[APPLAUSE] MICHAEL GREGER: Thank you. For those of you
unfamiliar with my work, every year I read through every
issue of every English language nutrition journal in
the world so busy folks like you don’t have to. So every year my
presentations are new because every year
the science is new. I think probably the
most interesting, most groundbreaking,
most practical findings to new videos and
articles I upload every day to my nonprofit
site, NutritionFacts.org. Everything on the
website is free. There are no ads, no
commercial sponsorships, strictly noncommercial,
not selling anything. 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. Now, if you’ve seen any of
my presentations in the past, you know that I
have addressed some of the most pressing dietary
issues of our time, like what’s the healthiest variety
of apple, for example; or the most nutritious
nut; or the best bean; or the best berry; or
the best bowel movement? Who’s number one and number two? Well, it was certainly
wasn’t the New Yorkers here. Actually, the most
constipated population ever described in the
medical literature, outputting a measly three
ounces a day on average, maybe if you’d all just eat
a big apple once in a while. Ahem. But this year,
today, I thought I’d lighted it up and ask what’s
the best way to prevent death? Every year, the CDC compiles
the top 15 cause of death. And I said, well, let’s
just go through the list. 1 through 15, and talk
about the role diet may play in preventing,
arresting, and even potentially reversing our top 15 killers. Killer number one
is heart disease. The “International
Journal of Epidemiology” recently reprinted
this landmark article from the ’50s, which started
out with a shocking statement. In an African
population in Uganda, coronary heart disease
practically nonexistent. You say, wait a second. Our number one killer
practically nonexistent? What were they eating? Well, they’re eating a lot of
vegetables, grains, greens, and their protein almost
entirely from plant sources. And they had the
cholesterol levels to prove it, actually very
similar to what you see in kind of modern-day plant eaters. You say, wait a second. Maybe the Africans
were just dying earlier from other diseases,
didn’t live long enough to get coronary artery disease. No. Here’s age match, heart attack
rates in Uganda vs. St. Louis. Out of 632 autopsies in Uganda,
only one myocardial infarction. Out of 632 age and
gender-matched autopsies in St. Louis, 136
myocardial infarctions. More than a hundred
times the heart attacks of the rate
of our leading killer. In fact, they were
so blown away they went back and did another
800 autopsies in Uganda. And still, just one
small healed infarct. I mean it wasn’t even
the cause of death. Out of 1,427 patients, less
than one in a thousand. Whereas here, it’s an epidemic. Here’s a list of
diseases commonly found here and in populations that
eat and live like the US, but were rare or
even nonexistent in populations
centering their diets around whole,
unprocessed plant foods. These are among our
most common diseases, like obesity, for example, or
hiatus hernia, the most common stomach problem. Varicose veins and
hemorrhoids are the two most common venous
problems; colorectal cancer, a leading cancer
killer here in the US; diverticulitis, the most common
disease of the intestines; appendicitis, the number
one cause of emergency abdominal surgery, gallbladder
disease, the number one cause of non-emergency
abdominal surgery; as well as ischemic heart
disease, our commonest cause of death here, but a rarity
among plant-based populations. Which suggests
that heart disease may be a choice, like cavities. If you look at the
teeth of people who lived 10,000 years
before the invention of the toothbrush,
pretty much no cavities. Didn’t brush a day
in their lives, no flossing, no Listerine,
yet no cavities. Why? Candy bars hadn’t
been invented yet. So why do people
continue to get cavities when we know they’re
preventable through diet? Well, simple. Because the pleasure
people derive from dessert may outweigh the
cost and discomfort of the dentist’s chair. And look, that’s fine. As long as people understand the
consequences of their actions, as a physician
what more can I do? If you’re an adult,
you decide the benefits outweigh the risks for you and
your family, then go for it. I certainly enjoy the
occasional indulgence. I’ve got a good dental plan. But what if instead of
the plaque on our teeth, we’re talking about
the plaque building up inside of our arteries,
another disease that can be prevented by changing our diet. OK, now what are
the consequences for you and your family? Now, we’re not talking about
scraping tartar anymore. We’re talking about
life and death. The most likely reason
your loved ones will die is heart disease. Now, it’s still up to each of
us to make our own decisions as to what to eat and how to live. But we should make these
choices consciously, educating ourselves about
the predictable consequences of our actions. Atherosclerosis,
hardening of the arteries, begins in childhood. By age 10, the arteries
of nearly all kids have fatty streaks, the
first stage of the disease. And then these plaques
are forming in our 20s, get worse in our 30s. And then can start
killing us off. In our heart, it’s
called a heart attack. In our brain, the same
process is called a stroke. If there is anyone here this
afternoon older than age 10, then the question
isn’t whether or not to eat healthy to prevent
heart disease, but whether or not you want to
reverse the heart disease you likely already have. But is that even possible? When researchers took
people with heart disease, put them on the kind of diet
followed by populations that don’t get heart
disease, we were hoping to slow the
progression of these, maybe even stop, arrest it
from getting even worse. But instead, something
miraculous happened. The disease started to reverse. As soon as patients stop
eating an artery-clogging diet, their bodies were able to start
dissolving some of the plaque away. In some cases, even severe
triple-vessel heart disease or arteries opening up without
drugs, without surgery. Suggesting that their bodies
wanted to be healthy all along, but were just never
given the chance. This improvement in
blood flow, on the left, was after just three
weeks of eating healthy. And let me share with you
what’s been called the best kept secret in medicine. The best kept secret in medicine
is given the right conditions, the body can heal itself. If you whack your shin really
hard on a coffee table, and get all red,
painful, hot, swollen, but will heal naturally
if you just stand back and let your body’s natural–
kind of your body’s magic work. But what if you kept
hitting your shin in the same place every day? In fact, three times a day,
breakfast, lunch, and dinner? It’d never heal. You’d go to your doctors. You’d be like,
oh, my shin hurts. The doctor would be
like, no problem. Trained for this, whip out
their prescription pad, write you a prescription
for pain killers. You’re still whacking your
shin three times a day. Oh, it still really
hurts like heck. But oh, it fells so much better
with those pain pills on board. And it’s like when people
take nitroglycerin for angina, a crushing chest pain. A tremendous relief, but
you’re not doing anything to treat the underlying cause. Our body wants to come back
to health if we let it. But if we keep reinjuring
it three times a day, it may never heal. Now, it’s like smoking. One of the most amazing
things I learned in all my medical training
was that within 15 years of stopping smoking, your
lung cancer risk approaches that of a lifelong nonsmoker. Isn’t that amazing? Your body can like get
rid of all that tar. And eventually, it’s
almost as if you never started smoking at all. And every morning of our smoking
life that healing process started until, wham, our
first cigarette of the day, reinjuring our lungs
with every puff, just like we can reinjure
our arteries with every bite. When all we had to
do, the miracle cure, is to just stand back,
stop redamaging ourselves, and let our body’s natural
healing processes bring us back towards health. Now, sure, you can choose
moderation and hit yourself with a smaller hammer. But why beat yourself up at all? We’ve known about
this for decades. Note in “Heart Journal,” 1977,
cases like Mr. F.W. here, such severe angina, couldn’t
even make it to the mailbox. He started eating healthier. And a few months later, he was
climbing mountains, no pain. Now, there are new fancy new
anti-angina drugs out there, cost thousands of
dollars a year. And at the highest dose can
prolong exercise duration, prolong the period someone
can stand on a treadmill, as long as 33 and 1/2 seconds. It does not look
like those choosing the drug route are going
to be climbing mountains any time soon. You see. So plant-based
diets can not only be safer, cheaper,
but work better. Killer number two is cancer. What happens if you put
cancer on a plant-based diet? Dr. Dean Ornish and
colleagues found that the progression
of prostate cancer could be reversed with
a plant-based diet and other healthy
lifestyle changes. And no wonder? If you drip the
blood of those eating the standard American diet onto
cancer cells growing in a Petri dish– these are human prostate
cancer cells– cancer growth rate is cut down by about 9%. But put people on a plant-based
