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How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease Hardcover – December 8, 2015
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New York Times Bestseller
“This book may help those who are susceptible to illnesses that can be prevented.”―His Holiness the Dalai Lama
“Absolutely the best book I’ve read on nutrition and diet” –Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones Solution
From the physician behind the wildly popular Nutrition Facts website, How Not to Die reveals the groundbreaking scientific evidence behind the only diet that can help prevent and reverse many of the causes of disease-related death.
In How Not to Die, Dr. Michael Greger, the internationally-renowned nutrition expert, physician, and founder of NutritionFacts.org, examines the fifteen top causes of premature death in America--heart disease, various cancers, diabetes, Parkinson's, high blood pressure, and more--and explains how nutritional and lifestyle interventions can sometimes trump prescription pills and other pharmaceutical and surgical approaches to help prevent and reverse these diseases, freeing us to live healthier lives.
The simple truth is that most doctors are good at treating acute illnesses but bad at preventing chronic disease. The fifteen leading causes of death claim the lives of 1.6 million Americans annually. This doesn't have to be the case. By following Dr. Greger's advice, all of it backed up by strong scientific evidence, you will learn which foods to eat and which lifestyle changes to make to live longer.
History of prostate cancer in your family? Put down that glass of milk and add flaxseed to your diet whenever you can. Have high blood pressure? Hibiscus tea can work better than a leading hypertensive drug-and without the side effects. Fighting off liver disease? Drinking coffee can reduce liver inflammation. Battling breast cancer? Consuming soy is associated with prolonged survival. Worried about heart disease (the number 1 killer in the United States)? Switch to a whole-food, plant-based diet, which has been repeatedly shown not just to prevent the disease but often stop it in its tracks.
In addition to showing what to eat to help treat the top fifteen causes of death, How Not to Die includes Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen -a checklist of the twelve foods we should consume every day.Full of practical, actionable advice and surprising, cutting edge nutritional science, these doctor's orders are just what we need to live longer, healthier lives.
“We strive to make the best of our lives by maintaining ourphysical health and mental happiness. As food is the fuel for our survival, howhealthily we survive and how well we recover from illness may also depend onwhat we eat. Michael Greger’s How Not toDie suggests different preventative and curative measures for tacklingailments we are all vulnerable to. I hope that this book may help those who aresusceptible to illnesses that can be prevented with proper nutrition.”
―His Holiness the Dalai Lama
"The primary determinant of our health and well-beingis what we eat and how we live. In this extraordinary and empowering book, Dr.Michael Greger explains why. Highly recommended."
― Dean Ornish, M.D., author of TheSpectrum and Dr. Dean Ornish s Program for Reversing Heart Disease
"The news that a plant-based diet is the healthiest wayto eat is spreading. Dr. Michael Greger presents the groundbreaking science onhow simple plant-based food choices help us live healthier and happier lives.Dr. Greger describes which foods to eat to prevent the leading causes ofdisease-related death and shows how a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers,whole grains, and legumes might even save your life."
―Brian Wendel,Founder and President of Forks OverKnives
"Stop whatever you're doing and buy this book. Not onlydoes Dr. Michael Greger drop a metric f*ckton of evidence that a plant-baseddiet will save your damn life, he lays out the blueprint to make it happen. Dr.Greger shows us how regular folks can eat well and not get taken down by sometotally preventable bullsh*t."
"A new way of looking at nutrition and health. Michael Greger shows peoplehow to save their own lives."
―Rip Esselstyn, author of The Engine 2 Diet
"Finally a physician has pulled together the latest scientific studies onhow to fight disease and prolong life. How Not to Die shows how theright nutrition prevents disease and transforms our genes so we can livehealthier, longer. Empowering, groundbreaking, transformative work."
―KathyFreston, author of Quantum Wellnessand The Lean
"Michael Greger, M.D. scours the world's scholarly literature on nutritionfor the most interesting, groundbreaking and practical new research. His workat NutritionFacts.org and in HOW NOT TO DIE features the latest science onnutrition and health to show how to treat and prevent disease."
