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Plant-Based Eating, Inflammation, and COVID Severity

Recently, I started having some severe pain in my hip that came out of nowhere—I didn’t injure myself. After seeing my doctor and going to physical therapy, I realized something about the food I’d eaten the day the pain started. Watch the Vlog to hear what I discovered and how it relates to your Bright Line Eating journey.

Podcast Audio

Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. is a New York Times bestselling author and an expert in the psychology and neuroscience of eating. Susan is the Founder and CEO of Bright Line Eating®, a scientifically grounded program that teaches you a simple process for getting your brain on board so you can finally find freedom from food.  Read Susan’s Full Story

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  1. Brenda

    I have tried plant~based eating before~And felt it was too hard. I would like to see a module (Or course, or separate boot camp; for people, like me, that want to learn how to shift to this lifestyle.
    I will also post in “Friendly House” on Facebook page.

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi, Brenda! Thank you for the suggestion and at this time we do not have modules or courses on nutrition or plant-based eating. Bright Line Eating is animal-protein neutral, meaning that, in this community, vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores are all welcome and support each other. We are united in our Bright Lines of sugar, flour, meals, and quantities, and the habits and systems that make this way of life so unique and empowering; we focus on our similarities, not our differences. That said, we recommend The Food Revolution Network as a resource to learn more about plant-based eating. You can find them here: https://foodrevolution.org/

      Reply ·
  2. Graceanne Adamo

    It seems like there is great interest in this subject (diet and joint inflammation or inflammation in general). It would be a great topic for a BLE forum. I would love to hear from professionals that don’t have a stake in a commercial proposition based in this topic, such as rheumatologists, The public hears very little from them directly for example. I am inclined to do a “PubMed” NIH database search on the topic. If I learn anything interesting, I will share.

    Reply ·
  3. Jann Kredit (KAC)

    I would love to read more about the study but have to run now and the challenge of finding it is real lol

    Curious though did the study also mention any obesity connections. as well? Or age? Or preexisting conditions ?

    I also would be suspicious of any food running through our system that quickly and targeting a hip immediately

    Reply ·
  4. Stephanie Smith

    Hopefully next VLOG we find out what is really ailing her leg? hip? thigh?
    I am a Vegan but I am a logically thinking human. All these so called Health experts
    have an agenda. As for Ocean Robbins he always looks exhausted and Neil Barnard
    looks anorexics and I am a card carrying member of PCRM

    Reply ·
  5. Pam

    After reading some of the comments below, might I respectfully suggest that you play Susan’s vlog again and listen carefully to what she did and didn’t say? She began by saying she had an injury of unknown origin to her hip, and the next day, shortly after she ate some meat and eggs for breakfast, the hip suddenly became much more inflamed and painful. Nowhere did she say that the meat caused the injury. Then she described a scientific study that compared the severity of covid illness in people following a plant-based diet, a plant and fish-based diet, and a low carb, high protein diet. She just presented the facts of the study, and she did it very well. I have read the study and you can, too – the link is in one of my posts below. Finally, she suggested that once you have found peace around your food with BLE, you can choose the foods you eat to create the healthiest diet for yourself. BLE itself is totally neutral on that subject. If you think a plant-based diet might be healthier, and it appears that some people following BLE do, then you can try that. You can optimize your diet as you wish based on whatever studies or evidence you give credence to. Susan is sharing her recent personal experience, but she is not telling you what to eat, and I don’t think she ever will.

