Doctor’s Tip: How to find accurate nutrition information

Dr. Greg Feinsinger

There is a lot of misinformation about nutrition in books and on the internet. Unfortunately, some of that misinformation comes from unscrupulous physicians. Last week’s column was about one of these physicians — Dr. Gundry, who promoted the baseless theory that lectin-containing foods such as grains and legumes are bad for us, and who sold lectin-fighting supplements on the internet.

When looking for reliable information on nutrition, beware of the following: 1) physicians or other health care providers who are selling products such as supplements (how can they be unbiased?); 2) providers who claim they have found the one thing that causes all or most health problems; 3) providers who claim they have found the one ingredient that will make you healthy and/or feel better — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t; 4) providers who have ties to the food or pharmaceutical industries (it’s often difficult to tell). Furthermore, be skeptical of nutrition advice in the media — often the authors don’t have the scientific sophistication to determine whether studies are valid, or if they’re influenced by Big Food or Big Pharma.

Following are the giants in the nutrition field, who are true men of science and medicine and pursuers of the truth:

· MICHAEL GREGER, M.D has devoted his life to searching for the truth about nutrition. He has a nonprofit, with no ties to Big Food, Big Pharma, or Big Supplement. He and his staff analyze the tens of thousands of English-language scientific papers that come out on nutrition every year, and provide the valid and useful information to the public through books and his website, on which you can search various topics. His most famous book is “How Not to Die,” and he’s unusually altruistic in that profits from his books are donated to other nonprofits. The last 132 pages are references — so it’s not as long as it looks and is evidence-based. If you subscribe to his website (free, although he’d appreciate a donation to his non-profit) you will get a short daily blog or video about a nutrition topic, and he explains the studies on which this information is based.

· DEAN ORNISH, M.D., is affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco. From the 1970s to the 1990s he conducted research proving that heart disease can be reversed with a plant-based whole food diet plus exercise and stress reduction. He subsequently proved that early, biopsy-proven prostate cancer can be reversed with the same diet. The Ornish Program is now covered by private insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare. He has written numerous books, including “Reversing Heart Disease,” “The Spectrum,” “Eat More, Weigh Less,” and “UnDo It.”

· CALDWELL ESSELSTYN, M.D., now 90 years old and still going strong, was a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, and years ago became interested in the preventative and healing power of food. He proved in two studies that heart disease can be reversed with a plant-based, whole food diet with no salt, sugar or added oil. He wrote “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,” and is featured in the documentary Forks Over Knives.

· T. COLIN CAMPBELL, PHD, at Cornell, is also 90 and is also featured in Forks Over Knives. He has been on the cutting edge of nutrition research for decades. He was the lead scientist in the China Study, the largest epidemiologic study ever done (a study that looks at a large group of people, what they eat, what diseases they get, and what they die from). He wrote a book called “The China Study,” plus others, including “Whole” and “The Low-Carb Fraud.” He and his son. Thomas M. Campbell, M.D. run the T. Colin Campbell Center For Nutritional Studies.

· NEAL BARNARD, M.D., is affiliated with the George Washington University School of Medicine, where he and his staff see patients and conduct nutrition research. In 1985 he founded PCRM — Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine — because he wanted to promote preventative medicine and also because of a concern about ethical treatment of animals. He has published 14 books, including “Power Foods for the Brain,” “Eat Right, Live Longer,” and “The Power of Your Plate.”

· OTHERS: There are other trustworthy nutrition experts as well, such as Joel Fuhrman, M.D., who has written several books including “Eat to Live;” William Li, M.D., who wrote “Eat to Beat Disease;” David Katz, M.D., who with Mark Bittman wrote “How to Eat;” David Kessler, M.D., who wrote “Fast Carbs, Slow Carbs;” Will Bulsiewicz,M.D., who wrote “Fiber Fueled;” David Kessler, M.D., who wrote “Fast Carbs, Slow Carbs;” Reshma Shah, M.D., M.P.H., and Brenda Davis, R.D., who wrote “Nourish, The Definitive Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for Families;” and Joseph Speidel, M.D., M.P.H., who wrote “The Building Blocks of Health.”

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

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