―JoelFuhrman, M.D., author of Eat to Live
"An absolute rhapsody of informational wisdom on how toachieve a life of health and longevity without disease."
―Caldwell B.Esselstyn, Jr. M.D., author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
"How Not To Die is one of the mostimportant books on health ever written. Dr. Greger shows us how to prevent andsometimes reverse all the major diseases that are killing us. We have thegenetic potential to live disease free lives full of health and vitality untilwe are past 100. This book is the scientific road map we need to do exactlythat."
―John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market
"Absolutely the best book I've read on nutrition anddiet."
―Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones Solution
"Meticulously well-documented, Greger's guidebookprovides evidence on everything from the pesticide-Parkinson's connection tothe role of antioxidants in breast cancer prevention. Gerger also offers upfriendly tips, like his favorite smoothie recipe and a turmeric tutorial.Follow his advice and you may not live forever, but you'll almost certainlylive a healthier life."
"This book brims with valuable insights. Dr Gregertends to rely on the gold standard of medical research randomised controlledtrials rather than the latest fads. Vegetarian or not, this book is a great wayto improve your diet."
About the Author
Gene Stone (genestone.com) is a former Peace Corps volunteer, journalist, and book, magazine, and newspaper editor, and is a New York Times bestselling author. He has written, co-written, or ghostwritten more than 45 books on a wide variety of subjects, but for the last decade he has concentrated on plant-based diets and their relationship to health, animal protection, and the environment. Among these books are Forks Over Knives, Animalkind, The Engine 2 Diet, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life, Rescue Dogs, Mercy for Animals, and Eat for the Planet.
- Publisher : Flatiron Books; 1st edition (December 8, 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 576 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250066115
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250066114
- Item Weight : 1.72 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.65 x 1.65 x 9.55 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on September 25, 2016
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However, the scientific background of the book was less satisfying. As a scientist and medical doctor, I had the feeling that in spite of accusing the food industry of cherry picking studies to support their sales, I felt that the author was doing some of the same thing here. Of course, he says that he has a big research team working for him but I seriously doubt that his employees would happily pull out the one study that contradict Dr. Greger's beliefs. Many of the studies were rather small, some even had an anecdotal character and most of them were not double-blind (although I get that this is hard to do in dietary research). Also, I found that some of the information given was wrong from a medical point of view, even dangerously so. For example, after giving a grueling and very impressive personal example of a patient dying from metastatic lung cancer, we learn that plant-based diets containing lots of antioxidants should help in this disease. Indeed, antioxidants may prevent the development of cancer, yet a number of recent, highly ranked studies have uniformly shown that in metastatic disease, antioxidants boost cancer cell survival and thus enhance metastasis (I tried to put a link here the study but Amazon told me I cannot add URLs). There was even a human study in 1996 which had to be called off with lung cancer patients because the ones receiving the antioxidants were dying faster - published in the New England Journal of Medicine, so kind of hard to overlook ("Effects of a Combination of Beta Carotene and Vitamin A on Lung Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease")!
Another part that struck me as rather limited view of things was the paragraph on fish oil. Perhaps there is no direct effect on cardiac disease, but it has been shown many times that cutting fish completely from one's diet leads to higher rates of depression. At the same time, Omega-3-fatty acids are one of the only remedies that modify the onset and progression of chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. So again, it is worth looking beyond what is written in this book!
Also, the view on diabetes is, in my opinion, problematic. Dr. Greger claims that type II diabetes is caused pretty much exclusively by insuline resistance: "The insulin deficiency disease is called type I diabetes and the insuline-resistance disease is called type 2 diabetes". This completely oversimplifies the disease and is only true for early-stage diabetes type 2, for at later stages patients have lost a significant amount of beta cells and not enough insuline can be produced any more. He mentions the word lipotoxicity but omits talking about glucotoxicity - namely the toxic effects of high glucose levels on the pancreatic beta cells. Thus, treating hyperglycemia (with drugs, if necessary) is not just a treatment of the consequences of diabetes but may also halt diabetes progression, as has been shown in innumerable publications for both lifestyle modifications and drugs. Also, recommending a plant-based diet which may include a big fruit platter in the morning could cause patients glucose levels to skyrocket and thus damage more beta cells (I cannot corroborate his observation that eating fruits does not lead to an increase in blood sugar - I recently saw a patients shoot up to 400mg/dl after eating a pineapple). So again, read this with caution!!