    Reply ·
    1. Kate Flanagan

      Sure Pam. Still very disappointed SPT of that caliber would go to a statement of blaming eggs and meat while promoting. The agenda of know aggressive bullying group whose tactics and messaging is bullying at best. She should retract and clarify but better yet use some of her God Guven Smarts in Academia and. Do actually look at the science in the health field as she has tied to an academic facility and she counsels very metabolically challenged individuals. She also needs to realize by her thing in Ocean Robbins to her anecdotal. Single experience and promotes a questionable Study planted ( ha pun intended ) to drive an Agenda, very disappointing professional move . How about widening her lens outside of the heavy political crowd and talk with other innovative movers and shakers in the healthcare industry. Yes she is in the addiction lane but she influences both good and bad and that little video just made a whole bunch of people, anxious and. Bad, and questioning with out being provided anything I return. Incredibly bad example. She needs to do a much better job. Never would buy something promoting a hidden agenda and not supporting. Individualized. Medicine and awareness. The fact she doesn’t even acknowledge she makes money off people who have major and dangerous metabolic issues is a travesty. There is plenty of long term evidence Vegan diets can cause more issues in health. Than not and Vice versus. Does BLE even offer Nutrition or health counseling? I don’t recall any local Tochester physicians recommending her -because her specialty is addiction. Addiction and Carbohydrate leads to many problems. Stay in your lane please and stop pushing agendas and very very false anecdotal experiences that have no basis in reality. I can line up 100 orthopedic MD’s who will attest to the fact Eggs and Meat don’t have a damn thing to do with the pain in SPH’s hip. More likely her age, stress level, sitting on the floor doing her blogs— maybe even grandma’s genes – I can name 40 peopleI know who when through the same thing.
      She chose to politicize it.
      She chose to make false claims and statements
      She chose to align her word to clearly state eggs and meat and tie it to her “friend” ocean.

      Come on get real!

      Make a retraction – invite in Read MD’s to discuss,
      Do your homework
      Be responsible.
      You are working with mostly woman
      You are working with people. In high risk categories, and with significant. Health risks.

      Just be responsible- stay in your professional lane of addiction.

      Carb addiction also is very real. Microbiome issues are very real
      Being a Size 4 doesn’t mean Jack if your metabolic health is a disaster, your hormones are a mess or the pesticides and herbacides in all the food your eating is doing more damage .

      May I suggest looking up

      Sara Gottfried MD
      Robert Cwyres MD
      Jeffry Bland PhD

      Spend some time talking studying those that know the biology.
      Nutrient Dense with focus on. Health issues. Should always be first and foremost but you have aligned your self with a very politicized aggressive bunch.

      If that is what you want BLE representing without even looking at others making great new strides in science, health outcomes ,and peace of mind. You way just puts more guilt and shame and EVEN WORSE. FALSE FUD sales crap- as your agenda. Fear Uncertainty and doubt!

      Retract- make an effort to get to the truth! Interview your orthopedist – double date you to get them to say your hip pain is caused by eggs and meat. Holy Crap Susan come in you graduated from UR and your originally from California! Your better than this

      Reply ·
  6. Athena

    I appreciate your balanced wisdom and allowing us to build on our food choices. Getting to a “right-size” body and changing from “permissive” to more “restrictive” has been huge for me and is enough right now. It is just fortunate that from all my own research over the years on what is the right diet, I have come to the conclusion “plant-based” is the way to go, albeit I am not there 100%. Thanks again, Susan!

