The Nutrition Doctor: “THESE Foods Can HEAL - REVERSE DISEASE & AGING!” (It’s SO SIMPLE!)

Added: Mar 5, 2024

Dr. Michael Greger, a physician and founder of the nonprofit, discusses the importance of diet and lifestyle in aging well and preventing disease. He emphasizes that the American diet is the number one cause of death in the United States, surpassing tobacco smoking. By making simple changes to our diet and lifestyle, we can significantly improve our health and longevity.

Key takeaways


Advocate for lifestyle medicine by addressing the root causes of chronic diseases through dietary changes, regular exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep.

Align eating patterns with circadian rhythms by eating earlier in the day and avoiding late-night meals for improved health and metabolism.


Prioritize whole grains like oat groats or steel-cut oats over refined grains for their dietary fiber and resistant starch, which promote gut health.


Focus on incorporating nutrient-dense foods like dark leafy greens, berries, onions, and peppers into your daily meals to support cellular health and reduce inflammation.


Reduce salt intake to under 1500 milligrams per day and consider switching to potassium salt as a substitute to lower sodium intake and decrease cardiovascular disease risk.

The Impact of Diet on Aging

Dr. Greger highlights the significance of diet in aging well. He mentions that the Blue Zones, areas around the world with exceptional longevity, center their diets around whole plant foods. These include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and herbs. By minimizing the intake of meat, dairy, sugar, and processed foods, and maximizing the intake of plant-based foods, individuals can improve their health and potentially extend their lifespan.

The Role of Smoking and Exercise

In addition to diet, Dr. Greger emphasizes the importance of avoiding smoking and engaging in regular exercise. Smoking is a major risk factor for various diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Regular exercise, even as little as 20 minutes a day, can have significant health benefits and help prevent age-related diseases.

Intermittent Fasting and Circadian Rhythms

Dr. Greger discusses the potential benefits of intermittent fasting, which can boost autophagy, a cellular house-cleaning process. However, he cautions against fasting for extended periods without medical supervision, as it can have serious health consequences. He also highlights the importance of aligning eating patterns with circadian rhythms, suggesting that eating earlier in the day and avoiding late-night meals can have positive effects on health and metabolism.

The Daily Dozen Checklist

To help individuals make healthier choices, Dr. Greger introduces the Daily Dozen checklist, which includes 12 key foods and habits to incorporate into daily routines. These include dark green leafy vegetables, berries, flax seeds, legumes, and other plant-based foods. By following this checklist, individuals can ensure they are getting a variety of nutrients and supporting their overall health.

Legumes are identified as number one on the list, followed by nuts, specifically walnuts. Walnuts are highlighted as the best nuts to consume due to their high content of Omega-3s and antioxidants. They have been shown to improve artery function and reduce cardiovascular disease rates. It is recommended to consume a palmful of walnuts per day for optimal health benefits.

Reducing Salt Intake

Reducing salt intake is emphasized as a crucial dietary risk factor for death. The American Heart Association recommends keeping salt intake under 1500 milligrams per day. Switching to potassium salt as a substitute for sodium salt is suggested as a way to lower sodium intake. Studies have shown a significant decrease in cardiovascular disease death rates by making this simple switch.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are also recommended to include in one's diet for longevity. Consuming whole intact grains like oat groats or steel-cut oats is preferred over refined grains. Whole grains contain dietary fiber and resistant starch, which feed good gut bacteria and promote overall gut health.

Plant-based Foods

Dr. Greger also recommends to include plant-based foods in one's diet, while reducing meat and soda consumption. By focusing on incorporating healthy plant-based foods, individuals can naturally crowd out less healthy options in their diet. Over 50% of calories in the United States come from ultra-processed junk foods, highlighting the importance of prioritizing whole, natural foods.

Whole Foods vs Supplements

Dr. Greger explains that individuals should focus on incorporating whole foods rather than isolated nutrients in pill form. The complexity of natural food matrices cannot be replicated in supplements, making whole foods the best source of essential nutrients. While supplements may target specific compounds found in foods, the synergistic effects of consuming whole foods provide greater health benefits.

Prebiotics are highlighted as essential for gut health, with dietary fiber from a variety of plant sources feeding good gut bacteria. While supplements may offer isolated prebiotic compounds, the diversity of dietary fiber found in whole foods cannot be replicated in pill form. Studies have shown that the combination of compounds in foods like tomatoes or pomegranates have synergistic effects that contribute to overall health.