I could go on with more examples such as these but that is not the point of this review. What I want to say is that as with most books that claim to know the absolute truth, particularly the formula that will work for everyone and make everyone better, it is important to bear in mind that for all the research that has gone into this text, this book is strongly biased towards the theory it wants to prove. I am sure that following the dietary tipps will help a lot of people but the truth about our nutrition, if there is one, may not be discovered by reading and relying on this book alone!
"You should eat more fruits and vegetables as if your life depended on it, because maybe it does," writes Dr. Michael Greger.
And not just a few more — a lot!
In How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease, Dr. Greger dives into nutrition science providing overwhelming compelling evidence for food as medicine. He takes the reader through numerous well-conducted scientific studies that show how foods nourish and protect us. He points the eater to foods (like flaxseeds) proven to be more powerful and beneficial than medicine — if only we will eat to live.
Dr. Greger became interested in nutrition science because of his grandmother, Frances. She was put on hospice due to a heart condition and told there was nothing more doctors could do. Instead of dying, his grandmother found Nathan Pritikin, changed her diet and lived 31 years longer. She was featured in Pritikin's biography: Pritikin: The Man Who Healed America's Heart.
Greger was inspired to study medicine, became interested in nutrition science and changed his own diet after reading Dr. Dean Ornish's 1990 landmark Lifestyle Heart Trial study which showed how heart disease could be reversed with a plant-based diet and other lifestyle changes (no drugs, no surgery).
Greger repeatedly points out that a whole-foods, plant-based diet can prevent and reverse heart disease — and he doesn't stop there. In part one of the book, Greger goes through the 15 leading causes of death and systematically shows how a plant-based diet may prevent or even reverse each of these ills.
"It turns out a more plant-based diet may help prevent, treat, or reverse every single one of our fifteen leading causes of death," he writes.
He makes the case that there's an opportunity cost to food. At every meal, we can choose lifesaving nourishment, which builds our strength and resilience — or we can eat junk. Eating is about so much more than satisfying a craving or indulging a taste — it's about truly satiating hunger and sustaining and fortifying our bodies.
Dr. Greger takes issue with silent doctors and watered down dietary guidelines. Rather than assuming what people can or can't do, Greger recommends providing people with the evidence and letting them make their own choices about their health, "First, it shouldn't matter what I or anyone else eats, says or does. The science is the science."
"That one unifying diet found to best prevent and treat many of these chronic diseases is a whole-food, plant-based diet, defined as an eating pattern that encourages the consumption of unrefined plant foods and discourages meats, dairy products, eggs, and processed foods. In this book(How Not to Die), I don't advocate for a vegetarian diet or a vegan diet. 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—both to reap their nutritional benefits and to displace the less healthful options."
How Not to Die reads a lot like The China Study to start. It systematically goes through a bunch of horrible, chronic diseases and presents scientific studies, which conclude that the disease is preventable with a plant-based diet. It becomes a familiar refrain — and increasingly frustrating.
Why is this not more widely known and practiced? Dr. Greger has been talking about plant-based diets and food as medicine for 25 years (and he's certainly not a lone voice in the wilderness - see pairs well with below). Still, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer (22 experts from 10 countries) of the World Health Organization, after considering more than 800 studies on cancer in humans, showed a causal link between processed meat and colorectal cancer and declared bacon a known carcinogen and red meat a probable carcinogen, people who would on any other day say, "F* cancer!" were suddenly defending it. Eating death and suffering— for the love of bacon! How bizarre.
