Courtesy of Cornell ASAP

Dr. Michael Greger '95 recommends making positive choices early to optimize aging.

April 18, 2024

How Not to Age, According to Cornell Alumnus and Nutrition Expert Dr. Greger ’95

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Some of the consequences of aging can be avoided through intentional positive choices, according to author, physician and speaker Dr. Michael Greger ’95. In his new book, How Not to Age, Greger details the science that underlies chronic disease and aging and recommends cost-effective solutions.

Greger visited campus on March 26 to give a talk on his new book and discuss the benefits of a plant-based diet. The event was organized by the Cornell Allied Scholars for Animal Protection, a student organization focused on animal rights, environment sustainability, public health and social justice. 

ASAP invited Greger to educate the public on plant-based diets and lifestyles, according to the club’s president Lilly Smith ’26. In the hour-long talk, Greger broke down the science behind aging and discussed steps to minimize risks for the diseases associated with aging.

Taking inspiration from the five blue zones of the world — geographic regions where life expectancies are abnormally high — Greger emphasized the importance of building positive lifelong habits to optimize one’s aging outcomes. Greger recommended several techniques from homemade skin serum to following a non-processed, plant-based diet.

Greger stressed the importance of making positive choices — such as getting enough sleep and limiting sun exposure — even for young people who may misperceive aging as distant and irrelevant. 

“[Greger] gave action for students to take now [while] also appealing to the older audience,” Smith said.

During the Q&A portion of Gregor’s talk, the diverse audience ranging from students to retirees sought expert clarifications on popular aging-related advice from online health communities — such as milk consumption.

According to Greger, the relationship between milk and aging may be due to galactose — a sugar resulting from the breakdown of lactose, another sugar found in milk. 

“Milk consumption is associated with increased all-cause mortality,” Greger said. “[Galactose] accelerates aging in laboratory animals.”  

Smith, who has followed a plant-based diet for four years, found herself leaving with new information.

“I was surprised by how much [plant-based eating] impacts the skin, menopause, brain health [and] cardiovascular health,” Smith said.  

Maggie Walsh can be reached at [email protected].