diet for a year though, and their blood can do this. The blood circulating
throughout the bodies of those eating
plant-based diets, nearly eight times
the stopping power when it comes to
suppressing cancer growth. Now, this is for prostate
cancer, the number one cancer killer specific to men. For women, it’s breast cancer. So researchers tried
duplicating this study with women and breast
cancer cells instead. But look, they didn’t
want to wait a whole year to get the results. So they said, well, let’s
see what a healthy diet can do after just two weeks
against three different types of human breast cancer? This is the before, cancer cell
growth powering away to 100%, and then after, eating a
plant-based diet for 14 days. Here’s kind of a before
picture, a representative photomicrograph, a photograph
taken under a microscope. A layer of breast cancer
cells, a confluent layer, is laid down in a Petri dish. And then blood from women eating
the standard American diet is dripped on
those cancer cells. And as you can see, even people
eating pretty crappy diets have some ability to kind
of break down cancer. But after just two
weeks eating healthy, blood was drawn
from the same women. So they acted as their own
controls, the same women, two weeks later. And this is what
you’re left with. So the same confluent layer
of kind of carpetive cancer is laid down. And just a few cells remain. Before and after, just
two weeks eating healthy. Their blood became that
much more hostile to cancer. Now slowing down the
growth of cancer is nice, getting rid of it
is even better. This is what’s called apoptosis,
programmed cell death. Our body is able to kind
of reprogram cancer cells, forcing them into
early retirement. This is what’s called
tunnel imaging. It measures DNA
fragmentation, cell death. So dying cells kind of light
up with little white spots. And as you can see, you’re
not totally defenseless eating the standard American diet. But then you take these
same– so her blood can kill off a few. Same women, two
weeks later, 14 days of healthy plant-based living,
and their blood can do this. It’s like you’re an entirely
different person inside. What kind of blood do
we want in the body, what kind of immune system? Do we want blood that
just kind of rolls over when new cancer cells pop up? Or do we want blood
circulating to every nook and cranny in our body, with the
power to slow down and stop it? The same blood, now coursing
through these women’s bodies, gained the power to
significantly slow down and stop breast cancer cell
growth after just two weeks. Now, this dramatic
strengthening in cancer defenses was after two weeks
of diet and exercise. They had these women out
walking 30 to 60 minutes a day. You say, well, wait a second. If you have two
interventions, how do you know what role diet plays? So researchers decided
to put it to the test. This is measuring cancer cell
clearances, what we saw before, the effect of blood of those
who ate a plant-based diet, in this case for an
average of 14 years, along with mild exercise,
like walking every day. Compare that to your
cancer-stopping power of your average
sedentary meat eater– I put a little
burger there– which is essentially nonexistent. All right. But this middle group, this is
the interesting group, 14 years of standard American
diet, but 14 years of daily, strenuous, hour-long
exercise, like calisthenics. They wanted to know if you
exercise long enough, if you exercise hard
enough, can you rival some strolling plant eaters? And the answer is exercise
worked, no question. But literally $5,000
hours in the gym appeared no match for
a plant-based diet. So the same thing as before. There is that tunnel imaging. Even if you’re a couch
potato, eating fried potatoes, you are not totally defenseless. You can knock a
few cancer cells. If you exercise
strenuously an hour a day, you can knock off cancer
cells left and right. But nothing appears to
kick more cancer tush than a plant-based diet. We think it’s because
of animal proteins. Meat, dairy, egg white proteins
increased the level of IGF-1 in our body, insulin-like
growth factor 1, which is a cancer-promoting
growth hormone involved in the acquisition
and progression of malignant tumors. But if we lower our animal
protein and, in fact, put people on a plant-based
diet for two weeks, the IGF-1 level drops. Put people on a
plant-based diet for years, it drops even further and their
levels of IGF-1 binding protein go up. IGF-1 binding protein, that’s
one of our ways our bodies protects itself from cancer
from accelerated growth by releasing a binding
protein in the bloodstream to tie up any excess IGF-1. Sure. In as little as two
weeks, you can drop, you can force down the
production of IGF-1 in your body. But what about the IGF-1 you
had from the bacon and eggs you had three weeks ago? Well, your liver releases
this snatch squad of binding proteins to pull
out any excess IGF-1 out of the system. It goes up after weeks. And benefits appear to
continue to accrue over years, the longer you eat healthy. Here’s the experiment
that really nailed IGF-1 as the villain. Same as last time, go on a
plant-based diet, cancer cell growth drops, cancer
cell death shoots up. But here’s an
interesting column here. What if you add
back to the cancer just the amount of IGF-1
banished from your system by eating healthy? You erase the diet
and exercise effect. It’s almost as if you never
started eating healthy at all. So the reason the
largest perspective study on diet and
cancer ever published found that the instance
of all cancers combined was lower among those
eating meat-free diets may be because they’re
eating less animal proteins. So they get less IGF-1 in their
system and less cancer growth. How much less cancer? Middle-aged men and women
with high protein intake, 75% increased total mortality
and four-fold increased risk of dying from cancer. But not all protein,
specifically animal protein, which makes sense given
the higher IGF-1 levels. The academic institution
sent out a press release with a memorable opening
line, “That chicken wing you’re eating could be as
deadly as a cigarette.” Explained that a diet
rich in animal proteins during middle age makes
you four times more likely to die from cancer, which
is comparable to smoking. What was the response
to this revelation that diets high in
meat, eggs, and dairy could be harmful of
health as smoking? Well, one nutrition
scientist replied that it would be potentially
dangerous to compare the effects of smoking with
the effects meat and cheese. Why? Because a smoker might think,
“why bother quitting smoking if my ham and cheese sandwich
is just as bad for me.” So better not to tell anybody
about the whole meat and dairy thing. This reminds me of a
famous Philip Morris ad, a cigarette ad, that tried to
downplay the risk by saying, look, you think
secondhand smoke is bad, increasing the risk of lung
cancer 19%, drinking one or two glasses of milk every
day may be three times as bad, 62% increase in
risk of lung cancer; or doubling the risk,
frequently cooking with oil; or tripling the risk of heart
disease eating non-vegetarian; or multiplying
your risk six-fold if you eat lots of meat and
dairy, more than average. So let’s keep some
perspective here. The risk of lung cancer
from secondhand smoke may be well below
the risk reported for other everyday activity. So breathe deep. It’s like saying,
ah, don’t worry about getting stabbed
because, pftt, getting shot is so much worse. How about neither? Two risks don’t make a right. Now, of course, you’ll
notice Philip Morris stopped throwing
dairy under the bus once they purchased Kraft Foods. But– ahem. OK. Just 13 causes of death to go. All right. Let me quickly run
through the list. The top three killers used
to be a hard disease, cancer, and stroke. Oh, that’s so 2007. Now it’s heart
disease, cancer, COPD– chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease, like emphysema. Thankfully, COPD can be
prevented with the help of a plant-based diet. Even treated with plants,
if you want to check that, improving lung
function over time. The only intervention that’s
been shown to do that. Of course, the tobacco industry
viewed these landmark findings a little differently. Instead of adding
plants to one’s diet to prevent emphysema,
wouldn’t it be easier to just add
them to cigarettes? And indeed, the addition of
acai berries to cigarettes evidently has a protective
effect against emphysema in smoking mice. Who would have thunk it, right? Next, they’re going to start
putting berries in meat. And indeed, I couldn’t
make this stuff up. Adding food extracts
to burger patties was not without its
glitches though. The blackberries
died, the burger patties with a distinct
purplish color, for example. They were infusing lamb
carcasses with kiwi fruit juice before rigor
mortis sets in. Evidently, it does
improve tenderness. You can even improve
the nutritional profile of frankfurters by adding
powdered grape seed. Though there were
complaints about grape seed particles becoming visible
in the final product. And if there’s one thing we
know about hot dog eaters is that they’re picky about
what goes in their food. Oh, pig anus, oh. But grape seeds, ugh. Strokes, ah, killer number four. Preventing strokes may
be all about eating potassium-rich foods. Yet most Americans
