Guy Thing Book Corner
This is the first book review for “Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing.” My hope is to review current books, and perhaps a few older favorites, that focus on health and wellness. If there is a book you would like reviewed, please drop me an e-mail at email@example.com.
“The Neck Pain Handbook: Your Guide to Understanding and Treating Neck Pain.”
by Grant Cooper, MD, and Alex Visco, MD.
Review by Scott Keith
As we spend more of our time on the computer, cranking out e-mails, organizing our office tasks and shopping for the latest DVD, one of our vital body parts may be taking a severe beating. Neck pain is on the increase, and a chief reason is that we’re spending too much time sitting on our rear ends.
Two doctors have explored our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and have co-authored a splendid book titled, “The Neck Pain Handbook: Your Guide to Understanding and Treating Neck Pain.” The authors, Grant Cooper, MD, and Alex Visco, MD, point out that “A major contributor to neck pain– and the most important single reason for its steady increase–is the fact that our work situations are increasingly sedentary.” According to the authors, “Immobility for hours on end combined with poor positioning of the neck and shoulders ultimately leads to severe pain.”
In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Dr. Visco says he and Cooper, while in training at New York Presbyterian, noticed an increase in patients complaining of neck pain. Visco noticed that “these were young, otherwise healthy people, who shouldn’t particularly have neck pain.” The two doctors picked up on this “phenomenon,” started asking questions of the patients, who were usually well-educated young professionals, and decided to write a book.
Man inherited active bodies, according to the doctors. Visco says “we were born to be active, we evolved over time to run, jump, throw, move and escape from danger. That’s the way our muscles are built…they are built for activity.” When you deactivate the muscles, adds Visco, mechanisms kick in, eventually producing pain. Muscles, tendons and ligaments tend to deteriorate.
The book describes the two aspects of the “Double Whammy,” immobility and poor positioning. Visco says the workplace plays a big role in poor posture. Technology “allows us to be immobile for so many hours of the day that these postural abnormalities sort of become habit forming over time, to the point where it becomes unconscious and you don’t even know you’re doing it.” Visco points out “you’re sitting there hunched over, your shoulders hunched forward, your neck flexed, it just becomes a way of life, the way you carry yourself.” To assist the reader, “The Neck Pain Handbook” features case studies as well as photographs that compare good and bad computer keyboard postures.
This informative paperback touches on how medication fits into the treatment program. Visco says “patients should probably avoid self treating themselves with over-the-counter medication.” According to Visco, you need to be cautious, especially if you are taking other medications or you have other medical problems, like diabetes, asthma, stomach problems or kidney disorders. Visco and Cooper focus on physical treatments first. “We try and use physical therapy, home exercise programs and stretching programs to help alleviate the underlying conditions.” Surgery is “always our last resort,” says Visco.
This compact 128-page book, written in easy-to-understand (no doctor talk) language, presents self-help options, such as the “The 10-Minute Neck Exercise Program.” In a later chapter, Visco and Cooper describe more serious symptoms that require a doctor’s attention. If you want to explore other approaches to pain, there are chapters on acupuncture and meditation.
The authors wrap up their book with the message: “Respect your neck. Remember, it gives you everything it has to give. Its capabilities are astounding, but it also demands much of you.”
A Diamedica Guide To Optimum Wellness — DiaMedica Publishing
Available at Amazon.com and many book stores.
“The Intellectual Devotional: Health.”
By David S. Kidder, Noah D. Oppenheim and Bruce K. Young, MD
Review by Scott Keith
Back in the day, if you loved medical trivia and wanted to research the causes of a fever or the health benefits of Vitamin C, you had to stroll to the nearest library or book store to satisfy your curiosity. All that changed with the Internet. A click of the mouse and you can research all things medical.
Thanks to the efforts of David S. Kidder, Noah D. Oppenheim and Bruce K.Young MD, you can find answers to many of your health questions the old-fashioned way, in an easy-to-carry-around book. The Intellectual Devotional: Health is the fourth installment in the New York Times best-selling series. This enjoyable 374-page book will let you explore seven fields of knowledge: Children and Adolescents, Diseases and Ailments, Lifestyle and Preventive Medicine, Drugs and Alternative Treatments, The Mind, Sexuality and Reproduction and Medical Milestones. What is remarkable about this lively, instructional book is that topics are designed to be read one day at a time. For instance, Monday, Day 1, you’re introduced to the Apgar Score. Tuesday, Day 2, is devoted to Immunity.
All age groups can benefit from this treasure trove of medical facts. The older crowd can explore Memory and learn that “The gray matter that makes up the brain’s wrinkly outer cerebral cortex is filled with memories, much as a computer disk is full of files, waiting to be activated and pulled back into the conscious thought process.” Later in the book, on the subject Nearsightedness, read that “Some accounts claim that the Roman emperor Nero (AD 37-68) would gaze through an emerald in order to see gladiator fights more clearly. Nero’s jewel is believed to be one of the earliest remedies for nearsightedness, a common vision condition in which one can see nearby objects clearly but things that are farther away appear blurry.”
The Intellectual Devotional: Health is useful on many levels. As a self-help guide, you’ll discover that “exercise can improve or even prevent medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and some cancers.” If you have a desire to shed a few pounds, take note that “Research has shown that people who maintained a Mediterranean-style diet lost more weight over a 2-year period than people who followed either a high-protein or a low-fat diet.”
If trivia is your thing, learn about the first ambulance or study medical legends such as Hippocrates, Van Leeuwenhoek, William Harvey, Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur. Discover the history behind medications such as Tetracycline, Valium, Nexium, and perhaps the granddaddy of modern pills, Viagra. And check out Additional Facts at the bottom of each page. This feature offers fun-to-read health tips, sprinkled with a bit more history.
Whether you’re a youngster, a baby boomer or a senior citizen, you’ll have a fun time reading The Intellectual Devotional: Health one day, one topic, at a time. If you prefer to read several topics at one sitting, be sure to schedule a large chunk of time because you’re not going to want to put this book down.
(Rodale, Hardcover, $24.00)
Available at Amazon.com, all major book stores, Target, Costco and Walmart
By Jonathan Safran Foer
Review by Scott Keith
When you think of primitive urges, you think food, sleep, sex and self preservation. The birth of his son inspired a Brooklyn, New York author to explore one of these life-long urges, the need to eat. Jonathan Safran Foer, in his newest book, “Eating Animals,” explores a dilemma a great many of us face. We love animals, yet we consume them for dinner.
In this electric book, Foer examines his life, from early childhood, and how he became a vegetarian. One of Foer’s earliest recollections is a visit from a babysitter when he was not quite ten years of age. The baby sitter declined to eat chicken with Jonathan and his older brother. When asked, the baby sitter replied, “I don’t want to hurt anything.” Foer writes, “What our babysitter said made sense to me, not only because it seemed true, but because it was the extension to food of everything my parents had taught me. We don’t hurt family members. We don’t hurt friends or strangers. We don’t even hurt upholstered furniture. My not having thought to include animals in that list didn’t make them the exceptions to it. It just made me a child, ignorant of the world’s workings.”
Foer introduces his family. His grandmother, who survived World War II Europe, was nicknamed “The greatest chef who ever lived,” despite her all-too-familiar recipe, chicken with carrots. His father, who “raised us on exotics,” was the primary cook in his home. Even George, a tiny black puppy that Foer and his wife adopted. Foer recalls, “And then one day I became a person who loved dogs. I became a dog person.”
The birth of his child was a turning point. Writes Foer, “Fatherhood was the immediate impetus for the journey that would become this book.” It’s a journey that took Foer throughout the United States, documenting how animals, birds and fish make it to our dinner tables. The journey is presented in graphic, often haunting detail.
Throughout this 341-page book, Foer is critical of factory farming, noting that “upwards of 99 percent”of all animals eaten in this country come from factory farms. About factory farming, Foer says, “In a narrow sense it is a system of industrialized and intensive agriculture in which animals – often housed by the tens or even hundreds of thousands – are genetically engineered, restricted in mobility, and fed unnatural diets (which almost always include various drugs, like antimicrobials).” Foer adds, “More than any set of practices, factory farming is a mind-set: reduce production costs to the absolute minimum and systematically ignore or “externalize” such costs as environmental degradation, human disease, and animal suffering.”
Foer describes a scary middle-of-the-night visit to a factory farm, accompanied by an animal activist by the name “C.” Under the blackness of the sky, the duo encounter a series of seven sheds. Entering a shed after fighting barbed wire, they notice tens of thousands of turkey chicks on a sawdust floor. Says Foer, “There is a mathematical orchestration to the density. I pull my eyes from the birds for a moment and take in the building itself: lights, feeders, fans, and heat lamps evenly spaced in a perfectly calibrated artificial day.” Noticing a chick who is suffering, “C” takes a knife and puts the young turkey out of its misery.
This riveting book not only documents some atrocious treatment of animals at the slaughterhouse, but looks back at an earlier time in America, when farmers actually got to know their turkeys and pigs. Foer introduces Frank Reese, described as a “truly independent poultry farmer.” Reese appreciates the beauty of turkeys. Says Reese, “I can sit in the house at night, and I can hear them, and I can tell if they’re in trouble or not. Having been around turkeys for almost sixty years, I know their vocabulary.” Reese continues, “All my animals get as much pasture as they want, and I never mutilate or drug them. I don’t manipulate lighting or starve them to cycle unnaturally. I don’t allow my turkeys to be moved if it’s too cold or too hot.”
As we sit down at the dinner table and prepare to pepper and slice our meat or fish, consider this food for thought: “The average shrimp-trawling operation throws 80 to 90 percent of the sea animals it captures overboard, dead or dying, as bycatch,”says Foer. Are pigs intelligent? According to Foer, “Dr. Stanley Curtis, an animal scientist friendly to the industry, empirically evaluated the cognitive abilities of pigs by training them to play a video game with a joystick modified for snouts. They not only learned the games, but did so as fast as champanzees, demonstrating a surprising capacity for abstract representation.”
Foer’s third book may or may not turn you into a vegetarian, but the journey animals take to the dinner table, brilliantly examined by the Brooklyn author, will open your eyes and make you ponder the primitive urge of eating.
(Little, Brown and Company), Hardcover, $25.99)
Available at Amazon.com and all major book stores
“Prostate and Cancer: A Family Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Survival.”
By Sheldon Marks, MD
Review by Scott Keith
The prostate is a particularly vexing gland. It isn’t necessary for survival, but it assists in the production of semen. Perhaps more than anything else, the prostate is a huge source of anxiety for men entering middle age. As a man approaches his 40s and 50s, the prostate can start acting up. It can grow and produce urinary symptoms. If a man lives long enough, there’s a good chance he’ll get prostate cancer. Statistics reveal that cancer of the prostate is one of the most common cancers affecting American men. Each year, over 186 thousand new cases are diagnosed in the United States. To put it in perspective: One in six men will be diagnosed with the disease during his life.
No publication or website should substitute for a visit to the family physician, but a Tucson, Arizona urologist, Dr. Sheldon Marks, has written a book that makes it incredibly easy for men to get acquainted with the inner workings of the pesky, walnut-sized prostate. Armed with this valuable information, a man can comfortably walk into his urologist’s office and have a frank, meaningful discussion.
Now in it’s fourth edition, “Prostate & Cancer: A Family Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Survival,” begins by exploring the anatomy and function of the prostate gland. Then, in an easily digestible question and answer format, Marks explores the ABC’s of prostate cancer, examines the effect of diet and nutrition on the disease, explains a pair of vital diagnostic tools (the digital rectal exam and PSA blood test) and illustrates a variety of treatment options. Marks explains, in crisp detail, the Gleason score, a way of determining if the cancer is low-grade (the least-dangerous type), intermediate or high-grade (aggressive). The newly diagnosed patient will benefit from chapters such as Your Wife or Partner’s Role, What to tell family and friends, Questions to ask your doctor, and Support groups and resources.
Considering his passion for the subject, Marks, in an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, recalls that he wasn’t interested in urology when he began his medical career. “Urology was something that I never thought I wanted to go into. I thought it was a stupid field. It made no sense to me.” He even entertained thoughts of being a world-famous endocrine surgeon, or perhaps a plastic surgeon or hand surgeon. His thinking changed when he was in general surgery. Says Marks, “One day…a bunch of my friends gathered around and said ‘Sheldon, you’re really a nice guy, you don’t belong in general surgery, you belong in urology.’” Marks picked urology because, “I didn’t want to be the jack of all trades and know a little bit about a lot, I wanted to know a lot about just my own little world.”
Before writing the book, Marks recalls that “on average, when I diagnosed a man with prostate cancer, it took me 90 minutes of an office consult to go through everything I thought the man needed to know.” He says patients would go home with 20 pages of hand-written notes, which turned into “information overload.” In the early 90s, Marks says he had a discussion with a patient, who was also a prominent publisher. The two talked about publishing a book on prostate cancer. The publisher rejected the idea, noting there was not a market for it. A few months later, the publisher changed his mind, and the first edition of “Prostate and Cancer” came out in June of 1995. Marks recalls that several pharmaceutical companies (in the field of prostate cancer treatment) bought thousands of copies of his book and distributed them to doctors to facilitate doctor-patient discussion. Marks believes patients need a “strong foundation of information” to make intelligent health decisions.
While Marks, who is also the Integrative Urologist for DrWeil.com and Men’s Health and Male Fertility Expert for Webmd, remains optimistic about advances in the treatment of prostate cancer, he acknowledges the difficulty in knowing the right treatment for a man with the disease. He writes: All we can do is use our experience, our knowledge, the literature and a little common sense to make an educated guess about what would be best for each patient.
Every baby boomer guy should have “Prostate and Cancer” on his bookshelf. If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, be sure to share this book with your loved ones. The facts presented in this 358-page book will help your family give you much-needed support.
(Da Capo Press Lifelong Books, Softcover, $17.95)
Available at Amazon.com and major bookstores.
“The Simplified Handbook for Living with Heart Disease and other Chronic Diseases.”
By Warren and Donna Selkow
Review by Scott Keith
A Glendale, Arizona man, who had to learn the hard way that the heart can only take so much stress, has co-written a book that’s designed for the newly diagnosed coronary artery disease patient. Blending tough love, honesty, humor and encouragement, “The Simplified Handbook for Living With Heart Disease and Other Chronic Diseases,” by Warren and Donna Selkow, promises to take the heart patient on a step-by-step journey along the long and hard road from diagnosis to recovery.
Selkow’s lead up to heart disease started in the 1990s when he was diagnosed with high blood pressure. In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Selkow says he ignored the news, as many men do. “I said, ‘big deal,’ you’re supposed to have hypertension in a high-pressure job.” He admits he was not eating any of the right foods. “Why bother. You entertain clients, you have a steak,” says Warren, adding that while fatty foods taste good going down, your arteries are getting clogged. His first heart attack, which revealed serious valve disease, came in October, 2000. “My aortic valve was on the verge of completely failing.” Told by his doctor that he would be dead in six months if the valve wasn’t fixed, Selkow’s response was that he had to start teaching a class on Monday, then be a keynote speaker at a conference in Atlanta. His doctor’s terse reply: “Well, you may be going to Atlanta, but you won’t be coming home.” Selkow was to have a second open-heart surgery. Throughout the ordeal, Selkow received two artificial valves and became totally dependent on a pacemaker.
One day, as Selkow was listening to a nurse, he realized he could have saved a lot of time, trouble, grief, pain and anger if he had known more about the disease from the beginning. So he wrote “The Confessions of a Foodaholic” with the thought of providing information for patients. His cardiologist, Dr. Joseph Caplan, asked Selkow to expand on the topic, and the result is a refreshingly blunt and remarkably concise 244-page book that has been thoroughly vetted by medical professionals.
So blunt, in fact, there’s a warning at the start of the book: This book is extremely blunt. It deals with the subject in a manner that some might find shocking. If you are easily offended by tense situations presented in a no-holds-barred manner, than do not read this book.
In his book, Selkow describes his battle with chronic heart failure, or CHF. “CHF is an end-game disease. You do not live with it. It will kill you, because the heart muscle wall deteriorates over time, so the question is what can you do to prevent that from happening, or to mitigate it. There are a lot of things that can mitigate it, but nothing will stop it.”
In a unique and thoughtful style, Selkow’s wife and co-writer, Donna, provides caregiver notes. As equally candid as Warren, Donna writes: Your life as a caregiver begins immediately upon diagnosis. This diagnosis will be as hard on you as it is on you patient. In some cases, it will be even harder on you. Selkow admits, “I would be dead if it wasn’t for her.” When it comes to the vital role of caregiving, Selkow says, “You need somebody to look after you.You are going to need a lot of emotional help, because after open-heart surgery, you are massively depressed.”
In the second section of the book, you’ll be introduced to the Three-legged stool. Selkow says the three legs are diet, exercise and medications. The hardest thing to get on top of, according to Selkow, is diet. “We have such bad eating habits and we don’t want to hear that we have to eat five fresh fruits and vegetables a day. We don’t want to hear that we can’t eat all the french fries.”
Selkow describes the Rules of Acceptance. The first rule is to accept the problem as your own. “If you don’t really accept what the situation is, you can’t get better. It’s like trying to deny the laws of physics. Things fall. You can deny things fall, but they still fall.” Selkow lists ten other rules, including a rather firm one: If you smoke, you are a moron.
“The Simplified Handbook for Living With Heart Disease and Other Chronic Diseases” is a magnificent reference book that every family member must read in an effort to guide the heart patient through the struggle of recovery. At the end of the book, Selkow offers encouragement in the form of Perseverance Dictums. Among them: Exercise, Laugh and laugh hard, Sing, Give and get pleasure.
Just in case you happen to be an overweight, inactive couch potato, consider the following from Selkow: “You’re not going to change until you have to. If you don’t want to change, I can’t make you. I can laugh at you, I can point at you and call you a moron, I can be abrasive, I can be nasty. … however, if you reach a point where you say ‘I need to do something about this,’ my book will tell you what you need to do.”
Selkow’s book has been honored with the Writer’s Digest 2010 International Book Award in the non-fiction health general category.
244 pages, paperback, available at Amazon.com and www.simplehand.org.
“Reclaiming Your Power: Mastering Optimal Health and Wellness: Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually”
By Dr. Corey Sondrup
Review by Scott Keith
Have you lost the zip you usually have? Do you feel sluggish, and can’t quite put your finger on the problem? An Ogden, Utah chiropractor has some suggestions on how you can boost your energy and recapture your enthusiasm for life. Dr. Corey Sondrup has written a lively how-to manual titled, “Reclaiming Your Power: Mastering Optimal Health and Wellness: Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually.”
Sondrup, in an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, says he started out as a chiropractic physician. He soon discovered that many of his patients had emotional issues. At first, Sondrup felt he wasn’t qualified to deal with these problems. “I would always refer them to therapists, psychologists and social workers. But they always came back to me saying, ‘you helped me more than anybody.’” This inspired Sondrup, known to his patients as Dr. Corey, to study techniques that incorporate a body-mind-spirit approach to health care. Sondrup says he has read many self-help books that tell you what the problem is, but not how to fix it. “I wanted to develop a book that had techniques and meditations that would actually clear up imbalances in the body.”
Sondrup’s personal belief is that the body, in and of itself, is a self-regulating, self-healing organism. Sondrup writes, By giving the body what it needs (love, compassion, forgiveness, water, nutrition, exercise, and rest) and removing the roadblocks (self-limiting beliefs, and repressed emotions and feelings) and the body can – and will– restore itself to optimal health. Sondrup says, “essentially we have three systems that run the body: the nervous system, the acupuncture system and the immune system. They control all our organs, all our glands, all our muscles, the production of hormones, steroids and neurotransmitters. If one, or all three, of these systems gets knocked offline, we have a problem, we have a pain, we have an illness, we have a disease, we have a syndrome.” Sondrup says his job, as a physician, is to balance the three systems. When properly balanced, adds Sondrup, the body is going to take care of itself. “What causes those systems to primarily go offline is we’re not drinking our water, we’re not getting enough rest, we’re not exercising.” When you add suppressed emotions or feelings or self-limiting beliefs, any one of those, says Sondrup, can disrupt the three systems and cause imbalance in the body.
According to this informative and eye-opening book, the two biggest obstacles we face in reclaiming our power are fear and self-doubt. Says Sondrup, “My book is designed to eliminate any fear or self-limiting beliefs, or self-doubt, so it puts us in a position to attract more of what we truly want in our lives without any roadblocks getting in the way.”
Chapter 12 introduces you to the “crosslink position,” an exercise you can try in the comfort of your home, or even at the office, to help you maximize your energy. Writes Sondrup: The basic premise of the crosslink position is that it allows the right and left hemispheres of our brain to be more balanced with each other. This, in turn, allows for greater communication between both hemispheres. According to Sondrup, left-brained people tend to be more logical, mechanical, and scientifically oriented; right-brained people tend to be more creative, feeling, and artistic oriented. An illustrated figure on page 93 shows you how to assume the position. Note: be prepared to touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth!
Sondrup’s book is both an educational and refreshing read. You’ll learn a lot about yourself. Perhaps you’ll even discover a few techniques that will make it easy for you to jump out of bed and tackle life to its fullest. If you happen to be feeling the blahs, you may be surprised at Dr. Corey’s number one piece of advice: “Water, Water and Water.” He says people drink soda pop, energy drinks and coffee. “Basically, if they would replace all that and just drink plenty of water, they would have all the energy they need. Water is huge. It’s the most overlooked thing we can do to address our health, and it has the biggest impact.”
“Beat Sugar Addiction Now! The Cutting-Edge Program That Cures Your Type of Sugar Addiction and Puts You on the Road to Feeling Great — and Losing Weight!”
