I’ve spend many hours reading about good nutrition over the past couple of years and, through all of that reading, four books have really stood out for me. These are the four books I would like to recommend to you today:
Healthy at 100 – John Robbins
This book managed to convinced me (a born and bred carnivore) that a plant-based diet is the way to go – something which really is quite an accomplishment. The book contains lots of highly convincing arguments backed up by real science and really opened my eyes in many ways. It is rather long and contains a lot of detail, but take it slow and gradually work your way through. Your life will become significantly better (and longer) because of it.
50 secretes of the world’s longest living people – Sally Beare
There are two primary selling points about this book: a short, but still detailed account of some traditional communities where people often live to 100 without ever visiting a doctor and brief and highly readable descriptions of the 50 health secrets. The first selling point is great for motivating you to learn more and the second selling point makes this learning process very easy. Everyone will be able to quite easily implement quite a few of the 50 secrets in their own lives.
Ultrametabolism – Mark Hyman
Another great piece of nutrition research which will really open your eyes to the toxic junk that we label as food nowadays and motivate you to make some crucial changes. If you are looking to lose weight, this book also debunks a number of dangerous weight-loss myths and points out the right way to go about things. On the downside, the practical recommendations in this book will be hard to carry out for most people and the other books mentioned here are better in this regard.
The world’s healthiest foods – George Mateljan
This is essentially a cookbook blended with a nutrition thesis. The research in this book is quite impressive and discloses the entire process of selecting, storing, preparing and cooking a large number of already healthy foods in the healthiest way possible. Foods are ranked according to nutrient density and a full nutritional profile of each food is given. The recipes in the book are also simple, quick and tasty, making it ideal for anyone living a busy modern lifestyle.
So, there you go. Pick up these books for a miserly $50, read a few pages every night before going to sleep and watch your eating habits (and your health) improve as your understanding grows.
There are a number of very special traditional communities around the world that enjoy amazing health and longevity completely without the help of modern medicine. People still contribute actively to their communities in their 80’s and 90’s and often surpass the magical age of 100 sometimes without ever visiting a doctor.
The most well-documented of these communities is the Okinawa islands in Japan, but a number of other such communities also exist. These include the region of Abkhasia in the Soviet Union, the Symi island in Greece, the Italian village Campodimele, and the mountain communities of Hunza in Pakistan, Vilcabamba in Ecuador and Bama in China.
So, what are the secrets of these amazingly healthy people? Well, I don’t really think we can call them “secrets”, but here they are: these people simply eat a healthy, nutrient dense and predominately plant-based diet (Okinawan food pyramid given below), they never over-eat, they live very active lifestyles and they have a very strong sense of community. Basically, they live the polar opposite of the modern western lifestyle.
These healthy lifestyle choices have some pretty impressive results. One fun statistic about Okinawa is that they boast 15% of the world’s confirmed super-centenarians (those over 110) while having only 0.0002% of the worlds people, thereby giving them a concentration of super-elders close to 100000 times greater than the rest of the world. Wow…
In John Robbins’ excellent book “Healthy at 100”, he discloses a lot of well documented research on Okinawa, stating that they are about 15% as likely to die of heart disease and cancer as Americans. They also live 5 years longer on average.
When it comes to healthcare spending, Okinawa has the lowest healthcare costs in all of Japan which already has a three times smaller per-capita healthcare expense than the USA. Thus, they have about a 7 times smaller chance of dying from degenerative disease and live 5 years longer, all while incurring about 5 times fewer healthcare expenses. Not bad, I’d say.
Unfortunately, the younger generation of Okinawans are rapidly skrewing up these awesome stats by succombing to the American lifestyle brought by the US troops stationed on Okinawa. It really is quite sad how many grandparents have to bury their grandchildren in Okinawa nowadays.
But this just shows how alluring our modern consumerist lifestyle really is. These young Okinawans saw the vibrant health of their parents and grandparents first hand, but still chose to consume their bodies into oblivion. Unthinking consumerism is indeed a very powerful enemy…