Dr. Alan Goldhamer’s Comments on The Great Health Debate : GHD Expert Rebuttals and Commentary

Monday Feb 28 | BY |
| Comments (31)

Sunrise through the smoke on a Texas morning.

On Saturday, I told you we’d asked many of the experts to submit rebuttals, clarifications or summaries of their lectures from The Great Health Debate.

Today, we have our first submitted by Dr. Alan Goldhamer from the True North Health Center.

I originally thought I should post them all together once I received all of them, but then I realized that some may be later than others and that would delay the process pretty significantly.

So what I’ll be doing is posting them as they come in real-time.

I’ll have my comments at the bottom of the expert contribution (if I have any!)

Here’s Dr. Goldhamer’s response:

After listening to the many contributors to this discussion it is apparent that most of us agree on more than we disagree.

1. Plant foods (fruits and vegetables) are valuable nutrient dense foods that provide us vitamins, minerals, phytochemical, water and fiber. These low caloric density, high nutrient dense foods should make up a large percentage of the volume of the diet in humans that wish to achieve and maintain optimum health.

a. There is debate about what percentage of the diet should be derived from fruits and vegetables.

2. There is clearly agreement that the specifics of a health promoting diet will vary amongst individuals based on biochemical individuality and accumulative use and abuse that can modify an individuals capacity.

3. There are some foods that are more antigenic than others. Foods that commonly cause problems for patients include dairy products, sugar, oil, added salt and gluten containing grains especially when presented in the form of refined flour.

4. There is general support that the diet should be plant based and minimize or avoid the use of added oil, salt, sugar and refined carbohydrates.

a. There is debate about how much if, any, animal based products can be included in the diet without compromising health.

5. There is general agreement that in addition to a health promoting diet people need to engage in regular exercise that promotes strength, flexibility and aerobic conditioning.

6. Adequate quantity and quality of sleep is an essential component to maintaining optimum health.

Most participants agree that most of the disease in industrialized countries results from dietary excess, especially from the use of excess animal food, and added oil, salt and sugar and other refined carbohydrates.

There are also problems that come from deficiency issues including low vitamin B12, vitamin D and possibly DHA resulting from too low an Omega 3 fatty acid intake or to much omega 6 fatty acids.

Improving the essential fatty acid rations may result from increasing vegetables, flax seeds, walnuts and reducing or eliminating the use of oils, especially fried foods and foods with added oil.

There is much debate about the utility of added relatively small amounts of animal products and other concentrated “health foods.” There are moral, ethical, environmental and spiritual impacts involved with our diet and lifestyle choices.

Conclusion: Eat a diet that is derived from large quantities of fruits and vegetables and avoid the use of some or all animal products, especially dairy products and avoid some or all added oil, salt and sugar.

Recommendations on the use of animal products, chocolate, alcohol, etc. range from allowing small amounts to avoiding them completely.

Alan Goldhamer

Kevin’s Comments:

First, I’d like the publicly thank Dr. Goldhamer for his contribution to the debate as well as for taking the time to do this summary. Many of the experts have expressed to me how important this event was, so I’m honored that many want to continue the discussion.

In this summary, Dr. Goldhamer captures the essence of the program (if it had an essence, LOL!)

My mission was to find the commonalities in diet to help us understand what will work for our longevity – not argue about the differences.

Many of the points he’s made here, could be between 80-100% of the blueprint for any healthy diet for almost ALL individuals. It would be smart to follow them, or at least take notes. 🙂

I want to hear your thoughts: What do you think of Dr. Goldhamer’s summary?

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Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. Beth says:

    A great summary. It would go a long way if we all focused on what we agreed on, instead of where we disagree.

  2. Lois Robin says:

    What I got out of the debates is that you go vegetarian/vegan at your own risk. No society past or present has gone without some animal products. Unless very skillfully managed, there is no vegan/vegetarian diet that promotes good nutrition by just eating fruits and vegetables.
    Grains arrived late to the human digestive system, are not how we evolved and are overused in the diet. Blood tests are a good way to evaluate the success of your diet How you feel is also a basic consideration. Sooner or later, most vegetarians and vegans find the need to consume animal products to maintain their health.

    I am an 80 year old who eats meats and plant based foods relying on grass fed, free range meats, eggs and dairy products and all organic plant food. I just had a blood test and the doctor said I was miraculously healthy. A good cholesterol ratio but high LDL. Not to worry!

