How Not To Die by Dr Michael Greger

I first heard of Dr. Michael Greger on the internet and watched a few videos on his not-for-profit website nutritionfacts.org. Essentially, he is a Medical Practitioner specialising in nutrition and what he likes to spend his time doing is reviewing the thousands of nutritional studies that get published year in, year out, and letting the world know about his most consequential, interesting findings.

I guess that’s his way to give back to others, through his skills and knowledge, what was given to his grandma after she was sent home to die aged 65, as conventional “treatments” could do no more for her to slow down her end-stage heart disease. Instead of curling up in a ball and die, she volunteered for a trial with an MD who had had results reversing heart disease. What it took was switching to a whole-food, plant-based diet (eating fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts…) and starting a graded exercise regimen. Thanks to that, instead of dying aged 65 when the author was still a child, she lived 31 more years to 96 and saw him graduate from medical school.

What Dr. Greger fights against is the ignorance perpetuated by big pharmaceutical corporations, agribusiness and the governments that these powerful conglomerates successfully lobby. Why does no one know that colon cancer doesn’t exist in traditional plant-based societies? Well, you might buy less meat if you did, perhaps, which is not in the interest of agribusiness. Why are people who suffer from depression pumped up full of largely useless antidepressants, when going on a plant-based diet has saved hordes of people from suicidal thoughts and a life of misery? Pharmaceutical companies’ purpose is to make more money and sell largely useless drugs.

Oddly, considering how little of what Dr. Greger exposes is widely known, everything he goes over also makes perfect sense. I think we all understand, on some level, that eating well equates to living well, and longer. The human body is an amazing feast of natural engineering. When you cut your skin, the wound heals. When you eat something that is slightly off, you throw it up. Your body’s natural drive is to remain healthy and fight anything untoward. Problems arise when you don’t give it the right ammunitions for the fight, and feed it heavily-processed food, meat, eggs and dairy instead of whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, whole grains and nuts.

 

The author gives this example: if you accidentally hit your leg against a table, it would hurt, get swollen, and heal on its own in time. But what if you repeatedly hit your leg in such a way three times a day, seven days a week? It would prevent your leg healing and make it worse. The same goes for our whole bodies: fed the right plant-based diet, they thrive and successfully fight illnesses; fed junk, they die. Many of us carry pre-cancerous cells around that will never turn into cancer; others develop the disease and either recover or don’t. Most of it is down to diet. It is a sobering thought. It’s crazy to think that we are actually killing ourselves. I think I always knew that the rise in cancer cases is entirely lifestyle based; but I didn’t realise that so many are entirely down to diet. Why do we not do anything about it? I guess partly, we are largely ignorant of these things. Before becoming vegan, I thought that it was necessary to have meat (chicken) as part of a healthy diet; I now know that not only is it not necessary, it’s harmful. Introducing just one weekly portion of meat into the diets of vegetarians has been shown to significantly increase their risk of heart disease, the number one killer in many Western countries. As a sometimes keen amateur sportsperson, I also fell for the rhetoric of the egg industry for years, which was trying to convince me that eggs are healthy, the right source of protein after a workout, and always safe to eat. In fact, as it turns out, my post-work-out egg had less protein in it than a glass of soya milk or a quarter of a cup of beans; my egg consumption raised my cholesterol levels and increased my risk of heart disease. Eggs also kill several hundred people every year due to the devastating effects of salmonella.

