How Not to Die [Interview][Transcript]

Dr_Michael_Greger_nutritionGuest: Dr. Michael Greger
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Michael Greger, MD, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. His latest book How Not to Die became an instant New York Times Best Seller.

Segment overview: Michael Greger, MD, FACLM, discusses his latest book, a New York Times best seller, “How Not To Die” that takes a look at the 15 top causes of death in America, and how nutritional and lifestyle interventions that are peer-reviewed and scientifically proven can help.

Health Professional Radio – How Not to Die

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, glad that you could join us today. Our guest in studio today is Dr. Michael Greger, Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, also New York Times Best Selling Author, internationally recognized Speaker on nutrition, food safety and public issues as well, currently serving as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States. His latest book, ‘How Not to Die,’ became an instant New York Times Best Seller with more than a thousand of his nutrition videos freely available at Welcome Dr. Michael Greger to Health Professional Radio.

Dr. Michael Greger: So glad to be here.

N: Now you’re a Fellow of The American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Talk a little bit about how The American College of Lifestyle Medicine differs from traditional associations and fellowships.

G: So there’s always been this long been American culture preventive medicine and so traditional medicine uses kind of pills, the pills and procedures approach to kind of treat people to try to slow the rush of their chronic disease whereas preventive medicine try to prevent in the first place lifestyle medicine is a new specialty that’s using lifestyle approaches such as diet and exercise, sleep medicine, etc. to not just prevent disease but to treat and reverse it as well.

N: Treating is one thing, I get that but reversing? How does that work, I mean there are some things that just can’t be reversed, is that correct?

G: Well, but the good news is we have tremendous power over our health destiny and longevity, the vast majority of future death and disability is preventable with the plant-based and another healthy lifestyle behaviors and many of or leading killers for example the number killer men and women, heart disease cannot be prevented but treated but reversed with a healthy enough diet and lifestyle and we’ve known this since July 21st, 1990, published in the…most prestigious medical journal in the world by Dr. Dean…, his lifestyle heart trial proving that arteries could be opened up without drugs, without surgeries just with a plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle behaviors. Yet, in a while shocked to find that that in my medical training this whole body of evidence on reversing chronic disease with lifestyle, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease…being ignored by mainstream medicine, I say “Wait a second, it’s effectively the cure to our number one killer, could you lost down some rabbit hole and ignored, what else?” It might there be buried in the medical literature that could help my patients but just didn’t have a corporate budget driving its promotion. I made it my life’s mission to find out, that’s what led me to start and that’s what led me to write the book, ‘How Not to Die.’

N: You talked about mainstream medicine. Let’s talk just a little bit about mainstream media, all we hear about are diabetes, heart disease, hypertension – these are the major things that are killing us and it seems as though we’re told that “Well, that’s just the way of life. It is how we live and that’s the result of how we live.” We’re all living that way, how do we reverse it?

G: Well I wish that would message, is that these diseases are because of how you live but often instead you hear the message that “Oh, it’s because of your genes, because you have a family history of diabetes”. And that there’s nothing you can do but except take our pills, take our insulin injections, take our surgeries but these diseases are not caused by drug deficiency, right? These are lifestyle diseases and so if you want to treat the actual cause of disease then you have to get at the original cause which is predominantly diet, the global burden of disease, the largest study of risk factors that were published funded by the Bill… Gates Foundation found that the number one cause of death in the United States and the number one cause of disability was our diet. Now bumping tobacco smoking to number two, cigarettes now only kill half a million Americans every year whereas our diet kills hundreds of thousands or more but those deaths are unnecessary deaths. We can change our diet and change out health destiny.

N: Your latest work, ‘How Not to Die,’ the book takes a look at the top causes of death in here in America, you named just a few of them. How many of these top causes does your book address and when it addresses them is there some type of a cutoff point? Say if you’ve got diabetes and you’re 60, is it a done deal or can you treat and reverse it even later in life?

