Increasing Protein Intake After Age 65

Increasing Protein Intake After Age 65
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What is the optimal source and amount of protein for senior citizens?


That study that purported to show that diets high in meat, eggs, and dairy could be as harmful to health as smoking supposedly suggested that people under 65 who eat lots of meat, eggs, and dairy are four times as likely to die from cancer or diabetes. But if you look at the actual study, you’ll see that’s simply not true. Those eating lots of animal protein didn’t have four times more risk of dying from diabetes; they had 73 times the risk.  

What about those that chose moderation, those in the moderate protein group, who got 10 to 19% of calories from protein? They just had about 23 times the risk of death from diabetes, compared to those consuming the recommended amount of protein, which comes out to be about 6 to 10% of calories from protein—around 50 or so grams a day.

So, the so-called low protein intake is actually the recommended protein intake—associated with a major reduction in cancer, and overall mortality in middle age, under age 65. But note, it says not in older populations. When it comes to diabetes deaths, lower overall protein intake is associated with a longer life at all ages. But for cancer, it seems to flip around age 65.

These results suggest that low protein intake during middle age, followed by moderate to high protein consumption in old adults, may optimize healthspan and lifespan. Some have suggested that the standard daily allowance for protein, 0.8 grams of daily protein for every healthy kilogram of body weight, may be fine for most, but maybe older people require more.

This is the study upon which the RDA was based, and though there was a suggestion that the elderly may have a somewhat higher requirement, there is just not enough evidence to make different recommendations. The definitive study was published in 2008, and it found no difference in the protein requirements between young and old. The same RDA should be adequate for the elderly.

But adequate intake is not necessarily optimal intake. The protein requirement studies don’t address the possibility that protein intake well above the RDA could prove beneficial—or so suggests a member of the Whey Protein Panel, and a consultant for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

If you follow sedentary individuals over the age of 65, they lose about 1% of their muscle mass every year. If you force people to lie in bed all day for days at a time, anyone would lose muscle mass. But older adults may lose muscle mass on bed rest six times faster than young people. So, it’s use it or lose it for everyone, but the elderly appear to lose it faster; so, they better use it.

The good news is, in contrast to the 12-year U.S. study, a similar study in Japan found that the age-related decreases in muscle mass were trivial. Why the difference? It turns out the participants were informed about the results of their muscle strength; and so, often tried to improve it by training before the next exam for the study—especially the men, who got so competitive their muscle mass went up with age, which shows that the loss of muscle mass with age is not inevitable; you just have to put in some effort.

And, adding protein does not seem to help. Adding more egg whites to the diet did not influence the muscle responses to resistance training—and that’s based on studies funded by the American Egg Board itself. Even the National Dairy Council couldn’t spin it; evidently, strength training induced improvements in body composition, muscle strength and size, and physical functioning are not enhanced when older people increase their protein intake by either increasing the ingestion of higher-protein foods, or taking protein supplements.

Is there anything we can do, diet-wise, to protect our aging muscles? Vegetables. Consuming recommended levels of vegetables was associated with cutting the odds basically in half of low muscle mass. Why? The alkalizing effects of vegetables may neutralize the mild metabolic acidosis that occurs with age, and, you know, it may be that little extra acid in our body that facilitates the breakdown of muscle.

I’ve talked about this before, how muscle wasting appears to be an adaptive response, to acidosis. We appear to get a chronic low-grade acidosis with advancing age because our kidneys start to decline, and because we may be eating an acid-promoting diet—which means a diet high in fish, pork, chicken, and cheese, and low in fruits and vegetables. And, as you can see, beans and other legumes are the only major source of protein that’s alkaline- instead of acid-forming. And indeed, a more plant-based diet, a more alkaline diet, was found to be positively associated with muscle mass in women aged 18 through 79 years old.

So, if we are going to increase our protein consumption after age 65, it would be preferable to be plant-based proteins to protect us from frailty. No matter how old we are, a diet that emphasizes plant-based nutrition is likely to maximize health benefits in all age groups.

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

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay.

That study that purported to show that diets high in meat, eggs, and dairy could be as harmful to health as smoking supposedly suggested that people under 65 who eat lots of meat, eggs, and dairy are four times as likely to die from cancer or diabetes. But if you look at the actual study, you’ll see that’s simply not true. Those eating lots of animal protein didn’t have four times more risk of dying from diabetes; they had 73 times the risk.  

What about those that chose moderation, those in the moderate protein group, who got 10 to 19% of calories from protein? They just had about 23 times the risk of death from diabetes, compared to those consuming the recommended amount of protein, which comes out to be about 6 to 10% of calories from protein—around 50 or so grams a day.

So, the so-called low protein intake is actually the recommended protein intake—associated with a major reduction in cancer, and overall mortality in middle age, under age 65. But note, it says not in older populations. When it comes to diabetes deaths, lower overall protein intake is associated with a longer life at all ages. But for cancer, it seems to flip around age 65.

These results suggest that low protein intake during middle age, followed by moderate to high protein consumption in old adults, may optimize healthspan and lifespan. Some have suggested that the standard daily allowance for protein, 0.8 grams of daily protein for every healthy kilogram of body weight, may be fine for most, but maybe older people require more.

This is the study upon which the RDA was based, and though there was a suggestion that the elderly may have a somewhat higher requirement, there is just not enough evidence to make different recommendations. The definitive study was published in 2008, and it found no difference in the protein requirements between young and old. The same RDA should be adequate for the elderly.

But adequate intake is not necessarily optimal intake. The protein requirement studies don’t address the possibility that protein intake well above the RDA could prove beneficial—or so suggests a member of the Whey Protein Panel, and a consultant for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

If you follow sedentary individuals over the age of 65, they lose about 1% of their muscle mass every year. If you force people to lie in bed all day for days at a time, anyone would lose muscle mass. But older adults may lose muscle mass on bed rest six times faster than young people. So, it’s use it or lose it for everyone, but the elderly appear to lose it faster; so, they better use it.

The good news is, in contrast to the 12-year U.S. study, a similar study in Japan found that the age-related decreases in muscle mass were trivial. Why the difference? It turns out the participants were informed about the results of their muscle strength; and so, often tried to improve it by training before the next exam for the study—especially the men, who got so competitive their muscle mass went up with age, which shows that the loss of muscle mass with age is not inevitable; you just have to put in some effort.

And, adding protein does not seem to help. Adding more egg whites to the diet did not influence the muscle responses to resistance training—and that’s based on studies funded by the American Egg Board itself. Even the National Dairy Council couldn’t spin it; evidently, strength training induced improvements in body composition, muscle strength and size, and physical functioning are not enhanced when older people increase their protein intake by either increasing the ingestion of higher-protein foods, or taking protein supplements.

Is there anything we can do, diet-wise, to protect our aging muscles? Vegetables. Consuming recommended levels of vegetables was associated with cutting the odds basically in half of low muscle mass. Why? The alkalizing effects of vegetables may neutralize the mild metabolic acidosis that occurs with age, and, you know, it may be that little extra acid in our body that facilitates the breakdown of muscle.

I’ve talked about this before, how muscle wasting appears to be an adaptive response, to acidosis. We appear to get a chronic low-grade acidosis with advancing age because our kidneys start to decline, and because we may be eating an acid-promoting diet—which means a diet high in fish, pork, chicken, and cheese, and low in fruits and vegetables. And, as you can see, beans and other legumes are the only major source of protein that’s alkaline- instead of acid-forming. And indeed, a more plant-based diet, a more alkaline diet, was found to be positively associated with muscle mass in women aged 18 through 79 years old.

So, if we are going to increase our protein consumption after age 65, it would be preferable to be plant-based proteins to protect us from frailty. No matter how old we are, a diet that emphasizes plant-based nutrition is likely to maximize health benefits in all age groups.

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

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay.

Doctor's Note

A study that purported to show that diets high in meat, eggs, and dairy could be as harmful to health as smoking? See my video Animal Protein Compared to Cigarette Smoking.

Protein is so misunderstood. For more on the optimal amount of protein, see Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein? and The Great Protein Fiasco.

Interested in learning more about the optimal source of protein? See:

What about the rumors that plant protein is incomplete? See The Protein Combining Myth.

For more information on buffering the acid in our blood, see Testing Your Diet with Pee and Purple Cabbage.

And, for more on acid/base balance, see:

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

215 responses to “Increasing Protein Intake After Age 65

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  1. “Decades after they were banned, PCBs persist in the air, soil and water. People are still exposed through food — particularly fish, meat and dairy products — and breathing PCB-contaminated air, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

    Okay, i already know these PCBs are in animal foods, but would ocean swimming (excessive, everyday for decades) constitute “PCB-contamidated air.”? Some of us swim in the ocean year round, everyday.

    1. They’re there, but PCB’s prefer to disolve in fats, and bioaccumulate up the food chain. Total PCBs in Gulf of Alaska surface seawater average 12 pg/L = 0.012 parts per trillion (ppt), while Alaskan wild salmon average 5,302 ppt. PCBs are concentrated 400,000 fold in one of the least contaminated fish, and with the fish the intent is to ingest.

      From the first source all sampled surface seawater had comparable values of PCBs, from a low of 8 pg/L (0.008 ppt) in the Southern Pacific to a high of 27 pg/L (0.027 ppt) in the Mediterranean. Amounts in air taken during the same cruises had more variability, from 28 pg/cubic meter to 330 pg/cubic meter in the same locales.

      1. Darryl, it appears that even wild-caught Alaskan Salmon is a big source of PCBs. Do you concur? People line up to buy Alaskan salmon, thinking it is chemical-free (or low in toxins). Wow, on the surface the data you have provided makes me think this Alaskan salmon should be big-time avoided by anyone seeking to limit high-intake sources of PCBs/dioxins. What do you think?
        I also remember reading somewhere that those little seemingly harmless (toxin free) sardines are pretty darn high in PCBs.

        1. It’s all relative. Pulling up a study on PCBs in Mdeiterranean bluefin tuna, avg levels were as high as 611 ng/g (ppb) = 611,000 ppt in 6-9 year old specimens, a thousand times greater than the salmon above. Sardine PCBs in the Spanish market were 1.41 ppt. Much greater than seawater, much less than salmon or tuna. This lower value is expected given sardines are near the bottom of the food chain, whereas tuna eats other fish which in turn eat sardines.

          1. Are these number for wild caught salmon at a level, in your opinion (current day levels) an emphatic reason to forgo supposedly safe fish such as wild caught salmon? We often see these numbers thrown out there in literature, and any # seems to raise a red flag, but are these #’s reasons enough to avoid even sardines/salmon?

            Side note…..i read sardines also can be high in cadmium.

            1. PCBs (and even dioxin) may have hormetic effects, perhaps acting through one of the same receptors that broccoli compounds do, so its hard to say whether low-dose exposure is a net negative for health.

              I personally have avoided seafood for six years, excepting some overseas travel where to ask for fish-free alternatives would be wasteful or might unduly inconvenience my hosts. There’s no need for seafood, as I find the evidence favoring lower complete protein diets from longevity studies compelling, and there’s nothing unique to seafood that can’t be found as an ethical supplement (eg, algal oil for EPA/DHA, synthetic taurine). Fish experience pain and distress and may have some degree of cognition, which I believe requires ethical consideration.
              Perhaps most importantly, overfishing, pollution, and climate change are driving a collapse of ocean ecosystems. Sardines are short-lived species that will probably recover from ongoing, widespread collapses in their populations. Alaskan wild salmon is considered well managed, but that often means maximally exploiting fish stocks so that their own populations remain stable, but without consideration for other stressed species in the ecosystem. The salmon we take are salmon unavailable to cormorants, cod, sharks, seals and otters, including some some species that are endangered. In general, as fishing fleets have global reach some seafood that reaches our shores depletes stocks in areas that depend on traditional and more sustainable fisheries, and can cause human suffering. This is the case of the former sustenance fishermen in Somalia, driven by Asian fishing fleets to an alternative livelihood as pirates.

              1. Darryl,

                Off topic but I am wondering if you think the science behind B6 and folate in supplemental form raises a red-flag. I am considering taking a B12 methyl vitamin that includes B6 and folate in their methylated forms as well. I have not responded well to regular B12 supplements taken alone, and some people feel that taking all 3 of these together can sometimes make a difference. Yet, B6 seems to have some red flags. Not sure about the methylated form of B6 being safe but I was told that the reason I often get nerve pain in hands after taking B12 alone is that B12 in high dose can sometimes deplete other B vitamins quickly. My folate and B6 blood levels are very healthy, and I do not eat fortified foods nor take vitamins.

                1. Methyl B12 (methylcobalamin) is similar bioavailability to the standard B12 available in the States (cyanocobalamin). A third form, hydroxy B12 (hydroxycobalamin), has greater retention in the body, perhaps due to slower urinary losses. I’m not aware of any health issues like lack of intrinsic factor (secreted by the stomach to aid B12 absorption), that wouldn’t affect all three equally.

                  Natural folate found in plants isn’t shelf stable. Folic acid is a shelf-stable form used in food fortification and most supplements, but unfortunately our bodies’ ability to convert this to biologically active methylfolate is limited. Methylfolate is the biologically active form, and while some studies find it superior to folic acid (1, 2), others have seen little difference (3, 4). Having been prescribed high-dose prescription methylfolate (Deplin) briefly, I can say methylfolate is very profitable for patent holder and sole manufacturer Merck, and licensee Nestlé.

                  There’s no methyl B6, per se. In prescription L-methyl-B6-B12 tablets, the B6 is the biologically active form pyridoxal 5-phosphate. As its the form our bodies use, I wouldn’t expect any safety issues. That said, I haven’t found a single study that compared its bioavailability to the pyridoxine common in supplements or pyridoxal used in food fortification.

                  B vitamins all use their own unique transporters. I wouldn’t expect excesses of any B vitamin to affect bioavailability of others. The usual reason they’ve been prescribed together, and available in combination pills, is that they work in concert to reduce homocysteine levels (which has no effect on CVD outcomes).

                  I’m not sure why anyone with adequate status and eating a healthy diet would supplement these, excepting insuring adequate B12 in vegans, and folate if you might become pregnant. There’s also an interesting speculative case for taking high dose B9 before surgery.

                    1. Homocysteine (Hcy) lowering B-vitamin interventions don’t reduce heart disease (1), and genetic predispositions to increased homocysteine don’t increase it (2, 3, 4). The latter are examples of Mendelian randomization studies, enabled by the cheap genotyping of the past decade, which can be considered Nature’s own randomized clinical trials, and like RCTs, offer some of the best evidence or refutations of a causal role for risk markers. Treatment guidelines for CVD have accordingly moved to no longer test or target lower Hcy.

                      Similarly, there’s no benefit for B-vitamin supplementation on cancer risk (5), but studies of Hcy raising genotype on breast cancer risk have shown no or very small increase in risk (6, 7). As with stroke and dementia risk, there’s no effect of Hcy raising genotype in Caucasian populations, but there is in studies from East Asia.

                      Methionine intake does increase Hcy, so its possible that the past associations of Hcy with cancer were a coincident marker of diet.

      2. Canadian researchers have found that of all species, pink salmon is the least contaminated with industrial pollutants. That’s because pink live very short lives and feed low on the food chain. Our scientists are also keeping an eye on the Fukushima radiation that’s now hitting northwest Pacific shores. So far, the cesium 137 levels in salmon they’ve tested have been “very, very low–thousands of times below the maximum allowable levels in drinking water,” they say.

