How Not To Die: The Book that Got Me Thinking

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I read this book, well, if I’m honest, I’m still wading my way through the nearly 600 pages of information that’s scientifically based on the studies of plant-based diets and their effects on the leading causes of death in the US. It’s pretty convincing. But while I’m having a hard time giving up some of my favorite products and ingredients like cheese, eggs and meat, I am adding in more of these plant based foods and proteins in my life.  In the book, Dr. Greger offers his ‘Daily Dozen’, a food list he recommends consuming each and every day. I’ve shortened down the pages to bring you what I found to be the most interesting points to each food group. ***Please note: many of these sentences are taken directly from the text of the book, word for word.

DR. GREGER’S DAILY DOZEN: What to Eat, how much and why

BEANS: 3 Servings a Day

¼ cup hummus or bean dip

½ cup cooked beans, split peas, lentils, tofu, soy, or tempeh

1 cup fresh peas or sprouted lentils

Why: Loaded with protein, iron and zinc, (much like animal protein) but unlike meat legumes also contain fiber, folate and potassium. Plus they are low in saturated fat and are sodium and cholesterol free. Not to mention they take much less water and resources to create than animal protein.

Beans are so healthy; you could throw away half the nutrition and still have a super healthy food.

BERRIES: 1 Serving a Day

½ cup fresh or frozen

¼ cup dried (unsweetened)

Acai berries, barberries, blackberries, blueberries, blueberries, cherries (sweet or tart), concord grapes, cranberries, goji berries, kumquats, mulberries, raspberries (black or red), and strawberries

Why: Berries offer potential protection against cancer, a boost to the immune system, and guard the liver and brain. An American Cancer Society study of 100,000 men and women found that those who ate the most berries appeared significantly less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. Berries are the healthiest fruits – in part because of their deep pigment. The deeper the pigment, the higher the antioxidant.

They are second only to herbs and spices as the most antioxidant packed food category.

OTHER FRUITS: 3 Servings a Day

1 medium-sized fruit

1 cup cut up fruit

¼ dried fruit (unsweetened)

Apples, dried apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, clementines, dates, dried figs, grapefruit, honeydew, kiwi, lemons, limes, lychees, mangos, nectarines, oranges, papaya, passion fruit, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums (especially black), pluots, pomegranates, prunes, tangerines, and watermelon.

Why: Consumption of fruit has been associated with a lower likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes (while drinking fruit juice is associated with higher diabetes risk).

  • Blending is better than juicing, it maintains not just fiber, but also polyphenol and phytonutrients
  • A spoonful of watermelon seeds may have as many antioxidants as a whole bowl of melon
  • Kiwis benefit immune function, improve bowel function (great for IBS), improve insomnia (two an hour before bedtime seems to significantly improve sleep onset, duration and efficiency).
  • Citrus: within two hours of consuming citrus, Kumquats are the healthiest citrus because you can eat the skin.

CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES: 1 Serving a Day

½ cup chopped

¼ cup Brussels or broccoli sprouts

1 tablespoon horseradish

arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale (black, green and red) mustard greens, radishes, turnip greens, and watercress

Why: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli can potentially prevent DNA damage and metastatic cancer, activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants, help prevent lymphoma, boost your liver detox enzymes and target breast cancer stem cells, reduce risk of prostate cancer progression. The component responsible for these benefits is sulforaphane, which besides fighting cancer, may also protect your brain, eyesight, reduce nasal allergy inflammation, manage type 2 diabetes, and was recently found to successfully treat autism. (to maximize this ingredient, chop broccoli raw, wait 45 minutes, then cook it).

