In January we launched the Evidence-Based Eating Guide, which is available for free download here. Today I’m excited to announce that you can now order hard copies of the guide at-cost over on DrGreger.org. The guide is a run-down of my practical tips in booklet form, including summaries of my Traffic Light system and Daily Dozen checklist, as well as tips for putting them into practice.
As a current subscriber, you can also download digital PDFs: here’s an online version, and a fewer-page printable version (best when printed single-sided).
Now that there are physical copies, hopefully you’ll see stacks in a doctor’s office near you!
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Speaking of spreading the message, I’m currently planning my 2020 speaking tour. If you want to set up a venue in your community for me to come speak, just fill out the form here and we will be in touch. And thank you to everyone who submitted a form already. We are going through those and will be in touch. I can’t wait to see you all!
Live Q&As Are Back!
I’m back to doing monthly Q&As live from my treadmill, and April 25 is the next date.
Facebook Live: At 12:00 p.m. ET on 4/25 go to our Facebook page to watch live and ask questions.
YouTube Live Stream: At 1:00 p.m. ET on 4/25 go here to watch live and ask even more questions!
You can now find links to all of my past live YouTube and Facebook Q&As right here. If that’s not enough, remember I have an audio podcast to keep you company at http://nutritionfacts.org/audio.
Michael Greger, M.D.
PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos hereand watch my live, year-in-review presentations:
In 2012, a meta-analysis was published tying white rice consumption to diabetes, especially in Asian countries. Even in the United States, where we eat much less white rice, research shows the regular consumption of white rice was associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes though brown rice was associated with lower risk, and that was after controlling for other lifestyle and dietary factors such as smoking, exercise, and meat, fruit, and vegetable consumption. The researchers estimated that replacing even just a third of a serving per day of white rice with the same amount of brown rice might lower diabetes risk by 16 percent.
Since the publication of that 2012 meta-analysis, a study out of Spain suggested white rice consumption was associated with decreased diabetes risk. However, it was a tiny study compared to the others, with only hundreds in contrast to hundreds of thousands of people involved. In Spain, rice is usually consumed in paella, which is commonly prepared with the spice saffron that research indicates may have therapeutic potential against diabetes. Additionally in Spain, white rice consumers also ate more beans, which appear to have antidiabetic properties, as well. This gives a sense of how difficult it is to infer cause-and-effect relationships from population studies, since we can’t control for everything. Yes, we can control for weight, smoking, alcohol, exercise, and so on, but maybe people who are smart enough to eat brown rice are also smart enough to wear seatbelts and bike helmets, install smoke detectors, and forgo bungee jumping. What we need is a way to fund randomized interventional studies, where we switch people from white rice to brown rice and see what happens. “Until then, the effect of the consumption of white rice on the development of type 2 diabetes will remain unclear.” But we didn’t have such studies…until now.
As I show in my video Is It Worth Switching from White Rice to Brown?, researchers conducted a study in which overweight women were randomized into two groups: one following a weight-loss diet with a cup or so of cooked white rice every day and another with a cup of cooked brown rice every day. After six weeks, the groups switched, and the white rice group ate brown rice and vice versa. When the subjects were eating brown rice, they got significantly more weight loss, particularly around the waist and hips, lower blood pressure, and less inflammation.
Researchers found similar effects for prediabetics: Substituting brown rice for white rice led to significantly more weight loss, more waist loss, and better blood pressures.
Brown rice may not just help get rid of tummy fat, but also preserve our artery function. High blood sugars can stiffen our arteries, cutting in half their ability to relax within an hour, whether you’re diabetic, have prediabetes, or are nondiabetic. For diabetics, though, their arterial function goes down and stays down. We also know that brown rice can have blood sugar lowering effects compared to white rice. So, can switching to brown rice help preserve arterial function? In folks with metabolic syndrome, within an hour of eating about a cup of cooked white rice, we can get a drop in arterial function, but not so with brown rice.