The author gives this example: if you accidentally hit your leg against a table, it would hurt, get swollen, and heal on its own in time. But what if you repeatedly hit your leg in such a way three times a day, seven days a week? It would prevent your leg healing and make it worse. The same goes for our whole bodies: fed the right plant-based diet, they thrive and successfully fight illnesses; fed junk, they die. Many of us carry pre-cancerous cells around that will never turn into cancer; others develop the disease and either recover or don’t. Most of it is down to diet. It is a sobering thought. It’s crazy to think that we are actually killing ourselves. I think I always knew that the rise in cancer cases is entirely lifestyle based; but I didn’t realise that so many are entirely down to diet. Why do we not do anything about it? I guess partly, we are largely ignorant of these things. Before becoming vegan, I thought that it was necessary to have meat (chicken) as part of a healthy diet; I now know that not only is it not necessary, it’s harmful. Introducing just one weekly portion of meat into the diets of vegetarians has been shown to significantly increase their risk of heart disease, the number one killer in many Western countries. As a sometimes keen amateur sportsperson, I also fell for the rhetoric of the egg industry for years, which was trying to convince me that eggs are healthy, the right source of protein after a workout, and always safe to eat. In fact, as it turns out, my post-work-out egg had less protein in it than a glass of soya milk or a quarter of a cup of beans; my egg consumption raised my cholesterol levels and increased my risk of heart disease. Eggs also kill several hundred people every year due to the devastating effects of salmonella.

The author gives this example: if you accidentally hit your leg against a table, it would hurt, get swollen, and heal on its own in time. But what if you repeatedly hit your leg in such a way three times a day, seven days a week? It would prevent your leg healing and make it worse. The same goes for our whole bodies: fed the right plant-based diet, they thrive and successfully fight illnesses; fed junk, they die. Many of us carry pre-cancerous cells around that will never turn into cancer; others develop the disease and either recover or don’t. Most of it is down to diet. It is a sobering thought. It’s crazy to think that we are actually killing ourselves. I think I always knew that the rise in cancer cases is entirely lifestyle based; but I didn’t realise that so many are entirely down to diet. Why do we not do anything about it? I guess partly, we are largely ignorant of these things. Before becoming vegan, I thought that it was necessary to have meat (chicken) as part of a healthy diet; I now know that not only is it not necessary, it’s harmful. Introducing just one weekly portion of meat into the diets of vegetarians has been shown to significantly increase their risk of heart disease, the number one killer in many Western countries. As a sometimes keen amateur sportsperson, I also fell for the rhetoric of the egg industry for years, which was trying to convince me that eggs are healthy, the right source of protein after a workout, and always safe to eat. In fact, as it turns out, my post-work-out egg had less protein in it than a glass of soya milk or a quarter of a cup of beans; my egg consumption raised my cholesterol levels and increased my risk of heart disease. Eggs also kill several hundred people every year due to the devastating effects of salmonella.

The author gives this example: if you accidentally hit your leg against a table, it would hurt, get swollen, and heal on its own in time. But what if you repeatedly hit your leg in such a way three times a day, seven days a week? It would prevent your leg healing and make it worse. The same goes for our whole bodies: fed the right plant-based diet, they thrive and successfully fight illnesses; fed junk, they die. Many of us carry pre-cancerous cells around that will never turn into cancer; others develop the disease and either recover or don’t. Most of it is down to diet. It is a sobering thought. It’s crazy to think that we are actually killing ourselves. I think I always knew that the rise in cancer cases is entirely lifestyle based, but I didn’t realise that so many are entirely down to diet. Why do we not do anything about it? I guess partly, we are largely ignorant of these things. Before becoming vegan, I thought that it was necessary to have meat (chicken) as part of a healthy diet; I now know that not only is it not necessary, it’s harmful. Introducing just one weekly portion of meat into the diets of vegetarians has been shown to significantly increase their risk of heart disease, the number one killer in many Western countries. As a sometimes keen amateur sportsperson, I also fell for the rhetoric of the egg industry for years, which was trying to convince me that eggs are healthy, the right source of protein after a workout, and always safe to eat. In fact, as it turns out, my post-work-out egg had less protein in it than a glass of soya milk or a quarter of a cup of beans; my egg consumption raised my cholesterol levels and increased my risk of heart disease. Eggs also kill several hundred people every year due to the devastating effects of salmonella.

Dr Greger’s main finding is very simple, and widely repeated through various examples in his book: in all areas of health (and I mean, all areas of health, from cancer prevention to suicide prevention; from head to toe), following a simple, whole-foods plant-based diet is the best way to stay in good health. However just hearing that (or reading it here) is probably not enough: reading through the innumerable findings that Dr. Greger catalogues is the surest way for the point to really hit home. Besides, for someone like me who loves “did you know…?” quips, it provides hours of entertainment! The author also comes off as charming and funny, which surely helped this medical, nutrition book find its huge audience – the book reached the 6th position in its category on The New York Times bestseller list.

I was wondering how come I’d been feeling so incredibly, consistently happy and energetic since becoming vegetarian and then vegan.  Part of the feeling must be due to the psychological effects of finally living in line with my principles and feeling relieved that I am lessening the suffering I create in the world, I thought. But I also  knew that being powdered by fruits and vegetables must explain at least partly how I felt. This impression got confirmed by the studies Dr. Greger goes over which have found that a plant-based diet is conducive not only to physical health but also emotional well-being. As crazy as it sounds, and although research in those areas needs to be pursued, scientists have already uncovered that eating meat is correlated to inflammation in parts of the brain which have been linked to feelings of aggressivity, anxiety and general mood disorders. And my husband thought he was being funny when he kept saying that I’d been much nicer since turning vegetarian! “So, that’s why the French are angry all the time then; they eat so much meat!”, he quipped. Well, he might have a point, it seems. Maybe the French government didn’t just get things wrong when they tried to introduce a new labour law that’s promising to destroy workers’ rights and prompted half the country to go on strike or demonstrations, they started getting it wrong when they made it illegal to serve vegan meals in public canteens, and made it virtually impossible to even have access to a vegetarian option (they are really backwards, I know, but things are slowly changing in the land of saucisson and cheese, due to the amount of videos that have emerged showing lambs being torn up in half while still alive and hens’ decomposing bodies being left for days in the cages where barely-still-standing hens lay the eggs people buy from major retailers).

You also learn a lot about the properties of individual food, some of which have been known by traditional societies for centuries, only to be rediscovered recently by nutritional science, a field still in its infancy. For example, turmeric is so good for you that some scientists recommend you take it daily. It is decisively efficient in preventing colorectal cancer: curcumin, the yellow pigment in turmeric, has been “effective against cancer cells in vitro”; but in vivo, when you eat it, “what doesn’t get absorbed into your blood ends up in your colon, where it could impact the cells lining your large intestine where cancerous polyps develop.” Some scientists believe that these properties at least partly explain why cancer rates in India are so much lower than in the USA (up to 23 times lower in the case of prostate cancers). Did you know that smelling saffron is exactly as efficient as taking Prozac in combating depression? Ok, so saffron is expensive, but no more so than a chemical-laden product like Prozac… And the book gives many more examples of simple, dead cheap foods that are better than supplements (which are overall useless) or medicines (which are more likely to be hurtful)… All it makes you want to do is hit the market and enjoy the power of broccoli and sweet potatoes.

The thing about How Not To Die is that reading it and spreading its wisdom can literally save lives, and in fact Dr. Greger has already saved and extended the lives of many. I was saddened to think of my parents and their meat-heavy diet, considering my mum suffers from kidney problems, and my dad from heart disease. Thankfully, they also eat their fair share or vegetables, but their diet’s balance between plant and animal products (which ideally should be 100/0) is still not right. I hope they can tweak their eating habits so I can enjoy their love in my life for as long as possible; I have ordered the Spanish version of the book to be sent to my dad. I have also taken to sending them food parcels as that is the surest way to easily improve anyone’s diet. Amusingly, they don’t seem to have actually noticed that all the food I have been sending them has been vegan, even the vegan sausages and vegan chorizo! It is a testament to how good these companies that offer meat alternatives have become.Even more sadly, perhaps, in the time I was reading the book, two more people in our lives emerged as probably needing urgent dietary advice the kind Dr. Greger provides. My mother-in-law got angina, and since then has actually cut out most meat and dairy from her diet; she says that her blood pressure is now consistently lower than before, even on days when she gets stressed out by how busy her life is. According to

