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How Not To Get Sick with COVID

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A few months ago I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Michael Greger.  He is an icon in health and wellness and a  New York Times bestselling author.   Dr. Greger is the genius behind the free resource;  Nutrition Facts.org.  His recent book titles are How Not to Die and the How Not To Die Cookbook so we kept the theme and discussed how not to get sick from COVID.

Dr. Greger and I chatted back in April when we were just beginning to understand the implications of Covid.  Initially, his plan was to travel to Rochester, MN for an annual conference hosted by the Lotus Foundation.  Instead, we did a zoom interview with Dr. Greger true to form conducted the interview while walking on his treadmill.

You may know Dr. Greger from all the things that he does in the health and wellness world.  But let me tell you a little bit about him.  Dr. Greger is a physician, but not just any physician.   He is a New York Times bestselling author and an internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important health issues. He has lectured at conferences on world affairs at the National Institute of  Health amongst so many others.  The newest discussion is about how not to get sick from Covid.

He’s also testified before Congress and appeared on shows like the Colbert report and the Dr. Oz show. Dr. Greger is a licensed general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition and as a founding member of the fellow and a fellow of the American College of lifestyle medicine.

I hope you enjoy our interview.

Denise Stegall

Dr. Gregory, thank you so much for being here with me today.

Dr. Michael Greger

So happy to be here. Sorry. I can’t be there in person.

Denise Stegall

Well, we are actually having great weather here in Rochester, Minnesota. So it would be a perfect time for you to come next time. Next time. Hopefully when we, when we reschedule, you’ll be able to join us. So with all of this, that’s going on with COVID-19, we’re focused so much on how to not get sick from COVID, how to stay healthy, how to wash our hands. But there are so many people who are suffering from chronic things, chronic issues that seem to, you know, kind of right now get being brushed under the table.

Dr. Michael Greger

I mean, they actually go together, right? I mean, if you look at co-morbidity they are a direct correlation to increase one’s risk of a severe course of COVID-19 in terms of hospitalization, ICU, and death. These are obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease. These are all diseases that can be prevented, arrested, even reversed with a healthy enough diet and lifestyle. So this is the perfect time to take care of it.

Denise Stegall

It is. I completely agree, but I think there are a lot of people out there that don’t quite make the connection. How do we, what is the first thing that we say to people or what are the first steps that people can take to say, okay, maybe I’ve, haven’t been living the best healthiest lifestyle. I need to make some changes. What are some of those changes?

Dr. Michael Greger

I have a free app on iPhone and Android called Dr. Greger’s daily dozen, which just talks about all the healthiest of healthy foods. One can aim to include in their daily diets.  You know, beans every day, legumes,  chickpeas, and lentils every day.  The healthiest fruits greens, every day, the healthiest vegetables. Additionally, a  quarter teaspoon of turmeric, a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds, the best beverages, the best sweeteners, how much exercise to get every day, basically just to inspire people to include some of these healthiest of healthy foods.

If there were just three things I would add to someone’s diet first, it would be berries, greens, and legumes. If there were three, the three first things I would move from people’s diets would be trans fats, hydrogenated oils found being phased out of the food supply. And, but still found in meat and dairy, a two would be processed, meat, bacon, ham, hot dogs, lunch, meat, sausage is known to be carcinogenic and people third would be soda, liquid candy. Those would be probably the top three things I’d removed from someone’s diet. That will go a long way towards improving people’s health.

Denise Stegall

And obviously since where I, as you and I are talking, you’re on your treadmill exercise is a big part of living a healthy lifestyle. So let’s talk about exercise.

Dr. Michael Greger

So I recommend 90 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day. But there are independent benefits of just not being sedentary. Sitting six or more hours a day, even if after-work you workout an hour in the gym still increases one’s mortality over those sitting less than six hours a day.

Those are two separate things.   What if instead of sitting at a desk you had a standing desk or a treadmill set up to walk while you work.  Something like that, where you can actually keep active, keep blood from stagnating in your lower extremities -that can go a long way.

If you do have to sit there are these little like fidget bars and things you can have under your desk to keep your calves pumping blood throughout your body. But yeah, and in terms of right now exercise is critical in terms of keeping one’s immune system active, the same thing with getting sufficient sleep, as well as stress management, all things you can do to support a healthy immune system during this time.

Denise Stegall

I know that when I get my exercise and outside as much as possible living in Minnesota that there is a mental health aspect to exercise, isn’t there.

Dr. Michael Greger

Absolutely! And not just in terms of improving one’s mood, but improving things like attention deficit disorder in children and there are benefits for generalized anxiety disorder. Exercise is a great way to work off some of that stress. Of course, these days you do need to do it safely, meaning away from other people it’s still okay to go outside. We just need to keep our distance and make sure that that we don’t get infected.  You can’t get Covid if Covid can’t get to you.   You need to make sure that you wash or sanitize your hands after touching public surfaces. And before you touch your mucus membranes, your mouth inside your nose or your eyes, and just stay away.