don’t even reach the recommended
minimum daily intake. And by most, I mean 98%. 98% of us eat
potassium-deficient diets because 98% of us don’t
eat enough plants. Potassium comes from
the words, pot, ash. You take any plant
and put it in a pot and reduce it to ash, add
some water, boil it off. You’re left with a white residue
at the bottom called potash. Yum, potassium. That’s how they got the name. They used to called
it vegetable alkaloid. But I just say
that because that’s a way to remember that that’s
where potassium is largely found. But who can name me a food,
plant food, particularly high in potassium? Anybody? There’s– look. Hold it up. [LAUGHTER] I don’t know why that’s one
of the few things everybody knows about nutrition, bananas,
a good source of potassium. Chiquita must have a great
PR firm or something. It turns out bananas don’t even
make the top 50 sources, coming here, coming in here right at
number 86, right behind fast food vanilla milkshakes. It goes fast food
and then bananas. In fact, when I was putting
together the new book, I went back to see if the USDA
had updated their database. And they did. And now, bananas don’t
even make the top thousand, coming in at number 1,611,
right after Reese’s Pieces. I’m serious. All right, bananas don’t
even make the top thousand. In fact, if you look at the
next leading cause of death– but before, the top sources,
greens, beans, and dates, for those of you who really
want to know where you can find potassium,
whereas bananas don’t even make the top list. In fact, if you look at the
next leading cause of death, bananas could be
downright dangerous. You’ve got to
watch out for them. Alzheimer’s, now our
sixth leading killer, a staggering 4 million
Americans affected. 20 years ago, it wasn’t
even in the top 10 leading causes of death. According to the latest
dietary guidelines, for the prevention of
Alzheimer’s disease, the two most important
things we can do is reduce our consumption
of meat, dairy, and junk and replace them with
vegetables, legumes, which means peas, chickpeas,
and lentils; fruits; and whole grains. This is based in part on data
going back over 20 years. Now, those who that eat
meat, red meat, white meat, it didn’t matter, two to three
times more likely to become demented later in life. And the longer one
eats meat-free, the lower one’s risk
appears to drop. Next on the list
is type 2 diabetes, which can be prevented,
treated, even reversed with a
plant-based diet, something we’ve known since
back in the 1930s. Within five years, about
a quarter of the diabetics were off all insulin. But look, plant-based
diets are also relatively low calorie diets. Maybe the diabetes got
better just because they lost so much weight? In fact, stomach-stapling
surgery can reverse diabetes. So to choose diet,
what we would need is a study, where they put
people on a healthy diet, but forced them to eat so
much food that they would not lose any weight. Then we could say if
a plant-based diet had specific benefits beyond
just all the weight loss. We’d have to wait
another 44 years. But here it is. Subjects were weighed every day. If they started to
lose weight, they were made to eat more food. In fact, so much more
food, many of the subjects had problems eating it all,
like not another salad. But they eventually adapted. So no significant
alterations in body weight despite restricting meat,
eggs, dairy, and junk. So with zero weight loss, did
a plant-based diet still help? Overall, insulin requirements
were cut about 60%. And half were able to get
off of insulin all together, despite no change in weight. How many years did this take? No. 16 days, an average
of 16 days later. So we’re talking diabetics,
who have had diabetes for as long as 20
years, injecting 20 units of insulin a day, and
then 13 days later, off all insulin. Here’s patient 15, 32 units of
insulin on the control diet. And then 18 days later, on none. Actually lower blood sugars
on 32 units less insulin. That’s the power of plants. And as a bonus, her cholesterol
dropped like a rock, down to under 150 in 16 days. So just like moderate
changes in diet typically only give us moderate
reductions in cholesterol, how moderate do you
want your diabetes? Everything in moderation
is a truer statement than many people may realize. And moderate changes
in diet can leave one with moderate
blindness, moderate kidney failure, moderate
amputat– maybe just a few toes or something. Moderation in all things is
not necessarily a good thing. You know that study
that purported to show that diets high
in meat, eggs, dairy could be harmful to
health as smoking claims that those of you who
like meat, eggs, and dairy are four times more likely
to die from diabetes. But if you look at
the actual study, you’ll see that’s not true. Those eating lots
of animal protein were not four times more
likely to die from diabetes. They had 73 times higher
risk of dying from diabetes, though that’s quite a confidence
interval, as you can see. Now, those who chose moderation,
only eating a moderate amount of animal products, only had
23 times the risk of death from diabetes. Killer number eight
is kidney failure, which can be both
prevented and treated with a plant-based
diet, and no surprise. Why? Kidneys are highly
vascular organs. Harvard researchers found three
significant dietary factors associated with reducing kidney
function, declining kidney function, animal protein,
animal fat, and cholesterol. Animal fat can alter the
actual structure of the kidneys based on studies
like this, showing plugs of fat basically
kind of clogging up the works in autopsied
human kidneys. And the animal protein
can have a profound effect on kidney function,
inducing what’s called hyperfiltration,
increasing the workload on the kidney. But not, interestingly,
plant protein. So you eat a meal of tuna fish. And you can see increased
pressure in the kidneys, going up one, two, three
hours after the meal. But if instead of a
tuna salad sandwich, you had a tofu salad
sandwich, with the same amount of protein, no effect. It’s no problem for our kidneys
to deal with plant protein. Why does animal protein cause
this overload reaction, but not plant protein? Well, it appears to be due
to inflammation triggered by the animal protein. We know this
because you can give this powerful anti-inflammatory
drug, along with the tuna fish, and you can abolish
that hyperfiltration, that kind of protein
leakage effect, in response to meat ingestion. Then there’s the acid load. Animal protein
induces the formation of acid in the
kidneys, which can lead to what’s called
tubular toxicity, damage to the kind of little
delicate urine-making tubes in the kidneys. Animal proteins, in general,
animal foods, in general, tend to be acid forming,
whereas plant foods tend to be relatively neutral
or actually alkaline, base forming within the kidneys,
to counter some of that acid. So the key to halting the
progression of chronic kidney disease might be in the
produce market, rather than the pharmacy. No wonder plant-based
diets have been used to treat kidney
disease for decades. Here’s protein leakage on the
conventional low-sodium diet, which we physicians
tend to put people on. But then if you switch them
to a supplemented vegan diet, then back to conventional, then
back to plant-based, then back to conventional, the
back to plant-based, you can switch on and
off kidney dysfunction, like a light switch, based on
what goes into people’s mouth. Kidney number nine– killer
number– kidney number nine. Killer number nine is
respiratory infections. What possible role
could diet play there? Here we are in flu season. Well, you obviously haven’t seen
my video, “Kale and the Immune System,” talking about the
immunostimulatory effects of kale. Is there anything
that kale cannot do? Boosting antibody
production seven-fold, but this is in vitro,
in a Petri dish. What about in people? Older men and women,
split into two groups, right before their
pneumovax vaccination, their pneumonia vaccination. And they split
them in two groups. One group continued to
eat, as they always had. The other group added
just a few servings of fruits and vegetables
to their diet. You see a significant
improvement to protective antibody response,
just a few extra servings of fruits and vegetables This wasn’t cutting
out meat or anything. Just adding some fruits and
vegetables to their daily diet could significantly boost their
protective immune function. Killing number 10 is suicide. Now, we’ve known that
people who eat healthier tend to have
healthier mood states. Typically, only
about half the levels of depression, anxiety,
and stress using these kind of validated scoring systems. Researchers suspect that
if the arachidonic acid, this inflammatory
omega-6 fatty acid, found predominantly in chicken
and eggs in the American diet– we can’t tell if it’s cause
and effect until you put it to the test. So they took people eating the
standard American diet, removed eggs, removed
poultry, as well as other meats from their diets. Got a significant improvement
in mood within just two weeks. Thanks, perhaps, to the
removal of arachidonic acid from their diet,
which they thought was adversely impacting their
mental health via a cascade of neuroinflammation. They thought this
arachidonic acid was inflaming their brains. But within just two
weeks of cutting out eggs, chicken,
and other meat you could clear up
that inflammation. Now, am I just cherry
picking though? What about all of
the other randomized controlled clinical
trials that showed different diets improve mood? There aren’t any. A recent review concluded
that only the plant-based diet has ever been shown to do that. Only that one fit the bill. It’s hard to cherry pick
when there’s only one cherry. It works in the
workplace setting too, as I was happy to see all the
fruits and veggies as I walked around on the floors here. Significant increases
in physical functioning, general health,
vitality, mental health. Not surprisingly, it translates
in improved work productivity. The biggest such study,
which was 10 corporate sites at Geico, found that
plant-based diets could result in significant
improvements in depression, anxiety, fatigue, emotional
well-being, daily functioning, emotional health, et cetera. Lifestyle interventions
such as exercise can help. But in terms of diet,
plant-based diets appear to have the most
data to support them. Killer number 11
is blood infection. Now, sure, food-borne bacteria
can directly kind of burrow through the intestinal wall into
your bloodstream or in women can creep up into their bladder. We’ve know for decades that
it’s bacteria creeping up from the rectum that
causes bladder infections. But only recently
did we figure out where this rectal reservoir
of UTI bacteria– infecting E. coli– was coming from. And that is chicken. We now have DNA
fingerprinting proof of a direct link between
the farm animals, and the meat, and then
bladder infections. Solid evidence that urinary
tract infections in people can be what’s called a zoonosis,
an animal to human disease. Wait a second. Can’t I just use a
meat thermometer, cook the meat through? Unfortunately, no, because
of cross-contamination. We’ve known for decades, you
give someone a frozen chicken– in fact, you give 40
households a frozen chicken to prepare and cook
in their own kitchen, as they normally
would, and a multitude of antibiotic-resistant chicken
bacteria jump from the chicken into the gut of the volunteers
before they even eat it. So you could incinerate
that chicken to ash, it doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to eat any. It’s just handling
it in the kitchen. Within days, the
drug-resistant chicken bacteria had multiplied to the point
of becoming a major part of the person’s gut flora. The chicken bacteria is
kind of like taking over. Even if you follow safe handling
practices, in addition to safe cooking practices–
rinsing everything is the official recommendation. Rinsing everything with
bleach and then they went in an sprayed a dilute
bleach solution on everything, you still may be leaving
pathogenic fecal bacteria behind. This is Salmonella,
Campylobacter, both serious human pathogens. The reason people
have more bacteria from feces in their kitchen
sink than on their toilet seat is because people aren’t rinsing
their chickens in the toilet. They’re rinsing
them in the sink. So unless our kitchen is
like some biohazard lab, the only way to guarantee we’re
not going to leave infection around the kitchen
is to not bring it into our homes in
the first place. But the good news is it’s
not like you eat chicken once and you’re colonized for life. This chicken in this study,
the chicken bacteria, only seem to last about 10
days before good bacteria was able to kind of muscle
it out of the way. The problem is many families
eat chicken more than once every 10 days. And so may be kind of constantly
reintroducing the chicken virus into their systems. Wait, a second. You can’t sell unsafe cars. You can it’s unsafe toys. How is it even illegal
to sell unsafe meat? Well, they do it by
blaming the consumers. One USDA poultry microbiologist
said, look, raw meats are not idiot proof. They can be mishandled. When they are, it’s like
handling a hang grenade. You pull the pin, someone
is going to go hurt. See, we get sick,
it’s our fault. Now, while some may
question the wisdom of selling hand grenades
in supermarkets, the USDA poultry
expert disagrees. I think the consumer
is most responsible, just refused to accept it. I think a car
company saying, yeah, we installed faulty brakes. But it’s your fault for
not putting your kid in a seat belt. The head of the CDC’S food
poisoning division famously responded to this kind of
blame-the-victim attitude coming from the meat industry. Is it reasonable, she
asked, is it reasonable that if a consumer
undercooks a hamburger, their three-year-old die? Is that reasonable? Not to worry though, the
meat industry’s on it. They just got FDA approval
for a bacteria-eating virus to spray on the meat. And now the industry
is concerned about the so-called
bacteria phages. That may somewhat of a challenge
to the food industries. So, of course, they’re going
to label it or anything. But they think that’s
got to be a challenge. Check out their
other bright idea. This is the effect
of extracted housefly pupae on pork presence. This is a sciencey way
of saying I want to smear a maggot mixture on the meat. Wait. It’s low cost and simple. Think about it, right. Maggots live off
of rotting flesh. However, at the
same time, there’s no reports of maggots
having any serious diseases. So they must be filled with
some kind of antibacteria, something. So let’s take some
maggots, grow them up. Three days old, wash them off. Towel them off, a little
Vitamix action there. And voila, safer meat. We did kidney failure. What about liver failure? We’ve known for decades
that a plant-based diet can be used to treat liver
failure, significantly reducing the toxins that would
otherwise build up eating meat without a fully functional liver
just to detoxify your blood. One does have to admit,
though, that there are some people eating
plant-based diets with worsening liver function. They’re called
alcoholics, living off of potatoes, and corn,
and grapes, and barley. In fact, strictly plant-based. But they’re not doing so well. It’s not clear what the– High blood pressure
is next, affecting nearly 78 million Americans. That’s one in three of us. And as we age, our pressures
get higher and higher. Such that by age 60, it
strikes more than half. So wait a second. If it effects most of
us when we get older, maybe it’s less a
disease and really just kind of an inevitable
consequence of aging? No. We’ve known since the 1920s 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. Our pressures go up as we age. And their pressures actually
get better as they get older. And the lower, the better. This whole 140 over 90
cutoff is arbitrary. Even people who start
out with a blood pressure of so-called
normal, 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. Isn’t it even possible to get
pressures down to 110 over 70? It’s not just possible,
it’s normal for people eating healthy enough diets. So for two years at a rural
Kenyan hospital, 1,800 patients admitted, how many cases of high
blood pressure did they find? Zero. Ah, they must have had low
rates of heart disease, right? No. They had no rates
of heart disease, not a single case
of atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, our number
one killer, was found. Rural China too, by 110
over 70 their entire lives. 70-year-old, same blood
pressure as a 16-year-old. Now, look, Africa, China,
vastly different diets. But what do they hold in common? The common theme, they’re
plant-based day to day, with meat only eaten
on special occasions. Now, why do we think it’s
the plant-based nature of their diets though? Because in the Western world, as
the American Heart Association pointed out, the only folks that
are getting it down that low are the strict vegetarians,
coming in at 110 over 65. Based on the largest study of
those eating a plant-based diet to date, that is
89,000 Californians, there appears to be a stepwise
drop in high blood pressure rates as one gets more
and more plant-based. So this is starting out
a regular meat eater. The control group actually
only ate serving or two of meat a day. So kind of a low meat eater. Compared to a semi-vegetarian
or a flexitarian, who only meat like
on a weekly basis, as opposed to a daily basis. Those that ate no
meat except fish, just eggs and dairy, or those
that ate strictly plant-based. You see the same thing with
diabetes, a stepwise drop in diabetes rates as one’s diet
gets more and more plant-based. And the same thing with obesity,
anything over 25 is overweight. Even vegetarians in
the US are overweight. The only dietary group that
met the, quote, unquote, “ideal body weight” were those
eating strictly plant-based. But as you can see, look,
it’s not black and white. It’s not all or nothing. Any steps we can make
along that spectrum may accrue significant benefits. You can show this
experimentally. You take vegetarians,
you give them meat. What happens to their
blood pressures? They go up. Or you take some meat
eaters, remove meat, and the blood pressures
go down within seven days. And this is after the vast
majority already reduced their blood pressure medications
or eliminated them completely. They had to, otherwise
their blood pressures would bottom out
because you’re actually treating the cause of
their blood pressure. And so you can’t be on
blood pressure drugs if you have normal
