Wednesday, June 11

You: The Owner's Manual - Michael F Roizen & Mehmet C Oz

This prequel to You: On a Diet, is a comprehensive overview of how the human body works, with an emphasis on age and disease prevention. Structured around the metaphor of the body as a house, You: An Owner's Manual is divided into systems (heart and circulation, brain and nervous system etc). The authors combine breadth and depth of what is quite often complex information in a readable style, without dumbing it down. Illustrated throughout with cartoons demonstrating the system, exercises, or manifestations of disease, the text is also sprinkled with wry humour.
What I like so much about this series, and about Dr Oz (who I've seen on Oprah) is the engaging and forgiving nature of his approach. Many in the health field have a heav-handed, take no prisoners approach that comes down hard on those of us who move around a little (or a lot) less than we ought to, and/or eat evil foods, Drs Oz and Roizen are gentle. They allow for humanity, slips and falliability - the emphasis is on doing the best from here, rather than lamenting the terrible damage done thus far.
My anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology and diet and health knowledge is higher than average, but I was still surprised by some of the questions in the introductory quiz, and I was a little disappointed I only scored 82% - but I'll remember the ones I got wrong for some time. There's also a brain gym quiz, which reinforced for me that unscrambling letters to make words is the most difficult IQ task for me and therefore (according to the book) the exercise most beneficial for my intellectual health and longevity - like stretching, doing the stuff you're good at is less valuable than the stuff you're not.
They've summarised the key information into crib sheets, for strength trainig, the yogic Sun Saluatation, physical activity, sleep, a diet activity plan, and an overview of diet basics. Holistic practitioners who base their advice on large-scale studies (preferable randomised and double-blinded, the gold standard in imperical testing), there are also factoids about supplements and complementary practices, and why they don't recommend some of them.
It's this aspect that sets this series apart from other, lesser, diet and exercise advice manuals - the rationale for every element of their program is explained, including why more is often less, and why this isn't the final word, because there's more information being generated all the time.
This book is a brilliant foundation for anyone who has an interest in their long-term health and wellbeing. The plan is sensible, usable, practical and inexpensive (except perhaps for some of the supplements), and it's strongly grounded in real science. The sample diet plan, like every similar one I've come across, is a little unworkable for people living alone - too many ingredients that don't yield one serve (what do you do with the rest of the low-fat sour cream/½ container of water chestnuts), but that quibble aside this is pretty much pefect. - Alex

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