Thoughts about how not to die—prematurely

Happy mature couple standing embracing and cooking vegetable salad together

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The book title, How Not to Die! is intended to catch your attention. Its brick-like size says it’s serious—more than 500 pages, about 130 of them listing references.

Written by Michael Greger, the cover also says, ‘Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease’; and ‘What to eat to add years to your life’.

Greger admits, ‘How Not to Die may seem to you a strange title for a book. After all, everyone is going to die eventually. It’s about how not to die prematurely.’

He adds that any of us can get hit by a bus—‘metaphorically or literally. We need to make sure we look both ways in life and before crossing the street … We need to wear seat belts and bike helmets and practice safer sex.

‘And we need to make each day count by filling it with fresh air, laughter, and love—for ourselves, for others, and for whatever we are doing with our one precious life.’

Diet emphasis

The core to his approach, though, is diet. He’s a strong advocate of a plant-based diet and against a high consumption of processed food. He provides some evidence to back up his position.

For instance, the change away from a plant-based diet in China has been accompanied by a sharp rise in obesity, diabetes, cardio-vascular disease and cancer.

India, with a small increase in meat consumption, has seen a more dramatic than expected increase in diabetes, heart disease, obesity and stroke. It’s thought that the move away from ‘whole plant food content of their diet’ is the cause. That’s a shift to such things as white rice instead of brown, substituting refined carbohydrates, packaged snacks and fast food products for traditional staples.

More evidence

Added to this is a 12-year study of former vegetarians who took to eating meat at least once a week. They found an increase of 146 per cent in the odds of heart disease; 152 per cent increase in stroke; 166 per cent increase in diabetes; 231 per cent increase in weight gain; and a 3.6 year decrease in life expectancy.

These seem convincing evidences that a plant-based diet is best and will help give you a longer life. ‘The vast majority of premature deaths can be prevented with simple changes in what you eat and how you live,’ adds Greger.

Health is such an important asset in retirement that what he calls ‘simple changes’ should be considered before retirement to reap the benefit in retirement.

One more thing: When Dr Kim Williams became the president of the American College of Cardiology, he was asked why he chose a strict plant-based diet.

‘I don’t mind dying,’ he said, ‘I just don’t want it to be my fault.’

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Physical Health

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