Health TopiCs




Great Places to Start!

Racial injustice has highlighted systemic disparities in health care, risk, and death among Black populations in the nation’s top causes of death, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and brain health. Learn More




Good evidence exists to show that the beneficial effects of a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet also applies to viral diseases like COVID-19. I am referring to 1) research findings in my lab in the 1970s through the 1990s, 2) supplementary evidence from a comprehensive study of diet, lifestyle and disease, twice done, in a human population in rural China during the 1980s, and 3) specific evidence from researchers on diet and viral infection. 



Alzheimer’s Disease

Dietary flavonoids from berries, apples, and other plant-based foods help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers reviewed diet record data and compared flavonoid intake and dementia incidence rates for 2,801 participants from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. Those who had the highest total flavonoid intake from oranges, pears, strawberries, and other plant-based foods were 40% less likely to develop dementia when compared to those with the lowest intakes of flavonoid. Shishtar E, Rogers GT, Blumberg JB, Au R, Jacques PF. Long-term dietary flavonoid intake and risk of Alzheimer disease and related dementias in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. Published online April 22, 2020


Fruits and Vegetables Protect Against Cognitive Decline

Diets high in fruits, vegetables, pulses (beans, lentils, peas), and nuts protect against cognitive decline, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health, & Aging. Researchers compared test scores in verbal fluency, a measure of cognitive decline, in participants in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) and tracked dietary intake, socioeconomic status, and other covariates. Those who consumed more than 0.5 servings of pulses/nuts and more than 3 servings of fruits/vegetables per day scored higher on the cognitive tests, compared with those who had less. The authors call for policies to address food access and obesity and hypertension risk to improve risk factors. Fuller-Thomson E, Saab Z, Davison KM, et al. Nutrition, immigration and health determinants are linked to verbal fluency among anglophone adults in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). J Nutr Health Aging. 2020;24:672-680.




Evidence suggests that diets emphasizing the consumption of plant-based foods might protect against asthma development and improve asthma symptoms through their effects on systemic inflammation, oxidation, and microbial composition.


Plant-based diets help prevent and treat asthma, according to a review published in Nutrition in Clinical Care. Researchers from the Physicians Committee examined the evidence related to asthma and dietary factors among adults and children. The prevalence of asthma rose over the years as high-fat, Westernized diets increased in popularity. Diets that emphasize fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes and minimize saturated fat reduce the risk for asthma and may improve asthma control. Alwarith J, Kahleova H, Crosby L, et al. The role of nutrition in asthma prevention and treatment. Nutr Clin Care. Published online March 13, 2020.




The World Health Organization has determined that processed meat is a major contributor to colorectal cancer, classifying it as “carcinogenic to humans.” Just one hot dog or a few strips of bacon consumed daily increases cancer risk by 18 percent. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AIRC) have also found that “the evidence on processed meat and cancer is clear-cut.” Colorectal cancer rates are on the rise in young people. Adults born around 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer compared with adults born around 1950, according to a study published by the National Cancer Institute. American Cancer Society guidelines now recommend that screening begin at age 45. The guidelines attribute rising rates to diets high in processed meat and low in fruits, vegetables, and other dietary fiber as risk factors. To reduce your risk, focus on fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, which are high in fiber and other protective nutrients. Eating just three servings of whole grains per day can reduce colorectal cancer risk by 17 percent.


Dairy foods are complex mixtures which include nutrients and non-nutrient substances that could potentially influence cancer etiology, including breast cancer. – Current Developments In Clinical Nutrition.  2017 Mar; 1(3) Retrieved from


High serum cholesterol levels, high CYP27A1 enzyme levels and more of the estrogen-like 27HC makes breast tumors more aggressive–something “no one had thought of before.” TColin-Campel Center for Nutritional Studies 2014 January 9th. Retrieved from


High Fiber Consumption Reduces Risk for Breast Cancer

High fiber intake reduces the risk for breast cancer, according to a systematic review published by the American Cancer Society. Researchers compared fiber consumption and types of fiber intake with breast cancer incidence rates. Those who consumed the most fiber had an 8% reduced risk for premenopausal and postmenopausal cancers when compared to those who consumed the least amount of fiber. Soluble fiber from cereals, fruit, legumes, and vegetables showed the strongest association with reduced risk, with the strongest associations observed in fruit fiber.Farvid MS, Spence ND, Holmes MD, Barnett JB. Fiber Consumption and breast cancer incidence: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Cancer. Published online April 6, 2020


