Some books we have been reading
This is a list of health related books with summaries. This list is certainly far from complete but gives the reader enough information to decide what to eat and what to avoid. It also shows who is really setting the table for us. To sit at this table or not is up to us. These book summaries here give a hint of what is in the books but are not intended to be a substitute for reading the books. Thindex agrees with most of what is contained in these books.
1. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr, M.D.
Dr. Esselstyn is a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, one of the most renown hospital in the USA. He has developed a strict diet that has been shown to reverse vascular disease in people. His patients come to him having no chance to survive their cardiovascular disease. He gives them face to face counseling and if they agree to the diet, he follows them along and gives them encouragement. There is just so much that interventional cardiac surgery can do. There is just so much that medication can do. His plan gives people on death’s door a chance at life. His results among the people that stick with the diet are nothing short of spectacular. Their chest pain disappears as their angiograms get better. They get a new life. His diet amounts to no food that is involved with animals: meat, fish, eggs, dairy. He also excludes all oils except omega-3 fats. For Americans, this is a very strict diet but most people in the world eat a diet like this. He has pictures of diseased arteries as well as before and after arteriograms that are impressive. The second half of the book is recipes put together by his wife, Ann.
We have videos of his interview on TV, with Dr. Ornish and former president Clinton. President Clinton has had two heart operations and he is on board for trying to stop the vascular damage rather that just fixing the arteries as they clot off.
2. The China Study. T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell.
This is a fascinating book by an eminently qualified author. It was published in 2006. It is a story of a man ( Colin Campbell ) who is research based for the first part of his life. He then collaborates in a huge study based in China that looks at how diet affects health. The food industry that sets our table has bashed the book on the internet and Dr. Campbell has responded. The book is very readable and it pulls no punches in recommending what we should be eating on a day-to-day basis. His data support a low protein, low fat diet. This is the opposite of what the average American eats. His advice is to eat lower down on the food chain, like going out into your garden, pick some green, yellow vegetables, starches and fruits and eat them. This diet can reduce the chance of colon, breast and prostate cancers. We lose about 500,000 people each year to these horrible cancers, most of which are avoidable. He also takes on cow’s milk and shows that evidence points toward a strong correlation between childhood diabetes and early drinking of cow’s milk. There are similar reports linking Multiple Sclerosis with milk consumption and high amounts of animal fats throughout life. He goes on to discuss dietary intake and the aging of the vascular tree that gives blood to our heart, brain and other organ systems. Once again those that ate the most fruits and vegetables and the least animal products including fats and dairy products – did the best.
He makes it so simple to choose our food after reading his book. In the final chapters, he explains why the government, food industry, big pharma and the medical profession are not exactly jumping on board this tsunami of medical information that tells us we are eating the wrong foods.
3. The Omnivores Dilemma. Michael Pollan
This is an easy and enjoyable book to read. He investigates the food industry and how we are affected by the corporate buffet. He describes humans as omnivores in that we can eat and digest a variety of foods. This search for variety has made us smarter. Now the food middlemen have changed our foods such that we cannot tell exactly what we are eating. The ingredient list can be long and tedious to read. He details the rise of corn in our diet through government subsidies, which lowers the cost of corn, which makes it profitable to put it in everything we eat. He visits an old style farmer for a week to see how non-chemical farming could be done. People come from hundreds of miles to buy eggs and chickens from this farm. After reading this book, people look at vegetarians and vegans with admiration. He has some excellent internet references in the back such as www.localharvest.com. This site hooks you up with farmers near your zip code that are practicing sustainable farming techniques.
4. Spark by John Ratey.
This is a fascinating book that describes the exciting new information that comes to us about the brain and how we can get it to work better for us into old age. Dr. Ratey is an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ratey tells us that the brain is not just a bunch of neurons that sit inside the skull and gradually lose their effectiveness and die off as we age. The brain is more like a muscle in that it gets stronger and healthier with use. He tells us that when we exercise up to 75 percent of our maximum heart rate, we secrete chemicals that calm the brain and encourage it to work better. These chemicals also encourage the brain to grow more nerves to replace the ones that are dying off. He then speaks about conditions like anxiety, ADHD, depression, hormonal imbalance, stress, and addiction that are made better by the simple act of taking your body out for some serious activity. This level of activity is as effective on brain function as the prescription drugs that are commonly used for these mental conditions. He also adds that the combination of activity and drugs can be more effective than either.