Despite all the benefits of whole grain rice, Asian people often prefer white rice, considering it softer and tastier than brown rice. In a focus group of Chinese adults, however, researchers found that only a minority of them had ever even tried brown rice. “Before tasting brown rice, the majority of participants considered it to be inferior to white rice in terms of taste and quality…” So, the researchers simply served some up, and, after actually tasting it and learning about it, most changed their minds.
In the landmark Global Burden of Disease study, researchers compiled the top 20 causes of death and disability. Number one on the list was high blood pressure, two and three was smoke, and the fourth leading cause of loss of life and health was not eating enough fruit. Lack of exercise was number 10, followed by too much sodium, not enough nuts and seeds, not enough whole grains, and then not enough vegetables. Number 18 on the top 20 list was not getting enough long-chain omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA found in seafood, due to their purported protective effect against heart disease. As I discuss in my video Is Fish “Brain Food” for Older Adults?, even years ago when the study was published, researchers were already questioning the benefits of these fish fats, as more and more randomized controlled trials put them to the test and they failed, culminating in the meta-analysis I profiled in my video Is Fish Oil Just Snake Oil?that appeared to put the issue to rest.
Consumption of fish and fish oil wasn’t only hyped for cardiovascular protection, though. Omega-3s have also been touted to treat depression. However, after taking into account all the negative results that went unpublished, there appears to be no benefit for major depression or for preventing suicide, as I explored in my video Fish Consumption and Suicide.
What about omega-3s for the prevention of cognitive decline or dementia? The available randomized controlled trials show no benefit for cognitive function with omega-3 supplementation in studies lasting from 6 to 40 months among healthy older adults.
It may sometimes even make things worse. “Higher current fish consumption predicted worse performance on several cognitive speed constructs. Greater fish consumption in childhood predicted slower perceptual speed and simple/choice reaction time.” This may be due to neurotoxic contaminants, such as mercury, in seafood. We’ve known that the developing brain is particularly sensitive to the damaging effects of mercury, but maybe the aging brain is as well.
This would explain results that have shown higher omega-3 levels to be associated with high levels of cognitive impairment and dementia. More EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) was found in the cognitively impaired, and more DHA (docosahexanoic acid) was found in the demented, presumably because of pollutants like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in seafood that have been related to cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
The same cognitive “functions disrupted in adults, namely attention, fine-motor function and verbal memory, are similar to some of those previously reported in children with prenatal exposures,” that is, exposed in the womb. And, the adults exposed to mercury through fish consumption didn’t have only subtle EEG brain wave changes, but “observable deficits in neurobehavioral performance measures,” such as poorer performance on tests of fine motor speed and dexterity, as well as concentration, for example. “Some aspects of verbal learning and memory were also disrupted by mercury exposure,” and the greater the mercury levels, the worse they did.
That study, however, was done downstream of a gold mining operation, which uses a process that uses lots of mercury. Other such studies were done on people eating fish next to chemical plants or toxic spills, or eating whale meat. What about a more mainstream population? An “elite group of well-educated participants”—most were corporate executives like CEOs and CFOs––all living in Florida and wealthy enough to afford so much seafood that at least 43 percent exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safety limit for mercury were studied. Researchers found that excessive seafood intake, which they defined as more than three to four servings per month of large-mouth fish like tuna, snapper, and bass, elevates mercury levels and causes cognitive dysfunction, resulting in about a 5 percent drop in cognitive performance. This may not seem like much, but it’s “a decrement that no one, let alone a health-conscious and achievement-oriented person, is likely to welcome.”
“It is worth noting the irony in the situation; that is, the fact that corporate executives who chose to overconsume seafood for health reasons sustained a drop in their executive functions. Yet, if a 4.8% drop in executive function due to excessive seafood intake occurs in highly functioning, healthy adults with ample cognitive reserve, the major concern for further study is whether similar [mercury] level elevations in individuals already suffering from cognitive decline might result in substantially greater declines,” particularly with cognitive decline, dementia, and seafood consumption on the rise.
