Dr Michael Greger is the internationally renowned nutrition expert, physician and mastermind behind the incredibly popular Nutritionfacts.org, so when I heard about his book How Not To Die, I jumped straight onto the Amazon bookstore and hit buy.
I know I’m a little late to the party, as this came out in 2015, but back then I was quite the avid bacon/cheese lover and didn’t feel the need to read about how my toastie habit was going to be the cause of my premature death. The evidence is all there though; a plant-based diet is the only one which is proven to help prevent and reverse some of the most prevalent diseases in Western society.
It’s not just the food industry that Greger takes (painstakingly-researched) fire at in his books – it’s the medical professionals too; the enablers of our ongoing obesity epidemic and the big pharmaceutical companies who will prescribe us pill after pill to mask our symptoms, but never deal with the leading root cause – our diet. After all, where’s the money to be made if our diet prevents disease and we no longer rely on medication?
Although the book provides damning evidence about the negative health impacts of consuming meat and dairy products, Dr Greger himself does not advocate a vegan lifestyle. Instead, he says ‘I advocate for an evidence-based diet, and the best available balance of science suggests that the more whole plant foods we eat, the better.’ It’s not an all or nothing approach; it’s about minimising your consumption of the ‘red light foods’ and maximising consumption of the ‘green light foods.’
One of the key things I will take away from the book, and continuously refer back to, is the Daily Dozen; a list of recommended foods and exercise. Since reading the book I’ve been consuming turmeric and flaxseed daily and trying to tick off as many of the servings of the Daily Dozen as possible. Ticking off the checklist is as simple as adding an extra ingredient to your morning smoothie or adding a serving of greens to your dinner. If the difference between sickness and health is a few extra veggies, what have you got to lose?
How Not To Die is filled with cutting-edge nutritional science, and practical changes you can easily incorporate into your daily life. It’s no doubt the most comprehensive book on health and nutrition I’ve ever read, and one I recommend everyone should give a try, regardless of their existing lifestyle and eating habits. It’s a sad but true fact that the vast majority of premature deaths could easily be prevented with a few simple diet and lifestyle tweaks. Remember: if it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.