Skip to content


    Attention All WebMD Community Members:

    These message boards are closed to posting. Please head on over to our new WebMD Message Boards to check out and participate in the great conversations taking place:

    Your new WebMD Message Boards are now open!

    Making the move is as easy as 1-2-3.

    1. Head over to this page:

    2. Choose the tag from the drop-down menu that clicks most with you (and add it to any posts you create so others can easily find and sort through posts)

    3. Start posting

    Have questions? Email us anytime at

    Low Carb Animal based diet increases mortality 20%. Plant based???
    engineerguy posted:
    Hi folks,

    WoW !!

    100,000 people were followed for 20+ years. Those on a low carb animal based die (Atkins) had 20% increased mortality, including heart disease and cancer.

    Those on a low carb plant based diet, what were their results? Read the abstract (or whole paper) and see.

    The whole article is also available.

    Best regards, EngineerGuy (Stacy)

    P. S. Oh, the answer is that a low carb plant based diet reduced (improved) all cause mortality 20%. WoW !! Animal based or plant based, I would surmise that these were all people trying to do something for their health and/or weight. Sounds like animal based diets are not healthful.

    Of course, the Eat To Live diet is, I believe, a great deal more effective, than a "low carb plant based diet". There are several modalities at work with the Fuhrman program, that other programs do not do.
    jc3737 responded:
    Thanks for the posts EG.From the study it appears that high fat is OK if its not animal based fat.The study backs the Fuhrman diet as opposed to the low fat McDougall diet.

    There does not seem to be any data that suggests low fat has any benefit as long as the fat is plant based.

    If anyone finds a study that differs with this study please post it.
    engineerguy replied to jc3737's response:
    Hi jc,

    Can anyone find a study that nuts & seeds and avocados are harmful?

    I think we might find studies that vegetable oil is harmful. Here is an old post.

    Hi folks,
    Thanks, jc, for the post.

    An excellent resource: Dr. Esselstyn's book "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease". I'll set you back $10 plus postage, from

    Chapter 10 is on heart healthy oils, and the data that they aren't. Here's a sampling:

    He covers the Mediterranean Diet, studied by the Lyon Diet Heart Study, with heart patients(1). The Mediterranean diet folks had 50 to 70% fewer cardiac events than the standard medical care group. Very impressive. But, after the 4 year study, 25% of the Mediterrannean diet group had either died or had a new cardiovascular event. Esselstyn says, "I feel these are wretched results for a nonmalignant disease."

    Compare those results with Esselstyn's results with the worst heart patients, of 20 years with no events (one, with extensive heart damage before the study, died after 8 years). No comparison what-so-ever.

    He covers Dr. Rudel's work with Green Monkeys, chosen because they are most similar to humans in terms of atherosclerosis. He compared monkeys fed monounsaturated fat to saturated fat. The monounsaturated fat lowered LDL, and raised HDL, just like in humans. But at the end of 5 years, autopsy showed the two groups of monkeys had the same amount of atherosclerosis (2). Same results with rodents.

    Dr. Vogel showed that olive oil reduces dilation in the brachial artery tourniquet test. That is, it reduces the flexibility of the endothelial cells.

    Reverend William Valentine lost 50 pounds after bypass surgery in 1990, and carefully followed a plant based diet of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit, and stopped his angina. Then, 14 years later, he started getting angina again, even at rest. He called Dr. Esselstyn for advice. Dr. Esselstyn was stumped as to how to improve his Valentine's diet. Dr. Esselstyn asked him to once more carefully go over absolutely everything he was eating, leaving out nothing. Reverend Valentine was adding heart healthy olive oil to his salads each lunch and dinner. "Eureka!" Dr. Esselstyn told him to eliminate the olive oil. After 7 weeks, the angina went away.

    So we have a study which shows that olive has MUFA which might do something which might affect something which might improve heart health, IF our theories are accurate. On the other hand, we have studies and experience that heart patients worsen or die eating olive oil. It's a close call which to go with.

    Best regards, EngineerGuy

    (1) Michel de Lorgeril, Circulation, February 16, 1999: "Mediterranean Diet, Traidional Risk Factors, and the Rate of Cardiovascular Complications after Myocardial Infarction: Final Report to the Lyon Diet Heart Study."

    (2) Lawrence Rudel, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, December 1995: "Compared with Dietary Monounsaturated and Saturated Fat, Polyunsaturated Fat Protects African Green Monkeys from Coronary Artery Arteriosclerosis."
    max9821 replied to engineerguy's response:
    I depend on you guys to come up with the studies. However, I believe there are studies that purportedly show that nuts are a healthful and maybe even necessary part of the diet but in at least one video Jeff Novick discusses these studies. In at least one nuts were compared to muffins and the nuts came out ahead. So don't eat muffins. I know Esselstyn does not allow nuts for his patients but I believe McD says they are ok for an occasional treat. Even Fuhrman advises overweight patients to only eat about an ounce a day. And I believe at the live in McD program flaxseeds are available.