blood pressure. Lower pressures on fewer drugs. That’s the power of plants. So does the American
Heart Association recommend a no-meat diet? No. They recommend a low meat
diet, the so-called DASH diet. Why not vegetarian? When the DASH diet
was created, were they just not aware of
this landmark research done by Harvard’s Frank Sacks? No. They were aware. The chair of the committee
that came up with the DASH diet was Frank Sacks. You see, the DASH diet
was explicitly designed. The number one goal of
capturing the blood pressure lowering benefits of
a vegetarian diet, yet contain enough
animal products to make them palatable
to the general public. They didn’t think the public
could quite handle the truth. Now, but in their
defense you can see what they were thinking. I mean just like drugs never
work unless you actually take them, diets never work
unless you actually eat them. They’re like, well, no one’s
going to eat vegetarian. So maybe on a population scale,
if they kind of soft-pedal it, then we’d actually save
more lives overall. But tell that to the
thousand families a day that lose a loved one
to high blood pressure. Maybe it’s time to start
telling Americans the truth. Killer number 14 is
Parkinson’s disease. Does a plant-based diet reduce
the risk of Parkinson’s? Well, most studies to date
suggest a link between dairy products and Parkinson’s. But why? Well, there’s evidence
that milk is contaminated with neurotoxic chemicals. High levels of pesticide
residues, for example, found in milk and in the
brains of Parkinson’s victims. We’re talking about pollutants
like tetrahydroisoquinoline here, which is actually
what scientists use to induce Parkinsonism
in primates in the lab. It’s found mostly
in cheese actually. So maybe the dairy
industry should require toxin screenings of milk. Good luck with that. You can always
just not drink it. But then what would
happen to 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 your adult years or drinking milk
during your teen years. It doesn’t matter. If anything, milk was
associated with an increase in fracture risk. Maybe that’s why we
see higher hip fracture rates among the populations with
the greatest milk consumption. So Swedish researchers
decided to put it to the test, a hundred
thousand men and women followed for up to 20 years. And milk-drinking women
had higher rates of death. More heart disease,
significantly more cancer, associated with each daily
glass of milk consumption. Three glasses a day,
that’s about a twofold risk of overall mortality, all-cause
mortality, risk of death. And they had significantly more
bone and hip fractures too, more milk, more fractures. Milk-drinking men also had
a higher risk of death. But for some reason, you
never see milk ads like this. I’m not sure why. Finally, aspiration
pneumonia, which is caused by swallowing
problems due to Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s, or stroke, things
that we’ve already covered. So where does this leave us? Here are the 15 leading
reasons Americans die. And a plant-based diet can help
prevent nearly all of them. Can help treat more
than half of them. In some cases, even
reverse the progression of disease in some cases,
including sometimes our top three killers. Now, look, there are
drugs that can help too. You take one drug,
cholesterol-lowering drugs, every day for the rest of your
life to help with your heart. Usually it takes
a couple families of blood pressure
lowering pills. Or you can insulin injections
to control your blood sugars. But the same diet,
though, does it all. So it’s not like there’s
one liver or a healthy diet. I know you want to go on the
heart healthy diet or the brain healthy diet. A liver healthy diet is
a kidney healthy diet, is a body healthy diet. One diet to rule them all. And what about
drug side effects? I’m not talking about
a little rash here. Side effects kill. Prescription drugs kill
more than a hundred thousand Americans every year. Wait a second. 106,000 deaths a year from
adverse drug side effects. That means the sixth
leading cause of death is actually doctors. The sixth leading
cause of death is me. [LAUGHTER] Thankfully, I can be prevented
with a plan-based diet. No, seriously. I said drugs actually. A study, 15,000 American
vegetarians, compared to them, meat eaters had
about twice the odds of being on aspirin; sleeping
pills; tranquilizers; antacids; pain killers; blood pressure
medications; laxatives, of course; as well as insulin. So plant-based diets
are great for people that don’t like taking
drugs, for those that don’t like
paying for drugs, and don’t like risking
drug side effects. Want to solve the
health care crisis? I’ve got a suggestion. There’s only one
diet that’s ever been proven to
reverse heart disease in a majority of patients,
a plant-based diet. So any time anyone
want to sell you on some new diet they
heard about, do me a favor, ask them this simple question. Wait a second. Has it been proven to reverse
heart disease, the number one reason me and all my
loved ones have died? If the answer is no, then why
would you even consider it? I mean if that’s all a
plant-based diet could do, reverse our number one
killer, shouldn’t that be like the default diet
until proven otherwise. And the fact that
it also would be helpful in preventing,
arresting, and reversing other leading killers, like type
2 diabetes and hypertension, would seem to make
the case overwhelming. Most deaths in the United States
are preventable and related to nutrition. According to the most
rigorous analysis of risk factors ever
published– this is the Global Burden of Disease study funded
by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation– the
number one cause of death in the United
States and number one cause of disability is our diet. And it has since bumped
tobacco smoking to number two. Smoking now only kills about
a half million Americans every year, whereas
our diet kills hundreds of thousands more. So let me end with a
thought experiment. Imagine yourself a
smoker back in the 1950s. The average per capita
consumption of cigarettes was about 4,000 a year. So the average American
smoked half a pack a day. Think about that. The media was
telling you to smoke. Famous athletes agreed, even
Santa Claus wanted you– I mean, look, you want to keep
fit and stay– where are we– and stay slender. And so you make sure to smoke
and eat a lot of hot dogs to stay trim. And eat lots of the sugar
to stay slim and trim, a lot better than that apple there. I mean, sheesh. Though apples do connote
goodness and freshness, reads one internal
tobacco industry memo. Which brings up
many possibilities for making a
youth-oriented cigarette, like an apple-flavored
cigarette for kids. Ah, shameless. For digestion’s sake, you smoke. I mean no curative power is
claimed by Philip Morris. But an ounce of prevention
is worth a pound of cure. So, hey, better safe
than sorry, and smoke. Blow in her face and
she’ll follow you anywhere. No women ever says no. They’re so round, so
firm, so fully packed. Now, after all, John
Wayne smoked them, until he got lung
cancer and died. Back then, even the
paleo folks were smoking. And so were the doctors. Now, this is not to say
there wasn’t controversy within the medical profession. Sure, some doctors smoke Camels. But others preferred Luckies. So there was a little
disagreement there. The leader of the
US Senate agreed. I mean who wouldn’t want to
give their throat a vacation? Not a single case of
throat irritation. Because, no surprise,
cigarettes are just as pure as the water you drink. And look, if you do get
irritated, no problem. Your doctor can write you a
prescription for cigarettes. This is an ad from the “Journal
of the American Medical Association.” So when mainstream
medicine is saying that smoking may be, on balance,
beneficial– when the American Medical Association
is saying that, where could you turn back then
if you just wanted the facts? What’s the new data
advanced by science? She was too tired for fun
and then she smoked a Camel. Babe Ruth spoke of
proof-positive medical science. That is when he
still could speak, before he died of throat cancer. Now by some miracle, if there
was a smokingfacts.org website back then that could deliver
the science directly, bypassing commercially
corruptible institutional filters, you
would have become aware of studies like this. An event to study in
California in ’58, 1958, that showed that
nonsmokers are at least 90% less likely to die
of lung cancer. But this wasn’t the first. When famed surgeon
Michael Debakey was asked why his
studies published back in the ’30s, linking
smoking and lung cancer, were simply ignored,
he had to remind people what it was like back then. Smoking was everywhere. It was in the movies. Medical meetings were
one heavy haze of smoke. Smoking was normal. So back to our
thought experiment. If you’re a smoker in the ’50s,
in the know, what do you do? With access to the
science, you realize the best available
balance of evidence suggests your smoking
habit, not so good for you. So do you change or do you wait? If you wait until
your doctor tells you, between puffs, to quit,
you could have cancer by then. If you wait until
the powers that be officially recognize it,
like the Surgeon General did in the subsequent decade,
you could be dead by then. It took 25 years for the Surgeon
