How Not To Die is Michael Greger’s book on how to improve your diet while living longer and healthier.
- Poor diet is the N.1 cause of death
- Reduce your animal-based food intake
- Increase your plant-based food intake
First of all, the books is based on two important realities:
- Genetics account for a small portion of diseases: most of your health is up to you!
- Preventing is better than treating, and #1 prevention is diet; #2 is exercising
The Dark Forces Keeping You From Truth
Michael Greger says that doctors are not taught the very basic of health: proper nutrition. But they are trained to prescribe drugs.
He says that because the body has a strong capacity to self-heal, a plant-based diet can actually reverse coronary diseases. But the medical profession prefers instead to prescribe drugs such as Lipitor, in spite it has many known side effects.
The author says that vegetarians are healthier, even when accounting for confounding factors such as BMI and wealth.
One of the proofs is supposedly in the China-Cornell-Oxford study, which showed an inverse correlation between a plant-based diet and heart disease rates.
Less “heart diseases” shouldn’t automatically mean healthier though. And indeed The China Study is a heavily criticized written by Campbell, one of the authors of the study. Critics say it’s fraught with bad science.
Overall, How Not to Die says that meat seems negatively correlated with health and mortality. Even when two groups eat the same vegetables, the group that adds meat shows higher mortality.
What To Eat
To summarize the food recommendations of How Not to Die, it would be the following:
The author recommends you eat lots of fruits (4 servings a day). Especially he recommends berries, which contain super high doses of antioxidants.
Lots of vegetables (5 servings a day).
Two should be leafy greens (ie: kale, arugula, and chard). One cruciferous vegetables (ie.: broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower). And the other two should include carrots, beets and mushrooms.
Cruciferous vegetables contain powerful cancer fighting molecules but to take full advantage of it you should eat them raw.
Canned beans are safe, as long as they don’t contain too much added salt.
- Whole Grains
Whole grains help prevent heart disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity and strokes.
Just remember to stay away from packaged whole grain with the label of “multi grain” and “stone ground”. The ratio of carbohydrates to fiber should be five to one or lower.
- Nuts and Seeds
The author recommends chia, hemp, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower for the seeds.
Walnuts are high antioxidants and pistachios increases blood to genitalia, working like a natural Viagra.
- Herbs & Spices
Oregano is great. But also cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Unless you have gallstones or kidney-stones Kurkuma is the best against several type of cancer, and you can consume it either fresh or dried. Add black pepper for longer body retention. You can consume both with curry.
The best fluid you can drink, hands down, is water.
Surprisingly for me, Michael Greger also recommends tea and coffe.
Most other beverages are a no go instead. Milk is terrible.
Real Life Applications
Care for Your Diet!
Do take care of our diet, it’s really important for all aspects of your life.
Use Less Supplements
Whole foods are always better than supplements, which also have contamination and toxicity risks.
Switch to Whole Grain
A real life application I will soon implement is that of start eating more whole grains. If you love bread switch to black bread!
I find the strong vegeterian-pushing agenda highly off putting. You look at the book cover, and you can already see it :).
That’s OK, he believes in a vegetarian diet, but then the other side of the equation is missing: eating meat must also have some advantages, no?
Critical Scientific References
The book seems to have cherry-picked resources and bent a few studies here and there in an effort to support the vegetarian agenda.
Misleading Statistical Representation
How Not to Die cites lots of studies. But sometimes the statistical significance is left up to words. “up to”, “significant”… What do these really mean?
It feels like How Not to Die ends up overstating the real effects when it uses that wording.
I was a bit put off by some recommendations based on “might help with”. That “might” make me feel queasy: how can one make a recommendation if the results aren’t certain?
Can Be Life Changing
How Not to Die has lot of tips and suggestions to improve our diets. For those with a bad fast food diet, it can be life changing.
Also read Salt, Sugar Fat for how the food industry is poisoning millions of people.
Easy to Implement
All How Not to Die suggestions are actually very easy to implement. And I’ve already started! My next buy of pasta Barilla will be whole grain, and can’t wait to try it!
I love How Not to Die.
It vibes a lot with my own beliefs about the health industry and I loved the recommendations too. I find it better than the 4 Hour Body and many other nutrition books I have read so far such as Wheat Belly.
However, I’m not a vegeterian and don’t plan to become any time soon. And that’s what bothered me about this book: it pushes an agenda instead of trying to give you the facts.
I had previously given How Not to Die a high rating. After further research, I demoted it to two stars for unscientific claims. The unscientific work behind the book, indeed, is what I had initially criticized ti for: it pushes an agenda and bends reality and researches to make them fit the author’s pre-set beliefs.