How I Learned How Not To Die


OK, so a few pages is perhaps underselling it, How Not To Die by Michael Greger (£15, Pan Macmillan) is humongous. A whole 576 pages to be exact. Given that my main reading time is either on the bus, where this bold titled tome caused a few raised eyebrows, or in the bath where my wrists would ache after mere minutes of reading, it was a, well, interesting choice. 
Michel Greger, MD claims that the vast majority of premature deaths can be prevented through simple changes in diet and lifestyle. So simple that the physician writes 15 chapters, each explaining how to not to die from a certain disease: ‘how not to die from heart disease’, ‘how not to die from prostate cancer’, ‘how not to die from breast cancer’.
What, you may ask, is a young journalist who primarily writes about gin and candles doing reading such a in-depth book on health and medicine. Well, I confess, I am a nutrition and medicine enthusiast. Years of reading increasingly large and boring looking books about how what we eat affects us and our health, has led to a passion for the healing powers of foods and a healthy mistrust of lifestyle advice I receive at my local GP. Even with my extensive reading on the subject, Greger's work stood out. 
How Not To Die and Greger’s medical career was inspired by his grandmother who cured herself, through food and lifestyle changes, from end-stage heart disease. So inspired by her miraculous recovery he was, Greger wanted to understand what happened and figure out why she could live another 31 years when Doctors were certain she would die. So he studied, became a physician and is now one of the leading lecturers on public health.
Greger so believes in his discoveries and their importance that he set up NutritionFacts.org a not-for-profit website that shares evidence-based health and lifestyle advice. The site runs on donations and proceeds from sales of How Not To Die. Seemingly, this is a man who has experienced revelation and just wants the world to know.
The book contains a clearly laid out series of essays that tackle the 15 diseases that kill the most people in the US. For some diseases like diabetes the knowledge that it can be prevented and cured by simple lifestyle changes is pretty well known. However chapters that tackle things like prostate, breast and blood cancers and brain disease are more controversial.
Greger makes a point that some people are incredibly uncomfortable with: that a lot of cancers and diseases that we talk about as being sudden, tragic developments are actually caused in some way by that person’s lifestyle.
The rhetoric around cancer, at least to my amateur ears, seems to avoid all mention of your diet and lifestyle and instead focuses on the sudden brutality of the disease. This makes reading books like Greger’s feel rebellious and even counter-cultural.
“I continue to be amazed by our bodies’ ability for self-repair. Our bodies want to be healthy, if we would just let them. That’s what these new research articles are showing: even after years of beating yourself up with a horrible diet, your body can reverse the damage, open back up the arteries and even reverse the progression of some cancers. So it’s never too late to start exercising and never too late to start eating healthier.” Dr Michael Greger 
It’s a long, heavy book and one that, as with everything, should be taken with a pinch of salt but the numerous case studies are hard to deny. The first step in learning how not to die could simply be learning how to cook with more fruit and vegetables.
 
What I learned from How Not To Die:
- When it comes to the power of nutrition, your doctor isn't your best bet. Do your reading and learn how to best fuel your body yourself. 
- Your body has amazing power to heal itself. A brutal diagnoses doesn't mean the end. 
- Focus on the amount a plant-based diet includes, not the things it excludes.
- The less meat in our diet, the better.
- We get too much protein and not enough fibre.
- Beans are highly underrated.
- You can't get enough sweet potato, kale or lentils.


- Drugs and pills should be a last resort, not a first option.  
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About Debarpan Mukherjee

All The Articles of This Site Are Published by The Editorial Team,Consists of A Group of Well Skilled Highly Professional Bloggers.
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