  • Broccoli sprouts attack cancer stem cells much like chemotherapy does. And supplements don’t work. You have to either eat broccoli sprouts or broccoli to receive these benefits.
  • Red cabbage may contain 8 times more antioxidants than green cabbage

GREENS: 2 Servings a Day

1 cup raw

½ cup cooked

Arugula, beet greens, collard greens, kale (black, green and red) mesclun mix, mustard greens, sorrel, spinach, swiss chard, and turnip greens

Why: Offer the most nutrients per calorie. High in chlorophyll, CoQ10, which is an antioxidant, which extinguishes free radicals.

  • Healthiest vegetable, the leaves contain the green pigment chlorophyll, which sets off a firestorm of photosynthesis, so greens have to be packed with antioxidants to deal with the charged high-energy electrons that are formed.

OTHER VEGETABLES: 2 Servings a Day

1 cup raw leafy vegetables

½ cup raw or cooked non leafy vegetables

½ cup vegetable juice

¼ cup dried mushrooms

Artichokes, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, carrots, corn garlic, mushrooms, okra, onions, purple potatoes, pumpkin, sea vegetables, snap peas, squash (delicate, summer and spaghetti varieties), sweet potatoes/yams, tomatoes and zucchinis

Why: This variety of vegetables each balances out the other nutrients your body needs, in addition to those cruciferous and green leafy veggies. Amino acids, Vitamin B12

FLAXSEEDS: 1 Serving
1 tablespoon ground

Golden or Brown

Why: one of the richest plant sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids and contain lignin – phytoestrogens that can dampen the effects of the body’s own estrogen. Can decrease high blood pressure, and studies show miraculous effects on breast cancer and protstate cancer and helps lower bad cholesterol.

NUTS: 1 Serving a Day

¼ cup nuts or seeds

2 tablespoons nut or seed butter

Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chia seeds, hazelnuts, hemp seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and walnuts

Why: Protein, omega-3, antioxidants. Studies show people who eat nuts live longer and suffer fewer deaths from cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease.

  • Brazil nuts: Immediately improves bad cholesterol as effectively as cholesterol drugs (not too much, may increase selenium levels

SPICES: 1 Serving a Day

¼ teaspoon turmeric, along with any other (salt free) herbs and spices

Allspice, barberries basil, bay leaves, cardamom, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, dill fenugreek, garlic, ginger, horseradish, lemongrass, marjoram, mustard powder, nutmeg, oregano, smoked paprika, parsley, pepper, peppermint, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme, turmeric, and vanilla

Why: Antioxidants, the flavors in herbs are the antioxidants.

  • Turmeric: High in curcumin, prevents lung disease, brain disease, and a variety of cancers including multiple myloma, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Helps speed up recovery after surgery and effectively treat rheumatoid arthritis better than the leading drugs. May be effective in treating osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions, such as lupus and inflammatory conditions such as lupus and IBS.
  • Fenugreek: Improves muscle strength
  • Cilantro: reduces inflammation in arthritis sufferers
  • Cayenne: Helps with chronic headaches, decreases intensity of bowel pain and bloating and indigestion
  • Ginger: Reduces menstrual pain, pain reliever, reduce nausea

WHOLE GRAINS: 3 Servings Per Day

½ cup hot cereal or cooked grains, pasta, or corn kernels

1 cup cold cereal

1 tortilla or slice of bread, ½ bagel or English muffin

3 cups popped popcorn

Barley, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, oats, popcorn, quinoa, rye, teff, whole wheat pasta and wild rice

Why: Whole grains reduce risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and stroke. Grains like oats contain anti inflammatory compounds.

BEVERAGES: 5 Servings a Day

One glass (12 oz)

Black tea, green tea, matcha, mint tea, variety of herbal teas, water, coffee

Why: Decreases chances of dying from heart disease, increases brain function, lowers stress on the body, improves mood, alertness and vigor. Coffee can improve the liver and tea is rich in phytonutrients and can possibly prevent breast cancer, as well as lower cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and body fat. Can also help with brain function and seasonal allergies.

EXERCISE: 1 Serving a day of 90 Minutes of moderate intensity or 40 minutes of vigorous activity 

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