New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!


Dr. William Li

How To Use Food To Prevent & Beat Disease


Research has shown that while we all need food to survive, the right food can not only keep diseases at bay but also reverse the impact of life-threatening ailments. Our bodies are thriving ecosystems, and our immune systems are their fortresses. Eating good food can strengthen this stronghold to keep us safe and healthy and also affects our ability to live longer and happier lives.

There’s a lot of science behind how we can beat cancer and other challenging diseases by changing our diet, but it doesn’t seem possible for most people even to think about that. It’s also important to note that while food can be a savior, consuming the wrong food type can fuel our illness further.

From my understanding, most medical schools don’t teach much about nutrition and the importance of diet in preventing diseases. But today, I have someone who has dedicated his career to researching and understanding the role our diets play in helping our body heal itself. Please welcome our guest, Dr. William Li.

Dr. William is a world-renowned physician, scientist, speaker, and best-selling author. His groundbreaking work has transformed our understanding of more than 70 diseases including cancer, diabetes, blindness, obesity, and heart disease. His TED Talk “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?” has reached more than 11 million views, and his research is slowly throwing light on how you can use food to prevent and beat diseases.

I am very excited about our guest Dr. William Li because I think that many people have been struggling with figuring out what to eat. But before we dive into the topic, let’s first get to know a little about the amazing Dr. William Li!

Who Is Dr. William Li?

Dr. William Li is an internationally acclaimed physician, scientist, and speaker. He has served on the faculties of Harvard Medical School, Tufts University, and Dartmouth Medical School. Dr. William is best known for leading The Angiogenesis Foundation, a non-profit organization disrupting disease through angiogenesis, which is the process for the formation of new blood cells in our bodies. His groundbreaking work has affected the impact of 70 diseases from cancer to diabetes and obesity.

He is also the best-selling author for his book Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself. The book helps in understanding the science of healing and prevention of diseases through food and is an excellent read for anyone looking to transform their lives through diet.

Dr. William has also appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Voice of America, and in The Atlantic, TIME, and The New York Times. He is also an author of over 100 scientific publications in leading journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and Science.

“We hold our own destiny three times a day in the choices that we are making — when we’re sitting down to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” – Dr. William Li

If you are someone who seeks to change their destiny to a life of healthy living, then this episode of The School of Greatness with Dr. William Li will be highly insightful. This has been an inspiring interview, and I loved everything we talked about. I hope you, too, feel the same by the end. Read on!

The Five Different Defense Systems in a Human Body

Early in our conversation, I asked Dr. William about the different defense systems that a human body has, and Dr. William pointed out that there are five that he knew about:

#1: Angiogenesis

The first system is angiogenesis, which is also the main research area for Dr. William. He begins by mentioning that there is a 60,0000-mile channel of blood vessels in the human body that deliver oxygen and nutrients everywhere through it.

“Angiogenesis is the growth of new blood vessels [in the human body]. When we have the right amount of blood vessels, our body is healthy. … The body never elects too many blood vessels to grow and cause problems. For example, cancers form in our bodies because we’re filled with these dividing cells, and some of them make mistakes. But microscopic cancers are completely harmless because they don’t have a blood supply. So our body prevents cancers from growing naturally by controlling the angiogenesis.” – Dr. William Li

Dr. Williams has been working to develop treatments that can cut off the blood supply to the cancer cells and starve them. This is called antigen therapy, and the same approach has been used to prevent blindness.

#2: Stem Cells

Unlike salmon, starfish, and lizards, humans can’t regenerate, right? Dr. William says that this is wrong and that humans do have the ability to regenerate.

“Humans regenerate from the inside-out. While we can’t regenerate a lost limb, we continuously regenerate our organs like the lungs, liver, kidneys, or any internal or external wounds. … It turns out that the way we naturally regenerate is through stem cells … that we are born with. … There are over 750 million stem cells packed in our bone marrow that are stored like bullets waiting for when they are needed. … Whenever [an organ] has to be regenerated, or a wound has to be healed, these stem cells come flying out of our bone marrow and [heal and] renew us from the inside out.” – Dr. William Li

What I am about to share next will simply blow your mind. I was curious to know the kind of foods that are good for one’s stem cells, guess what Dr. William recommended? Dark chocolate because it has natural chemicals that double the number of stem cells in humans.

#3: Gut Microbiome

Gut health and microbiome are almost like buzzwords these days, and there is a reason.

“There are 39 trillion bacteria in a typical human body, so we barely understand gut bacteria. But what we do know is that gut bacteria actually controls our metabolism, communicates with our brain, and helps us heal. 70% of our immune system lives inside our gut [so if you are feeding your gut a lot of bad foods], you are poisoning your immune system. … Certain gut bacteria can actually signal your brain to release social hormones and can affect your mood.” – Dr. William Li

Dr. William underlines the importance of keeping your gut healthy. Even conditions like autism, Alzheimers, and schizophrenia are all now seemingly connected to our gut bacteria. Food can enhance your gut’s good or bad bacteria, so eating mindfully is the way to go. 