  2. Great video!
    What the impact of breathing excersise to get the body a bit more alcaline to prevent musle loss? I think that breathing is the body faster tool to create an alcaline state. IS RIGHT THAT?

    1. Hello Noe,
      You are correct. Heavy breathing (during exercise) acts to “blow off” carbon dioxide, which makes your blood more alkaline. If one stops breathing, the CO2 levels in your blood increase, which makes your blood more acidic. You can see this from the equilibrium equation that med students learn in respiratory physiology:
      CO2 + H2O HCO3- + H+ [CO2 is carbon dioxide, H2O is water, H+ is acid, and HCO3- is bicarbonate]

      If you hyperventilate, it gets rid of CO2, which drives the equilibrium to the left — getting rid of acid. But this operates over a very short time period. Over the longer term, your kidneys also get involved to try to maintain the proper pH of your blood. Dr. G. gives links to 3 of his previous videos that deal with acid-base balance. One he left out is:
      this one, which explains how muscle wasting occurs when our kidneys try to get rid of the excess acid from a diet high in animal protein.

  3. I haven’t read the original study for a while, but I thought the authors were arguing that it was important to eat ANIMAL protein when you are older than 65 to maintain adequate levels of IGF-1, which basically drops as you age. Before 65 you need less IGF-1 to minimize cancer risk, after 65 ramping up the IGF-1 is important for maintain muscle mass.

    1. No.

      The authors noted that for middle-aged people “when the percent calories from animal protein was controlled for, the association between total protein and all-cause and cancer mortality was eliminated or significantly reduced, respectively, suggesting animal protein mediates a significant portion of these relationships. When we controlled for the effect of plant-based protein, there was no change in the association between protein intake and mortality, indicating that high levels of animal proteins promote mortality and not that plant-based proteins have a protective effect ”
      and for people aged 66+, all-cause mortality …… “was not affected by percent calories from fat, from carbohydrates, or from animal protein.”

      They also commented
      “Thus our findings may explain the controversy related to IGF-1 and mortality indicating that a minimum levels of proteins and possibly IGF-1 is important in the elderly or that low circulating IGF-1 reflects a state of malnourishment frailty and/or morbidity (Maggio et al., 2007). In fact, inflammation and other disorders are known to decrease IGF-1 levels, raising the possibility that the low protein and low IGF-1 group may contain a significant number of both malnourished and frail individuals having or in the process of developing major diseases (Fontana et al., 2012).”

      This sounds exactly like the claims that excess weight and high cholesterol are protective in older people (but not in middle-aged people). Whereas, declining weight and cholesterol are markers “of malnourishment and “developing major diseases”. That is, reverse causation may be a more credible explanation of the association than a complicated theory that attempts to explain why something suddenly has an exactly opposite effect in a group known for higher morbidity.

      1. Wonderful analysis, @tom_goff:disqus . Older adults can become malnourished due to a variety of changes; taste receptors dull with aging; limitations in mobility make cooking more cumbersome, leading to canned soup or cereal as a “main”; losses of partners and peers lead to social circle diminishment and depression, making one’s world smaller and less interesting. Finally, our societal viewpoint of older adults as being less valuable, even invisible (since our culture glorifies health, youth, vitality) leads to smaller and smaller lives. I know that part of my clinical education focused on encouraging “protein” consumption with older adults due to the protective factor of higher weights while aging. Keeping muscle mass (yea, Japanese exercisers!), keeping mentally and socially active, encouraging wide variety of whole fresh foods, and challenging the brain are a Rx for a healthy aging process!

      2. Great analysis, Tom. It fits in with what Dr. Greger was saying. It has been noted for years that weak people, although thin, don’t survive heart attacks, while fit people (who could be thin but weigh more) are often damaged by them but survive. I always wondered about people justifying their third slice of cheesecake by saying that overweight leads to longer life. Many attributes of the Okinawan lifestyle in addition to plant based diets can contribute to long healthy life: getting up from the floor (no furniture), friend groups, gardening, sunshine, a relaxed lifestyle, rituals of health and pleasure, and having a reason to live. John S

        1. As a dietitian who treats many with clinical eating disorders, I can attest that most of my thinnest clients are the least healthy. Weight IS NOT connected to health – at least not as an independent, stand alone variable. We are so focused in this culture with the thin ideal that most forget that many components go into health, weight is just one.

  4. Is there an optimal macronutrient ratio? In this case if more protein isn’t needed, should the shift in calories move to carbs or to healthy fats? This vid seems to recommend veggies, so do I infer carbs?

    1. Well you need a certain amount of healthy fat at any age, namely Omega-3. As for carb, I am always confused about it. There is complex carb and simple carb, and so on. I never pay attention to it. You need to eat certain foods to prevent diseases no matter what. To make it simple, it’s the foods that are in the Daily Dozen at the minimum. So I think I will maintain my protein, carb, healthy fat intake level at any age, just need to eat the foods I need to eat. I am not totally convinced about the magic age of 65. I will exercise and do some weightlifting to maintain muscle mass and if I see that my muscle decreases rapidly as I age then I will adjust the amount of protein intake. But it is not in my plan right now. Note that 65 year of age is just an average guideline, it does not apply to everyone, nor it is exactly at 65 if not earlier, or later, or never.

        1. Yeah, make it simple. You hear so much about carb, calorie, gluten, etc. that often people don’t eat the foods they should eat. Unless there is a health problem for some people to eat certain foods then you should not worry but just eat the right amount of foods at any age.

    2. HI – your comment “do I infer carbs?” made me think that this might be a good time to remind us all that that all vegetables have protein, fat, as well as carbs in them. It varies of course. But a couple of my favorite high protein vegetables are cauliflower, asparagus, and broccoli. The complete protein in these vegetables is between 19 and 27%, fat 3-10% and the rest complex carbohydrate. Black beans, by comparison, are 23% (complete) protein, 3% fat which is comparable to the green vegetables I mentioned. We don’t need to think of beans as “the protein source” for WFPB-eaters. Vegetables ARE the protein source and, in my little opinion, shouldn’t be classified as carbohydrate. They are simply THE whole food. And what they have, in addition, and makes them superior to meat, is nutrition (Vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients). My source for this information is this site:
      You can also look up any meat and compare how much nutrition there is in asparagus vs tri tip steak for example. It’s really very interesting.
      Since you asked, Sircornflakes, if there is an optimal macronutrient ratio, . . . I’m going to just take a wild guess and venture that the optimal macronutrient ratio is the one that exists already in the aforementioned beans, broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower. Since they’re all similar in their composition, I’m just going to guess that protein, carb, and fat ratio in the vegetable is our optimum. (don’t need to add olive oil to “increase” the absorption of vitamins as some claim because the fat is already in the veg.) Nature has provided.
      And, interestingly, human Mother’s milk is somewhere between 3-5% protein. . . shouldn’t THAT give us a clue?
      Anyway, . . I was just wishing to share. Have a great day!

    3. Just try to eat heaps of fruits and cooked carbs like potatoes and brown/white rice etc., things like this. Youll get plenty of protein and fats, carbs are your body primary preferred fuel source.. eat them up
      Its best to eat 2500+ calories a day and exercise a few times a week and you’ll be healthy as fuck

    4. Sircornflakes: I appreciate ‘guest’s response reminding us that veggies have lots of protein. The following page shows a graph of how much protein the major food categories have on average and compares that to how much protein we need.
      Where I disagree with ‘guest’ is the idea that say broccoli and other similar veggies have the perfect ratios. Veggies are just one food category that is part of a healthy diet. I would say that the best macro-nutrient ratios are what would happen when one eats a healthy diet. I took a crack at answering this question not too long ago. Below was my answer. I hope it gives you something helpful to think about.

      I don’t think anyone knows what exact percentages we need. I know that many experts prefer not to focus on macro nutrient percents, and instead recommend that you eat whole plant foods, following a system such as Dr. Gregers’ Daily Dozen or the PCRM Power Plate, etc.
      Having said that, I do think it is helpful to get an idea of what range of percentages is likely to be healthy, especially for people just starting out and for giving us one way to judge the likely healthfulness of a diet. So, here’s some data to think about:
      There have been a couple of people lately who have entered their Daily Dozen food into to figure out their macro nutrient percentages. Jim Felder did a great post here with an example from his own daily diet: He came up with approximately 61% carbs, 14% protein, 10% fat. Moderator Renae did a sample entry into cronometer and came up with 23% fat, though an alternate scenario went as low as 19% fat.
      Now, compare those numbers to what the traditional Okinawans ate. That population is one of the healthiest and long-lived people (lots of strong, 100+ people!) on the planet. And a survey of their diet found these percentages: 85% carbs, 9% protein, 6% fat, . And FYI, that diet included about 70% sweet potatoes.
      I think all these numbers help to give you a proper sense that a) we don’t know *exact* percentages which are needed, and indeed those percentages may differ some for different people/needs, AND b) there is a range of percentages that is likely healthy. Going outside that range may be unhealthy. For example, for most people, eating 40% fat would likely be too much. While protein is vital, 30% is likely too much (and if a person is eating animal protein, they really, REALLY need to watch out, keeping it less than 10% if The China Study is to be believed). And we can see that no matter what model you use to base your diet on, the majority of your macro-nutrients should come from healthy carbohydrates, which means eating a Whole Plant Food Based diet with lots of intact grains, legumes, (sweet) potatoes, veggies, fruit, and mushrooms. with a small amount of nuts/seeds and a B12 supplement.

      1. I think we can do better then the Okinawans. Even the 7th Day Adventists of California did slightly better as a group then the Okinawans. But I think we can do better eating a little more fat from whole foods like nuts, seeds and avocado.

        1. Benjamin Dowell: I’m aware that the 7th Day Adventists of CA did slightly better, but I don’t think we know that it has do with the diet. With that kind of difference, it could just as easily have to do with better medical care. I’m not saying that nuts, seeds and avocados are bad for you. Nor am I saying that eating exactly like the Okinawans has been definitely proven as the best method.
          All I’m saying is that looking at the Okinawans gives us one good starting place for figuring out healthy percentages. From there, the best percentages may depend on what your situation is. For example, someone with hypertension or advanced heart disease might do better to stick to the lower fat percentages. Someone else might do better with extra nuts, seeds, etc as you suggest.

    5. I agree with Thea’s commentary on this topic.

      You may also be interested in this mouse study – of course, we aren’t mice but it may provide some clues.

      ‘The team put mice on 25 different diets, altering the proportions of protein, carbohydrates and fat. The mice were allowed to eat as much food as they wanted to more closely replicate the food choices humans make.
      “The healthiest diets were the ones that had the lowest protein, 5 to 10 to 15 per cent protein, the highest amount of carbohydrate, so 60, 70, 75 per cent carbohydrate, and a reasonably low fat content, so less than 20 per cent,” Professor Le Couteur said.
      “They were also the diets that had the highest energy content.
      “We found that diluting the diets to reduce the energy intake actually made the animals die more quickly.”
      The mice that ate a high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet lived about 50 per cent longer than those on the low-carb diet.”

        1. Benjamin Dowell: There is no doubt that whole seeds, nuts and avocados *contain* a lot of fat–in addition to some protein and carbs. Another source of healthy foods which contain a lot of fat are traditional soy products such as tofu and edamame. Also peanuts (unless you are counting those as nuts too). While not in great abundance, greens also have very healthy fats, and when eaten in amounts recommended by experts such as Dr. Esselstyn, can add up to a significant amount of omega 3s. Whole grains also contain good, healthy fats.
          I’m doing this post because of your word “only”. “Only healthy fats are…” I’m trying to make the point that there are other foods in addition to seeds, nuts and avocado which contain healthy fats, and in signficant amounts. These other foods are also very important. I’m making the point, because there are people on this forum who may not realize that lots of whole plant foods contain healthy fats of varying amounts. They do not have to consume nuts, seeds and avocadoes to get healthy fats.
          Also, I want to give you something else to think about. I think it is helpful to use different language than “…healthy fats are whole seeds…” To me, that is as problematic as saying “beans are protein”. Healthy fats can be found in whole seeds. Beans *contain* protein. I have no doubt that you already get this difference. I have no doubt that you were just using shorthand language. I bring this up, because the kind of language you used does lead people to thinking that the only nutrient of value in a food is the one you label. And that kind of thinking leads to the bizarre and irresponsible “government food plate” produced in America–where a quarter of our plate is supposed to be “protein” (compared to the other three quarters of veggies, fruit, and whole grains).
          I’m not saying your post is bad. I am in no way acting as moderator here. I’m just engaging with you over an idea for future posts. I’m suggesting that in future posts, you could use different language to help further educate others. :-)

          1. But you cannot rely on those other foods alone to supply your fat needs. They are not overt fats. Only overt healthy fats are nuts, seeds, avo. I should included the word overt.

            1. Benjamin Dowell: I have not heard the phrase “overt fat” before. I tried looking it up just now and found one person who gave this definition: “Overt fats are foods whose calorie content is dominated by fat.” I totally get that nuts, seeds, and avocados have calories that are dominated by fat. I would argue that tofu does also, but that would not be my main point in this post.
              The main point of this post is that you are arguing that, “…you cannot rely on those other foods alone to supply your fat needs.” What evidence do you have to support this statement? I’m aware of lots of people who get buy on those other foods for their fat needs. For example, people on McDougall’s starch-based diet or Esselstyn’s heart-disease fighting diet would not be eating nuts, seeds or avocados very often. And I’ve never heard of a study that shows that our bodies can’t absorb the fat from say whole grains.
              To know whether or not those foods which are not dominated by fat calories can supply our fat needs, we have to know how much fat our bodies need. The only fats we have to get from our diet are omega 3s and omega 6s. The generally accepted requirement for omega 3s is 1.1 grams for women and 1.6? (I think it was) grams for men. That’s about 1/4 teaspoon or so.
              From what I’ve seen, omega 6 needs are presented as a ratio in relationship to omega 3. Some people think you should have 1:1 or 2:1 omega 6 to 3. I’ve seen super high ratios, but the number that seem to come up most often is 4:1. So, people would need about 4.4 g to 6.4 g omega 6. If you ate 3 servings of barley, 2 servings of pinto beans, and 1 serving of tofu in a day, you would have 8.4 g of omega 6. (See NutritionData.Self site for where these numbers came from. Here is the tofu page:
              Even if you want to call tofu an “overt fat” and exclude it from the calculation, you could still meet at least half your omega 6 needs from the other sources. So, the point is that even healthy whole plant foods which are not dominated by fat calories can contribute to a significant portion of your fat needs. To equate only nuts, seeds, and avocados as “fats” is misleading because a) those foods have other nutrients besides fat and b) other foods can supply a significant portion of your fat needs, maybe even meet all your needs.

              1. Assuming one is looking for maximum benefits, we know we need some sources of overt fat. Just look at the daily dozen, one tablespoon of flax, one ounce of nuts, there you go. And those are just Gregor’s minimum recommedations. We can also add some avocado or more seeds like chia to ensure a healthy omega 3 status.

                1. Benjamin Dowell: I don’t think we are on the same page, but that’s OK. FYI: I have seen Dr. Greger describe the Daily Dozen amount as targets, not minimum recommendations.

                  1. They are targets for those wishing to achieve the best results. We don’t need to achieve the best results to still be quite healthy. For instance, the Okinawans. They are doing pretty well, but I want to do even better.