What if there is already a cure?
"Diets that revolve around whole plant foods — vegetables, whole grains, fruits and beans—cut the risk of many cancers, and other diseases as well." — American Institute for Cancer Research
Dr. Greger points out that agribusiness is big business and that U.S. dietary recommendations are mixed in with the Department of Agriculture's goals of promoting consumption. There is money to be made in processed foods, whereas watermelons, sweet potatoes, kale and turmeric are inexpensive health solutions.
Then, people claim they would not enjoy life if they had to give up certain foods. Again, Dr. Greger looks to the science. On the contrary, studies show people feel better and enjoy eating plant-based diets. For diabetic patients, for example, a plant-based diet is less restrictive, easier to follow and more enjoyable than other options. It's a particularly great choice for people who love to eat. Following a plant-based lifestyle, you are encouraged to eat a lot of healthy, tasty, colorful, flavorful foods at every meal.
Despite the sad state of the average American diet today, How Not to Die remains upbeat. Throughout the book, Greger amply employs wit, humor and silly puns (my favorite of which is "Them's some block-rockin' beets!" in reference to the benefits of beets for athletic performance.).
The second part of How Not to Die talks about how to make those food choices — it's about eating a lot of certain fruits, vegetables, legumes and spices every day. Dr. Greger talks about his favorites and how much to eat. Again, lots!
"One of their (World Cancer Research Fund) summary cancer-prevention recommendations is to eat whole grains and/or legumes (beans, split peas, chickpeas, or lentils) with every meal. Not every week or every day. Every meal!"
To be clear, How Not to Die is not a book about immortality. It is a book about preventative medicine and living well — how not to die prematurely and how not to suffer from chronic disease.
As the president of the American College of Cardiology, Kim Williams, MD said in advocating for and adopting a plant-based diet as written in "Heal Thyself," in the University of Chicago Magazine (Jan./Feb/ 2015), "Unlike those who find enjoyment or comfort even in foods they know are unhealthy, Williams takes solace in the belief that, with each bite, he’s doing no harm. 'I don’t mind dying,' he says, 'I just don’t want it to be my fault.'"
The book ends on a sweet and loving note as Dr. Greger acknowledges the transience of life: "And we need to make each day count by filling is with fresh air, laughter, and love—love for ourselves, for others, and for whatever we are doing with our one precious life."
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Now I go back to the beginning. Once upon a time a man called Dr Joel Furhman wrote a book called Eat to Live, which recommended, in sensationalist prose, that we should all eat a lot of varied plant material, little or no animal material, cut back heavily on saturated fat and sugar, and basically avoid just about everything really yummy like cake, chocolate, meat, biscuits, ice-cream, cheese, crisps. Dr Fuhrman became very rich selling books, healthy foods, health retreats, and running a clinic.
20 years later a man called Dr Michael Greger repeated the trick by by writing a book offering the same advice. Dr Greger's style is even more sensationalist than snappy Dr Fuhrman's and at times he sounds more like a salesman than a scientist or doctor. His solution to everything is to stop eating animal products and eat a lot of plant products. How not to die from suicide? become a vegan. How not to die from pollution? don't worry about air quality, just become a vegan. Flatulence from beans? Just cut out the dairy. Heart condition? become a vegan and whatever you do, don't take those dreadful statins which, in his world, have no role to play.
The book is stronger in places than others. The dietary advice in the second half is well balanced and sensible. The same can't be said about the dismissive remarks about statins scattered throughout the first half of the book in contradiction to the vast respectable medical orthodoxy. In this his style is well into the conspiracy theory that characterises medical quackery, and indeed his chapter on how not to die from iatrogenic causes i.e. doctors killing you, treats the whole medical profession as a conspiracy to get rich without caring much about the health of their patients.