Research in human nutrition over the past four decades has led to many discoveries as well as a comprehensive understanding of the exact mechanisms behind how food nutrients affect our bodies. As I discuss in my video Reductionism and the Deficiency Mentality, however, the “prevalence of epidemics of diet-related chronic diseases, especially obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers, dramatically increases worldwide each year.” Why hasn’t all this intricate knowledge translated into improvements in public health? Perhaps it has to do with our entire philosophy of nutrition called reductionism, where everything is broken down into its constituent parts; food is reduced to a collection of single compounds with supposed single effects. “The reductionist approach has traditionally been and today as the dominant approach in nutrition research.” For example, did you know that mechanistically, there’s a chemical in ginger root that down-regulates phorbol myristate acetate-induced phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and JNK MAP kinases? That’s actually pretty cool, but not while millions of people continue to die of diet-related disease.
We already know that three quarters of chronic disease risk––diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, and cancer—can be eliminated if everyone followed four simple practices: not smoking, not being obese, getting a half hour of exercise a day, and eating a healthier diet, defined as more fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and less meat. Think what that could mean in terms of the human costs. We already know enough to save millions of lives. So, shouldn’t our efforts be spent implementing these changes before another dollar is spent on research such as figuring out whether there is some grape skin extract that can lower cholesterol in zebra fish or even trying to find out whether there are whole foods that can do the same? Why spend taxpayer dollars clogging the arteries of striped minnows by feeding them a high cholesterol diet to see whether hawthorn leaves and flowers have the potential to help? Even if they did and even if it worked in people, too, wouldn’t it be better to simply not clog our arteries in the first place? This dramatic drop in risk and increase in healthy life years through preventive nutrition need not involve superfoods or herbal extracts or fancy nutritional supplements—just healthier eating. When Hippocrates supposedly said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food,” he “did not mean that foods are drugs, but rather, that the best way to remain in good health is to maintain a healthy diet.” (Note: Hippocrates probably never actually said that—but it’s a great sentiment anyways!)
The historical attitude of the field of nutrition, however, may be best summed up by the phrase, “Eat what you want after you eat what you should.” In other words, eat whatever you want as long as you get your vitamins and minerals. This mindset is epitomized by breakfast cereals, which often provide double-digit vitamins and minerals. But the road to health is not paved with Coke plus vitamins and minerals. This reductionistic attitude “is good for the food industry but not actually good for human health.” Why not? Well, if food is good only for a few nutrients, then you can get away with selling vitamin-fortified Twinkies.
We need to shift from the concept of merely getting adequate nutrition to getting optimal nutrition. That is, we shouldn’t just aim to avoid scurvy, but we should promote health and minimize our risk of developing degenerative diseases.
Bringing things down to their molecular components works for drug development, for example, discovering all the vitamins and curing deficiency diseases. In the field of nutrition, “[h]owever, the reductionist approach is beginning to reach its limits.” We discovered all the vitamins more than a half-century ago. When is the last time you heard of someone coming down with scurvy, pellagra, or kwashiorkor, the classic deficiency syndromes? What about the diseases of dietary excess: heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension? Ever heard of anyone with any of those? Of course we have. Yet we continue to have this deficiency mindset when it comes to nutrition.
When someone tries to reduce their consumption of meat, why is “where are you going to get your protein?” the first question they get asked, rather than “if you start eating like that, where are you going to get your heart disease?” The same deficiency mindset led to the emergence of a multibillion-dollar supplement industry. What about a daily multivitamin just “as ‘insurance’ against nutrient deficiency?” Better insurance would be just to eat healthy food.
Professor Emeritus T. Colin Campbell wrote a Whole book about this issue, and I’m looking forward to doing many more videos on the topic.
Nausea and vomiting are common during pregnancy, affecting 70 to 85 percent of women worldwide—but not in all countries. Population groups that eat more plant-based diets tend to have little or no nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. In fact, on a nationwide basis, the lowest reported rates in the world are in India at only 35 percent.
Sometimes symptoms are so severe it can become life threatening, a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum. Each year more than 50,000 pregnant women are hospitalized for this condition. What can we do other than reduce our intake of saturated fat––for example, cutting the odds five-fold by cutting out one daily cheeseburger’s worth?
