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Eat To Beat Disease: Reimagining Our Healthcare Systems With William W. Li, MD

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Did you know that your body can fight off diseases if you eat the right foods? Learn about the 5x5x5 framework and how you can feed your five defenses correctly. Join Corinna Bellizzi as she talks to Dr. William W. Li, MD, who is the bestselling author of Eat to Beat Disease. Discover how your body heals itself with stem cells. Learn the best foods to eat while still having some cheat foods. And, join Dr. Li’s free masterclasses to know more of what you’ll learn today!

About William W. Li, MD

William W. Li, MD is an internationally renowned physician, scientist, and author of the New York Times bestseller Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself. His groundbreaking work has led to the development of more than 30 new medical treatments and impacts care for more than 70 diseases including cancer, diabetes, blindness, heart disease, and obesity. His TED Talk, “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?” has garnered more than 11 million views. Dr. Li has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, CNBC, and the Dr. Oz Show, and he has been featured in USA Today, Time Magazine, The Atlantic, and O Magazine. He is president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation and is leading research into COVID-19.

Website Links: – Guest LinkedIn – Guest Website – Guest Twitter – Guest YouTube – Guest Masterclass

Show Notes: 

3:53 – Introduction

6:04 – Why Write A Book?

11:43 – Defining Health

17:28 – Finding The Good Foods

23:52 – The Study Of Steam Cells

30:37 – The 5x5x5 Framework

36:14 – Dr. William W. Li’s Masterclass

42:06 – What Did You Learn?

About “Eat To Be Eat Disease”

Eat your way to better health with this New York Times bestseller on food’s ability to help the body heal itself from cancer, dementia, and dozens of other avoidable diseases.

Forget everything you think you know about your body and food and discover the new science of how the body heals itself. Learn how to identify the strategies and dosages for using food to transform your resilience and health in Eat to Beat Disease.

We have radically underestimated our body’s power to transform and restore our health. Pioneering physician-scientist, Dr. William Li, empowers readers by showing them the evidence behind over 200 health-boosting foods that can starve cancer, reduce your risk of dementia, and beat dozens of avoidable diseases. Eat to Beat Disease isn’t about what foods to avoid, but rather is a life-changing guide to the hundreds of healing foods to add to your meals that support the body’s defense systems.

The book’s plan shows you how to integrate the foods you already love into any diet or health plan to activate your body’s health defense systems-Angiogenesis, Regeneration, Microbiome, DNA Protection, and Immunity-to fight cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative autoimmune diseases, and other debilitating conditions.

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Eat To Beat Disease: Reimagining Our Healthcare Systems With William W. Li, MD

We’re going to discuss something I’ve touched on a few times before. That’s the social economic and environmental cost of healthcare or should we call it sick care? To unpack these challenges and give us insight, we are joined by Dr. William Li. Dr. William Li is an internationally renowned physician, scientist and author of the New York Times bestseller, Eat To Beat Disease: The New Science Of How Your Body Can Heal Itself.

His groundbreaking work has led to the development of more than 30 new medical treatments and impacts care for more than 70 diseases, including cancer, diabetes, blindness, heart disease and obesity. His TED Talk, Can We Eat To Starve Cancer? has garnered more than 11 million views. He’s appeared on Good morning America, CNN, CNBC and The Dr. Oz Show.

He’s been featured in USA Today, Time Magazine, The Atlantic and O Magazine. He is President and Medical Director of The Angiogenesis Foundation and is leading research in to COVID-19. He’s someone I’m thrilled to learn from through his wit and work, his TED Talk and his YouTube channel. Dr. Li, welcome to the show.

Corinna, thank you for having me on.

It’s a pleasure to have you here. I read your book cover to cover. It both delivered on the title, which is quite audacious and also surprised me. For one, you didn’t take beer, red wine, chocolate or my prized coffee out of my possible treats. What was the catalyst that set you on the path to write this book?

Corinna, this is something I get asked all the time, which is, “How does a doctor who has been involved with treatment development, drug development and biotechnology move over to nutrition?” It starts with how I grew up. I grew up appreciating home-cooked foods, whole foods, tasty, delicious foods.

