Latest Trends in Nutrition Research [Interview][Transcript]

Dr_Michael_Greger_nutrition_researchGuest: Dr. Michael Greger
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Michael Greger, MD, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. His latest book How Not to Die became an instant New York Times Best Seller.

Segment overview: Michael Greger, MD, FACLM, and author of the New York Times best seller “How Not To Die”, discusses his other writings, and whats trending now in nutrition research.

Health Professional Radio – Latest Trends in Nutrition Research

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. Thank you so much for joining us today, I’m your host Neal Howard. Our guess in studio is Dr. Michael Greger, he is a Founding Member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Dr. Greger is also a New York Times Best Selling Author and an internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, public issues and more. He’s lectured at the conference on World Affairs and testified before congress. Currently he’s serving as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States and he’s in studio with us today to talk about some of the latest trends in nutritional research. Good afternoon and welcome to Health Professional Radio Dr. Greger.

Dr. Michael Greger: So excited to be here.

N: Thank you. You’re the author of ‘How Not to Die,’ it’s an intriguing title and your book covers the top causes of death in America and explains to us how we can treat and reverse some of these maladies. How can we do that?

G: We can do it overwhelmingly with our dietary choices that we make three times a day. Although there are other important lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation and exercise, the most powerful determinant of our health and longevity is our diet, so number one exposure to the external environment and so the global burden of disease…for example funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, largest study of risk factors to the world found that the number one killer in the country is our diet as well as the leading cause of disability playing a role in things like arthritis, back pain and things when one would not typically think have to do with diet when people change their diet, they can have remarkable benefits throughout their life and so it’s just an exciting field of medicine to be a part of.

N: When we’re watching television and seeing certain ads in the papers and magazines and what not, it seems that these top killers – our diabetes, our coronary disease, things of that nature – that are killing us day to day to day to day. It seems that these are things that can only be treated with drugs. Does your book ‘How Not to Die’ promote an integrative approach or a total lack or not use of any medications and simply treating what’s wrong with us through nutrition?

G: Well the vast majority of causes of death and disability’s preventable, treatable with nutrition approaches. About 80% of chronic disease that, 80% of kind of primary care interactions with patients has to do with lifestyle diseases and for those the cause is not drug deficiencies, the cause is their lifestyle. You change lifestyle, treat the actual cause of the disease so you can slow down, stop or reverse these diseases. Now until that happens you have to keep you going in medications but it’s important to wean people off their medications, in fact that’s one of the, I mean there’s a danger in the power of nutritional approaches for our patients or doctors that don’t know what’s how effective it can be in that if people on blood pressure medications or on blood sugar lowering medications and all of a sudden they start eating healthier then people underestimate how powerful these interventions are. So that within a few days you may not need high blood pressure medications anymore and if you have normal blood pressure because you just treated the cause of your blood pressure, you have normal blood pressure, you can’t be on blood pressure medications with normal blood pressure because you’ll drop your blood pressure too low, you’ll get dizzy, you fall over, you might hurt yourself, same thing with blood sugars. You can’t be taking insulin injections if you don’t need insulin anymore. In fact that’s what these studies show so there’s a famous study, this is published back in the 70s hoping more on plant-based diet. In fact plant-based diet controlled for weight loss, so they forced people to eat so much healthy food, they wouldn’t lose any weight just to make sure that the changes were due to the diet specifically and not to weight loss more generally. So they restricted meat, eggs, dairy and processed junked food and within 16 days incidents of these were all insulin dependent type 2 diabetics, within 16 days there was a 60% drop in insulin needs. Half of the people ended up all their insulin altogether. So we’re talking people who have diabetes for 20 years, off of all insulin in 13 days. So 32 units of insulin under controlled diet 18 days later on none, right? So lower blood sugars on 32 units less insulin, that’s the power of plants but it’s so rapid, it’s so powerful that that’s why people if you’re on these kind of medications you cannot do it on your own You need to go your physician, you do work with them so they can slowly wean you off these medications until you don’t need them anymore.

N: Now are there certain foods that you recommend in your book that act like certain medications or are we talking just a blanket improvement of your nutritional intake?

G: So there are specific foods so it’s beyond just eating a whole food plant-based diet. Meaning a diet that minimizing intake of meat, eggs, dairy and junk and maximize intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans…peas and all those whole grains, nuts and seeds, mushrooms, herbs and spice. So basically real food that grows out of the ground those are the healthiest choices but there are specific plant foods that have particular benefits. So for example I have this daily dozen of all list of all things I encourage people to finish their daily routine one of them is a tablespoon of ground flax seeds. We have these randomized double blind, single controlled trials showed that the consumption just a few spoonfuls of ground flax seeds a day can bring down blood pressure two to three times better than our leading blood pressure medications and only have good side effects, reducing our risks of breast and prostate cancer, controlling cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugars, reducing inflammation, curing constipation. So that’s the beauty of these nutritional approaches, all the side effects are good and sometimes can work more powerfully than the leading drug.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. And we’ve been in studio talking this afternoon with Dr. Michael Greger, Founding Member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Currently serving as Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States. He’s also an Author, his latest work being How Not to Die became an instant New York Times Best Seller. And we’ve been in studio talking about some of the latest trends in nutrition research and how a healthy plant-based lifestyle cannot only treat but actually reverse some of the top 15 causes of death in the United States. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you in studio with us today Dr. Greger.

G: So excited to be here. Looking forward to coming back.

N: Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

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