You’re settled into your office chair bright and early on a Monday morning. You’re trying to find some energy; after all, you’ve just completed a week-end of fun and leisure. Let’s face it, you’re just plain listless. A co-worker suddenly brightens the morning by delivering a box of fresh doughnuts. They’re all there: sugar doughnuts, powdered doughnuts, jelly-filled doughnuts, cake doughnuts and apple fritters. Perhaps you have the willpower to decline these treats. But if you depend on these bakery goodies daily, you may be addicted to sugar.
Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, a leading integrative physician and medical director of the National Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, has written a book that will let you know if your sweet tooth is getting too much of a workout. “Beat Sugar Addiction Now” describes sugar addiction and how you can lick the problem, feel better and drop pounds.
In his informative and fun-to-read 255-page book, Teitelbaum describes four types of sugar addiction: Type 1 describes people who are chronically exhausted and hooked on quick hits of caffeine and sugar. Teitelbaum describes sugar as the energy loan shark. About Type 2 sugar addiction, Teitelbaum writes, when your adrenals become overtaxed by stress, you reach for sugar to “pump them up.” This can lead to sugar addiction. In Type 3, yeast overgrowth occurs largely because of excessive sugar in your diet. Hormones play a roll in Type 4 sugar addiction: Deficiency of estrogen, progesterone, and/or testosterone in women can lead to sugar addiction because of insulin resistance, anxiety, and depression.
If you think you can skip over the first four chapters because you’re not sure where you fit in the equation…think again. You can’t escape that easily! Each sugar addiction has a quiz. Answer the questions and check your score. Once you determine your type of addiction, Teitelbaum’s book will guide you through a self-help program.
“Beat Sugar Addiction Now” offers solutions for each type of sugar addiction. For Type 1, Teutelbaum presents the “Shine Protocol.” Sleep. Optimize sleep and treat sleep disorders; Hormonal support. Hormones regulate your body’s functioning, including energy production and sugar cravings; Infections. Infections, including sinusitis and recurrent colds and flus, drain energy; Nutritional support. Use vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to heal your body and stop sugar cravings; Exercise. Walk (or do another type of exercise) for thirty to sixty minutes a day.
“I had been a long-time sugar addict, and when a nasty viral infection in 1975 triggered chronic fatigue syndrome, knocking me out of medical school and leaving me homeless most of the year, it caught my attention,” revealed Teitelbaum to Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing. “I recovered, and spent the next 35 years specializing in treating chronic fatigue and pain – which made the scope of the sugar addiction problem obvious.” Inspired to write the book, Teitelbaum says, “What worked beautifully, though, was to determine the cause of each person’s sugar addiction type – and to treat that.”
Sugar addiction is a problem many can relate to. In his book, Teitelbaum writes, Food processors add 140 to 150 pounds (63.5 to 68 kg) of sugar per person to our diets each year. Another 18 percent of our calories come from white flour (which acts a lot like sugar in our bodies). It’s not surprising that we have become a nation of sugar addicts.
Teitelbaum’s book, with Chrystle Fiedler as a co-writer, illustrates that too much sugar consumption can lead to potentially serious health problems. “In the short term, excess sugar causes anxiety, depression, fatigue, pain and brain fog, in addition to weight gain,” says Teitelbaum. “In the long term, it’s associated with a markedly increased risk of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and possibly certain cancers.”
Even if you’re not hooked on sweets, “Beat Sugar Addiction Now” provides page after page of valuable health tips to help guide you to a healthier future. What’s Teitelbaum’s advice for the sugar addict or soon-to-be sugar addict? “Read the book, do the sugar quizzes to see your kind of addiction, go to a good high-protein breakfast and save the treats for dessert.”
Visit Dr. Teitelbaum at www.vitality101.com
255 pages, soft cover, Fair Winds Press, $16.99. Available at Amazon.com and www.vitality101.com.
“8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Remember When it Didn’t Hurt” by Esther Gokhale, L.Ac., with Susan Adams
Review by Scott Keith
Back pain is a huge, and growing, problem in the United States. At some point, nearly all of us will experience the discomfort associated with a sore back. And don’t think it’s just an issue for baby boomers.
You would think that modern medicine has all the answers to back pain. True, there will always be medical advances. But a women, who has been involved in integrative therapies throughout her career, says you need to examine other cultures to gather clues as to why our poor habits often lead to back pain.
Esther Gokhale has written a book, along with Susan Adams, that is both instructional and entertaining. “Eight Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Remember When it Didn’t Hurt” guides the reader through a non-surgical approach to treating back pain.
Gokhale presents eight lessons, starting with what she calls “stretchsitting.” Gokhale writes, this simple but powerful technique will not only give you a comfortable way to sit, but also help undo some of the damage caused by years of hunching or swaying. The idea behind stretchsitting, according to Gokhale, is to lengthen your spine against the back of a chair. Other lessons include “stacksitting,” “stretchlying,” and “tallstanding.” Gokhale was inspired to create her Gokhale Method after seeing the world and observing various cultures. Her book is visually stimulating, complete with many colorful photos of how men and women in other lands perform necessary day-to-day functions while maintaining a proper posture.
In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Gokhale, who once suffered from a herniated disc, says “there are whole populations who have something like a five percent incidence of back pain, compared with our 85 percent. It’s not that they’re genetically superior, it’s the way they’re using their bodies.” Gokhale says her back problem, which started in the ninth month of pregnancy with her first child, did not respond to physical therapy, acupuncture or other remedies. Eventually, she underwent surgery. A couple of years later, despite an exercise regimen, Gokhale developed the same back problem.
Gokhale felt discouraged after being offered a second surgery and sprang into action with a self-help program. She says she was forced to cast a very wide net and think outside the box. The solution “turned out to be in the techniques that people in traditional cultures used in everyday life.” Gokhale solved her own back problems by studying and mimicking these techniques, traveling the world and researching medical literature. Once she was feeling better, Gokhale decided to bring these techniques to her patients, because she was already a practicing acupuncturist.
“In our culture, going back in time, we used to have a much lower incidence of back pain as well, and that’s also documented in the medical literature,” says Gokhale. In her book, you’ll see some rather ancient black and white photos of men and women who appear to be sitting in a rigid position. In actuality, according to Gokhale, these people were sitting with a healthy baseline length in their back muscles. A great example of what we can learn from our ancestors.
The eight-step method, says Gokhale, can help many parts of the body. “It’s really about changing and improving structure. And that’s true for the entire muscular-skeletal system. I could as well have called the book Eight Steps to Pain-Free Feet.” Her method is also important for physiological health. Gokhale says when you change your structure, you’ll develop better circulation and better digestion. You’ll even breathe better. “I don’t focus on this when I describe the course, but people come back to report to me that their chronic constipation has gone away, that their urinary incontinence is better, their menstrual cramps no longer affect them…their energy levels are much higher,”says Gokhale.
When it comes to back pain, Gokhale says don’t give up. “Look back in time, to your ancestors, look at all the cultures, and think back to how things were for you when you were a little kid. Revisit your assumptions around back pain, around spinal shape, around the best exercises to help you. Look for a solution…it’s out there.”
227 pages. Pendo Press. $24.95. Available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Borders and independent book stores.
Visit Esther Gokhale at www.egwellness.com
Book Review: “Tell Me What To Eat if I Suffer From Heart Disease: Nutrition You Can Live With”
By Elaine Magee
Review by Scott Keith
It’s easy to slip into fast food mode. Grab a quick burger or slice of pizza. Zip over to the convenience store for a sticky bun, bag of chips or corn dog. In this day and age, there are simply not enough hours in the day to prepare three wholesome, nutritious meals. And who has the time to exercise? If this is your attitude, you could be flirting with heart disease.
Elaine Magee, also known as “The Recipe Doctor,” has written an easy-to-follow compendium of heart-healthy advice titled, “Tell Me What To Eat If I Suffer From Heart Disease: Nutrition You Can Live With.” Magee clues the reader in on critical risk factors for heart disease and offers pages of heart-smart recipes, including, no kidding, brownies!
According to Magee, there’s a history of heart disease on her mother’s side of the family. She recalls that her great-grandfather was a butcher; he brought up all his sons on marbled meat and extra-rich milk. His sons all died at around age 50 from heart disease or stroke. “It was like boom, boom, boom, and boom.” Yet Magee’s mother, who moved to America at a young age, is doing well at the age of 76. “You can take your genetics and your predisposition and you can make the best of it.”
Magee, in an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, says the typical American diet encourages overeating. Part of the problem is portion size. “The more you’re served, the more you tend to eat.” We’re also not eating mindfully. “If you’re just shoveling food in your mouth at a warp speed…you’re more likely to not pay attention to what’s comfortable,” says Magee. Newer research, she adds, suggests a “tempting trifecta” of fat, sugar and salt in our favorite American foods. “This combination seems to, and we need to know more… encourage overeating by sort of dulling our natural ability to compensate for these extra calories.”
In the first chapter, Magee, a nutritionist who has written nearly 30 books on nutrition and healthy cooking, introduces her readers to The Who, What, Where, Why, and How of Heart Disease. Learn the signs and symptoms of heart attacks and strokes. And, YES, women do experience different heart attack symptoms. Magee carefully documents six steps, including quitting smoking, that will prevent over 27 million heart attacks and approximately 10 million strokes (in the United States alone) throughout the next 30 years.
As you read this book, you’ll be tempted to jot down your numbers and remember them. No, not your social security and employee ID numbers. We’re talking blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, to name a few. Yes, the very numbers your doctor lectures you about at your annual physical. “I love that chapter (Know your Numbers) because it tells all the different numbers somebody might throw at you over the course of being diagnosed or being told this, or told that. It lays it out for you,” says Magee.
If you’re a chef-at-heart, and want to keep your blood pumping at a healthy clip, Magee’s book offers up some great tips. Chapter four provides Heart Smart Versions of Your Favorite Recipes. After reading the Recipe Doctor’s 10 Heart Smart Cooking Commandments, try your luck at a number of delicious meals. Start your day with a High -Fiber Breakfast Bagel. Lunches and light dinner entrees can include a Chicken Enchilada Casserole or Beef and Beer Chili. What baby boomer guy can resist this? Magee says meals need to taste good. “If it doesn’t taste good, it’s not in my book…I want these recipes to be recipes people come back to again and again and again.”
It’s not just food and exercise we need to be aware of. Consider how clean your mouth is. Magee points to a University of Buffalo study where, Magee writes, researchers found that an increase in the number of periodontal bacteria increased the odds of having a heart attack. Another good reason to brush, floss and use mouthwash.
If you’re a confirmed couch potato with a big belly, and you want to start improving your health, Magee suggests: Eat a heart-smart diet emphasizing high-nutrient, low-calorie foods with smart carbs, smart fats, and lean protein; get active with regular exercise almost every day (about 40 minutes); drink only a moderate amount of alcohol; keep your waist trimmer than your hips; and decrease the stress and anxiety in your life. A tall order? Maybe. But Magee’s book will guide you, step by step. Magee will even show you a new way to shop at the supermarket!
191 pages, softback, New Page Books, $12.99 (available at Amazon.com for $9.35, as of this writing). Also available at most book stores. (Magee suggests you call ahead and put a copy on hold).
