I have just read this book and it has really made me stop and think about the food I eat.  In How Not to Die, Dr Michael Gregor examines the top causes of premature death for heart disease , cancers, diabetes and more – and explains how nutritional and lifestyle interventions can sometimes trump prescription pills and other pharmaceutical and surgical approaches, freeing us to enjoy better health.

It’s a very BIG book with a HUGE reference section. Every month I’m going to try and pick out the key points for each section and I highly recommend reading the book for yourself. Prevention is better than cure. I am not advising anyone to follow the suggestions in the book, i’m just passing on the information.


It’s easy to take your kidneys for granted but they work non-stop as a water filter for your blood. They process up to 150 litres of blood every 24hrs just to make the 1-2 litres of urine you pee out each day.


If your kidneys don’t function properly metabolic waste products can accumulate in the blood and eventually lead to symptoms such as weakness, shortness of breath, confusion and abnormal heart rhythms.


If your kidneys fail completely you will either need a new one or have to go on dialysis where a machine artificially filters the blood. However kidney donors are in short supply and the average life expectancy for someone on dialysis is 3 yrs. It is possible to live with just one kidney.


Your kidneys can also fail suddenly in response to certain toxins, infections or urinary blockage. Diets that are healthiest for our hearts, centred around unprocessed plant foods, may be the best way to prevent and treat kidney disease as well.


Damaging your kidneys with diet

  • Kidneys are packed with blood vessels and they work hard to retain protein and other vital nutrients. If the kidneys are leaking protein into urine it’s a sign of failing kidneys.
  • A study has found the 3 main components associated with this type of kidney function decline is animal protein, animal fat and cholesterol.
  • The kidneys seem to handle plant protein better putting less stress on the kidneys. In the hunter gatherer days our bodies would have processed a large amount of animal protein on hunting and scavenging days. We now eat large doses of animal protein every day.
  • If it is not possible to reduce meat consumption it is recommended to eat more fruit & veg to balance the acid load.


Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits that can form in the kidneys when stone-forming substance in the urine start to crystallise and eventually grow into pebble size that block the flow of urine. This causes great pain. The stones may pass naturally or need surgical removal.

  • Eating a plant-based diet to alkalinise your urine may also help to prevent and treat kidney stones. Although not all plant based food is alkalinising & not all animal foods are acidifying. The most acid-producing foods are fish, then pork, poultry, cheese, beef , eggs, dairy, bread & lastly rice. The most acid-reducing are vegetables, followed by fruit, beans and then pasta.


The Red Cabbage home experiment

Boil some purple cabbage until the water turns deep purple. Pee into your toilet and then pour in the cabbage water. If the liquid in the toilet remains purple, or even worse turns pink, your urine is too acidic. Blue is the target to show your pee is not acidic but neutral.


Excess phosphorous

Having excess phosphorous in the blood may increase the risk of kidney failure, heart failure, heart attacks and premature death. It also appears to damage our blood vessels and accelerate ageing and bone loss.

  • Phosphorous is found in many animal and plant foods as well as food additives which are added to cola drinks and meat to enhance their colour. This additive is also absorbed at a rate of almost 100% as opposed to 50% from plants and 75% from animal foods.
  • Chicken meat is often injected with phosphates to improve its colour and to add water weight and to reduce the “purge” – liquid that seeps from the meat as it ages.