Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Common Diseases with Diet

Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Common Diseases with Diet

“Food as Medicine: Preventing & Treating
the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet” Good evening. For those of you unfamiliar with my work,
every year I read through every issue of every English-language nutrition journal
in the world so you don’t have to. [Laughter, applause.] Every year my talks are brand new
because every year the science is brand new. I then compile the most interesting,
the most groundbreaking, the most practical findings to new videos
and articles I upload every day, to my nonprofit site, [Applause.] Everything on the website is free. There’s no ads, no
corporate sponsorship. It’s strictly noncommercial,
not selling anything. I just put it up as a public
service, as a labor of love. New videos and articles every day
on the latest in evidence-based nutrition. In my 2012 review, I explored
the role diet may play in preventing, treating, and
reversing our deadliest diseases. In 2013, I covered our
most common conditions. And in 2014, I went through
our leading causes of disability. This year I’d like to address some
of our most dreaded diseases, and cancer tops the list
in the latest Gallup poll. The #1 cancer killer in the United States
of both men and women is lung cancer. But if you look at the
rates of lung cancer around the world, they
vary by a factor of ten. If there was nothing we could
do to prevent lung cancer, you’d assume the rates would be
about the same everywhere, I mean if it just happened
kind of randomly. But since there’s a huge variation in rates,
you assume there’s some contributing cause. And indeed we now know that smoking
is responsible for 90% of lung cancer cases. So, if you don’t want to die of the #1
cancer killer by just not smoking, we can take 90% of your risk
and throw it out the window. Colorectal cancer is our second
leading cause of cancer death, and for that there’s an even
bigger spread around the world. So it appears colon cancer doesn’t
just happen, something makes it happen. Well, if our lungs can get filled
with carcinogens from smoke, maybe our colons are getting filled
with carcinogens from food. Why do African Americans get more
colon cancer than native Africans? Why that population? Because colon cancer is extremely
rare in native African populations, like more than 50 times lower rates
than Americans, white or black. We used to think it was all the
fiber that they were eating, However, the modern African diet
is highly processed, low in fiber, yet there’s been no dramatic
increase in colon cancer rates. And we’re not just
talking low fiber intake. We’re talking United States
of America low fiber intake, down around half the
recommended daily allowance. Yet colon disease still remains rare
in Africa, still 50 times less colon cancer. Maybe it’s because they’re
thinner and exercise more? No, they’re not,
and no they don’t. If anything, their physical activity levels
may actually be lower than ours. So if they’re sedentary like us,
eating mostly refined carbs, few plant foods, little fiber — like us,
why do they have 50 times less colon cancer? Well, there is one big difference. The diets of both African Americans and
Caucasian Americans is rich in meat, whereas the native Africans’ diet is
so low in meat and saturated fat they have cholesterol
levels averaging 139, compared to over 200 in the US So yes, they don’t eat
a lot of fiber anymore, but they continue to minimize
meat and animal fat intake, supporting evidence that perhaps
the most powerful determinants of colon cancer risk are the levels
of meat and animal fat intake. So why do Americans get more
colon cancer than Africans? Maybe the rarity of colon cancer
in Africans is associated with their low animal
product consumption. But why? Did you ever see that takeoff
of the industry slogan, “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner.” “Beef: It’s What’s Rotting in Your Colon.” I remember seeing that
on a shirt with some friends and I was such the party pooper
—no pun intended— explaining that, no, meat is completely
digested in the small intestine, and never makes it
down into the colon. No fun hanging out
with biology geeks. But it turns out I was wrong! It turns out up to 12 grams a day
of protein can escape digestion, and when it does,
it reaches the colon, it can be turned into toxic
substances like ammonia. This degradation of undigested protein
in the colon is called putrefaction, so a little meat can actually
end up putrefying in our colon. The problem is some
of the by-products of this putrefication
process can be toxic. The same thing happens
with other animal proteins. If you eat egg whites, for example,
some of that can putrefy too. So you say, wait a second.
There’s protein in plants, too. Ah! The difference is that animal proteins
tend to contain more sulfur-containing amino acids like methionine,
which is found concentrated in fish and chicken,
and then eggs. Less in beef and dairy, but
much less in plant foods, which can be turned into
hydrogen sulfide in the colon, the rotten egg gas that, beyond
it doesn’t just smell bad, but it can produce changes in
the colon that increase cancer risk. Now there is a divergence of opinion
as to whether it’s the animal fat, cholesterol, or animal protein that’s most
responsible for the increased cancer risk, but as all three have been shown
to have carcinogenic properties, but, I mean, does it really matter since
a diet high in one is high in the others. But the protein does more
than just putrefy, though. Animal protein consumption
causes an increase in blood levels of a cancer-promoting growth
hormone called IGF-1. But remove meat, egg whites,
and dairy proteins from our diet, and our bloodstream can suppress cancer
cell growth about eight times better. An effect so powerful that Dr. Ornish
and colleagues appeared able to reverse the progression of prostate cancer
without chemo, without surgery, without radiation — just a plant-based
diet and other healthy lifestyle changes. The link between animal protein
and IGF-1 may help explain why those eating low carb
diets tend to die sooner, but not just any low carb diets—
specifically those based on animal sources, whereas actually
vegetable-based low carb diets were associated with
a lower risk of death. But meat-based low carb diets
are high in animal fat as well. So how do we know it wasn’t the
saturated fat and cholesterol that was killing people off and had
nothing to do with the animal protein? What we would need is a study that,
you know, follows a few thousand people and their protein intakes out for 20 years
or so and just see what happens: who gets cancer, who doesn’t;
who lives longer? But there’s never been a study like that… …until now. [Laughter.] 6,000 men and women over age 50, across
the US, were followed for 18 years and those under age 65 with high protein intakes
had a 75% increase in overall mortality, a 4-fold increase in dying from cancer. But not all proteins.
Specifically animal protein. Which makes sense given the higher IGF-1
levels in those eating excess protein. Eating animal protein increases IGF-1
levels, which increases cancer risk. The sponsoring university sent out a press
release with a memorable opening line: “That chicken wing you’re eating could
be as deadly as a cigarette—” [Applause.] —explaining that eating a diet rich in
animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more
likely to die of cancer — a mortality risk factor
comparable to smoking. Look, almost everyone’s going to
have a cancer cell or pre-cancerous cell. And at some point the question is:
does it progress? And that may depend
on what we eat. See, most malignant tumors are
covered in IGF-1 receptors, but if we have less IGF-1,
the tumor may not progress. And it wasn’t just the
more deaths from cancer. Middle-aged people who eat lots
of proteins from animal sources were found to be more susceptible
to early death in general. Crucially, the same did not apply
to plant proteins like beans, and it wasn’t the fat; it was the animal protein that
appeared to be the culprit. So what was the response to this revelation
that diets high in meat, eggs and dairy could be as harmful
to health as smoking? One nutrition scientist replied that
it was wrong and potentially dangerous. Not the discovery animal protein
might be killing people, but the way they were
telling people about it. It could damage the effectiveness
of important public health messages. A smoker might think
“why bother quitting smoking if my cheese and ham sandwich
is just as bad for me?” [Laughter.] You know, that reminds me of
a famous Phillip Morris cigarette ad that tried to downplay the risks by saying
“you think second-hand smoke is bad, increasing the risk of lung cancer 19%,
drinking one to two glasses of milk every day may be three times as bad—
62% increased lung cancer risk. Or doubling the risk
frequently cooking with oil, or tripling your risk of heart
disease eating nonvegetarian, or multiplying your risk six-fold
eating lots of meat and dairy.” So, they conclude, let’s keep
some perspective. [Laughter.] The risk of lung cancer,
the risk of second-hand smoke may be well below the risk reported
for other everyday activities. So breathe deep, basically.
That’s like saying, “Oh, don’t worry about getting stabbed
because getting shot is much worse.” How about neither?
Two risks don’t make a right. [Applause.] Though you’ll note, when
Phillip Morris bought Kraft, they stopped throwing
dairy under the bus. [Brief laughter.] The heme in the ham
may also play a role. Heme iron is the form of iron
found in blood and muscle, and may promote cancer by catalyzing
the formation of carcinogenic compounds. Cancer has been described as a ferrotoxic
disease: a disease, in part, of iron toxicity. Iron is a double-edged sword. Iron deficiency causes anemia, but
excessive iron may increase cancer risk, by acting as a pro-oxidant,
generating free radicals that may play a role in a number
of dreaded diseases like stroke. But look, only the heme iron,
the blood and muscle iron, not the nonheme iron that
predominates in plants. Same with heart disease –
only the heme iron. Same with diabetes –
only the heme iron. And same with cancer. In fact, you can actually tell how much meat
someone is eating by looking at their tumors. To characterize the mechanisms underlying
meat-related lung cancer development, they asked lung cancer patients how
much meat they were eating, and examined the gene expression
patterns in their tumors, and identified a signature pattern
of heme-related gene expression. Though they just
looked at lung cancer, they expect these meat-related gene expression