Early Influence

Dr. Greger's interest in nutrition and lifestyle medicine was sparked by his grandmother's experience with end-stage heart disease. After following a plant-based diet prescribed by Dr. Nathan Pritikin, his grandmother experienced a remarkable recovery and lived another 31 years. This inspired Dr. Greger to pursue a career in medicine focused on lifestyle interventions.

Lack of Nutrition Education in Medical School

Dr. Greger highlights the lack of nutrition education in medical schools, with most doctors receiving only a few hours of training on the subject. This gap in knowledge leads to a reliance on medications and surgeries to manage chronic diseases, rather than addressing the root causes through diet and lifestyle changes.

The Lifestyle Heart Trial

Dr. Greger points to the Lifestyle Heart Trial conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish in 1990 as a pivotal moment in the field of lifestyle medicine. The trial demonstrated that a plant-based diet and lifestyle modifications could reverse heart disease, as evidenced by quantitative angiography showing improved arterial health in participants. This groundbreaking study provided scientific evidence for the effectiveness of plant-based diets in preventing and reversing heart disease.

Glucose Control

Dr. Greger discusses the impact of glucose spikes on aging and health. He explains that high glucose levels can accelerate the aging process and increase the risk of chronic diseases. He recommends incorporating vinegar into meals to help control blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of visceral fat accumulation, which is associated with metabolic issues.

Cellular Senescence

Dr. Greger delves into the concept of cellular senescence, where cells stop dividing and release inflammatory mediators. These "zombie cells" can accumulate in the body, leading to chronic inflammation and age-related diseases. He highlights the importance of phytonutrients like fisetin, quercetin, and piperlongumine in clearing senescent cells and promoting healthy aging.

Nutrient-Dense Foods

Dr. Greger emphasizes the importance of consuming nutrient-dense foods like dark leafy greens, berries, onions, and peppers. These foods are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients that support cellular health and reduce inflammation. By incorporating these foods into daily meals, individuals can improve their overall health and well-being.

Importance of Lifestyle Medicine

Dr. Greger underscores the significance of lifestyle medicine in preventing and treating chronic diseases. He advocates for a holistic approach that includes dietary changes, regular exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep. By addressing the root causes of disease through lifestyle interventions, individuals can improve their health outcomes and quality of life.

Dr. Greger's Mission and Journey

Dr. Greger's mission is to reduce unnecessary suffering in the world by spreading awareness about the benefits of a plant-based diet and healthy lifestyle choices. He realized that he could reach more people by giving lectures, training medical students, and creating educational videos. He started by recording his lectures on VHS tapes, which later evolved into DVDs and online videos.

The Importance of Evidence-Based Research

Dr. Greger emphasizes the importance of evidence-based research in the field of medicine. He relies on peer-reviewed medical literature to support his recommendations and findings. He believes that there is a wealth of research available that can help save lives and improve health outcomes. He compares the current situation regarding nutrition to the smoking epidemic in the 1950s, where it took years for the public to accept the harmful effects of smoking despite overwhelming evidence.

The Impact of Lifestyle Choices on Aging

Dr. Greger discusses the concept of biological aging, which refers to the age of a person's cells and organs rather than their chronological age. He highlights four key lifestyle factors that can significantly impact biological aging: not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. These simple lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of mortality by 40% over a four-year period.

Three Truths to Live By

Dr. Greger shares three truths that he would like to leave behind as his legacy. The first truth is to live according to your values and make a positive impact on the world. He believes that incorporating selfless acts into one's life can bring a sense of fulfillment and purpose. The second truth is to act on those values, whether through philanthropy or other means of giving back. He emphasizes the power of helping others and making a difference in the world.

The third truth is to prioritize love and cultivate meaningful relationships in life. He acknowledges the importance of self-love and surrounding oneself with loved ones. Dr. Greger reflects on the need to balance his dedication to his mission with nurturing personal connections and finding love in his own life.

Dr. Greger's Definition of Greatness

For Dr. Greger, greatness is defined by living true to one's values and being authentic to oneself. He believes that greatness is achieved by giving one's best effort and staying true to one's inner self. It is about doing what you know is right and putting in the work to make a positive impact, regardless of external recognition or outcomes.


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