        1. Many thanks Darryl. That is a fascinating summary of the research to date. I had certainly not come across it before.

          What amazes me is why papers like this do not attract more discussion. Sciencedaily mentioned Volek’s study showing greater fat burning in low carb endurance athletes, published about the same time, but not this (possibly I missed it but …). That seems inexplicable to me.

    6. For longevity, animal studies suggest that the ideal is high in carbs and low in protein and fat. In this study, 858 mice were allowed to eat as much of they pleased of one of 25 diets, and the longest lived group ate a 75% carbohydrate, 5% protein, 20% fat diet. This is similar to the ratios of the traditional Okinawan diet: 85% carb, 9% protein, 6% fat, which contributed to the the world’s longest life expectancy.

      1. 20% fat is quite a bit more then what the Okinawans take in. This is where we can do better then the Okinawans. 20% fat is in the ideal range.

        1. 5% protein and 20% fat were the minimum values the study tested, and in the case of fats, it wasn’t because that’s the minimum mice can do well on, as a standard rodent chow for longevity studies runs has 10%. The specific macronutrient ratios (detailed in the supplemental information) were chosen for “optimal power in fitting response surface models” in the geometric framework the researchers advocate. I suspect relevance to usual intakes in humans played a role, too.

          There’s no way of knowing whether the mice would have fared better or worse on 10% fat diets. There are multitudinous studies where high fat diets with 40-60% calories from fat are used to induce cardiometabolic diseases in rodents, with 10-13% fat diets used as a “healthy” control.

  5. This brings up so many questions for me, for example:
    1. Do the studies utilize protein digestion analysis via stool samples?
    2. Is there a different “footprint” in the stool if the protein has been digested by the person vs. broken down by putrification?
    3. Is an investigation of hypochlorhydria taking place in the studies (regardless of age, as with today’s diets and stress levels it could happen in younger subjects).
    4. Do principles of food combining have an impact?
    5. Based on earlier studies highlighted through this site’s material, is there a lessening of “harm” if the animal proteins are combined with certain vegetables or legumes?
    6. Is there any kind of gauge that, for example, assesses “recommended” protein levels vs. level of physical activity (or, for that matter, standard rate of tissue deterioration for the individual)?
    7. Does something like ursolic acid provide a benefit re: muscle deterioration?
    8. Are hydration levels taken into account? (vitamin C?)

    (just wondering?)


    1. “5. Based on earlier studies highlighted through this site’s material, is there a lessening of “harm” if the animal proteins are combined with certain vegetables or legumes?”

      Since this is a forum dominated by vegans, you are going to hear the answer that it is harmful no matter what the amount is. So you know the answer before you ask. If you ask me then I say you eat a lot of plant foods no matter what, and there is no harm if you choose carefully the source of foods.

      1. @disqus_lKz3LoPLt6:disqus I find your comment “this is a forum dominated by vegans” to be a bit testy. Just a reminder that we are a welcoming, evidence based place for ALL types of eaters to learn more about food, nutrition, and even exercise (thanks to today’s video). I always encourage every type of eater to visit this site since it is a great place to get science based nutrition recommendations, not because it is a Vegan site. We welcome all eaters! And appreciate respectful, thoughtful discourse.

          1. I understand where your coming from jimmy , however this guy makes a assumption right off the bat, that everyone loves bacon. That simply is not true . I never liked bacon, even when we were eating meat and it takes a long time for a house to smell normal again after cooking bacon . Actually I think it’s right up there with smoking in it’s persistence to hang on and I think that’s why some homes just smell bad . someone who seems to be interested in health is going to pick bacon as one of the foods that they can.t live without?

            1. I think he meant to be a joke to make his point. I don’t eat bacon either.

              The point he tried to make is that we should not stereotype vegans and meat eaters, and meat eaters should thrive to reduce consumption.

        1. Yup. I was reading/watching for many years before becoming WFPB 4+ years ago. (No animal) the research was overwhelming. My organic free range beef, chicken, eggs Etc. just wasn’t healthy for me –with a serious family history of heart disease. My cousins and siblings suffer in various states of heart disease.

    2. @nfdev-a19be16e356ec7af4662e553cc740906:disqus Dr. Greger has done some excellent videos about bowel movements which may help you with your interest in some of your questions. You are correct; we can learn a lot from bowel movements. Food combining has been addressed by Dr Greger in several videos. As for your question regarding harm reduction by eating animal protein with certain vegetables or legumes, we do know that animal protein has no fiber, which is helpful for proper bowel function. We can increase (Ahem) transit time by consuming any vegetables and legumes, and increased transit time is associated with reductions in colon cancer, as well as other cancers. As for your questions regarding recommended protein levels versus level of physical activity, know that there are many exclusively plant based eaters (vegans, who eat no animals or their secretions) who are elite, even Olympic athletes.

    3. 4. Herbert Shelton’s “Food Combining Made Easy” should help.
      5. Ann Marie Colbin’s “Food and Healing” indicates that dairy or vegetables high in fat like avocado and citrus (animal or vegetable oils/fat opposed by citrus) helps to neutralize some negative effects: i.e. tomatoes or grapefruit and motzarella or avocados; eggplant parmesan, oj and eggs. I now eat no creatures or cow products, but I remember when I did long ago (I’m over 80 now), cheese sandwiches with tomatoes, or ham with pineapple rings were a standard on my parents’ tables. Pink grapefruit sections were always alternated with (opposed by) avocado.

  6. Thanks for covering this topic, Dr. Greger. I’m wondering if you, or anyone else, has an explanation as to why the study showed that higher protein intake (presumably, including animal protein) was associated with lower rates of cancer mortality in people over 65.

    1. @llilly:disqus the study you reference actually showed that increases in plant based proteins was dramatically associated with lower rates of all cause mortality in people over 65. This association was not found with animal protein – in fact, all cause mortality was correlated with higher intakes of animal protein.

      1. Thanks for your response. I’m asking specifically about the correlation between higher protein intake and lower rates of cancer deaths, as shown at 1:26 in the video.

        1. Here is the abstract from the study: “Abstract
          Mice and humans with growth hormone receptor/IGF-1 deficiencies display major reductions in age-related diseases. Because protein restriction reduces GHR-IGF-1 activity, we examined links between protein intake and mortality. Respondents aged 50-65 reporting high protein intake had a 75% increase in overall mortality and a 4-fold increase in cancer death risk during the following 18 years. These associations were either abolished or attenuated if the proteins were plant derived. Conversely, high protein intake was associated with reduced cancer and overall mortality in respondents over 65, but a 5-fold increase in diabetes mortality across all ages. Mouse studies confirmed the effect of high protein intake and GHR-IGF-1 signaling on the incidence and progression of breast and melanoma tumors, but also the detrimental effects of a low protein diet in the very old. These results suggest that low protein intake during middle age followed by moderate to high protein consumption in old adults may optimize healthspan and longevity.”

          I would suggest a different interpretation: that “associations with protein intake and mortality WERE EITHER ABOLISHED or ATTENUATED IF THE PROTEINS WERE PLANT DERIVED”. Hmmm.

    2. The paper doesn’t dwell on this. Unsurprising, since its mostly a mouse cancer study with some NHANES reanalysis/data-mining added for headline pizazz, and cancer mortality rates in the elderly didn’t corroborate their animal study. The study didn’t statistically correct for dietary refined carbohydrate or alcohol intake, and my guess is these played roles in the outcomes.

      Consider what kind of diets have less than 10% energy from protein (avg 8.5% in the low-protein cohort), levels that only about 1% of the public consume. You can’t get that low eating a varied whole plant based diet, excepting those focusing on rice or tropical tubers (cassava, taro, yam) or where fruit is a third or more of calorie intake. I’m certain that far less than 1% of the population is consuming a Kempner rice diet. In the general population, diets with less than 10% energy from protein seem most likely to be full of empty calories: added sugar and alcohol, both of which are independently associated with cancer risk.

      So, we may not be looking at effects of protein intake at all, but at effects of the remainder of the diet. That’s the nature of nutrition epidemiology: all the data is dirty and hiding confounders.

  7. Hello – I am a volunteer moderator for Nutrition Facts, a plant based dietitian located in Scottsdale, Arizona. I love this video and the suggestions for other videos which deal with the great protein myth – promulgated by the greedy Beef, Chicken, Egg and Dairy lobbying groups/industries. This is an excellent place to send people who ask all the time, “how do you get enough protein????”

        1. Great! And when I hear him speak and see how sharp he is well into his 80s…and the same with Dr Esselstyn…and Dr McDougall, who is a bit younger, I can’t help thinking they are on the right track.

  8. I recently attended the 90th birthday party for my mother-in-law.

    According to some conversations I overhead, the 88+ year old crowd often seem to have trouble digesting meats. They were talking about taking HCL etc. to help them digest meats.

    I have also seen this at the other end of the age spectrum. Toddlers will often chew, but not swallow meats.

    1. This is because of two things: digestive enzymes, especially HCL, decline with aging. Also, the #1 over the counter medication that Americans take are anti-acids to address the terrible GERD and other reflux disorders connected with the SAD diet (especially red meat). So, everyone takes TUMS, and keeps eating meat, and gets older, and pretty soon they can’t digest their food. ICK.
      Finally, there is an enzyme that the body produces in omnivores that supports the digestion of meat, that we produce less of when we eat less (or eliminate) meat. This means that older adults who eat less, whose tastes shift, then make less of the enzyme that helps break down meat, then can’t digest meat, takes TUMS, gets GERD, etc. And so it goes.

  9. Off Topic: Microwave Kale Chips

    I’ve started eating a lot of microwave cooked kale chips. They are simple and quick to prepare: just tear up some kale and microwave for around 3 minutes.

    I have no idea what the nutritional information is for these. Commercially prepared kale chips usually have some oil on them, and the nutrition label information often does not report a lot of micronutrients that I’m interested in.

    Is there any way to petition the USDA or some other organization to do an analysis?

    1. Hi Lemonhead (should I assume you like lemons? :-) – Here is a great site for nutritional information:
      I’ve qued it up to go straight to kale for you.
      If you scroll down a bit you will see a pie chart that has the nutritional information in it for raw kale. I don’t think microwaved kale will have a significantly different nutritional profile. You can also use this search to see the nutritional data on lots of different foods. Have fun!

      1. Thanks. I think the values are likely the same / comparable for some things, e.g, fiber, magnesium, but I do wonder about the b vitamins, which are sometimes less heat stable.

    2. lemonhead: I’m always finding new uses the for microwave that make my life so much better. I had already figured out the benefits of using the microwave to toast nori sheets. I can’t believe I didn’t think about making kale chips! Great idea! It’s so much easier to do use the microwave for something like that compared to cooking them in the oven–especially for small batches. Thanks for giving us the head’s up on the timing that works for you (ie, 3 minutes).
      Question: It sounds like you do not use oil to make your chips. I’m curious if you flavor your kale chips and if so, how you get the spice to stick.

      1. I’ve tried sprinkling them with various things. When I washed some myself (instead of pre-washed) such they were a little damp (though not evenly, since they have that moisture repellent property) I tried a mix of potato starch, chipotle pepper and KCl and it was pretty good. I also tried tossing in a bit of low sodium tamari, which was very good but induced some burning – perhaps pulsing the cooking (on, rest a bit, on again) might help.

        PS- Thanks for the tip on mushrooms microwaving (I think it was you).

    3. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve learned that kale, collards, turnip, mustard, and beet greens, Chinese cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous veggies all contain goitrogen and a lot of people are being frustrated trying to eat kale that is raw or microwaved, pan or oven fried, and not boiled 30 minutes in copious amounts of water to get rid of the offending substance, which blocks their trying to lose weight, even though they are exercising and dieting by messing up their thyroid metabolism. .

      1. Hmm, interesting. I didn’t know about this.

        I only eat a small amount of raw vegetables but cook most of them so that should eliminate this problem.

        The enzymes involved in the formation of goitrogenic materials in plants can be at least partially destroyed by heat, allowing you to enjoy these foods in moderation when they are steamed or cooked.

          1. How is that? How can cooked vegetables make you fat? Sure the enzymes are lost with cooking but there are techniques such as hack and hold, eat cooked vegetables with some raw vegetables together. etc. to avoid those losses.

      2. I think the risk of goiter / thyroid problems has been exaggerated and the benefits of sulfurophanes are huge*. I try to get some iodine from seaweed during meals where I’m not consuming cruciferous vegetables. The seaweed product I decided on is Maine Coast Sea Vegetables Kelp Granules, which seems to have high iodine levels vs. not too bad heavy metal levels. If someone knows of a better product in terms of heavy metals, please let me know. I used to eat a lot of wakame but was disturbed by some of the heavy metal findings.

        *Rhonda Patrick just came out with a video on how to maximize the benefits of broccoli sprouts:

      3. The best study I’ve found on whether cruciferous vegetables really impact iodine uptake is this one from 1948, an era before ethics boards, where volunteers consented to consume radioactive iodine-131 with meals, followed by thyroid biopsies to determine uptake. It’s not open access, but the results were:

        Markedly goitrogenic: rutabaga
        Moderately goitrogenic: turnip, peach, pear, strawberry, spinach, carrot

        Among foods with no antithyroid potency were broccoli, cauliflower, and mustard greens.

      4. Goitrogen is very healthy and helps to prevent cancer. As long as you are not iodine deficient you don’t need to worry about the potential negative aspects of goitrigens.

    4. I am lazy and I buy the bag of kale chip from TJ. My problem is that I go through a bag fairly quickly :)

      Just a guess is that when you microwave vegetable, you kill the enzyme but retain all other nutrients. So you can make up the enzyme if you eat other raw vegetables. But kale is very nutritious and when you eat the microwaved chips, you can eat a lot.

  10. It’s funny how once again DrGreger use of words send me towards Dr Robert Morse standpoint as he is adamant that all proteins animal/plant-based are acidic and one should stay totally clear from them this including beans!!It does sound extreme but at the same time after seeing those last two videos from Dr Greger, i can’t help but seeing a correlation between their two points of view.It is worth also adding that Dr Morse has treated and cured an incredible amount of patients with terminal disease.
    On the side note, as far as alkalinizing plant-based proteins that help gain muscle mass are concerned does anybody know if Spirulina is a good option?I’ve been taking hawaiian spirulina for more than a decade now but i am still not sure if it is alcaline or acidic?any suggestions are welcome!!

    1. stefan seya: Proteins are made out of amino acids. There are 9 amino acids that we *have* to get from our diet or we will get very sick. To say that we should stay away from all proteins is not extreme–it is a recipe for disease. Such advice is also impossible to do on a healthy diet. All whole plant foods have protein. Here is a great protein 101 article:

      1. Okay i understand, i begin to wonder if i may have misanderstood something in Dr Morse’ s explanations because he sounds very sure of himself.So whether there is a hitch with his theory or i must have missed something in his explanations!Also thanks for reminding me what proteins are and therefore how it is impossible not to come through them when eating plant-based foods!

  11. What about very active athletes? I train hard and ofter and some of the sources that I trust recommend much higher levels of protein to be competitive. Such recommended levels of protein equals 1.5 – 1.8 g/kg. Since starting my vegan diet 2 years ago due to a CAD diagnosis, I have lost a significant amount of muscle mass and strength. I am a masters age bike racer trying to keep competitive for a life long passion of racing and physical activity.