General report to come out. It took more than 7,000 studies. 7,000 studies and the
deaths of countless smokers before the first
Surgeon General report was finally released
in the 1960s. You think maybe after
the first 6,000 studies, they could have given people a
little heads-up or something? No, a powerful industry. So one wonders how many
people are currently suffering needlessly
from dietary diseases? Maybe we should
have stopped smoking after the 700th study like this. So as a smoker in the
’50s, on the one hand, you had all of society,
the government, the medical profession
itself, telling you to smoke. And on the other
hand, all you had was the science,
if you were even lucky enough to know
about studies like this. Let’s fast forward 55 years. There’s a new Adventist study
out of California warning Americans about the risk
of something else they may be putting in their mouth. And it’s not just one study. According to the latest review,
the total sum of evidence suggests mortality from all
causes put together, including many of our dreaded diseases,
stroke, cancer, et cetera, are significantly lower among
those eating plant-based. So instead of
someone going along with America’s smoking habits
in the ’50s, imagine you, or someone you care
about, going along with America’s
dietary habits today. What do you do? I mean with access
to the science, you realize the best
available balance of evidence suggests that your eating
habits are not so great for you. So do you wait or do you choose? If you wait until your
doctor, between bites, tells you to change,
it may be too late. In fact, the AMA
actually went on record, refusing to endorse the
Surgeon General’s report. Could it have been because
they just got a $10 million check from the tobacco industry? Hm. OK. So we know why the AMA was
sucking up to the tobacco industry back then. But why weren’t individual
doctors speaking out? Well, there were a few gallant
souls ahead of their time speaking up, standing up against
industries killing millions. But why not more? Because maybe that’s because
the majority of physicians themselves smoked
cigarettes, just like the majority
of physicians today continue to eat foods
that are contributing to our epidemic of
dietary diseases. What was the AMA’s
rallying cry back then? Everything in moderation. Extensive scientific
studies had proven that smoking in
moderation is OK. Sound familiar? Today, the food industry uses
the same tobacco industry tactics, supply misinformation,
twisting the science. The same scientists
who were higher paid to downplay the
risks of secondhand smoke and toxic chemicals, were the
same paid for by the National Confectioners Association to
downplay the risks of candy, and the same paid
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 people
dead every year. A plant-based diet
may now be considered perhaps the nutritional
equivalent of quitting smoking. How many more people
have to die though before the CDC
encourages people not to wait for open heart surgery,
to start eating healthy as well? Until the system
changes, we have to take personal
responsibility for our health, for our family’s health. We can’t wait until society
catches up to the science because it’s a matter
of life and death. Dr. Kim Williams
became the president of the American College
of Cardiology last year. He was asked why he
follows his own advice, to follow a plant-based diet. He said, I don’t mind dying. Dr. Williams replied,
I just don’t want it to be my own fault. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] For any of you who would like
to share this talk with anyone, I’ve got free copies
of all my DVDs. So this is from “Uprooting
the Leading Cause of Death.” So please feel free
to come take them. I also have– I’ll
go through the list– the most disabling disease, the
most common disease, the most dreaded disease, and not
just the ones that kill us, along with lots of other DVDs. And I’m so happy to have my new
book here, “How Not to Die,” three weeks on the New
York Best Seller List. I’m very excited. And all proceeds from
the sale of my books, and my speaking engagements,
and DVDs, and my whole life, all goes to charity of course. And all my work is available
free on NutritionFacts.org. I’m happy to take any
questions, sign books, anything. Yes? AUDIENCE: Thanks. Have there been any
rigorous looking at why let’s say animal
protein is causing things like inflammation
and cascade breaks. Because I’m interest in we have
this spectrum of the McDonald’s hamburger versus perhaps the
Joel Salatin pasture-raised, grass-fed beef. And we know that a lot
of animal feed is crap. And it contains
RoundUp and whatever. MICHAEL GREGER: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Great question. AUDIENCE: Do you
have a sense of that? And like is there a possibility
that if one kept eating animal-based food,
but did it with– MICHAEL GREGER: Sure. Grass-fed, organic. Yes. Sure. Absolute. AUDIENCE: –exactly,
that we might see lower levels of inflammation? MICHAEL GREGER: So
for the inflammation, the current theory is
that an endotoxin effect. So endotoxins are the components
of bacterial cell walls essentially, that aren’t
destroyed by cooking, not destroyed by stomach acid,
proteolytic enyzmes in the gut. So it doesn’t matter
how much you cook it. But then you just
have these kind of fragments, bacterial
cell wall fragments, that get absorbed into the system. Actually, fat helps
kind of transmit it through the gut wall, so we
get what’s called endotoxemia. You get endotoxins
in our blood stream. And we’ve evolved
for millions of years and think, ah, bacteria
in our bloodstream, that’s a bad thing. So we get the spike of
inflammation two, three, four hours right after the meal. And then that calms right down. Because you can
see such dramatic a short-term acute
effects, then we can put different
meats to the test. And that work is done. So a study that was
done, actually Australia. So they chose wild-caught meat,
which there is kangaroo meat. It’s like their
venison basically. And they compared that. They compared the spike of
inflammation from kangaroo meat to retail meat bought off
the supermarket shelves. And they found that
the kangaroo meat causes significantly
less inflammation than the retail meat. Though one could argue that why
have any inflammation at all, where eating plants foods
and your antioxidant response foods, it can
anti-inflammatory actually. And so, yes, less inflammation. So definitely a step
in the right direction. Probably the greatest benefits
to kind of the organic meat movement is that it makes
it really expensive. [LAUGHTER] And so– no. So people eat less. And that’s really the
recommendation, right? Reduce meat consumption,
meatless Mondays obviously. So if people really want to go
to restaurants that have that or really only
buy– then it’s more like a condiment or a
flavoring to a dish, as opposed to a big hunk. And so I would not be
surprised, if you studied a cohort of people, people
that really did eat that way, would have significantly better. But it may be more tied
to the quantity of meat that they’d be eating because
they’re eating higher quality meat than actually
the meat itself. There’s still the
saturated fat and all that. Yeah. Yeah? AUDIENCE: I have two
questions actually. MICHAEL GREGER: Please. AUDIENCE: The first one is
there a way to be a vegetarian in a wrong way, like maybe
you’re– let’s say you forget to– you don’t eat enough
protein or you don’t get– MICHAEL GREGER: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. No, thank you for that question. You know, a couple decades ago,
if you were a vegetarian, then by definition you
had to eat healthy. Like you’d go to the
supermarkets, like the produce aisle, what do you got to eat. But now, there’s
vegan junk food. There’s a product called
vegan bacon grease. There’s like you can
get vegan ice cream. You can get vegan crispy. The best doughnut
in New York City was some Brooklyn
vegan donut shop. Yeah, done well doughnuts. OK. So it’s like the
gluten-free people. If you had celiac disease
a couple decades ago, you had to eat healthy because
you couldn’t eat junk food. Now, you can get
gluten-free junk food. You can get vegan
gluten-free junk food. Yeah. OK. In fact, the unhealthiest
thing you can find in the store actually has vegetable
in the title. It’s partially hydrogenated
vegetable oil, like Crisco, like shortening. That’s the worst
thing, transfats. It’s worse than saturated fats. It’s worse than processed meat. It’s the worst thing
we can possibly eat. Its plant based technically. All right. So that’s why I don’t like
the term vegan, vegetarian. Because that tells me as a
physician what you don’t eat. That doesn’t tell
what you do eat. But that’s why if
you tell me, well, I eat a whole food plant-based. OK. You tell me. OK. You’re eating– OK. But you can still screw that up. And how do you screw that up? By not ensuring a regular
reliable source of vitamin B-12. There’s two vitamins that
are not made by plants. One is vitamin D, which
is made by animals, such as yourself, when you walk
outside and get some sunshine. It’s actually not a vitamin. It’s a hormone created by Sun. But no matter how
long you sunbathe naked in Times Square
on New Year’s Day, the Sun’s rays are at such
an angle at this latitude during the winter
months, you’re not going to make any vitamin D.