changes to occur in other cancers as well. The safest form of iron then is non-heme iron,
found naturally in abundance in whole grains, beans, split peas, chickpeas, and
lentils, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. How much money can be
made on beans, though? So the food industry came up
with blood-based crisp bread made out of rye and
cattle and pig blood, one of the most concentrated
sources of heme iron, about two thirds more
than chicken blood. Though if blood-based crackers
don’t sound appetizing, they do have cow blood cookies
or blood filled biscuits. The filling does end up “a dark-colored,
chocolate-flavored paste with a very pleasant taste.” Dark-colored because
spray-dried pigs blood can have a darkening effect
on the food product’s color. But the worry is not
the color or the taste. It’s the heme iron, which because
of the potential cancer risk is not considered safe to add
to foods for the general population. This reminds me of nitrosamines, a class of
potent carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. They are considered so toxic that
carcinogens of this strength in any other consumer product destined for human
consumption would be banned immediately. And if that were the case they
would have to ban meat. One hot dog has as many nitrosamines
and nitrosamides as five cigarettes. And these carcinogens are also found in fresh,
unprocessed meat as well: beef, chicken, pork. But practice Meatless Mondays and
you could wake up Tuesday morning with nearly all of these carcinogens
washed out of your system. So, toxic nitrosamines should
be banned immediately, but are still allowed for sale
in cigarettes and meat because the carcinogens
are found there naturally. It would be illegal to add them,
but hey, if they’re found… Right? Just like the heme iron, not safe enough
to expose the general population to, but allowed for sale
at the deli counter. The irony is that the iron and the protein
are what the industry boasts about. Those are supposed to be the redeeming
qualities of meat: protein and iron, but sourced from animal foods
may do more harm than good. And that’s not to mention
all the other stuff, like the saturated fat, industrial
pollutants, and hormones, that may play a role in our third
leading cancer killer, breast cancer. Steroid hormones are unavoidable
in food of animal origin, but cow milk may be
of particular concern. The hormones naturally found
in even organic cow’s milk may have played a role in the studies
that found that a relationship between milk and dairy products
with human illnesses, not just like teenagers’ acne; but prostate, breast, ovarian
and uterine cancers; many chronic diseases plaguing
the Western world; as well as male
reproductive disorders. From an increased risk of early puberty all
the way to endometrial cancer in older women. But hormonal levels in food
could be particularly dangerous in the case of vulnerable populations, such
as young children and pregnant women in which even a small hormonal intake
could mean a large change in metabolism. Look, dairy milk evolved to put
a few hundred pounds onto a calf, but the consequences of a lifetime
of human exposure to the growth factors in milk
have not been well studied. We know milk consumption increases
IGF-1, which is linked to cancer, and we’re milking cows
while they’re pregnant, leading to particularly
high levels of hormones. Although dairy products are
an important source of hormones, other products of animal origin
must be considered as well. This could explain why women can cut
their breast cancer risk more than half by not just being normal
weight and limiting alcohol, but also eating mostly
foods of plant origin. Now to help differentiate the effects
of diet from other behaviors like smoking and drinking
on overall cancer incidence, Adventists were compared
to Baptists. Now both discourage alcohol and
tobacco, but Adventists go further, encouraging a reduction of meat. In general, the Adventists had
less cancer than the Baptists, and within Adventist populations,
the vegetarians did even better, and those eating the most
plant based did the best. All edible tissues of animal
origin contain estrogen. This may explain why women avoiding
all animal products have a twinning rate which is one fifth that of
vegetarians and omnivores. It appears that vegan women
have five times fewer twins presumed to be because they’re not exposed
to all these hormones in the diet. And why is that a good thing? Because twin pregnancies can
unfortunately be risky pregnancies, for both mom and the babies, who may
be ten times more likely to die at birth. To avoid these complications,
women attempting conception may want to consider avoiding
milk and dairy products. And this isn’t even talking about
the synthetic hormones that are injected, implanted
and fed into farm animals. In 1979, an epidemic of breast enlargement
was noted in Italian children. Poultry or veal was suspected because they were using estrogens
to accelerate weight gain. So after this episode, Europe banned the use
of anabolic growth promoters in agriculture, and banned the importation
of American meat ever since, because we continue to inject animals with
drugs like Zeranol, sold as Ralgro Magnum. You drip Zeranol-containing blood from
implanted cattle onto normal breast cells, human breast cells
in a Petri dish and you transform them
into breast cancer cells within 21 days. But people
aren’t Petri dishes. Because these anabolic growth promoters
in meat production are by far the most powerful, potent hormones
found in human food, we should really be testing people, especially
children, before and after eating meat. Until we do that we really don’t
know what kind of threat they pose, though the fact that Zeranol is as
potent as DES should concern us. DES is another synthetic estrogen marketed
to pregnant women, all pregnant women, until 1971 when it was shown to cause
cancer of the vagina in their daughters. But it was also used in meat. In the absence of effective
federal regulation, the meat industry uses
hundreds of animal feed additives, with little or no concern about the cancer
causing and other toxic effects. Illustratively, after decades
of misleading assurances about the safety of DES
in the meat supply, we finally banned it some 40 years after
it was already shown to cause cancer. The meat industry then promptly switched
to other potentially carcinogenic additives, such as this Ralgro Magnum. When girls started dying of vaginal cancer,
DES-treated meat was subsequently banned in Europe. However, misleading assurances, including
the deliberate suppression of residue data, managed to delay a US ban on DES in
the meat supply for another eight years. Where are we today? Virtually the entire US population consumes
without any warning, labeling, or information, unknown and unpredictable amounts of hormone residues in meat
products over a lifetime. If all hormonal and carcinogenic feed
additives aren’t banned immediately, the least we could do is label them. Label the hormone residue levels in all
meat products, including dairy and eggs. Speaking of eggs, the next on the dreaded
list of diseases is heart disease. Eggs are the #1 source of choline, which
can be converted by gut bacteria into a toxin that increases the risk of stroke,
heart attack, and death. Eggs are also the #1 source
of cholesterol. Why does it matter if we have lots of cholesterol
circulating throughout our bloodstream? Cholesterol doesn’t just infiltrate our
arteries and help form those inflamed pockets of pus within our arterial
walls, but may play an active role in the final
fatal plaque rupture. Cholesterol crystals may
actually pop our plaque. If you look at ruptured
plaques from autopsies, they’re filled with cholesterol crystals
protruding from the plaque. Cholesterol in the plaque may
get so supersaturated that it reaches a point that
it crystalizes like rock candy. And the growing crystals may
then burst the plaque open. Here’s a cholesterol crystal
shooting out the top of a test tube, and when you look at the tips of
the crystals under a microscope, they are sharp jagged needles. They placed a thin membrane
over the top of the test tube to see if the cholesterol needles
would poke through, and indeed, the sharp tips of the cholesterol crystals
cut through the membrane. So they showed that as
cholesterol crystallizes the peak volume
then increases rapidly and sharp-tipped crystals can
cut through and tear membranes, suggesting that the crystallization
of supersaturated cholesterol in atherosclerotic plaques that
can induce those final ruptures. And indeed, that’s what
you see on autopsy. All patients who died of acute
heart attacks had these perforating cholesterol crystals
like this, sticking out of their plaques, but no crystals were found
perforating the arteries of people with severe atherosclerosis that first
died of other non-cardiac causes. This can explain why dramatically
lowering cholesterol levels with diet, and drugs if necessary, can reduce
the risk of fatal heart attack, by pulling cholesterol
out of the artery wall, decreasing the risk of crystalizing
these cholesterol needles that can then pop the
plaques in our arteries. High cholesterol can also cause
what’s called fatty liver disease, our next global chronic
disease epidemic. Fatty deposits in our liver
can trigger inflammation, and result in liver cancer,
failure, and death. And again it may be these
crystals, cholesterol crystals, triggering the progression of fatty
liver into serious hepatitis. We’re talking dietary cholesterol,
the cholesterol people eat in eggs and other animal products. A strong association between
cholesterol intake and hospitalization and death
from cirrhosis and liver cancer. And beyond just the crystals,
dietary cholesterol may oxidize and directly cause toxic
and carcinogenic effects. It was not appreciated
until recently that the average cholesterol
in the United States, the so-called “normal” levels,
were actually abnormal, accelerating the blockages
in our arteries and putting a large fraction
of the normal population at risk. Having a normal
cholesterol in a society where it’s normal to drop dead
of a heart attack — not necessarily a good thing. Normal cholesterol levels may
be fatal cholesterol levels. In cholesterol lowering,
moderation kills. Even if all Americans kept their total
cholesterol below the recommended 200, millions would develop
coronary artery disease. Strong evidence shows we need
to keep our total cholesterol under at least 150
to stem the epidemic. What kind of evidence? Well, in many cultures, coronary
disease is practically unheard of when total serum cholesterol
level’s under 150. Here in the US, the famous