    1. Dr Mercola is an exercise buff and he does a lot of strenuous workout. He has an article on the danger of consuming too much protein and he has a section on how to calculate your protein requirement based on body mass and you need 25% more if you exercise a lot or is pregnant. He consumes some protein powder at breakfast and you can follow his guideline to see how much protein you need. I am not an exercise buff like he is and so I don’t consume protein powder.

      Note that he is a meat eater and he sells supplements also and so you can use his diet as guideline only and substitute the sources of food however you want.

    2. I find it very had to stay at 10% of calories from protein. According to food logs I have entered into cronometer I average about 15% on a strictly WFPB diet, but then again, I tend to eat a lot of beans. Reducing beans and increasing rice would bring the percentage closer to 10%. But for now I’ll use 15% in my analysis. Also worth noting is that cronometer says I am exceeding the minimum amount of every essential amino acid, so no worries about the mythical incomplete plant proteins leaving me deficient in some EAA. In fact a given amount of very nearly every vegetable, grain, and legume provides a greater percentage of total protein as well as each of the EAAs than the percentage of daily calories. As a result most plant foods are a source of complete protein by themselves.

      I am a 56 yo male with a total body weight of 85 kg and a lean body weight of 75 kg (yep need to get to the gym more often). Assuming a couch potato lifestyle my basal metabolic rate is about 2100 calories. A 2100 calorie diet at 15% protein results in an intake of 78 grams of protein. Dividing by my lean body weight that comes out to 1.04 g/kg, which is already above the recommended 0.8 g/kg. But assume I add an hour of intense cycling at 16-20 mph to my daily routine. says that I would burn an additional 1000 calories. If I just increase the amount of my existing diet to cover the additional calories with no focus on getting additional protein, then for 3100 calories at 15% protein I would be getting 116 grams of protein. I’m still at 75 kg lean body weight, so now my protein intakes per kilo rises to about 1.55 g/kg, right where the recommendations you got say they should be.

      So as you exercise more, your calories needs naturally go up and just by eating more of the same WFPB diet, your protein intake rises right up to where it should be to support an athlete’s extra protein requirements. No protein supplements required.

      So how could you be losing muscle mass and strength? Perhaps you aren’t eating the much larger volumes of plant foods, with their much lower calorie density, necessary to meet your calorie needs and your body is raiding your muscles for protein to break down for energy. 6 years in and I still have trouble breaking old habits about the volume of food that it is polite to eat in a given meal. Obviously with 10 kilos of fat on me, I am getting pretty good at breaking through those old limitations.

    3. HI utbyker – I grew up on a strict vegan diet from the age of 4 due to a very serious childhood illness that very few survive. I learned to swim at age 4 too – to help build up my lungs. I went on to become a national top 10 swimmer from the age of 15 – 25. I grew big muscles and big lungs on a vegan, then vegetarian diet (I started eating eggs around 18 years old – but I already had my lungs, muscles and frame by then). Later I became a dual Olympic athlete in another sport that demanded very heavy training – while no longer vegan or vegetarian my eating habits remained mostly plant based whole foods with a little of the animal products the sports authorities demanded. Having eliminated the animal products again now, nearly 60, I am still waiting for my big muscles to go away (I am a woman and don’t really like looking like the hulk! – especially at 60!). I eat a lot – more than most people I know! Protein is not what builds muscle but stimulus and enough food and good recovery does. Endurance sports athletes need more FOOD. Also muscle loss over about 40 can be prevented with good weight training. Maybe that’s why I still haven’t lost my muscles, I keep weight training – and I can still run, swim, bike, and paddle long distances at quite a good clip! Keep up your passion!

  12. Dr , David Suzuki said , a good scientist doesn’t just explain complex science to other scientist but explains it so everyone can understand .
    I think Dr Greger does that as well as anybody . It’s beginning to look like a slam dunk for whole food plant based dieters .
    I still have not seen any compelling evidence to include animal products in one’s diet .

  13. I have a question for you, and I would greatly appreciate receiving your opinion. I am a 44 year old man who consumes the majority of my protein from plant sources. I am a long time vegetarian who still consumes cheese moderately, (2-3 times a few times a week) I do however consume higher than your recommended amounts of protein. Typically 100-120 grams a day. My question is, since I am a very active individual, who engages in a combination of vigorous and moderate exercise, including weight training and hiking, other sports and yoga, to the tune of about 2 hrs a day, and who is roughly a fairly lean 175 lbs (larger than the average test subject?) shouldn’t those amounts of protein you reccomend (50 gms a day) be somewhat mitigated? Surely the amount required by a less active 90lb woman (for instance) cannot be the same as what a larger more active individual would require? Thank you so much! -Jack Beddows

    1. Hi – your activity level and physical size will determine the number of calories you will need/consume to maintain your weight/health. If you eat sufficiently to maintain you weight and energy level you will automatically get the increase in protein needed. As Campbell, et al have pointed out, . . if you eat sufficiently to maintain your weight and energy level you can’t help but increase the protein level as well. You can eat nothing but asparagus and if you eat sufficient volume to maintain your weight/energy you will automatically get sufficient complete protein. Here’s a link to the nutrient profile of asparagus:
      You will see that asparagus is 27% complete protein (and doesn’t come with the fat and cholesterol that cheese does). Check out cauliflower and broccoli while you’re there – same thing; lots of complete protein and great nutritionally (vitamins, etc.)

    2. The 50 grams a day is the amount consumed in a “standard” 2000 calorie diet that gets 10% of calories from protein. The RDA is however stated as 0.8 grams per kilogram of lean body weight. The “standard” male ideally has about 150 lbs or 68 kg of lean body weight. This works out to 54 grams of protein.

      But everybody has different body weights and activity levels and so a set number of grams is almost certainly not right for most people. The 0.8 g/kg target at least varies protein based on lean body weight, but it is only going to be good for folks with a pretty low activity level. That is why I much prefer to focus on getting at least 10% of calories from protein since the amount of protein automatically varies with the number of calories required, which varies based on both body weight and activity level. So if activity level goes up and more of the same 10% or higher diet is consumed to meet the higher calorie needs, then the additional protein needed for the higher activity level comes along automatically.

      But 10% is a minimum. Additional consumption of plant proteins would appear to be perfectly safe (within reason) since they don’t have the same IGF-1 and mTOR stimulating effect as animal proteins. I personally end up around 15%. With no exercise I need about 2100 calories and so I get about 79 grams of protein. My lean body mass is about 75 kg, so my ratio is 1.05 g/kg, well above the 0.8 g/kg. If I get moderate exercise (about an hour a day) my caloric need is about 2600 a day. If I just eat an additional 500 calories of my existing diet my protein intakes automatically increases to 98 grams, so that puts me at 1.3 g/kg. If I took my activity level to equal yours and went up another 500 calories to 3100 calories, then I would be getting 116 grams of protein or 1.55 g/kg (which I see as the target for people looking to gain muscle mass).

      1. Thanks Jim,

        That puts me right at my 120 grams that I started with :) I just wanted to double check that there was nothing too taxing on the liver or kidneys at those levels, regardless of other considerations such as building or maintaining muscle mass.

  14. Hold on a second – so are we now saying that if we have eat over 10% protein, even if it’s all plant based, that drastically increases our diabetes risk?

    That pretty much rules out eating beans in any large amounts.

    1. I don’t think so Dr G is saying that.

      The latest US study suggests “Percentage of energy intake from vegetable protein was associated with a moderately decreased risk of T2D (comparing extreme quintiles, hazard ratio =0.91, 95% CI: 0.84, 0.98). Substituting 5% of energy intake from vegetable protein for animal protein was associated with a 23% (95% CI: 16, 30) reduced risk of T2D. In conclusion, higher intake of animal protein was associated with an increased risk of T2D, while higher intake of vegetable protein was associated with a modestly reduced risk.”

      The other point is that there is no obvious reason to obtain more than 10% of calories from protein so why bother? I like beans but they (black beans) only deliver about 23% of their calories as protein. Eat them with brown rice (about 7% of total calories from protein) and you are going to be pushed to exceed 10% in total unless you eat massive amounts of beans and relatively little rice.

      1. So Tom, it’s the 10% of calorie and not a fixed amount like 50g, isn’t it? So in your example, if I eat rice which gives me more calories than protein then I can eat other foods that have more protein? Is that how it works?

        1. Hi Jimmy

          No, not really. I understand that the requirement/RDA is 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight I got the 10% figure from Harvard who state
          “For a relatively active adult, eating enough protein to meet the RDA would supply as little as 10% of his or her total daily calories. In comparison, the average American consumes around 16% of his or her daily calories in the form of protein, from both plant and animal sources.”

          Actually Harvard gets this from the US Institute of Medicine which sets US RDAs. The IOM is cautios and sets an upper limit of 35% of calories from protein but says the science isn’t definitive on adverse effects from high protein consumption.

          However, I think that the evidence for the adverse effects of high animal protein consumption is pretty compelling but the IOM does not make this distinction.

          Anyway, if you eat “complex carbs” like (boiled potatoes (2% protein) brown rice (7% protein), oats (12% protein), green vegetables (kale = 12% protein) and fruit (apples = 2% protein)as the foundation of your diet then you are probably going to average around 10%. Of course, if you eat excess calories, then you will also consume “excess” protein even if protein represents only 10% of your total calories.

          I don’t worry about it myself. While not following McDougall, I eat mostly starch and fruit. Beans and nuts are added but aren’t large parts of my diet.

          1. Ok thanks Tom, I will go by “0.8 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight” for the amount of protein to consume. If I go by this then I can eat the Daily Dozen plus a little more without exceeding my RDA of protein. I am not too worried about the calorie that I eat because I don’t have a weight issue but I will do the math this weekend to figure out my calorie intake from the foods I usually eat and figure out the ratio of protein to calorie to see how close or far I am from the 10% number. It’s just for curiosity only but you have to eat what you have to eat before worrying about protein or calorie unless it is too high.

            P.S. my bean. nut and seed consumption is pretty high. I eat also a few sweet potatoes per day, so my calorie consumption is probably pretty high and perhaps my protein too and I don’t do very strenuous exercise.

          2. A sedentary 56 yo 85kg (75kg lean) male has a basic caloric need of 2100 calories. 10% of calories from protein yields 52.5 grams of protein. With my given lean body weight that comes out to 0.7 g/kg. So a little below the recommendation, but given the 100% factor of safety built into the protein recommendations, hardly a serious concern. However engaging in moderate exercise ups my calorie requirements to 2600 calories. The same 10% diet yields 65 g of protein or 0.87 g/kg.

            The trouble is that it is actually pretty tough to keep protein to down to 10%. I tend to eat legumes a couple or three times a day (counting the soy milk in my morning fruit smoothie) along with huge leafy green salad or cooked greens, bread/rice/potato along with a goodly amount of non-starchy vegetables results in percent protein, at least according to cronometer, of more like 13%-17%.

            So assuming the same 2100-2600 calories, 13%-17% protein results in protein/lean body weight ratios range from 0.91 g/kg to 1.47 g/kg.

            Now I could add more protein free foods like sugars and oils to drag the ratio down to 10%, but that would be just be stupid. What does a days worth of whole plant food that contains just 10% protein look like?

            1. I find it hard myself to stay below 10% of protein if I eat the Daily Dozen and more.

              I think the 10% number came from experiment on mice and mice and human are often different.

              Furthermore I think they used animal foods during the experiment. Speaking against animal foods although I am a reduced meat eater, animal foods tend to have a higher protein density, and therefore it is where the 10% number comes from. Eating a few lb of beef steak or drinking a couple of glasses of milk have more impact on protein than going through a few bags of kale, to exaggerate for illustration. And plant foods have the micro nutrients and fiber than go along too. Just like let say eating a lot of fruits will exceed the allowed sugar but it is still OK.

            2. Perhaps it contains more rice, potatoes and fruit … and fewer beans? But why stress about it? The 10% figure is the estimated average minimum daily requirement according to the IOM. It is not an upper limit.

              1. I tend to forget to eat as much fruit as I should. I think while we in the top half of the world are still in our summer, I’ll make more of an effort to add a couple more pieces of fruit a day and cut back a little on the beans. And I tend to put rice in my bean soups, but maybe I should be putting a little bean soup over my rice.

                But you are right that I shouldn’t get overly stress about it since the amino acid profile of plants is such that it doesn’t stimulate IGF-1 or mTOR like animal proteins do, and so I am likely still in a really good place.

                1. Sweet potatoes are really good additions at 5% fat. And there’s the evolutionary aspect of humans eating them for a long time. Regular potatoes came out at 6% fat when I looked them up. But Dr. Gregor only recommends the purple on his daily dozen and they are hard to find.

    2. Beans have soluble and insoluble fiber which helps pull fat out of your system and helps with insulin resistance. They are an invaluable tool when you have diabetes. The consumption of beans drastically reduces you risk of diabetes and if eaten three times a day will help in weight loss. This does not even begin to cover the subject of legumes and their ability to fight cancer.
      I believe that Dr. Greger has made these statements in several video and the subject is covered extensively in “How Not to Die.”

  15. We do whole plant foods in variety, veggies, fruits, nuts & seeds including legumes, whole grains, …. D3, B12. Goal for plant protein is about 10% calories see “The China Study” by Cornell nutritional biochemist prof. T. Colin Campbell and a number of other sources. I’m 81, exercise, ski, fall hard get up and continue, bicycle, fitness exercise about 5 days a week, … Excess protein can promote cancer see the book.

    1. I wish that I am as healthy and strong as you when I get to 81. I am already behind at a younger age :)

      Let say we follow a plant food diet. Can you do us a favor by going through the tables in the following articles to give a typical list of what you eat to arrive at 10% of calorie? Why 10% of calorie and not an amount based on body mass and amount of exercise? Thanks.

      1. I’m over 80 and I don’t eat any cooked food because it makes me tired. Walking 1.3 miles every day. Eating the Wigmore Living Food program with sauerkraut, fruits (berries, mangos, papayas, bananas) and dark green leafy baby (7″ tall) and sea vegetables and weeds (like lambsquarters, purslane, dandelion), fermented seed and nut cheeses and pates, No grains except for whole sprouted grain bread with no gluten added or flours, and fermented drinks. Annual physical is always outstanding. Overcame two kinds of cancers, heart attacks, and COPD with plant based diet, no gluten. Still can do back-up analysis when helping non-profits with grants and put my hands flat on the mat and touch my toes when I’m on my trampoline, have chlorine filter on shower and use Pur filter or use distilled water with tablespoon of dulse blended with a cup of water and then added to the gallon of distilled to drink on and off all day. Love fresh home ripened pineapple keep circulation going because some of these organic fruits have wax on them that doesn’t dissolve with two 1 minute hot soaks.! ,

      2. Actually the total calorie count is what’s needed to maintain my body weight at my exercise level. I’m 5 foot 6 inches 134 pounds with exercise shorts & t shirt & lightweight zero drop sneakers. The “10%” of that total is an estimate for detail see several pages in “The China Study”. As far as what we eat is a wide range of vegetables (not including white potatoes), a wide range of whole fruits, 90 cc mix of no salt tree nuts, (that’s my approximation of Dr. Weber’s handful of nuts), wide variety of beans and legumes usually about 1/4 cup dry, whole grains example brown rice pasta, some organic whole grain bread, usual breakfast organic old fashioned rolled oats with soup spoon of dried wild blueberries, 1/2 a banana, 12 no salt almonds with skin, a little almond milk. Of course no refined wheat or white rice. Organic and non-GMO foods when available. And a small piece of 72% dark chocolate. No calorie counting, just stop eating when full. Various teas. I do like coffee but of late my digestive system doesn’t.

