Categories: BLOG and LIVE WELL.


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.


According to a study published in The Lancet, the number one risk factor for death in the world has been identified as high blood pressure. Also know as hypertension, it kills so many people because it contributes to deaths from a variety of causes, including aneurysms, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure and stroke.

Normal blood pressure is 120/80. 120 is the systolic reading, representing the pressure in your arteries as your blood pumps from the heart. 80 is the diastolic reading, representing the pressure in your arteries while the heart is resting between beats.

Increased blood pressure puts a strain on the heart and can damage the sensitive blood vessels in your eyes and kidneys, cause bleeding in the brain, and even lead certain arteries to balloon and rupture.

Salt is a compound made up of 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Sodium is an essential nutrient, but vegetables and other natural foods provide the small amounts of sodium you need in your diet.
If you consume too much, it can cause water retention, and your body may respond by raising your blood pressure to push the excess fluid and salt out of your system.

Years ago as part of evolution we mainly ate plants equating to less than a ¼ of a teaspoon of salt’s worth of sodium a day. Then before refrigeration we learnt to preserve food with salt.

Reducing sodium consumption by just 15% worldwide could save millions of lives every year. The American Heart Association recommends consumption of less than 1,500mg of sodium daily (about ¾ teaspoon of salt).

If we cut our salt intake by about half a teaspoon a day by avoiding salty foods and not adding salt to our food, we might prevent 22 % of stroke deaths and 16% of fatal heart attacks.

Salty meals can also significantly impair artery function and the arteries can begin to stiffen.

Beware: The food industry adds salt to food to a) increase the weight of its product (e.g chicken) and b) to make us thirsty, e.g a cold drink & salty snack go hand in hand.

Beat the salt craving:
1. Don’t add salt at the table
2. Don’t add salt whilst cooking. Try adding pepper, onions, garlic, tomatoes, sweet peppers, basil, parsley, thyme, celery , lime, chilli, rosemary, paprika, coriander or lemon instead.
3. Avoid eating out as much as possible and avoid processed foods.

Whole Grains
According to one survey on average high blood pressure medications reduce the risk of heart attack by 15% and the risk of stroke by 25%. In a randomised controlled trial, 3 portions of whole grains a day were able to help people achieve this blood-pressure lowering benefit too. Whole grains are also associated with lower risks of Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, weight gain and colon cancer.

The DASH Diet – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
This is a plan specifically designed to lower blood pressure. It emphasises fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy, but meat is still present – you’re just supposed to eat less of it. Find more info here:

Other beneficial foods:

1) Ground flaxseeds
2) Hibiscus tea
3) Nitrate-rich vegetables such as rocket, rhubarb, coriander, butter leaf lettuce, spring greens, basil, beetroot greens, oak leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, beetroot.



You don’t have to join the millions who die from it every year!