do!




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  49. Hi All,

    I am very confused about the effects of soy milk and tomatoes on an enlarged prostrate.

    Many websites rave about the benefits of both. While many other websites say avoid soy foods and tomatoes at all costs.

    Any comments please advise as I would dearly miss these two foods in my my plant based diet .

    Thank you
    Adam




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    1. Hi, Adam Lewis. I am Christine, a NF volunteer moderator. There is a lot of nonsense on the web about nutrition, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between it and real, meaningful, evidence-based information. You might be interested in these, if you have not already seen them:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/prostate-versus-a-plant-based-diet/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/prostate-versus-plants/
      This study showed that tomato paste had some benefit for BPH: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16906286
      I see no reason to avoid your soy milk and tomatoes. I hope that helps!




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      1. Hi Christine,

        Thank you very much for your reply. I will certainly go ahead with my tomatoes and Soy foods.

        Loving the plant diet. Feel much better!

        Thank you.
        Adam




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  50. Hello Dr Greger and thank you for your many interesting and informative videos.

    One of the purposes of going to a Vegan Diet is to reduce, over time, the build up of Plaque in our arteries. My question has to do with the removal of some of the Plaque from our arteries after we have had stents inserted into our arteries to reduce blockages and allow greater blood flow to our hearts. I do not know anything about the structure of these stents which I received (5 I think) between about 2006 and 2011.

    The question is if the stents were simply inserted into a blockage in the artery consisting largely of a buildup of plaque, how will the reduction of some of that plaque over several years of serious dieting following the vegan format affect the stability of each individual stent? What mechanism is used to ensure the stability of the stents given the possibility of the reduction of some of that plaque? And lastly, have there been cases of Stents coming loose and causing damage within the arteries that have been reported, and if so with what outcomes? I look forward to your reply. Thank you. Ed Petersen, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.




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    1. Dear Ed, I am one of the site moderators. This is an interesting question and I can see why you might be a bit leery of getting rid of the plaque in your arteries. If you look at cross sectional drawings of arteries with plaque deposits, the deposits are typically under the lining of the artery and forming a bump of scar like tissue that then protrudes into the inside or lumen of the artery. The body is really good at healing itself and it has the lining cells cover the deposits to protect itself from the foreign body and that’s how what deposited on the inside of the artery ends up looking like its outside of it. In actuality it is in the thick wall of the artery. Likewise, the body does the same thing to your stents over time so they get somewhat incorporated into the wall of the artery to continue to hold it open. Old plaque is usually very stable. The ones that are dangerous are the newer ones that are not considered stable or have the covering over the foreign material firmly in place. This sort of plaque can dislodge or form a flap that can cut off the arteries blood flow and cause an acute myocardial infarction. These are the dangerous ones. The old, well established ones are considered stable.




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  51. Question: Why does the McDougall diet recommend restricting all oils and your studies show monosaturated oils like olive oil is OK? -everything in moderation, of course!




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    1. JoanD: NutritionFacts has a series of videos on olive oil. I would say that the conclusion was generally to stay away from olive oil. In other words, it seems to me that Dr. Greger and Dr. McDougall are in agreement on this issue. Have you seen the videos on this site regarding olive oil?




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  52. I am interested in attending a conference for continuing education hours and was wondering if anyone had any good recommendations. I am a RN Health Coach working in the primary care setting for general family practice.
    Thanks in advance!




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  53. Hi! My name is Zina and I’m in my junior year in highschool. We have been assigned to do a presentation of what diet does to the body, how much sleep you need and how to prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes and heartdiseases etc. My dilemma with this is that my science teacher has taught us today, that meat has vitamins,minerals and iron that is needed in a healthy diet. Just like everybody else thinks and does. I have seen Neal Barnards presentation on why milk is bad and also how to reverse type 2 diabetes. I have also seen Dr. Esseltyns presentation on how to reverse heartdiease as well, along with heart surgent, Dr. Ellsworth Wareham.

