Taking Personal Responsibility for Your Health

Every year millions of people make resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more and eat healthier. They start of with gusto and within a couple of weeks have abandoned their resolution. It can take six weeks to form a habit. If you made a diet change at the beginning of the year and stuck with it, by now, it would be a habit, but if you veered off the road, it isn’t too late to get back on track.

There’s only one diet that’s ever been proven to reverse heart disease in the majority of patients—a diet centered around whole plant foods.  So, anytime anyone tries to sell you on some new diet, do me a favor. Ask them one simple question: “Has it been proven to reverse heart disease—you know, the number one reason you, and all your loved ones, will die?”  If the answer is “No,” why would you even consider it?  Only one diet has ever been proven to do that.  That’s not cherry-picking—there’s only one cherry.

In fact, if that’s all a plant-based diet could do—reverse the number one killer of men and women, shouldn’t that be the default diet, until proven otherwise?  And, the fact that it can also be effective in preventing, arresting, or reversing other leading killers—like type 2 diabetes and hypertension—would seem to make the case for plant-based eating simply overwhelming.

So, why don’t more doctors prescribe it? How could there be such a disconnect between the science and mainstream medical practice?  Well, look, it took 25 years before the first Surgeon General’s report against smoking came out. It took more than 7,000 studies, and the deaths of countless smokers, before the powers-that-be officially recognized the link. You’d think after the first 6,000 studies they could have given people a little heads up or something? Powerful industry.

In fact, even after the Surgeon General’s report came out, the medical community still dragged their feet. The American Medical Association actually went on record refusing to endorse the Surgeon General’s report. Why? Could it have been because they had just been handed a ten million dollar check from the tobacco industry? Maybe.

So, we know why the AMA may have been sucking up to the tobacco industry—but why weren’t individual doctors speaking out? Well, there were a few gallant souls ahead of their time writing in, as there are today, standing up against industries killing millions. But, why not more?  Maybe, it’s because the majority of physicians themselves smoked cigarettes—just like the majority of physicians today continue to eat foods that are contributing to our epidemics of dietary disease.

What was the AMA’s rallying cry back then? Everything in moderation. “Extensive scientific studies have proven that smoking in moderation…” Oh, that’s fine. Sound familiar?

Consumption of animal foods and processed foods may cause at least 14 million deaths around the world every year. 14 million people dead. Those of us involved in this evidence-based nutrition revolution are part of a movement with 14 million lives in the balance every year.

Plant-based diets may now be considered “the nutritional equivalent of quitting smoking.” How many more people have to die, though, before the CDC encourages people not to wait for open heart surgery to start eating healthy, as well?

Until the system changes, we have to take personal responsibility for our own health, for our family’s health. We can’t wait until society catches up to the science again, because it’s a matter of life and death.

Last year, Dr. Kim Williams became President of the American College of Cardiology. He was asked, in an interview, why he follows his own advice to eat a plant-based diet. “I don’t mind dying,” Dr. Williams replied, “I just don’t want it to be my [own] fault.”

This year, it is time to really look a your lifestyle and take personal responsibility for your health. You can do it.

For more information be sure to check out my latest videos including this one Taking Personal Responsibility for Your Health on NutritionFacts.org

In health,


Dr. Michael Greger

Dr. Greger is a graduate of Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts University School of Medicine. He is also the founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He is a physician, author and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety and public health issues. He has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, testified before Congress, appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Colbert Report,” and was an expert witness in the defense of Oprah Winfrey in the “meat defamation” trial. He is the author of the international bestseller “How Not To Die.” Currently, Dr. Greger serves on the advisory board for The Only Vegan At The Table and the North Texas Community Health Initiative. He is also the founder of NutritionFacts.org, a nutrition information website with hundreds of videos available for free. “Mondays With Michael” is a weekly column featuring the latest in science-based nutrition information.