Framingham Heart Study, few under 150 developed heart
disease, and none died from it. We cannot continue to have these
public and private organizations on the forefront of health leadership
recommending to the public a dietary plan that guarantees that
millions will perish of the very disease that the guidelines are
supposed to prevent. The reason given by health authorities
to not tell people the truth, for not advocating
what the science shows is best, was that it might
frustrate the public, who may have difficulty getting
their cholesterol levels that low. But the public’s greatest frustration
might come from not being informed of the optimal diet for health. [Applause.] Heart disease can be reversed
with a plant-based diet. The evidence justifies igniting
a social movement— let the people lead and eventually
the government will follow. Some criticize plant-based
diets for being extreme. You want extreme though? Check out the consequences
of our present diet. Having a breastbone sawed
in half for bypass surgery, or having a stroke that renders one mute or having a breast, prostate, colon,
or rectum removed for cancer. Now that’s extreme. A bean burrito? Easy. [Laughter, applause.] Instead of just bypassing
the problem, literally, you can treat the cause, arrest
and reverse heart disease, our #1 killer, with a whole-food,
plant-based diet. Next on the list is arthritis,
such as rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory systemic disorder
causing progressive destruction of the joints. As many as 80% become disabled.
Can cut 18 years off one’s lifespan. There are drugs, but unfortunately
they’re often associated with severe side effects: blood loss, bone loss, immuno suppression,
toxicity to the liver and eyes. There’s got to be a better way. Well, populations that eat more meat do
seem to have more rheumatoid arthritis, and there have been some dramatic case
reports of rheumatoid arthritis attacks being triggered by the consumption
of animal products, starting six to ten hours after ingestion
of animal protein and lasting a few days, but they stopped when patients stopped
consuming animal products. The researchers suggest that
immune complexes formed by the body attacking animal
proteins may promote autoimmune reactions inside
the joints themselves. And indeed, those with
rheumatoid arthritis have striking elevations
in antibodies to foods like fish, pork, egg whites, dairy proteins,
and even some cereals. It could also be because of a
pro-inflammatory effect of meat fats or free radicals from the iron accumulating
in the joints or other mechanisms, but look, case reports and country-by-country
analyses can really only raise questions. To prove cause-and-effect, you need an
interventional study to put it to the test. Here we go. A 13-month long randomized controlled trial
of plant-based diets for rheumatoid arthritis. Patients put on a vegan diet
for three and a half months and then switched to an egg-free
vegetarian diet for the remainder. Compared to the control group
that didn’t change their diet, the plant-based group’s significant
improvement in morning stiffness within the first month, cutting
the number of hours they suffered from joint
stiffness in half. A drop in pain.
A drop in disability. They reported subjectively just feeling better,
significant improvement in their grip strength, fewer tender joints, fewer tenderness
per joint, and less swelling. They also had dramatic drops
in inflammatory markers in the blood, sed rate, C-reactive
protein and white count. Highly significant and clinically
relevant findings. What about osteoarthritis? The most frequent cause of physical
disability among older adults, affecting about
20 million Americans, Affecting maybe 20% of
Americans in coming decades, becoming more and more widespread
among younger people. You know, osteoarthritis is characterized
by loss of cartilage within the joint. Now we used to think it was just
kind of wear and tear, but is now generally accepted,
it’s as an active joint disease with an inflammatory component.
So if the loss of cartilage is caused by inflammation, maybe if we put
people on an anti-inflammatory diet, it could help, like
with rheumatoid arthritis. Using optimal nutrition and
exercise as a “first-line” intervention could well be the
best medical practice. So where’s the best science on what
optimal nutrition might look like? The China study is a prime example, showing
the serious health consequences — [Applause.] the serious health consequences of high
consumption of pro-inflammatory foods: meat, dairy, fat, and junk, and low consumption of
anti-inflammatory plant foods: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and
beans, split peas, chickpeas, lentils. The unnatural Western diet contributes
to this low-grade systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, tissue
damage, irritation, placing the immune system in
this kind of overactive state, which can be kind of a common denominator
for these conditions like arthritis. Next on the list is stroke
and high blood pressure, which go together because high blood
pressure is the #1 risk factor for stroke. The PREDIMED study found that
a Mediterranean diet with nuts could cut stroke risk nearly in half,
though they were still having strokes. Half as many strokes, but it was
still a stroke-promoting diet and heart attack promoting as well. So that’s what Dr. Ornish
noted when he wrote in: no significant reduction in the rates of heart
attack, death from cardiovascular disease, death from any cause,
just that stroke benefit. But hey, I mean that’s something. A Mediterranean diet is certainly better
than what most people are consuming. But even better may be a diet
surrounding whole plant foods, shown to actually reverse heart
disease, not contribute to it. That may be true, the authors
of the study reported, but the major problem with Ornish’s diet
is, nah, it just doesn’t taste good so hardly anyone sticks to it.
But it’s not true. Ornish got extraordinary
adherence in his studies with no difference in any of
the acceptability measures, same enjoyment compared
to their regular diet. They even had success in barbeque
country, rural North Carolina. See, stricter diets may meet greater
acceptance among patients than more modest diets because
they may work better. Greater adherence means
greater disease reversal. But you don’t have to
be facing certain death. Even those young and healthy,
no health problems had no problem sticking
to a plant-based diet. In fact, it worked a little too well. This is a crossover study where they asked
people to eat plant-based for a few months and then go back to their original
diet to note the contrast, but people felt so good eating healthy
some of them refused to go back to their regular diet, which kind
of – it actually messes up the study. [Applause.] So they were, you know, losing weight
with no calorie counting or portion control. They had more energy, their periods
got better, better digestion, better sleep. And many were like, no way,
we’re not going back. But if doctors just presume people aren’t going to eat this way –
a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just like smoking doctors are less likely
to tell their patients to stop smoking, and couch potato docs are less
likely to counsel exercise or things like fruits and vegetables,
we need to role-model healthy behavior. This greatly enhances our
credibility and effectiveness. Gone are the days of traditional
authority when the fat physician, dropping cigarette ash down
his gravy-stained vest, could credibly prescribe
a change in behavior. One reason why plant-based diets
can save so many millions is because the #1 killer risk factor for
death in the world is high blood pressure, laying to waste nine
million people every year, and in the United States killing
off more than a thousand a day. 400,000 Americans
dead every year. High blood pressure affects
nearly 78 million Americans. That’s one in three of us, and as we age our pressures
creep higher and higher, such that by age 60 it
strikes more than half. If it affects most of us when we
get older, maybe it’s less a disease and more just kind of a natural,
inevitable consequence of aging? No. We’ve known for nearly a century that
high blood pressure need not occur. Researchers measured the blood pressure
of a thousand people in rural Kenya who ate a diet centered
around whole plant foods. Whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit,
dark green leafy vegetables. Now up until age 40, the blood
pressures of rural Africans – about the same as Europeans
and Americans, 120s over 80s, but as Westerners age, their
pressures creep up such that by the age 60 the average person
is hypertensive, exceeding 140 over 90. What about those eating plant-based?
Their pressures improved with age. Not only did they not
develop hypertension, their blood pressures
actually got better. Now this whole 140 over 90
thing is arbitrary. Just like studies show that the lower
the cholesterol the better — really no safe level above about 150 — blood pressure studies also support this
kind of “lower the better” approach to blood pressure reduction. Even people starting out with blood
pressures under 120 over 80 appear to benefit from blood
pressure reduction. So the ideal blood pressure, the no-benefit-
from-reducing-it-further blood pressure is actually 110 over 70. But is it even possible
to get blood pressures down to 110 over 70? It’s not just possible, it’s normal for
those eating healthy enough diets. Over two years at a rural Kenyan hospital,
1,800 patients were admitted. How many cases of high blood
pressure did they find? Zero. Wow, so they must have had
low rates of heart disease. No, they had no rates
of heart disease. Not low risk. No risk. Not a single case of arteriosclerosis,
our #1 killer, was found. Rural China too, about 110 over 70
their entire lives. Now look, Africa and China –
vastly different diets but what they share the common theme
that they’re plant-based day-to-day, with meat only eaten
kind of on special occasions. Now why do we think it’s the plant-based
nature of their diet that was so protective? Because in the Western world, as the American Heart Association
has pointed out, the only folks really getting down that low are the strict
vegetarians, coming in at about 110 over 65. So does the American Heart Association
recommend a strict vegetarian diet? No, they recommend the DASH diet. The DASH diet has been described as
a lacto-vegetarian diet, but it’s not. It emphasizes fruits and vegetables and
low-fat dairy, but just a reduction in meat. Why not vegetarian? I mean, we’ve known for decades
food of animal origin was highly significantly associated
with blood pressure. In fact, you can take vegetarians,