January, February no vitamin D production in New York City. I mean they actually
did these studies using human foreskins
on the tops of buildings here in New York City. Because they were. You need human skin. Well, anyway. [LAUGHTER] No vitamin D
production whatsoever. So you need to get
vitamin D, depending on where you– I mean we
evolved running around naked in equatorial
Africa, getting baked in the Sun all day. We’re not used to
living at this latitude and wearing lots of clothes. OK. And vitamin B-12 is not
made by plants either, not made by animals. It’s made by little microbes
that blanket the Earth. So we get all the B-12
we need drinking out of a mountain stream or
well water, or something. But now, we chlorinate
our water supply to kill off any bacteria. We just don’t get a lot of
B-12 in our water any more. Don’t get a lot
of cholera either. It’s very good thing. But now, because we live in
such a sanitary situation. So our fellow
great apes get B-12 from bugs, dirt, and feces. But, let’s see. I prefer supplemental sources. So I recommend a
vitamin B-12 supplement people eating a plant-based
diet, one 2,500 microgram tablet once a week, costs
less than $3 a year, all the B-12 you need. There’s also B-12
fortified foods, like there’s soy milk,
and breakfast cereal, and things like that. But I encourage people to eat
less of those processed foods. So probably the safest,
cheapest way is just get it. But I’m so glad you
brought that up. Because that’s critical. B-12 is critical for
neurological health and for blood health. AUDIENCE: What about omega-3? Is that a thing? MICHAEL GREGER: Oh, yeah. So there are essential fatty
acids– omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Meaning that our
body can’t make them. We need to take
them into our diet. And so the current
recommendations we need to get basically
about two grams of omega-3s. And so you can get that
in alpha-linolenic acid, like a tablespoon
of ground flaxseeds, all the omega-3s you’d
take for the day. So that’s part of
my daily dozen foods I encourage people to eat
every day in their diet. Is that one of a
tablespoon of flaxseeds. Why? You need to get your omega-3s. Or you can also eat walnuts,
or dark-green leafy vegetables, or chia seeds, hemp
seeds, lots of things. But you need to get
those into your diet. And our bodies can take
those short-chain omega-3s and elongate them into
the so-called fish fats, like EPA and DHA. The question though is can we
do it enough for optimal health? And that I think still
remains an open question. So I actually encourage
people to take 250 milligrams of a pollutant-free, a source
of long-chain omega-3s, EPA or DHA. And the only way you
can do that gluten-free is either yeast-based or
algae-based EPA or DHA. That’s actually where the fish
get it, from the first place. We can kind of cut
out the middle fish and go straight to the source. And not for heart
health, actually. Because the studies
have shown we now know that recommendations to
increase fatty fish consumption and take fish oil
capsules don’t appear to help prevent heart disease
or help treat heart disease– but for cognitive health. There’s this study linking kind
of accelerated cerebral volume loss with low
omega-3 index, which are these long-chain omega-3s. So I encourage people to
include that, absolutely. Great, a good question. Thank you. AUDIENCE: So you talk
a lot about nutrition with like a normal
level of exercise, a moderate, healthy amount
of 30 to 60 minutes. How does the
situation change when you’re talking more vigorous
exercise for athletes and such? In particular, concerning
any [INAUDIBLE], but one thing comes to
mind is higher protein. MICHAEL GREGER: Sure. Sure. AUDIENCE: –for
like long distance. MICHAEL GREGER: Yeah. No. No. Absolutely. And so they actually
take care of themselves because we eat so
many more calories. I mean so you’re just
eating more food. So if you stick to to healthy
foods, you can do all the math. You can see that you’re going
to get kind of all the iron you need, all the protein you need. We actually get about 70%
more protein than we need, even people that are sedentary. But, right. So you absolutely have
increased calorie needs. The only time you
really run into problems is athletes who are trying
to calorie restrict. Who are actually trying
to kind of lose weight, preserve lean body mass. And if you’re not
eating enough calories– so they go on these
like starvation diets– and so if you’re not
eating enough food, then you really have to
be careful to make sure that food really
packs a nutritional punch so you’re getting the most
kind of nutrient dense foods. So if you just lived off of
iceberg lettuce and cotton candy or something. But even healthy– I mean you
could run into some problems. But people eating enough food,
it shouldn’t be a problem. AUDIENCE: Should we avoid
potatoes, bread, rice, and pasta? MICHAEL GREGER: So
it’s interesting. The bottom line is I encourage
people to stick to whole foods whenever possible. So pasta is fine. But I’d like people to
have whole grain pasta. And actually sweet
potatoes, I think are healthier than
white potatoes. And I give my kind
of reasons why. And in general, flour products,
even when they’re whole wheat, are not great. Because you actually you
starve your microbial self. So they do these really neat
studies where they basically give people the same diet. But they grind up
everything beforehand. So instead of beans, they
give some people chick peas, some people humus. They give some people bread
and some people like actually wheat berries. And you do that for grains. And you chop up your oatmeal
or steel-cut oatmeal. And you can dramatically boost
the weight of their stool. And actually most of
the weight of a stool is actually pure bacteria. It’s just trillions and
trillions of bacteria. There’s so much food
because little pieces of starch– and
starch, no matter how well you chew,
actually get down or past our small intestine into
our lower intestine. And these are the prebiotics,
the fiber-resistant starch. The prebiotics that feed our
good gut bacteria, so much so that they go
crazy when you eat kind of whole intact grains,
not just whole grains. So whole intact grains are
preferable because then we leave some for our gut bacteria. And we’re learning more
and more about the benefits of the microbiome. Whereas when you process foods
into flour or grind them up, they become so efficiently
absorbed that other than the fiber, you’re
not leaving anything. And we feed them. They feed us. There’s really some cool stuff
out there about the microbiome. Yes? AUDIENCE: So if you reverse
amortize the effects of like, say, eating bacon over
the course of your life, you can something like
every strip of bacon takes 17 minutes off
the end of your life. And you can say
this someone, it’s just kind of chilling the
impact of their choices. And they’ll say, well,
yeah, but that’s just the time at the end. So I was wondering if you
had a response to that? MICHAEL GREGER: Yeah. No. Well, I mean that brings
up an important point. So we’re actually
living longer lives, but shorter healthy lifespans. So we actually live
like a year longer than we did 20 years ago. But we’re actually
two years shorter in terms of healthy lifespan,
without a major disabling disease, like the
ability to stand for a certain number of minutes
without having to sit down and things like that. These kind of severe disability. And so it’s not just about
adding years to your life. It’s adding life to your years. So we want to be
skydiving until the end. So that’s why I have this
talk about the most disabling diseases too. So, yeah, if you’re
crippled with arthritis maybe you don’t want to
live an extra 10 years because you can’t even move. Absolutely. And I mean spoiler alert,
it’s the same healthy diet that– yeah, yeah, yeah. And so, right. So they have all
these neat metrics, like disability-adjusted
life years. So they’re not just how
many years you have, but how many healthy years. And you get the
same kind of stats. In fact, that’s what the
Global Burden of Disease study looked at daily– looked at
those disability-adjusted life years. So it’s not just– it’s we’re
extending healthy lifespan. That’s really a critical key. Yeah, good point. Yeah, yeah. AUDIENCE: I’ve read
some things recently regarding the
benefits of alcohol. And then read things
saying the opposite. How does this play into it? MICHAEL GREGER: Yeah. Yeah. So alcohol consumption decreases
the risk of the number one killer, heart disease. Increases the risk of one type
of stroke, hemorrhagic stoke; decreases the risk
of another type of stroke, ischemic stroke;
increases the risk of cancer. And so you could
see how we could be flopping back and forth. The bottom line is
these are people eating the standard American diet. And the people eating the
standard American diet, adding alcohol to
their diet actually does extend lifespan because
heart disease is killer number one. But people who even have a
modicum of healthy behaviors– and by healthy behaviors, they
said ate fruit or a vegetable serving a day. “Or,” right. Not currently
smoking, it means you could have a lot of
smoking in the past, but not currently smoking. I forget about the exercise. It was like 20 minutes
walking every day or something like that. If you fit those criteria, then
the alcohol has no benefit. But it thins your blood enough
that when your arteries are so clogged up, it can
actually extend lifespan. And unfortunately,
even light drinking increased risk of breast cancer. So the big Harvard Nurse’s
study looked at women even drinking less than a drink
a day, one drink a day, had significant increased
risk of breast cancer. So, in general, I
encourage people to stay away from alcohol. AUDIENCE: If you’ve heard of
