The End of Diabetes: The Eat to Live Plan to Prevent and Reverse Diabetes by Joel Fuhrman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An advocate for treating the cause of disease rather than just the symptoms, Fuhrman disagrees with doctors who tell their patients that once diagnosed with diabetes, they will always have diabetes.
He claims to have successfully treated hundreds/thousands of patients through a regimen of diet and exercise.
He dubs his recommended mode of eating as a nutrarian diet, which really is nothing more than a vegetarian diet that emphasizes whole, nutrient rich plant foods while avoiding processed foods of plant or animal origin. "Beans and greens." These are the basis of his eating plan.
And while he does recommend a handful of supplements in passing, he tends to put more emphasis on getting the nutrients we need from our diet, which he says is pretty easy if you follow the plan. I think this is a strength of the book as it seems more in line with the research we have to date which historically has shown that not only is supplementation often not helpful, but it is sometimes detrimental to one's health.
The reality is any diet that focuses on fruits and veggies as well as whole vs. processed foods is bound to lead to improved health and weight loss.
As a doctor, he often treats patients that are already taking insulin and thus monitors them very closely as he quickly tries to first wean them off of insulin. He also makes a point of reminding readers that those with diabetes may require a stricter diet, at least until their blood sugar is under control and they have successfully shed some of the extra weight.
I also think he does a decent job of gearing the book toward diabetics, although his advice could apply to anyone, even those without diabetes.
The Essential Oils Diet: Lose Weight and Transform Your Health with the Power of Essential Oils and Bioactive Foods by Eric Zielinski
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I took this book out from the library hoping to learn more about essential oils and how they might be used to assist with weight loss.
Aromatherapy has been around for a long time, and although considered an alternative therapy thanks to a lack of research, given the power of smell and the fact that these oils can and do end up in our blood stream, it seems possible that they have a true and even measurable physiologic effect.
Unfortunately, essential oils only make a guest appearance, as they are barely even mentioned.
Much of the book deals with lifestyle transformation. The authors, a husband and wife duo, discuss the tenants of successful change. Interestingly, I felt like there was quite a bit of good advice, just not much that related specifically to essential oils.
That said, I did learn a few things, and the authors do provide "recipes" for different essential oil mixtures and applications. I guess I was hoping for a book that explored what research exists and offered more substance.
If Not Dieting Then What? by Rick Kausman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The best part of this book can be summarized in one sentence, don't eat when you're not hungry, and when you are hungry eat until you are 80% full. Okay, so that's an exaggeration, but you get the point.
I couldn't help but feel much of the information in this book was not only outdated but also overly simplistic. Advice like park your car further away or take the stairs, while not necessarily a bad practice, seems to be missing the mark. In fact, I'd argue that reducing our weight loss struggles to taking the stairs is actually sort of insulting.
And while I agree with Kausman's assertion that we should be emphasizing health not weight, I resented that the book seemed be targeting women. As though women, and women alone, are the only ones who have a difficult time losing weight.
At one point Kausman suggests an exercise in body acceptance in which the reader (clearly believed to be female) stands naked in front of the mirror and rubs lotion over her body, taking note of its peaks and valleys. Sure, I get it. Self-love and body acceptance are important, but really. It's as if he assumes a woman is incapable of loving herself if she is unhappy with her body.
Kausman kindly reminds us that we can't expect to look like we did in our 20s when we're 50. After all. We're wives. Mothers. We've given birth. So just get over it. Give yourself a hug and eat that cookie if you really want it. WTF?
So while Kausman does denounce dieting, he never quite delivers on the alternative beyond loving yourself, parking further away, eating until you're full, and standing in front of the mirror naked, stroking our pudgier parts and repeating, "My thighs are beautiful just they way they are." I guess I just feel if you want women to stop focusing on weight loss than maybe you need to stop treating them as though they are incapable of focusing on anything else.
Overall, while I did not personally care for this book, it still had a few redeeming qualities and why I gave it 2 stars.
Belly Fat Effect: The Real Secret About How Your Diet, Intestinal Health, and Gut Bacteria Help You Burn Fat by Mike Mutzel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was really impressed with the amount of information presented in this book, and while a little "sciency" I felt as if it was still digestible for the most part. Of course, I have a degree in nutrition, a master's in a health-related field, and almost 30 years of experience in the health and wellness field.
I had several light bulb moments as this book seemed to pull together a number of ideas developed in other books I've read recently.
In a nutshell, the book links belly/visceral fat to inflammation and ultimately to diseases like diabetes among others. The interaction between food, our gut, its microbes and our immune cells is also covered at length.
I've recently started a health coaching business and many of my clients have what I would describe as a sluggish metabolism, and this book explains why on a level that I appreciate. A number of these clients have had success with HIIT and intermittent fasting, and the book offered me a better of understanding of why.
I'm not sure if the "average" reader would enjoy this book as much as I did as the majority of the book is explaining the underlying physiology of our metabolism among other things. For me, it was a five star, but I could see how someone might not agree. Glad I read it when I did. I also appreciate any book that is 50% references as I think it speaks to the quality of the information being presented. Definitely a book that focuses on why, which is important, I think.
