Ideacity 2016: Dr. Michael Greger on How Not to Die

Moses Znaimer’s ideacity 2016, the annual three-day orgy of intellectual meandering, enlightenment and insights—along with a whole lot of schmoozing, entertainment, fun and partying—begins at 9 a.m.Wednesday at the Royal Conservatory’s Koerner Hall in Toronto.

It ends Friday evening with a no-holds barred blast at the Zoomerplex in Liberty Village.

Among the speakers: Dr. Michael Greger, physician and best-selling author of How Not To Die.

Here’s a preview of what he’ll be talking about at 5 p.m. Wednesday at ideacity.

“It’s how not to die, not how to not die,” emphasizes Dr. Greger. It’s about how to die the right way—”not prematurely, in pain, after a long chronic illness. We do have control over our health and longevity.”

On chronic diseases: “It’s possible to significantly lower the risk of some chronic diseases. Even more exciting, if you have these diseases, some can be treated and reversed. The body can dissolve plaque—even late in game—once you stop eating an artery-clogging diet. It’s the same with smoking. Within 15 years of stopping smoking, the risk for lung cancer is the same as for a non-smoker.”

The way to reduce the risk of chronic disease: Think “feet, forks and fingers. Feet for exercise, forks for what we eat, fingers for not smoking. The most critical is smoking cessation. But diet may be the number one killer.”

The worst things: “Trans fats, hydrogenated oils. Next would be processed meats. They’re a Group 1 carcinogen. Traditional curing uses nitrite preservatives. But so-called ‘uncured’ processes meats are fooling the consumer with sneaky labelling about natural preservatives from celery juice. But what the food manufacturers do is add bacteria so they ferment the celery juice which creates nitrites.”

The food industry: “Fooling the consumer is the number one job of the food industry. Never believe anything on the front of the package. It’s a marketing message. Ignore the front of the package and look at the nutrition fact label.”

Preventing cancer: “If half of Americans ate a single serving of fruit and vegetables every day, we could prevent 20,000 cases of cancer annually. Organic is best but any produce is better than none.” Pesticides are thought to be responsible for just 10 additional cancer cases, says Dr. Gerger. 
”It’s a tiny bump in risk you get from pesticides. We should never let concern about pesticides stop us from eating produce.”

The question Dr. Greger is asked most: “I get a lot of, ‘What did you have for breakfast?’ It’s a tough question because I travel so much. Often, I eat what can I find at the airport food court. Starbucks oatmeal is fine, but at home, I’d have steel cut oatmeal with lots of berries and nuts. I’d pack in as much nutrition as possible.”

“We need to centre our diets around calorically dilute food. One spoonful of oil is 100 calories. If you want to eat 100 calories of broccoli, strawberries or tomatoes, you’d be eating a lot of food. That’s because these foods are bulked up with water and fibre, without adding calories. You can eat as much as you want. You’d have to eat a wheelbarrow full of salad to add weight.”

Food trends: “I love to see trendy health foods. There’s no downside to a pro-kale trend. If you want to call them superfoods, that’s fine. The concern only arises when supplement manufacturers try to pretend their products have the same benefits as the superfoods. They’re promoting them with the trendiness of the produce aisle.”

“Plant-based diets are cheaper and safer. The biggest benefit is not a skinnier casket. It’s a healthier, longer life.”

Check out Dr. Gerger’s full talk here: