Book Review: How Not to Die

hownottodie

I just finished reading How Not to Die, a book that uses scientific research to help explain how we can avoid dying from common diseases by improving our diet. Each chapter in the first half is dedicated to one disease or ailment: heart disease, lung diseases, digestive cancers, breast cancer, etc.

In the beginning of the book, Dr. Greger says he himself is not pushing some sort of vegan / vegetarian agenda, but all the evidence clearly points to plant-based diets as the answer to being healthy. Through reading the rest of How Not to Die, you’ll find this out yourself in a lot of detail, with footnotes and all. In fact, it seems like every other sentence has a footnote referencing a research study, which makes this information extremely convincing.

Although the book is quite dense, Dr. Greger’s writing is super clear and he explains even complex concepts well and in plain English. He also includes a lot of stories from his time working in hospitals and stories about his family, which make each chapter much more memorable and digestible.

Even though I consider myself to have above average knowledge of nutrition and health because I try to read about it, I still learned so much from reading How Not to Die. I have never highlighted so much text in a book before.

I didn’t just learn things related to food, but random facts about the human body. For example, eating fenugreek (a spice) can make your armpits smell like maple syrup! Can someone tell my boyfriend? I don’t think his deodorant is strong enough. JK.

I also learned about funky experiments you can do to check different aspects of your health, such as boiling red cabbage and pouring the liquid into the toilet after you pee to determine the pH!

Dr. Greger has a website called NutritionFacts.org where some of the content from the book can be found, along with more videos and podcasts. The cabbage pee test is on there too.

Project Meal Prep | How Not to Die

My favorite part of How Not to Die is the second half, which has simple little recipes and recommendations on what you should eat, such as the Daily Dozen. There’s even an app for that haha.

Some recipes are also on the Dr. Greger’s Pinterest page. I took notes and will be making some of them too, which I’ll post on my Instagram.

If you are at all interested in knowing how to live a long life while being as healthy as possible even in old age, I highly recommend reading this book. Getting sick isn’t just a thing that just happens to all people eventually for no reason, you can actively prevent it if you know how. Additionally, there’s so much wrong and misleading information put out into the world, a lot of it by food companies and food / drug industry leaders whose only motivation is to make money, and part of knowing how to keep yourself healthy is knowing the truth.

Book Review: Real Food / Fake Food

Project Meal Prep | Real Food / Fake Food

I just finished reading this book called Real Food / Fake Food. Even though much of the book covers non-vegan food, I still found it completely eye-opening and recommend it to everyone in North America who is at all concerned about what they’re eating.

Each chapter is dedicated to one type of food that is commonly “faked”: olive oil, truffle oil, Champagne, wine, coffee, tea, honey, cheese, beef, and fish. Faking a food could mean cutting it with cheaper ingredients (eg. mixing high fructose corn syrup in with honey) or completely substituting the item with something else, because it’s difficult to tell the difference (eg. adding random weeds into tea leaves or oregano).

I didn’t really think much about the business of food until I realized how big your profit margins will be if you sell someone an expensive bottle of “truffle oil” that’s actually just olive oil with flavorings. In some cases, the stuff it’s replaced with is actually a health danger.

Danger and inflated prices aside, some people may not care that the Champagne they’re drinking is not authentic, because it tastes fine. The author argues that selling a lower-quality fake food product tarnishes the reputation of the real thing. It also discounts generations of families who have dedicated their lives to perfecting the creation of Champagne (or whatever), and all the quality assurance effort of the governing organizations.

Some fascinating things I learned:

  • In Europe, many foods have VERY strict rules around what can be in them, how they must be produced, and where they can come from. These foods also have certifications by different European organizations.
  • Certain types of fish served even at fancy restaurants have high rates of being fraudulent. In some cases, they are even replaced with a cheaper type of fish that causes health problems.
  • Truffle oil is overrated and almost never real. It’s usually another type of oil mixed with a chemical compound that resembles truffles.
  • The concept of terroir, which describes the combination of a specific climate, ecosystem, landscape, etc. of a place on Earth that allows it to produce the best of some type of food.
  • Champagne apparently tastes best with fried, salty food, like french fries (I have to try this sometime).

The takeaways from the book on how to avoid fake food are to:

a. read the ingredients when buying food at the grocery store, and
b. cook more, so you know what is really in your food

After reading this, I’m starting to look more closely at labels on food. Today, I was buying tomato sauce at the grocery store, and I checked all the cans to see if there was one from Italy, not because I’m suspicious of American tomato sauce, I just wanted to try one that’s been made with many strict rules and regulations around quality, to see if it is any better.

I did find one brand (this one), and the cans were sitting on the very bottom shelf at Whole Foods. It had two seals of approval, indicating that these tomatoes did come from Italy and were made using traditional methods.

I looked it up afterward and found that San Marzano is THE place to get canned tomatoes in Italy (read more here). And ya, they have been faked (for example).

I haven’t tried the sauce yet but I’m hoping it’ll be good.