  3. Fran says:

    Loved Dr.Goldhamer’s comments when he was on The G.H.D., as well as his latest comments in the rebuttal. I agree with his phylosophy as well as Beth’s comment: “…if we all focused on what we agreed on, instead of where we disagree.” On a global perspective, it would be a better world altogether.
    P.S. Kevin, you had mentioned that Dr. Cousens would give his rebuttal live on Sunday. I clicked the link, but it sais the meeting had been canceled…any idea what happened or if he will be giving one any time soon? Just curious. I was looking forward to hearing him speak again and was a little disappointed.
    Cheers Fran

  4. LeAnn says:

    How much exercise is okay when you have adrenal fatigue?

    Also, when your cortisol levels are high because of high stress and you are having trouble losing belly fat (despite a light, natural high raw diet), where do you start?

  5. Dr. Goldhamer uses the phrase ‘nutrient dense’ to decsribe plant foodstuffs. A rationnal look at animal feeding behaviors will show, in fact, the opposite. Density, we shall loosely defined as the most ‘stuff’ per unit. Per this, we nore that the animals which we define as vegetarian, to survive with max. health – what do they do, they eat all day long. Why? You can see where I’m going with now, right? As the foods are so non-dense. On teh flip side, what does the pure carniovire do? After the big kill, an aninmal can be quiescent for 24 or more hours.
    A snake will go months w/o food, after a big meal.Hibernating mammal will also go months after loading w/ dense animals.
    Plants are too yin, generally. They oxidize (burn up in the fires if digestion) too quickly, (Generally).
    Plants are non-dense x/c for their peculiar % of efa content.
    To LeAnn, re Exercise.
    When your adrenals are shot, first you need to find out which phase of Selye’s ‘stress cycle’ you are in. Mid-phase is not a straight line. It will wax and wane with all of life’s circumstances. You wull need to really be on top of your exercise. You should be doing about 80-90% EZ! aerobic, and the remainder, EZ toning resistance work. Toning, not!! looking to add any bulk.
    If you are on the downward slide side of the Stress Curve, it is possible that you should not be exercising,or at most, being extremely careful.
    Scott Einhorn

  6. Chris says:

    exactly.Meat is both nutrient and calorie dense,both good things for me.
    see nutrient charts here

    The Semiotics of Meat: a Paleo Deculturalization Program | Evolvify


  7. margot says:

    I agree w. Einhorn that plants and fruits are not nutrient dense; i get hungry much quicker when i eat a vegan meal. My way is to eat small portions of flesh, or egg w. major portion of the meal being vegetables.
    I agree w. most everything else Dr. Goldhamer said. So for me – approx. 85% vegetables and fruits, and 15% meat.
    Thankyou so much Kevin and Annmarie. I need these constant reminders and support to stay eating a healthy mix.

  8. margot says:

    On second thought, I would rather say that veggies are nutrient dense BUT not sustaining. I need more protein/fat to be sustained.

  9. Stefan Lamour says:

    It is an epistemological fallacy to hold that the truth is somehow to be found in what we agree on rather than in the domain of where there is disagreement. The most decisive factors are more likely to be in the area where there is disagreement since people like to settle for “the norm”. It is the same fallacy in believing the truth is somehow to be found in the “average”, as in the thinking since about half of humanity has two testicles, therefore on average each person has one testicle! And it leads to mendacity too. This reply of Goldhammer is trying too hard to be conciliatory but there is mendacity in that because it is obvious he is against animal products for mostly ideological reasons. The traditional Plains Native Americans ate a primarily animal diet and, when they did not die of war or infection, typically lived to advanced age. There is more religious fundamentalism in this diet business than in religion. We need to exploit our differences to discover radical truths and not be afraid of it.

  10. PE says:

    Since the immediate response to a try at commonality was to deny it byclaiming nutrient density for animal foods, I present as contrary evidence three attempts to create an index of food quality: Fuhrman’s Micronutrient Density Score, the ANDI or NuVal Index used in many stores as a quick comparative measure for shoppers, and the Nutrient Balance Indicator found in http://www.nutrientdata.com
    Surprise! All agree with Goldhamer, not the dissidents. Their ratings vary among themselves, but agree with the summary he gave above.
    When first using such indices, I was struck by how low meats scored, relative to the hoopla.
    Familiarity with them has not bred contempt. Go thou and use them likewise with confidence.
    The NBI rates literally thousands of foods, and there is provision online for you to rate more, if you have the data.