    Chef AJ, who can be found at vegsource, cooked with lots of nuts and nut butters. When she cut these out of her diet she became very slim.

    I do not believe that leaving nuts and avocados out of their diets has caused any problems for the patients in Esselstyn's small but ongoing study despite dr. Fuhrman's dire predictions. If flaxseeds in moderate amounts are purported to be non harmful to heart patients I really don't see why the same can't be said for nuts. However, I am done experimenting (and I did eat nuts before my MI)

    engineerguy replied to max9821's response:
    Hi Dolores,

    You mentioned earlier that you lost 30 pounds, since your MI. Do you mind sharing whether that was due to a more strict or diligent diet, or reduced appetite during recovery from the heart attack, or why? Prior to the MI, did you eat 1 oz nuts & seeds daily, or more, or less? I am only trying to understand, so my suggestions, if desired, might be relevant.

    Do you mind sharing how much you can pinch by your belly, now and before the MI?

    Gee, if you prefer not to share these things, you may simply reply "The weather is very nice," and I will understand.

    Best regards, EngineerGuy (Stacy)
    max9821 replied to engineerguy's response:
    I had already lost about 100 pounds slowly over several years. After the MI I was strictly plants only, zero added fat, starting from the first meal in the hospital. Trying to stay healthy in the hospital is a pretty good trick and for three days I ate nothing but oatmeal cooked in water with fresh fruit, dry baked potatoes and about a quarter cups of soggy boiled vegetables and I ordered bananas, oranges and apples to eat between meals. That was all they had in the way of what I considered healthful. All meat, cheese, and fat soaked potatoes and rice etc and of course fatty, sugary desserts. As I lost more and more weight my appetite decreased somewhat. I still can eat a serving bowl size vegetable salad and large bowls of vegetable soup. I moderate beans and other starches somewhat but do not count calories.

    Prior to the MI I did eat nuts sometimes and also salmon and mackerel. And some junk stuff when I babysat at my daughter's. Salty ham did me in on the Easter before the MI and it was the next day that I started to have chest pain.

    I recovered very well from the MI despite having coded with v fib and receiving both cpr, which left my chest area sore for more than two weeks and raised my liver values, which headed down before I left the hospital, and three shots with the paddles. After a day in intensive care, the nurses on the cardiac care unit stared at me and started laughing because I had walked on my own from the intensive care unit through three buildings onto their floor. They said I was the first person to ever walk onto their unit. I exercised while on the cardiac unit by walking in circles around the unit floor.

    I left the hospital with an ejection fraction over 60, no rise in blood sugar (no one believed I was diabetic because of such great numbers) and the doctor said there was practically no damage from the MI. My daughter, a nurse attributes this to my pre heart attack diet although obviously it could have been better.

    Re, how much can I pinch. You should know that ladies most likely do not worry about pinching but keep an eagle eye on how their jeans are fitting and are we ready for the next lower size. So I never pinch and it wouldn't be helpful anyway since although fat disappears, loose skin never does. Alas. However, despite eating all I want of low calorie dense food, I am in jeans that are two to four sizes smaller, depending on the manufacturer, than when I had my MI.

    I chose this way of eating for myself. I do not know if it is optimal and except in case of emergency should I need another angioplasty, i have no way of knowing what is going on inside my arteries. And neither does anyone else. Biomarkers are only surrogate endpoints. Clinical endpoints are death, stroke and MI.

    engineerguy replied to max9821's response:
    Hi Dolores,

    You rock! Thanks for your message.

    I agree entirely about an angiogram. If one is having a heart attack or stroke, have an angiogram, and possibly a surgeon can reverse the heart attack or stroke. Otherwise, there is no value in it.

    I like the IMT. It is cheap, and safe, just like a baby ultrasound. You get a picture of any significant blockage in the carotid arteries, and the average thickness of the left and right carotid intra media thickness reading. That reading can be tracked every couple of years, to see progress. It costs roughly $200. BE SURE TO VERIFY THE PRICE FIRST.

    I seek out what McDougall, Fuhrman and others say, concerning what they recommend, and why. I would not have figured this program out, on my own. Based on the rationale and data provided, Fuhrman comes out on top, on my opinion. However, I've seen posts on both sites, that some people are more successful on the one program than the other. I realize that you prefer not to follow any program.

    By the way, I recommend you read Eating and Fasting for Health, by Fuhrman. Reading that book gave me a crick in my jaw, from my mouth hanging open in amazement, for the whole time I read it.