    I live in Sweden and there has been a HUGE study done that proved that milk was bad for human health. http://www.svt.se/nyheter/vetenskap/uppsala-forskare-mjolkdrickande-kopplat-till-okad-dodlighet

    But, if I do this…I would risk getting a big FAT F! So should I do this in my free time rather than in school, and present that animal products are good for you just like everybody else are gonna do?

    I know this is VERY hard, but I really need some feedbacks on this one!!

    A reply would be very much appreciated!




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  54. Hi! My name is Zina and I’m in my junior year in highschool. We have been assigned to do a presentation of what diet does to the body, how much sleep you need and how to prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes and heartdiseases etc. My dilemma with this is that my science teacher has taught us today, that meat has vitamins,minerals and iron that is needed in a healthy diet. Just like everybody else thinks and does. I have seen Neal Barnards presentation on why milk is bad and also how to reverse type 2 diabetes. I have also seen Dr. Esseltyns presentation on how to reverse heartdisease as well, along with heart surgent, Dr. Ellsworth Wareham.

    I live in Sweden and there has been a HUGE study done that proved that milk was bad for human health. http://www.svt.se/nyheter/vetenskap/uppsala-forskare-mjolkdrickande-kopplat-till-okad-dodlighet

    But, if I do this…I would risk getting a big FAT F! So should I do this in my free time rather than in school, and present that animal products are good for you just like everybody else are gonna do?

    I know this is VERY hard, but I really need some feedbacks on this one!!

    A reply would be very much appreciated!




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    1. Zina: My heart goes out to you. I don’t think there is a right/wrong answer here in terms of what you should do. I know that there are doctors who gave answers on their medical degree tests which the doctors knew were wrong, but which matched what was expected. In other words, you are not alone in facing this dilemma. It starts at your age or earlier and goes on up through the highest level of education. Until our education systems catch up with the science available to us, students will continue to face this ethical and internal integrity problem.

      Here are some questions you might ask yourself that might help you make a decision: If you could document your claims, would your teacher still give you a bad grade? What effect would a bad grade on this one assignment have on your final grade? Would contradicting your teacher harm your relationship with your teacher so that he might give you bad grades on other things even if you didn’t deserve it? Would a bad grade in this one class affect your life and future education opportunities? Could you lie on the paper and be OK with it? How much would false paper weight on your mind? Is there an opportunity here to educate your teacher? In other words, could you say bring in some of those educational documentaries/talks and get your teacher or class to watch them? Would the potential benefits of getting your teacher to learn about nutritional science outweigh the risks?

      One more suggestion for you: I suggest that you repeat your post/question on today’s current video-of-the-day. Because of our new forum system, I think that most of the people who commented on this video will *not* be seeing your post. You might get more exposure on today’s video or one of the more recent videos that has more people commenting. (I saw you post just because I am a volunteer moderator and see all the posts.)

      Best of luck to you.




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  55. Hi!
    I admire you’re work Greger.
    I have one question/wish?
    I want to show this to my parents and need someone to make the subtitles in Swedish:)
    Iam going for a plant based diet.
    Thank you for all the great science !




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  56. Hello Zina,
    I think Thea has provided you with some wise counsel. As a former high school teacher not nurse, I would ask you to consider arming yourself with several research studies and asking if you could meet with that teacher who is pro-meat. I’d go in with a sincere attitude that you want to do well in your course and this is an issue you’re really interesting in exploring, but you’ve found some well-researched current studies that have contradictory conclusions. Make it clear that you recognize that animal protein has some benefits but you’ve learned about risks as well and you’d include them in your report UNLESS this will just result in a lowered grade. If so I’d say don’t waste more time, write a report that pleases the teacher knowing you did your best to educate your teacher but s/he was not open to learning new information. Most instructors would be delighted with someone like you who does her research and thinks for herself! I’m sure in the future that virtues will be better appreciated, Zina. Keep the faith!




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