  11. Antonio says:

    Meat is dense all right, in protein and fat. Vegetables and especially sprouts are nutient dense in vitamins and minerals, especially sea vegetables. True, vegetables and fruit digest fast, and if you want to be physically active and grow some muscle, good luck eating just vegetables. Does that mean you have to eat animal foods ? That’s up to you, but I have been vegan over half my life and when I really push myself in a workout for muscle growth I have to take concentrated protein (Vegan) and it works very well. 5-7 lbs of muscle in 12 weeks.

    Lately I have been experimenting with eggs and bringing back some grains and beans and I have to admit I feel more energized than when I was just on living foods and some cooked veggies.

    Great debate, a real eye opener.

  12. Rose says:

    I was expecting Gabriel Cousen’s rebuttal. Have I missed this? Has it gone for good? If I’ve missed it,PLEASE will you put it up again so I can see it, or else give the link for it. This was the one I really wanted to see and i think I blinked and missed it!

    Thank you so much for all these fascinating talks.

  13. Tiff says:

    #2 LeAnn -in my opinion exercise is great…I’ve been and am still healing my adrenals and work out hard. Some days I do feel like resting, honor that, but I’m resting from healing AND from very hard workouts. Don’t be afraid to keep the workouts going or start working out. I think it’s worth it. my opinion 🙂

  14. Sue says:

    “Most participants agree that most of the disease in industrialized countries results from dietary excess, especially from the use of excess animal food”

    No most don’t agree. You need to be specific and not lump all animal food together which is wrong!!

  15. Sue says:

    “Meat is dense all right, in protein and fat”

    and vitamins don’t forget those Antonio. Also you need fat to absorb those nutrients from plants.

  16. Sue says:

    Also how about some honesty. If you eat meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds you will get all the nutrition you need providing you are digesting and absorbing.
    If you don’t eat animal products you can still be healthy BUT you will have to try harder to make sure you get all the required nutrients that may be missing.

  17. ABoyNamedMoon says:

    Maybe we should look at the nutrient density scores. What are we looking at in terms of standard scores? I checked out some of the micro nutrient indexes. Here is one of them.


    Why are we saying that meat is so nutrient dense? Is there a standardized index to prove that meat is, in fact, more nutrient dense than fruits or vegetables?

  18. michael says:

    I believe we complicate things when really they are very simple. Doc Goldhamer,s comments are simple and concise although I have my reservations about the dairy thing. Still what do I know.

  19. Tim Miller says:

    I like Dr. Goldhammer’s comments – very conciliatory – but he must not have listened to the same debates I did. I heard drastic disagreements and totally opposing viewpoints, everyone seemingly backing up what they said with masses of scientific studies. The answer may be that some people need animal products for whatever reason, others thrive with veg-only. I have been a vegetarian for 23 years, a vegan for 5, and I am thriving. But I have to admit I was shaken by what about half the debate participants said. I no longer know what to think for sure.

    On another note: Dr. Gabriel Cousens did present his 2 hour and 7 minute response on Sunday on his website and I listened to every word. Great stuff. Kevin, I presume you are going to make the video of it available as soon as you have it from Dr. Cousens.

    On a third note: having the debate participants respond is a great idea, but an even more all-embracing idea would be to have some non-participants of note respond too. I’m thinking of John Robbins, Dr. Jameth Sheridan, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyne and his son Rip. Of course these are all pro-vegan advocates, so some pro-meat types would also be good, but I am not qualified to suggest any due to ignorance – except maybe Dr. Sears and whoever wrote the South Beach Diet, and someone from the Atkins Foundation.

    I did want to point out a contradiction that the pro-meat advocates tend to repeat. When a pro-vegan says things like, “But no other species ever drinks the milk of another species,” pro-meat types tend to respond, “Who says humans have to do what other species do? We do all kinds of things other species don’t do. That’s our glory.” But then when pro-meat types say, “No society has ever been 100% vegan,” and vegans respond, “We don’t have to do what primitive humans did. We do many things now that primitive humans never thought of in their wildest dreams, that’s our glory,” pro-meat types don’t seem to recognize their own argument coming back at them.

    One thing that David Wolfe said in his presentation, and that Dr. Cousens amplified on in his Sunday debate recap and response presentation, was that they do not believe in evolution from natural selection as originally taught by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. I have to say, I find this totally shocking. They are talking like Christian and Muslim fundamentalists. Not necessarily wrong or bad, and I would like to read some of the books they cite (if I could remember them), but I still find myself shocked by their “confessions”.

  20. oreganol says:

    I think this is spot on. Instead of arguing over the minor points, we would do better to focus on the major points. Eat a mainly plant based diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and enjoy life. Then the minor points won’t matter so much or even at all.

  21. Chris G says:

    I think several of the early posters took the term “nutrient dense” out of context. There is certainly a greater proportion of healthier nutrients in plants in relation to their caloric intake than their animal flesh counterparts. As a couple people have said, the digestion of excess fat and protein from animal products gives – by and large – empty calories that can probably be more harming than good (particularly when you take into the pH of the bodily systems).

    Humans have included grains in their diets for a several hundred thousand years. So when should we start saying things occurred recently?

    What is natural to me is what results in the least harm. In our present society this a vegan diet. Somebody – falsely – compared us to a snake or other large predator. These creatures were designed to eat EXCLUSIVELY meat. Further to that point, their meat consumption is far less destructive as the poster even pointed out some only need to eat every few weeks to ever few months. It’s sad when OBLIGATE CARNIVORES do less harm than simply gluttonous humans.

    To further my “natural” argument, any creature that does more harm than they need results in some sort of reciprocal reactions (some may call this karma, but I stay away from religious terms). For instance a person eating factory farmed meat their whole life will probably die rather young. Even a person eating a lot of meat in general (i.e. contrary to what people like Sally Fallon believe, the Inuit actually live 10 years less than the average Canadian who eats a SAD), will probably have a short life.

  22. Sara says:

    There seems to be confusion between macronutrients and micronutrients. Nutrient-dense refers to vegetables being high in micronutrients per calorie. It has nothing to do with whether they fill you up but with how much phytonutrients you are getting.

  23. Ira Edwards says:

    “Nutrient dense” as most people want to see it is good nutrients/bad nutrients or empty calories. There can be no agreement until we define what is a good nutrient. For me, a good portion of saturated fat with low carb would be nutrient dense, because I know the research that shows saturated fats increase HDL, and the mass of research that fails to find a connection between saturated fats and heart and artery diseasse, though commonly claimed otherwise.
    I really would like my cholesterol to be a little higher. With eating many whole eggs and much fat, it stays low.
    Truth is elusive, and general agreement among debaters and respondents does little to find it.

  24. Fran says:

    Hello to Tim Miller,
    Hi, how would I be able to listen to Dr. Cousens 2hr++ comment?? It seems you are one of the few who got to listen to it. I went to his website but just couldn’t find it. I would appreciate some help/info…

  25. SueS says:

    Is it true there may be a live debate between Durianrider and Daniel Vitalis?

  26. Chris says:

    plant based diet is really just code for starch based diet and the fact remains that meat is extremely nutrient(macro and micro) rich in life giving properties(post#6).
    I think there is a bit of an irrational fear of the very foods that made humans human and not just another primate,I’m talking about the real science of the archeological and fossil and coprolite records and not some flakey pseudoscience pre-filtered through the paradigm of a priest,yogi,new age guru ect ready made for your consumption.

    You will never have a real discussion on the ideal human diet as long as we have this religious dogma(yogis,ect)that has no place in such a debate.

  27. Flora says:

    A good summary: thank you to Dr. Goldhamer. however, it would be interesting to have a summary of where he stands on each of these “conflict zones” , eg. whether on the animal foods issue, after mentioning that each individual has to determine regarding body/blood testing etc, he would personally recommend raw eggs in the morning or complete vegan…or….? i.e. what does he consider optimal in a nutshell

  28. Flora says:

    `p.s. excellently put by Ira Edwards “Truth is elusive, and general agreement among debaters and respondents does little to find it.” … also, as Stefan Lamour, an earlier poster put it “It is an epistemological fallacy to hold that the truth is somehow to be found in what we agree on rather than in the domain of where there is disagreement.”

    In view of this… is there a possibility Dr. Goldhamer might be prepared to go down the path of disagreement, so to speak?

