Paging Dr Woo

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Topics include philosophy, activism, effective altruism, plant-based nutrition, and diet advice/discussion whether high carb, low carb (eco atkins/vegan keto) or anything in between.
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ReginaL
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Paging Dr Woo

Post by ReginaL » Sat Jul 16, 2016 2:18 am

I thought it might be helpful for newer vegans if some of the more seasoned members could rate some plant-based doctors on a woo scale, with zero being a woo-free approach and ten being all woo, all the time.

1. Greger
2. McDougall
3. Esselstyn
4. Campbell
5. Graham (not an actual doctor)
6. Fuhrman
7. Anyone else

A cohort of McDougall's made the statement in a video I was watching that a person could eat nothing but white potatoes and not suffer from any nutritional deficiencies because of "nutrient recycling." That sounds like pseudoscience to me. For example, how would he explain pellagra and rickets? Those are conditions specifically caused by vitamin deficiency. In the same video, McDougall says that if we eat a whole foods diet we don't have to worry about stuff like Omega-3's and fatty acid deficiency. I call BS. Thoughts?

Video: http://www.vegsource.com/news/2016/06/nutrients-dont-matter-video.html
Last edited by ReginaL on Sat Jul 16, 2016 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:20 pm

1. Jack Norris
(vegan RD, not a doctor) http://veganhealth.org/
2. Barnard
Bad: promotes low-fat (he allows nuts), and he's a little more convinced that dairy is addictive than he should be, but I see that as harmless.
Good: He does recommend nuts -- not strict low fat. Other woo is generally low, and mostly evidence based.
3. Greger
Bad: Promotes the myth of inefficacy of chemo (the 2% gambit), dogmatically opposed to Splenda and artificial sweeteners upon no evidence. Simplistic advice which ignores RDA (don't worry just eat your veggies!), hard to follow. Dislikes supplements (except B-12).
Good: Otherwise pretty good diet advice if you follow it (lots of veggies, beans, nuts, berries).
4. Fuhrman
Bad: He promotes a few misc. pseudosciences. His diet advice is probably not very practical (not enough focus on RDA). Overly cautious of certain supplements (vitamin A, Iron).
Good: Diet advice is generally otherwise good if you follow it (lots of veggies, beans, nuts, and berries) pretty much like Greger.
5. ?
6. ? (there's a big gap here)
7. Esselstyn
8, Campbell
9. McDougall
Bad: Very anti-fat, irrationally pro-starch, advocates that nutrient density isn't important (uses terrible appeal to nature arguments, which aren't even accurate historically)
Good: Isn't anti-salt. That's about it.
10. Graham
(retired?) Chiropractor. Was never a doctor. Total quack.

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ReginaL
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Post by ReginaL » Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:34 pm

Just to clarify: my list was random and by no means a ranking!

In general, I like Greger but agree with you on his weaknesses. I'm not too familiar with any of the others except for a passing knowledge of McDougall. Barnard was the one I couldn't think of.

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miniboes
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Post by miniboes » Sat Jul 16, 2016 1:15 pm

I agree with Brimstone's list. I would add Ginny Mesina, who is, just like Jack Norris, an RD. http://www.theveganrd.com/
"I advocate infinite effort on behalf of very finite goals, for example correcting this guy's grammar."
- David Frum

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Post by Acrotrekker » Tue Jul 19, 2016 2:17 pm

I find myself mostly agreeing with brimstoneSalad's ranking, except that Graham is more like 100 to me since he is so off the charts nothing but woo. Scary thing is that some people see it the other way around and rank him as being the most "scientific" and "woo-free" of all the people on the list. Almost none of the people I know who have tried Graham's approach stick with it long-term. I strongly suspect the self-proclaimed 100% rawfoodists I know to be fakers.

I agree with Dr. Greger being a #3 since while I hold him in high regard he is sometimes prone to cherry-picking and has a few blind-spots, as brimstoneSalad already pointed out. in general, he tends to give good advice.

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Post by ModVegan » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:57 pm

I don't buy everything McDougall says, but I think it's important to remember that a lot of his recommendations are for weight loss. He's not against eating as much as 25-30% fat if you aren't trying to lose weight (which is fairly normal). And he's fine with nuts, he just thinks that they won't help you lose weight (I don't understand that with Esselstyn at all). A lot of his arguments are from nature, and they're pretty weak. But I have to say that if you're extremely active, the starch makes a world of difference (I'm a little obsessed with starch, frankly, but I guess it's 'cause I'm a carb-loading runner. And I just love it). So I'd rate him more of a "4".

I don't think "Dr." Graham even lands within the ten point scale. He's more of an eleven, but I guess I'll say "10". The guy is a dangerous lying charlatan.

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:11 pm

ModVegan wrote:I don't buy everything McDougall says, but I think it's important to remember that a lot of his recommendations are for weight loss. He's not against eating as much as 25-30% fat if you aren't trying to lose weight (which is fairly normal).
I haven't heard him speak positively of fat like that, but he has made some very troubling comments about how thin people should be.
It's very dangerous advice:

https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2003nl/jul/030700puhowdoigainweight.htm
How Do You Tell If You’re the Right Weight?

Take off all of your clothes and stand in front of the mirror. Do you like what you see? All the weight charts in the world pale in importance to your own perceptions.
He adds in a not so useful disclaimer:
One Important Precaution. If you are too thin and have any concern that this might be a health issue then please check with your doctor. Illnesses, like cancer, infectious diseases (AIDS), liver and thyroid disease can also cause excessive weight loss. So can some serious psychological problems, like anorexia and depression.
The problem is people are not unbiased enough to assess their own weight. Weight charts are inherently superior to human perception. The people who need help the most have trouble recognizing there's a problem, and only hard numbers can help keep them on track. They do not see the same thing in the mirror that you see when you look at them.
ModVegan wrote:And he's fine with nuts, he just thinks that they won't help you lose weight
That's empirically incorrect, though. Nuts have been found to help with weight loss.
ModVegan wrote:(I don't understand that with Esselstyn at all).
Esselstyn is similar to McDougall on fat. He says people without heart disease can eat some whole food fat.

I think Esselstyn is at least more interested in whole food plant protein and micronutrients, though, making those diets less dangerous (less likely to result in malnutrition).
See his FAQ: http://www.dresselstyn.com/site/faq/
He actually talks about things like calcium, and recommends copious greens.

McDougall has gone so far as to tell people these things are dangerous, cautioning them to be careful not to eat too many beans, and calling fruits and vegetables (like blueberries and kale) dangerous like concentrated vitamins. He has recommended things like the potato diet, and says there's no concern for nutrients at all (aside from B-12) if you get enough calories which is absolutely false. Malnutrition, particularly lysine deficiency, is a very real concern.

He's barely more sensible than Durianrider, in that he recommends against eating too much refined sugar.

It definitely doesn't make sense to me to rank McDougall above Esselstyn. Maybe Campbell, I don't know his recommendations as well, information on them seems to be less available compared to the others, but he seems to recommend eating more vegetables than McDougall does (although he is also low fat).
ModVegan wrote:But I have to say that if you're extremely active, the starch makes a world of difference (I'm a little obsessed with starch, frankly, but I guess it's 'cause I'm a carb-loading runner. And I just love it). So I'd rate him more of a "4".
But his advice isn't just for or being used by athletes burning five thousand calories a day. Starch is an ideal energy source, but it doesn't provide adequate nutrition without being backed up by a substantial amount of beans, veggies, and healthy plant fats.
ModVegan wrote:I don't think "Dr." Graham even lands within the ten point scale. He's more of an eleven, but I guess I'll say "10". The guy is a dangerous lying charlatan.
If we broke the scale, I'd say the same thing about half of them. ;)

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Post by ModVegan » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:23 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote: I haven't heard him speak positively of fat like that, but he has made some very troubling comments about how thin people should be.
It's very dangerous advice:
Yeah, that's creepy.
brimstoneSalad wrote: That's empirically incorrect, though. Nuts have been found to help with weight loss.
Although obviously not in excess, which is what he was addressing.
brimstoneSalad wrote:He's barely more sensible than Durianrider, in that he recommends against eating too much refined sugar.
But I love sugar!

I think list most diet doctors, he over-sells his approach. I don't know many people who hawk diet books that don't do that to some degree (Dr. Barnard is an exception, imho).

And of course, I also like being told that what I like (refined sugar and salt) is good for me :D

I basically love bread, rice, pasta etc., and he makes me feel like that's okay. He is the carb-lover's Atkins. :lol:

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:45 pm

ModVegan wrote: And of course, I also like being told that what I like (refined sugar and salt) is good for me :D

I basically love bread, rice, pasta etc., and he makes me feel like that's okay. He is the carb-lover's Atkins. :lol:
Pretty much. :D
There is some argument for salt being fine; that's one point I think he's right on. But the rest are very troubling, which is why I put him so far down the list.

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