I've been meaning to do a list for some time, but always wondered if I had read enough to put together a complete list. And, I am definitely missing some topics, like books focused on food allergies and detoxification, both of which are the root causes of problems in many individuals, but so far, based on the books I've read, I think that the following reading list is a good place to start to learn how to maintain or improve one’s health. Choosing the books, and then selecting the order in which to rate them was REALLY HARD, as every book has much to offer, and choosing one book over another on a certain topic left many excellent books off the list that are also well worth reading. These books are all geared to the lay person, although many if not all would greatly assist physicians and others in the healing professions in helping their patients.
With no further ado, – drum roll – here is the list, starting from 10 and counting down to number 1!
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
A great book about how corporate profit and the systemization of food processing has resulted in a complete degradation in the quality of food being produced. Far more important to these companies than producing healthy food is finding ways to make you buy their product. It is frightening to learn the extent some companies have gone to to prevent regulations that would stop them from selling you contaminated food. Also talks about the social consequences of low-wage fast food and food processing jobs on communities. A book that will put you off fast food, which will definitely improve your health!
Nonviolent Communication – A Language of Life by Marshall B Rosenburg, PhD
Relationship stress is often rooted in a communication style that stimulates an angry or defensive response in the other person. Learning to communicate in a nonviolent way that still allows you to express your feelings and get your point across can do much to reduce stress. Stress is implicated in heart disease, diabetes, depression, digestive issues, osteoporosis, immune disorders, thyroid problems etc., so learning to control stress is vital to improved health.
Loving What Is by Byron Katie
In situations where one is unhappy about something completely out of one's control, accepting the reality of the situation is the ticket to emotional happiness. What makes us miserable is the stories we tell ourselves about our problem or situation. Just as it makes no sense to get upset about the rain, it makes no sense to tie ourselves in knots about the career choice of one’s child, the relationship problems of a relative or friend, or the inability of our spouse to pick up after themselves. Ultimately the control lies with the other people involved, so although one can lend an empathetic ear, there is no point wasting emotional energy. Far better to devote energy to things within one’s control.
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price
This book was at the top of the list on my first draft. Dr. Weston Price traveled the world in the '30s studying primitive societies that had not yet come in contact with "white man's food", and discovered vibrantly healthy populations with good bone structure and minimal tooth decay. The diets were as varied as the societies he studied, but no society was vegetarian, and many societies actively sought out a particular food (usually a form of saturated fat) to give to their newly married couples, pregnant women and young children to ensure good development. If you are planning to have children, this would be a good book to read before conceiving, as the nutritional status of both parents prior to conception is very important to the lifelong health of the child.
Nutrition and Your Mind by Dr. George Watson
One of the early researchers in the concept of metabolic typing, Dr. George Watson is believed to be the one who discovered that different individuals oxidize their food at different rates, and that the type of food eaten can either slow down or speed up the rate of oxidation. Slow oxidizers need food that speeds up their oxidation rate, whereas fast oxidizers need food that slows down their oxidation rate. Both slow and fast oxidizers that are eating an inappropriate diet for them may develop similar symptoms of illness, but they require different diets in order to resolve their biochemical imbalances. Dr. Watson spent his career balancing the biochemistry of those with mental illness through food and specific nutrient therapy.
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers – An updated guide to stress-related disease and coping by Robert M. Sapolsky
A comprehensive book on the topic of stress written for the lay person. Quite funny at times, but also quite involved, one learns a great deal about the physiology of stress. Lots of good suggestions here on how to reduce one’s stress levels as well. I put this book in the top 5, because I now believe that chronic stress, whether physical or psychological, results in a deterioration in hormone balance in the body, which eventually leads to disease.
Your Guide to Healthy Hormones by Daniel Kalish, DC
Particularly in middle-aged women, but also applicable to women and men of all ages, hormone imbalance is frequently the cause of a large variety of health issues including insomnia, overwhelming fatigue, lethargy, PMS, depression, hypo or hyperthyroid, osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, decreased libido, to name a few. This book gives a good overview of the hormone, digestive and detoxification systems and how they interact, how problems arise, and how functional testing can lead to appropriate diet and lifestyle recommendations and supplementation if needed, in order to rebalance the systems and get them functioning optimally again. The key is treating the individual’s imbalance rather than the general health problem.
Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer For Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol by Mary Enig, PhD
This book is in my top three, because the topic of fats are SO misunderstood, resulting in much of the population choosing fats that cause free-radical damage and inflammation in the body, and avoiding healthful fats that are needed to transport nutrition into the cells, good fertility, and good overall health. So here is the truth about fats from a fat researcher that has never been paid by the food industry – what a different story she tells! I wish every doctor would read this book and pass on this vital information to their patients.
Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival by TS Wiley and Bent Formby
Circadian stress is epidemic in our society. Very few of us take enough restorative time, let alone dark time, and the consequences are destroying our health. Many of our hormones have circadian rhythms, some determined by the amount of light or darkness we are exposed to. Inadequate darkness and too much time in the light leads to hormone imbalance, carbohydrate cravings, weight gain, depression, and possibly cancer and heart disease. If you can get past the sensational style in which this book is written, the information is interesting, valuable, and definitely well researched, as over a third of the book is references.
How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek
This, in my view, is the best book on general health and wellness that I have currently read. It covers everything from nutrition, to exercise, to sleep, to digestion, to chronic stress, and through questionnaires helps you personalize your nutrition as well as your exercise program, which is vital for success. It is easy to read, with lots of photographs and diagrams to help the reader understand the concepts. If you only want to buy one book, this is the one to get.
There you have it. It will be interesting to see how much I revise this list next year, after another year of reading under my belt.
For those of you that celebrate, have a wonderful, peaceful Christmas.
Please feel free to comment on this list or suggest your favourite health books! I have updated my website – do check it out at www.wellnesstips.ca.
Copyright 2007 Vreni Gurd