    Reply ·
  7. Rosemary Wynn

    Very interesting – I will be looking into the plant based options – Thanks

    Reply ·
  8. Katherine

    I am sorry that you are going through such a joint problem, and even can believe (although there may be other causes) that your flareup might have been caused by what you ate the other morning. But I am very disappointed that you chose to generalize about everyone’s healthy diet from this, and from one study. There is a range of different and healthy and un-healthy microbiomes. It doesn’t seem that the study made any differentiation between a standard meat-based diet (lots of meat, few vegetables, processed foods) and a diet such as what I follow now: 7-8 cups of vegetables, 2-3 oz meat at each meal, no grains, no pulses. The reason I joined BLE boot camp in the first place was because even tho’ I had been diagnosed with yeast overgrowth and yeast allergy 20 years ago, due to my sugar and chocolate addiction, I couldn’t follow a diet prescribed by my doctor. After bootcamp (this is 20 years later) I started trying on my own to find the right diet for me (I was at normal weight to begin with, but still had symptoms), and came across Ocean’s WFPB, tried it, and of course, got worse. I then tried other protocols, and the best so far, is what I described above. I would refer you to Dr. Terry Wahls’ book on reversing (not curing) her MS. This is probably a lot more actual green vegetables than even a whole-foods plant based (WFPB) includes in one day. I would love in the future, if my gut can heal, to add back pulses and grains, and would love, for ecological and ethical reasons, not to eat animals. I would imagine that your audience at BLE includes many of us who fall into this category of having a fungi problem in our gut, given both the standard American diet high in sugar, and the fact that your target audience will be very high in sugar addicts (!). Initially I was disappointed that your book and course didn’t address healthy eating much, but now see the wisdom of that. Research in this area and of our microbiome, mycobiome, etc. is ongoing, and exciting and we certainly don’t know all yet. Thank you, and I hope this perspective is helpful.

    Reply ·
    1. Nathalie Hainaut

      Hello Katherine, thank you for your comment. I am sorry that you felt that my participation at the conversation was a generalization as I did not intend it as such. I felt I needed to share my personnal experience which may help others. It is upmost important to be curious and see what works for our own body. This works for me and it may not for others. If I eat animal protein, pain will follow, Although I loooove cheese and meat, it’s just not working for me. My husband also feels intense lower back pain when he eats animal protein, but he refuses to give up, which is his choice and I totally respect it. And by sharing in this kind of conversation, yours and my experience may help others.

      Reply ·
      1. Katherine

        Hi Nathalie, I DIDN’T mean my comment to be to YOUR post, but rather to Susan!! I’m not always good at navigating email comments, etc. etc., as I don’t do it often. So sorry This was a message intended for Susan and BLE. And yes, like you, I really wanted to say something helpful for others — that is, the science of our guts is in its infancy, and both WFBP and “Paleo” (in a healthy way) have worked for different people. Also, individual testing is what is needed . . . . OK, cheers, and good health to you!

        Reply ·
    2. Y

      Right on!! Love Terry Wahls! Love the Microbiome research! I Ave been traveling to Cleveland Clinic’s new functional Medicine Clinic opened in 2014 – we regularly measure and consider m, genetics, Microbiome, metabolic dysfunction, Guy health, physiological as well a psychological health focus.
      So much more to the picture than people understand.
      Personally very disappointed SPT a very accomplished And smart academic at one of the worlds best Medical School Universities ( the discovered and named the glymphatic system in 2011 for crying out loud… why we need to maximize our deep sleep and genetic anomalies are critical. Why Personaluzed and precision media on are the forefront!
      But to politicize and carelessly put forth an agenda of a very bullying snd aggressive group- wrong on many levels and that study is ridiculous, out dated and not based in evidence!
      Yes eat diverse, eat mostly plant based for diversity, but most of all eat for health including addictions, metabolic, therapeutic etc. to make a stem RBG tgat eggs and meat eaten once, or at all in a period of time caused a common , likely age related injury, is the example of irresponsible.
      As an Academic professional, go get educated about what and why you are promoting something! There is a MUCH Bigger healthier picture. No one rule for anyone to follow – everyone needs to understand snd follow their own map. I to was /am addicted to carbs and subsequently Candida Albican overgrowth and a family full of auto -Immune. Celiac, lupus, type 1 diabetes, RA etc. plus’s Genetics put me very high risk for Alzheimer’s /I have to be aggressive on Inflammation, Insulin Resistance, Blood glucose response and covering all kinds of nutrients regularly! Ocean Robbins is a nice boy, the concepts I get but the tactics are Nazi, oppressive, Bullying and outright wrong. Sad to see BLE align with that mentality and not taking time to educate on how to asses what your bash needs and can thrive on. Instead you just put pressure on a whole bunch of people wrongly asserting they will have joint snd pain issues by eating eggs and meat. Nope not referring you to anyone I know- you look foolish!