If that isn’t enough good news about exercise, he describes a PE program in a middle school – Naperville 203, in Illinois. The kids are exercised with heart monitors trying to get their heart rates up to the 70 percent of max rate for at least 30 minutes. This isn’t PE as you remember it. It is exertion. They also learn skills like rock climbing and kayaking that the kids may do for their lifetime. They have 3 percent obesity compared to 30 percent in comparable schools. These upper middle class kids took the TIMSS worldwide test for learning but took it like a country. In science they were #1 worldwide and sixth in math behind 5 Asian countries. As a country the USA was around 18th overall. Other things noted were that when these PE programs are instituted, kids are quiet and more ready to learn and fist fights go way down.
Dr. Ratey has several talks on Utube – just enter John Ratey and Spark and they come up. Be sure to watch the 49 minute talk – but please read the book. The information within this book can change your life.
5. Games People Play Eric Berne, M.D. (1964)
This is a very old book but still allows us to look at people’s behavior differently after reading the book. We can understand our own behavior as well when we see ourselves playing the games documented throughout the book. The problem with these games is that they allow people to go through their lives playing these games and not leading a normal life where there is good socialization, problem solving, adult behavior and eventual happiness.
The classic game is “yes…. but”. One person complains about a simple problem and the listener then plays their part by giving solutions. Every solution starts with “Try this:” The complainer comes back with “Yes, but” followed by why the solution won’t work. This conversation can go on for hours depending on the persistence of the players. Another game is “alcoholic”, a game commonly played throughout the world. The”alcoholic” organizes his life with a cast of enablers called “spouse”, and “rescurer”. This is a life game and can go on and on with different cast members showing up, but the alcohol use continues. Why is this book recommended? This book can give us insight into our own behavior that is not progressing toward a happier life, like the overweight, deconditioned person that has tried every diet and failed. Overeating is likely a “game” for this person and there are 70 million players in the USA alone. This game leads to obesity, pain, arthritis, shortened life, less pay, inactivity, and multiple medical diseases associated with the game.
6. The End of Overeating David A. Kessler, M.D.
Doctor Kessler has struggled with weight issues himself thus understands where you are coming from. What is different about his book is that he spends time defining how our foods have evolved as we have become an obese nation and there is a cause and effect relationship. He draws parallels between the cigarette industry and what has happened to our foods. The food industry has learned by trial and error that we Homo Sapiens can not resist the right combination of salt, fat and sugar. They doctor the processed foods so that we will become return customers. They then hit us with ads that set off triggers in our memory banks that bring us back to their foods. This is just what the cigarette folks did by doctoring cigarettes to make them more addicting than they were. If you know of a smoker, you know how difficult it is to quit. The food industry has done the same thing. Dr. Kessler defines the problem as we face it and then goes on to discuss strategies for getting by and becoming healthier in today’s real world. Reading books like “The End of Overeating” are weapons that we can use to motivate ourselves to do what is necessary to live the rest of our lives in a healthy manner despite all the distractions that are designed to cause us to take the low roads to overeating and making the wrong food choices.
7. Pritikin Program For Diet and Exercise. Nathan Pritikin 1979
I read this book in the early 1980s. Nathan Pritikin was a non medical person that cured his own heart disease with a combination of low fat diet and exercise. He comes forward to warn Americans that we are eating the wrong foods. I (Joe) did this diet and lost all my excess fat. People wondered if I was dieing from something but I felt great. I have continued to go back to this program and have incorporated his ideas in my recommendations.
8. Eat More, Weigh Less Dr. Dean Ornish. (1993).
Dr. Ornish has promoted a non traditional diet that reverses the cardiovascular disease that Americans get by under-exercising and eating the wrong foods. He has appeared on panels with Dr. Atkins who promoted smaller portion fatty foods, which most people tend to prefer. Unfortunately these fatty foods make us more unhealthy as opposed to Dr. Ornish’s program. Dr. Ornish and Nathan Pritikin’s programs have been panned as being unappetizing and difficult to stay with. The good news is that there are answers to our health problems that are out there if we are just willing to read these books and commit to giving our bodies what they need to be healthy not what is cooked up by corporate America for us to get addicted to. I thought when I read this book years ago that it would put an end to our epidemic of obesity in America. He clearly points out that eating a certain way reduces our opportunities to die from heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It is all about doing today what will put you where you want to be 5, 10 and more years from now. This is the edition that is packed with recipes that are easy to follow. It is a great book.