Even more sadly, perhaps, in the time I was reading the book, two more people in our lives emerged as probably needing urgent dietary advice the kind Dr. Greger provides. My mother-in-law got angina, and since then has actually cut out most meat and dairy from her diet; she says that her blood pressure is now consistently lower than before, even on days when she gets stressed out by how busy her life is. According to How Not To Die, heart disease patients who switch to a plant-based diet actually start feeling the benefits in their bodies a few days after starting! The power of eating healthily is huge. I am truly looking forward to seeing her in the summer feeling better for gradually ditching meat and dairy. More poignantly still,  as recovery might appear more elusive, a good friend of ours (our Wedding Master of Ceremony, the beloved Richard-mate!) has been diagnosed with colon cancer just a few weeks ago. I am still gutted and in disbelief over this one; he’s only 38! Why? Oh, why? I guess How Not To Die started giving me an answer. While researchers were finding out that in Uganda, “many hospitals (…) had never even seen one case of colon cancer”, “colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States”. It seems that discrepancy is due firstly to typical Ugandan plant-based diets being rich in fibre and phytates, but also secondly to the typical American meat-based diet being rich in carcinogen iron (animal-based iron). Russell tells me that Richard-mate used to have an anti-vegetarian sticker on his car window… Why, Richard-mate, why? Well, the second I heard of Richard’s plight, I sent him a copy of How Not To Die; maybe he won’t heed any of its advice, but at least I won’t be responsible for him being kept in the dark over how to improve his recovery, make it speedier and prevent relapses. I had the bad news yesterday that his first dose of chemotherapy had adverse effects and he had to be rushed to the hospital. I still don’t know how he is right now. I’m crossing all fingers and toes, but part of me is really hoping that he will eat more and more healthily as weeks go by, and reap the benefits of a plant-based diet; it’s just that I feel powerless in making him change his diet, because what you put in your mouth, the building stones of your body, is so very personal and some consider it part of their identity, as if it couldn’t bear change. All I can do is share with him what I have now found out and hope for the best. I mean, he likes living so he should like the foods that keep you alive, right? But is my dad every going to accept to try kale? Unlikely. If faced with the evidence that a plant-based diet could help him stop or reverse his heart problems, would he consider changing the ratio of animal products to plant-based food he eats? I dearly hope so.

It’s hard to know how ready one person is to change their diet to be healthy or live longer in good health. I know that personally, I will always have the occasional processed food, because as Tolkien tells us hobbits have a passion for mushrooms, I have a passion for white flour cakes! But conversely, it would have never occurred to me to ever start smoking, because it’s plain stupid (plus it smells, unlike vegans’ armpits, I’ve found out). Reading this book and following most of its advice is selfishly cheerful and easy for me though: I have always loved fruits and vegetables, and enjoy eating lots of whole foods every day. My taste buds don’t need tweaking any more; I get more satisfaction from eating an apple than a bar of processed sugar. More importantly, I eat a vegan diet for ethical reasons anyway; it just feels even better knowing I’m doing myself good at the same time as lessening the load on the planet and mindfully avoiding the killing and torturing of innocent sentient animals.

But let’s end on a positive, cheerful note: did you know of the happy virtuous circle of healthy eating? It has been demonstrated by scientific studies that, all other things being equal, people who eat on average more fruits and vegetables are happier than people who eat less fruits and vegetables. But furthermore, people who are happier are also more likely, when faced with a choice between a healthy fruit or a bar of chocolate, to choose the fruit as their snack not because it’s healthy, but because they find it to be a more satisfying snack! This explains why I love my apples and pears and find I’m often not remotely tempted by the chocolate and biscuits that live next to my fruit bowl. I do so love getting to understand how my own brain works! Thank you, Dr. Greger!

 

maxresdefault (1)

The hot stud muffin Dr Greger.


Leave Comment

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

All rights reserved © America Aguilera


Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/tasty4536/public_html/wp-content/plugins/divi-builder/core/functions.php on line 336