I also spent a gap here between college and medical school before I trained to be a doctor, living in the Mediterranean and researching food in culture and how the perception of health was connected to people and what they ate in the land that they grew their food on. This is something that was deeply connected to who I am. When I went to medical school, I learned 4,000 years’ worth of medical science packed down into 4 years and learned how to write prescriptions and became so inspired by the diseases that we could not conquer.

I got involved with very sophisticated drug development. Through a field called angiogenesis, which is how the body grows blood vessels, I embarked on looking at common denominators for disease, with the idea that if you could find a common denominator of disease and of health, you could pull the bow back and send a single arrow through multiple problems at the same time.

This approach which I’ve done through The Angiogenesis Foundation has been enormously successful. We’ve come up with 42 new FDA-approved treatments for cancer and complications, diabetes, even blindness. I realized in the midst of all this we were missing the biggest opportunity of them all which is to prevent disease in the first place. For people who are sick, I know as a doctor that my patients always asked me, “How bad is it? How long do I have? What do I need to take?” The fourth question that everybody always asked me was, “What do I need to eat?”

The difference between 3,000 to 4,000 years ago and today, when it comes to food and health, is science.

I was never taught that in medical school. I thought that was wrong. It led me back to ask, “Can we study food nutrition using the same science that we have used for drug development, for developing medicines?” Food as medicine is something that I not only talk the talk about, I’ve been walking the walk on this. That led me to realize that when it comes to food and health, it’s not about kale or celery juice or whatever trend or fad is out there.

It’s not just about the food. It’s about how our body responds to what we put inside it. If you put something bad inside your body, you’re going to destroy your health. If you put something good inside your body, you’re going to activate your health. That’s what I focus on. How do we activate the health defenses that are hardwired inside our bodies?

I come from the world of health and nutrition, having spent twenty years working in supplements first in herbal extracts and learning about Chinese medicine and how 100 or more different herbs could be used to promote health or to help the body return to a more normal state after an inflammatory event or something to that effect.

I interfaced over the years with many doctors. Whenever I was dealing with somebody that was more on that holistic side, I’d hear the same stories that it matters what you put in your body that you’re nurturing your health. When you nurture your health, when you look at food as something that nourishes, as opposed to something that fills you up, satiates, that you are able to then catapult yourself forward, reach your best health and live your longest life.

Even meeting with a traditional Chinese doctor and having them look at your eyes and your tongue and saying, “You’re eating X, Y and Z that aren’t good for your health.” You can read these challenges by modifying a few your daily habits or choosing foods that are of broader assortment, grabbing fruits and berries that are dark in color. They’re rich in anthocyanidins and other key nutrients.

As I read your book, I found myself continually going back to this one thing, “This doctor gets it. This MD understands all of these things that I’ve spent most of a lifetime learning.” When I go to the doctor, they often say things like, “You’re suffering from seasonal allergies. Let me give you a pill to fix that.” That pill to fix it will be temporary and may give me some other side effects. I’ve tended to go to a different route, which is sometimes harder but also helps to manage my health.

One of the things I wanted to talk about with you is the impact that that has, not only when we hear from a doctor and trust what they say is gospel, “I’m going to go take these three things to modify my health or I’m going to exercise and eat right. I’m not going to stick to it because it’s hard. I haven’t been told how.” How do you seek to change what we’re doing from the Western medicine perspective so that we don’t run into these giant costs of continual rises in health costs? It’s untenable for most Americans. They can’t afford to cover their medical expenses anymore.

It’s useful to look at the history of medicine. You mentioned Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, which goes back 3,000 or 4,000 years. You got to realize the East, the West, if you go into the time machine, the retrospective scope that far back, there were no medicines. There were no pharmaceuticals. There was no industrialization of medicine.

All we had were our bodies, which we still have. We had the things around us that we encounter every single day, our food. Occasionally, we can go out and look for some more specific items like herbs, spices, herbal healing and all those kinds of medicinal things. What you’re talking about is bringing the thread of our history forward to the present day and not letting it go.

CMBB 74 William W. Li, MD | Eat To Beat Disease
Eat To Beat Disease: Food and health are about how your body responds to what you put inside it. If you put bad things inside, you’re going to destroy your health. If you put good things inside, you’re going to activate it.

The vision between allopathic versus naturopathic, Western versus Eastern, those are the color shirts that we wear to get onto the field and have competition. I look at it differently. The difference between 3,000 or 4,000 years ago and now is that we have science. Science is an incredibly powerful tool. First and foremost, it tells us how our body works.

