A man walks towards a giant book with healthy fruits and vegetables that represent healthy living.

How Not To Die - A Book Review for a Short Runway

My urologist got right to the point in May, 2018: “You have cancer”.

Diagnosed with T2C prostate cancer, I did the dance with the Da Vinci Robot and had my prostate removed. I had studied up on every possible prostate cancer remedy, before choosing my ideal option. The surgery was mostly uneventful, save for my wife falling down a flight of stairs in the hospital during my post-op recovery. Why did she think she could fly?

The surgeon encouraged me to eliminate fatty foods. At age 69, I thought of course I will stop eating french fries, potato chips, and red meats (wink, wink).

PSA is undetectable, but there are other health complications

Fast forward two years and my PSA tests have been undetectable. What, me worry?

Last month, my primary physician (who kept pointing out my LDL was too high: 106), added vascular disease to the chart, since plaque was indicated in a scan of my heart. On top of that, my left knee, injured 35 years ago, has no ACL, so my orthopedic surgeon pointed to the X-ray and did not mince words: Knee Replacement, Dead Ahead.

What do these two diagnoses have in common? I am a cardio risk, and paying the price for ignoring my primary physician?

It's time to reinvent myself

Then a friend sent an email letting me know that one of our retiree friends was playing golf the previous Saturday. His partner was a healthy 61 year old. His partner collapsed from a massive heart attack and died on the golf course.

The friend forwarded a link to a video by Dr. Michael Greger, M.D., FACLM, and author of How Not to Die. I had read Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer by Patrick C. Walsh, M.D, and Janet Farrar Worthington as part of my research into options for dealing with prostate cancer. My book review can be found in A Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer - A Book Review.

It was time to reinvent myself prior to knee replacement surgery.

Things I wish I knew a few years ago

Dr. Greger asserts that a plant-based diet can help prevent and surprisingly reverse disease. Each chapter addresses a specific disease. At first, I skipped over prostate cancer, because well I don’t have one. I did go back and read it and, of all things, Flaxseed may help decrease cancer risk. Darn...I wish I’d known that a couple of years ago.

Eggs have choline which can increase cancer risk. Men with a higher dose of milk consumption also had a higher risk. Dr. Greger presents some of the myths about milk healthier bones which the dairy industry uses in their marketing. Reducing or eliminating milk from your diet doesn’t result in higher fracture rates.

What about heart disease?

As far as heart disease, the introduction of statins has also helped reduce cholesterol but over time diet has significantly impacted (negatively) LDL or bad cholesterol. My physician has changed my stating to Rovustatin (generic Crestor). In two months my goal is a significant reduction in cholesterol and LDL. Did you know that eating four Brazil nuts once a month results in a significant reduction of LDL by up to 20 points? Dr. Pregar presents the data supporting it.

A flexible plant-based diet

How Not to Die addresses the top fifteen causes of death. Dr. Gregar then strongly suggests that a plant-based diet and exercise is the answer. It’s also a flexible plant-based diet versus a 100% vegetarian.

My brother and his wife converted to a plant-based diet over a year ago, while coincidentally several friends of mine revealed their favorite plant-based meals. My plan? Starting a few weeks ago we had practically eaten all of the food in the freezer and refrigerator thanks to the pandemic stay at home plan.

My wife and I are adjusting our diets

My wife and I sat down and reviewed the book including Dr. Preger’s How Not to Die Cookbook. We have eliminated red meat completely replacing it with plant-based burgers (chipotle black bean, yummy!) Chicken was our main source of protein, but as the book reveals there are issues related to bacteria while handling and we’ve reduced consumption to adding chicken shreds occasionally.

There are excellent readily available plant-based chicken, and ground beef, and steaks strips that taste great! Finally, I have increased my exercise daily to walking and playing Pickleball. And yes for those who know me, wine consumption has been reduced to an occasional glass.

At seventy one, my runway is pretty short. With a change in diet, an increase in exercise, and a new knee at the end of the year, my reinvention will be complete.

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