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.

carrot
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.

Cheers!

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Quickie – Are you forgetting the purpose of food?

Copyright 2015, Dennis Mitton
For the uninitiated: real food.
For the uninitiated: real food.

Unless you’re French and believe that the primary purpose of food is pleasure there are two needs that food fulfills but only one is ever talked about.  If you read anything about food you know that carbs, proteins, and fats all power your body. Fight it out however you want. Dietary science continues to uphold the fuzzy logic that humans are resilient when it comes to food, that there are no foods that will kill you and none that are super foods. Eat lots of different foods, avoid processed when possible, and eat lots of plants. You’ll be fine.

What you will very rarely hear about is the role of food in providing nutrition. While every cell of your body requires fuel for cellular functions  they also require other chemicals. (Yes, nutrients are chemicals!) Many chemicals – minerals and vitamins – are cell, function, or organ specific while others are needed throughout the body. Many are needed in very small amounts and their use is complex and interconnected with other processes making their requirements difficult to understand. A lot of research goes into figuring out just what each person needs but the advice to eat as many different kinds of whole foods in as natural a state as possible is a good.

So when you’re sorting out just what kind of protein drink you need after your HIIT workout or whether or not you should pour turbinado or stevia into your morning tea take a little time to think about the chemicals you need to perform all day long and how our fuel choices provide the chemicals you need. Carbs, fats, and proteins are only half the story.

See the USDA good nutrition and meal prep page here.
Recent post about nutritional silly business – downing charcoal.
My post with guidelines for avoiding food hucksters here.

Theme of the week: Nutrition and Health. Six posts from the vault. Good stuff!

pepperIn keeping with this week’s theme and my Wednesday ritual of reviving earlier posts here is some interesting reading about health and nutrition from the vault. Tomorrow I will close the theme with my book review of What Makes Olga Run about Olga Kotelko who, at 95 semed just about as healthy as any fifty year old. All good for health and well being.

Relationships that contribute to health and happiness.
Or How I Relaxed. A short little reminder.

Nine Keys to Healthy Eating
Really simple keys for making food decsions.

Why You’re Not Losing Weight While Exercising
One of my most popular posts. After a year of hard – and observed – exercise women lost an average of just over three pounds. Men four. Why so little?

Why Nutritional Advice is Contradictory
There is about twenty feet of shelf space at my Barnes and Noble’s given over to diet and nutrition and they all disagree to some degree. Here’s why.

It All Adds Up. Exercise For Health and Happiness
Nice little essay about evolution and chopping wood.

Yoga and Stretching For Health
Please do yoga. Even you old men watching football. I am unscientifically convinced that it is the single best movement you can do for your health.

Feel free to comment! Thanks.