I got involved in this by asking something simple. When I was in medical school, I was taught about diseases. What is cancer? What is heart disease? What is diabetes? What is hypertension? What is Alzheimer’s disease? All those things have book answers that you can memorize. In medical school, we’re taught to take something off the shelf, write a prescription and learn how to manage a disease, which is chasing disease with drugs.

When I was starting from the beginning of medical school, I asked a slightly different question, which is, “What is health?” I can define a disease but what is health? The answer I gave myself for many years was, “Health is the absence of disease. If I’m not sick, I’m well.” That can’t be true. It’s a very frustrating answer because you can’t do anything about something that’s the absence of another thing.

What I started to do is to use the work I had done in doing cancer research and trying to figure out how do we regenerate our body with regenerative therapies and medicine to say, “Health isn’t just the absence of disease. It’s the result of a lot of hard work that our body’s health defense systems are doing on our behalf every single day from the day we are born until our very last breath. These health defense systems are ones that were formed in our bodies, along with our organs. They were formed at the same time. They are what’s responsible for the fact that we’re not sick more often.”

The question isn’t so much, “Why did I get cancer?” for example. A bigger question is, “Why don’t we get cancer more often?” The answer to that is that our body is hardwired to be able to defend us against diseases, invaders from both the outside world and also the inside world, inside our body. The foods that we eat can elevate, activate, boost our health defenses. If we eat the wrong things, they can take down those health defenses, beat them down, which then makes us more vulnerable to disease.

All of a sudden, there’s an operational definition of health that is so useful in thinking about how to integrate what we’ve always known for thousands of years. Generations ago, there was this intuitive recognition that our bodies know what to do if we prompt it the right way. We’ve got science to pull it right to the cutting edge.

I couldn’t have said that any better or hoped for a better response. I’m in a situation here where I look at our rising healthcare costs. If you average out the cost of healthcare from the entire populace, we’ve spent $3.6 trillion on healthcare in 2018. That’s before the pandemic. I don’t have current data. People are still scrubbing those numbers but we’re talking about an average of $11,172 per person. That’s a huge number.

Ultimately, if you were to ask most people, “Do you have $1,000 a month to spend on healthcare?” they’re going to tell you, “No.” What are your thoughts about how we can seek to control that? Perhaps it’s through implementing some of the basics of your book and getting to this 5x5x5 framework that you detail throughout it, which puts control of our health a little bit more back in our hands.

I also have heard from many people, “I don’t live near a health food store. Most of the grocery stores that are near me don’t have half the foods that might even be mentioned in this book. How do I do it?” I was hoping that you could talk a little bit about that. What changes you might recommend for somebody who’s living in one of those so-called food deserts?

Humans, just like animals, have the capacity to regenerate. In fact, humans regenerate a little bit every day, from the inside out using stem cells.

Let’s take that apart piece by piece. First of all, is the escalating costs of healthcare. I’m a trained medical doctor. I have a medical practice. I know how costly it is to try to help somebody manage a disease, wrangle with a disease, try to cure a disease once the horse has come out of the barn. Essentially using that analogy, if you’re chasing this wild mustang that has raced out of the barn, it’s going to take a lot of energy to run after it, to catch it, try to calm it down and then hopefully lead it back into the barn.

In most cases, these runaway chronic diseases that we’re talking about, cardiovascular disease, cancer, pulmonary diseases, diseases of metabolism like diabetes and obesity, are expensive diseases conditions. Most of them have no cure. Once you are dealing with that problem, you’re continuously throwing resources at it. It’s not helpful to the patient. They don’t get relief from it. You keep on going. The healthcare system has to keep on chasing it.

It is this infinite loop or circling the drain that we’re doing if you can’t prevent your disease. There is a recognition even among hardcore traditional physicians that the body is capable of reversing diseases. For example, we know that if you allow your immune system to work at full steam sometimes with a little bit of helping from an oncologist using immunotherapies, which takes full advantage of your own immune system, you can take cancer that’s spread everywhere, reverse it and clear the body of all signs of cancer.

