Bookreview: How not to die

I knew upfront this book is going to be a good book. The book ”How not to die’‘ by Michael Greger, M.D. He is a leading nutrition expert and the physician behind the non-profit website He is not only a walking encyclopedia when it comes to health and food, but he is truly gifted in the way he brings his knowledge to us via his website Nutrition Facts and videos (he uploaded more than thousand videos on nearly every aspect of healthy eating). So you can imagine he shares a lot of information in his new book ‘’How not to die’’. If you think you know a lot about food, read this book and I promise you will learn something new. It is the best guide on how to live longer and better and prevent diseases that many die from these days.

“Our diet is the #1 cause of premature death and disability’’ – dr. Greger

Michael Greger started Nutrition Facts because most doctors are never taught the impact healthy nutrition has on the course of illness. He says, in general, doctors simply aren’t paid for counseling people on how to take care of themselves.

How not to dieThis book shows that a plant based diet doesn’t always equal a healthy diet. This book is all about healthy whole plant based foods. Healthy foods are not always interchangeable. A ‘’green’’ lettuce is not the same as a ‘’green’’ broccoli. Some foods have great nutrients not found in other foods. Sulforaphane for example, which can exclusively be found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli. You could eat only greens every day, but still not get any sulforaphane if you don’t eat something cruciferous. All plant foods are not created equal.

”Daily Dozen”

In his book Dr. Greger shares besides scientifically based facts, also practical tips. Such as, the 12 foods (“Daily Dozen”) he recommends eating every day that will add years to your life. Here are a few examples.


According to Dr. Greger we should daily eat our beans, such as split peas, chickpeas (hummus!), and lentils. He recommends getting three servings (a serving is defined as a quarter cup of hummus) a day.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Also a daily recommendation are cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale. He recommends at least one serving a day (half a cup) and at least two additional greens a day, cruciferous or otherwise.


Also nuts should be in our daily menu. Everyone should incorporate 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds into his or her daily diet, in addition to a serving of nuts (a quarter cup) or other seeds. Also, 2 tablespoons of nut or seed butters (including peanut butter) will do.


A daily serving of berries is a half cup of fresh or frozen, or a quarter cup of dried berries. Some examples are kumquats and grapes (and raisins), blackberries, cherries, mulberries, raspberries, and strawberries.


Dr. Greger also recommends ¼ teaspoon of turmeric a day, along with any other herbs and spices you enjoy.

Whole grains

Also, whole grains should be on our plate every day. A serving is half a cup of hot oatmeal, cooked grains such as amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa.

The list of 12 products we should eat every day is quite impressive. With every recipe, you can ask yourself whether you can add some nuts, a nut butter, turmeric, some greens or a grain. It makes food taste amazing and makes doing groceries a lot easier as well.

”I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want it to be my fault” – dr. Greger

Other topics

Other topics that are covered include: the core idea behind ”How Not To Die”, the fifteen leading causes of death, confirmation bias in nutritional research, conflicts of interest in scientific studies, independent studies and objective criticism, reconciling reductionism with holistic analysis, GMOs and excessive pesticides, how to reward doctors for keeping people healthy, evolution of the food pyramid, organic vs. non-organic foods, auto-immune disorders, and the evolution of the food pyramid.

Solid like a rock

There are a lot of facts in this book. This book is solid like a rock. There are chapters on the role diet may place in preventing, arresting, and reversing each of the 15 leading causes of death and all are backed up by more or less 3,000 scientific studies and citations.

What about the protein question …?

Most Americans (including vegetarians and vegans) are getting about 70% more protein than they need every day. The reason plant sources are preferable is the kind of protein that we consume when eating animal produce. And a striking 97% of Americans don’t even get the recommended minimum of daily fiber intake. And 98% of Americans suffer from potassium deficiencies. So in a nutshell, most of the dietary deficiencies are due to inadequate intake of whole plant foods.

The real superfoods of Dr. Greger? Can you guess? Those are sweet potatoes, dark green leafy cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower) and a legume (such as lentils).

It is all about the beans…

The benefits of beans play an important role in ”How Not to Die”. Only 96% of Americans don’t even reach the minimum recommended intake per week. We all should eat more beans. Legume intake may be the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people from around the world. There is an 8% reduce risk of premature death for every one-ounce increase in daily intake.

So what does Dr. Greger eat for breakfast? Maybe something like a chocolate cherry mint oatmeal. Some cooked oatmeal with some mashed cannellini beans, a tablespoon of cacao, tart cherries, pumpkin seeds, dates for sweetness, and some fresh mint leaves. Doesn’t sound that bad, right?

“I continue to be amazed by our bodies’ ability for self-repair. Our bodies want to be healthy, if we would just let them. That’s what these new research articles are showing: even after years of beating yourself up with a horrible diet, your body can reverse the damage, open back up the arteries and even reverse the progression of some cancers. So it’s never too late to start exercising and never too late to start eating healthier.” – dr. Greger

I could write three reviews on this book. It is really the perfect guide on how to live long and healthy. You could also go to Greger’s nutrition videos at He shares new articles and videos every day on every imaginable facet of nutrition and health. The book feature hundreds and hundreds of impeccably researched, easily understandable and straight to the point facts and practical tips. PS. Dr. Greger is also very funny…

His book is 545 pages thick and all the revenues from the book go to charity! Amazing! 132 pages are dedicated to his research (sources, references, studies) and only 5 pages to supplements …

A little preface on his book ”How not to die”

photos by the green creator (c) (copyright)

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