WWB Book Wise Club

What If You Could Get Healthier as You Get Older? The ‘Book Wise’ Winter Pick is “How Not to Age’ by Dr. Michael Greger…

It was worth the wait to catch up with Dr. Michael Greger as he has been busy traveling and promoting his latest bestselling book ‘How Not to Age” the Scientific Approach to Getting Healthier as You Get Older. I had the honor of featuring his first New York Times Bestselling book “How Not to Die” with a Q&A and thrilled he has joined me again to tackle the topic of aging well. There are very few doctors out there who dedicate themselves tirelessly to nutritional science and research. Dr. Greger has founded a non-profit website NutritionFacts.org which I highly recommend visiting because it’s a science-based nonprofit organization offering a strictly non-commercial public service (without any sponsors, ads, brand partnerships, or paid subscriptions). Here is a statement from his website that distills the great value in this comprehensive directory worth your time and investigation.

“Put very simply: There is no profit-driven motive. Healthful eating and nutrition research

may not make anyone money, but what if our lives would profit?”

Okay, now on to his latest book “How Not to Age”. Here is the whole premise of his brilliant book. Getting older does not mean getting sicker! There are eleven pathways for aging in our bodies cells, and we can disrupt each of them to help us feel younger for much longer. Dr. Greger presents simple, accessible, and EVIDENCE BASED methods to preserve the body’s functions that keep us feeling youthful, both physically and mentally. And I emphasize ‘feeling’, because you can look younger and not feel younger. As an integrative nutrition health coach the first thing I ask my clients is “How do you want to feel?”. This question can summon all kinds of funny answers but I ask this because I want to put the focus on quality of life and the healthy habits we employ to meet that goal. A zest for life starts with knowledge and putting that knowledge to work in your lifestyle!

P.S Cultivating wellness wisdom is using discernment and listening to your body. So, if any doctor or book tells you x amount of beans or protein is needed to stay healthy and you feel terrible, I suggest you listen to your body and review the suggestion/prescription through your bio-individual lens. It may be one serving vs five daily of anything works better for you. Aging well is a fine art and the creativity is in the personal details. It doesn’t mean science got it wrong–it means tweaking, swapping out and adjusting is needed so it can work for your body, current status of health, and lifestyle.

 

 

Laura Connolly, CHC, Founder of World Wise Beauty


 

 

 

Coach Lauroly Q~ I think it’s really important to emphasize the tagline of your book “The Scientific Approach to Getting Healthier as You Get Older”. I thought “finally, a science-based book about aging well vs. not aging.” Your book is a deep dive into the real nutritional science of aging well minus the quackery! I will warn readers, it can be quite geeky, but I think it is worth it to learn the language as you read along because healthy aging education is an investment in your quality of life. We can only skim the surface of this data driven book, so I am going to ask some of the big broader questions you tackle.

 

“Everyone Wants to Live Forever, but No-One Wants to Get Old” ~Jonathan Swift

 

You shared the Jonathan Swift quote in your book “How Not to Age”, and it begs the following question. Are we blinded by science or rather pseudo-science, and can we all die of simple old age at 100+ free of disease?

Dr. Michael Greger:  In the medical literature, the anti-aging field is described as a “fertile ground for cons, scams and get-rich-quick schemes,” and mainstream marketers often prey on vulnerable elders with quack aging remedies—everything from wrinkle creams to the late televangelist Pat Robertson offering “Pat’s Age-Defying Protein Pancakes.” Aging may not be good for health, but it’s certainly good for business. In reality, there may be no such thing as dying from old age. From a study of more than 42,000 consecutive autopsies, centenarians—individuals who celebrate their 100th birthdays—were found to have succumbed to diseases 100 percent of the time. Though most were perceived to have been healthy just before death, they died from disease, most commonly heart attacks. Not one “died of old age.”

My aim for How Not to Age was to cover every possible angle for developing the optimal diet and lifestyle for the longest, healthiest lifespan based on the best available balance of evidence. A midlife switch between the ages of forty-five and sixty-four to even just the barest of minimums—at least five daily servings fruits and vegetables, walking about twenty minutes a day, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking—resulted in a substantial reduction in mortality even in the immediate future. We’re talking a 40 percent lower risk of dying in the subsequent four years.

There is so much we can do to extend our lifespan and our healthspan. A recent remarkable study of more than half a million participants, for example, found that those who salted their food at the table (in addition to whatever salt was used in cooking) appeared to have a two-year lower life expectancy at age fifty compared to those who didn’t. So, just swapping out the saltshaker for some savory salt-free seasoning could potentially add years to your life. Regardless of the absolute magnitude of the effect, diet is understood to be the number one determinant of how long we live. We are what we eat.

Coach Lauroly Q~ So true, I think many people underestimate how powerful diet really is. Moving on to your other big question in the book which you generously flush out for us in the book. Is aging itself really a disease and how do we reframe what aging actually is without denying age as a part of a natural life cycle?

Dr. Michael Greger: In my new book, How Not to Age, I identify the eleven most promising pathways for slowing aging and recommend practical proposals for targeting them naturally with diet and lifestyle changes that essentially will slow the epigenetic clock.