The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now! by Mark Hyman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4 stars but only if you take out and/or discount everything he says about supplements.
Regarding Hyman's assertion that we all need supplements - I realize that there are people out there who are "metabolically" sick, so that an individual who is diabetic and taking insulin is completely different than someone who is trying to take a more proactive approach to avoiding lifestyle diseases. And while some of these people might benefit from taking supplements, to simply take these "drugs" which do impact our bodies much the same way more traditional pharmaceuticals do, seems irresponsible at best and maybe dangerous at worst. I get that he is a doctor, and maybe under his care with specific testing and monitoring these supplements offer patients a better alternative to the conventional treatment of diseases like diabetes, but to encourage people to blindly take a virtual cocktail of supplements sort of feels like hypocrisy on Hyman's part.
I also do not accept that we all need supplements. That's just an alarmist you better buy my product and pop this pill or else. There is tons of research out there to support that supplements are not only not necessary for health but could even be detrimental to it.
Supplements aside, Hyman's book offers a lot of insight into the role that lifestyle plays in promoting health or disease and highlights some solid strategies for making better choices.
He promotes a whole foods, plant-based diet, regular exercise, stress-management, and good sleep. In my mind and experience both personal and professional, these really are the four pillars of good health. He also advocates for personalized medicine/functional medicine, which is a emerging branch of medicine that focuses on promoting health as a means of preventing and curing disease as opposed to simply treating disease without addressing the underlying causes behind it. This is an idea many practitioners embrace, even if managed care has limited their ability to successfully practice it with their own patients. It's the difference between what's ideal and what is practical based on the restraints that many medical professionals are forced to work against.
Perhaps the greatest strength of Hyman's book is that it asserts that we can both prevent and cure disease by the choices we make. Just because you have a family history of Type 2 diabetes or even Type 2 diabetes doesn't mean that you are destined to a life on insulin. There is a tremendous amount of research to support this notion. Better health, optimal health, really is within our control, most of the time. And if we hope to get a handle on non-communicable diseases (aka preventable diseases) we need a paradigm shift in how we approach disease...both in treatment and prevention.
Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food by Rachel Herz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a book about neurogastronomy, which is a field of study that looks at how our brain and its processing of sensory information affects our experience with food.
It's filled with a lot of interesting tidbits like Coke is rated as tasting better when the can is labeled Coke as opposed to having a generic label, even professional wine tasters can be duped into rating the same exact white wine differently by the addition of red food coloring, and the shape, color, and size of your plate can affect how your food tastes and how much you eat.
Many of my clients/patients have an unhealthy or adversarial relationship with food. So for me, exploring the food experience from a neurogastronomy perspective is helpful. Additionally, being a brain science junkie, I found the information to be fascinating, even if not all the material was completely new. In fact, the author references Brain Wansink's research frequently, and having already read his book Mindless Eating, some of the material I've seen before. Still there was enough new stuff to keep me engaged.
Definitely a fun read for any foodie.
Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The author Tom Rath suffers from a rare genetic disorder that makes his body especially vulnerable to tumor growth/cancers. For this reason, when it comes to lifestyle choices, he seems to have more at stake in the moment than many of us.
There is a lot here as Rath superficially touches on a slew of topics that relate to the health benefits of healthy eating, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.
I think this would be a great starting point for people who are in the contemplating stage of committing to a positive lifestyle change as it might give them the last little nudge they need.
It's biggest weakness is that most of us aren't fighting a devastating disease, which I imagine is a motivating factor in Rath's personal lifestyle choices. It's also the book's biggest strength because why should we wait until we are faced with a debilitating diagnosis before we consider adopting positive lifestyle behaviors.
Stop Self-Sabotage: Six Steps to Unlock Your True Motivation, Harness Your Willpower, and Get Out of Your Own Way by Judy Ho
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this hoping to gain even more insight into some of my coaching clients, though self-sabotage certainly isn't restricted to behaviors that surround our health.
According to Ho, we all have relevant experiences from our childhood that may impact our adult selves ability to thrive and grow.
She explains that we are all in a perpetual struggle to balance perceived reward with perceived threat, and this explains why we sometimes choose the devil we know over a chance to fulfill our dreams because as bad as it might be it is certainly better than taking a chance on the big, bad, scary unknown.
The book is packed with exercises. Ho is a huge fan of journaling. (I personally hate journaling.) That said, even if you don't choose to do the exercises as suggested there is still a lot here worth contemplating.
Ironically, starting my health and wellness coaching business as opposed to working for someone else required (still requires) me to go outside my comfort zone and to regularly confront my own saboteurs. I am the antithesis of a risk taker and hate change and the unknown. I also have a scarcity mentality and struggle even more when there is a financial component to the risk. Furthermore, I think I fear failure and being exposed as a "fake" just as much as the next person. But the more I test my boundaries the easier it gets, and I think that is the point. Ironically, when it comes to my health (diet and exercise) I rule. I'm simply learning how to translate those skills to developing my business and my brand.