Visit Elaine Magee and learn more about her “Tell Me What To Eat” book series at www.recipedoctor.com.
“Nutrition At Your Fingertips.”
By Elisa Zied
Review by Scott Keith
Phosphorus. Magnesium. Selenium. Manganese. Are these just vague terms to you? Do these remind you of that colorful Table of Periodic Elements poster from your high school science class? You’re probably guessing that these elements are important for good health. But how important are they?
Registered dietitian Elisa Zied makes sense of all the science in a marvelous introduction to nutrition: “Nutrition At Your Fingertips.” Zied, who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, has written a 405-page book that explains the function of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Her chapters include: Creating a Daily Meal Plan, Weight Management, Eat to Beat Disease and Healthy Food Shopping.
In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Zied recalls her childhood. “I grew up in a home with an overweight mom, who loved me to death, and didn’t want me to be overweight…even though she really wanted to protect me, she made me a little bit more aware than I should be about being overweight.” Zied admits she was overweight in high school. In college, “I really started to think about what I wanted out of my life. I felt a lot less pressure not being home anymore.” It was after high school that Zied was able to lose about 35 pounds…and keep it off.
Zied developed an interest in nutrition, which eventually led to her book. “I really became very interested in nutrition because I always wanted to be a psychologist and work with people who had eating issues and eating disorders, I think because I had some of those issues growing up.” Zied entered the Masters program in Clinical Nutrition at N.Y.U.
Zied’s easy-to-digest book walks you through the process of selecting more healthful foods. In chapter eight, Eat To Beat Disease, Zied explores cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer and osteoporosis. According to Zied, we’re moving from a plant-based diet to a diet more processed and refined. “Americans are eating tons of refined (not whole) grains. Whole grains can reduce heart disease risk, reduce the risk of stroke, promote healthy cholesterol levels…we need to eat more popcorn (home popped with a little canola oil), oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, high-fiber whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, wild rice,”says Zied. Bad eating habits contribute to serious conditions and diseases, including diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
If you’ve decided to start eating more healthful foods, enjoy the chapter on Healthy Food Shopping. You’ll learn how to interpret the “Nutrition Facts” label found on food products. Read about claims on food packages and get the skinny on fat replacers, sugar substitutes and dietary supplements. Zied offers an interesting rule of thumb when selecting products. While you may not see a nutrition label on healthful foods, such as loosely-bagged beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, Zied says, “when you’re buying foods that are processed and packaged, that have a label, it’s sort of a tip-off that this food might not be the most healthful. So it’s really important to get confirmation that something is healthful, and can fit into your overall diet, by looking at that nutrition facts panel and ingredient list.”
Nutrition is a subject that, traditionally, hasn’t been emphasized in medical school. According to Zied, “I believe nutrition is not a big area of concern in most medical schools. I think it’s very unfortunate, but the good thing is a lot of doctors have a lot of wonderful dietitians to work with, who can show them the way when it comes to food, fitness and nutrition.”
In the area of nutrition, “I think we are overindulging in all the things that sabotage us, the sugary beverages, fast food, sugary, fatty snacks. Most of us are getting way too many calories from those items,” says Zied, adding that we are skimping on healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, lean meats, beans) that can help us prevent disease and manage our weight. “People are overemphasizing the items that are heavily marketed and promoted in the media…..we’re seeing and we’re inundated 24/7 with advertisements, in some form or another, for high-calorie, high-sugar, high-fat fare,” says Zied. “When was the last time you saw a commercial promoting fruits and vegetables?”
Zied’s book shows how to nourish and take care of yourself. The bottom line for Zied’s readers: “They have to value themselves over the long term more than they value the food over the short term.”
405 pages, softcover, Alpha Books, $18.95, Available at Amazon.com and all book stores.
Visit Elisa Zied at www.elisazied.com
Book Review: “The New Me Diet: Eat More, Work Out Less, and Actually Lose Weight While You Rest”
By Jade Teta and Keoni Teta
Review by Scott Keith
Weight loss is all about counting calories and getting a sweaty workout at the neighborhood gym. Correct? That’s what we’ve been taught. But two men who studied biochemistry at North Carolina State University, who just happen to be brothers, have developed a weight loss regimen that focuses on fat-burning hormones.
Jade Teta and Keoni Teta have written The New Me Diet: Eat More, Work Out Less, and Actually Lose Weight While You Rest. In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Jade Teta says the two learned how hormones and foods interact. “One of the key things we learned is that fat loss and weight loss are not the same things,”says Teta. “People think a healthy diet equals a fat loss diet, and again, that’s not true.” The two set out to write a book, based on their clinical experiences, to help men and women notice real body change.
Looking back, “Keoni and I were involved in athletics as children, we always kind of had a love for movement. Our mother was a bit of a hippy and health-care nut, so she instilled that into us early on,” says Teta. After learning how food and hormones interact, the pair started noticing that their personal training clients were improving.
The Teta brothers, in their lively and enjoyable book, focus on the importance of losing fat, not muscle. Teta says that after about age 30, we start losing muscle mass. “For a long time, doctors thought that was a natural consequence of aging. But it turns out it’s a natural consequence of sitting on the couch and not eating the right things,” says Teta. “When that muscle disappears, you lose a major piece of your metabolic engine…muscle is a major source of hormonal metabolism. It actually releases hormones and is a catalyst by which you can release your own hormones, like growth hormone and testosterone.”
In The New Me Diet, the Teta brothers attempt to get people to understand their hormonal balance and how to get those hormones working better for them.
A key theme of the book is the Metabolic Effect. Teta says the ME is “the optimal state of hormonal function that leads to sustained fat loss and health,” noting that a healthy exercise program may not be the best way to burn fat. “When you exercise the correct way, and when you get this proper hormonal response, you will get an afterburn that can last up to 24 to 48 hours. This is based on studies by several different researchers.” Also, says Teta, you can burn fat for several hours if you eat the right food.
Before starting the diet, go to chapter 2 and take the Metabolic Effect Questionnaire. 18 questions will help determine if you’re a sugar burner, muscle burner or mixed burner. Based on these questions, “we teach people how to find their unique diet.” The Teta brothers introduce you to the Metabolic Spark workout, which combines interval training (a good way to stimulate hormones and burn calories) with weight training (for testosterone and growth-hormone production).
The New Me Diet offers a number of delicious muscle-building recipes; the recipes work well for busy people. “We’ve been doing this a long time. We use quick meals…quick ingredients.”
Whether or not you decide to follow The New Me Diet, you’ll get a crash course on how your hormones work. “The way Keoni and I like to describe this is that every single time you eat, every single time you exercise, whether you choose to sleep appropriately or not, you’re releasing hormonal signals in your body that will determine whether you burn fat or store fat…literally you have the ability to control these sensations in your body. The Metabolic Effect is the key to that.”
Hardcover, 258 pages, $25.99, William Morrow, available at Amazon.com and wherever books are sold.
Book Review: “Winning At Love: The Alpha Male’s Guide To Relationship Success”
By Martin G. Groder, M.D. and Pat Webster, Ph.D.
Review by Scott Keith
If marriage is such a great institution, why do so many marriages, and relationships for that matter, fail? Statistics aren’t exactly encouraging.
A psychotherapist, and former assistant clinical associate at Duke University, has an idea. Dr. Pat Webster has co-written a book that describes two distinct personality types and how these traits can cause chaos in what would otherwise be a perfectly normal marriage. Winning At Love: The Alpha Male’s Guide To Relationship Success describes the alpha and beta personalities.
In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Webster (an alpha) says she and psychiatrist Dr. Martin Groder (Groder passed away from cancer) shared a long-standing interest in couples. The product of their collaboration is an entertaining and instructive book that focuses on Powerland and Loveland and how an alpha male can drift from one destination to another.
Describing the alpha, Webster looks back to the animal kingdom. “In the animal pack, the alpha is there to do two things: to help provide food for the pack…also to protect the weaker; the nursing mothers, the young and the older members of the pack.” Webster says these traits are found in human alphas; alphas bring these survival instincts into a relationship. According to Webster, when something goes wrong in a relationship, the partner can become the enemy who’s threatening the alpha’s survival.
Webster says betas (she prefers to call them non-alphas) are usually more cooperative; they don’t mind being followers.
Throughout the book, Webster and Groder describe how the dynamics of Powerland and Loveland can affect the strength of a relationship. Webster says, “Alpha males are innately born with a citizenship in Powerland.” She says Powerland is about survival. “Powerland is a competitive place, it’s winner-take-all, it’s a ‘my way or the highway’ place.” Webster notes the competitive nature of corporations, banks, universities and country clubs, calling them outer Powerlands. By comparison, Loveland is “a place where there’s more cooperation, where our dreams and aspirations are supported by our community. We don’t have to climb on somebody’s shoulders or over the top of somebody to achieve our goals,” Webster says.
In the book, Webster warns that couples will face the inevitable “Whoosh” moment. “When an alpha is in an intimate relationship and a glitch comes along…all of a sudden he’s flying back to Powerland. His mate is the enemy that’s trying to do him in, or compete with him, or get one up on him, or trick him into something,” says Webster, adding that the alpha guy begins using all the Powerland tactics, including bullying and charming.
Chapter six explains that alphas have an Inner Power Committee, which includes warriors. Among them is the soldier who is “bred to protect us from danger.” Webster and Groder write, If we should need someone to drive backwards out of a village in Iraq with a steady hand on the wheel, the soldier is the one we want. This is because the world can unfortunately be a dangerous place and there is sometimes a need for him. Another warrior is The Secret Agent. They write: If you have one, you know it, because you can outfox the best of them. This is the team player who knows that if he can’t blind ‘em with brilliance, then he can always baffle ‘em with impenetrable stratagems. To balance out these committee members, according to Webster, we have an inner coach. “We’re all neurologically wired to have a coach, somebody who’s in charge. We have to learn how to strengthen that neurological wiring by having that coach be chair of our committee.” If the coach is not in the chairperson’s chair, says Webster, the warriors will jump in.
As you’re reading this review, you may be wondering if you’re an alpha or a beta. You might have a gut feeling. If not, chapter one provides a checklist you can fill out. The list is based on years of personal and clinical experience.
Winning at Love is a remarkable book that will remind you that a good relationship is worth preserving. Don’t think the book is designed just for long-time married couples. If you’re single, and contemplating a relationship, read the book so you can prepare yourself for those inevitable Whoosh moments that can take you on a jet ride from Loveland to Powerland.
Softcover, 189 pages, Bascom Hill Books, $19.95. Available at Amazon.com and at www.winningatlovebook.com.
Book review: “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD”
By Eileen Bailey and Donald Haupt, M.D.
Review by Scott Keith
Many people think Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder strikes children only. We can only imagine the discomfort a child in elementary school faces, as he or she fidgets and squirms, trying to absorb every last fact and figure.