Do we even call that cure? It’s not cure. That’s the wrong term. We’ve reset the body back to its baseline where cancer has been put back to its place like the genie is back in the bottle. Think about using your own immune system to erase cancer like a dry erase board. That’s what our own body’s able to do with one of our health defenses. Our immune system is one of our health defenses. Our circulation is another one of our health defenses.

We all know cardiovascular disease is extremely costly and it compromises the quality of life. Blockages of our arteries, we blame on red meat, non-healthy fats, lack of exercise and genetics. Much energy in the healthcare system has been, “Can we do diagnostics and include stenting? Can we do surgical bypass?” All those things can be helpful but they don’t put the genie back in the bottle.

Researchers over the last 30 or 40 years have been able to identify. You can take those blockages and unblock them, undo the damage in the body using the body’s own defenses. You can ramp up your metabolism and open up those blockages. You can grow more circulation where the circulation isn’t flowing adequately for your heart or brain. You can even regenerate parts of your organs.

Diet is the easiest way to be able to do this. This is where science is taking us. How do we understand the processes that go from healthy to sick, normal function to abnormal function? How do we look at that continuum? How do we ask ourselves, “Can we turn the clock back and figure out how foods we eat can intercept that?”

Much about healthy eating, Corinna, has been about elimination. “Don’t do that. It is judgmental. Foods are castes, villainous or evil.” They put that label. You throw that cloak of that label onto the manufacturers. I have a different point of view. My point of view goes back into this ancient wisdom idea, “What foods are good for us. What should we be adding to our body?”

We can spend a lot of time whipping foods that are not good for us but that still begs the question, “What should we be adding to our diet?” That’s what I have been doing my work on in my book and the classes I teach. My research is all focused on, “What do we add to activate our body’s health defenses that can help us avert and avoid those chronic expensive diseases?” A lot of people do have illnesses. You can’t avoid everything. If we have them, how do we use food to do that extra bit that medicines can’t do?

CMBB 74 William W. Li, MD | Eat To Beat Disease
Eat To Beat Disease: These chronic diseases are expensive and most of them have no cure. So once you’re dealing with that problem, you’re continuously throwing resources at it. It’s not helpful to the patient at all.

In your interview with Dr. Mark Hyman, you talked about this personalization of nutrition and healthcare and how we may be even getting to a space where you’re able to create even medical treatments. It will be very personalized to the individual so that they can get back to their best health. These things are expensive to develop but you’ve also been involved in creating a new way to guide stem cells where they’re needed in the body which is amazing.

I read a bit of the research. Even in the equine space, I have a horse that had an injury. I was looking at things that I might do to support that injury, particularly in an area where they don’t have a lot of circulation. The lay public isn’t going to know this but any horse fanatic might. They don’t get a lot of circulation in their legs, which is surprising to us because we’re humans and we stand up and we think, “Our heart’s here. The blood goes down.”

Because of the shape of their body and how their blood vessels are, if they get a leg injury, often it’s debilitating for a long time. They’ve been doing research about how you can take stem cells and help to heal an area because that time to heal has everything to do with it. They develop other issues later on. Can you tell us a little bit about this? I’d love to know more.

I started my work, looking at an area called regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicine again goes back to something we probably all grew up with. When we were in kindergarten, our teachers told us starfish and salamanders can regenerate. Those were amazing but people can’t regenerate. That’s what we thought for a long time but that chapter’s been torn out of that textbook and out the window.

In new ones being written, we do know that humans and animals like horses have the capacity of regeneration. In fact, we do regenerate a little bit every day. We regenerate from the inside out using our stem cells. The stem cells that you are referring to, looking at the equine world for things like foundering and other conditions, for humans, this idea of, “Can we take some stem cells and inject them to help the tissue, the body, the limb, the heart or the brain recover a little bit?

It’s quite amazing what you can do with that. Our bodies are all formed of stem cells. We are stem cells. When our mom’s egg met dad’s sperm in the womb as a couple of balls of cells, after about five days, we started to use stem cells. We became stem cells. We were the stem cells and we multiplied. Those stem cells are amazing because they can turn into anything. They turn into the heart, the lung, the liver, the eyeball, the tongue, the big toe.

Over the course of nine months, our stem cells became us. When we were born, we didn’t use all the stem cells that were available to us. This is like painting a room. If you’re going to do a project and paint a room, what are you going to do? You’re going to buy paint but you’re not going to buy the right amount of paint. You’re probably going to get an extra can or two. There’s nothing worse than running out of paint.