  16. I could not find any information searching Dr. Greger’s website on vitamin B 17. I just bought a bag of these apricot kernals from the health food store. The store clerk said that they had a lot of vitamin B 17. I think she said it helps to protect one from cancer. Does anyone have any information on these apricot kernals? They taste kind of good. But on the back of the bag, it said that a serving consists of 4 to 7 kernals.

    1. I eat almost daily from 10 to 20 kernals. The bitter the better – more B17.
      A man, Jason Vale, world champion arm wrestler, battled a rare terminal cancer with Apricot Seeds, eventually landed him in jail for 5 years after a battle with FDA.

      1. After further research on this, I discovered that the FDA, the American government, and other federal agencies hold apricot kernals in contempt when people say that apricot kernals might reduce one’s chance of cancer. Now I understand why Dr. Greger never talks about this food source (apricot kernals). One could get into serious trouble with the law and the government if they talk approvingly of this food. And, now I understand why your reply is so vague. One has to be careful how they talk about this food. I guess apricot kernals are like cannabis oil, just another dead end to trying to gain health.

        1. Well, clinical trials with this stuff have been disappointing and I understand that people have died from eating apricot kernels. It is understandable that health authorities consider that it is a dangerous therapy with no demonstrated clinical benefit. However, where there’s a buck to be made, you will find people spinning ludicrous tales of suppressed cancer cures.

          I imagine that Dr G does not talk about it because the evidence shows that it is both ineffective and dangerous.

          1. I just can’t dismiss apricot kernals, or amygdalin, or laetrile as easily as you do. I am watching hundreds of videos like this one below where people swear up and down that “laetrile” and the kernals have helped them to be healed of cancer. I know you had mentioned “survivor’s benefit” as a statistical error in evaluating a treatment. Check out this lady telling everyone how she beat cancer with amygdalin which is a pill form of “viamin B17” which is really not a vitamin at all, but just a name they stuck on this molecule. And, let me ask you Tom, how many positive vidoes have you watched on this topic of apricot kernals, amygdalin, and laetrile which are all different forms of B17 ?

            1. If by dismissing it, you mean I refer to the scientific evidence which shows no benefit and some danger from this treatment, then I suppose that I do dismiss it.
              “The claims that laetrile or amygdalin have beneficial effects for cancer patients are not currently supported by sound clinical data. There is a considerable risk of serious adverse effects from cyanide poisoning after laetrile or amygdalin, especially after oral ingestion. The risk–benefit balance of laetrile or amygdalin as a treatment for cancer is therefore unambiguously negative.

              Why would you prefer testimonials to the findings of actual studies?

              As for why testimonials are not regarded as strong forms of evidence, especially when they are contradicted by more reliable evidence, some of the reasons are set out in one of my previous posts (to you). Here’s a couple more:

              1. I have seen as many B17 testimonials as I have testimonials for pills and potions to cure baldness, wrinkle creams that magically rejuvenate our skin and glowing Amazon book reviews that strangely appear days or even weeks before the books are available in shops. Testimonials are a widely used marketing tool and need to be regarded with caution.

              2. How can we be certain that these people had cancer in the first place? False positives are common in cancer screening
              “For an individual in a multimodal cancer screening trial, the risk of a false-positive finding is about 50% or greater by the 14th test. Physicians should educate patients about the likelihood of false positives and resulting diagnostic interventions when counseling about cancer screening.”

              “Results: Forty-three percent of the study sample incurred at least one false-positive cancer screen.”

              How many of these people claiming to be cured by B17 actually had cancer in the first place? This is why rigorous trials are necessary and simply believing testimonials can be dangerously misleading.

          1. I read the article that you linked to in regards to Turkish children who were poisoned from alleged apricot kernel ingestion. One of the readers of Dr Greger’s webpage on this topic responded to my inquiry and she said that she consumed apricot kernals every day. Doing more research on YouTube, I found a lot of people who consume large quantities of apricot kernals and they report no side effects. How do you account for that? Also, there are a number of people on YouTube who give their personal testimony and swear that consuming apricot kernals cured them of cancer. I mean, there are a lot of people who testify to this. Likewise, there are a lot of people who swear that they were cured of cancer from cannabis oil. So, how do you account for this? Do you think they are lying, hallucinating, or do you think they were cured by the placebo effect? I ate 20 of them last night, and I don’t feel any side effects. If Apricot kernals are as bad for you as the government says they are, then why is it legal to buy them in the health food store as food? Based upon all of the testimonies on YouTube, and the governments insistence on shutting down any communication on the possible benefits of apricot kernal, maybe the article in the Turkish internet site may be just FDA sponsered propaganda. Do you really trust the government?

            1. I eat seeds and sometimes kernel when I am lazy and blend in my veggie smoothie entire fruits that I pick from my backyard. I don’t eat like this all the time but only occasionally. I read that some apricot seeds, the bitter ones, are toxic and not the sweet ones that are grown in the U.S. Apricot seed just like any seed, has some nutrition but it is not worth to consume it regularly and on purpose because you can find the same nutrition in other foods without risks.

              The following article from Dr Axe explains well about apricot seed.


              1. Jimmy, I read the article by Dr Axe. Thanks for the link. The article was very interesting. Despite all of the negative press out there on eating apricot kernals, there are thousands of people who do eat apricot kernals and claim that it helps them. Here is a link to a testimony page of people who do eat apricot kernals and claim that this is what healed them of cancer. Many of these personal testimonies have a picture of the individual, their name, and the city and state that they live in.

                1. John Axsom: I don’t know enough about apricot kernals to have an opinion one way or another. And I do think testimonials can be helpful in directing research and (when backed up by science) motivating people.
                  But I am also skeptical about health claims based solely or mostly on testimonials. I think Tom Goff gave a very good explanation of why that’s problematic. In addition, I thought I would provide you with a personal example that might help make the point clear. You have spoken passionately and eloquently about your experiences on Dr. Mercola’s site. To sum it up: He mislead you.
                  But that’s not all, is it? I’m not familiar with Dr. Mercola’s site, but doesn’t the site allow comments? And don’t people say how much Dr. Mercola has helped them? We could go over all the reasons why those comments are on the site and how misleading they are. And it would be the same reason that looking at testimonials about apricot kernels is misleading. Some of those testimonials may reflect an objective reality beyond placebo. But we don’t know.

                  As to why you are OK after eating some of those kernels, I don’t know. My guess is that apricot kernels are just like so many other plants out there – amounts of substances in the plants vary for various reasons. You have lucked out. (That’s great. I hope you continue to be well.) And you may continue to luck out. You may experience benefit or experience no benefit. We just don’t know. And that’s the point.

                    1. Tom Goff: Thanks for supplying that evidence! You are so great about finding studies. I *really* appreciate that.

                2. While I am not saying that the people who gave testimonies are not telling the truth, Sometimes it is the placebo effect and sometimes it’s because people didn’t have cancer in the first place. You know that a lot of cancer cases are misdiagnosed and people are diagnosed with cancer when they don’t and then do the chemo which harms them when they have no cancer in the first place. So if these people eat apricot kernel or even dirt, they are better off than doing chemo. But if they do have cancer then it is a different story. I don’t believe that apricot kernel cures cancer. For now, I say that if I have cancer, if the tumor is too big or metastasize everywhere then I have to do chemo first and then use nutrition in conjunction. But for sure I won’t eat apricot kernel :) I will eat buckets of broccoli sprouts and blueberries and herbs instead.

                    1. “Chemo also saves lives. My next door neighbor would be dead without chemo.”

                      You are correct. It does to a number of my coworkers and friends too. The thing is that it kills also your healt6y cells too but there is no better alternatives now. The naturopath guys throw chemo under the bus without showing a proven alternative. Yes there are a lot of claims but no proof or statistics.

      2. Tom, there are thousands of testimonies on the internet claiming to have been cured by eating apricot kernals. Here is one I just copied and pasted for you to read. and, what say you Tom?
        QUOTE: “My nephew was diagnosed with Stage 4 Prostrate Cancer with a tumor the size of a baseball in his buttocks and cancer that had metastasized into the hips and shoulders in Jan 2016. His doctor wanted to start radiation immediately. He said NO, and searched for an alternative treatment. He changed his unhealthy fast food diet to all plant based, took lots of vitamins , one being B17: 500 mg 3 x per day. By end of April his high PSA reading of 242 (for cancer) had gone down to 22! By June the tumor was about the size of a small grape, and cancer reading at 2!!! He will undoubtedly be “cancer free” soon! God gave us what we need in our food to stay well and man has messed it up. The pharmaceutical companies and medical industry are killing people with chemo, radiation, and surgeries!!!!! I was blind to the truth also until I witnessed my nephews healing, a healing with NO side effects!!!!!. So please, all of you people making ugly comments about natural healing need to get on board and do your research. It may save YOUR life!!!!! ” UNQUOTE

        1. Hi John

          You can find testimonials for virtually anything on the internet. Many of them directly contradicting other testimonials. There is also something called survivorship bias. For example, consider if 100 people with cancer independently try B17 and 99 die and one survives. You will only hear the voice of the one survivor who loudly ascribes his/her survival to B17. You won’t hear from the other 99.

          However, there are many other reasons why testimonial are poor forms of evidence. One is that the conditions are not controlled and you cannot be certain which if any was the important factor. For example in the quote you provided, “He changed his unhealthy fast food diet to all plant based, took lots of vitamins , one being B17: 500 mg 3 x per day.” So which was the important factor? Was it giving up his fast food diet? Was it adopting an all-plant diet? Was it taking “lots of vitamins”? Or was it the B17? It is impossible to know from reports like these.

          That is why clinical trials are conducted – to try to hold all other factors constant and just test one variable. As I wrote previously, clinical trials of B17 have been disappointing. It appears ineffective and oral ingestion of B17 has proved dangerous.

          In the case of the prostate cancer case you quoted, I would suspect that the all-plant diet was responsible (but we will never be able to know for sure)

          1. Tom — But even with clinical trials you cannot always get to the truth because as Dr Greger has pointed out so many times, clinical trials are sometimes sponsored by big money interests. For example the egg industry and the meat industry and many other industries have paid scientists to conduct clinical trials in order to prove that their product is healthy…..and sure enough they set the trials up by manipulating dosages, route of delivery, time of delivery, and many other variables just to prove that the industry who is financing the study is correct in their health assertions. And, then we have the “art” of cherry picking studies in order to prove a health assertion. Clinical trials can also be misleading. And then, we have out right fraud in some scientific clinical trials. Drug companies have been known to do this in order to get FDA approval. Scientists have been known to use fraud in order to get grants, get their papers published, and to get recognition. On the subject of the danger of eating apricot kernals, how do you explain the thousands of people around the world who eat them without any adverse affects. I ate 20 of them last night, and I had no adverse affects. I can give you thousands of testimonies of people who eat them with no adverse side effects. The proponents of vitamin B17 state that the cyanide molecule is locked in place by two other different molecules which neutralizes the dangerous cyanide molecule from harming normal cells. They state that only cancer cells have a molecule that unlocks the cyanide molecule and then the cancer cell will absorb the cyanide molecule resulting in destruction of that cancer cell. I understand that you have read all of the NEGATIVE information about B17, but, have you read any of the positive information and theory about B17?

            1. Of course, they want to sell the stuff. The only positive information worth reading would be good clinical trials. Until then stay away from the stuff.

            2. Sure, yes, I began my interest in health by checking out all the alternative health “cures”, the saturated fat and cholesterol are good for you theorists and the like. They tell exciting, plausible tales and, like all informercials, they have the testimonials to back them up. They are almost all conspiracy stories at bottom and based on unproven assertions and speculations. Or they misinterpret what the research shows and/or quote statements out of context. Look at Taubes and Ravnskov for example.

              They also seem to ignore the mountains of evidence that don’t support their claims. They either brazenly state that it doesn’t exists or claim that it is bad science or the result of a conspiracy.
              I checked the claims of many of these people out and they fell apart upon close examination.

              Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory though? I enjoy them but I am much more inclined to take seriously the results of multiple clinical trials than speculative theories and tales. After all, the POTUS couldn’t keep secret a case of fellatio with a young intern ….. how on earth can anybody believe that for decades nobody has blown a whistle on a monstruous conspiracy between governments around the world and drug companies everywhere to suppress cancer cures? It is simply absurd.

              Yes, the drug companies are happy to skew the science wherever they can to benefit their bank accounts. That does not mean that plausible rogues are not equally willing to play fast and loose with the facts to benefit their bank accounts. The alternative health industry is a happy hunting ground for such people. They are not confidence tricksters because, done right, it is perfectly legal – but confidence is a big part of their attraction. Of course, there are many sincere people in that industry too but they tend to be the kind of people who try not to let the facts get in the way of their opinions (or financial interests). Just because the pharmaceutical industries are motivated by money does not mean that all of their opponents are necessarily altruists

              Not everybody who smokes gets lung cancer or heart disease. And not everybody who eats large amounts of apricot kernels gets acute cyanide poisoning symptoms. That is not the same thing as saying that they do not increase risk. There is no scientific evidence that B17 therapy is effective and it has been trialled.

              You have to believe that governments and health authorities around the world, not just in the US, are deliberately suppressing the evidence on B17, to believe the claims of its advocates. I don’t

            3. Just be careful John …………………

              “”It is estimated that eating approximately 50 to 60 apricot kernels, or 50g of laetrile, can cause death. If you take laetrile as tablets, it is very important that you avoid eating other foods that contain amygdalin such as

              Raw almonds
              Crushed fruit stones or pips
              Bean sprouts
              High doses of vitamin C
              Beans – mung, lima, butter and other pulses
              Flax seed
              These foods are safe when you eat them without laetrile because the levels of amygdalin in them are low. It is also important for anyone with liver problems to know that laetrile may cause further damage to their liver”


              1. Thank you Tom for the link and your concern. As a result of your input, I am looking at that bag of apricot kernals in my pantry with a little suspicion. But, if apricot kernals are as dangerous as the article says which is eating 50 to 60 kernals which might lead to death, then why are health food stores allowed to sell such a dangerous item? I find this topic to be very interesting because we have all of these dire warnings on one side of the aisle, but then we have thousands of people saying that apricot kernals help them. I think the solution to this question is very simple. Get about 50 mice and put them in cages with good water, warmth, and a good environment and then crush up 100 apricot kernals and feed the mice this “whole plant food”. Also, let’s find some animals that have cancer and feed them various dosages of apricot kernals and let’s see what happens to them. Would apricot kernals kill or help a dying dog in the city pound that has cancer? I think anybody could do these experiments in their own backyard, garage, or basement assuming that temperature, water, light, are at quality levels to enhance the environment for the mice. So, Tom, why hasn’t the money hungry scientific community completed these $10 experiments in their labs over the last 40 years. So far all we have are just blanket statements and dire warnings about some kind of “generalized” study that shows that laetrile has no benefits in preventing or in even partially alleviating cancer. I think we deserve more than a “generalized” synopsis of alleged studies. I want to hear about the BASICS. All chemical medicine trials begin with the mice or the petri dishes. Why don’t we hear about the trials done on mice? Even a high school biology student could do this kind of research for his 10th grade biology course. Anybody can buy experimental mice on the internet and of course apricot kernals are a dime a dozen at the health food store, or you can just buy apricots and crack open the seeds to get to the kernals or pits. This is NOT rocket science and yet we have this huge debate around the world and throughout the internet that has been going on for the last 40 years. Will the real scientist please stand up.

