Dr. Greger on Macrobiotic Diets

Whenever I’m speaking at events, people tell me these amazing stories about reinventing their health through evidence-based nutrition. Has healthy eating changed your life? Tell us your story here, and we may share it on our social media to help inspire others.

Speaking of inspiration – the team at NutritionFacts.org was blown away by your great feedback about our new shirts. If you ordered one, we’d love to see how you’re wearing it and spreading the healthy lifestyle message with everyone who sees you! Tag @nutrition_facts_org or use the hashtag #nutritionfactsorg on Instagram so we can see your pics.

New DVD covers macrobiotic diets, ginger, cheese, and more 

My new DVD is out today and is available as a streaming video so you can start watching it immediately. As you can see below, there’s a whole grab-bag of goodies, with new videos on cheese, coffee, ginger and macrobiotic diets. All of these videos will eventually be available for free online over the next few months, but if you don’t want to wait, you can watch them all streaming right now. You can also order it as a physical DVD on DrGreger.org or Amazon.

Here’s the full list of chapters from the new volume—a preview of what’s to come over the next few months on NutritionFacts.org:
  1. Aloe Vera for Psoriasis
  2. Dietary Supplements for Autism
  3. Urinary Tract Infections from Eating Chicken
  4. Bean Pastas and Lentil Sprouts
  5. Benefits of Blueberries for Mood and Mobility
  6. Does Adding Milk Block the Benefits of Coffee?
  7. Does Marijuana Cause Lung Cancer?
  8. Can Cannabis Cure Cancer?
  9. Best Food for Periodontal Disease and Gingivitis
  10. Pros and Cons of a Macrobiotic Diet
  11. Benefits of a Macrobiotic Diet for Diabetes
  12. Best Food for Late Pregnancy
  13. Best Food for Labor and Delivery
  14. Do Cell Phones Cause Salivary Gland Tumors?
  15. Benefits of Ginger for Obesity and Fatty Liver Disease
  16. Are There Risks to Energy Drinks?
  17. Are There Benefits of Energy Drinks?
  18. Are Acid Blocking Drugs Safe?
  19. The Best Diet for Upset Stomach
  20. Benzoyl Peroxide vs. Tea Tree Oil for Acne
  21. Can Saunas Detoxify Lead from the Body?
  22. Best Brain Foods: Berries and Nuts Put to the Test
  23. Best Brain Foods: Greens and Beets Put to the Test
  24. Is Cheese Really Bad for You?
  25. Is Cheese Healthy? Compared to What?
  26. How the Dairy Industry Designs Misleading Studies
Order my new DVD at DrGreger.org/collections/dvds, on Amazon, or as a video download/streaming at DrGreger.org/collections/downloads. And remember, if you watch the videos on NutritionFacts.org or YouTube, you can access captions in several different languages. To find yours, click on the settings wheel on the lower-right of the video and then “Subtitles/CC.” 
If you were a regular supporter, you’d already be an expert on all these new topics by now, having already received a link to the new DVD. New DVDs and downloads are released every nine weeks. If you’d like to automatically receive them before they’re even available to the public, please consider becoming a monthly donor.

Anyone signing up on the donation page to become a $25 monthly contributor will receive the next three downloads for free, and anyone signing up as a $50 monthly contributor will get a whole year’s worth of new DVDs (as physical DVDs, downloads, streaming, your choice). If you signed up for physical copies, your copy is already on its way to you. If you do not have it by August 26, please email DVDhelp@NutritionFacts.org and we’ll make everything all better.

Calling all Hindi Translators

We are looking for volunteers with experience in English-Hindi translation as we bring the latest research on evidence-based nutrition to more people in India! We are also taking applications for more Hebrew and Mandarin translators. Apply today and help us spread the word.



Now on Apple News

There’s now one more place you can find life-changing content—right on your iPhone. I’m excited to announce that we’re now publishing blogs five days a week on Apple News. Just search for NutritionFacts.org, then tap the heart to follow and get the articles in your news feed.  



