How to Live was published September 2020 by Professor Robert Thomas, one of Britain’s leading oncologists and an expert in integrating nutritional and lifestyle strategies.  He gives us effective, scientifically proven advice about everything from diet and exercise to sleep and skincare.

Thomas demystifies cancer and other chronic diseases by explaining how they develop in our bodies, what we can do to mitigate against damage, and how simple changes to our diet and routine can prevent our biggest killers, from heart disease to diabetes.

This is a health bible for life. Whether you are in your 20s or 70s, it will help you to empower your body against aging and degenerative disease and live at maximum strength.

The information in How to Live aims to empowers readers by bringing together ground-breaking science usually trapped in academic circles into an accessible, practical guide. It will give you the tools and knowledge to change your life for the better: it is a comprehensive overview that can be dipped in and out of and digested at your own speed.

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Other strange but true facts in How to Live

Never keep potatoes in the fridge:

Storing raw potatoes in the fridge may lead to the formation of more free sugars (referred to as ‘cold sweetening’). This can increase their acrylamide levels – harmful chemicals that are typically formed when foods with a high sugar or starch content are cooked at high temperatures. This is especially true if the potatoes are then fried, roasted or baked. If you want to fry or roast potatoes, do so only until they are golden yellow, not browned or blackened, as this will reduce their acrylamide content.

Eat your charcuterie with olives

Although meat is a good source of protein and vitamin B12, excess intake is a major contributor to human disease. One of the risk factors is that meat contains nitrates, which are not bad for us in themselves, but can be reduced into harmful nitrosamines (especially if exposed to high heat). In fact, the nitrates in plants are very beneficial, as they are converted to nitric oxide (NO) which has numerous health benefits. When eating meat, it is best to include vegetables in your meal to increase the amount of nitric oxide produced. In other words, always pair your charcuterie with olives!

Keep a houseplant in every room

It is a good idea to keep lots of houseplants, as many varieties are able to take in airborne contaminants, neutralise them and release purified, oxygenated air back into the room. Not only does this freshen and oxygenate the air but it actually helps to eliminate toxins. The soil plants grow in, once activated by their roots, also absorbs particulate toxins and dust from the air. NASA scientists found that many indoor plants removed up to 87% of toxic benzene, ammonia and formaldehyde from the air in just one day.

Eat honey – but not for breakfast

Honey is a good example of a food that has both good and bad elements. Its high fructose levels cause a rapid rise in glucose and and eventually diabetes type 2. It is also calorific, so increases glycaemic load and the risk of weight gain. On the other hand, it contains oligosaccharides, which act as prebiotics and encourage growth of healthy bacteria. The timing of honey consumption is important. If eaten on an empty stomach, such as first thing in the morning, there is rapid absorption of fructose into the blood stream. On the other hand, a small quantity after a meal has a lower influence on GI but still provides healthy prebiotics and polyphenols to help aid digestion and stimulate antioxidant enzyme production.

Have a teaspoon of crushed flaxseed every day

Linseed (also known as flaxseed) is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, healthy polyphenols and omega fats. It helps to lubricate and soften the stool without bulking it, making it particularly helpful for those with gluten intolerance. To my patients I recommend adding a teaspoon of ground flaxseed into their diet every day, and most of them gratefully shake my hand when I see them next. Some have even told me that it has changed their lives, and they’ve never taken a laxative again! It is important that the linseed is ground or crushed, as otherwise it tends to pass through the system untouched.

Eat pomegranate to help prevent breast cancer

Pomegranate extract, rich in ellagic acid, has been shown to directly inhibit cell growth and induce apoptosis (the process of bad cells killing themselves). In another study involving breast cancer cells, pomegranate also inhibited processes that encouraged cancers to metastasis (loss of adhesion) while not affecting normal cells. Furthermore, pomegranate was found to inhibit the process by which breast cancer cells are attracted to bone.

A glass of red wine is just fine

Red wine is particularly rich in the pigmented polyphenol resveratrol. It’s a class of compounds produced as part of a plant’s defence system against invading fungus or ultraviolet irradiation disease. Spanish wines have the highest levels among the red wine variety, followed by Pinot Noir. Although wine takes the limelight in the resveratrol discussion, it is also found in grapes, blueberries, raspberries, as well as exotic fruit. It has strong antioxidant properties and has demonstrated growth inhibition of cancer prostate, breast and bowel cells in culture experiments. Red wine, in moderation, has long been thought of as healthy for the heart, as there is some evidence that it raises HDL (healthy) cholesterol, reduces the platelet aggregation and hence the formation of blood clots, may reduce inflammation in the layer of cells that line your blood vessels.

Eat egg whites to lower your blood pressure

The white part of the egg has no cholesterol and contain a peptide which lowers blood pressure. This was demonstrated in a study presented by the American Chemical Society revealed egg whites lowered BP as much as one commonly prescribed drug!

Don’t overcook your broccoli

Broccoli contains an important antioxidant called glucoraphanin and has particularly high levels of an enzyme called myrosinase, which is needed to convert glucoraphanin into the biologically active sulforaphane. This enzyme has numerous health benefits and helps to eliminate harmful free radicals and environmental pollutants. However, sulforaphane is partially damaged by heat. The longer broccoli is cooked for, and the higher the temperature used during cooking, the less sulforaphane is absorbed after eating. This is one good reason to blanch broccoli or even try including it raw in salads.

Swap energy drinks for beetroot juice

Beetroot is a good source of nitric oxide, the beneficial compound that can improve exercise performance by relaxing muscles around the arteries and increasing blood flow to tissues, thus enhancing muscle and heart recovery. Park runners may be interested to know that studies have shown that beetroot juice can increase running time before exhaustion and increase speed during a 5km run. Other foods rich in nitrates include apples, pomegranates, tea, turmeric, ginger, spinach, kale, watercress, rocket, lettuce, radishes and celery.