By Ramesh Bjonnes
Popular food writer Michael Pollan’s slogan for healthy living pretty much sums up how to live a long and healthy life: “Eat whole foods, mostly plants, not too much.” But if we want to refine that slogan with a few more details in terms of nutrition and prevention of disease, we would be wise to consult Dr. Michael Greger.
Mr. Greger is a bestselling author and renowned authority on plant-based nutrition. His work at nutritionfacts.org features the latest research on nutrition and health, and his book How Not to Die is probably the most comprehensive book ever written on plant-based nutrition.
In that book, we learn that if you are a man and have a history of prostate cancer in your family, then it is best to stop drinking cow’s milk and add ground flax seeds to your diet. Flax seed has loads of lignans. In fact, over hundred times more than any other food. And lignan is one of our best weapons against the development of cancer cells.
We also learn from Dr. Greger that cruciferous vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower, contain copious amounts of sulforaphane, an amazing liver detox-boosting compound.
Worried about heart disease? Well, then eat lots of fruits and vegetables and beans, and you will not only prevent this most common of all killers in the Western world today—you may even reverse it altogether. Dr. Greger can back that statement up with research. So can Dr. Dean Ornish, who has shown that heart disease is 99 percent curable with diet and lifestyle changes.
Don’t just take these esteemed physicians’ word for it. Their arguments for a more plant-based diet are all backed up by the latest scientific research.
So, what kind of plant-based foods does Mr. Greger recommend? All plant-based foods are not created equal. We can survive on potatoes alone, but in the long run, it would not be a very healthy diet. There are therefore certain items we need to combine every day to get maximum nutrition and disease fighting abilities from our diet.
Hence, Dr. Greger has put together his Daily Dozen, a list that together will give us the most optimum nutrition:
- Beans—important for their high fiber content, protein, and antioxidant value. 2-3 servings daily.
- Berries—important for their vitamins, phytonutrients, and antioxidant qualities. Half a cup daily.
- Other fruits—also important sources of vitamins and phytonutrients. The more colors, the more nutrients. 1-3 fruits daily.
- Cruciferous vegetables—contain cancer fighting sulforaphane, and much more. 1 serving daily.
- Greens—according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, green vegetables have the highest micro-nutrient density of any foods. 2 servings daily.
- Other vegetables—even more micro-nutrient density. 1 serving daily.
- Flaxseeds—best source of Omega3 and cancer fighting lignans. 1 tbs daily.
- Nuts—best source of good fats. 6-10 nuts daily.
- Spices—especially turmeric, ginger, cloves, and other Indian spices for their disease fighting abilities, but also Italian spices such as oregano, which is very high in antioxidants. Use liberally daily.
- Whole grains—contains loads of proteins and complex carbohydrates. 2-3 servings daily.
- Water—we are literally more than 70% water, so it goes without saying that we need to drink and plenty of it—at least 8 cups (herbal teas count) daily and even more when the weather is hot, and we exercise.
- Exercise—great for the heart, burns calories, makes us sweat out toxins, and is great for the immune system. Exercise daily and do it more vigorously 2-3 times per week.
I hope these comprehensive tips will inspire you to make some mouthwatering plant-based dishes for yourself, friends, and family. Implementing these tips can be lifechanging. In the words of the hilarious and foulmouthed writers at Thug Kitchen: “Dr. Greger shows us how regular folks can eat well and not get taken down by some totally preventable bullsh*t.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ramesh is the Director of the Prama Wellness Center where lifestyle is considered our best medicine. Ramesh is also a writer, yogi and workshop leader. He studied yoga therapy in Nepal and India, Ayurveda at California College of Ayurveda and is a certified yoga detox theraphist from the AM Wellness Center in Cebu, Philippines. He has taught workshops in many countries and is the author of four books, including Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit (InnerWorld) and Tantra:The Yoga of Love and Awakening (Hay House India).