      Reply ·
      1. Graceanne Adamo

        I agree with your statements Katherine. very disappointing. SPT seems to be going down the hype hype hype the bullshit trail with her collaborators. Unfortunate because the basic BLE is well reasoned and researched. I am sad to see this by/to/with happening to SPT!

        Reply ·
  9. Nathalie Hainaut

    Before joining BLE, I experienced severe plantar faciatis in both feet. It was horrible…I could not walk more than 15 minutes and could not stand more than 5 minutes. For 5 months I tried different therapies, but nothing worked. A friend told me about inflammation and animal protein, and though I had very little faith in this, mostly because I was a super carnivore, I still gave it a try, since I could not get any results after dragging this pain for so long. The next step was cortisone therapy by injection. I was ready to try anything else.

    So I took all animal protein out of my diet. A week later, my pain was down by 50%. 3 weeks later is was gone!! I could not believe it. I wish I could tell you that from this moment on I decided not to eat animal protein ever in my life, but I did not. Instead, I celebrated with a nice piece of beef on the BBQ and cheese as an appetizer. The very next day, I got up and could not walk…the pain was all back!!! So I decided to stick to my no animal protein diet.

    However, slowly I starter adding the odd cheese, fish and meat here and there. In the winter of 2018, I started having severe pain in the joints of my fingers, and I suddenly remembered my grand-mother who had so severe arthritis that her fingers were all crooked. I got so scared that again, I went back to a plant based diet.

    Now at 57 years old, I have not experienced plantar faciatis again, the pain in my fingers is gone (within a couple weeks after I stopped eating animal protein) and also a pain I had in my knee which miraculously got away too.

    Having experienced it on my own body, there is no doubt in my mind, and I don’t need studies to know that animal protein can not only heal my body, but it can also make me very sick.

    However, I was still not loosing weight. As a floor and sugar addict, I had no problem indulging in those even on a plant based diet. BLE was the missing link I needed to loose weight and I am forever grateful to have found both WFB and BLE on my path to a healthy body and a healthy life.

    Reply ·
  10. smg

    I’m a fan and I’m very sorry that you are having such pain. At the same time, I think it’s a bold statement and connection to make between eating meat and your pain after 1 incidence. Have you ruled out other things (ie. unseen mold exposure or Lyme disease)? The research study that you cited was vague in the details. Was it talking about ‘junk’ meat which causes inflammation or high quality meat like grass fed beef and organic/free range chicken? Did the study talk about the portion size of the meat protein that was consumed, as many overconsume meat and food in general, including processed foods and gluten and so they would have a high amount of inflammation in their bodies from many sources and perhaps that was why they had more severe cases of COVID 19, because they were unhealthy to begin with from many factors. There are many people who do not feel better on a vegetarian/vegan food plan. One size does not fit all when it comes to food. Many would say eggplant and tomatoes are good for you (for example), yet many cannot eat them or other plant based foods that fall within the ‘nightshade’ family as they are an irritant to the GI tract and therefore, unhealthy for those individuals. Have you spoken to a Functional Medicine doctor about your pain/food, such as Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D. at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine? His books promote eating a lot of vegetables, little grains, specific fish AND small portions of high quality grass fed beef and organic/free range chicken. Again, there were some bold statements/conclusions made in your vlog and 1 study cited related to COVID 19, with what seems like critical details missing (ie. the other foods that those severely impacted by COVID 19 were eating, the quality and quantity of meat consumed, fitness level, BMI, etc.), yet repeating the vague details of that 1 study will be enough to incite fear into some of the viewers. It seems like we don’t know all of the facts of the research study, and therefore, the conclusions presented, don’t seem well founded.

    Reply ·
  11. Petra

    Hope the hip problem cause will get revealed soon! Tx for sharing the study, inspiring and motivating to continue on the plant based journey!