As I discuss in my video Natural Treatments for Morning Sickness, the “best available evidence suggests that ginger is a safe and effective treatment for PNV,” pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. The recommended dose is a gram of powdered ginger a day, which is about a half-teaspoon or equivalent to about a full teaspoon of grated fresh ginger or four cups of ginger tea. The maximum recommended daily dose is four grams, no more than about two teaspoons of powdered ginger a day.
“[C]annabis was rated as extremely effective or effective by 92 percent” of the pregnant women who used it for morning sickness, but cannabis use during pregnancy may be regarded as potentially harmful to the developing fetus. This is not your mother’s marijuana. “Today’s marijuana is 6 to 7 times more potent than in the 1970s” and may cause problems for both the developing fetus and then later for the developing child. The bottom line is that pregnant and breastfeeding cannabis users should be “advised to either decrease or where possible cease cannabis use entirely.”
What do they mean by “where possible”? Under what circumstances would it not be possible? People don’t realize how bad it can get. One woman observed that during her second pregnancy, “I was throwing up first the acid in my stomach, which is yellow, then it’s orange because it’s the outer layer, and then you get to the green bile which is [from] your intestines. Then once you’re past that, you go straight blood.” Indeed, hyperemesis gravidarum can lead to such violent vomiting that you can rupture your esophagus, bleed into your eyes, go blind, or become comatose. So, there are certain circumstances in which cannabis could be a lifesaver for both the mother and the baby, as women with this condition sometimes understandably choose to terminate otherwise wanted pregnancies.
People have long asked me to do videos about medical marijuana. But, because of the stigma, only recently have a substantial number of clinical studies been published. But that’s now changed. I’ve got a whole DVD full of cannabis videos that will be spread out over the next few years on NutritionFacts.org but you can watch them all streaming now if you can’t wait.
The Paleolithic period, also known as the Stone Age, only goes back about two million years. Humans and other great apes have been evolving for the last 20 million years, starting back in the Miocene era. We hear a lot about the paleolithic diet, but that only represents the last 10 percent of hominoid evolution. What about the first 90 percent?
During the Miocene era, the diet “is generally agreed to have been a high-fiber plant-based diet…” For the vast majority of our family’s evolution, we ate what the rest of our great ape cousins eat—leaves, stems, and shoots (in other words, vegetables), as well as fruits, seeds, and nuts. I explore this in my video Lose Two Pounds in One Sitting: Taking the Mioscenic Route.
“Anatomically, the digestive tracts of humans and great apes are very similar.” In fact, our DNA is very similar. So, what do our fellow great apes eat? Largely vegetarian diets with high greens and fruit consumption. Just largely vegetarian? It’s true that chimpanzees have been known to hunt, kill, and eat prey, but chimpanzees’ “intake of food of animal origin is still at a very low level…with only 1.7% of chimpanzee feces providing evidence of animal food consumption.” This is based on eight years of work collecting nearly 2,000 fecal samples. So, even the most carnivorous of great apes appears to eat about a 98 percent plant-based diet. In fact, we may be closest to the diet of bonobos, one of the less known great apes, who eat nearly exclusively plant-based diets, as well.
Even our Paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors must have done an awful lot of gathering to get the upwards of 100 grams of fiber a day they may have consumed. What would happen if researchers put people on an actual Paleolithic diet? Not a supermarket-checkout-aisle-magazine paleo diet or some caveman blogger diet, but an actual 100-grams-of-daily-fiber diet or, even better, a mioscenic diet, taking into account the last 20 million years of evolution since we split with our common great ape ancestors.
Dr. David Jenkins and colleagues gave it a try and “tested the effects of feeding a diet very high in fiber.” How high? We’re talking 150 grams of daily fiber, far higher than the recommended 20 to 30 grams a day. However, 150 grams is similar to what populations in rural Africa used to eat—populations almost entirely free from many of our chronic killer diseases, such as colon cancer and heart disease.