I construct the optimal anti-aging regimen and get into the nitty gritty on preserving your bones, bowels, circulation, hair, hearing, hormone balance, mind, muscles, sex life, skin, teeth, vision, and, finally, your dignity in death. I conclude with my Anti-Aging Eight, an actionable checklist to complement the Daily Dozen I established in my earlier book How Not to Die. I highlight specific foods, supplements, or behaviors that have the potential to offer some of the best opportunities to slow aging or improve longevity—and you don’t have to break the bank to slow aging and boost anti-aging.

Coach Lauroly Q~ Having read many of your books, I know you are 100% for a plant-based diet for all. The nutritional science and specifically longevity science seems to point in that direction no matter where you look. I studied Integrative Nutrition for my coaching certification and my foundation is based on having respect and understanding for bio-individuality and specifically different diets. I honestly can say from my own studies, your head can spin from the convincing arguments presented by all the ‘expert camps’ advising in the world of diet and nutrition. They all point to ‘research’, so how is an individual outside of the health and wellness profession able to decipher which diet is best for them? Animal Protein vs. no Animal Protein is a really divided camp, even in the world of lifestyle as medicine. Full disclosure, most of your research points to a plant-based diet whether it be ‘how not to die’ or ‘how not to age’. Can you ground us Dr. Greger? Why isn’t everyone in agreement about plant-based diets being the best when it comes to both health and longevity?

Dr. Michael Greger: I turned fifty in the process of writing How Not to Age, so the subject has a certain salience lacking from my last nutrition book, How Not to Diet, which covered weight loss. There is, however, a clear parallel between the two topics: Both are tainted with the same corrupting influence of commercial interests. The diet and anti-aging industries are both multibillion-dollar behemoths.

With so much money in the mix, the temptation to promote products purporting all sorts of preposterous claims is apparently irresistible. Even an educated lay person seeking basic, practical advice in either arena, living lighter or longer, is faced with an inscrutable barrage of pills and potions. Even as a physician with the luxury of wading neck deep through the peer-reviewed medical literature, it’s been a challenge to tease out the naked truth from the emperor’s clothing. According to one industry group, 60 percent of Americans sixty-five and older are pursuing anti-aging interventions, yet, according to the director of the Institute for Biomedical Aging Research, in almost all instances, these interventions are not supported by science. They sound like they are, though. Scientific breakthroughs exploited by the sensationalist press have long been opportunistically repackaged by profiteers.

This so-called “scienceploitation” is evident in hundreds of rogue “stem cell” clinics concentrated in California and Florida, for example, using the language of science to give a veneer of legitimacy to their unproven therapies. In their Scientific American feature “No Truth to the Fountain of Youth,” three noted aging researchers concluded that the “public is bombarded by hype and lies.”I know in some circles today, “science” is a dirty word. After years of COVID craziness, colleagues I once respected for their intellect seemed to have abandoned their critical thinking skills. If you have been similarly sucked down some rabbit hole of cabalistic conspiracies, this may not be the book for you. “Best available balance of evidence” is a phrase I often use, but what does it mean? What a single study says matters less than what the totality of peer-reviewed science has to say.

Individual studies can lead to headlines like this one from Forbes: “Study Finds No Link Between Secondhand Smoke and Cancer.” To know if there’s really no link between secondhand smoke and lung cancer, it would be better to look at a review or meta-analysis that compiles multiple studies together. The problem is that even these collated findings can sometimes contradict each other. For instance, some reviews say that breathing secondhand tobacco smoke is a cause of lung cancer, while others not only say that the effects are insignificant, and such talk may “foster irrational fears,” but claim that you can even directly smoke four to five cigarettes a day and not worry about it. (You can imagine who funded that one.) Why do review articles on the health effects of passive smoking reach different conclusions? It may not surprise you that about 90 percent of reviews written by researchers affiliated with the tobacco industry said it was not harmful, while about 90 percent of independent reviews concluded that it was. In fact, reviews written by industry-affiliated authors had eighty-eight times the odds of concluding that secondhand smoke was harmless. It was all part of a deliberate corporate strategy to discredit the science.

Thankfully, there is a review of reviews for different foods. An exhaustive review of meta-analyses and systematic reviews on the associations between food and beverage groups and major diet-related chronic diseases was finally published. To offer the broadest takeaway, the researchers first split the food groups into plant-based and animal-based. The vast majority (94 percent) of reviews on whole plant foods show either protective or, at the very least, neutral effects, whereas most (77 percent) reviews of animal-based foods identified deleterious health effects or, at best, neutral ones. (Note that due to rounding of percentages, not all totals equal 100.)

Coach Lauroly Closing: Thank God we have good doctors and researchers like you doing the exhaustive work of teasing out the naked truth! It’s a tremendous challenge more than ever. Thank you so much for joining me again Dr. Greger. I will go out on a line to say “you are one of the doctors in lifestyle as medicine and beyond I highly trust. Your non-profit website “NutritionFacts.org” is my go-to site for science-based information and your quick educational videos are outstanding. I have so much gratitude and respect for the work you do. I hope more people discover your organization and books!

Dr. Michael Greger Closing: I’m so honored to have your enthusiastic support, Coach Lauroly. We need more leaders like you helping to share the very best in evidence-based nutrition and science. Thank you!