G: It’s never too early or too late to start eating healthy, to stop smoking, to treat ourselves better and treat the cause. So in the book, I just, I have chapters on the world dynamic play in preventing resting over each of our 15 leading causes of death. I just go thru 1 to 15, How Not to Die from heart disease, from breast cancer, from Alzheimer’s and on down the list but I didn’t wanted just write a reference book, I wanted to be a kind of a practical guide and translating this mountain of data into day to day grocery store type decisions so that what became the second half of the book where I said to my recommendations around the daily dozen checklist of all things I encourage people to try to fit into their daily routine.

N: These 15 top causes of death here in the United States, when you’re talking about them, are there couple of these things that can be dealt with by the same nutritional changes and diet changes? Or does each of these ailments have a specific route to take when it comes to reversal and/or treatment?

G: Neal that was really extraordinary thing that occurred to me when I was looking into this is that it’s the same diet that affects the most. So I mean when it comes to drugs for example, there’s a specific drug to take for cholesterol, different drug to take for blood pressure, different drugs to take for diabetes, but it’s the same diet that helps the most. Now it’s not like there’s a heart healthy diet that some are different from a brain healthy diet. No. A kidney healthy diet, is a liver healthy diet, is a whole body healthy diet and then so it’s this diet centered around whole plant foods and you say “Wait a second, how is that possible that the same diet affects us all?” Well I mean it gets less mysterious when one realizes that so much of our organs depend on the blood supply and so yes you can see how Okay if you clear up the plaque in one’s artery, open up the blood flow in the heart muscle, okay, the heart will pump better but people don’t realize that atherosclerosis that hardening artery is the same thing that causes a stroke in the brain. So if you increase blood flow to the brain you can improve cognitive performance, increase blood flow to the kidneys, you let them work better and so it’s no surprise then that by it’s our standard American kind of meat-sweet diet are clogging up our arteries. If we open up those arteries then we’ll function better in a kind of head to toe and so maybe it’s not so kind of surprising after all that the same kind of artery heathy or heart healthy diet would also affect other body systems in the same positive way.

N: Who is your audience? I mean to be a number one best seller in the New York Times, it requires an appeal to a huge part of a cross section of the population. Is the book geared more toward we consumers, more toward health care professionals or is it written in such a way that both can glean excellent information based on their goals?

G: I wrote this book for those interested in evidence-based nutrition. Unfortunately, some may corrupting commercial influences out there, all these kind of people have different kind of hidden agenda, not so hidden agendas, they have personal biases and I want to be like “Look, don’t. Let’s just look at the science” so for those who are interested, what is the best available…evidence say about drinking coffee or about various artificial sweeteners? There’s the kind of internet gossip and then there’s, okay what is the primary peer reviewed scientific literature think? And that’s if ever a decision in our life to make based on evidence, it should be the health of ourselves and our family. Look, you want to go buy a certain brand of toothpaste, well then fine. You want to find a new music act to like then opinions matter. When it comes to science there’s some comes something as important as health then belief shouldn’t matter, opinion shouldn’t matter, just the science should matter and for people who are interested what does the science show? What is our best understanding show, that’s the people that I’m trying to reach and I have of course try to do it in a way that is understandable to everybody and try to make you see it. You can basically pick up the book anywhere or you go to the website and see any of the new videos every day, any of those thousand pdfs, anyone of them. You get a nice little chunk of what kind of some of the latest in nutritional science rather than having to kind of go any particular order, you can just kind of jump right in and learn things that you can kind of put to use in your daily routine.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Our guest in studio today has been Dr. Michael Greger, Founding Member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, also a New York Times Best Selling Author and discussing his latest book, How Not to Die which became an instant New York Times Best Seller and also about the lifestyle changes that are nutritionally sound and scientifically proven that can help us not only treat some of the main killers but also prevent or reverse them. It’s been great having you here with us today Dr. Greger.

G: Honored to be here.

N: Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

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