Live Q&A Sept 27

Every month now I do Q&As live from my treadmill, and the next one is Sept 27.
Facebook Live: At 12:00 p.m. ET go to our Facebook page to watch live and ask questions.
YouTube Live Stream: At 1:00 p.m. ET go here to watch live and ask even more questions! 

You can now find links to all of my past live YouTube and Facebook Q&As right here on NutritionFacts.org. If that’s not enough, remember I have an audio podcast to keep you company at http://nutritionfacts.org/audio.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Is It Healthier to be Happier?

More than 60 years ago, the World Health Organization defined health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Just because you’re not depressed doesn’t necessarily mean you’re happy. But, if you look in the medical literature, there are 20 times more studies published on health and depression than there are on health and happiness. In recent years, though, research on positive psychology has emerged, and we’re now asking what we can do to increase our success, functioning, and happiness. Although these are all inherently good in themselves, what about the question I address in my video Are Happier People Actually Healthier?

“There is growing evidence that positive psychological well-being is associated with reduced risk of physical illness,” but it’s not surprising that healthier people are happier than sick people. “The intriguing issue is whether psychological well-being protects against future illness or inhibits the progression of chronic disease.” To figure out which came first, you’d have to get more than just a snapshot in time. You would need prospective studies, meaning studies that go forward over time, to see if people who start out happier do, in fact, live longer. A review of such studies indeed “suggests that positive psychological well-being has a favorable effect on survival in both healthy and diseased populations.”

Not so fast.

Yes, positive states may be associated with less stress, less inflammation, and more resilience to infection. But, positive well-being may also be accompanied by a healthy lifestyle that itself reduces the risk of disease. Happy people tend to smoke less, exercise more, drink less alcohol, and sleep better. So, maybe happiness leads to health only indirectly. The apparent protective effect of positive psychological well-being, however, persists even after controlling for all these healthy behaviors. This means that even at the same level of smoking, drinking, exercising, and sleeping, happier people still seem to live longer.

Ideally, to establish cause-and-effect definitively, we’d do an interventional trial, in which participants would be assigned at random to different mood levels and tracked for health outcomes. It’s rarely feasible or ethical to randomly make some people’s lives miserable to see what happens, but if you pay people enough you can do experiments like the one whose objective stated: “It has been hypothesized that people who typically report experiencing negative emotions are at greater risk for disease and those who typically report positive emotions are at less risk.” Researchers tested this using the common cold virus. Three hundred and thirty-four healthy volunteers were assessed for how happy, pleased, and relaxed they were, or how anxious, hostile, and depressed. Subsequently, they were given nasal drops containing cold rhinoviruses to see who would be more likely to come down with the cold. Who would let someone drip viruses into their nose? Someone paid $800, that’s who!

Now, just because you get exposed to a virus doesn’t mean you automatically get sick. We have an immune system that can fight it off, even if the virus is dripped right into our nose. But, whose immune system fights better?

In one-third of the bummed out folks, their immune systems failed to fight off the virus and they came down with a cold. But only about one in five got a cold in the happy group. Could it be that those with positive emotions slept better, got more exercise, or had lower stress? No. It appears that even after controlling for the healthy practices and levels of stress hormones, happier people still appear to have healthier immune systems and a greater resistance to developing the common cold.

It also works with the flu. When researchers repeated the study with the flu virus, increased positive emotions were associated with decreased verified illness rates, just like in their earlier study on colds. These results indicate that feeling vigorous, calm, and happy may play a more important role in health than previously thought.

Okay, so if happiness improves health, how do we improve happiness? That’s the subject of my video Which Foods Increase Happiness?.

I’m as guilty as the rest of my colleagues for focusing on mental illness rather than mental health (though my Laughter as Medicine video is a rare exception). It’s a consequence of what’s out there in the medical literature, though I’ll make a special effort to highlight new studies in this area as they’re published. I do, however, have a number of videos on preventing and treating negative mood states, such as depression and anxiety:

What about psychiatric medications? See my videos Do Antidepressant Drugs Really Work?, Exercise vs. Drugs for Depression, and Saffron vs. Prozac.