pay them enough to eat meat and you can see their blood
pressures go right up. So when the DASH diet was created, were they
just not aware of this landmark research, done by Harvard’s Frank Sacks?
No, they were aware. The Chair of the Design Committee that came
up with the DASH diet was Frank Sacks. See, the DASH diet was explicitly
designed with the #1 goal of capturing the blood pressure
lowering benefits of a vegetarian diet, yet contain enough animal products
to make it palatable to the general public. In fact, Sacks found that
the more dairy vegetarians ate, the higher their blood pressures went,
but you have to make the diet acceptable. A recent meta-analysis found that
vegetarian diets were good, but strictly plant-based
diets may be better. Vegetarian diets in general confer protection
against cardiovascular diseases, some cancers and death, but completely
plant-based diets seem to offer additional protection for obesity, hypertension,
type 2 diabetes, and heart disease mortality. Based on a study of 89,000 Californians,
those eating meat-free diets appeared to cut their risk
of high blood pressure in half, but those eating meat-free, egg-free,
and dairy-free diets cut their risk 75%. Now if, however, you’re still — you’re
eating a whole food, plant-based diet, and you’re still not hitting 110 over 70, there are a few plants recently found
that may offer additional protection. A randomized placebo-controlled study
found that a cup of hibiscus tea with each meal significantly
lowers blood pressure. In fact, tested head-to-head against a leading
blood-pressure drug, called captopril, two cups of hibiscus tea every morning
was as effective as the drug. Another randomized placebo-controlled
trial found that a few tablespoons a day
of ground flaxseeds a day induced one of the most potent
antihypertensive effects ever achieved in a dietary intervention, two to
three times more powerful than instituting an endurance
exercise program, though there’s no reason
you can’t do both. [Clears throat, while audience chuckles.] Red wine may help, but only if
the alcohol has been taken out. Sorry. [Laughter.] Raw vegetables or cooked? And the answer is both, though
raw may actually work better. Kiwifruit didn’t seem to work
at all, even though the study was actually published
by a kiwifruit company. Maybe they should have taken direction
from the California Raisin Marketing Board, which came out with this study showing
that raisins can reduce blood pressure, but only, apparently, compared to
fudge cookies, Cheez-Its, and Chips Ahoy! [Laughter.] They know like the big pharma trick
of choosing the right control group. Next on the dreaded list is
diabetes and vision loss, which go together since diabetes is the leading
cause of preventable middle-aged blindness. Even with intensive diabetes treatment, at least three insulin injections a day
or these implantable insulin pumps, the best we can offer is usually just a slowing
down of the progression of your disease. We can slow down your blindness
with modern medicine. But a half century ago, Kempner
at Duke proved you could reverse it with an ultra-strict plant-based
diet, mostly rice and fruit. 44 consecutive patients
with diabetic retinopathy. In 30% of the cases, their eyes
improved, from like this to that. That’s not supposed to happen. Diabetic retinopathy was considered
a sign of irreversible damage. What does this mean
in real life? Unable to even read headlines
to normal vision. How do we treat diabetic
retinopathy these days? With steroids and other drugs
injected straight into the eyeball. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always
pan-retinal laser photocoagulation, in which laser burns are placed
over nearly the entire retina. Surgeons literally burn
out the back of your eyeball. Now why would they do that? Well, one theory is that you kill off most
of the retina, the little remaining piece you have will get
more of the blood flow. Now when I see this, along
with Kempner’s work, I can’t help but feeling like history has
been reversed. Like, “yeah, can you believe 50 years ago, we had that barbaric burn-out-your-socket surgery, but now, thankfully we know that
through dietary interventions alone, we can sometimes
reverse the blindness?” But instead of learning, medicine
seems to have forgotten. The most efficient way to avoid
diabetic complications is to simply eliminate the
diabetes in the first place. This is often feasible with
a healthy enough diet. A plant-based diet beat out the conventional
American Diabetes Association diet in a head-to-head randomized
controlled clinical trial, without restricting portions,
no calorie or carb counting. A review of all such studies found
that those following plant-based diets experienced better improvements compared
with those diets that include animal products, but this is nothing new. The successful
treatment of type 2 diabetes with a plant-based diet was
demonstrated back in the 1930’s, showing that a diet centered around vegetables,
fruits, whole grains and beans — more effective in controlling
diabetes than any other diet. Randomized controlled trial: after 5 years,
no big change in the control group, but the plant-based group, insulin
needs were cut in half, and a quarter ended up off of insulin altogether.
Now this was a low-calorie diet though. So maybe their diabetes just got
better because they lost weight. To tease that out, what we would need
is a study where they switch people to a healthy diet, but force
them to eat so much food that they’d actually
maintain their weight. Then we could see if a plant-based diet had
benefits independent of all the weight loss. We’d have to wait another
44 years, but here it is. Subjects were weighed every day, and if they started losing weight
they were made to eat more food. In fact, so much food some of the
participants had trouble eating it all, but they eventually adapted, so no
significant alterations in body weight despite restricting meat,
dairy, eggs, and junk. OK. So with zero weight loss,
did a plant-based diets still help? Here’s the before and after insulin
requirements of the 20 people they put on the diet. So the number of units
of insulin they had to inject themselves before and after going plant-based. Overall
insulin requirements were cut about 60%, and half were able to get off insulin
altogether, despite no change in weight. Now how many years did this take?
Was it five years like the other study? No, 16 days. [Applause.] So we’re talking diabetics who’ve had
diabetes for as long as 20 years. Injecting as much as 20 units
of insulin a day, and then as few as 13 days later,
they’re off insulin altogether, thanks to less than two weeks
of a plant-based diet. Diabetes for 20 years then off
all insulin in less than two weeks. Here’s patient 15. 32 units of insulin on the control diet,
and then 18 days later on none. Lower blood sugars on 32 units less
insulin. That’s the power of plants. And as a bonus, their cholesterol dropped
like a rock, too, in 16 days to under 150. You know, just like
moderate changes in diet usually result in only modest
reductions in cholesterol, asking patients with diabetes to make moderate
changes achieves equally moderate results, which is one possible reason they
end up on drugs, injections, or both. Everything in moderation is a truer
statement than people realize. Moderate changes in diet can leave
one with moderate blindness, moderate kidney failure, and moderate amputations—
maybe just a few toes. Moderation in all things is
not necessarily a good thing. The more we as physicians ask from
our patients, the more we are likely to get. The old adage “shoot for the moon”
seems to apply. It may be more effective than
limiting patients to small steps that may sound more manageable, but not
sufficient to actually stop the disease. The only thing better than reversing
diabetes is to not get it in the first place. You know 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 a lots of animal protein are four times as likely
to die from cancer or diabetes. But if you look at the actual study
you’ll see that’s not true. Those eating a lot of animal
protein didn’t have just four times more risk
of dying from diabetes, they had 73 times higher risk
of dying from diabetes. As one eats more and more plant-based,
there appears to be a stepwise drop in the rates of diabetes down
to a 78% lower prevalence among those eating strictly plant-based.
Protection building incrementally as one moved from eating
meat daily to less than daily, to just fish, to no meat,
to no eggs and dairy either. A similar pattern was found for
the leading cause of vision loss among the elderly, cataracts. This
suggests that it’s not all or nothing. Any steps we can make towards eating
healthier may accrue benefits. But why? Why is total meat consumption
associated with higher risk of diabetes, especially processed meat,
particularly poultry? Well, there’s a whole list of
potential suspects, culprits in meat. Yes, it may be the animal protein,
but maybe it’s the animal fat. Maybe it’s the cholesterol,
maybe it’s the iron leading to free radical formation
which can cause inflammation. Advanced glycation end products
are another problem. They promote oxidative
stress and inflammation, and food analyses show
the highest levels of these so-called glycotoxins
are found in meat. Here are the 15 most contaminated foods found
with glycotoxin contamination: Chicken, pork, pork, chicken,
chicken, beef, chicken, chicken, beef, chicken, turkey,
chicken, fish, beef, and… McNuggets — I don’t know if you
can actually call that chicken. Though other foods
from animal sources can also harbor these
pro-oxidant chemicals. Now in this study, they fed diabetics
foods packed with glycotoxins: chicken, fish, eggs, and their
inflammatory markers shot up, like tumor necrosis factor,
C-reactive protein. Thus in diabetes, these dietary AGEs
can promote inflammatory mediators, leading to tissue injury. The good news
is that restricting these kinds of foods may suppress the
inflammatory effects. These glycotoxins may be
kind of the missing link between increased consumption
of animal fat and meat and the subsequent development
of type 2 diabetes in the first place. As well as Alzheimer’s disease,
the final disease on our dreaded list. Dietary AGE’s appear to be important risk
factors for Alzheimer’s disease as well. If you measure the urine levels of glycotoxins
flowing through the bodies of older adults, those with the highest levels went on
to suffer the greatest cognitive decline over the subsequent nine years, as well
as the greatest brain shrinkage – it’s called cerebral atrophy,
all helping to explain why those that eat the most meat may have triple the risk of getting dementia