The high-fiber diet didn’t mess around. Lunch, for example, could include Brussels sprouts, okra, green peas, mushrooms, filberts, and a plum. And dinner? How about asparagus, broccoli, eggplant, carrots, and honeydew melon? Surely, simply eating a lot of fruits, veggies, and nuts can’t be very satisfying, right? Actually, it got the maximum satiety rating from every one of the ten subjects, unlike the starch-based and low-fat diets which scored lower. Why? “All of the diets were designed to be weight-maintaining,” meaning the researchers didn’t want weight loss to confound the data. So, to get a full day’s calories of whole plant foods, the subjects had to eat about 11 pounds of food a day! Not surprisingly, this resulted in some of the largest bowel movements ever recorded in the medical literature, with men on the high-fiber vegetable-based diet exceeding a kilogram of fecal weight per day. You know how some people on weight loss diets lose two pounds a week? Well, in this study, the subjects dropped two pounds in one sitting.
That wasn’t the only record-breaking drop: A 33 percent drop in LDL cholesterol within just two weeks was seen. Even without any weight loss, bad cholesterol levels dropped by one-third within two weeks. That’s one of the biggest drops I’ve ever seen in any dietary intervention—better than achieved on a starch-based vegetarian diet or a low saturated fat American Heart Association-type vegetarian diet. This was a “cholesterol reduction equivalent to a therapeutic dose of a statin” drug. So, we need to take a drug to get our cholesterol levels down to where they would be normally were we to eat a more natural diet.
We’ve been eating 100 grams of fiber every day for millions of years. This diet is similar to what’s eaten by populations who don’t suffer from many of our chronic diseases. Maybe this shouldn’t be called a “very high fiber” diet. Maybe what we eat today should be considered a very low, extremely fiber-deficient diet.
Maybe it’s normal to eat 100 grams of fiber a day. Maybe it’s normal to be free of heart disease. Maybe it’s normal to be free of constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, appendicitis, colon cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and all other the diseases of Western civilization.
In an editorial that accompanied a landmark study showing an extract of the spice turmeric could be used to fight ulcerative colitis, the authors congratulated the researchers on performing the largest study ever on complementary or alternative medicine approaches to treat inflammatory bowel disease. But that’s not saying much.
Two of the only other high quality trials tested aloe vera gel and wheat grass juice. No significant improvements in clinical remission rates or endoscopy findings on aloe vera were observed,. (And I would recommend against internal aloe use–see my aloe vera videos here). However the wheat grass findings were impressive, as I discuss in my video Wheatgrass Juice for Ulcerative Colitis. “The use of wheat grass…juice for treatment of various gastrointestinal and other conditions had been suggested by its proponents for more than 30 years, but was never clinically assessed in a controlled trial”…until now.
Wrote the researchers: “The use of wheat grass juice in the treatment of [ulcerative colitis] UC was brought to our attention by several patients with UC who attributed improvement to regular use of the extract.” So, in a pilot study, the researchers gave 100 cc of wheatgrass juice, which is between a third and a half cup, daily to ten patients for two weeks. “Eight patients described clinical improvement, one had no change, and one got worse.” Why had I never heard of this study? Because it was never published. They thought they were really onto something, so they wanted to do it right. Therefore, the “randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was designed to examine the effects of wheat grass juice in patients with active distal U[lcerative]C[olitis].”
The study found that treatment with wheatgrass juice was associated with reductions in overall disease activity and the severity of rectal bleeding. Ninety percent of the wheatgrass patients improved, and none got worse. The researchers concluded that wheatgrass juice appeared effective and safe as a single or added treatment of active lower ulcerative colitis.
No answer is available at present as to the site of wheatgrass juice action. Does the active substance get absorbed into the body and have some kind of general anti-inflammatory effect, or does it act locally right in the colon? How would you figure that out? Well, you could juice in the opposite direction (i.e. wheatgrass enemas).