A lot of his recommendations are properly backed up by science but I noticed that many of his assertions are carefully phrased using the word "may" as in "X may help with Y". This word "may" is littered through the book. Probably most of his recommendations are sound, but they reek of bias. I will focus on the heart disease chapter as I spent several hours studying his references. The problem is that he keeps talking about the damage caused by animal fats but the evidence mostly shows that heart disease is caused by fats in the blood. It doesn't necssarily follow that high fat in the blood is caused by eating fat. Indeed there is a strong body of opinion that says the opposite - this is the low carb school (strictly, the low refined-carb school). He cites a book called The Low-carb Fraud which has been convincingly discredited, and some of his references go back 40 years and more. Four of his key references are from the same self-confessed maverick. He does not mention a single risk or dietary disadvantage from turning vegan (although he does recommend B12 supplements). He ignores the array of scientific literature that disagrees with him, for example a huge, meta-study that showed only a very modest benefit from eating fruit and vegetables and no significant benefit from eating more than 5 a day. (If you are interested, look for the BMJ meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies by Wang). I sent this to Fuhrman's Institute and they did not seem to have heard of it either, although they did at least make an attempt to respond, thoughnot a very convincing one.
In the heart chapter which I studied in detail, I was concerned to see that some of his evidence is presented erroneously. I have to go into some detail to explain this. He says on page 22 that two papers prove that (a) fish oil supplements don't work, (b) eating more fish doesn't work, and (c) fish oil doesn't help even if you have already had a heart attack. The paper which he says proves (c) actually proves (a). The one he says proves (a) and (b) is actually positive about fish oil. Neither of them support his assertions (b) or (c).
Overall it is difficult to rate the book. The advice is probably worth following (if you can), and probably will make a big difference to your health. There is a lot of excellent discussion based on science but the salesmanship and the bias is a serious concern. For a more balanced, honest discussion it is worth reading Graham Lawton's This Book Could Save Your Life. However, it is so broad and so balanced, it doesn't go as far as it could safely go in making recommendations, and its discussion only skims the surface compared with the detail in Dr Greger's book. It is also worth reading The Diabetes Code by Dr. Jason Fung, a brilliant book with the same faults as Dr. Greger's. For Dr Fung, the solution to everything is to reduce sugar and his interpretation of the evidence is biased in the opposite direction to Dr Greger's. In Dr Fung's view there isn't a "shred of evidence" that a high fat diet is bad for you. I would love to get Dr Greger and Dr Fung in the same room together.
This book is split into two sections. The first discusses key ailments of the 21st century, and presents theories behind how our diet could be responsible for causing, and curing, these ailments (with a gazillion references to peer-reviewed studies, blind studies, etc). The second section offers a load of recipes - ideas for helping us to get to that magical 'daily dozen' (tip: download the free daily dozen app to help you track your intake of the valuable food groups).
Do your health a favour and read this book.
About the author: Michael Greger, MD, is an internationally renowned doctor, author and speaker. Additionally, he serves as director of public health and animal agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States and runs the website NutritionFacts.org. Gene Stone is the author of several books on plant-based nutrition, including the bestseller, Forks Over Knives.
Poor diet is the number one cause of premature death, and it’s often ignored by the medical industry.
Meat, dairy, eggs and processed foods that dominate the typical American diet are bad news. The study found that people who ate diets rich in these food groups were at greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and a number of other chronic ailments. Not just that, but excessive animal fat and processed meat also resulted in high cholesterol and an elevated chance of heart disease.
A plant-based diet can provide better treatment than pharmaceuticals.
Vegetarians of 12 years who began eating meat one day per week saw a drop in life expectancy of 3.6 years.So are vegetarians healthier? Well, cultures that eat plant-based diets certainly experience much less disease than we do in modern American society.
Plant-based diets can even help reverse disease.
Doctors find it easier to prescribe drugs than to change a diet, even though medication poses potential threats.
Plant-based diets have been shown to be just as effective and come with none of the risks.
Fruits, especially berries, help deter cancer and boost the immune system.
A healthy diet should contain four servings of fruit a day, one of which should be berries. Keep in mind that means whole fruit and not fruit juice.
Eating fruit has been found to improve lung function.