Yet numbers from the World Health Organization reveal that about 4.5 percent of adults throughout the world suffer from ADHD. A psychiatrist who has first-hand experience with the disorder, Dr. Donald Haupt, has co-written a book explaining that ADHD symptoms often stretch into adulthood. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, by Haupt and Eileen Bailey, provides the layperson with a thorough overview of ADHD, including characteristics, myths, related conditions and treatment options.
In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Haupt says he was diagnosed with the condition about 16 years ago, adding that when he was going to residency, about 35 years ago, the terms adult ADD and ADHD weren’t known. At the time it was called “minimal brain dysfunction.” Describing himself, Haupt says, “I am certainly fidgety, I was a classic pacer on the telephone as a kid. My family used to joke that I would wear a groove in the floor as I walked back and forth (on the kitchen phone). My grandmother called me intense.”
There was a time when the condition was not well know. According to Haupt, “When we were growing up, even the best-informed parents hadn’t heard much about minimal brain dysfunction, or ADD. If they heard about it, they thought of kids who were tearing the classroom apart.” Some of these parents, says Haupt, may have responded by suggesting the child “buckle down” or study harder.
The book describes three main types of ADHD: The hyperactive/impulsive type is characterized by, among other things, fidgeting, trouble sitting still, constant movement and excessive talking. The Inattentive type describes a person who can be careless and disorganized. According to the book, If you have at least six symptoms of both the hyperactivity/impulsiveness type and the inattention type, you would be diagnosed with ADHD, combined type.
Chapter two knocks down myths surrounding the disorder. Among them, ADHD is not a “real” disorder. Bailey and Haupt write, With judgements based on emotion and no scientific data, critics will accuse people with ADHD of simply wanting to sweep poor behavior under the carpet instead of taking responsibility. Or some may rant about how the psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies got together and made up a diagnosis in order to increase profits.
ADHD can exist with other debilitating conditions, such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. As explained in chapter three, Many mental-health conditions can coexist with, or be caused or complicated by, ADHD.
If medical intervention is needed, part two of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to ADHD provides a number of treatment options. According to the book, Stimulant medications have been used effectively to treat ADHD for many years. Surprisingly, even though they are stimulants, they work to decrease hyperactivity and impulsiveness and help to increase attention and executive functioning. A treatment could involve therapy. According to Haupt and Bailey, Many different health professionals may be involved in your treatment. It is important to understand what each medical professional can do and the role each may play in your treatment. The two explain the importance of psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, counselors, psychopharmacologists, family doctors, nurse practitioners and social workers. The book explores alternative and complementary treatments.
Throughout the book, you discover how ADHD can affect your college years, love life and career.
If you’re a fan of “Complete Idiot’s Guide” books, you’ll enjoy this multi-pronged introduction to a condition that’s often misunderstood. Perhaps this book will ease your guilt if you had ADHD symptoms that continued into adulthood.
Softcover, 315 page, Alpha Books. Available at Amazon.com. Contact your local book store for book availability.
Book Review: The Alternative Medicine Cabinet: Hundreds of Ways to Take Charge of Your Health. Naturally”
By Kathy Gruver, MS, LMT,RM,NHC, Doctorate in Traditional Naturopathy.
Review by Scott Keith
If somebody suggests alternative medicine, you may either roll your eyes or say something like, “Wow, that’s for me.” Whatever your opinion, you’re going to enjoy “The Alternative Medicine Cabinet” by Kathy Gruver. It’s a chance to open your eyes to remedies that, in some cases, rely on ingredients direct from the earth.
Gruver, who has earned a Masters in Natural Health and an ND as a Traditional Naturopath, began her journey as a massage therapist about 20 years ago. “It started to become almost like a health counseling session, when they were on the table…I started to really appreciate that education process,” says Gruver, in an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing. Gruver started teaching massage and nutrition at a local business college. Eventually, she decided to help people understand natural health and alternative medicine. After spending time writing articles and speaking to the public, Gruver decided to put her Ph.D on hold and write a book. “It was a very organic process, it really evolved over the course of years.”
The book begins by explaining the health benefits of massage. Gruver writes, Research has shown massage lowers blood pressure and heart rate, can lower and stabilize blood sugar and moves lymph throughout your body. Gruver describes several message techniques, including Swedish, Lomi Lomi, Trigger Point, Barefoot and Shiatsu. If you’re wondering how to communicate with your message therapist, fear not. Gruver lets you know what concerns to bring up with the therapist.
You’ll learn about Classical Homeopathy and Constitutional Homeopathy. Gruver writes that The American Heritage Science Dictionary defines homeopathy as a nontraditional system for treating and preventing disease, in which minute amounts of a substance that in large amounts causes disease symptoms are given to healthy individuals. This is thought to enhance the body’s natural defenses. Gruver touches on herbs, which have been used for centuries. It’s pointed out that several prescription drugs have their origins in herbal medicine. Did you know that aspirin is derived from white willow bark?
As a youngster, Gruver became interested in alternative medicine. “My mother got very sick (with cancer) when I was young. I watched her go from MD to MD…even as a young teenager, I thought, ‘This doesn’t seem to be working,’ maybe there’s something else,” recalls Gruver. Since there was no Internet in the early 80s, Gruver relied on the library to learn about alternative medicine. She suggested her mother consider herbs, or perhaps, hypnosis for pain. Gruver says, “I always thought there were other options than what the mainstream was doing.”
Gruver recognizes there are differing opinions on alternative medicine. “I have met people, members of my own family, who are so stuck in this paradigm of ‘My doctor didn’t tell me to do it, so I’m not doing it.’”Gruver says the flip side is “people who have 100 percent rejected western medicine, and if it’s not an herb or something they got at their local Whole Foods, they don’t pay any attention to it.” According to Gruver, “There are positives and negatives to both. Let’s meld the two. That’s the whole point of complementary alternative medicine. It’s bringing the two together so we can look at nutrition as well as going to get your EKG.”
Not only does Gruver’s book introduce you to a wide range of alternative remedies, it also delves into health tips you can practice, to achieve improved health. Read Nutrition: Kathy’s Top 10 Picks. Discover why you should blend blueberries, wild-caught salmon, broccoli, garlic, olive oil, eggs, spinach, avocados, filtered water and red wine (unless you can’t drink) into your diet. Gruver says, “blueberries are great antioxidants…they’re tasty, too. You can do anything with them. It’s good breakfast, you grab a handful in the middle of the day. It’s a great dessert after dinner.”
Gruver’s compact guide to alternative medicine is great for people “on the fence,” or not quite sure whether to embrace the idea. “I wrote the book simply to give information to people. To help them navigate it (alternative medicine), to learn about different methods of natural health.” Gruver encourages people to explore the subject, noting, “it’s such an individual thing.”
Softcover, 141 pages, Infinity Publishing, $11.95. Available at www.thealternativemedicinecabinet.com and Amazon.com.
Book Review: “From Fit to Fat: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction”
By Carole Carson
Review by Scott Keith
Carole Carson knew she had to lose weight. After all, her 60th birthday was only four months away. What could be a better birthday gift than dropping 40 pounds?
In her book, “From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction,” Carson takes her readers on a journey that started with a rather revealing front-page newspaper photo, and concluded with The Nevada County Meltdown, a community-wide effort, organized by Carson, to get the folks in Nevada City and environs in tip-top physical shape.
Carson, in an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, says she became inspired after her scale broke. “When I stepped on the scale, and it broke, it was a moment of epiphany for me…the fact the scale broke just seemed to break through my system of denial,” says Carson, recalling that, “I was in the 90th percentile for heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes.”
A newspaper article jump-started Carson’s campaign to get her Northern California neighbors fit. “I offered to write a single article (on fitness) for seniors…it was going to be in the Wednesday edition, at the back of the newspaper, in the senior section.” The editor called to say the piece would run Tuesday, and the article could become a series. Carson was soon to experience a dose of reality. There was her picture, at full weight, in full color, on the front page of “The Union.” Carson says, “I had never told anybody my weight. My husband came down to breakfast. I was mortified, I told him we had to move. I wasn’t kidding.” As embarrassed as she was that day, several people mentioned, “Carole, if you could do it, maybe I could do it.”
Carson reached her goal, by gradually shedding 40 pounds, over four months, averaging two and a half pounds of weight loss a week. She says, “I went on to lose another 20. I was kind of on a roll and thought I might as well achieve what I really want. I turned around and offered to help people in our community do it.”
After teaching a fitness class through the Wellness Center of the local hospital, Carson, with the help of Mike Carville, general manager and owner of the South Yuba Fitness Club in Nevada City, developed a wider goal, a community challenge known as The Nevada County Meltdown. The plan was to hold the first meeting at the fitness club. With a week to go, a decision was made to relocate to the Nevada Union High School, with seating for 450. Carson started to wonder if only a dozen folks would show up. To their surprise, a bulging crowd of over a thousand attended the first night. The Meltdown was off and running.
Carson’s thoroughly enjoyable book describes the “Meltdown” in detail. She also offers great weight-loss advice and lets you glance at her progress reports.
Carson is candid when describing hurdles she conquered on the road to a trimmer figure. She took a trip to Paris to attend her son’s wedding. Carson writes, Our two weeks would be spent feasting – and, I imagined, in a constant state of self-torture. Among all those beautifully presented foods, wonderful wines, and fabulous desserts, how would I keep my commitment to fitness? Fear not. By the time Carson returned to the Golden State, she had lost another three pounds and five more inches!
A couple of darker moments are explored in “From Fat to Fit.” Carson recalls the events of September 11, 2001. Carson writes, In the accompanying sadness, I found myself shrinking from my commitment to fitness. Suddenly the effort seemed irrelevant and naive. She finally realized that just as I had been challenged in the past, I would be challenged in the days ahead. Facing the future as fit as possible would give me the strength, resiliency, and energy to deal with the needs of my family, friends, and community in uncertain times.
A stronger body helped Carson during a family emergency. Carson’s 38-year-old daughter, Jamie, suffered cardiac arrest and was eventually moved to a level-one trauma center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Carson flew to the mid-section of the country to help her family assist Jamie. Without being in shape, I would not have survived the trauma nearly as well, nor would I have had the resiliency to return to Missouri and help care for my adult daughter. I was learning another reason to get and stay fit.
These days, Carson’s goal is to start fitness programs in other states. Carson has teamed up with AARP for the online “Fat to Fit” program at www.aarp.org/fat2fit. Carson says the program is free and open to the public. “There’s a lot of inspiration.”
After you read “From Fat to Fit,” you’re going to want to start lifting weights and hiking trails. Carson will offer you plenty of inspiration for when the going gets tough.
Softcover, 245 pages, Hound Press, $14.95, Available at Amazon.com and www.fromfat2fit.com.
Visit Carole Carson at www.fromfat2fit.com.
AARP “Fat to Fit” program at www.aarp.org/fat2fit
Book Review: “Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management”
By Lavinia Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Review by Scott Keith
It’s a no-brainer when it comes to losing weight. You select a diet plan (with your doctor’s approval) that works for you. You join a fitness club and start working your abs, biceps and triceps. You cut out nightly snacks, invest in a good bathroom scale, and see if all your hard work pays off.