It is the same thing when we were forming our bodies. When we were born, we had extra stem cells lying around. How many? This has been counted. We’ve got 750 million extra stem cells that weren’t used when we were born. This is by C-section or by vaginal delivery. What did our body do? Mother Nature is so clever. Those extra stem cells got packed away in our bone marrow and in our fat.

Although most people regret their body weight when they look in the mirror after stepping out of the shower, everyone looks at that cute chubby baby and says how pudgy and wonderfully chubby the baby is. Those stem cells are packed in that fat. In fact, 5% of all cells in fat are made out of immune cells that also continue to communicate and build our immune responses and metabolism as well.

Health isn’t just the absence of disease. It’s the result of a lot of hard work that your body’s defense systems are doing on your behalf.

What we’ve been able to do is remove these stem cells either from an umbilical cord. This is stem cell harvesting at birth. Get the cord blood. Some people do that. You can get stem cells from liposuction. It’s a crazy thing I’ve been involved with. There are researchers that are able to do liposuction on people who have some extra body fat. Take that fat out. Fat has a lot of stem cells in it.

We have to be good at growing new fat to survive the hard winter.

That’s right. Those stem cells are embedded in the fat. You pour a little bit of enzyme in there. You separate all the fat and you spin that stuff down. Fat floats to the top and the stem cells go to the bottom. You pour out the fat. You take what’s left, those are stem cells. A plastic surgeon can hand those cells to a cardiologist who can inject them into your heart or a veterinarian who could inject them into a leg.

My mind is blown.

What we do know is that from lab research and clinical trials, you can regenerate parts of the body. I was reviewing an incredible study. This is a first in the human study using a person who had a terrible accident and got completely paralyzed from a cervical injury. That’s a very high-up injury to the neck that severs the spinal cord, couldn’t move arms or legs, wheelchair-bound, shriveling up, atrophying.

They got an injection of their own stem cells taken from liposuction from their own fat. Over the course of the year, they were able to get up and walk again. You can regenerate. Where did they get their stem cells? It’s not in their legs. They got the stem cells injected into their spinal cord. It helped to regenerate. We are not there yet from a biotech perspective but the future is incredibly exciting.

What I got excited about as I was looking at food as a medicine is that while medical researchers have not yet come up with something that’s ready for primetime broadly for stem cell therapy, Mother Nature’s already beat everybody to the punch, beat humans to the punch because there are foods that contain natural substances that already stimulate our stem cells that can improve our circulation, that can help to regenerate our wounds. That is one of the most exciting things that we can use diet to help coax our stem cells to not just heal but to regenerate us from the inside out.

I do want to get to a basic understanding for our audience of what this 5x5x5 framework is. I see it as a tool to help people manage their health whether they live in a food desert, have a deep pocketbook and get to a space where they can control their own health by managing their body’s ability to utilize the stem cells that they have innately born in their body. Can you talk a little bit about how you develop the framework? What people can expect when they read the book and go to your website or sign up for your newsletter? I’d love to cover that quickly.

I’m all about equality, access and democratizing health. Here’s the great news. Those health defense systems, we’ve got five of them. That’s the first 5 of the 5x5x5. Everybody has them. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do for work, where you live whether you’re in a desert or not. The bottom line is that you have these five health defense systems, our circulation, angiogenesis, how our body grows blood vessels, our stem cells, which we talked about, that’s part of our defenses.

CMBB 74 William W. Li, MD | Eat To Beat Disease
Eat To Beat Disease: Everyone has circulation and angiogenesis for blood vessels and stem cells. Everyone has a gut microbiome. Everybody is made of their own DNA. And, everyone has their immune system.

A third is our gut microbiome, our healthy gut bacteria. Everybody has those. Our DNA, everybody is made of their own genetic code that helps to protect our health and then our immune system, which everyone has as well. The first piece of good news about that 5x5x5 is the first five is that we all walk around with our health defenses. That’s part of our endowment or inheritance from being born. Everybody’s got those. The food we eat can activate them.

The second five is that I wrote about more than 200 foods that are not about expensive, luxury class, business class-level foods. If you fly business class on an airplane, most of the people are sitting in the back of the plane. There are 5 people or 10 people sitting in the front. This is not about that. The foods that I write about are completely identified by science.

I took a completely agnostic view on it. It turns out that things that are like the Mediterranean diet, whole plant-based foods, fruits and vegetable, whole grains, nuts and legumes, seeds, healthy oils, things that are not that expensive and considered peasant foods, people that did not have a lot of economic means. Those are the ones that simply activate our bodies’ health defenses.

I wrote a list of 200 foods. If you read my book, open up to the back pages where all those foods are listed. I tell people to take out a sharpie and start circling the foods that you already love. Don’t worry about the science. Circle the foods that are like, “I like raspberries. I like chocolate. I like this.” Circle them up. I want you to sit back and take a look at how many you’ve circled.

If you got a cell phone, take a photograph of every page where you put a circle. That’s why to use a Sharpie so you can see it clearly. That means that the foods that you already love are good for you. Those are the ones you start with. You are already way ahead of the game before you even look at anything else. Here’s the other thing about food. We encounter food. That’s the second five.

The third five is about five times a day, breakfast, lunch, dinner and usually a couple of snacks. Whether it’s in the morning, afternoon or evening, we tend to encounter food. I call this, “Five shots on goal.” Every time you encounter food, about five times, you have an opportunity to make a decision that’s either going to activate your health defenses. Hopefully, you don’t make the decision that you choose something that’s going to take them down.

Here’s also a piece of good news. If on average, most of the time, you are doing things to support your health defenses, you can afford to fall off the wagon a little bit because your body’s health defenses will be able to take that. No one’s perfect. My approach, the 5 health defense systems, 200 foods that can feed each of those 5 defenses, eat at least 5 foods every day, 1 food every day that activates each health defense and the 5 shots on goal that you have every day. That’s a simple way. It’s a way of getting in your head.

I can do something good for myself in 5 ways about 5 times a day. That makes us more accountable for our health. The great news is that these foods taste great. People love them. Many of them are peasant foods. You don’t find these foods at the Michelin-starred restaurant. You can find some of them in a grocery section, even in a gas station if you’re in the middle of America. I drove across the country and it is true. I drove through plenty of food deserts. I went on Instagram Live and I made little videos to show you can go almost anywhere and still find some of those foods in the 200 that activate your health defenses.

I love the list. I did not pen mine up yet. I wanted to keep it pristine. I’ll photocopy it and take a list with me. There are many foods on here. You didn’t take away a glass of wine or a beer a day. Not to say excess but having some of these things to support your health systems. I also went to your website, which is and signed up for your newsletter.

Did you know for every five grams a day, you lower the risk of mortality or the chance of cancer growth by 30%.

I received a download right away that was specific to COVID-19 and five things you can do to support your health with recipes which were great. Anybody reading could go and sign up for that newsletter and get that piece. You’re going to be running a masterclass. This is something that you’re offering at no cost. Talk for a moment about what that is. How people can find you?

People can find me on my website. It’s My handle is at @DrWilliamLi. I’m on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and all the usual places. I’d been doing these masterclasses because during the first part of 2020 when the pandemic first hit it, as a medical doctor I was trying to figure out what I could possibly do to help out.

One thought I had was to put on my white coat, go downtown and see if I could help to bail people out in the emergency room or the ICU. I’m a card-carrying doctor. I could certainly do that. I realized that we know almost nothing about this disease. Research still needs to happen. I put on my research hat and I started to dive into doing research on the Coronavirus. It’s not an area that I ever thought I would be involved with but it was fascinating. Within the first 60 days, we made a big discovery that in COVID, your blood vessels are affected.

That is my wheelhouse. All of a sudden, I got sucked into the center of the whole research area. The other thing during that period is that I’ve spent a lot of time staring out the window saying, “What was going on? What could we do about it?” Nobody likes to sit around, doing nothing and feeling helpless. That’s where I realized that in a time of crisis that we went through, like every human on the planet, doctors can’t always prescribe medicine. They don’t always have a test to diagnose a disease.

Hospitals can’t always help you or save you. In effect, during that period, people wanted to stay away from doctors. In fact, doctors wanted patients to stay away from their clinics. Hospitals couldn’t do very much and were overwhelmed. That’s when it became crystal clear to me that something that we could all do and we had to do was to make a decision to eat every single day. We had to eat our meals. We had to have breakfast, lunch, dinner and a couple of snacks. We all ran out into the grocery store, brought stuff back and we filled up our pantries.