Canned and Cooked Tomatoes Protect Against Prostate Cancer

Consuming tomatoes may reduce the risk for prostate cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Causes & Control. Researchers followed more than 27,000 Adventist men without cancer and monitored tomato intake and cancer incidence rates. Those who consumed canned or cooked tomatoes four times or more per week reduced their risk for prostate cancer when compared to those who never consumed tomatoes. Results showed a stronger association with consumption of 71 grams per day (about 1/3 cup), compared to no tomato intake. The authors attribute the lower risk to increased bioavailability of lycopene, a type of carotenoid, in processed and cooked tomato products. These results, particularly strong in black male participants, support dietary interventions as a viable preventive measure for at-risk populations. Fraser GE, Jacobsen BK, Knutsen SF, Mashchak A, Lloren JI. Tomato consumption and intake of lycopene as predictors of the incidence of prostate cancer: the Adventist Health Study‑2.  Cancer Causes & Control 2020;31:341-351.


 Videos from Dr. Greger’s Site: Nutrition



Cardiovascular Disease

Adherence to a healthful plant-based diet reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease in women, according to presented at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session. Researchers compared heart disease events with diet records of participants in three levels of adherence to a plant-based diet. Those with the highest adherence to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes were protected the most from heart disease. Panagiotakos D, Kouvari M, Chrysohoou C, et al. The association between healthful and unhealthful plant based dietary patterns and 10-year cardiovascular disease incidence in apparently healthy men and women: Highlights from the Attica Prospective (2002-2012) Study. Abstract presented at: American College of Cardiology Scientific Session; March 28-30, 2020 (virtual meeting).  


Replacing red and processed meat with plant sources of protein reduces risk for heart disease and early death, according to findings presented by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health at the American Heart Association’s. Haslam DE, Rehm CD, Song M, Hu FB, Zhang FF, Bhupathiraju SN. American Heart Association EPI | LIFESTYLE 2020 Scientific Sessions – Abstracts P510 and P512. March 5, 2020: Phoenix, AZ.




Experts from Harvard University recommend that dietary guidelines exclude red and processed meat in favor of plant-based foods for the benefit of human health and the environment, according to a publication from the American Diabetes Association. Qian F, Riddle MC, Wylie-Rosett J, Hu FB. Red and processed meats and health risks: How strong is the evidence? Diabetes Care. 2020;43:265–271.


Consuming red meat, processed meat, fish, and poultry may increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a meta-analysis published in Diabetes and Metabolism. Researchers reviewed 28 articles that investigated relationships between meat consumption and type 2 diabetes risk and morbidity. People who consumed the most total meat, red meat, and processed meat increased their risk for type 2 diabetes by 33%, 22%, and 25%, respectively, compared with those who consumed the least. Yang X, Li Y, Wang C, et al. Meat and fish intake and type 2 diabetes: dose–response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Diabetes Metab. Published online April 14, 2020.



Plant-Based Diets Lower Risk for Gestational Diabetes


Adherence to a plant-based diet before pregnancy lowers the risk for gestational diabetes, according to data presented at the 80th American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions. Researchers followed almost 16,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II, who reported at least one pregnancy over 10 years, monitored adherence to a plant-based diet using various indices of healthfulness, and tracked diabetes incidence. Results showed a significant inverse association between plant-based diets and diabetes. The authors suspect a plant-based diet led to a lower pre-pregnancy BMI and reduced intake of red and processed meat, both of which are linked to a reduced risk for gestational diabetes.Chen Z, Qian F, Liu G, et al. Prepregnancy plant-based diet and the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: A prospective cohort study of 15,999 women. Abstract presented at: 80th American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions; June 12-16, 2020; online.



Keto Diets


Non-healthcare visitors:


Healthcare providers (MDs/RNs/RDs) watch here to get free CE credit (if they did not attend ICNM18):


Ketogenic diets increase cholesterol and inflammatory markers associated with chronic disease, according to new research published in Obesity Biology and Integrated Physiology. Researchers monitored changes in lipids and inflammation during four weeks on a baseline diet (50 percent carbohydrate, 35 percent fat, and 15 percent protein) and four weeks on an isocaloric ketogenic diet (5 percent carbohydrate, 80 percent fat, 15 percent protein).Total cholesterol, LDL or “bad” cholesterol, ketones, and markers of inflammation increased significantly while on the ketogenic diet.


Rosenbaum M, Hall KD, Guo J, et al. Glucose and lipid homeostasis and inflammation in humans following an isocaloric ketogenic diet. Obesity (Silver Spring). Published online May 8, 2019. Retrieved from: