Learning the science behind benefits of a plant-based diet

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This past summer, Dr. Michael Greger was in town to speak on the subject of nutrition and health. In a two-day whirlwind tour, he spoke in Hilton Head, Sun City and Savannah.

In addition, he met local leaders in the whole foods, plant-based movement for lunch at Pure Natural Market on the island and for a potluck dinner at the home of one of Sun City's Eat Smart, Live Longer club's board members.

If you didn't have the chance to hear him (more than 200 people were turned away in Sun City alone due to seating capacity of its 550-seat theater being completely filled), you can go to YouTube and search on "Dr. Michael Greger in Sun City Hilton Head" for a link to his talk there.

For those who aren't familiar with Dr. Greger, he is the author of the New York Times bestseller, "How Not to Die." I've said many times that I believe this is the best book on the market about the whole foods, plant-based way of eating.

I like this book because it is scientifically based, with 150 pages of footnotes to scientific studies and other references. At the same time, it is also entertaining and easy to read. In my mind, the book is both a compelling read and a perfect reference book on how to eat and what the consequences can be of eating the wrong foods.

During Dr. Greger's time here, those of us who had a chance to hear him learned a lot. Below are just a few quotes from his talks:

"The vast majority of premature deaths can be prevented through simple changes in diet and lifestyle. The simple truth is that most doctors are good at treating acute illnesses but bad at preventing chronic disease."

"A single serving of four Brazil nuts has been shown to almost immediately improve cholesterol levels. In a study, the LDL bad cholesterol levels were a staggering 20 points lower just nine hours after eating the Brazil nuts. Even drugs don't work nearly that fast."

"For optimum health, you should try to eat both colorful and flavorful foods."

All in all, Dr. Greger's visit to our area was both entertaining and informative. For those who missed it, I strongly recommend watching his presentation on YouTube. It might just be lifesaving.

As Dr. Kim Williams, president of the American College of Cardiology, answered when asked why he ate plant-based, "I don't mind dying. I just don't want it to be my fault."

J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer focused on the whole foods, plant-based lifestyle.

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