Doctor’s Tip: About Dr. Greger
Last week’s column, about the importance of avoiding processed food, is the first in a series about foods we should avoid if we want optimal health. It would be appropriate at this point to include a column about Dr. Michael Greger, who is often cited as a source of information for these columns.
Dean Ornish, M.D., one of the most respected physician researchers on the planet, proved over three decades ago that heart disease can be reversed with a plant-based, whole food diet with no salt, sugar or added oil. Subsequently, he proved that early prostate cancer can be reversed with the same diet. Here’s what he said about Dr. Greger on the back cover of Dr. Greger’s 2019 book called “How Not to Diet”: “Dr. Michael Greger is one of my heroes and continues to inspire me. Why? Because he embodies personal integrity, values facts, and is one of the kindest and smartest people I know. All of his lecture fees and book royalties go to charity, including his nonprofit NutritionFacts.org, one of the most credible sources of science-based nutrition.” T. Colin Campbell, PhD, lead scientist in the famous China Study says “Dr. Greger has created a monumental bastion of nutritional truth to lead our journey in eliminating chronic disease.”
Here is Dr. Greger’s story: In the preface to his book “How Not to Die,” he talks about what drove him to get into lifestyle medicine. He was born in 1972, and when he was a child he had a beloved grandmother who at age 65 was sent home from the hospital in a wheel chair to die of end-stage atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). In spite of stents and bypass surgery, she couldn’t walk more than a few feet due to leg pain caused by blockages in arteries to her lower extremities — and due to chest pain (angina) caused by coronary artery blockages. She was told that nothing more could be done.
Soon after Dr. Greger’s grandmother was sent home, 60 Minutes had a segment about Nathan Pritikin, “an early lifestyle medicine pioneer who had been gaining a reputation for reversing terminal heart disease” with plant-based nutrition. The family took her to Dr. Pritikin’s new inpatient program in California, and after just three weeks she was able to walk 10 miles. Obviously, her blockages didn’t resolve that quickly, but the reason dramatic results like this are seen when people switch from the S.A.D. (standard American diet) to a total plant-based, whole food diet is that the endothelium that lines arteries starts to produce nitric oxide, which causes arteries to dilate and blood flow to improve. Dr. Greger’s grandmother ended up living to 96.
Dr. Greger decided to go to medical school so he could learn more about lifestyle medicine, but medical school in this country is all about pills and procedures rather than nutrition and prevention. After receiving his M.D., he pursued his interest in lifestyle medicine, and early in his career became an expert on mad cow disease, and worked for the Humane Society as director of public health and animal agriculture. In 2004 he was a founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine — a new specialty.
Dr. Greger established his website NutritionFacts.org in 2011. Subscribers (the website is free but depends on donations) receive a daily short blog or video about various health-related topics, primarily nutrition. Various subjects can be searched for on the website as well. He and his staff have no ties to the food, pharmaceutical or supplement industries. They review all the tens of thousands of English language scientific papers on nutrition that come out every year, and he presents the information from the valid studies on his website and in the several books he has written — the most famous being “How Not to Die” (2015) and “How Not to Diet” (2019). Both the website and his books are loaded with references. He has also written two cookbooks: “How Not to Die Cookbook” and “How Not to Diet Cookbook.”
Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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