    Reply ·
  12. Graceanne Adamo

    Your discussion lacks a valid diagnosis for your pain. You ate meat and eggs, the “boom”. … is not evidence of causation. Much more likely sudden onset was not really so sudden. Many mechanical injuries build up over time , then seem to occur suddenly. Beware of jumping to cause and effect conclusions. I suggest you seek medical advice from a quality orthopedist or physiatrist..

    Reply ·
  13. Julie

    I’m sorry for your hip pain and issue. But isn’t your correlating eating meat and eggs with the onset of the pain more anecdotal, and not scientific? Thanks for any info you can provide! God bless you!

    Reply ·
  14. Rebeca Schiller

    Two years ago, I started having a hip problem on the left side. It was painful to walk and to sleep on my side. It started to affect my gait and then my other hip started to hurt. After consulting with a massage therapist and finding some YouTube videos from two orthopedic specialists I started doing the recommend stretching exercises. Lo and behold, the pain lessened, but what finally solved the issue was wearing shoes with good support. I bought a pair of expensive orthotics and inserted them in my shoes and the problem went away.

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Wonderful news, Rebeca! So glad you were able to find relief. 🧡

      Reply ·
  15. Susan

    I’m curious to know if the study separates the quality of meat products eaten. A McHamburger is much different quality than grass fed, pasture raised not finished with grain beef.

    As always, thank you for the awesome vlog! Heal swiftly. 💕

    Reply ·
    1. Beth Richardson

      So true and such a good point to bring up.

      Reply ·
  16. Stephanie

    You may not have done anything to hurt your hip, but have there any changes in your life.
    New desk chair, new shoes, new bicycle etc. Anything that could cause you to change your gait
    or the way you sit.

    Reply ·
  17. Stephanie

    I am a Vegan. Eating meat should not cause your hip to hurt unless you have been eating more then you admit and you have gout.

    Reply ·
    1. Roger

      Gout is a good bet, joint involvement, red meat, lots of intense pain. Sounds like a strong possibility.

      Reply ·
    2. Catherine

      There are studies showing an immediate inflammation in the body after having heavy cream in coffee. It’s certainly possible, although I don’t think the topic is helpful for the overall message of BLE.

      Reply ·
  18. Pam

    I happen to be a vegan, having phased into it during my early days of BLE. There are many foods and herbs that are antiinflammatory. Of all of them, the one that I find most impressive is amla, the Indian gooseberry. This fruit, which looks something like a green plum, is widely used in Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine. It is one of the most powerful antioxidants known, many times stronger than wild blueberries, for example. What amazes me is that I have found that taking it for just a few days banishes the morning stiffness, aches and pains that seem to accompany aging. I mix a level teaspon of dried organic amla powder with my morning oatmeal, and my CRP (C-Reactive Protein, a measure of inflammation) has never tested lower. Studies have shown it also lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. Dr. Greger has talked about it several times on his NutritionFacts website. It won’t fix an acute injury such as you described, Susan, but its overall effect on inflammation can only help.

    You are probably using an arnica-based gel to ease the pain. One that I have found particularly effective is called T-Relief Arnica +12. It was introduced to me by a physical therapist.

    Reply ·
  19. Pam

    Susan, thanks for sharing the BMJ article. Can you supply the exact title of the article or a link to it? Did the study control for weight? Vegans typically have the lowest BMI (body mass index) of any nutritional group, and being overweight is know to increase covid severity.

    Reply ·
  20. Kate Flanagan

    Susan, I applaud your braveness and So sorry your going through the painful hip episode! If your in Rochester I know the Ortho Urgent Care and the team running it! Your in good hands! That said, you are in danger of pushing the Vegan /Vegetarian scare mongering. That study showed zero science and was used as were you by Ocean and crew along with Bernard etc. You are an accomplished woman of science -use that brain! It is about so much more than propaganda! Factors should always be considered for nutrient density, status of health particularly metabolic dysfunction spectrum, microbiome, balanced approach and fact – genetics also play a role on risk factors and anomalies of individuals and needs. Go interview Michael Snyder MD Chairman of Genetics and Personalized Medicine, the CEO of Cleveland Clinic and the amazing work their new Functional Medicine Center, put in the heart of their world renown hospital! You can’t say your this PhD renown Brain scientist and not know anything about medical science. You have the brain and capacity to learn! Hope your hip heals and your back to your old self in no time!