compared to long-time vegetarians. The bottom line is that the same diet that
may help prevent the other dreaded diseases— cancer, heart attacks, arthritis, stroke,
high blood pressure, diabetes, vision loss may also help prevent brain
loss and Alzheimer’s as well. You know, one disease that’s not on
the list is ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which strikes healthy, middle-aged
people seemingly at random, and holds little hope for
treatment and survival. Although mental capability stays
intact, ALS paralyzes people. You know, most patients die within three years
when they can no longer breathe or swallow. At any given time, 30,000 Americans
are fighting for their lives. We each have about a 1 in 400 chance
of getting this disease in our lifetime. And it appears to be on
the rise around the world. What causes it? Well, there’s a neurotoxin produced by blue-green
algae in our rivers, lakes, and oceans that ends up in seafood, which is currently
a strong contender as the cause of, or at least a major contributor, to ALS and
maybe Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as well. Researchers in Miami found this BMAA
neurotoxin in the brains of Floridians that died of sporadic Alzheimer’s and ALS,
significant levels in 49 out of the 50 samples from Alzheimer’s and ALS patients. The same thing was found up
in the Pacific Northwest and in the brains of those dying
from Parkinson’s disease. You can also apparently pick up more of
this neurotoxin in the hair of live ALS patients compared to controls. So is this neurotoxin present
in Florida seafood? Yes, in both freshwater
fish and shellfish – oysters and bass, etc.,
and out into the bay. And not just in Florida. On up the Eastern seaboard,
out in the Midwest. So this could explain ALS clusters
around lakes in New Hampshire, or fish in Wisconsin, or blue crabs from
the Chesapeake around where I live, or seafood eaters in France,
or in Finland’s Lakeland district, or around the Baltic Sea, building up particularly in
fish, mussels, and oysters. There is a general consensus that these
harmful algal blooms are increasing worldwide thanks in part to industrialized
agriculture, which may increase the exposure to this neurotoxin, leading to a possible
increased risk of these horrible neurodegenerative diseases. With substantial and ever growing evidence
that this neurotoxin does play a role in the onset and progression of
neurodegenerative diseases, the most important question is “what
mode of activity does BMAA exert?” No, it’s not. The most important question is
how do we reduce our exposure? We know that the presence of this
neurotoxin in aquatic food chains could be a significant
human health hazard, so until more is known, it may
be prudent to reduce our risk by limiting exposure to
BMAA in the human diet. Now there are neurotoxins
in the dairy supply, too, which may explain the link between
milk consumption and Parkinson’s. High levels of organochlorine
pesticide residues are found in milk and in the brains
of Parkinson’s patients, and other pollutants like
tetrahydroisoquiniline, which is actually what scientists use
to try to induce the disease in primates found in the milk supply,
particularly cheese. So maybe the dairy industry should do these
toxin screenings of milk. Good luck with that. You could always just not drink the stuff,
but then what about your bones? That’s a marketing ploy. If you look at the science, milk does not
appear to protect against hip fracture risk whether drinking during the adult years,
or drinking during one’s teen years. If anything, milk consumption
was associated with a borderline increase
in fracture risk in men. This suggests a partial explanation for the
long-standing enigma that hip fracture rates are highest in populations with
the greatest milk consumption. This enigma irked a Swedish research team,
puzzled because studies again and again had shown a tendency of a higher risk of fracture
with a higher milk consumption. Well, there is a rare birth
defect called galactosemia, where babies are born without the enzymes
needed to detoxify the galactose in milk, so they end up with high levels of galactose
in their blood stream, which causes bone loss. So maybe, the researchers figured, even in
normal people that can detoxify the stuff, maybe it’s not so good for the bones
to be consuming all that galactose all day. And galactose doesn’t
just hurt the bones. That’s what scientists use to cause
premature aging in lab animals. They slip them a little galactose,
shorten their lifespan, oxidative stress, inflammation,
and brain degeneration, just like one to two glasses of milk’s
worth of galactose a day. Look, we’re not rats, though, but given
the high amount of galactose in milk, recommendations to increase milk
intake for prevention of fractures could be a conceivable contradiction. So they decided to put it to the test,
looking at milk intake and mortality as well as fracture risk
to test the theory. A 100,000 men and women
followed for up to 20 years, and milk drinking women
had higher rates of death, more heart disease, significantly more
cancer for each daily glass of milk. Three glasses a day was associated
with nearly twice the risk of death. And they had significantly more
bone and hip fractures, too. More milk, more fractures. Milk-drinking men also had
higher rates of death, but for some reason you never see
any of this in any of the milk ads. OK, so where does this leave us?
What are the common threads? If you look at four of the major
dietary quality scoring systems, which have all been associated with extending
lifespan, less heart disease, less cancer, they all share only
four things in common. What are those four things? More fruit, more vegetables, more
whole grains, more nuts and beans. They’re all built on a common core
of diets rich in plant foods. Whereas opposite food patterns –
Western diet – higher risks. So we need to optimize the food environment
to support whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and plant-based sources of protein. Taking the diet quality indexes to the logical
conclusion, the most plant-based diet comes out the most healthy diet. But
again, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We now have evidence that simple advice
to increase the consumption of plant foods, and decrease the consumption
of animal foods, actually has a survival advantage.
And, boy, do we need it. In terms of life expectancy, the US is down around 27th of
the 34 leading free-market democracies. People in Slovenia live a year longer
than citizens of the United States. Why? Most deaths in the United States are
preventable and related to nutrition. According to the most rigorous analysis
of risk factors to date ever published, the number one cause of
death in the United States, and the number one cause
of disability is our diet, bumping tobacco smoking
to number two. Smoking now only kills about
a half million Americans a year, whereas diet now kills
hundreds of thousands more. Let me end with
a thought experiment. Imagine yourself
a smoker in the 1950’s. The average per capita cigarette consumption
was about 4,000 cigarettes a year. Think about that. The average American
smoked a half a pack a day. The media was telling you to smoke
and famous athletes agreed. Even Santa Claus cared enough about
your health to want you to smoke. I mean, you want to keep fit, and stay slender,
so you make sure to smoke and eat hot dogs to stay trim, and eat lots of
sugar to stay slim and trim — less fattening than that apple. I mean, sheesh, come on. [Laughter.] Though apples do connote
goodness and freshness, reads one internal tobacco
industry memo, which brings up many possibilities
for youth-oriented cigarettes. Shameless! In addition to staying fit
and slender and soothing your throat, for digestion’s sake, you smoke. I mean no curative power
is claimed for Phillip Morris, but an ounce of prevention
is worth a pound of cure. So better safe than sorry.
Better smoke. Like eating, smoking
was a family affair. Gee, Mommy, you sure
enjoy your Marlboro. You’re darn tootin’. Just one question, Mom. Can you afford
not to enjoy – smoke Marlboros? Your kids were giving you
cigarettes in the 50’s. Even your dog was
giving you cigarettes. Blow in her face, and
she’ll follow you anywhere. After all, they’re so round… Oh, no woman ever
says no to Winchester. They’re so round,
so fully packed! [Laughter.] After all, John Wayne smoked them—
until he got lung cancer and died. Even the Paleo folks were smoking,
and so were the doctors. Yes— No, look, this is
not to say there wasn’t controversy within
the medical profession. Yes, some doctors
smoked Camels, but other physicians preferred Luckies,
so there actually was disagreement. Eminent doctors, on high and impartial
medical authority, call for Phillip Morris. Even the specialists could not agree which
cigarette was better for your throat; so best to stick to the science, right? And more scientists smoke
this brand actually. This should not be rocket science,
but even the rocket scientists had their own brand, for the
man who thinks for himself. What was the government saying?
Smoke Luckies. I mean who wouldn’t want
to give their throat a vacation. Not a single case
of throat irritation. How could your nose and
throat be adversely affected, when cigarettes are just
as pure as the water you drink? Look, and if you do get irritated,
no problem. Your doctor can write you
a prescription for cigarettes. This is from the Journal of
the American Medical Association. After all “don’t smoke” is advice
hard for patients to swallow. Reminds me of a recent
survey of doctors that found the #1 reason doctors
don’t prescribe heart-healthy diets today was their perception that patients fear being
deprived of all the junk they’re eating. After all, Phillip Morris reminded us,
we want to keep our patients happy. To make a radical change
in habit would do harm. You’re a doctor; you don’t
harm your patients. The tobacco industry gave these medical
journals big money to run ads like these. Not a problem, though. Phillip Morris claims come
from completely reliable sources. Based on studies by recognized authorities
published in leading medical journals. Even kindly offering to send free
packs of cigarettes to doctors so they can test them
out themselves. So see you at the next AMA convention
in the smoker’s lounge. What did the American Medical
Association have to say for itself? Well, like most other medical journals
they accepted tobacco ads. They have yet to see an autopsy,
the official editorial board said, with a single lesion with
a Marlboro label on it. So when mainstream medicine is saying smoking,
on balance, may be beneficial for you, when the American Medical