It may not be as cut and dry as you think. When it comes to weight loss, a clinical psychologist, and expert in weight management, believes we are overlooking a critical part of our body: Our brain. In her book, “Mind Over Fat Matters,” Dr. Lavinia Rodriguez says psychological barriers get in the way of our ability to shed pounds. According to Rodriguez, the human brain is a great tool; we must know how to use it. She writes in Chapter 1, If not used wisely and skillfully, it can be a detriment rather than an aid. In no other area does this ring as true as in trying to achieve a healthy and lean body.
Rodriguez, in an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, says she began researching obesity as a graduate student. Eventually she started treating eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. “I noticed that our society, in general, was becoming more and more preoccupied with dieting, weight, and appearance, yet the general public was becoming more and more overweight,” says Rodriguez.
Rodriguez decided to educate the general public on why most fad diets don’t work and why it’s not the individual’s fault. The result is a splendid book that will change your way of thinking when it comes to how to achieve and maintain a healthy, trim body.
“Mind Over Fat Matters” explains how the brain can become your friend or enemy in the battle against obesity. Rodriguez says the brain “doesn’t like to feel deprived. It doesn’t like any rigidity. It doesn’t like feeling overwhelmed. Those three things are very characteristic of fad diets. They tend to deprive you of those things that you like.” On the flip side, “your brain can be your friend if you supply it with flexibility…it loves praise and reinforcement.” She says it’s important to set up a weight loss program that you know you can follow for the rest of your life – one that’s flexible and feels good.
In Chapter 5, Rodriguez shares her feelings about dieting: “Diet” is today’s four-letter word. We use it about as frequently as some of our other “naughty” words. “Typically, when we say ‘diet,’ we’re talking about some type of fad diet…diet is something that’s short term. If you’re going to go on a diet, you’re going to go off a diet. It has a beginning and it has an end,” says Rodriguez, adding that if you want someone to eat more nutritiously, you need to make it simple for them.
Another word we should stop using is “exercise.” According to her book, The word “exercise” has too many negative things associated with it and the word implies that only certain activities qualify as “exercise.” Try to catch yourself when using the word and consciously say, “Moving is all I want to do. Any form of movement is good for the life I want.” Rodriguez suggests we pick an activity (movement) we enjoy and not feel we have to jog in the wee hours of the morning just because our neighbor does it. While engaging in activity, it’s best to have fun and forget about weight loss. “The more active you are, even when you’re not on your regular exercise, the easier it’s going to be for you to maintain your weight throughout your lifetime.”
Diets are rigid, says Rodriguez. Diets have “all or nothing” rules, such as no carbs or no sugar. She says as you try to follow these rules, you develop “psychological deprivation,” adding that, “The longer you’re trying to stay away from the very things you like, these things become overvalued and you’re actually more attracted and more preoccupied with it.” The result can be a loss of control, which can lead to binging or compulsive overeating.
We need to “savor” our meals, points out Rodriguez. “We’re such a fast-paced society…that we’ve lost touch with the ability of savoring.” She says if we simply shove meals down, we’re missing the smell, texture, taste and color of food. “All of these different senses are very important for the messages to get to your brain that say, ‘Mmm. I’m satisfied, thank you very much.’” According to Rodriguez, this can encourage overeating, because the brain is still feeling hungry.
We know what we should do to improve our appearance: Limit calories, eat healthful foods and get fit. What “Mind Over Fat Matters” teaches us is that we need to ease up, “chill out,” and have some fun as we attempt to melt away our excess pounds.
Softcover, 141 pages, $14.95, iUniverse Books. Available at Amazon.com and www.fatmatters.com. You may also order at bookstores.
Visit Dr. Rodriguez at www.fatmatters.com
Book Review: “A Guide to Men’s Health: Answers to Questions All Men Should Ask Their Doctor”
By Robert Corish MD
Review by Scott Keith
Perhaps the day will arrive when men will become as “thorough” as women when it comes to seeing the family doctor. It seems women have a better grasp of the importance of getting screened for potentially life-threatening illnesses, such as breast and cervical cancer. Guys? It’s a different story.
A doctor, who lectures on preventive medicine and natural health and toxicology, has written a book aimed specifically at the stubborn guy – the man who would just as soon eat a sour lemon than schedule a visit with the MD. “A Guide to Men’s Health,” by Dr. Robert Corish, is a splendid fact-filled guide designed to help men see the importance of preventive health care.
Corish is blunt and straightforward in his presentation, yet sprinkles in just enough humor to loosen guys up, so they can learn how to pay better attention to their aches, pains and symptoms.
Corish took a somewhat wild career path. He made the transition from an environment of corner kicks, yellow cards and goal posts to the world of medicine, earning a medical doctorate at the University of Miami in Florida. In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Corish says he was a professional soccer player (Derby County) in England. He traveled to the United States to play for the North American Soccer League’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers. A career-ending injury changed everything. “I decided to go to school…I did my internship in internal medicine. I ended up in Chicago, where I did my residency in anesthesiology,” says Corish. Events propelled Corish to get board certified in toxicology, and he learned integrative, or functional medicine.
In writing the book, Corish takes note of the difference between men and women. He says men are fighters and breadwinners. “We don’t deal well with injuries…men tend to ignore things and hope things will just go away.” The problem is, adds Corish, as men get older, health problems accumulate. So Corish decided to take a few years off and write a book to address the stubborn male of our species.
Corish begins his book with the subject of aging. He writes, It’s important to understand that the aging process begins at the cellular level. He writes about foods that can help slow the aging process and points out that men demonstrate the least amount of knowledge about skin cancer and sun damage. Other topics touch on memory, mental sharpness, male menopause (yes, there is such a thing), heart health and sleep hygiene.
Men who avoid medical tests will get a crash course on preventive care after reading this book. Corish says, “Guys don’t like fingers put where they shouldn’t be…so they’re always fearful of the test…guys have a fear of bad news. They will avoid bad news. They don’t want to be told they have cancer or Alzheimer’s disease…denial is issue number one.” In particular, men get super squeamish over prostate exams. Chapter 5 makes prostate cancer much easier to understand. Explaining the much-feared digital rectal exam, Corish writes, Remember the finger wave never killed anybody, but cancer sure can. Compare this to what women have to go through…the discomfort of a pelvic and a rectal exam plus a pap smear scraping on a yearly basis starting at an early age. We have it much easier!
“A Guide to Men’s Health” tackles “touchier” subjects, such as hemorrhoids, hernias and erectile dysfunction. Corish writes, Viagra is a revolutionary drug that has unexpectedly changed the whole landscape of men’s health. Viagra, according to Corish, was originally a blood pressure medication. With Viagra, “men’s esteem (especially baby boomers) came back…they had a zest for life…they wanted to look better.” The “Viagra Phenomena,” as Corish calls it, played a huge role in getting men to want to take better care of themselves.
Added features in the book include a list of medical tests that men need to discuss with their primary care physicians. Corish stresses the importance of colorectal, prostate, blood pressure, skin, dental and eye examinations. At the end of the book, scan the entertaining Male Factoids. Among them: The average human dream lasts only 2 to 3 seconds . Laugh over Medical record blunders from doctor’s dictations and learn about Foods ranked most alkaline to most acidic.
Corish is optimistic about the future of men’s health. He says the tide is changing and men’s “health IQ’s” are improving. “The message is getting out there.”
Softcover, 196 pages, $16.99, Agape Publishing. Book is available at www. robertcorishmd.com
Visit Dr. Corish at www.robertcorishmd.com
Book Review: “Kettlebells for Dummies”
By Sarah Lurie
Review by Scott Keith
It’s an odd-looking object. Kind of a mix between a bowling ball, a cannon ball and a floating buoy. It’s heavier than heck; don’t let it fall on your foot. It’s a Kettlebell, a method of exercise that’s gaining in popularity.
A great way to introduce yourself to this strange, but effective exercise tool is to read Sarah Lurie’s “Kettlebells for Dummies.” Lurie, a nationally recognized kettlebell expert, writes kettlebells date all the way back to the 1800s when the Russians first used them for exercise. She says this fitness regimen has been gaining popularity over the last five or so years. “There’s a huge kettlebell movement happening right now, and it’s just really starting to gain some momentum, probably in the past 12 months.”
For the uninitiated, and there are many, the kettlebell resembles a cannonball with a handle. The weight of the ball can vary. Don’t think the kettlebell will only build your biceps. This exercise will work most of your muscle groups and, as an added benefit, get your heart pumping. In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Lurie says it’s a “complete” exercise routine. “It’s great for conditioning your heart, conditioning your muscles…It really is kind of the magic pill or bullet that people are looking for.”
Lurie says a kettlebell fitness program is affordable (especially in these economic times) and can fit easily into your busy routine. “You just need one very simple piece of equipment…for budget-conscious people and people who don’t have a lot of space, this is a great mode of exercise. You can do it in your apartment, you can do it at the park. You’re not limited in that way,” says Lurie.
“Kettlebells for Dummies” provides a great introduction to this novel, but straightforward exercise regimen. A Primer on Kettlebells is found in chapter two, where you’ll learn about kettlebells, the benefits of the exercise and how to stay safe during a workout. Various chapters explore proper techniques; the book is richly illustrated with photos.
Lurie explains that kettlebells are not just for the buff. It’s an exercise program for young and old. “I have clients who are 14 and 83. I think it’s for somebody who likes the challenge. They have to be willing to learn the exercises and be very focused during their workouts. Other than that, you’re really not limited by age, fitness level or body type,” says Lurie, adding that it’s wise to see your doctor before embarking on an exercise program.
The book describes the importance of proper spine and hip alignment. “The movements are very dynamic,” explains Lurie. “You’re moving the kettlebell very dynamically, around your body, and it’s important to be positioned properly and to know how to move and use your hips.” Otherwise, you could get hurt.
The exercises offered in “Kettlebells for Dummies” have catchy names. A couple of foundation exercises are The Swing and TheTurkish get-up. These routines, says Lurie, teach you how to move for all of the other exercises. More advanced, and tougher, kettlebell exercises include The Pistol and The Overhead Squat.
Lurie says kettlebell exercising is mentally challenging. “You really have to think about how you’re moving, how your body feels, where you’re feeling it. With each repetition you’re really focusing and concentrating, so you get that mental challenge as well. People really like that,” says Lurie.
Even pregnant women can benefit from reading this book. Chapter 15 explores how you can prepare for a prenatal kettlebell workout. Lurie says, “Strength training for pregnant women is fantastic for several reasons…it will help them sleep better, it will alleviate back pain, it will help you get back into shape quicker, it will help you during labor and delivery.”
Lurie says baby boomers love kettlebells because they’ve tried everything else. “It will make you feel better. It’s almost instant. After a few workouts, you’ll know.” She says you need to be open to trying something new.
Softcover, 342 words, $21.99, Wiley Publishing, Inc., Available at Amazon.com and major bookstores.