#4: DNA

When I got my DNA tested, I learned that I am 1% neanderthal. But what is DNA?

“DNA is like a genetic code, but it’s more than that. DNA protects us from the environment … and is hard wired to fix itself [after damage] like sunburns, inhaling toxic fumes, amongst other overlooked ailments. … The resistance for our DNA’s defense is something called a telomere [which is a compound structure at the end of a chromosome]. If your DNA is a shoelace, then a telomere is the plastic tip at the end of the shoelace, and over time that little tip kind of wears off. So what you want to do is to slow down your cellular aging by avoiding harsh things like smoking cigarettes, or being a couch potato, or being exposed to stress.” – Dr. William Li

Apart from avoiding harmful substances, Dr. William also stresses the effectiveness of food in lengthening the life of your telomeres. Green tea, coffee, and leafy vegetables are some of the superfoods he suggests for a healthy DNA.

#5: Immune System

Wondering about the best way to boost your immunity? Let’s first understand the importance of our immune systems.

“Your immune system is so powerful that when it is in its best shape … it is strong enough to fight cancer, … even if you are an eighty-year-old. In fact, it can even wipe out metastatic cancer, [when cancer has spread from the primary source to other parts of the body]. The immune system is like an army of super-soldiers who [use] their weapons, training, and tactics to fight off external and internal invaders like bacterias, viruses, and cancer cells.” – Dr. William Li

Now that you know a little about your immune system, it’s helpful for you to know the foods suggested by Dr. William for a healthy immune system. The top two are blueberries and broccoli sprouts. If this has piqued your interest, the next section will ease your curiosity.

“Our bodies are hardwired to be healthy.” @drwilliamli  

Good and Bad Foods for Disease and Inflammation

Inflammation is a big warning sign for diseases, including cancer. The weaker your immune system is, the less capable your body is of defending itself. Inflammation is good as a warning sign and is a part of our body’s defenses and one way of dealing with it is anti-inflammatory drugs, but there is another way.

“There are foods that have a lot of anti-inflammatory properties like cranberries, chocolate, strawberries, guava, and red bell peppers. … The key to inflammation is that you don’t want to get rid of it altogether because then you might get an infection because of a lack of inflammation. Even sleep can actually help to calm down inflammation.” – Dr. William Li

While it’s essential to know about the foods that help you heal, it is also equally crucial to identify foods that are harmful to you. Let’s see the three toxic foods that cause a spike in your inflammation consistently and that also give way for cancerous cells to occur.

“There are foods that harm the body’s health defenses, including the immune system, by ratcheting up inflammation and then lowering the defensive properties. They also harm your DNA, your microbiome, blunt your stem cells, and also wreck your body’s ability to control its blood supply. … One is sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, … two is processed meats, … and three is ultra-processed food like food in boxes and cans.” – Dr. William Li

The good-tasting stuff might not actually be good for your overall health. If you are able to avoid these harmful foods or at least begin to reduce your consumption, you will be maximizing your life’s longevity. Be more mindful of what you put into your body, and create an environment of healing and healthy living.

Why You Should Listen to This Episode with Dr. William Li

Thank you so much for reading our conversation, folks! I loved everything we talked about and learned many things about healing my body. If you enjoyed this post and found it insightful, then you may want to check out the rest of this episode here to cover the parts that I missed in this post.

As is customary, here’s Dr. William Li’s definition of greatness: “Great is anything better than what you expect, that allows you to be grateful for what you have around. No matter how accomplished somebody might be, you always have to take a couple of steps back just to be humble and to recognize that it’s a privilege to do what you do, no matter what you do. You have to just remember that.” – Dr. William Li

Dr. William Li has spent decades researching the relationship between nutrition and a healthy body. To learn more about his life and work, do check out Dr. William’s website. You can also connect with him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

I really love hearing feedback from you guys. So share a review and a five-star rating on Apple Podcasts and let me know what part of this episode resonated with you the most. I would also be grateful if you could tag Dr. William Li, @drwilliamli, and me, @lewishowes, on Instagram with a screenshot of your greatest takeaways from this episode of The School of Greatness.

Before I end this post, I want to remind you that you are loved, you are worthy, and you matter. Now it’s time to go out there and do something great.

To Greatness

Lewis Howes - Signature

“The power of healing rests inside our body and health care is not something we should rely on at the doctors office.” @drwilliamli  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • What are the key things to know about the body?
  • What foods help us regenerate?
  • What cancers or diseases are easier to reverse?
  • Why are people’s metabolisms different?
  • Could people live without modern medicine if they had healthy lives or should we do both?
  • If you could predict the future, what are the ground breaking things we’ll probably discover in the next 5 to 10 years?

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The science behind using food to beat diseases.
  • The five different defense systems that our body has.
  • The importance of the gut microbiome.
  • The top foods to help you live longer.
  • The harmful foods that cause the most inflammation and disease.
  • The groundbreaking discovery Dr. Li is expecting us to find in the next 10 years.
  • Plus much more…

Show Notes:

Connect with
Dr. William Li

Transcript of this Episode

Music Credits:


Kaibu by Killercats

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