A study like this raises so many questions. How would wheatgrass juice perform head-to-head against other treatments? Does it have any role in preventing attacks, or does it only work when you already have one? Should we be giving it to people with Crohn’s disease, too? What’s the best dose? It’s been over ten years since the publication of this study, yet nothing has been published since. How sad. Yes, no one’s going to make a million dollars selling wheat berries, but what about the wheatgrass juicer companies? I wish they’d pony up some research dollars.
Until then, the researchers “believe that wheat grass juice offers a genuine therapeutic advantage in the disabling disease of UC.” That is, if you can stand the taste.
I think the only other video I’ve mentioned wheatgrass is How Much Broccoli Is Too Much? and that was really just for comic relief. This is one of the topics I get lots of questions about, but there just wasn’t any good science…until now! Please never hesitate to contact me with topics you’d like us to cover.
For more on ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease, see:
Despite evidence going back 40 years that the turmeric spice component curcumin possesses significant anti-inflammatory activity, it wasn’t until 2005 that it was first tested on inflammatory bowel disease. Why did it take so long? Well, who’s going to fund such a study? Big Curry? Even without corporate backing, individual physicians from New York decided to ask the next five patients with ulcerative colitis who walked through their office doors to start curcumin supplements.
“Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a debilitating, chronic, relapsing-remitting [i.e., it comes and goes] IBD [inflammatory bowel disease] that afflicts millions of individuals throughout the world and produces symptoms that impair quality of life and ability to function.” As with most diseases, we have a bunch of drugs to treat people, but sometimes these medications can add to disease complications, most commonly nausea, vomiting, headaches, rash, fever, and inflammation of the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, as well as potentially wiping out our immune system and causing infertility. Most ulcerative colitis patients need to be on drugs every day for the rest of their lives, so we need something safe to keep the disease under control.
So how did those five patients do on the spice extract? Overall, all five subjects improved by the end of the study, and four of the five were able to decrease or eliminate their medications. They had “more formed stools, less frequent bowel movements, and less abdominal pain and cramping. One subject reported decreased muscle soreness, commonly felt after his exercise routine.” This, however, was what’s called an open-label study, meaning the patients knew they were taking something so some of the improvement may have just been the placebo effect. In 2013, another small open-label pilot study found encouraging results in a pediatric population, but what was needed was a larger scale, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
And, researchers obliged. They took a bunch of people with quiescent ulcerative colitis and gave them either turmeric curcumin along with their typical anti-inflammatory drugs, or a placebo and their drugs. In the placebo group, 8 out of 39 patients relapsed, meaning their disease flared back up. In the curcumin group, however, only 2 out of 43 relapsed, significantly fewer. And, relapse or not, clinically, the placebo group got worse, while the curcumin group got better. Endoscopically, which is objectively visualizing the inside of their colons, doctors saw the same thing: trends towards worse or better.
The results were stunning: a 5 percent relapse rate in the curcumin group compared with a 20 percent relapse rate in the conventional care group. It was such a dramatic difference that the researchers wondered if it was some kind of fluke. Even though patients were randomized to each group, perhaps the curcumin group just ended up being much healthier through some chance coincidence, so maybe it was some freak occurrence rather than curcumin that accounted for the results? So, the researchers extended the study for another six months but put everyone on the placebo to ensure the initial findings were not some aberration. The curcumin was stopped to see if that group would then start relapsing, too—and that’s exactly what happened. Suddenly, they became just as bad as the original placebo group.
The researchers concluded: “Curcumin seems to be a promising and safe medication for maintaining remission in patients with quiescent ulcerative colitis.” Indeed, no side effects were reported at all. So, “Curry for the cure?” asked an accompanying editorial in the journal of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. “Can curcumin be added to our list of options with respect to maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis? What is noteworthy about this trial is the fact that not only did the authors demonstrate a statistically significant decrease in relapse at 6 months, but a statistically significant improvement in the endoscopic index as well. Equally telling is the fact that upon withdrawal of curcumin the relapse rate quickly paralleled that of patients treated initially with placebo, implying that curcumin was, in fact, exerting some important biologic effect.”
