How Not to Age by Michael Greger [8/10]

Dr Michael Greger is a quirky, heartfelt crusader for better, evidence-based (his saying is “put it to the test”) health, especially relating to diet, and his consistent push over years has been the Whole Foods Plant Based diet, which is effectively veganism plus resisting ultra-processed foods in favor of whole foods such as legumes and vegetables and fruit and whole grains. His earlier books, principally How Not to Die and How Not to Diet, are touchstones for the WFPB movement, of which I’m a proponent. Unlike most public doctors espousing healthfulness/diet/etc., let alone the many “influencers” in this space, Greger does not sell supplements or behind-paywall memberships or courses, and all book sales go to charity, so his integrity is unimpeachable. His latest, How Not to Age: The Scientific Approach to Getting Healthier as You Get Older, is his most ambitious, a brick of a book even allowing for 13,000 references hived online. The 2020s is a heady time of meomentous research into the intricacieis of aging and healthfulness. Greger outlines the eleven recognized pathways of aging, including some that might be familiar, such as cellular senescence and telomeres, and others that sound like science fiction, e.g. IGF-1 and mTor. Then, drawing on fundamental research but also the clear evidence of the world’s Blue Zones, which max out on centenarians, Greger outlines thirteen elements of an “optimal anti-aging regimen,” including diet, exercise, weight, sleep, and stress management. He covers how one might do one’s best to “preserve” sixteen human functions, from bones to skin to mind to vision, before a final eight-point “recipe” called “Dr. Greger’s Anti-Aging Eight.” The book is a triumph of distillation and condensation and serves as a go-to reference. It is less successful as a readable book, being over-jammed with scientific findings, but it remains invaluable. Buy How Not to Age and stick it on your shelf next to the cookbooks.

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