Association is saying that, Then where could you turn back then
if you just wanted the facts? What’s the new data
advanced by science? She was too tired for fun,
and then she smoked a Camel. [Laughter.] Babe Ruth spoke of proof
positive medical science, that is when he still could speak,
before he died of throat cancer. Now some of the science
did leak out, causing a dip from about 11 cigarettes
a day per person down to about 10, but those that got scared could always choose
the cigarette that takes the fear out of smoking, or even better, choose the cigarette that
gives you the greatest health protection. Now if by some miracle, there was
a website back then that could deliver the science directly,
by-passing commercially corruptible institutional filters, you would have
become aware of studies like this. An Adventist study in California
in 1958 that showed that nonsmokers may have at least 90%
less lung cancer. But this wasn’t the first. When famed surgeon Michael DeBakey
was asked why his studies published back in the 30’s linking
smoking and lung cancer were ignored, he had to remind people
what it was like back then. We were a smoking society.
It was in the movies. Medical meetings were
one big haze of smoke. It’s like the debates over cigarettes
and lung cancer in Congress taking place in smoke filled rooms. Makes me wonder what they serve at the Dietary Guidelines Committee
breakfast buffets to this day. A famous statistician by
the name of Ronald Fisher railed against what
he called propaganda to convince the public that
cigarette smoking was dangerous. He made invaluable
contributions to the field, but his analysis of lung cancer
and smoking was flawed by an unwillingness to examine
the entire body of data available. Now his smoke screen may have been
because he was a paid consultant to the tobacco industry, all right, but
also because he, himself, was a smoker. Part of his resistance to the association may have been because of his own fondness
for smoking, which makes me wonder about the some of the favorite foods that
nutrition researchers may have of this day. It always strikes me as ironic that when
vegetarian researchers come out forward and list their diet as a potential conflict
of interest, whereas not once in the 70,000 articles on meat in
the medical literature have I ever seen a researcher disclose their nonvegetarian
habits, because it’s normal. Just like smoking was normal. So back to our thought experiment. If you’re a smoker in the 50’s
in the know, what do you do? With access to the science you realize
that the best available balance of evidence suggests that your
smoking habit is not good for you. So, do you change your
smoking habits or do you wait? If you wait until your physician
tells you – between puffs – to quit, you may have cancer by then. If you wait until the powers
that be officially recognize it, like the Surgeon General did
in the subsequent decade, you could be dead by then. It took 25 years for the Surgeon
General’s report to come out. It took more than 7,000 studies
and the death of countless smokers before the first Surgeon General report against
smoking was finally released in the 1960’s. You’d think maybe after the
first maybe 6,000 studies they would have maybe given people
a little heads up or something? A powerful industry. One wonders how many people are currently
suffering needlessly from dietary diseases? Maybe we should have stopped smoking
after the 700th study like this. With so much money and
personal habit at stake, there always going to be dissenters. But given the seriousness of the diseases
and the sum total of evidence we shouldn’t wait to put
preventive measures in place. As a smoker in the 50’s, on one
hand you had all of society, the government, the medical
profession itself telling you to smoke. And on the other hand,
the science — if you were lucky to know
about studies like this. Now fast forward 55 years. There’s a
new Adventist study out of California. warning America about the risks of something
else they may be putting into their mouth. And it’s not just that one study. According to the latest review,
the total sum of evidence suggests that mortality from all
causes put together, many of our dreaded diseases: ischemic heart
disease, cerebrovascular diseases like stroke significantly lower in those
eating meat-free diets, in addition to less
cancer and diabetes. So, instead of someone going along with
America’s smoking habits in the 50’s, imagine you or someone you know going
along with America’s eating habits today. What do you do? With access to the science you realize
that best available balance of evidence suggests that your eating habits
are probably not good for you. If you wait until your
physician, between bites, tells you to change your diet,
it could be too late. In fact, even after the
Surgeon’s General report the medical community
still dragged their feet. The AMA actually went on record withholding
support from the Surgeon General’s report. They didn’t endorse it. Could it have been because
they had just received $10 million from the tobacco industry?
Hmm… OK, so look. We know why the AMA may have
been sucking up to the tobacco industry, but why weren’t individual
doctors speaking out? Well, there were a few gallant souls ahead
of their time, just as there are today, standing up against industries killing
millions, but why not more? Maybe it’s because the majority of physicians
themselves smoked cigarettes, just like the majority of physicians
today eat foods that contribute to our epidemic
of dietary disease. What was the AMA’s
rallying cry back then? Everything in moderation.
Sound familiar? Extensive scientific studies prove
smoking in moderation: OK. Today, the food industry uses
the same tobacco industry tactics: supplying misinformation,
twisting the science. The same scientists-for-hire paid to downplay
the risks of second hand smoke and chemicals are the same hired by the National
Confectioners Association to downplay the risks of candy, and the same hired by the meat industry
to downplay the risks of meat. Consumption of animal products
and processed foods cause at least 14 million deaths
around the world every year. 14 million deaths.
14 million people dead every year. This is not a failure of
individual will power, says the Director-General
of the World Health Organization. This is a failure of political will
to take on big business, which is a formidable opposition. Few governments are willing to
prioritize health over big business. As we learned from the experience
with the tobacco industry, a powerful corporation can sell
the public just about anything. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the
tobacco experience, wrote one district judge, it’s how powerful profits
can be a motivator, even at the cost of millions of lives
and unspeakable suffering. It may have taken 25 years for the
Surgeon General’s report to come out, Still longer for mainstream
medicine to get on board, but now there are no longer ads encouraging
people to inhale to their heart’s content. Now there are ads from
the CDC fighting back. Food-wise, there was meat for
health defense, or nourishing bacon, or doctor’s prescribe meat,
or soda for that matter. “Thank heavens Trix are habit forming!” Now, just like there were those
in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s on the vanguard trying
to saves lives, today there are those turning ads
about what you can do with pork butt to what the pork
can do to your butt. The Physician’s Committee
for Responsible Medicine’s “Meat is the new
tobacco” campaign. As Dr. Barnard tried to get
across in an editorial published in the American Medical
Association’s Journal of Ethics, plant-based diets can now be considered the
nutritional equivalent of quitting smoking. How many more people
have to die, though— [Applause.] How many more people have to die
before the CDC encourages people not to wait until open-heart surgery
to start eating healthy as well. How long’s that going
to take though? Just like we don’t have to wait until our
doctors quit smoking to quit ourselves, we don’t have to wait until our
doctor takes a nutrition class or cleans up their own diet before
changing our own eating habits. Look, it’s not your doctor’s fault, writes
a group of prominent physicians. There is a severe deficiency of nutrition
education at all levels of medical training. We just never taught it. We know a whole food plant-based diet
has been proven to reverse our #1 killer, protect against type 2
diabetes and cancer. So how has this knowledge
affected medical education? It hasn’t. Despite the neglect of nutrition
in medical education, the public considers physicians
to be trusted sources, but if doctors don’t know
what they’re talking about they could actually be contributing
to diet-related diseases. To stem the surging tide of chronic illness,
physicians need to become part of the solution. But we don’t have to
wait for that to happen. No longer do patients
have to be so patient. Doctors no longer hold a professional
monopoly on health information. There’s been a democratization
of knowledge, and so until the system changes,
we have to take responsibility for our own health and
for our family’s health. We can’t wait for society
to catch up to the science, because it’s a matter
of life and death. In 2015, Dr. Kim Williams became President
of the American College of Cardiology. He was asked why he follows his own
advice to eat a plant-based diet? He said, [applause] — “I don’t mind dying,” Dr. Williams replied.
“I just don’t want it to be my fault.” Thank you. [Extended applause.] If you missed last year’s talk,
I have it on DVD. And the year before that
and the year before that — you should have come to Summerfest — as well as 25 other DVDs. All proceeds from the sale of my books, DVDs,
and speaking engagements all goes to charity. Speaking of which, mark your calendars. December 8th of this year, new book
is coming out: How Not to Die. [Applause.] December 8th. Very excited about it. Not only a compilation of my work, but all the science and thousands
of citations, but also a practical guide. I go through my kind of daily dozen checklist
of all the things I try to include in my own diet: how many greens to eat,
how many beans we should eat, how much exercise,
how much sleep. I’ve been working on it for over a year.
Can’t wait for everyone read it. And in the meanwhile, all my work
is available free at Thanks again. [Woman comes to the
podium to speak.] We are so fortunate to
have Dr. Greger with us. I don’t think there’s anyone else on
the planet that could do what you do. Thank you so much. And we are honored
for you to debut this with us every year. Thank you so much. [Applause.] See everyone over at the LLC.