                1. You can kill yourself taking too many aspirin or paracetamol. They are freely on sale too. I do not see that allowing the sale of apricot (kernel seeds) is any different.

                  As for your suggested experiments, the burden of proof rests upon those making the claims. If it really is as easy and cheap as you say, why haven’t they done it? With crowd funding and the number of people apparently eager to believe such stories – and presumably willing to put their money where their mouth is – why hasn’t this happened? They should put up or shut up – as you write, it is easy enough to test.

                  And the studies done so far were not generalised. They specifically investigated at laetrile therapy. It did not work. Plenty of scientists have looked at this. They all come to the same conclusions – it does not work and it is dangerous. It is not just in the US – the Europeans have looked at it, the Brits have looked at it, the international Cochrane Collaboration have looked at it Of course the nuts try to explain all this away by postulating some vast global conspiracy that has been operating for decades to suppress cancer cures. Yeah, right. If all this was true, you don’t think that the Iranians or the North Koreans or whoever would not have wanted to score a massive propaganda coup by curing cancer? It is just fantasy.

                  As for how many apricot kernels people can safely take, this depends on the individual and the type of apricot kernel. Some seeds, the bitter ones, can have more than 10 times the amount of amydalin as the sweet ones.

                  There are no standardised doses with natural products and it is therefore a bit of a lucky dip as to how any one person will react to ingesting a given number of seeds. Also, even if you do not get acute cyanide poisoning from regular ingestion of the seeds, what is the long term effect of eating them? What is the long term effect of taking a handful of aspirin or paracetamol every day for that matter? Not good I expect.

                  Anyway, good luck to you but be aware of the risks.

              2. Tom, I came across this research that shows that amygdalin or laetrile inhibits the growth of bladder cancer cells. This link takes you to a short abstract on PubMed of this research. Now, I am not very smart, and I need your help to debate this research. Maybe, you can show how these researchers are wrong.

                1. Hi John. No I am sure that the results are perfectly valid. However, they were achieved in a test tube or petrie dish (“in vitro”).

                  Bleach, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, vinegar, human blood and camel urine all kill cancer cells in vitro. And some people do promote these as actual cancer cures (well, I haven’t seen anybody advocating drinking the blood of vegetarians as a cancer cure yet but who knows?), just as people promote amygdalin as a cancer cure.

                  However, in humans, amygdalin has not proved effective. Indeed , it has been shown to be dangerous. This is the sort of misleading argument that promoters of bogus cures typically use … there is this effect in petrie dishes, so studies showing it does not work in humans must be the result of some huge conspiracy.

                  As I wrote originally, caveat emptor.

                2. Further on this point and to add to my previous response, it is also worth noting that alcohol kills cancer cells in vitro (but in vivo is more likely to promote cancer).

  17. Beans, fruits and veggies. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I learned that all cooked veggies and beans are acidic and only fruits are alkaline. ??

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      Dr Greger discusses Dietary Acid Load in this video.

      If you want to find out the dietary effect on acid-base balance of specific foods you can check this table.

      If you do wish to look at a specific scientific publication addressing the acid load of foods, please check this publication. In here, you will clearly see how the majority of fruits and veg have a negative score, meaning that they exert a base effect (the exception being bananas, cherries). Beans also have a negative value, but not lentils or peas. However, they don’t compare to milk, fish, dairy & eggs which have very acidic effect.

      Hope this answer helps.

  18. Discuss this? Only meece need apply….

    The researchers found that ursolic acid and tomatidine dramatically reduce age-related muscle weakness and atrophy in mice. Elderly mice with age-related muscle weakness and atrophy were fed diets lacking or containing tiny amounts of these two key substances for two months.

    And they found that both compounds increased muscle mass by 10%, and increased muscle strength by 30%.

    You can find tomatidine in green tomatoes. And you can find ursolic acid naturally in:

    Apple peel
    Holy Basil

    You can also find ursolic acid capsules online and in health food stores. I recommend finding one that only contains both ursolic acid and tomatidine, and work your way up to a limit of 300 mg per day.

  19. Ivail Sve: You post got caught in the SPAM filter. I just rescued it. I don’t think a notice goes out in this situation. So, I’m doing this reply so that John Axsom will know that he got a reply.

  20. Dr. Colin Campbell :
    …, and what we were interested there was to see what level of
    protein, you know, caused this phenomenon to occur. I
    mean, we knew up until this point that 20% of the diet is protein, it
    turned on cancer, 5% did not. So, what we did in this experiment here,
    we gave 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and so forth and we learned something
    really interesting which turned out to be really quite a momentous idea
    later because in terms of this application to humans, in
    terms of this application to nutrition and health in general, what you
    can see in this particular presentation is that protein fed up to a
    level about 10% of the calories, it…, it doesn’t…, it doesn’t turn on


    Please see the entire article

    1. Billy: Thanks for this quote. I believe that this general quote/work is why lots of people focus on 10% as an ideal for protein. I’ve thought about this a lot and here’s my take on it: If memory serves, the experiments were about animal protein. I don’t think this phenomenon of cancer turning on after 10% protein was related to plant protein. So, there is still something of a question about what range of plant protein is healthy.
      I generally think it wise to keep even plant protein around recommended levels, because too much protein of any kind could be detrimental in other areas. We generally know what healthy eating patterns look like: which means that a majority of calories come from the carbohydrates as those carbs exist in whole plant foods. It seems reasonable to stick to whole plant foods which generally mirror those known successful macronutrient intakes–even if the plant protein goes higher than 10%. (But at the same time we do not want to go dramatically higher…).
      So, what do you think? What point were you trying to make with your quote?

      1. Yes, Thea. This was about milk casein protein fed to mice. In this article, he later says that even 20% protein from plant sources didn’t appear to be harmful. I was hoping to encourage people to read the entire article and to avoid the dangers of cancer associated with excess animal protein. And I agree with you, that we shouldn’t go dramatically higher than 10% in our protein consumption. Thank you for your reply.

  21. I wonder if this is the placebo effect?

    Also I question the story that he went to jail for curing cancer with apricot seed because adult can choose any treatment they want including no treatment. It’s only for kids under 18 that you have to follow the doctor order against the parent wish – something I don’t like myself.

    I eat the seeds all the time, with small seeds like apple, pear, grape, etc. For big seeds like those of apricot, plum, prune, etc. I only eat when I throw the whole fruit into my blender because I am lazy. But I don’t eat big seeds on purpose.

    1. Jimmy-you would be surprised at how aggressive the FDA is in protecting the profitability of required chemotherapy and radiation. They have done many horrible things to stop natural and alternative medicine, because the hospitals don’t profit from it. Jason Vale is only one of hundreds of examples.
      John S

      1. Well I have only heard of forced medical procedures on children under 18 and mentally ill patients who cannot make decision. There is however psychological and social pressure from your doctor or family members and friends who try to talk you out to do chemo if you don’t want to do. But sending an adult to jail for refusing medical procedures is unheard of, nor legal. Some states even allow medical suicide.

        However people do go to jail for making claim that certain food for instance can cure certain diseases without proof through an FDA approved clinical trial. For this part, I understand there is a grey area. For instance Dr Greger can say if you eat WFPB foods, you will prevent diseases. However he cannot say eat this and it will cure cancer. He can say however that nutrition and lifestyle changes can reverse diseases including heart, diabetes, etc. and that’s a grey area.

        1. The most dangerous thing to do is to try to cure cancer. The FDA sent in thugs to destroy Royal Rife’s machine that killed cancer cells. No one has been able to replicate it exaactly since he commmitted suicide a few years later. They have entered the offices of many health practitioners and taken their files and medical licenses, pending their investigations, which may last years. Innumberable, such as Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, have mysteriously died in perfect health if they were curing cancer without chemo and radiation. How are they supposed to make a living? Many have been put in jail. The Polish brain cancer doctor in Texas , Burzynkski, is continually put in jail and on trial because he continues to cure people of a type of cancer that conventional treatments have no answer for-you will die. He cures them, and then is in jail and on trial.

          1. I have heard the voice of naturopaths who claim to cure cancer with this food or that food, or some procedure.. While I am skeptical of drugs fixing any diseases, I am equally skeptical about some of the naturopath claims. Why don’t they publish the percentage of cancer cases that they fix? Even if it is just 20-30%, I buy it because it’s better than most drugs (5%).

            Do you have any percentage of cases when they cure cancer with apricot seed? I am all ear because I am very interested and open to all sides of the argument. When the day comes to me that I may be hit with the big C disease, I want to be prepared now so that I know what treatment to take.

            1. I have heard several talk about 70-80%, depending on the cancer. I don’t think anyone has that for pancreatic or brain cancer, for which the conventional oncologists have no answer.

              1. I am interested. Do you have any link or pointer to where to find the statistics? I don’t trust with the oil salesmen like the guys at The Truth About Cancer or Christ Has Cancer or something like that.

                1. So you just trust Big Pharma, THe AMA, and the FDA? I have never heard of Christ has Cancer. The Truth About Cancer has several doctors on board, like Dr. Greger, who are tired of the profit-seeking lies, and poorly serving clients. Why are you against them?

          2. I really do not understand why people believe all these weird and wonderful stories they find on the internet about cancer cures. Bold claims and personal stories are one thing but where is the evidence? Where is the data? Where is the critical thinking that is used to dismiss the results of published studies? Why isn’t that applied to the conspiracy stories circulated on the internet? These simply seem to be accepted as the unvarnished truth and not subjected to any meaningful scrutiny even though they are put forward without any credible supporting evidence.

            Burzynski, for example, has managed to stay one step ahead of the law for a long time but there is no credible evidence that he is curing cancer.

            1. To paraphrase Dr. Greger, the idea that Big Apricot Kernels has more money than Big Cancer is absolutely ridiculous. Anyone who trusts quackwatch is in trouble already. They take money from Big medicine to drown out smaller, more natural voices. Cancer is not caused by a lack of chemotherapy or radiation. Have you ever read Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s work? He echoes a lot of the work that you are putting down. There are many civilizations that have dramatically lower cancer rates as Dr. Greger has explained. They don’t use chemotherapy or radiation at all. Who pays for clinical trials? Big Pharma. No one makes profits on sales of natural whole food medicines, so no one pays for the trials. If that’s all you’ve got, you are throwing away most of what can heal you. Make your own choice, but I am not going to stand by and have natural medicine thrown out by Big Pharma without my voice being represented.
              John S

              1. That is all well and good, John, but where is the evidence that apricot kernels actually work? Sure they are cheap and natural but they are also ineffective and potentially dangerous.

                And intravenous laetrile therapy is just a different type of chemotherapy – so is Burzinski’s therapy and the Gonzalez protocol for that matter. There is nothing natural about them or the Royal Rife machine. All they have in common is that they don’t work and they are dangerous. Oh, and some people are making money from promoting them.

                I don’t recall Fuhrman in any way appearing to support these people. They are a world away from using plant-based nutrition as a way of preventing, managing and even curing cancers.

                As for the statement “Anyone who trusts quackwatch is in trouble already. They take money from Big medicine to drown out smaller, more natural voices.” – where is the evidence for this ?

                Every time someone points out the problems with the wild claims made by these people, the only rejoinder is that the critics must be in the pay of big pharma or big medicine or whatever, and the inconvenient evidence has to be fraudulent. It is the result of a vast worldwide conspiracy apparently Why? Because they refuse to accept the claims of these people on faith and demand evidence?

                If any of this was remotely true, you would expect anti-Western regimes like the North Koreans, the Iranians, the Russians, the Chinese, the Cubans, the Venezuelans etc to be curing cancer patients by the millions using these modalities. They aren’t.

                1. Hi Tom,
                  I have agreed with most of what you have said on Nutrition Facts. org. I too at first accepted quackwatch. It is easier to dismiss natural medicine that to study it. The accumulation of evidence over time made it clear to me.
                  An autopsy was performed on Nicholas Gonzalez. The conclusion was there was no reasonable explanation for his death. He is one of dozens to die mysteriously.

                  I think the Russians, North koreans, etc. are more interested in abusing their power than helping their people.

                  If we are spending way more on cancer than everyone else combined, why do we have more cancer than anyone? Shouldn’t all that money we taxpayers are sending at least decrease the amount or severity of cancer?

                  You didn’t answer the question of who pays for most clinical trials. Big Pharma. WHy? to consolidate their profits. Clinical trials arent’ the only evidence. They control patented medicine, they can bury the results.

                  There are many many conventional doctors who have switched to holistic methods because they could see that they were only for profits. They got depressed killing their patients for cash.

                  With B17, Big Pharma set up the clinical trials to fail. Chemo “works” fast, killing cells indiscriminately. Natural medicines work slowly, targeting the cancer. Chemo doesn’t kill the stem cells. It wipes out the immune system.
                  Check out the work of Thomas Seyfried of Boston College and Travis Christofferson. We don’t cure cancer because we don’t want to! It’s too profitable. Cancer is a metabolic disease.

                  Oncologists say you have to start the chemo on Monday. The FDA only lets you do natural once chemo has already destroyed your immune system.

                  The reason Dr. Gerson and many others have to go to Mexico is because The FDA can’t shut them down.

                  Go to Germany and find out about all the MD’s and FDA officials from the US who are getting cancer care there because they can. They just won’t sell it to us, because they need the profits. Germany is not a third world country.
                  JohN S

                  1. I also don’t understand why you equate laetrile therapy, Burzynski therapy, the Gonzalez protocol and the Royal Rife machine with natural medicine. Laetrile, Burzinski and Gonzalez are all intravenous chemotherapy approaches and the Royal Rife machine is a machine that claims to deliver some form of radiation therapy.

                    You cannot justify these approaches by claiming they are natural medicine because they manifestly aren’t. They also don’t work. None of their inventors/promoters/salespeople has ever provided any credible evidence of efficacy. Just repeating claims yoi find on the internet does not prove anything. Sorry.

                    The US actually has low cancer mortality and rates have fallen more quickly there than in other countries.

                    And if you want to know why people get cancer, why not look at this

                    1. Hi Tom,
                      I think we are slowly getting closer to understanding each other’s points of view. I am not saying that Royal Rife’s protocol is the best way to fight cancer. That was a response to someone saying that the FDA is only helping in the war on cancer. No one has the Rife Machine because the FDA thugs destroyed them and destroyed all of Rife’s records. Someone has tried to reinvent it, but it hasn’t really worked as well as the original. We will probably never know. I don’t think that is a good use of US tax dollars to fight cancer. You seem to be defending those actions.

                      You have achieved absolute certainty that Gonzales’ methods didn’t work. Many people who were given up for dead by conventional medicine with pancreatic cancer have survived using his methods. Pancreatic enzymes are a natural part of the human body, which are limited in cancer patients. You seem to believe that Gonzales’ protocol consisted entirely of chemotherapy. You are incorrect.

                      Burzinksy was also an example of the FDA not helping Americans. Again, many of his patients with brain cancer had the death sentence from conventional cancer treatments. He saved many. You also have a problem with this.