    Why does Fuhrman advocate nuts & seeds? He feels that he has seen too many patients on low fat vegan diets, with essential tremor. These patients are usually deficient in omega-3 fats (DHA, EPA). Taking DHA supplements does not reverse the tremors. It is permanent. (We realize that this does not prove that the low fat vegan diets cause deficient omega-3, or tremors. )

    Fuhrman just completed a study of DHA levels in low fat vegans, and expects to publish the results soon. He is concerned that they are frequently deficient in omega-3 essential fats.

    Here's a Fuhrman blog on nuts & seeds

    Best regards, EngineerGuy (Stacy)
    jc3737 replied to max9821's response:
    Dolores,I would not take Jeff Novick of Dr McDougall as gospel on anything.Despite the constant bombardment on the McDougall site they do not rise to the level of science,even though most everyone there is so sure it is.

    As we learned from the Einstein/Karl Popper exchange real science always features ongoing serious attempts to prove ones ideas wrong.They should be looking at all types of counter info such as that by Norman Robillard.

    I have seen numerous studies on nuts that show mechanical effects unrelated to comparisons with other diets.The benefits of nuts likely have nothing to do with the possibility that the bebefits come from eating less meat when one eats more nuts.Endothelial function is improved shortly after eating nuts and is unrelated to any substitution of nuts for other foods.Many other beneficial mechanical results (other than improved endothelial function)also happen after eating nuts.

    All that said I still chose to eat a diet that blends Furhman and McDougall not because it's science but because it keeps my blood pressure and blood sugar under control.Other that that however I don't see any benefits and find a large number of problems with the diet.....especially GERD form all the complex carbs and fiber which have a large fermentation potential(from Norman Robillard).
    max9821 replied to jc3737's response:
    In some of the videos and posts I have seen from Jeff N he includes chapter and verse of where he is coming from and posts parts of the original studies. But I am open to other points of view. I believe I now eat more Fuhrman than McD would recommend (except I gave up on the nuts) and more McD than Fuhrman recommends. I do not think I have to blend perfectly good greens and fruit into smoothies. We did not evolve using blenders. And I often think McD is very cavalier about vegetables having said add a few green and yellow vegetables or once describing the starch diet and saying if you want you can add some yellow and green vegetables. I eat a ton of vegetables, mainly because weird as it sounds I really like them. I make salads in large family size serving bowls. Drool over crisp-tender brussels sprouts. Essselstyn does say eat lots of greens.

    Can I say I have hit upon the perfect woe if only for myself? Nope. And I don't think anyone else can either. But as we age (I am middle aged--seventy) and someday I might live to be old. If the future holds no more cardiac events and I can still be independent and pain and med free then I will guess I am doing ok diet wise. And of course there is always the possibility that I could have done better. I am willing to change what I eat if something convinces me otherwise but one thing I am determined not to do is switch my woe every time I read a new study. Once again, show me a study like ornish's and esselstyn's on heart patients with angiograms after a few years on a paleo diet and if their disease is reversed then I might sit up and take notice.

    Gerd is not a problem with me but there are reports on the McD board that people who have switched to a starch based diet have eliminated Gerd. A nephew who is a body builder and eats enormous amounts of protein a la paleo has had trouble with that and similar problems to the point of having on test after another. Won't try a different diet though.

    jc3737 replied to max9821's response:
    Dolores,I also see a large number of posters on the McDougall board that report trouble with digestion/GERD from all the fiber and carbs.A balanced diet is probably better than a starch diet for digestion but those that show improvement on a high starch diet are likely changing over from a junk food diet.

    Thats what happened to me....starches improved my digestion over my junk food diet but after a while all the carbs started to be a problem....digestion improves if I change to a much higher fat diet and cut way back on carbs......but then when I try a higher fat diet or a more balanced diet(while my GERD improves)my blood pressure and blood sugar rise.

    Since boold pressure and blood sugar are the more important factors that forces me to stay with a plant based/starch diet.

    "I do not think I have to blend perfectly good greens and fruit into smoothies. We did not evolve using blenders"....I think you are right about that....give that one to McDougall over Fuhrman.....each is right on different issues which is why I blend the two diets.McDougall is right about starches especially potatoes being healthy but Furrman is right about salt restriction....I guess there is no such thing as one source that you can depend on to be right about all the issues.
    max9821 replied to jc3737's response:
    Dr. Klaper has a video on with an interesting theory (only a theory) about why people might not do well, or maybe get gerd, on a low fat plant diet. I think it is worth watching.

    jc3737 replied to max9821's response:
    Thanks Dolores,Ill try to find it.
    jc3737 replied to jc3737's response:
    I checked out his video and was disappointed....much of it is just plain wrong.He goes off on trigger foods and the LES muscle which is just not right.....I found that so called trigger foods have no effect when the carb load is kept low.He also mentions stomach acid as a problem which is way off base.....stomach acid is necessary and important and anything that diminishes it is not healthy.The whole idea of an alkalizing diet is wrong because we need sufficient acid to properly digest food and kill pathogens that eneter the digestive system,so trying to alkalize is asking for trouble....we need foods that create acid.