  29. David Klappstein says:


    Just like to add my comments here. The arguments about animal/ no animal in a diet, nutrient dense or not, seem a bit simplistic. Thank goodness for PE and his comments. Look at the science of it not just general comments. It seems to me that the question of animal or plant food is not just a matter of whether it is nutritional or not. There are many more factors to be considered: nutritional value or food; bioavailability of food value; price the body has to pay for metabolizing the food(energy, toxins, depletion of body elements such as enzymes, trace minerals etc); state of health of the body; ethical and moral issues if any. These form a matrix and it is obvious, that no two people will react the same since there are so many factors involved.Let me illustrate what I mean by considering meat products,and I will consider red meat as an example:
    1. In general, as far as I know, all diets that are successful in treating cancer, and heart disease, are very strict vegan diets. So the body in a weakened state will recover successfully using a pure vegetable/fruit diet. That is not to say that meat products are not good for you, but the price to be paid for getting the “goodness out of meat” is now too high, when the body is weakened by illness. That tells me that although there is no doubt valuable nutrition in meat, that it does take a high degree of body effort to get that nutrition. If you are well, the positives outway the negatives.
    Here are some of the events that occur when eating meat products:
    1. Meats contain concentrations of anerobic microforms(bacteria, yeast, fungus) and their toxins(meat is dead—ie it is decomposing, ie fermenting) and these when injested require the immune system to destroy. The bacteria are not much of a problem, but the toxins are quite dangerous and require an immediate response from the immune system.
    2. The breakdown of meat in the body is a multi-step process, and requires a high level of energy and enzymes to achieve this. In particular the hydrocloric acid and pepsin in the stomach and pancreatic enzymes in the small intestine, especially trypsin and chimotrypsin. These two latter protein enzymes are exactly the same ones required to break down the protein coatings of cancer cells before the immune system can destroy the cancer cells. It has been estimated in some studies that up to 40% of the total body energy is required for meat protein digestion. Energy will be taken from other body systems for this period of time. Depletion of stomach acid, enzymes, and danger of increasing rate of cancer expansion(which occurs all the time)are all potential problems especially as we age, or are sick. Meat contains no enzymes, so the body must manufacturer all of those required. This is not true of plants or fruits.
    3. The metabolic ash left over from red meat is highly acidic and known as the homocysteine molecule. It is a known inflammation marker, and again, the immune system must rid the body of this as quickly as it can, before it can damage arteries etc.
    The body requires an alkaline substance to neutralize this acid in the blood which must be maintained at close to 7.4. Calcium is the favoured material, and what is not immediately available in the blood, will be taken from the bones etc to neutralize the acid. If calcium sources are depleted, magnesium sources are next, ie your muscles.
    There is potential for serious body harm if homocysteine levels remain high.
    4. The dangers inherent to injesting antibiotics, and synthetic bovine growth hormones, both of which are dangerous. The bovine growth hormone will act as an age accelerator in the body in general. Bacteria in the gut which develop immunities to the antibiotics from the beef, to name a few of the problems.
    There are other factors, but this is already too long so I will quit here.
    Nothing comes without a price on our bodies. Think carefully before you eat anything.
    For some people, given a certain body state, the bad outweighs the good, but for others, the good outweighs the bad.
    Be informed and take appropriate action.


  30. Sharon says:

    Thanks David (Klappstein) – for the very informative and helpful things you wrote.
    I learned alot!!
    What Dr. Goldhamer wrote could have been written before the debate as well..nothing

    Whatever one does….balance is the key!
    Macro people .. in its inception .. used to idolize yang food and yin was evil .. they paid the price for the lack of balance.
    Vegetarians sometimes eat the same food over and over and omit balance as well. Meat eaters need to balance their intake with enzyme rich foods and test for HCL levels – crucial – and drink alot of liquids – more than vegetarians. A balanced diet can offset
    mistakes at times. Haven’t seen alot in the raw food community about what comprises a balanced meal.

  31. Mary Dicerni says:

    I feel totally confused, but enjoyed the rapport. No one mentioned the grass fed meat and how much difference in cholesterol with free range (not free run eggs) . Loved #29, and am trying to eat the best, but still get some good chocolate and caraway rye bread. I have bought the sauerkraut, and love it in raw salad with raw onions and oil, and caraway seeds… Thank you for the comments. I will read them all again. I wanted to ask which Vit. D is best? I see raw D3, then told that D2 is useless, then hear that we use D2 to make D3., I am all mixed up now, and do not know what to do with my cod liver oil. I was told to throw it out, Mary D.

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