‘How Not to Die’ author Michael Greger offers dietary advice at Valley View event
Dr. Michael Greger recommended a plant-based diet to prevent and reverse a number of medical conditions. However, if you’re not prepared to totally alter your diet, he offered three foods that will have the greatest effect. Find more of Greger’s advice at nutritionfacts.org.
1. Dark green leafy vegetables
CARBONDALE — Rita Marsh was familiar with the benefits of a plant-based diet. As a nurse practitioner, she often heard it could improve health. But as Marsh considered her family’s history of heart disease, something clicked.
The Carbondale resident changed the way she eats two years ago, and since then has experienced weight loss, increased vitality, a boost in energy, fewer joint issues and a notable drop in cholesterol. She’s learned a lot from Dr. Greg Feinsinger of the local Center for Prevention and Treatment of Disease through Nutrition, and a Feinsinger reading list introduced Marsh to “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger. It has served as a reference book for her during the past two years.
Greger himself affirmed Marsh’s lifestyle changes during a Thursday presentation at The Orchard Gathering Place in Carbondale.
“He’s got a wonderful sense of humor. In person he’s delightful,” said Marsh, who has watched Greger’s videos at nutritionfacts.org. “He’s truly passionate about seeing that people get this information, so I hope his book stays on the bestseller list for a long time.”
Greger’s speech, “Food as medicine: Preventing and treating disease with diet,” was the culmination of Valley View Hospital’s One Book program. The program drew attention to the Connie Delaney Medical Library at Valley View, which is free, and created opportunity for discussion. Over the course of 15 weeks, the hospital published reading guides on its website. Materials remain online at vvh.org/onebook. During January, area libraries hosted community discussions based on “How Not to Die.”
During Thursday’s presentation, Greger raced through dozens of studies that show radically reduced incidence of disease in people who eat a plant-based, or vegan, diet, compared with the standard American diet. In fact, that diet was his motivation for becoming a doctor; his grandmother was given limited time to live at age 65. After a diet change, she lived 31 more years.
Greger listed the 15 top causes of death for Americans and pointed out that a plant-based diet can prevent nearly all of them, reverse about half and cure about a third. Though the subject matter was serious, the standing-room-only crowd often laughed at Greger’s presentation.
“If you can exercise hard enough, if you exercise long enough, can you rival some strolling plant eaters over here?” he asked.
(The answer: Nope. While exercise improves outcomes, the studies he cited show that omnivores who engage in intense exercise daily don’t see as many health improvements as vegans who walk regularly.)
While Greger’s presentation urged listeners to adapt a plant-based diet, he noted any positive dietary change could have some effect on health. Becoming a flexitarian (semi-vegeterian), pescaterian (a person who doesn’t eat meat but does eat seafood) or vegetarian will result in reduced risk factors.
“Any movement you can make along the spectrum presents significant benefits,” he said.
Aspen resident Marty Rynearson agreed, saying that becoming vegan is worthwhile. He has followed a vegan diet for about 14 years and has followed Greger’s work for about seven years. The Carbondale talk was Rynearson’s second consecutive night seeing Greger, who spoke Wednesday in Aspen.
“He’s all about evidence-based science,” Rynearson said.
Learn more about Valley View Hospital’s community programs at vvh.org.
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