Is your doctor telling you the whole truth about what’s best for your health? How much do medical doctors actually know about preventing diseases rather than just treating them?
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When your arm falls off, a medical doctor’s obviously the best person to see. Having a heart attack? I’d recommend the hospital. But what about when it comes to preventing diseases through sound nutrition and lifestyle? Can doctors be trusted for preventative medicine and nutritional advice?
We trust our doctors to heal us, treat us, and help us live long, healthy lives. But what if the advice our doctors, medical professionals and organizations are imparting isn’t true or grounded in the reliable science? And worse, what if it’s actually making us sicker? [tweet this]
When it comes to nutrition and preventing disease, the last person you may want to see, is a medical doctor. Unless, of course, that doctor is my guest today. I’m honored to again have Dr. Michael Greger from Nutritionfacts.org. Dr. Greger spends countless hours pouring over the most current studies in nutrition science and distilling all of the noise into approachable videos and posts.
His most recent masterpiece is his book How Not To Die. Most of Dr. Greger’s conclusions based on the thousands of studies he’s reviewed conflict with the most common recommendations we hear from the medical field.
So, why are we being given false information by those who we trust with our health? And how much do doctors really know about preventing disease? Let’s find out from the doctor himself!
Be sure to check out the video above for all of Dr. Greger’s truth bombs, but here are some select excerpts:
Why Dr. Greger’s Recommendations Vary Greatly From The Standards
In his book, Dr. Greger’s recommendations often vary from what we commonly hear. For example, he recommends 90 minutes of moderate intensity or 40 minutes of high intensity exercise a day versus the usual “20 minutes three times a week.”
Dr. Greger: “It’s the differences between what authorities feel is practical, doable, versus what the science actually says. So, their fear is that if they actually tell Americans the truth, they will be like, “Oh, there’s no way I’m going to do that,” and not do anything. So they soft pedal it by saying, “Yeah, get 20 minutes, sure, 20 minutes is much better than zero.” Ten minutes is better than zero, but it’s a little patronizing to have them make their decision for you that you don’t care enough about yourself, you don’t care enough about your family’s health, to be able to handle the truth.
And the truth is that 30 minutes is better than the recommended 22. They have science suggesting 45 minutes is better than 30, 60 is better than 45, and 90 minutes a day is better than 60. What about more than 90 minutes? They don’t know because there’s never been enough people to study that actually got more than 90 minutes a day, 7 days a week. So, the best available data suggests 90 minutes a day is the best. How else can we make decisions about how best to feed ourselves and our family and how best to live then by the best available balance of evidence?
So there it is. Do you have to do 90 minutes to be healthy? No! But, you should know that that’s what we should shoot for and any is better than none. It shouldn’t intimidate people to lie on the couch all day. But why do the science? Why do studies if you’re not going to tell anybody about them?”
Are Dietary Recommendations “Graded On A Curve”?
Dr. Greger: “In the “How Not to Die from High Blood Pressure” Chapter, I talk about the so called “DASH diet”: the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. That’s the official diet recommended by The American Heart Association. And, so what is the DASH diet? The DASH diet is kind of a low meat diet.
So, the question is why not a no meat diet? Since meat consumption has been associated with [high blood pressure], in fact not just associated – you give people meat, you give a vegetarian meat, their blood pressure goes up, you take a meat eater – you take meat away, out of their diet, within 7 days their blood pressure comes down. Not rocket science, right? Okay. So, why not a vegetarian diet?
So, The American Heart Association is very clear that the only population in the western world that actually gets down to an ideal blood pressure, which is about 110/70, are the strict vegetarians. They’re very clear about that, they’ve been clear about that for decades. So, why do they recommend a diet that contains meat? Well, are they just unaware of this landmark research done by Harvard’s Frank Sacks back in the 70s? No, they were aware. The guy who came up with the DASH diet, the head of the design committee was Frank Sacks!
In fact they’re explicit that the number one goal of the DASH diet was to capture the blood pressure lowering benefits of a vegetarian diet, yet – they’re very explicit about this, contain enough animal products to make it palatable to the general public. So, they’re saying, “Yes, this will kill people,” but you see they’re thinking, “Maybe if we soft pedal the truth, more people will get onboard and overall, you will actually do more good in the world, right? If we actually tell people the truth – no one is going to eat a vegetarian diet, and then no one’s going to be healthy. At least now, we can help people a little bit.”
Lots of people a little bit. Okay, tell that to the thousand families a day that lose a family member to high blood pressure. Alright, maybe it’s time to start telling the American public the truth.”[tweet this]
How Much Nutrition Education Medical Doctors Receive In The United States
Dr. Greger: “Only a quarter of medical schools have a single course [in nutrition]. So, 75% of schools don’t even have one course! [tweet this] So the average doctor may just get a few hours of nutrition training.