Similarly, a Cochrane review concluded in 2013 that curcumin may be a safe and effective adjunct therapy. Cochrane reviews take all the best studies meeting strict quality criteria and compile all the best science together, which is normally a gargantuan undertaking. Not so in this case, however, as there is really just that one good study.
Turmeric is one of the most popular trending topics, and I encourage you to check out the most popular turmeric videos, including:
I am in the final stretch of finishing my next book, How Not to Diet, which will hit shelves in December. After being cooped up for a year researching and writing, I’m looking forward to hitting the road again with a brand-new presentation, Evidence-Based Weight Loss. My team is starting to plan out my 2020 speaking tour, which will begin when the book lands in December. If you want to set up a venue in your community for me to come speak, just fill out the form here and we will be in touch.
New DVD covers orthorexia, microplastics in seafood, and the best way to cook greens
My new DVD is out today and is available as a streaming video so you can start watching it immediately. All of these videos will eventually be available for free online over the next few months, but if you don’t want to wait, you can watch them all streaming right now. You can also order it as a physical DVD.
Here’s the full list of chapters from the new volume—a preview of what’s to come over the next few months on NutritionFacts.org:
Blueberries for a Diabetic Diet and DNA Repair
Dairy and Cancer
Pesticides in Marijuana
The Worst Food for Tooth Decay
Do the Health Benefits of Coffee Apply to Everyone?
Treating Reflux in Babies with Diet
The Best Diet for Diabetes
Is Orthorexia a Real Eating Disorder?
Orthorexia Nervosa Symptoms
The Orthorexia Nervosa Test
Sugar Industry Attempts to Manipulate the Science
Microplastic Contamination and Seafood Safety
Are Microplastics in Seafood a Cancer Risk?
How Much Microplastic Is Found in Fish Fillets?
Does Wi-Fi Radiation Affect Brain Function?
How Well Does Cooking Destroy the Cyanide in Flaxseeds?
Should We Be Concerned About the Cyanide from Flaxseeds?
Which Is a Better Breakfast: Cereal or Oatmeal?
Toxoplasmosis: A Manipulative Foodborne Brain Parasite
Long-Term Effects of Toxoplasmosis Brain Infection
Does Toxoplasmosis Cause Schizophrenia?
How to Prevent Toxoplasmosis
Duct Tape and Wart Removal
Can You Really Remove Warts with Duct Tape?
Which Type of Duct Tape Is Best for Wart Removal?
How to Cook Greens
Order my new DVD at DrGreger.org/collections/dvds or as a video download/streaming at DrGreger.org/collections/downloads. And remember, if you watch the videos on NutritionFacts.org or YouTube, you can access captions in several different languages. To find yours, click on the settings wheel on the lower-right of the video and then “Subtitles/CC.”
If you were a regular supporter, you’d already be an expert on these new topics by now, having already received a link to the new DVD. New DVDs and downloads are released every nine weeks. If you’d like to automatically receive them before they’re even available to the public, please consider becoming a monthly donor.
Anyone signing up on the donation page to become a $25 monthly contributor will receive the next three downloads for free, and anyone signing up as a $50 monthly contributor will get a whole year’s worth of new DVDs (as physical DVDs, downloads, streaming, your choice). If you signed up for physical copies, your copy is already on its way to you, if you do not have it by now please email DVDhelp@NutritionFacts.org and we’ll make everything all better.
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Dr. Klaper’s New Mission
My friend, Dr. Michael Klaper, is launching an initiative with PlantPure Communities aimed at having plant-based nutrition taught in medical schools. The Moving Medicine Forward program will help to reach medical students in schools across the country. Dr. Klaper has made this effort his new life’s mission, and you can support it by making a donation here.
Hiring: Web Developer
Our end-of-year fundraising campaign was such a smashing success (thanks to you!), we’re excited to offer a new job opening. We’re hiring a part-time staff person to work remotely with our CTO on day-to-day tasks including web development, maintenance, and administration of the NutritionFacts.org website. For a full job description and application, go here.