                      You seem to believe that quackwatch is a reliable source of unbiased information. I showed you that it was not. You didn’t respond to what I showed you.

                      In places where people eat apricot kernels, the rates of cancer are quite low, as with the Hunza people of Pakistan, and certain parts of China. I don’t know enough about laetrile to advocate it. Again, I am opposed to the FDA and Big Pharma setting up sham “trials” to prove it doesn’t work. I don’t know if laetrile works because the trials weren’t real.

                      You use the internet for information and I do too. Yet you condemn me for it.

                      I don’t want to be in a fight with you Tom. I have discussions to learn about things, not to “win”.

                      All of us have cancer cells in our body. They take decades to develop. Natural medicine is about keeping us healthy, not waiting until we have stage 4 metastatic cancer and then responding with chemotherapy.

                      I believe that the alternative doctors’ use of natural products can greatly decrease the amount of cancer in our society, both in prevention, and the apoptosis of the cancer cells that are living within each of us.

                      I wish you peace.
                      John S

                    2. Thanks John.

                      I have seen the reports about FDA thugs etc and Royal Rife. They are all over the internet. But where is the proof? It is a great story but where is the evidence that it is actually true? And the FDA does not stop people selling Rife machines – it does however stop con artists making false claims that it cures cancer because there is no evidence that it does.

                      Exploiting the sick and the dying for profit by selling them worthless products seems reprehensible to me. If the FDA goes after such people, that seems like a good thing to me.

                      Again you make claims that Burzynski’s and Gonzalez’s treatment actually work. So again I ask, where is the evidence for these claims? To my knowledge, here isn’t any. What evidence there is, suggests they don’t work and may actually hasten death.

                      “You seem to believe that quackwatch is a reliable source of unbiased information. I showed you that it was not.” If I recall correctly, all you did was claim it is paid by big medicine to discredit alternative “cures”. I asked you to provide evidence for this claim and you didn’t respond.

                      However, you are correct that the Gonzalez approach does not involve chemotherapy as such. Nevertheless, it does involve providing specially manufactured products made from pig pancreas and other animal gland extracts.

                      I still do not see how any of these alternative health approaches can be described as natural medicine. Even if they did work. Which the available evidence clearly suggests they don’t.

                    3. Tom,
                      I think the basic difference is what I said earlier. It seems that you are only interested in when someone is in the hospital with stage 4 metastatic cancer, and what can the hospital sell you to temporarily decrease the tumors until the cancer returns with your immune system shot and kills you. That’s fine to make millions off of that empty promise. But using natural products to prevent and stop cancer that is very small and growing over decades like Dr. Fuhrman and all these other practitioners do isn’t. We just have a basic disagreement on when cancer can be stopped. I also don’t think that clinical trials, which are almost completely sponsored by big Pharma are the only evidence. ,You apparently believe big Pharma is 100% reliable and I don’t.

                      Have you ever read “The Blue Zones”, Dr. Weston Price’s work, or “Healthy at 100”? They didn’t need Big Pharma.

                      The new “Rife-inspired” machines are not as effective as the real Rife machines were. They intentionally destroyed all of the evidence. That’s what they do. They are good at their “job”. Royal Rife and others described the incidents while he was still alive long ago.

                      Gonzalez published some work, but talked about how difficult it is for a practitioner to also be a researcher.

                      I agree that exploiting the sick and dying for profit is reprehensible. That’s why insisting that people start on Monday with chemo when the results are terrible makes me angry. You are using a 1950’s model of how cancer works. You didn’t look at my critique of quackwatch very closely or answer it. I am not convinced that you are going to look very closely at what I’ve written, so I am becoming tired of writing the same thing and you not reading it.

                      Dr. Greger, Mercola, Dr. Fuhrman, and naturopathic physicians in general try to follow the maxim of Hippocrates: let they food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be thy food. You apparently disagree.
                      John S

                    4. John, I do not doubt your sincerity but you misunderstand and misrepresent my position.

                      I also think that you do a grave disservice to Drs Greger and Fuhrman (and Dan Buettner, John Robbins and even Weston Price) if you lump them in with naturopaths, osteopaths, homeopaths and peddlers of dubious cancer “cures”. Drs Greger and Fuhrman base their assessments on what the evidence shows. They do not use woo to sell useless and/or dangerous treatments and products to the public.

                      As for not taking what you write seriously – sure, I ask you for evidence to substantiate those claims. That is hardly being unreasonable. I think you just repeat unsubstantiated claims you find on the internet that you uncritically accept, and you then get a bit frustrated that I and others do not automatically believe them also. For example, your “critique” as you call it of quackwatch was in fact just an allegation not a critique. I have several times asked to provide evidence for it but you have just ignored my request

                    5. Hi Tom,
                      I think I am done here. Your blanket condemnation of naturopaths leads me to believe that you are not open minded. Many naturopaths are also MD’s, who became disgusted with the system. You repeat unsubstantiated claims that have bigger money behind them. Again, I substantiate claims and show evidence. You put it down because it is on the internet. We are all on the internet. Your world exists exclusively in controlled laboratory studies, most of which are controlled by big Pharma. I prefer to spend time in my garden and in nature, which you apparently find useless.

                    6. Hi John

                      If you think claims made on the internet (but presumably only the ones you like) are evidence and all scientific studies are simply fraud, then I have no answer. Your defence of naturopaths is also incomprehensible to me . Naturopaths employ homeopathy and other ‘modalities’ which have either been proven not to work or have no evidence for efficacy. If you think naturopathy is a legitimate route to valid information about health and nutrition, then we are indeed light years apart

                      You have not substantiated any of your claims. I do not understand why you state that you have. You also continue to misrepresent my position. So perhaps it is a good thing that we are dome.


    1. nelsonbrady: A yeast-made casein would not have the ethical and environmental problems associated with dairy made casein. But if the substance is chemically casein, then I would expect the yeast-sourced casein to produce the same health problems. Why wouldn’t the yeast version be just as cancer promoting as casein that comes from dairy? Wouldn’t it have to be the same set of amino acids in order to call it casein???
      FYI: The following quote is from their website: “Using yeast and age-old fermentation techniques, we make the very same milk proteins that cows make.”
      Now, having just said that, I think you could still make an argument that their milk product is marginally healthier than the dairy version, because their milk product has no lactose or cholesterol. I would still not want to drink it myself, but it might become one of those transition foods that helps people move to healthier choices in the future. That’s just my 2 cents.

  22. What about a high plant protein diet, with 1.5-o 2.2 g protein per kg body weight as I have seen some paleo proponents suggest but with plant instead? Would that still have adverse reactions? I am trying to read through the comments and haven’t seen this yet.

  23. Interesting reading these comments!
    Almost every one of them is about protein. Yet what Dr Greger has been pointing out is: We have a need for a small amount of daily protein (say 50g), and beyond that it just doesn’t do much (except maybe make you sick). Yet the myth runs deep that protein builds tissue – and the more protein you take in the more tissue you build. Dr Greger just destroyed that myth.

    Instead, it appears we should be talking about IGF-1 which appears to build both tissue AND disease.

    I would love to see a video on IGF-1, muscle mass and aging.

    1. The problem is when you eat just the Daily Dozen WFPB diet and a little bit more then you exceed your 50g of protein per day. I gave an example yesterday when I akready get to 47g by eating a few WFPB foods.

      1. And how is that a problem?
        I think all the research points to animal protein being a problem but not plant protein. If you take in a little too much then you just pee it back out.

        Of course if you take in WAY too much that might be a problem. But I don’t think that’s what you meant

        1. None.

          I am just replying to your statement (and I don’t expect to be sick when I consume more than 50g of protein from WFPB foods)

          “We have a need for a small amount of daily protein (say 50g), and beyond
          that it just doesn’t do much (except maybe make you sick)”

  24. There is a new company with a dairy substitute supposed to be very close to milk. The “secret” is casein made from yeast and sugars. How would veggie casein compare to animal casein nutritionally? I know Dr. Gregor is not a fan of animal casein.

  25. What is the biochemical difference between animal protein and plant protein? Isn’t an amino acid an amino acid irrespective of it’s source?

    1. jem: There are 20 (or so, depending on what source you use) types of amino acids. It’s true that an amino acid is an amino acid. But a protein is *made up* of various combinations of chains of amino acids. I’ve seen estimates that there are literally millions of different kinds of proteins. Here’s one source:
      Here’s a key point: Those different proteins (chains of amino acids) interact with your body differently. If you look at one of the latest videos-of-the-day, you will see that proteins common in animals seem to have negative health effects. If you watch the series of videos on NutritionFacts about IGF-1, you will learn one mechanism on how/why animal based proteins contribute to cancer growth.
      Our bodies have a dietary need for *some* amino acids. Your body can create 11 of the 20 amino acids. But 9 of the amino acids must come from the diet. Happily, you can get all 9 of those amino acids, and in the amounts you need, by eating a balanced diet (such as the one promoted with the Daily Dozen or the PCRM Power Plate) of whole plant foods. Here is a great article that shows the evidence for this:
      Does this answer your question?

  26. I’m confused. Through most of the video the information is targeted at showing that higher protein levels are not needed in older individuals. Then near the end, Dr. Gregor mentions, “if we are going to increase our protein consumption after age 65…”. Why bring this in when the evidence is to the contrary?

    1. There is an observational study that suggests higher protein may somehow be protective in older people (unlike younger people) so Dr G is talking to people who think that that study identifies a real cause and effect phenomenon. He is saying that if you choose to go down that road, vegetable sources of protein are safer

      Personally, I find unconvincing the idea that high protein consumption suddenly and surprisingly becomes protective once we reach old age The authors themselves suggested an alternative explanation for that association – that malnourished and ill older people may be less likely to lconsume high levels of protein than healthier individuals.

  27. The Comments Section is getting to be a complete waste of time due to
    the incessant comments of one (and occasionally more than one) inane
    person. I used to find helpful and clarifying information in the
    Comments Section, but now it is dominated by contrarian nonsense and
    off topic drivel. I suspect that someone is getting paid by the comment
    to disrupt this site or merely has a psychological need for attention.

    would be helpful if the web designer would allow an individual to block
    (on their computer only) all comments from a specific member and all
    replies to that member. There may be other solutions, but as it stands
    now, I am unlikely to read through the Comments Section like I used to.

  28. In a recent video (the live Q&A), Dr. Greger stated that 2500 ug of B12 a week is adequate if it is type cyanocobalamin. Could a person assume that 1000 ug every 3 days would also be adequate (slightly less since 2500/7 = 357 ug daily avg).

  29. I’m doing a protein shake for breakfast and I can’t find anything on the benefits/health risks of using a whey based protein powder which seems to be the hot thing in powdered proteins. Plant based is OK, but really gritty. Does anyone have any information on the benefits/risks of whey? Is that OK to use daily?

    1. hi Alison, this video might help to explain why we want to avoid whey protein and milk products in general Also, under the video in the ‘Doctor’s Notes’ section you will see a number of links to related videos on the topics of cancer-causing IGF1, meat and dairy proteins, and how we can lessen IGF1 levels by eating a heathful plant based diet.
      If you have further questions, do not hesitate to ask in the comment section of the current day’s video or blog article. Best Wishes to you

  30. My Ma and Pa are over 65, but alas I am the only legume fanatic in our family. Speaking of legumes…

    I’ve noticed that some soy milks at the grocery store are fortified with calcium carbonate. That seems like a bad idea. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in Tums, which reduces stomach acid. But stomach acid is necessary to activate protein digesting enzymes in the stomach. And many people drink soy milk because it is a protein-rich alternative to cow milk. My former roommate used to drink calcium carbonate fortified soy milk all the time and said it made him feel bloated. Anyway, I buy Westsoy brand from time to time, which is just organic soybeans and water.

  31. Good article, but how about increasing protein consumption in my 20’s? I’ve now read the How Not to Die book and thought it was fantastic. I think the principles are well-backed in science. The only issue I’m having with living the diet from a practical sense is how much it limits me in my goals. I’m a competitive natural bodybuilder. Like other competitive athletes, there are times where I’m living at controlled caloric surplus or caloric deficit, but regardless of which stage of my diet, protein intake is in the 175-200 grams or higher range to retain and build muscle mass. What ways do you recommend to hit these protein ranges in a healthy way without relying on Whey Protein or Meats? If I were to try to eat lentils to hit this range, I would be so incredibly full I likely wouldn’t meet my requirements. I know the typical advice is going to be “well don’t eat so much protein”, but assuming I’m not going to heed that advice, what’s the healthiest, most bio-available way to get 200 grams of protein a day that my muscles can actually use effectively to build muscle. Weightlifting is a very big portion of my life and not getting enough protein hinders it. How can I make a primarily vegetarian diet work towards this. Give me an answer and you’ve got a lifelong follower.

    -Thanks for any help you can give!