Interested in other ways to improve our immune system? Check out Using the Produce Aisle to Boost Immunity.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

How to Activate Appetite-Suppressing Hormones

In the United States, we tend to get less than 20 grams of fiber a day, only about half the minimum recommended intake. Compare that with populations where many of our deadliest diseases were practically unknown, like rural China and rural Africa: They were eating huge amounts of whole plant foods and consuming up to a 100 grams or more of fiber a day, which is what we estimate our Paleolithic ancestors were getting, based on dietary analyses of modern day primitive hunter-gatherer tribes and by analyzing coprolites, or human fossilized feces. In other words, paleopoop.

“These most intimate of ancient human artifacts [were often] ignored or discarded during many previous [archaeological] excavations,” but careful study of materials painstakingly recovered from human paleofeces says a lot about what ancient human dietary practices were like, given their incredibly high content of fiber in undigested plant remains. It strongly suggests that for more than 99 percent of our existence as a distinct species, our gastrointestinal tract has been exposed to the selective pressures exerted by a fiber-filled diet of whole plant foods. So for millions of years before the first stone tools and evidence of butchering, our ancestors were eating plants. But what kind of plants?

One way you can tell if animals are natural folivores or frugivores is to map the area of absorptive mucosa in their gut versus their functional body size. Folivores are those meant to eat mostly foliage or leaves, while frugivores are better designed to eat fruit. (The faunivores, which is another name for carnivores, eat the fauna.)

If animals are charted this way, they fall along distinctive lines. So where do humans land? In my video Paleopoo: What Can We Learn from Fossilized Feces?, I show a fascinating chart that maps where humans fall on this spectrum. Based on our functional body size and absorptive area, while eating our greens is important, it appears the natural dietary status of the human species is primarily that of a fruit-eater.

Why does it matter how much fiber we used to eat? One theory for the rising levels of obesity in Western populations is that the body’s mechanisms for controlling appetite evolved to match how many plants we used to eat. Our ancestors ate so many plant foods we were getting about 100 grams of fiber a day. So for millions of years, food equaled fiber. No surprise then that one of the physiological mechanisms our body evolved to suppress our appetite involved this fiber.

Fiber is metabolized by our gut flora into short-chain fatty acids, which bind to and activate receptors on the surface of our cells that alter our metabolism. For example, activating receptors on fat cells increases the expression of the weight-reducing hormone leptin, and other hormones are affected as well. Until recently, food meant fiber and an increase in food intake meant an increase in fiber intake. This made our gut bacteria so happy they made lots of short-chain fatty acids, which activated the cell-surface receptors that released a bunch of hormones that made us lose our appetite and down-regulated hunger. So we ate less. But if we ate less, there was less fiber in our gut, which meant that less of those hormones were released, boosting our appetite and causing us to get hungry and want to eat. So fiber effectively regulates our appetite.

But what if all the sudden food doesn’t equal fiber, like on the standard American diet? Then we just keep getting these signals to eat, eat, and eat since there’s so little fiber. We’re always hungry. If we haven’t eaten our 100 grams of fiber for the day, our body may wonder if we’re starving.

Discovering this mechanism makes the food and pharmaceutical industries very excited. They figure they can now come up with new drugs in the fight against the current obesity onslaught.

Or we could just eat as nature intended.

Isn’t that a really fascinating mechanism? All along I was thinking of fiber more from just an energy density perspective (as in my video Eating More to Weigh Less), but the appetite-suppressing hormones are a whole new frontier. That underscores the urgency of the fact that 96 percent of Americans don’t even reach the recommended minimum intake of fiber, as I discuss in Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?.

Other paleo videos include:

For more on bowel function in the modern age, see:

My other videos on fiber include:

And to learn more about what your gut bacteria can do for you, check out my videos:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations: