I found it. The ultimate book that tells me how to eat in order to live longest and best. It’s called How not to die by Micheal Gregor. A book that describes the scientific basis of what’s written in it and tells me on a day to day basis what to eat. When I think about it now, it’s not that complicated and I already knew most of it. However, it’s amazing to have everything I need in one book. On one page even, because there’s a simple summary of this book in one page: the daily dozen.
How not to die
How not to die is a book written by Micheal Gregor in 2017. I have heard about it many times by my favorite plant-based dietician Lobke Faassen. It’s seen as the ultimate book when it comes to eating a healthy plant-based, whole-foods diet. Micheal Gregor is an Americain physician. He has made it his mission to make people thrive in life through a whole-foods, plant-based diet. That’s because he saw what it did for his own grandma. When doctors said she didn’t have much time left due to her cardiovascular disease, but she lived for many years still after switching to a whole-foods plant-based diet, Gregor knew he had a mission. He dove in all evidence there is, when it comes to what diet is most optimal for humans to thrive. He started the website NutritionFacts and the from the whole database on website the book How not to die was born.
Two sections in How not to die
The book is built up in two parts. The first, bigger part of the book is the part about all the diseases which are common today. Each chapter starts with the title How not to die and then say a particular disease. For example: ‘How not to die from cardiovascular diseases’. In each chapter Gregor describes the evidence he found, as to what a whole-food plant-based diet can do to prevent this particular disease. It goes from all sorts of cancer to Alzheimer. The second part of the book is the part where Gregor describes how to eat on a daily basis. He provides us with that summary I just mentioned: the daily dozen. The things you should aim to eat every day. Each chapter is dedicated to one part of the daily dozen.
I have to warn you a little bit. How not to die is not an easy book to read. It took me about 14 weeks to finish the book. Reading information about scientific evidence is just tough. It’s interesting, yes, but at the same time it’s requires deep focus. It’s not like a fiction book you get sucked into. Especially for me, because I already believe that a whole-foods plant-based is best for you. So I found the second part of the book best, the practical part.
The Daily Dozen in How not to die
The book comes down to a very simple message. If you eat a whole-foods plant-based diet you enlarge your chance of getting very old. But how do we eat a whole-foods plant-based diet? Well, that’s what the daily dozen by Gregor is for. Here’s the daily dozen, the list of what you should aim to eat every day:
- 3 servings of beans
- 1 serving of berries
- 3 servings of other fruits
- 1 serving of cruciferous vegetables
- 2 servings of greens
- 2 servings of other vegetables
- 1 serving of flaxseeds
- 1 serving of nuts/seeds
- 1 serving of herbs/spices
- 3 servings of whole grains
- 5 servings of beverages (mostly water and tea)
- 1 serving of exercise
All of these categories deserve more explanation, but for that I refer you to the book. But doesn’t this seem amazing? A simple checklist you should aim to check off every day. I love it, because I love lists haha. I’m very organized and so this is all I want.
I have been vegan for about 5,5 years now and I am still learning to eat whole-foods plant-based. Avoiding processed foods in this day and age can be quite difficult. So I can imagine that this daily dozen might not seem that simple to you if you’re new to eating plant-based. But I have a good start for you! The How not to die cookbook by Micheal Gregor! Yes, based on all the advices in the original book, Gregor published a cookbook as well. This way you do not have to come up with all the recipes yourself. Tasty dishes assured!
A misplaced sense of control
But there is one things that bugs me very much when it comes to How not to die. It gives you the sense of 100% control. In a way, the message is that if you follow a whole-foods plant-based diet that includes the daily dozen for most of your life, you won’t die of all the diseases that are listed in the book. But the story is more nuanced. Such a diet decreases your chances of getting those diseases. However, we are not 100% in control when it comes to our health. In a way, How not to die gives me a little bit the feeling of ‘If you have Alzheimer (or any other of the diseases listed in the book) it’s your own fault’. I know that’s not the intentional message from the book, but I can’t help to feel that a little bit. And I don’t like it.
I just wanted to say that. Having a disease is terrible and we can never blame a patient for having it. Nobody wishes to get sick.