books and reviews

How Not To Die: Thoughts on Diet and Health

During my 30-day trial with eating healthy for the sake of my skin, I thought it might be a good idea to pick up a book on diet and health. I’m not a big fan of pseudo-science, and wanted something I could really sink my teeth into – something with lots of scientific backing.

So I decided to download How Not To Die by Michael Greger on my Kindle over the spring break, and read it voraciously. And now that I’ve had time to read and digest it, I thought I’d share my thoughts of the book with you, and how it’s changed my perspective on health.

Check it out on Amazon here!

How Not To Die: A Review

First of all, it’s huge – over 500 pages. Second of all, it’s an extremely comprehensive review of the latest scientific studies on food and health. The footnotes section alone is gigantic.

The way the book is laid out is in two parts. The first part has a chapter for each of the 12 leading causes of death, and how diet plays a role for each (including suicide and depression, seriously). The second part includes a really useful and logical food guide that is simple to follow, with science to back it up.

I want to give this book to everyone I know – that’s the kind of impact it had on me. I’ve read tons of health-related books before, but I loved how thorough and readable How Not To Die is, without dumbing it down much. I appreciate that this book treated me like an intelligent human being, not someone that needed to be shielded from harsh truths and big words.

This book explained to me why it’s so important to add spices to food (antioxidants!) and why turmeric is the bomb. It explained the risk of animal product consumption and how much I should really be exercising (90 minutes of moderate or 45 minutes intense exercise daily). It talked about how broccoli is an amazing anti-cancer drug.

Really, just read it. It’s great.

How I’m changing my diet based on this book

I eat a relatively healthy diet, but this book has swayed me to change a few things. First of all, it convinced me to eat more fruit (4 servings a day, which includes 1 serving – 1/2 cup – of berries). I love fruit, so it really didn’t take much convincing. Fruit is, in general, the best source of vitamins and antioxidants.

As a personal side note, Michael sometimes needs a little push to eat fruit. He’d much rather eat a plate of veggies than fruit. But eating fruit seems to be one of the biggest things that keeps his immune system running properly – it seems once he falls off the smoothie bandwagon, he’s way more likely to get the sniffles. This isn’t a scientific fact or anything, just something we’ve both noticed.

How Not To Die also convinced me to use oil (even olive oil) sparingly, especially when it’s been heated. Oil basically just adds calories minus the nutrients – it’s much more valuable to eat a handful of nuts instead.

I’ve been working nuts and seeds into each meal as well, including some ground flax with my morning oatmeal. Again, I love nuts and seeds so I needed little convincing there.

I tend to be a big fan of grains, but I’m trying to even out my grain-to-bean ratio. So instead of having a cup of rice and a 1/2 cup beans, I might flip it around, or do 3/4 cup of each. Beans are so freaking nutritious. They aren’t really glamorous, but they’re tasty and about as cheap as cheap gets when you buy dry beans.

Conclusion

There were so many nuggets and takeaways in How Not To Die, but I don’t want to bog you down with a giant essay, so definitely take a look if you’re into health reads. 🙂

Thanks for hanging out!

xo,
Allysia

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