Book Review: A Short Guide to a Long Life, Agus

Nothing new under the sun. Then why don’t we do it?

Copyright Dennis Mitton

br_short_guideI admit that I’ve been wrong. I’ve long argued that people know what healthy habits are and that we just don’t do them. So I was shocked, recently, when a friend told me that he traded his cake and candy snacks for a jar of peanuts each day. “I’m trying to eat healthy”, he says. “Huh? You’re eating a jar a day?” “Yeah”, he said. “Better than donuts, right.” Now he was shocked. “Probably not,” I said. “Good gawd. Do you know how many calories are in a jar of peanuts? Probably more calories than you need in an entire day. Dude, you’re going to end up weighing 300 pounds.” He didn’t believe me and grabbed the jar. Sure enough, the suggested serving size was one ounce or ‘about 29 peanuts’. That amount conferred 170 healthy calories. Multiply that by sixteen servings in the jar and you are inviting serious health issues. So don’t imagine that everyone knows the things that Agus writes about. They don’t. And few who do know what healthy means actually live by it.

We need good health advice but where to find it? The fact that my local Barnes and Noble bookstore reserves about fifty feet of shelf space for books offering conflicting advice isn’t a help. So when I find a book offering sane advice consistent with other sane advice, I’m happy to endorse and recommend it. A Short Guide to a Long Life is such a book.

The book isn’t sexy and makes few promises. You will not be a skinny rich movie star pooping golden eggs after reading this book. But, even better, if you choose to do so, you can embark on a path to increased health and longevity. The book is small and short and this bothers some reviewers. I like that the book can be read in a couple hours. It makes it easy to grab from the shelf for a quick reminder o the path you’re on. In it Agus lists sixty-five tidbits under three headings: What to Do, What to Avoid, and Doctor’s Orders. I’m sorry but there is nothing new, novel, or earth-shattering here. No magic pills or secret Chinese bulbs that will keep you in perfect health until age 150. What you will find is very excellent advice in all areas of health and well-being. Advice that is time-tested and accurate. Advice that actually will help you live longer and happier.

You know what they say – seventeen carrots a day will keep the sickness away!

There is a good bit of Grandma’s advice here – grow a garden, don’t skip breakfast, have children (!) – but lots of new stuff, too, like scheduling your life on computer or getting a DNA screen. I especially liked the What to Avoid section where he slays a host of health myths: forget juicing (“Does your body really need ten carrots all at once?”), ignore `detoxes’, and no, GMOs are not going to kill you and your children.

I think this is a wonderfully handy little guide that makes a useful reference. Two thumbs way up. Read it all the way through or read a chapter and then work on it for a week. Either way will lead you to better health.

Purchase here on Amazon.

David Agus at the Aspen Ideas Festival: Look At The Data
David Agus, MD homepage here
More good advice here from Monica Reinagel, The Nutrition Diva

From the blog:
Nutritional science or sales pitch? How-to guidelines.
Twenty Nutrition Facts That Should Be Common Sense
And for the ultimate in stupidity…Dave Asprey’s Charcoal Elixir

If you enjoy It’s the Good Life please pass it on or recommend it to friends. Go to the About/Support page for ways to follow or contact me.



Weekly Recap – Nutrition Diva – Plaster Napoleon – 95 Year Old Track Star – Radiation and the EPA

Copyright 2015, Dennis Mitton

Weekend thoughts…

How can you not love this picture?

Had a great week on the site with a huge rush of readers coming to the site for my Tuesday Recommendation  of the Nutrition Diva. Check her out for great advice.

I’m starting to remodel the site a bit and will one day switch over to a new format allowing me to incorporate some features not available using my current set up. So you might see things looking slightly different over the next month. My first plan is to start keeping about ten posts on the main page and moving them to new tabs afterword. I think this will allow readers to both explore and ignore topics as they wish. It’s odd to me but not everyone is interested in evolution, Russian lit, and yoga all in the same day. I hope to make it easier for readers to see more of the same topic without having to search.

Here’s something damned fascinating. There is a sandstone outcrop that runs through the fossilmiddle of the Sahara Desert that is carpeted with Stone Age tools and artifacts. Per the linked article the tools were used over a couple hundred thousand of years by both human and non-human hominids. Crazy. I can’t wait to read more and see what great stuff they’re picking up.

napleanIn news that seems odd to my modern sensibiliies there is a battle brewing in Britain about the proposed sale of a famous death mask of Napoleon. Seems that the country wants to keep it in-house but the buyer is overseas. The story isn’t nearly as interesting to me as the death mask. It was made three days after Napoleon died and is one of several originals. Maybe this is no different than having a portait or photo of my dead father but is seems much more creepy. Read here. And for my British readers – if you can cough up £175,000 you can have this as a nice paper weight.


A few months ago I noticed what I considered to be a gross error on the EPA’s RadTown site. RadTown is an educational site about radiation that the EPA hosts. I was shocked after writing them that they immediately corrected the mistake and took time to write me and tell me about it. With a response like that maybe I should run for president?

Sometimes my posts surprise me. I recommended a podcast that I listen to religiously – Thediva Nutrition Diva – and had a steady stream of hits from all over the world all day and all night. If you’re looking for science based nutrition advice this is an excellent resource.

I stuck with my nutrition theme and reposted six of my most popular posts on nutrition and exercise. All good stuff.

Book review of What Makes Olga Run? Normal, next door Grandma Olga decided to start running at age 77. She hired herself a coach and went on a spree for the next twenty years to win hundreds of track and field titles. What is extraordinary about Olga? Nothing. No weird metabolism. Normal and healthy diet. But if she is normal then why do most people simple fade out by sixty or seventy?

I’m coming to a close on my Fathers and Sons series and listed all eight parts. If you haven’t read them I hope you will. I’ve had a great response and people seem to enjoy them. Brings back lots of wonderful memories.