This is due to fruit’s rich antioxidant content, which limits cellular damage and reduces inflammation. And don’t worry about the natural sugar in fruits causing weight gain. Only the fructose in added sugars is associated with health problems. The fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients in fruit itself can combat the adverse effects of fructose.
This incredible antioxidizing power is believed to come from their pigmentation, and berries are second only to herbs and spices as the most antioxidant-rich foods, with an average of ten times more antioxidants than other fruits.
Vegetables are vital to a healthy diet.
Whole vegetables, as opposed to processed ones, have been found to protect cellular telomeres – nucleotide “caps” that keep DNA healthy as cells divide and age. Not just that, but vegetables like broccoli and cabbage can aid liver and lung function while cutting the risk of lymphoma and prostate cancer.
Eating five servings of veggies a day is the magic solution. Out of these five, two should be leafy greens like kale, arugula and chard. One should be a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower. And the other two should include carrots, beets and mushrooms. Cruciferous vegetables are essential as they produce sulforaphane, a potentially powerful, anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting molecule. These vegetables are best eaten raw since the enzyme that activates sulforaphane is destroyed by heat. Chopping them up before cooking is fine, however, since doing so activates the enzyme, thereby forming sulforaphane. After just 40 minutes, the molecule is preserved, and the vegetable can be safely cooked. Dark leafy greens are important since they contain the most nutrition per calorie of any food on earth. If you don’t like them, just try blending them into a fruit smoothie.
Beans and whole grains are great for your health.
The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends eating a serving of beans or legumes with every meal since they offer an animal-free protein with added benefits, like fiber.Soy is the most popular bean in America, but processed versions of soybeans, like tofu, should be avoided.
Lentils are a good choice for legumes as they can cut a sugar spike, even hours after a meal. Beyond that, they’re loaded with prebiotics, can relax the stomach and slow the rate of sugar absorption.
You should eat beans three times a day, and the same goes for whole grains, which can deter debilitating diseases.
Whole grains can cut the risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity and even strokes
Check nutritional labels and confirm that the ratio of carbohydrates to fiber is five to one or lower.
14 October, 2017 12:29 Share
Nuts and seeds are super nutritious.
A single daily serving of nuts or seeds can make all the difference in fighting disease?
The phytates found in nuts and seeds detoxify excess iron from the body, which can create free radicals linked to colorectal cancer. While phytates used to be considered inhibitors of mineral absorption, they’ve since been found to increase bone density.
The most recommended seeds are chia, hemp, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower.
Walnuts are the most nutritious. They’re even among the most antioxidizing foods and boast high levels of omega-3s.
Herbs and spices make healthy foods even more beneficial.
Herbs and spices can add flare to a dish, but these fragrant flavorings are also powerful fighters of disease, especially cancer.
Spices like cloves, cinnamon, oregano and nutmeg inhibit an enzyme known as monoamine oxidase, which can spark depression.
But of all the herbs and spices, turmeric is the best, especially for cancer.
While turmeric is eliminated from the body quite quickly, simple black pepper can suppress this process.
When it comes to beverages, water reigns supreme.
Aim for at least five 12-ounce beverages per day, and there’s nothing better than pure H2O.
Coffee, which benefits the liver and the brain. Those who drink more than two cups of java per day experience half the risk of both chronic liver issues and suicide.The second is tea, which can have powerful medicinal effects.
Milk is a big no-go
While moderate drinking – one drink a day for women and two for men – has benefits for heart disease, booze is also correlated with cancer.
Exercise coupled with a healthy diet is the recipe for a long life.
While healthy eating is essential, its benefits can only be increased by adding exercise to the mix. The daily recommendation is 90 minutes of moderate or 40 minutes of intense exercise.
The key message in this book: Switching to a plant-based diet can help you live longer and more healthily. Many of the debilitating diseases we suffer from today are merely a result of eating animal-based foods. By changing your diet, you can prevent or even reverse conditions as serious as heart disease or cancer.