Soylent and MealSquares, what are your [INAUDIBLE]? MICHAEL GREGER: Yeah. So it’s like if you like pick
up a package of mushrooms in the store, you look at it. You turn it around and look
at the nutrition factors. It’s like there’s
nothing in there. A couple B vitamins,
maybe a few minerals. But you’re like,
eh, there’s nothing. You put it back on the shelf. And that’s because they’re
listing the top seven or so vitamins and minerals. What they’re missing out
are the phytonutrients, so in that case,
the micronutrients. There’s literally
tens of thousands of these phytonutrients,
some of which we think could be maybe
the reason why we see some of these beneficial things. And so you can hit all
the RDAs, but miss out on all the phytonutrients,
the tens of thousands of phytonutrients, where
there’s the carotenoids, like beta carotene, and
lycopene, and [INAUDIBLE], which is associated with
eye health and brain health and all these things. It’s difficult to capture
it in a whole food. And there’s been some real
kind of cautionary tales. So, for example, the
beta carotene debacle, where researchers
noticed that people who had high beta carotene
levels lived longer, had less disease. I mean it’s a great
indicator of health, how much beta carotene you
have in your bloodstream. Like if I wanted to
place bets on somebody, I’d want to know their
beta carotene levels. OK. And so they said,
aha, let’s give people beta carotene pills. And so they took people at
high risk for cancer, smokers– because then we don’t have to
have a short study because you get so much cancer– split them
up in two groups, beta carotene pills and placebo. And the beta carotene
group got more cancer. They had to stop the study. OK. OK. And then they went back and
said, well, wait a second. Why did those people have
high levels of beta carotene in their blood? Ah, because they are
eating super-healthy foods, dark-green leafy vegetables. What has beta carotene? Sweet potatoes, right. So it’s like a marker
for healthy eating. And actually beta carotene is
kind of a wimping antioxidant. So if you take beta
carotene, you kind of max out all your
carotenoid receptors. And then you eat tomato sauce
and have an even more powerful antioxidant, like lycopene. It goes right through you. It doesn’t get absorbed. Because you just took
a beta carotene pill. That’s what we think the
mechanisms behind that are. So we just don’t know
enough about the biology to be able to kind of pick
and choose which nutrient. And then they tried
vitamin E supplements. And we had increased mortality. People were paying to shorten
their lives by buying vitamin E supplements for themselves. So it’s that kind of data
that anytime someone tries to put these kind of isolated
nutrients and think, yes, can it keep you going? Absolutely. It’s a great– zombie
apocalypse, absolutely. Or an island– starving
to death on an island. But in terms of maximizing
health and longevity, sticking to whole foods would
probably be a healthier option. AUDIENCE: Do you have same
concerns for something that’s direct from whole
foods, like MealSquares? MICHAEL GREGER: So, yeah. So you can actually buy like
fruit and vegetable extract pills, like powdered
broccoli pills. And because 90% of
broccoli is actually water. And so you get 10 times
more broccoli in powered– but the pills are this big. So 10 times more broccoli
is like this much broccoli. That’s still– you’re
only this much. Now, I would not be surprised
if people taking those pills actually had benefits. Because that’s that much more
broccoli than most people eat. I mean you just can’t get
kind of pounds of food in kind of the same way. And so, yeah. And once you get down
to chemical components, it doesn’t really matter
where it comes from. Vitamin C is ascorbic acid
however you get it from, whether you make it
synthetically in a lab. Yes? AUDIENCE: So there’s practical
component of all of this. So as an example, here at Google
we get lots of great free food. It’s amazing. So I can go out and
get a huge helping of like broccoli, carrots,
and kale, and whatever. And that’s great. And then my question
is A– and I’m not complaining about the food. But A, none of that’s organic. And so a question about that. And second, like
for instance here a lot of that’s cooked
with canola oil. And so like do some of those
pieces sort of end cancelling out? MICHAEL GREGER: Hm. OK. Yeah, yeah. No. Yeah. There’s been some interesting
kind of computer modeling studies. So there’s one famous one of
food and chemical toxicology that suggested that
if half of Americans ate a single more serving
of fruits and vegetables, then we would prevent every
year 20,000 cancer deaths, not just cancer cases,
20,000 cancer deaths. People that would have died had
it not been for half of America eating more and more servings
of fruits and vegetables. That’s how powerful
fruits and vegetables are. But because they were
modeling conventional fruits and vegetables, that
additional pesticide load from all that
extra conventional fruit and vegetable consumption, would
cause, in their estimation, 10 cancer deaths. So you only end up
preventing 19,990 cancers. So you get this tremendous
benefit and then a small bump in risk. That’s true. Why accept any risk at all? Choose organic, great. But we should never let
concern about pesticides prevent us from stuffing
our face with as many fruits and vegetables as possible. AUDIENCE: And what
about the oil too? MICHAEL GREGER: Oh, yeah. So if you’re going
to cook with oil, canola would be probably
the best choice. So canola, obviously
it’s processed. I think of oil as
kind of the table sugar of the carb kingdom. I mean you take a sugar
beet, a super-healthy food, you take out all the
nutrition, and you’re left with table sugar. You take– well, you
wouldn’t take a canola plant. But you take a walnut and
you remove all the nutrition, and you’re left with
walnut oil, though it still has some fats, [INAUDIBLE]
nutrients like vitamin E, et cetera. But someone just stole
the nutrition from you. And it’s the most
calorically dense food. So one tablespoon is
like 120 calories. Like you ate 120 calories of
oil, you wouldn’t even feel it. You had a hundred
calories of broccoli, a hundred calories
of strawberries, a hundred calories of tomatoes,
now that’s a plate of food. So just in terms of
weight loss, in terms of nutrient density
in one’s diet, you just wasted 5%
of your caloric bank for the day on
essentially nothing. Well, it has omega-3s. But you want to
kind of maximize. Every bite of something
has an opportunity cost. It’s a lost opportunity to
eat something even healthier. That’s how I kind
of think about it. Yes? AUDIENCE: I think we
have time for one more. MICHAEL GREGER: All right. AUDIENCE: So a
lot of vegetarians will look to things
like shakes or powders to supplement their
protein intake. Have they been any studies
on whey protein isolate and if [INAUDIBLE] the
same immune inflammation response as dairy, like a glass
of milk, a piece of cheese? MICHAEL GREGER: Right. Yeah. So whey, the biggest
problem with whey proteins is their high leucine content. So leucine is a branched
chain amino acid that activates this kind of
engine of aging enzyme called mTOR, which is a
fascinating story. I’ve got a bunch
of videos about it. It’s just this really
neat detective story. I mean milk has
evolved to do what? To promote growth, right. So dairy milk, literally
to put a couple pounds on a calf in a matter of months. And so it’s supremely
designed to both boost IGF-1, boost mTOR signaling. Boost can accelerate growth. Which is not so great if you’ve
already reached adult height. So accelerating growth,
so having growth hormones and growth factors in your body
at this stage, not so great. Because many of us are actually
harboring so-called occult tumors. So even women by their
40s– they actually do autopsies studies,
if you get hit by a bus. They have microscopic
breast tumors. Most men actually have
microscopic prostate tumors. So, for example,
American men have the same rates of prostate
cancer as Japanese men, but a tiny fraction of the
death from prostate cancer. They die with their tumors,
instead from their tumors, because there’s a
third stage of cancer. There’s cancer initiation,
the first mutated DNA that creates the cancer cell. And then there’s a promotion
stage, where it grows. It can grow for decades. Epithelial tumors,
like colon cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer,
can take decades to grow. And then the progression
stage, where it kind of spreads around the body. But in that stage, I mean it
takes a billion cancer cells to show up on a mammography. So early detection
with mammography is really, really
late detection. And so it’s all about
slowing the doubling time. So breast cancer cells
take between a few weeks to a few months to
double once in size. But we love the mathematics
of exponential growth. If you double 30 times, and
boom, we got a billion cells. But you don’t care if
you get breast cancer in a century from now. You don’t expect to
be around that long. So it’s not just about
preventing cancer, but slowing down the
growth of cancer. And so the reason we
think that high the IGF-1 levels, and high mTOR
signaling, and leucine intake is associated with
these cancers is because– it’s not that
they’re causing the cancer. But they’re kind of amplifying
the growth of whatever hidden tumors you have. And so they actually appear
within your lifespan, which is something that we
don’t want to have happen. Happy to sign books for anyone. Thank you so much. If anyone has any
questions, please feel free, hesitate to call me any time. [LAUGHTER] My contact information
is on the site. Oh, and take some DVDs,
if you’re interested.