Visit Sarah Lurie at www.ironcorekettlebells.com
Learn about instructors in your state or city: www.dragondoor.com
Book review: “Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers: No More Unnecessary Biopsies, Radical Treatment or Loss of Sexual Potency”
By Ralph H. Blum and Mark Scholz, MD
Review by Scott Keith
As a man gets older, he has a greater chance of getting prostate cancer. It’s a scary moment. The man may wonder if his cancer is fatal. Not too many years ago, a cancer diagnosis was thought of as an automatic death sentence. Unfortunately, some cancers are diagnosed at a late stage, but evolving technology is making it easier to treat early-stage cancer.
Prostate cancer is a strange breed of disease. Long-term survival is a very good bet if the tumor is low-grade and confined to the prostate. In many cases, there is no need for a man to panic and schedule a prostatectomy the following week. You could almost say that if you had the misfortune of getting cancer, the prostate variety would be the choice. The newly-diagnosed man would be well served to read a fascinating, engaging book on prostate cancer, written by a doctor who is board certified in medical oncology and internal medicine and a patient who has spent a couple of decades living with the disease.
Ralph H. Blum and Dr. Mark Scholz have co-written “Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers: No More Unnecessary Biopsies, Radical Treatment or Loss of Sexual Potency.” Blum should know. He has avoided surgery to remove his prostate and today concentrates on carefully monitoring his disease.
The book is riveting and instructional on many levels. Blum and Scholz write alternating chapters. In chapter one, Blum introduces the reader to Prostate Country. Blum writes, What follows is a two-man show-and-tell, the result of an alliance between a prostate oncologist and his Refusenik patient. We will have accomplished what we set out to do if this book informs you, calms your fears, entertains you and leaves you with good reasons for hope.
And that’s the focus of this remarkable book: To allow the newly-diagnosed prostate cancer patient to think through the disease and treatment options, minus panic and anxiety. In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Blum, a cultural anthropologist and author, who has written for a number of nationally-recognized magazines, says he went in for a regular check-up around 1990. “It was time for the infamous DRE (digital rectal exam) where he just said ‘drop ‘em and bend over,’”recalls Blum. The doctor found a palpable lump and Blum’s PSA had been a little high. After a prostate biopsy, they could not read the results. Blum turned down a repeat biopsy. In what he later called a risky move, he didn’t have another biopsy for nine years, although he continued monitoring his PSA blood level.
During this time, a friend suggested Blum touch bases with Dr. Scholz. “We started a relationship that eventually turned into a partnership. It’s an interesting kind of “no man’s land” to operate in where you are both the writing partner and the patient,” says Blum.
Chapter two delves into an area men constantly struggle with. Do I remove the prostate, even if the cancer is low-grade, or not too aggressive? Scholz, also interviewed by Men and Health, says the book has some fairly straightforward messages. One is that there are different types of prostate cancer. Scholz makes the argument that, “specialists that run this business are surgeons, so the default recommendation is an operation.” He adds that quality of life is an issue. “Even the “quote” bad types of prostate cancer generally are not fatal, so people usually live a normal life expectancy. They have to live with the consequences of the treatment that they pick. For us guys, surgery causes impotence. Even if you go to the finest surgeons, you’re going to be impotent more than half the time,” says Scholz.
Scholz stands by the statement that low-risk prostate cancer “can be watched, period.” The contention for that point of view, according to Scholz, is based on science published by urologists. “The idea of active surveillance, at the academic level, is really not controversial. But when you get out into the back alleys of prostate cancer treatment, there are a number of doctors that haven’t bought into the concept,” says Scholz.
“The book also makes the point that if you have intermediate or high-risk (disease), and you need treatment, modern state-of-the-art radiation technology is both less toxic and more effective at controlling cancer than surgery,” says Scholz. “We’re not a one-trick pony saying everyone should just watch their cancer. We know that some types do need treatment. When treatment is required, we believe there are better ways than surgery to treat it.”
The idea is for men to take personal responsibility and learn all they can about the disease and treatment options, then talk it out with medical experts. Scholz says, “In the book, we want to provide a map, or a way to empower patients…there’s a need for unbiased information that people can peruse in the privacy of their homes…and reflect on… and pray about…then take that information to different experts and be able to query them in a professional, pointed way about some of these hard questions.”
If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, consider some wise advice from Blum: “Do as little as possible. Consider all the alternatives, which means do your homework. Take a trusted person (a cherished loved one) with you to all your doctor appointments. Let them take notes for you. Learn about collateral damage. Get second and third opinions. Remember that urologists are surgeons.” Perhaps most important, Blum says, “stay calm.”
Hardcover, 293 pages, $24.95, Other Press, available at Amazon.com and bookstores.
Visit Dr. Scholz at www.prostateoncology.com
Prostate Cancer Research Institute is at www.pcri.org
“Full Recovery: Creating a Personal Action Plan for Life Beyond Sobriety”
By Brian McAlister
Review by Scott Keith
Alcoholism differs from other diseases. A pathologist can’t examine cells under a high-power microscope and make a diagnosis of alcoholism. The disease presents itself in various ways. For instance, you might find an alcoholic in a gutter swigging wine from a paper bag. Or you might find an alcoholic at the top of his or her game, running a very successful business, rarely missing a meeting or appointment. Alcoholism is a disease that strikes young and old, rich and poor. It can be a cruel disease. Sufferers can wind up in a jail cell or a hospital bed. There is no cure for alcoholism; the only way to keep the disease at bay is to avoid the “first drink.” This addiction has lead to the death of many.
A man who has struggled with alcoholism has written a remarkably candid book titled, Full Recovery: Creating a Personal Action Plan for Life Beyond Sobriety. Brian McAlister, whose sobriety date is August 2, 1990, was once an unemployed “low-bottom” alcoholic. Today, he is an entrepreneur and a board member of a major national recovery organization.
McAlister’s book focuses on recovery, or abstaining from alcohol one day at a time. Treatment facilities and 12-step programs help the addicted person recognize the problem and adjust to a substance-free life. As life-saving as recovery can be, McAlister’s book demonstrates that it’s possible to get stuck along the recovery road.
In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, McAlister says he started drinking as a youngster and continued until his early 30s. “Through many struggles, and lower and lower bottoms…I was chasing that first high that I had when I was a kid. I finally hit the point where I was so spiritually and emotionally bankrupt that death seemed the only option. When it got that painful, I looked for other solutions to my problem. That’s when I made a decision to try to get sober.”
After 20 years of drinking, McAlister reached sobriety through rehabilitation and a 12-step program. But it wasn’t enough. He says one of his long-term goals was to write a book. Says McAlister, “I have so much to be grateful for. My life is really a life full of miracles. My whole goal with the book was to show other people that miracles do happen…it’s just a matter of taking the right steps.”
Throughout the book, McAlister points out that it’s possible to get stuck in recovery. This can make it hard for a person to achieve his or her full potential. McAlister has noticed that some in recovery “start challenging their beliefs as far as how they became an addict…but they don’t take it to the next level. They don’t challenge their beliefs as far as what they believe about money, what they believe about their potential, what they believe about their career.” He says this kind of frustration can lead to relapse.
One section of the book looks at fear. McAlister says fear can hold a lot of people back. The idea is to overcome fears and limitations. There are physical, mental and spiritual ways of accomplishing this, according to McAlister, noting that even procrastination can be a way of masking fear.
Full Recovery is an interactive book, complete with homework assignments. “My whole goal is to get them to take action and improve their life,” says McAlister. He says his book is “twenty years worth of trial and error, success and disappointment, and an intense study of success in recovery. I’ve taken it and put it into a workable program for people to apply in their own recovery.” McAlister says it’s important to keep moving forward in recovery.
If you’re suffering from an addiction, McAlister says the first step is to get off the drugs or alcohol. McAlister is a big supporter of 12-step programs. “My book takes off after that. Now you’re sober, now what?” Full Recovery is a fresh, inspiring examination of alcoholism and addiction – a book that needs to be within reach of every recovering man and woman.
Hardcover, 247 pages, $22.95, MacSimum Publishing Company, available at Amazon.com and www.full-recovery.com
Book Review: “I’m Still Here: A New Philosophy of Alzheimer’s Care”
By John Zeisel, Ph.D.
Review by Scott Keith
If you’re a baby boomer, there’s a chance your mother, father or grandparent is struggling with memory problems. A diagnosis no one wants to hear is Alzheimer’s disease. According to Healthcentral.com: The disease slowly attacks nerve cells in all parts of the cortex of the brain and some surrounding structures, thereby impairing a person’s abilities to govern emotions, recognize errors and patterns, coordinate movement and remember. Ultimately, a person with Alzheimer’s disease loses all memory and mental functioning. Over five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.
It’s a scary diagnosis, both for the patient and for his or her family. But is the prognosis hopeless? The president and cofounder of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care has written a book that is designed to help family members cope with this debilitating disease. John Zeisel, who has earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University, is the author of I’m Still Here: A New Philosophy of Alzheimer’s Care. While Zeisel does not shy away from the seriousness of the disease, he says the Alzheimer’s sufferer can still smile, enjoy the love and warmth of family and take great joy in something as simple as a trip to the local art gallery.
Zeisel helps strip away fear of the disease and gives the family some encouragement. Even though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, Zeisel prefers to examine the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. Zeisel writes, “I advocate including people living with Alzheimer’s in society – at museums and theaters, among other places.” Zeisel explains that people can live over a decade with the disease, and that for much of that time, they can function with less help than most people think. They “can enjoy themselves, and can even learn new things.”
Zeisel’s background with Alzheimer’s goes back many years. He has run Alzheimer’s assisted-living treatment residences in Massachusetts and New York.
According to the book, a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is seen as a sentence. “But this just isn’t so Throughout the more than decade-long progress of the disease, the person is crying out, ‘I’m still here.’ We all need to start hearing that cry before it fades away completely,” writes Zeisel.
In chapter 3, Zeisel, who has taught at Harvard, Yale and McGill universities, writes that certain human abilities are hardwired. “Although emerging neuroscience techniques will determine with increasing precision which brain elements are hardwired in humans, we already have indications of certain hardwired human skill and memories. Among these are facial expressions, responses to the touch of another, singing, and landmarks for way-finding – all abilities that last our entire lives, even if we have Alzheimer’s.”
I’m Still Here describes how something as simple as art can help an Alzheimer’s patient enjoy life. Zeisel writes, “The arts can provide meaning in what to many is experienced as an ever increasingly meaningless life. Art connects people to their culture and to their community.” Zeisel goes on to say that theater can help Alzheimer’s patients feel and understand emotions found in drama.
More hope can be found in chapter 10, where Zeisel, in a touching way, describes the “Gifts of Alzheimer’s,” — discussions in which family members have improved as human beings as a result of their relationships with loved ones who have suffered with Alzheimer’s.
If your loved one has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, purchase this remarkably uplifting and satisfying book. It is possible, says Zeisel, to see the glass as “half-full.”