    1. Zach: Following is some information I have shared with others when they asked similar questions.

      For body building, I recommend checking out the following article on Strength And Protein for Athletes:
      Also, here’s a NutritionFacts video about body building: In case you are interested, there are also some NutritionFacts videos dealing with muscle soreness/relief: and
      Also, while the list below is just a set of anecdotes, I think the stories are inspirational for people interested in building muscle or simply improving athletic performance. These are people who improve on their own performance after going vegan. So, you know there is a way. I don’t know which particular links would have tips for you, but I expect that you would be able to find some ideas on what do to from the information below. The very bottom includes some books on vegan body building or athletics that I have seen recommended by others. I’m not vouching for them myself.
      Hope this helps.
      (article from meatout mondays)
      Vegan Bodybuilders Dominate Texas Competition
      The Plant Built ( team rolled into this year’s drug-free, steroid-free Naturally Fit Super Show competition in Austin, TX, and walked away with more trophies than even they could carry.
      The Plant Built team of 15 vegan bodybuilders competed in seven divisions, taking first place in all but two. They also took several 2nd and 3rd place wins.
      For More Info:
      When Robert Cheeke started in 2002, being the only vegan athlete he knew of, he may not have imagined that the website would quickly grow to have thousands of members. Robert says, “We’re discovering new vegan athletes all the time, from professional and elite levels… to weekend warriors and everyone in between.”
      For More Info:
      Then there is that other guy who broke a world record in weight lifting. “Congratulations to Strongman Patrik Baboumian who yesterday took a ten metre walk carrying more than half a tonne on his shoulders, more than anyone has ever done before. After smashing the world record the Strongman let out a roar of ‘Vegan Power’…” For more info:
      another article on the same guy:
      And another article: “I got heavier, I got stronger, I won the European championship title in powerlifting, I broke three world records so everything was going perfect … my blood pressure went down, and my recovery time was so much faster so I could train more.”
      Here’s a story about a bodybuilder who doesn’t use any supplements. Just eats whole plant foods:
      Mr Universe – “Since going vegan, he has actually gained even more mass, now at 107 Kilos…”
      Bite Size Vegan has a youtube channel
      “In this video series, you’ll hear from various vegan athletes from all walks of life and athletic abilities speaking to such topics as vegan athletic performance, building muscle on a vegan diet, vegan endurance running, bodybuilding, body image, and more!”
      Here’s another site that I like, Great Vegan Athletes:
      I found this story on the above site: “Pat Reeves has set a new world powerlifting record at the WDFPA World Single Lift Championships. The 66 year old lifter, who has been vegan for 46 years, lifted 94 kg to set a record for the under 50.5kg weight class while competing in France in June 2012. The lift was more than 1.85 times her bodyweight, which is exceptional for her division. Pat is now officially the oldest competing weightlifter in Europe.”
      from Meatout Mondays: Vegan Bodybuilder Bucks Stereotypes
      Vegan bodybuilder Joshua Knox shares his game changing and inspiring vegan story during a TEDxFremont, California presentation.
      In this five-minute long video, shared by Mercy for Animals, Knox talks of his ‘meat and potatoes’ upbringing and what led him to give veganism a try. The results were nothing short of wonderful.
      “Not only was I able to continue increasing my strength and performance but also saw massive gains in endurance as well… [and] rather than feeling like I was missing out on foods I really felt that I was opening my mind to so many things I would have never put on my plate…” Knox said during his presentation. Joshua also noted a drop in his cholesterol, while experiencing mental and emotional health improvements as well. Rock on, Josh! Thank you for sharing your story
      Watch the short video on Mercy for Animals’ youtube channel:
      from Meatout Mondays: Professional Bodybuilding Couple Celebrate Veganism
      Named 2014 Mr Universe, Barny Du Plessis and his fiance, named UK’s strongest woman, Josie Keck are excited to share and to celebrate their one year vegan anniversary this month. In a comprehensive interview by British publication, Daily Mail, the vegan (literal) power couple are “…serious about [their] crusade to save the Earth, the animals, [themselves], and our dignity as a species,” said Barny. The articles noted that, “Barny is on a mission to destroy the idea that eating meat is associated with manliness.” He said, “I’m living proof that you simply don’t need to eat meat or animal products to make great gains, be strong, healthy, fit, and feeling mighty.” We couldn’t agree more, Barny. Congratulations to you both on your anniversary! We’re so jazzed you’re passionate about veganism.
      “When training for competitions Barny eats up to 4,500 calories a day, while Josie consumes 2,200 of vegan food. While preparing for a competition their typical diet consists of a wide variety of vegetables; fruit such as apples, bananas, dates and berries; grains such as basmati rice, quinoa and tapioca, pulses like chickpeas and brown and red lentils; as well as powders such as rice protein, hemp protein and vegan protein blend.” And the article includes a sample daily menu for each of them.
      from meetout Mondays
      Weightlifting Record Set by Vegan
      With a record-setting deadline of 452 pounds, Iceland native Hulda B. Waage says it was her vegan diet that helped her pull out the win. “You can be strong without eating meat and animal byproducts,” she said. “I’ve reached the age when the body produces more swelling. I believe my diet helps with this, and I recover more quickly after practices.” Hulda has her sights set on the 2023 World Weightlifting Championships. Awesome, Hulda! Way to represent vegan athletes in a most wonderful way. And thank you for all you do to help inspire and forward a cruelty-free world.
      Rich Roll is an ultra-endurance athlete and quite an inspiration. From his bio page:
      “… Rich is a 50-year old, accomplished vegan ultra-endurance athlete … In May 2010, Rich and his ultra-colleague Jason Lester accomplished an unprecedented feat of staggering endurance many said was not possible. Something they call the EPIC5 CHALLENGE- a odyssey that entailed completing 5 ironman-distance triathlons on 5 islands of Hawaii in under a week. Commencing on Kauai, they travelled to Oahu, Molokai and Maui before finishing on the Big Island, following the course of the Ironman World Championships on the Kona coast.”
      And that was just for starters. Then: “But what makes Rich truly remarkable is that less than two years prior to his first Ultraman, he didn’t even own a bike, let alone race one. … Everything came to head on the eve of his 40th birthday. Defeated by a mere flight of stairs that left him buckled over in pain, he foresaw the almost certain heart attack looming in his near future. … The day immediately following his staircase epiphany, Rich overhauled his diet, became a dedicated vegan, put on his running shoes and jumped back into the pool.”
      To learn more:
      Story of Mac Denzig, winner of season six of The Ultimate Fighter
      Another article from Meetout Mondays: Vegan Figure Skater Takes Silver
      Canadian Olympian Meagan Duhamel and her partner Eric Radford won a silver medal in pairs figure skating at this year’s Olympic games in Sochi, Russia.
      Duhamel proudly took to Twitter announcing that she is an “Olympian, vegan, yogi and nutritionist.” Wonderful! Congratulations to Meagan for being an outspoken and shining example of what healthy vegan eating looks like. …
      from Meetout Mondays: Plant-Powered Athlete: Griff Whalen [NFL Player]
      His teammates say he has the most enviable body on the team. They say he consumes an average of 6,000 calories and 200 grams of protein a day. They also say, he does it all by eating plants!
      In a recent interview on, Indianapolis Colts’ wide receiver Griff Whalen, talks about his vegan ways.
      “I feel a lot lighter, faster, quicker on the field. There isn’t that heavy feeling, that groggy feeling after I eat,” says Whalen. Hooray for another plant-powered athlete for us to cheer on. w00t! w00t!
      Read the full article on :
      from Meetout Mondays: NFL’s David Carter on Living Vegan
      In an interview last month on Rich Roll’s podcast, 27 year old Chicago Bears’ defensive lineman, David Carter spoke of a day in the life of the NFL, what he eats daily, his vegan journey, and his commitment to animal advocacy.
      “I can honestly say that being vegan is not only the most efficient way to be full-body strong, it’s also the most humane; everyone wins,” Carter said on the podcast.
      Carter is also the founder of The 300 Pound Vegan, a lifestyle blog where the NFL player writes about his journey through veganism and shares plant-based recipes. If nothing else, Carter shows us that living on plants is not just for endurance athletes or yogis but can positively impact heavy hitters in terms of their size, speed, agility, power, and quickness. Aww, yeah! Thanks for being so rad, David. We love it!
      Listen to the full interview on Rich Roll:
      Or for a written story with sample menu plan:
      And another article from Meetout Mondays: Record Setting, 92 Yr Old Vegan Runner
      Mike Fremont has been vegan for over 20 years, and has been setting single age marathon running records just as long.
      “At age 88 [Mike] ran a 6H5M53S marathon in Cincinnati Ohio and at age 90 ran a 6H35M47S marathon in Huntington West Virginia. [He] also set a single age world record for 90 years old in the half marathon in Morrow Ohio in August 2012,” said Veg World Magazine.
      According to an interview with Veg World Magazine, Fremont credits his vegan lifestyle for his continued record setting runs, at his age.
      We love seeing vegans making positive media waves, and what better way to showcase the health benefits of plant-powered living than Mike’s awesome running career. Here’s to you Mike, and vegan athletes of all ages!
      Learn more about Mike Fremont a
      from Meatout Mondays: World’s First Vegan Pro Soccer Team
      The Internet went wild last week as the news that English soccer (A.K.A football) team, the Forest Green Rovers, announced that the entire team and club is going completely vegan.
      “We stopped serving meat to our players, fans and staff about four seasons ago,” said club owner Dale Vince (via a recent article on He continued, “We’ve been on a mission since then to introduce our fans to this new world.” The article explains that while the club has been vegetarian for the past few years, they’ve decided to take the next step in going fully vegan (including their beer and cider options). Also cool to know: the club’s field is organic and they collect rainwater to use for irrigation. This is seriously super cool, you guys. Keep it up!
      Read the source article on:
      from Meatout Mondays: Vegan Arm Wrestler: Rob Bigwood
      “Some of his opponents say that since going vegan Rob is stronger, his stamina grew, and he became more difficult to pin,” notes an interview-style Facebook post by ‘Starry N Ight.’
      A competitive arm wrestler since 2000, Rob Bigwood has been making a name for himself in the arm wrestling community—not only as the one to beat but also as the guy who eats plants. Rob has said, “I was concerned at first [about not eating meat for strength] but didn’t care. I made a conscious and ethical decision to give up meat…It is more important to practice what I believe in than to worry about being a strength athlete. I have never felt better in my entire life and it was one of the smartest decisions I ever made.”
      Check out one of Rob’s interviews on
      from Meatout Mondays: Vegan Breaks World Record in Push-Ups
      A vegan from Kerala (a South Indian state) has just broken the Guinness World Record for knuckle push-ups (press ups). K.J. Joseph—a manager of an ayurveda centre in Munnar—completed 82 push-ups in 60 seconds, beating out Ron Cooper from the US who held the record at 79 push-ups in 2015. “Joseph has already entered the Universal Record Forum by doing 2092 push-ups in an hour. He is currently the record holder in the India Book of Records,” notes Thanks for making us vegans look good, Joseph. And congrats on your win!
      Check out the original story:
      From PCRM Weekly News Update:
      What do the world’s top male and female tennis players have in common? They love vegan food! In a new Huffington Post piece, Dr. Barnard talks about plant-powered Novak Djokovic’s recent win at the French Open.
      Book: Vegan Bodybuilding And Fitness by Robert Cheeke
      Comment from someone on Amazon: “For those who want a more thorough dietary guide, I suggest Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier. His book is exclusively about vegan sports nutrition and contains a variety of great tasting recipes along with a 12-week daily meal plan.”
      More about Thrive: Thrive Energy Cookbook
      Created by two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion, Brendan Brazier, Thrive Energy Cookbook dives into Brendan’s philosophy on plant-based nutrition, showcasing 150 easy, health-enhancing recipes.
      An expert on how diet affects performance and how not to waste energy, Brazier explores how foods in their natural state maximizes energy and health, lowers body fat, improves sleep, and peaks conditioning and physical performance.
      Thrive Energy Cookbook includes the use of leafy greens, hemp seeds, quinoa, brown rice, and nuts as staples in an alkaline-forming, plant protein-packed diet regime.
      In addition to being a best selling author, Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman triathlete. He is the creator of the ZoN Thrive Fitness Program and the award winning, plant-based VEGA product line.

  32. The final nail in the fish coffin for me was the microplastics in 1/4 or the sampled fish even from the wildest waters. It is bad enough to consume plastic but then consider that much of it includes toxins that were not intended to be consumed.
    It may well turn out that the safest way to get EPA/DHA will be a farm grown plant or algae. It remains to be seen if farm products can be grown without any toxins or antibiotics.
    For the time being I am going to rely on the small amount that my body can make from the ALA in flax and chia seeds along with the nuts I consume.

  33. My wife and I drink a smoothie which includes Garden of Life organic plant-based protein powder after our early morning workout. We are both in our early 60’s and our fitness trainer believes we need this to build muscle.

    Am I to understand from this and other discussions that protein powder is not necessary or in fact may be harmful ?

    We also stopped taking multi-vitamins based on our understanding of NutritionFacts discussions. The Garden of Life powder I described above has a very complex list of ingredients.

    Thank you, Steven

  34. Hi I am a nutritionist and a volunteer in NF team. It is needed when you dont meet your protein requirements. If you meet it with your diet, it’s not necessary to take it.

    1. Hi. I am looking to increase my muscle mass on a vegan diet. Is resistance exercise the way to build muscle,
      or is food the necessary component more so? As vegans, if we want to build more muscle, what does Dr. Greger
      suggest, as far as the data and science, and is there reason to eat lots of plant protein before or after working out?
      Thanks for any help.

      1. Hi there! Thanks for your comment.

        If your intention is to build muscle mass, both, exercise (resistance) and nutrition are key components to achieve your goal. You need to take care of your diet, but not only focus on protein, as you also need carbs to have the proper energy to build or increase muscle mass.

        Of course, you can do that on a vegan diet, but I suggest to plan your meals with a Register Dietitian, because how much protein you need, and how much of the other nutrients are going to depend on your individual factors (age, sex, body composition, goals, exercise, etc).

        If you can not achieve your protein requirements with plants alone, maybe you can use a vegan protein supplement.

        For more reference you can check the International Society of Sports Nutrition Web:

        1. I am 63 years old, vegan for 5 years, healthy and active. But I’d like to increase muscle mass. This video suggests that adding protein beyond RDA won’t help. Yet research here ( suggests otherwise. Here’s the key paragraph from that report (reference links removed from the text below but included in the full report link above):

          “Older individuals are anabolically resistant and require higher per-meal protein doses to achieve similar rates of MPS, the primary variable regulating changes in skeletal muscle mass, compared with younger participants. The average supplemental daily protein dose given to older participants was surprisingly low (20±18 g/day); thus, it is perhaps not surprising that we did not find that older individuals were responsive to protein supplementation. Though age did not affect the RET-induced change in fibre CSA, the negative effect age had on changes in FFM leads us to speculate that even though exercise sensitizes muscle to the effect of protein ingestion, older persons have an increased need for higher protein intakes to optimally respond to this effect and see gains in FFM.”

          I’d like to believe otherwise, as increasing daily grams of protein beyond a certain level is very challenging due to low protein density of most vegan foods and I don’t wish to load up on soy. Thus, I am confused as how to proceed.

          1. The solution to your question is very straightforward. Just eat a lot of beans, including soy beans. Just find the variety of beans you enjoy and eat lots of them. Also don’t forget that while beef may have 42% protein, spinach is 51% protein. Beans and spinach, spiced up in your favorite way, is super tasty.

            Dr. Ben

  35. What is Dr. Greger’s advice on β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate (HMB)?

    From 2017
    Studies performed with older people have demonstrated that HMB can attenuate the development of sarcopenia in elderly subjects and that the optimal effects of HMB on muscle growth and strength occur when it is combined with exercise.
    HMB may be applied to enhance increases in the mass and strength of skeletal muscles in subjects who exercise and in the elderly.

    Thank you.

  36. There seem to be a popular belief that elder people need to increase their protein intake. Some articles, like this one (, are stating:

    “It is important to highlight that plant-based sources are likely to result in a lower muscle anabolic response upon ingestion when compared with animal-based proteins.”

    On the other hand, other articles like this one ( seem to determine the contrary.

    How can we explain such different results in studies?


    1. Great question, Nicholas. The first article refers to another study comparing wheat protein or soy protein to beef protein for muscle creation. They conclude, “Future research comparing the anabolic properties of a variety of plant-based proteins should define the preferred protein sources to be used in nutritional interventions to support skeletal muscle mass gain or maintenance in both healthy and clinical populations.”

      The second study found that protein from vegetables (not specifically wheat or soy only) increased muscle mass in the elderly. (It may still be the case that beef protein leads to more muscle gain, but that vegetable protein does well.) Research is ongoing.

      The most important things are outcomes across may health and disease states. We know that the more protein that comes from animal sources, the more risk of heart disease, colorectal cancer, earlier death and other adverse endpoints. ( If folks then avoid animal protein for these reasons, finding the ideal amounts and types of plant protein to support muscle growth and prevent falls and other outcomes may the best route to take.

      Dr Anderson, Health Support Volunteer

  37. Please provide a video that addresses protein needs for seniors (ugh, at 60 I believe I am now a “senior”) who are athletes focused on building muscle. There is very little nutritional advice that is coupled with the latest research showing it is possible for older people to maintain but also build muscle. Do we need more protein? That is what I have read over and over. You suggest keeping protein levels at the recommended levels. Is that still the correct advice for seniors who work out hard multiple days per week (weight training, cardio training and mountain biking)? Help, we are a neglected bunch of dedicated people. Thank you!

  38. Blutes,

    Your absolutely correct in terms of those with a very active lifestyle need more protein regardless of age.

    You will find the piece, under protein, interesting from an age basis”: and for another overview see:

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

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