First I want to wish Happy New Year to all my readers! My birthday is January 12th, so at the New Year I’m usually trying to clean up my lifestyle a bit as a birthday present to myself (and also as payback for recent Holiday overindulgences…). This year I was inspired by reading Dr. Michael Greger’s new book How Not To Age.
I’ve read and reviewed several books on healthy aging and longevity, and this is my favorite. Dr. Greger has a team of researchers helping him, so all his books are all backed by strong scientific evidence. This book gives solid advice on eating and other lifestyle habits for healthy aging. It also makes clear that I lifestyle change is necessary, by showing there are surprisingly few magic bullets like supplements or pills that actually work. This is a very long book with several major sections, so I can’t do it justice in a short review. Some of the tidbits I came away with were:
- Whole food plant-based eating is definitely the best for longevity. Cutting back on animal foods and eating more minimally-processed plant foods is a major step in the right direction, reducing various age-inducing compounds found in animal foods and increasing healthy nutrients in plant foods. It is not that nutrients aren’t found in animal foods, but they come with harmful baggage in the form of a variety of compounds.
- Protein requirements for healthy aging are less than is commonly thought. Sarcopenia, or loss of muscle mass, is a major problem among the elderly, and lead to frailty. It is often tacitly assumed that eating more protein will help prevent this. But Dr. Greger shows there is no evidence that eating more than the standard recommended daily allowance for protein helps with sarcopenia. It is enough to eat the RDA and do resistance training. Loss of muscle mass can also be attributed to other factors like pro-inflammatory foods.
- I have discussed the benefits of a type of intermittent fasting called time-restricted eating in the past. A simple way to implement this is to only eat two meals a day. But what I was unaware of is that anti-aging benefits have only been demonstrated for skipping supper, not for skipping breakfast. Unfortunately breakfast is precisely what I had been doing up till now (I don’t actually skip breakfast, I postpone it till after my morning workout). Dr Greger recommends at least consider making supper a lighter meal, which I have started doing.
These are only a sample of the vast amount of advice in this highly-recommended book. But they are enough to get me started on this year’s cleanup of my nutrition.