Separating Science from Religion | Gary Fraser, Md, PhD

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What can health-conscious people learn from the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Join me in Episode #293 as I sit down with Distinguished Professor Gary Fraser, a cardiologist and leading nutrition scientist, to discover the science on why Seventh-day Adventists have better health outcomes.

“I think it’s kind of true that there are at least three things which are almost at the core of a person’s being. One is their politics, the second is their religion, and the third is how they eat.”

Professor Gary Fraser is a renowned expert in cardiology and nutritional epidemiology. With a medical degree from Otago University and a PhD from the University of Auckland, Professor Fraser has significantly contributed to our understanding of diet and health, particularly through his leadership of Adventist Health Studies at Loma Linda University. His work, which includes over 275 peer-reviewed publications, focuses on the health impacts of vegetarian nutrition and lifestyle on chronic diseases and longevity. His findings in the areas of nut consumption, dairy’s role in cancer risk, and life expectancy among Seventh-day Adventists are particularly notable, making him a pivotal figure in the discussion on diet and health outcomes.

“One has got to believe that a true religion is going to support science and science will support the religion.”

In this episode, you’ll learn key highlights from Professor Fraser’s 40+ year research and practice career, including BMI and mortality in the Adventist population, the risks and benefits of dairy consumption, omega 3s, and a variety of other health indicators. We also evaluate the key differences between omnivore, pescetarian, vegetarian, and vegan diets, and examine the conspiracy theories that are often projected onto this population.

Specifically, we discuss:

  • Intro (00:00)
  • Discovering Gary Fraser’s Scientific Career (02:04)
  • What Influences a Scientist’s Change of Mind? (08:17)
  • How to Avoid Bias in Nutritional Data Analysis (15:07)
  • Exploring the Seventh-Day Adventist Perspective on Nutrition and Lifestyle (20:46)
  • Investigating Longevity in Vegetarians and Non-Vegetarians within the Seventh-Day Adventist Community (25:13)
  • Comparing Health and Longevity: Seventh-Day Adventists vs Average Americans (29:59)
  • Analysing Body Weight Differences: Adventists vs Typical Americans (33:30)
  • Muscle Mass and Bone Density: Insights from the Seventh-Day Adventist Population (39:38)
  • The Impact of Protein Consumption and Physical Activity on Strength (44:16)
  • Dietary Variations Among Seventh-Day Adventist Women and Men (48:14)
  • Evaluating the Risks and Benefits of Dairy Food Consumption (51:35)
  • The Impact of Long-Term Diets on Health (1:05:15)
  • Omega 3 Supplementation vs Fatty Fish: What Does Research Indicate? (1:07:19)
  • An Introduction to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (1:09:00)
  • Uncovering the Story of John Harvey Kellogg (1:12:56)
  • Exploring the Link Between Plant-Based Diet Patterns and Reproductive Health (1:16:36)
  • The Role of the Seventh-Day Adventist in the Battle Creek Sanitarium (1:20:58)
  • Gary Fraser: A Scientist Embracing Seventh-Day Adventist Beliefs (1:24:58)
  • Addressing Major Criticisms of Gary Fraser’s Nutrition Research (1:30:24)
  • Diet Comparisons: Adventist Vegetarians vs EPIC-Oxford and British Vegetarians (1:34:49)
  • Assessing Diet Quality in Adventists: Vegans, Vegetarians, and Non-Vegetarians (1:39:31)
  • The Role of DNA Methylation in Diet and Health (1:44:26)
  • Identifying Main Mechanisms Behind Health Outcomes (1:47:03)
  • Investigating Dietary Patterns in Adventists: A Study on Lupus Correlation (1:48:55)
  • Delving into Additional Research on the Seventh-Day Adventist Diet (1:52:08)
  • What Does Adventist Diet Research Reveal About Dairy? (1:54:53)
  • Identifying the Most Significant Dietary Change for American Health and Longevity (2:00:53)
  • Where is the Future Heading in Diet Studies for Ultimate Human Health? (2:05:10)
  • Outro (2:10:59)

It’s been an honour to have Professor Fraser join us today. His unique insights into the Seventh-day Adventist population offer a wealth of knowledge on the intersection of diet, lifestyle, religion, and health. Professor Fraser’s extensive research and findings are invaluable resources for anyone looking to understand the profound impact of nutrition on our well-being. I hope this episode enriches your understanding of how dietary choices can shape our health outcomes.

Learn more about the Adventist Health Study 2 at

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More about Dr Gary Fraser

Gary Fraser was born in Christchurch, New Zealand (NZ). He received his medical degree from Otago University, Dunedin, NZ and a PhD in epidemiology and a postgraduate diploma in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Auckland, NZ. He has an FRACP (NZ medical specialist) qualification, American Boards in Cardiovascular Medicine, and is Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and of the American Heart Association. Professionally, he has received more than $30M in research support (mainly from NIH) and has, so far, 275 peer-reviewed publications and two books published by Oxford University Press. His professional research foci have been nutritional epidemiology, vegetarian nutrition, methods in nutritional epidemiology, life expectancy research, cancer and cardiovascular endpoints. For 36 years he has been the Director of Adventist health studies at Loma Linda. He mentored, and has contributed to, nearly all publications from Adventist Health Study-1 (AHS-1), then initiated and guided development of AHS-2. Research highlights have been findings about nut consumption and effects on health, the surprising extensions of life expectancy in Adventists, the surprisingly diverse effects of dairy consumption on risk of common cancers, methodological work on ameliorating the effects of dietary measurement errors (during and following a Senior NIH Research Fellowship taken at the University of Cambridge University, U.K.), and more recently getting acquainted and using the bio-informatics methods necessary for high dimensional “-omics” research. He has received the Distinguished Researcher Award from Loma Linda University and is Distinguished Professor in Epidemiology and Medicine at Loma Linda University. Over the years he has maintained a cardiology practice, now working about equally effort on AHS-2 and clinical cardiology. With his wife he spends about 50% time in NZ (mainly working on AHS-2 while there), and is reactivating skills in piano performance (Associate degree Trinity College, London from long ago). Enjoys wilderness walking in both NZ and California, as well as visiting children and grandchildren scattered between Tennessee, California, Hawaii, and NZ.

Additional resources and supporting studies

  • A ‘Blue Zone’ heart doctor says he recently stopped drinking milk because of his own research — but he hasn’t cut back on cheese: Insider

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