    Reply ·
  21. gursharan saini

    Iagree with plant based eating.but i am over weight//obese. Turmic with warm water daily may help to reduce pain in joints,susan

    Reply ·
  22. Ariann Thomas

    Susan, Great as always. I follow an anti-inflammatory diet because I have joint issues. I also avoid night shades and a a variety of other vegetables that don’t personally agree with me. I found BLE to be flexible enough to work with. I absolutely cannot do a plant based diet because my body does not function on a strictly plant based regime. I only eat fish and fowl to supplement the protein in my diet and that seems to satisfy my body’s need and keep my brain working too.

    Reply ·
  23. Sherill

    Susan, can you please clarify what exactly a “plant based diet” is? Does it mean literally a diet based on plants? Or does it mean a diet exclusively consisting of plants and no meat? If the latter, why is it not called vegetarian? I’m trying to figure out where I fit in here. My diet is literally based on plants (about 20 servings/day) and in addition I eat 3 servings of meat a day. Does this mean I am not eating a “plant based diet”? The British study you mentioned isn’t clear about this, and I would dearly like to know. Thank you, and stay healthy!

    Reply ·
    1. Pam

      Sherill, that’s a good question. A plant-based diet is made up entirely or almost entirely of plants. It is not called vegetarian, because a vegetarian diet may include milk, cheese or eggs. Sometimes people who eat fish as their only meat consider themselves vegetarian, although that is generally known as pescatarian. A vegan diet eliminates meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey — anything animal-derived — and utilizes plant foods exclusively. You will often hear the term whole foods plant-based diet (WFPB diet) as being very healthy; that is a diet consisting of plant foods that are whole and unrefined or minimally refined — very little in the way of processed foods. If you are eating meat three times a day, that wouldn’t be called a plant-based diet. But it’s not all or nothing. The more you reduce the amount of meat you eat and substitute plant sources of protein, the more you receive the benefits of a plant-based diet.

      Reply ·
    2. Bright Line Eating

      Hi, Sherill! The term “whole-food plant-based” typically means consuming foods that do not derive from animals, including meat, eggs, and dairy. Vegetarianism could include eggs and dairy and veganism would mean avoiding foods AND products (like chapstick. lotion, etc) that come from animals. We hope this helps! 🧡

      Reply ·
  24. S B D

    My take on any injury with a supposed connection to a type of food would require multiple efforts to establish a connection. There is a chance that some other circumstance was at play including a building up from a source that finally reared its head. Science dictates that…

    Reply ·
  25. Trish Nix

    I have recently started making my own gluten based “meats” and am really enjoying the process and results. I do try to balance between gluten, soy and beans. Thanks for the information!

    Reply ·
  26. Amanda Perry

    Very powerful blog. It would be interesting to find out more information and research on the impact of food on inflammation, especially since inflammation is being indicated in more long term health conditions. Thank you

    Reply ·
  27. Cheryl

    Recently I have read about two plant based meats Beyond and Impossible that are using fetal kidney parts for flavoring. Beets are the listing for the flavoring, but I am horrified to think that this might be happening.
    The other thing is a flavoring that is widely used called Senomyx that is also related to fetal aborted parts. https://www.kingdomclaritylabel.com/news/a-comprehensive-list-of-food-companies-and-products-that-use-senomyx?fbclid=IwAR16ofQ24s5XOodP84hWWKMXd38Ggvi6auVvYBKW8j6S4izKFNAYORaUN9Y Crazy times. Just asking what information you may have. Thanks.

    Reply ·
    1. Stephanie

      Don’t believe everything you read

      Reply ·
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