I realized this was the moment, if there was ever a moment, to know that the decisions that we make, the empowerment that we have from knowing which foods can activate our health defenses to protect us including our immune system. There were no vaccines at the beginning. That was the single biggest advantage that we could have against the unknown. I decided to start putting together these masterclasses, which I do every month and every other month.

Come to my website. You can sign up for my newsletter. I’ll tell you about my masterclass. It’s completely free. What I do is come on and talk about your health defenses, new research on foods and new discoveries, research on food that can be helpful. I try to focus on clinical research which involves humans, not mice and things that happen in the test tubes.

I talk about what we’re learning about people and why it works. There is no reason that research should stay on the bookshelf or in a library or only among the research community. That information needs to be heard by people. That’s why I started to do these masterclasses. I encourage everyone to sign up. It’s completely free. I get up there sometimes hold up a research paper and talk about new things that we’re learning that can empower you to be able to make a decision that could change your life.

I’ll give you a quick example. In a major journal called Science, a big cancer center called MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, working with the National Institutes of Health who are looking at cancer patients who are getting immunotherapies. They’re quite amazing because they can help your immune system clear out cancer but they only work in about 20% of people.

CMBB 74 William W. Li, MD | Eat To Beat Disease
Eat To Beat Disease: The New Science Of How Your Body Can Heal Itself

For most of the people, it doesn’t have a good effect. They went to look in their guts. They looked in poop and found that the people who responded had one bacteria called Ruminococcus. They asked, what did they eat to get that Ruminococcus? They found that it was dietary fiber, foods with fiber, not supplements. In fact, they found that the supplements didn’t work well but whole foods with soluble fiber worked. They calculated for every 5 grams of dietary fiber per day, that would lower the risk of mortality or the chance that cancer would grow by 30%.

That information is credible research in a journal that cancer patients are always asking their doctors, “What should I be eating, doc?” They don’t get an answer but research is starting to deliver. This is what I do in my masterclasses. I talk about the latest research and try to get people to be excited by the fact that science is blazing the way forward when it comes to food and health.

I can’t wait. I’m coming. You can’t keep me from it. We’ve already covered so much ground. I could keep you here for hours if you’d let me. I want to thank you for your amazing work, from the important research on stem cells to what you’re doing to help people take control of their health. I love it all. Thank you so much, Dr. Li, for your hard work and for joining us.

Thank you, Corinna.

As you consider what we’ve covered, I want you to think about how eating to truly nourish your body changes how you see, what you eat and what you drink. You might choose fewer hamburgers and more carrots, berries and nuts instead. You might include a dark chocolate, a pint of beer or a glass of nice red wine with the goal of helping your body reach its best possible health.

If you’re ready to get activistic in foods and learn more about what you can do to improve access in your area, I encourage you to do a little research. You might even go to my episode with Ethan Welty on falling fruit and log some fruit trees in your neighborhood. Organize a party to-go and pick that fruit that would otherwise fall to the ground and share it with the friends and family around you. Look at farmers’ markets, consider harvesting fruit. You’ll likely support that activism strike within yourself.

If you want to know how to organize, you can always sign up for my newsletter, and you’ll receive a five-step guide to help unleash your inner activist. What did we talk about? We talked about the 5x5x5 framework and 5 ways to unleash your inner activist. I’d also encourage you to go to and sign up for his newsletter. Join me and him and an onslaught of many more people in his masterclass. I look forward to staying connected. Thank you, readers, for being a part of this show and this community because together we can do so much more. We can care more and be better. We ca

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  • William W. Li, MD

    William W. Li, MD, is an internationally renowned physician, scientist and author of the New York Times bestseller “Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself.” His groundbreaking work has led to the development of more than 30 new medical treatments and impacts care for more than 70 diseases including cancer, diabetes, blindness, heart disease and obesity. His TED Talk, “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?” has garnered more than 11 million views. Dr. Li has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, CNBC and the Dr. Oz Show, and he has been featured in USA Today, Time Magazine, The Atlantic and O Magazine. He is president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation and is leading research into COVID-19.

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