83 thoughts on “Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Common Diseases with Diet”

  • Dear Dr.Greger , having the bigger picture view of things using epidemiological data is awesome but what would you advise i study to get a better idea of the pathophysiology behind diet-induced disease and the pathophysiology behind dietary interventions to cure and or prevent these diseases?

  • motivation to win says:

    This is very informative, however, on some of the comments, is it necessary to use expletives whole comments? It really makes one look silly.

  • M a r i a A n g e l o v a says:

    I can't wait for the year in review for 2017!!! Go Dr. Greger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This presentation needs a SUPER LIKE button!!!!!!!!!

  • received the book really quickly, reading it and doing the fasting diet already Read More →   🙂

  • Dog Food Recipes says:

    #Diets, #Nutrients and #Nutrition for all.
    Diets & nutrients tips you need to make sound nutritional choices that'll optimize your #health & help prevent #disease. Check it out!

  • Dr Greger, my husband is 59-years-old. In April of this year he underwent open heart surgery for blocked arteries. He has also been diagnosed pre-diabetic, has diverticulosis, has lupus, has rheumatoid arthritis and hypertension. All of his doctors said diet has little or nothing to do with his diseases and that all his diseases are incurable. After studying you, Dr McDougall, Dr Barnard and Dr Esselstyn, we eliminated red meat and dairy 4 months ago. Two weeks ago we became strict vegans. My husband's angina and shortness of breath are completely gone. He threw away his methotrexate and prednisone. He goes to the gym four hours a week and has lost ten pounds so far. I doubt he will need his lisinopril a year from now. I'm positive he won't need stents down the road. Veganism is nothing short of a miracle.

  • Al. MORAMER Zero says:

    We do not need to eat…. foods are drugs period…. protien kills period….. eat water and sugar together…. no fault there

  • maryamegeorgis says:

    Really?? Africans' meat consumption is low? If you met only 1 African person (really from Africa not an African American!) in your life you would know that the meal that does not include meat is not counted as a meal for an African. Still they out live North Americans, in fact, anyone on the planet would outlive a North American. Why? look at what's in your meat (i.e burger, radiated, GMO soy fed, hormones and antibiotics filled) vs. almost the rest of the world's meat (i.e wild caught, grass fed, quickly slaughtered and well bled)! I don't see you mentioning the fact that most of the meat in the USA (if not all) is radiated before reaching the consumer. Your government is killing you to make some extra money! And instead of defending your food you chose to tell the people to stop eating it. It is not about the meat. It is about what is in/on you meat – wheat – veggies and actually all you food chain is poisoned !!! the Inuit did not have cancer for thousands of years and all they ate was meat!

  • Does whey protein supplement have the same negative effects on the colon as whole dairy? I was always under the assumption that it would be healthy because most of the fat and sugars have been removed leaving only protein but I do consume 2-3 scoops a day. I couldnt find any study correlating high whey supplement intake to higher colorectal cancer risk.

  • Strawberrypocky911 says:

    People really need to get over their animal flesh, hen period, polluted fish, bee vomit and cow secretion cholesterol addiction.

  • West Charles Dixon Junior says:

    so does this prove the vegan diet as the healthiest diet and that meat based diets are unhealthy?

  • Hi there, I've been wfpb for 20 Months now, with my bloodpressure having come down to 110 over 70 or lower, bmi about 20, but still my cholesterol is 160. Is that normal and what can I do about it?

