Food as Medicine | Michael Greger, M.D. | TEDxSedona
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Food as Medicine | Michael Greger, M.D. | TEDxSedona

October 11, 2019


Translator: Steven Litrov
Reviewer: Lalla Khadija Tigha On a personal note, this is a picture of me
taken around the time that my grandmother was diagnosed with end-stage heart
disease and sent home to die. She already had so many bypass surgeries, basically run out of plumbing, confined to a wheel chair,
crushing chest pain. Her life was over at age 65. But then she heard about
this guy, Nathan Pritikin, one of our early
lifestyle medicine pioneers, and what happened next is actually
detailed in Pritikin’s biography. My grandma was one
of the “death’s door” people. Frances Greger, my grandmother,
arrived in a wheel chair. Mrs. Greger had heart disease,
angina, claudication. Her condition is so bad, she could no longer walk
without great pain in her chest and legs. Within three weeks, though, she was not only out of her wheel chair, she was walking 10 miles a day! Here’s a picture of my grandma
at her grandson’s wedding, 15 years after doctors
abandoned her to die. She was given a medical death sentence
at age 65, but thanks to a healthy diet, She was able to enjoy another 31 years on
this planet until age 96 — (Applause) to enjoy her six grand kids including me. That’s why I went into medicine. (Laughter) Years later, when Dr. Dean Ornish published
his landmark lifestyle heart trial, proving with something called
quantitative angiography, that indeed heart disease could
be reversed, arteries opened up, without drugs, without surgery, just a plant-based diet
and lifestyle program, I assumed this was going
to be the game changer. My family had seen it with their own eyes,
but here it was in black and white, published in some of the most prestigious
medical journals in the world, yet nothing happened. I said, “wait a second.” If effectively the cure
to our number one killer could get lost
down some rabbit hole and ignored, what else might there be in the medical
literature that could help my patients, but just didn’t have a corporate
budget driving its promotion? Well, I made it
my life’s mission to find out. For those who are not familiar
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. (Laughter) I then compile the most interesting,
ground breaking, and practical findings in new videos and articles I upload daily
to my nonprofit site, NutritionFacts.org. Everything on the website is free. There are no ads
and no corporate sponsorships. Strictly non-commercial.
Not selling anything. Just put it up as a public
service, as a labor of love, as a tribute to my grandmother. New videos and articles every day on
the latest in evidence-based nutrition. What a concept! So where did Pritikin
get his evidence from? A network of missionary hospitals
set up throughout sub-Saharan Africa uncovered what may be one of the
most important medical advance — according to one of our best
medical figures of the last century, Dr. Dennis Burkit — the fact that many of our major
and commonest diseases were universally rare, like heart disease. In the African population of Uganda,
for example, coronary heart disease
was almost non-existent. Wait a second,
our number one killer almost non-existent? What were they eating? (Laughter) Well, they’re eating
lots of vegetables and grains and greens, and their protein almost
entirely from plant sources, and they had the cholesterol
levels to prove it, very similar to what one sees
in kind of a modern day plant eater. You say, “Wait a second.” Maybe they were just dying early, never
lived long enough to get heart disease. No. Here’s age-matched heart attack
rates in Uganda versus St. Louis. Out of 632 autopsies in Uganda,
only one myocardial infarction. Out of 632 age and gender matched
autopsies in Missouri, 136 myocardial infarctions — more than 100 times
the rate of our leading killer. They were so blown away, went back,
did another 800 autopsies in Uganda. Still just that one small healed infarct;
it wasn’t even the cause of death. Out of 1,427 patients, less than 1/1,000, whereas here our disease is an epidemic. Atherosclerosis, hardening of arteries,
is a disease that begins in childhood. By age 10, nearly all the kids raised
on the standard American diet already have fatty streaks
building up inside of their arteries — the first stage of the disease. These streaks then
turn into plaques in our 20s, get worse in our 30s,
an then can start killing us off. In the heart, it’s called a heart attack; in the brain, the same disease
can cause a stroke. So if there’s anyone here today
older than age 10 — (Laughter) then the question isn’t whether or not
to eat healthy to prevent heart disease; it’s whether you want to reverse
the heart disease you likely already have, whether you know it or not. But is that even possible? When researchers took people
with heart disease, put them on the plant-based diet eaten by populations
that didn’t get epidemic heart disease, their hope was that we could
