Disease Proof by Dr. David Katz

09 Dec
Disease Proof by Dr. David Katz

Disease Proof by Dr. David Katz

Imagine if a pharmaceutical company introduced a drug that promised to cut your chances of contracting all diseases (including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease) by at least 80%? I imagine you would immediately have four questions: How much does it cost? What are the side effects? How can I get a prescription? And, How can I invest in the company? While such a drug is not available, you can achieve an incredible 80% reduction in your chance of developing a devastating disease by making a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Disease Proof, a new book by preventive medicine specialist Dr. David Katz, provides a road map for making the diet and lifestyle changes that will “add years to life, and life to years.”

David Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, is a remarkable physician. He received his BA from Dartmouth College and his MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. According to his website, Dr. Katz “helped develop and found one of the nation’s first combined residency training programs in Internal Medicine & Preventive Medicine, and formerly served as the program’s director. Dr. Katz currently co-directs a one-year post-doctoral residency program in Integrative Medicine at his center in Derby, CT.”

The basic premise of Disease Proof is that you can slash your risk of disease by making just four adjustments to your diet and lifestyle—don’t smoke, eat healthy foods, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. The book begins by analyzing the past 20 years worth of medical research and concludes, “the leading causes of death and disease are largely within our control because they result from what we do or don’t do with our feet, our forks, and our fingers—namely, whether they are physically active, consume a healthy diet, or smoke—on a daily basis.”

While it is true that some diseases are inherited (such as Huntington’s disease, sickle-cell anemia or cystic fibrosis), the truth is that eight out of ten serious illnesses could have been prevented by changes in diet in lifestyle. And the fact is that most medical doctors find that prescribing drugs is a lot easier than instructing patients on how to develop a healthy lifestyle—and I really don’t blame doctors for this sad state of affairs! Thirteen years ago my physical health was horrible—I was morbidly obese and suffered from a multitude of major medical problems. My family practice doctor would load me up with prescription drugs and send me on my way. When I hit my lowest point I decided to turn my life around. I am not a physician, but I do know how to thoroughly research a subject, so I started reading dozens of books on health, exercise and nutrition. Then I went on a healthy diet and started a serious exercise program. The next time I saw my doctor he said I looked fifteen years younger than the last time I was in his office, so I explained what I had done. Before I left his office I asked him, “Why didn’t you tell me to eat healthy and exercise?” He cracked a smile and said, “You know, after telling that to thousands of patients and having them all ignore me I guess I just gave up.” He was probably right—the vast majority of people have to hit bottom before they are willing to even consider changing their diet and lifestyle.

While Disease Proof does discuss DNA, genetics and the Human Genome Project, it is not a difficult book to read (medical jargon is kept to a minimum). “One of the eye-opening revelations provided by the Human Genome Project, which was completed in 2003, is that the genes themselves don’t lead to disease. It’s the interaction of certain high-risk genes and unhealthy environmental influences (including poor diet, physical inactivity, and smoking) that combine to trigger disease.” Dr. Katz discusses how diet and exercise can literally change the behavior of our genes and how heart disease, cancer, stoke and diabetes are not really the cause of death, but rather “the results or effects of how people live.”

Over half of the book is spent on nutrition, and while it does not offer a strict Paleo diet, it is what I would call “Paleo friendly”, i.e., eat a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats and skip the pre-packaged garbage that makes up most of the typical American diet. Dr. Katz wisely observed, “The longer the shelf life of a food product (such as neon-orange cheese puffs), the shorter the shelf life of the person who consumes it regularly.”

I realize that most of the readers of this blog are probably already following a fairly healthy lifestyle, but I am certain you have a lot of family members who could use a bit of a nudge towards healthy living—this book would make a wonderful gift for them! The hardcover edition of Disease Proof retails for $26, but is available from for only $17. The Kindle edition sells for $12. This book was published in September of 2013 and was printed by Hudson Street Press (304 pages).