  • It´s so refreshing seeing somehting like this after all these SJW vs right wingers videos. This guy talks about relevant stuff.

  • I LOVE listening to these presentations. Dr. Greger has a phenomenal talent for speaking and presenting. I can't stop watching his videos! I'm emboldened in my decision to eat a vegan diet every time I learn something new about it. Just imagine what modern medicine could achieve with all of this preventable disease lessened! So much of healthcare is suffocated by chronic illness that it's all but paralyzed to progress…

  • arteisia calvin says:

    This was amazing and life changing. This video just made me a vegan. Wow the power of knowledge LOVE IT. I wana study nutrition

  • عبدو الغزواني says:

    אני רוצה לתרום את הכליות שלי, סוג הדם שלי הוא חיובי, לא מעשן ולא אלכוהול

  • Fish fed methionine:

    "The fish were fed for 6 weeks one of the three isonitrogenous diets providing three different methionine concentrations (deficient (DEF), adequate (ADQ) and excess (EXC)). At the end of the experiment, the fish fed the DEF diet had a significantly lower body weight and feed efficiency compared with those fed the EXC and ADQ diets."

    Chicken fed methionine:

    "In comparison to the control group, the supplemented samples showed a higher sensory quality, characterized by a fresh smell and fresh red color. Methionine supplementation had a significant influence on meat quality parameters during storage. The microbial load, pH and drip loss of the chicken filets were positively correlated to the methionine concentration."

    "The use of synthetic amino acids in organic poultry diets is very controversial. Methionine is an essential sulfur-containing amino acid. Synthetic methionine is commonly added to conventional poultry diets, but is restricted in organic poultry diets."

    Beef fed methionine:

    "Mature Simmental × Angus cows (214 cows; 635 ± 7 kg) were utilized to determine the effects of late gestation and early postpartum supplementation of methionine hydroxy analog (MHA) on cow BW, BCS, milk production, milk composition, reproduction, and calf performance until weaning in a fall-calving, cool-season grazing system."

    "There was no treatment effect ( ≥ 0.17) on calf birth BW, calf weaning BW (193 ± 7 d of age), or calf ADG. Calculated 24-h milk production, milk composition and component production did not differ ( ≥ 0.21)."

    "There were no differences ( ≥ 0.50) in percentage of cows cycling, AI conception rate, and overall pregnancy rate between treatments. Post-trial nutritional modeling suggests cows experienced several nutritional deficiencies beyond methionine (Met) that limited the response to Met supplementation."

    "Although supplementation of MHA during late gestation through estimated peak lactation increased serum HMTBa concentrations, it did not affect cow performance, cow milk production, or calf performance when fall-calving cows grazed cool-season forages."

    (I feel that these studies could show that it just might not be from eating meat itself, but possibly from what these chicken and fish are being fed. You picked on beef as if it was the highest methionine culprit or something. Even by your own bar graph you can see that it isn't. Anyways, I eat beef once a week. I think it's common knowledge that beef should only be eaten about once a week. Especially if it is higher fat beef. Once a week of having beef along with eating plant based foods everyday seems that it would put beef right around the same level or even less than some plant foods for weekly intake of methionine.)

  • Bolivia food:

    "They eat about the same amount of meat that Americans do, but it’s much leaner, coming from wild animals. The average hunt for a Tsimane man takes five to six hours and ranges up to 10 miles."’s-healthiest-hearts-—-why

    Bolivia Colorectal Cancer occurrences:

    French Guiana food:

    "Typical French Guyanese fare includes seafood, as French Guiana has a coastline with access to plenty of fresh fish from the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea."

    "Another popular dish is fricassee: rice and beans served with game meat culled from the forests, including paca, collared peccary and tapir."

    French Guiana Colorectal Cancer occurrences:

  • gabriel gagne says:

    This one was great, one of the best I’ve heard! Check meat.
    Sometimes it feels like everyone is addicted to crazy pills and just don’t care.

  • gabriel gagne says:

    This one was great, one of the best I’ve heard! Check meat.
    Sometimes it feels like everyone is addicted to crazy pills and just don’t care.

  • gabriel gagne says:

    I’m taking crazy pills watching everyone I know neglecting their addictive eating habits, and I run a restaurant. I hope one day people will change, I will try my best to be part of the tipping point. Best video yet!

  • Garden For Nutrition says:

    I have seen people who became vegetarians who lost their teeth and / or hair. Even though they ate a very high calcium and protein diet. This is because not everyone has the genetics to go all vegetarian. Dr. Greger also mentioned that cereals can sometimes contribute to arthritis but he zipped right past it. There are also some vegetables that can contribute to arthritis. This topic is a lot more complex than presented. I gave the video a thumbs up because many people need to reduce their animal protein intake, but some people cannot completely eliminate it. Dr. Greger should be a little more cautious and not make the issue sound so simplistic.

  • Baran Serajelahi says:

    WTF dude, the "Association between low colonic… high colon cancer risk populations" paper does not have a "Table 3", where does that table come from?

  • Ramkumar Narendran says:

    In Bhagavad Gita food for Health is explained . Kindly amke Research on it. Rajoguna-food cause disease and sorrow. Pl see 16,17,18 chapters for what is Rajoguna food and precisely Chapter-17-sloka9, If you want to get rid of any disease take only swathik food-ch-17-sloka-8 and if you are lazy or cruel- you will defintely like-tamo gunafood-cha-17-slok10

  • Hey, I'd like to translate your video to Arabic! It'd be very helpful to lots of people in the Middle East! I can't add Subtitles to the video directly, so any suggestions on how to add such a translation?


  • Spicy Artisan Hipster Salami says:

    I watched this while eating baked sweet potatoes, fresh bell peppers and roasted vegetables because #VeganWinning

  • I spent years trying various diets, this one did it for me, i am hooked, 40 lbs lighter, no more constipation or high blood pressure, i feel like I am 20 years old and my body looks it, the face? Not so much LOL. Try the daily dozen for a month and see if every medical problem you have goes away, when it does you will not miss the old food, I hope you try it and see. Peace

  • eggs on its own dosen't cause high cholesterol levels
    the number 1 food that lead to a high cholesterol is vegetable OIL due to its high omega-6 content which increases the chances of getting inflammation in general and Heart disease

  • how old is this dude… bold and soccer face and glasses… yeah… never take advise from someone that looks worse than you … vegan shit is clearly working for him

  • MischievousVegan Xfinity says:

    “I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want it to be my fault”, couldn’t have possibly said it any better❤️

  • Joanne roundhill says:

    Do you think sea moss and Bladderwrack is harmful please currently I ve just started following Dr. Sebi diet but it is very very restrictive but he does to seem to talk sense on not eating hybrid food please could you give your input please

  • Completely ignorant regarding cholesterol. EVERY cell in our body needs cholesterol and if you eliminate it from your diet, you'll end up with a multitude of problems.

  • You should not go around by car.

    Because you might get killed, you might kill people.
    You might lose your arm, your leg, your eyesight….
    Your friend your family would be sad.

  • Calvin Abbott says:

    ZOG spreads disease and is poisoning the western nations of the world in many ways, Bromated Flour used in pastry scavenges Chromium and Vanadium turning us into Type 2 Diabetics.

  • Calvin Abbott says:

    Soya Products elevate Estrogen levels that allow dna to pass the cell walls and introduce Cancers from Vaccines.

  • Remove all of the smokers, the alcohol drinkers, drug-users, the obese and those who eat chemically processed meats, high amounts of refined sugar, white flour and devitalized processed foods from the equation and then get back to me with studies and the numbers about cancer rates correlating with quality meat and animal food consumption.

  • 43:00 I am all for eating less meat and more vegetables. I was even a vegetarian for a while, although no plans of being a strict one ever. And I do not promote vegetarian nor veganism. But you are telling me in just about two weeks people got better where no insulin or medication was needed just from a plant based diet… o_O

  • As a fellow man with thinning hair and the need for glasses… what is the cure or treatment of that? Did you not just say that a plant based diet helps to correct eye sight or blindness? Or having 20/20 is different from total blindness?

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