Visit John Zeisel’s website at www.imstillhere.org
Book Review: “You Don’t Know Sh*t”
By Doug Mayer, Val Stori and Tod von Jahnes
Review by Scott Keith
Men do it. Women do it. Birds do it. Rabbits do it (a lot). Bugs might even do it, although I haven’t bothered to investigate. I’m talking about the end product after we eat our meals: Poop. If you think this is a rather odd and icky subject to cover in a book, you’re right. But open your minds just enough to purchase a thoroughly entertaining and well-researched book titled, “You Don’t Know Sh*t,” by Doug Mayer, Val Stori and Tod von Jahnes.
Face it, this is a subject we don’t (and shouldn’t) bring up at the dinner table, yet all of us are aware of this bodily function. How could we not be? And deep down, aren’t you the slightest bit curious about how astronauts relieve themselves? Did you ever wonder if our ancient ancestors had any inhibitions when it came to pooping? Can some societies function without toilet paper? Are Asian toilets similar to European and American toilets?
It’s all covered in this fast-paced, fact-packed 214-page hard cover book, released this month by St. Martin’s Griffin-St. Martin’s Press.
The book explores ways human waste was disposed of centuries ago, and we’re not talking modern sewage treatment plants. Workers had to manually get rid of the vile stuff…certainly not a dream job by anyone’s definition. Poop factoids are deposited throughout the book.. Chapter two features a “Poop Data” chart. For instance: “Average number of poops per day: 1 or 2. Average duration of a bowel movement: 5 to 6 minutes. Odd things ever ingested: A fork, $650 in coins, bedsprings, thirty magnets, tapeworms, a radio antenna, an engagement ring, sword, model airplane.”
In an interview for Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Mayer says, “Obviously it’s something we all have in common, whether we’re comfortable talking about it or not. There are all these crazy different sort of cultural ideas about it,” says Mayer, noting that everybody has a poop story whether they’re comfortable about sharing it or not.
Mayer, a humor writer from New Hampshire’s White Mountains and a producer for “Car Talk” from National Public Radio, says there’s almost too much information about poop. “We wrote up a book proposal really quickly. The book proposal totally wrote itself…The fact is we could have kept going and going. There’s so much here,” according to Mayer, who says the book includes “quirky little anecdotes” and “crazy little tidbits.” The idea behind the book, adds Mayer, is to have fun.
And here’s some “feel good” trivia to consider as you wake up some sunny morning, bright-eyed and ready to take on the world: “I think one of the most interest things for me was research that Val (one of the co-authors) did talking to Dr. Elmer Pfefferkorn of Dartmouth…It turns out the world is covered in a thin layer of sh*t. Like it or not, everything we touch has a certain amount of poop on it.” Fear not, details of this fecal veneer, as Pfefferkorn’s theory is called, is in the book. Hint: There might be an upside to this fecal veneer.
OK, let’s face it. We didn’t stop giggling about farts after second grade. Chapter three of this book, titled, “It wasn’t me,” is all about flatulence. Learn some fart synonyms and find out why a silent fart is a deadly fart.
When you buy this delightful, and hilariously funny book, you might want to display it on your coffee table. What a conversation piece when your neighbors arrive for the bridge game! Or, perhaps more logically, you can place it on your bathroom literature rack. After all, if you’ve positioned yourself on the porcelain throne, you know the subject matter of this book is very close at hand.
St. Martin’s Griffin-St. Martin’s Press, 214 pages, hardcover, available at Amazon.com and bookstores.
Visit St. Martin’s Press
Book Review: “Penis Power: The Ultimate Guide to Male Sexual Health
By Dr. Dudley Seth Danoff
Review by Scott Keith
At one time, if you heard the word “penis” uttered in conversation, you would hear a few nervous giggles. It seems these days, especially with more television ads touting the benefits of erectile dysfunction pills, the word “penis” is not quite as shunned.
The president and founder of the Cedars-Sinai Tower Urology Medical Group in Los Angeles, Dr. Dudley Seth Danoff, has written a book that removes quite a bit of the mystery surrounding this vital reproductive organ. Penis Power: The Ultimate Guide to Male Sexual Health provides practical advice for partners, a candid discussion of erectile dysfunction and potency, and tips for a healthy, active sex life, no matter how old you are.
Danoff, in an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, says he’s a mainstream urologist who has spent 70 percent of his time doing urologic oncology. He realized there’s a problem with a man’s image of his penis, “what we call penis weakness, obsession about size, obsession about performance, obsession about erectile dysfunction,” says Danoff, noting that a patient suggested Penis Power as the name for a book.
Danoff wrote the book, blending together his many years as a urologist. The idea behind the book, says Danoff, is to teach men about male genital health and to answer questions that some men have a hard time asking. “I try to do it in an insightful, lighthearted and (medically accurate) funny way,” according to Danoff.
A theme throughout this informative, easy-to-read guide on male sexual health is that the penis is tied to a man’s identity. Danoff says, “I sort of say the Penis is the soul of a man. You can tell more about a man’s character when he has an erection than almost any other time, except, maybe, on the golf course.”
Danoff writes, at length, about erectile dysfunction and the huge percentage of men (in a certain age group) who experience the condition. “The facts are, between 15 and 30 million men, between the ages of 40 and 60, suffer from some sort of erectile dysfunction. 99 percent of that is between the ears and about 1 percent between the legs, with some exceptions,” says Danoff, who is a diplomat of the American Board of Urology and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
An even more revealing statistic, according to Danoff, is that “fairly close to 100 percent of men, at one time in their life, will suffer from what I call penis weakness.” He says it could be performance anxiety, anger, or the fact the penis will not behave the way you want it to behave.
What we see and hear in the media can have an impact on a man and his relationship with his penis. Danoff says, “I think the epidemic is aggravated by what we see on the media: the perfect specimen, the availability of pornographic material (with trick lighting and magnification)…Everybody thinks that they have to live up to this sort of image.”
This book will answer your questions about erections, ejaculation, penis size and medical conditions that can affect your penis power. The book also examines prostate and other urologic diseases. A light-hearted section toward the end of the book explores your penis personality. Yes, you can match up your very own penis with the various illustrated penis personalities.
Danoff says sex “is not an Olympic event, it’s not a marathon, it’s between two loving people, who care about one another. That’s my message more than anything else.”
Visit Dr. Danoff at http://www.penispowerbook.com
Book Review — “Stuck Up!: 100 Objects Inserted and Ingested in Places They Shouldn’t be”
Review by Scott Keith
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why someone would ingest a strange item, such as a tongue ring. I also can’t fathom why someone would insert a foreign object where “the sun doesn’t shine.” Yet three doctors, combining their medical experiences, have written a thoroughly amazing, and quite funny book titled, “Stuck Up: 100 Objects Inserted and Ingested in Places they Shouldn’t be.”
This book, by doctors Rich E. Dreben, Murdoc Knight and Marty Sindhian, documents cases where everyday folks, for whatever reason, have swallowed or inserted objects that DO NOT belong in the body. In case you don’t believe these accounts, X-Ray evidence is presented for the reader.
The book reveals the case of a Hong Kong man: “The Sun reported that a man in Hong Kong was found in a pool of blood, the cause of which was a severe rectal tear due to a cucumber up his bottom. He was taken to the hospital, where he reported that this was a suicide attempt.”
The doctors also explain the case of a 17-year-old boy who swallowed several nuts and bolts. They write, “Eventually, he was discharged from the hospital, and he passed the objects. An otherwise boring case except for his explanation as to why he had done it: He ‘felt like a change of scenery.’”
In an email exchange with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Dreben and Sindhian explain why they decided to write the book.
“The long answer is in our book, which, by the way, we think would be a great stocking stuffer this holiday season, no pun intended. The quick answer is that these types of cases were some of the most memorable learning opportunities that we have experienced during and after our training. Each of these cases provided us with insight into human psyche and, needless to say, a direct line of sight into human anatomy.”
In the email interview with Men and Health, doctors Dreben and Sindhian were asked what items are commonly ingested by patients. “The objects really depend on the culture and the context. For example, children often ingest coins or other small objects that resemble candy. Some incarcerated individuals have been known to ingest sharper objects that might require medical attention and, therefore, get them out of their cells.”
Knight says it’s dangerous to insert or ingest a foreign object. According to the doctor, “These objects can cause blockages in the bowels and perforation, or puncture, of the intestines. There is always the risk of severe bleeding, and while the symptoms at times may only be mild pain, the consequences can be as severe as infection and death.”
After you’ve read this book, consider the take-away message from Knight: “Whatever you do, do not try anything in this book at home…or anywhere, for that matter!”
Soft cover, 210 pages, St. Martin’s Griffin, $12.99, available at Amazon and book sellers.
Book Review: “The Green Smoothie Bible”
by Kristine Miles
Review by Scott Keith
We simply don’t get enough fruits and veggies in our diet. We crave processed sweets and goodies. The obesity problem in the United States is through the roof. And obesity, in the decades ahead, will certainly result in skyrocketing health costs.
How, then, can we get more fruits and vegetables in our diet? These days, it can be hard to find the time to eat healthful, balanced meals, especially when we are running from task to task, trying to balance a home life with a rapidly multi-tasking work environment.
A women, who lives on Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia, provides an answer. Kristine Miles, a health professional with over 15 years of experience, has written “The Green Smoothie Bible,” a compact, thoroughly-enjoyable book that describes how you can fit some of those healthy “greens” into your daily diet. The result: Some tasty drinkable concoctions that will give you pep and start you on the road to better health.
In an email interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Miles describes herself as a “self-confessed food and health nerd.” She says, “I have always been interested in anything to do with food – I enjoy eating, I enjoy cooking, and I enjoy learning about food as medicine.”
Miles started drinking green smoothies about 5 years ago; she discovered raw foods a year before. After starting a website, based on her experiences, Miles was approached by Ulysses Press to expand on her site and write a book.
In case you’re curious, green smoothies, according to Miles, are plant-based, blended drinks, made of fruit, leafy greens and water. In the interview, Miles says, “Greens are superfoods and should be considered a separate food group to vegetables. They are full of fiber, minerals, vitamins, protein, chlorophyll, antioxidants and some have essential fatty acids, including omega 3.”
If you think a smoothie with just greens may taste unpleasant, you’re correct. But Miles points out a trick that will make your taste buds smile. “By blending leafy greens with sweet fruit and water, you get a balance of flavor that makes the greens almost tasteless. The green smoothie looks green and tastes like the blended fruit in it,” says Miles, pointing out you get the health benefits of blended greens, yet you get more servings of fruits and vegetables.
“The Green Smoothie Bible” offers 300 great recipes. Try some antioxidant-boosting smoothies, bone and joint-friendly recipes, high-fiber recipes, recipes to optimize cardiovascular health, recipes for blood-sugar maintenance or mood-enhancing green smoothies
Asked if smoothies are an affordable option, Miles says, “Most definitely, particularly when eating seasonally. I devote a chapter to each season of the year in my book, so that people can choose to eat according to what greens and fruits are in season.”
Miles hopes that whatever diet someone chooses, there will be room for green smoothies. “Whether your diet is vegan, paleo, raw, even standard American, the addition of green smoothies has so many benefits.”
240 pages, $14.95, Ulysses Press, available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other book stores.