    Notman Robillard's ideas about fermentation potential match what I have found about digestion.For example whole grains,while they do keep blood sugar lower they are more difficult to digest and create gas via fermentation that increases pressure and forces open the LES muscle resulting in GERD.

    Fiber,resistant starch and whole grains and other slow digesting foods create fermentation and GERD.Faster digersing foods like some potatoes do not have time to ferment and don't create GERD.Fat also doe not create fermentation so its good for digestion when carbs are kept low.

    Resistant starch,fiber,and whole grains are healthy because they combat heart disease and diabetes but they are also a problem for many that have digestive issues.
    max9821 replied to jc3737's response:
    I do not think the term alkaline diet has anything to do with acid food entering the stomach but rather what happens in the blood after digestion. Is there any natural or even processed food we could eat that is stronger than stomach acid? Vinegar is acidic but nothing compared to stomach acid.

    I am also wondering why some report that on very low carb they were bothered by GERD until they switched to plant based and you report no trouble at all with lots of meat and fat but trouble with plants.

    I can see where there might be trouble with lots of animal protein, (but maybe not fat) because carnivores have stomach acid with a much lower pH than herbivores which is needed to digest the meat and kill the bacteria in the meat. So I can see the human body either trying to produce more and more acid to digest meat or producing problems because it is slower to digest given the strength of human stomach acid. Sounds like GERD waiting to happen.

    Re fermentation. The natural hygiene people talk negatively about fermentation. But what is fermentation? Isn't it the action of bacteria on plants? Isn't that what is supposed to happen and why we have bacteria throughout the digestive system? Digestion involves the action of bacteria among other things. On the other hand, there could be an overgrowth of bacteria that is harmful if antibiotics are used for instance. In a case like that I have used probiotics and any pain or discomfort disappeared in a day or two.

    jc3737 replied to max9821's response:
    Dolores,I got this from a friend of mine who is an expert in this area:

    "The body RARELY ever goes acidic. The acidity causing disease claims is really a myth. The body cannot survive if it becomes too acidic, or too alkaline. In fact a pH higher than 7.8 or lower than 6.8 will kill a person. This is why the body has so many redundant systems to maintain its narrow pH it can survive in. For example, breathing adjusts pH. If the body starts to get acidic our respiration increases to blow off CO2, which reduces carbonic acid, and the oxygen reduces acidic lactate. If the body starts to become too alkaline the respiration slows down to retain CO2, increasing carbonic acid. The body also generates bicarbonate to deal with acidity, can excrete hydrogen ions, carbonic acid or bicarbonate out through the urine or retain them to adjust pH. The body also uses phosphates and hemoglobin as buffers, and in severe cases can pull minerals from the bones as a buffer against acidity. Our pH is also regulated by proteins that can either bond or release hydrogen ions in response to pH imbalances. Here are some references for you:

    This is why we rarely see acidosis (overly acidic blood) or alkalosis (overly alkaline blood). Acute acidosis can occur with severe vomiting and diarrhea, ketoacidosis, inadequate oxygen intake or utilization (respiratory acidosis), rhabdomyolosis, kidney failure and by poisoning with certain chemicals. Acute alkalosis can occur with over consumption of hydroxides including alkaline waters, consumption of milk with hydroxides, overuse of carbonates such as antacids or baking soda, prolonged vomiting, excessive aldosterone secretion, diuretic use and hyperventilation.

    The pH of the lymphatic system is kept slightly more alkaline than the blood, so lymphatic acidosis does not occur.

    Because chronic acidosis is so rare and diseases are so common even common sense should tell us that acidosis is not a cause of most diseases. Most often it is a byproduct of a disease, not a cause. So anyone who is going to claim that acidity is the cause of most or all diseases does not have a clue what they are talking about.

    In fact we need a large number of acids to survive and thrive. These include hydrochloric acid, pyruvic acid, acetic acid, carbonic acid, hyaluronic acid, glucuronic acid, malic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, uric acid, fatty acids, amino acids, ascorbic acid, pantothenic acid, folic acid, etc.
    And most pathogens are killed by acids and thrive in an alkaline environment. This is why the parts of the body that help protect us from pathogens are normally acidic. These include the skin, stomach, intestines and sinuses

    Spotlight: Member Stories

    Long-time fan of the Diet Debate-though infrequent contributor to the discussion.

    Helpful Tips

    Zeal for Life
    I couldn't find my old post so I'm not sure what happened to it. I have back problems, panic issues and anxiety disorder since childhood. ... More
    Was this Helpful?
    5 of 5 found this helpful

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.