The full title of Dr. Greger’s book is How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. Every now and then I cross paths with a book that I absolutely do not want to put down. This book is one of those. A bonus for me, Dr. Greger released a companion cookbook!
Dr. Greger starts this book with telling us about his grandmother. His grandmother had been written off by the doctors due to having had several heart bypasses. Paraphrasing, the story goes, after a hospital stay, his grandmother was sent home in a wheelchair as her heart condition was so bad she couldn’t walk. Once home and while watching television a show aired that changed her life forever. A doctor specializing in reversing terminal illness was being interviewed about his live-in program where everyone was put on a plant- based diet and an exercise routine. His grandmother entered the program and lived for another full 30 years. This was the impetus to Dr. Greger’s fascination with nutrition and the pursuit of a career in medicine.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part tells us all about why we should eat healthy. He details the role that lifestyle factors and diet play in 15 different diseases such as type II diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, etc. Part 2 is all about what to eat to help prevent, treat and even reverse some of the diseases described in the first part. It is truly fascinating the way that he so easily articulates the whys and hows using scientific evidence and research facts while weaving in some fun anecdotal stories.
My biggest takeaway is the notion of categorizing all foods on the premise of a traffic light. He calls it “Dining by Traffic Light”. Green light foods are the ones that your daily diet should consist most of; they are your unprocessed plant foods. With yellow light foods, proceed with caution. Eat fewer of these on a daily basis. Caution foods are your processed plant foods and unprocessed animal foods. Last are red light foods; really stop and give thought before eating ultra-processed plant foods and processed animal foods.
Dr. Greger is a proponent of a plant-based lifestyle. I know that concept is a hard one for many to wrap their heads around. I say read the book, do your research, talk to your doctor and make the best decision for you and your health journey.