In fact, this is a study that I did an early video about years ago in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition they pitted doctors vs. patients in a simple 10 true/false question basic nutrition information, sometimes patients beat out the doctors. People out walking around the street may know more about nutrition than the doctors and we all know how much people walking around the street know about nutrition, alright. [tweet this]
Yet, people continue to go to their doctors for advice on healthy eating advice. And what their doctor may be telling them may be killing them! Until your doctor knows more about nutrition, their advising you about your diet is physician assisted suicide, as far as I’m concerned.”
Why Nutrition Education Remains Insufficient
Dr. Greger: “There’s a number of reasons why this hasn’t penetrated yet. One – you know, the role the pharmaceutical industry plays in medical education and training. You can ask your doctor when is the last time that big broccoli took them out to lunch. It probably was not that recently. There are reimbursement problems — doctors don’t get paid to counsel their patients about diet. There’s time issues — they may not be given the time to counsel patients about diet, although how long does it take to go 21daycasestudy.org, nutritionfacts.org, buy this book. Come on, people. And there’s a tremendous kind of inertia within the medical profession.
You know, what really helped me was going back and looking at the 50s and smoking. In my latest annual review, Food Is Medicine, I talk about what it was like back then. People didn’t realize — I certainly didn’t realize — the average per capita cigarette consumption was 4,000 cigarettes a year. Average person in the United States smoked a half a pack a day. Most doctors smoked.
So, it’s like today, where most people eat meat. Okay, so go back to the 1950s, and everybody smoked. The AMA said, “smoking in moderation, totally fine.” The government said to smoke, everybody said to smoke. The AMA said, on balance smoking’s probably beneficial.
So, now, the science was in already in the 1950s. There were decades of science showing that non-smokers [have a] 90% less lung cancer risk, right? So we had decades of science. The science was there, yet, all of society, everybody, doctors were telling you to smoke, the doctors were smoking themselves, right?
It wasn’t until the 1960s when the first Surgeon General’s report came out — it took 25 years, 7,000 studies they had to accumulate. You’d think after the first 6,000 they couldn’t give people a little heads-up or something? No, 7,000 studies. How many people died before the Surgeon General’s report? What if they’d come out 10 years earlier, 20 years earlier, 25 years earlier, right?
We’re in the same situation today. The overwhelming evidence — we already have the science, right? Yet, what do we hear from our doctors, from everybody, because they’re just not aware of the science. Now eventually, society will catch up to the science, like it did in the 60s, okay. How many people have to die until that happens?
We can’t wait until society catches up to the science because it’s a matter of life or death. We have to take the responsibility for our own health, for our family’s health, as doctors for our patients’ health, and encourage people to eat the diet that prevents and reverses our leading killer, not to mention type II diabetes, and hypertension, and everything: plant based diet.”
I hope you enjoyed hearing from Dr. Greger. It never ceases to amaze me how much education medical doctors receive about how to treat diseases versus how to prevent them. Luckily there are physicians out there like Dr. Greger, who provide this vital information. Check out other posts with Dr. Greger, including the Vegan Nutrition Concerns Series.
I’d love to hear from you on this. Have you had any negative experiences with the medical field? Are you surprised by how little nutrition education doctors receive? Let me know in the comments!
Now go live vegan, don’t buy the lies, and I’ll see you soon.
— Emily Moran Barwick
sally anne hubbard says
Dr. Greger is a wonderful speaker.
I never met a doctor who advised
their patients on a vegan diet. I
wish more would educate
themselves on healthy meat free
I am new to this site, “Bitesizevegan” and found Dr. Greger’s advice very nicely blunt. I like his straight forward approach. I ask one question, can you share his advice on diet and diabetes or possibly do a follow up online video on diabetes and the vegan diet regarding how to best adjust a vegan diet for those with diabetes? I am 37 and have had diabetes since 18 and went border line vegan when I was 30. Cheese is the only item I haven’t been able to give up, YET. I do avoid animal rennet cheeses and only eat cheese with plant based or microbial rennet.
Emily Moran Barwick (BiteSizeVegan) says
Check his website here: https://nutritionfacts.org/?s=diabetes and also I’d recommend his book: https://amzn.to/1PEd4Vk
Follow up to above comment, I do have Type 1 diabetes, Insulin based so non reversible or so doctors have told me since I was diagnosed at age 18 which is why I am curious if Dr. Greger has advice on the truth behind this medical advice that Type 1 diabetes is irreversible and or if you could do a short online video regarding adjusting a vegan diet towards Type 1 diabetes which is not due to being overweight like Type 2 diabetes is associated with.
Linda O'Dell says
I’m absolutely surprised, bewildered, and disappointed by how little nutrition education doctors receive. Homeopaths are better, and seem to know a lot about nutrition, from my experience.