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22 responses to “Disease Proof by Dr. David Katz

  1. Marty Mathis

    December 9, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    Thanks for the review. It’s on my list.

  2. cavegirlkindra

    December 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    Reblogged this on California Cavegirl Kindra.

  3. Chikashi

    December 10, 2013 at 3:04 AM

    I think most people understand the concept intellectually. The hurdle is whether one wants to do it as it requires long term commitment, not just a week of novel practices. That tipping point can come about for different reasons, depending on the person and the circumstances, but it is usually not because someone said so. I suppose I empathise with your doctor.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 16, 2013 at 10:12 PM

      I think you are right — most people understand that they should eat better food, but until they have a major health crisis they don’t change their habits.

  4. woolerwheel

    December 10, 2013 at 3:11 AM

    The scarey thing is, we knew all this a long time ago but we have been dictated to by the pharmaceutical companies. I’ve just finished reading The No Breakfast Plan and the Fasting Cure by Edward Hooker Dewey. Written in 1900! It’s free to download at the moment on Kindle and it’s worth sticking with the prose.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 16, 2013 at 10:12 PM

      Thanks for the info about the other two books — I’ll have to get them myself.

  5. woolerwheel

    December 10, 2013 at 3:13 AM

    Reblogged this on woolerwheel.

  6. Charles Huss

    December 10, 2013 at 4:51 AM

    I have not read the book but I have researched health for the last seven years or so. Right now everybody is talking about this new healthcare law and some think having good insurance is the answer but the truth is, insurance is the back end of health care. We need to focus on the front end, which is what you mentioned this book talks about, nutrition, exercise and toxin avoidance. Keep in mind toxins come not just from smoking but also processed foods (just about everything at the supermarket) and medications.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 16, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      If there is ever a reason to take care of your health it has to be the new heath care law!

  7. Admin

    December 10, 2013 at 6:00 AM

    Imagine if we all started to eat REAL food that were free from toxins and didn’t contract diseases in the first place! Food Matters is an awesome doco :)

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 16, 2013 at 10:14 PM

      Real food without toxins — the key to a long and healthy life!

  8. spokengear

    December 10, 2013 at 7:25 AM

    Keep up the great work! Your blog is one of my favorites, you mix in what people need to hear to keep motivated into your reviews.

  9. thehomeschoolingdoctor

    December 10, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    Nice review. I wish my parents would read something like this if I gave it to them. I’m working on them. Maybe if I sent it with chocolates.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 16, 2013 at 10:17 PM

      Let me guess — your parents are your most difficult patients! By the way, you can make so HEALTHY chocolates for them (my wife makes the only candy I’ll eat anymore — decaffeinated cocoa powder, coconut oil, real orange extract, honey, and raisins).

  10. Kate

    December 12, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    16 years ago or so I went to the dr for…who knows what. Anyway, he handed me my chart to take up to the reception desk, and I noticed that he’d checked the “obese” box. It was a huge shock…I knew I was heavy, but I was considered obese? It led to me making some preliminary changes and beginning to lose weight, but it also showed me that doctors aren’t always prepared/willing to have that conversation with patients.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 16, 2013 at 10:18 PM

      Ouch! I used to be morbidly obese — and no doctor ever even suggested that I lose weight! That was 13 years ago and now I am a distance cyclist.

  11. sedge808

    December 12, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    I have nominated your blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.
    More about this nomination is at

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 16, 2013 at 10:20 PM

      That is so very kind of you! A few years ago someone gave me the “Kreative Blogger Award” and I wrote an article about it (, but since then I haven’t been able to think of anything else to say about awards (I guess I’m not really that creative after all).

  12. DG

    December 13, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Hey, I’m a bit late to the discussion, but thanks for the tip. Also recommend “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 16, 2013 at 10:21 PM

      I read that book last year — it was a great book to read and full of useful tips!


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