9. Wheat Belly. William Davis M.D.
Dr. Davis presents rather striking concepts in this book. He is a preventive cardiologist. His focus is to prevent people from developing lethal diseases like heart attacks, our number one killer of men and women in this country. In his book, he presents his ideas in a logical manner. He basically feels that wheat has been responsible for the explosion of the earth’s population and all would agree on that. But wheat has been altered genetically over the past few hundred years into something that is very unhealthy for us and our bodies have not changed to handle these genetic invaders. He began by carving out his pre-diabetic patients and putting them on a wheat free diet. Those that did the diet lost a lot of weight and their blood sugar numbers returned to the safe zone. What amazed him was what he learned from those patients – asthma, attention, sleep, skin rashes, irritable bowels, even rheumatoid arthritis symptoms were lessened. Certainly weight loss alone can help these conditions but not as dramatically as his patients talked about. He puts in anecdotal patients using them as examples to make his points which show the reader what real results can look like and how life can change with dietary alterations. Dr. Davis is not a fan of “whole grains” because he feels that blood sugars go up as fast with whole grains as they do with flour by itself. His diet recommendations flatten out the elevated blood sugars that everyone agrees are the enemy of health.
I liked his book and feel he has many good points on the pluses of dropping wheat from the diet and see what happens. My feeling is that our fat intake is also a big source of our health problems as can be demonstrated by feeding fat and sugar to rats and watching their arteries clog up and then getting rid of fat and sugar and watch their arteries heal up. Wheat may also be a big part of our health disaster that we are experimenting with in this country. Do yourself a favor and read Dr. Davis’ book and decide for yourself.
10. Born To Run. Christopher McDougall.
Like most of us, Christopher becomes deconditioned after age 40, and decides to return to his youthful health. He decided to do some jogging on soft surfaces to trim down his 230 pounds on a 6 foot 4 foot frame. His slender weight would be 202 pounds. Jogging brought him foot pain and a doctor’s bill with some advice – buy a bike. He becomes interested in the distance running Tamahumara Mexican Indians and goes to Copper Canyon for a visit. The book describes the incredible race of the ultra marathoners that the media never covered. While studying this tribe, Christopher learns about running barefoot himself. I learned a lot about running and health from this book that feeds you health information while telling a story. He shows us that our Achilles tendons and our nuchal ligaments are a dead give away to what we are designed to do: run – looking for food.
11. Excuses Begone! By Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
This is an intellectual journey into excuses by a very thoughtful author. He has written many books and takesa look at what excuses are and what weapons you can use to eliminate them from your life. He lists the common ones that crop up, 1 – 18, such as, “I’m too busy”. Doctors like this one a lot. Identifying them as they crop up throughout the day is an early step to moving forward. He stresses many things including the concept of controlling what you think because you get what you think. If you control your mind, the rest will fall into place.
When we step back and look at ourselves objectively, often it is not a pretty picture. Excuses are the way it happens. Identifying excuses and altering behavior every second of the day so that there will be no excuses and checking up frequently is the way to health and success. This book can help but only if you are willing to set your jaw and put in the work.
12. The Elephant In The Bedroom. Hart and Spivak 1993
The elephant is of course the automobile. The authors discuss the special treatment the auto has received over other forms of transportation and how that has affected our cities and our environment. Public funds are often raided to maintain roads that only car and truck users enjoy. The poor miss out on the road subsidy. Our cities have been gutted as people have moved to the suburbs. Public transportation has been purchased and dismantled by an illegal consortium of General Motors, Standard Oil and Firestone tires behind a dummy company called “National City Lines”. They purchased 46 city based trolley companies and converted them over to buses owned by GM running on Firestone tires and burning diesel fuel. Gone were the reliable electric non-polluting trolleys. He goes into the politics of the automobile and its environmental and health consequences. There are many interesting facts in the book but the most noteworthy is that if the automobile were to pay for itself and the roads on which it travels it would cost about 5 to 9 dollars per gallon of fuel. This gives the reader an idea of the diverted revenues that go into the road subsidies. The reason this book is on the list is that the car is an unhealthy convenience and knowing how it took over our lives is helpful for the weight loser.
We will be adding to this library. If you see us list a book on the health benefits of soda pop, you will know our compound has been overrun and thindex.com has been captured.