Denise Stegall

Yes. Staying away from people is tough, though. I certainly see the strain and the stress that people are feeling because they’re, they’re disconnected from people. A friend of mine who is a doctor out in California had a really great suggestion rather than calling what we’re doing, social distancing, she’s called it physical distancing. And I think for me, that was a mental health kind of checkup thing.

Dr. Michael Greger

Yeah. Physical distance or spatial distancing, as opposed to social distancing. Absolutely. This is a time when we need the opposite, we need connection. Just, be at a distance. And so what a great time to connect with all those friends you had from way back when, and my, you know, write letters, what a concept to people, as long as the post office continues to work yeah, people should take advantage of this time to reconnect with loved ones.

It’s also the perfect time to take care of yourself.  You always want to, you know, start yoga or start meditating, or, you know, try, you know experimenting with new ways to, you know, cook dried beans, something like this. This is the time many people have been searching for, the luxury of having that extra time.

Although of course, we should not forget all the essential workers out there and not only those on the front lines and healthcare battle, but those, you know, keeping the supply chains going and we need to not just keep them in our prayers, but keep them in our social network and not forget them when we’re doing.

Denise Stegall

I agree. And that’s really, it’s really an important piece of all of that is there are still people. So many of us are working from home who don’t typically work from home. There are so many people who are out there that are working on all of our behalfs and it is important.  I think when, when we do need to go out, because people still are going to the grocery stores that it’s for both people, the person who’s going to the store and the workers, it’s so important to wear a mask and, you know, do the appropriate things,

Dr. Michael Greger

Right? Remember the masters of protecting other people, not protecting yourself that does not mean you can get close to anybody. We still need to make sure to you know, respect to hand hygiene and rest and, and social distancing and not have the kind of a false sense of security, but certainly, it should cut down on the amount of virus we were spreading out into the world. If indeed we’re infectious before we even know we have it

Denise Stegall

Very good point, very, very good point. So we have all that we have this time on our hands. It is a great opportunity, as you mentioned to do some new things,  maybe cook differently.  What would you say to someone who says, ” I don’t know what to do.”  I have all of this healthy food in my house. What do I do with it?

Dr. Michael Greger

Amazing. If you look at know, dried bean sales and canned bean sales for them, finally, you know, I’ve been telling him when he beans and wild haul that finally people are actually getting the questions, then what do you do with it? And thankfully the internet has millions of recipes for a healthy way to turn those beans into bean dips and hummus and lentil soup and all sorts of wonderful things, super easy, healthy, some of the best foods.

You know, when we eat at home, we have control over our diets. I mean, at restaurants, they want to sell food. They add tons of salt, sugar, fat to make things taste good so you’ll come back. Even if something looks healthy in a restaurant you know they may not have your best interest at heart at home.

You have control and you don’t have to add salt,  extra fat. You can I make something sweet without sugar and salty, without salt? That’s the magic of whole food. Plant-Based cooking.   My cookbook has so-called Greenlight ingredients, meaning not just every recipe is healthy, every single ingredient of every single recipe is healthy.   All of these ingredients will help you healthy to fight Covid if necessary.  There are all sorts of ways you can cook healthily little did you know? And this is a great time to experiment.

Denise Stegall

I would agree. I have both books, How Not to Die and the How Not To Die  Cookbook.  The cookbook is one that I flip open to decide what’s for dinner.

Dr. Michael Greger

Fantastic. Well, I have a new cookbook coming out this December, the how not to diet cookbook based on my last book.

Denise Stegall

Oh, I love it. That’s such a great topic. Oh my gosh. I think all of the people who are listening today we’ll certainly, I encourage everybody to go out and get the original books and, you know, read up on, you know, your health and the things that you can do for your health. There are so much information and misinformation on the internet that  I think people get lost.  It’s refreshing to read good solid information from a doctor who’s been doing this for, I don’t know, how long have you been following and encouraging a plant-based lifestyle?

Dr. Michael Greger:

Well, for about 30 years now. But rather than going out and getting the book, I would have it delivered

Denise Stegall

Good Point!

Dr. Michael Greger

Also, check out the website of your local public library. They often have featured eBooks these days, a great way to get that information for free.

Denise Stegall

That’s perfect. I didn’t realize that. Dr. Greger,  I really appreciate you taking this time to speak with me today.  Before we go, I would just ask what is like one thing that we haven’t really touched on. One more thing that you want our audience to, to know, and to make changes or, you know, to do something different in their life. What’s one more tidbit you can share.

Dr. Michael Greger

I think the takeaway is the good news that we have tremendous power over our health, destiny, and longevity. The vast majority of premature death and disability is preventable with a plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle behaviors. So I encourage people to jump in,

Denise Stegall

Jump in feet first. I think that would be great. Dr. Gregor, thank you for sharing your wisdom.

I hope to see you at the next  Lotus Foundation Event.  t

Dr. Michael Greger

Can’t wait to be there in the flesh.

Denise Stegall

We are looking forward to seeing you.

 

Watch the interview here!

 

If you are interested in more information on a plant-based diet, check out this interview with Chef AJ!

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