Michael Greger, M.D.
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In the documentary Supersize Me, Morgan Spurlock eats exclusively at McDonald’s for a month and predictably his weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol go up, but so do his liver enzymes, a sign his liver cells are dying and spilling their contents into the bloodstream. His one-man experiment was actually formally replicated. A group of men and women agreed to eat two fast food meals a day for a month. Most of their liver values started out normal, but, within just one week, most were out of whack, a profound pathological elevation in liver damage.
What’s happening is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the next global epidemic, as I discuss in my video How to Prevent Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Fatty deposits in the liver result in a disease spectrum from asymptomatic fat buildup to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can lead to liver scarring and cirrhosis, and may result in liver cancer, liver failure, and death.
NAFLD is now the most common cause of chronic liver disease in the United States, affecting 70 million Americans, nearly one in three adults. Fast food consumption is a great way to bring it on, since it’s associated with the intake of soft drinks and meat. Drinking one can of soda a day may raise the odds of NAFLD by 45 percent, and those eating the equivalent of 14 chicken nuggets’ worth of meat a day have nearly triple the rates of fatty liver compared to those eating 7 nuggets or less.
It’s been characterized as a tale of fat and sugar, but evidently not all types of fat are culpable. Those with fatty hepatitis were found to have eaten more animal fat and cholesterol, and less plant fat, fiber, and antioxidants. This may explain why adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet, characterized by high consumption of foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, is associated with less severe non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It could also be related to the presence of specific phytonutrients, like the purple, red, and blue anthocyanin pigments found in berries, grapes, plums, red cabbage, red onions, and radicchio. These anthocyanin-rich foods may be promising for the prevention of fatty liver, but that’s mostly based on petri dish experiments. There was one clinical trial that found that drinking a purple sweet potato beverage seemed to successfully dampen liver inflammation.
A more plant-based diet may also improve our microbiome, the good bacteria in our gut. “‘We are what we eat’ is the old adage but the modern version might be ‘we are what our bacteria eat.’” When we eat fat, we may facilitate the growth of bad bacteria, which can release inflammatory molecules that increase the leakiness of our gut and contribute to fatty liver disease.
Fatty liver disease can also be caused by cholesterol overload. The thought is that dietary cholesterol found in eggs, meat, and dairy oxidizes and then upregulates liver X receptor alpha, which can upregulate something else called SREBP, which can increase the level of fat in the liver. Cholesterol crystals alone cause human white blood cells to spill out inflammatory compounds, just like uric acid crystals in gout. That’s what may be triggering the progression of fatty liver into serious hepatitis: “the accumulation of sufficient concentrations of free cholesterol within steatotic hepatocytes [fatty liver cells] to cause crystallization of the cholesterol.” This is one of several recent lines of evidence suggesting that dietary cholesterol plays an important role in the development of fatty hepatitis—that is, fatty liver inflammation.
In a study of 9,000 American adults followed for 13 years, researchers found a strong association between dietary cholesterol intake and hospitalization and death from cirrhosis and liver cancer, as dietary cholesterol can oxidize and cause toxic and carcinogenic effects. To limit the toxicity of excess cholesterol derived from the diet, the liver tries to rid itself of cholesterol by dumping it into the bloodstream. So, by measuring the non-HDL cholesterol in the blood, one can predict the onset of fatty liver disease. If we subtract HDL from total cholesterol, none of the hundreds of subjects followed with a value under 130 developed the disease. Drug companies view non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as a bonanza, “as is the case of any disease of affluence…considering its already high and rising prevalence and…[its] needing continuous pharmacologic treatment,” but maybe avoiding it is as easy as changing our diet, avoiding sugary and cholesterol-laden foods.
“The unpalatable truth is that NAFLD could almost be considered the human equivalent of foie gras (loosely translated from French as ‘fat liver’). As we overeat and ‘force-feed’ ourselves foods that can result in serious health implications, however, having such a buttery texture in human livers is not a delicacy to be enjoyed by hepatologists [liver doctors] in clinical practice!”