slow the disease down a bit, maybe even stop it. But instead something miraculous happened. As soon as people stopped
eating artery-clogging diets, their bodies were able to dissolve
some of the plaque away, opening arteries, only without drugs,
without surgery, suggesting the bodies
wanted to be healthy all along, but weren’t never given the chance. That remarkable improvement in blood
flow to the heart muscle itself was after just three weeks
of plant-based nutrition. The human body is a self-healing machine, unless you’re sticking it
with a fork three times a day. Now sure, you can use moderation
and hit yourself with a smaller hammer — (Laughter) but why beat yourself up at all? This is nothing new. American Heart Journal, 1977,
cases like Mr. F.W. here. His heart disease was so bad, that he couldn’t even
make it to the mail box. He started eating healthier,
and a few months later, he was climbing mountains, with no pain. All right? (Laughter) Now there are these fancy new classes
of anti-angina drugs on the market now. They cost thousands of dollars a year, but at the highest dose, may be able
to extend exercise duration as long as 33.5 seconds. (Laughter) It doesn’t look like those
choosing the drugs are going to be climbing
mountains anytime soon. (Laughter) Plant-based diets aren’t just
safer and cheaper. They can work better since you’re treating
the underlying cause of the disease. Normally I’d go on to cancer and talk
about the other 15 leading causes of death, talk about how diet may playing a role
in preventing, arresting, and reversing each of our top 15 killers, but
what more do you need to know? There’s only one diet ever been proven
to reverse heart disease in the majority of patients:
a plant-based diet. So any time someone tries to sell you
on some new diet, do me a favor, Ask them one simple question. “Has this diet been proven
to reverse heart disease, the number one reason
me and my loved ones will die?” I mean, if the answer is, “No,”
why would you even consider it? If that’s all a plant-based diet could do, reverse the number one killer
of men and women, shouldn’t that kind of be default
diet until proven otherwise? The fact it can also be useful
to prevent, arrest, and reverse other top killers like
type II diabetes and hypertension would seem to make the case for
plant-based eating simply overwhelming. Most deaths in the United States
are preventable and related to nutrition. According to the Global Burden
of Disease study, the largest study of human
disease risk factors in history, funded by the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the number one cause of death in
these United States: it’s our diet. The number one cause of disability
in the United States: it’s our diet. Now bumping tobacco smoking to number two, cigarettes now only kill about a half
a million Americans every year, whereas our diet kills hundreds
of thousands more. So if most deaths are preventable,
related to nutrition, then obviously nutrition
is the number one thing taught in medical school, right? (Laughter) I mean, I mean, obviously
it’s the number one thing your doctor talks to you about
every single visit, right? How could there be this disconnect between the science
and the practice of medicine? Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine yourself a smoker
back in the 1950s. (Laughter) Back in the 1950s the average
per capita cigarette consumption was 4,000 cigarettes a year, meaning the average person walking around
smoked half a pack a day, on average. The media was telling people to smoke. Famous athletes agreed, even Santa Claus
wanted you to smoke. (Laughter) I mean, look. You want to keep fit and stay slender? So, make sure to smoke
and eat lots of hot dogs to stay trim, and lots of sugar to stay slim and trim. A lot better than that apple there.
I mean, sheesh, right? “Though apples do connote
goodness and freshness,” reads one internal tobacco industry memo, bringing up “many possibilities
for youth-oriented cigarettes.” They wanted to make apple-flavored
cigarettes for kids. Shameless. “For digestion’s sake, you smoke.” No curative powers
claimed by Philip Morris, but hey, better to be safe
than sorry and smoke. “Blow in her face and she’ll
follow you anywhere!” (Laughter) “No woman ever says no.” They’re “so round, so firm,
so fully packed.” (Laughter) After all, John Wayne smoked them
until he got lung cancer and died. You know, back then
even the paleo folks were smoking. (Laughter) And so were the doctors. Now this is not to say there wasn’t
controversy within the medical profession. Sure, you know, some doctors smoked
Camels, but others preferred Lucky’s, so there was a little disagreement there. The leader of the US Senate agreed, who would want
to give their throat a break? “Not a single case of throat irritation.” How could there be when “cigarettes
are just as pure as the water you drink.” Maybe up in Flint, Michigan. (Laughter) But don’t worry, if you do get irritated, your doctor can just write you
a prescription for cigarettes. This is in the Journal
of the American Medical Association. So when the AMA is saying smoking,
on balance, is good for you; when the American Medical
Association is saying that, where could you turn back then
if you just wanted the facts? What’s the new data advanced by science? Well, she was too tired for fun,
and “then she smoked a Camel.” (Laughter) Babe Ruth spoke of proof-positive
medical science, that is when he still could speak
before he died of throat cancer. You know, if by some miracle back then
there was a SmokingFacts.org website that could deliver the science directly, bypassing commercially
corruptible institutional filters, you would have known of studies like this. This is an Adventist study
out of California and published in 1958, showing that non-smokers had at least 90%
less lung cancer than smokers, right? But this wasn’t the first. When famed surgeon Michael DeBakey
was asked why studies back in the ’30s linking lung cancer and
smoking were simply ignored, he had to remind people
what it was like back then. We were a smoking society.
It was everywhere. It was in the movies, airplanes; medical meetings
were one heavy haze of smoke. Smoking was, in a word, normal. OK. So back to our thought experiment. If you’re a smoker in the ’50s
in the know, what do you do? I mean 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 doc says, between
puffs, to quit, you’d 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’d be dead by then. It took more than 7,000 studies
and the deaths of countless smokers before the first Surgeon General’s report
against smoking came out. You’d think maybe after
the first 6,000 studies, could give people
a little heads up or something? Powerful industry. Maybe we should have stopped
smoking after the 700th study, like this. As a smoker in the ’50s, one on hand,
you had society, the government, the medical profession itself
telling you to smoke. And on the other hand,
all you had was the science, if you’re even aware of studies like this. All right, let’s fast forward 55 years. There’s a new
Adventist study out of California warning Americans about something else
they may be putting in their mouths. Of course, it’s not just one study;
put all the studies together. The mortality from all causes together,
many of our dreaded diseases, significantly lower among those eating
more plant-based diets. So, instead of someone going along
with America’s smoking habits in the ’50s, imagine you or someone you know going
along with America’s eating habits today. What would you do? With access to the science, you realize
the best available balance of evidence suggests your eating habits
are not so good. So do you change, or do you wait? If you wait until your doctor tells you,
between bites, to change, it’ll be too late. In fact even after
the Surgeon General’s report came out, the American Medical Association
went on record refusing to endorse it. Why? Could it have been because they
were just handed the $10 million check from the tobacco industry?
Maybe. (Laughter) We know why the tobacco
industry was sucking up, why the AMA was sucking up
to the tobacco industry, but why weren’t more and more
individual doctors speaking up? There were a few gallant souls
ahead of their time, speaking up against
industries killing millions, but why not more? Maybe it’s because the majority
of physicians themselves smoked cigarettes. Just like most physicians
today continue to eat foods that are contributing to our
epidemics of dietary disease. What was the AMA’s rallying cry back then? Everything in moderation. Extensive scientific studies have proven
smoking in moderation, oh, that’s fine. Sound familiar? The food industry used
the same tobacco industry tactics, twisting the science, misinformation. The same scientists were hired, paid to downplay the risks
of cigarettes and toxic chemicals, are the same paid for by the
National Confectioners Association to downplay the risks of candy, and the same paid for by the meat
industry to downplay the risks of meat, whereas animal foods and processed foods, you’re killing off at least
14 million people every year. So those of us involved in this kind
of evidence-based nutrition revolution, we’re talking about 14 million lives
in the balance. Maybe, plant-based nutrition should be considered as the nutritional
equivalent of quitting smoking, but how long do we have to wait before the CDC says don’t wait
for open heart surgery; to start eating healthier as well. Until the system changes, we need to take personal responsibility
for our health, for our family’s health. We can’t wait until society
catches up to the science again because it’s a matter of life and death. A few years ago Dr. Kim Williams became President
of the American College of Cardiology. He was asked in an interview why he follows the same diet he recommends
to all of his patients, a strictly plant-based diet. “I don’t mind dying,”
Dr. Williams replied. “I just don’t want it to be my own fault.” (Laughter) Thank you. (Applause)

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Maybe it's not simply meat per se. Maybe it's processed meat, factory farm raised animals, drugs used in them, unhealthy conditions, and so on. Where is the evidence that organic free range meats have the same effect?

  2. Dr. Gregor’s comparison of physicians promoting cigarettes in the 60’s vs doctors not promoting a plant-based diet now was very interesting to listen to. Dr. Greger very clearly lays out the evidence for a plant-based diet by showing that it can be a life-saving cure for patients with heart disease as well as reverse and prevent heart disease. Yet the American Heart Association encourages the consumption of poultry and fish, doctors don’t promote plant-based diets to their patients, and medical schools teach very little about nutrition. One of the possible reasons for this that Dr. Greger hinted at, is the medical community’s conflict of interest. In clinical care, the narrowest definition of conflict of interest is that the patient’s outcome is worse because the physician subordinated the patient’s best interest. The physician may do this either intentionally or subconsciously.

    Now, it makes sense how research can be skewed due to conflict of interest, such as the example that Dr. Gregor gave where a study on “Body weight status and cardiovascular risk factors in adults by frequency of candy consumption” was funded by the National Confectioners Association.

    It’s gets a bit more interesting trying to understand how conflict of interest can play in to individual physicians not jumping to prescribe a plant-based diet to all their patients.

    For physicians the conflict of interest isn’t financial usually, it’s personal. I am a current medical student in the US, I do not practice a plant-based diet, and nowhere in my medical education will the nutritional benefits of a solely plant-based diet be taught. In fact, currently the only thing I know about plant-based diets is that it can cause a B-12 deficiency, which can cause anemia. Personally, if future me was to tell a patient that they should start a plant-based diet and that patient was to ask me: “Well doctor, do you eat a plant-based diet? And if you don’t, why should I?”, I wouldn’t know what to say. Furthermore, I can come up with many excuses of why I choose to not eat a plant-based diet. Mind you, none of them are very good excuses.

    Dr. Greger’s comparison of the history of tobacco consumption in the US to the promotion of plant-based diets by physicians is spot on. Until our society fully accepts the health benefits of a plant based diet, much like it has accepted the risks of smoking, the medical society will continue to promote a non-plant based diet. This isn’t a change that solely physicians can make, it has to be a change in our society’s overall thinking.

  3. It gives me joy hearing and seeing this guy talk he doesn't care about the money he's just here to help us for not much profit.

  4. This guy is amazing. I’m so happy I no longer eat animal products. Now I have to work on processed foods because boy do I love them. However that’s exactly what I said about animal products a few years ago and I don’t miss them now so I’m looking forward to not missing processed foods.

  5. Hey Gregier ! You are my hero ! But I have noticed since I began binge watching you three months ago , you are speaking too fast. In ur older talks I could understand u, now u slur these phrases you’ve said one million times together so fast I can’t follow your spearheaded. What about the newbies, how are they supposed to break down these phrases? I love ur humor. Stay good!

  6. He basically turns everything upside down. Cholesterol is good for you, and so is animal fats, organs, muscles. That's because you are also an animal. There are over 10 neutrients that you can't get from plants… Think for yourself! This is the agenda of the new world order. We are being brainswashed into vegans because they want their "slaves" malnourished and more easily under control.

    Just look at nature guys.. take a hike and imagine how we used to survive.. It was primarily by hunting and farming. Then came gathering of certain berries, fruits, vegetables.. but that was only a very small part of the diet…

    I was vegan for 5 years and it almost killed me.. I did everything by the book.

    Treat animals better. But we need also to kill them in order to be healthy.. It's the beautiful nature we live in.

  7. Hi! I'm from Italy and I'm reading the subtitles in Italian. I found out there is an error… when the doctor says "plant based diet" the subtitles say "vegetariano" than means "vegetarian" but this is slightly incorrect, because we all now that a vegetarian diet is not a "plant based diet".
    So as not to mislead people and really help who don't understand english I would suggest to change "vegetariano" in to "dieta vegana" ("vegan diet") . Thanks for your cooperation.

  8. My doctor… "The food of the future will be fruit and grains. "The time will come when meat will no longer be eaten. Medical science is only in its infancy, yet it has shown that our natural food is that which grows out of the ground." ~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in J. E. Esslemont's Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era

  9. I am so proud of the humanity, because there are some kind, clever and compassionate people like doctor Michael Greger.These people are working not just for money. God bless them!

  10. Yes! WHAT do you do? I lost 30 pounds last year on my whole food plant-based diet and no one will believe that this is what they should do. Always they are saying, “well that’s fine for you, but that wouldn’t work for me.“ (?!) The ladies at church come up to my husband and say, “what’s wrong with your wife — aren’t you feeding her?“ I almost can’t believe how blind most of the people in my life are to the obvious reality that Dr. Gregor is speaking of. But, it’s Lent again (I started my vegan journey last year at Lent and just never stopped). Time will tell whether or not my friends, family, and community are able to catch up… to the TRUTH. Animal products are bad for you and the only natural diet for the human species is a whole foods plant-based diet. God bless your crusade, Dr. Gregor!

  11. The parallel with the tobacco industry and smoking in our society is brilliant, Dr. Gregor. I remember those times and the smoke-filled rooms, airplanes, waiting rooms, restaurants, doctors offices (!), and our own home where my father and mother both smoked. Jesus…

  12. I believe the day will come when foods like Oreos, cakes, muffins, etc. will have to be labeled as “harmful to your health”. It took a long time for the cancer warning to end up on cigarette packaging.

  13. It doesn’t only reverse CVD it reverse diabetes and cancer,,, they’re all truly just a form of metabolic dis-ease. My mother reversed diabetes with forks over knives and I’m 40lbs lighter than my YouTube pic (187 6’”3 BMI 23). 🌱 and my mom is back to her 20 year old wedding weight of 125 Esketit

  14. Fuckin A I'm screwed….. going vegan was easy af. Smoked cigs over 15yrs and ate meat and dairy for over 30. Vegan for over a year now and still committing suicide with cigs.

  15. Dr. Greger is so amazing! My husband and I switched to a whole food plant based diet a year and a half ago and have reversed/improved many health conditions. I am off my thyroid medication which I was told would never happen. The medical Dr's need to be educated about this from day one in medical school.

  16. I see so many things in our society where people are following the outdated recipes. Humans are generally creatures of habits. If you can create a habit and sell that to people you will become a very rich person. Dairy products are habit forming and also meat industry, tobacco, pharmaceuticals. Anything that makes you repeat the action (take tablet three times a day) creates an addiction to this habit being a part of your life.

  17. I’m at risk for cancer due to carcinogenic exposure during my military service. I wanted to know what lifestyle things I could do to make any difference, even just slowing tumor growth (especially after having tumors surgically removed). That’s how I found Dr. Gregor’s work. I’m happy to say that I’ve had nothing special pop up during my yearly cancer/tumor checks, and being able to have all the research handy helps me feel some level of comfort should I be in that situation again. Some people tell me that it is “extreme” to be plant-based but I think chemo and surgery are more extreme…perhaps it’s time to remove everything completely, though. Moderation isn’t key, it seems

  18. When it was medical science that once promoted smoking cigaretts, what does it mean when they now tell you that the "saturated fats" cause heart deseases followed by "meat" causes cancer?

  19. It is what I have been finding someone who strongly says plant based diet is the best for human being. Thank you very much for all research you have been reviewing and have done for everyone.

  20. I did that now I am doing Joel Furhnam and dr Michael Klapper, fasting and practicing the mindful way through depression, mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindal Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, I have researched sunlight everything. I now have a notebook for quick reference, It is titled longevity. my goal, I was 118kg Nov 16, 2018, cataracts dementia thyroid dysfunction statins clopidogrel heart regulator blood pressure med liver and kidney damage from Losec, so once again full-blown oesophageal reflux. the first day on Furhnam's end of heart disease diet no reflux, one weak, plummeting blood pressure, third weak no meds, doctors u must take medication or u will die I had an extensive eco cardiogram 1:05 long heart rate resting 60, not 90 pulse steady. I will be notified when the doctor has results. born Dec 10, 1950, Goal to be 30yrs younger than my chronological age, so at 70 I would live to 100, I plan to continue research,It maybe 105 110, science evolves that is why I go for the cutting edge, epigenetics, best anti-cancer foods foods that give you energy foods that help one sleep. I love science I am vigalent in avioding cofermation bias. fads etc scammers like big pharma, quick-fix solutions.

  21. Just a couple of small points of interest. Dr Greger is about 45 at the time of this talk and the Uganda diet seems to include fish, meat & eggs 🤔

  22. Thank You Dr. Greger! I use your Daily Dozen nutrition app every day. Your app and videos have improved my life. After numerous serious health problems, I can now walk 10 miles without a break, push mow my lawn, significantly reduced my chronic pain, have total control of my weight, and feel so much better.

  23. What's more accurate than, "food as medicine" would be "man positioning his brother".We know foods tampered my man make us sick yet, foods untouched by man are hard to find or cost a bomb. Lets put an end to the madness of poisoning ourselves and corrupt pharmaceuticals keeping us sick. Check out someone willing to put an end to this craziness Marianne Williamson (2020)
    😀

  24. His presentations via stage or video have got so much better, quicker and with more confidence have grown and become so much better. I've loved watching this man for a few years now. Such an inspiration and an oracle of nutrional information.

  25. The omega ratio and b12 are important however Dr. Gregor does not want to admit that cholesterol does not cause heart disease. The medical profession has misinterpreted the data for years and now that the truth is coming out they refuse to let go. Excessive Carbs and Sugar and the resulting imbalance in the gut are the real problem. Whether you eat meat or you are a vegetarian, if you eat too much carbs and sugar you will have an equally high rate of heart disease and diabetes. I think everybody should eat less meat, however, don’t kid yourself, even if you are a vegan, if you continue to eat large amounts of carbs and sugars you will be in no better place and then if you ate meat.

  26. Thanks to advice from Dr Greger, my blood pressure is optimal, without meds, after 20 years of hypertension My cholesterol is also normal again.

  27. Einer der besten Ärzte die es gibt ! Nicht so eigennützig und hochnäsig, wie die meisten Schulmediziner, die nur an ihren Profit denken und nicht wirklich an der Gesundheit der Patienten interessiert sind.

  28. There is only one problem with this presentation. You don't need to be vegan to get health benefits. But you do need to be plant based.

  29. Vascular disease, being the number 1 cause of death, in North America, and also being a totally preventable condition, maybe we should forget about cancer for a while, and get rid of cardiovascular disease, first?

  30. Kudos to Dr Greger. "Medical science is only in its infancy, yet it has shown that our natural diet is that which grows out of the ground. The people will gradually develop up to the condition of this natural food." ~ Bahai Faith

  31. Can nutrition suppress shingles virus? Does Dr Greger recommend Shingrix vaccine? I suffer from recurring bouts of ocular herpes despite avoiding all foods high in arginine.

  32. neone noticed palo funded ending lol money even in ted talk,, surprised ted talk allowed dis video,, go vegan before 2030Climate or we all die united nations

  33. Food has always been medicine…love this site! I never pay attention to mainstream medicine I know better…thanks for putting this wonderfully valuable information to those who really care about their health..keep up the great work!!!

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