How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger [On Books Podcast #51]

What is How Not To Die?
In How Not to Die, Dr. Michael Greger, the internationally-renowned nutrition expert, physician, and founder of, examines the fifteen top causes of premature death in America–heart disease, various cancers, diabetes, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure, and more–and explains how nutritional and lifestyle interventions can sometimes trump prescription pills and other pharmaceutical and surgical approaches to help prevent and reverse these diseases, freeing us to live healthier lives.

The China Study (Book Review)

Food is confusing: One day milk “does a body good”, the next day it causes cancer. One day we hear that eating meat will help us lose weight, the next day it’s the cause of obesity. How in the world can anyone make sense all these conflicting ideas?

Over the past 10 years I’ve read dozens of nutrition books, met many times with nutritionists, and  experimented with various ways of eating. It’s confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. My goal is to make nutrition education more understandable. This is my first stop on that journey.

In this documentary video I tackle The China Study: What’s worth knowing? What’s the main takeaways?

Watch the video and join in on the discussion!

What is the book The China Study about? 

The China Study BookThe China Study is the most comprehensive study of nutrition that has ever been conducted.

It includes results of a research project that included 6,500 people over a 20 year period of time. It’s epic.

The entire project was overseen through a partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine. The research is legit. It includes over 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet, and disease variables.

The book is co-authored by T. Colin Campbell (Ph.D in Nutrition and Biochemistry from Cornell University) and his son Thomas M. Campbell.

What are the results of the experiments? 

The research shows a an association between the food we eat, and disease.

To repeat that more simply, The China Study shows that food is medicine. Eat the right food and you can cure cancer,  heart disease, and a litany of other horrible diseases.

I can break down T. Colin Campbell’s advice for you with these three easy to remember steps: 

  1. Eat Plants: eat the rainbow, as many colors as close to their natural state as possible.
  2. Eat less animal protein: less meat, fish, eggs and milk.
  3. Avoid processed foods: less sugars, starchy carbohydrates and vitamin supplements.

Loren Cordain (Paleo) vs. T. Colin Campbell (Plant-based) Debate

cordain vs. campbell Nutrition science is frustrating! A large part of this frustration is because:

  • the experts come with bias
  • the media pares down the argument into sound bites

Case in point, this Larry King Live debate between Paleo and Vegan in 2013: there’s a lot of what they believe, but little scientific justification for why or how they came to their conclusions. As someone trying to learn, who am I to believe? Continue reading “Loren Cordain (Paleo) vs. T. Colin Campbell (Plant-based) Debate”

The Optimal Amount of Protein Your Body Needs

The following is based on research from The China Study. This article was originally posted on NYC Vegetarian Food Festival and China Study Diet

The body has an optimum percentage of protein that it needs each day. Think of it like a sweet spot that you want to hit. Let’s use a houseplant as a metaphor:

How much protein do I need?

If you’ve overwatered a plant you know what that’s like—it looks pretty nasty. And if you under water it? Also not good. But there’s an optimal amount of water ever plant needs to be healthy — and that’s what we’re talking about, the optimal amount of protein you need to stay healthy.

What happens when you exceed that amount? Over time your body is more prone to disease (in the research they specifically looked at cancer, heart disease, obesity, and autoimmune diseases).

What does 10% of animal protein look like?

What does 10% protein look like?
Gram estimates based on Web MD:


The Big Payoff: Not all proteins are alike

In the China Study, author T. Colin Campbell explains, “plant protein did not promote cancer growth, even at the highest levels of intake.”

To summarize, the 10% (of calories per day) threshold for protein I mentioned is exclusive to animal based proteins, and therefore if you eat a plant-based diet you’re much less likely to promote disease in the same way animals proteins do.

Perhaps I’m oversimplifying the study a bit (in that there is some context missing as to which specific types of protein were tested, and how and when these reactions occurred), but the higher level takeaways are:

1. There is an optimum level of protein your body needs.

2. Not all proteins are alike. Animals proteins tend to have an “overwatering effect,” leading your body into disease, whereas plant proteins don’t contribute to the overwatering effect.

Learn about The China Study online with my 30 minute video class @